What’s the best caption quiz?

We have a split decision…

“Sadly, the snow covering Stacy did not melt until mid-March.”  (Mark)

and

“Yeah, now I remember why I moved to Cleveland.”  (Betty)

100_07122

I took this photo of Jason yesterday.  This week’s quiz—-

What is the best caption for this photo?  I’ll post your caption with the photo and a link back to your blog if you have one.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with!  I’ll pick the best one on Friday.

Naked Came the Manatee, Carl Hiaasen editor

Cover ImageFinished 1-17-09, rating 2.5/5, fiction, pub. 1996

This novel is a serial collaborataion of 13 of South Florida’s best writers and was originally written for The Miami Herald’s Tropic magazine.  David Barry writes the first chapter, passes it off to Les Standiford, Paul Levine, Edna Buchanan, James W. Hall, Carolina Hospital, Evelyn Mayerson, Tananarive Due, Brian Antoni, Vicki Hendricks, John Dufresne, Elmore Leonard, and Carl Hiaasen plays clean up in the last chapter.  A few of the authors’ serial characters show up- Buchanan’s Britt Montero, Standiford’s John Deal, and Levine’s Jake Lassiter.

A 102 year old woman rescues a man from the bay and he is in possession of a canister with shocking contents.  The canister is one of a pair, both containing the head of Fidel Castro.  There are chases, murders, confusion, and a multitude of characters, including Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro.  And there is a very introspective manatee in the bay named Booger, who thinks of the 102 year old grandmother as his ‘ma’. 

This is an interesting experiment, but it is a hot mess of a novel.  There are characters that move in and out of the story with little or no explanation, each author wanting to add something new instead of trying to build on what’s there.  The last chapter where Carl Hiaasen tries to explain everything is pretty funny considering what he had to work with.  It was wacky in a good way, but it was probably best suited to it’s original form, as a weekly magazine installment.

Rumpleville Chronicles presents The Bomb That Followed Me Home

Author-Cevin Soling  Illustrator-Steve Kille

The Rumpleville series are contemporary fables that are replete with social commentary…The fairy tale format highlights the perverse morality of contemporary culture and foiled promised of “happily ever after” endings. 

This was from the press release I received with the book.  I requested the book because I thought it was a children’s book.  I still thought that when I took it out of the mailing envelope and saw a children’s book.  It wasn’t until a few pages into the book that I realized this is not  for kids.  So, of we completely take that off the table I can review it as a book for more mature readers, let’s say teenagers or older.

A boy realizes he is being followed home by a bomb (that hides in the landfills).  As he walks by his neighbors house (the only part of the book I truly enjoyed) he remembers all of the reasons he dislikes them.  Once home there is this

“Suddenly something chafed against my leg.  I glanced down, and there at my feet was the cutest bomb I had ever seen.”

The boy wants to keep it, but his parents won’t let him, relating it to having a dog.  I won’t spoil the end, but really it just made an absurd book bad.  My husband disliked it more than I did.  The illustrations were okay and I suppose kids would enjoy the art.  You would have to make up your own story.

This is book three in the Rumpleville Chronicles.

This was not to my sense of humor (except the neighbor gibberish part), but it would probably appeal to someone with a more twisted sense of humor.  If that person might be you, leave a comment and I’ll mail the book on to you, free of charge.

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, by Jeffery Deaver

Cover ImageFinished audio 1-14-09, rating 3.5, fiction, pub. 2004

In this historical novel Paul Shumann is a hit man for the mob who gets caught red-handed and is offered the choice of the electric chair or traveling to Germany to kill one of Hitler’s power men, Reinhard Ernst.  The choice was an easy one and Paul travels to Germany with the Olympic team where cameos by real Olympians, including the hero of the games, Jesse Owens, add interest.  Once Paul reaches Germany he is almost immediately embroiled in a murder that has the Crypto searching Berlin and beyond for the hit man.

The many storylines are compelling.  You get to meet Hitler and other real characters like Himmler and Goring.  The Cryptos search for Paul is a cat and mouse game that forces Paul into the shadows.  There are a few there to help Paul complete his heady task of killing Ernst.  And the men pulling the strings back in New York are not exactly what they seem.  There is also love and national loyalty at play.

This novel has plenty going on and there were many things I really liked about it.  I thought the first two-thirds of the book was a great set-up full of wonderful characters and storylines.  It was interesting to see that some of the police were not Hitler supporters and it added real depth to the real story being enacted Hitler.  Paul’s sense of duty to his job and his interest in righting injustice made him a compelling main character.

As much as I enjoyed the first part of the book I equally did not find the end satisfying.  The wrap up had plenty of twist and turns, which was good, but at the end there still seemed to be a few things left incomplete. 

If this time period intrigues you or you are a Jeffery Deaver fan you should give this book a try.

What I Learned Today

 I saw this done on another blog (sorry, but I don’t remember where) and thought I’d steal the idea for today.  I used the Go To a Random Blog button and tried to learn at least one thing from each before I moved on.  I went 10 places and you can see what happened.  It was interesting to say the least.

