Saturday, October 31, 2009


What began as a tale of fashionistas soon segued into a suspenseful, dramatic story full of intrigue, conspiracies, and dramatic family dynamics.

Secrets from the past threaten to upend a young woman's burgeoning career—but at the same time, the strength of family joins together to fight the danger that lurks.

For the full review, check here at my CURL UP AND READ blog.

Now I'm off to plunge into my next exciting read, BIRD IN HAND.



Okay, I know it's Halloween and I should feel the thrill and chill in the air around me, and soon I will have finished my current read and will be jumping into this enticing book Bird in Hand.

Call me crazy, or obsessive, or whatever—but I'm feeling the loss of my beloved Firefox!  The fun of web browsing is gone without it.  I have tried uninstalling it and reinstalling it, but it still won't open!   From what I've read on the support sites, something got "corrupted" and there is a fix, but I don't understand the "techno-language" needed to do it!  Everything is like gibberish to me.  Now I know that I'm very late to the Internet game—it's only been in the last year or so that I even knew how to add links to things!  But I'm not completely ignorant, either.  I just need an interpreter!  Someone to tell me what it means, for example, when a support person says something like this:

"Press Ctrl+Alt+Esc to display the Task Manager.  If you are not already viewing the Applications tab, click Applications.  Any running Firefox window should be running.  If you see one, you can select it and click 'Switch to' to display that window.  If it doesn't display, it may have crashed.  You could try clicking 'End Task' to terminate it.  (Or if there are other Firefox windows, you could try switching to them first.)  If you do get any of the Firefox windows to open, the Task Manager will wait quietly on the Task Bar for future use.  If you don't see any Firefox windows on the Application tab, click the Processes tab.  To track down any listings of firefox.exe, you probably will want to click 'Image Name' to sort by the program name.  If you find firefox.exe, highlight it and click End Process.  Repeat as needed until there are no more firefox.exe processes running.  Hopefully now Firefox will start normally again."

Now this probably makes perfect sense to someone...I'm hoping someone reading this blog will say "A-ha!" and send me a comment in a language I can understand!  LOL.

Thanks for bearing with me through this "moody blues" period.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This is a meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.

So, here's how it goes:

Grab your current read, let the book fall open to a random page, share a couple of "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page, (remember, NO SPOILERS, PLEASE), and then list the author and title of the book.

Just so we can all grab it, too!

After those first frustrating months of waiting, hoping, tramping around the agencies, and working at the cheesecake cafe, she had finally stumbled into her first big break.  Almost by accident.  Was it randomness or destiny?

p. 209,  Breaking the Rules, by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Hope some of you will visit and share your own teasers!


Monday, October 26, 2009


Well, I finally finished this one.  It was not an easy read, with so much darkness and intensity that I had to take frequent breaks from it.  And I was really happy to see that I was on the home stretch.

That said, it was definitely a worthwhile book, but not one that I am likely to read again.  I am a great admirer of Oates's work and have read many of her books.  She definitely shows us the grittiness that is in us all.

My full review is posted here at CURL UP AND READ.

Meanwhile, I will happily pick up a lighter tale this next time around—just to give myself a break!

Up next will be Breaking the Rules, I think.



It's that time again!  I'm here, joining in with J. Kaye's Book Blog to talk about our reading week—the one we left behind, and the one coming up.

I'm finishing up Little Bird of Heaven, with the review going up later today.

Earlier in the week, I completed Sleeping Arrangements, with the full review on my newest blog, CURL UP AND READ, and a partial viewing here, linking to that review.

Now...for THIS week, I have some intriguing books to ponder.

Bird in Hand came to me via the Amazon Vine program, and I'm looking forward to it.   On the back fllap, we read:  "In Bird in Hand, Christina Baker Kline looks at marriage, at parents and children, pain and sorrow, and at all the questions that life asks us.."

And Barbara Taylor Bradford's Breaking the Rules promises to delight the reader.  "Following a terrible encounter in the quiet English countryside, a young woman flees to New York in search of a new life.  She adopts the initial M as her name, and reinventing herself, she embarks on a journey that will lead her to the catwalks of Paris, where she becomes the muse and star model to France's iconic designer Jean-Louis Tremont."

