Monday, February 20, 2012

13. Viking In Love by Sandra Hill

All Lord Caedmon of Larkspur wants, after nine long months in the king's service, is a bit of peace...not five bothersome Viking princesses who invade his keep, especially not the fiery redhead, Breanne. He has half a mind to kick her tempting arse out the door...but wait...he has a much more wickedly delightful plan for this thorn in, side.

Princess Breanne of Stoneheim is shocked at Larkspur's rundown condition with servants and children running wild whilst Caedmon lies abed after a night of mead and, no doubt, wanton bedsport. Breanne must endure the loathsome lout to protect her four sisters. She can hardly imagine what this knight will demand of her in return.

Fun. Witty. A humorous historical romance with feisty women, tall, strong, handsome and occasionally befuddled men. With a nice mixture of adventure, romance and comical situations, Viking in Love delivers a light afternoon away from the stresses of daily life. Sandra Hill delivers bodice ripping fun and lively characters.

"Goodbye Earl."
Excerpt from Chapter one:

Breanne's back went rigid with anger.  Truly, she would gladly kill the brute all over again for what he had done to her gentle sister.  She could only imagine what a nightmare Vana's one-year marriage had been.  If only they had left the Norselands earlier to visit her in her Saxon home!
There was a light knock on the door.
Everyone stiffened with alarm.
They must needs dispose of the body, but Breanne had no idea how they could manage the feat in a keep filled with housecarls and servants, all loyal to the beastly nobleman.  Now it was too late.
Breanne stood and motioned for Vana to step forth.  Despite her condition, Vana would have to answer.  Limping toward her, Vana stood bravely and faced the closed door.  "Who is it?"
"Rashid.  Let me in."
Five sets of shoulders sagged with relief.  Rashid was the assistant to Adam the Healer, a physician, her sister Tyra's husband.  With a snort of disgust, Tyra--who was extremely tall for a woman and very strong, having once been a warrior--jerked the door open, grabbed Rashid by the arm, and yanked him inside, shutting the door behind them.
Breanne had the good sense to lock it after them.
"What are you doing here?  Following me?" demanded Tyra, hands on hips.
"Allah be praised, it is good to see you, too, Tyra."
Rashid spoke in heavily accented English, though he still, after all these years, wore the traditional Arab garb of hooded robe with rope belt, over Saxon tunic and braies.  "Your husband asked me to follow and see what you were up to...I mean, to offer you protection in the event of..."  He slapped a hand over his heart as he noticed the nobly clad body lying in a pool of blood on the stone-flagged floor.  "For the love of a camel!  What have you done?"
"When we arrived for a visit, unannounced, we found the spineless lout beating our sister with his fists and a whip," Tyra explained.  "When I broke his whip, he came at me with a knife, which I turned on him."
They all glanced at the knife, which still protruded from
his belly.
Some of her sisters began to weep.
Oh, good gods!  Not the tears again!  Breanne stepped between Tyra and Rashid.  "It wasn't just Tyra.  We all played a part.  I for one hit him over the head with a poker when Tyra's knife thrust did not immediately fell him."
"And I kicked him when he was down," Ingrith said on a sniffle, her blue eyes sparkling with fury.  So hard was she shaking her head that strands of golden blonde hair were coming loose from her long braids.
"I kicked him, too.  In the head.  Just to make sure he was bloody well dead."  Drifa paused.  "Is he dead?"
Rashid went down on one knee and put his fingertips to a certain spot on the earl's neck.  "Dead as a fly on a cobra's tongue."
Rashid always had a way with words, especially proverbs, one of which he spouted now as he stood to his full height, wiping his hand on his robe with distaste.  "Death is a black camel that lies down at every door.  Sooner or later every man must ride the camel.  Like yon earl."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

12. When You Dare by Lori Foster

Professional mercenary Dare Macintosh lives by one hard and fast rule: business should never be personal. If a cause appeals to him and the price is right, he'll take the mission he's offered. But then the lovely Molly Alexander asks him to help her track down the men who'd had her kidnapped—and for the first time, Dare's tempted to combine work with pleasure.
Fiercely independent, Molly vows to trust no one until she's uncovered the truth. Could the enemy be her powerful, estranged father? The ex-fiancĂ© who still holds a grudge? Or the not-so-shy fan of her bestselling novels? As the danger heats up around them, the only anchor Molly has is Dare himself. But what she feels for him just might be the most frightening thing of all…

This is the first book that I have read by Lori Foster and I really enjoyed it.  It's a Harlequin Romance novel with more action, clever banter and strong-minded men and women.  From the first page the action began. A few turns later the hot romance began.

