Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Knitting Under the Influence ~ Claire LaZebnik

Knitting Under the Influence

Claire LaZebnik


As knitting became 'popular' recently, so did the genre of 'knitting novels.' I have been a knitter most of my life and find most of these books as shallow as the finished items being produced by the new knitters. I have tried to be generous to them, but this book had no purpose for the knitting ties whatsoever, and was very strained when it was attempted.

This is the story of three young women friends who share indiscrimanate sex and alcohol intake as the tie that binds them together. Knitting attempts to be the vehicle, but fails miserably. This is nothing more than a modern romance novel that delves into sexual pleasure and drunkeness - at the end all three are 'in love.'

The interesting part of this book was the story line that followed a therapist who works with autistic children. I appreciated the attention to detail in the specifics of autism - a disease that the author is personally associated with.

However, for the most part, the end pages sum up the knitting - a listing of the knitted projects turn out to be drink recipes.

Not a bad romance novel, but this is not a knitting book.

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Winding Ways Quilt ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The Winding Ways Quilt

Jennifer Chiaverini

Book 12 in the Elm Creek Quilt Series

As life does, the time has come for several members to make major changes in their lives, to move far away, to start over after great hurts and disappointments, to mend fences and to be the new people to join the circle of friends.

As Sylvia sees the founding members lives changing so drastically, she commemorates each of their lives with a special Winding Ways quilt. We learn more about each of the quilters lives.

"When I think of all the different paths I could have followed in my life, all the twists and turns that could have led me anywhere," muses incoming teacher Gretchen, "it's something of a miracle that I ended up here, surrounded by loving friends."

Another beautiful Elm Creek Quilts story about wonderful people.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear John ~ Norma L Betz

Dear John

~Norma L Betz


This is a delightful first novel from an author who shows great promise.

A young woman is faced with the death of her last relative - the aunt she was named for and who helped her when her parents were tragically killed when she was nineteen. Through love, support and financial assistance, her aunt made sure she completed college and graduate school. As young adults do, Suzanna allowed the distance to grow between them as she established her life and career. Now, her only family was gone and she had to face the obligation to sort through the life that is gone. Any adult who has faced becoming an orphan can relate to the multitude of emotions that one suffers through.

With her companion, Quincy, a five-year-old Weimaraner, Susanna heads to the home she has inherited from her aunt. When she arrives, she meets the people who have shared her aunt's life and the haunting questions about her past. She inherits a treasure trove of history from their ancestor Abigail Adams, including some of the letters she wrote to John Adams in the beginning of the Revolution. Susanna becomes inspired by Abigail's letters. And, she becomes inspired by her aunt's life as she gets to know her aunt's friends, and finds that they are embracing her as a friend as well. It is the story of the strength of a family of women... the quiet strength that keeps them going through life. While Suzanna is admiring it in Abigail and her Aunt Suzanna, she comes to realize that it is something else she shares with them.

Unfortunately, the wealth of the treasures become a target for someone unscrupulous and causes grave danger to Susanna and Quincy and their new friends, as well as the beginnings of love.

Anyone who is interested in American history will enjoy a journey into some of the letters of Abigail Adams during the early years of the Revolution. The journey is memorable and a remarkable window on the world of 1775.

I really enjoyed this book!

The critical side of me has to complain loudly about the font used for the letters of Abigail Adams. It was nice to have a font change to distinguish the letters from the story, but the one used was difficult to read, which made it harder to enjoy the wealth of the letters and to enjoy the book.

If I were to give any advise to Norma Betz, I would say DO NOT HOLD BACK. I felt like she was always trying to neatly package and contain her characters, yet she had created these wonderfully deep characters who wanted to breathe. Let them breathe! Quincy, too!

I hope Norma Betz follows with a second book!

Her website is found here.

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lone Survivor~Marcus Luttrell

Lone Survivor

The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing

and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10

By Marcus Luttrell

I pre-ordered this book when I first heard about it. When I received it, I began reading it. It is a long and intense book, and I didn't do much else while I was reading it. Everyone in America should read this book to better understand the amazing men and women who fight for us each and every day and the challenges they confront along the way.

The book is written in two quite distinct parts. The first part is about Seal Training and the second part is about Operation Redwing. Interwoven in the two parts is Marcus Luttrell's life before and after Afghanistan, and his quest to visit each of the families of his friends who were lost and his healing and understanding of the events that occured that day.

The Prologue opens with "..my name is Marcus. And I'm writing this book because of my three buddies Mikey, Danny and Axe. If I don't write it, no one will ever understand the indomitable courage under fire of those three Americans. And that would be the biggest tragedy of all."

The first half of the book is autobiographical. We learn of Marcus' life in Texas - and he's all Texan! - the lifelong desire to become a Navy SEAL and the grueling school to become a Navy SEAL. If you want to know what becoming a SEAL is all about, Marcus tells you. Their training is beyond intense and you can't help but have complete respect for SEALs and hold them in awe for their courage, strenght and fortitude. They are trained in body and mind.