So I'd better get reading!

Stop by, leave a little note, and link back to your own reading list!


Friday, October 23, 2009

A SURPRISING VACATION -- A Review of "Sleeping Arrangements"

What a delightful book this turned out to be, but this is no surprise, since Madeleine Wickham is, after all, Sophie Kinsella, the creator of the fabulous Shopaholic series.

She has a talent for turning the most ordinary daily events into humorous episodes, and her exploration of the relationship foibles of life seem—well, unique.

My full review has been posted at my newest blog, CURL UP AND READ.

This newest journey of mine is my effort to set up a system for working my way through my gigantic TBR stacks, which I've blogged about endlessly!

Because I find the blogging journey is enjoyable and a way that keeps me focused, I will be giving this a try.  And you know what they say:  You can't be too rich, too thin, or have too many blogs.   Wait!!  Nobody ever said that last part, I guess, but then again, maybe someone should.

So here's to more reading and blogging!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Good morning, and welcome to another of our Teaser Tuesdays memes, hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.

The rules are quite straight-forward:

Grab your current read, let the book fall open to a random page, share a couple of "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page, (remember, NO SPOILERS, PLEASE), and then list the author and title of the book.

Just so we can all grab it, too!

My first teaser is from Sleeping Arrangements, by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella), p. 172.

 "How could you bring him back into my life like this?"  She stared at a photograph of Gerard improbably mounted on a large black horse.

Just to add to the excitement level, here's another teaser, from the second book on my stack this week, Little Bird of Heaven, by Joyce Carol Oates, p. 191.

  Why's this?—started off they'd been nice to Baby Girl then abruptly there's a change—like a cold wind picking up from the river—brackish-smelling, evil—can feel the meanness like heat coming off their skins—their ice pick eyes.

Now, I hope you'll all join in the game, leaving your comments and links.

Thank you and have that second cup of coffee!

Monday, October 19, 2009


This post hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog helps us focus for the week ahead and perhaps actually look forward to the new books we have selected.

My choices include one of my relatively new books—Little Bird of Heaven, by Joyce Carol Oates—and another book that I found burrowed into one of my stacks, but one I've been looking forward to reading, nevertheless.  This book, of course, is
Sleeping Arrangements, by Madeleine Wickham and it is already proving to be a delightful read.

On the back flap, you'll find this description:  ...a delightful story of British families forced to spend their vacation together after a mutual friend promises them the same week in his Spanish villa...

The Atlantic Monthly states:  Wickham has a shrewdly malicious touch with her characters.

As many of you may know, Madeleine Wickham is another name for Sophie Kinsella, who gifted us with the Shopaholic series, and more recently, Twenties Girl.

On the front flap of Oates's book, we find these words:  When a young wife and mother named Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, the Sparta police target two primary suspects, her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her longtime lover, Eddy Diehl.  In turn, the Krullers' son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehl's daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, believing the other's father is guilty.

Now I can't wait to get to this one!

So I'll meander along and visit some other posts out there, and I hope some of you will come here and leave your comments and links.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

DRUGS, NO RULES, NO BOUNDARIES -- A Review of "High on Arrival"

"She's just fourteen
Little movie star queen...

She's always too high on arrival
She runs on her high platform heels
She falls flat on her face
She knows how life feels
And she's just fourteen."

This excerpt from a John Phillips song sums up, in many ways, the journey of Mackenzie Phillips, from the star studded circle of celebrities who were an entourage in her father's life and hers by extension to the near-death experiences that punctuated her existence.

In these settings and with drugs and a life of no rules as her constant companions, it is no surprise that she took to drugs like a "duck takes to water."

The surprising part of this celebrity memoir is the in-depth soul-searching Ms. Phillips has had to do in order to earn and maintain her sobriety. With many slips and relapses behind her, some of which were quite public, she has fiercely sought the answers that would eventually win for her the right to a "normal" life.

