Friday, July 31, 2009

View From the Beach

I'm at Camp Swampy South this week so I'm not posting regularly - too busy enjoying the beach with the grandkids.

Congrats to Ellybean who won last Friday's giveaway for "Friday Night Lights." Please send me an email with your address and I get it out ASAP.

And for anyone who is still making vacation plans heres:

Beyond the Beach - Five Fun Things to Do in Ocean City Maryland
By Gail Pruszkowski

Ocean City is Maryland's number one summer resort. With more than ten miles of beautiful, clean, free beaches it's a great spot to soak up the sun. And if hanging out at the beach with a good book isn't fun enough there are so many other things to enjoy.

The Boardwalk - In Ocean City Maryland the place to stroll is the three mile long boardwalk. The first wooden walkway went up in 1902 and it could be rolled up in the event of a storm. Today's boardwalk has been newly renovated and it's been named one of the Best Boardwalks in America by the Travel Channel. Check out the carousel, circa 1912, the arcades and some of the best fries around. Oh, and while you're out walking visit the Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum at the inlet.

Fishing - Ocean City is the "White Marlin Capital of the World." It boasts some of the best game fish on the East Coast, White Marlin, Tuna, Wahoo, and sharks including Mako, Tiger and Thresher. The inshore waters abound with bluefish and sea bass or fish for flounder in the bay. The O.C. Fishing center offers everything for novice to experienced anglers and it's located near the inlet.

Golfing - Ocean City, MD is becoming one of the hottest destinations on the East Coast for golfers. There are numerous championship golf courses for every skill level. Many first rate hotels have great golf packages.

Boat Rides - Take a ride on a speedboat, the OC Rocket, and watch the dolphins. Explore the Natural Beauty of Sinepuxent Bay on The Explorer Nature Cruise. Or take a ride aboard the Assateague Adventure. Land on the island and explore, look for the ponies and see the birds in their natural habitat. For more information on these and more go to:

Shopping - The Ocean City Outlets are located one mile from the beach and boardwalk at Rt. 50 & Golf Course Rd. Take the free shuttle and save up to 70% off everyday. For a list of stores, shuttle locations and more go to:

And don't forget the spectacular sunsets over the bay or wake up early and watch the sunrise - it's fabulous. Above all, relax and enjoy!

Gail Pruszkowski reviews for "Romantic Times BOOKreviews" magazine and her work has been published in the "Cup of Comfort" Anthologies.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Rollback - A Novel of First Contact by Robert J. Sawyer

"Rollback" by Robert J. Sawyer is a science fiction tale of first contact and a love story that asks "can love survive if one partner is restored to youth while the other remains aged?" The brilliant what-if premise combines fascinating themes of alien communication, rejuvenation, ethics and love in a highly emotional story.

Thirty-eight years ago when Dr. Sarah Halifax worked for SETI, Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence she translated and responded to the first message from outer space. There has been no communication since. As she and her husband, Don, celebrate sixty years together, another message is received. Sarah is eighty-seven but she is clearly the best person to decode the new message. A wealthy businessman offers to finance rollbacks for Sara and Don to give her more time to interpret the communication. Both go through a process that will make them young again. Don's rollback works, Sarah's does not. There's a strong bond between the couple and Don grapples with issues of guilt over his twenty-five year old body and increased libido. Meanwhile Sarah struggles to decode this new message from space so she can leave a lasting legacy to humanity.

I've heard mixed reviews of this book but I really liked it a lot. Maybe it's a story better appreciated by people of a certain age and those who enjoy character based novels. This one focused more on the relationship between the Sarah and Don than on the science fiction aspects. I thought the characters were sympathetic and believable. I would have liked to read more about the interaction between twenty-five year old Don and his fifty-something children. It would be interesting to see how they would deal with a father who was younger than they were. Sawyer does a great job of showing how his characters deal with moral issues. This is a thought provoking read about the huge ethical dilemmas that may come with future technology. I thought it was riveting from beginning to end.

Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (February 5, 2008)
ISBN: 978-0765349743
Mass Market Paperback: Pages: 320
Price: $6.99

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Giveaway - Friday Night Lights

Up for grabs this week is my paperback copy of Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger. Just leave a comment and I'll pick a winner next Friday July 31. Review

"Secular religions are fascinating in the devotion and zealousness they breed, and in Texas, high school football has its own rabid hold over the faithful. H.G. Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, enters into the spirit of one of its most fervent shrines: Odessa, a city in decline in the desert of West Texas, where the Permian High School Panthers have managed to compile the winningest record in state annals. Indeed, as this breathtaking examination of the town, the team, its coaches, and its young players chronicles, the team, for better and for worse, is the town; the communal health and self-image of the latter is directly linked to the on-field success of the former. The 1988 season, the one Friday Night Lights recounts, was not one of the Panthers' best. The game's effect on the community--and the players--was explosive. Written with great style and passion, Friday Night Lights offers an American snapshot in deep focus; the picture is not always pretty, but the image is hard to forget."


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seekers of the Chalice by Brian Cullen

This epic fantasy of good and evil is the first in a trilogy. "Seekers of the Chalice" is Brian Cullen's debut novel and his intricate world is rich with Celtic mythology and vivid description. But the magical adventure is based on a formulaic plot that's been done and done again - a perilous quest to recover an artifact that will bring peace to the world.

The Chalice of Fire, a symbol of peace in Ulster, and one of the five treasures of the Tuatha De Danann, brings peace and immortality to the worthy who drink from it. It's stolen from the Red Branch by Bricriu Poisontongue and a band of seekers sets out to get it back. Cumac, son of Cucullen, the greatest Red Branch warrior, is joined by Fedelm of the Sidhe, Tarin, the Swordwanderer, and the wizard-druid, Seanchan. An evil wizard, Maliman, wants the chalice for himself and he uses every means and creature of darkness to thwart their quest.

The book is based on an interesting concept - the traditional Celtic myth Tain Bo Cuailnge. As much as I wanted to like it, there were several flaws that made it only a so-so read for me. The story gets off to a slow start and the characters are colorful but cliche. Those who enjoy quest fantasy and Tolkien's works may find this novel entertaining. But the plot is repetitive, with one battle after another against creatures of the dark - vampires, werewolves, goblins. The seekers don't get very far in this book. If you make it to the end the cliffhanger may entice you to read book two.

Publisher: Tor Fantasy; Reprint edition (February 3, 2009)
ISBN: 978-0765353627
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages
Price: $7.99

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Free Download - Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment

Get a Free Book at! Hurry! Only lasts 48 hours.

Starting today, Monday, July 20, you'll have 48 hours to download Jill Ciment's irresistible novel "Heroic Measures." The book will be available for download from 11 a.m. ET Monday until 10:59 a.m. ET Wednesday.

"A gasoline tanker truck is “stuck” in the Midtown Tunnel. New Yorkers are panicked . . . . Is this the next big attack?

Alex, an artist, and Ruth, a former schoolteacher with an FBI file as thick as a dictionary, must get their beloved dachshund, whose back legs have suddenly become paralyzed, to the animal hospital sixty blocks north. But the streets of Manhattan are welded with traffic. Their dog, Dorothy, twelve-years-old and gray-faced, is the emotional center of Alex and Ruth's forty-five-year-long childless marriage. Using a cutting board as a stretcher, they ferry the dog uptown.

This is also the weekend that Alex and Ruth must sell their apartment. While house hunters traipse
through it during their open house, husband and wife wait by the phone to hear from the animal hospital. During the course of forty-eight hours, as the missing truck driver terrorizes the city, the price of their apartment becomes a barometer for collective hope and despair, as the real estate market spikes and troughs with every breaking news story.

In shifting points of view—Alex’s, Ruth’s, and the little dog’s—man, woman, and one small tenacious
beast try to make sense of the cacophony of rumors, opinions, and innuendos coming from news
anchors, cable TV pundits, pollsters, bomb experts, hostages, witnesses, real estate agents, house hunters, bargain seekers, howling dogs, veterinarians, nurses, and cab drivers.

