Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Books I've Read In December 2011

1) Destined (House Of Night series), P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together – if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow…

But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia’s handsome horse whisperer, threatens their precarious stability. And then there’s the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous teen boy who is actually more – or possibly less – than human. Only Neferet knows he was created to be her greatest weapon. But Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there’s something strangely familiar about him…

Will Neferet’s true nature be revealed before she succeeds in silencing them all? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox’s humanity in time to protect him – and everyone – from his own fate? Find out what’s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

2) Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony, by Jeff Ashton and Lisa Pulitzer

Filled with explosive new information, this is the definitive inside story of the case that captivated the nation and the verdict that no one saw coming

It was the trial that stunned America, the verdict that shocked us all. On July 5, 2011, nearly three years after her initial arrest, Casey Anthony walked away, virtually scot-free, from one of the most sensational murder trials of all time. She'd been accused of killing her daughter, Caylee, but the trial only left behind more questions: Was she actually innocent? What really happened to Caylee? Was this what justice really looked like?

In Imperfect Justice, prosecutor Jeff Ashton, one of the principal players in the case's drama, sheds light on those questions and much more, telling the behind-the-scenes story of the investigation, the trial, and the now-infamous verdict. Providing an inside account of the case, Ashton, a career prosecutor for the state of Florida, goes where the press and pundits have only speculated, detailing what really happened during the investigation, showing how the prosecution built their case, and explaining how a woman so shrouded in suspicion was proclaimed innocent.

Moving beyond the simple explanations, Ashton offers an in-depth look at the complex figure of Casey Anthony, a woman whose lies he spent three years trying to understand. And yet this focus on Casey came with its own risks; here he details how this widespread fixation on Casey—both in the media and in the trial—may have undermined the case itself. As everyone got caught up in the quest to understand the supposed villain, somehow the victim, Caylee, was all but forgotten—not just to the public, but more important, to the jury.


Total year to date: 59

Monday, November 21, 2011

Looking Back (Goals I Set For This Year)

At the end of last December, I posted the following goals for 2011:

1) I will read at least 75 new books by the end of the year. I will create another blog with all the books I read as the year progresses.
2) I will finish my writing course.
3) I will have at least one article published.
4) I will get my drivers license.
5) I will start a 3x a week exercise program.

And here's the rundown on them at this point:
1) I just finished #55 last night, so I'm pretty sure I'll fall short. However, it's still more than one per week, so I'm okay with that.
2) SUCCESS....I finished my final lesson a couple of weeks ago.
3) Not yet, but my heart really hasn't been in submitting anything lately. However, I did get a poem published in a magazine, and I self-published a book of my poetry. So I'm going to call SUCCESS on this one as well.
4) Major FAIL on that one.
5) Major FAIL there as well...no motivation for me.

This is why I usually try not to make resolutions or set goals....I'm not good with keeping up with them, and then I get upset with myself for that. So my one and only resolution for 2012 is NO RESOLUTIONS!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What Does November Have Against Me???

November has a history of events that have been sad and/or traumatic, and I tend to fall into a pretty rotten depression for most of the month. I hide from the world, and even from close friends and immediate family members. It's the most difficult four weeks of my year, and it opens every wound there is, every single year.

I knew, because of very traumatic event that happened at the beginning of last December, that this year my November was going to be even more difficult to get through with my sanity intact. But tonight I've yet another heavy load tossed on my shoulders, and it's about to break me. I know people usually say that God doesn't give us more than He knows we can handle...darn, I wish He didn't have so much confidence in my strength!!

I've been talking to my oldest daughter in South Carolina this evening, several different times, and I think she's finally reached her breaking point and is really, truly ready to come home. The problem is, at this point in time, she has no money and no options, and no one up here in Ohio can make the trip down there to get her. The last time I talked to her, she was so upset and so defeated, she was talking about wishing she were just dead, because then someone would HAVE to come down there, to get her nearly 2 yr old son.

Once again, I feel like I'm letting her down, just like I have SO many times before in her life. I'm her mother, dammit, I'm supposed to be able to be there for her, to help her. to take care of her!!! She and that little boy don't deserve the crap they've been through, and they need to be here with us, where they're loved, supported, encouraged, and protected. I just feel so totally USELESS to her at this point!!!

I can't take any more....November, I surrender......

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Penn State...And Why It Bothers Me So Deeply

As the mother of sexual abuse survivor, any story of children being molested turns my stomach and makes me feel just a "tiny bit" violent toward the perpetrators. The more I hear about the things that went on at Penn State, and the "cone of silence" that apparently dropped over the whole thing, the more I want to lash out at people.

Granted, the majority of those involved have NOW been punished, with legal charges as well as losing their jobs. However, one person still goes unpunished, untouched by anyone, and it irritates the soup out of me. Joe Paterno is a human being, just as fallible as the rest of us, not some superhero, pop icon, football god.

This is a man who, for decades, has preached to his players, and the world, that “You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That is the mark of a true professional.” Where was that philosophy when he chose to do only the MINIMUM required of him, and to only report the molestation of a ten year old boy to his immediate superior, and then let it go...for nearly TEN YEARS...without pushing for something more to be done.

How many children might have been spared the humiliation and trauma of molestation if this had been reported to the police in 2002, or sooner? Why was taking away Sandusky's keys to the locker room considered a reasonable penalty for having been discovered having anal sex with a child? What sort of world have they created at Penn State that makes this acceptable?

And now, Joe has announced that he'll retire at the end of this season, when his current contract runs out. Big deal! I have a feeling that he was already planning to retire then, anyhow. IMO, he should step down IMMEDIATELY, regardless of the position that might put the football team and their precious win/loss record in for the remainder of the season. Once in a while, there are, in fact, things more important than football, even in Pennsylvania!!

Jim Tressel was vilified for not reporting what he knew about TATTOOS...tattoos, for pete's sake!!!...and I was among those who believed it was important for him to step down, morally and ethically. How much more important is it now that Paterno not get a pass for his involvement in child molestation, because, let's not sugarcoat it, he was an accomplice to that crime by keeping silent and not taking his knowledge to the police.

So....those are my thoughts on the situation as it stands now. Feel free to discuss.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Traumatic Event? Oh my, yes!!!

Has anything traumatic ever happened to you?

This is an incident that I don't think I've ever written about before, and I have a feeling it might be tough to get through. It's not something I even TALK about that often, even with the people closest to me. So bear with me if this isn't the most coherent post I've ever written. (Added after completion: I had to do one paragraph at a time, then take a break, in order to get through it...and I still cried!!!)

