Sunday, November 30, 2008

In The Land of Invisible Women by Qanta A. Ahmed, MD


Genre: Memoir

This is the true story of a female Muslim doctor’s travels from the United States to Saudi Arabia. Due to some Visa problems, Dr. Ahmed must relocate to Saudi Arabia where she works at a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Immediately she’s hit with culture shock.

Dr. Ahmed paints a vivid picture of the differences between the West and the Middle East. Readers live through her struggles and learn how she adjusts to a completely different lifestyle then she was used to.

The doctor takes us all on an unforgettable journey, showing us what it’s like to be a woman in another land and not treated as an equal. This book is well-written and fast-paced. I wasn’t sure it would be something I’d like, but once I got started, the pages flew by and I found myself feeling the pains Dr. Ahmed went through. It’s an interesting book that will grab your attention from beginning to end.

The Sunday Salon - The End of November!




Happy Sunday Everyone! I haven't been around in a couple of weeks - just busy with reviews and work. I can't believe it's only one more month until Christmas and the end of 2008. That really went fast.

Last year, at this time, I wasn't part of the blogger world and knew nothing about reading challenges. I only completed one challenge, but I got a late start so now I'm all motivated to get involved beginning in January. I signed up for five reading challenges so far (check out the sidebar on my blog for what I'm getting myself involved in - LOL).

For now, I'm catching up on review books and mixing in holiday books. Right now I'm reading a Harlequin Blaze "Heating up the Holidays". It's three stories by Jill Shalvis (a favorite author of mine), Jacquie D'Alessandro and Jamie Sobrato. It's cute and very Christmassy :)

Next up on my reviews is "Like Glass" by Matthew Corey and then I'll be participating on J.Kaye's Blog in a noontime chat of the book. Then, I'll be reviewing "De Marco Empire" by J Lou McCartney, which looks like a good read.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What an animal reading challenge




Okay, I'm getting in late on this one, but I couldn't resist - I love books with animals (especially cats!)Click on the button above to join in. Here's a little about the challenge...


With a little nudge from this weeks Weekly Geeks, I've finally decided to take the plunge and host my first reading challenge -- What an Animal!

The rules are simple:
1. Read at least 6 books that have any of these requirements:

a. an animal in the title of the book
b. an animal on the cover of the book
c. an animal that plays a major role in the book
d. a main character that is or turns into an animal (define that however you'd like ;>)).

2. The animal can be any type of animal (real or fictitious)--dog, cat, monkey, wolf, snake, insect, hedgehog, aardvark...dragons, mermaids, centaurs, fairies, vampires...you get the idea...

3. Challenge runs from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. You can still sign up after July 1st as long as you can get 6 books read by June 30th ;>).

4. Books can be fiction or nonfiction.

5. You may make a list of books at the beginning of the challenge or just list them as you find them.

6. Books may be swapped out at anytime (assuming you made a list to begin with).

7. Crossover books with other challenges is permitted and encouraged.

8. You don't have to blog or write a review, but you can if you want to.

9. Sign up with Mr. Linky below. Please sign up with the specific post announcing the challenge if you are a blogger. If you do not blog, sign up with your name and leave the URL field blank.

Thanks!

10. Have fun!!


Here are my choices...

NOTE: I just updated it and replaced the Rita Mae Brown with Blaize Clement. I'll still be reading the Brown book, but for a different challenge. Trying to juggle all the challenges has become a challenge!

1. Choosing to Be: Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master by Kat Tansey Click here for review
2. Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund by Blaize Clement Click here for review
3.Doggone by Gabriella Herkert Click here for review
4. Only the Cat Knows by Marian Babson Click here for review
5. Even Cat Sitters Get The Blues by Blaize Clement Click for review
6. Familiar Double by Caroline Burnes
Click here for review

2009 Suspense & Thriller Reading Challenge




J.Kaye's Book Blog is hosting this challenge which looks like a lot of fun. I didn't participate last year, but I will this year. Click the button above to get more details.

This is for the ones who finished the 2008/09 Suspense & Reading Challenge are ready for another.

Rules of this challenge:

* Read TWELVE (12) different sub-genres of thrillers in 2009.

* You do NOT need to select your books ahead of time. Also, you may change as you go.

* Your books can crossover into other challenges.

* You don't need a blog to join in this challenge. For those who do, this is important. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, list the direct link to your post where your S/T books will be listed. If you list just your blog’s URL, it will be removed.


Here are my choices...

1. Deadly Exchange by Geoffrey M. Gluckman (terrorist thriller) Click for Review
2. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (medical thriller)
3. The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly (supernatural mystery)
4. Trust Me by Brenda Novak (romantic suspense)
5. Compulsion by Jennifer Chase(serial killer thriller) Click for Review
6. Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle Click for review(amateur sleuth)
7. Murder of a Chocolate Covered Cherry by Denise Swanson
Click here for review (cozy mystery)
8. 6th Target by James Patterson (criminal thriller)
9. Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine (comic thriller) Click for review
10. The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney Click for review (murder mystery)
11. 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr Click for review
12. Die Before I Wake by Laurie Breton (drama thriller)Click for review

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Five Quick and Easy Recommendations for Career Woman

Five Quick and Easy Recommendations for Career Woman

By Inga C. Ellzey,

Author of The Exchange


1. Know how to shake hands. Your grip must be firm and you must make eye contract. Smile and squeeze. Human contact is the first step in initiating a relationship.

2. Determine what you and/or your services are worth right from the start. Don’t sell yourself cheap at the beginning just to get some business. If you or your product are too cheap, you won’t attract the best customers. I had the same price for the first several years, which was significantly higher than my more experienced “competition.” Why? Because I positioned myself to have a superior product. My brand is “high quality, top-notch, and professional service.” That doesn’t come cheap….neither did I.

3. Be consistent. Consistency is vital to success. You’ll get a higher response rate from your contacts, and a significantly higher number of return customers, if you are consistent in your ethics, personality, work quality, and relationships. Stability is a mainstay of success.

4. Learn to listen, pay attention, and look around. If you don’t spend your time pontificating about you and your product, but instead take time to listen to your prospective client and study their office, you’ll glean lots of invaluable information that will give you the edge over your competitors. Remember, there’s plenty of time to make the deal after you have established a personal connection. Find out if that person is a numbers person who wants more facts than fluff? Do they like birds? Do they hate doing business with individuals who are late? You’ll be surprised at all the advantages you can obtain during a meeting if you stop talking and engage your client in conversation. Then use that information to establish a relationship. If they love birds, send a thank you note which includes the latest copy of the Audubon Society’s Magazine. If they seemed proud of the fact that they just ran the 10K Marathon for their local charity, make a small donation to that charity on their behalf. Business is about relationships first. The deal always comes second.

5. Follow-up and follow through. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Don’t sell what you can produce. Make commitments only if you absolutely, without fail, can make good on your promise(s). And if for some reason, you can’t make the deadline or can’t deliver what you promised, let your customer know as soon as possible. Don’t lie. Be honest and give them an option. S - - T happens and everyone knows that. But your response to the crisis is what will determine if you get a second chance with the person with whom you are doing business. Here’s my little pearl of wisdom on screwing up. Tell the person you are dealing with exactly what happened and then ask them what they want you to do to make it right. In 99% of the cases, the client will ask for reasonable concessions or sometimes nothing at all…just because you gave them the opportunity to decide the next step. And if most cases, you won’t loose them as a client.

