Monday, February 28, 2011

The Unclaimed Baggage Center

On vacation to Atlanta we took a day trip up to Scottsboro Alabama and visited the Unclaimed Baggage Center. I have wanted to go since I first heard of it a few years ago. They buy all the lost luggage from the airlines that can’t be claimed. Just open that baby up and sell the treasures inside. Mostly that means electronics (hello, 8G Ipod for $55) and clothing, but they do have several book cases for lost books. Now people are typically buying the latest books for their travels and I scored some great paperbacks. Especially a couple that are not available here in the US yet; must have came over on a few international flights. At $4 a piece they were an incredible bargain.

Jo Nesbo

The Leopard

Jo Nesbo

The Snowman

Ian Rankin

The Complaints

Tom Rob Smith

The Secret Speech

Giveaway results

Heather and Dave won.

We will be giving away more books next month. Join the blog and comment on any books we have reviewed. If you would like a book we have reviewed let us know and we will see if it is available to send to you. Thanks and keep looking.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I love this site and find it interesting to see what other people are reading. I think anyone who reads would be interested in this site. They also give away book to readers to review. David and I have received several from this site for early reviewing.

We are also looking for readers who want to submit reviews to our site. Add a comment and an Email, we will contact you for your review. We only need the review portion of the review, we will add the rest. Thank you.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ice - Linda Howard

Title: Ice

Author: Linda Howard

Publisher: November 10th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2009)

ISBN: 1401308589 (ISBN13: 9781401308582)

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 224

Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: I have read many from this authors.

Where I Obtained the book: I found this at the library.

Synopsis: ’Tis the season for mistletoe and holly, Santa . . . and suspense. And the gift that keeps on giving is Ice: premier thriller author Linda Howard’s breathless tale of a man, a woman, and a battle for survival against an unforgiving winter–and an unrelenting killer. Oh what fun it is to read.

Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders. A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who’s fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned. So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound. It’s a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather–and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.

But there’s no talking back when your dad is the town’s top cop. And there’s no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives–and discovers that the weather outside isn’t the only thing that’s frightful. Spotting strangers in Lolly’s home–one of them packing a weapon–is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode. And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors. But when the escape is discovered, the heat–and the hunt–are on. And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.

Review: Linda Howard writes a good thriller, suspenseful story. Lolly is followed home by two planning on taking her for everything she has. Being held at gun point is not something she was expecting. The storm made rescue and help unlikely, but Gabe is going there to help her during the storm.

Bringing her to safety is his objective and along the way it is scary and I was not able to put the book down. I climbed under my thick quilts to keep the shivering at bay, the descriptions made me chill. The love story is sweet and of course the forced intimacy between the two is quick. *Sex alert, but not much(too cold.)

Not much character development, but it left you thinking that things would work out. I enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author.

Author Biography:

Linda S. Howington was born on August 3, 1950 in Alabama, United States. She began to write at nine years old, and wrote for twenty years for her own enjoyment. She worked at a trucking company where she met her husband, and then decided to try and get her work published in 1980. [1:] Her first work was published by Silhouette in 1982. She is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, joining in 1981 shortly after it was formed. She currently serves as Region 3 Director (until 31 October 2008).

Her husband is a professional bass tournament fisherman, and she travels with him to some very unglamorous locations where she works on her laptop. Linda and her husband live in a big house on a farm in Alabama, where they raise cattle and have two dogs.

Her friends include the authors Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, and Kay Hooper.

Other Reviews:

Dear Author

Book Binge

Romance Books I read

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ending Elder Abuse - Diane S Sandell and Lois Hudson

Title: Ending Elder Abuse

Author: Diane S. Sandell, Lois Hudson NOBLE

Publisher: June 30th 2010 by QED Press (first published September 2000)

ISBN: 9780936609430

Copyright: 2010

Pages: 192

Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: I won this at

Where I Obtained the book: The publisher sent it to me.

Synopsis: Nearly 1.6 million Americans now live in nursing homes. That number will double in the next twenty years, as medical science lengthens our life expectancies and the senior population grows. Inevitably, most of us will have to supervise the care of aging parents or grandparents, and every one of us faces the prospect of growing old and possibly frail. Thirty percent of elderly Americans say they would rather die than move into a nursing home. Their fears are well founded: Inspection documents show that more than a quarter of the nursing homes in the United States have been repeatedly cited for violations that caused serious harm or death to residents. In California, fully one third caused serious injury or death, and less than 2 percent of nursing homes had no violations!

