Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review-THE YARD DOG, by Sheldon Russell

THE YARD DOG,
Sheldon Russell ,Minotaur Books,September 2009, $24.99/C$31.99, 292pp,978-0-312-56670-8.

Hook Runyon is a railroad agent, a yard dog. His name is a nickname he inherited after an unfortunate accident left him without one arm, a prothesis instead. His job is to protect the railroad from hobos, pickpockets and other criminals. He works at the yard that is situated near Camp Alva, a POW camp in Oklahoma. He lives in a caboose, bulging with his collection of rare books, a passion which is second only to his love of shine. One day Spark Dugan, is found dead under one of the railroad cars. He is a coal picker who keeps Hook’s bin full, and this day when Hook wakes up his box is empty.

When called to investigate, he is in a quandary as he immediately notices that nothing appears right. His boss wants a quick rap up, seeing the death as an accident caused when Spark Dugan carelessly fell asleep while drunk. But when it comes time to file the paperwork for the railroad, Hook labels the cause of death, homicide. Along with his buddy and moonshine supplier Runt, he will attempt to find out what happened to Spark . He knows one thing is for sure, Spark Dugan would have never picked a railroad car to sleep under, and another puzzlement, his face in death showed no fear.

The setting inside and amid the countryside of a POW camp surrounding the railroad offers unique fresh material supported by accurate historical elements. Unforgettable characters captivate your emotions with Hook Runyan as a possible future series protagonist. World War II is brought chillingly close to home in this action packed mystery that is a white-knuckle achievement by Russell.


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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa



Making Rounds with Oscar

The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat
David Dosa, M.D.
Hyperion
Published 2010
978-1-4013-2323-3


How would you feel if a cat who always appeared when someone was about to die showed up in your hospital room? Don’t be too quick to answer, until you’ve read Making the Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa.

Oscar, a feline resident of the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island loves to visit with patients. That alone is not so uncommon as we have all heard that pet therapy works. Cats and dogs and other small animals have been shown to reduce blood pressure and ease the pain from chronic illness when they are present. However, Oscar has a unique job, at least he thinks so and so do the healthcare workers, nurses and doctors who have worked at Steere House. Oscar has an uncanny ability to sense when a patient’s time has come, he knows when their demise is imminent and will trot off to be with them in their final hours.

Dr. David Dosa is skeptical at first. He has heard the rumors that one of the several cats who live at Steere House seems to know when a patient was dying, even when the doctors don’t. It is Mary, the day shift nurse who first brings the news of Oscar to him. When several incidents occur that confirm the theory, Dr. Dosa decides to investigate and interview patients who have experienced Oscar’s tremendous comforting gift.

One caregiver of a patient tells him:

“Nobody wants to visit a nursing home, let alone the dying. It’s like running into a burning building; the impulse is to run the other way. But Oscar, well, he was different. He didn’t shy away. Actually, he seemed to know when he was needed most.”


Another relative remarked:

“He seemed so convinced of what he was doing. He was so clear in his intention and his dedication.”


This is a beautifully written story about the family of Steere House, the patients, their relatives, the hospital care workers, and one special remarkable cat named Oscar, who knows the importance of living in the present, patience, and making the terminally ill as comfortable as possible when it is their time to die. According to Dosa everyone has a job when caring for the sick, “and it is Oscar’s job to provide the critical companionship during the final hours. “

I must say that several chapters had me sobbing with memories of my own parents. Even though my mom passed away eighteen years ago this March, and my dad more recently, the tears were blurring my vision as I was reading this story. This might give you the impression that this is a depressing book, but it’s not. Oscar’s story is hopeful and special and offers a reassuring lesson of love.

The author offers this sage advice in the final pages, “When the time comes, please remember that letting go of a person with terminal dementia is not a sign of defeat: It is an act of LOVE.” This is a gem of a book with heartfelt stories of people and a prescient cat named Oscar, that will linger in your heart for some time.

Disclosure: This book was purchased by me.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme from Bermudaonion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. If you want to play along, grab the button, and join the fun! (Don’t forget to leave a link in the comments if you’re participating.)

