Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ While I Was Gone

A few things to share.

One. While I was gone, my cousin/nephew/friend has been working on a project.

His cats will soon be toilet trained. Ha.

Secondly, on the way home from Minnesota, we encountered a semi that may have been from the pits. The last three numbers on the truck...666 AND there were flames painted along the sides.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Kathy Herman's The Real Enemy

Happy Monday morning, all.

I'm writing this from chilly Minnesota while visiting friends. We've had a great weekend. Lots of laughter and a few injuries. : )

But today, I'm focusing on Kathy Herman's newest release.

Here's the book info and keep reading for my review. Kathy went crazy with the Dregs questions which I'll post on Wednesday.

Happy reading.

Book Description:

Brill Jessup just became the first female police chief in Sophie Trace, Tennessee, and is riding on the credentials of a stellar eighteen-year career on the Memphis police force. She may be a pro at finding clues, but she tends to ignore the obvious in her personal life. And she would rather work than deal with the bitterness she feels about her husband Kurt's infidelity. Kurt, is weighed down by her unrelenting anger as he struggles to let God redeem the stupidest mistake he ever made. He is genuinely contrite and making every effort to show his commitment to Brill. But she hides behind her badge and her bitterness, deciding that moving her family away from Memphis is the only change she needs to make. So why can't Brill get over this anger?

Before she ever has time to unpack her boxes, people start disappearing. Lots of them. Seven people in seven days To complicate matters, a local legend has many residents believing that the cause is unearthly─tied to the “red shadows,” or spirits of the departed Cherokee who once inhabited the land.

While Brill draws on all of her experience and instinct to solve the case, she must confront an enemy that threatens everything she holds dear─one that cannot be stopped with a badge and a gun. She is forced to confront the real enemy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Real Enemy, go HERE

My Review:

Kathy Herman has produced an intriguing novel about a family in crisis and a town in turmoil.

New-to-town police chief, Brill Jessup, discovers many lessons as she finds that small town doesn't guarantee safety nor peace, that safety and peace come from a bigger source altogether. She also discovers that "where you go, there you are" is a true and uncomfortable statement. Running away and pretending don't make problems better, they only become all the more powerful. As Brill attempts to keep her town safe from the unknown and brutal, her hidden pain rips and tears her family apart even as her husband attempts to rebuild.

Equal time is spent on Brill and Kurt's marriage and the police work required to solve the bizarre puzzle in Sophie Trace. Because of that, the intensity of both is decreased a bit. And that's a good thing because either of these plot lines; kidnappings, gang violence, fear and evil within the town and distrust, bitterness, infidelity and unforgiveness within the marriage, could've easily been overwhelming. Herman masters her story and makes it readable, touching and mostly believable.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Turning the Paige with Laura Jensen Walker

As promised, Laura Jensen Walker shared a few of her thoughts with us. Thanks, Laura, it was nice getting to "chat" with you. Scroll down for my review of Paige and the link to read the first chapter.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

World War II

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)


What makes you feel alive?

Playing with my 4-year-old niece Emily. Exploring new places and art in Europe with my husband, Michael. Listening to Puccini or Linda Eder on a Saturday morning. Or Josh Groban and Charlotte Church's duet of 'The Prayer'.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

All of the above: tears, truth and humor.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

Book(s): Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher, any of Maeve Binchy's earlier works, or a good English mystery by Agatha Christie, P.D. James or Anne Perry

Music: Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini/soundtrack from 'The Mission'/Linda Eder's 'If I Should Lose my Way', Jason Castro's 'Hallelujah' 'Over the Rainbow' and 'Travelin' Thru'; Josh Groban and Charlotte Church's 'The Prayer' duet.

Person: Michael, my Renaissance-man

Food: Double-Gloucester cheese, sliced sourdough bread from La Bou, red seedless globe grapes, PG Tips tea and Scottish shortbread rounds with demerera sugar on the outer rim (sold sporadically at Cost Plus)

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, t he holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

English countryside - because it feels like home.

Favorite season and why?

Tie between fall and spring. I love the cool, crisp air of fall, the vivid colors, and the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. And I adore the newness of spring and everything beginning to bloom: wisteria, cherry-blossoms, daffodils...

Favorite book setting and why?

