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Archive for February, 2012

1st Annual Cruise for PBS Members – Day 1

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

photo by Linda (Angeleyes)

By Cheryl G (Poncer)


The 1st Annual Cruise for PBS Members set sail on Saturday, February 4, 2012 from sunny Jacksonville, FL on board the Carnival Fascination. There were 133 attendees in our group, including members of the PBS Team, PBS Volunteers, Members, families and guests. We were also joined by our Travel Agents.


The ship’s passenger capacity is 2052 passengers and there were 920 onboard crew members. The ship is 855 feet in length. The temperature was a balmy 73 degrees and partly cloudy. We traveled at a comfortable 12 knots. The sea was calm, but it took some time for us to get our sea legs.


As we sailed out of Jacksonville, we passed under the The Dames Point Bridge, also known as the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge. It spans the St. Johns River northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. It is two miles long, and 175 feet above the main channel of the river.


photo by Diana (booklady4)


photo by Diana (Booklady4)


Our first night out we enjoyed dinner in the formal Imagination Dining Room. We were all seated in one area, which made it very nice to see all of our group together in one place. The waitstaff was incredible, the food was abundant and great and the company was even better!



photo by Angela H. (Halti4)



This is Joseph and I. He was our super-charged maitre d’. He was very, um, entertaining.





And what cruise would be complete without blow-up flamingos and towel animals?!


photo by Gail P. (TinkerPirate)

photo by Cheryl G (Poncer)

So as the sun settled into the Atlantic Ocean, all good PBS Members were tucked into their berths, to ready themselves for a busy second day aboard the ship….


Photo by Gail (TinkerPirate)



Or were they?

photo by Diana (Booklady4)

Fiction Review – Juliet: A Novel 2-14

Sunday, February 12th, 2012



Juliet: A Novel by Anne Fortier



Review by R E K. (bigstone)


Recently I read Romeo and Juliet for the first time.   I loved Shakespeare’s famous love story.   How would I feel about Anne Fortier’s Juliet?  Very good, I found.

Julie and Janice Jacobs are twins whose parents died in an automobile accident in Italy.   They live with an aunt in the United States.  However, their personalities are different.  Janice is outgoing, self-centered, and seeks attention in whatever way she can get it.  Julie is an introvert who is sensitive and insecure, and hides her personality beneath her appearance.  While Janice is stylish and well groomed, Julie wears baggy and drab clothes with comfortable boots or shoes.

With the death of the aunt, Janice is left with her property whereas Julie receives only a key to a safe deposit box in Siena, Italy.  Janice is gleeful.  Julie is resentful.  Nevertheless, Julie heads for Italy to see what might be in this safe deposit box.  Arriving clad in baggy shorts and flip flops she discovers her luggage has been routed elsewhere.  Eva Maria Salimbeni, a wealthy Italian whom she met on the plane, takes her in tow and lends clothing until her own can arrive.  Through Eva Maria Julie meets Alessandro, her godson and a policeman.

Uh, oh!   Julie remembers that  she was kicked out of Italy and warned never to return!  Now, however, she is using her Italian name, Giulirtta Tolomei, so he may not discover that she is Julie Jacobs  who was barred from Italy.  After all she is just here to discover the safety deposit box and learn more about her parents.

Julie is joined by her sister Janice.  (Janice discovered that the aunt had so many debts that once paid nothing remained of her inheritance so she wants to share Julie’s treasure.)  The treasure consists of letters, pictures and piecing together the past which convinces the twins that their parents were murdered.   As they delve the past in more depth they discover much about life in Siena and the families who lived there, a part of which describes a love affair that their mother was convinced was the original Romeo and Juliet and that Juliet was an ancestor.   Furthermore, they discover generation after generation of feuding between families, with the Salimbeni family at the heart. and a curse has been placed on Tolomei family that can only be removed when Romeo and Juliet are reunited.  In spite of her fears about the Salimbeni family, Julie finds herself falling in love with the handsome Alessandro Salimbeni.

The story is far more complex than the original Romeo and Juliet but follows the same plot.   It vacillates between the past and the present but I prefer to think that the past is a manifestation of Julie’s lively imagination.  She has long been fascinated by Shakespeare and especially the tale of Romeo and Juliet.  And, as she, too, finds herself falling in love the tale only becomes more realistic to her.

