Thursday, November 10, 2011

Harry the Dirty Dog


Harry The Dirty Dog
Author: Gene Zion
Illustrator: Margaret Bloy Graham
AudioCd Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Ages: 3 to 8 years
Genre: Childrens Fiction

Harry is a white dog with black spots who loves everything...except baths.  So one day before bath time, Harry runs away.  He plays outside all day long, digging and sliding in everything from garden soil to pavement tar.  By the time he returns home, Harry is so dirty he looks like a Black dog with white spots.  His Family doesn't even recognize him!

"Another Funny-bone tickling charmer by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham that will make youngsters and their Parents giggle."
 -Kirkus Reviews

"Harry is sure to be loved; especially by those pre-school children to whome dirt is an ever-delightful thing."
-The New York Times

I picked up this Duo Set Audio CD/Book combo today at the library.  As an avid Audiobook-oholic I had never thought to check out the selection there was for young children.  I have to say, I'm impressed!  With 2 different tracks included on this CD it allows younger children to who are in the beginning stages of reading, knowledge of when the pages of the book need to be turned...also for older children this extra chime is not included.  With the musical background along with the fun narrator's voice makes a great duo and can make reading time even more fun.  For kids that don't necesarilly like to sit down to read...this can also be a great segway into getting them to sit down and accustomed to books and away from Video games and TV!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Author Interview: Ann H. Barlow


Tell me a bit about yourself.

I was born in Dumfries in Scotland to working class parents. My father worked at the Forestry at that time then we moved to Lanarkshire. I was still very young when we moved to Larkhall, a village around 20 miles from Glasgow that was far from idyllic.  My father was unable to get work for a time and went off to Corby. He was unable to find work there either and ended up in Bradford and the family moved there soon after. I found the move to Bradford very unsettling. I was 14 at the time and had to leave my friends but at the same time I was excited by the prospect of living in a city. As it turned out I did not much care for Bradford. I left school at 15 and started my working life in a mill and then worked in a couple of factories but I was bored and although the money was not as good I applied for a job with Empire Stores (a catalogue company) where I worked in administration. I later joined Grattan Warehouse (another catalogue company) where I did quite well but left when I moved to Clayton as it was too far to travel.
I went back to college at the age of 24 just as my son was starting first school. It was one of the best decisions I ever made and gave me a lot of confidence that prior to my education, I sadly lacked. I started working for a generating set manufacturer on leaving college and ended up doing to the books and returned to college to take Management Accountancy and my career went on from there.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have always had a writing project in some guise. I started doing plays with my sisters when we were very young that we enacted in our back garden in a makeshift tent in front of the neighborhood. I went on to write short stories and poetry but writing was put on the back burner when I got married and had a child and subsequently started my career.  It wasn’t until my thirties that I started again. After the sudden death of my first husband I found that I had a lot of time to kill in the evenings. I started a couple of books then but my career really took off around the same time and I also started a business. So with working full time and running a business it was again put to one side. I picked it up once again after my son finished school and wrote the drafts of 2 books, one a thriller and the other a comedy but fate would have it that my computer got stolen and I was foolish enough not to have a copy. I did not make that mistake again.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I had a difficult time growing up and the first book I started to write was about my own life. I considered starting again but decided that it’s all been said before.
I may at some time feel differently but at the moment I do not have any plans in that direction.

How much research goes into writing your book(s)?

My books are mainly based on locations that I have visited or that I have firsthand knowledge of through my husband who has also traveled extensively, especially in Africa.
Having lived in Dubai for over a decade, I am very familiar with people from the Middle East and Asia and many of my characters were formed from my time there. I also have worked with a lot of people from Africa, in particular from South Africa and Nigeria.

What books have influenced your life most?

That’s a difficult question because I tended to have periods in my life where I would read completely different styles of books, for example I went through a spell where I read a lot of the classics and my favorite romance of all time is Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte). I also love Jane Austen and Somerset Maugham.  I adore P G Wodehouse and Stephen Fry and in a completely different vein Frederick Forsyth and John Grisham all of whom are extremely intelligent writers that reflect different aspects of human nature.  I read a lot of books in my early 30’s such as Armageddon, Exodus (Leon Uris), The Cancer Ward (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) and others in the same vein and these books influenced me greatly. In the end however I had to stop reading them as it was just too heartbreaking and was beginning to affect my mental health. I came to the conclusion that I would never know why and looked at other avenues to explore.  I was also greatly influenced by Dangerous Energy (John Whitbourn) which was one of my favorite books of all time and also Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes) although for some reason the latter breaks my heart just thinking about it.
I could go on.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I wouldn’t. My reading has been so varied. There are lots of great writers out there and I wouldn’t want to liken myself to any of them. I would perhaps like to be as accomplished but like everything else that takes time.  I really tried to develop my own style but if anyone sees a likeness to another author that I have read then perhaps I wasn’t quite as successful at that as I strived to be.

What book are you reading now?

I have such a hunger for books that I tend to read more than one book at a time. Right now I am reading Dead Men by Derek Haines, The Blaize Chronicles by L K J Lee, and The Assassins Village – Faith Mortimer.  I also have my list of books that I want to read when I have finished reading these
I have already pre ordered Sins of the Angels – Linda Poitevin
Sapphique – Cather Fisher
Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes – Denise Grover
The Philanthropist’s Danse – Paul Wornham
In the Spotlight – Ann Mauren
Proto Star – Braxton A Cosby
My Blood Runs Blue – Stacy Eaton
Towards Yesterday – Paul Jones
And after a review that I read just the day before I must read Littluns by Mark Glamack. I have been speaking with Mark and he seems a very genuine and down to earth man and I love this concept.

What kind genre of book do you typically write?

