This blog contains my thoughts and feelings only. It IS titled, "The Daily Life of Carol: My Thoughts, Rants & Raves." They do not represent those of anyone else. While I still can't imagine how my little blog is making the rounds locally, it is mine and mine only. If you are going to be offended or feel it necessary to whine or complain to those completely unassociated to me and my blog, stop reading and find something else to do with your time.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to family and friends who made this a lovely Christmas for my family, especially for my boys.

The past 2-3 weeks have been filled with unexpected but delightful surprises. In particular, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to the St. Stephen's Secret Santa who "adopted" my boys for Christmas. I don't know who you are, but I'm so thankful for your generosity. You took the time to shop, wrap, and deliver their presents. Now, that's an act of kindness. Thank you.

2013 is just a day away. I've decided to approach it with optimism, to relish in all the kindness I've received in the past few weeks. It was overdue and desperately needed. It was just what I needed to put me back on my feet and headed down a good path again. I must practice what I preach - Focus on the positive and be thankful. Whenever I feel like Madame Blueberry, I think of The Thankfulness Song from Veggie Tales. Every time I hear it, it puts a smile on my face.....you should try it too.

And, Happy New Year.

The Thankfulness Song

I thank God for this day, 
For the sun in the sky, 
For my mom and my dad, 
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground, 
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day! 
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart! 
I'm glad for what I have, 
That's an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares, 
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9WCXp9VEA4

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Harry Bosch Series by Michael Connelly

The latest author I'm hooked on is Michael Connelly. My latest reading fest is about his character Harry Bosch, a homicide detective in Los Angeles. I started reading the books in reverse order. I don't recommend that but it was how I was receiving them from the library.

The first book I read was The Overlook (2007). It is a very good book and I enjoyed it. However, throughout the book Harry kept mentioning "after what happened in Echo Park." Well? What happened in Echo Park?! Drove me nuts. The next one I read was The Closers (2005), so I finally just bought Echo Park (2006) from amazon.com. Whew! Now I know what happened in Echo Park. I can relax. The next book I read was The Narrows (2004) and recently City of Bones (2002).

Each book could be a stand alone (except for The Overlook, please read Echo Park first). However, the series started in 1992. There is so much character history that it could be very, very helpful to start with the first book, The Black Echo. Since I don't like surprises, I don't mind reading in reverse order because then I already know what happens to the characters later. But, Connelly's books are certainly suspenseful enough that it doesn't matter I "peeked to the end," so to speak. 

Connelly's Bosch series has over 15 books, as well as at least a dozen other books. Wow. This is going to take me some time to read them all, but I'm willing. What I find most helpful is printing the list of all his books at www.stopyourekillingme.com. It's the best site for mystery readers. I print off lists of all the writers I'm following so I can check off which ones I've read.Very, very helpful.

So, yes, I truly recommend Michael Connelly! His books are "once you start reading you can't stop." You know I want that in an author, and Connelly is brilliant at that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Reviews: Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series by Terri Reid

I'm seasick. I discovered this fantastic series and have been reading nonstop. It's the A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series by Terri Reid. So far, there are eight books with the ninth on the way.

Mary O'Reilly is an Irish gal from Chicago. She moved to Freeport, Illinois because Chicago has too many ghosts. Mary was a Chicago police officer with her brothers. She was shot during a bust gone back and dies. She's walking toward the "white light," when a voice gives her to choice to continue or go back to her family. She chooses to live and go back to her family, but discovers she can see and talk to ghosts. She moves to Freeport and becomes a private investigator.

The books are actually light-hearted and fun. Yes, there are murder mysteries to solve. However, the books are exciting not scary. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and cannot recommend it enough. I'm eagerly anticipating book nine. The books can stand alone, but I definitely recommend reading from the beginning.....

(1) Loose Ends; (2) Good Tidings; (3) Never Forgotten; (4) Final Call; (5) Darkness Exposed; (6) Natural Reaction; (7) Secret Hollows; and (8) Broken Promises.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fallen Hero: Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque


The Pentagon identified the U.S. Navy SEAL who was killed in the rescue of an American doctor in Afghanistan as a highly-decorated 10-year veteran from Pennsylvania.
28-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, of Monroeville, Pa., died Sunday of combat-related injuries sustained while supporting operations in Afghanistan. Though the release only said Checque was assigned to "an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit," ABC News previously reported the fallen servicemember was a part of the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6.

Checque enlisted in October 2002, the year he graduated from high school, and entered the Navy’s Special Warfare training in April 2003. He joined an East Coast-based Special Warfare unit the next year, according to Naval Special Warfare Command. Checque talked about becoming a SEAL as far back as seventh grade, said Anthony Troisi, a classmate and wrestling teammate. As a high school junior, Checque underwent LASIK eye surgery so he could qualify for the SEALs, Troisi said. After grueling, 2½-hour wrestling practices and conditioning sessions, Checque would go to the swimming pool and swim laps for an hour. “It wasn’t to keep in shape; it was because he wanted to be a Navy SEAL,” said Troisi, 28, of Irwin. Checque inspired Troisi to joined the Navy in 2002, he said, sparking a 10-year career as a crew chief on a C-9 Skytrain cargo jet. “I trusted him. He was a leader.” Checque served in the Iraq War and in Afghanistan operations. His decorations included the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, among others.

