Monday, August 31, 2009

Against All Odds by Irene Hannon

Against All Odds (Heroes of Quantico Series, Book 1) Against All Odds by Irene Hannon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't read a lot of Christian fiction. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the genre has evolved since my last foray some years ago. And shame on me for not keeping up! Irene Hannon has done a good job of putting a lot of my fears about Christian Fiction aside.

The plot was a lot of fun and full of action The hints about upcoming heroes and heroines in the series are always fun to spot. The emotions felt by the hero and heroine were genuine. The chaste behavior was downright refreshing, as were the character's struggles with maintaining that behavior.

The heroine's relationship with her father and the circumstances surrounding his situation were well-explained. Great descriptions of the countryside involved in both locations.

Ummm...the security/body guard aspect? Boy howdy, some very important things were left undone by the security people. I can see how Ms. Hannon used them to advance the story. Unfortunately, the security team's mistakes were so blatantly negligent it made it difficult to suspend disbelief and completely enjoy the story.

In the name of Scotch-brand Adhesive Tape and drywall, what team does not check each and every window and door of each and every building on the ground with every walk-through? Who would time their rounds to be absolutely predictable? That aspect of the novel was a real WTHeckOMGoshBBQEleventyHotMess with a side of fries. Here's hoping Ms. Hannon finds less-blatantly obvious ways to advance the story in future.

I did run into another BIG problem. A problem that a lot of Christian Fiction publishers need to address. The hero's conversion from skeptic to full-blown, church-going, man of Christian faith was just too quick and too easy. After just reading a few parts of the Bible? After attending one service because the heroine didn't like to miss church?

The heroine's faith is too simply presented. She believes. But what does she believe?

What passages and emotions specifically drive the changes in both the hero and the heroine? If writing from a Christian viewpoint, then forge ahead with gusto. Make it interesting, keep the emotions strong and fully explored. Let the reader feel closer to God's glory.

Faith requires emotion. I would like to see that emotion explored as deeply as the emotions between hero and heroine in Christian Fiction. Relying on an unwritten assumption that everyone will understand because the readers tend to be all Christian is a failure of logic.

My Christian walk of faith tends to be different from those who prefer a more literal interpretation of the Bible. Some call it a more progressive faith, others a more liberal understanding. What do I know? God speaks all languages. I can still appreciate the Holy Spirit felt by those with that literal interpretation. Hit me with it!

I have a deep emotional connection with my faith. It is not simple. It is complex. I want to see that in Christian heroes and heroines. I want to know their faith journey. Share it.

Would I recommend this to readers of Christian Fiction?
Yes, first revealing that there is some violence and it is a contemporary romance. Some readers don't want the violence. Others don't want a contemporary

Would I recommend this to readers of Thrillers?
No. This is not a medical, legal, economic, or tech thriller. It is Romantic-Suspense, Christian-style.

Would I recommend this to a Man in a Bear Suit? Only if he specifically asked for a Romantic-Suspense, Christian-style book. Readers of romance tend to be women. (I do want to point out that there are many, many exceptions to this statement. And, let's face it. The guy in the bear suit may be into some uncommon sexual practices. This would not appeal to him.

View all my reviews >>

3 Favorite Authors! 3 New Books!

What a great time for this Romantic-Suspense reading fool to be alive! Sure, it happens every August and February. Sure, I know way ahead of time what's coming. But wowza! What a rush!

Suzanne Brockmann's Hot Pursuit, Linda Howard's Burn, and Nora Roberts' Black Hills in one glorious end-of-summer trifecta!

I've been remiss in my reviews lately so I will be doing some posting to play catch-up. Perhaps more than one a day.

I also plan to include in these reviews something I picked up from Bitterly Books: Who would I recommend this to?

I'll include some groups that would enjoy the book, some groups that would not enjoy the book, and, always "A Man In A Bear Suit."* The bear suit always gets me.

*See old David Letterman schticks. The one that I best remember was the "Can a guy in a bear suit get into a strip club?"**

** Mr. Letterman, CBS, et. al.: If I offend or otherwise break a copyright thingy, do please let me know. I will switch to "A man in an Ursine Disguise." Bear Suit is easier to type so I'm going with that for now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Snarky McCrabby Pants Reporting For Duty!

(photo courtesy of
Heavy is the head that wears the sausage crown… via WTF Pictures and WTF videos by Picture Is Unrelated by pizzaburger on 7/22/09)

America, listen up. You dress like pigs having a bad hair day. Well, at least they do here, in the middle of a Big City in the middle of a Dusty Desert where it's freakin' hot.


If you want to dress like a slob, stay at home where you'll be ready to garden, fix the plumbing, work on the family car, or have a head cold.

This is not to say there are times when it is simply unavoidable. Like, say,

  • When the temperature is over 105. Or below 20.