Again I don’t tend to write any specific genre. As I say my first attempt was a biography then a thriller and a comedy. My current genre is fantasy/urban fiction. This is a series of 4 books under the series The Guardian’s Chronicles.  After this is finished I have a couple of thrillers that I want to write and another fantasy. I already have the plots for these 3 books.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I usually spend my leisure time walking or traveling so mostly on the move. You need to get out and about after sitting for hours staring into a computer screen. I spend more time in the UK now as our family has all settled there, at least for the time being and my mother’s health is not all it could be.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Mostly from what is happening around me and from current events. By design my books are very topical.

What new author has grasped your interest?

I don’t really know how new you mean but I really love Khalid Hussaini’s work. I found his books disturbing in places but extremely insightful.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

When I was younger I wanted to be an actress. I did try and achieve this and went so far as to join the Bradford Playhouse for a very short time but after my first husband died in a car crash it wasn’t possible to continue. With a young son to look after and a busy career I just didn’t have the time.
If I could choose a career other than writing then it would be as an actor although I would like to do both. Other than that I would like to do some sort of design, either interior or fashion.

What is your favorite moment/memory since becoming a writer?

I think just the fact that I had managed to complete my first book was an amazing moment especially when I got such resounding reviews from the people who read it. I deliberately only gave it to the people I knew would give me an honest appraisal and whose judgment I relied on. Although even in the early stages I felt I had something to offer with the series it was still a surprise that they liked it as much as they said. Everyone has their doubts no matter what they choose to do. You have to be extremely blinkered if you can walk through life with 100% certainty.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
I had a few, but I particularly enjoyed Beyond the Nightmare and Redemption because after getting to know the characters these chapters were almost like being in the inner sanctum of their souls. As both these people had such purity of heart I really enjoyed bringing their desperation to thwart this evil to the fore.  It let me explore what it would be like to decide OK that’s it, I may lose my own life but if I don’t do this the consequences would be too great. In order to write successfully you have to feel it deep within you or at least I did. I cried many tears writing these books and I expect to shed a lot more before the series is through.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?

There are several reasons why I chose to write this book first.
I have always had very vivid dreams and the dream that I kept having about a young girl who later turned out to be Sahara Driver persisted. It wasn’t even an outline of a story, I kept dreaming about her and the story unfolded over a matter of a few months. I told my husband Guy that I was going to write the story but I didn’t actually start for some time. I drafted an outline while I was living full time in Dubai.
It wasn’t until we moved to Bulgaria that I understood what I wanted to write. When I started I wrote A New Dawn in under 3 months. I knew right from the beginning that there would be at least 3 and maybe 4 books in the series.  The series appealed to me on several levels. Because I have traveled extensively due to the fact that my husband is in the oil industry I have seen many different cultures and the contrasting life styles that I have witnessed has always been a source of concern. In one part of the world i.e. the west in general we have everything we need and in other parts of the world people have to struggle just to get food. You can think you know how this must affect people but it’s not until you are amongst them and in some cases in the same position that you begin to understand what it’s like. For example in Georgia while my husband was working on a project in the Black Sea I spent time there. It was almost impossible to get hold of fresh meat and vegetables or for that matter most foods that we take for granted. In a so called grocery shop there were maybe 30 to 40 items in total on their shelves and most of them were far too expensive for the local people.
I then started to consider other factors such as civil liberty and freedom, the plight of women worldwide and the constraints put on populations by fanatics and decided that as well as being a fantasy fiction, The Guardian’s Chronicles would serve as a medium to examine some of these differences and hopefully give young people the chance to see things from a different point of view and to form their own judgment. Too often we see articles about the third world but few look at the problems these people are faced with and often the younger end of society does not get the chance to evaluate what they see in the popular press against the reality of living this alternative life style. I felt that this was a perfect way to introduce these societies in an interesting way. Things are seldom as they seem.
I hope that even if people don’t like my books that at least they make some impression and call for debate.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

I have started the 3rd volume of the series, although I have not done much due to other commitments.
If you have read the first two volumes you will understand that Barak has the world on its knees both economically and then in the 2nd book he strips the world of its faith leaving the population bewildered. Without giving too much away, there is another event that rocks Sahara to the core and Sahara is now desperate to rid the world of Barak and in the 3rd volume she conspires with Romero and Go’el to achieve that aim. Unknown to Sahara and Romero however there are dangers ahead that only manifest themselves when it’s too late and Barak’s influence still prevails although in an unorthodox way.

How do you market your book(s)?

I market them through my website and the social media. I have considered going the traditional route and to be honest unless I found an agent that really believed in my work I would rather carry on as I am. I have only been marketing the series for just over a month and have had a very good response.
I keep getting told that I should go the traditional route and that I will never be able to do it all but to be frank telling me I can’t do something is like waving a red flag at a bull. I have always believed that anything is possible if you go about it in the right way.  I still have the option. If the right offer came along or if I was pointed in the right direction I would be open to marketing through traditional publishing methods.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. If you genuinely believe you have something worth saying then have the courage to go for it.  If you create work that you don’t believe in then you are wasting your time and everyone else’s also. If you do not believe in your own work how can you expect anyone else to? You don’t have to be a literary genius, not everyone can be a prize winning author but we can be entertaining.
No matter how you choose to market your book, either through conventional channels or self publishing; don’t do it by half measures.

