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S.G. Cardin
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Book Review for "The Other Boleyn Girl"
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Book Reviews

MUSIC: Currently enjoying the "Twilight" Soundtrack, but I'm looking for new stuff.

SATELITE RADIO: Fav channels: 80's on 8, The Pulse, Classic Rewind, and 1st Wave

BOOKS: Currently reading: "Eclipse" by Stephenie Meyer

MOVIES: Last one saw: Underworld III, The Rise of the Lycans

RENTALS: Sideways - which takes place in the backdrop of the Santa Barabara Wine Country in California. It's a GREAT character driven movie that was lots of fun to watch - especially for wine enthustists.

AUDIO BOOKS: Just finished THE BOLEYN INHERITENCE.  I enjoyed it very much. I loved hearing the 3 narrations of Anne of Cleaves, Jane Boleyn, and Katherine Howard. The girl reading Katherine Howard was a lot of fun. The girl reading Anne of Cleaves was very authentic. The reader for Jane Boleyn really captured the "angst" of the character.

FAN OF: Philippa Gregory. Her historical fiction is great. It wrapes you up in history and never lets go.  Here's a review:

 

 

Book Review for: “The Other Boleyn Girl”

Written by: Philippa Gregory

Touchstone Books

ISBN: 978-0-74322744-5

661 pages

$16.00

5 Stars  

Gregory crafts a masterful tale of ambition, lies, deceit, and heartbreak in “The Other Boleyn Girl.” As a young girl, Mary Boleyn becomes Henry VIII’s mistress. It’s a sweet relationship, but not without its price. Mary loses her innocence as the Boleyn family travels down a path which will force the members of it to lose their souls. Gregory’s characters are rich and vivid. Her account of Henry and Anne’s relationship will keep the reader riveted to the page. Gregory starts her story in 1521. Mary Boleyn, newly married to William Carey, is fourteen, but she soon captures the king’s eye. This does not escape the notice of her family, headed by the Duke of Norfolk who conspires with the Howard and Boleyn sides to have Mary become Henry’s mistress. William Carey takes the family decision well, and soon Mary becomes Henry’s lover. Henry is initially besotted with Mary, even naming one of the royal ships after her. Young Mary falls in love as a teenage girl would fall in love with an older man. During the period Mary is Henry’s mistress, she has two children which Gregory implies was sired by the king.    

        As Mary recovers from the birth of her son in 1525, the family conspires to have Anne hold his attention until Mary can resume her duties. Anne performs her task all too well, sparking Henry’s complete fascination with her. Soon, Anne takes over Mary’s role in Henry’s life and Mary is allowed to go back to her husband.  Initially, Mary’s relationship is strained with William, but as the months go by they become reacquainted. Unfortunately, William dies of “the sweat” and Mary loses her chance at happiness.  As Anne’s star ascends in Henry’s life, Mary is all too happy to watch. Soon, she falls in love with a commoner, William Stafford. Sadly, Mary has a ringside seat to her sister’s fall from grace. Mary, however, by bucking her family’s orders and marrying for love, manages to escape the devastation brought on her family by Anne’s fall.  

 

Gregory tells the story in the first person from Mary’s perspective. She captures a rich voice which allows Mary to endear herself to the reader. The book is full of lush descriptions and gripping emotions proving Gregory’s done her homework. The dialogue is easy to read and doesn’t slow the reader down. “The Other Boleyn Girl” will leave the reader with a unique perspective of Anne Boleyn’s rise and fall in Tudor England. 

 

 


Posted by sgcardin at 10:40 AM
Updated: Saturday, 18 April 2009 10:42 AM
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Friday, 17 April 2009
Book Review for The Seduction of an English Scoundrel
Mood:  energetic
Now Playing: The Boleyn Inhertiance, Audio Book
Topic: Book Reviews

Sometimes at work, usually around 3 in the morning, when I'm really dragging I pull out my romance novels and read to get me through.  It's easy, light reading and I don't have to think that hard - just enjoy. Here's a romance book that's just "fun."

