Apr 29, 2008

The Kitten & the Book

When I got home from work yesterday, THE EX-DEBUTANTE by Linda Francis Lee was waiting in my mailbox. This is the book I've been asked to review by Authorsontheweb.com. I am so excited and pleased to read and review this book. Fortunatly for me, its the kind of book I enjoy. It's clever, witty southern fiction that I hope has a good storyline. I tried to get started on it last evening, however Jax, my new kitty had other plans for me. What is it with cats and books? Its like they don't want you to read! Every time I'd pick up the book, he'd come from nowhere and just plop himself down right on the page I was trying to read. So I'd set the book aside and give him all of my attention. This went on all nite. Finally when he wore himself out and fell asleep I picked up the book to get a few pages in, but by then it was late and I couldn't keep my eyes open! I get up at 5:15 am every morning, so by 10:30 pm I'm fighting to stay awake. Me and Jax are going to have to come to an agreement about my reading! I'll see how it goes tonite!

Apr 26, 2008

New Kitty

Yesterday after work I picked up the kitty that I'm adopting. He's about 15 weeks old and just adorable. This is the only picture I have right now, but I'll be adding more. His name is Jax and he is just too sweet! I got him from a cat rescue organization called Feisty Acres. I bought a bunch of toys for him, but he seems to like everyday things instead, like the cap to a water bottle or a coiled up pipe cleaner. He plays for hours with that pipe cleaner. He's a dark gray tabby with alot of white on his chest and front legs. He'll be beautiful when he's full grown, but I don't want that to happen too soon. I love the kitten in him!

Apr 23, 2008

Book Review: Infidel

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the bravest women I've read about. This memoir of her life as a Muslim woman born in Somalia and raised by a very religious, honored family was incredible. Her father was considered honorable for his beliefs and the work he did to help Somalis during civil wars. This woman is only 5 years younger than me. I found myself comparing my life to hers throughout the book and it left me feeling so grateful for my life here in America. While I was growing up in a loving, carefree household with all the freedoms this country offers, she was living in a poor, war-torn country where she was beaten regularly by her mother and relying on family clan members for food and money. Once she was beaten almost to death by a Quran teacher because she had the audacity to question things she didn't understand. One of the main points she has tried to get people to understand is that contrary to what most Muslims believe and want others to believe is the Muslim religion is not a peaceful religion. It is born out of fear and submission, especially for women and children. They teach that if you do not believe as they do, you are an unbeliever and should die. Being an unbeliever or an Infidel is the worst thing in their culture. They are raised to fear Allah. Hirsi Ali finally came to terms in her 20's that she didn't want to worship a God that allowed women to be beaten and sexually mutilated for the sake of remaining pure. Pure from what? was her question. Why should man have to improve on what God made? She considered it blasphamy. She couldn't worship a God that allowed such things. God is supposed to be loving, not feared. For speaking out against these practices while living as a refugee and later as a Dutch citizen and Parliament member in the Netherlands, her life was threatened many times. In November 2004, Dutch filmaker Theo van Gogh (nephew of Vincent van Gogh) was murdered in broad daylight in the streets of Amsterdam for working with Hirsi Ali to make the 10-minute short film depicting the abuse of the women of Islam. The film is called Submission. Attached to his body was a death threat against Ayaan. She was immediatly put into hiding for months in the United States. Even today living in Washington D.C. she has constant security. This book enlightened me on the Islamic culture. I knew very little of it and their beliefs. She answered my questions while eloquently telling the story of her life. I have a much better understanding now and I am grateful for her writing this book and being so candid. The topic of Islam is so current in the world today and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand it better. I found that the further I got into the book, I literally couldn't put it down. To watch the short film Submission click here.

Apr 19, 2008

I'm a Reviewer!

I'm so excited! I was contacted via email a few days ago by The Book Network, who runs bookreporter.com, a website all about books and authors. It's a great website that showcases new releases, has interviews with authors etc. Anyway, I was asked to read a book that has just been released, then write the review here on my blog! All I have to do is obviously, get the book read within a reasonable period of time, be honest about my review and send them a link to it once its been posted. I've always wanted to do this, so now I'm patiently waiting on my copy of the book. Its called THE EX-DEBUTANTE by Linda Francis Lee. After reading about it on bookreporter.com, it appears to be a very witty, smartly written story about an ex-deb from Texas who now lives in Boston and works as a lawyer. She goes back to her wealthy Texas family to help her mother thru yet another divorce and gets sucked back into a life she thought (and hoped) she'd left behind. I look forward to reading it. AND I get to keep the book! While I wait for my book to arrive, I'll have time to finish INFIDEL, which I've been reading off and on for a couple months. I'll be posting that review shortly.

Apr 17, 2008

Book Review: Deep Dish

Being a Southerner, it isn't hard to figure that I love Southern Fiction and no one does it like Mary Kay Andrews. DEEP DISH is the story of Gina Foxton and Tate Moody, two regional TV chefs from Atlanta who are competing for their own show on a national cooking network. They end up doing a reality-type competition and the winner gets the new show. You don't have to be a foodie to enjoy this book. Its a fun story that has original twists in it, but overall, the ending is predictable. The characters are new and are independant of the SAVANNAH BLUES series. Like all her charachters in her books, they are likable and quirky. There's just enough romance and excitement, but if you're looking for hot, steamy romance, this isn't the book for you. It was a quick read and entertaining enough that when I did have to stop reading to go work or do house chores, I wanted to hurry and get back to see what would happen next. Its a great summer read that has a feel-good ending.

Mary Kay is currently working on her next book, THE FIXER UPPER, which will take readers back to the SAVANNAH BLUES series and beloved characters Weezie and Bebe. You can click here to check out her website for more information on all her books.

