Aug 31, 2008

The Sunday Salon

Here we are as another week goes flying by! I had a pretty good week, although nothing overly exciting. I did get some reading done and did a few reviews. This week I read a very interesting book called THE SHACK by William P. Young. I'd heard so much about this book that my curiosity got the best of me and I put everything else on hold and read it. You can read my review here. Another book I reviewed was A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS, a mystery by J. F. Englert. It's not your average who dunnit. The narrator is a dog named Randolph who has a rather high brow intellect. That review can be seen here.

Another book I began reading this week is CHASING WINDMILLS by Cathrine Ryan Hyde. It's a story about two young people living very difficult lives in New York City. They meet in a most unlikely place, on the subway system and there is an instant connection between them that neither one can really explain. I'm half way through the book and I'm really enjoying it. There are some books that I can just lose myself in and this is one of them for me. I really like the characters of the book and also the writing style of the author. But I'll have more on that in the days to come once I've finished the book and post my review.

Yesterday I didn't get hardly any reading done because my cousin got married and I was busy with family all day. It was a lovey wedding and I'm so happy for my sweet cousin and her new husband. As for today, I'm planning on a quiet day here at home, doing laundry and reading a lot. I'm sure to finish my book by tomorrow as its a holiday and I'm going to do nothing but lounge around and relax. I also need to catch up on my blog reading. I'm sure my Google Reader is overflowing with all my subscriptions!

I hope everyone has a relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day with lots of good reads! One more thing before I close for today - as you all must know, there's a terrible storm making its way across the Gulf of Mexico and I want to say to our friend, J. Kaye that I'm thinking of you and all your neighbors in LA and that I'm praying for your safety. Please be safe and let us all know how you're doing.

Aug 29, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips goes on a camping trip over the Labor Day weekend with three of his children in the wilderness of Oregon. On their last day there, his six year old daughter, Missy is abducted and presumed murdered. Three years have passed since the death of his daughter and Mack is no closer to coming to terms with it than he was in the first days of her disappearance. Then one day there’s a note left his mailbox asking him to return to the shack where the authorities believe Missy took her last breath. The note is signed Papa. Only people very close to Mack’s family would know that Papa is the familiar name Nan, Mack’s wife, calls God. Unlike Nan, Mack has conflicted feelings when it comes to God and religion. He considers himself to be a Christian, but memories from his childhood with an alcoholic, abusive father who used the Bible to justify beating his wife and son have left him troubled and confused. THE SHACK is the story of how Mack tries to find answers and come to terms with this horrible tragedy. More directly, Mack wants to know how God would let this happen.

Let me start by saying that this book is a work of fiction. Christian Fiction. It isn't a book on how to deal with grief nor is it a guide to any particular religous belief. It's simply one authors interpretation of how this man in the story copes with his anger and grief, some of which are directed at God. For me, this was a compelling read and I found the way Mr. Young demonstrated Mack's interactions and conversations with God to be very interesting. The author does not try to push one particular religion or another on to the reader, he only tries to show the beauty of one man's experience relating to and communicating with God in order to gain understanding and hopefully, closure.

I think the storyline was very well thought out and well written. It kept my attention all the way through. The further I got into the book, the faster I read because I was anxious to see what was next. In the final chapters I found myself needing to set the book down, and gather my emotions before continuing to the next chapter. I was very moved by the story and that's what I love about it. I like when a story has it's grasp on me up until the very end and this book didn't disappoint me in that regard. Honestly, I really didn't know what to expect from this book before I read it. I read many varying reviews but I went into it with an open mind and I truly enjoyed it. I think it would provide excellent discussions for any book club. I highly recommend this book.

If you'd like to learn more about this enlightening, unique book and William P. Young, go to The entire first chapter is available for you to read online if you like.

Author: William P. Young
Publisher: Windblown Media
Published: May 2007
Pages: 256
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Aug 28, 2008

BTT: Stories

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?
Or, um, is it just me?
For me, first and foremost the story has to interest me. The characters also need to be interesting, but mainly its the story. Hopefully if you have a good story, the characters will be interesting as well. I like getting into and learning about the people in the book, to really connect to the story. I like mysteries that leave you wondering. I don't read many 'mainstream' mysteries that are easily figured out. I don't like predictable endings, which is why I stay away from most romance novels. Back when I was younger I read a lot of them but you pretty much knew how they would end. I want to be surprised! I want to get to the last chapter and still be wondering whats going to happen. That, to me, is a good story. I don't get too technical and analytical when reading. I read for enjoyment. I don't like when an author tries to get so technical that you lose sight of the story. The book I just finished was THE SHACK by William P. Young and it was a great story. (I'll have my review soon.) When I've finished a good book, it makes me feel complete and satisfied. That's what I'm looking for when I pick up a book.