My final chard of advice is about positioning yourself for success. You can be successful only if you do what you love; if you have a passion for your job, product, skill, or service. Never make it about the money. If your key motivation in a business venture is getting rich, most likely you won’t get there. But if you have passion for whatever it is you are trying to achieve, one of two things will happen, you will either become rich doing what you love, or you won’t get rich but won’t care because you love what you are doing.

So all of you ladies out there, young or old, educated or just street smart, I am here to tell you that you can make it on your own. Lift your head up high, shoulders straight, feet planted firmly, and think positively. You just have to believe in your self and follow a little advice from some other women who’ve made it. After all, as I said from the start, “It’s better on top!”



©2008 Inga Ellzey

Author Bio
Inga Ellzey is a self-made multi-millionaire, the owner and president of the Inga Ellzey Practice Group, Inc. She is a leading authority on medical billing, and has written, taught and lectured extensively over the past two decades. The Exchange was written in Yorkshire, England, where she was inspired by the solitude of the remote countryside and the 16th century farmhouse she vacationed in. For Inga Ellzey, The Exchange is yet another dream come true. She lives in Winter Park, Florida.

Please visit www.theexchangenovel.com

Counsel from a successful self-made woman: It’s better on top

Counsel from a successful self-made woman: It’s better on top

By Inga C. Ellzey,

Author of The Exchange


I am a self-made multi-millionairess. (I love that “ess” part.) I own three national companies, have over 100 employees…mostly women, and just finished my first suspense romance novel at the age of 59. I feel I am an intelligent, well educated, articulate woman with a good sense of self and humor. I am not particularly pretty but I am interesting looking (what that really means is that I don’t mind a little nipping and tucking here and there. Screw that aging graceful nonsense when there are over 8500 dermatologists out there just waiting for the phone to ring.)


I also seem to have a unique voice as people recognize my voice before they recognize me. That just made me think…perhaps I should look into that voice-over profession. I hear those people make loads of money. But money isn’t everything…or is it?


OK, let me tell you the facts. Money makes it easier to make more money, but you can still make plenty of money without having a penny when you start. That’s how I did it. I went from the bedroom to the bank without any financial help from anyone. No SBA loans, no ghost investors, no sugar daddy’s. (Well, I did have a sugar daddy once, but he didn’t help me with my businesses…he just helped me get an education. That’s another story all together.) My advice is still the same as it was back then, “It’s better on top.”


So how do you make it to the top? My ammunition for success has always been guts, tenacity, and the willingness to takes risk and accepts failure as an inevitable component of the road to success. Remember it’s a road, not a bullet train.


I made my money in a male-dominated profession…not just any profession, but one filled with Caucasian men between the ages of 35 – 60, and highly educated. I made my money working with doctors. Here I was a single mom working with individuals at the top of the food chain. That didn’t scare me one bit. It just made the game all that more interesting. I just needed to stack my deck of cards differently and pretend that I was an expert and willing to go “all-in” without hesitation. “Fake it ‘til you make it” has always worked great for me.


I remember my first big deal. In order for me to achieve some of my business goals, I needed to find a business partner; not a partner I worked for…just did business with. That’s an important distinction. Try to avoid partners if at all possible. My plan was to get in with a major pharmaceutical company. I had this great idea that no one had ever thought of before. But as a single Mom, I didn’t have the cash to pull it off. So I needed to find someone with deep pockets. Through some research (and that was in the days before the Internet), I found the name and phone number of the Vice President of a major international pharmaceutical company. I lived in Orlando and the company headquarters were in North Carolina. Through some creative pitching (that’s the term for convincing someone you have something they want), I was offered an appointment the following Tuesday. Tuesday was four days and 1400 miles away. I certainly didn’t have money for airfare, so driving was my only option. I had some fancy business cards and a great personality…nothing else. I certainly wasn’t a big enough entity to make a deal with a major company, was I?


Well, I decided to act like I was bigger than I was. So I hired a friend of mine to join me on my big interview. She was beautiful. I bought her a nice dress, accessorized her with some of my vintage jewelry, shined her scuffed high heels and gave her a pen and a pad of yellow-lined paper. Her job was to look and act as if she was my secretary and take a lot of notes. By the way, that’s not being deceitful, that’s smart marketing. Remember, it’s all about the packaging.


What I did next I believe is the smartest thing that someone trying to make it should always keep in mind. Sell yourself first, then your product. A good salesman can sell a bad product, but a bad salesman can’t sell a good one. So I sold myself. By that I don’t mean I conducted business horizontally under an executive desk. I made friends with my prospective investor by telling him about me, my goals, and my enthusiasm for my industry (and, of course, my brilliant idea). For me it wasn’t difficult because I am a very outgoing, positive, full-of-life and fun kind of gal. I am not ashamed of anything I have done in my life. I have no secrets. I’m just a human being who has had successes and failures, has faults and attributes, and who wants to make life better for myself and those around me. I never lie and I am honest to a fault.


So let me tell you about myself quickly. I have been married three times and have been in a mental hospital once for six weeks (something about Noah needing help getting all those animals on the Ark). Just kidding! The truth is I had a nervous breakdown after my first divorce. I once tried to seduce one of my college professors to get a passing grade in a course I needed to graduate from college. (That was a no-go and I scraped by that class with a D.) I got my first dildo at the age of 50 (between my second and third husbands). It was a gift from some girlfriends for my 50th birthday. It was purple and had two double A batteries. I recall buying lots of batteries that year. I married my second husband when he was 19 and I was 39. I was a mistress to a married man for sixteen years, and I have had liposuction three times. My next procedure is scheduled in two months. Why diet when you can just eat and suck?” OK, so now you know that I am not afraid to share. Don’t you like me better already? Don’t I seem more real? In short, you probably relate to me more now than you did at the beginning of my article. So, do you get the point? Be yourself. Make a friend. Create a relationship.


In short (well I guess that wasn’t so short), I got the VP from the pharmaceutical company to like me (and my product which was great), and I walked away with a $14,000.00 order. (In 1970 that was almost enough for me to live one for one year.) Mr. VP and I did business for another ten years, and that relationship allowed me to make my first million dollars. No husband to pay my way. No alimony checks to subsidize my career building. No trust fund backup. No inheritance. I make it all on my own! And boy did that feel great. It still feels great.


Selling yourself first is the key element in successful negotiations. People will do business with someone they like - even if someone else has a product that’s better. Why? Because work has to be not only profitable, but enjoyable, too. So always sell yourself first. Here are some other Ingots from Inga.


Order wine with lunch.

No I don’t mean that you must be a lush to succeed in business. My point here is to do the unexpected. Dare to be different. Take calculated risks. If everyone is ordering bottled water…Yuk), then everyone is on the same level at the power lunch. If you are the only one ordering that taboo lunch wine, then all eyes are on you. And guess what? Now you have everyone’s attention. Start off with a few comments about German wine and your trips down the Rhine River sampling wine from the various hillside vineyards. Haven’t done that, been there? Then talk about your kids. How do you segway from wine to kids? Duh! How many of you every got pregnant without alcohol? I have two kids. One is a boy, 38, (I guess I should say man) that I had when I was 21, and I also have a girl that I adopted from Romania when she was 12 and I was 50. I was 50 when I refilled my empty nest. Alcohol definitely must’ve been involved in that decision. But I love her. She beautiful, spoiled, insanely talented, and has added new dimension to my life. Most people I do business with know all about me and my kids. (So do you now.) They have a relationship with me and me with them. That’s the foundation of good business.


