Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: The Cruel Ever After by Ellen Hart

Thank you, Carl, for sharing yet another book review with us.....

The Cruel Ever After
by Ellen Hart
A Minotar (St. Martin’s Press)
2010 release. Hard cover, 320 pgs.
ISBN: 9780312624768

This, Hart’s nineteenth Jane Lawless mystery, is probably the darkest and most shocking of the series. The book is full of painful, difficult relationships and actions. The extensive cast of characters, many of whom fans   have met before, are almost all revealed to have seriously dangerous dark sides. And even when those troublesome and even illegal dimensions of their characters are  confronted by others in the book, they persist in their ways, ways that sometimes tread close to the abyss.

The shocks begin very early when Lawless’s former husband, a man she hasn’t seen for twenty years, appears in Minneapolis. Not only are we more than a little surprised to discover that Jane was married many years ago, she is upset by his appearance, supposedly ‘simply for old times sake.’  It becomes quickly apparent that Chester Garrity, one of the most facile liars and con men you’ll ever meet, has a specific personal agenda. Garrity is a user of anybody and everybody within reach. That he is such, should, it seems to
this reader, to be more apparent to Jane than appears to be the case.

That Garrity is also fairly incompetent also becomes obvious. Part of the tragedy is that his incompetence brings appalling harm to the people around him. Almost immediately plans go awry and spiral out of control. Murder results. Garrity demonstrates such a high level of impotence in the face of disaster that it is hard to believe he has managed to stay alive and out of prison for this long.

At roughly the same time that Garrity begins his ill-managed plan to sell antiquities of questionable provenance, a lethal cabal of shadowy vigilantes makes its presence known by murdering a popular gallery owner.

Is there a link here?  Of course there is, but readers will require almost infinite patience to figure out the links and resolve the tangle of threads and relationships. Patience is particularly important in the first half of
the book.  After that, with the background and setup in place, the action and the pace pick up.  Logic takes firm hold and as the complications and resolutions of the many plot lines become clearer, the author’s grip on her story becomes firmer. The second half of the novel, as revelation bangs in on top of revelation and explanations explode, is all vintage Hart, an excellent writer who is almost always in full command of her work.

There were times however, when I wanted to scream at Jane Lawless, and wondered who was really managing that usually incisive and clever mind.
Carl Brookins,
Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky
more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

New iPhone app for Roman Catholics - confession via the telephone. A Vatican spokesman responds, "One cannot speak in any way of confession by iPhone."

Was that PR speak for "Are you nuts?"

Senator Harry Reid criticized House Republican's proposed spending cuts by saying, "After all, you can lose a lot of weight by cutting off your arms and legs, but no doctor would recommend it."

Good  point Senator Reid, so how about proposing that we rein in the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security by cutting the cost of administering those programs. Streamlining the paperwork alone would save millions.

In response to the growing U.S. debt to China, Michelle Bachmann, representative from MN said, "With all the money that we owe China, I think you might correctly say, 'Hu's your daddy.'"

This is sad and scary. As we make short-term fixes to our spending problems, does nobody consider the long-term effects?

Yesterday there was a Red Flag Alert in Texas. Even though we've had lots of snow in some places recently, the state is still in drought conditions and the danger of wildfires is constant. We're accustomed to a weather alert for caution about outdoor burning and the like, but the alert yesterday included a warning about possible "erratic fire behavior." 

As opposed to consistent fire behavior?

Other than one in a fireplace, I don't think there is anything consistent about a fire. I think even the reporter found that choice of words comical. There was a hint of amusement in his voice when he made the announcement.

At a recent track meet in northern Manhattan, Ida Keeling set a world record, running 60 meters in 29.86 seconds. The 95-year old woman from the Bronx has been setting track records since she took up running at age 67. Read her amazing story HERE

Hooray for Ida.

Today, there is an interview with me on the Web site for my new publisher, Books We Love Publishing Partners. 