Aug 27, 2008

Book Review: A Dog Among Diplomats

The cover of this book makes it obvious it’s the dog who is the brains behind the case-solving as he is also the narrator. Let me introduce you to Randolph, a portly black lab with a well developed knowledge of literature among other intellectual interests. Randolph and his owner, Harry, an artist, live in Manhattan.

A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS is the second in the Bull Moose Dog Run series, the first being A DOG ABOUT TOWN. This story takes up where the first left off with Harry and Randolph both dealing with the disappearance of Harry’s girlfriend, Imogene, who was Randolph’s mistress before Harry was in the picture. The reader learns fairly early on that the mystery surrounding Imogene’s disappearance involves some Australian land and uranium rights that are soon to be willed to Imogene and certain people are willing to kill for them. The steady flow of dead bodies turning up all seem to point to Imogene as the killer, even though there are several spies disguising themselves as diplomats from the United Nations lurking about. Through the course of the investigation Harry discovers that he didn’t know his live-in girlfriend as well as he thought he did. He begins to question everything as the evidence piles up, which leaves Randolph even more determined to help prove her innocence. Randolph is able to learn a lot by filling in as a therapy dog for one of the diplomats. However, between the thyroid condition he is suffering from that leaves him easily exhausted and a murderer in close proximity, even his life is jeopardized.

When reading this book, its important to keep an open mind. There are parts of the book, that if taken too seriously could turn the reader off. It’s not a serious, bite your nails kind of mystery. I mean, it isn’t every day you read about a dog with his own email account or who orders his favorite books online. But with that being said, those are the quirky things about this book that make it entertaining and different. Basically, it’s a decent story with interesting characters. There are a lot of them to keep up with, but Englert is able to blend them all fluently. I could find things about the book to pick at, but then I remember that it’s a story about a dog trying to solve a mystery, so I choose to keep my perspective, sit back and enjoy the story.

J. F. Englert
Publisher: Dell
Date Published: April 2008
Pages: 336

Aug 26, 2008

Tuesday Teasers: My First

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:

Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a reandom page.
Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

My two “teaser” sentences for today are from page 132 of CHASING WINDMILLS by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of PAY IT FORWARD.

I started to ask Delilah to tell me how it was done, but then i realized I didn't want to know.

I wanted to believe it was love.

I just started reading this book, so I can't offer too much as to what it means, but I think it speaks for itself.

Aug 24, 2008

The Sunday Salon: After the Storm

Good Morning Saloners! This has been a strange week for me. Tropical Storm Fay finally went on her way after hovering for days. Fortunately, the area that I live in was spared the destruction associated with the storm. It seemed to literally work its way around us. We did get a lot of rain and some wind, but nothing like the Orlando area, which is just to the south of us. I did stay home from work on Friday. Being in the construction industry, it was sure to be a slow day. I rarely take days off or even vacations for that matter, so it was nice to have a day to stay home and do nothing. With all the rain, my yard is beginning to look like a jungle and I have some tree debris to pick up before the mowing can be done. I’m just thankful nothing more serious than a few downed limbs is what I’m left with after Fay. It certainly could have been a lot worse.

The books I ordered from Amazon arrived this week - two whole days earlier than expected much to my delight! Here’s what I got:

THE SHACK by William P. Young
LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel
THE LACE READER by Brunonia Berry
OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson (just released in paperback)

I was especially excited about THE SHACK after reading several intriguing reviews. It’s not your typical book. I don’t read a lot of Christian Fiction, but this story grabbed me and has really made me think. I love books that have the ability to help you see things in different ways. I immediately started reading it the day it arrived. I’m almost finished with it and I’ll have my review soon. If you’ve read THE SHACK please leave me a comment or a link to your review. I’m very interested in your perception of the book.

I also received an audio book of Sarah Addison Allen's novella called IN MY DREAMS. She's the best selling author of GARDEN SPELLS and more recently SUGAR QUEEN. You can watch the trailer for IN MY DREAMS by clicking HERE. There was also an added bonus in the package. An ARC of EGRET COVE by Margaret Nava. Both were sent to me courtesy of BelleBooks out of Smyrna, Georgia. They specialize in publishing southern fiction.

For the rest of today I’m planning on relaxing and finishing my book. I could get used to these three day weekends! What about you? What book are you reading today? Is it a light read or is something you can really sink your teeth into? Does it make you think? Or does it make you laugh? Whatever the type of book you're reading now, I hope you enjoy your Sunday.

Aug 19, 2008

TS Fay Update & 'Matrimony' Giveaway

As I sit here waiting on the winds and rain to arrive from South Florida, I'm catching up on my blog reading. The storm is due to reach my area in a few hours and should last until Wednesday morning. I won't be doing anything on my computer during that time, as I just got everything replaced from a lightening strike last month. I'm not taking any chances. This is what it looked like this morning.

