AmandaCiaranI was recently ordered (ordered!) by faithful reader Pat to watch the 1995 BBC version of Persuasion, starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds.

(Naturally, I went and checked it out from the library tout de suite!)

I admit, I had neither read nor seen any edition of Persuasion before checking this one out *hangs head*, and I missed the first run of the new version on PBS, so I have thrown that into my Netflix queue for the future.

Anyway, 1995's Persuasion.

Lovely. :-)

As Pat pointed out, at the beginning you don't really find Anne or Frederick particularly engaging or attractive, but by the end, you are rooting for them to find each other, and find that you have fallen for both through the story.

This was Austen's last written novel before her death, and is markedly shorter than Emma or Mansfield Park, which I felt as I watched this adaptation - it was still lovely, but seemed to be missing the slow build of other Austen novels to me, or the depth and detail that she always built into both her main characters and her secondary characters.

And I really did NOT expect to fall in love with Ciaran Hinds' Frederick - I mean, yes, the man was rad as Caesar on Rome, but a romantic lead? Now, I'm a believer...

Yep. Add this to the canon of BBC period pieces already crowding my house. And now, I just have to wait to compare it to the new version...

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Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

I know.


I'd already filled my quota of Sparks for the year, but then I read that Richard Gere and Diane Lane were going to star in the film version of this book, and since I love them (and are great together - Unfaithful - on screen), I thought I'd pick up the book and see what dramatic romance they were bringing to life.

Oh dear.

Overwrought, sentimental, sappy, unrealistic, and one of those books where you know the ending before you are even on page 3.

Adrienne and Paul find themselves sharing a small bed and breakfast on the Outer Banks as a storm is bearing down, and spending several days in the midst of a brilliant, loving, life-altering relationship.

And then other stuff happens.

I know Spark-ites love this book, and all his books. I know he's got the whole romantic notion down pat, but goodness, this book just put me over the edge in the "gag me with a spoon" category.

At least it only took a couple of hours to read...

If you like Sparks, you'll love it. If you don't like sappy, overwrought, poorly prosed novels, then perhaps try another author...

(Not that I'm opinionated or anything. *grin*)

Falling Into Manholes: The Memoir of a Bad/Good Girl by Wendy Merrill

I received an ARC of this title (which was released only a couple of days ago) a memoir written by the brutally honest, and at times brutally funny Merrill.

Though memoirs of all shapes and sizes are crowding the market at the moment, Merrill has tried to capture the raw, honest, train-wreck-like, horrifying time line of her dating past. She writes candidly about her problems with alcohol, bulimia and co-dependence, and writes about some of the more colorful skeletons in her dating closet. You just want to yell at Wendy, "No! Don't! Kick this loser to the curb!" knowing she isn't really going to listen, so you read on...

This is an engaging memoir, geared more towards the female set, particularly those in their 30s and 40s who enjoy reading of the foibles of others.


So, with a new house and a new yard and all, I obviously have a long road ahead this summer to build flowerbeds, tend the lawn, plant bulbs and lots of other things to make the house look like a home.

At least I've made a start...Johnny Jump Ups now grace my front porch.

I love them.

They are so happy.





The hard part will be deciding what to plant this summer, where to build beds, what bulbs to pick for next spring...

What are your (full sun) favorites?

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Time seems to keep slipping away from me, but I wanted to blog about my fabu weekend last weekend, when the parental units came down for three celebrations, one of which was Easter, featuring crayon artwork by yours truly! It was also Mum's birthday, and it was also her "cancer anniversary" - TEN years ago she was first diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.

IBC has a life expectancy of about 18 months.

No words can adequately express how remarkable that is, and though she's back in chemo, Mum's as feisty and opinionated as ever was. ;-)

So what did we do during this gala celebration weekend?

Well, we...

Had lunch at Nagasaki, where they light things on fire for you.


We found me some porch furniture (yay Lowe's!), so that people will think someone lives in my house, rather than thinking its deserted, like the pizza delivery person did the other night...


