Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Glenn Miller Conspiracy by Hunton Downs

Product DescriptionFamed band-leader Glenn Miller was a superstar of his and subsequent generations, who previously had accepted the US Military position that Miller had died over the English Channel during World War II. Pulitzer Prize nominee Hunton Downs discovered hints of a conspiracy and cover up during his specialized military service thoughout Europe just after the war, and embarked on a 55-year search for the truth. Through RAF and erman secret documents he accessedo in his military work, and through information that has since been de-classified, Downs pieced together, bit by bit, the amazing story of Glenn Miller's work for the US Psychological Warfare Division and his subsequent role as a secret envoy for Eisenhower in Ike's attempt to end the war as early as possible. Miller spoke German, a fact not known to many, and as one of the most revered stars in the world, he had great influence in his secret broadcasts to Germany which accompanied performances of his music by his band. The subsequent cover up story is almost as fascinating as Miller's secret life.

My thoughts
THE GLENN MILLER CONSPIRACY by Hunton Downs is a book trying to convince the reader that Big Band leader Glenn Miller was tortured to death, rather than died in a plane crash during WWII. He has spent the past 50+ plus years doing research, interviewing people and getting various governments to release documents. He has definitely done his homework, but does he provide enough evidence to the back his claim? His theory is interesting and he hasn’t written a good book, but I don’t buy the conspiracy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Product DescriptionWhen reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops—the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life—and that of the son she loves. Lisa Scottoline breaks new ground in Look Again, a thriller that’s both heart-stopping and heart-breaking, and sure to have new fans and book clubs buzzing.

My thoughts
Lisa Scottoline’s LOOK AGAIN is the story of one mother’s journey to protect and keep her adopted son after receiving a “Have You Seen This Child” flyer. Ellen Gleeson believes the rendition of the missing child resembles her son, and from that point her world is turned upside down. There is much buildup for as Ellen tries to decide if she should pursue it. When she learns that those that were involved in the adoption are dead, there is no turning back. I enjoyed this book, although somewhat suspenseful, the action at the finale is what got to me. There were some twists and surprises. A good read, but not one of Scottoline’s best.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

Product Description
Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir A LUCKY CHILD. He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life. Now dedicated to helping those subjected to tyranny throughout the world, Buergenthal writes his story with a simple clarity that highlights the stark details of unimaginable hardship. A LUCKY CHILD is a book that demands to be read by all.

My thoughts
When reading A LUCKY CHILD, I thought about the film LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, both seen through the eyes of a young boy. This memoir about Thomas Buergenthal’s life in concentration camps during the Holocaust is truly unforgettable. How this young child survives through the horrors of such an ordeal is beyond me? He truly was a lucky child and to write it down for generations to read, we have become the lucky ones. This book details the losses he experienced, the travels through various ‘work’ camps, the liberation by the Russian army and the search for his parents afterward. His story is a remarkable one and to learn that he has devoted his adult life to international and human rights law shows what an amazing person he has become. This is a must read.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow Me Blog Tour

This is my first blog tour and I thank everyone who has visited my site.

FOLLOW ME is a story about sixteen-year-old Sally who in 1946 takes a motorcycle ride with her cousin, gets pregnant and leaves the baby and escapes her family and the life she’d known. She runs away and for the next 40 years or so reinvents herself and moves further up the Tuskee River every time tragedy strikes. Her tragic life story is assembled piece by piece by her name-sake granddaughter, but she then learns a different story from the man claiming to be her dad and the child that Sally left behind. Joanna Scott has written an amazing story about choices, redemption, hope and love. She writes with such passion and with descriptive narratives that makes this novel a wonderful tale.

Product Description
On a summer day in 1946 Sally Werner, the precocious young daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, secretly accepts her cousin's invitation to ride his new motorcycle. Like so much of what follows in Sally's life, it's an impulsive decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. Soon she abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter and namesake, six decades later. But when young Sally's father--a man she has never known--enters her life and offers another story altogether, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother's secret history. Boldly rendered and beautifully told, in FOLLOW ME Joanna Scott has crafted a paean to the American tradition of re-invention and a sweeping saga of timeless and tender storytelling.

About the Author
Joanna Scott is the author of nine books, including The Manikin, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Various Antidotes and Arrogance, which were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and the critically acclaimed Make Believe, Tourmaline, and Liberation. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Award, she lives with her family in upstate New York.

Please visit the other participants in this tour:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung in our little neck of the woods. Although it 86 degrees out today, the trees are keeping the inside of my home cool. Have to go out and water those flowers!

Gauntlet by Richard Aaron

Product Description
660 tons of Semtex is detonated in a massive explosion in Libya. The operation seems to have gone smoothly, but within minutes of the explosion, CIA agent Richard Lawrence discovers that one shipment of the explosive has been hijacked. Days later, a glory-seeking 'Emir' broadcasts to the world that he is planning a massive terrorist strike against a U.S. landmark. And he gives a time line of one month. Now a desperate chase is on, as the men bent on attacking the U.S. use every weapon at their disposal to evade American authorities. Time and again they prove willing to destroy anything - and anyone - standing in their way. But Hamilton Turbee, an autistic computer mastermind at the newly created TTIC agency, discovers a way to track them. His flawed genius gives the nation its only chance at stopping the attack, if the American leadership will listen. As the enemies near their destination, it is up to the TTIC team to stop the massive explosion that could destroy the lives of millions.