One more thing before I shut down my computer - I want to mention a book giveaway from Naida at the Bookworm. She has a signed copy of MATRIMONY by Joshua Henkin she is giving away to a lucky reader. She's written a fabulous review of the book as well. You can read it here and also find out how to get entered into the contest. The drawing will be held Saturday, August 30th, so you have plenty of time. I have read so many great things about this book and I would love to win it!

Good Luck to everyone!

Aug 18, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay - Rattle & Hum

You'd think that after all these years of living in Florida, I'd be used to the hurricane season, but each year, its still a bit unnerving. Especially after Katrina. Living in the north central part of the state, we never get a direct hit, however the outer bands can produce destructive winds and make life pretty scary. Thankfully, Fay is still a tropical storm for the time being, but when she gets out into warm water and gets closer to the Florida coast, it will more than likely strengthen to hurricane status. We've been luck so far this hurricane season that its been uneventful. I'm thinking of the people in the Keys and the southernmost part of the state right now and praying for their safety.

Last night I watched a classic documentary on VH1Classics. It was U2's Rattle & Hum from 1988. I've been a fan of the band since 1983 when, by pure luck, I was given a ticket to their concert because the person who was supposed to go got sick. What an impact that band had on me. With all the new bands that flood the market every year, U2 is a band that stands out. They're songs don't contain your average lyric about lost love or party times. Sitting there listening to those songs last night that I haven't heard in awhile, I was once again moved by their words.
U2 - Where the Streets Have No Name 1988

Aug 17, 2008

The Sunday Salon

Another week gone just like that! I had an interesting book week, however I didn’t get as much reading done as I would’ve liked, but I did do some blogging. Speaking of blogging, I was honored this week when J.Kaye spotlighted my blog on her site. Recently she’s started spotlighting new visitors who’ve left comments on her blog. She reads an enormous amount of books and does such wonderful reviews and has so many loyal readers. I was thrilled to be included. Thanks J.Kaye!
I got a postcard yesterday from Dawn at She Is Too Fond of Books. A few weeks ago, after receiving a beautiful postcard from Lenore at Presenting Lenore, Dawn thought it would be fun to keep it going. So she sent postcards from her area to the first 10 people who commented on her blog. The postcard I received was of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library! it’s a beautiful photo and I was tickled to get something besides bills in my mailbox! Unfortunately, I don’t have the correct cable to hook my scanner up to my new computer, so I’m unable to include it here. But its really cool! Thanks Dawn! In return, I’m going to send postcards from my neck ‘o the woods to the first ten people who leave a comment on this post. And I’ll also be sending one back to Dawn. Just post a comment, then email me at with your mailing address. I love getting postcards and I think this will be fun!

I got an email this week from Kathleen McCleary, the author of HOUSE AND HOME. We’re gearing up for her guest appearance on my blog. She is so nice and we’ve discovered we have several things in common when it comes to the books we love. I’m very excited to have her as my special guest and I’d love for all of you to stop by. Don’t forget - September 10th!
As I mentioned I didn’t get a lot of reading done this week, but I did finish a cute murder mystery by J.F. Englert titled A Dog Among Diplomats. I’ll be finishing the review in a few days. I placed an order at Amazon the other day and I can hardly contain my excitement!! I won’t tell you what I ordered yet, but when they get here, you may be able to hear me squealing with joy! I love getting books!

Well, its back to the laundry for me and hopefully some blog reading too. I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday. Take care!

Aug 15, 2008

100 Things For My 100th Post

100 posts!! Wow - that was fast! So in keeping with the blogger tradition of doing the 100 Things About Me Meme, here are mine! I hope you find them at least a little interesting.


