Monday, September 26, 2011

Chance to win three books.

We are giving away 3 books this month. Contest ends Sept 30th. Below are the 3 books that are up for grabs.
Flightless Falcon
The Visionary

To enter:
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(you can do all of the above with links in left hand column)

LunchBots Stainless Steel Lunch, Snack, and Bento Containers

LunchBots Stainless Steel Lunch, Snack, and Bento Containers:
These containers are too cool! My husband takes his lunch each day and I use zip bags and plastic sandwich containers. After awhile you can smell the food in the containers and even after washer can't get the smell out so have to toss them. Love the idea of stainless steel which is safer and will last forever.
'via Blog this' #imabzzagent

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Kathryn Stockett wrote The Help

Would love to be part of the BZZZZ.  #imabzzagent
I thought this was so special and wondered why I loved this book so much. Well we had a maid when I was young and reminds me of her. 
Our family maid, Demetrie, used to say picking cotton in Mississippi in the dead of summer is about the worst pastime there is, if you don't count picking okra, another prickly, low-growing thing.  Demetrie used to tell us all kinds of stories about picking cotton as a girl.  She'd laugh and shake her finger at us, warning us of it, as if a bunch of rich white kids might fall to the evils of cotton-picking, like cigarettes or hard liquor.

"For days I picked and picked.  And then I looked down and my skin had bubbled up.  I showed my Mama.  None of us ever seen sunburn on a black person before. That was for white people!"

I was too young to realize that what she was telling us wasn't very funny.  Demetrie was born in Lampkin, Mississippi in 1927.  It was a horrifying year to be born, just before the depression set it.  Right on time for a child to appreciate, in fine detail, what it felt like to be poor and female on a sharecropping cotton farm.

Demetrie came to cook and clean for my family when she was twenty-eight. My father was fourteen, my uncle seven.  Demetrie was stout and dark skinned and, by then, married to a mean, abusive drinker named Plunk.  She wouldn't answer me when I asked questions about him.  But besides the subject of Plunk, she'd talk to us all day.

And God, how I loved to talk to Demetrie.  I'd sit in my grandmother's kitchen with her, where I went after school, listening to her stories and watching her mix up cakes and fry chicken.  Her cooking was outstanding.  It was something people discussed at length, after they ate at my grandmother's table.  You felt loved when you tasted Demetrie's caramel cake.

But my older brother and sister and I weren't allowed to bother Demetrie during her lunch break.  Grandmother would say, 'Leave her alone now, let her eat, this is her time,' and I would stand in the doorway itching to get back with her.  Grandmother wanted Demetrie to rest so she could finish her work, not to mention white people didn't sit at the table while a colored person was eating.

That was just a normal part of life, the rules between blacks and whites.  As a little girl, seeing black people in the colored part of town, even if they were dressed up or doing fine, I remember pitying them.  I am so embarrassed to admit that now.

I didn't pity Demetrie, though.  There were several years when I thought she was immensely lucky to have us.  A secure job in a nice house cleaning up after white Christian people.  But also because Demetrie had no babies of her own and we felt like we were filling a void in her life.  If anyone asked her how many children she had, she would hold up her fingers and say three.  She meant us, my sister Susan, my brother Rob and me.

My siblings deny it, but I was closer to Demetrie than any of the kids.  Nobody got cross with me if Demetrie was close by.  She would stand me in the mirror next to her and say, "You are beautiful.  You a beautiful girl," when clearly I was not.  I wore glasses and had stringy brown hair.  I had a stubborn aversion to the bathtub.  My mother was out of town a lot.  Susan and Rob were tired of me hanging around and I felt left over.  Demetrie knew it and took my hand and told me I was fine.

My parents got divorced when I was six.  Demetrie became even more important to me then.  When my mother would go on her frequent trips, Daddy put us kids in the motel he owned and brought in Demetrie to stay with us.  I'd cry and cry onto Demetrie's shoulder, missing my mother so bad, I'd get a fever from it.