It was Thanksgiving Day, 1991. I had just gotten home from a day with family, along with my husband and my two children. Our downstairs neighbor, who was also a friend of my husband's since their school days, had not been feeling well for several days, so I went to check in with him, his wife and their children.

RP was feeling very down, and I suggested that they all come upstairs and join us, as we were planning to watch ET that evening. He declined, but did eventually agree that he would come up and have a talk with my husband during the evening. As I left, I hugged him, and his wife, and said "See ya later!"

We were in the midst of watching ET a little later in the evening when the traumatic part of the evening began in earnest. RP's oldest stepdaughter came up to our apartment through the inner stairway (we lived in a converted home, so there was a stairway from their living room to ours, with locking doors on either side). The stepdaughter was pounding on the door, screaming that her mother wanted my husband to come down right away, as RP had locked himself in the bathroom with his pistol.

The next few minutes were a blur...lots of yelling, all of the other children from downstairs coming to our apartment, all of us huddled around the door to the interior stairs. The next clear memory I have is of my husband yelling up the stairs for me to call 9-1-1, adding "Tell them gunshot wound to the head!"

I punched in the numbers, and listened to it ring...and ring...and ring. Hung up, called again....and got put on HOLD! When I finally got to speak to someone I was screaming at them...gunshot wound to the head, self-inflicted...HURRY!!

Shortly thereafter there was a flurry of activity...police and EMTs arrived rather quickly. For some reason, the police felt it was necessary for them to come in first, guns drawn, to make sure it was safe for the EMTs to enter the house. After the ambulance rushed RP to the hospital, followed by his wife and oldest stepdaughter, there were still police around for quite a while, taking statements from me and my husband.

We had to get our two children, and four children from downstairs, including a small baby, calmed down and settled down for the night, but my husband and I didn't get much sleep at all. RP was taken to the local hospital, and then flown to another hospital more equipped to deal with his injuries. He was on life support for a little over 24 hours before being declared brain dead.

Before his wife and stepdaughter came home, another neighbor and I took on the horrific job of cleaning up the bathroom, which included ripping up all the carpet and padding, and then scrubbing the floor, the cabinets, etc. That was, for me, the most traumatic part of the entire week, and something that I will never forget.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Books I've Read In November 2011

1) On Writing, by Stephen King

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's
On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. You're right there with the young author as he's tormented by poison ivy, gas-passing babysitters, uptight schoolmarms, and a laundry job nastier than Jack London's. It's a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. This was a child who dug Yvette Vickers from Attack of the Giant Leeches, not Sandra Dee. "I wanted monsters that ate whole cities, radioactive corpses that came out of the ocean and ate surfers, and girls in black bras who looked like trailer trash." But massive reading on all literary levels was a craving just as crucial, and soon King was the published author of "I Was a Teen-Age Graverobber." As a young adult raising a family in a trailer, King started a story inspired by his stint as a janitor cleaning a high-school girls locker room. He crumpled it up, but his writer wife retrieved it from the trash, and using her advice about the girl milieu and his own memories of two reviled teenage classmates who died young, he came up with Carrie. King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery, the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers, and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wife's intervention, which he describes). "There's one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing."

King also evokes his college days and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writer's "tool kit": a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecraft's arcane vocabulary, Hemingway's leanness, Grisham's authenticity, Richard Dooling's artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman's sentence fragments. He explains why Hart's War is a great story marred by a tin ear for dialogue, and how Elmore Leonard's Be Cool could be the antidote.

King isn't just a writer, he's a true teacher.


2) You Are Not Alone:Michael, Through A Brother's Eyes, by Jermaine Jackson

Jermaine Jackson—older than Michael by four years—offers a keenly observed memoir tracing his brother’s life starting from their shared childhood and extending through the Jackson 5 years, Michael’s phenomenal solo career, his loves, his suffering, and his tragic end. It is a sophisticated, no-holds-barred examination of the man, aimed at fostering a true and final understanding of who he was, why he was, and what shaped him.

Jermaine knows the real Michael as only a brother can. In this raw, honest, and poignant account, he reveals Michael the private person, not Michael “the King of Pop.”

Jermaine doesn’t flinch from tackling the tough issues: the torrid press, the scandals, the allegations, the court cases, the internal politics, the ill-fated This Is It tour, and disturbing developments in the days leading up to Michael’s death. But where previous works have presented only thin versions of a media construct, he provides a rare glimpse into the complex heart, mind, and soul of a brilliant but sometimes troubled entertainer. As a witness to history on the inside, Jermaine is the only person qualified to deliver the real Michael and reveal what made him tick, his private opinions, and unseen emotions through the most headline-making episodes of his life.

Filled with keen insight, rich in anecdotes and behind-the-scenes detail, You Are Not Alone is the book for any true Michael Jackson fan and for anyone trying to make sense of the artist whose death was so premature.

3) Water For Elephants, Sara Gruen

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

4) Starting Over, by LaToya Jackson and Jeffre Phillips

La Toya Jackson was always closer to Michael than anyone knew. In this heartfelt memoir, she pays tribute to his tortured soul—revealing the intimate moments she shared with the deeply troubled pop legend. The first sibling to arrive at the hospital after Michael was rushed there, and the informant on his death certificate, La Toya noticed suspicious details and demanded a second autopsy. For the first time, she unveils shocking behind-the-scenes dealings that she believes led to her brother’s death, and she provides unprecedented insight into the destruction of one of the most dynamic artist/performers in history.

In an account sure to send shock waves around the globe, La Toya sheds new light on the dynamics of the Jackson family and the curtain of secrecy and intrigue that has surrounded her brother Michael, and the rest of the Jackson children, since they became stars in the ’60s and ’70s. She explains her estrangement from— and gradual reconciliation with—one of America’s most famous and close-knit families.

Like Michael, La Toya experienced an upbringing that made her vulnerable to exploitation, and her own journey led to hell and back at the hands of her former manager and husband, Jack Gordon. Sharing with honesty and an open heart some of the most painful episodes of her life story, La Toya reveals how anyone—regardless of fame, fortune, or status—can be trapped in a cycle of abuse, and how she was able to find the courage to rebuild her shattered sense of self, her career, and her relationship with her family, and to finally break free.

This tale will touch the hearts of the millions who are fans of the Jackson family’s music as well as those who have ever shared a special relationship with a sibling. Not just the story of the world’s most renowned family, this memoir will inspire anyone who feels as if their life has fallen apart and there’s nowhere to go, unless they too can learn to truly start over. . .