I just love this meme so much, I have to join in. For some reason this reminds me of my mom and how she would make me look up new words that I stumbled upon as I read.

Definitions are provided from the Dictionary.com App on my handy i-phone.
All these words came from Etta, by Gerald Kolpan.
  • sartorial-adjective
    1. of or pertaining to tailors or their trade: sartorial workmanship
    2. of or pertaining to clothing or style or manner of dress: sartorial splendor
  • excoriate-verb
    1. to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally
    2. to strip off or remove the skin from: Her palms were excoriated by the hard labor of shoveling.
  • stentorian-adjective
    very loud or powerful in sound: a stentorian voice
I hope you enjoy my picks for Wondrous Words Wednesday. I think my hands are excoriated from shoveling snow too!!!! I just love discovering new and unusual words. Hope you do too. Care to share your words this week? I would like to know what you discovered.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday, February 23, 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!


Making Rounds With Oscar, by David Dosa
Hyperion,2010
225 pages
9781401323233
"A relationship between two people is made up, for the most part, of invisible things: memories, shared experiences, hopes and fears. When one person disappears, the other is left alone, as if holding a string with no kite."p.94.


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mailbox Monday, February 22, 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:




Pieces of Sky, by Kaki Warner
Imperfect Birds, by Anne Lamott
The Confessions of Catherine De Medici, by C.W. Gortner
The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjana Soli
Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett


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ABC Historical Fiction Challenge




From Historical Tapestry's Blog
Each fortnight you have to write a blog post about an historical fiction book of your choice (it might even be something you already read before), but it MUST be related to the letter of the fortnight.

You have several possibilities:
- the first letter of the title
- the first letter of the author's first name or surname
- the first letter of a character's first name or surname
- the first letter of a place where an historical event took place


You just have to choose one of them and participate.

Please check our blog each 1st and 15th of the month to find out our new letter, and then link your post (not your blog) back to our page through Mr Linky (see below). Then come and check to see who else has posted and visit their blog to find out all the details of the book they were reading.

This month the letter is:


(original image by Leo Reynolds under the CC license)

The book I am reading is: Etta, by Gerald Koplan



The book I am reading for F is Mistress of the Revolution, by Catherine Delors.


The book I am reading for G is The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C. W. Gortner.




The book I am reading for H is The Heretic Queen, by Michelle Moran.






For the letter P, my choice is Darcy's Voyage, by Kara Louise. The reason I have selected this book is that the setting takes place on the ship Pemberley's Promise, and is a retell of Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

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Sunday Salon, February 21, 2010

What a beautiful day in Connecticut! The temperatures are mild, a light wind is blowing and you can feel Spring Thaw in the air. That reminds me, I better fill up that bird feeder again. I think I am the neighborhood bird sanctuary for the winter.



As far as reading this week, I signed up for another challenge. You know those tempting little challenges just seem too impossible to avoid. I try to limit my participation, try to close my eyes, try to be firm and say no. But in all honesty they really look cute on the sidebar of a blog. So, I have accepted the ABC Historical Fiction Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry. Here are the details....

I am a little late signing up, so my first letter is E. I have chosen the book Etta, by Gerald Koplan which I actually started and finished yesterday. It was a lightning quick read that was too hard to put down. I hope to catch up along the way. I can't wait to read everyone's reviews and see what everyone is reading.

HT is going to host its first challenge! Based in Mysteries in Paradise's community challenge we now present you The Alphabet in Historical Fiction. To participate, just follow the rules:

Each fortnight you have to write a blog post about an historical fiction book of your choice (it might even be something you already read before), but it MUST be related to the letter of the fortnight.

You have several possibilities:

- the first letter of the title
- the first letter of the author's first name or surname
- the first letter of a character's first name or surname
- the first letter of a place where an historical event took place

You just have to choose one of them and participate.

Please check our blog each 1st and 15th of the month to find out our new letter, and then link your post back to our page through Mr Linky (see below). Then come and check to see who else has posted and visit their blog to find out all the details of the book they were reading.