English countryside. I love the peace, serenity, and lush, quiet beauty--whether it's my beloved Cotswolds, the Lake District, or the Cornish coast.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Spend it with my husband and the people I love.

Favorite chore:

Setting up my bookshelves (or anyone's bookshelves) and rearranging books

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

MISSPELLED WORDS - ANY misspelled word makes me cringe, but especially when it's a famous person, i.e., Mother Teresa (no 'h' in her name) With Google, there's no excuse other than laziness or sloppiness, to misspell someone's name. First rule of journalism: DON'T MISSPELL people's names. Always ask and doublecheck.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

The rudeness that cell phones and Blackberries, etc. have wrought: from constant texting and talking at inappropriate times and places (movie theaters, church, nice restaurants, public bathrooms...) to not taking the time to listen to the voicemail message I left, but instead, when you finally get around to it, calling back and saying, "You called? What's up?" when I've already left you a detailed message telling you what's up, but which you can't be bothered to listen to because it would be a waste of your valuable time. (I could rant about this ad nauseum, but will instead enforce the KISS principle
=0 D )

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Steven K Scott's Greatest Man Who Ever Lived

Book Info:

In The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Scott guides readers in a step-by-step application of the life-changing principles, skills, and methods that Jesus used throughout his earthly life. Although believers may spend a lifetime learning from Jesus’ teachings, it’s easy to overlook the powerful lessons demonstrated in His life. But when these incomparable lessons are learned and put to use, they enable ordinary people to achieve extraordinary success and happiness.

From Jesus’ earthly life readers will learn:

  • How to break through the barriers that prevent them from achieving extraordinary success at work and relational success at home.
  • How to experience a level of happiness and fulfillment that nothing the world offers can duplicate.
  • How to use adversity and opposition as a springboard for greater success.
  • How to love others in a way that increases their love as well.

No matter what a person’s area of expertise and in what setting a person influences others, living by the principles of Jesus’ life on earth produces extraordinary success, unprecedented achievements, personal fulfillment, and blessings for others.

My Review:

In one of the more wisdom dense books I've read in quite awhile, Steven K. Scott, delivers an enthusiastic and compelling infomercial type of pep-talk that will challenge most readers on several levels. Emotionally, Scott lays out the drives and needs that forge our actions and then he delivers sage Biblical advice that can help to shape actions and to meet needs without leaving trails of destruction in our lives. Financially/Careerwise Scott urges the reader to find that passion, the burn and then harness and focus them into success. He gives helpful guidelines and more wisdom, again, Biblical. His encouragement covers relationships, physical choices and pursuits also painted with wisdom from the book of Proverbs and the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you haven't picked up on the theme, Steven Scott is an on-fire follower of Christ.

If you are looking for a small group Bible study idea, or a book to light a fire under your carcass, or help with some issues that are making your life just not work so well, you could do far worse. Scott is one of the kings of infomercials and his examples of some of his successful ventures hit home with me as I've purchased a few of his products over the years and have wanted quite a few others. Interestingly, his products, no matter how great, how much they stand up to their claims only work when they are used. Same deal with the book.

If Jesus offends you, you may struggle or squirm. However, if you are curious to understand a little bit more about Jesus and His teachings and how they affect you and your life, this is a thoughtful and meaty book that really brings home how intersected life, spirit and soul really are.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Turning the Paige

Laura Jensen Walker answered the Dregs questions and will be back on Friday. For now, check out the book cover link, the first chapter and here, for her website.

Back Cover:

Welcome to the in-between world of Paige Kelley.

At thirty-five, she’s put her dreams on hold to care for her ailing, high-maintenance mother. Three years after her divorce she’s still not dating, still working at her temp job, and still longing for motherhood even though, as her own mother often points out, “You’re not getting any younger, you know!”

When her Getaway Girls book club friends urge Paige to break free and get on with her life, she desperately wants to try. But how? What about her mom? The unexpected answers come from a surprising source. A trip to Scotland and a potential new love interest help launch an exciting new chapter in her life, and lead Paige to discover that God’s plan for her life promises to be more than she ever imagined.

This latest release in the Getaway Girls collection delivers a smart, funny, and warm account of one woman’s challenge to reconcile who she is—a dutiful Christian daughter—with the fulfilled woman she longs to be. It will appeal to any woman whose ever forgotten, even momentarily, that God’s timing is perfect.