Tomorrow from 10 - 2,  I will be at a "Meet the Author" event in in Madisonville, Texas. This event is sponsored by the Madison County Writers Guild, and it will be held at the Kimbro Center – on the Square - in downtown Madisonville. I have never been there, but I hear the Square is a nice place to visit. I will have copies of my new book, Open Season, as well as some copies of One Small Victory in hardback. If you are in the area, stop by and meet all the authors who will be there.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome Peg Herring

Thanks to Maryann for hosting today’s stop on Peg’s Blog Crawl. Yesterday’s post, “Idioms”, is at
Eccentric Phrases

If your toaster stopped working, you would probably go out and get a new one. When a phrase stops working, we’re stuck with it. We can’t send out a memo, “Stop using that one, folks.” So we’re left with phrases that confuse rather than explain. Sometimes there just isn’t a good replacement for an expression, and until a better one emerges, we use the old, broken one.

How many times do we actually “roll down” the window of our cars these days? It isn’t a rolling action on modern cars. Should we say, “She lowered the window”? How about “She pressed the lower button”? Neither sounds quite right, even if we admit that rolling doesn’t happen.

Do we “dial” the telephone? No, but what is a good alternative term for what we do? “Punched in the number” sounds rather violent. “Keyed in” might be a better term, but I think there will soon be something else, something more descriptive and creative.

We no longer put words and images “on tape”, either. I suppose “recorded” still works, since the dictionary says it is “to register for reading or future reference”.

Then there are phrases we use that are inconsistent with similar phrases, making ESL speakers confused. We have deer season, bear season, turkey season…and tourist season. We have wheat crackers, saltine crackers, rye crackers…and animal crackers.

Many terms just plain don’t make sense. We have Grape Nuts Cereal, which is neither grapes nor nuts. We have guinea pigs, which are neither pigs nor from Guinea. Your nose runs but your feet smell (not yours, but somebody’s). We park on the driveway and drive on the parkway. You might want to be known as a wise man but certainly not as a wise guy. You fill out a form by filling it in, your house burns us as it burns down. People recite at a play and play at a recital, and they send shipments by truck and cargo by ship.

And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same thing? Fat chance that you can explain that one!
The Poser: Name 3 books/series where the author shares recipes with readers.

The Prizes-Weekly prizes (your choice of THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY in e- or print format) drawn from the names of those who comment on the blogs as we go. Comment once/day, but the first commenter each day gets entered twice in Saturday’s drawing!

The Pitch: THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, First in The Dead Detective Mysteries, paranormal mystery. Tori Van Camp wakes in a stateroom on a cruise ship with no memory of booking a cruise, but she does have a vivid recollection of being shot in the chest. Determined to find out what happened and why, Tori enlists the help of an odd detective named Seamus. Together they embark on an investigation like nothing she’s ever experienced. Death is all around her, and unless they act quickly, two people she cares about are prime candidates for murder. Read more about this book and the author at or buy the book at

The Perpetrator: Peg Herring writes historical and contemporary mysteries. She loves everything about publishing, even editing (most days). Peg’s historical series, The Simon and Elizabeth Mysteries, debuted in 2010 to great reviews. The second in the series will be available in November from Five Star.

The Pathway: The next entry, “Being Precise” and the answers/comments to the Poser will be at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest author tomorrow- Peg Herring

I am pleased to announce that mystery author, Peg Herring, will be my guest tomorrow. She has been doing a blog crawl for the month of February, guesting on a different blog each day with new content. Wow, what an amazing endeavor. I am hard pressed to keep up with this blog and the three others that I regularly contribute to.

Topics have varied along the crawl, but Peg seems to enjoy "playing with words." She has done some fun posts pointing out the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Tomorrow, Peg will share Eccentric Phrases, and I hope you will come back to read her post. It is a lot of fun. Plus, Peg is giving away weekly prizes, as well as a grand prize at the end of the blog crawl.

Her schedule for the rest of this month is:

Feb. 21 Jeff Marks-And What About Contractions? 