The twins do discover a treasure – a statue of the original lovers with embedded precious jewels buried beneath the streets of Siena.  However, gangsters capture the twins and the Italian housekeeper who had lived with them in America to locate the statue.  Why he joins them is another twist in the story.   While I found the gangster involvement difficult to accept, I, nevertheless, enjoyed this convoluted love story as  written and well worth the time I spent with Julie and Janice.  And, at times the story rambles with little purpose but in spite of its flaws I recommend that those who enjoy a bit of mystery coupled with a little romance take time to read Juliet.


Fiction Review – Hello Goodbye

Saturday, February 11th, 2012


Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenoweth


Review by McGuffyAnn M. (nightprose)



Hello Goodbye is the heartbreaking story of a family at a crossroad. Each member is dealing with serious life circumstances, individually and as a whole unit. Love and the realization of loss is a common thread through each character’s life, as it is throughout the book.

College student Abby goes on what is believed to be a final “family vacation” with her parents. She is coming into herself as an adult, and she is making her own decisions. She also is making new, perhaps dangerous friendships, while also learning about love. Abby suddenly has secrets from her parents.

Youth often prevents one from seeing one’s parents as people in their own right. I believe Abby struggled with this, which kept her apart when she really needed them the most.

Consequently, Abby has no idea that her parents are keeping a deep secret from her. She does not know about her mother’s health and illness. As her parents are coming to terms with this issue, they reveal things to their friends and deal with family, leaving Abby out. They really needed Abby as much as she needed them, but parents try to protect their children from life’s hurts. No matter how much one loves their children, though, you cannot protect them from life.

The poignancy of youth, of the coming of age, and the mortality of life make this book remarkable. The situations are very real, and the dealing with them is as well.



Fantasy Friday – Debris

Friday, February 10th, 2012


Debris by Jo Anderton


Review by Barbara S. (barbsis)

Four Stars

In Movoc-under-Keeper you are either a pion worker or a debris collector.  A pion handler gets paid the rather big bucks because they can create darn near anything from buildings to statues to electricity and everything in between.  A pion handler is sort of a magician.  They use an inherent magical ability to manipulate pions. On the other hand, a debris collector is sort of like a garbage man and gets paid accordingly; picking up the hazardous waste by-producs of the pion usage.  The debris is strong enough to dismantle pion workings and fell buildings.  A debris collector has a special suit which reminded me a little of Inspector Gadget where anything you would need to collect debris can be instantly “created” from inside you.  The suit involves some sort of metal that is injected into the blood.  It’s not really a suit per se, but separate units at neck, waist, wrists and ankles that emits blinding light.  They can project all kinds of tools from their wrists to help collect debris – shovels, picks, pincers, etc.


Tanyana Vladha is a brilliant pion manipulator who says someone magically attacked her causing her creation to fall and darn near kill her and the spectators.  Interestingly enough, the Veche (kind of like a ruling council) had respresenatives on hand that day doing a surprise inspection.  Suspicious?  It certainly was to Tanyana.  After the accident, Tanyana is “demoted” to debris collector and has to adjust to a life as a garbage picker.  She’s good at it but hardly plans to live this way forever.  She continues to investigate her accident and runs into road block after road block with the Veche.  Suspicious?  You bet!


It took a long time to figure out what the heck was going on and what the heck they were talking about but once I figured it out, I really enjoyed Tanyana’s struggles with this new life.  She made friends with her debris team and hasn’t lost all hope of a reversal of fortune.

Thriller Thursday – Secret Sanction

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Secret Sanction by Brian Haig

Review by Vicky T. (VickyJo)

Not too long ago, one of my patrons came into the library to return a book.  She mentioned that she had really enjoyed it, but that it was the sixth book in a series.  She wanted to know if I had the first five books.  I checked our card catalog, and sadly, I didn’t have any of the other books.  This happens sometimes.  We will receive books in a donation, or sometimes I purchase a book, not knowing that it’s a part of a series.  And most people, myself included, like to read series….and they like to read them in order.

Anyway, a couple of weeks went by, and this particular patron came back.  She had purchased the first five books in this series, and she donated them to my library.  Now, if someone wants to read a series so badly that she will buy the books…and is then willing to share them with us so we have a complete collection…well, let’s just say I’m going to take notice!  (Not to mention be extremely grateful for the generous gift!)

Obviously I had to try this author, and so I took the first one home with me.  The title is “Secret Sanction” and it was written by Brian Haig.  You may recall Brian Haig’s father, Alexander Haig, who was the Secretary of State under President Reagan.  So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me to see that “Secret Sanction” had a strong military theme.  Uh-oh.  I’m not big on military novels.  But still, this patron really liked this author.

