Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome to my new website!

Welcome to my new website!

Dear According to Moi

Thank you for being my blog site over the last several months. However, we always knew this couldn't last forever, and it's time for me to move on. My website is finished! It's live and it has a Blog section where I'll be posting from now on. So, please visit me at www.cindycallaghan.com.
Best, Cindy

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The thing about vampires...

I can't say I'm crazy about vampires, afterall they're blood sucking monsters. But, I do like vampire stories (movies, TV or book). A current character I'm working on, (Sydney McMacken) and I have a similar view on the subject: We dig the movies, but the thought of the ACTUAL vampire coming in the house through a window, scares the pants off us.
I watch True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, and I've read the first couple of Twilight books. Here's the thing I have trouble with: If Vampires are old, like really old, why do they want to be in high school? I mean, if I was 110 ten years old and independently wealthy (ever notice how they have access to large sums of money?), I think the last thing I'd choose to do would be to go to high school. Maybe I'd hit a few good high school parties, but enroll in school, no way. Don't you think they'd be smarter and perhaps more mature than the average teen? Apparently not.
I'm only half-heartedly picking on teen vampire flicks, because while I didn't think New Moon was very good, I've seen it three times. I guess that says something. An added benefit is that each time I see it, it inspires me to write thinking of Stephanie Meyer and all of her wonderful success.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pirate Latitudes



I just finished a real winner. Pirate Latitudes by the late great Michael Crichton.

You've heard me profess my love for Michael Connelly, but there's another Michael, and I don't mean Jackson. I'm talking Crichton. Disclosure and Congo are two of my all time favs. The fact that Pirate Latitudes was published posthumously fascinates me and drew this pick to the top of my nightstand's pile.

The story behind the story: The novel was discovered on one of Crichton's computers by his assistant after the author's death, along with another unfinished novel which was slated to be published in the fall of 2009, although I don't know what novel this is referring to. It is believed that the book was written concurrently with NEXT.
Other sources revealed that the manuscript for Pirate Latitudes was first written back in the mid/late-1990's when he referenced traveling to Jamaica for insight into an unnamed novel.
The Movie: It is believed that Steven Spielberg plans to adapt the novel to film, reportedly having wanted to make a pirate film and being an admirer of Crichton's work. (He previously adapted the Jurassic Park movies.)
The 411: (From Shvoong.com) The year is 1665. The story starts in the Caribbean where a remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast preeminence of the Spanish empire. Its capital, Port Royal, is an aggressive town of taverns, grog shops, and lewd houses. In this sweltering climate there's a living to be made that can end quickly by disease or by switchblade. Captain Charles Hunter believes that gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking... And thus a treasure hunt in the Caribbean begins.
The recommendation: It's a must-read pirate adventure...rated R.
Personal note: The reading and writing community lost a hero with Crichton's untimely and very sad death. We are lucky to have this last work from him.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thanks to the little fairy who cleaned my head

I can't remember squat. It's not surprising given that I've had a ton going on with work, schedules, the kids, blah, blah, blah - you understand. This brain overload has had some unfortunate affects. I'm losing things, late, disorganized, and my brain just isn't working great. Here is an example: The other day someone at work suggested a great idea. It wasn't a solar rocket, but it was a smart, simple idea. The kind that makes you smack your forehead and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Well, I think I know why. My cranium needed a Spring Cleaning!! It was too messy and crowded to think.
Recently I had a head cold, so I laid down to take a nap, which is one of my favorite things that I almost never do. But, I couldn't fall asleep, because my head was amok with junk that kept bouncing around making it impossible to drift off. Instead of napping, a cute little brain-cleaning fairy sifted through the gunk up there. Soon I remembered that I hadn't RSVPed to a party and I needed to mail something to a friend. And while she sorted through my thoughts, organized and made room for new stuff, I came up with not one, but TWO cool new promotional ideas for JUST ADD MAGIC, and a good idea for something at work. It was amazing what a little extra cerebral space could do!
It was like taking old programs off your computer's hard drive so it can run faster... at least that's what I'm hoping.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

9 Dragons


I've blogged about Michael Connelly before, maybe several times. Maybe I've got a thing for him. Okay, I know I have a thing for him. I raced to get to the top of the library's CD list for his latest, 9 DRAGONS, which I listened to it in the car. I like having a book in the car, but since I am rarely in the car alone, it takes me a while to get through an audio book unless I'm on a trip. So, Michael and I took a drive alone to the mountains. It wasn't quite as romantic as it sounds, but it was still a good opportunity to listen to 9 DRAGONS.
My favorite detective Harry Bosche was on a very personal investigation that took him to Hong Kong.
For Bosche fans 9 DRAGONS pulls together lots of great seeds from past Connelly books: The rat tunnels of Vietnam, his brother Mickey Haller who works out of the backseat of his Lincoln, and the three loves in his life: his ex Elonore Wish, his daughter Maddie, and Los Angeles. But it also opens a whole new world including Asian gangs, Hong Kong, and a very personal side of Bosche and his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter. I didn't love the idea of taking Harry out of LA and making him a father figure because it was a significant change from who he was and why I loved him.
In the end it all worked and I enjoyed the book, err... I mean CDs, very much. More or less than other installments? Maybe not as much, but in all fairness, the bar there is set unrealistically high.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Espressologist


First off, you've gotta love the title and this cover. This sweet story begs to be made into a movie, probably with Taylor Swift.

