Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Author Challenge

I want to thank Teddyree over at Eclectic Reader for posting about this challenge or I wouldn't have heard about it. Yes, I have decided to do this challenge since it is so flexible. Not to mention I just love the badge for this challenge. New Author Challenge is hosted by Literary Escapism, a new blog to add to my blogroll. I included my first book from today's post of Island of the Swans, so I'm on my way. Now if you read my post earlier about getting things done today. I'm not doing very well. So far I'm still reading and posting comments to blogs. But, I'm really enjoying it. So much for planning. LOL

New Author Challenge List

1. Island of the Swans, by Ciji Ware
2. Daughters of the Witching Hill, by Mary Sharratt
3. Black Hills, by Dan Simmons

Review-Island of the Swans, by Ciji Ware

by Ciji Ware
Sourcebooks Landmark
Trade Paperback, $15.99/$18.99CAN/£8.99 UK
February 2010
569 pp.
Originally published in 1988

Jane Maxwell (1749-1812) a recalcitrant and headstrong young girl developed into a politically active, powerful, charming and always fashionable woman of wit, as the 4th Duchess of Gordon. As the story opens, Jane frustrated with the role of dutiful daughter, argues with her mother Lady Maxwell as she demands that Jane finishes her sewing. Feisty, stubborn and full of mischief, Jane joins her sisters and childhood friend Thomas Fraser for an adventurous game of pig racing. The day proves disastrous for Jane when a freak accident causes an injury to her index finger leaving only a stub.

As Jane matures she realizes her childhood fondness for Thomas has been replaced with wanton love and desire. She hopes to marry him but is thwarted by her mother who wishes her daughter to marry someone of the aristocracy. Undeterred, Jane and Thomas vow to marry anyway. Both are desperately in love with deep searing desire. When the war in America breaks out, Thomas decides to fight for King George III against the colonists. Jane pleads with Thomas to marry her before he leaves, but fate will step in. Thomas is driven to be a soldier, to make money and gain a respectable rank to enable a better future together. One day word arrives that Thomas has been killed in a bloody massacre with Indians. Some time later it is discovered that Thomas has survived, but by this time Jane has become the 4th Duke of Gordon.

Island of the Swans is a romantic historical drama based on the turbulent life of Jane Maxwell. Ciji Ware has presented an intense story of this star crossed trio as their lives intertwine to produce a stirring sensually tantalizing read. Scenes of lust and desire are so beautifully written, they glow with sparks and simmering embers. Jane is portrayed as an amazingly strong woman of independence, with a deep commitment to her children. Jane’s life is unfolds with historically accurate scenes that show her raising recruits for the King’s army, as well as serving as his advisor. She was known to have promoted the young Robert Burns and posed for the famous painter Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The tempestuous relationship with the Duke, and her untouchable life with Thomas, abounds with lover’s secrets, misspoken words and communications gone awry. Jane Maxwell, the Duchess of Gordon,a woman considered property in the 18th century, had strength and a strong sense of survival. Ahead of her time, a woman you’d want to meet. Unfortunately, according to history, her waning years were sadly inauspicious.

Published originally in 1988, Island of the Swans is an emotionally enveloping story that will tug at your heart with each page turned. Phenomenal storytelling by Ciji Ware.

Disclosure: I received this book from Danielle at Sourcebooks.

Sunday Salon, January 31, 2010

The Sunday

I can't believe it is already the last day of January. It's beautiful outside today and I have a lot of catching up planned. I have to finish a paper for a grad class, organize my taxes, and some mundane household cleaning. However, I would much rather finish a scarf I am making for my sister-in-law and read Dan Simmons new book Black Hills. So this is the quandary I am in. If you look at my things to do list, I have tasks that I consider a chore, and then the fun stuff. Don't you just hate that? So, what would you do? Do you have this same problem? I'd love to hear about it.

Mystery Update...Many of you have asked about Mystery and I thank you so much for your concern and good wishes!!! She does not have the tick disease or any other tick disease she was tested for. That's the good thing. However, she still is not right as she seems stressed and unsettled, lethargic at times and whines a lot. I have to keep an eye on her and watch for patterns and perhaps she has epilepsy. So far no seizure while I am home, but I think she had on on Friday judging from her behavior. Thanks for keeping her in your thoughts.

