Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Have a healthy and happy 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

I'd like to wish you and your families a very safe and happy holiday.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lies the Government Told You - A Real Eye Opener

Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History, by Andrew P. Napolitano, is definitely a book worth reading. I’m not a fan of big government. I know the government doesn’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in all situations. But when I read about all the circumstances in this one book, I realized how untruthful the government can be. Of course, some issues need to be covered up (for awhile) for the sake of security. And we all know that history has revealed some pretty inhumane events that have occurred right here in the good ol’ USA. But after reading this book, even I’m shocked!

Napolitano is a student of the Constitution and history and tells it as it is. I thought the book would favor one party over the other, but Napolitano is fair and unbiased as to what the facts are. He covers seventeen lies from "All Men Are Created Equal” to "Everyone Is Innocent Until Proven Guilty" to "We Don't Torture" to "America Has a Free Market. He shows excellent examples of how the government lied or just didn’t tell the truth in each case. I’ve read many political books and most are biased and tend to bash one party or the other. This book is fair and full of facts – lot just opinions.

Everyone should read this book so that we can all listen to what the government is telling us and “translate” if necessary. How can this all be changed? I don’t really know if it can. And that’s the scary part.

Read Napolitano’s Lies the Government Told You with an open mind. If you get nothing else out of this book, you’ll understand the Constitution better and get some terrific history lessons. But I think you’ll also wake up and want to help change our government. I just hope there’s a way before it’s too late.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Special Guest at CityMommy Holiday Shopping Expo

I'll be reading and signing A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit at the CityMommy Holiday Shopping Expo. CityMommy of NEPA is a nationally-recognized social networking site operating in over 45 cities. It's also been featured in Oprah Magazine Online.

I'll participate in their "Countdown to Christmas Expo" on Saturday, December 4, 2010 at Scranton High School.

Free admission. And a portion of their proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes.

Vendors include Stella & Dot, Thirty-One Gifts, Livie D. Funwear, J. Madison Wellness Spa, Jewelry & Accessories by Sandra, Exo Skincare, Sugarloaf Herb Farm, 2GirlsGifts, Chocolate Creations, Lia Sophia, Mommy Made It, Miche Bag of NEPA and Scentsy!

Live performances by Arabesque Academy of Dance, AMR Gymnastics, and Scranton Dance Center!

Children's Activities - a children's obstacle course, interactive dance, craft station, and Just Plain Crazy Face Art providing holiday face art designs!

Special Guest appearance by children's author/editor, Barbara J. Smith, A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit, that includes a book reading and signing!

Photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus from BeCaptured Photography.

And many door prizes and giveaways.

Come join the fun!

Time - 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Date - December 4, 2010
Scranton High School
63 Munchak Way
Scranton, PA

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Daily Dose of History

The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America, by William Bennett and John Cribb is a collection of events and fact in American history. With 365 entries, it’s organized so you can read one a day for a year. I’m sure some people would enjoy reading a bit a day, but I personally think this book is a good resource to look up key historical facts whenever the need or desire. I loved just leafing through it and then realized I was getting absorbed in the writings.

As well written and organized as this book is, I was disappointed in the quality of the physical aspects of the book. It seemed to have been produced extremely economically and I’m afraid it won’t hold up through a series of “look-ups” over the years. Beyond that, I think it’s a great book to check facts, inspire conversation, or just enjoy our great heritage. Bennett and Cribb have done a good job with The American Patriot’s Almanac.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Bible Made Easier for Children

The Big Red Holy Bible is definitely child oriented - easy to read and filled with colorful pictures. It’s a great first Bible for children. Youngsters can understand some of those complicated stories we’ve all struggled with because it’s written in plain English – no interpreting. Of course, that means it’s been interpreted for the reader, which may be a problem for some. The Big Red Holy Bible includes a dictionary and an index that are also easy for children to use.

But I was disappointed that it comes with a paper cover instead of a hard cover. It’s too large a book as a paperback, especially in the hands of young children. Other than that I think it’s a good version for children to start reading before graduating to a more mature version.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your Children will love A Christmas Knot

William Bentrim has done it again! His latest children’s book, A Christmas Knot, is just delightful to read – for both child and adult. It tells a sweet story about Hardy who is helping his Dad put up Christmas lights. Dad is called away for awhile. Hardy and his cousin Mardi decide to lay out the strings of lights so they’ll be ready to go up when Dad returns. Great idea. But Tiny, Hardy’s pup, sees a squirrel. Well, we all know where this is going. After the wild chase, there sits Tiny entangled in a ball of Christmas lights.

