Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I know there are lots of books about diet and weight loss out there. I like this one because I like the ideas in the book. It's not just about losing weight, but about becoming a healthier person. The 14 "super foods" identified in the book include blueberries, oranges, walnuts, turkey and green tea. OK, tea isn't a food, it's a drink, but it does lots of really great stuff for the body! The research in the book seems solid to a lay person like me. I have also heard many of the ideas before.

One of the things I particularly liked was the discussion of portion control. Restaurants seem to believe "bigger is better," not for me. I am not a huge eater anyway, so giving me more isn't something that will get me to come back. Wendy uses two visual images that give a real idea of what a "serving size" should be. She talks about a deck of cards and a tennis ball. She even has stories about people who carry these items with them as a way to remind themselves what they should be eating! There's one story about someone who painted the tennis ball gold! Well, whatever works!

I don't have a weight problem, but I want to be as healthy as I can be. I like the flexibility of the program in the book. I already include many of these foods in my diet just because I like them, but I plan to put all of the "super foods" in. Why not? What do you think?

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER: A Beckoning Death By Luisa Buehler

If you like a good ghost story, this is a novel for you! It's set on Christian Island where a real lighthouse still exists. Have you ever been in a real lighthouse? I can certainly understand why the author chose to set a creepy ghost story there. Lighthouses are isolated, lonely places. They would also be strange places to live in because of the round shape and the constant going up/down the stairs and the secret passages behind the bookcases of course.

Grace Marsden is an amateur sleuth with some interesting quirks of her own. If you have ever watched the television series "MONK", author Luisa Buehler characterizes Grace as "Monk in a skirt!" I laughed out loud when she said that! But it gives you insight into who Grace Marsden is. She suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which lends her a certain reality. I mean we all have our little "quirks" don't we?

With a troubled marriage and recent haunting memories of ghosts, bones and death, Grace Marsden needs solace. She accepts an invitation from her old childhood friend to come for a visit to Christian Island. Georgian Bay in January, the off-season, proves a perfect spot for rest and relaxation until a fluke snowstorm shatters the serenity. Grace and nine other people are trapped on the island and are the prime suspects in a mysterious death. Death and danger seem to follow Grace. The ghost of the lighthouse keeper beckons her, but is he going to warn her or will she be another victim? Questions to be answered by reading the wonderful, suspenseful novel! This is the fifth book in the Grace Marsden series and the action continues laced with romance, murder and mystery! All of my favorite "food groups!" What do you think?

On one level, this is a mystery novel about a murder that's all mixed up with a gubernatorial campaign being run by restauranteur/amateur sleuth Jane Lawless' father, Ray Lawless, a retired defense attorney. Sounds like it could have been ripped from today's headlines, doesn't it?

But that's not all this novel is about. It is also about the men and women who serve this great country of ours by going into war and what happens to some of them when they come back. Those of us who have never actually been in a war like to believe that when those same men and women come home, they can just pick up their lives where they left off. But those lives have been touched by something horrible and lives can be subverted by the memories of what these men and women have both done and seen.

Jane Lawless becomes involved in the investigation of a 30-year old "cold case" murder when a newspaper reporter friend starts sniffing around and uncovers dirt that is more valuable than gold to opponents out on the campaign trail. An unsuccessful murder attempt is made on the life of the reporter. Attempting to carry on the research into the case, Jane and her theatrical friend Cordelia find themselves in small town America asking questions that someone doesn't want answered. Jane and Cordelia find themselves in trouble as well. This is an intriguing, well-written, thought provoking novel. It's as they say "a real page turner!" What do you think?

Monday, February 18, 2008

ANGELS FALL By Baron Birtcher

The disappearance of a teenage girl draws former LAPD detective, Mike Travis away from his scuba charter business and into a culture driven by designer drugs, sex and murder. Travis lives in paradise on one of the islands in Hawaii, but he uncovers a world built on secrets that is far from paradise. The reader watches in fascination as a whirlpool sucks characters into its black vortex while they struggle to save themselves.

The novel is populated with interesting characters. Mike Travis has an interesting, complex life. There are multiple themes running through this book. Family and influence is one strong theme throughout the book. There is an interesting juxtaposition of how family beliefs and influence can save one young person, yet doom another. The characters are faced with hard choices, just like the ones we face each day. Old Hawaii rubs up against a New Hawaii where development, handled the wrong way, reeks havoc on beliefs and individuals.

Birtcher, who lives in the Islands, has done a masterful job of creating characters the reader cares about and a complex plot that easily holds the reader's attention. I want to read more Mike Travis mysteries! I want to live in Hawaii! What do you think?