I finished Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware and will be posting a review shortly. Historical Fiction fans will love this one for sure.

Hope everyone has a great Sunday and start to the work week. Enjoy your day!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Review-Unbroken Sky, by Shandi Mitchell

I want to apologize for not posting this sooner, but somehow it slipped off my radar. It wasn't until Ti at Book Chatter mentioned it on her post Friday Finds, that I realize I had never published this review to my blog. Well, better late than never. This has appeared in other publications and social networking sites, just not here. That's a first for me. I guess that shows you what can happen when your off your game. Last year was such a physical roller coaster for me with illness. Anyway, here is my review for Shandi Mitchell's wonderful book. I was lucky to have received this as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club.


Shandi Mitchell
Harper Collins, September 2009
352 pp.

It is the spring of 1938 and Theodore arrives at his home after completing a two year sentence for stealing grain. He and his wife Maria have five children and they live in a small shack with Theodore’s sister Anna and her two children. Theodore still harbors bitterness from his imprisonment and works from dawn to late at night determined to build a new home. He has worked a deal with his sister to buy the land in her name, and pay it off in the next year. Being an ex-con he is unable to hold property in his own right. He and his son Ivan work tirelessly to build their home and farm the land. Unfortunately, Anna’s abusive, carousing and lazy ass husband Stefan returns home after a long sojourn with ideas of his own.

Under This Unbroken Sky
is the story of two Ukrainian families who escaped the ruthless rule of Stalin to start over in Canada. The author has created a story of family relationships, greed and hardship. Mitchell’s characters are so memorable they could walk into your life, as if you always knew them. They are more than black on white descriptions on the page as their personalities live.

Theodore is a proud man and intends to protect and provide for his family at all costs. Their new home is spacious and they use the old shack as a grain bin. Anna and Maria both become pregnant, but he is most concerned with how his sister and children will survive having a deadbeat husband as a provider.

Theo is disgusted with his sister’s lack of ambition and when she turns against him her fate is sealed. All he can see is what he sees. He has no vision or capability to imagine what lies beneath the surface. Maria and Anna are women caught in a time when a husband was a person to obey without questions.

Mitchell’s writing is edgy and disturbing as the tension of the two families heads toward a collision of unconscionable results. The suspense is dramatic and Mitchell ensures your heart will resonate with compassion with this rare unforgettable ending. Under This Unbroken Sky is a significant sensitive novel that you will not want to miss.

Disclosure:I received this review copy from Barnes and Noble as part of their First Look Book Club.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Library Finds

we had a freaky snow squall that quickly caused havoc for the morning drive into school. Caught off-guard by the weather forecaster's predictions school was not delayed. This presented a wheel gripping drive into work for all. Buses were late, teachers were late, parents were late and the frenzy of the morning superseded all attempts to teach as the staff tried to settle the anxiety atmosphere within the building.

Then, at 9:30 when the snow didn't stop, we were told we were going into an early dismissal schedule and to adjust the rest of the days classes accordingly. So now the kids were jumping with excitement again. Oh what fun! High energy and classrooms jumping with charged up elementary children was sure to follow

Going with the flow everyone prepared to leave at 1:00PM. As I attended my bus duty, I was really having a good time seeing the kids off to their buses as they passed by me with grins of delight, anxious to get home and have extra play time, snow fun and possible hot chocolate.

With the extra time on my hands I was finally able to get to my public library. Believe it or not my card had expired. Drat! How could I have been away from this wonderful place for so long. I used to go several times a week. I obtained a new card and looked around at all the alterations and changes since I last was there. It felt like a comfortable pair of slippers as I looked around.

Fortunately, the stacks were still as they were in the past, but new technologies had taken over and the layout required a change to accommodate the DVD loan section.

I ended up staying there for almost two hours. What an awesome way to spend my early dismissal time before I headed home to my hounds.

Here are my two finds that I will read for War Through the Generations, Vietnam Challenge.