Do you have anything else you would like to say to your readers?
Firstly thank you for your support and thanks to my readers and other Author’s and people in the industry who have given me a lot of kind comments and good advice. You can never have enough of either.
I hope that you enjoy the journey as much as I have and that if nothing else what you read makes you consider what is going on in the world from a different prospective. You may not agree with my evaluation of each event and that’s good too. After all any work of fiction is just one person's take on things and their individual assumptions and is open for debate.
You may not be that interested in the background situations or in Barak and his wanton greed for power and adulation and be more into the love story or should I say stories there are a few of them throughout the series or you may just fall in love with Sahara and her inherent goodness and willingness to try and do the right thing no matter what.  Whatever it is that keeps you turning the pages doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy it from your own perspective.  This is a multi tiered saga that I hope will keep you guessing till the end on all aspects and that’s the wonder of human nature we all take something different from every book we read. That is one of the reasons why each comment is valuable. How you see the book is unique to you and you may find facets of the characters that I have not uncovered myself.
I love hearing from you and I respond to ever query or email personally and will strive to keep on doing so. It may take a few days depending on my workload but it will get done.

Check Out her Website: http://www.theguardianchronicles.com/

A New Dawn (The Guardian's Chronicles) (German Edition)


A World Without Faith (The Guardians Chronicles)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Father, Maker of The Trees How I Survived the Rwandan Genocide

My Father, Maker of the Trees
How I Survived the Rwandan Genocide
Author: Eric Irivuzumugabe with Tracey D. Lawrence
Read By: Dion Graham
5 discs
*NonFiction*

This is the Remarkable story of a 16 year old boy who lived in a tree for 15 days without food or water.  Eric stayed in the trees to stay hidden from the terrible slaughter of the Rwandan genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 people in just 100 days. 

His story is absolutely amazing, and what he lived through is simply unbelievable.  The beginning of this book had me in tears just knowing that these events actually took place. 

When I picked this book out however, I was interested in this man's life story-it states on the back of the book thats its a story of his Physical survival as well as his spiritual rebirth...with that being said he is siting verses from the Bible and It gets pretty preachy in the second half of the book to where I stopped listening to it alltogether.  This book is published by ChristianAudio so it makes sense that it would have a very Spiritual nature to it....If you like Christian Influence mixed with a great story this is definately the book for you.  It was really great listening to this man who was so greatful with so little....and despite all he has been thru perserveres to inspire and help others with this story.

As I stated earlier I was completely into the storyline of this book so when I went back to the Library I picked up "An Ordinary Man" which I havent listened to yet, but is an autobiography of a Rwandan Man who retells his experience going through the Rwandan Genocide.

The Wrong Hostage

The Wrong Hostage
Author: Elizabeth Howell
Reader: Maria Tucci

When I'm at the library picking out books one of the first things I always try to look for with trying out out new authors is seeing the "New York Times Bestseller" note on the cover.  Reading the Dust Jacket of this book I was very excited to get started on this book...perhaps a little too excited.

I was disappointed with this one which is pretty rare that when I feel that I can't connect with any character in the book.  Grace Silva, the main character in the book is a Judge who is newly divorced from her billionaire husband.  They had a son together whom they shipped off to Mexico for boarding school which leads to him being held by Mexican officials who are owed money from the father who despite seeming as though he earned his money all legally we learn he has put his son in a situation where he could be killed by Mexican drug lords, what the drug lords don't know is that it really isn't his son....through DNA testing he found out a few years prior that this Grace had a fling before she got married and got pregnant and never knew who was the "for sure" father.  The only character I liked in this book was the son.....because as you read it you are empathetic to his situation...he isn't a big part of the book however, its more about trying to save him.

I would love to give this author another chance but it definately will not be near the top of my "To do" list

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This Weeks Library Finds!!

Can't Wait to Read/Review all these Great Finds!!


NonFiction:

   















Fiction:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Author Interview: Renvyle Blake

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Hello, My name is Renvyle Blake and I was born into an Anglo-Irish diplomatic background in Paris. I studied history at Cambridge University in the UK.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

 I have always enjoyed reading, but I did not consider myself as a potential writer until I was about 50,000 words into my book!

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write by a chance encounter with an ex-special forces person in the French Alps when I was on a climbing trip. His story was so amazing I decided I had to write it down.

How much research goes into writing your book(s)?

There was a great deal of research involved - more than two years work went into the book - and I still had the 'day job', in charge of a small financial services boutique. I had the basic facts, and then I had to weave a story around them.

What books have influenced your life most?

The books I remember most were the ones I read as a child or as a young adult. 'The Gauntlet' by Ronald Welch sparked my interest in history, which has never left me. I read all the CS Lewis Narnia books; or had them read to me. Listening to stories read by grown ups is probably the greatest luxury of childhood. I have read my own children several Ronald Welch books, and also 'The Story of Hiawatha' (based on Longfellow's beautiful verse) ,which was given to me by my parents in 1971 when I was 4 years old, and is one of my childrens' favourites today.

 What book are you reading now?

I loved Winston Churchill's 'My Early Life', and I have been a lifelong admirer of the man. The writers today who I admire the most would have to be the masters of historical ficction; Patrick O'Brian and later Allan Mallinson.

What kind genre of book do you typically write?

 My first book is a thriller, and I am sure I will stick with the genre, as I am writing two more books as part of the story which unfolds in 'The Himalayan Assignment'. I get my ideas from the world around me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Finance is not very fashionable these days, but it is an amazingly interesting career if you are interested in economics, technology, politics and current affairs.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

 I have long been fascinated by China's rise but at the same time I am worried about what it means for the rest of us. China's arrival on the global scene has driven the huge inequalities in the Western world, as well as the leverage and de-industrialisation behind the current crisis. The West has been too believing; my view is that the democracies should be much more circumspect in their engagement with that nation. We should be must more active in our backing of India, to achieve a balance of power in Asia. My book is based on the true story of how a small band of intelligence experts and gifted amateurs faced down a Chinese coup attempt in Nepal. At the time I was starting the final read through, there was another coup attempt by the Chinese. You can google it and there is a link to one of the better articles on my website.