Admitting the incestuous relationship between herself and her father took guts. And acknowledging her "complicity" could not have been easy either. It would have been so much simpler to lay all the blame on the "abuser," although in my opinion, he, as the person in the "power" position in the relationship should bear the brunt of responsibility. Nevertheless, the role drugs played was significant.

Overcoming addiction is a day-to-day battle that will consume the rest of her life, but her story ends on a positive note, as she talks about the strengths she has finally discovered within herself.

A completely forthright, heart-wrenching and perilous story that should help others suffering the same fate, High On Arrival is a memorable and courageous tribute to an embattled life.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


The title of this novel, Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novels), pinpoints the metaphor at the center of this suspense tale--a story that spotlights civil rights, baseball, politics, and police corruption.

When V. I. Warshawski inadvertently saves a homeless man's life, she meets a woman of the clergy, who also assists the man; this pastor is so taken with the detective's compassion that she introduces her to a woman searching for her son who has been missing for more than forty years.

The search links V. I. to an incarcerated member of the Anaconda gang, who allegedly has information about the missing man, and then sets her on a convoluted trail leading to old gang members, political candidates, retired cops, and an old murder case from the 1960s.

Everything suddenly heats up when V. I.'s cousin Petra comes to work for a political candidate and begins snooping around in V. I.'s personal possessions, supposedly to learn more about her own "roots." Suddenly fire bombs are exploding, Petra goes missing, and V. I. herself is in danger.

What secrets connect cops, politicians, and gang members, leading back to a civil rights demonstration in 1966, and what do any of these events have to do with the missing man?

Answering these questions will propel V. I. forward in the pursuit of her life, as she scrambles around, trying to stay alive long enough to find out.

As the clues begin to assemble and form patterns, I kept turning pages as fast as I could to the final resolution.

Just as in previous V. I. novels, Paretsky's finest skill lies in creating a winning combination of flaws, persistence, toughness and gutsiness in her lead character that keeps the reader plowing along, even when the clues don't add up as quickly as one might like.

A definite five-star read!



First thing this morning, I awakened to a typical Central Valley fog, clutching the ground like it does, and reminding me of many such days that lie ahead.

Deciding that I would burrow for awhile, I curled up in bed to finish watching a movie I had recorded, while eating my Jenny Craig pancakes and veggie sausage and sipping my coffee.  In the photo, take note of the cheerful plate that decorates my counter next to my red coffee pot.  I require these cheerful images to help me jump start my day.  The plate is part of a collection—not an expensive one, I might add, but one that is definitely cheerful—that has accompanied me on various moves over the years.

My plan for the rest of the day was to finish reading Hardball, occasionally going on the Net for various "housekeeping" tasks, and perhaps even starting the next book.  So far, I have finished the movie, progressed in the book, and even attempted to tune out the constant yelping sound of the dog across the courtyard.  I am struggling with the impulse to knock on that door and politely ask the neighbors if they are torturing the beast, since he yelps incessantly throughout the day and even into the night.  Actually, I am sure that I would rephrase that (lol).

But then I weigh the risks.  There is always the possibility that even a polite request will alienate and maybe even exacerbate the situation.  I ponder this, considering that the neighbors might even turn vigilante, inciting the dog to even greater yowls in an attempt to annoy me.

Calling the triplex manager is not even on my list of possible actions.  I have been on the receiving end of complaints that neighbors have taken over my head to management, back in the day—not a great place to be!

So either I approach them directly and politely, or I learn to live with it.

Hey, I just realized that I haven't heard the dog for...maybe three minutes?

It is possible to tune things out.  Once upon a time—around fifteen years ago—I moved to a quiet home in the foothills, where I subsequently lived for thirteen years.  In the beginning I was startled by the crowing of a rooster every morning.  But soon—and I don't know at what point this happened—I stopped hearing it.

This neighbors' dog is a fairly recent addition to their home, as the "pet" policy has been established in the past few months.  So I am fairly sure that eventually I will tune out the dog, just as I did the rooster (or the sound of the neighbors' kids on the side of my wall that connects me to my next-door neighbors).