After River by Donna Milner

Short Partial Summary from School Library Journal
Adult/High School—This novel with multiple voices chronicles different points in a woman's life. The main narrative follows Natalie Ward, who leads a charmed life in Prince George, BC, during the 1960s. It is only a matter of time before reality interferes with the idyllic. The political uncertainty of the era comes knocking on her family's door in the form of a draft resister, Richard "River" Jordan. His resistance to the war in Vietnam causes tension on the Ward homestead.

Perfect Spy, The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent.

Short blurb from the cover jacket:
During the Vietnam War, Time reporter Pham Xuan An befriended everone who was anyone in Saigon, including American journalists such as David Halberstram and Neil Sheehan, the CIA'S William Colby, and the legendary Colonel Edward Lansdale-not to mention the most influential members of the South Vietnamese government army. None of them ever guessed that he was also providing strategic intelligence to Hanoi, smuggling invisible ink messages into the jungle inside egg rolls."

Don't these look like they will be good?

I normally wouldn't be able to post in the morning, but we were granted a 90 minute delay today as the snow slicked the roads up again during the night. I so enjoy the unexpected time that winter weather provides when it interrupts the normal routines.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jantsen's Gift, by Pam Cope

A True Story of Grief, Rescue and Grace
by Pam Cope, with Aimee Molloy
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
April 2009

If you have ever wondered if one person can really make a difference, then you have not read Jantsen’s Gift by Pam Cope. After the tragic death of her son, Pam, a self described hairdresser, wife and soccer mom was unsure how she was going to live through each day. She was desperate, full of self-loathing, her grief was so enormous, she had no idea how she would ever get out of bed to carry on life without him.

One day, desperate, unable to cope, desolate with grief she has a chat with God,

“I cannot do this anymore. I cannot live this life....I cannot forge a life of meaning from this sorrow. Please, just take me. Or at least tell me: What do you want from me.”

Having learned from her husband Randy that the memorial fund established in her son’s name had grown to twenty five thousand, Pam decides to take a trip to Vietnam with a friend in order to visit orphanages. This initial leap of courage to take a trip that required traveling across the globe away from the comfort zone of Neosho, Missouri was the impetuous that Pam needed to begin her healing.

On her visit she met Vinh Thien a small infant boy, who had been abandoned by his mother. Despite all the many children Pam and Randy had met during their visit, Vinh stood out and without any explanation, she just knew she wanted to take him home. He would ultimately become Van Alan Cope. It was a long arduous process complete with red tape and bureaucratic double talk, but one that would help to show Pam what her path in life was to be. She was never, or seemingly never daunted by the insurmountable odds against everything she tried to implement. Her tenacious will seemed to be driven by a purpose unseen until her son’s death. Through Jantsen’s spirit she learned to live differently, perhaps that was his gift.

Throwing all her energy into saving children, Pam took on nascent roles of speaker, fund-raiser, administrator, Mom Pam (adopted mother), politician, and social worker and director to defend, protect and rescue neglected and abandoned children. She saved hundreds of children from the streets of Vietnam by providing shelter, basic needs and an education.

Pam founded the Touch A Life organization, it’s mission to help save at-risk youths globally. After reading an article in The New York Times in 2006, Pam headed to Northern Ghana to help save children forced into hard labor as slaves. Even though laws against child trafficking are in place, the practice continues without interference from authorities.
Brutally honest, inspirational without preaching, you feel the author’s pain and anguish, you feel her surrender and release, you feel her acceptance and grace.

In her words,

“I never thought that Jantsen’s death would lead me to grace, and it is my hope that nobody ever has to go through what I went through to arrive there. Even writing this book feels like another step away from Jantsen. I do take comfort in the idea that even one more person will get to know a little about him, but the fact that I can write about his death without crawling to my bed and staying there, curled up in my grief for weeks, shows how far I’ve come.”

Highly moving and emotional story of one woman’s struggle to endure loss. Pam Cope’s story is gut wrenching and sad yet offers hope for all of us who look for life’s purpose and what truly matters. Jantsen’s Gift should be on everyone’s wish list.