My thoughts
The theft of Semtex and the threat of a terrorist bombing of a major US landmark is just some of what GAUNTLET is about. How the authorities try to track down the terrorists and how a drug smuggling ring is connected are pieces to this suspenseful puzzle. Richard Aaron has written an espionage thriller that keeps you reading until the end. His character development is detailed and complicated just as humans are. You get to root for the protagonists and want to destroy the antagonists. This is not just a story about terrorism and heroes; it is also about greed and corruption. This book isn’t without its slow points, but then again it is over 500 pages. Mr. Aaron’s first novel is truly a stunning success and he leaves off with a promise of a sequel.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

Product Description
Set in a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, American Rust is a novel of the lost American dream and the desperation—as well as the acts of friendship, loyalty, and love—that arise from its loss. From local bars to trainyards to prison, it is the story of two young men, bound to the town by family, responsibility, inertia, and the beauty around them, who dream of a future beyond the factories and abandoned homes. Left alone to care for his aging father after his mother commits suicide and his sister escapes to Yale, Isaac English longs for a life beyond his hometown. But when he finally sets out to leave for good, accompanied by his temperamental best friend, former high school football star Billy Poe, they are caught up in a terrible act of violence that changes their lives forever. Evoking John Steinbeck’s novels of restless lives during the Great Depression, American Rust takes us into the contemporary American heartland at a moment of profound unrest and uncertainty about the future. It is a dark but lucid vision, a moving novel about the bleak realities that battle our desire for transcendence and the power of love and friendship to redeem us.

My thoughts
I originally picked AMERICAN RUST because I was intrigued by the cover. After reading the synopsis, I knew that I had to read this book. With today’s economy, many can relate to the hardships of a dying town and its people. This novel revolves around a murder and the connection of those involved. Philipp Meyer has written such an intense story where each chapter is seen from the eyes of one of the characters. This made me want to learn what happens with each and every person as they were interesting characters and therefore I couldn’t put the book down. This is a story of depressing lives, but not ones without hope and dreams.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Brightest Moon of The Century by Christopher Meeks

Product Description
In Christopher Meeks's "The Brightest Moon of the Century," Edward, a young Minnesotan, is blessed with an abundance of "experience"-first when his mother dies and next when his father, an encyclopedia salesman, shoehorns Edward into a private boys school where he's tortured and groomed. Edward needs a place in the universe, but he wants an understanding of women. He stumbles into romance in high school, careens through dorm life in college, whirls into a tornado of love problems as a mini-mart owner in a trailer park in Alabama, and aims for a film career in Los Angeles. Will his love for a Latina prove to be the one? In nine chapters, the reader experiences Edward's life from ages 14 to 45. This is the first novel from Christopher Meeks, which follows his highly acclaimed collections of short stories, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons." Author and humorist Sandra Tsing Loh has said, "Christopher Meeks's quirky stories are lyrical and wonderfully human. Enjoy." Carmela Ciuraru wrote in the Los Angeles Times Book Review of Meeks's first book, "This idea resonates throughout the collection: Meeks's characters seek happiness in the small things because they have no choice ... [The stories] are poignant and wise, sympathetic to the everyday struggles these characters face."

My thoughts
What can I say about THE BRIGHTEST MOON OF THE CENTURY? I can say that it is an exceptional novel. The main character, Edward and I have so much in common (born around the same time, had a step-mother, was taunted in school, and dreamed of going to Hollywood), so I could relate where he was come from. Watching him grow from an awkward 14 year old to the 45 year husband and father, you can feel his transformation. Christopher Meeks separates Edward’s life in stages and we experience with him the joy and pain of growing up, life in college, self-employment, tragedy and friendships. Mr. Meeks writes a terrific debut novel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Henson's 11

Okay, maybe I am going a little Muppets crazy lately.

Kat Reilly created Henson’s 11, a mash-up of Ocean’s Eleven and The Muppets films for a non-linear editing class.

Up At The Villa: Travels With My Husband by Linda Jenkins

Product Description
Explore Tuscany, Lombardy, Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Brugge, Paris and a moveable feast of other destinations — and see what happens when an avid planner and a devout rule breaker try to make a life together.
This captivating and beautifully illustrated collection of personal essays, stories and poetry recounts the ups and downs and adventure of travel, and tells the tale of surviving a marriage and keeping friendships strong, even when the circumstances aren’t always ideal. Linger over the evocative photographs, savor the recipes, make good use of the tips for travelers and enjoy these charming tales from the road.

My thoughts
UP AT THE VILLA: TRAVELS WITH MY HUSBAND is a humorous travelogue with poetry and recipes sprinkled throughout. Linda Jenkins writes about her travels with her husband, not only to Italy but to other regions also. She writes in a style that makes reading the book east and fun. After reading this book, it made me want to go out and travel more with my wife!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Minatur Wunderland

This is so cool. I want a train set like this one!

Miniatur Wunderland is much more than a train set. It's a meticulously detailed reproduction of small towns, mountains and cities. Each is filled with miniature people, cars and buildings.
The entire set covers more than 16,000 square feet. You'll be amazed by the way this little world functions.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn

Product Description
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS? Already the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack, Kitty and Ben now plan to tie the knot human-style by eloping to Vegas. Kitty is looking forward to sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool and doing her popular radio show on live TV, but her hotel is stocked with werewolf-hating bounty hunters. Elsewhere on the Strip an old-school magician might be wielding the real thing; the vampire community is harboring a dark secret; and the irresistible star of a suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty. Sin City has never been so wild, and this werewolf has never had to fight harder to save not only her wedding, but her very life.