5) Love Times Three: Our True Story Of A Polygamous Marriage, by Joe, Alina, Vicki and Valerie Darger with Brooke Adams

e runs his own business and coaches Little League. She drives a minivan, and she’d be lost without her trusty BlackBerry. They go on date nights. Their kids attend public schools, play sports, and take music lessons. They live in a roomy house in the ’burbs. They’re about as mainstream as families come....They’re also polygamists.

For decades, polygamous families have been forced to hide their lifestyle. Men risk prosecution and economic blacklisting, and women face social isolation and faulty assumptions about what it means to live as a sister wife. But Love Times Three, the first-ever memoir of a polygamous family, is a riveting inside look at a world most of us can hardly imagine, revealing the extraordinary workings of the Dargers’ day-to-day life.

Independent Fundamentalist Mormons, the Dargers grew up in polygamous families, and by the time they were in high school, they knew they wanted to live the Principle themselves. But in a highly unusual situation, even for their culture, both Alina and Vicki expressed interest in Joe at the same time. They ultimately courted him together, and married him on the same day. Valerie, Vicki’s twin sister, joined the marriage ten years later.

The Dargers move the conversation away from child brides, Warren Jeffs, and the FLDS to more mainstream polygamists who willingly enter into plural relationships as adults. Rather than living in isolated communities, Independent Fundamentalist Mormons are similar to an average American family—except for their family structure.

In this intimate, inside story, the Dargers explain why they chose this path despite the pressures of keeping their relationships secret and the jealousy and personal challenges that naturally ensue, why they believe polygamy should be an accepted lifestyle, and, ultimately, why they hope that by revealing their way of life in public, laws that criminalize their lifestyle might change.

Written in the voices of the four parents, Love Times Three is the story of one man, his three wives, and their twenty-four children as they live out their faith in a world of prejudice, misconception, and fear, including a chapter on the sister wife dynamic, one from Joe on how he juggles his three distinct romantic relationships, and a chapter from three of their children, called “My Three Moms.” Despite the risk of legal action, the Dargers know that it’s time to counteract Hollywood’s sensational interpretation and correct the general public’s misunderstanding of polygamy with the truth.

6) Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

7) Deer In The Headlights: My Life In Sarah Palin's Crosshairs, by Levi Johnston

Best known as Bristol Palin’s baby daddy and Sarah Palin’s favorite whipping boy, Levi Johnston sets out to clear his name and—with any luck—end his run as Alaska’s most hated man.

Promising hockey player and Governor Palin’s almost son-in-law, Levi Johnston was eighteen when Palin became the vice presidential nominee. His unique place as Bristol’s live-in boyfriend provided him a true insider’s view of what was going on behind closed doors. And how Sarah’s public views were often at odds with her home values. It makes it all the more curious that Sarah eventually turned her anger directly on Levi, after losing her ticket to the White House

After being bullied, lied about, and outspent in the courts when he attempted to bond with his new son, Tripp, Levi Johnston now is ready to set the record straight.

Deer in the Headlights is a poignant, at times very funny, and fascinating tale of a boy thrust into the media spotlight and now figuring out how to be an adult and a dad. Johnston, ever honest, had a unique window into Palintology at a critical time; he sat in the family’s living room and paid attention. Not bitter and never petty, Levi shares his story.

As Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC so aptly put it: “I love that kid. He's honest, he's straightforward, he's not embarrassed.”


8) The Wind Done Gone, by Alice Randall

In this daring and provocative literary parody which has captured the interest and imagination of a nation, Alice Randall explodes the world created in GONE WITH THE WIND, a work that more than any other has defined our image of the antebellum South. Taking sharp aim at the romanticized, whitewashed mythology perpetrated by this southern classic, Randall has ingeniously conceived a multilayered, emotionally complex tale of her own - that of Cynara, the mulatto half-sister, who, beautiful and brown and born into slavery, manages to break away from the damaging world of the Old South to emerge into full life as a daughter, a lover, a mother, a victor. THE WIND DONE GONE is a passionate love story, a wrenching portrait of a tangled mother-daughter relationship, and a book that "celebrates a people's emancipation not only from bondage but also from history and myth, custom and stereotype"

Total year to date: 57

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The REST Of The Story

This post is written from a prompt, provided here:

Mama’s

1.) Did you create a list of 22 things you've done in your life for last week's Writer's Workshop? This week, choose one item from your list and elaborate! We want the story.

I decided to tell the story about my appearance as a guest on the GERALDO show.

I was watching an episode of the show in October or November 1992, the topic of which was men who left their girlfriends/wives and wound up with the sister of that woman. Geraldo made the comment that brothers would never do that...so I immediately picked up the phone to call his comment line. You see, my first husband, Doug, and my second husband, George, who were both adopted, have evidence to suggest that they could be biological brothers (which actually creeped me out quite a bit when it first came to light!!!). I left a short message on the subject, hung up and pretty much forgot all about it.

Now fast forward to April 1993. The phone rings, and I hear someone saying they are a producer from the Geraldo show, and they want to talk about the comment I left regarding a previous show. At first I thought it was some sort of joke, naturally, but he eventually convinced me he was for real--and that they wanted us to come to New York City that week to film!! After several phone conversations with George, and with Doug's wife, Mary, we all agreed that we would do it, and just try to have some fun in the process.

George and I left Brian and Samantha with my grandmother for the day, and took five month old Amy with us. We took one of the first flights of the morning out of Huntington WV to JFK in New York City. At the airport, there was actually a driver waiting for us, with a sign that had our last name...it was surreal! And the car already had a car seat ready and waiting for Amy!!

After a drive through New York City that seemed to take forever--and left me fearing for my life more than once--we arrived at CBS Studios. There was some confusion initially at the main reception desk, as the receptionist first thought that we were bringing Amy to a taping for As The World Turns. When that was straightened out, we were soon met by a production assistant who took us upstairs to a dressing room.

I was visited in the dressing room by hair and makeup techs, which was one of the most fun parts of the day. I wish I still had some of the pics from that day...I felt totally glamorous by the time they were done! Dave, the producer of the episode came in to talk to us, which was a rather eye-opening conversation. He told us that, at the beginning of the show, Geraldo would say something, then I was to respond a certain way, etc. Since what they were expecting me to say was not the way things went down, I balked at being less than honest, particularly on national television. And when he mentioned wanting Mary and I to get into a fight, or at least an argument, on-stage, I put my foot down and absolutely refused to go along with that. I wasn't going to embarrass myself or any of my family members that way, period!

