Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cleopatra's Daughter

I remember exchanging emails with Michelle Moran after her first book came out. In it she mentioned that this book, "Cleopatra's Daughter" was in the works. I was so excited as I too wondered what happened to the famed Cleopatra's two surviving children, her twins Alexander and Kleopatra Selene.
I knew they had been taken back to Rome, but that was about it. Moran does an amazing job of fleshing out their stories and grounding her tale in the often very harsh realities of ancient Rome. She has such a knack for making the past come to life....things and people today aren't really all that different than they were then.
Selene and her brother wind up living in the household of Octavia, Marc Antony's last Roman wife. They are raised and educated alongside her other children as well as several extended family members. Far from their beloved Alexandria and Egypt, they both long to return home, but realize that their fates depend on the whims and political maneuverings of Rome's ruling family and Egypt's conqueror, Octavian.
Moran tells a great story and manages to weave in historical facts, events and people in a seamless manner. Although this book is categorized as adult fiction, I think YA readers would also enjoy the novel as the main characters are in their early teens for most of the book. Nothing better than being educated while you are being entertained.
Moran's next tale is going to be about Madame Tussaud....and I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Sooooo excited! While I was at the library yesterday, I found several books to borrow and when I went to the counter to check them out, the gal let me know that a book I had requested arrived and was on hold for me. It was Michelle Moran's latest, "Cleopatra's Daughter." Whoo Hoo! I'm only about 140 pages into it, but am enjoying every page. Michelle has a great gift for bringing history and the people who made it to life. It is almost like she sat down and interviewed all of them over a coffee at Starbucks, they jump from the pages....quite a gift.

I will post a complete review when I finish the novel. I also found an very interesting looking book called "The Magicians" that I can't wait to read.

Jackpot day in the stacks. Nothing better.

Today is all about getting things in place so I can spend the rest of the week working the book sale at the library. Middle kid's soccer tournament is off for the weekend, but the oldest and hubby will still head east to take on some tough teams from the middle of our state.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, September 28, 2009

going to be a busy one

Busy week ahead as the fall book sale is here. Set up begins Tuesday night and continues Wednesday and Thursday. The actual sale is Friday and Saturday. Throw in a soccer game and then two tournament during the upcoming weekend and we have a lot to do.

Realized the book I found in the donation pile is one I have already read. I hate when that happens! Ugh. So, I need to find some things to read while I'm at the library today.

Soccer was a mixed bag this weekend. The oldest kid's team tied one game and lost the other two, each by a score of 1-0 off of plays where her defenders didn't quite make the smartest decisions. The middle kid was able to referee two games yesterday and is eager for that paycheck as the U19 games pay the most money available.

Our weather has finally cleared and sunny skies are predicted for the week ahead. Thank you Mother Nature! We all need to dry out after the dowsing we received over the past 24 days.

Happy Monday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

quick post

The oldest is awake, munching her cereal and waiting to use the computer as she needs to complete a transfer off a thumb drive and return the drive to a friend at school.

So, short post for today.

19 out of 24. Yep, that is how many days of rain we've had. Ugh.
Think I will clean closets and desks today. Ugh.
Think I will reward myself with a nice long afternoon reading a book I found donated at the Library. Yeah!

Enjoy the weekend....ours will be soccer filled as they try and make up games that were rained out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

story time

Six years ago when we moved to our fair town, I still had a preschooler. When we went to the library to get our library cards, something we did on the third day after the moving van left, I picked up a schedule for story time. I was eager to meet other moms and figured that would be the perfect way to do it. We attended once a week and then went over to Chick-fil-a for lunch.

I tried the story time that was held down at our Town Square, but we never became regulars at that event. The day and time didn't work for our schedule once preschool started.

Story time continues to be offered at the library and a variety of dates and times provides plenty of options for the preschool set. However, the Square has been without such an activity for several years now. The wonderful lady who used to read and entertain sold her toy store, eventually went to work for the library and is now retiring.