My thoughts
In KITTY AND DEAD MAN’S HAND, Kitty goes to Vegas as she gets ready for upcoming wedding. I think by now we know that wherever she goes, trouble follows. But this book does not have the action and tension as the previous books. It also sets you for the next story.

Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

Product Description
Kitty's radio show is as popular as ever and she has a boyfriend who actually seems to understand her. Can she finally settle down to a normal life? Not if this is just the calm before the storm. When her mother falls ill, Kitty rushes back to Denver--and right back to the abusive pack of werewolves she escaped a year ago. To make matters worse, a war is brewing between the city's two oldest vampires, threatening the whole supernatural community. Though she wants to stay neutral, Kitty is again drawn into a world of politics and violence. To protect her family, her lover, and herself, she'll have to choose sides. And maybe become what she hates--a killer.

My thoughts
In KITTY AND THE SILVER BULLET, Kitty returns home from exile to visit her mother who may have cancer. Again, there are vampire and werewolf politics that seem to follow her no matter where she goes. This story has plenty of action, resolves some issues from previous stories and a lot more romance. As the series continues we get to learn and love Kitty more. It is a quick and enjoyable read.

Kitty Takes A Holiday by Carrie Vaughn

Product Description
After getting caught turning wolf on national television, Kitty retreats to a mountain cabin to recover and write her memoirs. But this is Kitty, so trouble is never far behind, and instead of Walden Pond, she gets Evil Dead. When werewolf hunter Cormac shows up with an injured Ben O'Farrell, Kitty's lawyer, slung over his shoulder, and a wolf-like creature with glowing red eyes starts sniffing around the cabin, Kitty wonders if any of them will get out of these woods alive...

My thoughts
KITTY TAKES A HOLIDAY and she needs one. After the adventures from the first two novels, Kitty needs a break and decides to get away to write her memoirs. But even alone in a cabin, trouble finds her. She wins some, she loses some, but either way we learn more about Kitty and the creature she is. This series is becoming more enjoyable as each new book is introduced.

Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

Product Description
Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen. So when she's invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of supernaturals, and her face gets plastered on national TV, she inherits a new set of friends, and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city; an über-hot Brazilian were-jaguar; and a Bible-thumping senator who wants to expose Kitty as a monster. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone's itching for a fight.

My thoughts
The second book in the Kitty Norville werewolf series is KITTY GOES TO WASHINGTON. Kitty now has to testify at a Senate hearing to speak up for vampires and werewolves, and again, the mistress of Washington DC’s vampire family wants to keep her safe and out of trouble. I don’t think Kitty can ever stay out of trouble. This second book is a fun read and we are introduced to other supernatural characters.

Kitty and The Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

Product Description
Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station—and a werewolf in the closet. Sick of lame song requests, she accidentally starts "The Midnight Hour," a late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. After desperate vampires, werewolves, and witches across the country begin calling in to share their woes, her new show is a raging success. But it’s Kitty who can use some help. With one sexy werewolf-hunter and a few homicidal undead on her tail, Kitty may have bitten off more than she can chew…

My thoughts
KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR is the first of the Kitty Norville series of books. Kitty is a late night disc jockey who is also a werewolf. This is what intrigued me about the story. There are so many vampire books out there, and not enough werewolf stories. But guess what, this has vampires also. Neither group likes the publicity that Kitty brings, and hence the story. Some of the characters that call in are just plain silly, but fun. There is a lot of character development that needs to be explored and I am sure they will in the sequels.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frosted Flakes on Canvas

Having no internet access for the past few days (it is now up and running again) has made me finish some other projects that I keep putting off. One of those things was finishing the latest painting; an acrylic rendition of a vintage Frosted Flakes cereal box.

First Family by David Baldacci

Product Description
It began with what seemed like an ordinary children's birthday party. Friends and family gathered to celebrate. There were balloons and cake, games and gifts.
This party, however, was far from ordinary. It was held at Camp David, the presidential retreat. And it ended with a daring kidnapping . . . which immediately turned into a national security nightmare.
Sean King and Michelle Maxwell were not looking to become involved. As former Secret Service agents turned private investigators, they had no reason to be. The FBI doesn't want them interfering. But years ago, Sean King saved the First Lady's husband, then a senator, from political disaster. Now, Sean is the one person the First Lady trusts, and she presses Sean and Michelle into the desperate search to rescue the abducted child.
With Michelle still battling her own demons, and forces aligned on all sides against her and Sean, the two are pushed to the absolute limit. In the race to save an innocent victim, the line between friend and foe will become impossible to define . . . or defend.

My thoughts
David Baldacci creates an impossible situation with believable characters. When the president’s niece is abducted from a birthday party at Camp David, the question is why? Why are private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell hired to locate the missing child? And what does the abductor want? Why has he kidnapped another woman along with the child? So many questions, which all get answered as the story unfolds. This book had me on the edge of my recliner as I read each chapter wondering where is was headed and why. Great book.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Internet Down and Contest Winners

There are other things worse than having your internet service go down, but I still hate it when it does. This is what happened to me over the weekend. Have you ever tried contacting one of these big companies and get the run around? This happened about four years ago and it took over a week, a letter to the president before I got it fixed and received credit for their stupidity. I hope it doesn’t come to that this time. But they tell me to wait another 24 hours. Oh, my wife is not going to like that!

