Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Salon, June 29th...Don't Miss.. "The Forbidden Tales: Sword"

Hello to all my Sunday Salon surfers.....
Here is a review of a soon to be released book for children from Harper Collins (Grades 5-8). If you are a media specialist and purchase books, purchase two, you'll need them. This would be a great choice for a book club also. The book is due out September 1, 2008, just in time for BTS.

Forbidden Tales: Sword, by Da Chen

Da Chen is a gifted storyteller. I loved this book!!! There is no doubt in my mind that you will too, after reading this exciting adventure of a daughter's journey to avenge the death of her father. Miu Miu's father was a sword maker par excellence. He crafted for everyone including the emperor. On Miu Miu's fifteenth birthday, her mother reveals to her the brutal manner in which he died. Her mother sends her away to seek revenge, but before she leaves she gives her a sword. Of course it is not just any sword,it was made by her father, it fits her perfectly, it is thin and it is delicate giving off a sparkling blue hue of light. During her trip, by chance she meets the man who is intended to be her husband. Not knowing this beforehand, she battles with him. Miu Miu is an accomplished martial arts expert and wins the battle over her opponent Tong Ting. When they discover their fate they team up to fight the emperor together. Miu Miu and Tong Ting do not have an easy task, but they are a clever team and their love for one another holds them together. Family honor is most important to Miu Miu's mother, but not to Miu Miu. The conflict has a surprising resolution when the story draws to a close and life begins anew. Da Chen's fantasy world is complete with dragons, magic transformations and poisons, ghosts, expert martial arts battles and so much more will keep you on the edge of your seat. Honestly, you will think you are in the theater. All that is missing is the popcorn.

Hello to all my Sunday Salon surfers.....

Wow!!! Take a look at this stack of books I purchased this week. Anyone want to guess how much I paid for this pile of future pleasure? I'll let you know next week, but here is a hint. Total cost was under $15.00 so then what do you think? I was dropping off a donation at my local Goodwill store and decided to stop in and take a look. I was with my friend, who wandered through the housewares and I immediately went to...well, where would you go? Of course, the aisle of books for sale. This was not an ordinary Goodwill store, it had recently opened with claims of being a superstore. You know the ubiquitous superstores that pop up everywhere, but a Goodwill? Surely, they were kidding, I thought to myself with a chuckle.

When I found the books, I realized I hit a goldmine. Truly, there were rows and rows of bookshelves teaming with great books. Yes, you had to
weed through the chaff, but as you can see from my pile it was well worth the effort. So, who wants to guess how much I paid for the lot? I will post my answer next week. In the mean time, if you have a second hand store around, it might be worth a look.

The List:
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (paperback)
Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, John Irving (paperback)
Sea Glass, Anita Shreve (paperback)
The Pilot's Wife, Anita Shreve (paperback)
Rousseau's Political Writings (paperback)
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison (hardcover)
The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy (hardcover)
The Shelters of Stone, Jean M. Auel (hardcover)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Salon, Happy Birthday Mystery

Mystery, my first greyhound is 5 today. Yes, she was named after the genre. Why else? Everyone loves a Mystery!!!!

My apologies for missing last week. I have been coping with personal "stuff" and the year end pressures of teaching in a school always takes a toll.

First, Yippee..."School is out for the Summer!!!" thanks to the words of Alice Cooper. I and fellow teachers were dancing with my automated chipmunk to the famous tune on Friday. Yeah, we're totally nuts, no pun intended.

Second, this week I managed to finish up reading "American Hidden History", by Kenneth C. Davis. He also wrote the familiar NYT best selling, Don't Know Much About History." This book was intended to correct many of the inaccuracies in our school textbooks, and also to tell about omissions of those who were key players during the founding of our nation. Who really brought the first slaves to the Jamestown? If Revere didn't say, "The British are Coming." then what did he say?

What about women? Three women in particular were not really written about. In one case her story was totally misrepresented. Most of us know about Anne Hutchinson, but not the true story. I doubt that many of us know about Mary Rowlandson, who wrote, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, one of America's first best selling books. The third neglected heroine Hannah Dustin was captured by an Abenaki party of warriors in the late 1600's. She was taken away but her infant daughter was savagely murdered by the Abenaki natives. One day while the Indians were sleeping, Hannah took revenge and planned to escape. Before leaving she killed 10 Indians, three women and seven children sparing one old woman. She left, but came back for their scalps as proof . She returned home and at that time she was the "most famous woman in America. " Do you remember this woman's name? I know I had never heard of her.