How do you market your book(s)?
So far I have been marketing my book via my website and occasional Twitters and Blogs...sales are still slow but picking up.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

 My advice to aspiring authors is simple. Do it....but don't give up the day job if you don't want to be eating pot noodle and living in a garrett!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Horse Whisperer

The Horse Whisperer
Author: Nicholas Evans
Read by: Frank Muller

This is the truly moving story about tragedy, healing, love, and loss.  The story starts out when Grace and her friend Judith are out on a morning ride with their beloved horses when a tragic accident happens leaving Grace to deal with the loss of her best friend and also one of her legs.  Grace finds it hard to move on post accident and can't bear facing her horse Pilgrim who was also both physically and emotionally scarred as well. 

At a loss of how to put the family back together and struggle a high demand job, Grace's mom Annie takes a leave from work and contacts Tom Booker a "Horse Whisperer", this is a last resort to save the horse that everyone keeps telling her should have been put down.  Annie repeatedly refuses to put Pilgrim down, because she deep down feels that if Pilgrim dies then the last glimmer of spirit remaining in her daughters soul will die as well. 

Grace, Annie, and Pilgrim travel across they country and find an inner peace and a much simpler way of living.  Annie learns that her high stress job as an editor of a fashion magazine suddenly does not matter.  Grace, determined to keep drowning in her own self pity learns that there still is much she is able to do and although she may never be able to ride Pilgrim again she relearns her love of horses and riding. 

Annie and Tom become closer and closer as Tom can bring the one thing Annie truly wants-Her daughter's old spirit back.  

This is a truly beautiful story, and although I am never a huge fan of affairs or cheating in books or movies for that matter, it is a very captivating story that you will not be able to put down.  Also unlike alot of Romance novels the story goes so deep that it wasn't very predictable.

Its a movie!!!!  Check that out after you read the book!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ransom

Ransom
Author: Danielle Steel
Read by: Ron McLarty
9 discs

Peter Morgan newly released from prison is seemingly a good guy that has made alot of bad choices.  Determined to start fresh Peter learns quickly how hard it is to make an honest living after being a convicted felon.  To avoid going on the streets he contacts a previous "friend" he knew before he went to prison who he also owes a substantial amount of money.  Hoping to get a job and repay his owed debt Peter finds himself in a situation of having to organize a kidnapping ring for this man who hopes to gain 100 million dollars ransom money from Fernanda Barnes, a newly widowed wife of a well known billionaire. 

This is Danielle Steel's 60th Novel and she seems to really switch things up with this book.  For anyone who reads alot of Danielle Steel books, they are typically more Romance themed....Ransom is oppisite that where it is more suspense/thriller.  The love interests in this book is set up kind've weird....the kidnapper in a sense "falls in love" with Fernanda although they technically never talk to one another.  Ted Lee, the police detective in charge of finding Fernanda's kidnapped son is "the" love interest, although he is caught up in a loveless marriage for about three quarters of the book.

I enjoyed this book.  I definately need my fix of Danielle Steel once in a while for the not too overly mushy Romance novel...but I was pleasantly suprised that this was a bit different and not the typical DS novel of wealthy family who meets tragedy and ends up happily ever after.  I like Danielle Steel, BUT her storylines do get a bit predictable.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Feature Author Interview: Ronald Louis Peterson


                                                     Author Interview: Ronald Louis Peterson  

 Tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in New York City in the 50’s and 60’s. I had dreams of playing for the New York Yankees but never played professionally. I hold a B.A. degree in English from City College of New York and joined the Peace Corps upon graduation and served for 27 months in Ethiopia as an 8th grade English teacher.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always expressed myself creatively with words and developed a love for classic English literature at CCNY where Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, was one of my writing instructors. I started writing professionally after graduating from Boston University with an M.S. in broadcast journalism. I worked as a radio and TV journalist for about 8 years before becoming a public relations consultant.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Reflecting on the 9/11 tragedy and reading The Purpose Driven Life sparked a need to create a story that would help me explore the questions about life that these two experiences had raised in me.

How much research goes into writing your book(s)?
 A TIME TO… is my first published novel and I’m working on a second one now. A TIME TO… required my reading first-hand accounts of what took place on 9/11 and researching some of the other historical events and places that I reference in the novel. I’d guess that I researched a total of about two weeks for it. It’s hard to say how much I’ll need for my second novel, which is a thriller about computer hacking and social networking.

What books have influenced your life most?
Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, George Orwell’s 1984, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I couldn’t pick just one from the books that have influenced my writing. Each of these writers has mentored me in some way.

What book are you reading now?
CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese.

In what genre do you typically write?
I enjoy books having good stories with social, spiritual and historical significance that make me think and feel.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend time with my family, read, listen to music and travel to interesting places.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I draw from my life and from current events to find topics that move me in some way.

What new author has grasped your interest?
Most of my reading materials for the past twenty-five years have been written by journalists because of my work. I’m just now beginning to spend time reading for pleasure again and look forward to discovering new favorites.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I’d love to be a philanthropist.

What is your favorite moment/memory since becoming a writer?
It has to be holding my published book in my hands for the first time.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
The last chapter is my favorite because it took me five years to get there and because its messages reflect the most important points in my story.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I, like millions of other people around the world, was injured spiritually as a result of what had happened on 9/11. I needed to put things in perspective so I could go on living a healthy, happy life in this world.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I don’t want to give much more away than I’ve already said about it other than to say that it could be a series.

How do you market your book(s)?
I’ve got a website with a video trailer as well as excerpts from my book for readers and listeners. I’m selling A TIME TO… on my website, Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and other online retailers. I’m active on all the major social networking sites and many book-related sites like this. I’ve had my book reviewed by distinguished book reviewers. And I distribute press releases when I have news to share.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If you enjoy creative writing, do it. Only you can prevent yourself from writing. You may not get paid for it, but that’s another story. It takes years to develop your talents and your audience, so factor these into the equation so you don’t quit your day job before you should.