On Friday, story time is returning to the Square. The owner of the local and independent coffee shop is partnering with another store to offer a story time. The first guest reader is the Town Mayor and he is reading one of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York's books. The listeners will hear the story at the coffee shop and then be treated to a simple craft along with milk and cookies at the other store.

Sounds like a winning proposition for all involved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

all the news that is fit to 'print'

Hubby and I had an interesting philosophical conversation yesterday. With the advent of what is deemed 'new' media, who are the information gatekeepers? It used to be that the big three television stations were the only televised source for news. Now news channels are a dime a dozen and are even specialized into entertainment, financial and op/ed categories. Used to be that your local paper carried UP, AP and Reuters stories along with local reporting. That diversity is absent now. The more affluent folks could perhaps even get an edition of a major city newspaper along with their local paper. Now, papers are going bankrupt and any national paper, like USA Today, offers only abbreviated stories buried beneath half page advertisements.

Now, it is often the newsmakers who are often the communicators of news. They blog, tweet, facebook etc their way into the headlines. Are there any filters or gatekeepers left? Who drives the news cycle? Who checks the facts? Who determines what is news worthy and has the definition changed? Journalists were supposed to be the watchdogs for society and keep a keen eye on our government, business etc. Now, true investigative journalism is rare and you have to wonder at the objectivity of any of the news outlets....after all, they are mostly owned lock-stock and barrel by BIG business.

News travels so fast. News cycles are non stop. Information goes viral with one You Tube post. We have access to any data we want, whenever we want, delivered how we want. There are so many gatekeepers now that truth is suffering and objectivity is on life support. You can get your news delivered from a source that leans in your philosophical direction; neatly packaged to agree with your political/religious/ethical viewpoint.

I once had a friend tell me that if you wanted to know what was really going on in the world to watch BBC news. They still reported the news, investigated the news and presented the news. I wonder what Journalism school is like nowadays.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

you're up early

What happens when hubby gets out of bed a full hour earlier than normal? Well, one thing you get is a very short blog entry. I can't write and carry on a conversation at the same time. I'm talented and can multitask with the best of them, but that skill set is beyond me.

The meeting yesterday went very well. I have a whole lot of cleaning to do today. The rain seems to be moving back into the area after a dry day yesterday. I bet all soccer events are called off, yet again, for tonight.

Okay, now he is trying to find the malt-o-meal......reminds me of the Pickles cartoon strip I enjoy reading. If you haven't looked at that strip, do so. It is hilarious and reminds me more and more of some people I know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

up next

Today I am running a meeting for our bookstore volunteers. It is, more or less, my last official act as the store's volunteer manager. We have several housekeeping things to go over and then I will introduce the new ladies and that is it.

Two years done.

What is next? Well, I've let all of them know, that after the big book sale next week, I am going to be absent from all bookstore related things. I need a nice long break and the new gals don't need me lingering around.

I think I'm going to take a yoga class. I also think I will work on my fiction writing again. I have some household projects I need to finish. Basically, I need to shift gears and refocus.

Watched an interesting movie over the weekend: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." In many ways, this was a beautiful movie. The cinematography was amazing. The Canadian scenery was gorgeous. The acting was flawless. The script was interesting. Add it all together and you get some Good Stuff.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Here comes the weekend and it looks like the rain we've had since last Sunday is going to hold on and stay with us. ugh. ugh. ugh.

The sun came out for a brief moment yesterday and I walked out to the patio and stood facing that bright, glowing, orb and just let the sunshine beat down on me. I get a little disconcerted if I go without sun for more than a few days. Going without sustained sunshine for a week is trying my patience. I thought we left this gloom and drear when we moved away from the Great Lake region and settled in the south.

I finished reading the de la Cruz book Not sure if it was the book or if it is me. I found myself skimming the last fifty pages and that is never a good sign. Sometimes a series has a book or two in it that just don't quite capture your full attention and I'm hoping that this is the case for this book.