The second half of the book deals with Operation Redwing. Marcus takes us into the battle, into the death of his team and dear friends - Mike Murphey, Danny Deitz and Matt Axelson. The grueling battle, the fall of over one thousand feet down a mountain side, the struggle to survive despite the vast number of enemies, is beyond imagining. After the enemy has killed his friends, Marcus is severly wounded and presumed dead by American forces. In spite of his injuries, he crawls over seven miles while confronting the assassins sent to kill him. He is taken in by a Pashtun tribe who risk everything to keep him alive and eventually get him back to American forces.

In addition to the loss of the three members of Marcus' SEAL team, the CH-47 rescue helicopter with a rescue and reinforcement team was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade. It was the largest loss of life in SEAL history, and the largest loss of Special Operations Forces since D-Day. Nineteen highly trained, dedicated and patriotic men died that day:

Petty Officer Danny Dietz (SEAL Team 1)

Petty Officer Matthew Axelson (SEAL Team 1)

Navy Lt. Mike Murphy (SEAL Team 1)

Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature (pilot, US Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment)

Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach (pilot, US Army 160th SOAR)

Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby (US Army, 160th SOAR)

Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles (US Army, 160th SOAR)

Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan (SEAL Team 10)

Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen (SEAL Team 10)

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh (SEAL Team 1)

Petty Officer First Class Jeff Taylor (SEAL Team 10 Medic)

Sgt. First Class Michael Russell (US Army, 160th SOAR)

Maj. Steve Reich (pilot, US Army 160th SOAR)

Master Sgt. James "Tre" Ponder III (US Army, 160th SOAR)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Shane Patton (SEAL Team 1)

U.S. Navy Lt. Michael McGreevy (SEAL Team 10)

Petty Officer Jeffrey Alan Lucas (SEAM Team 10)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Dan Healy (SEAL Team 1)

SSgt. Shamus Goare (US Army, 160th SOAR)

Marcus also gives us a parallel view of what was going on at his home during the time he was missing and presumed dead. He tells of the dedication of his family, friends, the SEAL community and the Texans who came to hold vigil. The spirit and faith of these people, many of whom did not know Marcus, is overwhelming and inspiring. It truly made me proud to live in the same America that they live in.

For their bravery and courage under fire Marcus Luttrell (previously known as "The One"), Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson were awarded the Navy Cross. Michael Murphey was awarded a Silver Star and is being reviewed for a Medal of Honor.

If you ever have any questions about what patriotism, love of country, devotion, courage and bravery are, you only need to read this book to understand what they really mean. I have read this book twice. It has been an emotional journey, a journey of such profound pride in these young men, a journey of anger at trying to impose political correctness into warfare, a journey into the love between people that keeps them going on in spite of great tragedy.

I have heard Marcus' voice telling us what patriotism, love of country, devotion, courage and bravery are and how we undermine it at home. His anger is real. As is his love of his team, his friends, his family, Texas, and America. His shy and introspective nature is pushed to the side to tell this story and to give opinions about America at War. He had to leave the Navy - the thing he loved the most - to tell this story, because his love for his teammates and the truth was even greater. For that, I am truly grateful. Knowing about these twenty Americans has enriched my life.

As I listen to and watch the many interviews with Marcus Luttrell, I see a man who will ever be torn by the grief that was laid upon him by the events of Operation Redwing. I also see a man who gives the greatest respect for people he knows do not respect him, his brothers, the truth.

A great interview with Marcus Luttrell was done by Texas Radio KVET - 98 FM:

To play the media please click on the link below or paste it into your web browser

Part One: http://www.kvet.com/cc-common/mediaplayer/player.html?mps=Default&mid=http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/23782/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/23782/1048/richmedia/Kvet_Rick_PerryNavy_Seal.mp3?CCOMRRMID=4644003&CPROG=RICHMEDIA&MARKET=AUSTIN-TX&NG_FORMAT=country&NG_ID=kvet98fm&OR_NEWSFORMAT=&OWNER=1048&SERVER_NAME=www.kvet.com&SITE_ID=1048&STATION_ID=KVET-FM&TRACK=rick_perry_navy_seal

Part Two: http://www.kvet.com/cc-common/mediaplayer/player.html?mps=Default&mid=http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/23782/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/23782/1048/richmedia/Kvet_Rick_PerryNavy_Seal_2.mp3?CCOMRRMID=4644691&CPROG=RICHMEDIA&MARKET=AUSTIN-TX&NG_FORMAT=country&NG_ID=kvet98fm&OR_NEWSFORMAT=&OWNER=1048&SERVER_NAME=www.kvet.com&SITE_ID=1048&STATION_ID=KVET-FM&TRACK=rick_perry_navy_seal_2

If you want to know what a hero looks like, here are two - Danny Dietz and Marcus Luttrell.

This is a must read for all Americans. Read this book!

