The Screaming Room by Thomas O'Callaghan

The fine folks at FSB forwarded me a copy of this suspense title, a genre I've been trying to read more of as that's what many (okay, most) of my patrons seem to read!

This is a serial killer story, set in New York City, in which the killer (or killers?) are offing foreign visitors and leaving their bodies on display at famous New York tourist locations. This story has a bit of everything - grisly deaths, odd characters, determined detectives, secrets, sexual abuse and a tight plot. The short chapters and ever-changing point of view of the different characters make this a superspeedy read.

If you dig on suspense titles, give this one a read!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

I wanted to reread the last couple of Harry Potter books prior to the release of Deathly Hallows on July 21, and to this movie to be released on July 13.

I remember absolutely tearing through this title when it first came out, and as a result didn't remember much of it. On second reading, I love seeing the threads get weaved ever tighter around Harry, and was just as crushed with the ending as I was upon the first reading. In this one, Harry acts like a 15 year old boy, just as he should - sulky, concerned with girls, ratty at times, but that didn't bother me as it did some readers.

This series is utterly fantastic, and I'm reading to reread #6 in eager anticipation of the end of it all...

And I can't WAIT to see how they make the movie of this one...


For the last four years, I've been beyond proud to be a part of the TinyTown Relay for Life effort. Below is a portion of the letter I just sent to my nearest and dearest...if you are so inclined, I would absolutely love to have your support (and your dollars) for this cause...

Hi there!

It's been 9 years since my mother was first diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She underwent a radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and even a stem cell transplant in her battle with cancer.

Three summers ago, she again battled cancer in the other breast, undergoing months of chemotherapy and a mastectomy to struggle back into remission.

Even as I type this, my mother is once again undergoing chemotherapy on some suspect cells in her liver to keep this dread disease at bay.

Watching her fight for so much of the last 9 years is the reason I Relay.

Each year, TinyTown comes together in this huge cacophony of tents, events, Relay walkers, luminarias, food, fun and, yes, the occasional sunburn or two, in a 24-hour fight to raise money for cancer research. If you haven't witnessed firsthand an entire town circling a track all day to benefit others, I really can't do the sight justice. This year, the track will be a riot of color, celebrating our theme of "The Colors of Cancer".

(We're yellow. I know, I know. It's so NOT complimentary to my pasty skin tone, but what's a girl to do?)

I am once again proud to be heading up the library team - gathering walkers, soliciting donations, putting together a raffle basket, digging out our team tent from the recesses of storage, and even sewing a quilt to raffle off the day of Relay.

As in past years, I'm going to be spending all day, all evening, all night at the track on the weekend of June 2nd - 3rd, but there's only one way that can happen.

With your help.

Without your pledges, I'll never be able to walk around the track in the heat and humidity of a June day and night for 24 hours, while cheering on my team as they do the same.

This is where you come in. :-)

With your contributions, we can raise money for a great cause, help me and my team meet our goal, and give me motivation to stay awake, walk in circles for long amounts of time, and generally annoy my co-workers. I do that now, but this won't be on library time. ;-)

Here's the best part - you can donate online!

What? Online? Tell me more!

You can make a secure online contribution right from my Personal Donation Page:

If you prefer to snail mail your contribution to me, that's fine too. I just want to raise oodles of money and impress everyone in TinyTown with my flush friends. ;-) Donate early! Donate often!

If you are unable to contribute...I totally understand. Send me an email instead, saying hello. It's enough that your thoughts are with us as we walk to beat this disease that touches so many lives.

Thank you for your support (and your dollars) in an event that is so close to my heart.

You are my stars.




Well, it's just been a busy few weeks, and I've been an absent blogger, no?

Let's see...what's been going on...

I took a trip home for Easter:

My Effort

It involved a trip to Indy, furniture rearranging, a turkey and quite a bit of hysteria (and a lot of photos).


I went and heard a Holocaust survivor speak with my friend Becca:

April 12

He was inspiring and interesting, and it was great to catch up with Becca for a few hours!


We did an insane amount of rearranging in the Adult Department at the library:

Empty Spaces

Disassembled furniture, moved items, removed tables, shifted, rearranged and finally got a clear view through the windows to the garden (and took a lot of in-progress snaps).


My parents came down for a visit:

April 15

The weekend involved steamcleaning carpets, the TinyTown Relay for Life Survivor Luncheon, a pub lunch, grilling out, and a lot of quality time with Bear Grylls and "The Crab Men" on the Discovery Channel. ;-) (And of course, documentation of the events)


We had a two-person production of Peter Pan at the library:

April 16

Over 60 attendees, and a great performance!


And I caught a cold:

April 18


In between all of that, I've been making another quilt (this time, for Relay for Life), hangin' with the Quiltin' Ladies, weeding biographies in the library, rereading Harry Potter, and thoroughly enjoying the new Nine Inch Nails album (if you don't have it, get it. It's completely rad.).

How're you?

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I admit it: I was skeptical of this book from the title, the reviews I'd heard, and just plain jealousy that SHE can jet off for a year and do all the stuff *I* wanna do!

I was wrong.

This book is just magical.

Liz is the perfect companion to read with as she travels to Italy, India and Indonesia - you feel as though you are traveling with an honest, hysterically funny, humble girl that could totally be your best friend. Liz took a year off to spend 4 months each in these three very different cultures, seeking out very different things from each location, while trying to heal herself from a devastating divorce and subsequent love affair.

In Italy, it's about healing and food, and finding new friends. In India, it's about finding faith and yourself, and in Bali it's about helping out friends and finding a new love. I devoured every page of this memoir, hesitant to read too fast for fear of missing something, or of having the book end too soon.