Up next is the latest Marcus Didius Falco mystery from Lindsey Davis. Our intrepid Roman sleuth is on vacation in Alexandria when the head librarian winds up dead. These are clever books with sly wit. Yum.

Hope the sun is shining somewhere; maybe we will get some afternoon sunshine like we did yesterday. It might be enough to get me through until this system is replaced by something more to my liking.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I finished the Casey Daniels mystery I had sent over from another library. "Tombs of Endearment" was just as cute as the other three Pepper Martin mysteries I've read. Up next is the latest YA book from Melissa de la Cruz in her vampire series. "Revelations" picks right up with the story of the angels/vampires in upper crust NYC.

After the regular Thursday happenings at the library and bookstore, tonight will be one of those special moments for my youngest. His elementary school has a different grade perform a collection of songs at the monthly PTA meeting. After five years of singing, by 5th grade, they have quite a backlist of music. Tonight they will do their final performance and sing a medley of songs from all the years they have attended the school. He's been singing his favorites for us since class started and practice began for tonight's program. Next year when they all head off to middle school, life will change in a big way for them and this sort of 'thing' just isn't done. But, I have high hopes to be sitting in that auditorium for band concerts!

Soccer has been rained out all week. I just hope it dries out enough for the recreational season to start on time this weekend. The older two kids have games to ref and they need the money. The middle kid will make her debut as a center ref and has been assigned to four U8 games....nothing better than watching 'hive' soccer as those little ones scurry around the field like a swarm of bees after that ball. The older one has center ref duties on four U10 games, which means she will get to try and explain the whole concept of offsides to yet another crop of players and parents and sometimes even coaches! Soccer keeps you more than physically fit, when you are a teenaged ref, it also teaches you diplomacy, patience and assertiveness.

The mantra for today is "rain, rain, go away." Hope the sun shines a bit on all of us today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the book sale is coming

The Friends of the Library's big fall book sale is just two weeks away now. I'm not sure what I enjoy more, setting up for the sale or watching the people find great deals on books they haven't read.

Setting up can be a lot of work, but we always share a lot of laughter too. After holding several of these events, the organizers have the set up process down to a science. This time, we have finally convinced the main organizer to let us keep the book store inventory closet closed. Yes, for the past two years we have emptied every item from that closet and moved all of it into the store. Then we filled the closet back up with books for the sale, mostly romances, and then when the sale was over, reversed the process. It was extremely labor intensive and took four ladies working solid for 5 hours to get just one half the work done. So, this time, the doors will be locked and the romances put out with the other books on the banquet tables. The four of us went out for lunch to celebrate the fact we didn't have to move the contents of that closet, twice, this year!

I always work the fiction room during set up and have organized the hardback fiction for the last two sales. We also have a nonfiction room and a children's room.

We always have interesting customers. The only thing more interesting is what they buy. You just never know what someone will 'find' and have to purchase. Then when we start the bag and box sale late Saturday, wow, people just grab books and fill those containers.

I'm working the sale on Wednesday, Thursday during set up and then on Friday for a bit. Soccer tournaments will prevent me from being on hand Saturday.

We've raised as much at $8K at a sale, but since the store has been open, our total has dropped a bit and we consistently raise about $6K over the two and half days. Lots of volunteers give time or food and the community spirit that is fostered is amazing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


As far as brain candy goes, some of the current crop of YA books are destined to provide plenty of cavities. And that is fine, to a point. Not all books have to prove a point, provide a lesson or deliver some amazing 'truth' to their readers. Some books are just fluff and should be enjoyed for their fluffiness.

Then there are books that are so fluffy that they slip over the line and become irresponsible....they suck their readers into thinking that the fluff is a desired reality. That is dangerous stuff when the targeted audience is teenaged. My latest YA read isn't fluffy...and I can't imagine that most readers would want to inhabit the world between the covers.