Read the first chapter, here.

My Review:

A divorced, controlled and borderline bitter female enters the zone wherein she will encounter stress upon stress and choose to either become more bitter or better. Laura Jensen Walker tortures poor Paige Turner via an extremely manipulative and uber-suffocating mother, an estranged sister, a happily remarried and expecting ex-husband, a job and a few other tossed in stressors just for the fun of it.

Paige's only life-enhancing activity is her book club, and the friends she has there keep her sane. A new florist in her neighborhood also begins to add color and beauty to her life, too. A fictional trip that could be too overwhelming if you just need a few hours of light escape or have divorce, mother issues or infertility that haunt you. Book fans and lovers of adventures tied into some classic and fun reads may find much to like in Turning the Paige. Walker writes well and made the settings and characters multi-dimensional.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ He's the Bee's Knees

They've been right in front of me and somehow I missed it.

All these years I've noticed my dad's legs and I never knew they were a thing of beauty -- nearly art in form and substance. Oh, I've stared transfixed at my dad's legs. When someone stumbled, his leg would shoot out in an attempt to save said stumbler and/or slow down the impending fall. Fortunately, no one ever lost an eye in that maneuver. I've also witnessed Dad's knees steering the car while both hands were busy with maps. Don't try that at home, kids.

But this pose, while lounging on a Floridian hammock, has caused quite a stir. Several ladies in Florida complimented Pat's legs. Thinking it was a Florida thing, Mom laughed as she shared the story, and hoped that all the attention wouldn't go to his head. Then, one of his co-workers saw this picture and blurted out, "Wow. Pat has great legs."

Any of you looking for a male foot and leg model? I think he'd be interested.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Spring Dance...Happy, Happy. Joy. Joy.

Just a little bit of flora to whet your appetite.

Spring. Is. HERE. (no, that's not a link, so don't click on it. Well, you can but it won't get you anywhere. So don't say I didn't warn you. )

The sky is completely overcast here. Not a hint of sun, but the window is open and I can smell the change in weather. Our air smells like dirt and worms and flower petals with a hint of green. (But only because the dogs are downstairs. You do not want me to describe the smell of the air when the dogs are sitting next to me.)

So. Enjoy my last years' flowers. (Before I killed them. I HATE that about myself!) And did I mention I'm going to have a garden this year? Oh, that'll be rich. The things I do for my "art."

Happy first Monday of SPRING.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Adventure in Obedience

We have a bit of a problem with the pups. Actually, a few. One is the sheer power and energy they pack in their 65 pound bodies. A walk with the pups is an aerobic and strength training exercise. Our core muscles get a serious workout as well. Resistance, oh yeah...deep abdominal muscles twisted and stretched while verbally correcting with serious commands, and the attempt to remain on our feet while wrestling said canine energy.

Another problem is the fact that when they are distracted, they do not find it "compelling" to listen to those verbal corrections. Not an attractive feature when the poor UPS man delivers one of the many books I receive per week and the dogs happen to be near the front door. The poor man now has a white zig-zag where his brown hair used to be solidly one color.

Almost two years to their birth month, we've decided that the dogs need a little help from some professionals. So, we packed them up with their harnesses, collars, leashes and fashionable neck kerchiefs, and two young helpful friends and headed out to Petco. We'd seen the announcements, on our many trips for dog food, that they offer basic training. One night we even met the trainer and she seemed like a dog lover and like she could teach us to not put up with much dog guff.

Last week, sans pups, we went to her free seminar on "Doggie Manners." This lady is tough but nice and seemed to know her stuff. Tonight the free seminar was potty training and we took the girls so the trainer could see our beasts in action.

One of the first things that happened, upon the bouncing, jouncing and enthusiastic whimpering arrival of our entourage, was that the gates were set up and pulled in around us and we were all put in a "safe" environment in which to "settle down." Oy. Fortunately, we did settle down.

Next month we begin weekly obedience training. Tonight we came home with a special harness that will help keep the enthusiasm contained. We will see about that.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Michal

Can their epic search for true love survive a father's fury?

The daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and competition from her beautiful older sister.

As a girl, Michal quickly falls for the ha
ndsome young harpist David. But soon after their romance begins, David must flee for his life, leaving Michal at her father's mercy in the prison that is King Saul's palace.