We had lunch at the Tin Fish, which affords a 6th floor view of the Ohio River in Evansville. And has oysters on the half shell. ;-)

March 21


We explored nearby Newburgh, and marveled at the flood of the Ohio River. That dam represents where the river SHOULD be. Yikes.

(Yes, it was a tad windy on the outlook!)

Bit Windy

SOMEONE got a haircut for the first time in about five years (when you lose your hair through chemo so many times, you tend to become possessive of your hairs, they tell me. Having a pushy daughter, however, eventually works...)

March 22

I also hung oodles of things on my shiny new walls with the help of Dad's level and Mum's discerning eye.

Picture Man

The weekend was also filled with lots of foodie times (I made Easter dinner, steaks on the grill, etc), Easter baskets for the parentals, laying grass seed, switching shutters on the house, moving furniture around, spending too much money in Michael's, planting pansies, baking cookies, and wrestling with some computer cord management.

Le weekend? C'est parfait!

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Escape by Carolyn Jessop

This is one of those car crash want to look away, but you just can't.

Here's the blurb from the front:

I was born into a radical polygamist cult. At eighteen, I became the fourth wife of a fifty-year old man. I had eight children in fifteen years. When our leader began to preach the apocalypse, I knew I had to get them out.

Imagine all the compound scenes from Big Love rolled into the exploits of (now convicted) prophet Warren Jeffs, an icky husband, abuse, dueling wives and the fight to get out, and you have this book. Jessop goes into great detail about the abuses she suffered, her fears of the FLDS lifestyle she couldn't escape, and her final flight out of the cult.

This is a really interesting first hand account of what we only see on TV...


Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

I thought this sounded like an intriguing plot for a novel, particularly as someone who enjoys both romantic comedy and Greek mythology.

A dozen of the Greek gods and goddesses are holed up in a crumbling house in present day London, their powers waning and their boredom skyhigh. Aphrodite (goddess of love) works as a phone sex operator, Artemis (goddess of the hunt) is a dog walker, and Apollo (god of the sun) is a would-be psychic. Things begin to go hideously awry with the arrival of mere mortal Alice, a house cleaner with a very nice mortal boyfriend, Neil.

What follows are godly schemes, a trip to the underworld to see Uncle Hades, some Scrabble, a bit of absurdity and a few laughs. It's kind of like watching "The Real World" or "Big Brother", but with, you know, deities.

I really thought this was an inventive plot for a novel, and I laughed out loud at some of the characterizations. Though some of the gods/goddesses are self-absorbed or annoying, you can't help but root for them to be restored to their former place...

A fun lesson in mythology, a creative read, and zippy to get through - recommended!


13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I am weird.

(Well, we KNEW that.)

I'm weird, because for some reason, even though I have oodles of books at home on my bookshelves, many of them are unread, and if I own them, I never get around to reading half of them. Instead, I continue to check out from the library, ignoring those that I have at my disposal any time.

(I think I must have some weird phobia that I'm going to be trapped in my home for many months, with only the books on my shelves to read, so I don't want to get ahead of myself or run out of new titles to read.)

In any case, I'm making a concerted effort this year to read the books on my shelves (in between reading library books), particularly many of the ARCs I received ages and ages ago.

Among them is this read from (Secret Sister) Maureen Johnson - an ARC I got, no joke, three years ago. Sigh.

Ginny, 17, is sent on a European adventure by her crazy Aunt Peg, who left her 13 letters to read in sequence, enough money to get by, and instructions on how to proceed through the envelopes. Though Ginny is initially very skeptical, she is eventually pulled into the adventure, emotion and excitement of Aunt Peg's final act - having died several months previously.

This is a great YA novel, filled with great settings, interesting characters, and a plot that moves steadily along, but with heart. Ginny can be a bit of an aloof character, and yet you are cheering for her to find whatever it is she's looking for...

This is a really great book for the YA set, and for those a few years past...


Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline

I've never read any novels by Scottoline, but I know she's popular with our patrons, and her novels have been compared to Grisham's earlier works for gritty, engaging courtroom suspense novels. I was searching for a new audiobook when I stumbled upon this 2006 title.

