Monday, May 31, 2010

The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews Review and GIVEAWAY

I'm pretty sure this is going down as one of my favorite books. I absolutely loved it!

Andrews weaves a story of finding German WWII artifacts buried in a can on his ocean front property and Josef and Helen's journey to find peace and forgiveness. Andrews offers photos of buttons, a couple of photographs, a ring, and a medal he found digging up the roots to an old tree. He then seeks to find the story for these items being deposited on the beach.

What he discovers is really quite shocking. German U-boats were always present in the waters serving the American soldiers, including the Gulf of Mexico. During the war, much debris washed up on the shores from U-Boat carnage. They submarines shot all ships they could to smithereens. There were, however, a number of Germans rather than Nazis. They asked the crew to please exit the vehicle, blew it up, then approached the life boats to offer canteens of water and directions to the nearest landfall.

Apparently, this is documented to be true.

Also true is that some of the soldiers chose to be listed as "Missing In Action" or presumed dead rather than return to Germany where Adolf Hitler reigned his horrors and there was nothing to return. They integrated into society, although not without some help, I'm certain.

This is the story of Josef, a German, and Helen, a widow. The story is incredibly well told and draws the reader into a believable realm. Told with empathy, the journey of Josef's and Helen's hearts is hopeful. Both have suffered great loss. Both learned how to forgive and relinquish to God.

Loved it.

If you want it (and you should), leave me a comment. Include email address. U.S. only, no post office boxes.

Ends June 9th

This book was offered to me by Thomas Nelson Group for an honest review.

A Crime to Be Rich by David Snowdon

Veteran City banker, Shane Turnbull was a Successful senior fund manager at a major Investment Bank. And he had it all. A brilliant career, a healthy bank balance and an exhilarating life.

But an unsolicited phone call was to change his life forever. And from the moment he received that phone call, things were never the same.

All of a sudden, Turnbull was the hunted, the hunter and then the hunted all over again.

And from now on, Turnbull would stop at nothing to fight his way out of the deplorable double dilemma that was turning his life into an interminable nightmare.

Set in London, Miami and Trinidad, Snowdon gives an insight into the hectic, lucrative world of investment banking.

My take:
Snowdon offers an interesting perspective to this story. The book is told first person. Shane commits crimes and justifies each of them. He has no morals, ethics, and stands for nothing but money and himself. 

There is an underlying theme, as well; redemption. At any time, Shane can be redeemed but he chooses not to. Instead he digs his hole deeper. 

From the first page the reader is drawn in with the anonymous phone call, spying, and the accidental murder of his wife. In an effort to cover his crimes, he will do anything without having to pay off blackmailers.

This is a quick read and entertaining. I didn't love the story and I certainly didn't love Shane Turnbull, although I don't think I was supposed to. He's caught up in things I don't relate to. I did enjoy the British English writing, though. It may be distracting for some but I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

3 out of 5 stars

Desire Me Book Tour and Giveaway

The Legend Hunters . . .

The Men of Solomon's meet in secret, their very existence only a rumor among the best of Victorian society. They are treasure hunters, men of wealth and title, seekers of myths and legends. And no legend is as mystifying as the lost city of Atlantis . . .


Years ago, Maxwell Barrett found a map to Atlantis and dedicated his life to the search for the mystical lost continent. But when an alluring woman makes a wager for the priceless artifact, he may have discovered an even greater treasure.

A descendant of Atlantis, Sabine Tobias needs the map to decipher an ancient prophecy. What she doesn't need are the sparks flying between her and Max. He's too devilishly charming to be trusted: The fate of her people is at stake as well as her heart. Yet a ruthless killer also covets the map. Now Max and Sabine must race to decode the prophecy's riddle before this criminal fulfills his deadly mission. 
You want to read it, don't you. I can tell. 

But you really hope I'm having a giveaway for it so you can read steamy fiction without it showing up on your credit card.

Okay. I will. But it comes at a price.

Leave a comment with your email address.

Wow. I'm easy. Maybe I could be the next protagonist...

Contest ends June 9th.

U.S. and Canadian addresses only.

No P.O. Boxes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Secret Speech WINNER

I love Chuck.

There is no segue there. I just thought that since The Secret Speech is about spies and such, I could just slide that little morsel in there.

