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

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)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eight Lives Down ~ Chris Hunter

Eight Lives Down
The Story of the World's Most Dangerous Job
in the World's Most Dangerous Place
By Chris Hunter

Eight Lives Down is the story of a British bomb disposal expert, Major Chris Hunter, and his tour in Basra, Iraq. Major Hunter captures you in the first chapter and you know that this is a journey you will take with him - no matter how frightening or sad. It is a journey with true heroes and not for the faint of heart.

The journey with Major Hunter and his team tells of the bombers that infested Iraq - the bombs, the materials, the forensics and the dismantlement of them. I was hesitant to read it at first, knowing how many have lost their lives to the vile IEDs and their various forms (including my friend SGT James Craig). But, I know that those who defuse these bombs have a story that is rarely told and a much higher rate of saved lives than lost lives.

I ended up in awe of the men in this profession. The precision and concentration with which they work is awe inspiring. The detail of knowledge that they must have is impressive, and major Hunter tells of the challenging school he had to attend to do his job. As the team becomes more successful, a price is put on his head. Camera crews show up at incidents to film him and the team hoping to capture images of things going badly. We learn about the forensics - the parts made in Iran, the style of the Chechen's or the IRA or others.

We are allowed a glimpse into the family that the team becomes - the shared laughter and sorrow. Although, I must admit that I did not understand all of the British slang, I did understand the meaning!

We have had some remarkable books come out of the Great War on Terror: Lone Survivor, Rule Number Two, On Call in Hell, My Men are My Heroes. This is definitely another one. It is an intense, but great read. It is well written, and you may find yourself holding your breath in parts of it. It flows as if a story is being told aloud, holding your attention through each sentence. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand a part of the story on the ground in Iraq.

To Major Hunter and his team - Thank you - thank you so much for your service, your bravery, and your dedication. The world is a better place because of all of you and I am so grateful.

About the Author: CHRIS HUNTER joined the British Army in 1989 at sixteen. He was commissioned from Sandhurst at twenty-one and later qualified as a counter terrorist bomb disposal operator. He retired in March 2007 from the Defence Intelligence Staff, where he was the Ministry of Defence's senior IED intelligence analyst. He is a former chairman of the Technical Committee of the Institute of Explosives Engineers and continues to serve as a counter terrorism consultant. He works regularly with US military and law enforcement personnel, including a member of government agencies and the US Special Forces. He has served on numerous operations in the Balkans, East Africa, Northern Ireland, Colombia, and Afghanistan and was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his actions during his tour in Iraq.

(This book was received as a free preview copy.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Signed, Mata Hari ~ Yannick Murphy

Signed, Mata Hari
by Yannick Murphy
ISBN-10: 031611264X
ISBN-13: 978-0316112642

I have always had a fascination with spies, especially women spies of the 20th century. I have always been fascinated by Mata Hari - the Dutch woman Margaretha Zelle, an exotic dancer who was accused of being a double agent in world War I. Perhaps my fascination dates back to watching Greta Garbo in the 1931 movie.

This book is historical fiction. It centers on the prison cell of Margaretha Zelle and the stories she tells her jailers hoping to lenghten her life. In a strangely erotic story, she tells us her life story: the troubled childhood, the cruel husband, the life in India (which was quite fascinating), the lost children, the exotic dancing, and her time in prison.

The book is written with the unique perspective of an imprisioned woman. The imagry is ugly and beautiful - haunting in the details. It is one of the more disturbing books I have read, yet I am glad that I read it.

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Friday Night Knitting Club ~ Kate Jacobs

The Friday Night Knitting Club

by Kate Jacobs

At Walker & Daughter, Georgia, a single mother runs a knitting shop - a business she started with help of a benefactor and new friend. As the years go by, the shop succeeds and her daughter grows into a young woman, A Club forms on Friday nights where her customers gather to knit and help one another and talk. The Club becomes a place of more than knitting, as the women talk about life, love and projects. Deep friendships grow.

Unexpectedly, Georgia's life changes drastically as two estranged people re-enter her life - her best friend in school and the father of her daughter. At the same time, life's changes come to the regular members of the Club and love, divorce, marriage, birth and death visit the members.

Through the trials, tribulations, joys and love, the members always have knitting to tie them together - the love of the yarn, the stitches and the process knit them together.

The attraction of this book is the imperfections of the characters who draw you into their world. Somehow, they make you feel a part of them. As the plot reels to its predictable ending, you are, nonetheless, delighted you took the journey

This is a very enjoyable read. The characters are rich and believeable and the plot as varied as life's changes make it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Everyday Cat Excuses ~ Molly Brandenburg

Everyday Cat Excuses
Written & Illustrated by Molly Brandenburg

64 pages ISBN: 1-4027-5903-7 ISBN13: 9781402759031

$7.95 US $8.95 Canadian Hardcover with Jacket

b/w illus. throughout 7 1/4 X 6

This is a joyful book for cat lovers everywhere. No cat lover will be able to resist laughing out loud as they recognize their own beloved felines in the pages. It is a delightful book.

