NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Dog Trial Coming Up!

We've had a little time off, but I'll be spending next weekend out on the agility course with Max. We're pretty excited! We also have a change in our overall titling plans.

Max was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia at ten months old. I was told he most likely would not be able to walk by the time he was two. I was devastated! Long story short, we monitored his diet closely to keep him skinny, supplemented with glucosamine, made sure he got lots of exercise, and here he is at 4 1/2 and doing wonderfully! However, the arthritis caused by the dysplasia is just beginning to bother him a bit. I've taken him out of "Regular" competition and begun to enter him in a category that CPE* has called "Enthusiast" which will allow him a 4'' break in jump height, meaning he'll only jump 12'' now. Even better news is that since we already had one Level 5 qualifying score, he'll be able to compete in Level 5 in all classes in the new category, so we'll be working on his Championship title right away! (That would be his CT-ATCH, meaning CPE Enthusiast Agility Trial Champion.) And, the best news in the world for me, all 40 qualifying scores required for the Championship must come from only 6 of the 7 classes. One class my be skipped in whole or in part. Hallelujah! I never have to Q in Snooker ever again!! That's what we call a Silver Lining!! :-)

So, Max is doing very well, but we're cutting him some slack to keep him as healthy as we can in light of his issue. He loves agility so much that it would be heartbreaking if we had to make him stop. But bless CPE's heart for having an even better category we can enter if 12'' jumps still bother him. We can enter "Specialist" and jump him at 8''! That's like no jumps at all for him! I can just see his little happy face tearing around the course with nothing to slow him down. And the hysterical faces of the spectators watching me try to keep up!

I know some of this makes no sense to a lot of my readers, but I love running in agility with my boys and I love to talk about it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'd love to tell you all about it!

And what have Skye and Peter been doing with their time? They've started learning to herd sheep! Skye is so much happier doing that than running agility. It's what he was bred for, and his face lights up every time you say, "You want to go see the sheep?" I haven't been able to go watch yet, but I can't wait to see him do this thing once they've had a chance to learn some of the ropes. In the meantime, the boys are saving their energy:

Good boys!

* CPE is the venue we compete in. Other venues you may have heard of are AKC (which is the venue you usually see running on Animal Planet), NADAC, UKC, USDAA, etc.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Who Would You Be?

Over at Word Wenches today, Susan Sarah asks, "What if we could not just read about, or act as, but actually BE our favorite historical person for a little while?"

Interesting question! She has some parameters:

What if you were shown an actual time machine -- one that works effortlessly, within the expanded laws of quantam physics -- and then told that you could step into this thing and program something specific in time, for as long or as brief a period as you like -- so that your conscious awareness would be projected and merged with that of any historical person you choose? If that were possible, what woman (or man) would you want to be? You have the ability to step into their shoes and their life, and you can duck out before things get sticky. And if you like, you can stay much longer, though knowing what we do about the denouement and demise some of our favorites, we might want to opt out.

For me, I think the answer is Cleopatra. She was so strong and intelligent, and the story of her accession to the throne and her scheming and fighting to keep Egypt out of the hands of the Roman empire is amazing. I have been fascinated with her for as long as I can remember. But, yeah, I'm bowing out before the whole suicide ordeal.

Another woman that I would like to step into the shoes of is Queen Hatshepsut, "regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty". (Wikipedia)

If I thought about it a lot longer, I could probably come up with more. But these were the two that immediately popped into my head. What about you? Who in history would you like to be, if just for a little while?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Purple" Books

Between the upcoming presidential election and my recent reading of The Post-American World, I have found myself becoming obsessed with the desire to learn more about politics, economics, foreign affairs, etc. My problem is that even though I'm an Obama supporter, I don't necessarily want to read only the Democratic side of any topic. Nor am I interested in reading an Obama/Democrat slam-fest. With the bewildering array of political and current events books out there, I wondered where I could find more books like The Post-American World that don't obviously side with either party. Amazon has apparently heard my silent plea! From their Election Store:

Since not every political book is a red or a blue book, we've also prepared a list of "purple" books that includes journalistic accounts that present themselves as nonpartisan (even though they might be more critical of one party or another), as well as books that cross the usual party lines (even if they might be written by a member of one party or another).

