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May 30, 2008

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Tell me again why I live in Nebraska??

A storm unfolds...

4:59 p.m. -- 2.75-inch diameter hail, Arapahoe

5:03 p.m. -- Tornado, 4 miles south of Elm Creek

5:03 p.m. -- Railroad cars derailed 1 mile east of Odessa

5:12 p.m. -- 2-inch hail, 6 miles west of Elwood

5:20 p.m. -- Tornado, 2 miles west of Kearney

5:20 p.m. -- Tornado, 3 miles south of Odessa

5:25 p.m. -- In Kearney, west side of exhibition building destroyed at fairgrounds; roof torn from apartment; trees and power lines down

5:25 p.m. -- Elm Creek, funnel cloud, strong rotation

5:35 p.m. -- Tornado, 3 miles north of Kearney

5:36 p.m. -- Tornado, 5 miles southwest of Kearney

5:41 p.m. -- Tornado, 7 miles southwest of Overton

6 p.m. -- 1.75-inch hail 4 miles north of Wood River

6:25 p.m. -- Tornado on ground at Stolley Park Road and 110 Road, 5 miles west of Grand Island

6:47 p.m. -- 60 mph wind gusts, 9 miles west of St. Edward

7 p.m. -- Tornado reported 3 miles west of Aurora

7:13 p.m. -- 3 miles south of Aurora, damage to two gas stations

7:32 p.m. -- 1-inch hail, 60 mph wind gusts at York

7:34 p.m. -- 3 miles south of Hampton, semis blown over; debris scattered along I-80; high-voltage utility lines snapped.

8 p.m. -- 3 miles east of Beaver Crossing, brief tornado touchdown

-- National Weather Service

* In Lincoln, about 2,000 Lincoln Electric System customers were without power as of 12:10 a.m. because of strong winds and lightning that had downed power lines and trees, LES spokesman Russ Reno said. Another 3,045 LES customers were without power temporarily because of the storms.

Lincoln Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Bruce Sellon said he had five units responding to areas where power lines had been blown down at about 10 p.m.

The number of downed lines increased as wind speeds picked up.

At the Lincoln Airport, 69 mph gusts were recorded.

We had similar winds on Sunday night and many trees were lost all over the city. Yet once again, we got lucky and didn't experience an actual tornado. However, I sure could use a few more hours of sleep!

May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday






Rachel Elizabeth Scher
February 17, 1981 - May 28, 2005

May 17, 2008

Brief Hiatus

I'm heading out to San Diego for a few days. My brother is scheduled for brain surgery on Tuesday. Last November, he was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. We've been told this is a fairly common tumor, many times never even detected. His was discovered after some testing for a hearing problem. No matter what the doctors say, this is brain surgery and I plan to be there for Mark and my sister-in-law and their children. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.


Summer, 2005


It was nice growing up with someone like you
- someone to lean on,
someone to count on...
someone to tell on!
~Author Unknown


To the outside world we all grow old.
But not to brothers and sisters.
We know each other as we always were.
We know each other's hearts.
We share private family jokes.
We remember family feuds and secrets,
family griefs and joys.

We live outside the touch of time.
~Carla Ortega


Help your brother's boat across,
and your own will reach the shore.
~Hindu Proverb

If you want to know
how your girl will treat you after marriage,
just listen to her talking to her little brother.
~Sam Levenson


May 15, 2008

The Space Between Before and After



The Space Between Before and After by Jean Reynolds Page
Contemporary Fiction
2008 Avon (HarperCollins)
Quit on 5/12/08
Rating: DNF




Product Description


Forty-two and divorced, Holli Templeton has just begun to realize the pleasures of owning her life for the first time. But the experience is short-lived. Her son Conner has unexpectedly fled college in Rhode Island and moved to Texas with his troubled girlfriend, Kilian. This alone is difficult to handle, but as Holli begins to understand the depth of the girl's problems, concern turns to crisis.

Conner's situation is worsening, and as if that's not enough, Holli notices signs of serious decline in the beloved Texas grandmother who raised her. She has no choice but to leave the comfort zone of life in New York and return to her hometown in Texas to care for the people she loves.

In the tight space between these two generations, Holli initially feels lost. The journey back stirs so many unresolved hurts from her childhood. But something else happens in this uneasy homecoming. Comfort arrives in the ethereal presence of the mother long lost to her, and Holli is surprised to find that as she struggles to help her son and grandmother, the wounds of her own past begin to heal.

The space between before and after—easily the most challenging place she has ever known—begins to reveal an unanticipated hope for what the future might hold.