On MyCoffeBreaks every post was written in a language I didn’t know except one.  The one written in English?  Lyrics to Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt. 

From Katara I learned the rules for a good, clean fight with my husband.

At Princess and Bear Go to the Movies the last 8 posts were reviews for various Friday the 13th movies.  I realized that maybe I am the only person in the world who has never seen any of them.

From Index Beating  I learned that a blog can sound just like my husband when he’s talking about work…oil, indexes, subprime, trades…

Over at Projecy Progeny  I learned the travails of a working mom and the struggle with infertility.

At Secret Angel Cat I learned about Tigerfeet, a 24 year old Tauren who loves chocolate ice cream and blackberries.

CashMattress’s Weblog  has 400 members and offers  $10 prizes for things like completing the most offers?

The Desert Duck is a funny blog written by an elementary school teacher.  I enjoyed the stories about her students.  This was my favorite of the 10.

http://bookwyrmknits.wordpress.com/ has lots of info and photos for knitters.  My favorite photo was of cute kitty, Suzy. 

 From Where is Olga?  I learned that Olga has been quite a few places.   It’s organized and easy to find specific places.  She includes lots of photos.

Go ahead and try it.  See what you can learn today 🙂

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

TwilightFinished 1-10-09, rating 3.5/5, YA fiction, pub. 2005

Bella is a normal teenager with divorced parents and low self-esteem.  She moves up to Washington state to live with her father and becomes very popular with the boys of the small town.  One boy in particular, Edward, makes her heart jump and the two begin a relationship.  Of course, she does find out that he is a vampire, but that is of no real concern, they are young and in love.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I placed my name on the waiting list at the library and finally it was my turn!   It is a nice story about young love and vampires, but nothing more and nothing less.  I used to devour teen romances back in my own teen years and this feels the same.  It is fluffy, shallow, and not really challenging in any way.  The fact that Bella is your average girl and suddenly every boy around her seems lost in love, including a vampire who has not fallen in love in his 100+ years, seems like overkill.

On the positive side it was interesting and about halfway through the pace picked up and became more of a page turner.  The first half may have been a little slow, but once the vampires began fighting each other it gained some momentum.  The game of baseball the vampire clan, the Cullens, played in the woods during thunderstorms was original and fun.

I was expecting something great from all of the hype surrounding the book and the movie and I was a little disappointed.  I can see why teen girls love it but, I am probably not going to finish the series.  There are just too many really good books out there!

More reviews-

Heather @ Book Addiction

Whatcha Readin’ Quiz?

For fun I thought it would be great if we all shared what we’re reading right now with a sentence or two from the first page.

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.  I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.

These are the first two sentences of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, a 933 page novel that mirrors his own life.

So what are you reading right now and can you share a sentence or two from the first page?  Any time of book works for me 🙂

Small Town Girl, by Lavyrle Spencer

Cover ImageFinished 1-9-09, rating 3.5, romance, pub.1997

“One-way traffic crawlin’ round a small town square

Eighteen years’ve passed since she’s been there

Been around the world, now she’s coming back

Wider-eyed  and noting what this small town lacks” 

Beginning of the song, Small Town Girl

Tess has a voice and a face that the whole world knows.  She left her small town roots behind when she was eighteen to become a country star and a millionaire many times over.  Tess puts her life in Nashville on hold to drive back to Missouri when her oldest sister demands that she come home to take care of their mother after surgery.

Although Tess’ life may have changed, nothing in her childhood home has and she quickly becomes frustrated by her mother’s stubbornness.  Almost immediately she butts heads with an old schoolmate, Kenny, who had a crush on her in school and now lives next to her mother.  Kenny is divorced with a teen-aged daughter and a long time girlfriend, but sparks fly between he and Tess and his adolescent crush threatens to capture his heart again.

This romance is a great down home family drama.  Tess, after being gone so long, has to readjust her attitude and her relationships and I was drawn in to her struggle to reconcile her two lives.  And Kenny’s daughter, Casey, was a big part of that and it was easy to love her exuberance and its impact on Tess.

All of the problems of  Tess’ life aren’t tied up and served like a gift at the end of the story and this made me like it that much more.  It felt real.  There was also quite a lot of detail about the music business that anyone interested in the industry would learn from. 

I really enjoyed this romance and I think anyone who is from a small town or who has an interest in the world of country music will too.

7 Things You May Not Know About Me(me)

You are the unsuspecting readers of  Seven Random Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me.  You can thank Don (here) for these few minutes you won’t get back.

1. On my 16th birthday my parents gave me a 1980 Camaro.

2. This is one of the perks of being an only child.

3.  I failed my driving test twice before I barely passed on the 3rd try.

4. I got into an accident a month after that.

5. When I moved to Washington DC my Buick was stolen and found a few days later.

6. When I picked it up at the junkyard the attendant showed me how to start my car using a fork from the ground because my steering column was busted.

7. I used that fork for almost a month before finally getting the steering column fixed.

Now you know…

I’d like to hear from all of you, so you are all tagged!

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules.
3. Write 7 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 7 people and link to their blogs.
5. Let each person know they were tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry has been published.