Review: This is scary and since we all will be old someday, this is a good book to read. Elder abuse is a real issue, made more so as the Baby-boomers retire. A loved one of mine was abused in the care center she was sent to following a stroke. It took her years to tell anyone and then what do you do? You think you are doing the best thing for your love ones and then something happens to make you rethink the whole thing. What are your rights and what are the laws?

This book starts with a story of her mother, who was abused in a care facility. She outlines what happened following the abuse and what steps they took to protect her mother in the future. The author then went on to make sure that others were aware of the problems going on in care facilities for the elderly. She then outlines what you can do to protect your loved ones and to help ensure their safety. We will all face this tough decisions. What do we do when our parents are no longer capable of caring for themselves?

Where so we look for the information we need to make a educated decision, and how do we go about checking out the facilities around us? This is a great resource for those who need to make these tough decisions. Someday we all will be at the mercy of those who care for us. The decision to move into a care facility cannot be taken lightly. This book will assist you in knowing where to look, who to talk with, and what questions to ask.

Author Biography:

Ms. Diane Sandell's mother was abused in an Orange, California, LTCF in 1988. Subsequently, Ms. Sandell became an advocate, made guest appearances on local & national TV and radio, been a guest speaker for various organizations and has been the subject of newspaper and imagazine articles with the express purpose of raising public awareness regarding elder abuse in LTCF's. Ms. Sandell's advocacy has taken her to legistators, both state and federal, and to the White House.

Lois Hudson, cared for her elderly mother-in-law, 24/7 in her home for 14 years, eight of which entailed care of a semi-comatose, bedridden patient.

Ms. Hudson's devotional works have appeared in a number of publications. She has recently completed her first novel, The Tenth Month. A second novel is in process along with a number of other writing projects.

Other Reviews:

Baron Book Review

Fore Word Reviews

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What I Did for Love - Susan Elizabeth Philips

Title: What I Did for Love

Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Publisher: January 24th 2009 by William Morrow (first published 2009)

ISBN: 0061351504 (ISBN13: 9780061351501)

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 401

Quick Review: 3 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: I had read her before and wanted to read another.

Where I Obtained the book: The local library.

Synopsis: How did this happen? Georgie York, once the costar of America's favorite television sitcom, has been publicly abandoned by her famous husband, her film career has tanked, her father is driving her crazy, and her public image as a spunky heroine is taking a serious beating.

What should a down-on-her-luck actress do? Not go to Vegas . . . not run into her detestable former costar, dreamboat-from-hell Bramwell Shepard . . . and not get caught up in an ugly incident that leads to a calamitous elopement. Before she knows it, Georgie has a fake marriage, a fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life.

It's a paparazzi free-for-all, and Georgie's nonsupporting cast doesn't help. There's Bram's punk-nightmare housekeeper, Georgie's own pushy parent, a suck-up agent, an icy studio head with a private agenda, and her ex-husband's new wife, who can't get enough of doing good deeds and saving the world—the bitch. As for Georgie's leading man, Bram's giving the performance of his life, but he's never cared about anyone except himself, and it's not exactly clear why.

Two enemies find themselves working without a script in a town where the spotlight shines bright . . . and where the strongest emotions can wear startling disguises.

Review: Spoiler Alert* Cute, sweet and a bit silly at times. This is what a romance novel is supposed to be like. Fun, goofy interaction between the characters and then a happy ending. I'm a sucker for this type of book, with all the crap in the world this is a fun escape.

This author seems to have a great hold on the romantic comedy, this and the other book of hers I’ve read would make great movies. The love/hate relationship between the main characters was cute and sweet. *Sex alert, the hero refuses to be married(even if pretend) and not enjoy the perks.

Author Biography:

I STARTED TO WRITE completely by accident. I taught high school until our oldest son was born, then quit to stay home. In 1976, my husband’s job took us from Ohio to central New Jersey. My best friend Claire lived two doors down the street. Both of us were big readers, reading everything from literary fiction to the newly popular historical romance novels. We loved talking about the books—what we liked, what we didn’t. One day, just for fun, we decided to try to write a book together. For three weeks as we rode our bikes in the evening, with my toddler in the baby seat behind me, we plotted our story. Then we sat down with a yellow pad and began to write.