Congratulations Sheila and Cheryl F.!

Winners have been emailed. If they don't respond within 5 days, I will go ahead and choose another winner!

New giveaway to be announced on Monday.
Avis Cardella loves fashion. When she was very young, she fell in love with name brands, beautiful clothes, and magazines. She saw her mother as the epitome of grace and beauty and wanted to be like her. While Avis was in her early twenties and in a tumultuous marriage, her mother died. What follows Avis is her choices in seeking to fill the hole left behind.

This memoir is beautifully and honestly written. She makes no excuses and places no blame on others. She makes choices based on her need to anesthetize her feelings about her loss. She becomes involved with rich, powerful men and enters the world of freelance fashion writing, while climbing the ladder of the rich and famous, spending all she has and then more while she seeks to numb her grief.

The author carefully addresses her different relationships and how they each served a purpose. Her downward spiral takes a couple of decades and her uphill climb is a process.

As our country is pushed into recession, "Spent" is written in a timely manner. Although full of designers the average woman may have heard in passing but would not be able to identify, the reader can identify with loss and searching for healing.

I really enjoyed the book. The author has a unique voice and writes with feeling and reason. She is able to connect her ideas and experiences clearly and finds healing and change within herself. She admits to slipping along the way, but her strength to admit her own choices are to blame is empowering.

A copy of this book was provided by Valerie at Hatchette Book Groups in return for an honest review. I am under no obligation to give a positive review.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

With echos of "Angels and Demons" meets "Outlander," this book provides an engaging read from start to finish. Claire arrives at Cambridge to all the commodities allowed fellowes without officially being as such. Finding her love interest, Andrew, a fellow professor, aloof, she finds herself snogging with another professor. Awkward. Then he steals her publishing idea and accuses her of coming on to him. Really awkward. And then he dies. Extremely awkward. Small college equals lots of gossip.

Claire and Andrew then decipher the coded page found on the jerk's body and find it is from a diary written by a woman doctor in the seventeenth century. The hope is they will solve the mystery of who killed the narcissistic professor.

Story 2 is Hannah Devlin, non-accredited physician who is called to Charles Stuart II's court to treat his mistress for the clap, of which he gave her. She doesn't die but others around her do. Not only that, but a new doctor is called in to do post mortem exams. The bodies are maimed and marked with symbols. Edward, the doctor, and Hannah, the protagonist, go about trying to solve the mystery of why there is a serial murderer about the streets of London and what are they going to do about their mutual attraction?

*Spoiler alert*
If you are sensitive about sex scenes, don't read any of the "Outlander" books.

Also, skip pg. 337 - 339.

Besides the setting being in Charles Stuart II time period, for which the best comparison would be the 1960's and anything goes, the book is quite clean. Oh, and the above mentioned pages.

The author ties the two stories together quite seamlessly then clarifies fact from fiction at the end of the book.

Loved it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Face It. What Women Really Feel as Their Look Change

I really loved this book. It is not a book about about staying beautiful nor is it a book full of trite pop psychology mantra about how beauty is within. The truth is that we do possess inner beauty but in this culture, our outer beauty is still important.

The authors have an incredible insight on the psychological effects of women aging. As a former beautiful co-ed turned middle age suburban housewife/professional counselor/mother, I couldn't agree more with the authors take on beauty and the aging woman. We go through an "Uh-oh" moment and thus begins our journey. For me it was when the cute guy flirted shamelessly and I realized his target was my little girl. Little meaning 14 years old and 5'7".

The authors' approach to the aging process is to resolve the beauty paradox. Through specific steps and anecdotal evidence based on their combined years of private practice, the authors guide the reader through the process. Frankly, the steps could be used for any life altering event.

Step 1. Turn Uh-Oh moments into Ah-ha moments.
Step 2. The only mask you wear should be made of honey and yogurt. Essentially, aging is not a dirty word. Come out of hiding and accept the outer self you are becoming
Step 3. Talk back to your internal dialogues. What is the message you are hearing in your head? Reframe it.
Step 4. Give Mom her due. Take the best of her and leave the rest behind. Her aging process is not the same as your own. The cultural experiences are different. It's not your mother's fault. Or your father's. Or your own. Again, reframe the experience.
Step 5. Use adolescent memories instead of repeating them. Remember how awkward we felt growing into our bodies and fashions? Avoid the impulsive decisions we made back then.
Step 6. Saying Goodbye is hard to do. But saying goodbye to something is the first step to saying hello to another.

