Another fun website

I’m in the middle of Los Alamos and really enjoying it.  But, I thought I’d pass along another fun site. is the merriam-webster dictionary site and it has fun word games, crossword puzzles and a daily podcast.  My favorite is the word game of the day.  You should check it out. 

 If any of you have a good book recommendation please leave a comment.  Thanks!

Hey, Good Looking, by Fern Michaels

Cover ImageFinshed 1-24-08, rating 2.5/5, romance, pub. 2006

Darby had a best friend, Russell, who we met in the first chapter and was dead by chapter two.  Darby grieves and with the help of her aunts and Russell’s brother, Ben, she copes.  The villainous stepmom, Bella, provides much needed tension and there is a weird storyline involving organ donation.  Michaels made it a plotline, but never really delved into it with any real depth.  There is a conclusion of the plot near the end of the book, but it didn’t make much sense to me. 

I read this because my Mom gave it to me and I wanted something light and fun.  It was light, but too light for my tastes and Michaels tells too much instead of letting me use my own imagination.  And poor Ben had a bad habit of “puffing his chest out” whenever Darby gave him a compliment.  For some reason by the third time this happened I really wanted to just stop reading, but for all my complaints once I reached the halfway point I was interested in the story, if not the writing.  There is an interesting cast of characters and it is a fun read, but not a memorable one.

Released into the wild

I released my first book into the wild today, courtesy of  I have lots of books on my shelf and I will never consider throwing any of them away.  I will trade them, donate them, give them away, but I will NEVER throw a book away.  So, I decided to try releasing a book into the world and seeing what would happen. 

I left a Tami Hoag book at the Arabica in Solon at about 11 this morning.  If you are going by there today you should stop by and see if it is still there.  Here’s the link to bookcrossing telling you about it.

I’ll keep you posted if anything happens.  Or you could try it yourself.  If you go to the site and click on the GO HUNTING heading on the left you can enter your own city and see if anyone has already released a book in your area.

Happy Hunting!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

Cover ImageFinished on 1-22-08, rating 5/5, non-fiction, pub. 2000

  My knowledge of Stephen King’s novels is limited.  I’ve read a few, listened to a few more on road trips with my husband, and seen some of the movies.  I usually enjoy them, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan.  So, I was justifiably surprised when I was totally charmed by this book and its author.

  The first half of this book is memoir full of stories of his youth and early writing successes.  There were stories of his first sale, for 25 cents to his mother, and his busy adolescence making a statement with his writing.  King moves onto adulthood, marriage, kids, a job he doesn’t enjoy and he doesn’t pull any punches.  This book is told with such honesty that you are drawn into King’s world.  His drug and alcohol abuse could have led to self-pity or delusions of grandeur, but it didn’t.  All of these snapshots of his life are told with rich detail, but with an understanding of just how much to tell.

  The second half is devoted to the craft of writing.  Having read much advice from established authors I know there as many ways to write a book as limbs on a tree (King loves simile and metaphor), and King gives his best, unapologetic nuggets of wisdom.  He doesn’t mince words, but they are told with humor and real-life experiences from his own prosperous writing career.  He also delves into what happened when he was hit by a van and was close to death.  The book comes full circle with his telling of the accident.

I loved this book.  I loved the mix of humor, truth, detail, and brevity.  I have been charmed by a horror writer and I’m not ashamed to admit it. 🙂

Plum Lucky, by Janet Evanovich

Cover ImageFinished 1-19-08, rating 2.5/5, fiction, pub. 2008

I’m not sure why I continue to read the Stephanie Plum novels, especially these missives she calls “Between-the Numbers.”  This one is a mere 166 pages.  I fell in love with bounty hunter Stephanie in her first novel, One For the Money, and followed her through many zany adventures.  Somewhere around the sixth book the novels became a cartoon of their earlier versions.

Okay, Plum Lucky.  Stephanie receives a visit from her Between-the Novels pal, Diesel, and her Grandmother finds over a million dollars that she claims as her own.  There is also a leprechaun, a horse, ex-hooker Lula, and a shootout with a rocket launcher.  This book is almost all dialogue and very little little heart. 