You have until the end of each fortnight to complete your mission.



As far as today's reading for Sunday Salon, I will be reading Making Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa, MD. This is the book about an amazing cat named Oscar, who seems to know when a patient is close to death. I remember reading about this unique cat, who makes the rounds at a nursing home in Providence, RI. At first I thought how depressingly sad this must be, but apparently not so. Patients find comfort and warmth in her visits. Well, I will have to let you know because I just started the book.


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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review-The Girl in the Lighthouse, by Roxane Tepfer Sanford


THE GIRL IN THE LIGHTHOUSE
Roxane Tepfer Sanford
Lumina Press, 2009,
$13.95,pb
250pp
978-1-60594-238-4


Lillian Arrington’s father is a lighthouse keeper and until the age of nine she lived in an isolated world devoid of friends. Born in 1862 to Ameilia and Garrett she was the epitome of daddy’s little girl. Her mother was not always well, but she and her father were inseparable. When her father is transferred to Jasper Island she abounds with joy when she learns there will be an assistant keeper on the island who has two sons. With hope and anticipation she meets Heath and Ayden, and the trio become instant companions. Lillian’s childhood is carefree and joyous with each day full of promise with a bright outlook toward the future. Her world is flipped on end when her mother’s health becomes critical.

Lillian’s lifestyle turns from joy to misery when she is sent to live with her grandmother, Eugenia on her Georgia plantation. Southern to the core with a drive to rekindle the glory of the past, Eugenia Arrington is nothing like her daughter Amelia. Lillian must endure new challenges that are painful, physically and mentally as she uncovers deep secrets from her families past. Wounds of flesh and mind will scar her deeply as she tries to cope with her discoveries.

Taking place in a variety of settings, Sanford depicts each vista with accurate acuity. The details enable the reader clarity and perception as if you were there. Eugenia, hateful and retched juxtaposed with Lillian’s loving and sweet demeanor are both fully developed characters representing good versus evil in imaginative tale of immorality.

Glimmers of Lillian’s past are sparingly uncovered as the author teases you through to the conclusion. A long journey for Lillian, this historical fiction novel is brimming with tension and crescendo like drama that will captivate the reader.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme from Bermudaonion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. If you want to play along, grab the button, and join the fun! (Don’t forget to leave a link in the comments if you’re participating.)

I just love this meme so much, I have to join in. For some reason this reminds me of my mom and how she would make me look up new words that I stumbled upon as I read.

Definitions are provided from the Dictionary.com App on my handy i-phone.

  • clemmed-verb: starved-verb
  • hypnagogic-adjective: inducing sleep;of or pertaining to drowsiness.-adjective.
  • slattern-noun: 1. a slovenly, untidy woman or girl, 2. a slut;harlot

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Review-Black Hills, by Dan Simmons



Black Hills
Dan Simmons
A Reagan Arthur Book
Hachette Book Group
9780316006989
February 24, 2010
512 pages





In 1876 Paha Sapa, a young boy of ten is at Little Bighorn, during the massacre and carnage of Custer’s Last Stand. His future desire is to become a wičasa wakan, a holy man. He has a gift of sight that enables him to see the future through his sense of touch. Having no heart for fighting, nor an innate will to become a warrior, he counts coup in battle, touching Custer at exact the moment he dies. Immediately he fears something has changed, and with trepidation and unease he knows the dead man’s ghost has seeped into his body. A lifetime of competitive chatter begins for Paha Sapa as his mind rattles with the dialogue of General Custer, his beliefs, feelings, opinions, love life, and memories. Throughout the book, Simmons allows his voice to be heard through Paha Sapa and his uninvited ghost resident, Custer.

As a future wakan, Paha Sapa must embark on his vision quest and it is there he is terrorized by the dismal and shocking views that shape his people’s future: the ravages to the earth, the end to the buffalo and the Sioux known as the “Natural Free Human Beings.”