By then, my sister and brother had, in a way, outgrown Demetrie.  They'd sit around the motel penthouse playing poker, using bar straws as money, with the front desk staff.

I remember watching them, jealous because they were older and thinking one time, 'I am not a baby anymore.  I don't have to take up with Demetrie while the others play poker.'

So I got in the game and of course lost all my straws in about five minutes.  So back I went onto Demetrie's lap, acting put out, watching the others play.  Yet after only a minute, my forehead was against her soft neck and she was rocking me like two people in a boat.

"This where you belong.  Here with me," she said and patted my hot leg.  Her hands were always cool.  I watched the older kids play cards, not caring as much that Mother was away again.  I was where I belonged.

The rash of negative accounts about Mississippi, in the movies, in the papers, on television, have made us natives a wary, defensive bunch.  We are full of pride and shame, but mostly pride.

Still, I got out of there.  I moved to New York City when I was twenty-three.   I learned that the first question anyone asked anybody, in a town so transient, was "Where are you from?"  And I'd say, "Mississippi."  And then I'd wait.

To people that smiled and said, "I've heard it's beautiful down there," I'd say, "My hometown is number three in the nation for gang-related murders."

To people that said, "God, you must be glad to be out of that place," I'd bristle and say, "What do you know?  It's beautiful down there."

When a drunk man at a roof party from a rich white Metro North train type of town asked me where I was from and I told him Mississippi, he sneered and said, "I am so sorry."
I nailed down his foot with the stiletto portion of my shoe and spent the next ten-minutes quietly educating him on the where from abouts of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley, B. B. King, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, Faith Hill, James Earl Jones, and Craig Claiborne, the food critic for The New York Times. I informed him that Mississippi hosted the first heart transplant, the first lung transplant and that the basis of the United States legal system was developed at the University of Mississippi.
I was homesick and I'd been waiting on somebody like him.
I wasn't very genteel or ladylike and the poor guy squirmed away and looked nervous the rest of the party. But I couldn't help it.
Mississippi is like my mother.  I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person that raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too.
I wrote The Help while living in New York, which I think was easier than writing it in Mississippi, staring in the face of it all.  The distance added perspective. Amidst a whirring fast city, it was a relief to let my thoughts turn slow and remember for awhile.
The Help is fiction, by far and wide. Still, as I wrote it, I wondered an awful lot what my family would think of it, and Demetrie too, even though she was long dead.  I was scared, a lot of the time, that I was crossing a terrible line, writing in the voice of a black person.  I was afraid I would fail to describe a relationship that was so intensely influential in my life, so loving, so grossly stereotyped in American history.
I was truly grateful to read Howell Raines' Pulitzer Prize winning article, "Grady's Gift:" 
There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation.  For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism.
I read that and I thought, how did he find a way to put it into such concise words?  Here was the same slippery issue I'd been struggling with and couldn't catch in my hands, like a wet fish.  Mr. Raines managed to nail it down in a few sentences.  At least I was in the company of others in my struggle.

Like my feelings for Mississippi, my feelings for The Help conflict greatly.  Regarding the lines between black and white women, I am afraid I have told too much.  I was taught not to talk about such uncomfortable things, that it was tacky, impolite, they might hear us.
I am afraid I have told too little.  Not just that life was so much worse, for many black women working in the homes in Mississippi.  But also, that there was so much more love between white families and black domestics, that I didn't have the ink or the time to portray.
But what I am sure about is this: I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially the 1960's.  I don't think it is something any white woman, on the other end of a black woman's paycheck, could ever truly understand.  But trying to understand is vital to our humanity.  In my book there is one line that I truly prize:
Wasn't that the point of the book?  For women to realize, we are just two people.  Not that much separates us.  Not nearly as much as I'd thought.
I'm pretty sure I can say that no one in my family ever asked Demetrie what it felt like to be black in Mississippi working for our white family.  It never occurred to us to ask.  It was everyday life.  It wasn't something people felt compelled to examine.
I have wished, for many years, that I'd been old enough and thoughtful enough to ask Demetrie that question.  She died when I was sixteen.  I've spent years imagining what her answer would be.  And that is why I wrote this book.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mystery Fanfare: Shamus Awards

Mystery Fanfare: Shamus Awards: Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) 2011 Shamus Awards, “given annually to recognize outstanding achievement in private eye fiction.” ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dreamlight so very cool!

