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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Everyday Astrology by Gary Goldschneider

Gary Goldschneider's Everyday Astrology: How to Make Astrology Work for YouPublisher: Quirk Books
ISBN: 1594744084
Pages: 350 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
With nearly two million copies in print, Gary Goldschneider's Secret Language of Birthdays and Secret Language of Relationships are mainstays of any bookstore astrology section. Now the best-selling author has returned with his biggest and most ambitious work yet: Gary Goldschneider's Everyday Astrology. 

Here is detailed and comprehensive advice for handling everyone in your life—and we mean everyone: parents, children, siblings, coworkers, employees, lovers, spouses, exes, and more. Whether you're wooing a Gemini first date, asking a Virgo boss for a raise, or persuading your Pisces roommate to do the dishes, Gary Goldschneider's Everyday Astrology offers advice for any situation imaginable. Once you start paging through this book, you'll find it impossible to stop!

My Review:
I love astrology. I have a small stockpile of books and other like materials. It has been a guilty obsession for me. I found that I don’t really need my stockpile now that I have found Everyday Astrology. I learned more about my star sign (Gemini) using this book than any other in my collection.

This is one of the best astrology books I have ever found. It is organized so well. In the left hand corner of each section there is a list of traits that can be identified with each sign. The sections themselves are written very well and are descriptive enough that anyone can understand and not be overwhelmed by the “rising” and “falling” and overly descriptive stuff that other astrology books fall into.

Everyday Astrology is perhaps the most perfect astrology book that I have found. It is neither too complex or too simple, too hokey or too high-brow. This book has replaced my other astrology books as my go to guide for astrology. It is highly recommended.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Linda Weaver Clarke Interview

Please tell us a little about yourself and your books.

I was raised on a farm in southern Idaho and have made my home in southern Utah among the beautiful red mountains. I am happily married and the mother of six daughters and have several grandchildren. I teach people how to write their family stories and I’m the author of the historical fiction series, “A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho,” dating back to 1896.

I get most of my ideas from true experiences and every day life. My first book, “Melinda and the Wild West,” was inspired by a true experience that happened to me as a substitute teacher. A teacher labeled a young girl as a troublemaker and put her behind some bookshelves so she wouldn’t be a menace to others. I based my story on this experience, bringing out that negative labels tear down and positive labels build up, but I also wanted it to be a love story for all ages. This book eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award.”

“Jenny’s Dream” was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I learned that forgiveness was essential for true happiness. In this novel, Jenny must learn to forgive and put her past behind her. While pursuing her dreams, she realizes that her kindred friend means more to her than she thought. He isn’t the stereotypical handsome man that writers portray. I believe it’s important to get to know a person deep down inside first, to get to know a person’s inner soul. That’s what matters. Now Jenny has to make a decision whether to follow her dream or matters of the heart. This story is about accomplishing one’s dreams and the miracle of forgiveness, with a bit of adventure from Old Ephraim, the ten-foot grizzly bear taken from Idaho history.

What has inspired your writing?

My ancestors and family experiences were my inspiration. After writing their biographies, I couldn’t help but add a few of their experiences to my fictional characters. My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for “David and the Bear Lake Monster.” Sarah lost her hearing as a child but she never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness while swimming, that people would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. Once an intruder hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. What a courageous woman!

In “Edith and the Mysterious Stranger,” my inspiration was the courtship of my parents. They didn’t meet the conventional way. They wrote letters to one another before they ever met. She said that she fell in love with the soul of my father, what was deep down inside and they didn’t even know what one another looked like. The day they met, my mother told me that her heart leapt within her and a warm glow filled her soul and she knew she would marry this man. I knew this would be the basis of my next novel, but there’s one difference. In my story, you don’t know who the mysterious stranger is until the end of the book. Some readers guessed correctly while others were pleasantly surprised. To read an excerpt, visit

Other than the historical period you write about, which historical period is your favorite or interests you the most?

