Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SEVEN DAYS by Deon Meyer

Deon Meyer is an author I've been anxious to read for quite some time and now thanks to Amazon Vine, I have.  He lives in South Africa and this book is set there, a place I've never been but now have some insight into because of this book.

Police Detective Benny Griessel is the hero of the story, although he would never think of himself in such terms.  He is a recovering alcoholic who is divorced, has trouble trying to relate to his teenage kids, has been transferred to another division perhaps as punishment for drinking, and is inclined to think of himself as a failure.  He is falling in love with a talented and beautiful singer, also an alcoholic who keeps falling off the wagon.  He tries to help her, then again feels like a failure because he can't tend to her and still keep up with his new assignment.

That assignment is the crux of the story.  A sniper in a white van shoots a policeman in the leg.  He has been sending emails to the police threatening to do so if they don't reveal their knowledge about who murdered a young businesswoman months earlier.  Actually the police are stumped; they have no idea who killed her.  Setting Griessel on the case, they heed the sniper's warning that he will shoot a cop every day for seven days unless they arrest the killer.  Talk about stress.

Reading Seven Days isn't easy like reading a light cozy.  This case is difficult and it isn't made easy for the reader either.  I was confused off and on but doggedly stuck with it because I just couldn't let it go without finding out who, and most importantly why.  The characterizations are so good that even though this is a different culture with unique customs, I felt like I got to know them all, even the sniper.  

This has made me want to travel to South Africa someday.  Well, I already wanted to since my husband's grandfather lived there for many years, but now I'm very curious about the country.  And I intend to read Meyer's other novels as well.

Recommended reading for police procedural lovers.
Source:  Amazon Vine

Friday, October 19, 2012


This little book was written by Catherine Doughty, MS, CCHI, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.  The shocking diagnosis came when she was separated from her husband and planning a divorce, and also planning life as a single mom to her two children.  She was also pursuing more education to better her career prospects in hospital administration.  Such a diagnosis always comes at a bad time, but this was a particularly bad time.

Fortunately, her husband lived nearby and took care of the kids whenever necessary, and she had the resources to hire a nanny who also pitched in to help with Doughty's physical care when needed.  But it never rains but it pours.  In the midst of treatment Doughty lost her job when her department was eliminated in downsizing.  Could anything more happen to her?

The subtitle of the book, "Living Life Through the Prism of Uncertainty and Having a Good Time!, belies the many problems she endured.  She applied scientific methodology learned in her job to accumulate knowledge about her disease and treatments.  The book includes graphs and suggestions of how to apply this method to your personal journey through cancer, so it isn't restricted to breast cancer.  It's an organized way to handle the steep learning curve we all confront.  

Above all, Cat (as she likes to be called) wanted to look good and keep up with work, then job hunting, and not upset her children.  She had wigs before her hair fell out.  She never let herself think negatively.  She carefully researched and evaluated the risks and benefits of each step before going ahead.  She tried alternative ways of feeling good despite treatment.  

I must say that if your inner English teacher is alive and well, reading this book will take patience as you will frequently itch to correct grammar and punctuation.  If you can squelch Miss English Stickler, and just go with the flow, you'll admire Cat for her determination not only to survive cancer but also to have fun and look great doing so.  

My attitude in my own cancer fight differs from hers but there are points on which we totally agree.  One very important point she makes, for instance, is that you need to have someone on whom you can completely rely.  I'm lucky that my husband is that person, but if that isn't an option, you must find someone to have your back throughout.  When you don't feel well, for instance, someone else has to take charge.  When treatment isn't going well and no one is listening to you, your "rock" must make your voice heard.  And sometimes you simply need a shoulder to lean on.

You can learn more about Doughty and her book at  The book is available now.  She is a happy cancer survivor who loves to share what she has learned.

Source: Author through Tribute Book Tours
Recommended reading for anyone who has cancer  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sorry for the Delay . . .

I haven't really fallen off the face of the earth.  I've just been having problems with watery eyes that prevent me from reading very much, and I'm pretty well flattened by chemo #4.  I find that each treatment brings new or worse symptoms, mainly fatigue that just won't let me do anything.  I know I'll feel better in a few days though, so I hope my readers will hang in there.  I promise there will soon be a review and maybe some other "stuff."

Thanks for sticking with me through this.  I really do appreciate it that I have so many readers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

LYON'S GATE by Catherine Coulter

This is a departure from my usual reading matter.  I had picked it up at a book sale long ago thinking that it might be a nice change for me.  Despite its being a romance, I did enjoy the characters and story enough to finish reading the book, but I won't be seeking out the rest of this Sherbrooke series.

The plot involves Jason Sherbrooke, unbelievably handsome Englishman with an identical twin.  He has been away in Baltimore, MD, for five years because of a crisis that happened in an earlier volume in the series.  When he returns to his family's estate, he sees a stud farm for sale nearby and he wants to buy it and settle down.  He is knowledgeable about horses, has the money to buy the place, and so there seem to be no obstacles in his way until . . .