Apr 14, 2008

Beach Weekend

My best friend, who is a first grade teacher and her 15 yr old daughter had their Spring Break plans change at the last minute, so we decided to go to St. Augustine for the weekend. Its only about an hour or so from where we live and its a pretty ride. I left work early Friday and we arrived at our hotel, which was on Anastaia Island by 3:00. The weather was fantastic! We checked in and were poolside within minutes! We spent Friday afternoon at the beach and the pool just relaxing. That evening we went over the Bridge of Lions, which takes you from the island to historic downtown St. Augustine for a wonderful seafood dinner.

After dinner we took a Ghost Tour by horse-drawn carriage thru town. Because the city is the oldest in the nation and there were many bloody battles fought, there are alot of stories of people who lived and died there and it is said that many spirits remain.

The carriage ride starts right at dark and the city looks so beautiful with all its lights. During the tour, the guides tell you all about some of the old buildings and stories about who used to live there. Some of the cobblestone streets are so narrow and the buildings are so old, you could swear you've gone back in time.

There are so many things to see in St. Augustine and things to learn. You learn that Hentry Flagler, who not only is the county named for, but also the private college that sits right on the water, built the historic Presbyterian Church in memory of his daughter in 1890.
Every time I go to St. Augustine, I fall in love with it all over again. So many historic sites to see, not to mention the specialty shoppes in Old Towne.

We got up early our last day there and went to the beach to watch the sunrise. Then it was off to the pool for some more swimming and tanning. We had a great time and laughed alot and ate wonderful seafood. St. Augustine is one of Florida's best places to visit with so many things to do, you can't help but want to go back again.

Apr 9, 2008

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

I recently had an interesting conversation with my friend, who also happens to be my boss. He's always reading interesting books. Mostly non-fiction, current event stuff, including politics and environmental issues. And an occasional biography. He mentioned to me a website he came across called http://www.ted.com/. Its a very interesting site that has an area called 'Talks' where people from all over the world are given 20 mnutes or so to share their ideas in front of a live audience and to the internet audience. Some speakers have been Al Gore talking about the climate change, Stephen Hawking, who spoke about his area of interest in space and Bono on his ONE campaign to fight AIDS in Africa and many others. You could spend hours on this site listening to these and other very interesting people. But the person who really stood out was Dave Eggers. A writer, teacher, magazine publisher and co-founder of a non-profit tutoring facility who cares alot about educating our nations children. His talk is called 'Once Upon A School'. Even though its been on TED for awhile, I felt like its worth mentioning. I could go on and on telling you about it, but instead I will put the link here and encourage you to take 20 minutes and watch his award-winning talk. Its interesting, thought provoking and entertaining. If you care about educating children, you will really enjoy it and what he and others have done to help students that normally might not have been able to excel in their studies.

One of the many accomplishments of these facilities is the publication of several books written by students who attend these tutoring facilities. The first book in the series was published in 2001 called WAITING TO BE HEARD. It's a collection of essays, poems, fictional stories and even personal experiences from 39 students speaking out against local, national and worldwide violence, from their point of view. I had a chance to flip thru this book briefly and I saw enough to know that I want to read it. I hope you'll take a minute to listen to the talk. I believe it'll be time well spent, especially if you're a parent.

Apr 7, 2008

Drying Out

This past weekend was a great reading weekend. It started raining here Friday and didn't stop until late last nite. It was a nice steady rain that will be good for the yard. I spent alot of time curled up on my couch reading. Since I'd finished THE LOVELY BONES, I was ready to start a new book so I picked up DEEP DISH, by Mary Kay Andrews. I've been looking forward to this one. Its southern fiction with alot of humor and after reading some pretty serious books lately I am ready for some lighter reading. If you're from the South, like I am, you can really appreciate this author. I made a pretty good dent in it the past few days so I'll give a full review once I've finished.

Sunday's bible study was very good. We're doing a series on 'Comebacks' and this week we focused on emotional comebacks. Troubled relationships, etc. It really hit close to home with me, as I'm experiencing some problems in my life with a family member. Its been going on for almost 4 months now and it bothers me every day. In church, we focused on guilt, grief and grudges and how to let go of all three and hand it over to God. Its actually hard for alot of people to do. You can't change people or even change what they think of you. Sometimes you have to just move past it and go forward. I found myself wishing that the family member I am at odds with were there in church with me.

A cheerful heart (emotions) is good medicine, but a broken spirit (emotions) saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17.22

Apr 4, 2008

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

This chilling story is told by a 14 year-old murder victim, Susie, as she watches the aftermath of her death from her heaven above. She watches over her family and feels helpless and sometimes guilty of the path her family now follows. Her mother, father, sister and brother all deal with the tragedy in very different ways. She also sees her murderer from heaven and can't do anything to bring his guilt to the attention of the authorities, even though some of her family already suspect him, but no one will listen. As the years pass she watches as her family tries to come to terms with their loss. She watches with envy as her younger sister grows into the beautiful, smart young woman that she will never be. She watches her parents, who once were so close become almost strangers to each other and she watches her little brother grow up to be the one constantly watching over their father, who seems so fragile still.

I liked this book and the writing style of the author, Alice Sebold. The story jumps around a bit, going back in time briefly here and there and jumps from one character to the next, but does it in a way that it always brings it right back to the present. You are able to get a good understanding of the characters and why they are who they are. This book is being made into a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Mark Wahlberg so I'm sure it'll be worth seeing. Even though the topic was tragic and sad, the story is gripping and I was glad I read it. Alice Sebold is also the author of LUCKY: A MEMOIR, written in 2001. It's the story of her own violent rape as a freshman at Syracuse University.