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And when I say review… I just mean my opinion kay?  I don’t for one second believe myself to really be a ‘book reviewer’.  I have no street cred, no authority and no educational background that has prepared me to properly review a book, but I do have my own opinions.  Oh dear – am I ever full of opinions!  My opinion of The Lost Symbol is unfortunately – very poor.  Let’s just say that it was a struggle to care enough about this story to get to the end.  I figured out what was ultimately going to happen about half way through the book… because it is the only thing that could happen… and then it was just about turning enough pages until the inevitable thing did happen.  And then it happened.  And then for some reason I can’t even begin to fathom, there were still fifty pages to wade through!

Under normal circumstances, I am not even sure I would have finished this book and it’s not because I have any problems with a writer toying with prescribed religious beliefs or historical facts. I loved The Da Vinci Code! It was a fun book to read and there were moments in that book where I really found myself wondering if all the things Brown mentioned were true! Did Jesus get married?  Are his descendants still walking around on the planet?  Does the Catholic Church have a select group of monk/assassins to eliminate the threat of church history being turned upside down?  I was ‘swept away’ by that story and was looking forward to The Lost Symbol in the hopes of being swept away again.  Sadly, I was not.  



I also wanted to throw another book into this giveaway.  It is called The Doomsday Key written by James Rollins.   This book is very similar to Dan Brown’s type of writing – that of mixing historical secrets, religious fervor and of course, world domination. I bought this book at the Houston airport during a four hour layover on our flight back home from Europe to Kansas.  After my recent tour of a Doomsday Church, it seemed appropriate.  

Although The Doomsday Key is clearly an imitation of Brown’s fast paced, world traveling, frantic, life or death, hop from one ancient mystery to another, Da Vinci Code, it was much more fun to read than the The Lost Symbol.  I found it hard to put The Doomsday Key down long enough to grab my carry-ons and board the plane.  The book made a long layover and a bumpy plane ride hardly matter at all.  



Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

87	97

Timestamp: 2009-10-29 17:13:39 UTC

So the winner of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is…….

#87 -

shelley  - who wrote…

I’m in between! I loved it, & got all caught up in it, but at the same time, I totally recognized it as FICTION. I got in a pissing match w/my church (all in my head, of course) for preaching against it, b/c “hello?” these people must all be idiots to be afraid of a FICTIONAL NOVEL! How come there’s no series on the evils of Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean? Where are the sermons about how bad Harry Potter is? Oh wait, don’t answer that :)

And the winner of James Rollins’ Doomsday Key is..….

#97 -

Katie who wrote - 

I was fortunate enough to read the illustrated copy – the one with color picutures of most of the art and architecture – it was amazing and a lot of it made sense – who says it isn’t true? Who really knows the truth?

Thanks everyone for entering and for reading this totally cracked out blog!

Winners please email my your mailing addresses at  - and I will send out your books!

I’m Ashamed to Admit This…

October 4th, 2009

I don’t want to show you the book I bought at Wal-Mart yesterday.

I don’t want to admit even to myself that I bought this book… and especially that I bought it at Wal-mart.

I like to support local bookstores with my book buying dollars and I could have bought this book at a local bookstore.  I passed it up several times over the past few weeks.   I was trying to be all strong… I was trying to be tough… I was trying to be better than I usually am.

I told myself that I would check this book out at the library.  I knew I would have to get on a waiting list, but I could do it.  I could dig down deep and find the necessary strength to wait.

But yesterday… while buying a few groceries I passed the book one more time and well… this time…

It ended up in my cart.

And I didn’t take it back out either.

It’s Dan Brown’s follow up to The Da Vinci Code.

The Lost Symbol.

I will send my copy to one lucky (or unlucky) commenter after I have finished it.

You can respond to one of the following statements if you would like…

When I read the Da Vinci Code, I found myself thinking that it was true… all of it was true, the secret societies,  the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the horrifying albino monk and his spiky cilice… all of it.  I got weirdly in the grip of this book and it made me question the entire history of Christendom.


I found The Da Vinci Code to be utterly ludicrous and couldn’t even finish it.

Yes or no or something in between?

This giveaway will stay up until I finish The Lost Symbol.

Epistolary Books Part 1

September 22nd, 2009


Early this Spring, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  It is an excellent book and has everything that a good book must have.  It is set on an island in the English channel during an war-time occupation.  There are vivid characters and a fashionable heroine who  is dating a very rich, exciting and handsome man.  This rich man wants nothing more than to marry the heroine, but she is a writer and after she stumbles upon the Island of Guernsey, stories start popping up in all their various sad, tragic, joyful and absurd permutations, including an feisty orphan, a recalcitrant pig farmer and the discovery of a valuable treasure!  The heroine is completely unable to leave Guernsey until she finds her happy ending and the reader never wants to leave the Island of Guernsey because it is a perfect book and they are so HARD TO FIND!