The authors provide excellent and personal insight into the journey of the aging woman. The aging woman can be anybody from 23 to 93. The authors are really guiding the reader in accepting any kind of change that is difficult.

Highly recommend this book to anybody - but especially the woman of any age going through tumult due to aging, infidelity of either partner, illness, etc.

This book was provided to me by FSB Media. The review and opinion is my own. Besides a copy of this book, I have not been compensated for my review.

Amazon Queen by Lori Devoti - Review and Giveaway

Zery is nearly a century old. She is a good queen who values the Amazon tribe. Her character was established in the first book of series, Amazon Ink. This book finds Zery on a mission to steal back a son, a male child of an Amazon.

This answers my first question as to why Amazons are all women. They aren't. Male children have previously been maimed or killed. The second question, of course, is where do they find a mate? Again, they don't. They simply use a strong male human for perpetuating the race.

The earlier book established the Amazon way of life, values, and nomadic lifestyle. It also established that the Amazons stopped the barbaric practice of killing or maiming their male young. They would simply grow up stupid and strong. Unfortunately for the women, they grew up gifted and organized. Still, they were half human and half Amazon. Except there are a few Super Sons - sons of Sons and Amazon women. But this is really the story of the first book, although the second book spends a good deal of time catching the reader up to speed by explaining the events from Book 1.

This time around, Zery is the protagonist, as opposed to Mel, the priestess in the first book who left the tribe to join the human society. This leaves the tribe without a priestess until Thea arrives. Thea possesses a challenging personality. This is contrary to the Amazon followers. When the council speaks, the queen does as she is told. When the queen speaks, the tribe jump. But Thea seems to not understand the societal mores. She sets Zery up take a fall and takes over the tribe.

Thea's antagonistic character is somewhat predictable from her introduction. She is manipulative and individual (herself) minded, rather than the tribe. Zery seems to be a little on the slow-witted side when it comes to Thea which surprised me. She's very old and has had experience with humans.

Regardless of the predictability of Thea's character, the story picks up and provides a few unexpected twists and turns along with a possible future love interest.

The author does an excellent job of explaining the Amazon tribe, intermingled with a solid storyline. She includes not only myth but adds the interesting twist of the story being present day rather than past tense. The Amazon women are descendants of the god Ares and the nympth, Otrera, while they worship the Artemis. They possess the magnifying power from their god, making them strong and powerful. They are obedient to their leader and value the Amazon tribe over the individual. That trait is the conflict for Zery as she is forced to explore the Amazon values.

I liked the book overall. There were a few times during the story that I found myself searching back in the pages to find who was who and the relationship she had to Zery. The Amazons travel in packs so there were quite a few characters to follow. I found this aspect irritating yet necessary to fully tell the story.

It is crucial to read the preface of this book, as it summarizes Amazon Ink which sets up Amazon Queen. Which clearly sets up the next book.

Urban Lit is a new genre for me. I'm still discovering its uniqueness, although it is the genre often found in a teen's backpack, which brings me to a very important and defining factor for this book; I would not protest to having my teenage daughter read it. The Amazons are warriors and nomads. Although sex is implied as it is necessary to procreate, it is absent. There is some sensuality but the author has created the Amazons as a warrior tribe who occasionally dabble to perpetuate the race. Language is mild except for one "f" bomb.

Pocket Books is offering one very lucky reader of this review a copy of this book. Entry for book is easy, as usual, but requires my personal entertainment.

Comment must include your email and a quote. Quote can be from a book, movie, or your mother. Feel free to add as many as three comments with different quotes. They will all count as separate entries.

Any quote over the limited three will serve entertainment purposes only - which I am not wholly against.

I'll make the first entry (however I will decline if I win. I am amazing, aren't I)
Contest ends June 9th. 
Open to U.S. Residents including Arizona of Mexican descent, legal or not. Also open to Australians living in the U.S.
Must have physical address in the United States. No P.O. Boxes.