Feb 22 Geraldine Evans-Idioms
Feb. 23 Maryann Miller-Eccentric Phrases 
Feb. 24 Peg Herring Being Precise 
Feb. 25 –Peg Herring Open Topic

Feb. 26 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 4

Feb. 27 Weekend

Feb. 29 Stacy Juba-Why Do We Say That? Part III

March 1-Final Drawing for Prizes from All Entries

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Introducing Backlist Books authors

Today was spent doing some much needed work around my little farm. Our oldest son came out for the weekend and whenever he is here he likes to help me. So we cleared brush and dead trees in the back pasture and burned two big piles of logs. Sure was nice to get it all cleared. 

Since I was busy with that, I did not do my usual post today of  a book review. But I thought I would just introduce you to some of my writer friends. We all belong to a group called Backlist Books and we have e-books for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers for much less than major publishers are charging for books. As the group name suggests, all the books are from our backlist, which means they were once published by a major house and we managed to get the rights back.

So here is a list of some of those authors in the group with links to their blogs.   There's a wide variety of genres, so take a look at them and see if there's anything to your taste. 

Doranna Durgin,

Marsha Canham,

Jacqueline Lichtenberg,

Jeffrey A. Carver,

Jill Metcalf,

Terry Odell,

Patricia Rice,

Pati Nagle,

Lorraine Bartlett or Lorna Barrett,

Karen Ranney,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

In an interview with Walter Scott for Parade Magazine, Jane Fonda was asked if she was surprised to fall in love again, with record producer Richard Perry. "Totally. But it doesn't start with love, right? It starts with sex and grows into love."

I guess as long as we continue to consider sex recreation, we will continue to have high rates of abortion, single mothers, and widespread STDs. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the most intimate connection we can have with another person ought to be with someone we have grown to love first.

During a recent Commissioner's Court meeting in Dallas, Commissioner John Wiley Price responded to provocative comments during the public comment portion of the meeting with an angry outburst. He said, "All of you are white. Go to hell." Price has a long history of placing the race card, so some of his responses are to be expected. But as several columnists and editorial writers for The Dallas Morning News have said, he could do so with a lot more decorum.

Seven teenagers in Pennsylvania attacked a 13-year old boy. They beat him, tossed him into a tree, and hung him from a metal fence post. The attack went on for 30 minutes in a public place, the boy crying for help the entire time. The perpetrators videotaped the whole thing and posted the video on YouTube.

Over and above the atrocity, what is really sad about this story is the fact that it has become another form of recreation. Kids fighting each other or some hapless stranger and making a slasher video of it has become an Internet rage.

Anne Rasmussen of Dallas took her first college class when she was 72, and went on to get a bachelor's and a master's degree. Now, at age 80 she is about to become the oldest person to enter SMU's law school. In an interview in The Dallas Morning News with columnist Steve Blow, she said, "I can't just sit and stare at the walls."

Kudos to Anne and all the people like her who believe in living life to the fullest and following whatever dream they have and not letting age stand in the way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review: Sitting on Cold Porcelain by Rose A. Valenta

As a great fan of humor writing, I was eager to get this book for review. It is a collection of short pieces on politics, family, general absurdities, and some social commentary thrown into the mix.

Here is what the promotional blurb has to say about this book:
In Sitting on Cold Porcelain, readers will find an amusing, perceptive, and laugh-out-loud take on the state of our country and our world, on celebrities and politicians, and all the news events that make us roll our eyes and groan.
Its satirical essays include "Giuliani's Gaffe Could Qualify for Political Darwin Award," "Rush Limbaugh: The Don Rickles of Radio," "State of The Union 2010: Bitch-Slapping Congress," "Islamic Cleric Declares Jihad on Mickey Mouse," "Little Egypt to Run Against Sarah Palin," and "Who Moved My Mascarpone?"
You will also find Rose's hysterical consultations with her friend, Mrs. Giordano, a South Philadelphia Malocchio (evil eye) doctor. Mrs. Giordano bloviates in Italian and is the Italian equivalent to the 'Numa Numa Guy' in front of the TV when she watches The O'Reilly Factor.
Some parts of the book did make me chuckle, especially the introduction which explains the title. Perhaps because I could relate? I also really enjoyed the "State of the Union 2010: Bitch-Slapping Congress." Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I take shots at government all the time, and Rose took some good shots in that piece.