Checque sustained his mortal injuries while on a nighttime mission Saturday to free Dr. Dilip Joseph, an American doctor with the Colorado-based medical nonprofit Morning Star Development, on Wednesday as he and two Afghan members of Morning Star’s staff were returning from a visit to a rural clinic. The kidnappers took them to a mountainous area about 50 miles from the Pakistan border, according to Morning Star’s website. The captors released the two Afghans on Saturday. Checque’s SEAL team deployed to rescue Dr. Joseph after intelligence showed he was in imminent danger of injury or possible death, the military said.
Dr. Dilip Joseph (Photo: KUSA)

“Our relief in the safe rescue of Mr. Joseph is now tempered by our deep grief over the loss of this true hero,” said a statement from Morning Star executive director Lars Peterson. “We offer our deepest condolences to his family and to his fellow team members. We want them to know that we will always be grateful for this sacrifice and that we will honor that sacrifice in any way we can.”

Dr. Joseph's family released a statement thanking the U.S. government and military for the operation and offering their condolences to Checque's family. "We could not be more grateful for that soldier's heroism and for the bravery of all involved in the mission to bring Dilip home." 

--
[A] particular centurion had a slave who was who was at the point of death. He cared for his slave and had probably sought every means that conventional medicine had to offer to save the slave's life. None of this had worked. So this centurion convinced some of the Jewish elders to find Jesus and enlist his help in restoring the slave to health .... Jesus left what He was doing and began walking with the elders to the centurion's house. Before could reach the house, the centurion sent friends out to intercept Jesus and tell Him that the centurion wasn't worthy to have Jesus come under his roof .... The centurion told his friends to tell Jesus to just say the word. That's all. Just say the word, and the centurion's servant would be healed .... When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at the faith of this military man. "I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel." Jesus had known many people over the course of His life. He had known godly people like his mother and Joseph. But of all these people in the land which God had abundantly revealed Himself, He had not found one who had so great a faith as this Gentle, this Roman, this military man. 

The Soldier's Bible by Holman Christian Standard Bible.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team Six Operator Brown by Eric Blehm

Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team Six Operator Adam Brown is another "history" book everyone should read. Eric Blehm did an incredible job of documenting the amazing life of Adam Brown.

Long before Adam Brown became a member of the elite SEAL Team SIX, he was a fun-loving country boy from Arkansas whose greatest goal had been to wear his high school’s football jersey. Adam was a man of extremes, whose determination was fueled by faith, family, and the love and support of his wife. He was a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses. Adam persevered through grueling qualifying tests that resulted in injuries most considered career-enders -- including the loss of his right, dominant eye after being shot during a training exercise and having the fingers of his right hand crushed off in a Humvee accident in Afghanistan. His determination to beat the odds on the way to the top tier of the U.S. military earned him the respect of his teammates and commanders.


Adam was a 12-year veteran of the United States Navy. On his last scheduled deployment before retiring, he was killed in action in Komar Province, Afghanistan on March 17, 2010. U.S. Forces were engaging the enemy in a firefight when a portion of the team were pinned down by very heavy fire from the enemy compound. In an effort to protect his men, Adam charged the enemy from a better vantage point, drawing fire away from his pinned down comrades. His selfless action relieved the fire on his men, but it unfortunately resulted in Adam being repeatedly struck by enemy fire. One other member of the American Team was wounded, but Adam’s heroic action saved the other men. The enemy compound was captured and all enemy combatants were killed in the action. Always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments, Adam’s final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.
Last family photo as Adam
deploys for Afghanistan

Sadly, the majority of the members in his unit perished when the Chinook helicopter transporting them was viciously shot down while on a mission in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011, only a few short months after Adam's death. Yet, before then, they gave extensive interviews to the book's author. The book is filled with eyewitness accounts of the people who knew Adam and his incredible life.

I've been working on this book review for days. I just can't find the right words to describe this amazing, amazing man, his life, his friends, his family, his sacrifice. Even now..... Well, certainly I recommend this book to e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. You support our troops? Fine, read this book. You don't understand the war in Afghanistan? Fine, read this book. You're a teenager and you think you know everything? Fine, read this book. What to be a better person? Fine, read this book. You're a patriotic American will an undying love for our Armed Forces? Fine, read this book. Then, gather your entire family and watch the NRA's Line of Duty A Tribute to Adam Brown, U.S. Navy Seal. http://nralifeofduty.tv/#/patriotprofiles/gallery/54,0.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui is the staggering account of a 9-year-old girl married to a man in his 30s and then bravely - on her own - goes to court to obtain a divorce. The story left me speechless. The entirety of the story took place in 2008.

Nujood lives in Sana'a, Yemen.  She was 9 years old at the time of her marriage and divorce - a 4th grader in the U.S. - That was something very hard to wrap my mind around. In Yemeni homes, the law is laid down by fathers and older brothers. Nujood's father forced her to marry a man from the tiny village where she lived as a [small] child. Hastily married, this little girl resolved to escape her brutal husband. She had the courage to rebel against an entire culture....society.....in a country that does not have women's shelters, no women's rights. Nujood was on her own to get across the city, into the courthouse, and before a judge. Nujood could have been murdered for an "honor crime." Staggering.