It wasn't until 1874 Davis says she was recognized when a statue was sculpted and erected in her image in one hand holding a hatchet, the other the scalps. These three women are an examples of the information Davis brings forth in his history book of hidden history.

For this post, I focused on the women in this chapter entitled "Hannah's Escape," because recently I have become more and more incensed by the lack of details or even information about the contributions of women in history. It is as if women didn't exist other than to stay at home. I don't believe that happened. I believe there were many with a will and drive to act whether it was voluntary or involuntary to help contribute to the formation of the country. I believe it is important to correct the fallacies, research and edit the textbooks. We owe it to the country and our children, but especially to those strong women who fought so hard alone or along side the Founding Fathers. The country had mothers who, along with being a mother with children, were Founding Mothers hidden in our history, without anyone knowing it. Kudos to Kenneth Davis for righting the wrongs of how we see our history.

Lastly, BAFAB contest to start this week Tuesday. I told you I've been going crazy. But I will come through...promise.!!!!

Special Note: J Kaye.....I haven't forgotten you. Hang in there. LOL

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Salon...I talked to Alison Weir

I met Alison Weir and I still can't believe it. Once again, R.J. Julia Bookseller in Madison, CT was hosting an evening to remember. Some of you know me, and know I have a slight issue with dare I say "narcolepsy". It might not be that, but you tell me.

As I drag myself out of bed with the whimpering, whining, wake-up call from my four fur kids, I realize it is Wednesday. Ugh, I have a full day of classes with no breaks until las
t period. "Ok, guys, give me a minute, let's go, I'll let you out." As I open the back door to the pen, I realize it is the day that Alison Weir will be in Madison, CT. No way, will I miss seeing her for anything. My day was looking up. Even when I went to the fridge to get cream for my coffee and realize there is none, my day was going to be great. How could it not?

Just on time to school, yes!!! As I get out of my car once again the feeling of morning sickness takes over as I walk to get my suitcase of tech toys and books out of the back of my SUV. Well, I know I'm not pregnant, but it seems my brain doesn't know it. My world is spinning around me, and I am not moving. They call it vertigo. Why do I feel this way every day, I'm thinking. Driving in the car I was feeling just fine. What should I do drive all day. With the price of gas, that would break the bank real quick.

I just wish the doctors had better answers than, "We'll get to the bottom of this." or "Well, there is definitely something wrong, we just have to find out what." I think as I'm swaying, teetering like person who partied too much and feeling so sick, I can pay my friends the same amount of money for this same wishy-washy medical mumbo jumbo.

Afterschool, as I'm packing up I can only think of seeing Alison Weir. I hope I can get home in time to feed the dogs, and get to Madison.
(Madison, CT is so beautiful, it is on the Connecticut coast, with little shops, very New England in look and feel. It is also about an hour and 40 minutes from my town.)

As I am about to leave school I have that sense of tiredness, I can barely keep my eyes open. Then I feel sudden panic.

"Oh shoot, I have hall duty today!!!!! "

I rush to my assignment and manage my post with the efficiency of the infamous Provincetown policeman. Maybe not quite as funny, but the kids love it anyway. They are all happy to leave for the day and I know them all. I chuckle at the sight as they try to "power walk" instead of run. Oops..."Hey slow it down guys!!!" I'm watching them march up the ramp and as they walk by there is a chorus of bye Mrs. E. They come, 2 x 2 or 3, loaded down with backpacks, wearing their backward baseball caps, carrying leftover birthday cupcakes and showing smiles of goodbye till tomorrow.

I'm thinking about Alison Weir, Madison, CT and locking up the equipment, and the rest
of what is on my things to do list. As I get to the car I'm hoping I locked up everything, and I have everything I need in my bags. As I fumble for my keys and iPhone I thought, "Well, I'm all set with these."

I'm driving through the back roads toward home, listening to my iPod on my iPhone and suddenly say "I'm doing okay today, no nodding off. This is great. Awesome." Ok so when I pass the next car and he looks at me as I'm talking to myself, I don't even care. I'm awake. I'm going to see Alison Weir. Pulling in my driveway, the cacophony of what you would think was a pack of ten not four greyhounds was rooooing up a frenzy. Every day is the same, fussing for freedom, happy tails wagging, eager to earn a cookie and I know they will lick me to death.

I always talk to my dogs, and don't tell me you don't because I know you do. You probably talk baby talk too. You k
now you do!!!

So, I was thinking, dogs out, feed dogs, let them rest, let them out, get in the car and go.

(You see where I'm going with this right?)