Hooray!! Here is a link to that list: Purple Books List

Agree or disagree with the list as we will, it at least gives me a starting point. I'm off to the store with my list. . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coming Oct. 7!!

My copy of I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun is dutifully pre-ordered. I can't wait to get my paws on this one! So to speak. . . :-)

For Cheezburger/Obama Fans

How cute is that?? The only thing I would change is the last line. I think it should be "Kittehs for Obama". :-) I know lots of us are LOLCats fans, so when I saw this it brought a huge smile to my face, and, of course, I had to share. You can get it on t-shirts, sweatshirts, pins, book bags, all kinds of stuff. Just click here! I didn't see any McCain ones, but, admittedly, I didn't look very hard. But if you check out Cafe Press, they have some great merchandise for both sides!

Don't forget to watch the debate Friday night!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


by Michelle Moran

The Heretic Queen is the story of Nefertari, famed wife of Ramesses the Great and niece of the reviled Nefertiti. With romance and royal intrigue enough to rival any Tudor tale, we follow Nefertari from her childhood at the Egyptian court as an all-but-forgotten orphan princess through her trials and triumphs to overcome the taint of her background to win the love the Egyptian people and the loyal heart of her greatest desire -- Ramesses.

I very much enjoyed the entire book, but one of the aspects I found most interesting was the minor sub-story of Moses and the Hebrews. (Named in this book as "Ahmoses" and the "Habiru".) After all, I can't hear the name "Ramesses" without thinking of the Exodus. They are forever entwined in my television-addled brain. In the author's notes, Ms. Moran writes that those looking for the biblical Moses will be sorely disappointed. That is true. But what they will find is a most surprising take on those events. Possibly anti-climatic for those wishing for plagues and passover and parting seas and "So let it be written, so let it be done", but very interesting nonetheless.

The amount of research done for this book draws you in to every page. It's easy to lose yourself in the grandiosity of it all. But with deep respect for all the work Michelle Moran has done, this is what my mind will always see when I hear the names of Nefertari and Ramesses:

Big sigh. And just for the sake of self-indulgence, I'll include this one too:

Bigger sigh . . . They just don't make pharaohs like they used to. ;-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lazy Weekend

After all the excitement the last couple of weeks with the Michelle Moran Giveaway and BBAW, I was apparently in need of mindless entertainment this weekend, because I spent hours playing Jewel Quest III. I bought the full version and was all kinds of obsessing on this stupid game all weekend. I had to stop late last night when I kept accidentally letting the monkeys back out of their cages. Seriously.

I just heard from Tanabata, who won the box of chocolates from Michelle Moran during the giveaway. The goodies arrived safely in Japan, and she posted a lovely photo on her blog. Yum!

I'm going to be gluing myself to my books this week assuming I can stay away from that blasted game, so I'll have some reviews for you later for certain. In the meantime, check out this video. "Kittehs" make me laugh! Too cute!

Ninja Kitteh Comes Closer Without Moving:

Have a good Monday, Everyone!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thank you, Amy! From all of us!!

This summer, after book blogging was patronized in the mainstream media, Amy from My Friend Amy made a suggestion that we celebrate book blogging. From that idea, Book Blogger Appreciation Week was born. Many of us have participated in interviews, contests, give-aways, and through awards; but, this would never have happened were it not for the dream, perseverance, planning, hard work and dedication of Amy. This has been a wonderful week and as members of the Book Blogging community, in one voice we want to thank Amy for all that she has done.

Amy, you are truly the Queen of Book Bloggers and we love you!