In 2008, the age of consent for marriage was 15. [In 2009, it was changed to 18.] However, child marriages are still customary in Muslim countries. In the countryside especially, there is a tribal  proverb: "To guarantee a happy marriage, marry a nine-year-old girl." Nujood was the first child ever to successfully divorce her husband in the Arab world. For instance, in Saudi Arabia in 2009, an 8-year-old girl successfully sued for divorce from her husband, a man in his 50s, whom she was forced to marry.

Nujood with her lawyer,
Shada Nasser
Nujood's story includes the many wonderful people in Yemen who helped Nujood with her divorce - her lawyer, the judges, family (including an uncle and her father's second wife), and the journalists who made Nujood's story known internationally.

The story was tastefully - and tactfully - written by Ms. Minoui. It is a story about courage and hope. Please, please take the time to read Nujood's story. Her voice needs to be heard.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines' Life with Progeria by Hayley and Kerry Okines

Have you ever read a book and because of its subject you really, really wanted to like it but then you didn't? That is how I feel about Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines' Life with Progeria by Hayley and Kerry Okines.

Hayley has Progeria. It is a rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging in children. Although they are born looking healthy, children with Progeria begin to display many characteristics of accelerated aging at around 18-24 months of age. Progeria signs include growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, generalized atherosclerosis, cardiovascular (heart) disease and stroke. The children have a remarkably similar appearance, despite differing ethnic backgrounds. Children with Progeria die of atherosclerosis (heart disease) at an average age of thirteen yearshttp://www.progeriaresearch.org.

Hayley has an incredible life story to be told by herself. But, only some chapters are written by Hayley. The majority of the book is written by her mother, and that is why the book was a difficult read. Hayley's mother made the book about Hayley's mother. You may read it and get a different feel for it. But, I found myself skimming through "mom's chapters" but actually reading Hayley's chapters. For instance, the constant arguing of her mother and ex-husband was nerve-racking. 


Hayley is adorable, and brave. She has been among the first children to participate in drug trials. That takes courage. She certainly has a maturity beyond her age - even if the drug trials won't help her prolong or improve her own life, she hopes her participation will help others. Way to go, Hayley! http://www.hayleyspage.com.

I was glad to have read Hayley's stories. I hope to hear more by this unique little girl. I certainly recommend learning about Hayley's life, but I can't freely recommend this particular book....at least, not all of it. When I finished, instead of forwarding the book to my mother, I just returned it to the library. And, that's my difficulty with this book.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Jeff did the cooking. The boys and I cleaned. The day before Thanksgiving we decorated the house with Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. I have enough Christmas stuff to decorate 2 or 3 houses, but I used the decorations sparingly. I needed it to feel like "the holidays," but I didn't want to suffocate Jeff. The results were lovely. 

Thanksgiving this year was exactly what I needed to get out of the doldrums. The presidential election on November 7 really threw me into a tailspin. I was positive that Romney would win. I was positive we'd get out of this economic quagmire, but now we're further into it. So, Greece and Spain weren't good enough examples..... Twenty-five million people unemployed wasn't enough.... $16 trillion dollars in debt wasn't enough..... I should have seen it coming -- with half of the country or more booing at God, it's no wonder Obama was reelected. 

A quote from a Czechoslovakian newspaper summed it up for me: “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.” -Prager Zeitung

I read article after article proclaiming Onward Christian Soldiers, but I didn't feel it. I shut everything out and consumed myself with reading books. But, that finally wore me out too. {I have so many book reviews to write, but haven't had the motivation to write them.}

The day before Thanksgiving, I came across an article about singing nuns. It's a cloistered convent - the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles - that have produced a CD called Advent at Ephesushttp://benedictinesofmary.org/ From their website, "every Benedictine of Mary vows to detach herself from the ways of the world, continually turning to the ways of her Redeemer." And, I realized "That's it!" Detach from the ways of the world. So, I'm turning off all the mental noise in my head. It's time to focus on my faith, family & friends.

So, I'm very thankful for this Thanksgiving. It gave me the chance to sit back, enjoy family, and just breathe.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: The Midnight Club by James Patterson

The Midnight Club by James Patterson is a highly enjoyable book. Patterson himself wrote: "The Midnight Club is the novel I wrote just before Along Came a Spider. I'm certain that both Alex Cross and Sampson originated in ideas I had while writing this story. It's one of my favorites, and I believe it could make the best movie of all my novels." I totally agree.

This is by far the best James Patterson book I've read. And, I would put James Patterson in my top five, perhaps by top three, writers. So, the best of his best is pretty awesome.

The Midnight Club is an international organized crime cartel. The three main characters are NYPD Detective John Stefanovitch, best-selling author Sarah McGuinness, and the evil Alexandre St.-Germain a/k/a The Grave Dancer.