Do you have any thing else you would like to say to your readers?
Please buy my book if it sounds interesting and spread the word to others who would enjoy it. I’m selling signed, personalize copies directly from my website with free shipping for $15 each. Help me quit my day job sooner rather than later and I’ll be forever grateful. If you have a question, email me.

Check Out A Time To...Available in Kindle and also in Paperback! Rated 5 stars! Be sure to be on the lookout for his next novel





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mrs. Miracle

Mrs. Miracle
Author: Debbie Macomber
Read by: Jennifer Van Dyck
6 discs - 7 hours 5 mins

With Christmas approaching and wild twin boys to raise all alone,  Seth Webster finds himself in desperate need of a miracle.  His home is in complete chaos, and he is repeatedly finding himself having to hire new nannys after they always quit in disgust. 
Just when he is at his wits end Mrs Merkle, whom the children start calling "Mrs. Miracle" shows up on his doorstep.  She appears to be the real life Mary Poppins but better!! She is sassy and her spirit is infectious and encourages Seth to approach Reba, a beautiful travel agen who's been hurt and betrayed and afraid to love again...Reba is also in need of  a "miracle".  Reba gets the chance to help out in a children's Christmas pageant and finally gets introduced to Seth and they find a little Christmas miracle of their own.

This is a very feel good book and a great Christmas story.  This book was also made into a Hallmark movie.  and there is a sequels to this book that I have also listened to and liked it even better than the original!



Christmas Letters

Christmas Letters
Author: Debbie Macomber
Read by: Renee Raudman
4 cds - 5 hours Unabridged

Katherine O'Connor is a part time Medical Transcriptionist who also has a part time job of writing other peoples Christmas letters.  She has a flair for making peoples everyday lives sound more interesting.  More Humerous.  More Dramatic. 

Although Katherine is single with no children of her own she is deeply invested in the lives of  her twin nieces, perfect little children until their parents read a best selling book on the "Free Child" methods which promotes no restrictions or boundaries, the children become little ill-behaved monsters.

The author of the book happens to live in Katherines Apartment complex and confronts him one morning in a coffee shop, making a huge scene, only later in the day to have both of them set up by a close friend.  Despite their differences and their different point of views on life both Katherine and Wynn find themselves becoming more and more attracted to each other.  Both shortly discover that love means accepting your differences and as Christmas is approach both realize what really matters is focusing on the things you share.

This book is pretty predictable, but will leave you feeling warm and cozy and that happily ever afters do exist.

More Debbie Macomber Novels:

Search Amazon.com for debbie macomber

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trouble

Trouble
Author: Gary D. Schmidt

This is the Story of an upper class New England family who crosses paths with a family of Cambodian Immigrants struggling through violent prejudices.   The Sons in both families meet tragically in a car accident leaving Franklin in a coma and Chay facing the guilt and ridicule from townspeople who dont view it as an accident and want the immigrant boy to pay at all cost. 

Henry, Franklin's younger brother sets off to climb Mt. Katahdin in Maine with his friend and "Black Dog" --a trip that was supposed to be taken with his older brother prior to his death.  The boys and dog hitch hike there way only to get picked up by a familiar truck...Chay, the "killer" of Henry's brother who is running from his own demons.  Although coming from completely different worlds, Henry learns he and Chay have much in common and begins struggling with both liking this boy who killed his brother and hating him at the same time for how he ruined his family.  Excellent book!!


If you like this book you may like these I have read as well:


Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Phantom Of The Opera

The Phantom Of The Opera
Author:  Gaston Leroux
Read by:  Alexander Adams

On the screen adn on Broadway, this classic tale of romance an horror has thrilled audiences all over the world.  No director in his right mind could refuse the gothic eeirness of Gaston Leroux's most famous novel.  Now, experience the work that began it all, the story of an ingenious artist driven mad by injustice and love.  Deep in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House, a masked monster lurks, dreaming of the day he'll capture a beautiful singer and keep her in his own twilit world.  But the road to realizing his fantasy is strewn with fear and murder.  What evil will the phantom perpertrate when the curtain rises again? Once you hear the original tale, you'll discover why this century-old novel still stirs our imaginations today. 

Personal Notes:
Its a great movie, Great play, but could not get through this book-With early 1900s dialect, this book can be hard to follow.


The Christmas Sweater


The Christmas Sweater
Author:  Glenn Beck
Read by: Glenn Beck

When Eddie was twelve years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a bike, Although his life had gotten harder--and money tighter--sinchi his father died...Eddie dreamed that sat somehow his mother would find a way to have his dream bike gleaming beside their modest Christmas tree that magical morning.  What he got from ehr instead was a sweater.  "A stupid, handmade, ugly sweater"  that young Eddie left in a crumpled ball in the corner of his room. 

Scarred deeply by the realization that kids don't always get what they want, and too young to understand that he already owned life's most valuable treasures, that Christmas morning wa sthe beggining of Eddie's dark and painful journey on the road to manhood.  It will take wrestling with himself, his faith, and his family--and the guidance of a mysterious neighbor named Russell--to help Eddie find his path through the storm clouds of life and finally to see the real significance of that simple gift his mother had crafted by hand with love in her heart.

Personal notes:  Great book,  Its got the child's perspective and excitement about Christmas, but has sad parts too...all come together for a great book with a good story line and good values represented in it. 