Book Review for “The Seduction of an English Scoundrel”
Written by: Jillian Hunter
Ballantine Books
ISBN 978-0-345-46121-6
371 pages
$6.99
5 Stars

Hunter dives into regency England, weaving a delightful heart-warming romp of seduction and romance. Set in 1815 England, Hunter introduces the roguish Boscastle family – four men and one girl full of passion and a desire to live life to its fullest. “The Seduction of an English Scoundrel” tells the story of Grayson Boscastle, the fifth Marquess of Sedgecroft. Grayson has it all – charm, wit, and style, yet he wants to set an example for his roguish siblings and he’s not quite sure where to start.

The novel opens with Grayson hosting a wedding between his cousin, Nigel, and Lady Jane Belshire. Unfortunately, Nigel never shows up. As Jane waits at the bleak altar, Grayson notices her and is impressed by her ability to weather such a devasting event. He admires her fortitude and her physical attributes. His heart goes out to the jilted bride and he offers to save her reputation with the ton by being seen with her. Her parents agree. Jane, who had conspired with Nigel to be jilted at the altar so neither of them would be forced to enter into a loveless marriage, is stunned by Grayson’s offer. She has no recourse but to agree to his plan.

For Grayson, this offer is a bit out of character for him. He’s a scoundrel, not a knight on a white horse. He begins to escort Jane out on the town and quickly finds her alluring. The scoundrel in him can’t help himself – he boldly takes kisses from Jane – kisses that hint of a deeper hunger between them.

As Grayson “falsely” courts Jane for the ton, the courtship takes an unspoken deeper meaning for him. He aches to be with Jane, to show her how desirable she is, and Jane, despite herself, revels in his attention. The white-hot chemistry between the two leads Grayson to take indecent liberties with Jane who gives in with little protest. After all, she’s falling in love with him.

Grayson soon realizes his “false” courtship is real to him. He wants to make Jane his wife – even after discovering how she plotted with Nigel to bring about her wedding disaster. Jane wants to tell him or her duplicitous wedding plot, but fears Grayson will leave her if he does.

Grayson soon contracts with her parents to marry her. Then he takes her to his family’s villa near the sea. They consummate their relationship in a pleasure filled night of bliss. The next day, Jane realizes Grayson knows what she did to wreck her wedding to Nigel. She tries to disentangle herself from Grayson, but it proves a challenge. When Grayson finally admits to it, Jane says she wants him to court her for real or she won’t marry him.

Hunter’s writing is sharp. The plot moves at the right pace, keeping the reader turning the page. Grayson and Jane are perfectly matched and the supporting cast also have their own interesting stories to tell. The love scenes are tasteful and passionate.

Hunter writes in a point of view that shifts between characters within scenes. Known as a “Lonesome Dove” perspective, (after the same novel) this point of view can be confusing to readers, but the romance genre in general is forgiving of it.

“The Seduction of an English Scoundrel” is a wickedly sinful romance that the reader will enjoy.


Posted by sgcardin at 2:24 PM
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Thursday, 16 April 2009
Book Reviews and Movies
Topic: Book Reviews

With my son, Joe, having SID, I had to educate myself on what SID was.  Here's a great book I highly recommend.

Book Review for “Raising a Sensory Smart Child”
Written by: Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske
Penguin Books
ISBN: 014-303488
399 pages
$15.00
5 Stars

Biel and Peske share their personal stories dealing with Sensory Integration Dysfunction in order to help other parents cope with sensory integration issues. SI Dysfunction is separate from autism, but often presents with autism and autistic spectrum disorders.  In SI Dysfunction, a young child receives sensory input correctly, but misinterprets the information. The most likely cause is a neurological condition, but the authors spend a chapter discussing reasons why SI Dysfunction would present, including genetics, head trauma during birth, and fragile X syndrome.

Biel and Peske explain there are seven senses a young child uses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, vestibular, and proprioception. Vestibular involves one’s sense of balance and proprioception involves the compacting/expanding of joints. Without careful integration, a young child might seem a little off and in a child’s young development, they might present with speech and developmental delays.  When SI Dysfunction presents by itself, a young child will usually make all their physical milestones on time, like sitting and walking, but when it comes time to start to use utensils and start talking, they’ll demonstrate delays.