Anyway, here are the winners to my contests from last week:

The winner of the ARC copy of FOUR CORNERS OF THE SKY is:

a real librarian

The winners of MADE IN THE U.S.A. are:

Sandra K321
Melissa Shh I’m Reading

If you read this before I get an email out to the winners, please send me your mailing address.

Thanks and Congratulations!

The Weeping Budda by Heather Dune Macadam

Product Description
What would you do if someone you were dancing with at a New Year’s Eve party went out for breath of fresh air and never came back? Ever.

New Year’s Eve, 2001. Suffolk County Crimes Scene Detective Devon Halsey and her boyfriend, Homicide Detective Lochwood Brennen, are more interested in their own celebration when they are suddenly thrust into a New Year’s mayhem worse than either could have imagined. What do seasoned detectives do when faced with the complex situation of maintaining a murder crime scene’s integrity where they know both of the victims? They do their jobs.

The past nags on Devon Halsey as she walks through the crime scene. The physical and circumstantial evidence points to the murderer being Beka Imamura, Devon Halsey’s best friend. The victim, Beka’s own husband, renowned artist Gabriel Montebello. What appears to be a relationship gone sour and ended in a murder/suicide conflicts with Devon’s personal knowledge of her friend. At the Northwest Woods Zendo in East Hampton, where Beka and Devon occasioned over the years, a monk has found Beka’s hair on the altar of Buddha. Devon works the scene, but the evidence all points to Beka offering her hair as a sign of grief--what was she grieving, though?

What has haunted Devon for years begins to take shape in the present day. Dissecting the case file, she learns that a carving in the victim is actually a Koan--an unanswerable question that must be meditated upon in order to reach enlightenment. In the true nature of the Koan, Devon and Lochwood must find the answers in order to solve the crime, while also looking at the nature of betrayal and its many layers of disguise.

My thoughts
THE WEEPING BUDDHA came out of a real life disappearance that the author experienced when she was twenty-three. She has developed a criminal thriller with much research and familiarity. I could sense being there whether in lower Manhattan or Sag Harbor, Long Island. You can see that she has taken the time to create characters and situations that will guide the reader to try and figure out the resolution. But some of the story seemed to be lost in its own pages and the ending a little too contrived.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Evil Without A Face by Jordan Dane

Product Description

Haunted and Obsessed - She sleeps with a Colt Python in her nightstand and her senses on alert--Jessica Beckett isn't taking any chances. Hiding a chilling secret, living in a world of snitches and felons, good cops and bad dreams, Jessica is a bounty hunter who brings lowlifes to justice. But not even she can imagine what she'll face when she tracks an online predator who has abducted a naïve teenage girl. Making Promises That Can't Be Kept - Former NFL quarterback Payton Archer swore to his sister that he'd find her only child. But the police have no leads and the teen's trail has turned cold. Plagued by personal demons, Payton's never considered himself a hero. But this time he has to be.

And Fighting a Faceless Enemy - Joining forces to save the seventeen-year-old girl, Payton and Jessica discover that she's nothing but a pawn in an insidious, terrifying global conspiracy. They're battling a new kind of criminal. And soon their race for answers will become a dangerous struggle for survival.

My thoughts
Jordan Dane has written a fast- paced thriller with EVIL WITHOUT A FACE. The action and suspense keeps on going right to the end. Jessica Bennett is a tough, driven bounty hunter. Payton Archer, the ex-football player is the uncle to his sister’s daughter, Nikki, who is kidnapped by a ruthless human trafficking syndicate called Global Harvest. Payton and Jessica work together in their attempt to stop the bad guys and save Nikki. Ms. Dane has created characters you love and hate, and in situations that are both dangerous and electrifying, you just don’t want to put this book down. And I didn’t. I enjoyed Ms. Dane’s first three books, and wanted to read this one which is not part of that series, but she still comes through.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Love Response by Eva M. Selhub M.D.

Product Description
Fear, anger, and anxiety–the side effects of life’s everyday stresses–are natural and sometimes helpful, but left unchecked they can lead to a host of debilitating ailments that are now so common we assume they are unavoidable: heart disease, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, depression, and more. There is good news, though: The key to a healthy life free of these conditions is to activate what Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Eva Selhub calls the love response: a series of biochemical reactions that lower blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and adrenaline levels, stimulating physical healing and reinstating balance and well-being.

A practical life-healing program, the first of its kind, The Love Response is the result of Dr. Selhub’s years of research–and clinical practice–on how to reverse the destructive physical effects of fear and stress, and banish emotional wounds from the past. Through a simple-to-use plan of awareness, breathing, visualization, and verbal command exercises, The Love Response reprograms your brain and changes your biochemistry from negative to positive, putting you on a path to long-term wellness and happiness. The Love Response is structured around the three essential building blocks of mental health:

•social love–connecting not only in your intimate relationships but with family, friends, and pets
•self-love–learning to nurture yourself with care and tenderness (often the hardest step)
•spiritual love–contributing in meaningful ways to the world beyond your personal needs

The Love Response provides all the tools you need to transform anger into compassion, release your fears, overcome shame, embrace self-acceptance, connect through empathy, and, ultimately, strengthen your natural ability to heal.

My thoughts
Eva Selhub's book THE LOVE RESPONSE is a wonderful book. She writes is a straight forward, easily understandable style. She explains with case studies and offers exercises so that we all can be in a state of mind filled with love and peace. We must rid ourselves of the fear response immediately and meditate. I began using her techniques prior to completing the book and it works. I feel better about myself and those around me. Love is the answer!