BBAW Chocolate Martini

Welcome everyone who is joining me in the BBAW Chocolate Martini, both cyber-only and otherwise! Catherine Delors (of Mistress of the Revolution fame) has asked for the recipe, and I'm more than happy to oblige:

Chocolate Martini

There are many ways to make a chocolate martini. You can pick your favorite spirit such as light rum, vodka or brandy as a base spirit to mix with a chocolate liqueur. If you're looking for a fruity taste, pick a flavored vodka or rum such as citrus or raspberry. For a sweeter taste, use vanilla flavored vodka or rum. To garnish, coat a rim of martini glass or a swirl a chocolate syrup in a glass. Avoid putting the chunk of chocolate that sits at the bottom of the glass so that you won't choke on it.


- 2 oz base spirit (vodka, light rum or brandy)
- 1/2 oz chocolate liqueur
- 1/2 oz white creme de cacao
- Chocolate syrup to coat rim of martini glass

Coat rim of martini glass with chocolate syrup. Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass.

Congratulations to winners, finalists, and nominees, and Big Cheers to everyone who participated in the First Annual (we hope!!) Book Blogger Appreciation Week!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Congratulations, Medieval Bookworm!

The votes are tallied and the winner of "Best History/Historical Blog" is Medieval Bookworm! Congratulations Meghan! And I share a consolation cyber-Chocolate Martini with my fellow Runners-Up. Next year, Ladies! :-)

Cheers, everyone! And a special shout-out to Amy for this most excellent event! Anyone wishing to share in our martini circle, feel free to copy the photo to your blog and join in the celebration!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


by Fareed Zakaria

This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else. It is about the great transformation taking place around the world, a transformation that, though often discussed, remains poorly understood.

-- The Post-American World, p. 1

Normally, a book about global economics would produce in me an empty, glassy-eyed stare rivaled only by our most vacuous entertainment icons. Quite frankly, I don't get it. But Fareed Zakaria makes it understandable without feeling like it's being dumbed down for you. The Post-American World was so absorbing that I would find myself continuing to sit in my car in the garage once I was home from work, listening the the CDs to learn more. With the economy being a huge issue in this presidential election and the mess on Wall Street this week, the information in this book became even more pertinent to me as a voter. I highly, highly recommend this book, and it should be required reading for anyone running for any governmental office. Just my personal opinion. :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And The Winners Are . . .

Are you all as excited as I am?? Well, then let's not waste any time! Peter has done the honor of drawing the names out of his Tommy Bahama Panama hat (one of his prize possessions and endowed with lucky vibes).


(Drum Roll. . . . .)

TEDDY ROSE of So Many Precious Books, So Little Time!! Congratulations, Teddy!

The winners of brand new paperback copies of NEFERTITI with bookplates autographed by Michelle Moran are:

SHELLY of Ink Scrawls

But wait! There's more! A box of King Tut Chocolates from Sees Candies is going out to:

Tanabata from In Spring It Is The Dawn

And there are our winners! If you could each contact me via email with our mailing addresses, I'll get these prizes out to you ASAP!

If you missed out on this drawing, Historical Tapestry is also giving away TWO autographed copies of THE HERETIC QUEEN for Michelle Moran Week. Get your entries in now! And Michelle herself has a fabulous contest being held on her Official Site. Find out Pharaoh and/or decode some hieroglyphics and win a whole slew of amazing prizes!

And keep an eye on Books 'N Border Collies as the holidays creep ever closer. There is another giveaway in the works that I don't think you'll want to miss!

Whew. I'm all worn out now. Time to get reading my copy of The Heretic Queen!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is here!!

Hooray! Book Blogger Appreciation Week is officially underway! Check out this list of participants. Wow!! There are all kinds of fun things going on all week, so make sure you check the schedule at My Friend Amy to see when and where all the excitement is happening, not to mention what everyone is all excited about! Winner of "Best History/Historical Blog" will be announced Thursday morning at The Literate Housewife Review, so I'll be on pins and needles waiting for that one! She wrote up wonderful summaries about each blog in the running, and I've got some seriously great competition. Good luck to everyone!