Once we got finished with that conversation, a production assistant took us downstairs to the commissary to hang out while they filmed another episode..and to keep us from running into Doug and Mary before our taping. While we sat at a table eating our lunch, we spotted several people we recognized. We saw Ed Bradley and Andy Rooney at a table next to us...Don Hughes, one of our favorite actors from As The World Turns, stopped by our table when he saw Amy--it was Take Your Daughter To Work Day, and he presumed one of us worked there and had brought her with us, as he had brought HIS daughter that day...we also spotted several other actors and actresses from that show during the course of the day.

The actual taping of the show was the longest hour of my life to that point. Geraldo's questions, as well as his "explanation" of the situation, made me look like some sort of "bad guy" ...and then his so-called "expert" went so far as to say that I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. When I was finally given my chance to respond to her, I had reached my boiling point. I told her that she didn't know me, that she was basing her opinion on a 20 minute segment of a television show, where facts were distorted, and that she had no right to make judgments on me or my life. Once I got all that out, I felt much better (and I was disappointed to learn, when the show aired, that my entire rant was during the closing credits!).

When taping was complete, all the guests, as well as the expert, spent some time in the "green room" with Geraldo, and there was a lot of picture taking. Geraldo, whose daughter Isabella is only about a week older than Amy, made a fuss over her and said something about having one of those at home. :) The "expert" attempted to apologize to me, but I was still too hurt and angry to have any part of it.

Then it was back in the limo and off to the airport, where we bought ridiculously overpriced Taco Bell food while waiting for our flight. As I have often told people, it was a fun day, with lots of excitement, marred by a one hour debacle (the taping). If I had it to do over again, I would definitely think twice about making that original phone call!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One Last Meal

If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?<

I've thought about this topic at various times when I've seen it mentioned somewhere, but never thought about it seriously enough to make the choice. Today, since it's the NaBloPoMo prompt of the day, I'm finally going to try to narrow down my choices and present my last meal menu. Since it's a fantasy (and since I have so many favorite foods), I'm going for a seven course meal!!
First course: Shrimp cocktail

Second course: Cheddar broccoli soup in a sourdough bread bowl

Third course: Spinach salad with apples, craisins, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette

Fourth course: Mango sorbet to cleanse the palate.

Fifth course: Lasagna and garlic bread

Sixth course: Lobster and shrimp (both the fifth and sixth courses would also include a complementing glass of wine, which I haven't yet chosen)

Seventh course: Creme brulee and Irish coffee

I'm making myself hungry just typing this out...good thing it's almost time for lunch!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I Like About Writing

What is your favourite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is that it lets me delve into the deepest part of ME. Whether I'm writing about memories, or current events, or even writing fiction or poetry, there's always a little piece of me in there. Sometimes it's something that I've been aware of for a long time, and other times it just sneaks up on me.

Writing has always been a form of cheap therapy for me. When I have something bothering me, or a decision to make, or just want to vent, I tend to turn to writing. In fact, my husband has said that when he sees me pick up my journal, he knows I have something important going on that I haven't shared with him yet.

I've made a commitment to take part in National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo, so I'll be posting something every day this month, most days using a writing prompt to get me started. I look forward to seeing what comes to light, and I hope you find it interesting reading as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Things I HAVE Done

This post is written from a prompt, provided here:

Mama’s

1.) Last week we wrote about what we have never done...this week write a list of 22 things you HAVE done. (inspired by Sellabit Mom)

I am fifty years old, and I HAVE:

1) Been married three times.

2) Given birth to three children.

3) Lived in Germany for three years.

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4) Gotten my ears pierced (even though I was 25 before I worked up the nerve!)

5) Eaten and enjoyed escargot and calamari.

6) Been a guest on the GERALDO show.

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7) Had an amazing full body massage

8) Been to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

9) Seen Barry Manilow in concert twice.

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10) Struggled with trying to gain weight, and been called anorexic.

11) Led a workshop on writing for publication.

12) Owned more dogs and cats than I can remember.


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13) Been to Disneyland and Disney World.

14) Been to a World's Fair. (Seattle, 1962)

15) Published a book of my poetry.

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16) Eaten deer, rabbit and squirrel.

17) Been an elementary school teacher.

18) Always thought penguins are adorable, especially baby ones.

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19) Always had a hard time trusting people.

20) Had my heart broken.

21) Known true love.

22) Been to the Renaissance Festival on numerous occasions.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Things I've Never Done

This post is written from a prompt, provided here:

Mama’s


1.) Follow the template I copied from The Pioneer Woman without her permission and list 22 things you’ve never done.

I am fifty years old, and I have never:
1) Learned to swim or even to float.

2) Learned to ride a bicycle.

3) Been to Paris.

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4) Gotten a tattoo.

5) Eaten sushi.

6) Taken a cruise.


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7) Been to a spa.

8) Swum with dolphins.

9) Been to a Neil Diamond concert.


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10) Been on a diet.

11) Been comfortable speaking to groups of people.

12) Owned a sugar glider.


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13) Ridden on an elephant.

14) Ridden in a hot air balloon.

15) Been to a NASCAR race.

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16) Eaten fried green tomatoes.

17) Gone to a casino

18) NOT been terrified of snakes.


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19) Been to Mardi Gras

20) Ridden on a train

21) Had a manicure or pedicure.

22) Jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My ADD/ADHD rant

First of all, I will agree that ADD/ADHD is overdiagnosed these days, and that there are children being given medications that they do not need. That said, I also know first hand that there are children...and adults...who most definitely DO need the medication, and who can not function as well without it as they do with it.

ADD/ADHD is not just about normal "hyperactivity" in a growing child. A child who is properly tested for this disorder will have physical, psychological and neurological exams...and you can see a HUGE difference in the brain activity of a person with the disorder vs. a person without it. Below are two pictures to demonstrate those differences..they are very real.

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The first picture shows a PET scan of a "normal" brain vs. an ADHD brain, and the second picture shows a variety of EEGs.

In cases like those above, just changing their diet, or making sure they get more exercise, is not going to solve the problem. They have a chemical imbalance in the brain, and medication is required to correct that imbalance.

Yes, some children get diagnosed with the disorder, put on medication, and they turn into "zombies." In those cases, generally, one of two things is going on: either they don't have the disorder, or they are on the wrong dosage. A person with true ADD/ADHD will only function "normally" when they are on the proper dosage of the medication.

Many people with true ADD/ADHD will also NOT "grow out of it" when they reach adolescence, and will have to continue to take medication for their entire lives.

ADD/ADHD is not caused by a child having too much sugar in their diet, or watching too much television, or playing too many video games. It is something they are born with, in most cases, and in a great many cases it is hereditary. It is NOT, by any means, a sign of poor parenting.