  • When you've been a victim of a disaster: natural or otherwise.

  • You're homeless by choice or chance and live off donations to the shelter you've taken refuge in.

  • You've been out of work for ages.

  • You're incredibly pregnant and miserable.

  • It's January in Iowa and you only have one winter coat so it's not like you can take it to the cleaners and go without for a few days.
Stuff like that. These things are understandable. I understand that. I support people's attempts in these circumstances.

For the rest of you:

C'mon peeps! What does this say about your self-image? I say it means you don't give a damn. Or you have low self-esteem. And that ain't good.

Love yourself! Have a little pride! You are not respecting yourself or the places you are visiting by poor choices in dress and presentation. Not all positive life-changes start from the inside. Fake it 'til you make it.

A friend of mine says the entire downfall of western society is due to the introduction of Diet Pepsi into the marketplace. Me? I trace it back to the late 60s or early 70s when wearing a t-shirt with a slogan or someone's corporate logo on it became chic.

Yes. Yes I do. Somehow this gave us all permission to dress down. To go for comfort over presentation. To slouch toward the epitome of slobdom.

And think of this, you logo-wearing t-shirt fanatics: You paid money to be a walking billboard for a product. And you receive no reimbursement. What are you, stupid? Clarification: T-shirts for worthy causes are encouraged. Unless the event was 2 years ago. Save that one for the garden.

Let me be clear. Nobody makes it every day. And, like I said, I work in a place where it's just plain stinkin' hot and it's very urban. Maybe my vision is skewed. I am aware that there are many places in the country where this isn't a problem. Big chunks of NYC pay close attention to dress, for example.

So, for the love of Gucci and flip-flops, consider this, America:
  • When was the last time you wore a shirt that was not a t-shirt? If it has been longer than a week, you might want to rethink that choice.

  • Can I see man-titty, boobs, or belly jiggle beneath that shirt? If so, you might want to rethink that choice

  • Was that now-grey t-shirt once black? If so, you might want to rethink that choice.

  • And how can we forget this? Keep the fanny pack above the belt level, fellas?


  • Over 24 and still going for the grunge thing? Sorry, Kurt Cobain called from the beyond and wants his mojo back

  • You really can use an iron. Or a steamer. I'm not insisting on this. I'm just sayin'


  • I am declaring bra-straps showing under spaghetti-strap camisols OUT!

  • I am also declaring that prison-convict-inspired pants with the waist at the knees look OUT!

In related subjects, let's talk hair-styles
  • If you last changed your hair-style during the Carter administration, it's time for a makeover

  • If you last washed your hair a week ago, it's time to do so

  • If you last changed your hair-style during the protest-era, STOP THAT

  • If you can't keep your hair out of your face, find a way or cut it. Mom was right.

  • Are you Anglo and for some reason trying to turn your stick-straight hair into dreds? NO!

  • Do you over-gel the hell out of your hair to keep it standing up in a punky kind of spiky style? Don't. A special word to the gentlemen on this: My father wore his hair in a flat-top for over 50 years and never used wax or gels. It always stood up. He would say "It takes a good man to keep it standing up." Ummm...don't show your lack of manliness by using a ton of goop. Advertise your manly goodness in other ways

  • Bowl cut? Sorry, my fellow librarians, update it. Now.

OK, I think I've spewed enough. Like the guy who walked in the other day with traces of this morning's hangover spew still clinging to him. Enough with the spewing already.

For now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dork Report - Healthy Edition

OK, I've had quite enough of this health care flap. WTFBBQOMG with a side of fries! My opinion is: For the love of God and latex gloves, let's just do something! I'm willing to sacrifice for the good of others.

Hey! You all who call this a Christian Nation or simply call yourselves Christians? Join me in the Great Commandment - that we should love one another as ourselves. I've had it with watching friends and co-workers go without health care because they have no insurance.

Let's take a look at some health-care dorks, shall we?

Interview with gun-toting protester at Obama rally was staged
ia Recently Published/Updated on 8/18/09
Staged? Who cares? How was it even appropriate that an assault rifle shows up at any kind of rally? It's not like he's in downtown Baghdad.

Commentary: When interest groups go too far
via Recently Published/Updated on 8/12/09
"Last week, Americans saw some disturbing images. During town hall meetings about health care reform, legislators and citizens were loudly interrupted and intimidated by members of the audience who refused to let them speak."

Ummm...can anybody think of a place in the constitution where it says intimidating people into silence is a good thing? No, I thought not.

Free speech = good.
Denying the opposition the chance to speak=bad

And a double-dork award for the media that only cover these ridiculous confrontations. Many of these town halls have gone off without a hitch.