1. I grew up on a farm
2. I believe in UFO’s
3. I learned to play the clarinet in the 5th grade
4. I wanted to play the saxophone
5. In the 8th grade I traded my clarinet for my friend’s saxophone
6. My parents made me give it back
7. My dad recently commented that he wished I’d played the saxophone
8. He didn’t remember the sax/clarinet incident
9. I’m very close to my mother
10. I look like my dad
11. I’m sarcastic
12. I like sarcasm
13. My best friend is sarcastic
14. We embrace it
15. I cry easily
16. I had a great childhood
17. I’m allergic to strawberries
18. My lips swell up when I eat them
19. I hate alligators (I have reoccurring nightmares of them)
20. I hate liars more than anything
21. I wish I wasn't so gullible
22. I started this blog because I was bored one day
23. I didn’t expect to love it so much
24. I get homesick when I’m away from home
25. I used to think I was clairvoyant at times
26. I’ve never told anybody that before
27. I’m good at trivia
28. My friends/family call me with random questions all the time
29. I lost a close friend to prescription drug overdose
30. The drugs ruined our friendship and her life
31. I spoke at her funeral
32. I think about her all the time
33. Most of my friends I’ve known for more than 10 years
34. I’ve known my boyfriend for 26 years
35. I met him when I was 18
36. He was 31
37. I instantly had a crush on him
38. I was married to someone else for 11 years
39. I worked at a lumber yard for 7 years
40. I did not load trucks
41. I used to work for a helicopter company
42. I did not fly helicopters
43. I love to go out to eat
44. I’m indecisive
45. I wish I was more sure of myself
46. My first car was a 1972 2 cylinder Honda Coupe
47. It was so small the boys from high school would pick it up and move it on me
48. I paid cash for it when I was 15 with my waitressing tips
49. I didn’t have a drivers license then
50. I don’t have a drivers license now
51. I’ve never been arrested
52. I’ve had my phone tapped
53. By the FBI
54. They were looking for a friend of mine
55. He was not a good person
56. I didn’t know that then
57. They told me
58. They shot and killed him
59. They called and told me that too
60. My first concert was Peter Frampton (1977)
61. My favorite concert was U2 in 1983
62. I always wanted a Chevelle Super Sport
63. I hate loud noises
64. I have excellent hearing
65. I used to write poetry
66. When I was younger I wanted to write short stories
67. I love dark chocolate
68. I have a brown thumb
69. I always wanted a green thumb
70. I watch soap operas
71. I'm a dreamer
72. I love old western movies (John Wayne)
73. I love Feta Cheese
74. Dark Blue is my favorite color
75. I once drank a jar of olive juice after I finished off the olives
76. I snore
77. I once won a trophy in a bass fishing tournament for biggest fish
78. I LOVE football
79. I’m named after a character on a soap opera, (thanks Mom)
80. I used to be a professional nail technician (Manicurist)
81. I hate black licorice
82. I’ve always wanted to play the piano
83. After reading a book about Helen Keller when i was a kid, I used to pretend I was blind to see what it would be like
84. I was diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease (RP) at 25 yrs old
85. My sister has it too
86. I never thought I’d get married
87. I’m still friends with my first love
88. I love strawberry ice cream
89. I've never had stitches
90. When i was younger I quit a job to go see Journey in concert
91. My boyfriend at the time got sick and we had to leave the concert BEFORE Journey came out.
92. I got another job the next day
93. I never saw Journey in concert
94. I’m very sentimental
95. I showed Quarter Horses as a kid
96. I love to get up early in the morning (before 7:00) on the weekends
97. I hate sugar in my coffee
98. I never went to my Senior Prom
99. I love cold weather
100. Fire is my biggest fear

Probably more than you needed to know about me! I hope y'all have a great Friday!

Aug 14, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Gold Medal Reading

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:

First: Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general?
Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

Do you consider yourself a sports fan?
Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.
(Or a good sports movie, for that matter.)
I think this is a great question, given the Olympics is happening now! Here's my answers -
Even though I've never read a book about the Olympics, I have read books about sports. Thinking all the way to my high school years, I remember taking a Sports Lit class, but that was so long ago, I couldn't even begin to remember what I read, sadly. Then in 1997, I read Bad As I Wanna Be by former Chicago Bull's player, Dennis Rodman. My friends thought I was crazy, but honestly, I really liked the book. It was an autobiography where he talked frankly about his troubled childhood growing up in the projects and how he survived it. I was impressed with the book and it showed a completely different side to him that you don't ever see. Unfortunatly, his outragous behavior off the court shows a not so great image of what he has become, in my opinion. More recently though, being a huge football fan, I read Do You Love Football? by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden. It was published in 2004 after his team won the Super Bowl during his first season with the organization. It was an interesting book that chronicled his love of the game and his passion for winning. I've also read books about the late Dale Earnhardt soon after his death in 2001. (I'm a NASCAR fan as well!)
My answer to the second part of this question is obvious. YES, I am a true sports fan. I enjoy watching sports such as football, NASCAR and golf on a regular basis. I'm fortunate that my LB (loving boyfriend) enjoys sports too. Actually he is way more into sports than I am and even played basketball in his college years. (I was married to a man for 13 years who hated sports) This is a refreshing change and something we enjoy doing together. I love watching the Olympics, especially swimming, gymnastics and the track and field events.
My favorite sports movie would have to be Rudy. Some other favorites are Jerry McGuire, Tin Cup and Rememer the Titans.