Dad returns and realizes Hardy and Mardi were just trying to be helpful. So off he goes to the hardware store to get new lights. Rather patient Dad, I’d say. I’m not sure if I would have been quite as calm. But there seems to be a lesson here for parents also.

The ending of the story brings us back to the meaning of Christmas. Dad decides to offer the large ball of lights to the local Nativity scene and it lights up as the Christmas Star.

Mr. Bentrim has created a fun story for children with a wonderful lesson for both children and their parents. And he brings in the true meaning of Christmas all at the same time. Read Bentrim’s A Christmas Knot to your children. You won’t be sorry.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Transforming Church in Rural America

Transforming Church in Rural America, by Shannon O'Dell, is both a story and an instructional manual. The story tells how Mr. O’Dell came to accepting his role as a pastor of a rural church and making it come alive. He was happy as a lark in his large urban church but kept being called to pastor a small, dying church in Nowhereland, Arkansas. Having been an active member of many suburban churches I can only semi-relate to the problems of both the urban and rural churches. But I can see the issues of many churches, no matter where they are located, are similar.

I’ve been part of churches that had the masses exit within weeks and months. I’ve been part of churches that worked hard on coming back after the exodus. It’s never easy. It takes a lot of work and a change in attitude by the pastor and the members.

Mr. O’Dell knows what he’s talking about. Not all of his suggestions would work for all churches but any pastor (no matter where his or her church is located) can come away with good ideas after reading this book.

His many good points particularly include his V.A.L.U.E. (Vision, Attitude, Leadership, Understanding, Enduring Excellence) system. I feel the Vision and Attitude are the most important, and the others should follow, with a little bit of help from our friends and prayer.

No matter what you get from this book you will find the points delivered with a good sense of humor. I laughed out loud in many parts of the book. Read it and see what you come away with. It’s good for any pastor, any leader in the church, anyone who volunteers in a church, or anyone who is simply a member with little participation. After this book, I think every reader will volunteer to help the life of his or her church.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Reading and Signing at Barnes and Noble

Come by to see me at Barnes and Noble on Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. I'll be reading and signing A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit. Barnes and Noble is located in Brunswick Square Mall, 753 Route 18, Brunswick Square, East Brunswick, NJ. The event will be in conjunction with the Book Fair Fundraiser to support Monroe Township PTA-Oak Tree School. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sweet and Simple Story about Christmas

A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker tells the true meaning of Christmas. It’s well done with the child thanking God for each person and animal in the Nativity – Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, of course, but even the donkey, the star, the manger and the shepherds. The book is beautifully illustrated and perfect for a young child. This is a book that can be read on Christmas Eve and any other day of the year. It reminds us all of the spirit of Christmas and all of our blessings.

Amy Parker has written a simple but quite effective story for any child and parent to enjoy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't Waste Your Time

The Falling Away by T.L. Hiines is a difficult book to read. Dylan Runs Ahead, a Native American, is addicted to prescription drugs. His white friend Webb is addicted to alcohol. They are involved in a drug deal where two men are murdered. But Quinn, a homeless woman who turns out to be one of the Chosen, is out to save Dylan (also Chosen). In the meantime, she kills a state trooper. Bizarre? It gets better (or in my opinion, much worse). Throw in a cult whose leader takes over people’s bodies and minds.

The storyline is rather disjointed and it takes awhile to figure out who’s wearing the white hats and who’s wearing the black hats. But once you think you’ve figured out who the good guys are, the story takes another bizarre twist. It’s basically confusing right to the last page, where the story ends rather abruptly.

Now maybe this storyline just isn’t to my liking. So go ahead and give it a shot. But even if you love suspenseful stories with a good deal of violence there are other well written books out there. This one is totally disjointed and confusing to read. My opinion – don’t waste your time on The Falling Away.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's Do Lunch!!!

Well, I’m always ready to do lunch - maybe that’s why I’ve been overweight for years. I’ve been on many diets and always have a problem sticking to the diet after a couple of weeks. No, I don’t need to lose 230 pounds like Roger Troy Wilson did, but maybe his book can help me lose that last 10 pounds! So I picked up a copy of his book, Let’s Do Lunch.

I’ve never heard of a diet quite like Wilson’s but I certainly see how it can work. Eat fruit, fruit and more fruit to take away the urge to satisfy your sweet tooth. I think that could work for me. Then he suggests lunch should be your main meal and contain all your protein for the day. I agree that’s a healthier way to eat. But could I do it? Maybe some days but my schedule just wouldn’t allow me to do it on a daily basis. But Mr. Wilson has an answer for that too. There are ways of “doing lunch” at dinner if that’s necessary for your particular schedule.

