I know, I know, I haven't updated in weeks, other than book reviews.

(Well, I just can't help that, you know...)

A couple of weeks ago, my grandfather (my mother's father) was admitted into hospital with a chest infection, which set off a chain of events in the Priddis family.

My mother, who has been undergoing chemo treatments, was absolutely forbidden by all of us to travel to England to be with my grandfather, so my sister and father flew over to England on Valentine's Day to be with him, while I traveled to Columbus to stay with Mum.

The news from England grew increasingly bleak, and we began making arrangements - via many international phone calls and a lot of work by Michelle and Dad - to put things in place in England. Dealing with illness is never easy, but is even more so when it is in a foreign country where everything is different.

Sadly, my grandfather passed away last Thursday at the age of 90. His life was full of laughter and adventure, and I have so many stories and good memories to help erase the last few weeks of waiting for sad news - visiting Prague with him, spending summers in England in the flat in Cambridge, and having him visit the States. We have made arrangements to have him brought to the States to be buried alongside my grandmother, who passed away here a few years ago while they were visiting us.

It's been a trying couple of weeks, but I'm glad I was with Mum through it all, and we had a few laughs, a lot of roadtrips, were able to pick up Michelle from the airport, and just were there for each other.

I'm back in TinyTown, preparing to go back to work and get some semblance of normalcy back in my life - which hopefully will include more lighthearted blog entries, more book reviews, and some more fun Flickr photos than the last few weeks have been.

Give your family a hug tonight, for me.

Vaclav Karel Macak: 1916-2007

February 22

Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

I seem to be on a bit of a Scotland kick lately. ;-)

This romance title was recommended by one of our patrons, and proved to be an engrossing, sexy, fun read with a mix of suspense, magic and of course, steamy love scenes. ;-)

Jessi is a girl caught in a boring pattern when a mirror, a trapped Highlander warrior and a murderous sorcerer cross her path. Naturally, love and danger ensue.

I read this title in a day, and was pulled right into the characters and magic of the title. A good "beach read"!


Death of a Bore by M.C. Beaton

I recently saw Series One of Hamish Macbeth, the BBC series based on this series of mysteries by Beaton, so I thought I would pick up one of the books to read.

This is a "cozy mystery" set in the Scottish Highlands in which Macbeth, a truly likable character, is the policeman who looks out for his village, breaks a few rules and solves murder after murder.

I found this a nice little read, and made me yearn to head for Scotland...


A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman

I got this galley at Midwinter, and was eager to give it a read, as it has been compared (vaguely, anyway) to Freakonomics.

The book is interesting...how disorder and chaos can sometimes spawn genius, and how decluttering our lives and getting rid of any disorder can sometimes have adverse effects. I found it really interesting, but it was best read in short bursts.

Sadly, it had the opposite effect on me, and pushed me to start spring cleaning my house. ;-)


Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Klause (a librarian!) has written a book of the supernatural, this time focusing on werewolves in the teen genre, which was recently made into a movie.

Vivian is a werewolf who falls for a human, and this book chronicles her struggle to fit in, to fall for a human, and to struggle with who she truly is, as well as her loyalties to her other werewolf pack members.

This was a quick read, but I wasn't really into it - Vivian was a character I found really hard to like, and while I liked the exploration of werewolf "culture", it fell a bit flat for me.

I give it an "eh" review...


Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This was the selected read for our library book discussion group, and one I had no read previous to selecting it (it was chosen by one of our members).

Marquez is a well-respected author who can really turn a phrase, but wow, I struggled with this book. Pages and pages that are only one paragraph, very little dialogue and a slow, meandering story that runs hundreds of pages. I like Marquez' prose, but found myself really bogged down in the style of writing, and ended up skimming huge chunks of the book.

But at least I can say I read it!


Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann

With each Brockmann book I read, I think "Aha! THIS is my favorite yet!" and then I read another one, and think the same thing.

Yep, so far this is my favorite. :-)

Another member of Seal Team 16 is on leave, and gets mixed up with a feisty woman, an international set of problems, and has to save the day. There's a lot more, but honestly I can't summarize it except to say - great sexual tension, great settings, great plot, great fun.

I love Brockmann books - pick one up today!


The Watchman by Robert Crais

A copy of this new Joe Pike mystery was sent to me for review by the fine folks at FSB. Never having read a Crais novel, but knowing he was popular, I dove right in!

Joe Pike is a man of few words, no smiles, and a lot of action who is contracted to protect a young woman after several attempts are made on her life, and the FBI fails to protect her each time.