"Then why is the rum gone?" - Captain Jack Sparrow 

This book was provided to me for review by Sarah at Pocket Books. I am not obligated to provide a favorable review. Just honest. And I don't mind a few smiles on your faces. For additional opinions, try a few of the links below:

Book Junkie:
Books and Things:
Books Gardens & Dogs:
Taking Time For Mommy:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
See Michelle Read:
My Five Monkeys:
A Journey of Books:
My Book Addiction and More:
The Wayfaring Writer:
Pick of the Literate:
Cheryl’s Book Nook:
Avid Reader:
Starting Fresh:
I Heart Book Gossip:
Knitting and Sundries:
The Bibliophilic Book Blog:
Poisoned Rationality:
A Musing Reviews:
Booksie’s Blog:
Lucky Rosie’s:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Still the One by Robin Wells GIVEAWAY

After Katie Charmaine's husband is killed in Iraq, all she has left is a closet full of his clothes, a few pictures, and fond memories. She not only lost her love, but her last chance to have the children she's always wanted. Until Zack Ferguson shows up in town . . . with the daughter Katie gave up for adoption nearly seventeen years ago.

Zack Ferguson has never forgotten Katie, or the one magical night they spent together. Seeing her again brings up a tidal wave of emotions: regret over the way he left her, anger at the secret she kept, and desire he hasn't felt in years. But he's in town for Gracie. Their daughter is sixteen, angry at the world, and-worst of all-pregnant. She needs the love of her two parents now more than ever. Can these three forgive the hurts of the past and open their hearts to each other?

My take: I don't have one. I expect I will be getting this book in the mail within a week or two and then I'll tell you ALL about it. Except the ending.

Want to win it?

Leave me a comment with you email address.
Contest ends June 7th
Open to U.S and Canada residents.
Three copies up for grabs.

 Thanks to Anna from Hatchette for this giveaway.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Play Dead Giveaway

Remember the football zombies vs. steroid pumped teenage boys? No, read about it here. Think "Friday Night Lights" vs. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Actually, you better read the review. 

To enter giveaway:
1. Leave a comment on favorite zombie/vampire/monster/ghost movie.
2. Include your email.

That's it! Winners will be announced June 7th.
U.S. resident only.
European, Australian, British Isles, and a few of the other continent residents: You are still loved. 

Just not as much. 

Mom Still Likes You Best Winners

And the winners of Mom Still Likes You Best by Jane Asay are

(Drum roll, please)

Deb and Johnny!

Winners have been emailed. Please respond within three days or I call your mothers.

BTW, for all you losers, Mom really does still like you best.

New Giveaways being posted tomorrow!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Play Dead by Ryan Brown

From Publisher:  Two cultural obsessions collide head-on in this fast-paced, thrilling, and terribly funny debut by former actor Brown. In the sleepy town of Killington, Tex., the local high school's football team is having its best season in decades thanks to the efforts of quarterback Cole Logan. Afraid of losing the district championship, the rival Elmwood team sends the Killington bus into a river, drowning everyone on the team except Cole and the coach. Only local witch and football fan Black Mona can raise the players from the dead in time for the game, but if they keep stopping to eat people, they might miss it. Brown handily mixes elements of horror, coming-of-age sweetness, and gore-soaked comedy into a tale that satisfies the same fascination with sports and bloodlust that it cleverly and thoughtfully critiques.

My Take: I can't deny the premise is pretty original; steroid pumped teenagers who are deadly serious about championship who plan and execute (no pun intended) a prank of epic proportions. 

{I've always wanted to use the word "epic" in a coherent sentence. Did it sound as cool as when the movie announcer says it?}

By reading publisher's review, you already know the prank lands the team in a very bad place and they return as zombies in cleats (as opposed to their usual kit shickers). The story is not completely cohesive but the protagonists are likeable and believable. The zombie part is not believable but really quite enjoyable. The author adds humor but riddles it to death (again, no pun intended) with language some would find offensive. 

My hand is raised high.

The story would have been just as strong and the characters would have sounded much more intelligent without riddling every sentence with politically incorrect anatomical labels.

On a much more positive note, the story is strong, the gore is appropriately gory, the humor is witty, and the author's picture on the back cover reveals a man who pleases the female eye, although he may just be a little too pretty.

Enjoy but be forewarned. The language is distracting.

This book was proved to me by Sarah at Simon and Schuster. Besides the free book, I was not reimbursed for this review. 

