Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Pot of Gold, by Judith Michael

Cover ImageFinished 4-14-09, rating 2.5/5, fiction, pub. 1993

“Claire won the lottery on a Wednesday afternoon in May, the same afternoon that Emma graduated from high school, the dog ran away, and the land lord raised the rent.”

first line of book

Claire Goddard, a woman in her mid 30′s, has a job she likes, a daughter she loves, and a friend as close as a sister.  Then her weekly lottery ticket is a winner.  Sixty Million Dollars!  She quits her job, buys a million dollar home within minutes of seeing it, takes in an old woman claiming to be an aunt (or cousin), and begins spending her winnings at a fast pace.  On a celebratory cruise to Alaska Claire and her daughter, Emma, fall prey to the charms of Quintin and Brix Eiger.  Suddenly Emma wants to skip college and become a model for the Eiger’s cosmetic company and win the heart of Brix.  And Claire finds herself in the inner circle of the wealthy in the arms of Quintin.

Winning $60 million in the lottery could be the ultimate American dream.  And Claire spends it fast and furious like most lottery winners, which is fine except she never really seemed to grasp the absurdity of her decisions.  One her first decisions was letting a homeless woman con her way into her home and life.  And when given the option of going anywhere in the world, money is obviously not an issue, she chooses an Alaskan cruise.  Nothing against Alaska, I’d like to take a cruise there someday myself, but given the extravagance of her monetary spending it was a very odd choice. 

I found it a little boring.  I must confess if I had accidentally left this on the plane with a few hundred pages left I wouldn’t have been upset.  I did not connect with any of the characters.  Claire was nice enough, but lacked wit or a sharp intelligence.  And the point of view changed often with no notice or obvious reason.  I really wanted to like it more, but I didn’t.  But I wouldn’t mind winning $60 million in the lottery.  Even though I’ve never purchased a lottery ticket.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | 2 1/2 Stars or Less | , , , | 4 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – The Man Who Ate the 747

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! ;)

 

Upon careful investigation, though, there was no new record.  The pilot had come close – within 30 feet – but the place in history still belonged to Vesna Vulovic, a Yugoslavian flight attendant who fell 33,330 feet when her DC-9 exploded over Czechoslovakia.

The Man Who Ate the 747 by Ben Sherwood, Chapter 1

So, what are you reading this week?

UPDATE:  This is from the beginning of the book-  “The world records in this books are real, as are the places where the story unfolds.  The rest is make-believe.”

April 21, 2009 Posted by | teaser tuesday | 14 Comments

Hail to the Chief Quiz

These are all facts I found in the Presidential Leadership book I reviewed yesterday.  The answers are all ex-Presidents. 

Here’s how to play…Identify the President and leave a comment with the # and the name and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun! 

1.  What two Presidents died on the same day, July 4, 1826?  JOHN ADAMS & THOMAS JEFFERSON, Mark

2. Who was the victim of the first Presidential assassination attempt?  ANDREW JACKSON, Janet

3. Who was the first President born after the adoption of the Constitution, essentially the first President born a U.S. citizen?  JOHN TYLER, Mark

4. Who was our only bachelor President?  JAMES BUCHANAN, Mark

5. First American President to be impeached?  ANDREW JOHNSON, Mark

6. Which President was the author of 35 books?  TEDDY ROOSEVELT, Mark

7. Who was the only President to serve  two terms and then serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ?  WILLIAM TAFT, Mark

8. Who was the only President never elected either president or vice president?  GERALD FORD, Mark

9. Before he was elected President he had never voted or held an elective office.  ZACHARY TAYLOR, Mark

10.  He was the only President with a doctorate although modern biographers suspect he suffered from dyslexia.  WOODROW WILSON, Mark

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 8 Comments

Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House, Edited by James Taranto and Leonard Leo

Cover ImageFinished 4-10-09. rating 3/5, political/history, pub. 2004

I was never one that really enjoyed reading about history, but after 9-11 I did become more interested in the government and politics.  I picked up this book at a used book sale last year because I thought I would like the short articles on each President and  love the lists and rankings.   

Best ranked Presidents according to this survey- 1. George Washington  2. Abraham Lincoln  3. Franklin Roosevelt  4. Thomas Jefferson  5. Theodore Roosevelt

There is an essay on each President, some written by such notables as John McCain (Teddy Roosevelt), Christopher  Buckley (James Buchanan), and Lynne Cheney (James Madison).  I thought the essays were interesting and informative.  I found the book extremely readable.