9 in ’09 with Rachel Hauck

 This is my first of many (I hope) interviews with authors I enjoy.    Every Friday I’ll be asking 9 questions of an author gracious enough to answer them.  I reviewed Sweet Caroline last year (review here) and its author, Rachel Hauck, answered these 9 questions for me.  Thanks Rachel!  You can visit Rachel at her website, www.rachelhauck.com

Rachel Hauck is a best selling and award winning author. A graduate of Ohio State University, she lives in central Florida with her husband and pets. She is currently writing her twelfth novel.

1. I loved your book, Sweet Caroline.  What made you choose to set it in the South Carolina low country?

RH: To be honest, I looked at books set in the south and saw how well received lowcountry were and thought, why not set a book in South Carolina? But before that, a friend of ours wrote a worship song called Praise House. I asked where the idea came from and he showed my husband and I his home video of a spontaneous trip he and his wife took to Beaufort, South Carolina looking for a Gullah praise house. As soon as I saw his video, I knew I wanted to set a book there.

2. This YouTube clip promoting Love Starts With Elle is great.  Can you tell us how it was done and more about your Diet Coke addiction?

RH: Diet Coke addiction? What Diet Coke addiction. Okay, yeah, I do enjoy my daily Diet Coke. It’s my drink of choice rather than coffee. When I was in college, I was a Diet Pepsi fan, but several years ago while at my corp job, everyone drank Diet Coke like it was going out of style and I switched because several people had office mini-fridges stocked with Diet Coke. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Love Starts With Elle trailer came to me one night out of the blue. I wanted a book trailer, but they are all the same and I wanted to do something different. I thought, “What if I talk to Elle like she’s real?”

I called a good friend who used to work at Pixar. We agreed on the project and price, I wrote a script and we filmed it a few days later. It was fun and easy. Despite my bad hair day, it turned out well. 🙂

3. You attended Ohio State (Go Bucks!) and earned a degree in journalism.  What drew you to writing inspirational fiction as a career choice?

RH: Yes, Go Buckeyes! I always wanted to be a writer which was one reason I majored in Journalism. After graduating and working in the corp world for awhile, I thought about writing but knew the publishing road to be daunting. Finding an agent, etc.

In the early ’90s I started reading Christian fiction. I enjoyed the stories and liked the aspect of weaving in a spiritual theme if I wanted. On ’94, I started my first book, a WW2 epic. Excerpts from it made it in Love Starts With Elle.

I went to my first writers conference in ’97 where I began meeting people and learning about the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA.) In those days, you didn’t need an agent. A writer just submitted to the publishers, but even by the late ’90s, fiction was making huge strides.

I don’t think I purposefully set out to write Inspirational, it just came out of the books I was reading and the excitement I had in my heart over a life in God.

4. Do you have a local writing group or fellow writers that you look to for support and advice or is writing a solitary endeavor for you?

RH: Writing is always solitary. No way around it. But I do have a great support network. My brainstorming buddy and great friend, Susan May Warren, is a phone call away. She’s a fabulous and award-winning author who really helps me out when I’m stuck in the middle of writing. I do the same for her. We laugh about how clearly we see each other’s stories, but are so blind to our own.

My good friend and award winning Christine Lynxwiler also provides support. Many times, a writer needs someone just to listen to the struggle. And of course, if something good happens, they are the first ones I call.

I am a member of Romance Writers of America which has a local chapter. I attend monthly meetings with those writers and receive a lot of encouragement. I learn something every meeting.

And, I’m on the Advisory Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. Part of the organization is run by a member based email loop, so there’s always writers an email away. Such a great resource for all kinds of information.

Last, but not least, I’m a member of published author organization and we provide a lot of support to each other. I feel surrounded sometimes.

My husband and non-writer friends, and my family also provide support. They listen to me go on and on about a book issue. Bless them!

5. What was your favorite childhood book?

RH: I loved to read biographies, but far and above, The Little House books were my absolute favorite. I’ve read the entire series a dozen times.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite quote or scripture?

RH: I have one of each. My favorite quote is from Michael Jordan.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

My favorite Scripture is Song of Solomon 4:9.

“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
         You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
         With a single strand of your necklace.”

7. What are you reading right now?

RH: I just finished “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Next book, not sure yet.

8. If you were placed in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

RH: Hmm, good question. Maybe Ebenezer Scrooge or Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice fame.  Mostly to see what their world was really like. I’d like to see Ebenezer’s change and watch Elizabeth fall in love. 

9. And finally, what are you working on right now?

RH: I just finished a book with country artist Sara Evans. The book releases sometime this spring along with her new album. I’m excited about it. We’re doing several fiction books together. They are stories we made up. Nothing autobiographical.

Thanks Stacy! Great questions. I appreciate this opportunity!

Books by Rachel Hauck– Love Starts With Elle, Sweet Caroline, Diva NashVegas, Lost in NashVegas, Georgia On Her Mind, Lambert’s Peace, Lambert’s Pride, Lambert’s Code, New Hampshire Weddings, Windswept Weddings