Remember, whether it’s a power lunch, cocktails and dinner, or a conference call, you must engage the person first by forging a relationship that makes them believe in you as a person with integrity…someone they like. The deal comes later, but only if you have established that foundation of trust and respect.


So I have a colorful past, order wine at lunch, and talk about the kids. What else has contributed to my success? What about strategic planning, paradigms or performas? Did I have formal business plans that included budgets and cost benefit analyses? Nope. Never have, never will. My approach to business has always been more spontaneous and my deals were almost always sealed with a firm hand shake, not a corporate seal. Here are some of the other things that set me apart from the rest of the herd.


Screw the business suit and black panty hose


I have never in my life owned a business suit or a blazer. I did buy black panty hose once but almost had a heart attack trying to get into those control top jobs. By the time I got the control top past my hips all circulation in my brain had been cut off and I thought I was going to faint. I couldn’t very well be successful if I was brain injured so I just said, “Bulge baby bulge!” (Now of course there are those brilliant Spanx. God Bless Sara Blakely!)


My wardrobe was made up of tops, sweaters, pants (no pant suits…just as bad a business suits!), dresses and skirts. I mixed and matched and matched and mixed. I love accessorizing. I mostly get my jewelry at thrift stores and flea markets. I largely buy vintage pieces from the 40s and 50s. They are flashy and make a statement….just like me. I am flashy and make a statement. People always remember me. Part of that also stems from my name, Inga. Having a different name really makes a difference. So if you have a common name, change it for purposes of your business. When Oprah started out in business they told her to change her name because they said no one would remember her name. She refused and well….you know the rest. Then there’s Reese, Demi, Falista…I think you get the idea. Don’t afraid to be different and stand out from the crowd. Fitting in means not being noticed. I would rather fail after being noticed, then fail because no one noticed me at all.


Next piece of advice, “Never consider your self a woman in a man’s world.” I never played that record in my head. My mantra was more, “What do I need to do, have, or create in order to achieve a particular goal?” I don’t care what the competition does or who the competition is (male or female). My philosophy has always been, “I am the competition.” Act like a winner, believe in your skills and talents, and then go for it.

©2008 Inga Ellzey

Author Bio
Inga Ellzey is a self-made multi-millionaire, the owner and president of the Inga Ellzey Practice Group, Inc. She is a leading authority on medical billing, and has written, taught and lectured extensively over the past two decades. The Exchange was written in Yorkshire, England, where she was inspired by the solitude of the remote countryside and the 16th century farmhouse she vacationed in. For Inga Ellzey, The Exchange is yet another dream come true. She lives in Winter Park, Florida.

Please visit www.theexchangenovel.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Confessions of a Former Mistress By Inga C. Ellzey

Confessions of a Former Mistress
By Inga C. Ellzey,
Author of The Exchange

For 16 years I was the mistress of a married man. I was single, he was rich. I wanted to be someone. He was a doctor. I was a single mom. He had three kids and a Nanny. I wanted romance and passion. He was horny. His wife was the turkey. I was the gravy. I was, "The Other Woman."

Being a mistress is exciting . . . at first. Romantic trysts in clandestine restaurants. Lunch quickies. Having sex on the operating table (not that comfortable) or on the exam room floor (oh my aching back).

I was young when I met Adam (not his real name). I was 27, wore a size 8, had gorgeous long blond hair, beautiful teeth and a great personality. He was 43, with a sexy foreign accent . . . and he was a doctor . . . my doctor. That's how it all started. There was an instant attraction. He scheduled office visits more frequently. I became the last patient of the day. Then I got healed by the good doctor, but fell in love (and he with me). We started an affair that lasted sixteen years.

So here I was the mistress to a married man. Sixteen years you ask me? How is that possible? Didn’t the wife suspect?

Well, in most cases when the affair goes beyond a couple of wooly bully romps in the hay, and extends over many months (or years, as in my case), the wife knows. The wife either knows flat out but doesn't care, knows but is in denial, or really doesn't suspect a thing (which is highly unlikely in a long-term situation.) She might be so busy with the soccer Mom thing she really has no idea that her hubby is scoring somewhere else.

In my case the wife knew. She knew I knew she knew and I knew she knew I knew. She knew! But she didn't care . . . as long as Adam came home to her (most nights) and allowed her kids to attend the best private schools. As long as she could live in her million dollar house, have her Mexican house keeper and Nicaraguan Nanny, drive her gas guzzling Mercedes, wear her Haute Couture clothes, and keep her fancy horses in those snazzy stables . . . she just focused on those versus her husband's wandering ways.

I was even invited to their house on numerous occasions. I recall one time when they invited me to their beach house for the week end. (Figure that one out?!?!) I was on the beach with Adam making love while she was in the condo making Flan. Boy that Flan was delicious. I still think of her when I order Flan in restaurants.

Then there was this heart attack thingy. Well what happened really was that every Sunday night he would come to my apartment. We would have wild sex, a couple glasses of wine, and then he would leave. Well this one particular Sunday night he went home and had this major heart attack. You know the 9-1-1 call, no breathing, he's gonna- die-kind of heart attack. Well, wouldn't you know it but right after he made her call 9-1-1 he made her call me. She knew I knew she knew and I knew she knew I knew! Enough said.

So what are the benefits of being, "The Other Woman?"

Well it depends on how smart you are. Here's what I got along the way. I got my Bachelor's and Master's Degrees paid by him. I had to do the studying. He paid the tuition and expenses of a college education. So I got my B.S. (Bachelor in Sex) and my MPA (Masters in Pleasing Adam). No seriously, I did get legitimate college degrees.

I got spending money to buy clothes and shoes. He helped me get a nice car every few years and he paid off my credit cards when I overspent (when I did frequently). After all wifey over there was living in some fancy-dancy mansion while I was living with the Dumb and Dumbers on the left and right side of me in an apartment complex.

And then did I mention the life insurance policy? Now it's not like I want him to die or anything, after all the affair was over 21 years ago. But if he dies, I still get $100,000.00 . . . tax free.

Well you see when I was his mistress, I agonized about him leaving me (especially after that heart attack stresser), so I made him take out life insurance on himself with me being not only the beneficiary of the policy but (me being college "edicated" and all), I insisted I became of owner of the policy as well. (Thanks to that finance class he paid for.) Being owner of the policy means I have to make the payments on the life insurance annually, but I don't care. As long as I pay, he can't cancel it. I still get $100,000.00 tax free when he dies . . . even 21 years after the affair ended. Let's see how old is he now . . . ?

So what are the disadvantages of being a mistress?

Oh, there are those lonely holidays. But it's really not that bad when you have those credit cards which you know he will pay off if you overspend. Then there's reading about him and her in the local newspaper attending some charity ball. He has his arm around her, she's smiling. The happy couple. Pillars of the community. Until Sunday night!

Marriage? You know in sixteen years, marriage was never addressed. I guess I thought he would leave her eventually. If I was honest with myself I knew he never would. Come on, sixteen years? Duh?
So here I am . . . 21 years later reminiscing about that affair. Don't tell my present husband. My third (he's only 35 and I'm, 59 . . . I never was good in math). At any rate, my current hubby wouldn't like it much if I mentioned dear Adam.