It is artfully illustrated with primitive cats that convey the messages of the cats!

Of course, we would have liked for it to be longer and spent quite some time coming up with additional cat excuses! Everyone should visit the web site and read about the cats who were the inspiration for the story -

Everyday Cat Excuses is a great gift for the feline lover (or yourself)!!!

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Grandfather's Son ~ Clarence Thomas

My Grandfather's Son
By Clarence Thomas

This memoir by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the long awaited story of the life of a most remarkable man. The story of Clarence Thomas is the story of the American dream fulfilled - a young man who barely spoke English rises to one of the most important people in the nation.

His trajectory to importance began with his life lived with his Grandfather, who taught his strict work ethic and value system to Clarence and his brother. Life was not easy, but the stories that Justice Thomas shares speak of family and love and value.

This is an emotional and spiritual journey. Justice Thomas allows us a vision of a life well lived and the trials that go along with it. It also presents a very different view of the confirmation hearings than have ever been heard before.

Best of all, it is written like a magnificent novel - each page alive with the stories of people you would be honored to know.

This is a must read book!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rule Number Two ~ Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft

Rule Number Two

Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital

Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft (LCmdr, Ret)

There are two rules of war.
Rule number one is that young men die.
Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one.
--M*A*S*H: TV show

One of the remarkable things happening in today's military and today's war zones is the phenomenal writing that is occurring from the front lines in the form of blogs and books. Today, we are brought closer to the thoughts and feelings and experiences of our military through the written word, and they do it so well. Anyone wanting to know more about the War on Terror and our military has access to the information.

Rule Number Two is a collection of the experiences of Navy Lieutenant Commander Heidi Kraft during her deployment as a clinical psychologist with a Marine Corps Surgical Unit in Al Asad, Iraq. Dr. Kraft shares with us the stories of the damages of war and the amazing stories of repair of the spirit and the body. She also shares her longing for home and her 15 month old twins, jutaposing her life in Iraq with her family at home. There are stories that will make your heart soar, make you laugh out loud and make you cry. There is an especially gruesome story of her smallpox vaccination and one about camel spiders that are unforgetable!

Dr. Kraft allows us to share her laughter, her tears, her joys and her fears. This is a wonderfully readable book, and difficult to put down, as Dr Kraft weaves us into her stories. We meet the Marines, the Navy Corpsmen, the Navy doctors, nurses, technicians and the Marine working dogs.

Some of the most vivid stories are those of Cpl Jason Dunham. When Cpl Dunham was wounded, Dr Kraft was one of the people who sat and held his hand and talked to him. Cpl Dunham, who died later from his wounds, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage and bravery and sacrifice that day when he threw himself on a grenade to save his men. In later chapters, Dr Kraft shares the story of his passing and the story of his mother's, Deb Dunham, letter to Dr. Kraft to thank her for holding Jason's hand and caring for him. They are stories that will touch your heart.

One of the greatest gifts of this book is the peek into the medical care provided to our warriors - the love, care and respect they are given. This is a remarkable book and I recommend it to anyone interested in life in a war zone and in a hospital in a war zone.

Dr Kraft is donating 10% of the profits to the
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

(Book received as a free preview copy)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Duty ~ Bob Greene

In honor of the passing of Paul Tibbets on November 1, 2007, I immediately went back to the book written by Bob Green - Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War.

Bob Greene made a trip home to be with his dying father. Living quietly, almost anoymously, in the same town was Paul Tibbets - the man who flew the Enola Gay and dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, leading to the end of World War II.

Bob Greene was able to meet Paul Tibbets and to spend time with him. Through Paul Tibbets, Bob Greene learned about the ingrained sense of honor and duty he always saw in this father and in the ordinary heroes of the time of World War II.

This is a deeply personal journey, and one that is easy to embrace.

If you know any one from the WWII generation, this is a journey you should take. I intend to reread it now in honor of Paul Tibbets and all of the WWII vets.

More about Paul Tibbets and the Enola Gay:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle

November 29, 1918 - September 6, 2007

As a lifelong bibliophile, I still have a collection of books that I adored as a child. Madeleine L'Engle time series was one of my favorites. It was also the first science fiction/fantasy that I read. I always loved the time books - A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

Later in my life, I rediscovered Madeleine L'Engle as a writer for adults and a Christian writer. She wrote fiction and non-fiction. One of my favorites is Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. A prolific writer of over 60 books, she brought great joy to many readers across the age spectrum.