This memoir is funny, inspiring, amazing and magical - highly, highly recommended!

Who's ready to fly 'round the world with me?


The Negotiator by Dee Henderson

A huge number of my patrons at the library read nothing but Christian fiction, and are always asking for suggestions of authors to try. As I am NOT well versed in Christian fiction, I'm making a good faith effort (get it? good faith? *grin*) to read a few authors that seem to be exceptionally popular among my patrons.

This is the first book in Henderson's "O'Malleys" series, and features Kate, a police negotiator who is being targeted when a henious crime rocks Chicago's O'Hare airport. Also at the center of this tale is Dave, Kate's colleague and love interest.

This was a good suspense story with interesting characters, but the Christian parts were so stilted - "Kate, I want to talk to you about Jesus" flung in the middle of a conversation about terrorists, and the pat conversion of the skeptic at the end of the book just didn't ring true to me. Still, I can see the appeal to Christian readers looking for a good suspense story - plus, it's a series.

Not for me, but good for someone else...


Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella

This is a standalone novel from the author of the Shopaholic series of chick lit novels, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Emma is on a rough plane flight next to a dashing American businessman when the flight turns rough. She begins spouting all her secrets "before she dies", but when the plane lands safely, she forgets everything she revealed. Until the businessman turns out to be the CEO of her company...

This is a supercute, well written, engaging chick lit novel with fun characters, a great premise, and a few twists and turns along the way. I loved it - highly recommended!

Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Kate Reading, who did a fantastic job switching between UK and USA accents. Great!


Just Like Heaven by Barbara Bretton

I thought this sounded like a cute premise for a romance/Christian novel - a non-believer by the name of Kate has a heart attack in the middle of a parking lot, and is revived by an Episcopalian priest. Naturally, after she recovers there is a lot of chemistry, conflict, and the obligatory happy ending.

As Christian romances go, this was okay with me. The whole "god" thing wasn't pushed and pushed, and the romance was fluffy but nice, and I liked the conflict between where the two characters were in their lives. The ending was very pat, but that's what quick romance novels are about!


The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

I absolutely loved the first "Traveling Pants" book (and subsequent movie), but it wasn't until recently I realized I never read the rest of the series, so I grabbed the second off the shelves...

This novel continues to follow the summer travels and happenings of Tibby, Bee, Lena and Carmen, complete with love, loss, celebration, triumph and a friendship unlike any other. This is a fantastic series with great role models, real challenges, wonderful writing and a story I can't wait to dive into further!

This is a highly recommended YA series!


In but a few short weeks, the new Nine Inch Nails album will hit stores.

I'm superpsyched, y'all.

Mostly, because it's only taken Trent a year to put out a new album, rather than the five years NINites have become accustomed to.


You might have seen some of the hubbub (on CNN, for example) about the album, what with leaving tracks on USB drives in bathrooms and messages on tee shirts that lead to sites all over the web. Need a good primer? Read the CNN article, or this Rolling Stone one to get up to speed on the new album and *gulp* possible movie associated with it.

And then laugh at the RIAA cracking down on the songs that were leaked. Deliberately. BY THE ARTIST.

I can't wait to load this on the iPod and start jammin'...


I am still mourning the end of Rome, as are many of my friends.


However, Jen found something that will significantly reduce the loss, if anyone feels like doing a little shopping for me:

Pullo for President!


C'mon...I think I *need* these for casual days at work, no? ;-)

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The Broker by John Grisham

I admit, I haven't read any Grisham novels since the 1990s (and according to the majority of my patrons, I haven't missed much), but I knew this was set primarily in Italy and thought I would give it a go.

Hrm. While it's a nice tour of Bologna, the "chase" and the premise left me cold. Grisham spent more time exploring the ins and outs of Italian culture and eluding to a romance than working out the details of how our title characters ended up there in the first place! The ending left me cold, and I was actually grateful this only took a day to read - I can move on to other novels instead!

If you want to read a good lawyer-y suspense novel, stick with Grisham's early work.


Into the Night by Suzanne Brockmann

Okay, I admit it. I'm totally hooked on Brockmann's SEAL Team Sixteen series (Troubleshooters, Inc). Filled with action, suspense, sexual tension romance and the best heroes between two covers I've read in quite some time!

This time around, Mike Muldoon (SuperSEAL) is ordered to escort a White House employee, a woman many years older, as she readies for a Presidential visit to the base. Of course, fireworks, arguments and romance between the two are inevitable.

I adore this series, and can't wait to read more! Girls, pick up this series today!


The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

What can I say? I have a weakness for smoldery, kilt-wearing heros in romance books. ;-)

This novel crackles with a manly hero, mucho sexual tension, and a race for our hero and heroine to avoid assassins, hide their tracks, and try to set things right in the land of the Fae. Really, the plot isn't important - the main hero is. :-)

These novels are big fun - highly recommended!


The Visible World by Mark Slouka

I bought this book from Amazon after reading several reviews about it, and read it over the course of only a couple of days.

This novel weaves together three stories, the most poignant of which (for me, particularly) was the story of the parachutists during World War II who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in Prague, then battled the Gestapo for days from a church crypt before committing suicide rather than be caught. In retaliation, Hitler ordered Lidice (a small Czech village) to be "erased from the map". One of the members of the team was fictionalized for this novel, and how it affected a modern day marriage and the son who flies to Prague to find answers. There are really three parts of this novel, with the WW II portion told at the end.

This novel was wonderfully written and particularly poignant for me, as my grandfather (who passed away a few weeks ago) had friends who lived in Lidice, lived only a few miles away in Makotrasy, and (I believe, though he never confirmed it) knew of the plot against Heydrich before it happened.

A very cathartic read for me...