Behind The Mask... No More by Byron Neese

Product Description

A Lesson in Hope: Re-Invention in the Face of Adversity! Long before Byron Nease donned the mask to play the Phantom, he had learned to show the world one face while concealing another. On stage and off, his life has been about what it means to be a Leading Man. That role has meant constant re-invention, often in the face of adversity. An inspiring story of survival and personal, perpetual full-throttle re-invention, Nease’s life holds lessons and encouragement for all who tackle life's challenges. His were, casting off the childhood legacy of family dysfunction and abuse, pursuing the dream career through trials as well as triumphs, coming to terms with life, love and loss, caring for an aged loved one, and managing a long term illness through the pain, costs and fear. 'BEHIND THE MASK…No More' evokes the glamour, humor, and drama of Nease’s 25 years as a performer. His portrayal of the lover, Raoul, contrasted dramatically with his role of the Phantom. Hero vs. Monster. The grief, hope love and resilience in his life and the quest for love and meaning in which Nease seems to make him not so much a leading man, but every man.

My thoughts
Byron Nease has written a painful and revealing autobiography. His journey from a scarred young boy to a successful Broadway actor is described in detail. He describes his life in a dysfunctional family, the torment of being fat as a youngster and holding back his true self from his family for many years. He lets the reader share his experience from dinner theater, cabaret and cruise singer to Broadway leading man. It takes a lot of guts for Mr. Nease to come forward and tell not only his family but now his readers the life of being HIV positive. I applaud his courage and letting us into his personal life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beaker's "Ode to Joy" Nominated for Webby Award

Play by Stuart Brown, M.D.

Product Description
From a leading expert, a groundbreaking book on the science of play, and its essential role in fueling our intelligence and happiness throughout our lives.We’ve all seen the happiness in the face of a child while playing in the school yard. Or the blissful abandon of a golden retriever racing with glee across a lawn. This is the joy of play. By definition, play is purposeless and all-consuming. And, most important, it’s fun.As we become adults, taking time to play feels like a guilty pleasure—a distraction from “real” work and life. But as Dr. Stuart Brown illustrates, play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. In fact, our ability to play throughout life is the single most important factor in determining our success and happiness.Dr. Brown has spent his career studying animal behavior and conducting more than six thousand “play histories” of humans from all walks of life—from serial murderers to Nobel Prize winners. Backed by the latest research, Play explains why play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve, and more. Play is hardwired into our brains—it is the mechanism by which we become resilient, smart, and adaptable people.Beyond play’s role in our personal fulfillment, its benefits have profound implications for child development and the way we parent, education and social policy, business innovation, productivity, and even the future of our society. From new research suggesting the direct role of three-dimensional-object play in shaping our brains to animal studies showing the startling effects of the lack of play, Brown provides a sweeping look at the latest breakthroughs in our understanding of the importance of this behavior. A fascinating blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology, psychology, social science, and inspiring human stories of the transformative power of play, this book proves why play just might be the most important work we can ever do.

My thoughts
I picked up this book because I felt I needed more “play” in my life. And I am glad that I did. Dr. Brown explains the importance of “play” in our lives; not just in our personal lives but also in our work lives. Dr. Brown has done extensive research and provides actual case stories which provide insights in living a successful and productive life. “Play” in our lives bring fulfillment and joy in being who we are and what we do. I recommend this book to anyone who is trapped in a life of all work and no play!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How To Talk To Anyone About Anything by Jill Speigel

Product Description
Jill Spiegel's How To Talk To Anyone About Anything! The Secrets To Connecting is an exhilarating hands-on guide that helps you master simple, effective ways to connect with anyone! You'll learn: the most powerful instant connection techniques, enter every situation with confidence, 9 ways to start a positive conversation, converse intelligently on any subject, engage people with mind messages, the truth behind making dynamic small talk, 4 ways to build meaningful connections, transform difficult conversations, take your connection to the next level, magic phrases that win trust, gracefully handle your popularity and so much more!

My thoughts
Although this book could be classified as a booklet with only 110 pages, but those pages are packed with a lot of useful information. It is straight forward and Jill expresses her enthusiasm as she writes. This enthusiasm spills out to the reader and hopefully, we will pass along our enthusiasm and positive outlook when meeting new people. She explains how to start a conversation, continue a conversation and even how to react in job interviews. I enjoyed this book, especially since my therapist tried to instill the same positive attitude within me just days before I received this book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Boy In Striped Pajamas

I recently watched THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS. I had read some good things about it and both my wife and I wanted to see it. I knew it was about the relationship between a young German boy and that of boy inside a concentration camp. It was interesting to watch this English film, and I thought the acting, music, editing and direction was terrific. The two boys give outstanding performances and you would almost hope that there would be a happy ending, but as with the actual Holocaust it had a devastating ending that left my wife and I stunned. We never expected this film to end the way it did. To me, this made the film all the more poignant.