This stand-alone novel (Scottoline also have a series of recurring characters) features Cate Fante, a young federal judge (age 39) with a secret life that she keeps away from the courtroom. After presiding over an explosive Hollywood case, a murder, a suicide, and a threatened judge culminate in a twisty, turny novel that keeps the reader flying through the story until the end. Filled with great supporting characters, a fantastic heroine (despite her "secret", you can't help but like and cheer for Fante), and a lot of detail, this is a entertaining read with an ending I didn't see coming, though the ending does come up quickly.

I really enjoyed this read by Scottoline, and will definitely read more, and recommend her titles to patrons in the future. Rock on!

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by the fantastic Babara Rosenblat. Rosenblat has a husky, smoker's voice that is filled with great inflection, variety and is very engaging to read. She really brought Cate to life for me - a great listen!



You know, there's really no subtle way for me to announce this, so I'll just come out with it.


I repeat, they are REISSUING all the adventures of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield.

I was OB-sessed with SVH when I was but a wee one, and read the first, oh, 50 books or so before I moved on to more sophisticated reads (which, as I recall, was, like, Danielle Steel).

I wanted a lavaliere. I wanted Lila Fowler's clothes and money. I was on Team Todd. I wanted to go to the Dairy Burger. I still giggle thinking about Bruce's license plate. I thought Francine Pascal was on par with Jane Austen or Emily Bronte, if I'd known who they were at the time. I looked forward to the "super editions" or "super thrillers" where the twins went on adventures. I always had a crush on Guy the sensitive keyboardist. I thought a Fiat Spider was the

I shouldn't be this excited, but I am. I still have all those novels tucked away in the safety of my parent's attic, unable to part with a single one. I just might have to read Double Love again, when it's reissued...

And, my word, I had forgotten about all that fabu cover art...

(I just giggled myself silly over the Sweet Valley High wikipedia entry. Hee.)

C'mon, I can't be the only one...

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Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

de los Santos' first novel, Love Walked In, was one of my favorite books read last year, so I was eager to read her follow up novel, Belong to Me. I was fortunate enough to grab an ARC from Midwinter, as this title is not due for release for a few more weeks.

This novel continues the story of Cornelia, whom we met in the first book, as she and her husband settle into life in the suburbs. This novel weaves in her story, the story of her neighbor Piper, and mother and son duo Lake and Dev, who are new to town. All three stories get their own chapters, with characters overlapping each other, and influencing each other. Oddly, Cornelia's chapters are written in first person, and the other two characters in third person, but once you get going, you hardly notice.

de los Santos packs a lot into this lovely novel, weaving in and out of her characters lives with lovely prose and phrases I have to read several times to really appreciate - you can tell de los Santos is a poet. Just like with Love Walked In, I didn't want this novel to end...the characters had become my friends, and I was loath to part from them, though I had to see where their stories ended...

This is a wonderful follow up to the first novel, and I only wish I had many more stories to read from these amazingly crafted characters. I loved everything about this book - the characters (Aiden stole the show!), the plot, the prose, even the book's cover.

Read Love Walked In, fall in love with it, and then pick up this novel.

You won't be sorry.


361904900_0a09f91358I seem to have been going through a serious BBC-type-period-piece phase lately, so I threw Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre into my Netflix queue (upon the recommendation of Jen, who deemed Rochester "more broody" than that Austen lot) to give it a shot, though I wasn't terribly familiar with the book (only with sister Emily's Wuthering Heights, which I sorta read in high school and hated).


Oooh….I LOVED this adaptation from Masterpiece Theatre. I was going to watch for just one hour before getting up to pack and get organized for the house move, and ended up spending four hours on the couch, mesmerized by the telling of Jane and Rochester's story.

I initially didn't like the actor playing Rochester, but by the end, I found him completely endearing, and I thought the actress playing Jane Eyre was spot on – my heart was aching during the bad bits, and rooting during the good bits. The story, the setting, the characters…all of it captivated me until the very end. Since then, I've watched it several times (I had to BUY a copy, of course!) and still hold my breath until the very end to see how the story will resolve...