It all started with frozen grapes! You laugh but I’ve actually been eating frozen grapes as a snack for years. They’re delicious! But I never thought of them as a means to losing weight. Mr. Wilson created an entire diet that began with a simple plate of frozen grapes.

Other than eating lots of fruit for breakfast and dinner and having your protein at lunch, this is basically a diet that eliminates sugar and flour. Also, he suggests eating corn and beans (with the help of Beano for those who may need it), which will take away the urge to eat the fattening white foods – bread, potatoes, rice and pasta.

Let’s Do Lunch includes many delicious recipes and two weeks’ worth of suggested menus. Mr. Wilson also claims there’s no need to exercise while dieting. This is probably where I disagree with him, but it’s his story that’s a success – not mine. So give it a try – with or without the exercise.

I think I’ll give it a try to see if I can lose those last ten pounds – maybe with some exercise. See you! I’m off to stock up on lots of bananas, grapes, peaches and plums. Yummy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is a series of short stories that come together in the end. The stories are about individuals living in New York City during the famous tight-walking episode in 1974. Each tale tells what people were doing while a man was doing interesting antics on a tight walk extended between the World Trade Center towers.

The individuals or group of people are from different walks of life – very different. From priest to prostitutes to poor Blacks to high society, each had his or her own story to tell. Their lives, amazingly, all overlap. However, the actual telling of the stories seemed a bit disjointed. This made the book less enjoyable to read as I would have liked.

Each entity is well written but the coincidence of how all touch each other is a bit coerced. Getting beyond that, it is interesting how McCann brings it all together in the end. Again, a bit coerced but doable. Although the tight-walking episode is fact, the rest of the book is fiction.

Let the Great World Spin would make a good book for a book group discussion – a where-were-you-when type of discussion.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

William F. Buckley, by Jeremy Lott

Jeremy Lott’s William F. Buckley is a short book about the man’s life, beliefs, and endeavors. Buckley lived through and influenced many of the major events of the 20th Century. Although Buckley is far too conservative for my tastes, I must admit the book is well written. Lott did a good job of showing why Buckley did what he did, supported who he supported, and believed what he believed. It’s an easy book to read and quite interesting. Just not my taste. Based on my personal feelings, I must give it a lower rating but a more conservation person may think it’s a 5-star book.

Although fairly well written, it definitely comes from a biased point of view. I feel nonfiction should always be unbiased. But if you’re a Buckley lover, you’ll enjoy Lott’s William F. Buckley.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview with Zetta and Mitchell Hupf

I had the double pleasure of interviewing Zetta Hupf and her son and co-author Mitchell. Zetta and I became friends through her blog, The Book Cubby. She has interviewed me in the past and I’m excited she agreed to an interview herself along with her very talented son.

Zetta and Mitchell are co-authors of several children’s books including Alex Fox Moves to Town, Max and Daisy’s Adventure to the Big Woods, Henry Goes to the Park, and Detective Buddy and the Case of the Missing Football. Her books are available on and through her website.

But enough about that. On to our interview.

BJS: Tell me a little about yourself.

I am originally from a small town called Thomas, WV and now live in Wisconsin. I joined the army straight out of high school. and met my husband, Chris, while serving. We have a 12-year-old son, Mitchell, who is the co-author of our children’s books. I am a huge dog/animal lover. I guess that’s why our characters are mostly animals.

Mitchell: I’m 12 years old and love the outdoors. I enjoy hunting, fishing, football, riding ATVs and most anything to do with wildlife.

What is your latest published work?

Zetta: Detective Buddy and the Case of the Missing Football.

BJS: Why did you write this book?

Zetta: We had recently adopted our dog Buddy from the Humane Society and loved watching him try to sniff around and find things.

Mitchell: He reminded us of a detective trying to find his clues. So he soon became Detective Buddy!

BJS: Where do you get your ideas?

Zetta: We like to get our ideas from everyday life. Things that we like to talk about and things that we think other children will enjoy reading about. Or playing out the scenes after reading the story.

BJS: What are you working on right now?

Zetta: We have two stories in the works right now.

Mitchell: The first is: My Dad is a Soldier, Yes, He Is. It’s a story of a little child missing his dad who has gone off to war.

Zetta: Our second is The Hunt For Underwater Treasure. It’s a story about Tony Turtle, a young turtle who has heard many stories about a treasure lost at sea. Tony sets out to find it.

BJS: Do you use a set process when you write such as outlining, or do you just sit and type?