In "Modern Terrorism Techniques" Rose reports that New Zealanbd cleared a shopping mall of unruly teens by piping in music by Barry Manilow.She referred to the music as "the kryptonite of our young people." Then she went on to suggest that certain music could replace water-boarding at Guantanamo as part of President Obama's improved humane policies toward detainees.What a clever idea. I've always thought we women could solve the world's problems if given half a chance.

This is a fun book that can be read all in one sitting, or in short bursts, perhaps instead of reading the back of the cereal box at breakfast. Trust me. This is a much better read. Fans of Erma Bombeck will find some similarities in the writing, and anyone who likes satire will enjoy the book.

Rose A. Valenta is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. Her irreverent columns have been published in Senior Wire, Associated Content, Courier Post Online, NPR, Newsday, USA TODAY, the WSJ Online, and many other local news and radio websites.

She is the author of Rosie’s Renegade Humor Blog. This is the blog for people who would be knowledgeable about current events and politics if only politicians and news anchors didn’t stretch the truth. 


FTC Disclaimer. This book was sent to me by the author, I'm sure with the hope that I might say something kind about it. But I was not paid or threatened to fulfill that hope. It was just out there waiting for my response.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: Death Pans Out by Ashna Graves

Thanks again to Carl Brookins for sharing  his book reviews.

Death Pans Out
by Ashna Graves
Hardcover, 288 pages,
from Poisoned Pen Press

Reporter Jeneva Leopold, faced with a life-altering decision, takes a leave of absence from her job to recover from surgery.  Breast cancer has claimed part of her body and she wants time to recover in relative peace.  Not just from the debilitating effects of the surgery itself,  but she wants to be in a place where she can think about her life and her existence. This is a novel about an unusual woman with an unusual plan to rehabilitate herself.

There are great stories surrounding the searches for precious metals from California, South America and the Yukon, as well as the production of gold from less well-known regions, and this one takes its cue from those stories. Fact or fiction, we are never quite sure, but here is a story which may well become a part of that so interesting body of literature.

Jeneva’s family has long owned an idle gold mine in the mountains of Southern Oregon, a harsh, vastly rural region of high deserts, mountains, isolated communities, wild animals and, legends.  One legend surrounds the
mysterious disappearance of Jeneva’s uncle, Mathew.  Mathew disappeared one night from the cabin at the mine almost twenty years before the story opens, and his mining partner has retreated into a silent years from which he may never emerge.

Jeneva takes a long leave of absence and moved to the cabin at the mine where she intends to spend several months of the summer physically and mentally recovering from her trauma.  Almost immediately, a parade of
compelling characters begins to invade her peaceful existence, from a weird self-styled “artifact hunter,” who insists that he always camps on Bureau of Forestry land and visits the area regularly, to a hearty sheriff who seems at times too good to be true, to a taciturn former model and beauty queen turned rancher, to assorted miners, a tall funeral director and other assorted characters.  They all make for some fascinating scenes and while the action is never of a high order, the rising tension and sense of danger to Jeneva and her friends, is well-handled.

I enjoyed the story, learned some things about governmental land management and local attitudes toward government, and found the ending quite a surprise.  If there are small problems with this debut novel, they stem from an experienced reporter acting entirely too trusting and naive to serve the story, and a couple of the rants are a little too long.  That said, I look forward to another adventure with Jeneva Leopold.

Carl Brookins,
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Contest- Win books and more

Classic Romance Revival, a site dedicated to the care and feeding of romance novels and romance authors is having a special Scavenger Hunt in honor of Valentine's Day.  The contest runs today and tomorrow, and all are invited to join in the fun and win books or tote bags or more.