Will Michal ever be reunited with David? Or is she doomed to remain separated from him forever?

Against the backdrop of opulent palace life, raging war, and daring desert escapes, Jill Eileen Smith takes you on an emotional journey as Michal deals with love, loss, and personal transformation as the first wife of King David. Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Michal, go HERE

My Review:

Epic story lovers and those intrigued by the tumultuous life of King David of Jerusalem are very likely chomping at the bit to get their hands on a copy of Michal. Almost as fascinating as the epic story told ably within 374 concise pages is the story behind the book. Jill Eileen Smith birthed the story idea in 1989 and has patiently waited for God's timing for publication.

This novel isn't exclusively in Michal's point of view but much of it is. Readers get a glimpse into Jonathan's, David's and even Paltiel's (Michal's second husband) thoughts, actions and drives. Smith obviously did her Biblical homework and follows the account, adding personality and color to the events as they may have unfolded. Her language choice is fully modern so if you love historicals or Biblical fiction but struggle with difficult language and vocabulary you won't have any issues here. On the flip side, that does take away a bit from the feeling of authenticity so take note if you want your ancients to speak like ancients. So many characters and so many spans of time over the two and a half decade period makes deeply fleshed out characters limited in number.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Shudder Chowder

Hungry after church on Sunday a group of us began talking about where we'd go for lunch and plans for the day as we waited for Rob to finish up his treasurer duties.

Somehow we got on the subject of sushi. Now, let me tell you that I am freakishly squeamish about meat. And I've made 22 squeamish as well. Not on purpose, but by being so careful not to leave a hunk of gristle or morsel of fat or, shudder, a blood vessel, in any meat product I prepare, she has learned to be wary of meat that is not cooked with strict adherence to anti-nasty procedures.

Sushi and I...we just aren't going to bond. Not a big fan of fish and something about raw fish really makes me weak in the knees, in a bad way.

Our conversation began to go to the bad place. 22 shared all about the freakish cutting, slicing and culling I do when prepping meals. I shared the worst meal ever. A taco vein salad. Yes. It is true. I ordered, against my common sense, a taco salad at a temporary food vendor stall. As I began to eat I hit a chewy rubbery substance that when examined was a hollow vein. Grossed out I looked for more and found enough that I dumped the salad and lost my appetite.

A friend who recently returned from Chile laughed and gave us the ultimate story topper. Trying to be a good visitor, she ate what was set in front of her. A large tray of many meats made an appearance one night. Picking the most familiar she thought she might have speared a chunk of chicken or pork. The meat was bland and had an odd texture, until she bit into something so chewy she couldn't break it down or swallow it and tried to subtly get rid of it. One of her hosts laughed. "Oh, you got a milk duct."

Moovin on, let's just say I'm not planning a trip to Chile.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ St. Patty Lame-Poem...

Top of the Evenin to Ya

A little Poem in honor of St. Patrick and Green Stuff

My name is Kelly
Doesn't get more Irish than that... jiggity, jiggity, jig
I write, so I must be a poet... jiggity, jiggity, jig
I speak much blarney, I birthed a St Patty day babe...jiggity, jiggity, jig

My dad's name is Patrick...jiggity, jiggity, jig

St. Patrick, or someone, played songs and lured snakes, or was it rats, or mayhaps children...jiggity, jiggity, jig
I lure dogs with little brown bones and chewy fake steaks...jiggity, jiggity, jig
So if you're in Ireland kiss the Blarney Stone and if you are in America eat corned beef and cabbage and celebrate with a jiggity, jiggity, jig.

Mayhaps this poem is MUCH better if read after a stumble/minor head injury during a riverdance jiggity, jiggity, jig

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Couldn't Decide...So This Is What You Get

I debated this morning while at work -- multi-tasking of course, when at work my mind is always on work, kind of.

Anyhoo, some of my work moments had me veering two different directions.

For starters, Monday. Nuff said.

Secondly, I had some really fun conversations with some peeps who came in to see me and the weather was bee-yo-ti-ful.

My conundrum? Should I vent or talk about my blessings.

Blessings won out, kids. But, beware, the venting might be right around the corner.

Top three blessings of the past and present three days.