I have researched many time periods but I had a blast researching the “Roaring 20s.” I didn’t realize how fun that period was until I researched it for my last book in the series. I found out about words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Baloney! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, he was goofy. If a person was a fool, he was a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great! Also, the rise of women’s rights was very exciting to read about. I found out that in the 1920s, women bobbed their hair and raised their hemlines. This new and adorable style brought about a lot of trouble. If women bobbed their hair, they were fired from their jobs. A teacher in Jersey City was ordered to grow her hair back by the school board or she would be fired. A preacher warned his congregation that a “bobbed woman was a disgraced woman.” Men actually divorced their wives over the new hairstyle.

In my workshops, I’ll bring a few of these facts out and I’ve had a few men raise their hands and say, “It’s true. I remember when my mother bobbed her hair and words were flying all over the place.” Amazing! I love research!

What are some of your favorite authors and books? Which books have inspired you? Which ones will you keep and never give/throw away?

I love learning about my country and what we had to fight for. I read a nine volume historical fiction series that helped me to appreciate the patriots and what they had to go through. I learned to love George Washington and the struggles he went through for our freedom. It was Prelude to Glory. The author used fictional characters but used actual facts in his book. At the end of the book, he sited his bibliography.

Please tell us a little about Family Legacy Workshops and what do you do in these workshops?

I teach writing technique and the importance of research. One thing that I emphasize is researching the time period where their parents or grandparents lived and find out what the country was going through, and insert it in the history of their ancestor. The turmoil of a country helps you to understand what your family went through and why they suffered. Did they live during the depression, and if so, how did it affect them? Sometimes what the country went through has to do with the circumstances of your ancestors. If they lived during war times, it helps your children understand why their grandparents had such tough times, why they barely made ends meet, or why they had to flee a certain country. What did your ancestors have to endure? I found out that in 1942 they rationed gas to three gallons a week. To me, that was amazing. How about prices? Did it cost ten cents to go to the movies and five cents for an ice cream cone? And what flavors existed? Did they go by way of a horse and buggy, a trolley car, or a Model T Ford? I encourage my audience to find out everything they can. I love teaching this subject. I’m always learning something from others.

A Match For Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward, O.S.F.

A Match for Mary Bennet: Can a serious young lady ever find her way to love?Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402220111
Pages: 368 pgs
Genre: Jane Austen Sequel/Pride and Prejudice
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
A unique and inspirational Pride and Prejudice sequel that will resonate with all readers who can relate to Mary Bennet's determination to live according to God's wishes.

Written by a Franciscan nun, this is a sympathetic tale of the middle Bennet sister from Pride and Prejudice. Pious Mary Bennet tries to do her duty in the world as she thinks God envisions it.
Initially believing (mistakenly) that her sister Elizabeth married well only in order to provide for her sisters, Mary is happy to be relieved of the obligation to marry at all so that she can continue her faithful works.

But she begins to have second thoughts after further studying marriage through her sisters' experiences as well as spending time with two young men. One is a splendid young buck whose determined courtship must have ulterior motives; the other is a kindly, serious young clergyman whose friendship Mary values more and more. One day she realizes that God very much made man and woman to be together...but which is the man for her?

My Review:
Mary is one of my favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice. I always felt that she got the worst deal at the end of Pride and Prejudice. What logical person would want to spend the rest of her life with her aging parents? No sane person I know, that’s for sure. I was so happy to see her get a life of her own aside from being the spinster daughter.

Ward’s take on the characters were great. Mary became so much deeper of a character than she was in Pride and Prejudice. She had a sense of humor, emotions and talents. I found it particularly interesting because Ward really had nothing from Jane Austen to work with. Mary was a one dimensional character in Pride and Prejudice and Ward really gave her some depth. Stephen Oliver was also the best match for Mary. He was sweet and bookish. He he had none of the broodiness of Darcy but I don’t think Mary could handle any broodiness. They were so cute. The marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy was so sweet and you can really feel the love between them. Even though the book was about Mary, their marriage was a huge plus in this book.