A moving, deftly told novel of ultrahigh-urban anxiety."


Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Giveaway - Black Betty by Walter Mosley

Congrats! gahome2mom is the winner of last week's giveaway "Shadow Prey " by John Sanford.
Send your snail mail address to me at and I'll mail it out asap.

Up for grabs this week is my copy of "Black Betty" by Walter Mosley.

From Publishers Weekly

"It ain't easy being Easy. Especially not now, as Mosley ( White Butterfly ) brings his much-admired, reluctant L.A. sleuth, Easy Rawlins, to the cusp of the 1960s without his wife and daughter, his real estate riches or the hopes and ambitions that fueled his earlier years. Easy must grab at the $400 he's offered to locate Elizabeth Eady, a missing housekeeper who several years and a few lifetimes away was "Black Betty," a sensual presence on the Houston streets where he grew up. Easy understands that Betty (". . . a great shark of a woman. Men died in her wake") has a mythical importance to him, but he doesn't know why the rich and dysfunctional California family she recently worked for is offering so much money to find her, or why her brother Marlon is also missing--and likely dead, given the spilled blood found in his place. Easy isn't always able to concentrate on the case. His pal Mouse, just out of the slammer, wants help finding the guy who sold him out to the cops; all the rage Mouse acts unthinkingly on, Easy feels too and struggles to contain. In measured, quietly emotive prose, Mosley moves his work away from conventional genre fiction, tinkering, abandoning and later returning to the mystery element. Nevertheless, the solution fully satisfies as Easy opts for smaller victories--not the white man's riches, but maybe a few bucks in his pocket and some time with the two adopted kids that now constitute his family."

Leave a comment and I'll pick a lucky winner next Friday July 24.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What I'm Reading...

The Saint and the Fasting Girl by Anna Richenda

"Sister Georgia lives at the center of a bustling Yorkshire nunnery at the eve of the English Reformation. Yet she is no ordinary nun. Georgia and her sisters follow the ways of the legendary Saint Isela, recording her signs and miracles and preparing for her return.
But the archbishop of London, Philip SeVerde, a man rising in Henry VIII's royal court, cannot bear this 'wild' nunnery of the north. Driven by greed and a lust for power, SeVerde demands that the nuns submit to his control and strict monastic rule. Georgia is persecuted and tortured, yet she refuses to back down.
Drawing strength and visions from an ancient relic, Georgia must ensure that her mystical group of nuns survive the meddling of the corrupt archbishop. She must undergo an epic journey and endure, lifetime after lifetime, until the promise of Saint Isela can be fulfilled. "

The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

"At the age of eighteen, in that first golden Oxford summer, Milly was up for anything. Rupert and his American lover, Allan, were an important part of her new, exciting life, so when Rupert suggested to her that she and Allan should get married to keep Allan in the country, Milly didn’t hesitate. Ten years later, Milly is a very different person and engaged to Simon—who is wealthy, serious, and believes her to be perfect. Milly’s secret history is locked away so securely she has almost persuaded herself that it doesn’t exist—until, only four days before her elaborate wedding. To have and to hold takes on a whole new meaning when one bride’s past catches up with her and bring the present crashing down."

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

"The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. With the murderer on the loose, the police desperately look for any clues to lead to his identy. Meanwhile, a psychiatrist in a nearby hospital is also in a desperate search to find the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings s devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya s parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope. When these two situations converge, they set off an alarming chain of events. In this stunning psychological thriller, innocence gives way to evil, and trust lies forgotten in a web of deceit, fear, and murder."

Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess and Bill Bussey

"Rick and Bubba are at it again, and this time it is all about marriage. Addressing such topics as apologizing (The Ten Worst Ways to Say I'm Sorry), communication (Grunting Is Not a Language), date nights (Worst Date Nights in History), finances (I Thought You Paid the Gas Bill), and playing sports together (I Did Too Let You Win), the two "sexiest fat men alive" will have couples everywhere tied in knots. With stories, top ten lists, and even a bonus addendum of their oft mentioned, "The Book of Blame," this humorous look at marriage is long overdue. This book will revolutionize your way of looking at married life. And it might just remind you all over again why you fell in love in the first place."