The story alternates between two time periods. Fluctuating between Paha Sapa’s early life in 1876 at the battle of Little Bighorn, to the 1930’s where Paha Sapa is a dynamite man working for Gutzon Borglum on the famous Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. It is during this time period, dying of cancer, that Paha Sapa sets in motion a plan to blow up the colossal monuments in stone. In his mind the stones are an insult to his people’s culture and life. It is not the first time he has seen the Black Hills heads emerge out of the mountains, as they were a part of his vision quest when he was a boy.

Historical events depicted in the novel provide a fascinating setting as Paha Sapa ages over seven decades. His presence is there for the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and he attends the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 where he marvels at Mr. Ferris’ great wheel. He views the ravages of the Dust Bowl and becomes a key worker when the heads of stone are the carved out of the Black HIll, known as Mr. Rushmore. Simmons uses an impressive bibliography of noteworthy sources that also provides further suggestive reading.

The text is in italics when characters are speaking. This is awkward at first to get used to, especially when Custer’s ghost is speaking. Custer’s letters to his wife were oddly uncomfortable intimacies that could have been eliminated. Black Hills is appropriately presented at a time when go green is in vogue and Earth’s survival depends on our corrective action. It is cautionary tale, to embrace. It is a call to action for those who read Black HIlls to act, to solve and implement plans for the future to stave off what seems to be the inevitable demise of our planet. Reflectively unique both disturbing and hopeful, Simmons has tantalized the reader with a wonderful story from our past, while questioning the future. Highly recommended.

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Wordless Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mystery Update, February 15, 2010



Here is my little girl Mystery trying to get comfortable, and yes she is so spoiled she sleeps on the leather couch.

We finally know what is wrong with her, but unfortunately, she is not out of the woods yet. Last week she had another seizure of sorts and I had to take her back to the hospital. When she got there, again, like the last time she snapped out of it and appeared back to normal. This time, however the event lasted way over an hour. The vet was baffled! Then, while the vet was examining her, she let out a howl/scream that was chilling and the vet had merely touched her neck. Dr. L, realizing something was very wrong kept her for the day to do x-rays. When I returned after work to get her, I had a consult with the doctors who showed me her x-rays and explained her problem.

Apparently, it is a disc injury that presses on her spinal cord and then causes paralysis in her legs and neck. Hence the reason she appears to be having a stroke or seizure.

The vet has been treating her with muscle relaxers and pain medicine in various strengths and doses. Night time is the worse for her, and consequently, I don't sleep either. I feel so bad for her, and I end up holding her to help with her pain. We were back at the vet today, and they have me trying something else with her in hopes that she will get relief.

Thank you, thank you, for all your kind words and wishes for her recovery. We are both very grateful and I know she knows that everyone is sending her get well wishes. She is sleeping right now as I am writing this post. Keep your fingers crossed!!!


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Daughters of the Witching Hill, by Mary Sharratt


Daughters of the Witching Hill
by Mary Sharratt
978-0-547-069678
352 pages
April 7, 2010
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


They call her Demdike, her name is Elizabeth Southerns, Bess to some, and she lives in Pendle Forest in Malkin Tower. She is a poor woman known to many as a healer, a blesser, but to others she is feared as a witch. In concert with her familiar spirit Tibbs, she uses her folk magic to heal the sick, both man and beast. She can foresee the future.

One day her best friend Anne, pleads with her to share her charms to use against a man who has taken advantage of her daughter. Reluctantly, Bess agrees, realizing only too late that her friend has harnessed the power for nefarious plans. She soon recognizes that her friend is “unstoppable.


Over the years, Bess tries to pass her healing craft along to her granddaughter Alizon, a reluctant recipient. Ironically, as Alizon takes a walk one day she encounters a peddler on the road. She intends to purchase pins from him in order to mend her threadbare clothes. She becomes incensed when he refuses her, and calls her a beggar and thief. Brandishing threatening words of malice, she lashes out in anger declaring, “The Devil take your mean heart.” As the peddler proceeds along, he is felled by a stroke causing Alizon to freeze in disbelief. Could she really be the instrument of his malady?