FOUR HOURS LATER we’d come up with exactly three sentences. We had no idea how to write a book together, but we were getting a good idea how not to do it. Over the course of the next few months, we worked out a system. We’d get together to plot a scene, frequently role-playing dialogue. Claire would take copious notes, carry them to her typewriter, and come up with a rough draft, which she’d give to me. Sometimes I’d just change a sentence here or there. Other times, I’d throw out all of her hard work and start over again. Somehow our friendship survived.

IDIOTS’ LUCK. With only half the manuscript completed, we got the phone number of an editor at Dell Publishing. Sweating bullets, we called her. She was a very nice woman, asked us some questions about our book, and then agreed to see it, even though it wasn’t finished. Unfortunately, she also wanted to see a synopsis. Synopsis? We barely knew what was going to happen in the next chapter, let alone the end of the book. Knees trembling, we ran to the typewriter and came up with something, then spent the next few weeks typing a fresh copy of our manuscript to mail off.

THREE WEEKS LATER the telephone rang. It was the editor. “I’m calling from Dell Publishing. We’ve read your manuscript. We like it. And Dell is prepared to make you an offer.”

JUST LIKE THAT...WE’RE PUBLISHED! I never tell this story at writers’ luncheons for fear I’ll have to duck flying French rolls thrown by an angry audience. It sounds so easy, but the market was red hot then, and publishers were hungry for books. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy now. It took us another year to finish the book, which was published in 1983 as THE COPELAND BRIDE, under the pseudonym Justine Cole. (I wanted to use Chastity Savage, but Claire wouldn’t let me.) The book is now out of print, which is probably a good thing because it’s not at all politically correct and I’d get deluged with angry letters if it were ever re-issued. Still, I’m incredibly proud of it. Considering the fact that neither Claire nor I had ever written so much as a short story, we did a pretty good job, despite a couple of rapes here and there.

Other Reviews:

Dear Author

Curled Up

Romance Novel

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Esperanza Rising - Pam Munoz Ryan

Title: Esperanza Rising

Author: by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Publisher: June 1st 2005 by Scholastic Inc. (first published October 1st 2000)

ISBN: 0439771250 (ISBN13: 9780439771252)

Copyright: 2005

Pages: 304

Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: I volunteered in my son’s third grade class and this was the book that was picked to read.

Where I Obtained the book: At the school.

Synopsis: When Esperanza and Mama are forced to flee to the bountiful region of Aguascalientes, Mexico, to a Mexican farm labor camp in California, they must adjust to a life without fancy dresses adn servants they were accustomed to on Rancho de las Rosas. Now they must confront the challenges of hard work, acceptance by their own people, and economic difficulties brought on by the Great Depression. When Mama falls ill and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must relinquish her hold on the past learn to embrace a future ripe with the riches of family and community.

Review: What an inspirational story. I loved the flow and the story, her life was forever changed by the death of her father and she was too young to even know why. The mother coped as well as she could and once in the US she fell apart. I would have fallen apart much earlier than that. Their life had been filled with love, family, grand parties and money and now that was lost. Love did remain, but everything else was lost when they fled Mexico.

Pampering to working her fingers to blisters, Esperanza went from being the one waited on to doing the waiting, she worked hard to make her life better in the US. She was no longer on the other side of the river, she was now on equal footing with those around her. She struggled, but held on. She was young when her father died, but forced to grow up and learn to take care of herself. She was blessed with friends who loved her. The roses they brought from Mexico were a great reminder of happier times, times that made her smile.

In class while reading this, we made yarn dolls and talked about what we would take with us if we could only take one things from our old life into our new. The answers were interesting, but we all agreed that leaving everything behind would be almost impossible. Esperanza means hope and this is truly a tale of hope.

Author Biography: I was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. Until the end of fourth grade at McKinley Elementary, I walked to my grandmother’s house after school, where my parents picked me up after work. I spent enough time at my grandmother’s to sometimes have to draw on my own resources to entertain myself. One of my earliest memories about books is that my grandmother had a set of encyclopedias. I would tip each of these volumes out of its space and look at the top of the book to see if there were any sections printed in color. If I saw the definitive stripes, I’d take it off the shelf and go to those spots in the book. I studied the illustrated anatomy pages with the plastic overlays. I poured over the botanical plates. My favorite volume was G, because it contained an illustrated section of Greek myths. How I loved those encyclopedias! Once, I even tried to copy an entire page, but did not succeed.