Zetta: We usually create drawings while watching a movie or by playing our travel game. One makes a squiggle and the other has to create something out of it. Once we have a character drawn that we really like, then we’ll sit together and write in a notebook the type of story we could see that character in. We really feed our ideas off of one another.

BJS: What do you like the most about writing?

Mitchell: We really like seeing the story take shape and can’t wait to see the completion. It’s truly amazing to see the story bring the characters to life.

BJS: Who is your favorite author and why?

Zetta: Jane Austen-Her stories are so pure and truly amazing for her time.

Mitchell: S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders), J.K. Rowlings (the Harry Potter Series) and Gary Paulsen (Brian Saga)

BJS: Do you have any advice for other new or wannabe authors?

Zetta: Stay true to yourself. Always write about things that you believe in. Try writing with a child, it is amazing. You will get wonderful ideas from a kid’s point of view, not to mention how much fun it is to create together.

Mitchell: And never give up.

BJS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Zetta: You can find out more about us and our stories by visiting us on our website.

BJS: Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Get the Tissues Ready

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is a well-written true story about two men from two totally different backgrounds. Ron is a white Texan who makes a very good living as an art dealer. He and his wife Deborah live the good life but also want to do the Christian thing in helping others. Denver is a black man who grows up poor as a “free” version of a slave. He makes what little money is to be had by picking cotton for “The Man,” but he never manages to get out of debt. He finally decides to hop a train and leave Louisiana for good. He ends up in Texas but lives on the streets until he finally meets up with the Halls.

Denver is not a nice man as he has to live tough to survive. Ron wants to look good but his heart isn’t necessarily where Deborah’s is. They work at a homeless mission where all three lives finally cross. It’s not happy ever after from there though. It’s a struggle to befriend Denver. And it’s tough for Ron to completely open his heart. But Deborah manages to handle both men and eventually a true friendship develops.

The story is told by each man from his own point of view. It’s well done, except for some redundancy in their stories. That’s the only part of the book I didn’t care for as I felt they were telling me the same thing over and over again. But no one can read this book without being touched. And no one will be able to read it without a lot of tissues.

Deborah, or Miss Debbie as Denver refers to her, is the woman who pulls the men together. This is a story of this remarkable woman told by two remarkable men. Same Kind of Different as Me will definitely touch whoever reads it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book-Reading and Signing Event July 17th

Saturday, July 17th 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Borders, 325 US Highway 202, Flemington, NJ - I’ll be reading and signing A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit. Come by to see me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford is a light story that deals with a serious subject. It is told by Henry, a Chinese boy who falls for Keiko, a Japanese girl. Keiko and her family are “relocated” to an internment camp with the other Japanese living in the United States after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Henry tells his story both from his adolescent years and again as an adult. As a child, he deals with a strong-willed father who hates the Japanese and his caring and understanding, yet obedient, mother. Henry struggles to visit Keiko while she’s in the internment camp but they eventually lose track of each other. It tells his story of trying to find her again as an adult. The book definitely gives the reader a good history lesson but with a light and often sad storyline. It shows how many wore blinders when it came to the Japanese who were once their neighbors during the war years. The story also shows the Japanese-American’s point of view and living conditions in the camps.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is very informative but needs a bit more pizzazz to keep a reader’s interest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado is a quick read with a good message. Lucado is aiming his message at the teenager or young adult population in this little book but almost anyone can use the book to steer his or her life in a better direction. Basically, the book tells us to find the “sweet spot” of life and go for it.

If you’re less than happy in your job, studies, or life in general, you may find Lucado’s encouragement helpful in turning that around. Don’t tolerate the job and career – change it. Life is to be enjoyed and reading this will help you to figure out how to do just that. This motivational little book makes a terrific gift but be sure to purchase one for yourself too. An excellent message!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Have a Little Faith

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom is a wonderful little book. Albom has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read his Tuesdays with Morrie and he certainly didn’t disappoint me with his latest. Have a Little Faith is a short book with an easy-style. I read it in one sitting!

Albom’s rabbi asks him to do his eulogy and so he sets out to get to know the man. Eight years later he delivers the eulogy but not after learning a great deal about life and faith.

Albom also tells the story about Henry who starts his “career” as a drug dealer and thief and turns into a pastor at an old city church ministering to the poor and homeless. Both stories show what life is all about and how it can be meaningful – with or without the religion of choice.

Whether you’re Jewish, Christian or have other beliefs (or even none at all), this book will move and inspire you. Take the time to read Have a Little Faith – it won’t take long once you pick it up.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Book Cubby Interview

Yesterday, Zetta Hupf interviewed me on The Book Cubby blog. Thanks, Zetta!