Disclosure: Thanks to Anna Balasi at Hachette Book Group for this review copy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Salon, January 24, 2010

The Sunday

I hope everyone had a great week and has fun plans for this Sunday. I have been worried about Mystery, but did manage to get to finish Jantsen's Gift by Pam Cope. This is an incredibly inspiring read. I will have a review out shortly.

I did not finish The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale, a huge disappointment. In all fairness, I am going to try and pick it up again, but I just couldn't concentrate on the story. The writing is vivid with minute details that capture each moment. Maybe their is just too much detail. Perhaps it is my stress over Mystery's problems that makes my comprehension difficult. My metacognition was drifting away as I would read entire pages and then say, "What did I just read.?" Then I would re-read passages over and over. Have you had any book like that recently? I just so wanted to like this book. The advance reviews are so positive, even as much as comparing her writing to Sara Waters. Well, hearing that as a huge Sara Waters fan, I wanted to read it. Has anyone read this yet? I am curious to hear your feedback.

It's been another pins and needles week for my furgirl Mystery. She had another seizure on Monday. Thankfully, I was home with it being a holiday. At first, judging from the symptoms my vet thought it was Anaplasmosis (tick disease). Her plalette count was really low and this time her seizure was longer. She was unable to walk straight for more than an hour, like she had had one too many martinis. On Friday, after feeding her heavy doses of antibiotics all week my vet called to say her tests were negative for any tick disease. So, back to square one, Mystery's seizures are true to her name, a mystery. Please continue to send her your healing energy so that my little girl gets better. Here she is today, looking like nothing is wrong at all.

Today I am going to be reading more of Island of Swans by CIJI Ware. I started this yesterday and can't put it down. It's a romantic historical fiction novel based on Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon. She marries the Duke of Gordon, thinking her childhood love has died. She is faced with an unthinkable shock when she learns that her first love, Thomas is alive, yet now she is married to Alexander, Duck of Gordon. Stay tuned, this book of 592 pages is so fun to read I am trying to savor it, but I am too anxious to stop.

Hope you enjoy your Sunday. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

War Through the Generations Challenge, January 22, 2010

This is my first challenge for the 2010 year. I really enjoyed this challenge last year and decided I couldn't pass this one up. Here is the overview from Serena & Anna's Vietnam War Reading Challenge Post.

War Through the Generation’s 2010 Reading Challenge will be the Vietnam War. The challenge will run from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2010.
This year you have options when reading your fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, etc. with the Vietnam War as the primary or secondary theme.
Books can take place before, during, or after the war. Books from other challenges count so long as they meet the above criteria.
Dip: Read 5 books in any genre with the Vietnam War as a primary or secondary theme.
Wade: Read 6-10 books in any genre with the Vietnam War as a primary or secondary theme.
Swim: Read 11 or more books in any genre with the Vietnam War as a primary or secondary theme.

I haven't finalized my book choices yet. I hope that is ok. I know that one of the books will be The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. I just purchased it this week on my trip to Borders.

I have a list that keeps changing as I vacillate back and forth. If you have any recommendations please let me know. I read In Retrospect by Robert McNamara for a grad course several years ago. I really liked it then. I gained so much incite as I read it that I would like to revisit it during the challenge. If you have any ideas for my list, please let me know. I would really appreciate it.

List of Books Read for the Challenge

3/28/10, The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjana Soli

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Jantsen's Gift
Pam Cope
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
304 pp
April 2009

"I have a friend who likes to warn me after I return from a trip that I'd better not become one of those people who start reminding everyone else that for the cost of that cup of Starbucks, they could feed a village for three years. But part of me did struggle with this after returning home from that first trip to Vietnam." (85)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday, January 18, 2010

As most of you know Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thank you once again Marcia for hosting this weekly event. :)

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This week in my mailbox I received:

Book of Fires, by Jane Boradale

Iris Schreier's Reversible Knits

"Creative Techniques for Knitting"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Haiti

Helping Haiti is just a text message away.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Abigail Reynolds

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
The Last Man in the World

by Abigail Reynolds
256 pages

Pride and Prejudice
fans will love and no doubt accept this “what if” plot scenario devised by Abigail Reynolds in Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, The Last Man in the World. The premise of the story is, suppose that Elizabeth accepted Mr. Darcy’s original proposal of marriage and they became husband and wife. Caught in a dilemma, faced with social ruin, Elizabeth does just that in Reynolds short novel. She really loathes him and finds the idea of being his wife abhorrent and distasteful. He on the other hand is madly in love with her and obsesses over her to extreme. When her true feelings are revealed to him, he recoils into his arrogant abyss. There lives are tenuous and as tempestuous as the original Darcy and Elizabeth.