Having said that, I am now satisfied that I can continue reading and enjoying a quiet Saturday.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


A rainy day in my part of the world could not go by, without some mention on this blog, created for just such days (as well as for Mondays!).

So I grabbed my old faithful camera and snapped a couple of photos of my favorite reading spot.  I like to call it my window seat, plump with cushions and parked next to the biggest window in the house.

That would be the window that overlooks the raindrops falling on the patio.

Tucked under the rattan loveseat is a basket full of magazines, designed to engage me when I'm taking a break from whatever book I'm reading.

You'll notice my stack of books, my Boyds and Engelbreit pillows, and my patio, with the umbrella table through the window.

Could rainy days get any better than this?

For more rainy day pix, check my Snow Impressions blog.


Tuesday Teasers is a meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.

Just like you've probably already guessed, if you don't know already, our goal is to "tease" potential readers toward the book or books we're reading.

It's simple, really.  Just grab your current read, flip to a random page, and give us two sentences.  That's it!  However, no spoilers, please!

Then tell us the author and title of the book.

Afterwards, link back to Miz B's blog and go trolling around the Blogosphere to comment on all the other Teasers out there!

My teaser will be from the book pictured above, on the left:  Sara Paretsky's Hardball.

There Mr. Contreras was with Brian Krumas, on the front page of the ChicagoLand section.  Krumas, a lock of hair falling over his forehead a la Bobby Kennedy, had one hand on Mr. Contreras's shoulder, the other clutching Mr. Contreras's arm just behind the elbow, so that the camera's focus was on my neighbor's medals.

p. 130

Does that intrigue you just a little?  I know I was captivated by the images and eager to get to this part of the book.  I'm not quite there yet!

Join in the fun!


Monday, October 12, 2009


From J. Kaye's Book Blog comes this charming meme that features the books we are currently devouring.  And these are two that I've been eagerly awaiting.

Sara Paretsky's "Hardball" promises to be another fascinating mystery.  From the Amazon product page:

Bestseller Paretsky tracks the poisonous residue of racial hatred that still seeps into Chicago life and politics in her fine 13th novel to feature gutsy PI V.I. Vic Warshawski, last seen in 2005's Fire Sale. In her search for a black man who disappeared in 1967, Lamont Gadsden, Vic reconnects with some of her father Tony's old police colleagues; pays a prison visit to Johnny Merton, a notorious gang leader she once defended in her lawyering days; and tracks down Steve Sawyer, who disappeared following a murder conviction... 

And that's all I'm going to give right now.  But look forward to the review—within the week.

Next, we have the highly publicized "tell-all" memoir by Mackenzie Phillips—"High on Arrival."  This is not one that will be a "fun" read, but nevertheless, I am poised to tackle it.

I think it would actually be more surprising, to me, if none of these events had transpired.  In a world heavily immersed in stardom, fame, and drugs, anything is possible.

Last week, I finished Twenties Girl  and Dream Reachers.  The reviews are posted on this site.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

INSPIRATIONAL INTERVIEWS -- A Review of "Dream Reachers"

“Dream Reachers” is a truly captivating foray into the lives of celebrities, past and present, utilizing the lively format of the interview.

Betty Dravis’s interviews with Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell, Ted Kennedy, and Tanya Tucker, to name a few, introduce this book to us readers and underscore the theme:  dream big.

Chase Von then carries on in the format of his Student Operated Press, bringing to us the actors, singers, poets, and writers who pepper the pages of this star-studded tome.

Also included amongst the interviews is Chase Von’s interview with co-author Betty Dravis, in which she describes some of her own personal experiences as well as her philosophy on life and dreams.

A recurring note throughout is that anything can happen if you strive for it and believe in the possibility.

Some of the celebrities have had to overcome extreme difficulties, such as Kitania Kavey, who suffered numerous injuries in a motorcycle accident and had to surmount the disabilities that followed.