I'm a convert – this is my new pet period piece…at least until the next one. ;-)

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Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

I chose this novel as our book discussion title this month, though I hadn't read it previous to assigning it, merely going with the positive reviews its garnered from other discussion groups.

What a lovely read. :-)

Goldberg's writing style is hard to classify, but this is a really readable, really captivating novel, seen mostly through the eyes of Eliza, an unremarkable nine year old girl, the second child of ambivalent married couple Saul and Miriam, and younger sister to Aaron. The family dynamic, however, begins to change and shift when it's discovered that Eliza is a champion speller, bound for the national championship, despite believing she is nothing but an unremarkable girl.

This novel weaves in and out of different narrative voices, and you follow the story through the eyes of Saul, Aaron, Miriam and Eliza, and Goldberg pulls in many topics - religion, marriage, finding yourself and who you are, mental illness, and of course, has some zinger spelling words.

I can't adequately describe this novel, except to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to discussing it with the book group, and recommending it to others.


March 7

Despite snowy conditions, two of my favorite people came to visit me in TinyTown last week - Denise and Carrie!

We've been friends for years, but can never seem to be in the same place at the same time until this last weekend. Our plan was to watch lots of telly, giggle and gossip, eat bad food, and generally escape the world.

We watched Casey Stoner go "absolutely flying", we learned how to cook like the Contessa, we snuggled in duvets, we ate a lot of pizza, we bowled a few frames, we drove down desolate Hoosier roads with a few snow drifts for excitement, we slept late, we watched some bull riding, we bought some shiny new Colts gear and dishy necklaces, and screamed when we saw The Chadster during the Atlanta NASCAR race.

We even managed to tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the snow - though we didn't get to kiss the bricks this time.

Glad you came for a visit, girls. Nice to have The Corrupted all in one place!

The house feels awfully empty now...

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Cape Refuge by Terri Blackstock

Obviously, I don't read a lot of Christian fiction, so every once in a while I grab a title that someone else has recommended, and that's not too church-y.

This is actually a Christian mystery title, written by very popular writer Blackstock (a frequent collaborator with Beverly LaHaye). Cape Refuge is a small town off the coast of Georgia, and Hanover House, run by a married Christian couple, is a haven for people who need a second chance (ex-cons, runaways, etc).

Cape Refuge, its own TinyTown, is thrown into tumult when the couple are brutally murdered, leaving their two daughters (one devout, one a skeptic) to deal with the aftermath.

This is actually a pretty good mystery story, and though it has elements of God, it's not overt or banging you over the head. And the skeptic is STILL a skeptic at the end, which I appreciate. I get so aggravated with the titles where there's a sudden conversion tied up in 200 pages...

This is the beginning of a trilogy set in Cape Refuge, and is a good Christian title for me to recommend to patrons. Heck, I might even read the next one...


The First Patient by Michael Palmer

This new novel from Palmer sounded intriguing in the review publications...Andrew Stoddard is the President of the United States, but to Gabe Singleton, he's just a former roommate from the Naval Academy and good friend. When Stoddard's personal physician disappears under shady circumstances, Stoddard asks his friend Singleton to step into the role, thus beginning a wild ride of intrigue, murder, medicine and politics.

Mostly because Stoddard forgot to mention that he's been having psychotic episodes lately...

This is a really absorbing plot that immediately makes the reader question who are the good guys, and who are the baddies. I really like the Washington setting, and the mystery that surrounds what is normally such an insular office. Gabe is a likable character to guide the plot, and the mix of medicine, politics, plotting and of course, a bit of romance keep the plot barreling along to the unlikely conclusion.

It may be a bit over the top at times, but this novel is definitely a page turner!


Black Rose by Nora Roberts

This is the second title in Roberts' popular "In the Garden" trilogy, and since I just finished listening to Blue Dahlia recently, I thought I'd dive into the next title.

This time, the focus is on Roz, the owner of "In the Garden" nursery, and owner of Harper House, which has been haunted by the Harper Bride for years. Along with her friends and family, Roz builds her business, cares for her home, and investigates the origins of the Harper Bride along with sexy genealogist Mitchell, which happens to spark a bit of a romance...