Switching Time

Switching Time Author: Richard Baer
Read by: Lloyd James
11 discs
Nonfiction

One afternoon in 1989, Karen Overhill walks into psychiatrist Richard Baer’s office complaining of vague physical pains and depression. Odder still, she reveals that she’s suffering from a persistent memory problem. Routinely, she “loses” parts of her day, finding herself in places she doesn’t remember going to or being told about conversations she doesn’t remember having. Her problems are so pervasive that she often feels like an impersonator in her own life; she doesn’t recognize the people who call themselves her friends, and she can’t even remember being intimate with her own husband.
Baer recognizes that Karen is on the verge of suicide and, while using various medications to keep her alive, tries to discover the root cause of her strange complaints. It’s the work of months, and then years, to gain Karen’s trust and learn the true extent of the trauma buried in her past. What she eventually reveals is nearly beyond belief, a narrative of a childhood spent grappling with unimaginable horror. How has Karen survived with even a tenuous grasp on sanity?
Then Baer receives an envelope in the mail. It’s marked with Karen’s return address but contains a letter from a little girl who writes that she’s seven years old and lives inside of Karen. Soon Baer receives letters from others claiming to be parts of Karen. Under hypnosis, these alternate Karen personalities reveal themselves in shocking variety and with undeniable traits – both physical and psychological. One “alter” is a young boy filled with frightening aggression; another an adult male who considers himself Karen’s protector; and a third a sassy flirt who says she emerges when Karen has sex. It’s only by compartmentalizing her pain, guilt, and fear in this fashion – by “switching time” with alternate selves as the situation warrants – that Karen has been able to function since childhood.
Realizing that his patient represents an extreme case of multiple personality disorder, Baer faces the daunting task of creating a therapy that will make Karen whole again. Somehow, in fact, he must gain the trust of each of Karen’s seventeen “alters” and convince them of the necessity of their own annihilation.
As powerful as Sibyl or The Three Faces of Eve, Switching Time is the first complete account of such therapy to be told from the perspective of the treating physician, a stunningly devoted healer who worked selflessly for decades so that Karen could one day live as a single human being.

Personal Notes:  This book is nonfiction,  and picked it up being intrigued about reading about a woman with 17 personalities.  The book is very traumatic; I had to put this book down after getting into about 4 discs of listening to it.  Up to that point it wasnt as much about her different personalities but that she was talking to her psychologist and being able to recall certain "time lapses"  I was unable to finish this book because its very hard listening to the traumatic events this woman went through as a small girl...it goes into detail of the horrors she went through being abused by her parents, grandparents, and her parents friends. 


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lush Life

Lush Life
Author: Richard Price
Read by: Bobby Cannavale
11 discs

Its's 2008, and after eight years dowtown, Eric ash is falling further and further behind in his plans to become an actor. Or a writer.  Or a restaurateur.  To become anything but what he is-the oldest employee at Cafe Berkmann.  So if the new bartender pissed him off, who could blame him?  Ike Marcus had confidence.  He had hustle.  Most of all, in a neighborhood where thrity is the new fifty, Ike was young.  Then one evening a street kid from the "other" Lower East Side stepped up to them and pulled a gun.  Ike's last words were "Not tonight, my man."  At least that was Eric's version.

Personal notes:  I read this and never got into it.  There are alot of characters in the book which can make it hard to follow but it also makes it hard to get into liking any of the characters in the book.  Ike is shot at the beginning of the book and the whole book the cops are trying to find out who killed this guy.  It probably wouldve been better if the character who got shot had been established more, so as a reader you really want justice for this guy's murder vs. as it was set up and you see "Ike" got murdered and basically thats all you know is "Ike" got shot and everyone is upset and wants to find his killer-With many books out there just like this- I wouldnt get this one.

Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy
A father's journey through his son's meth addiction
Author: David Sheff
Read by: Anthony Heald
Nonfiction
9 dics (approx 11 1/2 hours)

David Sheff's story is a first: a teenager's addiction from the parent's point of view, a real-time chronicle of the shocking descent into substance abuse and the gradual emergence into hope.

Before Meth, Sheff's son, Nic, was a varsity athlete, honor student, and award-winning journalist.  After meth, he was a trembling wraith who stole money from his eight-year-old brother and lived on the streets.  With the haunting candor, Sheff traces the first warning signs, the attempts at rehabilitation, and, at last, the way past addiction.  He shows us that, whatever an addict's fate, the rest of the family must care for one another, too, lest they become addicted to addiction. 

*personal notes:  Once I started reading this book it was very hard to put down.  Its the father telling the story of what he and the family went through with his son's meth addiction.  He battles with his inner-self on what he could've done or what should've been done to avoid his son's addiction.  Partly in denial for a time, wanting to believe his son was just experimenting with weed as a teenager it leads into a full blown meth addiction that in this books makes you realize that the addicted is not the only one who's life is destroyed but the addiction takes over the whole family with their constant worrying on where he is, if he is alive, the battle to help him get better which leads to the realization that the only thing that can be done is nothing until the addicted  choose to help themselves.  The family struggles when the younger siblings don't understand what is happening to their older brother, and suffer when they have parents that always mentally or physically there for them because they are so consumed with trying to get Nic better and away from his addiction. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Books I just picked up to review-stay tuned :)


Phantom of the Opera
Author: Gaston Leroux













The Lincoln Lawyer
Author: Michael Connelly













All Through the Night
Author: Suzanne Brockmann














Lush Life
Author: Richard Price












Beautiful Boy
Author: David Sheff














Shanghai Girls
Author: Lisa See












The Christmas Sweater
Author: Glenn Beck













The Orchid Thief
Author: Susan Orlean













Switching Time
Author: Richard Baer

The Gift

The Gift
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Read by: John Dosset
5 discs ( 5.25 hours)

Nathan Hurst hates Christmas. For others, it may be a day of boundless joy and nostalgic tradition.  But for him, this annual occasion is a painful reminder of events that traumatized his childhood.  When a snowstorm cancels his flight, Nathan meets a unique mother and child who profoundly change him and his view of the special season-forever. 