Others have had to achieve their successes despite prejudice or oppression.  Transcending the obstacles and beating out the odds presented by life are the common characteristics shared by the “stars” of this astounding book.

A definite five-star read, this is a book that I can cherish and reread whenever I need inspiration.


A CHARMING QUEST -- A Review of "Twenties Girl"

From the cover flap:  Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive.  Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts.  Or do they?

From the author of the Shopaholic series, we now meet Sophie Kinsella’s most delightful character yet.  Lara Lington has all the normal aspects of one of Kinsella’s characters. 

She is flawed, she tends to lie to her parents (especially about her career and love life), but she is truly well-intentioned, down to the core.

When her great-aunt Sadie dies at the age of 105, Lara feels only mildly distressed.  After all, she didn’t really know her.  She does feel a pang of guilt about that, though.

When she is suddenly “visited” by the presence of her Great-Aunt Sadie, Lara doesn’t believe it—at least, not at first.  We then follow Lara and Sadie in a rollicking adventure in their quest for a “dragonfly” necklace that was Sadie’s during her heyday in 1920s London.

Their adventures take them through various locales and even to a fashion show starring Lara’s cousin Diamante, the daughter of her rather famous Uncle Bill, the family success story.

Along the way, Sadie meddles in Lara’s life, even “shouting” in the ears of her lovers, until Lara feels like a puppet manipulated by the puppeteer.

But when the quest leads them down a mysterious pathway and the uncovering of a guilty secret, Lara’s life will never be the same again.

An absolutely delightful story that shines with Kinsella’s charming twist, Twenties Girl deserves more than five stars, in my opinion.


Thursday, October 8, 2009


In this meme hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog, I haven't been able to participate for a couple of weeks, but this week, I hit the bonanza of great books.  I am alternately reading each of the books shown in the bowl.

How great is that?  Who knew that I would just fall into them so quickly?  Sometimes, life and other activities distract me, interfering with the art of reading.

But I even woke up in the middle of the night last night to read some more!

In the book on the left, Dream Reachers, I am so entralled with the stories of dreamers.  The book begins with Betty Dravis's interviews of famous celebrities, back in the day, from Clint Eastwood, Ted Kennedy, and Tanya Tucker to Jane Russell.

Now I had read some of these interviews before on her website and in blog posts, but seeing them tucked away in the book—well, I had chills thinking about how it must have been for her.

Then I plunged into Chase Von's interviews with current celebrities, but I am just beginning that section.  More later on those!

In Twenties Girl, from the first page I was swept away by the prose, the story line, the down-to-earth character of Lara Lington, who is visited by the ghost of her great-aunt Sadie.  In the style of the Shopaholic characters, Lara is a modern girl struggling with modern-day issues.  The distraction of a ghost—well, at the very least, this is kind of annoying.

So that's all I'm giving away at the moment, but suffice it to say, I want to hurry up and get back to it!

Come play this game and let me know about YOUR favorite(s) this week!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A TWISTED FAMILY LEGACY -- A Review of "Secrets She Left Behind"

One afternoon, single mother Sara Weston says that she's going to the store--and never returns. In her absence, she leaves her teenaged son alone with his damaged past and a legacy of secrets (from the back cover text).

Thus begins Secrets She Left Behind, a tale of family secrets, complicated history and dynamics, and the horrific events of one fateful night.

One year ago, a fire devastated families, injuring many and killing one. Maggie Lockwood poured the gasoline around the church, but decided not to go ahead and set the fire when she realized people were inside. But someone else inadvertently ignited the conflagration by tossing a cigarette into the grass.

Now Maggie is coming home, after her one-year prison sentence, facing those whose hatred and rage are an unwelcome greeting committee.

Waiting at home for her are family members with very mixed feelings. Maggie's younger brother Andy suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, which seriously impacts his cognitive abilities, but he has always looked up to Maggie. Her other younger brother Keith, who only recently discovered that they shared the same father, has several reasons to hate her, and even before the catastrophic events, bitterly resented her family's position and wealth. Additionally, her actions have caused serious burns that have left him with facial scars and damage to his extremities. He suffers continual pain as a result, and struggles daily to regain muscle strength and control. But his spirit is damaged the most seriously by the betrayals of family secrets and his current worry about his mother Sara's sudden disappearance.