Check it out at:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Billy Graham: His Life and Influence

Billy Graham: His Life and Influence, by David Aikman, thoroughly covers the evangelist’s life and influence around the world. From his upbringing in the 1920s through his relationship with and the administrations of the presidents from Eisenhower through G.W. Bush, the book shows Graham’s influence on both our country and the rest of the world. This book is chockfull of history and Aikman delivers it in an easy style of reading.

Graham saw many changes in his lifetime. He was at the center of many of these changes and was even instrumental in them. Although he had a brief and less-than-satisfactory encounter with Truman, he got close to most presidents beginning with Eisenhower. He continued these relationships with each president at varying degrees. Although a Democrat himself, he was particularly close to Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes.

Surprisingly, Graham was also able to break the ice around the world. He was able to speak in Russia and China long before any American would have this access. Even when the American government didn’t want him to preach, Graham was able to visit and speak in Eastern countries. Being careful not to say or do anything that would be insulting or dangerous in the culture where he was a guest yet not saying anything that would upset the American government, Graham had a tight rope to walk. He was not only successful but helped warm relationships during the years of the Cold War.

David Aikman doesn’t show Graham’s life and endeavors as all rosy though. He was particularly close to Nixon and was surprised as anyone when Watergate came down, and even more so, when the tapes were later revealed. The book tells of Graham’s struggles with his relationship with Nixon after this and how he came to be spiritually close to Nixon again.

Graham is shown as a man of God but certainly not perfect. He had charisma and a need to be liked by everyone and that sometimes caused mistakes in dealing with other cultures and governments and certainly in reporting back to our government the true situation in other lands. But he was always ready to listen to God and to spread the Gospel far and wide.

Throughout the book we also learn about his family from his parents and siblings to his wife Ruth and their children. Ruth’s influence on Billy also helped direct him in his dealings with our country and others. Ruth was a strong woman and definitely showed it. They had a long and very strong marriage based on love and their beliefs.

Christians will get to know the man and his views by reading this book. Non-Christians will also get a lot out of it, more from the history side of his story. No matter what your religious views are, you will come away with a wealth of historical knowledge after reading this book. An easy-to-read and informative book, I highly recommend David Aikman’s Billy Graham: His Life and Influence.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Calling all History Buffs

I just finished reading a great historical book. Two Brothers: One North, One South by David H. Jones is chock full of history. I love books based on historical truth and this book fits the bill. This is a novel about the Civil War and how it tore apart our country, the states and families. Walt Whitman, who befriends one of the brothers, is center to the telling of the story, which is based on a Maryland family dealing with mixed loyalties.

Two of the four brothers are injured in battle and end up in the same hospital. When one, William Prentiss, dies the other brothers, John and Melville, along with Mr. Whitman visit the other injured brother, Clifton, to tell him the sad news. From here the story begins with flashbacks to events throughout the war.

Through the flashbacks, we learn both the Confederate and the Union points of view, the stories of men in battle, the women’s role in the underground, and the free blacks’ role in the 7th U.S. Colored Regiment. All this history wound into an extremely interesting and mostly easy-to-read story. At times the book slows with a bit too much detail but, on the whole, it is a good book for both the historical facts and the intertwining story of the characters.

Civil War buffs will love this book and most everyone else who is interested in our history will enjoy it. I highly recommend Mr. Jones’ Two Brothers: One North, One South.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Am Hutterite - A Beautiful Memoir

I Am Hutterite is an interesting and very well written memoir by Mary-Ann Kirkby. Ms. Kirkby tells about her carefree and loving childhood and about the history of her family in a Hutterite community. Not having heard abort Hutterites before, this turned out to be quite educational for me. The Hutterite community is similar to the Amish and Mennonite communities except that the residents pool all their resources and work with and for each other. They farm together, they cook together, and they eat together. A surprise to me is that they even drink together. Yes, alcohol is allowed in this culture unlike other religious groups.

This is a step back in time for most of us yet the Hutterites live this way in the 21st century. After describing her parents’ history and her upbringing in the Hutterite fashion, the author then describes how and why her family left the community. The Hutterite community was definitely her security but her family left and tried to exist without the support system from which they came. The descriptions of their struggles and near-starvation were heart-wrenching but they did finally succeed to live in the “English world.”

I thoroughly enjoyed I Am Hutterite and recommend it to anyone interested in reading non-fiction. It’s an easy read and will definitely keep your attention.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cutting for Stone Deserves More than Five Stars!