I began to write stories for children. I submitted manuscripts to many children’s publishers but with no luck. I wish I knew how many, but I didn’t keep track and there were so many rejections that, at the time, it would have been painful to count. I finally contracted a literary agent. Today, I still have the same agent, Kendra Marcus with Bookstop Literary Agency. My first children’s book, One Hundred Is A Family, published in 1994.After a number of picture books, my editor at Scholastic, Tracy Mack, encouraged me to try a novel and I did. More novels followed.

One book led to another. And I became something I’d never been before. Today, I cannot imagine not writing. But I have a very practical approach to it. It is my job. One that I love. I want to deliver, for my publisher, for my reader, and for myself.

Other Reviews:

This Little Black Book

Miss Print

Book Reviews By Myself

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Complaints - Ian Rankin

Title: The Complaints

Author: Ian Rankin

Publisher: Orion

ISBN: 978-1-4091-0347-9

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 452

Quick Review: 5 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: Ian Rankin is one of the best ever. Have been anxiously awaiting its release.

Where I Obtained the Book: I have wanted to make a trip to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama ever since I first heard about it. While in Atlanta for vacation I convinced the wife to make the 3 hour drive to it. After getting a new Ipod ($55) I browsed the bookshelf and there was the new Ian Rankin. It is not even due to be released in the US yet. Obviously someone on an international flight ha left it behind. I also picked up the two latest Jo Nesbo’s which aren’t available here either.

Synopsis: Nobody likes The Complaints - they're the cops who investigate other cops. Complaints and Conduct Department, to give them their full title, but known colloquially as 'The Dark Side', or simply 'The Complaints'. It's where Malcolm Fox works. He's just had a result, and should be feeling good about himself. But he's a man with problems of his own. He has an increasingly frail father in a care home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship - something which Malcolm cannot seem to do anything about.

But, in the midst of an aggressive Edinburgh winter, the reluctant Fox is given a new task. There's a cop called Jamie Breck, and he's dirty. The problem is, no one can prove it. But as Fox takes on the job, he learns that there's more to Breck than anyone thinks. This knowledge will prove dangerous, especially when a vicious murder intervenes far too close to home for Fox's liking.

Review: How much do I love Ian Rankin’s work? Like most Rankin fans I enjoyed his first non Rebus novel, Doors Open, but found it woefully below the standard that he had set. So as he introduced his latest character Malcolm Fox, another Scottish Police officer trying to do right by the law, I found myself nervously excited that it be good. While it was not Rebus at his best, Fox delivered exactly what I was looking for, especially for a first outing.

Too often the guys who police the Police are often portrayed as the bad guys in fiction (i.e. television). The lowlifes that try to prevent real police officers from doing their job, setting criminals free. But you know what, when you give someone that much power there is always a temptation to abuse, to take advantage. That is where Malcolm Fox comes in. He is there to prevent that abuse; and he is good at his job.

Unfortunately we all have secrets, especially those in power. What follows in the Complaints is a classic battle between good and evil; well at least not as bad as the truly evil. Between lies, death, and an assortment of other crimes the truth keeps jumping around. Through skillful negotiation Rankin manages to lead us through the plot twists to a very satisfying conclusion. I look forward to many stories featuring the inquisitive Mr. Fox.

Author Biography: Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into twenty-two languages and are bestsellers on several continents.

Other Reviews:

The Guardian

The Independent

The Telegraph


Monday, February 21, 2011

Quotes of the Month

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
~Author Unknown

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

How true, in the pages of a book you can live many varied lifetimes. All leaving you changed forever.(me)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

C'est la Vie - Suzy Gershman

Title: C’est La Vie

Author: Suzy Gershman

Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (May 31, 2005)

ISBN: 0143035509 978-0143035503

Copyright: 2005

Pages: 272

Quick Review: 3 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: It looked cute and short for the plane trip.

Where I Obtained the book: At my local library sale.