"Swoon" started off as an interesting read, but by the end, I wasn't so sure that the author didn't intentionally include every teen angsty problem and then some, just to counter act the fluff that some other YA paranormal books deliver. The dedication was to a reader who wanted something darker....and Nina Malkin delivers just that. Let's see, we have teen sex, teen drug use, teen drinking, teen burglary, sexual abuse, adultery, patricide, suicide and the list goes on and on.

The base story was very intriguing. A ghost haunts the tree where he was hung after being convicted of murdering his lover back in the 1760's. Said ghost then possesses a young girl, then goes on to trick another girl into creating a 'golem' for him to inhabit. Once given his own body, he then delivers all sorts of 'bad' to the citizens of the town, the modern day descendants of those who killed him and his love. He is the ultimate bad boy, his nickname is even "Sin"....with no soul...who can only be redeemed by the love of his creator.....

For me, this book came across as a bit too much. Sometimes when a novel throws in everything but the kitchen sink of teen aged problems, it just doesn't work. The interesting idea of a golem was not enough to carry the plot I guess. It is not that a book for teens shouldn't talk about serious issues, but when every single one is incorporated into a single plot, it just got to be a bit much for me.

Monday, September 14, 2009


It seems that I've beaten back the cold and am feeling almost totally human again today. In addition to the daily naps, gallons of juice and boxes of tissues I've 'enjoyed' over the last week, I also managed to read quite a few books.

"Sacred Hearts" by Sarah Dunant is a lovely book about friendship set in an Italian Benedictine convent during the Renaissance. Dunant's story focuses on Suora Zuana, the herbalist of the convent and newly arrived Serafina, a young woman who had the misfortune to fall in love with her singing teacher before being shipped off to the convent. Dunant focuses on building such lovely characters, their internal thoughts, their external all melds together in such a magical way. Even though her books are set in a historical time period, you 'know' these people, because although the times change, what doesn't change is what is inside each of us. Good read.

I also rediscovered the Ursula Blanchard mysteries by Fiona Buckley. This is another series set at Elizabeth I's court. Ursula is often 'in service' to the queen and Cecil, solving mysteries and rooting out treasonous folks. These are good mysteries, plenty of twists and turns and interesting characters as well.

Up next is a YA book titled "Swoon." So far, decadent, guilty pleasure....paranormal, but no vamps or werewolves.

Friday, September 11, 2009

another at home day

Going to have another at home day today....the cold seems to be lessening its grip on me, but I'm still a long ways from my usual, productive self.

So, I will be enjoying Sarah Dunant's book, "Sacred Hearts," drinking another gallon or so of orange juice and breaking into my third box of tissues.

Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend etc......

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I seem to have fallen prey to a fall head cold. No, it isn't h1N1, it is just a garden variety irritating head cold. Good thing I have books to read, because other than trying to nap, that is about all I'm capable of doing.

I finished Karen Chance's latest novel in her Cassie Palmer series. "Curse the Dawn" is action filled from the first page to the last. You have to read these books in order as Chance doesn't devote much time to getting a new reader brought up to speed as the story/plot unravels at a fast clip. Now Pythia, Cassie is still learning the ins and out of her office....with the help of war mage Pritkin and master vamp Mircea. I sort of have a love-hate relationship with these books. They have all the ingredients I enjoy, but for some reason I'm always left thinking the book just didn't quite succeed on the level I needed it to. Weird. It is almost like there is too much action for the plot to have any depth.

I also went ahead and read book four in the Casey Daniels' Pepper Martin series. Now, this series is getting better with each book. Good mystery, nice twists and the characters are growing. I've requested book three be sent from our neighboring library, so I will read that one once it arrives and be caught up with the adventures of the amateur sleuth to the dead, Pepper.

Up next, a total change of pace, I delve into literary fiction with Sarah Dunant and her latest historical novel.

Two soccer games tonight and only one mommy....farming one out and taking the other one to her game; box of tissues in tow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

life isn't fair update

As of now, it appears that the girls WILL get to play. Once we sign an additional waiver....they can continue on with their co-ed season and keep their team together.