Reynolds creative imagination provides a charming and whimsical fun read with her alternative plot twist. Her interpretation of the characters is a seamless blend. They are true to the memory of the original cast. Mr. Darcy’s speech and demeanor is still abrupt and aristocratically arrogant. At times I would like to shake sense into Elizabeth’s, but then with a sister’s support, cheering on her attempts to win back Darcy.

Reynolds succeeds in delivering a passionate Pride and Prejudice detour that is entertaining and honest.

This copy was provided by Danielle at Sourcebooks.

Read in 2009.

Alas....My Challenges Recap Revised

Plan ahead, two words my father was often trying to instill in me. He would even have a diagram of the two words that ran close to the edge of a piece of paper so that the words had to abruptly change direction vertically in order to fit it on the page. This image comes to mind today. I had scheduled "Alas...My Challenges Recap" to publish at a specific date and time, hoping to finish the post by then. What you may not realize is that it is incomplete and I had intended on writing a bit as well. So, the post did come out on time, I just did not plan ahead...enough. Ok Dad, I messed up this time.

So, this is a REVISED edition of My Challenges Recap. Sorry for the mix-up.

Challenge according to The New Oxford American Dictionary is

1. a call to take part in a contest or competition, esp. a duel : he accepted the challenge.
• a task or situation that tests someone's abilities : the ridge is a challenge for experienced climbers.

I accepted several challenges this year with high hopes. I had every intention of picking up each gauntlet with equal enthusiasm. I began to tackle the lists of books and diligently made blog entries, captured my reading progress and moved on to the next selection.

I failed miserably with challenges this year. I only read one book for the Austin Challenge, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Abigail Reynolds. I still owe a review for this one. I never would have read that book had I not signed up for this challenge. I am intrigued by the many novels published with Pride and Prejudice alternative plot possibilities. This challenge has widened my book snob selection process outside of my so called comfort zone. So for that I am grateful to this challenge.

The second challenge I bombed was the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge. Again, I only read the first book, Dead Until Dark. However, I love this series and plan to continue it through 2010. I have to admit I signed up for the challenge after I read the first book, but I still have enthusiasm and drive to complete this one.

The third challenge that I totally ignored was my own Book Buddy Challenge. I didn't read one book. I am so sorry for that. Pitiful, pathetic and just no excuse. I completed snubbed my poor dog Wizard. I owe you a few treats big guy.

The last challenge I had trouble with was the Romance Challenge. I believe I read a few romance novels, The Wild Heart, by Rosemary Rogers comes to mind. I honestly don't read many romance novels and this would have been a great challenge for me. I just never got to it.

These are the challenges I did complete, along with my 100 Books Read Challenge.

Pub Challenge


1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Fiction (Published 2-09)
2. The Scramble for Africa Darfur-Invertention and the USA by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk Non-Fiction (Published 2-09)
3. Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell Fiction (Published 1/20/09)
4. The History of Now by Daniel Klein Fiction (Published 2/09)
5. The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz
6. Seducing the Spirit by Louise Young
7. The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown
8. Every Boat Turns South by Jay White
9. The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris
10.Sweeping Up Glass, by Carolyn D. Wall

Southern Reading Challenge


1.Dead Until Dark, by Chalaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse)
2.Scottsboro, by Ellen Feldmen
3.Sweeping Up Glass, by Carolyn D. Wall
4.Every Boat Turns South, by Jay White
5.All Other Nights by Dara Horn
6.Salvos on Blackwater: A Novel of the Civil War Period, by Erwin Wunderlich