So in conclusion, here's my advice. If you are going to be a mistress:

1. Enjoy it for what it is . . . an affair.

2. Don't be afraid to take gifts and monetary remuneration. It's not immoral. It's only fair.

3. Don't expect a marriage proposal. (Most men that are unfaithful will always be unfaithful . . . so who wants to be married to an unfaithful man? Better to just screw him and have fund . . . I mean fun.)

4. Be prepared for lonely nights and fun shopping sprees.

5. Never make life all about him. When it's over . . . it's over. Move on. There's always another Adam just around the corner.


©2008 Inga Ellzey

Author Bio
Inga Ellzey is a self-made multi-millionaire, the owner and president of the Inga Ellzey Practice Group, Inc. She is a leading authority on medical billing, and has written, taught and lectured extensively over the past two decades. The Exchange was written in Yorkshire, England, where she was inspired by the solitude of the remote countryside and the 16th century farmhouse she vacationed in. For Inga Ellzey, The Exchange is yet another dream come true. She lives in Winter Park, Florida.

Please visit www.theexchangenovel.com

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Once Upon A Thanksgiving by Holly Jacobs


Genre: Romance, Harlequin American Romance

Samantha Williams had her hands full. She had a full time job, four kids and a cat to take care of, what more could she possibly handle? Try being volunteered to coordinate the school’s Thanksgiving pageant. It didn’t help when she found out her ex-husband had a new girlfriend who was spending time with her children. Then, she gets summoned to the principal’s office and her world is turned upside down.

Harry Remington took the job of interim principal to help out a friend. When he comes face to face with the mother of one of the children, who happens to be an old childhood friend of his, Harry is quite happy with his temporary position and hopes to reacquaint himself with Samantha.

Obstacles are tossed in Samantha and Harry’s path when her oldest son begins to resent Harry’s presence in their lives and Harry’s mother sticks her nose into their relationship, not to mention that Harry’s job will soon come to an end and he’ll have no choice but to leave town. How could they possibly hope to make this relationship work?

This is a real “feel good” book. I curled up in bed and devoured it. The characters were not only realistically portrayed, but they were people you could fall in love with and care about. I cheered for this couple to get together – it’s the perfect holiday book. I’ve always adored Holly Jacobs’ writing and this book was no exception! Book #2, Once Upon A Christmas will be out in December – I’ve already put it on my “to be bought” list.

the bookworm: Romance Reading Challenge 2009


the bookworm: Romance Reading Challenge 2009: "Wow, a year ago I started the Romance Reading Challenge. And it's come to an end, so I definitely want to start the challenge up again for 2009. I hope you can join us!

Read on for the rules:
1. Now, 'Romance' isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge"

Click the button above to join in!

Here are my choices...

1. Virgin River by Robyn Carr Click for review
2. Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti Click for review
3. A Weaver Wedding by Allison Leigh Click for review
4. The De Santis Marriage by Michelle Reid Click for review
5. Body Check by Elle Kennedy Click for review

What's in A Name Challenge



This one sounds like fun, I'm in...Click on the button above to sign up on Annie's Blog.

I guess it's finally time to announce the "What's in a Name 2" reading challenge, with all new categories. Very similar to this year's challenge, with a few exceptions.

*This is a challenge that anyone can join, no matter what types of books they like to read. You should be able to find books from any genre that will work.

*Dates: January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009

*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian

2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time

4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness

5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower

6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague

*You may overlap books with other challenges, but please don't use the same book for more than one category.

*Again, there will be some small prizes scattered throughout. No set schedule, so just be sure to check in once a while. There will also be a prize awarded at the conclusion to one participant who completes the challenge.

*You don't need to decide exactly which books you will be reading ahead of time, though you're certainly welcome to. Either way, I'd love to see your lists of possibilities, and I'll bet everyone else would love to read them as well. To join in, simply leave a link here. Or, if you don't have a blog, simply leave your name (and feel free to share your list in the comments if you'd like).

Here are my choices:

1. Spy Candy by Gina Robinson (profession)
2. Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand (time of day) Click for review
3. The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts (relative) Click for review
4. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (body part)
5. The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux (building) Click for review
6. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (medical condition)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russell


This book tells us the story of the author’s journey to China to assist her friend, Alex, in adopting a child. Beth goes along for the adventure and to give moral support. Alex’s husband stays home with their son.

Beth takes the reader on a journey to China and introduces us to the world of international adoption. Everything is going smoothly until Alex has second thoughts about the adoption. After making the long trip out of the United States, Alex doesn’t think she wants the baby after all. However, Beth has quickly become attached to the child and can’t turn her back on the baby. She experiences dreams which show her she is supposed to have this baby.

After her husband agrees, Beth decides to adopt the baby herself. She’s devastated when her husband tells her that the law won’t allow it. Meanwhile, Alex continues to waiver back and forth about adopting the child herself. This makes Beth’s situation all the more critical. She vows to find a way for her and her husband to adopt this baby before she’s put back into the adoption system.

It took me some time to get into this story. I think the dream sequences bogged it down a bit. I didn’t find Alex particularly likeable or sympathetic. However, I found myself captivated by Beth’s plight and reading to see how she would accomplish this task ahead of her. It’s a well-written book which shows readers the heartache and pain, as well as the complete joy, of the adoption process.

Friday Fill-Ins #99



1. The last band I saw live was Strawberry Fields.

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is the food! (if you don't celebrate thanksgiving, insert your favorite holiday)

3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is gift cards for everyone - I hate holiday shopping.

4. Thoughts of going on a trip fill my head.

5. I wish I could wear my summer clothes.

6. Bagpipes are a musical instrument.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading, tomorrow my plans include going to see Yes in concert and Sunday, I want to chill out!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Booking Through Thursday



This week's question

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

My answer...

I've reviewed books for years and some authors do expect positive reviews when they send out a review copy, but I don't think reviewers should feel obligated to write a positive review. However, OTOH, some reviewers can get downright nasty about a book they didn't like and I don't think that's right either. There has to be a happy medium.

Authors put their work out there and it's not always going to receive positive reviews or comments. You can't please everyone. That's the nature of the business.

I, also, think a reviewer has to be careful in the wording and not resort to bashing a book. Stating opinions and why is one thing, bashing doesn't accomplish anything. Just my 2 cents.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've Been Tagged!



I've been tagged by Sharon Loves Cats

Heres how it goes:


Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.

Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there.

The closest book to me is Once Upon A Thanksgiving by Holly Jacobs:

It wasn't a date, and that was actually comforting. She wasn't sure if she was ready to date.

She dished up the slices of pie and took them into the dining room. "Okay, everyone dig in." Her fork made it halfway to her mouth before the doorbell rang.

She wasn't sure who to expect on a Sunday, but when she opened her door and found her ex-husband there, it wasn't even on her list of possibilities.

Now, it's my turn to tag some people:



Naida at the Bookworm
Wendi's Book Corner
Ask Anna...
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Bookroom Reviews

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge 2009




I loved doing the Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge last year and I'm doing it again for 2009. If you'd like to join, just click the button above for more details.