Castaways by Brian Keene

Product Description
They came to the deserted island to compete on a popular reality television show. Each one of them hoped to be the last to leave. Now, they’re just hoping to stay alive, because one of them isn’t who he seems, and the island isn’t as deserted as it appears. The men will be slaughtered. The women will be kept alive as captives. And before it is over, the survivors will turn on each other. Night is falling, the creatures are coming, and rescue is so very far away…

My thoughts
I had never heard of Brian Keene or Richard Layman (the author whom he pays homage to) before picking up this book. I read the premise and thought it would an interesting read. My wife is a huge “Survivor” fan and I am beginning to get into the zombie genre. Unfortunately, this book did not have zombies and although the cast members were there they were slaughtered pretty quickly. This is a quick read and would make for a good back or plane ride book, but not something noteworthy. The characters were unbelievable and the ending was just a little too convenient. I am not giving up on Mr. Keene just that this book just didn’t involve me like I thought it would.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker

Product Description
A Texas serial killer called BoneMan is on the loose, choosing young girls as his prey, His signature: myriad broken bones that torture and kill - but never puncture.

Military intelligence officer Ryan Evans is married to his work; so much so that his wife and daughter have written him out of their lives. Sent to Fallujah and captured by insurgents, he is asked to kill children not unlike his own. The method: a meticulous, excruciating death by broken bones that his captor has forced him to learn.

Returning home after the ordeal, a new crisis awaits. A serial killer is on the loose, and his method of killing is the same. Ryan becomes a prime suspect, which isn't even the worst of his problems: Ryan's daughter is BoneMan's latest desire.

My thoughts:
Ted Dekker has created a creepy serial killer with the BoneMan and in this novel “BoneMan’s Daughters”, this killer kidnaps the daughter of military man Ryan Evans. Evans has to deal with his own demons after being captured and psychologically tortured overseas and from also being targeted as a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance. I couldn’t put this book down. When one chapter deals with what the BoneMan is doing, then next deals with Ryan’s search, and then the next his daughter and maybe another; the authorities. The tension builds up with each new chapter, with a climax that left me somewhat fulfilled. Mr. Dekker piqued my interest and I look forward to reading more from him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross

Product Description
An explosion rips through New York City's Grand Central Station one morning, destroying the train Karen Friedman's husband, a successful hedge fund manager, is riding in to work. Days later, with many bodies still unidentifiable, Karen resigns herself to the awful truth: her husband of eighteen years is dead.

On that same day, a suspicious hit-and-run accident leaves a young man dead in Karen's hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. Ty Hauck, a detective, becomes emotionally caught up in the case and finds a clue that shockingly connects the two seemingly unrelated events.

Months later, two men show up at Karen's home digging into Charles's business dealings. Hundreds of millions of dollars are missing—and the trail points squarely to Charles. With doubt suddenly cast on everything she has ever known, Karen, with Hauck, steps into a widening storm of hedge fund losses, international scams, and murder. And as the investigations converge, these two strangers touched by tragedy are pulled into a deepening relationship and unwittingly open the door to a twisted—and deadly—conspiracy.

With its breakneck pacing, plentiful twists, compelling characters, and abundant heart, The Dark Tide confirms Andrew Gross's place as a master storyteller at the top of his game.

My thoughts

“The Dark Tide” is a thriller that seems to follow the basic formulas that makes for an average story. The story opens with a terrorist attack on a commuter train from Connecticut to Grand Central Station in New York City. It brings back memories of 9/11 which is still sensitive to me. The hedge fund administrator/husband who disappears after the blast leaves so many unanswered questions for his wife to figure out. Unfortunately, I figured them out why before she did. I think Andrew Gross is a good writer and it shows in the writing of this book, but he needs to stay away from formula based stories.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Date You Can't Refuse by Harley Jane Kozak

Product Description
Serial dater and greeting-card artist Wollie Shelley goes undercover in a media-training company suspected of video piracy, but when a dead body appears on the company’s property, she’s caught up in a conspiracy that goes way beyond some stolen DVDs.

Wollie Shelley isn’t happy about taking the job as a “social coach” at MediaRex, but the FBI makes her an offer she can’t refuse. If she agrees to infiltrate the company, they’ll guarantee that her schizophrenic brother will have a home at the federally subsidized halfway house he’s come to love. So Wollie launches into teaching three foreign celebrities how to cope with the customs of Beverly Hills, improve their English, and become Oprah-ready. And when a coyote-chewed corpse appears in the MediaRex compound, Wollie realizes that her colleagues are concealing some serious secrets of their own.

My thoughts
“A Date You Can’t Refuse” is the latest in the misadventures of Wollie Shelley, the greeting card artist. This time she accepts a job at MediasRex, a media training company, not by choice but by the persistence of the FBI. But also pays well, and she needs the cash. Harley Jane Kozak creates such amusing characters and the story makes you wonder what is going to happen next. Will Wollie survive these foreign clients that she is paid to teach and also keep in line? Will she ever hook up with her boyfriend? And what is up with the owner of MediasRex? The book is a fast paced thriller that makes me yearn for the next book.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Ginormous Vegas II Celebration Contest!

Grand Prize: $100 GC to

Runner Up: $25 GC to B&N and a box of surprise paperbacks and other goodies (like chocolate, bath goodies, etc). This is going to be a NICE prize!

Runner Up: $25 GC to B&N and a box of surprise paperbacks and other goodies. (same as above)

Plus chances to win books (almost) every day for a month!

Go to for details on how to enter.

Peanut Butter Pie

Here's another recipe that I just tried and it was delicious. It makes me drool just typing it out. No baking involved.

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ pound melted butter

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Press the misture into the bottom of a nin-inch springform pan and place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

2 cups heavy cream
1 pound cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1½ cups peanut putter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks. Set aside and chill. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream. Place the batter into the pie shell and freeze for one hour.