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is a brilliant novel, but that wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has read Dr. Verghese’s other books. I loved My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story and I know I’ll be running out to get The Tennis Partner next. Dr. Verghese is a powerful storyteller and his books are beautifully written.

The setting of Cutting for Stone is in both Ethiopia and the United States. A nun and doctor travel to a small hospital in Ethiopia, which begins a series of mishaps and intriguing scenarios. A long story short, the nun gives birth to twins who are co-joined and separated. The doctor disappears and the nun dies in childbirth. But this is only the beginning. Although a piece of fiction, it is based on actual events such as the unrest in Ethiopia during Emperor Haile Selaisse's reign.

The twins, Marion and Shiva, are cared for and loved by two other doctors at Missing (Mission) Hospital. The story continues as the boys grow to become young men with one having to flee the country. He continues his education in the United States and eventually meets his father again. The other twin continues his on-the-job training as a specialist in Ethiopia along with his adoptive mother.

This short description doesn’t give the book justice, but I don’t want to give away the story. Let me just say that I couldn’t put this book down. If there’s any way of giving the book six stars in a five-star rating system, I certainly would. Cutting for Stone is a powerful book. You simply must read it. You won’t be sorry.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Tale of Greta Gumboot and Other Stories - A Great Collection of Stories for Children

The Tale of Greta Gumboot and Other Stories, by Lee Pritchett, is a wonderful collection of stories set in a magical world. Greta Gumboot, the bad witch of the forest, loved turning forest animals into wonderful tasty treats. Imagine a real bunny turned into a chocolate bunny. Yummy! But, of course, this really wasn’t a nice thing to do so Greta Gumboot was taught a lesson by those very same animals she’d eaten. What a cute story with a good lesson. Greta Gumboot, bad witch-turned-good, ends up helping others and being a good friend to those she used to turn into candy!

Greta Gumboot is just the first of several exciting tales in this book. Although the book is geared for the 4- to 8-year-old child, I believe older children will also enjoy it. The tales include Gilby, a wizard’s apprentice, who saves the kingdom, and Mr. Bumbles, the wizard who loses his hat and magic but, thanks to Greta Gumboot, receives both back along with a group of new friends.

This book is full of wizards, witches, goblins, princesses, and even a kitten and an epheline (wondering what that is?). Each story is a unit unto itself but many of them are intertwined in a very intriguing way. Children will want to continue reading, not because it’s passed their bedtime, but because the stories are so good. Luckily, the book is broken up into several tales so that he or she can start a new tale the following day.

All the stories are great but my own personal favorite is Holly and the Unicorn. Holly gets all the forest animals, including a rabbit with headphones and a dancing bear, to help find the baby unicorn’s Mum. This is just too cute.

Each one of these tales could have been a book by itself, but Lee Pritchett has combined them all into one big book for your child to enjoy. This may be Mr. Pritchett’s first book but it certainly won’t be his last. And if you’re wondering what an epheline is, you’ll just have to read Lee Pritchett’s The Tale of Greta Gumboot and Other Stories!

Friday, April 30, 2010

After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery, by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.- Not my cup of tea

After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is a book advertised as the history of conservatism in the United States and the direction it must take from here. Normally I don’t read political books although I’m willing to read almost anything else. But I decided to give After the Hangover a shot because I really do want to know more about the history of the conservative movement. How’d they get where they are now?

I must say right off that although this book was often hard to read because of Tyrrell’s many million dollar words, it is, in fact, very well written. But I sometimes found myself lost and having to re-read portions to figure out where Tyrrell was going – or coming from. This book is not for light reading.

Tyrrell tends to skip around a bit as he gives us historical background of the conservative movement. But I enjoyed learning his viewpoint on those conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger. His background on William F. Buckley, Jr. was also interesting but way over the top. I wanted to shout, “Enough already!” The book was interesting but also frustrating. Throughout the book Tyrrell refers back to his previous books and I thought the book may have been better categorized as an autobiography with a little history thrown in.

I don’t consider myself either an extreme conservative or an extreme liberal but I fall somewhere in between with a slight leaning to the left. So I didn’t expect to agree with everything Tyrrell had to say. But I emphatically disagree with his beliefs that those labeled liberals or environmentalists are basically socialists. I’m guessing he’d say anyone who doesn’t agree with him and his conservative views is a “flaming liberal!”

But, surprisingly, I do agree with some of his policy ideas such as a flat tax and tax credits for natural gas use. I especially agree with a federal spending cap. And I definitely agree that George W. Bush was “a grave disappointment” although I may have used stronger words to describe my feelings on that subject.