Previous Posts:


Marcus Luttrell: http://gazingattheflag.blogspot.com/2007/02/hero-to-remember-one.html

Danny Dietz: http://gazingattheflag.blogspot.com/2007/02/hero-to-remember-po2-danny-p-dietz.html

Matthew Axelson: http://gazingattheflag.blogspot.com/2007/02/hero-to-remember-po2-matthew-g-axelson.html

Michael Murphey: http://gazingattheflag.blogspot.com/2007/02/silver-star-lt-michael-p-murphy.html

Rescue Team: http://gazingattheflag.blogspot.com/2007/07/lone-survivor-rescue-team.html
Since this review was written, Michael Murphey has been awarded a Medal of Honor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blue Shoes and Happiness ~ Alexander McCall Smith

Blue Shoes

and Happiness

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 7 in the Series

No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Once again, Mme Ramotswe is ready to help people solve their problems - the solvable ones, that is - and it takes a certain amount of living to know the difference between the two as Mme does.

Mma Makutsi may have run off her fiance. But, Mme will help her get her life back on track.

These glorious books are a wonderful journey into life in Botswana.

Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/

Book 1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)

Book 2 - Tears of the Giraffe (2000)

Book 3 - Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)

Book 4 - The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2002)

Book 5 - The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)

Book 6 - In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (2004)

Book 7 - Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006)

Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)

Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies ~ Alexander McCall Smith

In the Company
of Cheerful Ladies

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 6 in the Series
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Mme Precious Ramotswe is baffled when a mysterious pumpkin appears on her porch and deeply rattled when a visitor forces her to confront the painful secrets of her past.

Meanwhile, Mr J L B Matekoni is having apprentice problems and Mma Makutsi is taking dancing lessons, partnered with a man with two feet.

Another beautifully told story about wonderful characters.
Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/
Book 2 - Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Full Cupboard of Life ~ Alexander McCall Smith

The Full Cupboard

of Life

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 5 in the Series

No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Once again Mme Ramotswe uses her vast intuitive skills and her abilities to judge character to help people. Big-hearted and gently to the point, Mme Ramotswe is always available to help. Meanwhile, Mma Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm, has more requests for Mr J L B Matekoni.

Another charming tale from a remarkable storyteller.

Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/

Book 1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)
Book 2 -
Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 3 -
Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)
Book 4 -
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2002)
Book 5 -
The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)
Book 6 -
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (2004)
Book 7 -
Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Kalahari Typing School for Men ~ Alexander McCall Smith

The Kalahari
Typing School
for Men

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 4 in the Series
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Mme Ramotswe is living a good life - a successful business, two adopted children, a wonderful fiance and in her own house at the finest age to be (her mid-thirties). Yet, life always throws troubles in the way, often small ones, yet troubles nonetheless.

Mma Makutsi, her assistant, is wanting a husband, and also starts a typing school in the evenings to supplement her income.

More tales from a delightful story teller about truly delightful people.

Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/
Book 2 - Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Morality for Beautiful Girls ~ Alexander McCall Smith

Morality for
Beautiful Girls

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 3 in the Series
No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Mme Ramotswe continues her successful, though often financially troubled, detective agency. Mme is successful, not only because of her deductions, but because of her exceptional ability to judge character correctly.

In this book, we learn more about the Mr J L B Matekoni, the complicated and dependable fiance of Mme Ramotswe.

This is another delightful story in the series, which shares the lives of very wonderful characters and the realities of life in Botswana!

These are wonderful 'travel books' - books that are easy to take with you and to read on the go - while traveling or waiting. They are a joy to read.

Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/

Book 1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)
Book 2 -
Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 3 -
Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)
Book 4 -
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2002)
Book 5 -
The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)
Book 6 -
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (2004)
Book 7 -
Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tears of the Giraffe ~ Alexander McCall Smith

Tears of
the Giraffe

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 2 in the Series

No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Mme Ramotswe returns in another beautifully crafted book aobut her detective agency, her engagement to a wonderful and caring man, his adoption of two orphans, and her talented secretary who is learning to come unto her own.

This book is beautifully written with characters who are real in their goodness or their wickedness, this book shares the spirit of Botswana, the sense of the country. You can feel the heat and smell the dust in the writing.

These are wonderful 'travel books' - books that are easy to take with you and to read on the go - while traveling or waiting. They are a joy to read.

Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/

Book 1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)
Book 2 -
Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 3 -
Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)
Book 4 -
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2002)
Book 5 -
The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)
Book 6 -
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (2004)
Book 7 -
Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency ~ Alexander McCall Smith

The No 1
Ladies' Detective Agency

Alexander McCall Smith

Book 1 in the Series

No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Mme Precious Ramotswe is the first female detective in Botswana. A strong woman who overcomes profound adversity in her life, Mme Ramotswe sets up a small storefront in Gaborone and begins her profession to "help people with the problems in their lives."

