Sunday, October 31, 2010

Announcing Winners Our Stephen King Spooktacular Giveaway

Congratulations to our winners.  I printed out the emails of all our entries and those getting more than one entry I printed more times.  I shuffled the stacks and spread the entries out on the floor upside down for each of our pets to choose a winner for a book.  Here are the results:

Manny chose April X of Princess Reviews to win 
Four Past Midnight.
Abby chose Arceli (Half broke college student) to win  
The Tommyknockers.
Spunky Doodle chose Christine of Christine Senter's Blog to win The Dark Half.

We hope you all enjoy these books which I hope to get in the mail to you this week and everyone has a happy and safe Halloween!

Watch for our next Gratitude Giveaway for our fabulous followers November 17-27.  All you will need do to enter is be a follower and leave a comment.  We will also be running a giveaway for our fabulous followers over at "My Funny Dad, Harry."  Hope you will visit that blog too.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

“Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions” by Dr. Caroline Leaf

I want to thank Rebecca at The Freaky Frugalite for recommending Who Switched Off My Brain? By Dr. Caroline Leaf when she commented on my Things I Learned This Week post.  I found this to be fascinating and very helpful.  I am interested in scientific research that relates to my everyday life which is in abundance in this short book about the brain.  The beginning chapters were pretty technical and had a lot of words related to the brain that I am unfamiliar with so that part dragged along a bit for me.  However, after reading those beginning chapters, I have a much better understanding of how thoughts are processed and stored. 

Caroline Leaf goes into a lot of detail in the first four chapters about how inter-related our thoughts are to our emotions and our health.  Who Switched Off My Brain gives scientific research that supports what the Bible has said relating to our thoughts and thinking on things that are positive rather than negative.  I liked the last two chapters best because those are the ones which focused more on how we can actually take control of our thoughts.

There are 13 techniques listed in the last chapter to implement to detox our brains.  The one that "jumped" out at me describes exactly how if feel Mondays through Fridays which I share with you here:
Rush, rush, rush!  Hurry, hurry, hurry!  Busy, busy, busy!  The ever-increasing pace of life is called the “acceleration syndrome,” and it is causing a global epidemic of hurry sickness.  The next time you think you don’t have time for exercise or relaxation, think again.  The reality is simply that you have chosen to fill your time with activities and things other than exercise and relaxation. P. 135-136
I really need to relax during the weekdays too!  Just to give you a sampling of some other things I learned by reading Who Switched Off My Brain?:  Laugh and play every day, exercise, take time alone for prayer, love others no matter what, forgive freely, don’t eat when angry, touch, and root of stress is fear. 

I do not normally purchase books, but this is one I would like to own.  I’ll be checking for it.  I would love to own this as a reference book.  I highly recommend this book!
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Check out our Stephen King Book Spooktacular Giveaway but hurry--entries end 12:30 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2010.

"Dewey, The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World" by Vicki Myron

I give Dewey, The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World as many stars as in the sky!  This is one worth buying! My favorite book of the year!
Here are 4 things about this book:

1)  You will LOVE this book.
2)  You will not want to put it down.
3)  You will cry a lot!
4)  You will never forget it!

That being said, this is a wonderful book. I plan to get this book to have and read it again and again!!  This book will touch you like it did me.  What a special cat Dewey was and wonderful person Vicki is.  Thanks for telling the story, Vicki.  I wish I could have met Dewey and pet him!!  Treasure and enjoy this book!!
(Gerard's Review 10/08)

Dewey, The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron is a true story about the love between a lady and the cat she found in the library book drop box that she let live in the library. It was a very friendly, affectionate, energetic cat who became famous and who greeted the patrons and laid in their laps. It reminded me of my relationship with my cats and how special they are. The end as he aged reminded me of our Moe cat. I think anyone who likes cats would enjoy reading this book.
(Karen's review 10/08)

Check out our Spooktacular Giveaway but hurry--Entries close at 12:30 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2010.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday To My Mom The Bookworm

  My mom loved to read and read all her life.  As a kid, she always loved to read.  She would read up in her room way passed her bedtime.  One of her goals was to read all the fiction books in the library.  She started with the authors whose names began with A.  Her birthday was October 29 and I always think of her more that day than usual.  I still miss her very much and wish she were still here, but know she is enjoying heaven and one day I will join her. 
Growing up she always encouraged me to get into reading.  She would read to me and got me a magazine subscription to JACK AND JILL.  I brought them home from dad’s after he died and was going to try selling them on Ebay, but they weren’t in very good shape so I ended up tossing them out.  I still remember reading the witch story that was continued each month.  She also enrolled me in a book club and I still have some of those books.  Two I gave to my nephews as gifts.  One was about trucks and the other about a fish that kept growing because it ate too much.  She also bought quite a few other books for me and my dad built me my own bookcase that was in my bedroom.  Today, it is in my den. 
Once I got into school though, I actually had trouble reading because my eyes were bad and I couldn’t see the blackboard.  My first grade teacher held special sessions after school for those who were having trouble reading and that’s when she realized I needed glasses and told my parents.  What a difference it made when I could see.  That teacher, Ms. Franz, was on the ball. 
My love for reading never really jelled in spite of lots of trips to the library to encourage it.  I remember getting the shortest books I could find for book reports and reading about some baseball players and Peppi Longstocking.  I would much rather be active and do other things though.  Reading never made my list of priorities.  My mom loved reading novels about other countries and romance.  She liked Danielle Steele and subscribed to The Reader’s Digest book club that sent condensed versions. 
When my mom got to be housebound, I would go to the library for her and pick out books.  She was very appreciative of this but sometimes I picked books she didn’t care for.  Most of the time, I did pretty good.  I wish now that I read regularly, she were still here so we could discuss books.  I blew it but know she would be happy now that I am finally reading for pleasure.  It just took me a long time to catch the bug.  (I still don’t care for Danielle Steele books.)
What passion do you want to pass along to your children or what did your mom want you to love doing?  Please check out our Spooktacular Stephen King book Giveaway--closes at 12:30 Oct. 31.