My oldest child, my man-child, turns twenty-six tomorrow. (You may have seen the miracle birth announcement -- five-year-old mom gives birth to a bouncing baby boy.) This is a huge blessing, the kid, not the big, ugly lie I just told to protect my ego. Our son is one of the most amazing people we know. We aren't biased, just honest.

Second blessing. Our youngest is coming to dinner tonight. There have been some sad changes and a tough few months since Thanksgiving. But, spring is right around the corner and we are hopeful for renewel and growth and eventually plants at full bloom in our relational garden. Yes.

Thirdly, an internet friend sent me something to look over because she knows me and trusts my heart. I find this to be one of the coolest things ever. How awesome is God that He can steer us to friends whom we can connect with and trust even if we never meet while on this planet. This reminds me that one of my dearest friends is someone I picked up on the internet. Of course, I did use some common sense and make sure of a few things before we met. But now, our families visit each other five or six times a year. We've connected because not only can we read each others' hearts, we like each others' hearts and that is a huge blessing.

Now, I'm going to put some cabbage on to simmer in the crock pot and 22 and I are going to take the psycho puppies to the park. Hopefully that won't trigger a venting session for tomorrow.

Thanks, friends. You all are blessings to me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Super Cinema Saturday ~The Secret Life of Bees

My Review:

I didn’t love this movie. That makes me a little sad because I really love Queen Latifah and was looking forward to a rich story experience. Having just made the statement that I didn’t love it, I’ll try to share why I didn’t. I haven’t read the complete novel. I began it and was intrigued and caught up, but had borrowed it and needed to return it. Now that I own it, I just haven’t gone back to pick up the story beyond page seventy. The seventy pages I read seemed to mirror what I experienced in the film, so I think the overall life of the story translated well to film.

I found some of the characters to be stereotypical and broken down into clear categories…unflappable, strong, backbone of the family, confused and out-of-control teen, angry, bitter man, overtly helpful white guy, angry woman. May Boatwright (Sophie Okonedo) was the most complex character and added much to the story.

And I think the movie moved a little too fast not giving me a chance to really care about the characters. Not that the drama wasn’t horrific…it was…a sad and senseless accidental death that left a huge hole in Lily’s life (Dakota Fanning), a father who had grown so bitter there wasn’t room in his shriveled heart for his daughter, ugly, brutal racism, lives that were shaped and devastated by the choices of others. The subject matter was hard and awful. This film should’ve sucker punched me. I’m a crier. I cry at happy, sad and poignant scenes in many movies. Even commercials have brought me to tears, yet I didn’t cry during the Secret Life of Bees, and I only teared up once.

In many ways the film is well done. The setting is rich, the cast of actors do a fabulous job portraying the characters shaped by tragedy and pain. It just didn't resonate with me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Feral's Good Twin

Unfortunately, this little scenario may not be fiction at all. I think the artist has studied the nighttime behavior of the "domesticated" feline.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Rubbing in the Balmy

This photo was taken by my parents who happen to be visiting a balmy beach.

I'm not bitter, but I'm freezing. Today, the high was 16 degrees in Iowa. Apparently they experienced 77. I would post the photo of mom, on the beach, sunbathing, but I actually want to live a little longer.

In my parents' defense, they did mention in their e-mails that there was room for one more bird-brain to hang out with the herons and palm fronds. They even included an empty chaise lounge in the sunbathing picture with mention that it was all mine if I wanted it.

I know they are having a great time and they deserve to bask up the rays and relaxation and balmy temps. (Just wear that sunscreen, Mom.) Here's hoping they don't land during a snow storm.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ The Passion of Mary-Margaret - Lisa Samson

The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson Paperback: 320 pages Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009) Language: English ISBN-10: 1595542116

Product Description

Mary-Margaret yearned to dedicate her life to the Lord. Jesus had another idea.

When Mary-Margaret Fischer met Jude Keller, the lighthouse keeper's son, she was studying at a convent school on a small island off Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude--gorgeous, rebellious, promiscuous Jude. But Jude, driven by demons no one really understood, disappeared into Baltimore's seamy red-light district. Mary-Margaret moved on with her life, preparing to serve God with her sisters as a teacher and artist.