The 411 from KristinaSpringer.com: What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?


The Recommendation: [Insert the Facebook "like" symbol here]. It was very good, very cute. As a coffee lover, I loved the setting. I gave it to my 11-year old to read. And for you teachers, it's fine for any age. Nothing risque.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Witch and Wizard

I love James Patterson books. Specifically, I love them on the beach, in the car, and on my ipod while walking. A lot of my literary-type friends criticize Patterson that his characters are shallow, chapters too short, and he's all about the plot. This is becasue writers-types like "character-driven" stories where everyone grows and changes. There are characters I really like, care about and return to time and time again: Amelia Bedilia, Harry Bosch, Stephanie Plum, Junie B Jones. But, often for me, (especially in the car, on the beach and while walking) it's all about page turning. That's what Patterson is awesome at.
This is the first of his teen projects that I've read. And in Patterson fashion, it didn’t disappoint.

The 411 From JamesPatterson.com: This is the astonishing testimonial of Wisty and Whit Allgood, a sister and brother who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and a wizard. Thousands of young people have been kidnapped; some have been accused; many others remain missing. Their fate is unknown, and the worst is feared—for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic...and the pursuit of being a normal teenager.

The Recommendation: Holy page-turner, Batman. I read this in four days on my Kindle. I think it's best suited for high school age teens because of the mild violence. This story is great fodder to discuss “what ifs.” -- The "what-ifs" that are possible, and have been demonstrated in history, ie: The Holocaust, the Salem Witch Executions, and prosecution that sadly takes place around the world today. It's entertaining, but I found it to elicit some deep thoughts. I think this would be a great discussion/study piece for high school classes. It's also a great adult read.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prada and Prejudice

This was my first Kindle read. IT WAS SO SUPER CUTE! Very clever too.

The 411 from School Library Journal: Fifteen-year-old Callie's class trip to England is, like most things in her life, remarkably unremarkable. Ever since she was overheard making a derogatory remark about cheerleaders by one of the most popular girls in school, Callie has been permanently on the D list. To her misery and embarrassment, she has been ditched by her class-trip buddy, leaving her stranded at their London hotel. A scheme to join fellow classmates on a surreptitious trip to a hot club leads to her tripping spectacularly over her new Prada heels. Upon waking from her blackout, Callie discovers that she has been transported to Regency England and is now the long-lost American friend of Emily, a well-to-do teenager. True to her character, she makes a series of faux pas with the titled gentry, earning her the disapproval of a matriarch and a dashing 19-year-old duke. Although her adjustment to an 1815 lifestyle is rough, she begins to appreciate her friendship with Emily and her surprising budding romance with the duke...

Recommendation According to Moi: Even though Callie is 15, this book is very appropriate for younger ages, I'd say 9 and up. The description is great - - transports you to 19th century England. This was a very satisfying read. I encourage you to find out what else Mandy Hubbard has up her designer sleeve at www.mandyhubbard.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shadowed Summer

I told you about my nightstand. Well, I've been racing through it at an amazing pace. I can't wait to tell you about Shadowed Summer which takes place in the heat of the deep south. Interestingly, I read it in the freezing, snowy Pennsylvania Mountains.

The 411:
Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn't have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.

Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the church pews. Until this summer.

A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she's certain it's the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to?

The recommendation: Being a north-easterner, the southern references and dialogue took me a few pages to get used to, but once I did, I loved that it was true to the South. I flew through this and I couldn't put it down because I just had to know what happened to Iris.

You can visit the author at http://www.saundramitchell.com/

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What's on my Nightstand

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions....who really needs all that pressure?

So, I am vowing to diligently work my way through my reading list this winter (what better time to curl up with a good read?) not because of any resolution, but out of fear -- I'm a little afraid of the girth of the pile.

My tower is not only huge, but diverse, both in terms of genre and medium. We Type-As like lists., so here's what I got going:
Adult Mysteries:
Look Again, Lisa Scottoline (autographed)
Pirate Lattitudes, Michael Crichton (1942-2008) - released in 2009
The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
Smoke Screen, Sandra Brown

Middle-Grade and YA
Eleven, Lauren Myracle - Just finished
The Year the Swollows Came Early, Kathryn Fitzmaurice - In-progress
Models Don't Eat Chocolate, Erin Dionne - DONE, highly recommend
The Hollow, Jessica Verday - On-deck
The Espressologist, Kristin Springer - On-deck
Shadowed Summer, Saundra Mitchell - Just finished
Prophecy of the Sisters, Michelle Zink - On-deck
The Wedding Planners Daughter, Coleen Murtagh Paratore - In-progress
You are So Undead to Me, Stacey Jay - In-progress
Dorie Dilts: School for Cool, P.G. Kain - On-deck - (Aladdin M!X sibling)
Just Another Day in my Insanely Real Life, Barbara Dee - In-progress - (Aladdin M!X sibling)
Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick - DONE, highly recommend
Devil's Kiss, Sarwat Chadda - DONE, highly recommend - (Greenhouse Literary sibling)