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

THE WOMEN OF MAGDALENE By Rosemary Poole-Carter

This novel is an unexpected gem. It is set in the south just after the end of the Civil War. A young doctor, Dr. Robert Mallory is traveling to his new job as the general practitioner at Magdalene Ladies' Lunatic Asylum. He is making his journey on foot and discovers a woman's body floating in a muddy river. This incident is the beginning of a series of events that allow the reader to look at a slice of American life that is uncomfortable and charged with emotion. The attitudes reflected in the novel are chilling, to say the least.

I felt as if I was reading a private diary kept by a young physician who has seen horrors of war that are beyond my comprehension. The war is over, but not for the women of Magdalene. Dr. Mallory is about to witness inhumanity at its most base level. The authentic feel of the novel makes it captivating.

I am reminded of Jane Austen and her reflections on Victorian society in England. Rosemary Poole-Carter gives the reader a similar glimpse into a dark part of American society. The reader wants to look away, but is so captivated, they can't. This is a powerful and compelling social commentary. What do you think.

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Friday, February 8, 2008


This is an absolutely wonderful slice of life book about a fictional southern town called Lambs Corner in South Carolina. The author has populated this book with memorable characters.
The story rotates around two main characters, John Dodge and Julia Darrow.

When Julia's life in Chicago falls apart after the death of her husband, she moves to small town South Carolina and opens a wonderful shop she calls "Cocoon" specializing in luxury linens. John Dodge is the literal definition of a "travelin' man." He makes a living moving around the country, "fixing " small businesses on the brink of disaster. He finds himself in Lambert Square where he has purchased an odd little shop that specializes in collectible pens.

The joy of this book is the wonderful way the author has of taking a cast of interesting mostly Southern characters and crafting a story that will have the reader laughing and crying.

I really loved this book. I love the way the characters have depth and breadth and I cared about each one of them. I love the way Lambert Square comes alive in the mind of the reader. I love the relationships the author shows us, complicated and interesting. I love the love stories.

If you enjoy a novel that hasn't one car chase (well, only one cross country drive), or murder or police chase, but shows the human condition with all of its complications, then you will love this book as much as I did. Thank you, Rosina, for writing it and letting me come along with you as a reader. What do you think?

Friday, February 1, 2008


Professional matchmaker Marla Martenson says "Your lonely days are over. There is someone out there for you, and you can find that person." This timely book is filled information and advice if you're in the dating race.

Marla tells all:
How to get ready for love and how to know you're ready
How to figure out what you're looking for in a companion
What to say on the phone
How to keep a positive attitude while dating
And so much more!

I wish this book had been around when I was dating. It's such a good, sound approach it seems to me that it takes some of the uncertainty out of the whole issue. What do you think?

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THEY DID IT WITH LOVE By Kate Morgenroth

Set in lovely, wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut, this novel reminded me of an Agatha Christie mystery titled "TEN LITTLE INDIANS" or "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE." I thought of that novel because of the number of characters (5 couples = 10 people) and it seemed to me that the wealthy neighborhood in which the action takes place could indeed be considered "an island." Also, Morganroth uses a Christie quote from "THEY DO IT WITH MIRRORS" at the beginning of the novel, "To have trusted! To have believed... and it was lies--all lies."

Sofie is the voice we hear most often in the novel. She and her husband, Dean, are New Yorkers who decide to leave the rat race of the City. Sofie has come into an inheritance that makes the move to the largest house in this posh neighborhood possible. Ironically, there is a mystery book club run by the Diva of the neighborhood, Priscilla. And it is the book club that is the source of gossip, social gatherings, affairs and murder. This well thought out novel is a real "page turner" as they say. Listen to the interview and find out what Morganroth has to say about the readers of mystery fiction!

I always try to figure out "who done it" in each mystery I read. I didn't see this one coming. A question asked by one of the characters has really left me with food for thought: "Why do you like to read mysteries?" Alex asks Sofie. I love mysteries and have been trying to come up with my answer to that question ever since I read it. Why do you read mysteries?

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This novel is truly tasty! I will try to refrain from using any more cooking analogies, because I really enjoyed the novelty of this book.

Ollie Paras is an Assistant Chef in the White House kitchen who comes to work as usual one morning and witnesses an incident on the White House lawn that changes her life forever. She becomes embroiled in espionage and murder... almost her own! The book is an American "Upstairs, Downstairs" if you remember the old British television series. The reader is taken behind the scenes to see how things work in the kitchen and what the First Family really eats. Ollie struggles to overcome a series of events that threaten to get her fired instead of promoted to replace Henry, the retiring Executive Chef.

Julie Hyzy has done her homework. Listen to our interview to find out how she came to find out so much about how the White House kitchen works. I really enjoyed this book. The plot is fun and the characters are ones you will care about. This is the first in a series, I can't wait for the next one! What do you think?

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