Beach Reading

Beach Reading
Beach Reading

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Thirteenth Gift By Charlene Costanzo

While on assignment in Eastern Europe, Claire, a U.S. journalist, learns of a local legend. The deceptively simple story about "the thirteenth gift" has a profound effect on Claire, which soon transforms her marriage, her work, and the way she sees the world. The Thirteenth Gift is both a cautionary tale and an inspirational fable as it shows a way through the perilous consequences of greed, arrogance, and abuse of power to an uplifted state of consciousness and community. The Thirteenth Gift invites readers to renew their sense of wonderment, which can lead to freedom from fear and to a greater experience of hope, beauty, and joy in daily life. Like the message of the award-winning book, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, this novella from Charlene Costanzo reminds readers to see the dignity that is inherent in themselves and others. The habit of collecting smooth stones and shiny pebbles is an impulse that crosses generations, cultures, and traditions. But what instinct urges us to stop for them, hold them in our pockets, and save them in jars? This fourth work in Charlene Costanzo's Twelve Gift Series explains why so many people world-wide are fascinated with collecting stones. The Thirteenth Gift describes an obscure, Eastern European fable that explains why even the appeal of gem stones is rooted in something deeper than dazzle...something we are all trying to remember. Stones symbolize the marvelous oneness of all creation and keep us in touch with the gifts of life. The story's central character, Claire, is one any modern woman can relate to; torn between pursuing her ambitions and dedicating herself to her family. The author's fictional narrative reinforces the importance of consciousness, community, and most importantly, maintaining your sense of wonder. In a world where there are so many distractions, it is easy to forget our sense of wonderment. This book is a simple reminder to reconnect with the unique gifts we are each born with, urging readers to see the dignity that is inherent in themselves and others. Readers are invited to renew their sense of wonderment, to find a greater experience of hope, beauty, and joy in daily life.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, being only 66 pages. The book is written from the main characters point of view. She is dealing with stress from her job and being away from her family alot because of it. While out of the country on assignment, she finishes a story early and is trying to surprise her family by coming home early. She takes an unscheduled road trip out of town to kill time, and runs into some minor problems with her car. While trying to get some help, she meets up with an elderly woman who invites her into her home and tells her of a local legend that makes her realize how out of touch she is with her family and how unhappy she is with her job and her life as it is. The only down side to me was that I felt the book ended too soon, and had some unresolved issues. It could be that the author did this in order to be able to write a sequel; who knows? What interested me in this book to begin with is that even before I read it, I kept a smooth stone with the word "believe" etched on it with me all the time. Something that touched me was that a portion of the proceeds from each book in this series is donated to a foundation that prevents abuse and promotes the well-being of children, The Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll and Nickolas Cook

Off with their heads! Zombies have made their way into wonderland. Lewis Carroll's classic novel becomes curiouser and curiouser with the undead...

Zombies. That's right - zombies. In Wonderland.

When Alice follows the Black Rat into the open grave, she falls and falls, and soon finds herself in an undead nightmare of rotting flesh and insanity. Following the Rat, she ventures further into this land of monsters, encountering madcap characters along the way. But there's something else troubling poor Alice: her skin is rotting and her hair is falling out. She's cold, and she has the haunting feeling that if she remains in Zombieland any longer, she might never leave. Can Alice escape Zombieland before the Dead Queen catches up to her?

Have a seat at the table for the wildest tea party of your life and explore the unforgettable adventure that is Alice in Zombieland. A fresh and hilarious new zombie mash-up, bringing the hottest format on the humor shelf to a beloved classic, complete with zombie-fied updates to the renowned illustrations by Sir John Teniel.

This was a quick read at only 240 pages. We follow Alice as her adventures begin from chasing a rat and falling into an open grave. After a very long fall, she lands in a world where almost every creature she comes in contact with is dead. Like the previous novel, she has issues with shrinking and growing taller than other characters. The longer she stays in this underground world, the hungrier she becomes and she begins to wonder if she will make it out alive. If you enjoyed the classic Alice in Wonderland and you like zombies, you will find this a refreshing take and amusing in many ways.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tasty Thursday ~ Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Unfortunately, this is not an actual picture of what the recipe turns out to look like but it is what I wish it did look like. I haven't tried this yet, but a friend of mine loves it.

4 Tablespoons Flour

4 Tablespoons Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cocoa

1 Egg, beaten

3 Tablespoons Milk

3 Tablespoons Oil

3 Tablespoons Chocolate Chips (optional)

Splash of Vanilla Extract

1 Large (Microwave Safe) Coffee Mug

Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk and oil. Mix well. Add chocolate chips, if using, and vanilla then mix well. Place mug in microwave and cook for three minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, so don't be alarmed. Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate if desired. (I see me eating it straight out of the mug before it cools completely :-) ) Enjoy!!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dare To Die by Carolyn Hart

She came in the rain. Alone. On a bicycle.