Here's my list for the reading challenge:

1) Once Upon A Valentine by Holly Jacobs – Harlequin American Romance(holiday theme) Click for review

2) Business in the Bedroom by Anne Oliver – Harlequin Presents (Author I’ve never read before) Click for review

3)A Weaver Wedding by Allison Leigh - Silhouette Special Edition (Book with wedding,marriage, husband or wife in the title) Click for review

4)The Wyoming Kid by Debbie Macomber – Harlequin American Romance (Place I’ve neverbeen to before) Click for review

5)Devlin and the Deep Blue Sea by Merline Lovelace – Silhouette Desire (book with a body ofwater in the title) Click for review

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips Contest Winners

The book giveaway of Gods Behaving Badly is now closed and we have 5 lucky winners!

Yan
fbartlett
skywaywaver
Meredith
Katie Stacye


Congratulations to all the winners!

The American Journey of Barack Obama - Review and Contest Winner!


The American Journey of Barack Obama by the Editors of Life

Hatchette Books sent me a copy of this awesome book for a review. It’s a beautiful keepsake featuring gorgeous photographs of our President-Elect Barack Obama and his family. These photos are absolutely amazing. The photos are accompanied by biographical information about Mr. Obama, his childhood, his family and his campaigns for Senator and President. It’s fast and easy reading, which will give readers a glimpse and understanding into the man who will be soon leading our country.

Here’s some more info about this book….

The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly.

In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.

This is a must read for those who want to learn a bit more about this man and it’s excellent for teaching children about this man.

The contest I was holding for readers to win their very own copy of the book is now closed. Amanda is our winner and I’ve contacted her by email. Amanda, if you are reading this, please send me your snail mail address!

The Exchange by Inga C. Ellzey


Jewelle Dawson has been running from the mob for seven years. She has been a member of the Witness Protection Program, but she yearns for her freedom. Jewelle wants her life back and intends to get it, despite the pleas of the contrary from her Witness Protection officer, John Murray. Knowing the mob still wants her dead, she throws caution to the wind and books a one month long cruise of the Mediterranean.

Jewelle is filled with happiness as she meets a variety of fellow cruisers including a famous author, a new best friend, and two very sexy men. She is completely torn apart as both men vie for her attention. As both men wine and dine her, she is also treated to the beautiful sights of the Mediterranean. Then, her world comes crashing down on her as the Gambrelini crime family tracks her down and plans to kill her once and for all. Jewelle is scared to death that, not only will her life end, but she has now put her new friends’ lives in danger as well.

This book grabbed me from page one. I could not put it down. It has everything – the right amount of mystery, suspense and romance all rolled up into one exciting book. A real page-turner!

I immediately fell in love with each character. They were crafted realistically and each had their own personality that readers will feel come right through each page. Each character became my friend and I already miss them. Fortunately, there will be a sequel and I can re-visit my old friends.

The sequel, The Foundation, is due out in early 2009. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on it!

To find out more about this book, go to the author’s website at http://www.theexchangenovel.com/index.html

Live Chat with the Author of Gods Behaving Badly

For readers of GODS BEHAVING BADLY:

Speak live with Marie Phillips, author of GODS BEHAVING BADLY, on Blog Talk Radio on December 1st at 1PM ET. If you have a question for Marie, please email it to miriam.parker@hbgusa.com. Then call into (646) 378-0040 on December 1st at 1PM.


If you’d like to listen online or sign up for a reminder, visit: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stations/HachetteBookGroup/LittleBrown/2008/12/01/Live-Interview-with-Marie-Phillips-author-of-GODS-BEHAVING-BADLY

Hatchette Book Group Giveaway - CONTEST CLOSED

WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!

Thanks to Hatchette Books, we will be hosting a book giveaway of Gods Behaving Badly By Marie Phillips. Here's a synopsis of the book:


Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ. Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees-a favorite pastime of Apollo's-is sapping their vital reserves of strength.

Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?





We will be giving away five (5) copies of the book.

To enter the contest:

1. Leave a comment here along with your email address (I must have a way to contact the winners!

2. You must be a resident of the US or Canada.

3. Books cannot be mailed to PO Boxes.

4. The contest will end Friday, November 14th at midnight.

5 winners will be chosen at random from those who comment and meet the requirements above! Good luck!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hatchette Book Group Giveaway - CONTEST CLOSED



WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!!!!




Hatchette Books is generously sponsoring another book giveaway. This one is for a copy of THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA by The Editors of LIFE Magazine.

The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly.

In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.

If you want to win a copy of this book for yourself, here's what you have to do....

1) Comment here that you want to be entered.

2) Leave your email address in your comment (I need a way to contact you!)

3) US and Canada residents only, no P.O. boxes.

The contest will end on November 13th. The book will be mailed out by Hatchette Books directly to the winner! Good Luck!

Friday Fill-Ins #98






1. Please feel free to email me.

2. When I cry I can't help sniffing it occasionally.

3. My favorite thing to cook is nothing (I hate to cook!)

4. Days off from work is something I can't get enough of.

5. That's the thing I love most about this time of year - the holidays!

6. People at work always makes me think to myself, what the heck?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to unwinding, tomorrow my plans include grocery shopping and reading and Sunday, I want to watch some movies!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday




I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?


Good question and one my husband asks repeatedly...I mostly buy books, although I do go to the library as well, but 99% of my books are bought and most are brand new. Why? I think I'm addicted to going through bookstores and I can't seem to leave emptyhanded. I tried! I honestly tried, but I can't do it. LOL I love being the first one to read a book and - now this will sound strange, I know - but I love the smell and feel of a new book. I literally have 1000's in my TBR and most are brand new.

So, what do the rest of you do?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly - Review



The author is faced with a huge decision – staying in the city of London that she loves dearly or moving to the northern wilds where her husband wants to live. She chooses to leave city life and go with her husband. This means uprooting her two young children, not to mention that she is pregnant with their third child.

Judith quickly realizes that city and country life are very different. Even finding a good cup of coffee can be difficult. We follow Judith through her trial and tribulations, desperately trying to carve out a new life for her family, but it is far from easy. Things become harder as her husband is called away from home often for business. She finds herself left behind with the arduous task of raising three children and trying to fit in with her new neighbors, when what she really wants is to return home to London. It’s hard to know how any of us would react under the same circumstances, but she makes the best of the situation.

Judith O’Reilly gives the reader a pleasant glimpse into the life of a mother and wife, who is trying to get her family adjusted to a new lifestyle. Readers will laugh, as well as shed a few tears, with Judith as she struggles to adapt to country life. I think many women will find themselves able to identify with her struggles and have a deep understanding and empathy for all she goes through. O’Reilly weaves humor and emotions into one well-crafted story that will leave everyone wanting more.

Ms. O’Reilly has her own blog at http://www.wifeinthenorth.com/ I’ve read a bit of it and it makes for interesting reading. I've also posted some articles I've received from her publicist that I thought you might enjoy reading.

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly

The Blame Game
By Judith O’Reilly,
Author of Wife in the North

As a parent, you accept from the start that it is all your fault. Every last inhibition, weakness and thing that goes wrong in your child's life is down to you -- however old they are. If they get bullied, bully, pick the wrong course at university or marry the wrong girl, it is all because you did it wrong. As a parent -- deep-down, you know you suck. You know it is not the kid's fault (however old the kid is) -- you made a hash of it.