After 134 pages, I decided to call it quits on this novel. I found I simply wasn't interested in any of the characters and couldn't stay focused on the plot. But not to worry. I'm not in a slump. My current read is fabulous and I can't wait to get back to it. It's a lovely day and I'm heading out to the deck with my book, dog and a cocktail. It's five-o'clock somewhere! :)

Compulsion



Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman
Mystery/Thriller
2008 Ballantine Books
Finished on 5/7/08
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)




Product Description

Once again, the depths of the criminal mind and the darkest side of a glittering city fuel #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman’s brilliant storytelling. And no one conducts a more harrowing and suspenseful manhunt than the modern Sherlock Holmes of the psyche, Dr. Alex Delaware.

A tipsy young woman seeking aid on a desolate highway disappears into the inky black night. A retired schoolteacher is stabbed to death in broad daylight. Two women are butchered after closing time in a small-town beauty parlor. These and other bizarre acts of cruelty and psychopathology are linked only by the killer’s use of luxury vehicles and a baffling lack of motive. The ultimate whodunits, these crimes demand the attention of LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his collaborator on the crime beat, psychologist Alex Delaware.

What begins with a solitary bloodstain in a stolen sedan quickly spirals outward in odd and unexpected directions, leading Delaware and Sturgis from the well-heeled center of L.A. society to its desperate edges; across the paths of commodities brokers and transvestite hookers; and as far away as New York City, where the search thaws out a long-cold case and exposes a grotesque homicidal crusade. The killer proves to be a fleeting shape-shifter, defying identification, leaving behind dazed witnesses and death–and compelling Alex and Milo to confront the true face of murderous madness.

Brilliant storytelling? I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it was a good read. Maybe I would've been more impressed if I knew more about Delaware and Sturgis. Kellerman does a tidy job of filling in the backstory details, but I still felt as if I had walked into a party that'd been going on for several hours.

My husband's read most (if not all) of this series and thought I might enjoy this new release. I liked it, but I prefer Parker, Sandford, and Lehane (particularly Parker and Sandford's dry humor). However, this was an entertaining mystery that kept me guessing, so I guess I'm hooked. I'm looking forward to the backlist -- all 21 titles!

May 11, 2008

Summer Blowout



Summer Blowout by Claire Cook
Contemporary Fiction
2008 Voice (Hyperion)
Finished on 5/2/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
ARC - Due out on June 3rd



Book Description

Bella Shaughnessy is addicted to lipstick with names like My Chihuahua Bites and Kiss My Lips, an occupational hazard, since she works as a stylist and makeup artist for her family's small chain of beauty salons in Marshbury, Massachusetts, along with her four half-brothers and -sisters. The owner is her father, Lucky Shaughnessy, a gregarious, three-times-divorced charmer with Donald Trump hair, who is obsessed with all things Italian and still carries a torch for his first wife, Bella's mother. After Bella's own marriage flames out spectacularly when her half-sister runs off with her husband, Bella decides she has seen enough of the damage love can do. She makes a vow: no more men.

Then Bella meets a cute entrepreneur at a college fair, and despite their bickering, they can't seem to stay away from each other. He also gives her a brilliant business idea, one that just might allow her to share her makeup expertise with the world. A small, well-tressed dog finds her way into her life, and her heart, and she decides to chance that, too. When the whole clan heads to Atlanta for a big Southern wedding, sparks fly--in a summer blowout no one will ever forget.

This hilarious, rambunctious novel is pure Claire Cook: full of juicy conflict and unconditional love.


One of my co-workers just got back from a week in Cabo. She and her husband had a great time and she looks well-rested, in spite of her sunburn! I asked what all they did while there and she said they pretty much just soaked up the rays, reading by the pool. Actually, she read every day. Her husband, on the other hand, finished his book (The Ruins) the first day they were there. She said he didn't want to get another book and was perfectly content to just relax in the sun. Boy, not me! I'd find the nearest store and buy at least two more books (not that I'd ever go on vacation without a wide assortment of potential reads).