Then Jude comes home--but now he's bitter, dissolute, and diseased. And Mary-Margaret receives a divine call that shakes her to the core, a call to give up her dreams for the troubled man who befriended her so long ago. For Jesus' sake, can she forsake the only life she ever wanted for a love that could literally cost her life?

Read more about Lisa, her prior visits to the Dregs, and the first chapter.

My Review:

Lisa Samson can write. Not only was I transported by the skill and beauty with which Samson told this story, I was sucked into this memoir of a religious sister as she shared her life journey and the threads of faith and God's sovereignty within that life.

Mary-Margaret was born into a calling. She always knew what and who she needed to be. Her family depended upon her following in the footsteps and completion of the call her mother was unable to fulfill.
Jude, the son of the lightkeeper, became a friend. One who both horrified and amused Mary-Margaret. A young man she didn't need but enjoyed having around.

Circumstances and life surged forward. And a difficult thing is asked of Mary-Margaret, a difficult thing asked by Jesus, Himself, of Mary-Margaret.

A seven decade narration wending through past, present and future by a woman who chose to follow Christ whatever the cost compels and horrifies and bleeds with love and compassion. Samson weaves a tapestry that is full of ugly details into something worthy of heaven.

This is a challenging book of fiction that contains massive amounts of truth. Some shouldn't read it. The truth is sometimes painful, raw, ugly and often not polite Sunday School conversation material. Samson delves into Catholicism and the Holy Spirit. Not a traditional Christian novel in any way. Some of the topics are rough: racism, violence, AIDS, sexuality and the acceptance of those who believe yet behave differently than what you may believe to be right.

If you are concerned about content, read more reviews and tread with caution. However, if you hunger for great storytelling, literary writing, edgy or raw fiction that points at the lavish grace of the gospel message, then please look further into The Passion of Mary-Margaret. It's that good.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Super Cinema Saturday ~ The Family That Preys Together

My Review:

Tyler Perry's film lacks Madea. She's not needed especially since there is very little humor in this serious film.

Selfish behavior and greed ooze out of the grown children's pores. The rich Cartwright family boasts of one tough mother (Kathy Bates) and one seedy son. The poorer Pratt family is a spicy and sweet mother (Alfre Woodard), a diner owner and neighborhood Mother Theresa, with two daughters who needed more spankings as children, or at least timeouts. The less obnoxious of the two daughters, Pam, is bitter. Andrea is all out selfish and disrespectful of all including her marriage, husband, mother, sister and anyone who crosses her path. Tyler Perry plays a common sense and kind character who is an asset to the families.

The mothers, nearly lifelong friends, are the bright spot in the film. A few pleasant surprises and some unpleasant ones make for a satisfying end, not necessarily happy, but satisfying. Good acting and honest consequences make the movie a good conversation starter for older teens. Drama and materialism isn't necessarily the secret of a successful life. A good think piece for adults as well. The PG-13 rating is appropriate.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles - It's About Time Part 2

Another video to watch/comment on if you feel so inclined. My brother is IN this one. : ) (And so is my tent.) To comment after watching, go here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Terri Blackstock-Double Minds

Book Description:

Struggling to succeed in the Nashville music scene, talented singer/songwriter Parker James finds the competition fierce – even deadly. A young woman’s murder, industry corruption, and a menacing stalker draw Parker into danger and intrigue. Nothing is as it appears, and unraveling the truth challenges everything Parker believes about her talent, her future, and her faith.

The young girl with the Bohemian style was on the floor where she’d fallen, between Parker's comp
uter case and her file cabinet. She wore a long, flowing skirt—lavender, the color of calm—and camel-colored Uggs. She lay on her back, her long, wavy blonde hair matted with blood.

For struggling singer/songwriter Parker James, the music business has just turned deadly. Her desk in the reception area of a busy recording studio has become a crime scene, and Parker finds herself drawn into a mystery where nothing is as it seems.

Unraveling the truth puts her own life at risk when she uncovers high-level industry corruption and is terrorized by a menacing stalker. As the danger escalates, Parker begins to question her dreams, her future, and even her faith.

Double Minds is a double treat—combining a compelling suspense novel with an inside look at the world of the Christian music industry in Nashville. Terri Blackstock grabs readers at page one and keeps them riveted until the final plot twist is untangled.