Aug 13, 2008

Book Review: My Husband's Sweethearts

Lucy Shoreman is a confident, professional, woman who, on the outside, appears to have it all. Great job, nice house, successful attractive husband, who is eighteen years her senior. But then she finds out he’s been cheating on her. She leaves him and stays focused on her job (as an auditor) for six months, purposely staying away from the home they share. She’s trying to decide if she should or can forgive him. Then the unexpected happens. Artie is told he’s dying. Now what? Is she expected to forgive him and stand by him during this terrible time? Will she be looked at as heartless if she doesn’t? These are some of the questions running through Lucy’s mind. Then she learns that Artie has many ‘sweethearts’ as he calls them and she wonders how many of them he kept during their four year marriage. Then a crazy thought pops in her mind: If these women shared his good times, why should she have to suffer through his bad times alone? It didn’t seem fair to Lucy. So one drunken night while flipping through Artie's little black book, she calls a few of the sweethearts to let them know he's dying and invites them to take their turn at his deathbed. She didn’t expect anyone to actually show up. But they did.

I received this book from the Library Thing Early Reviewers. Apparently it was the most requested ARC for July, so I was surprised to have snagged a copy. It sounded like it could be a little dicey and entertaining, so I was happy when I found out it was on its way.

Bridget Asher's MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS turned out to be an enjoyable, light read for me. I can’t say that I loved it, but it was well written and had some smart, witty dialogue. It did take me awhile to connect with a few of the characters, especially Artie. I usually can get a visual feel for the character in my mind early on, but I had a hard time with him. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I just never fully connected with the character. However, there were others that I did connect with. The parade of women who come to see Artie are all different and they each have their own reasons for being there.

Ultimately, this is a story about forgiveness and finding comfort in the most unlikely places. Personally, I couldn’t identify with Lucy because I just don’t see myself being able to do what she did. I don’t know many women who could. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say I just found parts of the story a bit unlikely. Perhaps I’m too practical or maybe I took it too seriously? I don’t know. That being said, there were parts of the story that I did enjoy. I especially liked the dynamic between Elspa, one of the youngest sweethearts and Lucy along with Eleanor, who has a particularly cold reaction to the news. There is a twist to the story and some touching and funny moments. It also shows how Lucy tries to come to terms with the infidelity. The ending was a bit predictable, but satisfying. I think it could make an interesting book club pick given the unusual subject matter.

I’m anxious to see what others think of this book. If anyone else has received an advanced copy, I’d love to read your review, so leave me a comment with a link and I’ll add it to mine.
MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS release date is August 19th.

Author: Bridge Asher
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Published: August 2008
Pages: 288
ating: 3 Stars (out of 5)

Aug 12, 2008

In My Mailbox

It's getting closer! What? you ask? - my very first author guest post courtesy of TLC Book Tours! I'm so excited! When I arrived home from work yesterday I found in my mailbox the book from the author who will be joining me on September 10th. The author is Kathleen McCleary and the book is HOUSE AND HOME! Just seeing it there in the mailbox made me realize how soon it will be here! Here's a complete schedule of all the stops Ms. McCleary will be making on the tour:

Wednesday, September 3rd - Hooked on Houses
Friday, September 5th - It’s All About Books
Monday, September 8th - The Literate Housewife
Wednesday, September 10th - Books and Cooks
Friday, September 12th - Breaking the Spine
Monday, September 15th - She Is Too Fond Of Books
Wednesday, September 17th -Caribousmom
Thursday, September 18th - Age 30 - A Year of Books
Monday, September 22nd - Booking Mama
Wednesday, September 24th -The Inside Cover
Friday, September 26th - In the Shadow of Mt. TBR
Monday, September 29th - Displaced Beach Bums

In other news, I received a message yesterday from BelleBooks that Sarah Addison Allen's audio cd of her new novella, IN MY DREAMS is available and they've asked me to give it a listen. I love Ms. Allen's books and I'm anxious to get my hands on this cd. This is what BelleBooks is saying about IN MY DREAMS:

"Grace. Charm. The everyday magic of everyday life. Welcome to Clementine, North Carolina, where the mysteries of love, loss and friendship bloom with quiet wisdom. Sarah Addison Allen, the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells and Sugar Queen, brings her wise and magical storytelling to a novella about life in a small North Carolina town."

Aug 11, 2008

Book Review: The Sugar Queen

THE SUGAR QUEEN by Sarah Addison Allen has a little bit of everything: family drama, friendship, romance, mystery and a little magic to make it even more interesting. It’s the second release from the author of GARDEN SPELLS from last year, which I read and loved. If you’d like to read that review click here.