Biel and Penske explain that children with SI Dysfunction have hypo or hyper sensitive symptoms. Hyper means they tend to avoid an activity and hypo means they seek out behaviors to calm themselves down. A hyperactive sensitivity to touch might have a child pulling the tags off his shirt because he can’t stand the way it feels against his skin. A hypoactive sensitivity to proprioception might have a child jumping up and down to feel the compression of her joints.

Biel and Penske’s explanations are easy to understand and help give the reader a sense of what the dysfunction is, how it’s caused, and what to look for in your child.

The book also discusses intervention options and how to best help those children with SI Dysfunction. An occupational therapist plays a crucial role in helping parents and children manage their sensory seeking or avoiding behaviors. Most children with SI Dysfunction can lead productive lives. There is also a list of resources and tips on how to create a sensory diet. A sensory diet is used to manage a child with sensory issues.

Biel and Penske write in a conversational style that’s easy to read and understand. The book is full of knowledge for parents who have children with sensory issues. The writing is crisp and sharp. The book is well organized. “Raising a Sensory Smart Child” is a good read to learn more about SI Dysfunction.


***************

Easter was okay. We went to grandma's and had Easter dinner. I made an Italian Chopped Salad for the occasion. The highlight of my off days included watching Dancing with the Stars and watching the movie, "Sideways."  Being a wine lover, and near the Santa Barbara wine area, I was so tickled to finally watch this movie!  I loved seeing the familiar sights, as I've been to the area.  "Sideways" itself is a very character driven movie, and I have to admit, I didn't care for Miles's friend. He was a big heel, to put it mildly.  Two thumbs for a great movie.


Posted by sgcardin at 3:17 AM
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Monday, 13 April 2009
Highlights & a Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Book Reviews

Just a couple of highlights plus a book review to hopefully catch up.

PERSONAL: 

Andrew's birthday party was on 28 MAR. He turned 7.  We had a party at Scooter's Jungle.  20 Adults and 25 kids! It was great, but expensive.  Joe had a great time at his brother's party and went down the giant side a milion times!

We went to Sacramento to see the State Train Museum. It was nice to get out for a little bit.  Joe did okay (he's 2 1/2) but he fussed when we let.

I made Easter perogri's on 4 Apr. We had a great time - it took all afternoon. It was a nice family day.

Easter was okay. I hit my head on a tree in the back and now I have a big lump on my head.

 WRITING:

My children's short story, "THE GIVING MEADOW" is set to be published with 4RV Publishing in May 2011. It's two years out, but I'm very excited by the news.

Writer's Bump featured my story, "The First Flag of New Hampshire" in Issue #7, 7 APR 2009.

BOOK REVIEW:

 

Book Review for “New Moon”

Written by: Stephenie Meyer

Little, Brown, and Company

ISBN: 0-316-02496-1

563 pages

$10.99

5 Stars

 

Meyer weaves a tale of true love, rejection, deceit, and suspense that gives “New Moon” a resounding bite and vibrant potency. Meyer’s crisp writing allows her supernatural world to encompass the reader, leaving them breathless and hungering for more.<p>

 

The novel starts with Bella celebrating her eighteenth birthday. The Cullens have something planned for her at their house. As they shower her with gifts, Bella, in all her clumsiness, cuts herself. Jasper can barely contain himself and attacks her. Edward fends off his brother. Carlisle attends to Bella’s wounds, but Edward is shaken by what has happened. He becomes moody and after much thought, breaks up with Bella. The break up is swift and decisive, leaving Bella emotionally naked as she crumbles, lost in the forest that surrounds Forks. One of the local Native Americans from La Push finds her after an extensive search. Bella’s dad is grateful, but Bella is only a shell of her former self.<p>

 

Months go by before Bella can even emotionally “feel” something again. Wanting to take up extreme sports to drive out the pain of losing Edward, she buys two motorcycles that don’t work. She seeks out Jacob Black at La Push to help her fix them so she can ride them. Bella and Jacob become quick friends. Soon Bella realizes that Jacob is essential to her – at least his friendship is, and she can’t lose it.<p>

 