Personal Notes: This was the first novel I read by this author.  When picking up "The Gift" and "Finding Noel"  I thought they would both be Christmas themed books, they aren't though-its a very small part of whats going on in both books.  I fell in love with the characters in this book and routing them on while despising the ones who were against them.  Its an intense book about a boy with a special "gift" of healing people, although every time he heals someone the boy gets sicker.  The main character in this book also has Tourette's Syndrome, something the author is writing about as he has it as well in real life.  Both of the books I've read by him are fictionalized but has a piece of the author in it which is special because its an insight and feelings that he writes about and knows all about because he has lived it; it reminds me alot of why I enjoy Michael Connelly books-who writes a very different type of book but uses his experiences of  being a journalist writing for the "Crime Beat" where the fiction stories these authors write also seem to have an essence of nonfiction because they are writing these great stories about something they personally know so much about.

Finding Noel

Finding Noel
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Read by: Richard Paul Evans
4 discs (approx 4.75 hours)

Mark Smart is miserable-and his mother reently passed away, his girlfriend dumped him, he lost the funding from  his college scholarship, and his car just broke down in a blinding blizzard.  Slogging thru the snow to a nearby coffee house, he meets Macy-his angel of mercy.  Abandoned by her parents at the age of seven, Macy's only connection to her family is a single Christmas ornament.  With Mark's help she is determined to find the sister she believes she has lost. 

Personal notes:  I loved this book, Richard Paul Evans always has inspirational stories.  He wrote this book for his mother who had recently passed away at the time he was writing this book, and even though this is a fictional story, it is based on  a true life story of one of his personal assistants Celeste Edmunds who had just started looking for her sister who was taken from her at the age of  8.  This book is read by the author, which I love when the authors read their own books. 


If you like this book or the author check out some of his other novels:


Precious

Precious
Author: Sapphire
Read by: Bahni Turpin
4 discs (5 hours 5 mins)

Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up unitl now been invisible to the father who rapes her, the mother who batters her, and to the authorities who dismiss her as jsut one o fHarlem's casualties.  But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, meets a determined and radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as she learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it truly her own for the first time.

My personal Review:  This book is excellent But it is very blunt and written exactly like whatever the author thought was written down in the book, expletives and all.  If I had read this vs. listening to it, im not sure that I would have been able to finish it because of the manner of which it is written.

If you liked the book check out the movie:


Saturday, January 22, 2011

True Believer

True Believer
By: Nicholas Sparks
Read by:  David Aaron Baker
9 discs (approx 10 hours)

Jeremy Marsh is the ultimate New Yorker: handsome, almost always dressed in black, and part of the media elite. An expert on debunking the supernatural with a regular column in "Scientific American," he's just made his first appearance on national TV. When he receives a letter from the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, about ghostly lights that appear in a legend-shrouded cemetery, he can't resist driving down to investigate. Here, in this tightly knit community, Lexie Darnell runs the town's library, just as her mother did before the accident that left Lexie an orphan. Disappointed by past relationships, including one that lured her away from home, she is sure of one thing: her future is in Boone Creek, close to her grandmother and all the other people she loves. Jeremy expects to spend a quick week in "the sticks" before speeding back to the city. But from the moment he sets eyes on Lexie, he is intrigued and attracted to this beautiful woman who speaks with a soft drawl and confounding honesty. And Lexie, while hesitating to trust this outsider, finds herself thinking of Jeremy more than she cares to admit. Now, if they are to be together, Jeremy Marsh must make a difficult choice: return to the life he knows, or do something he's never done before--take a giant leap of faith. A story about taking chances and following your heart, True Believer will make you, too, believe in the miracle of love.

Personal Notes:  I'm a fan of any Nicholas Sparks Novel so if you like his other books you will not be disappointed with True Believer.  Easy to get right into this story and you will not want to put it down once you start reading.  Its got all the enchantment of finding love, characters you want to route for, and findin out the mystery behind the "unknown lights" that brings Jerermy to the small town to write an article on. 

Forbidden

Forbidden
By: Suzanne Brockmann
Read by: Traci Svendsgaard
5 discs (approx 5 hours)

When Kayla Grey travels from Boston to Montana, the last place she expects to end up is huddled beneath a blanket of dirt in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. And the last person she expects to rescue her is the very man she’d come to find. Cal Bartlett was a true-blue cowboy, complete with a horse, and the most amazing eyes Kayla had ever seen. He was also the brother of the man who’d wanted to marry her. But she didn’t discover that until it was too late–after they’d kissed by a roaring fire and Kayla felt a desire she’d never known.

Cal didn't know how to handle th enews Kayla brought with her-that his dead broher mightnot be dead after all.  He couldn't imagine why he was being tested in this way, irresistibly drawn to the woman his brother had loved.  Torn between guilt and longing, Cal prayed that wanting this woman wouldn't mean losing his brother once again.

Personal Notes:  I really enjoyed this Romance Suspense novel,  its just the right mix of new romance and suspense in one good quick read.  Its a good twist that the "dead" brother that they both lost as a friend and as Cal's brother is the one that brings them togethr to try to save his life if he may be still alive. 

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road
Author: Richard Yates
Read by: Mark Bramhall
9 discs ( approx 11 hours)

In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs.  Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early.  Maybe Frank's job is dull.  And April never saw herself as a housewife.  Yet they always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner.  But now that certaintly is about to crumble. 

Personal Notes: One word-Disappointed! Although I enjoy the drama in a good Lifetime movie-this movie was just depressing and dragged out.   I kept listening waiting for it to get better-expecting it to after the reviews of the back of the book and knowing that it had been made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio (who is usually in pretty good movies i think)  characters are not very likeable however and essentially what the book is is two people who got married when they shouldn't have and live out an unhappy marriage.