Chocolate sauce:
½ cup heavy cream
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir the chocolate until smooth. Let cool. Pour the sauce onto the pie and place in the refrigerator for one hour. Serve chilled.

ARC Copy of The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone Book Giveaway

I am giving away a gently used advanced reading copy of THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE SKY by Michael Malone.

For one entry leave a comment, telling me about your earliest childhood memory.

Subscribers and followers will automatically get an additional entry each, and if you post this giveaway on your blog and send me a link, you will get two additional entries.

But act quick, this giveaway is only for one week and will end on April 17th, 2009. Winners announced April 18th.

Make sure there is some way for me to contact you.

This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am by Charles Grodin

Product Description
In his candid and engaging new book HOW I GOT TO BE WHOEVER IT IS I AM, successful actor, author, and activist, Charles Grodin, looks back at the major events and private moments that have shaped his life. And, since Grodin is one of the best storytellers around, he can't help but entertain while offering insight gained from a wealth of experience.

The combination of being impeached as class president by his fifth grade teacher (and then winning many school elections thereafter) with being thrown out of Hebrew School for asking too many questions (only to find a much better teacher as a result) informed Grodin's view of himself and made him adept at dealing with rejection--an important skill for an actor. Grodin's success in plays in high school and adventures in college theater led him to a career in acting, studying with the great teachers like Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg.

Grodin shares behind-the-scenes tales of working on plays like Same Time Next Year and movies like The Heartbreak Kid and Midnight Run--even how close he came to playing the lead in The Graduate. His stories feature the many actors, directors, writers, and producers, with whom he's worked, such as Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, Warren Beatty, and other colorful characters.

Grodin's greatest work isn't limited to stage and screen, however. He has been an award winning talk show host and commentator on Sixty Minutes II, and he reveals insights about the political and personal side of journalism and some of the larger-than-life characters he's interviewed.

Still, it is the personal aspects of Grodin's life that are truly revealing and funny. He shares intimate anecdotes of humorous dating experiences during the carefree 70s along with stories of what it was like to be a young actor then with friends and colleagues like Robert Redford, Gene Wilder, and Dustin Hoffman.

But it is Grodin's tales of the lives he's helped save with his relentless advocacy work that make you realize what a great guy Charles Grodin really is. We are lucky that the nice guy his friends call, "Chuck" brings us along to share a little of his journey of how he got to be who he really is!

My thoughts
I like Charles Grodin, but have never read any of his other books before “How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am”. I feel after reading this book I got know a little bit about the man. This book is a light humorous read that shows the reader that Mr. Grodin is a normal down to earth person who deals with life just like you and I. I found that his writing is easily understandable and enjoyable. You get to be with him and learn what life was like on a movie or television show set. You also get to know what his childhood was like – a naïve young boy that he was. At the end of this book, you will get to know how the producer, writer, actor, television personality became to be who he is.

Now if you have gotten this far and read my review are are interested in my advanced readers copy of HOW I GOT TO BE WHOEVER IT IS I AM, just be the first one to leave a comment here and the book is yours. Don't leave your address, I will contact you via email (so make sure I have your email address).

Fault Line ARC Book Giveaway Winner


The winner of the Fault Line ARC Book giveaway is Becky.

Please contact me within 48 hours with your mailing address.

I have another ARC giveaway starting tomorrow!

And am currently having a Hatchette Book Giveaway for Made In The U.S.A. Click here to enter.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Made in the U.S.A. Book Giveaway

I am having another giveaway. Five lucky winners will each win a copy of MADE IN THE U.S.A by Billie Letts, courtesy of Valerie at Hachette Book Group.

Giveaway restricted to residents of the US and Canada ,no PO boxes.

Contest ends Friday, April 17th, 2009

To enter, leave a comment here, with your email address. For bonus entries subscribe to or become a follower of my blog.

About the book:
The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father. While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.

In A Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen

Product DescriptionIrish immigrant Molly Murphy and her New York City P.I. business are in the midst of a sweeping influenza epidemic and a fight for women’s suffrage that lands her in jail. Her betrothed, Police Captain Daniel Sullivan, finds her, but he hardly has time to bail her out, what with Chinese gangs battling for control of a thriving opium trade. The only consolation Molly can take from her vexing afternoon in the clink is that it made her some new friends among the Vassar suffragists---and brought her a pair of new cases.

For the first, Emily Boswell is convinced her miserly uncle stole her inheritance and wants Molly to uncover the truth behind her parents’ lives and deaths. Second, Emily’s college roommate Fanny Poindexter wants Molly to find proof of her husband’s philandering so that she can leave him without one red cent. But when Fanny dies and her husband claims she’s a victim of the epidemic, it’s more than Molly’s conscience can take.

Rhys Bowen’s Agatha and Anthony Award--winning historical series continues to breathe life into the past with its wit and charm and its complete sense of early-twentieth-century New York, which makes In a Gilded Cage her most accomplished mystery yet.

My thoughts
I have enjoyed each new chapter of the Molly Murphy series and “In a Gilded Cage” is no exception. Ms. Bowen has written another novel about this female private detective in New York City and the turn of the last century. Since I enjoy historical fiction, I really take pleasure in the painstaking detail that Ms. Bowen describes the city in these books. Having lived in New York City, I can get the sense of what it was like 100 years ago. Molly is hired by not one but two female acquaintances that lead her throughout the city, while she still tries to maintain a relationship with her policeman fiancé. These Molly Murphy mysteries are pure historical joy.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

For the Wolf Lover

I love wolves and want to share this howling moment from the Wolf Conservation Center with you. If I lived closer, I'd be volunteering there.

