It's getting to be that time of year again...time for another TinyTown Relay for Life, to be held June 6-7.

This will be my first Relay without Mum, and though I'll ache for her all day, I know that the walking we do, the money we raise, is so important to giving other people a chance against this dread disease. As always, I'm accepting donations...just click on Zoe there, and it will take you to my donation page.

Even if you aren't able to donate in these tough economic times, just send positive thoughts our way. They go a long way too. :-)

April 4

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The new Depeche Mode album, Sounds of the Universe, was released Tuesday.

It rocks.

Go. Download. Now.

And, because you can't have enough Dave, a picture of the leading singer hotness (thanks, Jen! Having this in my email in Tuesday morning made my day.)...


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Oh, you knew it was coming, didn't you?

The obligatory puppy picture post. :-)

So here goes...



I'm a good girl. Really.

Poor girl! First bath...and she's TINY without the fur!

March 28

There's two puppies wrestling there. Trust me.


Springtime puppy...

April 9

Hey! Check out this new drinking fountain, just for me!

Oh Yeah

I LURVE puddles and mud pits!

April 21

The girls...

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So, I just looked back through my blog, and realized just how long I've been absent.

A while, apparently!

So, whatcha been doing, girl (other than raising a VERY demanding puppy)?!

Well, let's see...

I've been enjoying the spring flowers...and my first batch of daffodils at Sunnymeade...


Seeing a lot of sunrises (puppy has to go out VERY early in the morning!)...


Been enjoying how enamored Zoe and Grandpa are with each other...

March 30


Laughing (a lot!) during a playdate between Zoe and Carma, her only sister from the litter...

April 5

Laughing at a visit from the Easter Bunny at work...

April 7

Introducing Zoe to her cousin, Ziggy (Don and Michelle's new schipperke)...

Emceeing our wildly popular "Battle of the Books" at the library...

April 14

Mourning the loss of ANOTHER colleague at the library, Charles, who died in a tragic accident at his home, and dealing with the work fallout...

Sad Service

Planting lots of things in the ground around Sunnymeade with Dad's help...

So Pretty!

April 16

Listening the splish splash of my new "water feature", which doubles as a puppy drinking fountain and shower. ;-)

Water Feature!

And occasionally, marveling at rainbows...

March 29

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The Diary by Eileen Goudge

I like it when a book takes me by surprise.

I picked this title up to take home on a weekend trip, thinking it would be a good "filler" book if I finished my other titles (I did), because it's fairly short, and has a cute cover.

I thought it would be a chintzy 200 page read - like Nicholas Sparks with even more emoting thrown in (gack!).

But instead, this is a great read - a well developed story of a boy and a girl on the cusps of their lives who find each other, though they are from different worlds. but they can never be together, as she is engaged to another, and has a very different life path ahead of her...can they?

The ending had a wonderful twist, and I really enjoyed the journey these characters took together. A surprisingly fulfilling read!


Borderline by Nevada Barr

I have been enamored with the "Anna Pigeon, Park Ranger" mysteries by Barr for since college, and always look forward to a new adventure with her and a new park to explore.

This time, Anna and her husband Paul are on leave, and decide to take a rafting trip up the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park - but when a dead body, a mysterious shooter, and an unraveling mystery threaten them all, Anna must step up to solve this twisty, turny mystery.

Once again, Anna proves to be a wonderful protagonist - strong but flawed, determined but at times, terrified. This was definitely an "edge of your seat" title - though the action part ends halfway through the novel, the story definitely doesn't end there. And I didn't see the end coming...

Anna Pigeon remains one of my favorite characters in fiction, and this is another great addition to her series. I can't recommend these "out of the ordinary" mystery novels enough! Great!


Ransom My Heart by Mia Thermopolis with a little help from Meg Cabot

This novel was written by "Princess Mia", the main character of Cabot's wildly popular "Princess Diaries" series, and is being written by Mia in the final book of that series, so of course, I was eager to read the full length novel when it came out (interestingly, though the "Princess Diaries" books are for young adults, this novel was definitely an adult collection book).

Taking place in England in the time of Robin Hood and the Crusades, a dashing knight returning home from the Crusades is waylaid by an adventurous young woman who needs him for ransom to help out her sister. Naturally, mayhem and romance ensue. :-)

I liked reading of a time period I've not read before, and found the writing engaging and quick, the story a fun romp with lots of tension, action and of course, luuuuurve. :-)

A fun read!


Simply Unforgettable by Mary Balogh

I know that Balogh is one of my father's favorite Regency writers, so when I saw an audiobook of one of her titles, I thought I'd give it a listen.

A prim schoolteacher, a rakish aristocrat, a carriage accident and a snow storm set up this engaging tale, taking place in and around Bath (yay!) and London as Frances Allard, a woman with a secret, and Lucius Marshall, a man unwilling to settle begin a back and forth relationship that will draw the reader in and keep them guessing - will they or won't they?

I really liked Balogh's writing, the setting (of course!), and the development of the characters throughout - a great Regency romance!