Monday, July 13, 2009

The Black Sea by Richard Setlowe

"The Experiment" by Richard Setlowe, written in 1980, has always been one of my favorite science fiction novels. I always intended to read more of his work, but didn't get around to it until recently when I came across a used copy of "The Black Sea." This first rate thriller about espionage, fanaticism and piracy on the high seas was written in 1991 and proves that a great book will stand the test of time.

Dr. Maggi Chancellor, a professor of Asian studies, is aboard the Black Sea, a Russian luxury cruise ship. She's a non-paying passenger, working as a guest lecturer. Before the first day is over the ship is hijacked by pirates in the Strait of Singapore. Tengku Haji Azhar and his gang of Malaccan pirates seize the ship and hide it in a well concealed spot in a jungle river. Tengku has already gotten the attention of the American, Singapore and Russian governments by delivering the decapitated head of a crew member to the Raffles, a major Western hotel. The terrorists want arms for the hostages and if the governments don't comply more heads will roll. The U.S.S. Decatur, a guided missile frigate operating in the area under Captain Henry Stewart, searches for the Black Sea while Maggi, the only passenger who speaks the language of the terrorists tries to negotiate to save lives.

The characters are well developed and Setlowe does a great job building empathy for them. He tells the story in multiple points of view which adds to the suspense. The back history, far from slowing down the plot, is fascinating. The history, especially on Singapore and Malaysia, adds to the descriptions of the exotic setting. Details on culture, politics and the US Navy add to the depth of the plot. This is a fast moving adventure that is sure to please fans of action thrillers.

Publisher: HarperTorch (July 3, 2000)
ISBN: 978-0061014253
Mass Market Paperback: Pages 512

Don't forget there's still time to win a copy of "Shadow Prey" by John Sanford. The giveaway runs until Friday. Just leave a comment and mention the title.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Giveaway - Shadow Prey by John Sanford

Today I'm giving away a paperback copy of "Shadow Prey" by John Sanford. It's the second book in the series of thrillers featuring Minneapolis police lieutenant Lucas Davenport. Here's a synopsis from the John Sanford's website:

A slumlord and a welfare supervisor butchered in Minneapolis . . . a rising political star executed in Manhattan . . . an influential judge taken in Oklahoma City . . . All the homicides have the same grisly method – the victim's throat is slashed with an Indian ceremonial knife – and in every case the twisted trail leads back through the Minnesota Native American community to an embodiment of primal evil known as Shadow Love. Once unleashed, Shadow Love's need to kill cannot be checked, even by those who think they control him. Soon he will be stalking Lucas Davenport – and the woman he loves...
Never get involved with a cop: Lieutenant Lucas Davenport has been warning women for years, but now he finds himself on dangerous ground with a policewoman named Lily Rothenburg, on assignment from New York to help investigate the murders. Both have previous commitments, but neither can stop, and as their affair grows more intense, so too does the mayhem surrounding them, until the combined passion and violence threaten to spin out of control and engulf them both. Together, Lucas and Lily must stalk the drugged-out, desperate world of the city's meanest streets to flush out Shadow Love – not knowing they are now the objects of his deadliest desires....
Post a comment and I'll enter you in a drawing that will run until next Friday July 17.
Have a great weekend and Happy Reading!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twilight - My copy is still up for grabs!

I guess everyone has already read "Twilight." Or maybe my review convinced you not to waste your time. At any rate if anyone wants my copy the giveaway is still open - until Friday July 10. Just leave a comment telling me you'd like to read it. I'm not inundated with requests so you have a really good chance of winning.

On another note those who read, write, review or publish romance may find this of interest. 650 members of RWA have formed a group to create more awareness about digital publishing. A new blog has been set up. Please stop by to find out more.

Romance Writers for Change


Monday, July 6, 2009

My Writing Bookshelf - Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass.