Related Posts About Mom:  
A Letter To Mom Because I Can't Write Poems
Me and My Piano
Boo On Halloween

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stephen King Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway (This is Over)

Winners Announced here!

We are so excited because this is our first “Grab A Book From Our Stack” giveaway! It being Halloween and all and Stephen King being a favorite in our author poll in our side bar, Gerard is graciously giving away the following three Stephen King books:

The Tommyknockers

  Excerpt from the dust cover (558 pages):
Late last night and the night before,
Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers,
knocking at the door.
I want to go out, don't know if I can,
'cause I'm so afraid
of the Tommyknocker man.
It begins with nothing more frightening than a nursery rhyme; yet in Stephen King's hands it becomes an unforgettable parable of dread, a threat from an unimaginable darkness that drags the practical inhabitants of a New England village into a hell worse than their own most horrible nightmares...and yours.

It begins with Bobbi's discovery of the ship in the earth, a ship buried for millions of years, but still vibrating faintly, still humming with some sort of life...faint...weak...but still better left alone.

The townspeople of Haven are "becoming"--being welded into one organic, homicidal, and fearsomely brilliant entity in fatal thrall to the Tommyknockers.

In this riveting, nightmarish story, Stephen King has given us his tautest, most terrifying novel to date.  And the next time someone raps at your door, you may want to keep the chain on.  It just might be the Tommyknocker Man.

Four Past Midnight

actually this is a collection of four chilling novellas):  Excerpt from the dust cover (763 pages):
One Past Midnight:  "The Langoliers" takes a red-eye flight from L.A. to Boston into a most unfriendly sky.  Only eleven passengers survive, but landing in an eerily empty world makes them wish they hadn't.

Two Past Midnight:  "Secret Window, Secret Garden" enters the suddenly strange life of writer Mort Rainey, recently divorced, depressed, and alone on the shore of Tashmore Lake.  Alone, that is, until a figure named John Shooter arrives, pointing an accusing finger.

Three Past Midnight:  "The Library Policeman" is set in Junction City, Iowa, an unlikely place for evil to be hiding.  But for small businessman Sam Peebles, who thinks he may be losing his mind, another enemy is hiding there as well--the truth.  If he can find it in time, he might stand a chance.

Four Past Midnight:  The flat surface of a Polaroid photograph becomes for fifteen-year-old Kevin Delevan an invitation to the supernatural.  

The Dark Half

  Excerpt from dust cover (431 pages)

Thad Beaumont is a writer, and for a dozen years he secretly published novels under the name of "George Stark" because he was no longer able to write under his own name.  He even invented a slightly sinister author biography to satisfy the many fans of Stark's violent bestsellers.  But Thad is a healthier and happier man now, the father of infant twins, and starting to write as himself again.  He no longer needs George Stark, and in fact has a good reason to lay Stark to rest.  
When Homer's pick-up truck truck is found, the bloody fingerprints of the perpetrator are all over it.  They match Thad Beaumont's exactly.  Armed with hard evidence, Pangborn [the sheriff] pays the Beaumonts a visit, and suddenly he too is thrust into a dream so bizarre that neither criminal science nor his own sharp mind can make sense of it.

At the center of the nightmare is the devastating figure of George Stark, Thad Beaumont's dark half--impossibly alive and relentlessly on the loose--a killing machine that destroys everyone on the path that leads to the man who created him.

Here is the The Dark Half, a tale of terror so real and fascinating that Stephen King's growing legion of fans will find themselves squirming in the master's heart-stopping, blood-curdling grip--and loving every minute of it.
Anyone in the United States Can Enter! This is open to anyone in the U.S., not just our followers or other bloggers! (We will be having a Follower Appreciation giveaway in November just for our followers as well as another open giveaway on Book Blog Jog Days.)

Easy To Enter:

(1) Just leave a comment here letting us know which book(s) you would like with a way of contacting you should you win (blog URL or email) or send an email to spunkydoodle[at]sbcglobal[dot]net with “Spooktacular Giveaway” in the subject line.
3 Optional Easy Ways To For Additional Entries:

(1) Leave us a comment on any of our other posts on this blog, mentioning the book(s) you would like to win. After all, we would like you to look around our blog a little bit.

(2) Add Grab A Book From Our Stack ( to your blog roll—let us know you did it in your comment or email.

