Monday, July 28, 2008

PARDON MY FRENCH:  Unleash Your Inner Gaul

If you've ever been to France or plan to go, this is a must have.  I will never part with my copy of this delightful, insightful, useful book!  I have been to lovely Paris and I have none of the horror stories so many Americans have about the French, but if I had had this handy little tome, I would have done so much better!

Charles Timoney is an Englishman by birth who migrated to France when both he and his wife lost their jobs some 20 odd years ago.  Charles finds himself in a country where he doesn't speak the language!  "Total Emersion" French I believe you could call it.  He plunges right in and learns, but not without a faux pas or deux.  He has written the book he wishes he had.  

It is written as he so aptly states "from the point of view of an Englishman," which means seeing French and France from his point of view.  He is witty and charming in his information and descriptions.  This really is a manual filled with words and advice, but it's such enjoyable reading you might find yourself learning something.

I enjoyed my interview with him very much.    He is dashingly charming on the tele.  He sounds like the Englishman he is without a trace of a French accent.  I really enjoyed and value the book.  What do you think?

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HOW THE OTHER HALF HAMPTONS:  One house.  Forty strangers.  Add vodka and stir...

If you've ever wondered what happens in the Hamptons in the summer, here's your insider look.  The novel is based on the real-life adventures of the author.

I had no idea that each summer scores of Manhattan twenty somethings migrate east for an annual ritual: the Hamptons "share house."  Rachel, Allison and Jamie buy their shares they are imagining days filled with fun-in-the-sun, classy clambakes and hobnobbing with celebrities.  What they find is that a million-dollar mansion on the outside, hides the truth inside... drunken escapades, public nudity, sex, sex, sex, not enough bathrooms, and lots of juvenile mischief.  They came looking for love and fun, but sounds of the country song "Lookin' for love in all the wrong places," seem to be the theme.

The novel is full of fun.  It's like being at camp, something you won't ever quite forget or remember!  This is a summer read for the beach or, dare I say it, if you're in a share house in the Hamptons!  What do you think?  

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

By Deborah Crombie

This is the latest novel in the series featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James.

A priceless piece of jewelry belonging to Duncan and Gemma's neighbor, Erika Rosenthal, comes up for auction at the local auction house. Erika thought never to see the piece again. It was lost when she and her husband, David, fled Nazi Germany to become refugees in London. Murders both old and new begin to surface when Gemma promises to help Erika find out something about the piece designed by Erika's father. This is a tale of love and betrayal, of malice and murder.

This is a real page turner. I love Deborah's work, but this novel is something special. The plot is wonderfully crafted by a master story teller and writer. The strong themes of family, relationship, friendship and trust play out in this well-written work. If you like a good mystery, this is one I can strongly recommend. What do you think?

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The Dallas Book Diva interviews Deborah Crombie,
author of Where Memories Lie.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

KEN FERGUSON:  Talking With The Wheel

I interviewed one of the authors, Ted Rowland.

My first impression of the book came from the photographs.  I am no art critic, but the work I saw immortalized in the pages of this book is extraordinary.  It captured my imagination and my attention.

The book traces the life and work of Ken Ferguson, a world-renowned ceramist.  His work is exhibited around the world in museums and some of it is held in private collections.  It is raw and stunning.  The four men who contribute to this book do so as a tribute to a the talent of an individual as well as to the art.  The book traces Ferguson's life and his work ending with the eulogy given by Ted Rowland at his funeral in September, 2004.  What a loss to the world of art.

The book is available through Ted Rowland's website

I was mesmerized and intrigued.  What do you think? 

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MOVING FORWARD:  Taking The Lead In Your Life

Dave Pelzer is an interesting, busy, man with a lot to say.  He has come from a background of severe child abuse and has risen above it.  Not only has he worked with at-risk children, carried the Olympic torch, won awards for his community service, but he is also about to leave on a trip where he will address our troops in Baghdad!

His latest book continues his theme of "you-can-do-it-if-you-Cowboy-up."   Though he assured me has has been working on this book for three years, it's as if he looked around yesterday and thought "I need to write a book for people who are going through a ton of negative stuff in their lives."   

Moving Forward is perfect for the fix we find ourselves in right now with the economy, gas prices, global warming, etc.  I like the "real world" feel of the book.  Not only does the author spice it with movie trivia, but he also has some solid solutions to offer to those among us who may be struggling.   He uses parts of his own life story to illustrate certain points and has a series of questions that make the reader take stock of himself/herself.

If you need a light at the end of the tunnel that you know isn't an on-coming train, this book may be just the ticket.  What do you think?  

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Friday, July 11, 2008

WHAT'S MATH GOT TO DO WITH IT?  Helping Children Learn To Love Their Least Favorite Subject 

When I first saw this book, I thought how important it is.  Math is one of those subjects that many of us, myself included,  struggled with when we were in school.  If the foundation of math skills isn't strong, then upper level math becomes impossible.

According to a recent assessment done of 40 countries, the United States ranks 28th.  Not exactly a stellar ranking for the most powerful nation in the world.  The United States is rapidly falling further and further behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to math education.   If something isn't done to promote math education, not only will our economy suffer but other areas such as medicine and science will as well.  This is not a problem to be ignored.  It is a problem to be addressed by both educators and parents.

Ideas for new approaches to math education in our world are given as well as ideas for parents to encourage their children in math.  This book would be ideal for the child who is struggling with math or for the child who has yet to encounter math.  Don't wait.  Pick up a copy of this important book today and help a child become a "math whiz" instead of someone who fears math like the monster under the bed at night.  What do you think?

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Divorce parties have been discussed recently in the New York Times and on CNN.  They are a growing part of contemporary culture.  These parties come complete with fancy invitations, lavish food, and even vacation funds.  The idea is for couples to "celebrate" the end of their marriage leaving no hard feelings as the two parties split and go their separate ways.  Wait a minute, doesn't this sound a little too good to be true?  Could it be that both people could be so "civilized" and no one is hurt?  I don't think so.

In Laura Dave's novel, we are privy to the inside issues surrounding the divorce party being thrown by Gwyn and Thomas Hunnington to "celebrate" the end of their thrity-five year marriage  .  Nate, the son of Gwyn and Thomas, has chosen the party as the opportunity to introduce his girlfriend, Maggie, to his now-divorcing parents.  Of course unforeseen complications that arise.  We see the whole affair, if you will pardon the pun, through the eyes of the two women who are at the opposite ends of the spectrum of marriage, Maggie at the beginning and Gwyn at the end.    

This is a fascinating slice of life novel filled with surprises.  I enjoyed reading it.  It's an intriguing idea that isn't as simple as it appears to be and Laura takes us to the heart of the matter.  What do you think?

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

THE POWER OF ADVERSITY:  Tough Times Can Make You Stronger, Wiser, and Better

I think this book is so timely!  Aren't we all struggling right now with increasing gasoline prices, a floundering economy, and bad news on the evening news every night?  Al Weatherhead's advice about changing your mindset and thinking positively is right on the money, if you'll pardon the cliche'!  

The book is filled with quotable advice like the title of Chapter 10 "There's Always a Great Idea Lurking in Adversity... will you find it?"  I particularly like Appendix A- Adversity Checklist and the worksheets in Appendix B.  When I find myself sinking under the weight of all of the negative "stuff," I will remember Mr. Weatherhead.  What do you think?

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