Besides killing one of my favorite characters, it's an excellent story with a Hollywood ending - just the way I like it. There are plenty of twists and turns and some unbelievable surprises. More than once I thought, "What?! No way!" Very, very good. Yes, the old cliche "it's a real page-turner," but it truly is. I didn't want to stop reading once I started. I don't do that very often.....Let's see, authors Jonathan Maberry and Andrew Peterson. Patterson is in good company.

Yes, I recommend this book. I recommend this book over the other James Patterson books (if you don't have time to read them all). Highly recommended!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: The Sinner: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen

The Sinner: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen is AWESOME! The third in the series, it is again about Jane Rizzoli, a homicide detective, and Maura Isles, the medical examiner. 

Rizzoli and Isles each work their portion of the mysterious deaths of two nuns, a faceless woman, a corporate executive, and a village in India. The plot may seem like it's too much, but it's not. And, Gerritsen does an excellent job weaving the story in and out of all these tragedies.

The book was also about the personal lives of Rizzoli and Isles, and the different events they had to deal with. We're introduced to Dr. Isles's ex-husband Victor, and thankfully FBI Agent Gabriel Dean re-appears too. I enjoyed these portions of the book too.

I just can't say enough how great this book is. I gasped and cheered through the whole book. I highly recommend!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book Review: The Apprentice: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen


The Apprentice: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen is great. It's a good compliment to the first book The Surgeon

Book 1 was about Thomas Moore, a homicide detective, and Dr. Catherine Cordell, a trauma surgeon. The setting is still Boston, Massachusetts. However, Book 2 is a follow-up story to Book 1. This time, the book is about Jane Rizzoli, a homicide detective and Maura Isles, the new medical examiner. And, I really enjoyed it. 

There is significantly less man-bashing and more character development of Jane Rizzioli. The Apprentice introduced a new character, FBI Agent Gabriel Dean. He makes Rizzoli a much more likeable person, so I hope he continues in further episodes. I've started reading Book 3 so I'll let you know.

The Apprentice is about a serial killer called The Dominator. But, only Rizzoli realizes that he's actually an apprentice to The Surgeon, the serial killer from Book 1. When The Surgeon escapes from a maximum-security prison, she has to find two killers instead of one. 

Book 2 was a much better book than Book 1, especially since the story was finally about Rizzoli and Isles. You don't need to read The Surgeon to enjoy The Apprentice; it just provides more in-depth background on the serial killer The Surgeon. Book 1 does help to understand The Surgeon's obsession with Rizzoli in The Apprentice. So, read The Surgeon just knowing the story gets so, so much better with The Apprentice.

The Apprentice had an awesome ending. Clearly, we haven't seen the last of The Surgeon! Oh, yeah.....I recommend.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Book Review: The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson

The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King - a Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson is an interesting book. 

The book is woven into three stories - (1) Modern day as James Patterson researched and wrote his version of the life and death of King Tutankhamen and his only wife Queen Ankhesenpaaten. (2) The life of Howard Carter, the Egyptologist who discovered Tut's tomb in the early 1900's A.D. (3) And, of course, the lives of Tut and Anhke. But, Chapter 1 starts in 1492 B.C. with the death of Tuthmosis I, the first pharoah buried in the Valley of the Kings.

After King Tut's death, the pharoah was Ay (or Aye). After him was Horemheb, former General/Commander of the Army and advisor to Tutankhamun. Horemheb obliterated images of the Amarna queens and kings so much of the 18th dynasty history was lost. Tut's life was probably pieced together by the artifacts and paintings in his tomb.

Patterson wrote a very good story about these Egyptians. The life and death of Tut and Anhke are especially compelling. There is so much controversy about King Tut that scientists and scholars cannot agree to the identity of his mother, whether Queen Ankhesenpaaten was Tut's half-sister, and whether Tut died from murder, accidental or by natural causes. In fact, his age for his reign are questioned. Somebody believe it was 8 years old to 17 years old. Some say not until he was 9 or 10. Whatever...either way, he was quite young.

Patterson does a well enough job with his version of King Tut's story. It's enjoyable, but it's not true history. Patterson's conjecture is plausible enough for a "recommend."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

American Heritage Girls

American Heritage Girls is a nonprofit scouting program dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country. The organization offers badge programs, service projects, girl leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences to its members. This program of character building has successfully served thousands of girls since its inception.  

Given the pop-culture icons present in today’s society, there is an obvious need for a cultural change for our nation and its daughters; a need for girls to know the love of Christ, the joy of lasting friendships and the fun of new wholesome experiences –in essence, the need for a ministry for girls that has transforming significance.  Please watch their promotional video "Countering the Culture." http://www.ahgonline.org/media_player.asp?messageID=15146 

Patti Garibay, executive
director of American
Heritage Girls, founded 1995

As Girl Scouts becomes more secularized, American Heritage Girls is growing. “Over 90% of the people who come to us have left the Girl Scouts,” said founder Patti Garibay. “We’re like the best kept secret.” In the 16 short years since its inception, AHG boasts 18,000 members and has expanded to 45 states and four countries. It has become the fastest-growing all-girl scouting organization. According to the group, membership spiked by 50% last year. While AHG is a Christian group, it includes girls from all faiths. Today, it is considered the premier faith-based national character development and leadership group for young women.