Synopsis: Bestselling writer Suzy Gershman (dubbed "Super Shopper Suzy" by Oprah) is our answer to Peter Mayle in this heartfelt, breezy, and funny story of starting over in Paris. Suzy had always fantasized about moving to Paris with her husband, but when he dies unexpectedly, she decides to fulfill their dream alone. Here she gives a deliciously conversational chronicle of her first year in Paris and of the dizzying delights and maddening frustrations of learning to be a Parisian. Filled with Gershman’s insider’s tips on everything from cooking the perfect clafoutis to—naturally— shopping, C’est la Vie is delightfully entertaining and captures the exhilarating experience of beginning a new adventure.

Review: ** spoiler alert ** This book started on a sad note with the death of her husband, but improved along the way. She is a name dropper and has had a busy travelers/writers life. Moving to France was an experience that she worked hard at doing. The book is well written and quick to read. The loss of her husband is sad, but she deals the best she can and rises above the pain. Her friends are a great support system for her and she develops more in the first year there. Her son has a hard time with the move and a lack of a 'home'.

I enjoyed the story and hope the best for the author in the future. Less name dropping would have been nice, it was about every other page. This reminded me a bit of Eat Pray Love, without all the whining and complaining. This author did her best to make a bad situation good; she also lives a life I could not possibly afford(20,000 dollars to get an apartment and furnish it for the first year and that did not include rent on that apartment.) She embraced life and all the things that came along the way. This book was fast, cute, sweet, and a good distraction from everyday life.

Author Biography: Suzy Gershman is an author, journalist and shopping goddess who for the last 27 years has pioneered the Born to Shop series of travel guidebooks. Having just sold her house in Provence, she has returned to California and partnered with Amazon and Talking Frog Media to revise existing and write new Born to Shop titles.

The first new book, written with Sarah Lahey, is Born to Shop California Wine Country which will be available through after September 1, 2010. Gershman and Lahey will follow up with books on Provence and the surrounding area (including Geneva and Barcelona), Asia (Tokyo, Kyoto, Bangkok, Manila, etc) and then the next edition of Born to Shop London, which will be ready pre-Olympics.

Gershman is currently living in Paso Robles, California, a small food and wine town she discovered while doing the research for Born to Shop California Wine Country. She is writing Merci, Madame -- something of a sequel to her memoire C'est la Vie, but a story about Gershman's house in Provence, the lifestyle in Provence and the Frenchman who asked for her hand in marriage.

Other Reviews:

Europe for visitors

Book Reporter

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame Smith

Title: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Author: Seth Grahame-Smith

Publisher: Published March 2nd 2010 by Grand Central Publishing (first published February 16th 2010)

ISBN: 0446571857 (ISBN13: 9780446571852)

Copyright: 2010

Pages: 352

Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: I’d seen this on a new book list and thought it sounded like fun to read.

Where I Obtained the book: At my local library.

Synopsis: Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his dying mother's bedside. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

Review: I liked this book, the history known of Lincoln was combined with an elaborate tale of vampires and vampire hunting. The deaths in his family were explained different from known history and yet it worked. The idea that vampires had a large part in his political ambitions made sense. Power is craved by all.

This may sound like a crazy, silly book, but it wasn't. The history was there and the mixture of facts with fiction really came together well. Booth a vampire determined to end Lincoln and the Union? WHY NOT? The death of his mother was revenge for his father not paying a debt owed to a vampire, could be. His son’s death in the White House, a revenge killing? The high number of body guards Lincoln had and the initial poor showing of the Union Army, vampire influence? The author explained that vampires did not want to see the end of slavery, it was an endless, no questions asked buffet for them. All this could be true, think about it. There were good and bad vampires by the way. The good backed Lincoln and the bad backed Davis. Maybe?

I loved the way the author threw in bits of fact and then a photo showing a vampire from the archives of some museum. Lincoln thought Edgar Allen Poe to be a vampire and finding he wasn't made a lifelong friend. Henry, the vampire who explains everything to Lincoln, is calculating and yet warm. If you like history and a bit of mystery this book will interest you.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Author Biography: Seth Grahame-Smith (born Seth Jared Greenberg) is an American author and film producer. He is most well known for his 2009 novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which reached number three on the New York Times' best seller list. Grahame-Smith lives in Los Angeles.

Other Reviews:

Wired Geek Dad

Murphy's library

Disclaimer for all reviews sent by the publisher, publicist or author for review.