And as if that isn't enough, Historical Tapestry is hosting Michelle Moran Week this week also! They will be giving away a couple of autographed copies of THE HERETIC QUEEN, so click on over and enter their contest, too!

I'll be announcing the winners of the Books 'N Border Collies Michelle Moran Giveaway tomorrow morning, so stay tuned!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Win THE OTHER QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

I just saw this giveaway posted at The Literate Housewife. She is giving away an autographed copy of Philippa Gregory's The Other Queen! Click on over and check out the scavenger hunt she's hosting to win. Very fun! (See my review for a preview of this fantastic prize.)

There is one more day to enter the Michelle Moran Giveaway here on Book 'N Border Collies. Entries close tomorrow and midnight, the drawing will be done on Monday, and the winner announced Tuesday, release day for The Heretic Queen. Good luck to all the entrants. I wish everyone could win!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Answers from Michelle Moran!

Many of us are impatiently tapping our toes waiting for the release of THE HERETIC QUEEN next Tuesday. Until then, here is another tidbit from Michelle:

Ladytink asks:

What kind of research did you do? Do you listen to any type of music while writing? Did any other authors influence you and this book?

Michelle Moran:

I'll bet that last answer was a bit more than you bargained for, huh?! I'll try to keep this one short ;]

For research, I try to visit the actual location where the novel is taking place (in this case, Egypt). Then I buy as many books on the subject as possible and try to recreate - in my own mind and on paper - the world my characters are living in. I also have some very gracious contacts in the archaeological world whom I can turn to if I get stuck.

I have to admit, I don't really listen to any music for inspiration. I like total silence when I write. I also try not to read too much fiction set during the time period I'm writing on. There are two reasons for this.

One of the reasons is that Egyptian fiction has never really appealed to me (ironic, I know). A great deal of fiction set in ancient Egypt feels “heavy”. The dialogue seems stilted because the author is attempting to make it sound old (which seems silly, since the dialogue isn’t going to be accurate anyway. Firstly, we don’t know the rhythm or cadence the ancient Egyptians used, and secondly, they didn’t speak English!). Also, a lot of fiction set in places like Rome and Egypt focuses on the lives of men. The books are filled with war or male-dominated politics, and that’s simply not what I’m interested in.

I want to know about women’s lives. That’s not to say there aren’t any politics in my novel. Harem politics could be just as heated and dangerous as politics in the Audience Chamber. And that’s also not to say that there aren’t any battles. After all, Ramesses took his principal wives with him to war. But I want to hear about the experience of everyday life and war from the women. What was it like for them? What did they see, and hear, and do? So that’s one reason I didn’t read Egyptian fiction before writing my own. However, my primary reason had to do with my own writing and research. I didn’t want to be influenced by another author’s take on events or their approach to the ancient world.

But now that I’m finished writing on ancient Egypt and my next book will explore Imperial Rome, I’m eager to start looking for Egyptian fiction with strong female leads. Any suggestions are most welcome!


(Lezlie raises her hand. . .) I have a suggestion!! Pauline Gedge's Child of the Morning, about Queen Hapshetsut, Egypt's only female pharaoh, is one of the best books I have ever read. Also, there is a really old one called I, Cleopatra by William Bostock that is worth the search at the used bookstores to find. Do any of you know of others?

If you have a question for Michelle, post it in the comments at Michelle Moran Q & A. And if you haven't gotten in on the Michelle Moran Giveaway yet, there are still a few days left! The drawing will be held Monday and the winners announced on Tuesday, September 16, the release date of THE HERETIC QUEEN.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Michelle Moran Speaks about THE HERETIC QUEEN

Michelle Moran graciously offered to answer questions readers of Books 'N Border Collies have about her writing and Ladytink jumped right in with some great ones! Here is the first of Michelle's answers:

Ladytink asks:

What made you want to write about this particular queen?