War Through the Generations

War Through the Generations WWII

1.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2.The German Woman, by Paul Griner
3.Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,by Jamie Ford
4.Daddy's Little Spy by Isabella Rosa
5.The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

Lessons and notes after my first full year of challenges:
1. Challenges cause me stress and worry and can put a person over the edge with anxiety. :(
2. Challenges have encouraged me to expand my reading choices. :)
3. Challenges are a fun way to connect with other bloggers. :)
4. Challenges whether or not you are a participant, lead to reflective reviews posted by fellow bloggers. :)
5. Challenges show other readers what my interests are. :)

As a recap, I came up with 4 out of 5 reasons to continue doing challenges in 2010. The only sad face I gave out was because of the anxiety and stress I put on myself when I don't finish a challenge. I can easily solve this by limiting my challenges this year. Since I still have courses I am taking for my Masters in History, upon reflection, this makes sense. I also need to get better, plan ahead to make sure I track my reading better, so that posting challenges will be less arduous. Sorry it took so long to post this recap but planning ahead as my father would tell you was never my forte. I will be posting my challenges on Sunday. Don't hold me to that. LOL

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I couldn't resist snapping this pic of my friend's cat......

Teaser Tuesdays, January 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

"I pitched my tent where Henry David Thoreau, on July 28, 1857, pitched his.

I felt teary doing it." p.72

Summary from the back cover..."From the day Jonathan Cobb and Mary Fury meet on the banks of Maine's Allagash River, they approach life with the same adventurous spirit with which they conquer the river's treacherous rapids. But rivers do not let go so easily. And so for them, the life they love demands equally that they confront the most difficult of choices....."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mailbox Monday, January 11, 2010

As most of you know Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thank you once again Marcia for hosting this weekly event. :)

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This week in my mailbox I received:

I read about this book a short time ago on Musings of a Bookish Kitty's Blog. When I read her fabulous review of Guests of the Ayatollah, I ordered it right away and it just arrived this past week. I can't wait to get started on this one. I recall this dark time in our nation's history and I will be anxious to read how history records the event. Written in 2006, the reviews are spectacular. Mark Bowden is also the author of Black Hawk Down.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mystery's Looking Better

Mystery is looking so much better tonight after sleeping all day. She is still looking a bit tentative and wobbly, but no seizure today! Thanks to all of you for your energy, healing, prayers and good wishes. I know it helped her and me get through a long 24 hours. This is a photo from just this past hour. She's back on the couch sleeping after she gobbled up her night cookie and snatched her brother's from under his nose. I guess she is feeling better. You just can't keep those Alpha females down for too long. LOL :)

Sunday Salon, January 10, 2010

The Sunday

This has been a stressful week and an even more stressful 24 hours. Mystery, my youngest greyhound has been sick and I had her at the veterinarian this week. She hasn't been herself. Yesterday afternoon I came home to feed my four and let them out. Once settled down, I picked up the book I was reading, Breakfast in Bed, a hot romance. I am trying to finish this one for a review I owe for Sourcebook.

All of a sudden Mystery was clawing the floor and couldn't stand up. She was having a seizure. It was awful and the fear in her eyes was enough to make me panic, but I knew I had to remain focused. Her heart was racing and she couldn't stand up, she didn't know where she was. I'm not so sure she even knew who I was.

After calling my vet, then the emergency hospital in Katonah (one hour away) they needed to see her. I scrambled to get her into the lifting 65lbs of greyhound. I was fortunate to have my two great friends who I just left in the area offer to drive. I don't know what I would have done without them, I was frazzled.

We were at the hospital for 4 hours and after numerous tests and exams, at this moment the cause is still unknown, with any number of possibilities. They wanted to keep her 24hours, but since I have Sunday off, she is by my side right now. She made it through the night, and is still sleeping. She may have a seizure disorder, it may be an isolated incident, it may be something we won't talk about right now. I'm hoping it will go away. The people at Katonah Hospital in New York were amazing and I can't thank them enough. They really treat the patient and owners with respect and dignity with sincere empathetic eagerness to help.