(3) Twitter (including #bblog in your tweet if you remember) or blog about this giveaway and leave a link to your post or your Twitter ID in your comment or email.
Winners will be announced here Sunday Night, October 31. We will do our best to contact the winners personally on Halloween and give them until November 3rd to email us their address so we can send the book(s). If we do not have an address for them by then, another winner will be chosen instead.

Entries close at 12:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 31. There will be separate drawings for each book on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. EST. Since the Browns have a bye week, this will give me something fun to do! We wish everyone a fun week and a happy and safe Halloween!

I included this post in the Saturday Sampling over at Half Past Kissin' time where you can link the best posts of the week.

"Castle In The Mist" by Robert J. McCarty

Castle In The Mist by Robert J. McCarty is the second book in his “Planet Of The Dogs” series.  Stone City has been at peace and prospered for a year since the dogs came to show them a better way of getting along but that is all about to change when Bik, the leader of Stone City finds his children have been kidnapped by two traitors who took them to mean Prince Ukko, leader of the Black Hawk Tribes who holds them prisoners.  Once again, the dogs from the Planet of the Dogs devise a plan to rescue the children before Bik leads Stone City into a war. 

I liked how the dogs were once again successful in winning over the mean leaders.  The dogs are clever, brave, helpful, loyal and loving.  I recommend this series for children ages 6-12 and to dog lovers of all ages.  It is a quick read but one that I enjoyed.  Of the three books in this series (the other two are Planet of the Dogs and Snow Valley Heroes--A Christmas Tale) I liked this the least just because Prince Ukko were very mean wanting to capture and destroy all the dogs!  At least he changed his attitude in the end!

To read a sample chapter, order a book or for more information visit and the blog at  We received a complimentary copy of this whole series from Barking Planet Productions to review this book and will include it in a November giveaway. 

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Teaser Tuesday: 3 Books About The Brain, Dogs and Cats

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Research shows that 87% of illnesses can be attributed to our thought life, and approximately 13% to diet, genetics and environment.  Studies conclusively link more chronic diseases (also known as lifestyle diseases) to an epidemic of toxic emotions in our culture.
from p. 4 of Who Switched Off My Brain?  controlling toxic thoughts and emotions by Dr. Caroline Leaf

The all stood there listening, until with anger in his voice, Prince Ukko gave Narro an order.  "Send out a fast warrior group to capture or kill those dog creatures.  They are evil and must be destroyed."
from p. 4 of Castle In The Mist--Planet of the Dogs Vol. 2 by Richard J. McCarty.

Dewey stared up at the toy, then looked down.  He can't do it, Yvonne thought.  Then Dewey turned and sprang--like a rocket, as Yvonne remembered it, just like a rocket--and grabbed the oy our of her hand.
From p. 31 of Dewey's Nine Lives--The legacy of the small-town library cat who inspired millions by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter.

If you like Stephen King, be sure to see our Spooktacular Giveaway!

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Buzz: A Year Of Paying Attention" by Katherine Ellison

Buzz by Katherine Ellison is a true story of Katherine who takes a year off from her job to pay attention and be with her son, Buzz, who has Attention Disorder Deficit (ADD).  Katherine finds out she has ADD too.  She tries to help both Buzz and herself. 

I think this is a great book for parents going through this because there are lots of tips and resources in it.  It's a good story too!  I'm rooting for you, Buzz!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Entrecard Gets You More Traffic And Gives 5,000 Credits!

Since I started this blog, I have visited many other book blogs through blog hops and noticed there are a LOT who do not have Entrecards.  You are missing out on a great way to increase your blog traffic and we encourage you to join!  Of course, it would be nice for me to be able to make a drop when I visit your blog to build up my credits.  It costs nothing and the amount of time you spend using it is totally up to you.

Entrecard is like a huge blog directory but so much more.  Blogs that have an Entrecard (a blog ad with the word "DROP" on or next to it) are members of Entrecard.  It is like a business card but for blogs.  It is completely free with the option of paying to advertise if you wish.  It is a great way to kick-start traffic to your blog as well as revisit your favorite blogs and develop friendships with other Entrecard members.  When you visit a blog with an Entrecard on it, you just click on the word "DROP" and it lets the blogger know you visited their blog.  You get a credit for visiting and these credits all add up which you can then use for advertising your blog on other blogs.  Now and then Entrecard has promotional contests like this.  The deal is for members to post pros and cons of Entrecard and they get 5,000 credits--they say everyone wins!

Here is what I like about Entrecard--the Pros:

The blogs are grouped by lots of different categories.  You can easily find blogs related to yours or topics in which you are interested.

It provides an easy way to send messages to other members and write recommendations for their blogs if you wish, thus making it very easy to "meet" other bloggers and develop friendships.

I like to easily see who visited my blog.

Of course I like getting new traffic from this too.

The down side is like anything, it takes time but if you want to get more traffic, anything you do takes time.

For me, since I have three blogs registered in Entrecard, my drops are divided so it takes me longer to build them up to advertise each blog.

I like Entrecard, have stuck with it for almost three years now and highly recommend it to anyone looking for an easy way to increase traffic to you blog.  I hope you give it a try!