You drank a glass of wine when you were pregnant which is why your nine-year-old has ADHD. You had a caesarian which is why he has "trust issues" with women. You threw him out of the house when he was 21, papered over the steam-trains to turn his bedroom into your craft room and he never got over it. You did not throw him out of the house and he is still there at 28 and counting. You smacked him; he grew up to have a problem with authority figures and cannot hold down a job. You did not smack him; he grew up to be a bastard. You let him have a small watered down glass of wine with Sunday dinner and he became an alcoholic at college. You did not let him touch alcohol at home and he became an alcoholic at college.

You said he should have some fun while he was still young and he went travelling in the Congo and got murdered for his wristwatch. You said he should get a job straight after college, he ignored you, grew a beard and is still travelling eight years later. You made him write thank you letters for gifts he did not want, and he is an ungrateful wretch who has never thanked you for ruining your figure and eating up your life. You never made him write thank you letters for anything or to anyone, and now his children do not write thank you letters however much cash you put in with the card. You feel it is your fault whether they are a killer or a victim. If you taught them to avoid strangers or to reach out to strangers who then betray them. As a mother or a father you accept the guilt, responsibility and shame and live with these things.

I have wondered watching Sarah Palin if she blames herself for Bristol's teenage pregnancy. I am willing to bet most hockey moms would. Palin is an amazing role model for a daughter -- whether you agree with her politics or not -- she is a mother to five children and could end up President. Even so, if she didn't have some heartwrenching "What did I do wrong?" conversations with the First Dude over Bristol's predicament, I would eat my moose burger.

Stupidity, misadventure, tragedy can scoop up and swallow down a child in a blink and you know what? It is not necessarily your fault. Nice kids can grow up and do bad or idiotic things however hard their parents tried to bring them up to know the difference between right and wrong. The problem is too many parents blame themselves for every damn fool thing their children do. They say children never forgive their parents. Not true. Parents do not forgive themselves. Being a mother is misery. Years of fear your children get hurt one way or another, years of disappointment their lives aren't exactly the way they thought they would be. Worst of all, that conviction rolling and crashing around inside that if you had done things differently, it did not have to be this way. You know as you clutch your coffee in a worn, chipped mug that boasts you are the "World's Best Mom" or the "Number 1 Dad" that you could have done it so much better. You know that your innocent children are paying the price with their health, sanity or happiness for your own deep and terrible failings as a mother or a father. When bad things happen, it is natural enough to grope around in the darkness for someone or something to blame. The itinerant loner who took advantage? A bad crowd? God? But deep down you are not telling me that a parent does not blame themselves for whatever fate throws at her beloved child and however that child turns out. Suck it up -- it's your fault. You should have done something, been there, stood in front of the speeding bullet and caught it in your hand.

Surely though if parenting is about anything at all, it is about teaching your children to be responsible for their own decisions and actions. You wouldn't claim credit for a book that is not your own or a picture you didn't paint, so why feel the necessity to take on your children's screw-ups or bad luck? Let them own that really big mistake. Don't crowd them out of the spotlight when the jeering starts. There is enough research out there that indicates "helicopter" parents hovering mercilessly over their children from kindergarten and into the jobs market are not doing anyone any favours. In the same way, insisting that every bad thing that happens is "all my fault" is just one more way a parent lays claim to her child's soul. Sometimes you have to step away and leave them to it.

©2008 Judith O’Reilly

Author Bio
Judith O'Reilly was the education correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, where she also reported on politics and news, and worked undercover on education, social, and criminal justice investigations. She is a former political producer for ITV's Channel 4 News and BBC2's Newsnight. A freelance journalist, she started her blog, www.wifeinthenorth.com in 2006. She lives in England.

Wife in the North is published by PublicAffairs at $14.95. www.wifeinthenorth.com

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly

Raising Kids in the Country
By Judith O’Reilly,
Author of Wife in the North

Arriving in the middle of the countryside fresh from the city with a young family, it is fair to say I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I grew up in the city; the countryside was something you saw on TV if there was nothing on another channel. As an adult, I believed the city to be my right, my natural home. You might spend a week in a holiday cottage somewhere green, and usually wet, but that was as far as it went. The countryside, my dear, was another place.

My husband and I spent 17 years working in London. With two young children and another on the way, I finally gave in to his pleading and agreed to move to the North-East coast of England. We followed the dream, but living the dream is not necessarily easy. For a long time, I found it isolating. Living four kilometers from the nearest village took getting used to. Particularly when my husband was back at his desk in London for weeks at a time. At dusk, the children asleep, I walked out of the whinstone and sandstone cottage in a row of what used to be farm labourers' cottages -- the other cottages are holiday homes and empty most of the year. I looked out onto pastures where sheep and cattle graze; in the distance, a narrow blue-grey strip of sea and a lighthouse on the rocky islands off the coast. I waited for the lighthouse to blink, for the bats to notice me, swoop down and then away. I thought: "Ok, so this is it then?"

It is a cliché but true nonetheless -- a happy mother makes for a happy home, and I struggled to get to grips with the world around me. The city girl took a while to become a country woman. On the very few occasions we went out for supper, conversation was of wheat prices, laminitis and European Union agricultural subsidies -- conversations that made you want to borrow a gun from the farmer sitting across from you and shoot yourself. While country pursuits like hunting and shooting, I viewed with blank incomprehension, if not downright hostility. As for pointy-toed shoes with attitude, there was far too much mud for heels.

Only when I slowly started to develop friendships did I appreciate the country for what it was and what it had to offer my family. The village school had just over 40 children. My son's previous school in the city had more than 400. These mothers were my way into the world around me, prepared to offer their time and friendship. In the city no-one drops by they are too busy, they presume you are too busy and anyways, they live too far. Here, fellow mothers dropped by coffee or called to say "How about the beach?"

In the UK, a letter signed by 300 academics, authors and childcare experts last year, warned that children's health was deteriorating because they are losing the chance to play outside. They blamed computer games, parental anxieties and academic pressures. My children take the beauty of the heathered moors, the rolling fields and swaying barley crops for granted and I could afford to feel smug as they climbed trees, built dens in the jungle garden and adventured in the dunes on the beach. Instead of Nintendo DS's and X-boxes, body boards and footballs filled up my sons afterschool lives.

We do homework in the kitchen on the table infront of the Aga, a massive brooding range that throws out heat and makes the world a better place to be on a cold and damp November day. Nature too has become a teaching aid. I swapped hands-on interactive learning areas in city museums, for walks in the woods. We gathered brambles, collected conkers and made elderflower cordial. Not that I could teach them the difference between one tree and the next. I left that to my husband who suddenly revealed himself to be a man who knows which a sycamore and which an ash. I have to say -- I still do not know the difference. Instead of spotting fire engines and police cars, the boys spotted tractors and combine harvesters. My eldest informed me he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up. He knows that this boy and that boy have farms. And this is still a world where the farm is passed down the generation. In city life, if you were lucky and the family home didn't disappear in retirement home payments, you might expect to leave your semi-detached house to your children. (Presuming they would sell it and use the proceeds to fund a conservatory.) But in the country, there is an expectation that the farm will go the children and, hopefully, one of them will work it. As a newcomer, I wonder: "Will they want to?" I had to break the bad news to my own boy. We weren't farmers. We were lookers-on. I suggested he might be an astronaut instead and fly a rocket round the stars not a huge wheeled tractor through the mud.