There is more that I could say, but I'll leave it at that for now.....

Monday, October 10, 2011

"My" Song

What was the first song that was ever "your song?"

The first song I ever really remember claiming as my own because it resonated so much with me was "I Made It Through The Rain," which Barry Manilow released in 1980, when I was 18/19. I THOUGHT I'd been through a lot at that point, but I had no idea how much more was still to come, and how often I'd hang on to the words of that song and just pray that I would, again, make it through.

I Made It Through The Rain
Barry Manilow

We dreamers have our ways
Of facing rainy days
And somehow we survive

We keep the feelings warm
Protect them from the storm
Until our time arrives

Then one day the sun appears
And we come shining through those lonely years

I made it through the rain
I kept my world protected
I made it throught the rain
I kept my point of view
I made it through the rain
And found myself respected
By the others who
Got rained on too
And made it through

When friends are hard to find
And life seems so unkind
Sometimes you feel so afraid

Just aim beyond the clouds
And rise above the crowds
And start your own parade

'Cause when I chased my fears away
That's when I knew that I could finally say

I made it through the rain
I kept my world protected
I made it throught the rain
I kept my point of view
I made it through the rain
And found myself respected
By the others who
Got rained on too
And made it through

REPEAT CHORUS

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Books I've Read In October 2011

1) The Confession, by John Grisham
In 2007, almost on the eve of the execution of Donté Drumm, an African-American college football star, for the 1998 murder of a white cheerleader whose body was never found, Travis Boyette, a creepy multiple sex offender, confesses that he's guilty of the crime to Kansas minister Keith Schroeder. With Drumm's legal options dwindling fast and with the threat of civil unrest in his Texas hometown if the execution proceeds, Schroeder battles to convince Boyette to go public with the truth--and to persuade the condemned man's attorney that Boyette's story needs to be taken seriously.

2) Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries On Love and Life, by Tyler Perry
One could say that if the title of this book confuses you, then you probably shouldn't be reading it. But, as Madea helpfully suggests, "If you don't understand something I'm saying here and you're not black, you will have to ask somebody who is." Madea—Southern-speak for "mother dear"—is the fierce alter ego of Tyler Perry, who has paraded the marijuana-smoking, pistol-packing, trash-talking matron through a series of hit gospel plays and films. Although primarily a comic figure based on unapologetically crude behavior coming from a harmless-looking old lady, Madea is envisioned by Perry (who provides his own introduction before turning the reins over to his inner grandma) as a throwback to a time when strong matriarchs ruled the community. The result is a surprisingly fresh compilation of homespun advice—which Madea says the reader should take "at your own risk"—on love, sex, getting ahead in life and (strangely) the thousand-plus uses of Vaseline. Although veering dangerously close to serious at times, Perry litters Madea's anarchic, stage-ready monologues with hilariously bad quips along the lines of "the grass is always greener on the other side, but the water bill is higher."

3) The Snow Queen (Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 4), by Mercedes Lackey
Aleksia, Queen of the Northern Lights, is mysterious, beautiful and widely known to have a heart of ice. No one would seek her wisdom except as a last resort. But when she's falsely accused of unleashing evil on nearby villages, she realizes there's an impostor out there far more heartless than she could ever be.

And when a young warrior following the Tradition disappears, leaving his sweetheart and mother to fear the worst, Aleksia's powers are needed as never before.

Now, on a journey through a realm of perpetual winter, it will take all her skills, a mother's faith and a little magic to face down an enemy more formidable than any she has ever known.…


4) The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.

5) Stolen Life, Jaycee Lee Dugard
When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old, she was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Phillip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer; he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behavior raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garridos’ home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.

A Stolen Life was written by Jaycee herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991 up until the present. In her stark, compelling narrative, she opens up about what she experienced—and offers an extraordinary account of courage and resilience.


6) Cross Fire, by James Patterson


Wedding bells ring

Detective Alex Cross and Bree's wedding plans are put on hold when Alex is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of two of Washington D.C.'s most corrupt: a dirty congressmen and an underhanded lobbyist. Next, the elusive gunman begins picking off other crooked politicians, sparking a blaze of theories--is the marksman a hero or a vigilante?

A murderer returns

The case explodes, and the FBI assigns agent Max Siegel to the investigation. As Alex and Siegel battle over jurisdiction, the murders continue. It becomes clear that they are the work of a professional who has detailed knowledge of his victims' movements--information that only a Washington insider could possess.

Caught in a lethal cross fire

As Alex contends with the sniper, Siegel, and the wedding, he receives a call from his deadliest adversary, Kyle Craig. The Mastermind is in D.C. and will not relent until he has eliminated Cross and his family for good. With a supercharged blend of action, deception, and suspense, Cross Fire is James Patterson's most visceral and exciting Alex Cross novel ever.

Total Year To Date: 49

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Space In My Heart

This post is written from a prompt, provided here:

Mama’s

5.) I have no idea where the following message originated from, but it's been floating around Facebook for the past week...who does it make you think about?:
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I think we all have that person who, if we knew we were dying, we'd want to contact and let them know how much they always meant to us. For me, that person is the one who comes to mind whenever I read this. He was in my life twice, in two very different ways, and made no effort to stay there either time. In spite of that, the second time he earned a permanent space in my heart.

It really, truly sucks when you spend almost 50 yrs of your life looking for love...real, honest, unconditional love...and then when you finally find the person you can give it to, they aren't able to give it BACK to you. He made promises about being in my life forever, and being willing to give up the life he had to create a life for US, but when push came to shove, the only thing he actually gave up was ME.

I've gone on with my life since that happened, but it hasn't been easy. Every time something happens, good or bad, I want to share it with him--but since we have no contact at all, that's impossible. So that means there are times I get really down, even during what should be a very happy time, simply because there's someone missing.

Not sure any of this makes any sense...but there it is, for whatever it's worth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Feeling Like A Failure

My former church is in the midst of a sermon series that caught my attention The series is called "Grace And Truth In Tension." The first sermon was "Grace, Truth and the Hypocritical," and yesterday was "Marriage and Divorce." Upcoming sermons are "Homosexuality," "Cohabitation," and "Role Of Religion In Politics." I've listened to the first two sermons online, BECAUSE it caught my attention...and I'll probably listen to the others as well. But yesterday's sermon tore a big hole in my heart, and left me feeling like a major failure. I can't remember the last time I cried like a baby during and after a sermon, or felt like I was doomed to Hell with no hope of any sort. I'm seriously sitting here feeling like I might as well not even TRY anymore...what's the point if I've already screwed things up this much?