Here's what it's about. The following authors have graciously elected to participate in the hunt and offer prizes:


If you want to play, go to the CRR Web site and visit the BLOG  where you'll see a list of clues which will be related to the authors listed above. Using the clue, "hunt" down the answer and remember to record the URL of where you found the answer to the clue questions and what the answer is.

Details of how to submit your answer are there on the blog along with the clues and a list of prizes. Have fun and good luck.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

America's schools lose up to $175 billion a year through inefficient spending. And people are just now asking for financial accountability? According to an editorial in The Dallas Morning News, the same advocacy groups that called for academic accountability in school districts are now focusing on spending.

I wonder what took them so long.

Was it too much to ask that Christina Aguilera  sing the National Anthem as written, and maybe memorize all the words before performing in front of millions of people at the Super Bowl? It is embarrassing to hear so many celebrities butcher a song that is not all that hard to sing. My suggestion to future Super Bowl planners, select a young singer from one the the host city's school choirs to do the honors.

Speaking of Super Bowls. Dallas Mayer Pro-Tem, Dwaine Caraway gave Michael Vick the key to the city during  festivities leading up to the big game. That raised this question form a Dallas Morning News editorial, "Can any criminal with no discernible connection to Dallas get a key to the city?"  Dallas Morning News columnist Jacqueline Floyd  took issue with the fact that Caraway "hailed Vick as a hero." She pointed out that there is a vast difference between "forgiveness" and "adoration."

I'm just wondering why Caraway decided to honor Vick instead of one of the players from Pittsburgh or Green Bay who had come to play the game.

The city of Plano, Texas is looking for a new city manager and have hired a search firm to handle the selection process. Apparently they have narrowed the search to five people, one of whom said he never applied. The chief executive of the search firm had this to say I response, "He knew he was an applicant. We can't just grab resumes off the Web."

Uh, excuse me. Has he not heard of

According to a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week, a woman was arrested after trying to send a puppy through the mail in a box. Supposedly it was to be a birthday gift for a relative in another state, but as the Minneapolis police officer said, "Some gift a dead puppy would have been."

No kidding.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Evolution of a Writer

Please help me welcome Robert Bennett to It's Not All Gravy. 
How does someone go from being a social worker to writing mystery fiction full time?  In my case it was an accident, literally.

In 1988 I was working as a social worker in a group home for mentally challenged men in the Bronx, NY. It was my first job out of grad school and I really enjoyed it.  I was making decent money.  My boss liked me and thought I was doing a good job.  My guys and I had a great relationship. Most importantly, I felt like I was making a real difference in their lives.  I was helping them learn daily living skills.  I was helping them to get an education.  For someone who’d always wanted to improve the lives of the disenfranchised masses of our society this was the perfect job.  But, in July, it all came crashing down.

Despite what you may have heard, car accidents are no fun.  In fact mine was the least fun thirty seconds I’d ever spent in my life.  Yup, that’s all it took to change my life completely…one half of a minute.

I was coming home from a girlfriend’s home in Pennsylvania, driving on a highway I’d driven on a couple of dozen times, when I heard tires screeching behind me. I remember looking in the rearview mirror and seeing a car stopped on the road to the left of me.  A few seconds later a vehicle crashed into me from behind.  My metal chariot spun around and boom, I was hit again. This second attack pushed me against the guard rail facing oncoming traffic. Fortunately the guy who hit me, not the one who caused the accident (he was long gone and probably oblivious to what he’d caused), was an off-duty EMT driver. He orchestrated everything post-accident. The hospital released me after a cursory exam, and I went home to bed.

Skip ahead a few months, during which time I’d left my job, lost my girlfriend, and had several surgeries on my spine. I had no idea what the rest of my life would be like. One night my mother brought home a notice for classes at a place called The New York Studio for Writers. I made a phone call.

Since then I’ve written magazine articles about what I call “issues of disability,” everything from sports to politics.  I write about people who challenge societal views of what we commonly, and mistakenly, call ‘disabilities’ and ‘handicaps.’  I write about technology that helps people with disabilities lead better, easier, more productive lives.  I write about social and physical barriers, and how to circumnavigate them.