There is too much anger between conservatives and liberals. Is there no happy medium? Can’t we live together? Why must everyone be labeled one or the other? All politicians, conservative or liberal, should stop the back-biting. Maybe if we didn’t have so many career politicians, they would once again serve the people they were chosen to represent instead of just collecting votes for the next election. If Tyrrell, would consider writing such a book, I’d be happy to read it. But after reading After the Hangover, I think I’ll skip any other books by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A great children's book with a good message

William G. Bentrim’s latest book What About Me? really hits the mark in dealing with a child’s mixed emotions when a sibling is ill or hurt. Most children have experienced the feeling of being left out but it’s doubly hard when they’re left out by their own family. This can happen when there’s illness within a family and it’s very upsetting and confusing for a child. Often beyond the child’s control, jealousy and anger results, causing more problems for the family unit already under stress.

What About Me? deals with this situation beautifully. As parents we’re so involved with the child who is ill or has been hurt that we tend to spend less time with the well child. We try to explain what’s happening but we’re already stressed so don’t have the time our healthy child needs. And, of course, we assume the child understands since his or her brother or sister is ill. It’s difficult for the parents to juggle the different types of needs of both the ill and well child.

The well child loves his or her sibling but feels alone and possibly some guilt about the ill sister or brother. Besides the “neglect” the child is feeling the phone calls, cards, gifts and attention keep pouring in – for sister or brother. It can be a lonely and sad time for any child. This book helps children understand that parents still love their child even if they don’t have the time to show it the way they normally do.

The story is enjoyable for children to read but it also teaches a good lesson – for both child and parent. The illustrations beautifully show the emotions that Bradley is going through as he deals with his feelings over Bonnie’s broken leg. This adorable book is good for any child as he or she will most likely experience this at some time during childhood. I highly recommend William G. Bentrim’s What About Me?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Montana Legacy, by R.C. Ryan

I was asked to review Montana Legacy by R.C. Ryan. Although it is not the type of book I usually read, I decided to give it a shot. I must say it’s a quick, easy read and keeps your interest. But the storyline seems so predictable. It’s a typical cowboy love story.

The story begins right after Jesse’s grandfather, Coot, dies from a fall while out looking for a "treasure" that is rumored to be hidden somewhere on the vast ranch. His cousins return to the ranch for the funeral and decide to stay after many years away. Jesse resents this as he’s been the one to stay and work the ranch while his cousins have been off traipsing around the world. Jesse’s old high school girlfriend Amy also shows up at the funeral because she’s home visiting her ill father. After licking his wounds, Jesse predictably falls for Amy again. And, he eventually accepts his cousins back.

Halfway through the book the reader finds out there’s more to Coot’s death than meets the eye. Suddenly, it seems Amy’s in danger also. But the mystery of the book is presented and solved in a few short pages. And, of course, everyone lives happily ever after.

My main criticism of this book is that the mystery is presented late and easily solved. Also, Amy’s father has some sort of grave illness and is told to get his affairs in order. We never know what that illness is or what treatments he’s undergoing. But those treatments apparently work because he’s suddenly cured.

If you’re interested in a quick read, I definitely recommend this book. Personally, I like books with a little more meat to them. But we all need something light once in awhile. If you’re looking for that light book, read Montana Legacy. And, if you like it you’ll be happy to know it’s the first of a trilogy. Montana Destiny will be released in May 2010.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Springtacular Kids' Event

Borders will be hosting me at their Springtacular Kids' Event this Saturday, April 3rd. I will be reading and signing A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit. They will also have other stories for the children, along with crafts and a Spring Parade. A good time should be had by all. Come by to visit me at 12 Noon at Borders, 240 Commons Way, Bridgewater Commons, Bridgewater, NJ. Looking forward to seeing you all!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Reading, Saturday, March 13th

March 13th 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Waldenbooks, Palmer Park Mill, Easton, PA - I’ll be signing A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. There will be no official reading but if any children come by I'm always happy to read. Come by to see me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What a day for a daydream!

It's going to be another beautiful day in the Poconos! The snow is melting fast (although we still have quite the white covering), the sky is blue and the sun is shining! I'm definitely getting out before the rains come. We are supposed to have several days of rain with temperatures in the 40s and 50s (almost 60 yesterday) so I'm sure there will also be some flooding. But, for now, it's gorgeous out! Spring will soon be here. Gotta love it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thank you, Barnes & Noble!