You see, I'm twice divorced, and three times married. According to what I heard in listening to this sermon, I shouldn't have gotten the first divorce, and just didn't TRY hard enough to make it work. Failure.....

And then, when I did get the divorce, I should have stayed single, unless I got back together with him. Failure #2.....

At least with the second divorce, the abuse and the drinking on his part made it okay...but I wouldn't have been in that situation if I hadn't married him in the first place. Failure #3....

And let's not forget that marriages #2 and #3 have been "adultery." Failure #4....

So, yeah....I'm having a great Monday....it's rainy and dark, so I was already depressed, and then I had to go and get on THIS line of thinking. Brilliant idea, kiddo!! :*(

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where I'm From

This post is written from a prompt, provided here:

Mama’s
2.) Where I'm From.

I am from plastic pools in the yard in the summer, wooden sleds down the hill in winter; from RC and Fresca, Chef Boyardee and Lucky Charms; from Barbie dolls and transistor radios.

I am from the house with the big yard and the deck I helped my father build; from the pool table in the basement and the beautiful white bedroom suite. I am from the soft spring breezes and the colorful autumn leaves; from the majestic Ohio River and the gently rolling hills.

I am from the tobacco crops and the fields of green beans; from the potatoes and the tomatoes; from the corn and the cucumbers. I am from the trees I climbed fearlessly, and the swing set where I practiced my acrobatics; from the "hole" where we played with Matchbox cars and the futures we created in our imaginations.

I am from family reunions every year and Sunday afternoons at Granny's; from cousins who were my best friends and playmates, and scary movie marathons on New Year's Eve. I am from Danners and Johnsons, from Wards and Lamberts.

I am from hard workers who gardened and canned, from frugal people who haggled and bargained shopped. I am from patriots who served their country proudly, from moral, ethical people who held to their standards in the face of every temptation.

I am from Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, from the Tooth Fairy and the bogey man. I am from trick or treating for hours, and getting popcorn balls, apples, and even apple cider and donuts from the neighbors. I am from bedtime stories and weekly trips to the library, from valuing education and all types of learning.

I am from church every Sunday, whether you wanted to go or not, from Vacation Bible School and children's choir. I am from youth group and play practice, from confirmation and church camp, from doubt to faith and back again.

I am from Gallipolis, Ohio, but I'm also from Germany, England, Ireland and Scotland. I am from George Washington's brother, and from Queen Elizabeth I's aunt. I am from meatloaf and mashed potatoes, from apple butter and from bread and butter pickles. I am from country gravy and biscuits, from sweet tea that's nearly syrup.

I am from the River Recreation Festival and the Gallia County Fair. I am from the home of Bob Evans and O.O. McIntire. I am from the town of the French Five Hundred, where Lafayette once stayed at the Our House Tavern.. I am from watching the Delta Queen move peacefully down the river, from barges heaped with coal.

I am from two people who married just two months after their first meeting. I am from hard-working country folks who married as teens. I am from equally hard-working "city" folk who married in their early twenties.

I am from pictures in a photo album, from black and white and from color. I am from Christmases and birthdays, from graduations and vacations. I am from putting on my new dress just to have my picture taken on the front porch. I am from slumber parties and birthday cakes, from football games and band contests.

I am from six years as an only child, and from being a big sister to my younger brother. I am from a happy family of four, and from a "broken home." I am from stepparents and stepsiblings, and ever changing family relationships.

I am from failed marriages and finding true love, from a son, two daughters and a young grandson. I am from teaching and writing, from trying to figure out just who I am.

I am from everything that has ever existed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Brat Bans"

Watching Dr. Phil this morning (darned George and Cindy Anthony interview postponed to tomorrow due to US Open coverage in some time slots and markets!), and felt compelled to comment on some of these instances.

1) Woman arrested because her baby was cooing too loudly in the library.
She played a tape of the sound of her son....and I'm sorry, but he WAS too loud for a library. I would have just taken the child out without creating a ruckus. Honestly, if at all possible, I wouldn't TAKE a baby to the library.

2) Man who tapped 4 yr old on the cheek because she was being disruptive in Walmart and got arrested for it.
GOOD! Let me tell you, if anyone had put a hand on one of my children we BOTH would have gotten arrested before it was over. If you have a problem with a child's behavior, say something to the parent first. If that doesn't solve the problem, go to security, or the manager. It's totally inappropriate for a total stranger to decide when and how to discipline someone else's child.


3) Woman kicked off plane because child keep saying "Bye bye airplane" over and over.
She was trying to keep him occupied, playing a "peekaboo" type game with him....closing the window so he couldn't see the airplane next to them, so he'd say "Bye bye airplane," then opening the window up again and making him laugh. None of the other passengers complained, in fact they stuck up for her when the flight attendant gave her a rough time. One passenger even got off the plane with her and helped her and her son to get home. The flight attendant needed to suck it up and not be such a jerk....at least he wasn't screaming at the top of his lungs!

4) Pennsylvania restaurant banning all children under 6.
More power to them! There are some restaurants where children that young DON'T belong, plain and simple. If more parents would teach their children how to behave in a public place, rather than treating them as though they are entitled to scream, yell, run around the room, and generally disturb all the other patrons, then maybe something like this wouldn't be necessary.

When my children were young, we practiced good table manners in the privacy of our own home. We would have "fancy dinners" on occasion, as well, to teach them which fork/spoon to use, etc. So whenever we took them out in public to eat, at a restaurant which was age appropriate for them at that time, they knew how to behave--and they knew that if they didn't, we would pick up and leave, no exceptions.

So, in short, yes, I do agree there are some places/circumstances where it's inappropriate for small children to be present. However, in the vast majority of cases, the solution is for the PARENTS to change...to take charge, to set limits, to actually discipline their children.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 thoughts

This is going to get me some more nasty comments, I'm sure, but I'm tough enough to deal. With the direction my life has been taking, you'll find me opening my mouth and speaking up for what I believe a lot more often. We never know when we might not get another chance, so I'm DONE sitting back and keeping quiet.

The simple fact is, I'm OVER the days and days of television coverage every September. Yes, it was a horrible day in the history of our country. Yes, it was tragic that so many people died in such a major terrorist attack, and in the aftermath, AND that people continue to die every day because of it. But, in my opinion, what we've done for the last ten years is continue to pick the scab off the wound, rather than allowing for healing.