One of my articles for a magazine called Virtual Reality Special Report, was about a device that combined GPS and virtual reality technologies to allow blind people to navigate through their world.  That sparked my creative interests like no other topic previously had. What, I wondered, would happen if that device malfunctioned so that the user would not “see” the world immediately around him but, instead, would throw him off by a few blocks?  What would happen if what he “saw” was a murder taking place?  How would he deal with this information?  How would the police react if he decided to inform them?  You’re blind, they’d say.  How can you see anything?  You were a few blocks away from this alleged incident, they’d continue.  How could you know anything about it?

Welcome to the travails of Douglas Abledan and his adventures in my Blind Traveler mystery series. This was the setup for my first novel, Blind Traveler Down a Dark River (pub’d 2004).  Book two, Blind Traveler’s Blues, was just accepted as an ebook to be published by Echelon Press.

And that is how a social worker can become a writer of mystery fiction.  Sometimes accidents happen for a reason!


For more information about Robert and his work, visit his Web site  You can also meet him on his BLOG

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Guest Blogger Tomorrow

I'm pleased to announce that author, Robert Bennett, will be my guest here tomorrow. He will share how he "accidentally" came into the writing game. Many of us have taken unusual routes to our writing careers, but his was literally an accident.

Robert  is a social worker and writer who focuses on issues of disability. His articles, which appear in both local and national publications, have spanned a wide range of topics. He has spoken to groups of physical therapy students, church members and senior citizens, and has appeared on several radio programs. In writing about the issues people with disabilities are involved with he feels he has learned a very important lesson, "It is the act of truly living and believing in yourself that is important, not the manner in which that action is undertaken." 

Blind Traveler Down a Dark River is the story of Douglas Abledan, a blind man using a GPS unit to navigate the world. One day the device malfunctions. He stumbles upon the scene of a murder about to take place. Due to the confusion caused by the failure of his technology, it isn’t until he hears a radio announcer reporting an accidental shooting that pieces start falling into place. Unable to convince authorities to look into the matter, he launches his own investigation.

You can find out more about this book and his next on Robert's website at  And I do hope you will come back tomorrow to meet Robert.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Homeland Security - Are we Safer?

I read an interesting op/ed piece by Anne Applebaum titled Homeland Security Hasn't Made us Safer. In her article she makes the point that since Homeland Security was established following 9/11, it has operated without much fiscal scrutiny, and it continues to cost more and more each year, "presumably because Americans think they are being protected from terrorism by all that spending."

That is so typical. The American response to so many problems is to throw money at them. The more money being spent, the better the program. Right?

Not necessarily.

The Department of Homeland Security has sent millions of dollars to remote areas of the country that would probably never be on any terrorist's radar. Small towns with populations less than 3,000 have received hundreds of thousands of dollars for "emergency preparedness." Even my small town volunteer fire department has benefited, and while it is nice that they have some updated equipment, I highly doubt there will ever be a terrorist attack here.

Until I read this article I did not know that  "Every U.S. S\state, no matter how landlocked or underpopulated, receives by law, a fixed percentage of homeland security spending every year. " So I guess if it is up for grabs, we ought to grab. Right?

The article concludes with "The events of 9/11 did not prove that the United States needs to spend more on local police forces and fire brigades; they proved that Americans need to learn how to make better use of the information they have and apply it with speed and efficiency."

Applebaum urges that more money and more attention needs to be focused on identifying terrorists and sharing information on a global level. Nationally, security could focus on cities and buildings that are actually at risk.

What a novel concept.

Millions of dollars are spent annually for airport screenings, yet there is no proof that screeners have actually stopped a would-be bomber. And when airport safety procedures are tested, the screeners have missed fake bombs that the TSA has planted to test their skills.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Book Review: Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

 For a change, I thought I would publish my own review. Not that I don't appreciate the reviews Carl Brookins shares with us, but I just finished this book and liked it well enough to tell others....