I did have a problem or two with the book which, in the end, was easy to overlook.  The immediate attraction between Dare and Molly...okay.  I can see that.  But they seemed to graduate to a full blown relationship very quickly.  Within pages they knew details about each others personalities, beliefs and way of life that should have taken them weeks even months to learn. For the most part, the novel tells the reader what they will need to know about the characters and how they interact rather than having the characters show it through their actions.  It was like they were on fast forward so that the awkward getting to know you stage wouldn't interfere with the investigation or action.  The other bit that bothered me here and there in the book is the heavy handed manner that the men deal with the women.  There is a need for protection yes, but at times the control they demand bordered on overbearing for this reader.  This is a light, sexy read, not meant to be anything more than entertaining.  As an adventure romance, it achieves that easily.

This book is full of mental eye candy.  So here is a trailer with more.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Library as a Digital Learning Space

Highlights from Bridget McCrea's Jan 11, 2012 article: The Library as a Digital Learning Space

A high school in Connecticut is developing and honing a hybrid library that incorporates both traditional books and new digital technologies.

Wanting to develop a media center/library that would go beyond stacks of unused books, dark study corners, and low lighting...Some of the key questions discussed concerned the need for a physical library in the information age, the role that books wouldplay in the new facility, and how media literacy would be taught to students.

A Hybrid Approach

After looking at several options--including one that would eliminate the library's physical space completely--the team decided to use a hybrid concept for the new Simsbury High School library/media center. The 1,500-square-foot facility incorporates both traditional and modern elements. Key features include a spacious entry way, two lounge seating areas, mission-style furnishings, a librarian reference desk that's positioned in a central location on the library floor, twolibrary classroom/computer labs, 30 PCs, and 17,000 physical books.

Maureen Snyder, library media specialist, said books and a physical space almost didn't make it onto the agenda for the new facility. "We toyed with the idea of not having books and developing a more digitized environment," Snyder said. "At one point we even wondered if we needed a physical environment at all for the new library."

The more traditional route won out when the superintendent and staff decided that Simsbury High School's 1,630 students needed somewhere to go to borrow books, load up their e-readers, collaborate on homework assignments, and learn the intricacies of media literacy in today's information-rich world.

Snyder estimated her budget to be $20,000 annually for digital media and $4,000 for print. "I don't allocate a lot towards print because we can get so many books electronically," said Snyder. "Plus, it just doesn't make sense to purchase a lot of high-end reference books when I can access a database that includes those resources." Students retrieve those digital databases on a 24/7 basis at school or at home, according to Snyder, who said most of the library's print content comprises recreational reads, including biographies, fiction, and non-fiction titles.

Snyder said her staff works together with the school's teachers to develop classes that combine educational content with the information literacy component.

"There is so much information out there, but that doesn't mean students know how to use it and evaluate it," said Snyder, who said she sees the marriage of classroom lessons and information literacy as an important asset for today's young learners. "In the past a class would come into the library to learn how to use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature in isolation," said Snyder. "That's changed. Now we're collaborating with teachers across all subjects on their lesson plans, and we're conducting instruction on research, information, and technology."

Other challenges haven't been so easy to tackle.

With 33 years of experience as a school librarian under her belt, Snyder said getting adults to understand the changing role and "look" of the library is an ongoing battle.
"A lot of people still think of the library as a warehouse where you go to get a book or a magazine," she said. "To deal with it we just strive to be a model for helping people understand that a media center is a lot more than just a place for physical books."

Library Redesign: Lessons Learned

Maureen Snyder offered these five tips to schools looking to overhaul their traditional libraries.

1. Think of the space as a media and learning center as opposed to just a place to house books.
2. Be ready to tweak floor plans, move furniture, and take other steps once the facility is open and in use.
3. Accept the fact that adults will expect the library to look and feel like the one they used in high school and college.
4. Create a space that integrates media and information literacy with classroom lesson plans.
5. Serve as a model for those who may need a little extra "push" when it comes to accepting the new digital role that school
libraries play.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Thursday, February 2, 2012

11. The Black Donnellys by Thomas P. Kelley

The "Black Donnellys" lived near Lucan, north of London, Ont., in the nineteenth century. This Irish family had a reputation for violence and lawlessness, and did much to alienate their neighbours in a running feud that was imported from Ireland. In February 1880, a vigilante committee descended on the Donnelly farmstead and took justice into their own hands, leading to a brutal and controversial outcome.

The terrible Donnelly feud, reportedly the most notorious and violent in the history of Canada, began in the spring of 1847 only hours after Irish immigrant James Donnelly arrived in the town of Lucan, Ontario. For almost 33 years murders, gang wars, robbery, mass arson, derailed trains, and mutilations marked the town.

This was an interesting read. Reading it, I felt as though  I was sitting on a porch listening to someone's grandfather trade tales of the infamous family with his friends.  Although a terrible tale of bullying, vengeance and violence it also reads a bit like small town gossip.  There are some fringe members of the family that seemed ignored by the author despite their own tragic involvement.  If they were guilty of anything other than being related to the Donnelly's the author failed to share it.

If anyone is interested in learning more, they can visit Lucan, Ontatio and stop by the Lucan Area Heritage and Donnelly Museum. You can even trace the path taken by the Vigilance Committee the night of February 3, and early morning hours of February 4, 1880 when the massacre occurred.