This is the first in the ongoing stories about Mme Ramotswe. The characters are real and compelling. The descriptions of Botswana are distinct and beautiful. The writing has a special charm and gentleness that allows us to see the sorrow and vulnerability of Mme Romotswe, with the compassion, intelligence and integrity that endears her to us.

These are wonderful 'travel books' - books that are easy to take with you and to read on the go - while traveling or waiting. They are a joy to read.

Author's Website: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/

Book 1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)
Book 2 -
Tears of the Giraffe (2000)
Book 3 -
Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001)
Book 4 -
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2002)
Book 5 -
The Full Cupboard of Life (2004)
Book 6 -
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (2004)
Book 7 -
Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006)
Book 8 - The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007)
Book 9 - The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Playing for Pizza ~ John Grisham

Playing for Pizza

John Grisham

When I read, I always enjoy those books the most that are written by a great storyteller. John Grisham is, indeed, a great storyteller. Most readers know him for his legal thrillers, which are excellent. But, I am truly fond of the human interest stories that he tells, such as Playing for Pizza.

Grisham develops characters that you can relate to - whether you like them or not, you feel that you know them. He then inserts them into the fluxes of life, where we see the errors and joys coming at them.

Playing for Pizza is the story of a professional football player who is no longer wanted in the United States, but finds a job as the starting quarterback for the Panthers of Parma, Italy.

This is a wonderful story of football, culture clashes and the human spirit. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns ~ Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner, became more than a success, it became a classic in the art of storytelling. In his second novel, Hosseini proves that he, indeed, has the gift of storytelling.

Set in the Afghanistan of the Soviet invasion, the rule of the Taliban and the current reconstruction of a war torn land, this is a story of generations of strong women who struggle to survive, to raise their children and perhaps find a moment or two of happiness in a world that sees no reason for women to be thought of as human.

Hosseini creates characters of strength and perserverance. Their lives are intertwined due to the cruelty of life. Through it all, they become friends and family.

This is a magnificent read. It is timely and helps one to understand the struggles faced in Afghanistan today.

I would urge you to go to Hosseini's web page and view his interview videos....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Legacy ~ James A Michener


James A. Michener

200 years - the anniversary of the Constitution - 80 years - the authors birthday - the gift is this amazing short novel that each American should read.

Legacy is a powerful journey through the history of America. Told as a reflective journey of Major Norman Starr, it is every Americans truth and justice and history. We journey through the lives of a member of Constitutional Convention, a Suffragette, a Supreme Court Justice, a warrior.

What we find along the journey is America ~ the nobility and power of this magnificent country.

This short novel can be read in an evening. It is remarkably moving. It makes you proud to be an American.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Soldier's Heart ~ Elizabeth Samet

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature through Peace and War at West Point
by Elizabeth D Samet

It has taken me a while to even decide to review this book. I received a copy from the publisher and, while I felt like I was obligated to review it, I hate that I have not one kind word for this book, and that I never finished it. About 2/3 of the way through, I gave myself dispensation from the torture of reading it.

Elizabeth Samet teaches English at West Point. She has held the position for 10 years. This book is about - well what I thought and what it says are two different things.

The book is difficult to read. There is no chronological or logical order to it. It skips from place to place and time to time and topic to topic without warning and sometimes without any logic. In fact, it can be very confusing and frustrating. It reads more like a diary than a book. She will talk about Fred or Harry or Sue, but she never tells you who they are or why their story is important. Like diary mentions which jog your memory, her characters are relevant to no one but her. When she does begin to develop any story, she seems to leave you with more questions than she answers.

In the first paragraph of the first chapeter:
"The firsties were in a reflective mood: later that month, news of the death of a very popular recent graduate, Emily Perez, would carry them for a time into the doldrums."
She never tells you any more. Who was Emily Perez? How did she die? Car Accident, Cancer, Murder, Slip and Fall, or Fallen in Battle. Well, Elizabeth Samet is not going to tell you. But, I will. Please read here to know about Emily Perez. That sentence is as developed and complete as any character will be, which both frustrated and bored me.

Had the structure of the book been readable, I probably could have overlooked the anti-war rhetoric that is thrown in. Like everything with this book, when it appears, it is meaningless and annoying and thrown in at inappropriate places. My assessment of Ms Samet's world view is that, while she teaches at West Point, she never sees a reason for the cadets to use their training. In fact, there seems to be an intended 'feminization' of the cadets and a disappointment in those who will not succumb. I felt a desire to mold the cadets in opposition to their purpose at the United States Military Academy. She seems to resent any religious expression, political expression, patriotism and will never understand the 'cult of sacrifice' she calls the unity of soldiers to one another. Needless to say, I disagree with her on every point.

The fly leaves are well written, and I was looking forward to reading it, but the book disappoints profoundly. Ms. Samet may well be an exceptional teacher, but she is not an exceptional writer. This was one of the worst reads I have ever had. Do NOT waste your time with this book.