Had a great turnout at Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Saturday. Read A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit and signed a lot of books. The children also did a cute bunny craft after each reading. A big thank you to Barnes & Noble and to Donna Wench for making the arrangements!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Newspaper Article

Don McGlynn interviewed me last week and wrote a very nice piece in The Abington Journal. It was published yesterday with one big error - Ellie's name is now Emily. He did get Audrey's name right though. Oh, well. It's still a good article. Read it here.
Thank you, Don!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book-Reading/Signing - Saturday, March 6th

March 6th 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Arena Hub Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA. - I’ll be reading A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit to the children at both 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. and will be signing books after each reading. Also, there will be a cute bunny craft for the children to do. I think it’ll be great fun. Barnes & Noble will also be hosting a book fair for St. Jude’s school that day. Come by to see me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

GoneAway into the Land, by Jeffrey B. Allen

I was asked to write a review of GoneAway into the Land by Jeffrey B. Allen. Since I'm not big on fantasy stories I wasn't so sure I'd be a good one to review this book. But let me tell you, this book absolutely blew me away! GoneAway into the Land will be the next Lord of the Rings, I kid you not! The story starts out with a 12-year-old boy and his family who suffer the trauma of dealing with an abusive father and husband. The father is a beast and truly becomes one once they leave the World and end up in the Land, looking for John’s sister Marny, who has been abducted by the beast.
ZingZongLand is a land of confections. How cool is that? Any type of confection you can imagine. It seems like a paradise until greed and power of a few take over.
Allen’s wonderful art of description makes you forget you’re in a land of make-believe. Instead you are entrenched in this “candy land” of sorts. Of course, you are also entrenched in the horrors and battles because Mr. Allen so vividly describes them.
The Land and its civilizations are virtually destroyed in the process of fighting the greed and power. John and his mother are in the midst of it all as they search for Marny. And, during the process, they find another lost wonder. To tell more would be to give away the story and I enjoyed this book way too much to ruin it for someone else.
This is an easy read because of the lightness Allen keeps despite some of the horrors experienced by John, his family and the friends he meets along his journey. There are times you will laugh out loud! Personally, Albertson was my favorite character. I wanted to take him home with me.
You will be on the edge of your seat to the very last page. And, if you react as I did, you will be anxious for Allen to finish the sequel. I can’t wait to read Into the World and my guess is that we’ll be seeing a film version one day. I highly recommend this book for both young and older adults.
Great job, Jeffrey B. Allen! Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book Giveaway

The Book Junkie is celebrating her birthday by giving away a box of books! Her birthday is in February and she will choose the lucky winner on February 22nd. Go to her blog to fill out the form. You could win a box of books for HER birthday!!!! What a great idea!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt

I had the pleasure of receiving and reviewing an advance copy of Making Toast, by well-known author Roger Rosenblatt. The book will be released February 16th. I hope you get the opportunity to read it and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's my review:

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt shows how your entire life can change at any moment. And, in this case, the author and his family will never return to the way life was before the sudden change that hit them when their daughter suddenly dies. I have to admit I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up this book. It is heart wrenching yet engaging and quite light in its own way. Does that make sense? Probably not – until you read it.

The author and his wife go through the grief process while trying to be there for their son-in-law and their other children’s families and to play “parent” to their three young grandchildren. They are at the stage of their life where they should be enjoying the carefree times they’ve worked hard to attain. Instead of the doting grandparents they should be at this age, they are suddenly thrown into the role of caregiver for children who have lost their mother. Not an easy task, but these two are definitely not ordinary people.

These grandparents are now dealing with schedules, temper tantrums, and the children’s loss as they deal with their own feelings. This book will break your heart while at the same time entertain you. A hard task, for sure! But I found I couldn’t put this book down even as I cried my eyes out and as my own heart was breaking for this family.

Losing a child is a nightmare no one wants to have, but, sadly, many do. This book heals as it hurts. What a marvelous family. Their love and good humor comes through on every page but the pain never goes away.

Don’t let the subject put you off. This book is definitely worth the time it takes to read it and is well written. You won’t be sorry. I loved Making Toast.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Belated Happy New Year!

I'm sorry to be late in wishing you the best for 2010. My New Year's resolution is to actually try to blog a couple times a week. I've been quite negligent but am determined to get this going! So off to a good start - only 22 days into 2010.

Right after the new year I headed to Florida for a very, very cold week in the sunny south. Upon my return I went to Boston to celebrate my granddaughter's first birthday. Believe it or not, the weather was much milder in Boston than it was in Saint Augustine and Jupiter Island, Florida. But I wouldn't have minded cold, ice or snow because seeing my beautiful granddaughters warmed my heart.

Happy New Year and I hope 2010 brings you all much happiness.