I also have books on my Kindle (which I LOVE):
Witch and Wizard, James Patterson
Prada and Prejudice, Mandy Hubbard - In-progress

In my car I have audio books:
9 Dragons, Michael Connelly .....the man, the legend...let's face it, he's my fav. - In-Progress
Thriller, Short stories edited by James Patterson - Just completed. Okay, so maybe I didn't listen to the whole thing, but it was like 16 CDs
And I I'm on the library waiting list at the library for: The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson

This doesn't include my newsletters and various local history pieces that are strewn around the coffee tables, and while I don't read them cover to cover, I do read them.

In fact, I'm off right now because I can't get Callie of Prada and Prejudice out of my mind.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Holiday Vacation read - A great MG book - Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies

I got a lot of books and a KINDLE!! (more about that in another post) for Christmas. I want to tell you about MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES because it was a really good, fast, lol-funny book that is great for tweens (9-13, and even older).
The 411:
When Celeste’s meddling aunt enters her in the Miss Husky Peach Pageant for “larger sized girls,” the eighth-grader quails at the thought of the teasing that’s sure to follow, though the idea of modeling has its appeal. Reasoning that if she loses enough weight, she’ll be ineligible for the contest, Celeste finds the motivation to skip snacks and even to exercise. Along the way, she begins to express her individuality through the unlikely vehicle of a beauty contest. Successes, flops, humiliations, and recoveries are all part of the pageant process, and even girls who don’t see themselves as potential models will enjoy Celeste’s account of her experiences. The wry first-person narrative also provides convincing views of middle-school friendships, family dynamics, and incremental personal growth. The ending may be a bit too rosy for absolute realism, but readers rooting for Celeste won’t complain. A light, well-paced first novel.
The recommendation: Your tween girl will love it. Congratulations to Erin Dionne on her wonderful debut novel. Her second book can be pre-ordered from her THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET can be pre-ordered from erindionne.com.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Post

It took Christmas in the air, twenty inches of snow, cabin fever, a blinking tree, and our favorite old Christmas book for us to huddle up for story time. We used to do this a LOT more when the kids were younger. But, now with our busy lives filled with work, school, sports, playdates, TV, computer and Wii, we don't much anymore, which doesn't make any sense because we all love it.

But recently the conditions were just right to snuggle and read from The Tall Book of Christmas (pictured). This well-worn book is a compilation of familiar favorites and lesser-known stories dating back to 1904. Reading together from this old book (origin long forgotten, maybe my dad's) has become a wonderful holiday tradition. Reading is like that, isn't it? Timeless.

The story we read was one you might not know: "The Story of the First Christmas Tree." In it a woodcutter has lost his way in the night. The good fairies of the forest light tree after tree in the snowy woods to guide him home. I just love that...the lights in the forest leading him home. Similarly this little old book has the ability to draw us "home"...around a twinkly tree sharing a story and a peaceful heart.

My holiday wish for my friends and family is just that: Hearts filled with peace that maybe, just maybe, with the help of an occasional good story, stays with you long after the snow melts.

Christmas Trivia: "The Story of First Christmas Tree" references Santa's eight reindeer. It's copywrited 1948, which led me and my three fellow researchers to question exactly when Rudolph became mainstream. Here's the answer: The character, story and song were invented as part of a retail store (Montgomery Ward) ad in 1939. While the original story is not in the public doman, rights were sold for a television special in 1964. It wasn't until that time that Rudolph then became part of Christmas folklore. (Thank you, Wikipedia. I just adore you.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Announcement: I am NOT sending Christmas cards (again) this year

Does this mean I'm a Grinch? Not at all. I like Christmas. Not as much as Halloween, but I like it.

You can call me a Grinch and I wouldn't mind. He's cute, and furry and green, and, let's face it, his theme song rocks!
I wonder if Dr. Seuss knew when he sat down to pen When The Grinch Stole Christmas that it would be a classic? I mean don't all writers, somewhere in our private psyche, imagine that our current project will live on long after our deaths? Don't we imagine that Literature students at an ivy-clad University in New England will study our work and our lives and gawk at the genius??
Okay, reality pill, maybe we imagine favorable reviews, four stars on Amazon.com, a few on-line interviews, and cool tweets.

Back to the topic of this post - the Christmas Cards... Historically I've sent a vast distribution of photo cards. Last year I was pressed with work and chores that I said, "I'll take a year off." A weight fell off my shoulders. So when the decision "to send or not to send" came up this year, it was a no-brainer.

But, please don't stop sending me your cards. I love getting pictures of the kids.

In closing, some Grinch trivia: The town of Whoville and the mountain of which the Grinch lives were based on the Town of Easthampton, Massachusetts and the overlooking mountain named Mount Tom. Easthampton and Mount Tom are just north of Springfield, MA where Dr. Seuss grew up. (Thank you, Wikipedia. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've got a thing for you ;)