"The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman

The Five Love Languages is a practical book for improving one's marriage. It points out that different things are more meaningful than others when it comes to expressing love. Loving acts can fall into the following five basic categories: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch. Once you determine what your mate's primary love language is, you can work at keeping them feeling loved more effectively. It's also good to determine your own primary love language and let your mate know. Several things I plan to implement after reading this book are:

(1) Focus on encouraging, complimenting and using kinds words every day when speaking to my husband.
(2) Have a sharing time each day where we each share three things that happened to us that day and how we feel about them.
(3) Make a list of things we want to do together and do at least two per month.
(4) Plan a new event with strong memory potential and do it this year.
(5) Play "fill your tank" game. Ask spouse three times a week how full his love tank is on range of 0-10 and ask what I can do to fill it up today.
(Karen's review 3/9/10)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Planet Of The Dogs" by Robert J. McCarty

Planet of the Dogs by Robert J. McCarty is a delightful book for children with some drawings included.  It is a tale that takes place long before any dogs were on the earth.  Because of greed on the Earth, the Stone City Warriors were getting ready to attack Green Valley and take what didn’t belong to them.  The dogs had a meeting and decided to help the people on Earth remember how to love again by sending dogs down to show them how.  Only children can hear what the dogs say.  No one had seen or heard a dog before but they quickly found out they are wonderful creatures.  They made people smile, helped the sick feel better, helped herd the sheep and protect the farms from intruders, run off bears and rescue children from drowning.  I liked how the Planet of the Dogs sent lots of dogs to Earth so that every family who wanted one could have one. 

Our dog, Abby, gives this book 4 paws up!  She loved how the dogs came to the rescue and many found new homes on Earth with families of their own.  She also liked how the dogs all worked together and barked and wagged their approval of the rescue plan.
I think this book would make children want a dog of their own.  The author does a fantastic job of creating a word picture of the excitement of the dogs that reminded me of how our dog gets and made me feel as though I were right there with them!  Planet Of The Dogs is a short, quick read, perfect for reading a chapter or two each night as a bedtime story to be continued.  This is the first book of a series.  The other two are Castle In the Mist and Snow Valley Heroes—A Christmas Tale.  This whole series will be available in our Follower Appreciation Giveaway in November.

Thanks to the author for giving us a complimentary copy for reviewing.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

"The Pelican Brief" by John Grisham

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham is about Darby Shaw, a law student who does some research into a possible suspect who had two Supreme Court Justices assassinated.  She finds herself on the run when her brief makes it all the way to the FBI, CIA and the President.  There is a lot of killing in this book and Darby realizes she is in danger.  This is a real thriller because Darby doesn’t know who to trust.  She finally trusts Gray, an investigative reporter at the Washington Post who admires her and together they work at getting evidence.  It’s quite an elaborate story. 

I liked it because Darby was so smart when she was running for her life.  It was hard to believe she was able to outfox professional hit men, but at the same time, it was fun to see her doing it.  It has quite a bit of action which helped hold my interest.  It’s not my favorite Grisham book, but it is pretty good.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Alex And Me" by Irene Pepperberg

"Alex And me" by Irene Pepperberg is an amazing story about Alex, a gray parrot, and the woman who worked with him, Irene Pepperberg. As you read the story you forget that this is a parrot. He is not supposed to be learning and doing what he is doing. Also, the friendship between Alex and Irene is very touching. If you're looking for a nice short book to read, choose this one! A Remarkable Story (8 stars)

(Gerard's review 2/25/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: "Fragile" & "The Pelican Brief"

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought I would play for fun! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser. 
Even when he hated his father--and sometimes he really, really did--there was still a part of him that waited like a puppy for a bone.  Anything--a smile, a pat on the shoulder.  Anything.
From p. 57 of Fragile by Lisa Unger.


In two hundred and twenty years, we've assassinated four Presidents, two or three candidates, a handful of civil rights leaders, couple of governors, but never a Supreme Court Justice.  And now, in one night, within two hours, two are assassinated.
From p. 39 of The Pelican Brief by John Grisham.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Room" by Emma Donoghue--A Must Read For Moms

Imagine being five years old and knowing only one room your whole life with just your mom, a TV and books.  That’s the situation Jack is in in Room by Emma Donoghue.  I loved Jack!  This book is very interesting and very funny too.  Ma is really good also, but Jack steals the show.  I liked the ending too!  Enjoy!.
(Gerard's review)

Room by Emma Donoghue is an unusual story about the love between a mother and child. It is told Jack when he is five. His mother was abducted at 19 and has been kept locked up in a one-room shed for seven years. She was raped by her kidnapper, Old Nick, and had Jack. The only world Jack knew was the one room for the first five years of his life until one day, Ma felt he was old enough to help them escape. The mother's main focus was to keep Jack safe from Old Nick.