Hoping you can all send some special white light to my girl Mystery to help her get better. She is a little pistol, my alpha of the pack and is normally the spit-fire, 45mph couch potato that rules her brothers and torments the kitties. Even Owen Beanie, her arch nemesis, knew something was really wrong, he began howling a plaintive moan when Mystery was stricken. He just knew.

My reading has been way off this week. I will be finishing this rather uncharacteristic book for me, Breakfast in Bed. Probably, at this point it is better I am not reading anything emotionally draining, so this works.

I will be starting Eternal on the Water,by Joseph Monninger, which is a First Look Book Club selection due up for discussion this week at Barnes and Noble.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Books Read List

January 2010

The Day the Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Breakfast in Bed, by Robin Kaye
Jantsen's Gift, by Pam Cope

February 2010

Black Hills, by Dan Simmons
Daughters of the Witching Hill, by Mary Sharratt
Mark Twain's Other Woman, by Laura Trombley
Etta, by Gerald Kolpan
Making Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa, M.D.
Bloodroot, by Amy Greene
Mistress of the Revolution
, by Catherine Delors

March 2010

The Ninth, by Harvey Sachs
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O'Connor McNees
The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjani Soli
Pieces of Sky, by Kaki Warner
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C.W.Gortner

April 2010
The Captive Queen, by Alison Weir
The Heretic Queen, by Michelle Moran
The Language of Secrets, by Dianne Dixon

May 2010
the map of true places, by Brunonia Barry
The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake
The Go Between, A Novel of the Kennedy Years, by Frederick Turner
Original Sins, by Peg Kingman
A Cottage by the Sea, Ciji Ware

June 2010
Diamond Ruby, by Joseph Wallace
The Sundance Kid, by Donna B. Ernst
The Alchemy and Meggy Swan, by Karen Cushman
A Fierce Radiance, by Lauren Belfer
The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende
An Eagle Named Freedom, by Jeff Guidry

July 2010
Days of Grace, Catherine Hall
The King's Mistress, Emma Campion
The Prince of Mist, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Lady of the Butterflies, by Fiona Mountain

The Day the Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Day the Falls Stood Still
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Voice-Hyperion Books
September 2009
320 pp.

Bess Heath is leaving for the summer, after finishing her Junior year as a student at Loretto Academy in Niagra Falls. At the commencement ceremonies for the graduating seniors, she learns her father has lost his job as the director of the Niagra Power Company. This will surely negate her return to Loretto in the fall as the family’s lifestyle suddenly plummets to a tenuous existence. In order to make ends meet her mother takes in sewing, her father drinks. Oddly, her sister, is also abandoned by her fiancee, the son of her father’s former boss.

When her sister is found dead by Tom Cole, the riverman, she goes with him to see her. Only then does she learn the secret her sister held close. With Tom as an ally she is able to silence the truth to protect her sister’s memory. She is drawn to Tom, an attractive, strong, sensitive man, with a calm demeanor, who loves the outdoors.

He is the grandson of the infamous Fergus Cole who knew the river better than anyone. Tom has grown up along side the river. It in his blood. He knows the river, he can feel it. “He just knows.” Like his grandfather, he becomes a hero, saving the people who try to challenge the river. He loves the natural world and he worries about the power company and the drain on the river. His integrity and marriage are on the line when he must compromise his position and beliefs in order to provide for his family.

After her sister’s death, Bess struggles with grief and her belief in God. She has difficulty finding meaning in life and Tom tells her,

“But there is meaning in everything. In dew. And wind. Even in the birds squawking at dawn.” (151)

This is a historical fiction novel, based on the history of Niagra Falls and some of the unusual events that took place as well as the development of the Niagra Power Company, and the treaties that were enacted. The Niagra Parks website has further information.

One of the most moving and inspiring books I have read in a long time. I sobbed for pages to the end stopping only for tissues. During the final scene I realized I was holding my breath with anticipation. This has heart tugging drama that rips through to your core and will make you think as Bess will say, “Faith is believing without proof.”

Cathy Marie Buchanan has gifted us a beautiful story of faith and love, a stellar debut that should be on everyone's TBR list.