Anyhow, talking to my friend about her trip brought back memories of a vacation my husband and I took back before we were married. We spent 9 days at a lovely resort in Puerto Vallarta. 9 days was probably a bit too long, as there wasn't a whole lot to do once we'd toured the town and surrounding areas. But this was 1987 and we got a great deal on a hotel/air package as long as we stayed for two weekends. The dollar was certainly worth a lot more than it is twenty years later! (I think the exchange rate was 2,000 pesos to the dollar!) We stayed in a very nice hotel right on the beach, ate lots of lobster, soaked up the rays by the pool, and read lots of books. Looking through my photos, I see that I was in my Danielle Steel phase. (I was young. What can I say?) My husband finished The Tommyknockers (Stephen King), passed it on to me, and headed to the hotel gift shop for something else to read. He settled on Gary Jennings' tome, Aztec. Weighing in at over a thousand pages, it was certain to keep him happy for the remainder of the vacation! (Great book, by the way. I read it at a later date and loved it!)

I've been thinking about vacations and reading. It takes a certain type of trip that allows me the time and setting to read as much as I anticipate. Last summer, I packed far too many books for our cruise through the San Juan Islands. As it happened, I didn't even read an entire book in the two weeks we were gone! I was having far too good of a time snapping pictures of the scenery and wildlife to be bothered with reading. Even when it was too rainy or foggy to head out for our next location, I simply sat in the pilot house gazing out at the water or watching the other boaters in the marina. I didn't want to miss a thing and knew I could always read at home.

The same thing happens when we're visiting family. When we were in Depoe Bay this past fall, I did manage to get a bit more reading in, but for the most part, we played tourists while visiting with my parents. I fell into my normal routine of reading in bed just like I do at home. I certainly didn't need all the books I packed for that visit, either!

Yet summer and reading seem to go hand-in-hand. We have several "Summer Reading" displays at work, and Bookreporter.com is getting reading to kick off their summer-long Summer Beach Bag of Books promotion. Personally, I think I read more in the winter. I love the long, hot days of summer and find that I spend far more time outside (kayaking, gardening, walking, entertaining friends on our deck) than I do during the winter. Even floating at our favorite pool is too distracting for a good read.

Having said that, I know many of you (especially students and teachers) look forward to three months of reading and relaxation. Do you prefer to use this time to catch-up on some of the heavier tomes such as Moby Dick, War and Peace, or Les Miserables, or is this a time for fluffy brain-candy? If you choose the latter, I've got just the book. Summer Blowout is light & fluffy and thoroughly enjoyable. I laughed out loud just as I did when I read Cook's hugely successful, Must Love Dogs. Throw in a few cute dog antics and you're guaranteed several chortles and snorts.

I won't spoil the book for those of you who want to read it, but here are a couple of amusing passages:

The door to the Olde Marshbury Taverne opened, and the father of the bride emerged. He was holding Precious straight out in front of him, and he had a pile of money tucked between one hand and the dog. He walked right over to me and said something about the Board of Health. Or possibly it was the Whore of Wealth.

And then he gave me Precious, still in her cornflower blue taffeta dress with the broach. "Sleep it," he said.

Or maybe it was, "Keep it."

and

After that, we just checked each other out for a while. I had no idea what kind of dog she was, since I knew nothing about dogs. She looked kind of like a flying squirrel, except for the ears. She had the ears of a fruit bat. I wonder what she was thinking about me. Maybe she thought I had ears like a fruit bat, too.

and

I rifled through my lipstick drawer, looking for something strong, confident, and hydrating. Beeswax, shea butter, jojoba, and almond oil are all great moisturizing ingredients. I found a tube of Tarte Inside Out Vitamin Lipstick in a deep rose called Revive. It had jojoba, vitamins A, C, E, and K, plus acai, green tea, and lychee extract, so I figured I was covering pretty much all the bases. Maybe if I ate the whole thing like a Popsicle, I wouldn't have to take my vitamins for a couple of months.

This is a fun read that sucked me in from the first page. I'd say it's perfect airplane material or a good one for a few hours out by the pool. Even the cover's cute. How can you possibly resist that adorable little face?

I'm heading to the beach later this summer (Hampton, VA) and plan to pack Cook's Life's a Beach in my bag. Maybe this trip I'll actually read a book!

May 7, 2008

A Month in Review - April ('08)

I had a pretty decent month. One great read, a couple of winners, one just so-so and one I couldn't finish (although several friends in my book club are trying to convince me to pick it back up and give it another try!). I think it's especially nice that this month's favorite is by the same author as last month's favorite.

Click on the titles to read my reviews.

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (4.75/5)

Valentines by Ted Kooser (3.5/5)

The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris (4.5/5)

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (DNF)

Keeper and Kid by Edward Hardy (4/5)


Favorite of the month: Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Books Read 4
DNF 1
Male Authors 2
Female Authors 2
New-To-Me Authors 1
Audio 0
Fiction 3
Nonfiction 1
Historical Fiction 0
Classic 0
Poetry 1
Teen 0
Children's 0
Sci-Fi 0
Fantasy 0
Horror 0
Romance 0
Humor 0
Travel 0
Memoir 0
Culinary 0
Mystery/Thriller 0
Series 0
Re-read 0
Challenge 0
Mine 4
Borrowed 0
ARC 1
Gift 1

Note: Only books completed are counted in the above totals with, of course, the exception of the DNF category.