The two editors for this book are James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal and Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society.  I say this so that you understand the editors and the conductors of the survey are from a strictly conservative viewpoint.  This was not as much of an issue the first half of the book as the Presidents had all been dead a number of years.  Once in the 20th century the reviews of each President became decidedly pointed.  Many could not resist unflattering comments about Bill Clinton even while writing about another President.  It was distracting and diminished my belief that the writers could put petty party politics aside and write without bitterness.  And many spent a paragraph or more editorializing about their own views.  Not everyone did this, but enough to notice and irritate me.

Which leads to my next big problem with the  book.  There was absolutely no consistancy in these write ups.  Some wrote in great detail about how a President died in office and another wouldn’t even mention the assassination at all.  And Peggy Noonan’s piece on John F Kennedy was just strange and did not fit in with book at all.

I found some of the articles a bit more political than I was hoping for, but that being said I did learn a lot about each President.  My quiz tomorrow will include some of the fun facts from the book.

April 19, 2009 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , | 3 Comments

Vacation fun

We are home from Puerto Vallarta :)  It was a wonderful vacation.  Friends invited us to stay in their timeshare at the Grand Mayan.  This was the view that greeted us from our deck.

mexico-view-from-room

This is only toward the beach, so it doesn’t really do it justice, but there is no photo that can do that, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  The whole area is surrounded by mountains and it was beautiful.

We spent a lot of time circling the complex on the Lazy River on innertubes.  We decided we’d like one of these around our own yard ;)  This picture is of our friend Kate (she is 5 months pregnant), Jason, and Kate’s husband, Steve.

mexico-lazy-river1

We did go into Old Town Puerto Vallarta.  I’ve seen photos of sand sculptures, but never in person.  This was the largest one.

mexico-sand-sculpture

Here’s one of Jason and me taking advantage of the sculptures.

mexico-me-jason1

Puerto Vallarta was a beautiful place, but we are also glad to be home.  We flew through Houston yesterday and they closed the airport for a bit due to weather, so we landed at another airport and sat there for awhile before flying back to Houston and then home.  We were supposed to land at 10:30 last night, but didn’t land until 2 AM this morning!  We did not get into bed until 3:30.  Maybe it’s time for a nap ;)

Thanks Steve and Kate for a wonderful vacation!

mexico-jk-sKate, Steve, & Jason

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Photos | , , , , | 8 Comments

The Suburban Dragon and giveaway, an Aunt Betty review

The Suburban DragonGarasamo Maccagnone- author, Al Ochsner – illustrator

published 2007, 50 pages, paperback 

I have one copy to give away to one lucky commenter.  Leave a comment and tell me the name of the lucky recipient.  I will draw a name on April 30th at 10 am.  I’ll ship anywhere. 

Aunt Betty says

Funny- hilarious!  It has so much energy and excitement for a young reader to intertwine with throughout the story.  Each page gave way for even reluctant readers to use their imagination and enjoy.  The children I read this to were so anxious to find out what each new page had in store and they were not disappointed.  The illustrations and using a dragon character were perfect for K-3rd graders.  A great family read and personal favorite!

Leave a comment to be entered for a free brand new copy of Suburban Dragon!

My Aunt Betty has been an elementary school librarian for 24 years.  This is not surprising because she loves kids and kids appreciate her enthusiasm.  It is because of her that I enjoy a close relationship with my 7 cousins (later, 9).  She always had all of us over for sleepovers and other outings.  All 9 of us would cram into her Rabbit for trips around town.  You never see that anymore

I asked around for words to describe Aunt Betty and these are the words that came back the most…Happy, Caring, and Thoughtful.  As for me, my top three choices are Fun, Kind, and Full of Life.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | FREE | , , , | 25 Comments

Mexican Author survey

 

I’m in Mexico, soaking up the sun!  I have never really read Mexican literature.  So, I’m hoping that you will leave me a comment suggesting your favorite Mexican authors or books.

I’ll pick one to read when I get home :)  I’m looking forward to your recommendations.

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Bookish Stuff | , | 3 Comments

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!! We are here at the Grand Mayan living it up :) I’m reading all your comments, although I won’t have time to respond or blog surf while I’m here. Hope your Easter is wonderful!

April 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham

Cover ImageFinished 4-8-09, rating 2.5/5, fiction. pub. 2001

“What’s the catch?”