Hats off to some very persistent folks in our local soccer association office for staying on this and finding a solution.

life isn't fair

Girls are allowed to play on boys' soccer teams. Our state soccer association acknowledges that, our national soccer association acknowledges that and our local organization gives their okay to it as well.

But, as of this morning, the middle kid, along with four of her female teammates, will not be allowed to compete with their team in their team's U16 boys soccer league. And because the team needed those five girls to even take the field, now the whole team is in jeopardy for league play. The team is still approved to play in three tournaments this season by those event directors.

This change is despite the fact that the roster was stamped and approved weeks ago by the league. This is despite the fact that they have already played two games in the league. This is despite of local and national rulings on the matter.

You see, our local league is run by one man. And one man has the veto power and has decided to yank the roster and not allow the team to play if they field the girls. The team can borrow boy players and continue on if they choose to do so. But, no pony tails on the field from this point on.

Why did this happen? Well, kids get hurt playing soccer and last week one of the girls got her own goalie....who is a girl. The ambulance had to come. It is serious; a concussion that is still being observed. The same freak accident could have happened in an all boys or an all girls game. It could have happened in a basketball or baseball game.

Accidents aren't gender specific or gender neutral.

But apparently, the facts and even the stated rules aren't relevent.

Hard to look your kid in the face and tell them, it is all about money and lawsuits and the fact that even today some folks don't think girls should be playing with boys.

So we wait to see what the team votes to do. We have options. Our local organization is working with us. We have the ability to shine a light on what has happened. But in the meantime, my kid will be sitting on the bench Thursday night, dressed out, cheering on her team and holding her head high.

Nope, Love, Life isn't fair, but how you deal with the unfairness makes all the difference in the world....if not for you, then maybe for someone else.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

blah, blah, blah

Now that we are well into the school year and we've settled into our daily routine, the 'blahs' have hit all of us.

The youngest put it well yesterday. "Mom, when do we get our next vacation."

With Labor Day behind us, the next break for my students will be in October. I'd like to say we have great big plans for that four day weekend, but we don't. I'd be happy for some nice weather so we can ride bikes, maybe picnic and take some good long walks over at the boardwalk in one of our parks. Not exactly the stuff that my kids would say "Wow" over, but it is a break in the routine, although I'm sure the older two will have school projects and papers to complete over those four days.

But for now, we are all functioning on autopilot and cruising through the days.

Monday, September 7, 2009

the pepper martin mysteries

I stumbled across book four in this series via the donations to our used bookstore. When I searched the library's online catalog, I was happy to learn that while our library didn't own the series, another nearby library did. I promptly requested books 1 & 2 from them. I've finished them both and give author Casey Daniels an enthusiastic thumbs up for her series.

Pepper Martin is a former 'rich' girl who takes a job as a historic cemetery tour guide after her doctor daddy is sent to prison for Medicare fraud. Pepper then proceeds to wear a pair of stilettos on a tour, trips and winds up knocking her noggin on a headstone. She wakes with the ability to 'see dead people.' In the first book, "Don of the Dead," her ghost-du-jour is a former mobster who was murdered over 50 years earlier. Pepper is given the task of solving the murder so he can 'move on.' The same formula is used in the second novel, "The Chick and the Dead". The books deliver plenty of twists and turns and fun characters. I need to request the third novel so I can read them in order.

In the meantime, I started to read the latest Cassie Palmer novel from author, Karen Chance. I'm only a few pages into this one, so I will save my comments on this series until after I've finished it.

No True Blood on HBO last night as the big season two finale is next Sunday evening. Hard going not getting my Sookie and crew fix to wind up the weekend.

Today is Labor Day and we usually have a cookout with our neighbors. However, our 6 year old tradition is being broken this year. Some sort of viral nastiness has hit their house and while they are on the mend, they are still run down, coughing and we all agreed to postpone the festivities to another date. Not sure what we will do to fill the void, but I'm sure something will turn up.