This story centers around Josey Cirrini, a 29 year old woman who still lives with her mother, Margaret and does everything possible to gain her acceptance, which she’ll probably never get. Josey lives her life for her mother and the hope that the people of Bald Slope, North Carolina will one day forget what a terrible child she was and how horribly she treated Margaret. Because of her mothers’ relentless bossing around and Josey’s desire to make amends, she doesn’t have any friends, unless you count the sweet treats and romance novels she has hidden in a secret space in her closet. Those friends don’t judge her, they make her feel good. Margaret certainly would not approve of these indulgences. However, things start to change when local rough girl, Della Lee shows up in Josey’s closet one day and threatens to tell her secret unless she does a few things for her. Desperate to keep her secret, Josey reluctantly does what Della Lee says and even though Josey doesn’t realize it right away, she begins to change. Through Della Lee, Josey meets Chloe, who has just found out the love of her life has cheated on her. Their friendship grows quickly and Josey becomes someone Chloe turns to and trusts. Chloe has a special relationship with books that brings a whimsical feel to the story.

I liked this story and the cast of characters very much. They each have their own issues, but it all fits in together to tell a complete story with a satisfying ending. As I’ve said before, I’m not big into the fantasy genre but what I like about Ms. Allen’s books is that the magical element is subtle and incorporated into her stories very nicely. As with Garden Spells, it didn’t monopolize the story at all or become to ’out there’. THE SUGAR QUEEN was an enjoyable, quick read and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who enjoy magical realism.

You can also read Lisa's review of this book at Books On The Brain.

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam Books
Published: June 2008
Pages: 276
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Aug 10, 2008

The Sunday Salon: My Week In Books

Finally! A productive week in books! I was able to read a lot this past week, which is a change from recent weeks. I also spent a good amount of time reading new book blogs. There certainly are a lot of us out there and I take such inspiration from all of them. They’re amazing!

Here’s what I accomplished this week in books. First, I posted my review of Jess Riley’s DRIVING SIDEWAYS. I can’t say enough about this wonderful book. You can read my review here. Also, if you'd like to win a signed copy of the book, go to Bookroom Reviews Weblog and get entered. You can read all the details there. This week I finished reading THE SUGAR QUEEN by Sarah Addison Allen and also Bridget Asher’s MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS, which comes out August 19th. I’ll be posting those reviews in the coming days.

As far as what I’m reading now, author J. F. Englert recently sent me two of his books, one of which was recently released. It’s a murder mystery that is sure to be different. I’m only about 50 pages in and I’m still learning about the characters, so I'll have more about that in the days to come. I’m also reading CHASING WINDMILLS by Catherine Ryan Hyde that was realeased back in March.

A few days ago, one of the bloggers featured a What’s On Your Nightstand? post. I’m sorry, I can’t remember who actually initiated it, but I remember seeing it on several blogs. They all posted photos of their nightstands loaded with books from their TBR lists. It was amazing to see the towering books! I didn’t actually participate, because I didn’t have the means to provide a photo at the time, but I made a mental list. I was really surprised at how many I had! Here’s what I came up with (in no particular order):

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (partially read)
Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner (partially read)
While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within by Bruce Bawer (partially read)
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre (partially read)
The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
Down River by John Hart
Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

Whew! I may have left a few off, but that looks like a pretty good list to me! (You should see me Wish List!) I hate leaving books unfinished, so the ones I've started should get priority.

Last weeks Booking Through Thursday was about worlds and eras in books and posed the question, In what book world/era would you want to be or NOT want to be? Also, What author would you want to write your story? That was easy for me, I didn’t want Stephen King to write my story! No way! I went with Sue Monk Kidd. A lot of people answered that they would not want to be in the Margaret Atwood book THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with this book, but after reading so many people referring to it, I have to check it out. I have an Atwood book on my list that I got as a trade, but not that one. I thought that was an interesting topic for BTT and I enjoyed reading everyone’s answers very much.

So, that was my week in books. I’ve realized I need to pay some attention to those books I’ve started and not finished. They’re good books, but for one reason or another I laid them off to the side. My goal will be to finish those books by the end of the year. Shouldn't be a problem, right?

Well, I’m off to the blogs now to see what y’all are reading and to get some ideas for new reads. Hope everyone has a peaceful, enjoyable reading day! Thanks for stopping by!

Aug 7, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Other Worlds

Todays BTT question is:

Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?
Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?
What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

Well, I can answer the second part of this question very easily. I certainly would not want to live in the world of A Thousand Splendid Suns. That would absolutely be terrible to live in fear of the fighting all the time and as a woman to be treated with such abuse and disrespect. On the other hand, I think it would be interesting to live in the times of Lonesome Dove or Gone With the Wind. The only drawback there is no air conditioning or indoor plumbing and that would suck, especially given the long gowns women wore in those times! But I would love the horse and buggy days! As far as locales go, I think I'd like to live in Dorothea Benton Frank's low country near the ocean. Pawley's Island or Sullivan's Island. That would be a great place to live! Very laid back. I know for sure I would not want Stephen King to write my story. It would probably be creepy and scary! However, I would trust Sue Monk Kidd to write my story. I love the way she writes, especially in The Secret Life of Bees.