Slowly, we come to know these primary characters and the supporting cast of others who make up the world on this island in the Carolinas. In alternating voices, the characters reveal their back story and the relationships that define them.

We learn Sara's story, as if reading it from a diary. More is revealed about her secrets as the tale unfolds.

What motivates Sara to disappear? What led to Maggie's actions on that disastrous evening a year ago? And who is Jen, the mysterious stranger who appears and secretly develops relationships with a couple of the primary characters? And finally, will healing occur, releasing these characters from the burdens of the past?

My rating: Five Stars.



Here we are again on Tuesday, ready to dive into those books and "tease" away.  This event, hosted by SHOULD BE READING, is very simple.

Just grab your current read, let it fall open randomly, and somewhere in the middle of the page, pick out two sentences (no spoilers, please!) and gift us with them.

Tell us the name and author of the book, please, so we can all go out and grab it too.  Then, please leave your comments and link to YOUR teasers.  Or, if you don't have a blog, please leave your teasers in the comment section.

Thanks for playing!

Here are my teasers:

"Do you know how long it's been since I've danced?" she says with sudden passion.  "Do you know how long it's been since I've...shaken my booty?"

Excerpted from Sophie Kinsella's "Twenties Girl," which I'm just beginning.

Hope to hear from others, with their "Tuesday Teasers."


Monday, October 5, 2009


This is another delightful meme hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog.    We explore our reading plans for the week and share the excitement with others.  Tantalizing reads.  Books we can't wait to dive into.

I'm still working on Secrets She Left Behind.

But soon I should be delving into the bowl above, with the tantalizing Dream Reachers, by Chase Von and Betty Dravis, both talented and versatile authors.  And then I have moved another one up on the list: Sophia Kinsella's Twenties Girl.

Best remembered for her Shopaholic series, Kinsella has always brought us good reads.

In the weeks ahead, I will be gradually reducing the TBR stack.  Hooray!!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

LOVE AND LOYALTY -- PUSHED TO THE LIMITS: A Review of "No Time to Wave Goodbye"

Twenty years after the events of The Deep End of the Ocean (Oprah's Book Club), the Cappadora family still struggles with issues that sprang from that horrendous period in all their lives. And despite the reunion that came to them, their son Ben still calls himself "Sam," the name given to him by his "kidnapper," and still considers George, his "father" during that period, his "dad." He calls his birth parents "Beth" and "Pat."

Despite these things that "stick in their craw," Beth and Pat Cappadora consider themselves very fortunate.

Vincent, the older son, has been in and out of trouble, but now, finally, he seems to be on the right track. And he has produced, with the help of friends and even his brother and sister, Ben and Kerry, a documentary film.

On the night of its preview, Beth still doesn't know its mysterious topic. When she watches the film, however, she feels sick and proud at the same time. For her son has created a film about abducted children. Children still out there, missing--and then includes their family's story as well.

Beth feels betrayed, but can see that it is extremely good.

Then the unexpected happens upon the film's release. It is nominated for an Academy Award. On the night of the awards' show, the family is there, celebrating and honoring their beloved family member.

Events suddenly spin out of control and a tragedy occurs that will draw them all back into the past, revisiting the worst moments of their lives--and they must solve a mystery that will determine life or death for one of their own.

Sometimes sequels are disappointing, or fall flat in comparison to the original story.

That is not the case here. Mitchard has told another brilliant story of family, with all its secrets, betrayals, and complicated dynamics, and won my heart as I cheered the family on to the brilliant conclusion. Even at the end, a surprising twist presents the possibility of more to the story.

No Time to Wave Goodbye: A Novel is definitely five stars.


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Mary Ann in Autumn: A Tales of the City NovelHanna's DaughtersMiss Hildreth Wore BrownElizabethSolomon's OakSolomon's Oak

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