I enjoyed all the things the mother did with Jack every day. They had a TV and a few books for entertainment. They never got outside until they tricked Old Nick. Jack was a hero and the rest of the book was about Jack learning about real life outside of the room and his mother readjusting to living again. I think the mother did an amazing job with Jack under the circumstances. I liked that it has a happy ending and think any mother would enjoy this book.
(Karen's Review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Related Posts:  Life With Books reviewed ROOM too and thought it was great.
For a different view, see Parchment Girl's review--she did not like Ma or Jack!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We're It--Been Tagged by Coffee N Crackers

This is a fun simple tag meme and since we were tagged by one of our regular commenters, CJ'Alhafiz at Coffee N Crackers, we decided to participate and go head and answer these questions.  We're even going to follow the rules this time and tag four others!

The Rules
1) Accept the tag and link to the tagger at the beginning of your post.
2) Answer the questions honestly in your post by listing four things.
3) Pass on the love by picking four other people to tag and listing them at the bottom of your post. Notify them that you tagged them.

4 things that are in my handbag or backpack or briefcase
Karen Says:
2--Change Purse with my bus tickets and some change.
3--New Testament.
4--Cough drops in case someone starts coughing on the bus.
 Related post:  "Look What's In My Purse"

Gerard Says:
1--Book currently reading.

4 favorite things in my bedroom
Karen & Gerard say:
1--Abby, our dog (she sleeps in there every night with us)
3--Poster of Gerard and Abby
4--Poster of Gerard and Moe (our first cat)

4 Things on My Desk
Gerard says:
1--Book rack that Karen's dad made to sit on a desk or table.
2--Husky dog pen/pencil holder with pens.
4--Framed picture of us with Abby wearing her graduation cap when completing intermediate dog training at PetSmart.
Karen says:  Which one?  I have 3 desks--two at home and one at work.
Guess I'll do my computer desk at home where I blog:
2--Golf bag pen/pencil holder.
3--Notebook for jotting down things blogging related.
4--Clock and timer (I know that is two things, but they are both to keep me aware of the time and remind me to get off the computer!)

4 Things I've Always Wanted To Do (but haven't yet)
Karen says:  
1--Try to hit a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher. (Yes, this is Karen.)
2--Volunteer at an animal shelter.
3--Bowl a 300 game.  The closest I ever came to it was 234. 

Gerard says:
1--Go to a Ohio State football game.
2--Go to Fenway Park to see a Red Sox game.
3--Go see the New England Patriots play.

4 Things I Enjoy Very Much At The Moment
Karen says:
1--Relaxing at home petting my cats and dog.
3--Watching football with Gerard.

Gerard says:
1--Planting our new mum plant.
2--Watching football.
3--Walking Abby.
4--Petting Abby.

4 Songs I Can't Get Out Of My Head
Karen says:
1--"When We All Get To Heaven"
2--"It's Such A Pretty World"
3--"How Majestic Is Your Name"
4--That's really all I have.

Gerard Says:
Don't have any.

4 Things You Don't Know About Me
Karen says:
1--I had my first gray hair when I was in first grade.
2--I hate politics because it's so frustrating not knowing who to vote for.  Especially this coming election, it seems all the candidates to is criticize their opponents.
3--I am a morning person, always up by 5 a.m., even on the weekends.
4--I didn't like school very much.

Gerard Says:
1--I like to wear footies to bed on cold nights.
2--I like listening to sports talk on the radio.
3--I never went to college but still like to watch college basketball and football.
4--My favorite sport is hockey.


"Armed With God's Power--Changing Brokeness To Victory Through God's Love" by Nora White

Armed With God's Power--Changing Brokenness to Victory Through God's Love by Nora White is about how God helped Nora through very difficult situations in her life including, depression, divorce, domestic violence, and losing a husband to cancer. She tells an amazing story of how God spoke to her and brought her through some terrible times.

I couldn't put this one down because I was anxious to see what happened next.  It certainly gives hope to anyone in similar situations. She is an example of a woman with great faith. I would recommend this book to any woman.

Nora White attends our church and is actively involved in leading women's Bible studies, does counseling and is founder of Healing Hearts Ministries.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Freedom Writers Diary" by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

Freedom Writers Diary is inspirational to both teachers and students. It is written by high schoolers who were considered "losers" by the school administration of Wilson High, a racially integrated school in Long Beach, California. No one expected them to graduate. They are teens write about their problems and how being in Erin Gruwell's class made a huge difference in their lives. It is a compilation of their journal entries. 
At the beginning of their freshman year, none of them expected to graduate and were just basically trying to survive another day. The language is offensive and the topics they write about include gangs, killing, drinking, drugs, teenage pregnancy, abortion, depression, and rape but they wrote about their experiences. It was interesting to see their values change as the book progressed and how they really got to like each other and turned their lives around, thanks to their English teacher going way above and beyond the "call of duty." Whereas at the beginning they saw each other only in terms of race, at the end they saw each other as all human beings and friends.