We Are All Welcome Here

We Are All Welcome Here
By: Elizabeth Berg
Read by: Elizabeth Berg
5 discs (approx 6 hours of listening)

It is the summer of 1964.  In Tupelo, Mississippi, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently.  But in Paige Dunn's small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns.  Challenged by the effect of polio, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit-with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

As a fourteen-year-old, Diana wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to slough of the authority of her mother and Peacie, to figure out the puzzle tha tis boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town.  What she can never escape, however, is the her life is markedly different from others.  Nor can she escape her ongoing responsibility to assist in caring for her mother.  Paige Dunn is attractive, charming, intelligent, and lively, but her needs are great-and relentless.

As the summer unfolds, hate and adversity will visit this modest home.  Each of the women will find her own path to independence, understanding, and peace. And Diana's mother, so mightily compromised, will end up giving her daughter an extraordinary gift few parents could match. 

Personal Notes:  I absolutely loved this book!!  This book was inspired by a fan letter to the author who wanted her story written althought this book has been fictionalized.  This book is an emotional rollercoaster that deals with the hardships of the racial issues that were going on during the 60's,  raising a teenage daughter, finding love, good friendships, poverty, and living with a huge handicap.  I couldnt put this book down...good short read.  Also love it when authors read their own books as is done with this book.

Dear American Airlines

Dear American Airlines
By: Jonathan Miles
Read by Mark Bramhall
6 discs (approx 7 hours)

Bennie Ford is traveling to his estranged daughter's wedding when his flight is canceled.  Stuck with thousands of passengers at O'Hare airport, hewatches the clock tick and realizes he will miss the ceremony.  Frusterated, irate, and helpless, he starts a letter.  But what beginas as a hilariously excoriating demand for a refund soon becomes the cri de coeur of a life misspent, of talent wasted.  His letter is a marvel of lacerating wit, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, penned with the fading hope that if he can just make it to the wedding, he has a chance to do something right in his life. 

Personal notes:  When picking out this book I thought it would be more of a book based on agony and hilarious plots and annoyances that happen when a flight is delayed and all the craziness attached with it in how it would affect your travel plans-this book is probably 30% where he is annoyed at the airlines and about 70% reflecting on his past and regrets he has as a results of decisions he has made in his life.  The story is him sitting at the airport writing this refund letter to the airlines and gets into his personal life as well in the letter-it is sad, witty, and hilarious.  Mark Bramhall the narrator of this book is excellent as well.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Pleasure Of My Company

The Pleasure of My Company
Author: Steve Martin
Read by: Steve Martin
4 discs (approx 4 hours)

Daniel lives his life as a bystander, watching the world go by from his Santa Monica apartment, passing time idly.  His only relationships seem to be with people who barely know he exists.  It is only when he meets Clarissa and Teddy that he gains the courage to begin to engage the world outside, and in doing so, he discovers more than he ever imagined. 

Personal notes:
I was suprised when I saw Actor Steve Martin as the author of this book; great actor wasn't as sure as him as a author; however I was pleasantly suprised!  I want to check his debut book Shopgirl: A Novella.
I love the main character, Daniel a nice guy who struggles with phobias of simple things such as stepping off a curb and the wattage of  lightbulbs in his house yet is an extreme  math wizard highly intelligent.  This book kindve reminds me of Seinfeld in-a-way with the random day to day thoughts he has.  When he enters a sweepstakes to write "Why he is the most average American" he becomes a finalist, and despite his life that is not what one would think of as "average", you really do feel he is, as he helps out the other characters in the book that also have their own issues-you realize we are all average as we all have our own problems. 

A Walk to Remember

A Walk to Remember
By Nicholas Sparks
Read by Frank Muller
4 discs

Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he'd fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town's Baptist minister. A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it. Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter's life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood...

Personal notes: I LOVE Nicholas Sparks but the Reader of this book, Frank Muller was not a good fit at all for this book.  Slow talking and far too dramatic; it seemed every sentence spoken there was dramatic pause...I had to turn it off.  I will just watch the movie or look for a different reader if they ever republish this.

Dry. A Memoir.

Dry. A Memoir.
by: Augusten Burroughs
Read by Author
7 discs

You may not know it, but you've met Augusten Burroughs.  You've seen him on the streen in bars, on the subway, at restaurants:  a twenty-something guy, nice suit, works in advertising.  Regular. Ordinary.  But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all.  Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls, and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long.  At the request (well, it wasn't really a request) of his employers, Augusten lasnds in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downy, Jr. are immediately dashed by the grim reality of fluoresent lighting and paper hospital slippers.  But when Augusten is forced to examine himself in the worst trouble of all.  Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return funny, as heartbreaking as it is real.  Dry is the story of love, loss and Starbucks as a higher power.

Personal Notes: The author, Augusten Burroughs is the author of Running with Scissors: A Memoir, Magical Thinking: True Stories, and Possible Side Effects all of which have been New York Times bestsellers.  He is names one of the fifteen funniest people in America by Entertainment Weekly and his sense of humor definately comes out in this book.  I picked up this book and thought it might be a bit depressing considering the subject but it definately suprised me -I love the way he wrote this and perhaps since the author is reading the book of his story it helps to picture all the events in the book just as he meant them to be read. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Art of Mending

The Art of Mending
Author: Elizabeth Berg
read by: Joyce Bean
6 discs (6 hours of listening)

It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets-secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart.  In renowned authoer Elizabeth Berg's moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?

Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness.  Yet this year's gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined.  As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister.  Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family's restless black sheep.  When aroline confronts Laura and thier brother, Steve, with devatating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house.  But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

Personal Notes:
This is a good book that deals with a girl who's mother abused her-with that being said it is said to see the affects it had on her years later.  Its a good story to see how someone can confront their issues to get past them.  I enjoy Elizabeth Berg's novels but this book had a sad feel to it the whole book whereas In Elizabeth Berg's book "Open House" it was a divorce situation but it was more calming and uplifting as the woman got thru the turmoil of the divorce.