Last week I joined a new group and we're working our way through "Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook" by Donald Maass. I'm finding it very helpful so I thought I'd talk about the workbook today.

Donald Maass is the president and founder of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. He teaches writing workshops and he's written novels under pseudonyms. Besides the workbook he's written "The Career Novelist" and "Writing the Breakout Novel."

The blurbs all say the workbook builds on the success of it predecessor. I don't have a copy of "Writing the Breakout Novel." But I was told that the workbook covers the same topics and has the advantage of the exercises at the end of each chapter. I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading the book first.

The workbook is divided into three sections.
Part 1: Character Development
Part 2: Plot Development
Part 3: General Story Techniques

Each section is further divided into chapters with discussions, excerpts from published works and practical exercises.

I've only done the first three chapters and already I've made major improvements in my characters. This is a definite keeper.
Publisher: Writers Digest Books (June 14, 2004)
ISBN: 158297263X
Paperback: 240 Pages
Price: $19.99


Friday, July 3, 2009

Giveaway and Review: Twilight - Why I Don't Feel the Love

Jo, you are the winner of last Friday's giveaway for "The Notebook." If you email me your address I'll send it out asap. I hope you enjoy the book as much as the movie.

This week my copy of "Twilight" is up for grabs. Leave a comment and next Friday (July 10) I'll pick a "lucky" winner. Read my review below and see why I'm just not feeling the love.

What young girl doesn't love gorgeous, sexy vampires? Some of us older girls do too, so I really anticipated watching the screen adaptation of Twilight. Unfortunately for me it didn't live up to the hype. Its demographic was teenage girls and I admit I'm long past that stage. But because I usually find the book better than the movie I decided to read Stephenie Meyer's best selling debut novel, "Twilight." I guess I'm in the minority on this one. It just didn't do it for me.

Bella's mom goes on the road with her new husband, a minor league ballplayer. So Bella moves from Arizona to Washington State to live with her biological father. She's popular at her new school but the guy she's interested in, the gorgeous Edward Cullen, remains distant. There's a reason - he's a vampire. Bella finds out and isn't afraid of him, so they fall in love. But when rogue vampires target Bella it's up to Edward to keep her alive.

I enjoyed "Vampire Academy" and "Marked," both of which are marketed for young adults, so why did "Twilight" miss the mark? First off, the plot is stereotypical. Forbidden love - human girl falls for vampire - nothing new there. The action seemed like it was thrown in to relieve the repetition of the first half of the book. The characters are flat as pancakes. Bella is a klutz and Edward is hot. They fall for each other immediately, no developing romance to speak of. And what is this hundreds year old vampire doing in high school? The first person narrative does sound like the voice of a shy young girl, I assume that was intentional, but reading it was painful. Twilight has certainly struck a chord with a large segment of the reading population, but I'll be giving the rest of this series a pass.

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers; Standard edition (October 5, 2005)
ISBN: 978-0316160179
Hardcover: 544 Pages
Price: $19.99

Gail Pruszkowski reviews for "Romantic Times BOOKreviews" magazine and her work has been published in the "Cup of Comfort" Anthologies.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The I Believe Bunny by Tish Rabe

"The I Believe Bunny" written by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Frank Endersby is part of a new series for young children. Boys and girls can identify with the adorable bunny who will teach them how to put their faith into action. In this book Bunny teaches about the power of prayer.

Bunny comes across a mouse struggling to stay afloat in the river. The mouse calls out to him for help because she can't swim. Bunny wants to help but he's scared because the river is very deep. He uses a tree branch to reach out to the mouse but he starts to slip into the water. Bunny puts aside his fear and prays to God for help. His friends appear, together they rescue the mouse and Bunny knows that God answered his prayers.

This hardcover book is just beautifully done! The story is easily understood and will appeal to youngsters. The watercolor illustrations are enchanting and they complement the writing. Children will be entertained while learning a lesson about faith. I thought it was well done but I decided to get some expert opinions. I read it to my grandsons, who are four and two years of age. They gave it two thumbs up. Even better, they asked for a second reading.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1400314768
Price: $9.99