Enter Hallie Carrick, a young, impetuous horse lover, who is determined to buy the place for herself.  Hallie is likable and will keep you laughing but her naivete is really too much of a stretch even for a romance novel.  This is a girl who has grown up on a horse farm and has no problem holding a nervous mare for mating, but doesn't have the slightest clue about sex between humans.  Speaking of which, the sex scenes are quite explicit.  Not shocking to me but maybe to others.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, Hallie is wealthy too and always gets her way so the battle to buy the property is on.  It ends up with the two of them each owning half the farm and sharing a house, along with a chaperone and servants who are funny characters in their own right.  The book will have you chuckling all the way through, perhaps even enough to endure the predictable story.

Source:  book sale
Only recommended for diehard Coulter fans

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


This is an e-book and regular readers know that I seldom read a book on my Kindle, but I downloaded this one because it sounded good.  In this case, it was worth the headache I got reading the screen.

Clare is the main character, a young woman who is a magazine writer and who has just buried the only mother she remembers.  Her "mother" had been undemonstrative and strict, determined to impress upon Clare that she needed to watch out for men and not trust anyone.  It's only after the funeral that she learns her "mother" wasn't actually her mother after all.  

At the time Clare is engaged to a man whose family isn't in favor of the marriage.  Her mother hadn't been thrilled about it either but Clare never understood why she objected.  Clare breaks the engagement feeling lost and wondering what in the world her background was that her mother prevented her from knowing about it.  So, she sets off from her home in Chicago to Grand Rapids, Minnesota where her mother was from.  Her best friend's family is from the same place, so they put her in touch with the librarian there who has a cottage for rent on the lake.

She also has an assignment to interview a writer in Grand Rapids who is known for avoiding interviews and being a bit rude to writers who seek him out.  However, pressure from Clare's boss results in a grudging agreement to meet Clare.  Then he gets involved in Clare's quest to find out the truth about her real parents; it appears that her father may have killed her mother.  Who wouldn't want to help her discover what really happened?

My favorite character was a scruffy, smelly dog named Waldo who seemed to always find the stinkiest old dead fish on the lakeside to roll in.  He assigns  himself to watch over Clare and thereby puts himself in danger.  

I did guess at part of the outcome but not how it would come about.  It kept me guessing about some things throughout.  Very well written, wonderful characters, small town folks covering up a long-ago mystery.  This was a treat.

Source:  Amazon free books
Recommended reading

Monday, October 1, 2012

Catching Up with my Battle

I had planned to review an e-book I finished yesterday and it's a good one, but since some people have been asking, I thought I would take today to let you know how it goes in my battle against lung cancer.

I'm halfway through my chemotherapy.  Next week I'll have round #4 of 6 (at 3 week intervals) so I feel like I'm getting somewhere.  The bad part is that I was sicker this time so I suspect that the drugs are having a cumulative effect on my body and each treatment gets a little bit more difficult.  I had more nausea and vomiting this time, but mainly I was just plain wiped out.  That doesn't do my muscles any good since the worse I feel, the more I sit and lie down.  Now I'm due for a pretty good week in which I'll eat better and get out to walk around the yard.

My main talent during this time appears to be my ability to sleep.  I swear I could sleep around the clock every day and still be tired.  I take a nap every afternoon, then sleep like a log all night long.  Well, of course, except that I don't have bugs under me.  :)

Dave thinks my nearly bald head is cute and hysterically funny.  He's constantly rubbing my head and grinning.  Thankfully, I'm not upset about my loss of hair because for one thing I know it's just temporary.  My mother lost all of her hair permanently due to a skin disease so she wore wigs for many years.  Maybe that's why I'm not thinking this is a big deal.  I'm signed up for a class on how to tie a scarf in an attractive manner since I'm a klutz at such things but for now when I go out, I wear a baseball cap, of which I have about a zillion.

Yesterday I was sick and tired of the bad taste (chemo mouth) which lasted longer this time so I bought a box of Popsicles.  Now that was genius.  A flavor like lemonade seemed to cut through the ick and tasted really good to me.  Glad I bought a big box.

The main lesson of my disease has been how good people are and how many friends I have.  I'm on the prayer list at two local churches, one protestant and the other Roman Catholic so I have the bases covered.  :)  People know I'm avoiding crowds because my immune system is compromised so they keep in touch in other ways.  My friends are true friends who are sticking with me through whatever comes my way.

Yesterday we had an excellent example of the kindness of strangers.  We were paying at a local pharmacy and since Dave didn't have coins, I was counting the coins in my purse and came up one cent short.  As I laughed and went to grab a larger coin, a young woman behind us ask, "Do you need help?"  She was holding out a $5 bill and sincerely wanted us to take it if we needed help paying the bill.  I thanked her profusely at the time and explained that we didn't need the money, but I'm still just floored at her generosity.  Life is good, you know?