A local official eager to bring the coven of witches to justice proceeds to investigate this incident leading to his discovery of many other unexplained happenings in Pendle Forest. Through countless interviews and clever manipulation of friends and relatives, Roger Nowelle seeks to bring the accused to the hangman’s noose.

Daughters of the Witching Hill, provides an historical fiction account of the actual Lancaster witch trials of 1612. The main characters and the story are taken from the actual records filed by the court clerk, Thomas Potts in 1613.

In her novel, Mary Sharratt has uncovered an alarming tale from this pre-Reformation period England. A story of powerfully strong women, friendship, betrayal and forgiveness, it unfolds like a magnet of intrigue shedding light on how easily the lines can become blurred between Christianity and folkcraft/witchcraft, leaving the innocent to suffer with pending death. An elegiac story, historically rich and hauntingly memorable.

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Mailbox Monday, February 15, 2010

I just realized I forgot to update this weeks Mailbox Monday news. For those who have already read this, I am sorry. I am going to post an update about Mystery in a short while. I am off from school today, but it is because of President's Day, not a snow day. :)


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:



Making Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa
Stones into Schools, by Greg Mortenson
A Cottage by the Sea, by Ciji Ware
The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz





The Night Fairy: (From the back cover)

"Flory was a night fairy. She was born a little before midnight, when the moon was full. For the rest of her life-and fairies can live hundreds of years-that hour, a little before midnight, would be the time when her magic was the strongest
."


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Contest Winners for Drood, by Dan Simmons

Congratulations to the winners of Drood¡!!



Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea
Ladytink 534
G.G.
Renee G
Jaime

Thank you to all who participated!! I hope the winners enjoy the book. :)

I will contact the winners by the email that was left in the comments.
Thank you to Valerie Russo at Hachette Book Group for providing the books for this giveaway.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday, February 10, 2010


B's Cowardly Lion aka..... LION, enjoying his new bed!!!

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Mailbox Monday, February 10, 2010

Well....I've had a busy time with my baby Mystery, so I'm catching up with my posts and comments today. I'm still waiting for the big storm in the Northeast as I sit here reading, writing and enjoying this strange snowless, Snow Day. At least so far we only have a dusting. I'm not complaining. In any case here is my Mailbox Monday, and I will be by to check on everyone else too. Enjoy!!!


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:



>Elysiana, by Chris Knopf
Drakes's Bay, by T. A. Roberts
Pretend All Your Life, by Joseph Makin
Then Came the Evening, by Brian Hart
Bloodroot, by Amy Greene


Shop Indie Bookstores


Shop Indie Bookstores


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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays-February 9, 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!

Daughters of the Witching Hill
Mary Sharratt
Houghton Mifflin,Harcourt


"Anne had stood by me in my hour of deepest humiliation when, twenty-two years ago, the Constable pilloried me for adultery. Pregnant with Kit, the pedlar's bastard, I shrank inside myself, my head and hands locked into the stocks, my face blackened from the sheep dung the crowd lobbed at me."page 40.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Giveway-Drood, by Dan Simmons


To kick off the release of Black Hills by Dan Simmons, Hachette Book Group is generously offering a giveaway of five copies of the paperback edition being released this month. This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada this time. Simply leave a comment below and let me know what appeals to you about Drood or share with us any thoughts about other Dan Simmons books. This contest will run until Valentines Day, because it is my cat Ownen Beanie's Birthday. Good luck to all -- Owen Beanie will be routing for you.

Oh...don't forget to leave your crypted email for me.

Full Description from the Back Cover
:

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?

Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.


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Wordless Wednesday, February 3, 2010



Wizard

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Black Hills, by Dan Simmons..You Tube Discussion

After I posted my Teaser Tuesday many of you were curious about Black Hills, by Dan Simmons. It is historical fiction yet spiritual and an edgy thriller that takes place over several decades. On the author's web site there is a link to this You Tube Video presenting a discussion by Dan Simmons about his book Black Hills. I thought it was really fascinating, and having read about half the book found his overview added to my understanding of this multi-layered story. I believe after watching this teaser, you will be anxious to read it.




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