Entertainment Department

Friend: Jon Gosselin 'is not the same as he was' via Recently Published/Updated on 8/20/09

Dan Brown's latest conspiracy thriller looks to be 'big, big'
via Books - Top Stories on 8/21/09
WHAT? How could this happen? Wow. I wasn't expecting that

Parenting Department
It just never ends...

Parenting Fail via FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments by Cheezburger Network on 8/20/09

Don't snakes carry salmonella? Or is that just Death Turtles?

At Least Someone Is Thinking Of The Children
via PROBABLY BAD NEWS by newshound on 8/6/09

Domestic Sciences Department
18 clever time-savers for super busy people via Recently Published/Updated on 8/3/09
Man, some of these are too dumb to live. Let's start right off with the first line:

Ingenious ideas from (and for) busy women everywhere. Hmmm...didn't that line go out about 1972?

And some of the suggestions...

Make a quick breakfast
Put all your fruit, milk, silken tofu, or yogurt in the blender pitcher and store the pitcher in the refrigerator overnight. (You can even prechop a banana. It will brown, but that will not affect the flavor of the shake.) In the morning, set it on the blender and press the button.

Oh good grief. All my fruit? Here's an even quicker breakfast: Breakfast bars. Bonus: Your kids will eat them. As opposed to the rotten-banana-looking shake thing with tofu.

Thanks for the tip about pressing the button on the blender, though. I was wondering why mine wasn't working.

Put the kids to work
Tired of hearing "What's for dinner?" and "That again?" Turn over the role of meal planner and cook to your family.

Oh yeah, that's gonna work. 1) It assumes all these busy people have kids. 2)It assumes a toddler is able to prepare a meal 3) It assumes a teen is going to "remember" to make a meal. 4)Someone (ie: YOU) is going to have to clean up the mess.

Never miss another birthday
Send out birthday cards once a month. Receiving one early is better than not receiving one at all.

Here's a ticket for the clue-train: Just ditch the cards altogether. Maybe for your mom or a close relative. Srsly, does anyone expect a birthday card from their neighbors anymore? Email, email, email. If you must. There. Problem solved.

Start a recipe chain letter
OK, how does this work with: Put the kids to work.

And I'm sure we all have time to sit down and write out the recipe, snail-mail it, and anxiously await the day when your name will float up to the top and you'll receive a boatload of yummy recipes that will satisfy your entire family. Oh yeah, that's a real time-saver - NOT

Time-stamp your photos
When you get your photographs developed, label the envelopes before leaving the store. WHAT? Who does this anymore? Let me explain this: the pictures you take with a digital camera are already date-stamped when you upload them to the computer. Backup frequently. Print out as needed. Done.

I think this entire article was surreptitiously lifted from Good Housekeeping in 1963.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dan Brown's Lost Symbol

Besides stocking tons of these books, it is important to be able to refer your readers to readalikes. Face it, those waits for holds will be looooooong! Here is yet another list of readalikes

click here for lists of readalikes

(for my co-workers: I will be working like crazy to make shared/community lists and also handouts asap)

Genre Talk

Some great stuff lately describing and discussiong genre

Mystery via Library Journal - Genre Fiction on 8/14/09
"Using the past as a main ingredient in solving present-day crimes has increasingly become an important element in contemporary mysteries."

Romance via Library Journal - Genre Fiction on 8/14/09
"Paranormal Everywhere Paranormal romance is still enthralling readers. In addition to carving out discrete romance niches—vampire romance, shape-changer romance (werewolves, werecats, etc.), witch romance, and so on—magical and paranormal elements continue to seep into other romance subgenres with delightful, or alarming, regularity"

Still Page Turners 10 years Later via RA for All by Becky on 8/16/09
"Click here to read Isabel Wilkinson's "Back to the 90s" article outlining nine page turners from the 1990s that are still holding strong."

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Big Snark-Off: Pregnant Anticipation Edition


Here is a brief summary of why you should click, and CLICK NOW, to read this review:

"Two of my family members have been by to check on me. The dog is now resting on my feet in case I need comfort, and the cat is in my lap. When the phone rang, my mother thought I was horribly upset about something, and I started laughing all over again."
If that doesn't convince you, consider these soundbites from the review itself:
" I know when I want to kidnap someone on the down-low, I hop in my van PLASTERED WITH MY CHURCH LOGO in order to do it."




And these winners from the gracious author:

"My original title was Pregnesia-The Story of A Pregnant Princess with Amnesia Who Lusts For An Ex-Navy Seal Turned Sheik Cowboy.

"Stay tuned for my next blockbuster - Virgin Bride With Secret Babies Wants A Cop who Rides The Range"

But here's the kicker:
The stupid title works! It is so memorable that our Fiction specialist at work actually remembered it after the hundreds of titles he flips through each day. Further, many members of the bitchery are buying it for the chance to actually own a book with the title "Pregnesia."