I started thinking about this post on Friday, when I was listening to a conversation on HLN about "should we teach our children about 9-11 in school?" Do we ask if we should teach them about the Revolutionary War, or the Civil War, or the World Wars, or Vietnam---or are they just presented as part of our history, in a factual manner? Why should this one event be any different?

One parent in that discussion said that parents should have to sign permission slips to allow their children to learn about it...and that parents should have the option of being there in the classroom with their child when it was taught. I saw some pretty gruesome pictures when I learned about The Holocaust, and heard some pretty graphic stories--but no one ever suggested that we needed our parents there to hold our hands to get us through it. Why is this historic event any different?

EVERY generation has it's own defining event, and it changes those who live through it. But those changes, in my opinion, should be for the better. They should be changes in the way we value our freedom, and protect it, and revere it....changes in the way we respond to our neighbors.....the list goes on and on. But what I see with 9-11 is a lot of division: whether it's from those who believe all Muslims are terrorists, or from those who believe the entire incident was an inside job, or even, dare I admit it, from those of us who believe it's time to look at the FUTURE.

Let the lynchings begin. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Books I've Read In September 2011

1) You'll Never Nanny In This Town Again: The True Adventures Of A Hollywood Nanny, by Suzanne Hansen
Hilarious and addictive, this chronicle of a small-town girl’s stint as a celebrity nanny reveals what really happens in the diaper trenches of Hollywood.

When Oregon native Suzanne Hansen becomes a live-in nanny to the children of Hollywood über-agent Michael Ovitz, she thinks she’s found the job of her dreams. But Hansen’s behind-the-scenes access soon gets her much more than she bargained for: working twenty-four hours a day, juggling the shifting demands of the Hollywood elite, and struggling to comprehend wealth unimaginable to most Americans, not to mention dealing with the expected tantrums and the unexpected tense–and intense–atmosphere in the house where she lives with her employers.

When the thankless drudgery takes its toll and Hansen finally quits, her boss threatens to blackball her from ever nannying in Hollywood again. Discouraged but determined, Hansen manages to land gigs with Debra Winger and then Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. Attentive, welcoming parents with a relaxed attitude toward celebrity–looks like Hansen’s fallen into a real-life happy ending. But the round-the-clock workdays continue, rubbing some of the glitter off L.A. living, and Hansen’s not sure how much longer she can pretend to be Mary Poppins.
Even bosses who treat her like family can’t help as she struggles to find meaning in her work while living in a town that seems to lack respect for nannies and everyone else who comes in the employee’s entrance–but without whom many showbiz households would grind to a halt.

Peppering her own journey with true stories and high drama experienced by other nannies to the stars, Hansen offers an intriguing, entertaining mix of tales from the cribs of the rich and famous. You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again is a treat for everyone who is fascinated by the skewed priorities of Tinseltown, for anyone who has wondered how high-wattage supermoms do it all, and for readers who love peeking behind the curtains of celebrity, all of whom will devour this unparalleled–and unabashedly true–account of one girl’s tour of duty as Hollywood’s hired help.

2) The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How They Do It, by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
This practical, positive book reveals the many parenting strategies that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar use as they preside over America’s best-known mega-family. Each time a new baby arrives, the press from around the world clamors for interviews and information. Visitors are amazed to find seventeen (baby number eighteen is due January 1, 2009) well-groomed, well-behaved, well-schooled children in a home that focuses on family, financial responsibility, fun—and must importantly, faith.

Readers will learn about the Duggars’ marriage—how they communicate effectively, make family decisions, and find quality time alone. They’ll discover how the Duggars manage to educate all their children at home, while providing experiences that go beyond the family walls, through vacations and educational trips. And they’ll see how the Duggar family manages their finances and lives debt-free—even when they built their own 7,000-square-foot house.

Answering the oft asked question—How can I do with one or two children what you do with seventeen?—Jim Bob and Michelle reveal how they create a warm and welcoming home filled with what Michelle calls “serene chaos.

3) Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother And Daughter Journey To The Sacred Places Of Greece, Turkey And France, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor


Sue Monk Kidd has touched the hearts of millions of readers with her beloved novels and acclaimed nonfiction. Now, in this wise and engrossing dual memoir, she and her daughter, Ann, chronicle their travels together through Greece and France at a time when each was on a quest to redefine herself and rediscover each other.

As Sue struggles to enlarge a vision of swarming bees into a novel, and Ann ponders the classic question of what to do with her life, this modern-day Demeter and Persephone explore an array of inspiring figures and sacred sites. They also give voice to that most protean of human connections: the bond of mothers and daughters.

4) The Fairy Godmother (Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms), by Mercedes Lackey

In the land of Five Hundred Kingdoms, if you can't carry out your legendary role, life is no fairy tale . . .

Elena Klovis was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella -- until an accident of fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince! Determined not to remain with her stepfamily, Elena set out to get a new job -- and ended up becoming the Fairy Godmother for the land.

But "Breaking with Tradition" was no easy matter. True, she didn't have to sleep in the chimney, but she had to deal with arrogant, stuffed-shirt princes who kept trying to rise above their place in the tale. In fact, one of them was so ornery that Elena could do nothing but change him into a donkey.

Still, her practical nature couldn't let him roam the country, so she brought the donkey -- er, the prince! -- home to her cottage to teach him some lessons. All the while keeping in mind that breaking with tradition can land everyone into a kettle of fish -- sometimes literally!

And so begins a whole new tale . . .


5) One Good Knight (Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms), by Mercedes Lackey

Another story sparkling with wit and humor from New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey.

Traditionally, marauding dragons are soothed only by a virgin sacrifice. And so practical-minded Princess Andromeda -- with the encouragement of her mother's court -- reluctantly volunteers to do her duty, asking only for a sword to defend herself. Well, her offer is accepted, but the weapon isn't forthcoming, and so Andromeda faces the dragon alone.

Until a Champion arrives to save her -- sort of. Sir George doesn't quite defeat the dragon, but as Andromeda finishes rescuing herself she discovers that beneath the Good Knight's well-meaning though inexperienced heroics lies a further tale . . .

Still, Andromeda can't leave her seacoast country in further jeopardy from the dragon's return, and so she and . . . er . . . George join to search for the dragon's lair. But even -- especially -- in the Five Hundred Kingdoms bucking with Tradition isn't easy. It takes the strongest of wills, more than a hint of stubbornness, quick thinking and a refusal to give up, no matter what happens along the way.

Somehow, though, none of this was taught in princess school . . .

6) Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story Of His Trip To Heaven And Back, by Todd Burpo

A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven.

Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

7) Dragon's Oath (House of Night Novella #1), by P.C. Cast

The first in an enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Dragon’s Oath tells the story behind the House of Night’s formidable fencing instructor – the love that will transform him, and the promise that will haunt him

In early 19th century England, long before he’s a professor at the Tulsa House of Night, Bryan Lankford is a troublesome yet talented human teen who thinks he can get away with anything… until his father, a wealthy nobleman, has finally had enough, and banishes him to America. When Bryan is Marked on the docks and given the choice between the London House of Night and the dragon-prowed ship to America, he chooses the Dragon – and a brand new fate.

Becoming a Fledgling may be exciting, but it opens a door to a dangerous world.... In 1830’s St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, Dragon Lankford becomes a Sword Master, and soon realizes there are both frightening challenges and beautiful perks. Like Anastasia, the captivating young Professor of Spells and Rituals at the Tower Grove House of Night, who really should have nothing to do with a fledgling…

But when a dark power threatens, Dragon is caught in its focus. Though his uncanny fighting skills make him a powerful fledgling, is he strong enough to ward off evil, while protecting Anastasia as well? Will his choices save her—or destroy them all?

8) Fortune's Fool (Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 3), by Mercedes Lackey
The seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina is more than a pampered princess—she's also the family spy. Which makes her the perfect emissary to check out interesting happenings in the neighboring kingdom…and nothing interests her more than Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Belrus. Ekaterina suspects he's far from the fool people think him. But before she can find out what lies beneath his facade, she is kidnapped!

Trapped in a castle at the mercy of a possessive Jinn, Ekaterina knows her chances of being found are slim. Now fortune, a fool and a paper bird are the only things she can count on—along with her own clever mind and intrepid heart.…


Total Year To Date: 43

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Books I've Read In August 2011

1) The Outstretched Shadow (The Obsidian Trilogy, Book One), by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Kellen Tavadon, son of the Arch-Mage Lycaelon, thought he knew the way the world worked. His father, leading the wise and benevolent Council of Mages, protected and guided the citizens of the Golden City of the Bells. Young Mages in training-all men, for women were unfit to practice magic-memorized the intricate details of High Magic and aspired to seats on the council.

Then he found the forbidden Books of Wild Magic-or did they find him? Their Magic felt like a living thing, guided by the hearts and minds of those who practiced it and benefited from it.
Questioning everything he has known, Kellen discovers too many of the City's dark secrets. Banished, with the Outlaw Hunt on his heels, Kellen invokes Wild Magic-and finds himself running for his life with a unicorn at his side.

Rescued by a unicorn, healed by a female Wild Mage who knows more about Kellen than anyone outside the City should, meeting Elven royalty and Elven warriors, and plunged into a world full of magical beings-Kellen both revels in and fears his new freedom.

The one thing all the Mages of the City agreed on was that practicing Wild Magic corrupted a Mage. Turned him into a Demon. Would that be Kellen's fate?

Deep in Obsidian Mountain, the Demons are waiting. Since their defeat in the last great War, they've been biding their time, sowing the seeds of distrust and discontent between their human and Elven enemies. Very soon now, when the Demons rise to make war, there will be no alliance between High and Wild Magic to stand against them. And then all the world will belong to the Endarkened.

2) To Light A Candle (The Obsidian Trilogy, Book Two), by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Demon Queen Attacks!
To his own surprise, young Kellen, once the disappointing son of the great Mage who leads the City’s Mage Council, has become a powerful Knight-Mage. Valued for his bravery and his skills as both wizard and warrior, Kellen joins the Elves’ war councils. Yet he cannot convince the City of his birth that it is in terrible danger.
Kellen’s sister Idalia, a Wild Mage with great healing ability, has pledged her heart to Jermayan, a proud Elven warrior. Someday Idalia will pay a tragic Price for a world-saving work of Wild Magic, but until then, she will claim any joy life can offer her.
Jermayan, who has learned much fighting at Kellen’s side and loving the human Idalia, finds that everything changes when he Bonds with a dragon while rescuing the Elf Prince and becomes the first Elven Mage in a thousand years.
Furious at her enemies’ success with the dragon, the Demon Queen attacks in force. Light struggles against Dark, like flickering candle flames buried deep in the shadow of Obsidian Mountain.

3) When Darkness Falls (The Obsidian Trilogy, Book 3), by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

A great working of Wild Magic and High Magic strikes at the heart of the Demon Queen's plots, but the human city, the Golden City of the Bells, falls farther under her sway with each day that passes. And without the City's High Magicians, the Wild Magicians, the Elven Army, and all their allies will surely fall before the onslaught of the Demon Queen's malignant warriors.

But all hope is not lost. The Light's young mages, tempered by war, grow ever more powerful. High Mage Cilarnen learns an ancient secret that can make him, for a brief, white-hot time, the greatest mage in the world--unless it kills him.
Jermayan, the first Elf-Mage in centuries, has linked with the dragon Ancaladar and rediscovered the swift-as-thought powers of Elven magic, which can reshape mountains and summon lightning from clear skies.

Knight-Mage Kellen has molded his troops and the Unicorn Knights into a deadly fighting force. Soon the Elven King and his Commanders put Kellen's magical gifts to their greatest test, in the final battle between the Elves, the humans, and the Demons.

4) A Love That Multiplies--An Up-Close View Of How They Make It Work, by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
In this second book from the Duggars, they focus on the principles that equip them to face life's challenges—drawing from their most recent challenge with the 3-month premature birth of their newest child, Josie. They also share the new challenges their older children are facing as they prepare for adult life. Central to the book is a section on the principles that the Duggars have consistently taught their children. These simply worded principles are basic to the Duggar family and are shared in a way that other parents can incorporate in their own homes. A special chapter on homeschooling gives valuable information to parents who are considering this route or are already invested in it.

The world continues to be amazed by their nineteen well-groomed, well-behaved, well-schooled children and their home life, which focuses on family, financial responsibility, fun—and must importantly, faith. The Duggars show how parents can succeed whether they’re rearing a single child or several.


5) Crazy Like Us: The Globalization Of The American Psyche, by Ethan Watters
The most devastating consequence of the spread of American culture across the globe has not been our golden arches or our bomb craters, but our bulldozing of the human psyche itself. American-style depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia have begun to spread around the world like contagions, and the virus is us. Traveling from Hong Kong to Sri Lanka to Zanzibar to Japan, acclaimed journalist Ethan Watters witnesses firsthand how Western healers often steamroll indigenous expressions of mental health and madness and replace them with our own. In teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we have been homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

Total Year To Date: 35
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