I enjoyed the "inside view" of a mercenary worker, but found Pike hard to like due to his lack of emotion (though I loved his partner, Elvis) and the storyline a bit staid. I most enjoyed the interplay between Pike and the woman, and wondering how it was going to be resolved.

This is a tight, fast, twisting mystery/suspense novel - if you are looking for a new series, try this one!


Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

I was looking for something to listen to that wasn't mystery and suspense, and happened upon this story from Winston, which features Elinor, a women desperate to get pregnant who happens upon an affair of her husband's.

This story twists and turns through marriage, separation, new loves, pregnancy, lack of pregnancy, loss, renewal and more. Elinor is a wonderful character, and I found myself rooting for everyone in the story by the end.

A great fiction read!

Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Melinda Wade. Wade's narration is very good, but she reads VERY, VERY fast. It's like they took out every pause, every breath, everything and crammed the story into 5 skinny discs. Good...but FAST!


The Sidewalk Artist by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk

This is a very clever little book (recommended by my colleague Gail) that weaves true history from the age of Raphael with a modern-day love story, complete with a painter for this age.

Tulia is traveling around Europe when she happens upon a magnetic sidewalk artist, who shows her the sights and slowly wins her heart, all while she is writing a new novel on the life of the Italian painter Raphael.

This is a lovely little love story, complete with jealousy-inducing travels in Paris and Italy. Very sweet!


The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

This is another absolutely fantastic historical novel from the author of The Other Boleyn Girl, one of my favorite novels. Once again, we are returned to the court of King Henry VIII and the women that surround him.

This time, Gregory has three narrators - Anne of Cleves (queen #4), Jane Rochford (a lady in waiting to several queens), and Catherine Howard (queen #5), and the story weaves between the three of them, always moving forward but with different voices and perspectives on the court of Henry VIII.

I absolutely love the writing, the intrigue, the feeling of being on the inside of the story, and the characters of Gregory's novels. This is highly, highly recommended - one of the best novels I've read in ages!


The Colts won the Super Bowl!

The Colts won the Super Bowl!

The Colts won the Super Bowl!

And the Hoosier State goes wild....


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My Lost and Found Life by Melodie Bowsher

This YA novel is different from most - rather than being a tale of high school hijinx and romance problems, this one deals with Ashley, a former prom queen who is forced to change her life drastically when her mother disappears and leaves her with no means, no money and no plan.

This is a darker YA novel, but is interesting and well written, and you can clearly see the growth of the lead character as she finds her well.

Well written YA novel!


Girl's Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky

This is such a fun book, and combines some of my favorite things. :-)

Jane is a librarian (woot!) in DC who is struggling to find a man, help the library find funding, and trying to figure out how to pay rent. Through a series of events, she discovers a room of magic books, summons her familiar (a flamingly gay man named Neko), and starts having the men around her act...differently. Including her warder...

This is a fast and fun read, filled with relationships, romance, magic and a lot of mojitos. I loved it, and can't wait for a sequel! :-)


Manhunt by Janet Evanovich

I was looking for a short and sassy audiobook while working on my latest quilt, and came across one of Evanovich's "old" novels, from when she was a romance writer before she was "the Stephanie Plum" writer. :-)

This is a cute story that features Alex, a NJ girl who moves to Alaska to snag herself a man and change her life. Of course, there are fireworks with the first guy she meets, which they studiously try to avoid. The story is cute and has lots of "Plum-esque" qualities to it - a nice distraction for a couple of hours!

Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by the incomparable C.J. Critt. Her narrations are fantastic!


Web of Evil by J.A. Jance

This is the second in the "Ali Reynolds" series by Jance, and again features the intrepid (and recently fired) television anchor who is once again caught up in murder and mayhem in LA and Arizona.

Jance has written another twisting story, with much emphasis put on the "blog" featured in the book, as well as some of the characters introduced in the first novel - particularly Ali's ex-husband, who's murder throws Ali back into her old life.

I enjoyed this mystery well enough, but don't find myself compelled to grab another Jance book. It's good enough, but not a favorite for this generally-not-a-mystery reader.


So, I went to my "primary care physician" for the first time in, like, four years because I've been dizzy, nauseous, unable to concentrate and suffering from a disgusting cold all at the same time.

(According to medlineplus.gov, I could have been suffering from Meniere's disease, a stroke, seasickness...and none of these were comforting to me)

So, yeah.

I got lots of steroids and antibiotics to fight off a nasty inner ear infection, a yucky cold, and a fever I've been carrying around for over a week.

Hopefully when I'm feeling better and not on the verge of throwing up or falling down, I'll answer emails, update my blog, and get some work done. :-)