Friday, September 4, 2009

mistress shakespeare

I truly enjoy Karen Harper's books. She has a flair for bringing to life Elizabethan England and her latest novel set in that time period is well done. The novel is based on the premise that Shakespeare had two wives, both named Anne. Apparently, in the church registry, two entries exist, only one day apart, for Shakespeare's marriage license to an Anne Whateley and then Anne Hathaway. Is it the same woman or two different ladies? Harper goes with the idea that he married Whateley first and then Hathaway....with Whateley living mostly in London and Hathaway staying in Stratford.

The first Anne tells the story of her life with Shakespeare, the ups and downs of being involved with a creative man and of being the 'other' wife. Sprinkled throughout are character's views on Elizabethan politics and religion. Harper makes the London of that time breathe. She also writes her dialogue in such a way that while it sounds like what you'd expect from an Elizabethan person, yet it isn't cumbersome to read.

"Mistress Shakespeare" was an interesting book and a nice break from the urban fantasy novels I have been reading of late.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

a lull in the action

Looking forward to a quiet end to the week and a peaceful weekend. Yesterday, the oldest kid's team won their second game by a score of 4-0 and the middle kid's team fell 0-1 in a tough match. Tonight we have academic awards at the high school for the oldest kid; awards are for last year's efforts.

I hope to finish "Mistress Shakespeare" today and move on to those Casey Daniels books I mentioned.

Ran into one of our elected officials last night at the fields. Guess the electronic inboxes at town hall are stuffed full with complaints about the new library card policies. Those ladies who don't have their names appear on utility bills are in a bind when it comes to proving they actually reside in their homes with their families. The official I spoke with said she wouldn't qualify for a card as her name isn't on any of the utility bills. The fallout from not thinking a policy all the way through....ahhhh, I'm not going to do it, biting my tongue, no gloating here about being right....I wonder how fast the new proof of residency policy will be changed?!

I'm going to enjoy the lull I expect the next few days to bring!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

more goodness

The oldest kid's team kicked some serious booty last night and demolished their opponent 7-0. The middle kid had a good practice and both kids have games tonight. Of course as they haven't perfected human cloning, I'm farming one kid out and going to the other kid's game. Ah, the joys of parenting two athletes. We've not had to do this before....miss one of their games...and let me tell you, it doesn't make me very happy. But, I'm sure we will all survive.

In other news, I had to prove I live in my fair town so I could renew my library card and continue to check out books. Yes, the new policy is now in effect and those who don't reside within the 'special' zip codes will be dinged $25 for a library card. I just had to fork over identification and a utility bill with my name on it. Felt a bit sorry for the new employee activating my card, what a day to start work. I bet some folks, despite the fact that this change was well advertised within the library, didn't have their proof with them yesterday and left without the books they wanted.

After my card was all good again, I checked out two books I'd requested from another library...they are by Casey Daniels and are the Pepper Martin mysteries. Can't wait to dive into them, but I have to finish "Mistress Shakespeare" first.

Today is a Friends day....executive board meeting and then general membership meeting. I wonder if when I hand over the store reins if I won't get to go to the executive meeting anymore??? Hmmmm. I will have to investigate this.

But, the most important thing to do today is to open up that box of Loreal...because, you know, I am worth it!!! Hahahaha

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

books, lunch and more

The bookstore is looking all spiffy with a variety of 'new' non fiction books for our customers to buy. It took three of us working for three hours to get the old books pulled out, boxed up and ready for storage. We also filled the holes we'd created with more recently donated titles.

We treated ourselves to lunch at a great homestyle cooking place and then went back to the library for a minute to check on a few other things. I found a book to read, Karen Harper's "Mistress Shakespeare." I enjoy Harper's Elizabethan mystery series and was pleased to find this book.

Today it is restock the pantry day for me. I hope to have that chore accomplished in full by noon. The oldest has a game today at 5 and the middle one has practice at 7.

Going to be a busy one! Glad the sun is out and the temps are comfortable.