When I graduated from high school, I was just glad to be out. It was just assumed everyone would graduate. It was enlightening for me to see how happy these kids were about graduating and what a huge accomplishment it was for them. What struck me as very unusual though was that they all kept the same English teacher for all four years. No wonder they were like a "family." Teachers certainly can learn from Erin's optimism, determination, perseverance and methods. I look forward to reading the book she wrote, Teach With Your Heart.
(Karen's Review 2/19/09)

Better Than The Movie (13 stars)
I saw this movie on Showtime and was so impressed by it that I had to get the book that this English class wrote.  I'm glad I did.  This book is even better than the movie!  The movie dealt with motivating the kids to learn using "The Diary of A Young Girl" by Anne Frank.  The book goes into depth on a wide range of subjects that the kids wrote.  It's interesting to hear from these students.  It makes for VERY compelling reading to say the least, and Ms. Gruwell, you are an awesome teacher!  I really enjoyed this book.  Some of the subjects get a little repetitive but still the kids express their own opinions.  Read this book, you will be glad you did!
(Gerard's review 2/12/09):

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"The Diary Of A Young Girl" by Anne Frank

The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank (the definitive edition) is unique because it is a real diary of the Jewish girl, Anne Frank, that she started at age 13 and stopped when she was 15 during the time she was in hiding with seven other people. This is a historical document from the Holocaust.

Reading this gave me a real sense of how the Jews lived in fear during that time and how unfair life was. Anne writes all about her feelings about the people she lives with and the day-to-day struggles and fears she lived with for two years. The ending was very sad. It was her father though, who took care of her most treasured possession--her diary and shared it with the world to carry out her wish.

I found this to be an amazing book and am glad I finally read it. Anne Frank had a strong desire to have good character and become a journalist. She shares her dreams and insights of human nature based on the group dynamics she observed during her two years of confinement.
(Karen's review 2/6/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Huck by Janet Elder

Good Story, Compelling Reading--not so much. Huck by Janet Elder tells the true story of Janet Elder’s family: her husband, Rich and their son, Michael. Michael wanted a dog really bad. His parents resisted until Janet found out she had Cancer. All is well until on their vacation, back home Huck, their dog, got loose. I love pet books, especially with dogs but did not find Huck to be compelling reading. I liked that it has a happy ending and am glad for that!

Some other dog books I liked much better are:

Autobiography Of A Stray by Ann Martin
One Dog At A Time--Saving The Strays Of Afghanistan by Pen Farthing
I Thought You Were Dead by Pet Nelson
To The Rescue--Found Dogs With A Mission by Elise Lupkin
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Big Little Life by Dean Koontz

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven" by Kevin & Alex Malarkey

At age 17, Alex recanted this story, saying he made it up.  See Boy Who Claimed He Went to Heaven Recants.  It's still a good story, but fiction.

This video is by the publisher of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven which I thought really told about the book well:

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey is the true story told by the father and son who were in a terrible car accident together.  Alex, the 6-yr. old son, was severely injured and was in a coma for two months.  Many people gathered to pray for him and when Alex woke up, he told his parents about seeing Jesus and how beautiful heaven was.  Angels ministered to him and he was able to see five angels surround his dad at the scene of the accident.  Alex is the first child to have the “Christopher Reed” surgery so he could breathe without a ventilator.  Alex talked about Jesus to everyone he met.

This is an inspiring story of hope to those who have loved ones in comas or who are trusting God for healing.  The purpose of writing this book is to show the power of God and be an encouragement to others.  It is a remarkable story and the things Alex mentions about heaven are scriptural and consistent with what Captain Black wrote about in his book, Flight to Heaven.  It was heartwarming to see how believers in Jesus supported the family and came through for them time and again to meet their needs. 

The father also shares about the struggles their family was going through in addition to taking care of Alex which included, a new baby who came home just the day before the accident, financial struggles, marriage issues. The message of what an amazing God we have is throughout the book.

It is thought provoking and although maybe not a page turner, I liked it. If you are interested in reading a modern-day account about angels, heaven and spiritual warfare, I highly recommend this book!
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Teaser Tuesday: "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven" & "Room" & Better Together

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought I would play for fun! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser. 

While everyone was talking about my not living, Jesus said to me that I would survive the accident.  He also told me I would breathe on my own after some time had passed.
From p. 30 of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Kevin & Alex Malarkey

"Look, it's like on Dora," says Ma, "when she goes to one place and then a second place to get to the third place. For us it's Truck, Hospital, Police. Say it?"
From p. 110 of Room by Emma Donoghue

It's nearly impossible to sit in a church pew absorbing Scripture for 30 years but doing little for those around you, and still claim to love God.  The Bible says, "The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (I John 2:4 NIV)
Taken from p. 21 of Better Together--What on earth are we here for? by Rick Warren.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meet Me On Monday by Gerard

Here's the questions for this meme hosted by Never Growing Old to help our readers get to know us better so sometimes we'll post it on this blog, and sometimes on our other blog.  Today, I put my answers here and Karen's are over at Karen & Gerard Zemek since we each have some different answers on this one. 

1.  Do your pants get hung on a hangar or folded?  I hang mine on hangers.

2.  If you are stranded on an Island, what 3 things would you need to have with you (not including humans or electronic devices)?
A book, a knife and my dog.

3.  Where is the farthest you have ever traveled to?
Niagara Falls on the Canadian side when I was a kid.  As an adult, it would a safari place in Ohio which was about an hour and a half drive. 