“The catch is simple.  We don’t do Christmas.  We save the money, spend it on ourselves for once.  Not a dime on food we won’t eat or clothes we won’t wear or gifts no one needs.  Not one red cent.  It’s a boycott, Nora, a complete boycott of Christmas.”

“Sounds awful.”

Chapter 2

Well, in my opinion this slim novel was pretty awful.  I loved the premise and even enjoyed some of the uncomfortable situations Luther and Nora found themselves in, but I really did not care for how the story wrapped up.  I guess I’m not sure I get the point.

Luther added up all the money they had spent on Christmas the year before and decided that since their only child, Blair, would be gone for the holidays that they could put all that money to better use.  They booked themselves a cruise, spent hours in the tanning bed, and looked through books and pamphlets in anticipation of their trip. 

The locals (neighbors, police, firemen, boy scouts, co-workers) were all appalled at this slight of Christmas.  None of these locals resembled real people and in the end did not redeem themselved in my eyes, although Grisham tries his best.

The idea could have been heartwarming or slapstick silly.  It didn’t really accomplish either.

I read this for a challenge and blame it for the 3 inches of snow we received while I read it ;)

 

April 11, 2009 Posted by | 2 1/2 Stars or Less | 6 Comments

9 in ’09 with Laurie Dean

Laurie is the author of the children’s book Baron Thinks Dogs are People Too (reviewed here).  Visit Baron’s fun website for interactive games and a special offer -  order the book before April 30th and it will be shipped FREE.  http://www.baronthinks.com/  You can also follow Laurie on Twitter (handyauthor).

1. Baron is adorable!  Is there a real Baron?

Baron is a fictional character.  His disposition is a composite from my recollections of behaviors and ‘personalities’ that various dogs from my childhood exhibited.  We lived on a dead end street in an unincorporated part of town.  At the very end of the street, past the last house, was a large woodland area.  Back then, in the 1960′s and 70′s, it was common for people to drive to the woods and drop off unwanted litters of puppies and kittens.  Sadly, they would be abandoned there to fend for themselves.  My siblings and I often played among the trees, whereupon, we would discover the baby animals and take them home with us.  We fostered many dogs and cats over the years.  I grew up in a large family with a lot of pets!

2. How long did it take you to write Baron Thinks Dogs are People Too! ?

For me, the process of writing children’s stories is like having ‘puffy clouds’ of ideas constantly floating around in my mind.  Then when I focus my awareness with the intention to bring a story to life in the form of a book, it’s like the puffy clouds form into a funnel cloud that ‘touches down’ through me.  This rumination process is a perpetual part of my sub conscience.

 Word selection and cadence is very important to me, so I start with a draft of the story, and then ponder the words and movement carefully as I rewrite.  Sometimes, rewrites can take months.  Several kindergarten and preschool teachers, and their students previewed the story text for Baron, even before it was submitted to an editor.  Their feedback helped me write the best story.  This book took me about two weeks to write.

3. When and why did you decide you wanted to write a children’s book?

The exact moment I decided on making my dream of creating this book come true was when I held my newborn grandson for the first time.  I felt an incredible sense of legacy, like a spiritual connection from my ancestors was beaming through me.  I wanted to create a book my own grandchildren would revisit again and again.  A combination of life experiences and time spent pondering my heart’s desire gave rise to my urge, and sense of calling, to publish children’s books.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your road to publication?

So far, I have not had any major challenges in my career as a writer.  Nowadays, it’s much easier for a first time author to publish good quality children’s books.  Since there are so many wonderful books in circulation, the challenge is to get your book noticed by all of the people who would enjoy reading it!

For me, the entire process of having my book published came about through the use of the Internet.  It has totally helped me in my writing career.  I found the website of DragonPencil/Big Tent Books publishing services online, and used them for the entire process.  Now that my book is in print, I use the Internet for marketing and networking with other professionals in the book publishing industry.

5. What was your favorite childhood book?

My favorite book that I read as a kid was Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, published in 1964.  Harriet loves to eat tomato sandwiches, and I do too!

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

The only way to have a friend is to be one.  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

7. What are you reading right now?

Currently, I enjoy reading New Age books about affirming and manifesting my heart’s desires.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character, whom would you choose?

Tinker Bell.  It would be fun to fly around sprinkling magic pixie dust!

9. Are you working on another children’s book?  A follow-up to Baron?

I’ve written a series of stories about two imaginary friends I had when I was preschool age.  As for Baron’s future…his family may get a cat.  Baron thinks cats are cool!

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Author Interviews | , , , | 3 Comments

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