Michelle Moran:

Hi Ladytink,

Thank you for asking! I think I'll answer your questions in several posts, because a few of them require longer answers.

In many ways, The Heretic Queen is a natural progression from my debut novel Nefertiti. It tells the story of Nefertari, who suffers terribly because of her relationship to the reviled “Heretic Queen”. Despite the Heretic Queen’s death many years past, Nefertari is still tainted by her relationship to her aunt, Queen Nefertiti, and when young Ramesses falls in love and wishes to marry her, it is a struggle not just against an angry court, but against the wishes of a rebellious people.

But perhaps I would never have chosen to write on Nefertari at all if I hadn’t taken a trip to Egypt and seen her magnificent tomb. At one time, visiting her tomb was practically free, but today, a trip underground to see one of the most magnificent places on earth can cost upwards of five thousand dollars (yes, you read that right). If you want to share the cost and go with a group, the cost lowers to the bargain-basement price of about three thousand. I looked at my husband, and he looked at me. We had flown more than seven thousand miles, suffered the indignities of having to wear the same clothes for three days because of lost luggage… and really, what were the possibilities of our ever returning to Egypt again? There was only one choice. We paid the outrageous price, and I have never forgotten the experience.

While breathing in some of the most expensive air in the world (I figured it was about $20 a gulp), I saw a tomb that wasn’t just fit for a queen, but a goddess. In fact, Nefertari was only one of two (possibly three) queens ever deified in her lifetime, and as I gazed at the vibrant images on her tomb – jackals and bulls, cobras and gods - I knew that this wasn’t just any woman, but a woman who had been loved fiercely when she was alive. Because I am a sucker for romances, particularly if those romances actually happened, I immediately wanted to know more about Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. So my next stop was the Hall of Mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There, resting beneath a heavy arc of glass, was the great Pharaoh himself. For a ninety-something year old man, he didn’t look too bad. His short red hair was combed back neatly and his face seemed strangely peaceful in its three thousand year repose. I tried to imagine him as he’d been when he was young – strong, athletic, frighteningly rash and incredibly romantic. Buildings and poetry remain today as testaments to Ramesses’s softer side, and in one of Ramesses’s more famous poems he calls Nefertari “the one for whom the sun shines.” His poetry to her can be found from Luxor to Abu Simbel, and it was my visit to Abu Simbel (where Ramesses built a temple for Nefertari) where I finally decided that I had to tell their story.

As if we didn't want to read the book enough as it was? :-) But there's more! Tune in tomorrow when Michelle talks about her research, music, and the influence of other authors.

If you have a question for Michelle, post it in the comments at Michelle Moran Q & A. And if you haven't gotten in on the Michelle Moran Giveaway yet, there are still a few days left! The drawing will be held Monday and the winners announced on Tuesday, September 16, the release date of THE HERETIC QUEEN.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


by Carolly Erickson
(To be released Sept. 30)

Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra, escapes the cruel fate of the last of the Romanovs, and lives to tell her story of the Russian Revolution, World War I, and the fall of the last Tsar.

In contrast to The Romanov Bride, which I read and reviewed earlier this year, The Tsarina's Daughter, shows the struggles of Russia from the inside out. Tatiana's life was very insulated, and you feel her disconnection from the real world. Even when she starts venturing out delivering baskets of food to poverty-stricken workers and then later working in the hospital, you know, as does she, that so much more is going on than she ever hears about, sees, or experiences. This disconnect blunts some of the emotional impact that this story could have had. However, for a reader as unfamiliar with the history of Russia as I am, it was still an affecting glimpse into a world that is gone forever and allowed a comforting, if not happy, ending to a sad event.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


by Philippa Gregory
(Release date: Sept. 16, 2008)

The Other Queen isn't so much the story of Mary Queen of Scots during her captivity by Queen Elizabeth as it is about the turmoil in a Tudor England teetering on the edge of a new era. When Queen Mary comes to England for help from an insurrection in Scotland, an aging Queen Elizabeth, unmarried, childless and steeped in paranoia aroused by her closest advisor the spy-master William Cecil, holds her in England for fear Mary will go back home and plot to take the English crown, which many believe belongs to Mary by right.