4.  Do you live in a house, trailer or apartment, etc.?  We live in a brick house on a quiet street.

5.  What is your most hated household chore?  Cutting down the Day Lillies in our backyard.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Orphan Train Rider" by Andrea Warren

Wow, what an interesting book Orphan Train Rider by Andrea Warren is.  Orphan Train Rider is about the period of history of the orphan trains during 1854-1930 in America.  This is during my dad's lifetime so maybe that's why I feel it wasn't all that long ago that this was happening.  Lee Nailling shares his experience about being an orphan train rider.  He tells how his father gave up on raising his kids when his wife died and split them up.  Lee and one of his brothers were placed in an orphanage.  This was before welfare and when jobs were scarce.  Sometimes people who just couldn't manage to take care of their children would put them in an orphanage.  A minister, Charles Brace, started the Children's Aid Society to help homeless kids.  He thought there would be couples out west who would be willing to take in children and raise them as their own so "orphan trains" were started.  These trains would choose healthy children from the orphanages in the east and transport them to towns in the west, Midwest and south to find families for them.  Most got placed in loving families this way.  Some never found a good family and were abused, but it is reported they had an 87% success rate!  Lee was one of the lucky ones who did end up with a nice couple who grew to love in spite of the bitterness he had at first from being separated from his family.  It seems "orphan trains" was the forerunner of our adoption system we have today, but much simpler.
(Karen's review 2/5/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Man In The Woods" by Scott Spencer Was Disappointing

Man In The Woods by Scott Spencer started good at least.  I thought it would be a lot better than it was.  The start was promising, a man killing another man who was badly mistreating his dog.  From there the story rally didn't go anywhere.  I just couldn't get into it later on.  I don't recommend this one.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks

“The Choice” by Nicholas Sparks is a slow moving love story about two neighbors, Gabby and Travis, a veterinarian.  They get off to a rocky start, Gabby has to choose between her long-term boyfriend, Kevin or her new found love, Travis.  Everything goes along quite smoothly until an accident that changes everything and Travis is faced with the hard decision no one wants to make.  “The Choice” deals with the issue of living wills and “How far should you go in the name of love?” 
Although “The Choice” was slow-mo and at times I felt I was plowing through it, Part 2 really picked up.  I didn’t care for Gabby in the beginning of the book at all.  She had a dog named Molly and I couldn’t help thinking that Molly should be the name of the woman and Gabby the name of the dog!  (Perhaps because when we got our dog through Petfinder, her name was Gabby.  We changed it to Abby.)  I’m so glad I finished “The Choice” because as usual for Nicholas Sparks books, the ending was very good and I got to care about the characters.  I even liked Gabby by the end.. 
In Part 2, Travis is faced with a decision none of us ever wants to have to make, whether or not to pull the plug on a loved one in a coma.    I just found out while reading this book about a young fellow puppeteer whose wife just had a seizure and went into a coma.  I couldn’t help reading this book with him in mind.  Comas can be short-term or go on form many years.  Whether or not to pull the plug on a loved one in that condition is probably the toughest decision anyone ever has to make, yet some people are faced with it every day.   This book really got me thinking as to whether or not a living will is such a good idea after all.
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

"The Longest Trip Home" by John Grogan

Even Better Than Marley & Me!  15 stars
The Longest Trip Home is about John Grogan (author of Marley & Me) growing up.  The childhood stories he tells are so funny!  He had experiences for sure.  If you grew up Catholic like I did, you will really identify with that part of the book:  being an altar boy, going to confession, the sacraments, it's all in here.  His brothers and sister interaction is very good and the "stars" of the book are his parents.  The end deals with them getting older and is so good.  I loved this book!  I got into it real fast and it was hard to put down.  I read it in three days.
(Gerard's review 2/10/09)

Karen's review 2/19/09:
I enjoyed reading John Grogan's memoir, The Longest Trip Home. It gave me insight into Catholicism through his humorous experiences as a kid growing up and also the confrontations with his parents as an adult concerning his lack of faith. It shows how religion can be divisive in relationships but how love can still triumph. I felt bad for his parents who were devout Catholics seeking to raise their children in their faith and not having any of them really embracing it as they had.

If you like stories about families, humor and dealing with elderly parents, this has it all. If you have Catholic background you would probably identify with many of his religious experiences.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"The Man Behind The Nose" by Larry Harmon

The Man Behind The Nose by Larry Harmon is definitely worth reading.  It tells the story of Larry Harmon, aka Bozo the clown.  He tells very interesting stories. Larry Harmon is a man who was really determined to reach his goals.  I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.  I admire Larry Harmon for what he did to bring joy to thousands of children and adults as well.  Rest in peace, Larry.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Snow Valley Heroes—A Christmas Tale” (Planet of the Dogs Series) by Robert J. McCarty

If you are looking for a children’s story with adventure about dogs that actually has an interesting plot, Snow Valley Heroes—A Christmas Tale (Planet of the Dogs Volume 3) by Robert J. McCarty is it! This is sort of a silly story but one that gets the message across that dogs a wonderful creatures. The king of the North who lived in the Ice Castle decided to end Christmas by stealing a couple of Santa’s reindeer and ambushed the traders delivering supplies to Santa’s Workshop. At this time all dogs lived on a separate planet but heard of this and after holding a meeting, were anxious to come to earth and help save Christmas. Only children and elves can communicate with the dogs. (I told you it was silly.) I loved the ending, but will not give it away and spoil it for you.