Annie and Max Darling are completely unprepared when the arrival of a mysterious young woman shocks their sea island and stirs up more than just gossip.
It turns out that Iris, the beautiful stranger, is a former resident of Broward's Rock. Her arrival throws the normally happy town into a downward spiral that pits neighbor against neighbor.
Things take a turn for the worse when Annie befriends Iris and invites her to attend the Darlings' party at the pavilion where Death is the uninvited guest. Suddenly, Max and Annie find themselves in the middle of a fight they don't understand and at the mercy of an unknown assailant who's trying to kill them--and all they know is that it is one of their friends.

When I began reading this novel, I was not aware that it was part of a series of books. For me, it was slow reading and I had a very difficult time staying interested in it. Very rarely will I put a book down without finishing it, however, I came close to it on this one. I did manage, finally, to read the whole thing and am sad to say that I would not recommend it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

Lulu and Merry's childhood was never ideal, but on the day before Lulu's tenth birthday their father propels them into a nightmare. He's always hungered for the love of the girls' self-obsessed mother; after she throws him out, their troubles turn deadly.
Lulu had been warned not to let her father in, but when he shows up drunk, he's impossible to ignore. He bullies his way past Lulu, who then listens in horror as her parents struggle. She runs for help, but discovers upon her return that he has murdered her mother, stabbed her five-year old sister, Merry, and tried, unsuccessfully, to kill himself.
Lulu and Merry are effectively orphaned by their mother's death and father's imprisonment. The girls' relatives refuse to care for them and abandon them to a terrifying group home. Even as they plot to be taken in by a well-to-do family, they come to learn they'll never really belong anywhere or to anyone -- that all they have to hold on to is each other.
For thirty years, the sisters try to make sense of what happened. Their imprisoned father is a specter in both their lives, shadowing every choice they make. One spends her life pretending he's dead, while the other feels compelled -- by fear, by duty -- to keep him close. Both dread the day his attempts to win parole may meet with success.

A beatifully written, compulsively readable debut, The Murderer's Daughters is a testament to the power of family and the ties that bind us together and tear us apart.

This book was a difficult one for me to read. Working in law enforcement, I am aware that there are more than two people effected by most domestic violence situations. It is a sad fact that the children in the family are the ones that are sometimes hurt more by what the parents do to each other. The author of the book even mentions these children in the acknowledgments at the back of the book. The story is told from the viewpoint of both sisters as they grow up, you feel how each one has been scarred in her own way. The ending was different than I had imagined it might be, but it is one that gave me a good feeling of hope that the sisters would be okay in the end.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Treachery In Death by J.D. Robb

Eve Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are following up on a brutal, senseless crime -- an elderly grocery owner killed by three stoned punks for nothing more than kicks and snacks. And for the first time, Peabody is primary detective on the case, which means she has to get used to a new level of authority and responsibility. Good thing she learned the ropes from a master like Eve.

But after rounding up the perps, Peabody stumbles upon a much trickier situation. Determined to start working out as hard as she grills suspects, she chooses to do it at the old, rarely used gym at Central. After a grueling workout, she squeezes into one of the narrow shower stalls, happy to have the place to herself. Just after she shuts the water off, the gym door clatters open -- and while she cringes inside the stall, trying not to make a sound, Peabody overhears two fellow officers, Garnet and Oberman, arguing. References are made to delivering product, and a house in the islands, and someone named Keener who's supposed to look like an OD. It doesn't take long for a naked and vulnerable Peabody to realize that both officers are crooked -- guilty not just of corruption but of murder as well. Fortunately, the two clear out of the locker room without realizing there was a witness.

Eve Dallas may have trained Peabody well -- but this is too dangerous for one person to take on alone. Now Peabody, Eve, and her husband, Roarke, must try to get the hard evidence they need to bring the dirty cops down -- knowing all the while that the two have already killed to keep their secret, and are no doubt willing to do it again.

I have to say that I love, love, love this series by J.D. Robb. I can usually read them in a day or two at the most. Lt. Eve Dallas is tough, street smart, a good cop married to Rourke who is very very rich and owns at least an interest in just about every business imaginable. Eve is training rookie Detective Peabody, and gives her the lead for the first time on the case that opens this book. Regular characters such as Eve's boss, Commander Whitney and her shrink Doctor Mira are on a short list of people that Eve actually respects and bounces ideas off of when she is trying to crack a case. This series fills my need for mystery but also gives me a dose of romance with the relationships between Eve and her husband, and Peabody and her boyfriend McNab who also works for the police department as a computer geek. All of the main characters in the series work well together, and the bad guy or gal always gets justice served to them in the end.