The American Heritage Girl Oath: “I promise to love God, cherish my family, honor my country, and serve in my community.” Creed: “As an American Heritage Girl, I will be:  Compassionate, Helpful, Honest, Loyal, Persevering, Pure, Resourceful, Respectful, Responsible, Reverent.”

For more information about AHG or to learn how to start a troop in your area: American Heritage Girls, 175 Tri County Pkwy Suite 100, Cincinnati, OH 45246. Phone: 513-771-2025. Email: ahg@ahgonline.org. http://www.ahgonline.org/ 



AHG Troop TX2928
Congrats to AHG Troop TX2928 from Houston, TX, for being presented with the 2012 Archbishop's Trophy - for outstanding contributions of service to the church, community and home, by participating in numerous service projects totaling more than 610 hours to the community. Service projects included but not limited to care packages for soldiers in the Middle East, Wreath across America, assistance to a women crisis shelter, a homeless shelter, adopting two large families for the parish Adopt-A-Family Christmas project and Scouting for Food with their brother Cub Scouts. TX2928 has more than 50 girls (presently K-10th grade) and draws members from at least four other Catholic parishes and protestant congregations. Currently there are eight AHG troops in the greater Houston area.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: The Big Bad Wolf (Alex Cross) by James Patterson

Don't judge me....but, The Big Bad Wolf (Alex Cross) is the first James Patterson book I've read. I know, I know!! And, it was fabulous.

I once read a book - other than Dean Koontz - that scared the heebee jeebees out of me. I thought it was by James Patterson, so I've stayed away from his books. I finally tried The Big Bad Wolf (Alex Cross) only to discover that it wasn't James Peterson, but Jonathan Kellerman. (It was the scariest book about a surgeon turned serial killer. He kept women in cages..... *shudders* Anyway, at Nana's (a/k/a my Mom) insistence, I tried James Patterson and I'm hooked!!

My Kindle spending has been a bit out of control, so I've started borrowing ebooks from the local library. The only problem is that all the books I have on my Wish List are not available. I'll take what I can get. Not all of the Alex Cross mysteries were listed, so I decided to start with The Big Bad Wolf (Alex Cross), Book 9. In this installment, Alex Cross has left the Washington P.D.'s office and is starting at the FBI. I thought this transition was a good place to start.

It was an excellent book. Interesting, quick-paced, good plot. Unlike some authors, Patterson doesn't spend a lot of time describing a single nook and cranny in a room or building. Thank goodness. It's better reading because it flows easier. Once again, I'm always afraid to give too much detail because I don't want to spoil anything for the next reader.

The only "disappointment," and it was a real surprise,* is that the story does not end with The Big Bad Wolf. That wouldn't be a problem if London Bridges, Book 10 was available from the library. Unfortunately, I'm on the waiting list. Ugh. [*It's only a surprise because unlike a hard copy with the Kindle I can't always tell when the book is ending. The last page is not always at 100%.] Is this a Patterson's trait?? Not ending the story until the next book??

I give it two wow's - Wow. Wow. - so I obviously recommend reading it. I'm on my next Alex Cross book (Roses Are Red, Book 6), again because it was available from my local library. I'll get through them all eventually. But, I've also started reading James Patterson's series with NYPD officer Michael Bennett. Stay tuned.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Catholic Novena for the Elections


Priests for Life calls upon Catholics to participate in an “Election Novena” by saying a special prayer each day. I think it's a lovely prayer and would be appropriate for all Christians and for every day of the year.

It is important for all eligible Americans to vote. To say "I don't like either candidate so I'm not going to vote" is to disavow the sacrifices of all men and women who have served - and died - for their country. We have rights in this country that no other country has.... 

We have dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and American citizens. We are members of a community of faith with a long tradition of teaching and action on human life, and dignity, marriage and family, justice and peace, care for creation, and the common good. As Americans, we are also blessed with religious liberty which safeguards our right to bring our principles and moral convictions into the public arena. These Constitutional freedoms need to be both exercised and protected, as some seek to mute the voices or limit the freedoms of religious believers and religious institutions. Catholics have the same rights and duties as others to participate fully in public life. The Church through its institutions must be free to carry out its mission and contribute to the common good without being pressured to sacrifice fundamental teachings and moral principles.

In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group. .... Catholic lay women and men need to act on the Church’s moral principles and become more involved: running for office, working within political parties, and communicating concerns to elected officials. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/.

Your vote is your voice. And, we do not cease to be Christians when we enter the voting booth.

Prayer for Life

O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.
We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.
We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.
We thank you for the opportunity that this election
year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.
Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.
Awaken your people to know that they are
not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.
Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.
Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.
Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.
May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Una traducción al español también está disponible en este sitio web.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: Where All the Dead Lie (Taylor Jackson) by J.T. Ellison

Where All The Dead Lie is the 7th book for the character Taylor Jackson. It's the first one I've read.

The story is of Nashville, Tenn. homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson. Apparently, in the previous book she killed a psychopath named The Pretender, but not before he seriously injured her best friend and nearly killed Taylor.