Unfortunately, Jacob gets sick and tries to alienate her. Bella is unrelenting. After confronting Jacob with his friends, Jacob is mean and Bella is forced to walk away from him. Jacob visits her room the following night and apologizes. He encourages Bella to guess his secret. She does – he’s a werewolf. The La Push Indians have a certain few tribe members who are bred to change when their tribe and land are threatened by vampires, and Jacob has changed.<P>

 

Bella accepts him and is soon, reluctantly, accepted by the other wolves. They have a problem – a vampire has been attacking the area. Bella and the wolves quickly figure out it’s Victoria, wanting to avenge James’s death on Bella. The wolves manage to keep Bella safe, but they can’t catch Victoria. One day at La Push, Bella decides to go cliff diving. Jacob saves her, but this action was “seen” by Alice Cullen in her mind’s eye. Alice thinks Bella might have tried to commit suicide and rushes to Forks to find out.<p>

 

Alice finds Bella alive and is grateful for it. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding between Alice’s vision, Rosalie, and Edward leave Edward believing Bella is dead. Edward goes to Italy in the hopes that an old vampire family, the Volterra, will kill him. Alice, with Bella in tow, rush to Italy to save Edward. They do so, but only after the vampire family captures them. The head vampire, Aro, agrees to let them all go after witnessing one of Alice’s visions. When Bella returns to Forks, Edward stays and Jacob is devastated by her romantic rejection.<P>

 

“New Moon” offers what “Twilight” didn’t – tight characterization. Meyer knows her characters better in this sequel and it shows. Bella easily carries the novel. She’s less “whiney” as she deals with heartache, an emotion that many readers can connect with. Jacob’s development as a character is a delight to read.<p>

 

What young adult readers will be able to relate to are the “Romeo and Juliet” comparisons throughout – this made it easier to understand why Bella is so set on Edward, despite Jacob’s consistency and friendship.<p>

           

The book moves at a quick pace and the plot is tight. There’s plenty of action and mounds of suspense – especially on the trip to Italy. Meyer’s dialogue captures the essence of her characters. The book doesn’t dwell on a natural, sensual appeal that vampires and werewolves bring to a story, in fact there are only a couple of kissing scenes. It’s this innocent, yet, smoldering sensuality which will engage the reader’s imagination leaving the reader ready for Edward and Bella to take their relationship deeper.<p>

 

While “New Moon” is lengthy, Meyer’s brisk writing will make it impossible to put down. “New Moon” is a sequel that delivers a charge which accelerates past “Twilight” faster than the moon’s light reaches Earth.<p>

 

 


Posted by sgcardin at 10:07 AM
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 10:09 AM
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Monday, 9 March 2009
Book Review for The Wicked Games of a Gentleman
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Book Reviews

Here's a recent book review I'd like to share.  Any other Jillian Hunter fans out there?  Can to share?  What was your latest Jillian Hunter book you read?  Love to hear your thoughts. I really enjoyed this book and I'd love to read more.

Smiles,
Steph

***************

Book Review for: “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman”
Written by: Jillian Hunter
Ivy Books/Random House
ISBN: 0-345-48760-5
371 pages
$6.99
5 Stars

 

Hunter plunges the reader into the Regency period of England in this deliciously sinful romance, “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman.” This novel is a continuation of her Boscastle series. Drake Boscastle is a scoundrel who has everything – money, good looks, and charm. However, he believes he’s incapable of love until he meets a woman who challenges him in ways he never thought possible. Hunter’s pacing never lets up. “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman” is a gem of a romance that’s hard to put down.

The novel starts with Drake planning to meet famed courtesan, Maribella St. Ives. Before he does, he attends a party and immediately becomes involved in a scandal when he’s unwittingly drawn into a duel against his cousin, Gabriel. As Drake stalls for time, he meets Eloise Goodwin, a ladies’ companion who has temporarily lost her charge, Thalia Thornton. Drake coaxes Eloise into a dance and they share a spontaneous kiss. Drake then leaves to meet Maribella, but his mind lingers on Eloise. His evening with Maribella is spoiled when Gabriel shows up with Eloise. Eloise asks Drake for his help in finding Thalia. He agrees to help, leaving Maribella.
 