Zen and the Art of Vampires by Katie MacAlister

It's no secret how much I love Katie's vampire books - they are always written with a light tone, a great plot, a steamy romance, and a lot of laughs.

This time, we're in Iceland, and I'm reading and reading and's exciting, it's steamy, it's suspenseful...


The story will continue in the next book, due out in a couple of months.


(Still, I can't wait!)


The Secret Bride by Diane Haeger

Once again, I find myself back in Henry VIII's court, a time period I seem to be fascinated by. This time, the focus of this well written tale is actually Henry's sister, Mary.

Henry always doted on Mary, but then used her for political advantage by marrying her to the aging king of France - despite her deep abiding love for Henry's best friend, Charles Brandon (a man NOT of noble birth). In exchange for letting Henry send her away, she extracts a promise that the next time she marries, it's for love...

This is a well written, historically accurate, engaging tale that I found myself really getting into - though I knew how it would end, you are waiting and waiting for Mary and Charles to find get together...

Another one to read if you enjoy Tudor historicals!


Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock

I was enamored with Flock's first title, Me & Emma, so I was eager to read her latest title, about a dysfunctional family trying to keep it together. There's the adopted teenage daughter dabbling in drugs, two twin boys, a jackass of a husband and the center is Samantha, a wife beaten by her husband not falling out of love with her, just feeling absolutely nothing at all. So begins her descent into finding herself, and then finding a man who makes her husband pale in comparison...

This isn't a book with a play-by-play kind of plot, but rather a meandering tale that is heavy on sadness and woe, but filled with intriguing characters that will leaving you are they going to resolve this?

Though it didn't pack the punch or originality of Me & Emma, the writing kept me reading! Recommended...


Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton

Note: This is the review I recently wrote for both this blog and for my column over at Crucial Pop.

It is true that I tend to read mostly fiction.

I like losing myself in the land of make believe where stories can stretch your mind and warm your heart, whether they feature true love, a quirky story, or even a vampire or dragon or two.

But sometimes, a non-fiction book will cross my path and will have the same effect that fiction has for me - the inability to put it down, a story that will stretch my mind, and will have me yearning for a happy ending.

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Torneo is just such a book.

This memoir is a roller-coaster ride that will grip you from page one until the end, it will keep you awake past your bedtime, and will stay with you long after you close the cover for the last time.

In 1984, Jennifer (a 23-year-old white female) was brutally raped at knifepoint in her apartment. She studied every detail of her attacker's face, memorized everything she could, knowing she would have to identify him in order to put him behind bars.

She reported the crime. She did a composite sketch, and she went through a lineup of seven men, only one of who was suspected of the crime.

She was confident in her decision. She was sure she had picked the right man. She had studied him - she knew he was guilty.

Ronald Cotton (a 23-year-old black male) received a life sentence for the rape of Jennifer and another woman who was also attacked the same night.

But Ronald didn't do it.

For years, Ronald struggled to survive in prison, to have his case heard, to plead that he was truly an innocent man. It was not until the advent of DNA testing that Ronald was set free - 11 years after his conviction.

While the rape is harrowing, the trial wrenching, and the tales of jail life tortuous, the most heartrending part of this amazing memoir is what happened after Ron was released.

He forgave Jennifer.

And they formed a friendship.

This memoir is such a fast, engaging read - even after 300 pages, you know there is so much more of the story to be told, and you want to know more about Ronald and Jennifer, and how their lives have continued to intertwine. It is the kind of friendship that people yearn for, though born out of the most horrible circumstances imaginable.

This is a powerful, uplifting read - though difficult in places, at least the reader knows that redemption is around the corner, therefore able to survive the worst of the story, much like Ron survived in prison to come out the other side a stronger, greater man.

I cannot recommend this book enough - it will keep you awake til the wee hours, it will give you a glimpse into lives turned upside down, but mostly, it will give you hope.

I may enjoy fiction, but sometimes, non-fiction changes my life.

This is one of those stories.

To read more about the authors, examine the case file, or find out more about eyewitness testimony, go to the website dedicated to the book:

This vid sums up the book perfectly:


Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

It's no secret that Picoult is one of my favorite authors, so I was first in line to check out her newest title, Handle With Care.

Reminiscent of my favorite Picoult novel, My Sister's Keeper, at the center of this new title is a medical crisis, and how it affects all the family members who orbit around it. Willow was born with brittle bone disease, and the lives of her mother Charlotte, father Sean and sister Amelia revolve solely around keeping Willow safe and well, which has strained their finances, their relationships, and their very emotions.

In order to try and recoup some money to pay for Willow's care, they decide to embark on a legal trial, blaming the OB/GYN for not telling them of Willow's condition in utero, giving them a chance to abort the baby. In order to do this, though, they must admit that a) they wouldn't have wanted Willow and b) that the OB doctor is Charlotte's best friend.

This of course sets up an emotionally wrenching story, complete with a trial, lots of medical drama, and the disintegration of a family. As always, Picoult's writing is pitch perfect, and I found myself engrossed long past my bedtime by the story until I was finished - especially since Picoult is notorious for having a "twist" at the end.

This is another fantastic addition to the Picoult canon, and comes highly recommended from me!