 Dream Lights Flickering Lamp will light up your night with magic!  Small lights dance inside the jar to light up your room or your patio table with an ambiance that will create a mood!

The magic lamp will surly brighten your night and your spirits.  As it gently winks and blinks you’ll fall asleep like a child to happy memories of glowing fireflies, warm summer nights, and lazy vacation days.

My husband loves fireflies and this makes a perfect item for him to put on the table on our screened porch to enjoy every night.  #imabzzagent

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Secret of Indigo Moon by G.P. Taylor

The Secret of Indigo Moon, The DoppleGanger Chronicles, by G.P. Taylor is a delight to the senses.
This is a great story about Erik Morrissey Ganger who thinks he is a great explorer and detective, and his side kicks, twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple who are always getting into trouble. This is their 2nd adventure together and it involves a secret tunnel under the school, a private eye, facing down an old enemy and finding out the secret of the "indigo moon". Wonderful adventure.

  I started looking through the book when it arrived and was just amazed at the different type of graphics used. First page is picture with text, then the next page is just a picture-you get to think "what does that stand for,etc", then the next page you have only text, then a four panel cartoon with color. And it goes on like that throughout the book. And the graphics are used so smartly through out the story. I actually like this book a lot. I think it would be great for 8-15 and those who are not really into reading but like graphic novels or comics.

 I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Out of A Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan

Christopher Yuan is the son of Chinese immigrants and discovers at an early age that he is different. His mother tries to control the situation but she nor her son has any control. Many years pass before they find resolution. This book is written from the sons and mother's perspective so you get to actually feel the pain, heartbreak, confusion and love from both sides. I loved this books and think anyone who has a friend, family member or someone they know that is going through or has gone through a similar situation, should read this book!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

The Fight of Our Lives by William J Bennett & Seth Leibsohn

The Fight of Our Lives by William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn was no really my type of book. I thought maybe they would provide more information about how the Islamic culture has begun and changed in America and then which groups where the ones that were radical in their beliefs. I wanted more history and then current information and then let me make the decision of how to react.
But this books doesn't do that. It takes more of a description of how Islamists are our enemy and how we are to acknowledge and oppose them.
The first part of the book is very confusing but the 2nd part seems to get better but not good enough for a recommendation.

 I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

The Final Hour by Andrew Klavan-Great Thriller

The Final Hour by Andrew Klavan is a fast moving, action packed adventure ride. Charlie West is a high school kid who was hunted by terrorist, wanted for murder and in this adventure is in prison trying to fight against the gangs and guards. He has knowledge of a terrorist attack that will take place but has no way to communicate that from prison. He has to find a way to get out or get information out. This is the last of the Homelander novels. I would recommend reading the other 3 first because it gives the story that happened before this final thriller. Even though this is juvenile fiction, I enjoyed it very much and will be giving it to my nephew for Christmas as a gift. I know he will enjoy at 13 years old. So I think this is a good one for anyone who loves thrillers, mysteries and/or action.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews-Wonderful story with great characters

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity (Hardcover)
The Final Summit by Andy Andrews is a wonderful story with great characters that I couldn't put down. Andy is a great story teller and I loved this book. Even though most of the book takes place at a summit to discuss the solution that will save the world, it feels like a great adventure since Andy uses such characters as Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc and George Washington Carver. David Ponder is the main character who was introduced in The Traveler's Gift-another great book by Andy.
There is great insight in this book while being entertaining. A great read!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.