Monday, April 06, 2009

How the Other Half Hamptons by Jasmin Rosemberg

Product Description
One house. Forty strangers. Add vodka and stir . . .
Every summer, scores of Manhattan twentysomethings take part in an annual ritual with a camp-like culture distinctly its own: the Hamptons sharehouse. When Rachel and her two best friends buy their shares for twenty times each of their bank balances, they're imagining days filled with lazy suntanning and classy clambakes and nights spent rubbing shoulders with the Olsen twins and other celebrities. But once they arrive at 1088 Montauk Highway on Memorial Day weekend, they find that the reality falls a bit short. What looks like any other million-dollar mansion--on the outside--plays host to drunken escapades, explicit nudity, hot tub hookups, hideous hangovers, and juvenile mischief on the inside. As housemates jockey for limited bathroom time and beer pong mania takes over the house, Rachel finds herself wondering if it's possible to find true love--or even just survive the summer--in The Hamptons.

My thoughts
I spent two summers (and one winter) in the Hamptons many years ago, although not in one of the houses as described in “How the Other Half Hamptons”. Ms. Rosemberg captures the party scene of the weekend Hamptons visitors and creates fun and vibrant characters, but unless you are a 20-something Manhattanite who has the endless flow of money to get continuously inebriated and hook up constantly with various conquests than I wouldn’t recommend the book. I did not find the book as enjoyable as I did the title.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Whittaker Family Reunion by Shirley A. Roe

Product Description
In depth historical research makes this novel an education as well as a very entertaining read. With characters so real they feel like family, readers won't be able to put this book down. The Whittaker Family Reunion is the sequel to Of Dreams and Nightmares but stands alone for new readers. As with the first book in the series, this one leaves us wanting more. Emotion filled, heartfelt, with both suspense and romance, Shirley Roe has given fans another five star novel! We were introduced to the Whittaker family in Of Dreams and Nightmares. The Whittaker Family Reunion takes readers back to 1881 and the family is reunited once again. Martha and Jeremy await the arrival of their two sons, Abraham from Mississippi and Ezekiel, from England. The third son Isaac lives near St. Louis and is anxious to see his brothers again. Daughter Anna is spoiled and nothing but trouble. Abraham arrives with a woman, much to the family's surprise. Ezekiel makes a narrow escape in England. Will the reunion be a happy one? Who will leave St. Louis in disgrace? Will Martha get to spend time with her entire family before tragedy strikes? The reunion is shadowed by another man, one seeking revenge; will he get what he wants? Will he kill one or all of them?

My thoughts
“The Whittaker Family Reunion” is what the title implies, the reunion of the Whittaker family. This takes place in 1881 in St. Louis. I enjoy historical fiction as it takes me back to an era I can never experience and Ms. Roe captures the period splendidly. I have not read the prequel to this story (“Of Dreams and Nightmares”) so I became acquainted with the all the family members with this story. There was much to follow and although these people lived in various parts of the country and one in England, you can see that they are a loving family. The various incidents that the characters deal with make this a breathtaking story. I hear that will be another book involving the family Whittaker.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Cheesy Potato Chowder

I typed up this recipe for my sister and since I did that I thought I share it. Although winter is just about gone, this is a great recipe.

Cheesy Potato Chowder

Prep Time: 30 min
Start to Finish: 1 hr
Makes: 8 servings (1¼ cups each)

6 medium red potatoes (2 lb), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
12 oz bag frozen broccoli cuts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
8 oz brick sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
½ cup sour cream
4 medium green onions, chopped (1/4 cup)

In 5-quart Dutch oven, place potatoes; add just enough water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Drain. Reserve 1 cup potatoes; return remaining potatoes to saucepan. In small bowl, mash reserved potatoes with fork; return to saucepan.
Stir in broth, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. Add broccoli. Return to boiling; cook uncovered 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium.

In small bowl with wire whisk, stir flour into milk until well mixed. Add milk mixture to potato mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and boils. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Stir in sour cream and green onions; cook until thoroughly heated.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Product Description
When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills. And that's both a good, and a bad thing. It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance....

My thoughts
I hadn’t realized that there were many zombie novels out there. Except for graphic novels and comic books, I was a zombie virgin. I loved the original “Dawn of the Dead” movie from the 80s, but now have found that reading “Patient Zero” has brought out the inner zombie in me. Jonathan Maberry has written a suburb novel that had me captivated by each chapter. The story is set in a post 9/11 world where terrorists create zombies to terrorize America. This gripping and creepy thriller is a must read. Whether it is greed or religious beliefs that motivate the villains, nobody would want zombies roaming the streets of our world.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Triple Play Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Triple Play Giveaway is bridget3420. Congratulations. Please contact me within 48 hours with your mailing address.

I have another giveaway starting today!

ARC Copy of Fault Line by Barry Eisler Giveaway

I am giving away a gently used advanced reading copy of FAULT LINE by Barry Eisler.

For one entry leave a comment, but not one saying that you would like to win the book, but let us know who your favorite author is.

Subscribers and followers will automatically get an additional entry each, and if you post this giveaway on your blog and send me a link, you will get two additional entries.

But act quick, this giveaway is only for one week and will end on April 8th, 2009. Winners announced April 9th.

Make sure there is some way for me to contact you.

This contest is open to U.S. residents only.


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