The next morning, Eloise discovers her employer, Lord Thornton, has left, due to his gambling debts. She’s got her hands full trying to manage the house, keep the creditors at bay, and finding Thalia.
 
Drake, to his chagrin, finds himself irrevocably drawn to Eloise. She’s beautiful and clever, two traits he can’t resist. To win points with Eloise, Drake finds Thalia and brings her home, ignoring Maribella. Eloise thanks him appropriately, but Drake steals not only a kiss, but intimate caresses as well – caresses which Eloise simply can’t resist.

Soon Drake finds himself spending more and more time with Eloise. Maribella creates a bit of a stir when she leaves Drake, but its Drake’s family that threatens his growing romance with Eloise. After an old boyfriend comes into Eloise’s life and attempts to blackmail her, she agrees to let Drake be her protector. Their physical consummation is all consuming. Drake wants to make Eloise his wife, but is apprehensive about his family will react.
 
Hunter writes in a third person omniscient point of view, changing perspectives with no clear line breaks or divisions. This is known as a “Lonesome Dove,” perspective and most professional editors discourage it, but the romance genre is very forgiving of it. The story moves fluidly. Drake, Eloise, and the supporting cast are likable and interesting. Hunter’s dialogue is crisp and sharp. Her descriptions put the reader in the moment, and her love scenes are vividly passionate. The story’s ending gives the reader rich satisfaction. “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman” is one romance that can’t be put aside easily.


Posted by sgcardin at 10:10 AM
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Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Book Review for Dreams From My Father
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: XM Sirius Sat. Radio
Topic: Book Reviews

Book Review for “Dreams From My Father”

Written by: Barack Obama

3 Rivers Press

ISBN: 978-1-4000-8277-3442

pages$14.95

4.5 Stars 

“Dreams From My Father,” is a moving story about President Obama’s early years. It focuses on race and its inheritance. It’s the journey of a young man searching to discover himself in his roots. Along the way there are friends and challenges to stimulate him. “Dreams From My Father” is an elegant and compelling read.

 

 Composed in 1996, Barak Obama reveals his roots, their discoveries, and the impressions left on him. The book starts with Obama as a young boy living in Hawaii with his mother and her parents. He has no memories of his father, only stories that his mother and grandparents tell. Obama comes from a mixed heritage – a white mother and a black father who lives in Kenya. His mother is open minded, idealistic, naïve in one sense, world-wise another. His grandparents love him unconditionally. As a young boy, his mother marries a man from Indonesia and they go to live there. Obama speaks fondly of his step-father, and learns several life lessons from him, but unfortunately his mother’s relationship with his step-father doesn’t last. His mother send s him back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents so he can attend a prestigious Hawaiian school. Soon, his mother and sister go back to Hawaii, but he stays with his grandparents which give him a sense of consistency. He learns his grandfather’s strengths and weaknesses, but never really comes to see him as the father figure he’s seeking. Obama has one encounter with his father when he’s ten in Hawaii. Obama is a little in awe, a little overwhelmed. His father’s visit isn’t long and leaves Obama with more questions than answers. 

The book then moves on to cover Obama’s life in Chicago as a community organizer. It’s challenging work that is rarely rewarding, but Obama gives it his all. Then a relative from Kenya calls to tell him his father has died, but Obama’s not quite sure how to feel about that or how to react. Several weeks later, his Kenyan half-sister, Auma, makes contact with him. Auma gives him a peek into his father’s life in Kenya. Obama is intrigued by the life Auma leads and wants to learn more about their father. Before he leaves community organizing to go to Harvard Law School, he makes arrangements to visit Auma in Kenya.<p> In Kenya, Obama discovers a family he didn’t even know. His father had at least four wives, and Obama has a slew of brothers and sisters who are living in their father’s shadow. Obama and Auma visit with one their grandfather’s wives, “Granny.” She tells Obama’s father and grandfather stories to him. It’s a riveting tale of two people and it helps to define those aspect of Obama’s self and his heritage he was seeking. “Dreams From My Father,” is an engrossing read. Verbose at times, Obama’s personal stories are heartwarming and easily connect with readers. The book defines the “mettle” behind a man – and a president.  


Posted by sgcardin at 4:17 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 27 January 2009 4:22 PM
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