I thought the map in front of the book was very helpful which showed the places that were referred to in the story such as Santa Claus Village, Snow Lake Trail, Royal Forest, Snow Town, Tundra Town, Tundra Trail and Snow Hills. I also liked the names of the places on the dog planet: Terrier Town, Waggy Valley, Muttville, Retriever Meadows and Spaniel Corners. There are also other illustrations throughout the book.

I enjoyed reading this book because I love dogs and had no idea how they would help save Christmas. I particularly loved the part when the dogs were running through the Ice Castle with the guards trying to catch them.

The Planet of Dogs Series was inspired by stories the author made up for his children and grandchildren. The first two in the series are Planet of the Dogs and Castle in the Mist. To read a sample chapter, order a book or for more information visit and the blog at

We received a complimentary copy from Barking Planet Productions to review this book and will include it in an upcoming giveaway among others to show appreciation to our followers.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Let's Take The Long Way Home" by Gail Caldwell

Let's Take The Long Way Home is a wonderful true story of friendship.  One of the best books I ever read was Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp.  Let's Take The Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell tells of her friendship with Caroline and their dogs.  The friendship these two women had was truly special.  We should all be so blessed to have these kinds of friends.  I really enjoyed this book very much!!  It is like a love story--call it "Pack of Four."  This is a powerful and emotional read.  I am glad I read it.  Thanks for telling the story, Ms. Caldwell and rest in peace, Carolyn.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Teaser Tuesday: The Choice & The Man Behind The Nose & Snow Valley Heroes

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought I would play for fun! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser. 

By the time she got back to work, the only thing Gabby knew for certain was that as forgiving as he'd been, she'd never live down what she'd done, and since there wasn't a rock large enough for her to crawl under, it was in her best interest to find a way to avoid him for awhile. Not forever, of course. Something reasonable. Like the next fifty years.
From p. 50 of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.
The Dog Council had sent a message to all the dogs to come to a meeting in Waggy Valley.  The Council wanted them dogs to know of a dangerous problem people were facing on planet earth, and why the dos were, once again, being asked to help.
From p. 7 of Snow Valley Heroes--A Christmas Tale (Planet of the Dogs Vol. 3) by Robert J. McCarty.

So I was running in twenty different directions and didn't know what to do with my life.  It was a weird feeling.  I wasn't putting myself through all this in pursuit of money but in pursuit of an insatiable desire to try more, do more, achieve more--to live more.
From p. 85 of The Man Behind The Nose by Larry "Bozo" Harmon

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet Us On Monday--Oct. 4, 2010 (Bloggers Over 40)

We thought you might like to get to know us better so we will do this meme now and then hosted by Never Growing Old.  Here's the questions for this week. Sometimes we'll post it on this blog, and sometimes on our other blogs. Go over there to meed more bloggers over 40 or to join it!

1.  What is the best dish you can make?     
The best I ever made is ice cream cake

2.  How often do you change your sheets?
         About once every two months.  I know we should do it once a week, but it just doesn't happen that often.

3.  What is the longest car trip you have ever taken?
         King's Island in Cincinnati. (4 hour drive)

4.  What is your favorite fruit?
         Karen's:  grapes        Gerard's:  apples and bananas

5.  Would you rather have breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast?
         Breakfast for dinner.  We both like cereal and breakfast food.  I could eat it anytime.

This was fun.  I included some links to posts we've done about these things if you would like to read more about it.  I hope you will visit our other blogs as well!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We Give Books--Read For The Record!

You can read kids books online and help organizations donate a book to a child in need at   You get to choose the charity you read for.  On October 7, "Read For The Group" is trying to set a record for the most people reading the same book on the same day.  The book designated is The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats.  The book can be read for free at  For every copy rad, the Jumpstart organization and We Give Books will donate a book to a child in need!

I just found out about this great site in PEOPLE magazine today.  Please help me spread the word!

"The First Fall Classic" by Mike Vaccaro

The First Fall Classic by Mike Vaccaro has three things that I really look for in a book:  (1) non-fiction, (2) a topic that interests me, (3) a topic I know little or nothing about. 

I really enjoyed reading this book because it felt like I was right there.  The writing is superb.  It is about the 1912 World Series between the Giants and the Red Sox--what a series it was!  The ending has to be read to be believed.  If you are a baseball fan or just a sports fan in general, you owe it to yourself to read this book!  Thank you, Mr. Vaccaro, for writing this very enjoyable book!
(Gerard's Review 11/28/09)

Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, October 1, 2010

"The Town" by Chuck Hogan

The Town by Chuck Hogan is about four male friends who rob banks.  One day they take a female hostage and the leader of the gang takes a liking to her.  He decides to pursue her.  The FBI also has her under watch too!  He would love to get out of crime but one more huge job awaits that would be a fitting end to his career.  The whole book takes place in Boston, which is a major plus for me since I am a fan of all Boston teams.  After I read the book, I watched the movie trailer on the Internet.  I enjoyed the book very much!!!!  Loved the ending!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?
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