This is a solid entry in the Roberts cannon, with a bit of backstory and mysticism, spicy romance, and "girl power" all rolled into one. I'm looking forward to reading the concluding title soon!

Recommended if you enjoy Roberts' other titles...



Shameless self-promotion here...

I have been asked to serve as a book reviewer for Crucial Taunt, a website devoted to sports, politics, pop culture and more. I'll be reviewing new books, older books, authors, groups, series, and whatever else tickles my fancy, but in more detail than I general hit on ye olde blog. Stop by, check it out, subscribe to the RSS, whatever, and I'll be your friend. :-)

My girl Sam is the NASCAR guru on the site, and she and Mark have a podcast every Saturday about race week. Be sure to check it out, as well as her blog!

My first review is about The Other Boleyn Girl, since the movie just came out...

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So, I'm at home Sunday night, working on a bibliography that was ever so slightly overdue, when my phone rings.


Calling to let me know that Trent just posted his new Nine Inch Nails album on the web for download.

Okay, let's talk about this for a minute.

How rad is it that a well-established artist, well respected in the music industry, decides to release his latest album on the WEB, with different download options, and ENCOURAGES people to steal it, mix it, remix it, trade it, use it?

Trent's web album distribution got a positive mention in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, people.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the majority of NIN fans are NOT readers of the WSJ, but I could be wrong. ;-)

Trent's my god, y'all.

Of course, in the course of Jen and I trying to download our $5 version with the rest of the planet, all the NIN fans basically broke the internet. But, an hour later, Amazon's downloads saved the day and I was jamming to Ghosts I-IV, an all-instrumental album with 36 tracks (which is, of course, completely awesome).

I decided not to go for the $300 deluxe edition, though Jen and I were speculating it would be money well spent if Trent delivered the CD in person...

Anyhoo, rad album, rad delivery, rad Sunday night of giggling while refreshing the page over and over and over again...

I heart my NIN. :-)


Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

I've been a devoted fan of Picoult's novels since first reading My Sister's Keeper, still my favorite of her novels, and one that I recommend over and over again to patrons, telling them it's one of my favorites. I've never had anyone come back and say "eh, I didn't like Picoult". In fact, due to our hand selling at the library, we can't keep her books on the shelves!

Picoult is known for tackling pressing moral/medical/ethical issues of the day, and pushing and pushing them to a head, and always having a "twist" at the end of her novels. Though I figured out the twist early on for this title, I still was reading this past my bedtime and into the wee hours to finish it - it was that engaging.

Shay Bourne is on death row for killing a cop and his step-daughter, thus shattering June Nealon's life forever. Eight months pregnant when her husband and daughter were killed, she now has a beautiful little girl, who happens to be dying of heart disease, desperate for a transplant.

Shay wants her to have his heart.

What follows is an investigation into capital punishment (lethal injection wouldn't preserve the heart), faith, forgiveness, the legal system, the fallout of a family, and redemption...

And did I mention that suddenly "miracles" keep happening in the prison tier were Shay is staying?

This is a wonderfully woven, elaborate story with so many angles. As in other books, each chapter Picoult writes rotates to a different narrator - a device that I love becauset you get so many perspectives from all the character's points of view. At times, though, I get aggravated - "No! Go back! I wanna know more about XYZ!" And yet, you get into the next person's head, and you forget about going back.

Though My Sister's Keeper is still my favorite, I really, really loved reading this one as well - great characterization, great plotline, great delivery.

You simply CANNOT go wrong reading Picoult - highly recommended!


Okay, so maybe NASCAR racing hasn't been keeping my attention as much as it used to, but these two commercials are enough reason to watch the broadcasts (even if it means putting up with though idiots in the "Hollywood Hotel". I swear that's what Dante was thinking of when he was writing about hell...).

*falls over laughing at the new ads*

I love it when they capitalize on the funny. :-)

First up...Jimmie (and Chad!) pimpin' for Kobalt tools...

And the new Kasey Kahne/Allstate one cracks me up...check the moves!! ;-)