(Book received as a free preview copy - Hey, FCC, that didn't help this review!)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Otis the Musical Owl ~ Joseph N Chappelle

Otis the Musical Owl

Joseph N Chappelle

This is the story of an owl who is injured, taken to a rehab facility and then escapes and begins a quest to find his family. This children's book is part fact, part fiction and lots of fantasy, but there are no illustrations to assist the gaps in the story line.

One must suspend all logic while reading this book. It flits from reality to fantasy and back again. I felt that many pages had fallen out - that the story was denied its destiny to flourish. There were too many sections where the story never finished and went off in a different direction. There is amazing creativity here, but the story should have been fuller and longer.

It is a shame, as it raises many philosophical questions that are good for children to ponder.

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In A Time of War ~ Bill Murphy Jr

In A Time of War:
The Proud and Perilous Journey of
West Point's Class of 2002

By Bill Murphy Jr

When September 11, 2001 happened, the senior class at West Point was to become the first class to graduate during the War on Terror. At their graduation, they heard President Bush deliver the speech that became known as the 'Bush Doctrine' - America would take the fight to the enemy. They were destined to become the junior officers on the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bill Murphy's book follows a small group of the graduates of 2002 - friends who stay close through West Point, advanced training, deployments, marriages, children, wounds and death. From around the globe, their friendship bonded them together.

The book follows these young officers in many settings and experiences. As life unfolds, Mr. Murphy shares the all too human successes and disappointments, the wounds external and internal, the death of friends and the mourning of friends and family. They serve. They sacrifice. And, most of all, they stay friends.

Since this is a true story, nothing fits tidily in a box for the plot. But, the people are so memorable that you will never forget some of them....

Drew Sloan -
Drew was wounded in Afghanistan, after many surgeries to rebuild his face, requested deployment to Iraq. He is currently at Harvard in graduate school.

Todd Bryant
Todd lost his life in Iraq - October 31 2003 - leaving behind his new wife Jen.

Tim Moshier
Tim was an Apache helicopter pilot who lost his life in Iraq on April 1, 2006

Their stories should be on the front pages of newspapers in this nation. Unfortunately, they are not. But, Bill Murphy tells their stories in this remarkable book that everyone should read.

The author's web page is www.inatimeofwar.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The New Year's Quilt ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The New Year's Quilt

By Jennifer Chiaverini

Book 11 in the Elm Creek Quilts Series

This is a lovely volume of Sylvia's reminisces of her personal trials and how they left her with sorrow and her refusal to take that sorrow into her future. As she takes up a quilt project, she struggles with reconciliation with her new daughter-in-law, who opposed their late in life marriage. Sylvia wants to convince her that family is more important than pride.

With the love of her new husband, the memories of past sorrows and stitches of love put into a quilt, Sylvia wants everyone to remember, "We can't hold on to the past, but we can keep the best part of 'Auld Lang Syne' in our hearts and in our memories, and we can look forward to the future with hope and resolve."

Another lovely story for Elm Creek Manor.

Book 1 - A Quilter's Apprentice

Book 2 - Round Robin

Book 3 - The Cross-Country Quilters

Book 4 - The Runaway Quilt

Book 5 - The Quilter's Legacy

Book 6 - The Master Quilter

Book 7 - The Sugar Camp Quilt

Book 8 - The Christmas Quilt

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dead Heat ~ Joel C Rosenberg

Dead Heat

by Joel C Rosenberg

Book 5 of 5 in the Series

In the final book of the series, we find newlyweds, Jon and Erin working in the refugee camps in Jordan. The world's dictators and tyrants continue to gain power. Nuclear attacks hit the United States, ending the country as it is known.

It is left to Jon and Erin to answer the mysterious call that promises it can be stopped. As jon races to try, prophecies become reality.

This entire series leaves much to think about - both historical and biblical. It would be very frustrating to read them out of sequence, as they build upon one another. It was an exciting ride to read these books. And, I very much thank Russ for introducing me to them!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Copper Scroll ~ Joel C Rosenberg

The Copper Scroll

by Joel C Rosenberg

Book 4 of 5 in the Series

Suicide bombers and assassinations in the United States and Europe are showing the evil that still lurks in the world. A new power is rising in Iraq and the city of Babylon is being rebuilt.

Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy are drawn back into a world of terror when they embark on the search for a 2,000 year-old scroll that could lead to the discovery of riches and artifacts leading to the Third Jewish Temple. Some call it history's greatest treasure map. Others call it a road map to Armageddon. Many want to stop them on their quest as they struggle for world power.

Another exciting book in the series and filled with Biblical prophecy.

Book 1 - The Last Jihad
Book 2 - The Last Days
Book 3 - The Ezekiel Option
Book 4 - The Copper Scroll
Book 5 - Dead Heat

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ezekiel Option ~ Joel C Rosenberg

The Ezekiel Option

by Joel C Rosenberg

Book 3 of 5 in the Series

Yasser Arafat has joined bin Laden and Saddam. Peace has come to the Middle East. Prosperity and security have come to the Middle East. The President is trying to spread freedom and democracy, the Israelis and the Palestinians have signed an historic peace treaty.

Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy are still uneasy as they see Iran building nuclear weapons and a new dictator in Russia emerging. The world is on the edge of an apocalypse.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Last Days ~ Joel C Rosenberg

The Last Days

by Joel C Rosenberg

Book 2 of 5 in the Series

As the book opens, Osama bin Laden is dead, Saddam Hussein is dead, Baghdad is in ruins, the middle east is trying to recover from the war. Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy are attempting to put an Arab-Israeli Peace Plan in place, which includes the oil and gas reserves discovered in the region. But, in order to get the venture capital needed, the parties must put aside the long hatred and learn to get along, to provide an environment for capitalism to take old.

While the negotiations continue, there are evil men determined to derail the process and destroy the process.

Another exciting page turner of a book, with Biblical prophesies about the end times.

Book 1 - The Last Jihad
Book 2 - The Last Days
Book 3 - The Ezekiel Option
Book 4 - The Copper Scroll
Book 5 - Dead Heat

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Last Jihad ~ Joel Rosenberg

The Last Jihad

By Joel Rosenberg

Book 1 of 5 in the series

Written before September Eleventh and published before the Iraq War, Joel Rosenberg takes us into the cockpit of a plane on a suicide mission - crashing into the President's convoy. It is discovered that the Butcher of Baghdad is behind the attack, and further attacks ensue.

Jon Bennett is recruited by the President to assist in unity against Iraq and discovers that nuclear weapons are part of the plan. A united Russia and Iraq take on the world. Jon and his partner, Erin McCoy, broker an oil deal in the middle east which unites Israel with her Arab neighbors.

This book is a superb political thriller and also a novel of Biblical prophecy of the end days. It is exciting from the first page to the last and a terrific read.

Book 1 - The Last Jihad
Book 2 - The Last Days
Book 3 - The Ezekiel Option
Book 4 - The Copper Scroll
Book 5 - Dead Heat

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Quilter's Homecoming ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The Quilter's Homecoming

By Jennifer Chiaverini

Book 10 in the Elm Creek Quilts Novels

This book in the series takes us on a journey with a new bride, Elizabeth, from Elm Creek Manor who travels with her new husband from Pennsylvania to California during the the twenties. Once they arrive, they discover they have been victims of a scam. Penniless and friendless, they manage to eek out a living in the Arboles Valley.

Finding quilts in the decrepit cabin they live in, Elizabeth tenderly cleans and mends the quilts made so long ago with so much love. She discovers the quilts were made by the mother of a neighbor. The women find that they share much in the hardship in life, and form a friendship that transcends the pain in their daily lives.

This is a fabulous book about the period of the twenties, especially about the hill country north of Los Angeles. Chiaverini's writing is crisp and descriptive - easy to smell the dust, the sweat, to feel the heat and the cold.

Book 1 - A Quilter's Apprentice

Book 2 - Round Robin

Book 3 - The Cross-Country Quilters

Book 4 - The Runaway Quilt

Book 5 - The Quilter's Legacy

Book 6 - The Master Quilter

Book 7 - The Sugar Camp Quilt

Book 8 - The Christmas Quilt

Book 9 - Circle of Quilter's

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saving Babylon ~ Paul Holton

I first met "Chief Wiggles" through his blog - written from the beginning of the war in Iraq. It was an interesting and insightful account of his experiences during the war. "Chief Wiggles" is Paul Horton. Paul, a chief warrant officer in the Utah National Guard, is also the founder of Operation Give, a humanitarian organization that ships toys, medicine, and educational supplies to children in war-torn and devastated nations throughout the world. His book, Saving Babylon, The Heart of an Army Interrogator in Iraq, is a journal of his experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Saving Babylon will make you laugh and make you cry. It is a wonderful journey, and I was quite glad to take it. This is the firsthand account of an Army interrogator who worked hand-in-hand with Iraqis at all levels in building a new nation. Saving Babylon is a must-read for every American. You will learn what the media refuse to report.

I strongly recommend this book.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Men Are My Heroes ~ Brad Kasal

My Men Are My Heroes

The Brad Kasal Story

-as told to Nathaniel R Helms

When Brad Kasal was carried out of the 'house of hell' in Fallujah by LCpl Chris Marquez and LCpl Dan Shaffer, on Novemver 13, 2004, he had lost approximately 60 percent of his blood from more that 40 shrapnel wounds and seven 7.62mm AK-47 gunshots. The men had to put down their weapons to carry Kasal out, but Kasal came out armed, ready to protect them if need be. Lucian M Reed, an AP photographer, took the above photo which has become a symbol of the perservetance, heroism, valor, honor and fortitude of the United States Marine Corps and the rest of our military troops.