So, why did I bother if I am no longer enjoying the Plum novels?  Because yesterday when I stopped by the library they gave it to me.  And I read it because it was too short not to.

Mad River Road, by Joy Fielding

Cover ImageFinished audio 1-17-08, rating 2.5/5, fiction. pub. 2006

“Brad” was released from prison on a technicality and wasted no time in planning revenge against those who wronged him.  His first step was finding a woman with a car to warm his bed.  Enter Jamie, who had just found out her boyfriend was married, and you have a scary combination of recklessness and danger.  They begin their trek from Florida to Ohio to find his ex-wife and his son. 

The book had potential, but never really pulled me in.  There was only one sympathetic character of the bunch.  And I kept waiting for something to happen, but had to wait until the last part of the book.

A good reader can make a good book better or a bad one worse.  The reader used different voices for the many characters, but a few of the characters sounded so silly.  So, I’ll allow for the possibility that it may have been better if I’d read it, but I still wouldn’t recommend this book.

Fun Book Websites

A few of my favorite websites devoted to books…   —  I wrote book reviews for this site for years.  If you check it out you can see my wedding photo 🙂   — This is a great site for romance lovers.  It has monthly contests where you can win free books from authors.  I have actually won a  few times so it works!   — A site dedicated to book lovers.  You have a book you want to share?  Check out the site.  I’m stacybuckeye there too.  More on that later when I release my first book into the wild!   — Sign up to receive the first few chapters from a book.  You’ll receive a few pages a day to read and at the end of one week you’ll have read the first few chapters and you decide if you like it.  Each week it’s a new book.

Tourist Season, by Carl Hiaasen

Cover ImageFinished on 1-13-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1986

This comedy was published in 1987, but it is based on a modern day premise of over-development.  Popular Miami journalist Skip Wiley has formed his own band of terrorists to take back South Florida from the rich developers and Yankee tourists.  He has an elderly Native American, an ex-pro football player, and a Cuban revolutionary with faulty bomb making skills to help him fight his cause.  There is no one safe from their special brand of terror.  

Brian Keyes is a journalist turned private detective who has been asked to find Skip before he kills anyone else.  Brian has a few well placed allies and is able to locate Skip, if not stop him.  Skip and his band of  misfits leads Brian and the rest of Miami on a twisted ride toward chaos. 

 This all sounds so very serious, but told with Hiaasen’s light touch and slick humor it turns into a page turning caper that even a high body count cannot stall.   I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I was a little surprised at the relationship between 32 year-old Keyes and a 19 year old beauty queen.  I guess the unexpected is what keeps me reading 🙂

In 1997 at a Barnes & Noble manager’s conference Hiaasen came to speak and sign books for us.  I still have the personalized signed copy of Lucky You on my shelf.  I think I’ll have to finally read it!

The Painted Veil, W.Somerset Maugham

Cover ImageFinished the audio on 1-8-08, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 1925

I really enjoyed this book.  It is set in the 1920’s and is the story of pampered Kitty who marries a man to please her mother.  Kitty was beautiful and spoiled and Walter loved her.  She agreed to marry the bacteriologist and they were off to Shanghai where Kitty began an affair with the ambitious and married Charles.

  When Walter finds out he is heartbroken and forces Kitty to face an uncertain future in a cholera infested Chinese village.  There Kitty must face her own worth and take stock of her life.  Walter dies before true restoration can be made in their realtionship.  Kitty must travel back to Shanghai a pregnant widow.   

She must face Charles again and I was really rooting for her to show her spunk.  She did show her spunk, but she also showed her vulnerabilty.  The pages after she gave in to Charles once again were the most moving to me.  It was a heartwrenching look into a flawed woman who was desparately trying to overcome her faults.  She travels home to the one parent she has left and is met by a distant father who is facing his own freedom just as Kitty is facing the end of hers. 

 This was a wonderful novel.  I thought the reader. Kate Reading, was excellent and I am looking forward to checking out the latest movie version of this book.  I think Naomi Watts will make a great Kitty.