The style of The Other Queen follows that of The Boleyn Inheritance. The story is told from three alternating first-person perspectives: Mary Queen of Scots, and the newly-married couple chosen to house the detained queen, George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. Mary secretly plots multiple escapes and the usurpation of the English throne right under the noses of her guardians, George and Bess are driven to near poverty housing the captive queen with no help from Elizabeth, and relations between enemies, friends and lovers alike are strained to the breaking point as people all over England and Europe rise up in support of Queen Mary. The true strengths and flaws of each character are skillfully revealed as the years progress. But Queen Elizabeth, a true Tudor to the bone, will not be denied her place and no one, not even a fellow queen, is safe from her deadly wrath.

I've previously been disappointed in tellings of Queen Mary's captivity. How exciting can one make being imprisoned for years? But Philippa Gregory knows her audience, and in her hands the tale is dynamic and emotional. The narratives of George and Bess are a brilliant twist in perspective, and give real-life hopes and dreams a place in a world ransacked by royalty.

Visit Philippa Gregory's Official Website to learn more!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Michelle Moran Q & A

The entries are pouring in for the Michelle Moran Book Giveaway, and I couldn't be more thrilled! It's going to be so much fun to give away these great prizes!

There's still time to get in on the drawing, and in the meantime, Michelle has offered to answer your questions about her books! Wondering how she did her research? Why she chose to tell the story from Nefertiti's sister's point of view? Ask away! She said the only thing she won't answer are specific questions about The Heretic Queen, as the book is not out yet, and she doesn't want to give anything away.

Post your questions in the comments section, and next week Michelle will answer them personally!

Friday, September 5, 2008

BBAW -- The Voting Has Begun!!

The voting has begun for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and I have been selected as one of the finalists for "Best History/Historical Fiction Blog"!! I'm so excited!! Thank you to everyone who nominated me, and good luck to my fellow finalists! The decisions are going to be hard to make with so many great blogs out there. But the voting booth is officially open until Sept. 12, so CLICK HERE and pick your favorites!

In case you're unfamiliar with some of the nominees, a list of links to all the finalists sites can be found here.

Amy at My Friend Amy has done an amazing job on this event, and I would like to thank her for all her hard work! And good luck to everyone!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


by Georgette Heyer

The extended tag line for The Conqueror: A Novel of William the Conqueror reads, "The bastard son who overpowered a kingdom and the woman who melted his heart." Don't let that fool you. While Georgette Heyer is known for her fabulous regency romances, The Conqueror is no romance. And I mean that in a good way!

This is the story of William the Conqueror, but his relationship with his wife, Matilda of Flanders, is only a minor part of the saga and disappears into the background once they are wed. William's rise from bastardy to King of England is experienced by two men -- Raoul de Harcourt, a Norman and William's favorite, and Edgar of Marwell, a Saxon hostage held by William, who is devoted to the cause of putting Earl Harold Godwineson on the throne. The unlikely friendship that develops between Raoul and Edgar is the heart of this book, and when the ambitions of William and Harold finally pit the two on opposite sides of the bloody Battle of Hastings, the reader will experience the horror of war, the sometimes painful cost of loyalty, and the majesty of true friendship.

Interesting sidenote: When William sails off to England, his wife, Matilda, stands on the shore envisioning the creation of a grand tapestry depicting William's conquests. This dream is, of course, the famous Bayeux tapestry, the subject of Sarah Bower's book, The Needle in the Blood. Now I'm all anxious to get to that one!