I really enjoyed A Match For Mary Bennet for the most part. There was only one aspect that truly bothered me. Ward called Kitty “Catherine” throughout most of the book. I know that may be her given name but throughout Pride and Prejudice she is not called Catherine, she is called Kitty. We know her as Kitty, so, why change it? Perhaps it is what Mary thought of Kitty as but that would make more sense if it was first person point of view from Mary’s eyes. I’m not even that much of a purist but for some reason this did irk me a bit and kind of distract me a bit from the novel.

I really did enjoy this one. If you are looking for a good sequel that is not completely Lizzy and Darcy focused, pick this one up.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

God Is an Englishman by R.F. Delderfield

God Is an EnglishmanPublisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402218214
Pages: 656 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

From master author R. F. Delderfield, the first in the beloved classic God Is an Englishman series.

The first novel in the epic God Is an Englishman series, this book is a stirring saga of England in the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution takes hold, forever changing the landscape of England and her people.

Adam Swann, scion of an army family, returns home in 1858 after service with Her Majesty's army in the Crimea and India, determined to build his fortune in the dog-eat-dog world of Victorian commerce. Swann is soon captivated by Henrietta, the high-spirited daughter of a local mill owner. As Swann works to build his name, he and Henrietta share adventures, reversal, and fortune.

A beloved novel by a beloved author, God Is an Englishman is a treasure both for Delderfield fans and the growing legion of fans of historical fiction.

My Review:

Let me start this out by saying that Delderfield is now one of my favorite authors. These books are huge but kept me interested the whole time I was reading and usually when a book goes over 500 pages, it is pretty hard to keep me interested the whole way through.

I really enjoyed God Is an Englishman perhaps even more than To Serve Them All My Days. It was more of a romance and drama than To Serve Them All My Days. I also got quite a bit more attached to the character is this one. I really liked Adam. He was ambitious and a bit cutthroat. I liked that a lot. His wife Henrietta was also a great character but I am not quite sure how I feel about her. I think my opinion of her has been polluted by Adam’s perception of her as innocent and unintelligent. I was rooting for her throughout the book. I wanted her to step up and show Adam how strong and intelligent she was. I thought all hope for her was lost—especially after the incident with the chimney sweep—but when Adam was incapacitated, Henrietta took control of the business and I was so proud of how she handled herself. Her story is, perhaps, the most interesting and engrossing part of this book because of how much she grows and matures throughout the story.

Adam and Henrietta’s marriage was perhaps one of the most interesting that I have ever encountered in fiction. Adam underestimated Henrietta to the point that it was almost painful for me to read but yet they were a great couple and I really liked them. Adam married Henrietta when she was very young but seemed to expect a maturity out of her that she obviously was not experienced enough to have.  He had unrealistic expectations from the beginning but he seemed to resent her for it. It was frustrating for me and I wanted to smack him for it.

This was a really great book. If you are looking for a book about a complex relationship, pick this up because it is definitely worth the read.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert Lurie

Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir
Publisher: Harper
ISBN: 0061734764
Pages: 368 pgs
Genre: Memoir
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher's Description:
A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bondforged in the wake of brutal terror. Weaving together the voices of three generations of women, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie, provide powerful—and inspiring—evidence of the resilience of the human spirit, relevant to every culture in every corner of the world. By turns unimaginably devastating and incredibly uplifting, this firsthand account of survival and psychological healing offers a strong, poignant message of hope in our own uncertain times. 

Rita Lurie was five years old when she was forced to flee her home in Poland to hide from the Nazis. From the summer of 1942 to mid-1944, she and fourteen members of her family shared a nearly silent existence in a cramped, dark attic, subsisting on scraps of raw food. Young Rita watched helplessly as first her younger brother then her mother died before her eyes. Motherless and stateless, Rita and her surviving family spent the next five years wandering throughout Europe, waiting for a country to accept them. The tragedy of the Holocaust was only the beginning of Rita's story. 

Decades later, Rita, now a mother herself, is the matriarch of a close-knit family in California. Yet in addition to love, Rita unknowingly passes to her children feelings of fear, apprehension, and guilt. Her daughter Leslie, an accomplished lawyer, media executive, and philanthropist, began probing the traumatic events of her mother's childhood to discover how Rita's pain has affected not only Leslie's life and outlook but also her own daughter, Mikaela's. 