(I have to disclose this due to FTC regulations)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Host Review and Giveaway

From Publisher
In this tantalizing SF thriller, planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth into paradise. But some people want Earth back, warts and all, especially Melanie Stryder, who refuses to surrender, even after being captured in Chicago and becoming a host for a soul called Wanderer. Melanie uses her surviving brain cells to persuade Wanderer to help search for her loved ones in the Arizona desert. When the pair find Melanie's brother and her boyfriend in a hidden rebel cell led by her uncle, Wanderer is at first hated. Once the rebels accept Wanderer, whom they dub Wanda, Wanda's whole perspective on humanity changes. While the straightforward narrative is short on detail about the invasion and its stunning aftermath, it shines with romantic intrigue, especially when a love triangle (or quadrangle?!) develops for Wanda/Melanie.

My take: I know we're all tired of the Twilight/Edward/Bella/Jacob saga with four books and movies galore but, let's face it, when it all started we were caught up in the hype just like everybody else.

Stephenie Meyer engaged us with a new idea - a vampire, nay, a demi-god who absolutely adored and wanted to feast on a regular girl. A regular girl like you and me. Oh, yeah. We loved it. And then it got old.

Ms. Meyer did it again. She developed another new story and gave the characters personalities we grew quite fond of. I never really connected with ALL of the main characters, but I grew to care about how Melanie/Wanda could exist apart or if they would choose to.

The author creates the Utah/Arizona landscape and climate to a point that I really needed to drink a lot of water during my reading. She also develops the intricacies of the souls and the humans along with their needs, wants, and survival skills. Quite fascinating.

By the way, paperback edition includes a bonus chapter. It's a chapter that really fills in some holes. Without giving anything away, it's when you-know-who finds out you-know-what and sees you-know-who and knows that you-know-who has you-know-what and now she has to...

Wait. I can't tell you the rest. Maybe you can figure it out by reading this.

The new paperback edition also includes notes for book group discussions

If you haven't read this book or you did but it's been a few years, I'll give it to you for such a small price. Give me your body so I can insert a soul into the base of your neck.


Leave a comment with your email address. 

There will be 2 lucky winners.

Contest ends June 4, 2010

Open to U.S. and Canada residents with physical address (No P.O. Boxes).

Thank you Valerie at Hatchette Review Group for sponsoring this giveaway.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Revenge Served Cold Review

Kathy Spence awakens in the middle of the night and finds herself in a living nightmare. Her husband has been run down and she is the primary suspect. Terrified for her future, Kathy turns to amateur sleuth Anne Marshall for help. Anne, with the help of her dearly departed father's ghost, uncovers proof of a conspiracy that reaches from Kathy's past and threatens her own life.

My Take:
This is a fun, quick read. It is reminiscent of Mary Higgins Clark but with more humor and less disturbing mental images. The protagonist is Anne Marshall, a court reporter, who is in the perfect relationship with the perfect man, and has been for 15 years (and they aren't married because....?) and she sees and communicates with her father's ghost which is an interesting and fun twist.

The story and approach is fun, if unbelievable. Not the talking to a ghost part. The fact that a court reporter would be so unaware of the laws that she would gather information and evidence at the risk of becoming a witness against the accused (who talks to her which is WAY against legal advice and turning state's witness). Or even that the prosecutor might be concerned about the guilt or innocence of the accused rather than doing the job he is hired to do. Not to mention the many laws she breaks in order to gather the evidence, making it inadmissible in court.

In the legal sense, the story is definitely a work of fiction. On the other hand, I had no problem putting it down and picking it up again while following the story strands. Perfect beach book that leaves you feeling pretty good.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith Review and GIVEAWAY

The following book will be given to TWO AWESOME readers! 

*Mandatory: Give me a comment at the end of this review with the following information (Pay attention. It gets tricky) 

1. Your name and email address.
2. Make sure you're smiling while you're typing.

I'm not much into making myself or anybody else a walking or typing commercial but if you DO happen to post about giveaway on twitter, facebook, or your own blog, tell me you did in a separate comment. 

I just like giveaways because they validate my existence. I like comments because they validate me more. I love books because they are an addiction.

Enough about me, what about "The Secret Speech"?

The beginning of the book finds Leo Demidov doing his duty which is to seek out political dissidents and extract confessions at all costs. Leo works for the secret police under Stalin's regime. He is a man of duty rather than sentiment.