Summer at Willow Lake
Susan Wiggs
Contemporary Romance
e-Book version - 2010

This is a wonderful story with many layers and many characters, but they all intertwine with ease. The history of the Bellamy family and their ties to Camp Kioga in New York is complicated, and when Olivia Bellamy goes back to the camp one summer to prepare it for her grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary celebration, the history is revealed. Some of it is sweet and poignant, some of it difficult and threatening.

Camp Kioga was not one of Olivia's favorite places as a child. Not until she met and fell in love with Connor Davis, but how could he be interested in a chubby teenage girl who had never even been kissed. In the years that have passed since, Olivia has reinvented herself as a trim, attractive, sophisticated woman,a nd it is that woman who meets Connor again when his construction firm is hired to help with the renovations of the camp.

Summer at Willow Lake is a saga in the true sense of the word, and I enjoyed meeting all the people who connect in some way with Olivia and the camp. It is also a romance, so the typical sexual tension is there between Olivia and Connor. What elevates this book from every other romance novel is Connor. He is almost too good to be true, which is every woman's fantasy, yet he isn't a swaggering hero. He is a kind, compassionate, intuitive man with a wry sense of humor.

FTC disclaimer:  I purchased this book of my own free will to read and enjoy. The author did not twist my arm or threaten me in any way to read it and give a positive report. In fact, unless she does a search for new reviews of her book, she may not even know about this one.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Recently a woman in Dallas was asked why she wanted to model for Playboy.  "Before I get married and find someone, it's something I want to get out of my system."

Sure, that's what every young woman should put on her list of things to do before marriage.

Why Hillary didn't win -- she's not a cowgirl. In her book, Big Girls Don't Cry, Rebecca Traister writes about the "rootin'-tootin' female politician" and America's fascination with them. She says it is "symptomatic of the too-narrow ways in which the United States is willing to accept women as leaders."

I remember when Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas in 1991. While she didn't have that "take me to the wilderness so I can shoot something" persona of a Sarah Palin, she was promoted as a tough Texan who could hold her own with the good ol' boys. 

So maybe Hillary should stop trying to prove how smart she is and start acting like a cowgirl.

We've seen record cold temperatures and storms across the U.S. this week, and people still think we are not experiencing climate change?

New approach to airport security - mice who can detect explosives. Israeli scientists developed a mouse trap that contains three canisters, each filled with eight specially trained mice capable of picking up faint traces of explosive residues. The scientists say that  mice are more effective bomb-sniffers than dogs because they don't require constant human interaction, and they actually have more scent receptor genes than canines. 

They don't eat as much as dogs, either, but a dog is more fun. Read more about the mice HERE

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Politicians, you gotta love em

The Texas Legislature is rushing to pass a voter ID bill that would require voters to show a driver's liscense or other form of picture ID at the voting booth. No longer will a voter's registration card, which can only be acquired by showing proof of residency, be considered adequate proof that a person is eligible to vote.

Governor Rick Perry declared this as emergency legislation so the bill could be considered before the House was fully organized, and it has strong support among Republicans. Not so much with Democrats.

Supporters say the bill preserves the right to vote, which is one of our most precious rights as residents of a democracy. They claim the current system allows non-registered voters access to polls, many of them illegal immigrants. Opponents claim the bill is just a way to disengage those at the economic bottom tier in our country.

And of course, those opposed and those in favor are so busy taking pot-shots at each other, I wonder if they are taking time to really debate the pros and cons of the bill, or is this all just about promoting the party line? Which is really what I suspect  this whole issue is about --- politics. Republicans want to come across as the vanguards of our freedom, and the Democrats want to be seen as the saviors of the poor.

If only they really cared about their constituents, they would put politics aside and look at issues of graver importance --  like the state budget. Now, there's something that needs to be deemed an emergency.

This type of approach to government business in rampant, from federal to local, and it doesn't look like it is going to change. Too bad for us.