And good grief but farming looks like hard work. A constant round of animal husbandry and ploughing and planting and harrowing and harvesting. But I do not see food anymore as a simple fact of life. I see it as the end result of dedication and enterprise; the children too are aware that what they eat is grown and husbanded. They have drunk raw milk and lived to tell the tale, eaten their mother's burnt bramble jam. They know she sheared a sheep and gave it the worst haircut of its life. They followed the hunt and have been to too many country shows to count. Sometimes, they talk about London and soldiers and the life they left behind. Mostly they say: "No" when I say "Do you remember when we lived in the city?"

©2008 Judith O’Reilly

Author Bio
Judith O'Reilly was the education correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, where she also reported on politics and news, and worked undercover on education, social, and criminal justice investigations. She is a former political producer for ITV's Channel 4 News and BBC2's Newsnight. A freelance journalist, she started her blog, www.wifeinthenorth.com in 2006. She lives in England.

Wife in the North is published by PublicAffairs at $14.95. www.wifeinthenorth.com

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly

Tee-time and Me-time
By Judith O’Reilly,
Author of Wife in the North

Mothers live in a permanent state of guilt. How come men don't? Mothers are guilty not just about whether they work and how much they work and should they work and where they work. But they are also guilty about what they do with the few moments they can call their own. A classic example of the difference between men and women is spare time, quality time, what is known in the parenting business as "me-time". As a mother you don't get a lot of it. What do you do with it? Maybe if you are very dedicated and have not given up entirely on the woman you used to be, you go to the gym or for a run? Maybe if you are normal, have a hot bath and watch that thing on TV that you read about. What you don't do -- unless you are very unusual -- is play golf.

I had never seen the attraction of golf; the clothes for one thing. All those pastel colours and slacks. But I was invited along and I do like to give things a go. As a woman, I also like to look the part while I am doing it. Move me to the country, and I will buy a tweed cloche and wellies; invite me to a golf club, and I will buy a pale pink golf shirt, sun visor and one pink leather glove. (You only buy one glove for reasons that defeat me. Perhaps there are a lot of one-armed golfers?) And golf shoes of course. They are desperately fussy about the shoes you wear.

A friend said he would take me golfing; we tried but it was pouring down so we only made it as far as a drink in the clubhouse. I made the mistake in the intervening period of wearing the pink shirt. (What can I say? It was new.) This meant that when we tried to play golf again, I had a lovely stain of pasta sauce just where the baby girl rests her head when you lift her out of the high chair and carry her upstairs after dinner. I did not have time to attempt an industrial strength stain removal. Instead, I tilted my head so that my hair which was shoulder length and frankly, badly in need of a cut, would cover the stain. It worked but I looked as if I was slightly simple or needed a neck brace.

One of the attractions of golf are the views from the courses; the one we went to has sandy beaches, pounding waves, a castle built on a basalt crag, islands off the coast and lighthouses. All that beauty and you spend your time looking at or for a small white ball. I would stand, legs slightly apart, hands gripping the club, I would attempt to keep my left arm straight as I swung the club then I would bring it down in a fluid motion, entirely missing the ball. I think the damn things jump. It reminded me so much of playing rounders at school that I almost broke out in acne. Rounders is similar to the American sport of baseball but generally played by girls. Then, I could never decide which I found more traumatic batting or fielding. There I would be in my games skirt and my immense grey sports knickers, rounders bat gripped in my sweaty hands. I would stand sideways on. I would look at the girl about to throw the ball. I would grip the bat a little harder. I would think: "This time, I am going to hit it." She would throw it. I would thrash the air with my bat and the ball would sail by into the hands of the backstop. I hated that game. Even now, the thought of it depresses me. That must be why golf courses have those little sandy oases with the rakes: when it gets pressured, the players can unwind with some Japanese gardening. They do make life difficult for themselves though. As we walked the six holes we played, I noticed various gullies and ravines, gorse bushes and hillocks. If they levelled the ground, they would find it so much easier to play although they seemed happy enough wandering around with their teddy bears. Or maybe that was just the chap I was playing golf with. Apparently, if you have a soft toy covering the head of your club, it shows you have a sense of humour and do not take the game too seriously. Right. That would be why they have so many rules then because they treat the game as a bit of a laugh.

They have rules for everything:

Rule 1-1/4 "Player Discovers Own Ball Is in Hole After Playing Wrong Ball"

Rule 1-2/4 "Player Jumps Close to Hole to Cause Ball to Drop"

or this one

Rule 1-4/3 "Flagstick Stuck into Green Some Distance from Hole by Practical Joker"

or Rule 1-4/10 what you do in the event of a "Dangerous Situation: Rattlesnake or Bees Interfere with Play"

or my personal favorite Rule 2-4/17 "Player in Erroneous Belief Match Is Over Shakes Opponent's Hand and Picks Up Opponent's Ball"

Having trawled the rule book of around 500 pages, I guarantee lawyers like golf. But it is fair to say, despite a chronic inability to hit the ball, I enjoyed my game of golf more than I ever enjoyed a game of rounders. My friend said as we drove away: "If you want to take it up, you'd have to have lessons." I said: "How can I do that? I'm working: I'm supposed to spend any spare time I have with the children." He said: "Well, men do it." I said: "Exactly."


©2008 Judith O’Reilly

Author Bio
Judith O'Reilly was the education correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, where she also reported on politics and news, and worked undercover on education, social, and criminal justice investigations. She is a former political producer for ITV's Channel 4 News and BBC2's Newsnight. A freelance journalist, she started her blog, www.wifeinthenorth.com in 2006. She lives in England.

Wife in the North is published by PublicAffairs at $14.95. www.wifeinthenorth.com





The Blame Game
By Judith O’Reilly,
Author of Wife in the North

As a parent, you accept from the start that it is all your fault. Every last inhibition, weakness and thing that goes wrong in your child's life is down to you -- however old they are. If they get bullied, bully, pick the wrong course at university or marry the wrong girl, it is all because you did it wrong. As a parent -- deep-down, you know you suck. You know it is not the kid's fault (however old the kid is) -- you made a hash of it.

You drank a glass of wine when you were pregnant which is why your nine-year-old has ADHD. You had a caesarian which is why he has "trust issues" with women. You threw him out of the house when he was 21, papered over the steam-trains to turn his bedroom into your craft room and he never got over it. You did not throw him out of the house and he is still there at 28 and counting. You smacked him; he grew up to have a problem with authority figures and cannot hold down a job. You did not smack him; he grew up to be a bastard. You let him have a small watered down glass of wine with Sunday dinner and he became an alcoholic at college. You did not let him touch alcohol at home and he became an alcoholic at college.

You said he should have some fun while he was still young and he went travelling in the Congo and got murdered for his wristwatch. You said he should get a job straight after college, he ignored you, grew a beard and is still travelling eight years later. You made him write thank you letters for gifts he did not want, and he is an ungrateful wretch who has never thanked you for ruining your figure and eating up your life. You never made him write thank you letters for anything or to anyone, and now his children do not write thank you letters however much cash you put in with the card. You feel it is your fault whether they are a killer or a victim. If you taught them to avoid strangers or to reach out to strangers who then betray them. As a mother or a father you accept the guilt, responsibility and shame and live with these things.