The first 25% of the book (per my Kindle) was so boring. The author wanted a first-time reader to know the characters' history. But, the characters just repeated their thoughts over and over and over again. I almost gave up on the book, but I hung in there. Thank goodness I did.

This is a romance thriller, not just a mystery. It does have explicit sex scenes. They're not necessary, but authors just can't stay away from them which is too bad. The book would have been better without the "romance" aspect. 

However, it is a good thriller. Taylor recovers from the headshot from The Pretender, but it has left psychological scars - Taylor is unable to speak. Again, not necessary. Taylor's needing to write down everything was distracting and annoying. The book picks up once Taylor finds her voice again. 

Taylor goes to the Scottish Highlands to continue her recuperation. But, her guilt and PTSD overwhelmes her. As the story unfolds from there, Taylor must determine if she is losing her mind or if someone is out to get her by driving her mad. The suspense kept building and building until I was reading as fast as possible to get to the end. Wow! While some of the plot is predictable, ending is not. Good job, Ms. Ellison.

The book ended in a good place for the characters, so I just might read an 8th installment. Recommend, with caution regarding explicit sex.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Reviews: First to Kill and Forced to Kill (The Nathan McBride Series) by Andrew Peterson

First to Kill and Forced to Kill (The Nathan McBride Series) by Andrew Peterson are awesome. Wow. If you like action adventure do not miss this series.

The main character is Nathan McBride, 43, a former Marine sniper and CIA operations officer. Harvey "Harv" Fontana, also 43, is his life-long friend from the Marines to the CIA to their current venture, owners of a security systems company in California. Nathan is single; Harv is a family man. The series begins 10 years after Nathan was captured and tortured in Nicaragua. Harv was his only rescuer. Because of his torture, Nathan has severe scars on his face and body.

The nemeses in the first book are Leonard Bridgestone, a retired Army Ranger, and his brother Ernie Bridgestone, a former Marine drill instructor. Nathan and Harv are asked to locate FBI Special Agent James Ortega, the grandson of the former FBI Director Frank Ortega. The Bridgestone brothers are dealing Semtex, a Czech-made odorless plastic explosive, used in many terrorist bombings. Interestingly, it is a real substance. Semtex, along with a detonating cap, can be inserted inside a 5" x 6" musical greeting card, undetected. Three pounds of Semtex packs enough punch to raze a two-story building. Libyan terrorists used Semtex in 1988 to down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

In the second book, it's his interrogation torturer from Nicaragua - Oh, yeah - Colonel Juan Montez de Oca. A body is found in the U.S. with the same torture scars as Nathan. Holly Simpson, FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Sacramento field office brings Nathan and Harv into the case. {She was also in the first book.} They have to find de Oca before he tortures and kills again.

I r-e-a-l-l-y can't say anything else because I do not want to give anything away. The books are action-packed! Usually, I can put books down without finishing in one sweep. Some books take me days to get thru, but these two are different. Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, hang-on-it's-going-to-be-a-bumpy-ride. I loved these books. I'm going to read thru them again now that I know what happens. You know, read a little slower, take in more detail now that I'm not rushing thru trying to find out what happens next.

A fourth book is currently being written. The third book is a Kindle Serial - Option to Kill. I hate reading books in parts, so I'll wait for the entire book to be available before reading any of it.

I don't know what else to say other than Read. Them. Now!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why I Changed My Vote

I just came across this great website. www.whyichangedmyvote.com - People can post a video or story of why they are not voting for Obama again. They're people who voted for Obama in 2008, but they are now voting for Mitt Romney in 2012.

The best so far is Artur Davis, former Congressman (D-AL). Rep. Artur Davis served in Congress from 2003-2011 and was co-chair for President Obama's 2008 campaign. He voted against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and after years of disappointment with the president's policies, Rep. Davis endorsed Gov. Romney. Listen to his story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X4QEZD_bScw.


Will you change your vote and vote for Mitt Romney?


In the last four years...
[1] The debt of the United States has grown to a startling $16 trillion dollars — the largest total in our nation's history. 
[2] As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reported, the Obama Administration has racked up 4 straight trillion-dollar plus annual budget deficits. 
Unemployment remained over 8% for 43 straight months — a first since the Great Depression.
[3] The real unemployment rate — taking into account those who have stopped looking or who are working part-time and want more work — is almost 15%.
[4] More than 23 million Americans are out of work or underemployed.
[5] Because of this troubled economy, the number of Americans receiving food stamp assistance — more than 46 million in all — is at a record high, according to the government. 
[6] The United States has slid from 3rd in ease of starting a new business to 13th in the world, trailing unlikely competitors like Rwanda and Macedonia.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friday Night Lights

I remember my high school years fondly, um, for the most part. The best part was football on Friday nights! And, nothing was better than the marching band! (Drums being the favorite, of course. Boom. Boom. Boom-boom-boom-boom!) I couldn't wait for halftime to see the marching band on the field. Their music was loud and heart-thumping. But, what's happened to the high school marching bands of today?

It seems like the band directors have forgotten the marching band's important role - firing up the football team and spectators' spirits. Give us a good song that we can clap our hands, stomp our feet, and cheer our team! Not any more....seems a lot of band directors think their program has to be artistic. Hum, no. I'm not at the ballet, or a symphonic orchestra.