Fast forward 7 years and Leo is now living a world of domestic tranquility. His conscience, at one time or another, nagged him and he quit the business of tattle tale and began a new career path as homicide detective. His goal is to find and punish the guilty rather than the innocent he sent to the Gulags.

Leo finds himself investigating suicides of former colleagues and the recipient of a secret speech by the new president of Russia, denouncing Stalin and the crimes of those who worked under him (including the secret police). The story takes some unexpected twists and turns as it introduces characters whose ultimate goal is revenge and power.

The book kept me engaged and never expecting the next story shift but appreciating it, nonetheless. Very enjoyable read.

This book was provided by Valerie at Hatchette. For Reader Group Guide, see: 

So, what's up with you?

Monday, May 10, 2010

And the Winner of of "Put On Your Crown" Is...

Marjorie! She gets to put on her tiara today before she vacuums her house.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business Between Siblings GIVEAWAY

Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business Between Siblings by Jane Asay

Through hours of interviews, Jane Asay explores the complicated relationships between siblings and parents.  She explores relationships throughout different life stages from young adulthood to care for an elderly parent and their death. 

Using anecdotes, the author discusses how the early pecking order in a family can be difficult to overcome as the siblings enter different experiences.  Siblings make decisions about geographical location, contact, relationships with nieces and nephews, and leadership based on their perception of sibling relationship.

The author ultimately recommends mending bridges and pursuing relationships with siblings. Good or bad, our brothers and sisters share a history with us and we can develop a fulfilling adult relationship with our siblings.

Kind of like built in best friends. 

*Enter to win this book!* 

Two copies are waiting with your name on it. I still don't require you to tweet, facebook or follow (although you can if you want to) because then I kind of feel like I'm selling my soul. 

I like my soul. 

 1. Include a comment that describes your unfinished business with a sibling. For instance, when I was at school in the first grade, my preschool sister decided to cut the hair off my Madame Alexander doll, Sweet Tears. It was a massacre. Of course, if I were being fair (which I don't have to be), I might mention that I gave this sister her first haircut two years before. All those beautiful red curls lying in a pile on the floor while my mother was taking a shower.

2. Include your email address so I can contact you when you win!

3. If you are my brother or sister and you want this book, your entry must include the words, "All Hail to Queen Nancy."  

Contest open to U.S. and Canada residents only with a physical address (no P.O. boxes) and ends May 17, 2010

Thank you Judy from Doubleday publishing for providing these review copies. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Look Me in the Eye

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison
John Elder never felt like he fit in. He yearned for friends but could never quite make or keep them. Children ran from him. Adults conversed with him. He possessed an oddly intelligent demeanor about him yet flunked out of school.

As a teenager, he found a niche in pyrotechtonics for the band, KISS. Although he enjoyed having friends, even friends who didn't question his non-social behavior, he wanted a more secure job.

In his early 20s, he lied about his education and was hired by Milton Bradley. He found a certain amount of success as an engineer. He had an affinity for machines. His Asperger's greatly helped him solve intricate problems with machines. However, as he advanced in his skills, he also advanced in the company management. Unfortunately, his people skills still lacked. He didn't like his job anymore and started an auto shop which suits him just fine.

With wit and clarity, the author describes his life and experiences through the eyes of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (although Asperger's is not a 'disorder' but the way he is wired). The author leads us through his journey of dysfunctional family, no friends, to life on the road, homelessness, adulthood, and finally, understanding. 

Although unnatural to his logical mind, John has rewired his thinking patterns so he can interact with others in a nearly normal manner. The book is enjoyable to read but difficult when the author describes the intricacies of his engineering work. This, however, is vital to the story, as it is the way people with Asperger's see the world; as functioning and logical things.

John Elder Robison sums up his first 50 years in the following way:

I may look and act pretty strange at times, but deep down I just want to be loved and understood for who and what I am. I want to be accepted as part of society, not an outcast or an outsider. I don't want to be a genius or a freak or something on display. I wish for empathy and compassion from those around me, and I appreciate sincerity, clarity, and logicality in other people. I believe most people - autistic or not - share this wish. And now, with my newfound insight, I'm on the way to achieving that goal.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


This is my first installment of Blush and Cringe! In other words, my most recent social faux pas.