A decade-long collaboration between mother and daughter, Bending Toward the Sun reveals how deeply the Holocaust remains in the hearts and minds of survivors, influencing even the lives of their descendants. It also sheds light on the generational reach of any trauma, beyond the initial victim. Drawing on interviews with the other survivors and with the Polish family who hid five-year-old Rita, this book brings together the stories of three generations of women—mother, daughter, and granddaughter—to understand the legacy that unites, inspires, and haunts them all. 

My Review:
How many ways can I say that I loved this book? I was sucked into this book from the moment I began reading. I squirreled away moments where I could pick it up again during a very busy week and looked forward to my hellish commute so I could continue reading. It's very rare that you find a book you like that much, so, when it happens I get a bit overenthusiastic and my reviews tend to glow. Prepare yourself for the glowing.

I have read many books about the Holocaust but I have never read one where the story goes on after and shows how the events of the Holocaust went on to affect the survivors' children and grandchildren. It becomes more of a family history beyond being a historical account of the Holocaust and I really appreciate that. I think this is part of the reason I loved the book so much because I do love a good family history. It was interesting and heart wrenching to see the scars of the Holocaust travel from generation to generation.

I became quite attached to Leslie and Rita. Both of their voices were clear and distinct. Usually when I read a book with two different narrators, I identify with one more than the other. That was not the case with Bending Toward The Sun. Both voices were clearly defined and I loved both of them. Each woman was interesting and likable in her own way. Both are strong, talented and intelligent women and I admire both of them. It was also extremely lovely to read a novel about a family as freakishly close and linked as mine. My immediate family is close almost to the point of being abnormal while my relationship with my aunts, uncles and cousins can be described as holiday, weddings  and funerals and to tell you the truth, I like it that way because I don't like any of them at all. My relationship with my mother is very much like Leslie's relationship with Rita. I am constantly wondering if she is okay. I think most of us can identify with that.

Bending Toward the Sun was one of my reading highlights of the year. I couldn't put it down nor did I want to. I would recommend this book to just about everyone. I have already sent out the Amazon listing to my friends and family.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Salon-9/20/09

Well, this week has been a bit crazy. Actually really crazy. Between BBAW and school, I don’t know which way is up. I found so many new blogs through BBAW that are now clogging up my already clogged Google Reader. I also bought about 20 young adult books for a class on YA lit which I’m debating my ability to finish. To say the least I am a bit overwhelmed and have been living in a constant state of fog for the past week. This happens to me at the start of every semester but it usually fades around the end of the first month. I am so glad it is my last semester.

This week was an okay reading week. I finished four books and got two reviews posted.
  • To Serve Them All My Days-R.F. Delderfield
  • Falling Into The Sun-Charrie Hazard
  • Wintergirls-Laurie Halse Anderson (liked it)
  • Bending Toward The Sun-Leslie Gilbert Lurie (Loved it-Honor Roll)

Next week is going to be a huge reading week for me. I have three Austen sequels to read and review as well as another Delderfield book. I am also going to try and squeeze in some YA’s for school.
  • God is An Englishman-R.F. Delderfield (halfway done)
  • A Match For Mary Bennet-Eucharista Ward
  • The Honorable F. Darcy- Sara Angelini
  • The Other Mr. Darcy-Monica Fairview

I still have decide what YA books to tackle this week. I’m really excited about the reading week this week What is everyone else going to be reading and doing this week?

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Serve Them All My Days by R.F. Delderfield

To Serve Them All My Days
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402218249
Pages: 608 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher's Description:

"R.F. Delderfield is a born storyteller." — Sunday Mirror

The beloved classic saga from master author R. F. Delderfield, subject of a landmark BBC miniseries.

To Serve Them All My Days is the moving saga of David Powlett-Jones, who returns from World War I injured and shell-shocked. He is hired to teach history at Bamfylde School, where he rejects the formal curriculum and teaches the causes and consequences of the Great War.