For instance, in September 2012, a Pennsylvania high school marching band's halftime performance commemorated the Russian Revolution (St. Petersburg: 1917) - brandishing red flags, military uniforms, hammers and sickles. Historians and parents of students have lambasted the choice of entertainment which remembers an event that gave way to Communism and the deaths of hundreds of millions. Poor history. Poor "artistic" vision. Gee, just want their parents wanted to see at halftime. Forget the school song - Let's praise Stalin. Weird. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208331/Pennsylvania-high-school-marching-band-commemorates-1917-Russian-Revolution-half-time.html#ixzz2AE9b8GVe.

Well, on Saturday evening, the boys and I went to a local Marching Band Festival. I went with trepidation. I just want good marching band enthusiastic songs. I was pleasantly surprised, for the most part.

Band #1 - This band director went for artistic. Their program was for King Arthur. Hum. They know we're Americans and he was a British king, right? We have lots of patriotic songs. How about a performance for George Washington? 

Band #2 - This band director also went for the artistic. The program was entitled, "What If?" Hum.....well..... I have absolutely no idea what this was about. Truly. It was really cool that the tuba players actually held their tubas on their shoulders while they marched and played. Cool.


Band #3 - This program was Jake & Elwood, you know, The Blues Brothers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It was loud, it was peppy, it was foot-stomping. The crowd went wild! We danced, clapped and sang our way through this performance. Whew! Finally...a real high school marching band.

Band #4 - Another fantastic high school marching band performance. Their program was The Incredibles. The audience really cheered when their mascot saved the damsel in distress from the evil-masked-guy-in-black. This band was loud, and fun! Great entertainment. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Band #5 - This band director chose artistic with Fantasia Hispaniola. The music would have been better for an orchestra. It was too classical for a marching band, though some seemed familiar. I did enjoy their performance, though. Their dancers were fantastic! I paid attention to them the entire time. Lovely.

Band #6 - Another favorite of the evening. Their performance was Seminole Supermen. They played amazing renditions of Spiderman and Batman themes, with "I need a hero" thrown in between. When their dancers created the Batman symbol at the end, the crowd went wild. This performance was fun, fun, fun. Thank you!


Band #7 - Thank you to another great band. Their theme was Rock And Roll All Night. Yes, great rocks songs that their parents knew and enjoyed. It started with a trombone soloist playing the beginning stance to "Renegade," a 1979 hit song by Styx. ... "Hangman is coming down from the gallows and I don't have very long." Unbelievable performance. I could hear this young man's solo, yet couldn't hear other full bands as well. This was another fun performance of the night. It has to be more fun for the marching band when the audience is so into their performance. It makes everybody happy! And, this marching band is huge....three times the size of the other marching bands. Naturally, they were good and loud. Add their dancers into the mix and they covered the football field from end zone to end zone. Wicked cool. Oh, and, they have the most awesome red, white & blue minutemen costumes.

Band #8 - This band director chose artistic "Revolution...In the future." Hum. The band and dancers are "the rebels fighting a revolution in the future." Seriously. Don't think Star Wars (which would have been great), but Buck Rogers. I have no idea what the music was. The dancers were dressed in...black and silver...um, space-aged outfits. They jumped around like they were fighting. It was silly. I felt so sorry for the students. It was a difficult performance and they obviously had worked very hard.


The band directors who went for "artistic" seem more concerned with marching band competitions than actual halftime performances. This is sad. As a parent of a trombone player and future high school marching band student, I wouldn't want that for my child. I want him to have fun, and if the spectators are cheering, singing and dancing with the songs they're playing, then that makes it all worthwhile....at least, as my point of view as a parent.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's that simple.

Religious liberty is our first, most cherished freedom. It is why the Pilgrims left England - They wanted independence from the established Church of England. In 1620, they sailed the Atlantic for 63 days on the Mayflower...seeking freedom of religion. It is why this country was founded..... Religious freedom is an absolute right, and includes the right to practice any religion of one’s choice, or no religion at all, and to do this without government control.

Did you know that we have two freedoms granted by the First Amendment regarding religion? The First Amendment contains two clauses about the Freedom of Religion -- The first part is known as the Establishment Clause and the second as the Free Exercise Clause: (1) The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing laws that will establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. (2) The Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion. 

Our rights to Freedom of Religion and the free exercise thereof means: (1) The Freedom of Religion is an inalienable right. (2) The First Amendment provides for the Freedom of Religion for all Americans. (3) The Free Exercise Clause provides that government will neither control nor prohibit the free exercise of one’s religion. (4) The government will remain neutral.

Yet, on March 21, 2010, Obama signed "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" a/k/a ObamaCare into federal law. The Obama administration’s unprecedented mandate attacks the freedom to practice religion without government interference. Under the HHS mandate, employers (private citizens who own businesses and with premiums paid by their employees) must provide insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs as well as contraceptives and sterilization procedures. The requirement to fund and facilitate such activities violates the core religious and moral convictions of Catholics and others.

This video explains the problem with the HHS mandate in sixteen seconds. I hope you'll watch it. It's that simple. ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enC0eFJgmpA. Thank you to the Archdiocese of St. Louis for producing this video.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

"My girl likes to party all the time."