My Review:

Blackstock introduces readers to the darker side of Christian music in Double Minds. Not all is dark, of course, but the scenario she weaves includes murder, investigation, stalking and a cast of unusual characters. The underlying theme of grown-up children who've experienced horrible or painful lives ends up being an interesting thread.

Parker James, the main character, is a songwriter/performer who is at the very brink of making a name for herself. Her best friend, the girl who has made some of Parker's songs hit the charts, struggles with an eating disorder and a past that haunts her. Parker's own past is still a lingering presence in the loving divorce status of her praying mother and her alcoholic father.

A murder of a girl who was sitting at Parker's desk rattles the tight-knit community of musicians. Fortunately, Parker's brother Gibson is one of the detectives assigned to the case. But as things unravel and are revealed, the tension increases. Parker begins to fear for her life. It seems the murderer isn't finished yet.

A solid story full of humanity in its beauty and ugliness that will take readers on a roller coaster ride to the very end. A strong faith thread that may challenge readers to consider motivation and to see people in a different light.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ And You Think Your Days are Endless

Gotta share my brother's latest short film. He's produced it for a contest. If you want to give it a thumb's up feel free to rate it/comment here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ A Day With a Perfect Stranger

Summary Day with a Perfect Stranger:

What if a fascinating stranger knew you better than you know yourself?

When her husband comes home with a farfetched story about eating dinner with someone he believes to be Jesus, Mattie Cominsky thinks this may signal the end of her shaky marriage. Convinced that Nick is, at best, turning into a religious nut, the self-described agnostic hopes that a quick business trip will give her time to think things through.

On board the plane, Mattie strikes up a conversation with a fellow passenger. When she discovers their shared scorn for religion, she confides her frustration over her husband’s recent conversion. The stranger suggests that perhaps her husband isn’t seeking religion but true spiritual connection, an idea that prompts her to reflect on her own search for fulfillment.

As their conversation turns to issues of spiritual longing and deeper questions about the nature of God, Mattie finds herself increasingly drawn to this insightful stranger.

But when the discussion unexpectedly turns personal, touching on things she’s never told anyone, Mattie is startled and disturbed.

Who is this man who seems to peer straight into her soul?

My Review: Nick (from Dinner With a Perfect Stranger) has gotten saved and become a Jesus freak. His wife, Mattie, is only too glad to escape to a spa in Arizona since a client who needs her to visit to get the spa experience in order to pull together a perfect brochure. Looking forward to escaping Nick and his new passion, and to re energize while deciding on the marriage decision she feels she must make, Mattie just wants to be left alone. But the airplane is packed and she is sandwiched between two men. And without anything good to read.

Mattie meets a stranger who asks some tough questions and shares some truth about a God who is very much involved in relationships.
Simple and quick read that packs a powerful message.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Series and Scenarios ~ Dinner with a Perfect Stranger

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger Summary:

You are Invited to a Dinner with Jesus of Nazareth

The mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominsky’s desk amid a stack of credit card applications and business-related junk mail. Although his seventy-hour workweek has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick can’t pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched.

The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off-balance, drawn into an intriguing conversation with a baffling man who appears to be more than comfortable discussing everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell.

And this man who calls himself Jesus also seems to know a disturbing amount about Nick’s personal life.
………….. "You’re bored, Nick. You were made for more than this. You’re worried about God stealing your fun, but you’ve got it backwards.… There’s no adventure like being joined to the Creator of the universe." He leaned back off the table. "And your first mission would be to let him guide you out of the mess you’re in at work."

…………. As the evening progresses, their conversation touches on life, God, meaning, pain, faith, and doubt–and it seems that having Dinner with a Perfect Stranger may change Nick’s life forever.

My Review:

I've meant to read this little book for some time. The thought is intriguing, a dinner with Jesus. Hmmm. David Gregory unfurls a story set in an Italian restaurant that ends up being mostly dialogue. But fascinating dialog.

Nick is skeptical, sarcastic, angry and not looking for anything even resembling church. He expects that this invitation is a practical joke and spends a portion of the dinner date scanning for his work buddies. But as Nick and "Jesus" talk, Nick begins to think.

This is a very quick and entertaining read. One that might just make you ponder some of the truths shared within. Nick is a scientist so much of what is shared is geared toward a scientific or logical mind.