What about you? What world would you like to be in?

Aug 5, 2008

In Memory of a Dear Family Friend

Yesterday my family received some sad news. My father’s closest friend of forty plus years passed away last week. His name was Harold but my dad called him ‘Hillbilly’. He was one of the kindest, sweetest men I knew. He was like a brother to my father, an uncle to my sister and me. He helped my dad build our house we grew up in, went on fishing trips to Canada and ate dinner at our table so many times . . . he was family. He had sideburns that would make Elvis jealous and a smile that would brighten the darkest room and a laugh that came from down deep. He was the kind of person that didn’t take friendship lightly. I know my dad is hurting now and missing his friend who he used to sit and share endless stories with. I just want to take a moment to remember him.

We love you Harold and we'll miss you,
Lou, Carol and the girls

Aug 4, 2008

Book Review: Driving Sideways

What would you do if you were 29 years old, had been very sick and ultimately had a major organ transplant, never really lived on your own or was able to do the adventurous things in life most twenty-somethings do? Would you drive across country from Wisconsin to California in your Saturn with a kayak strapped to the roof in search of answers to questions you have about your life?

That’s exactly what Leigh Fielding did Much to the dismay of her over-protective, angry older brother, James. But its not surprising he wouldn’t approve of this rebellion of sorts; he lives a very responsible life with not a lot of consideration for the spontaneous. But there are good reasons why James has become the person he is. Maybe its because their mother ran off to California without ever looking back when Leigh was just five years old and he was fifteen. Not to mention the loss of their father a few years later.

A year after Leigh’s kidney transplant, she feels healthy and strong enough to do something uncharacteristically crazy. That’s when she decides to make this journey. Her ultimate destination is Los Angeles to find her mother whom she hasn’t seen in 23 years and barely remembers. However, she does plan a few stops along the way. First, to look up her ex-boyfriend, the only serious relationship she’s ever had, who broke her heart. Secondly, to spend a day in Colorado visiting her best friend, Jillian who now lives there with her fiancé, who Leigh hasn’t met, but already doesn’t like much. Then its off to Utah to look up the family of Larry Resnick, the previous owner of the organ Leigh now uses to filter her urine. Along the way, Leigh encounters some interestingly unusual people and circumstances, many of which force her to take a long look at herself and the choices she makes.

DRIVING SIDEWAYS is the most entertaining book I’ve read all year. I loved it! If you’re like me and you love sarcastic humor, you’d enjoy this book too. There were times that I’d laugh until I had tears in my eyes. Literally, laughing out loud! Also, you have to appreciate a writer that uses your favorite word, especially when its an odd word. That word for me is ‘snarky’, and I was tickled to see Ms. Riley use it. Even though the story itself has a common theme - self discovery, she made it fresh and different. And while Leigh deals with a serious illness (PKD), she was able to raise awareness about the disease without it becoming depressing. She incorporated it into a very well written story. All of the characters were interesting and likeable. I loved their senses of humor and the way they interacted with one another. While reading this book, I had such a clear image of who these people were that I was able to visualize it all in my mind It was like a movie. A really good movie. As I said before, this book made me laugh, but it also touched my heart.

I won’t say that it is a quick read, because for me, it wasn‘t. The story is told by Leigh as if the reader is a new friend and she’s talking about a very important time in her life. There was so much in this book, that I wanted to read it slowly and not miss anything. It all just worked!

I first heard about this book from Julie P at Booking Mama. Based on her review (read it here), I ran out and got my own copy. By the way, the book is now in its THIRD printing! Jess Riley was even kind enough to send me a signed bookplate for the front of my book! Thanks Jess! I think DRIVING SIDEWAYS would make an interesting choice for a book club. Its not your normal book club pick, but it would certainly lead to some interesting discussions. If you’re looking for a fun read with lots of interesting and entertaining dialogue, you can’t go wrong with DRVING SIDEWAYS.

Check out Jess Riley’s website at I really enjoyed reading this book and I’ll definitely be looking out for more from this unique and very talented writer.

Author: Jess Riley
Published: May 2008
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 338
Would I recommend this book? YES!

Aug 3, 2008

The Sunday Salon: My Week In Books

Happy Sunday Saloners! I still can’t get over the fact that it’s August already! Where has the year gone? I’ve had a pretty exciting book week and I thought I’d share it with all of you today here at the Salon.