This book is a journey through Brad Kasal's life and through the streets of Fallujah, into the 'house of hell' to rescue his pinned down Marines. It is also an insight into the mind of a leader of men, a warrior, a Marine. The section dealing with the assault on Fallujah and the time in the 'house of hell' gave me sweaty palms with the intensity of the situation. The book does a remarkable job explaining who the enemy is and how they fight - and, how we fight.

Brad Kasal, while leading from the front, a position he is most comfortable in, led an assault on a house where Marines were pinned down. During the fight, Kasal was hit by direct fire and used his body to absorb the blast of a grenade, shielding a wounded Marine. He later won a Navy Cross for his actions (Hero to Remember: Sgt Maj Brad Kasal).

This is a moving description of the "tip of the spear" - a place most of us would never want to be, but thankfully, we have men like SGT Major Brad Kasal there keeping the rest of us safe and free. This book is graphic and hard to read in some places, but I have no doubt that it is honest to the reality. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the battle for Fallujah.

Sgt Major Brad Kasal wrote a remarkable Epilogue to the book. He tells us that he wrote the book to counter the lack of information in the news.

The biased media have made an impression on the American citezens and the terrorists themselves. Every time the media give airtime to a protestor, it gives another victory to the terrorists rather than to the protestors. And people believe what they read in the paper because it is all the information they have to go on. One time while I was at dinner with a few friends a lady approached me and asked what happened to my leg. At that point, I looked like something out of horror movie and was in a wheelchair. At first she was very conderned. But as soon as I told her I was in the military and injured overseas, she began to go into a long antimilitary tirade about how we don't need a military, and how there's never a reason for a war, and all the service members are dying unnecessarily. Biting back my anger for all the fine men who gave the ultimate sacrifice that she just dishonored, I simply replied with "Ma'am, you're very welcome; I'm sure what you meant to say was 'thank you' to myself and all the other service members who have made sacrifices to give you the freedom to openly make whatever statement you desire."

I'll be the first to say, as I've seen it numerous times firsthand, that war is an ugly thing. But sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. We are facing a worldwide enemy who has only one agenda: the complete annihilation of the American way of life. and that enemy will stop at nothing short of that goal.

Freedom has never come free. Whatever your beliefs or political stance, our young service members of all branches are performing remarkably and making a difference. In Iraq combat was only a small part of our overall role. Military service members performed countless humanitarian projects ranging from large-scale items -- such as building new schools, hospitals, and community services -- to everyday things as small as handing out candy and pencils to children or helping a farmer with a flat tire.

These valiant young men are helping to bring freedom to a country that was previously without it. They are constantly facing the dangers of IEDs, suicide bombers, and ambushes while they capture or kill terrorists who have no regard for human life.

Many people are amazed that I whis to return overseas as soon as I'm healthy again. But serving my country is where my heart is. It is my wish that the American media would show the true and complete story of what is really going on overseas and tell the story of how our service members are performing selfless acts of heroism and helping to bring freedom and a better way of life to a country.

Sgt Major Brad Kasal dedicated the book "to the memory of the members of 3d Battalion, 1st Marines who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for Fallujah." I am listing their names here ~ may we honor them all.

Headquarters and Service Company

SSgt Russell L Slay
SSgt Trevor L Spink
Sgt Krisna Nachampassak
Cpl Bradley T Arms
Cpl Nicanor A Alverez
Cpl Terry Holmes
LCpl Louis W Qualls
LCpl James E Swain
PFC Christopher J Reed

Weapons- George Company

Sgt Byron W Norwood
Cpl Brian Oliveira
Cpl Steven Rintamaki
LCpl Joshua W Dickinson
LCpl Abraham Simpson

Kilo Company

Sgt Christoper T Heflin
Sgr Morgan W Strader
LCpl Jeramy A Ailes
LCpl Juan E Segura

India Company

Cpl Dale A Burger, Jr
LCpl Justin D McLeese
LCpl andres H Perez
LCpl Phillip G West
PFC Fernando B Hannon
PFC Geoffrey Perez

Lima Company

Sgt Juan Calderon, Jr
Sgt William C James
Cpl Theodore A Bowling
LCpl Benjamin S Bryan
LCpl Lusi A Figueroa
LCpl Michael W Hanks
LCpl Nicholas D Larson
LCpl Nathan R Wood

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The First 48 ~ Tim Green

The First 48

by Tim Green

Police operate on the theory that if a kidnapped victim isn't found within the first 48 hours, they will be killed. A reporter, Jean Redmon, digging into a corruption case which implicates the Senator who destroyed her fathers career, disappears. The police suspect kidnapping.

Her father, a former cop, now a low rent attorney and alcoholic knows he has a brief window to find and save his daughter. Joined by his friend, Mike Tubbs, they embark upon a frantic journey, where each step uses up valuable time.

This is a fast paced story... violent... terrifying... It reaches to the uppermost levels of the government and to the worst of humanity.