In addition to these book recommendations, I wanted to share some of the new recipes I've added to my food blog. Feel free to check them out and let me know if you have questions.

May 4, 2008

Keeper and Kid



Keeper and Kid by Edward Hardy
Contemporary Fiction
2008 Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press)
Finished on 4/29/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)




Publisher's Blurb

Eight years ago, James Keeper fell in love with his upstairs neighbor in Boston, a sassy pastry chef with gray eyes and a fierce attitude. They got married, found a dog, and shopped for cilantro. But conflicting schedules and a real estate deal gone bad took its toll on the twenty-somethings in love. One divorce later, the hand-me-down chairs were separated, the potato masher custody settled, and Keeper moved to Providence to work with his best friend selling antiques at a quirky shop called Love and Death.

A new job, a new love, and a new life now in place, Keeper is in a comfortable situation. Business is steady, Leah (the new love) is intriguing and passionate, and Keeper's friends always turn up for Sunday evening Card Night.

But one phone call from his former mother-in-law changes everything. And so days later, Keeper comes away with a son he never knew he had, and life all of a sudden takes on a new meaning.

Leo, the precocious three-year-old who sports Keeper's square chin, is more than a handful---he eats only round foods, refuses to bathe, thinks he's a bear, and refers to Leah as 'that man.' For a guy who never thought he'd be a parent, Keeper is thrown headfirst into fatherhood---and has no idea what to do. As Keeper and Leo adjust to the shock of each other and their suddenly very different lives, Keeper begins to let the people in his life in, in turns strange and heartwarming, funny and painful. But some, like Leah, aren't so eager for change.

In this humorous and poignant novel, Edward Hardy explores the depths of modern love, parenthood, and compromise. Keeper and Kid is the story of how a normal guy receives an unexpected gift and in turn must learn to ask more of others and himself. A coming-of-age story for the guy who thought he had already grown up, Keeper and Kid is a sharp and witty account of what we do for love.

I'm always a bit hesitant to say yes when I get an email from an author, asking if I'd like to review his book. Forget Google alerts. It's pretty much a given in this situation that they're going to read my review (and hope that those who read my blog will go out and buy their book), so I want to be fair, yet I also don't want to hurt anyone's feelings with negative comments. Edward Hardy need not worry. Keeper and Kid is a wonderful book. Anyone who's raised a child (or taken care of a toddler for any length of time) will appreciate the humor in this story. Reading the book outside on our deck, I found myself laughing out loud so many times, I began to worry the neighbors would wonder what was really in my coffee mug!

I'm not sure how I missed this book; the cover is bright and cheery and one that would normally entice me to give it more than a passing glance. Yet, I don't even remember seeing it in the store! This will definitely go on my list of books to use on my summer picks display at work next month. (This month's end cap is set with my favorite coming of age books.)

My daughter is in her twenties and it's been over a year since I was "nanny" to my two nieces, but I still remember the joys and frustrations of taking care of a three-year-old. Vividly! You know. A three-year-old who knows exactly how she likes her sandwich cut (with the crusts cut off and sliced on a diagonal. But not if it's a tuna sandwich! Then you leave the crusts on and cut it in quarters. Duh!), or why she has to wear her tutu with her snow boots at nap time, or why she simply must get in the car on the right hand side and heaven forbid, NOT the left side. Three-year-olds can be quite stubborn particular. I've glanced through the book, checking out all the passages I marked with Post-It flags. There are quite a few, but they only make sense in the context of several paragraphs. You'll just have to trust me on this. Keeper and Kid is one funny, moving book.

My only quibble is that I found the romantic drama between Keeper and Leah a bit tedious. Quite frankly, I would've liked to have read more about Leo's antics and the hilarious dialogue between Keeper and Leo and a little bit less about Keeper's self-pity and juvenile attempts to win back Leah. But never once did I feel like tossing the book against the wall or calling it quits. Of course, now I'm anxious to check out Hardy's debut novel (Geyser Life). That one slipped under my radar, too!

I guess it's lucky for me that I missed Keeper and Kid when it first came out. Now I own a signed first edition. Thanks, Edward. You've got a keeper!