 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is a epistolary book, meaning it is a book of letters.  The various characters write to each other and this is how the story unfolds.  When I came to the end of this book, I was sad to discover that Mary Ann Shaffer, the author of this wonderful book died before her book was published and she never wrote another book.  Her niece, Annie Barrows, finished the book for her aunt and saw it through the editing and publishing stages. 

Two other books immediately sprang to my mind as I was reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  They are also epistolary books and I love them as ferociously as I love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.






The first book is Daddy Long Legs.  Over the course of my childhood and teenage years,  I probably read and re-read  Daddy Long Legs twenty times.  I loved this book, and I always thought that it was a true story.  The copy that I read as a child had photographs in it… black and white photographs on slick pages and I honestly believed that they were photographs of the main characters of the book.  I was sure that ‘Judy’ or Jerusha Abbot was a real orphan who was sent to a real college by an actual rich trustee of the John Grier Orphanage where she grew up.  I thought that Judy’s letters to her ‘Daddy Long Legs’, (the person who was anonymously paying for her education) were real letters and that someone had placed all the letters and photographs in a book to tell people about this wonderful story.  I believed this my entire life until a few months ago when I ordered a copy of Daddy Long Legs and discovered that a woman named Jean Webster wrote this book and she was neither an orphan nor the benefactor of an education by a long-legged trustee of The John Grier Home!  There was no Jerusha Abbott!  There was no Daddy Long Legs!  There were no orphans in blue gingham suits, no trunk full of surprise ball-gowns, and no gas house where Jerusha burns her first novel after it is rejected!  It was all a story!  A made-up story!  But the letters!… the letters!… the letters were so real!  It was like discovering that there was no Santa Claus… no Easter Bunny!  I am still trying to deal with this shocking news, but I did find a bit of information with which to comfort myself.  Because Jean Webster the author of Daddy Long Legs… the book I so loved as a child… WROTE OTHER BOOKS TOO!  






So I ordered all of them!  And I have made it through most of them.  So far, all of her books are as wonderful as Daddy Long Legs … so maybe there is an Easter Bunny after all.  

A bit about Jean Webster the author of Daddy Long Legs

Jean Webster’s mother was a niece of Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain.  Jean’s father was Mark Twain’s business manager.  The business and personal relationship between Jean’s father and Mark Twain was a successful one for both parties for a while, but it eventually began to erode causing Jean’s father to take a leave of absence from his job and a few years later, he committed suicide from a drug overdose.  Jean became an accomplished writer early in her life, but due to this sad history, she never talked about her famous relative.  

Jean came from a family that was always interested in social reform especially temperance and suffrage.  Jean herself became active in penal and orphanage reform during college and remained active in these issues her entire life.  Her two most well-known books (Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy) revolve around orphans, orphanages and people who work to make their lives better.  

The Book, Daddy Long Legs has been re-worked into plays, musicals, Japanese, anime’, and foreign television series.  It continues to inspire adaptations to this day.  I watched the Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron musical version of Daddy Long Legs, recently and was horrified by the whole thing.  It is so far removed from the actual book, that I don’t see how it could possibly be related.  The only similarities are that the main character is an orphan and an anonymous rich guy pays for her education. Everything else… well… not even the dancing of Fred and Leslie can make up for this silly story that in no way resembles the great book that supposedly inspired it.


Jean married Glenn Ford McKinney in 1915 and the two of them honeymooned at McKinney’s cabin near Quebec.  Former president Theodore Roosevelt visited the honeymooners and he is quoted as saying, “I’ve always wanted to meet Jean Webster. We can put up a partition in the cabin.”  Within a year, Jean became pregnant and entered the hospital to have the baby on June 10, 1916.  She passed away one day after giving birth to her daughter who was named Jean as well.  

Jean’s books are upbeat, full of wit, breezy and yet steeped in the important issues of her day.  It is this combination of a writer pointing to how to make the world better, while writing with such vivid settings, quirky characters, wit and optimism that make her books uplifting and fun to read even to this day.  

Now who would like a Jean Webster Book!



I ordered several copies of Daddy Long Legs for a giveaway, but I quickly realized I was not going to be able to give them all away.

Each copy that arrived in the mail, was a little different.  Clearly, I can not give away this one with the sweet book jacket!

Blue and gold… with a heart and roses!  I can’t give away this one!




Plain red cover and kind of blurry… I can probably give away this one…

And I eventually got two copies of the green cover with the red roses, so I guess I can part with one of those.
To enter to win one of these two copies of Daddy Long Legs, leave a comment.

You may answer this question if you like in the comments…

Do you think the art of letter writing is dead?

Winners will be chosen at random on Friday September 25, 2009 around 9 pm.