When I learned of her death, I picked up my long loved copy of A Wrinkle in Time and rediscovered the joy she had given me so very long ago.

Farewell, Madeleine L'Engle. Thank you for the journeys!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Circle of Quilters ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

Circle of Quilters

by Jennifer Chiaverini

ISBN-10: 074326021X

Book 9 in the Elm Creek Quilts Series

As life takes some of the Elm Creek Quilters in different directions, there are openings for instuctors at Camp. We meet the applicants and suffer through their decisions, the assembly of their applications and their interviews.

The new characters are warm and likable, sad and hopeless, and joyful and creative. There histories merge into the circle of quilting and the bonds of creativity and friendship.

Some of the stories are obvious, but you find yourself rooting for the outcome, and welcome them into the Elm Creek Quilters.

I have never been sorry that I picked up the first book in this series in a remainder bin. I still don't quilt, but I do hand work and understand the bonding and relationships between people who share a passion. I get great joy from these books and the characters that are pleasantly all too human.

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Christmas Quilt ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The Christmas Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini

ISBN-10: 0739458817

Book 8 in the Elm Creek Quilts Series

This volume takes us back to the relationship between Sylvia and Sarah. Finding the blocks for an unfinshed quilt stuffed in the Christmas decorations, leads to Elm Creek Manor stories from the antebellum era, through the Great Depression and World War II, to the present. All of the quilt blocks are stories of their creators and their times.

As Sylvia and Sarah explore the foundations of the Christmas traditions of Elm Creek Manor, they find that though our traditions may differ, our memories are all about family and friends and the simple virtues of joy and hope buoyed by the spirit of giving.

I especially enjoyed this volume in the series. The presentation of our Christmases and the memories they evoke went from bitter-sweet to joy to sorrow to humorous to contemplative. It was reflective of the many Christmases we have all experienced.

Book 1 - A Quilter's Apprentice
Book 2 - Round Robin
Book 3 - The Cross-Country Quilters
Book 4 - The Runaway Quilt
Book 6 - The Master Quilter
Book 7 - The Sugar Camp Quilt

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Sugar Camp Quilt ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The Sugar Camp Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini

ISBN-10: 0743260198

Book 7 in the Elm Creek Quilts Series

The book in the series takes us into the world of Creek's Crossing, Pennsylvania prior to the Civil War, with friends and neighbors taking sides in the abolitionist debate.

Dorothea, a young lady in the midst of the arguments and her tormented family life, learns wisdom beyond her years over a quilt she makes. She finds herself in the midst of the Underground Railroad and learns lessons of friendship and honor along the way.

This book is riveting from beginning to end, and provides a view of the times that is valuable in understanding it.The author, again, creates characters that are quite real - loveable, yet flawed. Her descriptions of the way of life in the mid-1800's are realistic and give you a sense of the work required to live in the times.

Book 1 - A Quilter's Apprentice
Book 2 - Round Robin
Book 3 - The Cross-Country Quilters
Book 4 - The Runaway Quilt
Book 6 - The Master Quilter

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Master Quilter ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The Master Quilter

By Jennifer Chiaverini

ISBN-10: 0452284686

Book 6 in the Elm Creek Quilts Series

Sylvia quietly plans her wedding without her friends knowledge. When her friends discover her secret, they begin one of their own. Her friends wish to honor Sylvia and Andrew with yet another surprise - a wedding quilt. They contact former Elm Creek Quilt Campers to get the 140 squares needed for the quilt. They wait in secretive anticipation for the sqaures to arrive so that they can assemble the quilt.

The secrecy is deeper than the topic of the quilt and the secrets in the lives of these friends threaten to tear apart the unity and friendship that they have so enjoyed. They once again relearn the lessons that we all need to be reminded of - honestly, loyalty and friendship.

Book 1 - A Quilter's Apprentice
Book 2 - Round Robin
Book 3 - The Cross-Country Quilters
Book 4 - The Runaway Quilt

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Quilter's Legacy ~ Jennifer Chiaverini

The Quilter's Legacy
By Jennifer Chiaverini

ISBN-10: 0452284678

Book 5 in the Elm Creek Quilts Series

The continued interweaving of history, quilting, families and friends continues in this volume.

Sylvia begins a search for her Mother's quilts - quilts sold by her sister decades before. In searching for the quilts she uncovers more of the family history, including the flu epidemic of 1918. Her search leads her on a cross-country journey with the man she has come to love and wishes to marry.

While the search was begun to find the quilts, what Sylvia finds is the history of her Mother's life that she knew little of. She also learns that love is not impossible despite her age, though others acceptance of it might be more challenging, just as it was for her mother.

Book 1 - A Quilter's Apprentice
Book 2 - Round Robin
Book 3 - The Cross-Country Quilters
Book 4 - The Runaway Quilt