Eventually David earns the respect of his students and many of his fellow teachers, against the backdrop of a country struggling to redefine itself. As David falls in love and finds himself on track to possibly take on the headmaster role, he must search to find the strength to hold true to his beliefs as the specter of another great war looms.

To Serve Them All My Days is a brilliant picture of England between the World Wars, as the country comes to terms with the horrors of the Great War and the new forces reshaping the British government and society.

Subject of a Landmark BBC Miniseries

Includes Bonus Reading Group Guide

My Review:

I didn't quite know what to do with this book when I started it. It was huge and rather intimidating and even though Delderfield is familiar to me, his books aren't. I have scene the miniseries but the book was a little bit scary to start with. I found that once I started the scared feeling faded away.

I love boarding school dramas. It was always a secret dream of mine to go away to boarding school. Sadly I was stuck in horrific catholic schools for the majority of my education. I have always been intrigued by boarding school politics and the inclusive atmosphere that forms when a group of people are forced to exist together for an extended period of time. The boarding school atmosphere of the books was the best part. The characters and situations kept me interested through the whole reading experience.

David was one of my favorite parts of this book. He was such an intelligent and interesting character. I loved watching him acclimate into Bamfylde School, fight with other teachers and headmasters and fall in love. I loved his conflicts with Carter. They were like two kids having a pushing match in the playground. My favorite character was Grace, David's daughter. She was spunky and vivacious character. I wish there had been more of her in the book.

The language was lush and descriptive. A big attraction for me. It definitely made the book as good as it is. This may not work so well for other readers who like their books to have less description. I found that it did not overwhelm but it can definitely seem overwhelming but I quite enjoyed the descriptions.

Sourcebooks did a great job with this book. The covers for these Delderfield reissues are wonderful. They are they perfect mix of black and white with a splash of color and really reflect the atmosphere of the novel. I am definitely going to follow the rest of these reissues as they come out.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Holy Bullet by Luis Miguel Rocha

The Holy Bullet

 Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515148253
Pages: 608 pgs
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher's Description:
An international journalist, a war-weary Portuguese veteran, a Muslim with visions of the Virgin MAry, a rogue priest, and members of the world's most pwoerful--and secretive--organizations come together after the suspicous death of Pope John Paul I. A few operatives bold enough to penetrate the Vatican's shadowy inner circle will investigate what went wrong--and try to prevent the popular new pope from meeting the same fate.
In London, journalist Sarah Monteiro is again drawn into the web of international conspiracy, and must reunite--reluctantly--with the mysterious priest/assassin Rafael, and the sinister mastermind known only as JC. Sarah's and Rafael's commitment to truth and justice could prove to be extremely dangerous, for thema nd for John Paul II, especially if they discover the true power behind the papal throne.
My Review:
Everyone who knows me knows how much I hate The Da Vinci Code. This style of book just does not appeal to me and it, in fact, makes me cringe. I was hoping that I would find my own taste of this genre. I was moderately successful.

First of all, this was really well-written. The language is crisp and clear. There is no convoluted foppery in the prose which I really appreciate. The story is also good. It did keep me interested while I was reading. However, once I put the book down, the story quickly faded from my mind. I think that is a hazard with thrillers in a way. They suck you in so fast that you get caught up in the whirlwind but once it's over, it's over and it fades.

Keep in mind that this is a similar genre to The Da Vinci Code which means that much the elements of The Da Vinci Code are present in this book as well. It is a formulaic thriller about something shocking and religious. It has been done before but not done better. The Da Vinci Code, in my opinion, pales in comparison to this book but then again, I think The Da Vinci Code pales in comparison to most books.
The only real significant problem for me was the time jumping. Every chapter was in a different time and place and it became a bit hard to follow and keep track of the progression of events. It also took me a about 100 pages to really get into the story but once I got there it was great.

To any fan of The Da Vinci Code this will either be a hit or a miss. But to someone like me who thought The Da Vinci Code was terrible, this will be a welcome, refreshing thriller with more literary sensibility and better writting.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


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