I have wondered watching Sarah Palin if she blames herself for Bristol's teenage pregnancy. I am willing to bet most hockey moms would. Palin is an amazing role model for a daughter -- whether you agree with her politics or not -- she is a mother to five children and could end up President. Even so, if she didn't have some heartwrenching "What did I do wrong?" conversations with the First Dude over Bristol's predicament, I would eat my moose burger.

Stupidity, misadventure, tragedy can scoop up and swallow down a child in a blink and you know what? It is not necessarily your fault. Nice kids can grow up and do bad or idiotic things however hard their parents tried to bring them up to know the difference between right and wrong. The problem is too many parents blame themselves for every damn fool thing their children do. They say children never forgive their parents. Not true. Parents do not forgive themselves. Being a mother is misery. Years of fear your children get hurt one way or another, years of disappointment their lives aren't exactly the way they thought they would be. Worst of all, that conviction rolling and crashing around inside that if you had done things differently, it did not have to be this way. You know as you clutch your coffee in a worn, chipped mug that boasts you are the "World's Best Mom" or the "Number 1 Dad" that you could have done it so much better. You know that your innocent children are paying the price with their health, sanity or happiness for your own deep and terrible failings as a mother or a father. When bad things happen, it is natural enough to grope around in the darkness for someone or something to blame. The itinerant loner who took advantage? A bad crowd? God? But deep down you are not telling me that a parent does not blame themselves for whatever fate throws at her beloved child and however that child turns out. Suck it up -- it's your fault. You should have done something, been there, stood in front of the speeding bullet and caught it in your hand.

Surely though if parenting is about anything at all, it is about teaching your children to be responsible for their own decisions and actions. You wouldn't claim credit for a book that is not your own or a picture you didn't paint, so why feel the necessity to take on your children's screw-ups or bad luck? Let them own that really big mistake. Don't crowd them out of the spotlight when the jeering starts. There is enough research out there that indicates "helicopter" parents hovering mercilessly over their children from kindergarten and into the jobs market are not doing anyone any favours. In the same way, insisting that every bad thing that happens is "all my fault" is just one more way a parent lays claim to her child's soul. Sometimes you have to step away and leave them to it.

©2008 Judith O’Reilly

Author Bio
Judith O'Reilly was the education correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, where she also reported on politics and news, and worked undercover on education, social, and criminal justice investigations. She is a former political producer for ITV's Channel 4 News and BBC2's Newsnight. A freelance journalist, she started her blog, www.wifeinthenorth.com in 2006. She lives in England.

Wife in the North is published by PublicAffairs at $14.95. www.wifeinthenorth.com

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Sunday Salon – It’s getting dark early now!




I loved getting the extra hour sleep last week, but I really do not like how dark it is when I leave work. At 5:00, it looks like 9:00. Yuck! Such is life – LOL!

I’ve been busy this week with audio books, review books and discussion books.

Audio books: Finished listening to Cat Stores by James Herriot. Check out my review here

Currently, I’m listening to The Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot. It’s cute and I’m liking it more than the first one.

Book Discussions: I finished The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert. The review is here I loved this book. I hope I have time to read the rest of the series.

Reviews: Currently I’m reading Wife in the North by Judith O’Reilly which is a memoir of the author having to uproot her family from the big city, London, to the country. So far, so good.

Upcoming reviews:

Like Glass by Matthew Corey
In The Land of Invisible Women by Qanta A. Ahmed, MD
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
The Exchange by Inga C. Ellzey
The American Journey of Barack Obama by Editors of Life Magazine

It all seems a bit overwhelming when you see it in print, but I’m having a great time. I don’t think I will be able to complete all the reading challenges I’m in, but that’s okay 

I have a couple of book giveaways that are still underway, so don’t forget to enter. They end this week! The American Journey of Barack Obama ends on November 13th and Gods Behaving Badly ends on November 14th.

Socrates’ Book Reviews will also be participating in the noontime chat for Like Glass with J. Kaye’s Book Blog. I’m looking forward to that.

Hope you all have a great week!

The Tale Of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert



Genre: Cozy Mysteries

Beatrix Potter, author of many children’s books including the Tale of Peter Rabbit, seeks to make her own way in the world. She wants nothing more than to break away from her domineering parents and create her own life. That is not an easy task for an unwed woman in 1905, especially since Beatrix is still in mourning over the death of her fiancé. Her first step towards independence is purchasing the Hill Top Farm from Abigail Tolliver.

Beatrix travels with her wide array of animals to the small village of Sawrey, London to inspect her new property, but is shocked to discover that Miss Tolliver suddenly died before her arrival. Whispers of a possible poisoning beginning spreading around the small town, then Beatrix notices a valuable painting is missing from Miss Tolliver’s home. Perhaps Ms. Tolliver’s death was not of natural causes but something far more sinister.

The citizens of Sawrey are very interested in their new resident, but they regard her with suspicion more than anything else. Beatrix’s first obstacle comes from the Jennings family who care for Hill Top Farm and live there as well. They make it quite clear that there is no room for Beatrix to move in, even if she does own the place. Beatrix sets about trying to find a solution for all concerned. This certainly didn’t turn out to be the quiet village she was expecting.

This book is delightful. That’s the perfect word for it. As I read the book, I was immediately transported to the small village and felt as if I was actually part of the story. Each character, both human and animal, were crafted with great expertise. They had remarkable characteristics and personalities to create this enchanting book.

The Tale of Hill top Farm is the first book in the series “The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter”. The animals communicate with each other, not with the humans, and there’s enough mystery intertwined to make readers continue turning each page until the end. The mystery portion of the book wasn’t especially “edge-of-your-seat”, but the entire story was very captivating and charming.

Cat Stories by James Herriot




I listened to the audio version of this book and loved every minute of it. The reader is Christopher Timothy and he made me feel as if I was listening to Mr. Herriot himself. It felt as if I were listening to a friend tell me stories.

Mr. Herriot had been a veterinarian in England. His love for cats came through in this book. He wrote about his experiences with different cats. Some were heartwarming, some were sad and some were humorous. His love for animals came shining through in each story he told. As a cat lover myself, I enjoyed listening to all these stories and was very sad when the book came to an end. I'm going to see if there are anymore of his books on audio CDs.

If you want to listen to something that will give you those warm fuzzies and make you feel good, see if your library has his audio collection. It's only three discs and a lovely way to spend the day.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins #97



1. My blueprint for success includes a job making decent money.


2. Weight Watcher's chocolate was the last candy I ate.

3. The best facial moisturizer I've ever used is Avon.

4. Reading can be good therapy.

5. I'd like to tell you about the books I read.

6. Being a good listener is my strongest characteristic.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to unwinding from the long week, tomorrow my plans include watching movies and blogging and Sunday, I want to sleep late and catch up on the TV I haven't watched yet from during the week!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Booking Through Thursday



This week's question:


What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”


My answer:


As much of a bookaholic that I am, I've never received a book as a present. However, I have received gift cards to Borders. I admit, I practically get giddy when I get one of those, my eyes light up and then it's get out of my way while I spend hours in the store. LOL I think gift cards are the best thing invented, so the person can choose whatever they'd like.






Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Thingers





Today's question:


Work multiples. Do you own multiple copies of any books? Which ones? Why? Can you share your list?


My Answer:


I try not to buy multiple copies. I have too many books as it is and the last thing I need is to spend money on doubles. Sometimes I make a mistake (rare, but it does happen - LOL), but I usually either return them or trade them.




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