As with all Tim Green's books, you go on a journey into the darkness of human souls, yet always see a spark of goodness shinning through at the most unexpected moments. There is no doubt that there is good and evil.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Kite Runner ~ Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

This is one of the best fiction books I have ever read. Khaled Hosseini takes us into the culture, life and war in the troubled land of Afghanistan. It gives a deep insight into the tribal culture, the quality of life, the difficulty the Taliban created.

The narrator tells the story of his childhood and the servant's boy that he shared it with. With continual warfare, his family immigrates and eventually arrives in the United States. He is educated and marries and has a life that Afghans can only dream of. Yet, he is still haunted by a childhood lie he told which caused a severe beating and exile for his childhood friend. He goes on a quest to right this wrong and finds a world that even he can not understand.

It is an intense tale of two friends, their opposite lives and the struggles in this war torn land.

It also tells of the tradition of kite flying and the importance of it in the community. It is a theme that goes throughout the book and becomes the symbol of hope for the future.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Iraq: Providing Hope ~ Eric Holmes

Iraq: Providing Hope
by Eric Holmes

I stumbled upon this book recently and was delighted when I read it. It is a compilation of 54 people who were in Iraq as soldiers, contractors or from the Iraqis themselves. It presents a view of our efforts in Iraq quite differently than anything you have ever seen in the Media. These are the stories that make the history real.

From the website:

"This is not about the generals, journalists or politicians. This is about the everyday Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, governent employees, aid workers and Iraqis. Seen through their eyes, here are their stories of fear, courage, bravery, anxiety and, most of all, hope. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have been bravely combating danger, living in miserable conditions and doing a great job. The bottom line is that we, as a nation, have freed twenty-five million people from a murderous dictator and have embarked on a plan to provide them a new beginning with a new constitution that protects human rights and provides hope."

Book Excerpts:

“There is no kind of job satisfaction then when a child hands you a bundle of flowers and thanks you freeing his country. Nothing I have done in my life outside of the Army can compare to having that kind of impact on someone’s life. Not politics and not business. So, I guess it is worth the sacrifice and pain." -Fred Wellman

“Although I was not surprised, I was humbled by the fact that a man with no right hand drove standard better than I could. I had learned early on during my time in Iraq that its people are intelligent and resourceful. I saw the evening’s events as another step toward progress in Iraq, a blending of resources and talents to accomplish a common goal. But more importantly, I saw an Iraqi, overcoming the scars left by years of tyranny, taking the driver’s seat toward his own destiny." -Anne Trenolene

Reading this book was a wonderful ride of all of the emotions. The realities of Iraq became more real for me than any other source, save the letters from soldiers, has done. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in what is happening in Iraq.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The World is Your Litter Box ~ Quasi ~ Steve Fisher

The World is Your Litter Box
by Quasi
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Hard cover, 112 pages
$9.95 $11.95 (Canada)
ISBN-10 1402752962
ISBN-13 978-1402752964

This is a delightful book, written by a cat, Quasi, on the care and feeding of the feline in your life. For those of us who love cats, this is not only informative, but incredibly, laugh-out-loud funny!

Quasi teaches cats how to do and get anything they want (not that I am sure that my cats need any instructions on this!)

Quasi's basic philosophy centers on the first chapter, "How to Look Cute". Once a cat has mastered that, all things are possible - 'How to Get Your Human to Buy Your Favorite Food', 'How to Get Your Humans to Sing and Act Like Complete Idiots', 'How to Annoy Humans with Allergies', '20 Good Places to Hide', to name a few of the delightful chapters. Quasi has definately figured out how to have the good life with his humans and is not shy about sharing his tips and tricks!

I found myself reading portions aloud to share the delightful wit.

Anyone who loves cats, will be delighted with this book!

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Sassamon Circle ~ Louis Garafalo

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (April 19, 2008)
ISBN-10: 143272066X
ISBN-13: 978-1432720667

The Sassamon Circle is historical fiction based on the mysterious death of the Indian John Sassamon. Sassamon was a Wompanoag who lived in Massachusetts and died in January 1675. A 'Praying Indian', Sassamon was able to communicate in English and native dialects which allowed him to function in cultures that were distinctly different from one another.

This story takes place during the period fifty years after the arrival of the Pilgrims. The death of Sassamon and the ensuing trial, leads to a collison of culture and a war. It delves into the tensions between the cultures that eventually led to King Phillip's War.

Mr Garafalo paints an amazing picture of the times and the culture - allowing you to picture the buildings, the clothing and the environment of the story. The story revolves around a fictional English family and a fictional Wompanoag family in the lead up to a war that was devastating to both sides in the conflict. He develops characters that are easy to relate to and understand and gives you a sense of the thoughts of both the English and the Indians.

This is a period of history that is not taught and is difficult to find in history books. Mr Garafalo has done us the gift of handing us a part of our history that we did not know about. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the early history of the country.

On a personal note, Mr Garafalo and I both share a relative with a very odd name. It was strange to see it in print....

(Book received as a free preview copy)