So, I cracked open “Secret Sanction” and was hooked.  Our hero, Sean Drummond, is a Major in the Army.  He’s served for 14 years; the first five in the infantry, then three years at law school, then six months at the JAG school (which stands for Judge Advocate General’s Corps) and then the rest of the time he’s been practicing military law.  He’s got a wicked sense of humor, he can be a real smart aleck, he’s confident, but doesn’t take himself too seriously…and most important of all, he’s a sharp judge of character.  That’s probably why he’s been chosen to investigate an incident that could turn into one of the biggest media-frenzies the military has ever seen.

A Special Forces A-team, made up of nine men commonly known as Green Berets, had been assigned to train a group of Kosovar Albanians who had been driven from their homeland by the Serbian militia.  It was part of the effort to build up the Kosovar Liberation Army, or the KLA.  They spent seven or eight weeks training their recruits, then were given secret orders to accompany the unit they trained back into Kosovo.

A week later the Kosovar unit tried to raid a Serbian village, and the entire unit was killed.  The A-team took it upon themselves to seek vengeance; they set up an ambush, and massacred a Serbian unit traveling along a supply route, killing 35 Serbs.  The Army arrested the A-team, and called in Sean Drummond to determine if there is enough evidence to court-martial the Green Berets in custody.  Talk about a no-win situation.  Drummond is a loyal Army man, but it’s his job to see that justice is done.  What he finds as he digs into this case will make him question his vows of duty and his sense of honor.  And it just might get him killed.

This book is fast-paced, with moments of tension interspersed with wry humor.  Haig reminds me of Nelson DeMille a bit.  His plot flows along, he doesn’t bog the story down with excess terminology…bottom line, he’s a good storyteller and this was a gripping novel.  Sean Drummond’s adventures continue in five other novels, including Mortal Allies, when he is asked to defend an American officer accused of murdering a South Korean war hero’s son, and The President’s Assassin, in which Drummond must race against the clock to find the group who has executed six people in a Washington D.C. mansion (including the White House Chief of Staff) and has promised that the President is next; within 48 hours.

If you’re looking for legal drama with a military flavor and a bit of humor, Brian Haig is the perfect choice.


Chick Lit Review – Holly’s Inbox

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012


Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham


Review by Kristin D. (kdurham2813)


Can you tell a lot about someone from their email inbox?  I knew this before reading this book, but I know it even more now!  The reader is swept into a story that is filled with unique characters and fun circumstances.  Through emails you meet the main character Holly and her friends and co-workers.  I loved the change in formatting, it was different from the usual novel and was beyond entertaining.


Yes, this book is over 600 pages, but never fear with emails being the format of this book, it breezes by you and you can’t believe that you are 200 pages in and already a third of the way through the book.  Some may have some fear in this different formatting but with the subject of emails as headers, there is some distinction between each conversation and it gets so good that it is hard to put it down.


For your ultimate chick lit reader, this is a perfect book to swap among friends, even better for those readers that are in the work force who may enjoy the work humor a little more!


Non-Fiction Review – 101 Essential Tips: Training Your Dog

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

101 Essential Tips: Training Your Dog Editor: Damien Moore


Review by McGuffyAnn M. (nightprose)


This book is an excellent training tool for dog owners. He sections of the book are detailed, easy to follow, and is illustrated with actual photographs.

In the first section, the book gives suggestions on how to choose the right dog for you, including the breed and sex of the dog. Characteristics of breeds are discussed, including dominant and submissive behaviors.

The book covers early training, an essential key to a happy dog as well as a happy owner. Rewards and discipline are explained, offering common sense guidelines. Tactics for training are integral. This book makes it easy to understand.

There are tips for how and when to handle various situations, discussing giving and enforcing commands. Training devices such as collars, leashes, and crates are pictured and explained.

The book outlines indoor and outdoor training, explaining the differences in exercise and training, and suggests games to play with your dog.

Finally, the book offers sections on re-training and behavioral problems giving workable solutions. These are especially helpful when adopting an older or a rescue dog.

I obtained this book when I was a veterinary technician. I used it when I had a pet sitting/pet care business, and was involved with training many ages and types of dogs. This book is invaluable. It is common sense, accessible, and easy for all ages to use. I recommend it for both dog owners and potential dog owners.