This has been a very exciting week for me. My friend Lisa at Books On The Brain and Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin? have started a new online venture called TLC Book Tours and they’ve invited me to be one of the first hosts of a book tour in September! How happy was I to have been thought of??!! The author I will be hosting is Kathleen McCleary, the author of HOUSE AND HOME, a book I just recently read and reviewed. (Read review here) She will be my very special guest on Wednesday, September 10th, so please stop by! It’s my first author guest appearance, so I’m very excited and grateful to Lisa and Trish! Be sure to check out their website for additional tours and information on upcoming authors.

Now on to the books! I finished DRIVING SIDEWAYS by Jess Riley this week and I’ve been working on that review. I should have it in the next day or two. It took me a little longer to read it, but I had other things going on that kept me away from the book. I received several books in the mail this week that I’m excited about. Two were from Random House and two were from the authors. Library Thing picked me to review MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS by Bidget Asher this month. Here’s little about the book.

From Publishers Weekly:
Faced with the imminent death of her charming, cheating and estranged husband
Artie, Lucy Shoreman decides to call the names in his little black book and
invite the ladies to his Philadelphia home to say a final farewell. For her
part, 30-ish Lucy, who's 18 years Artie's junior, can't decide whether she loves
or hates the man, while her much-married mother insists he deserves forgiveness.
As a broad spectrum of his ex-lovers arrives, including a surprised
mother-and-daughter duo and a troubled young woman Lucy takes under her wing,
Artie's previously undisclosed and estranged grown son, John, shows up and seems
as wickedly appealing as Dad. Asher, a pen name of prolific author Julianna
Baggott, takes the edge off her sharply drawn characters with a succession of
familiar sentiments. But flashes of wit and a parade of memorable women keep
pages turning as Lucy grows increasingly and endearingly confused about her
feelings toward Artie, John and the rest.
Sounds like it could be pretty interesting. I’m ready for a juicy story! MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEART’S goes on sale August 19th.

Another book I received this week was CHASING WINDMILLS by Catherine Ryan Hyde. She wrote the book PAY IT FORWARD that became a movie starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacy. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first! The movie is great, but books are always even better! This is her latest release about two young people who meet while riding the New York City subway and how their relationship evolves and impacts each of their lives. Here’s what’s being said about it:

"A sweet tale openly modeled on West Side Story… a gentle tale centering how people come to grip with their pasts.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Simple and captivating. It is [Sebastian's and Maria's] voices–at once utterly credible and heartbreakingly naive–that make the book, and while this is being billed as an adult novel, its closest stylistic relative is S.E. Hinton's YA classic The Outsiders.” –Publishers Weekly

“Hyde writes evocatively of the visceral nature of first love. Her characters are well developed, and she describes settings economically but effectively. The ending is realistic and satisfying. Short chapters make for a page-turning read and the distinct voices are sweet, soul-baring, and honest.” –School Library Journal

Needless to say, I was thrilled when Ms. Hyde asked me if I’d like to review this book for her. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Another author sent me two of his books this week to review. His name is J.F. Englert and he has a series of mysteries called The Bull Moose Dog Run Mysteries. He’s just released the second in the series titled, A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS that follows A DOG ABOUT TOWN, the first release. The interesting thing about these books is that the main character is Randolph, a black lab. A very high brow black lab. I’ve heard these books are very entertaining. I received an email after the author had noticed my earlier review of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, another canine-narrative.

In reading the blogs this past week, there was one book that was mentioned on a few different sites that has really caught my attention. It’s called THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry, a first time author. It’s a murder mystery set in modern day Salem and it is getting a lot of attention, all positive. Originally self-published, it is being re-released and there’s talk of a trilogy. Check out Jill’s post at Breaking The Spine for a great preview of this much anticipated book.

I just have to mention one more thing before closing this post. When I got up this morning I was flipping channels on the tv and came across To Kill A Mockingbird. It had been years since I saw that movie, so I watched it. It made me remember how much I loved the book. I read it for the first time in the 10th grade. Unfortunatly I lost my copy years ago, but I intend to find a copy for my collection. I typically don't re-read many books, but that is the exception to my rule. Is there a book that you love that you would read over and over again? Well, I hope all of you had an interesting week as well. I look forward to reading your blogs and catching up!

Aug 1, 2008

Friday Fill Ins

Questions 1 and 2 this week are courtesy of Sherry, thanks!
Here we go:

1. If I could travel back in time, I'd go to my childhood - when you didn't have to lock your doors, you knew all your neighbors and kids played outside all day.

2. Give me my vision back or give me a full-time car/driver.
3. I am listening to my computer hum.

4. Somewhere, someone is thinking about the weekend.

5. I'll always be a southern girl.

6. My idea of a good time includes being with my friends and laughing a lot.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to watching a movie, tomorrow my plans include taking my honey out to dinner for his birthday and Sunday, I want to get a lot of reading done and relax!