Setting: At church

Occasion: Stake Conference (all the wards or congregations get together every 6 months for a conference)

In the hallway I see Kelsey, a daughter of a woman who simply can not escape me. Our paths are constantly crossing, which has never been a problem before this particular Sunday.

Kelsey is her oldest daughter. She recently graduated from college and is in her first year teaching elementary school. She was also pregnant the last time I saw her. Today she is carrying a car seat and walking with her husband. I catch Kelsey's attention so I can admire the baby.

The baby is adorable! He gives me a toothless smile. I note the small, slightly turned up eyes. I wonder if it would be rude to grab his hands and check for the Simian line.

I love Down's Syndrome babies. I have a special affinity because of my little friend, Gavin. My children spent five years in daycare with him. I gave him his first really bad haircut. Surprisingly, Amy never asked me to babysit Gavin again.

"Is he Down's?" I asked Kelsey, with growing excitement.

"No," she said.

Could I save myself at this point? Could I explain that it's really a compliment? Could I have just gotten a good look at her husband, a tall man with small, blue, upturned eyes? Could I stop, rewind, play?


Monday, May 3, 2010

600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster

I loved this book. The author articulately describes a man who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome. He is a slave to his rituals and isolates himself from others as much as possible.

Through Edward's eyes, the complicated relationship between father and son is explored, compounded by mental illness. Edward's eventual adjustment to developing relationships with others is shared with the reader through Edward's perspective.

Written with humor and clarity, author has an incredibly well developed understanding of both disorders. I started wondering if Craig Lancaster had been reading my diary...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Put On Your Crown

When Queen Latifah started making her way in the Hollywood scene, I was put off. A self proclaimed queen? Give me a break. I have since changed my tune. She knew back in her twenties what I'm only learning in my forties. My approach is a little different but the conclusion is the same. We are worthy to be called "queens."  It is innate. We are made of divine matter (my conclusions of why we are queens). Yet our favorite past times seem to be to beat ourselves up for our perceived weaknesses. 

Modeled after Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be, Queen Latifah's goal with Put On Your Crown is to help young women build a strong sense of self-esteem. A US Dept. of Justice survey found that females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to partner violence than any other group, almost triple the national average. Queen Latifah has always been a shining example of a woman happy with herself and unwilling to compromise to fit into the "hollywood ideal" of what a confident beautiful woman should look like. The result: She's one of the biggest A-list celebrities in Hollywood.

GUESS WHAT?! Three lucky readers will get this book for free!!! Wahoo!!
Leave a comment with your email address and your queenly name or kingdom. 

 I am Queen of Chocolate.  I am working on my 4th cupcake right now.  {Don't you be judging me.}

For an extra entry, become a follower of this blog. Include an extra comment.
Contest open to U.S. and Canada residents. Contest ends May 15, 2010.

*This books is being provided by Hatchette Book Groups. Although I received a review copy, I am under no obligation to endorse product. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What To Wear for the Rest of Your Life

I pride myself on dressing in basics; khakis or jeans with variations of t-shirts. I prefer to rely on my sparkling personality and good looks to dress to impress. The problem arises, of course, when I look the mirror. I am aging.

I have photo albums of my teenage and twenty-something years. Purple eye shadow, too stark of blush (using a stick, not powder), cute figure, and fashionable clothes for the day. Fact is, I could get away with anything and still be attractive to some degree. But it was downright exhausting to be young in the 80's. The clothes were trendy, the hair high, and the make-up severe.

And so I settled in on relying on my beauty and gave up trying to be trendy. Sadly, I find myself repeating the mantra, "Beauty is within" far too often these days. People who used to say that lacked beauty. Duh. On the other hand, I am far more comfortable in my body than I was 20 years ago. I find older women who possess beauty that I did not notice.

What can we do about our wardrobe to enhance our beauty? Fashion expert, Kim Johnson Gross, combines her knowledge of being a former model, fashion guru, and a woman "of a certain age" to help the reader find her own style. Written with humor, common sense, and wisdom, the reader will find advice she can use.

My best beauty secret: Wear a good bra. Nothing feels so divine as a well-fitting bra. I may not be big busted but I certainly like my girls contained with no wiggle room and no extra bumps.

What's your beauty secret?