Libraryland Department

Awful Library Books has been on a roll lately:
Teacher Spanks Johnny
From anonymous submitter:
“Being a teacher myself, I just HAD to have this book. Empty threats are no more in my classroom! Not after a quick reference to page 18 in the chapter titled Force Used on Pupil By Teacher where it states that “five blows with a ping-pong paddle is not unreasonable force“.

And thoseblows are why we need this man.

Moving into Manhood
via Awful Library Books by marykelly48 on 8/10/09
Moving into Manhood

"...Sexual health information is a bit vague and sketchy. There were a couple of nice pencil drawings some basic sex parts. Dr Bauer does warn of mixed marriages and girls who are fast."

Save us ceiling-cat! Save us!

Dr. Bauer is, fortunately, not the only person out there looking out for the health of our nation's young people.

Oh, God, no... not again. Not another migraine. Ugh, I can feel it coming on, feel those demons cavorting on my cranium. But that doesn't really describe the agonizing ache - feels more like pins pushing through my pineal gland or...or...(fuck, this hurts) thorns thrusting through my thalamus. Or serpents slithering through my cerebellum. Oh, sweet bejeebus, make it stop! It feels like ballerinas pirouetting en pointe and executing perfect arabesques on my parietal lobe. Yes, that's what it is! Tiny dancers dashing my desire to live. I... need... relief!

I've found a boatload of wonderful sites that have increased my snark-wonder to an all-time high. I share them via my feed to the right. I also have a lot of fodder for the Dork Report and because of my blasted liberal-biased righteous need to share.
Feel free to browse my feed. I just can't blog them all!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Modern Life Failure - Domestic Science Fail

I have failed in the use of many modern conveniences. I admit it now before God and the Internet. God help me.

Not that I don't use one helluva lot of modern stuff that didn't exist a mere 50 years ago. There are just some that throw me for a loop. So, herein lies my partial confession. I know I'll have more at some later date. I always do.

Throwing a Sheet-Fit
I like fitted sheets as fine as anything for sleeping on. Yes I do. For those who move about a lot in their sleep and tend to untuck everything they are beyond swell.

What I can't do well is put them on the damn bed. The struggle! The swearing! The Sturm und Drang!

I learned to make beds in the 1960s before fitted sheets were in wide use. For the flat bottom sheet, you put the wide hem at the top and the sheet is easily straightened so that the long sides line up with the long sides and the bottom at the bottom. From there it it's a simple matter of tucking under and doing your hospital corners. Like this guy, you may need to try a couple of times before you get the hang of it, but pretty soon it's a snap.

These fitted sheets? In the name of love and cornstarch, how the hell are you supposed to tell which end goes at the top of the bed and which at the sides? It's all an elastic-sided floppy basket. You turn and turn and you don't know you've put a side at the top until nothing fits.

Then there's the "warping the mattress" problem. Tuck too far under and you've got the corners of the mattress rising from the box spring in an attempt to contort itself into an origami monster.

And do not get me started on folding the stupid fitted sheet so it lies nicely on the shelf when not in use.

I have partially solved the where-is-the-top problem by purchasing sheets with a subtle self-stripe. I must admit that the best solution I've found is hiring a cleaning crew that makes the bed for you.

Mineral Mines
What's with people who can't be bothered to remove mineral deposits and other scale from the showerhead?

Say you're visiting a friend out of town and use their shower. You don't know if the water is going to squirt out one side of the showerhead or dribble out the other. And is it really sanitary? Does that rocky gook provide a breeding ground for bacteria? Are you really that good friends?

Save those fancy new-fangled chemical sprays for those desperate times when a great rock of minerals has sprun up somewhere on your premises. Those boulders just need a good atomic blast of poison.

Holy Gila Woodpecker! Why not just unscrew the showerhead once in a while and soak it in plain old vinegar? Do it a couple of times a year and those nasty mineral deposits won't require so much work, won't creep out your guests, and will keep that expensive showerhead in good condition.

Are You Above the Salt? Really?
My grandmother rarely took medications of any kind. She'd had diptheria as a child and, as a consequence of the morphine pumped into her, developed a strong aversion to medications. The morphine made her feel "rosy." She had a fear of anything making her feel "rosy." And heaven knows we don't want anyone walking around feeling "rosy."

I myself have absolutely no aversion to medications. I take them daily. In abundance. In fact, I've just used a pill to ward off an impending migraine.

What I'm getting at here are the over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and other pain relievers. Add up the money you've spent on over-the-counter pain killers over the years. Scary, huh? Not to mention all those life-will-kill-you news segments on risks for this and that.

Here's what my grandmother did instead of drugs for occasional muscle strain and inflammation and for cramping of various kinds. For the sake of cabbage, just put the epsom salts in the tub and soak! It works wonders. And all you'll feel afterward is the rosy glow of relief.