"Feeding you guys is so pathetic. You make me feel like I starve you." I hate to watch them eat, because track dogs inhale their food like large suction hoses. It takes 2 minutes or less. So much for chewing your food. NOT!!! I grabbed their dessert cookie. (Yes, I do spoil them, but they are greyhounds and they deserve it). "Here guys, good Webster, good Wizard, good Lion, good Mystery. Now, go sleepy."

As I'm checking my email while they rest........ddddddddddddddddddd

Oh no, I look at the clock and it says 6:15. I must have fallen asleep again. I look at the computer and there they are. Letters, a whole line of them, this time the letter "ddddddddddd". No, it can't be. I couldn't have slept from 4:00pm to 6:15pm. I'll never make it to Madison. Sh...!!! Sh...!!! I can't believe this. Ok, think, think!!.

I'm not going to go. This is so stupid. I have to go. I must go. So, I'll be a little late. I'm going. So, my inner thoughts decide to go, and I let the dogs out, back in and hop in t
he car.

As I arrive in Madison, I parked the car in front of the bookstore. That's odd. I found a space so easily. Right in front, how awesome is that. It looks like no one is here. Where is everyone I think. This isn't like the Barbara Walters book signing. I look for a line to stand in and found none, so I walk in the store. Why look a gift horse in the mouth, right? On my right I see Alison Weir signing books. She is right next to me as I walk in the door. There are about 10 people in line as I look at my watch and see that it is about 8:15PM. I can't believe how late I am. But, thinking to myself it doesn't look like it mattered.

I surveyed the store to get my balance back. The vertigo was raising havoc after I prete
nded I was on the Autoban to get Alison's autograph. At least that's how I rationalized I would tell any policeman that pulled me over. On my way to the register, I saw her books and picked up Lady Elizabeth, which, by the way I already owned, but I knew I had to buy one of their copies for signing.

As I was looking at the table of books I picked up five more of hers including her last novel Innocent Traitor. She signed them all, including my copy that I had brought. How gracious she is I thought.

Standing in a line of two people was just unbelievable. I guess it was a good thing to be late.
I was also the last person in line. The angels are with me. I am going to meet Alison Weir.

About Alison Weir.....
She has an absolutely radiant personality. I was able to talk to her for a bit longer, because I am a nudge, and because no one was left in line. Yes!!! So, she believes her historical fiction is a new genre called "faction". Since her research is so extensive and the book is based on so much true history, she doesn't like it to be considered a work of just fiction. She had been in the states three weeks and was heading back to England on the Queen Mary II. We talked about our mutual love for the Queens of England and particularly, King Henry's Wives. She believes she was Anne Boleyn in her past life and I said I believed I was Lady Elizabeth. We laughed. I asked her how she came to start writing historical fiction, and she said "it just happened." We had a nice conversation, and when I left, she said, "Good bye Donna, nice to meet you." and I said the same.
Her next two books will be non-fiction. The first, a biography about Katherine Swynford due for 2/2009 release in US, and The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn due for fall 2009 release in US.
So, my fellow readers what do you think? Could I have sleeping sickness? Does anyone have narcolepsy?

The Winner of my Give-A-Way contest for the Isabel Allende book is J.Kaye!!!!!
Thanks so much J.Kaye for entering and giving. The greyhounds thank you. LOOK FOR A HAPPY BOX COMING YOUR WAY.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday Salon..Still have until June 4th for an Allende Book

I have been a bad girl this week and I bought a new MacBook Pro.   So I abandoned everyone while I got my notebook up and running to where I needed it to be.  I am soooooooo sorry, but I will read your blogs this week.  That's a promise!!
I have a surprise this week.  I will be attending an author visit, talk and signing.  Those who know me, can email me privately.  Also, some of you know about my sleep/fatigue problems. Well, I did fall asleep at the wheel this week coming home from school, but fortunately all is OK.  I have been to two doctors, and have a sleep study in two days. So...other than pulling over to sleep on the way home,  I just have to hang in there.  

My Mystery Girl

Contest is still on.  Contest is still on.  Contest is still on.  
It ends on June 4Th, so go check out the post for  May 25Th for all the details. Please everyone...for $3.00 only and using a safe Pay Pal pay service you can enter the drawing.  I'll make it even better.  If you donate 5.00, I'll enter your name twice.  That means a total of 5.00.  So, if you already donated something.  Just add to it, so that your total tax deductable donation is $5.00.  Thanks for the greyhounds. 

I received a book from Macmillan this week called Mighty Old Bones by Mary Saum.  It is a sequel to A Thistle and Twigg, by the mystery series of the same name. I read just the first chapter of this book and I know I am going to like it.  I would keep reading, but toothpicks won't hold my eyes open any longer.