There's a great YouTube video making the rounds. It starts with Michelle Obama's video played at the Democratic National Convention 2012. Michelle says, “If any family in this country struggles, then we cannot be fully content with our own family’s good fortune. Because that is not what we do in this country – That is not who we are. That is not who we are.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiGjE4_k0jIOh really? 


The video then chronicles Michelle's vacations with her girls (plus her mother and cousins, etc., etc.) - Yes, 16 vacations in three years. This does not include family vacations, or Obama's vacations, or Obama's 100+ rounds of golf, or her "official visits" like hanging out at the Olympics. Nope. However, it does include the $500,000 trip to Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." But, why should we care? Conservative numbers estimate she spent over $12,000,000 of taxpayer's money on her vacations. Actual figures are not available because the White House redacts information, so the true total is unknown.


Of course, the $12,000,000+ total does not include the 2012 Spring Break trip of 13-year-old Malia Obama to Oaxaca, Mexico...with 12 of her closest friends...and 25 Secret Service Agents. Neither parent accompanied their 13-year-old daughter. This trip was also paid with taxpayer's money. I wonder if we're also paying for all the concerts that Malia attends?  Hummmmmmm..... Particularly unnerving is their ignoring the State Department’s travel advisory for Americans not to travel to Mexico. Perhaps that because regular American citizens cannot travel with 25 Secret Service Agents..... Or, regular American citizens cannot afford travel - or gas, or peanut butter, or electricity, or housing..... - at all.

Andrea Tantaros of the New York Daily News says it best - "Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette." Oh, I like that. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/material-girl-michelle-obama-modern-day-marie-antoinette-glitzy-spanish-vacation-article-1.200134#ixzz29zVVC1ek

Fallen Heroes: Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods lost their lives in Benghazi

The heroism of former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods MUST surface. They deserve it. We must not let their courage be hidden or diminished. These men died while defending U.S. interests because they were brave patriots who put country ahead of self. 

In his Weekly Address, President Obama implied, quite intentionally, that Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were part of Ambassador Christopher Steven’s security detail:
“Glen and Tyrone had each served America as Navy SEALs for many years, before continuing their service providing security for our diplomats in Libya. They died as they lived their lives — defending their fellow Americans, and advancing the values that all of us hold dear."
However, that's false. Yes, they were both former Navy SEALs, but Doherty and Woods were not part of the Ambassador's security detail. 

Glen Doherty, 42
During the Gadaffi overthrow, massive stockpiles of Libyan weapons including MANPADS and other surface-to-air missiles were looted from the military storage facilities.  Estimates put the number of missing missiles around 20,000. Doherty and Woods were in Libya to track down those weapons.  As a consequence of their visit, they were at an annex to the US consulate grounds using it as a safe place to meet, coordinate, and evaluate their ongoing intel.  Their location was approximately a half mile from the main consulate compound area.

They were inside that annex building when the main consulate complex came under attack from the Libyan al-Qaeda terrorists.  They heard the distant shots and responded to a call for help from the compound itself.  Both Woods and Doherty evaluated the assassination attempt, and immediately took up arms to defend Ambassador Stevens.

Ty Woods, 41
Their heroism is incredible when you consider what they were facing.  Doherty and Woods reached the main compound of the Consulate and evacuated approximately 20 employees.  (Unfortunately, Ambassador Steven’s aide Sean Smith was already dead when they arrived.)  Woods and Doherty fought through the firefight, and took the consulate employees back to the annex building where again they came under another wave of attacks. 

The second wave of attacks at the annex brought even more firepower upon them.  Yet they held their position providing time for the 20 consulate employees to be rescued.  In total for over two hours they held off upwards of 200 al-Qaeda terrorists -- who pre-planned and coordinated the attack to occur in two stages -- under heavy fire from RPGs, mortars, and at least one 23mm Anti Aircraft gun firing on their positions around the consulate grounds and the annex building. 

Doherty and Woods heard the attack; they heard the gunfire. Despite the danger to themselves, they rushed into the breach, taking weapons from the frightened Libyan security officials to help protect the American Consulate, Ambassador Stevens and his embassy aide Sean Smith. Both Woods and Doherty were under no obligation to assist, protect or defend Stevens.  They could have bugged out; they did not. They could not.....They're U.S. Navy SEALS. Hoo-rah!

Mr. Doherty’s best friend and former SEAL Team 3 comrade, Brandon Webb, has written a goodbye letter that was published in full by The New York Times. I hope you'll read its entirety. A wonderful tribute from a comrade-in-arms and friend. http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/a-letter-to-my-friend-glen-doherty/?hp

About Me

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Winter Springs, Florida, United States
I am a stay-at-home mom to three boys (18, 16, 14), three Mini-Dachsunds, and a wife to an incredible husband {think MacGyver}. I am Catholic. I am passionate about making a difference in my world while still making a great life for my children and family. Besides being a mom, I am also a blogger for freddythewienerdog.blogspot.com and thedailylifeofcarol.blogspot.com. I hope to make my voice heard and make a difference in my own way.