Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph - Invisible

Title: Invisible
Author: Lorena McCourtney
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell
Publication Date: August 1, 2004
Format: eBook
Genre: Christian Mystery
Source: Amazon Digital Services
Series: Ivy Malone Mystery #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

First Paragraph:

The sign arched over the gravel driveway proclaimed “Country Peace” in rusty wrought iron. Beyond the sign, the havoc in the cemetery challenged that claim of serenity.

The weathered gravestone of one Emil Riptone lay at the edge of the road, lump of concrete clinging to its base. Beyond it, another fallen headstone had split in two, creating an irreparable rift between William and Bertha Bartholomew. Across the weedy hillside, I could see at least three other uprooted grave markers.

Book Description:

She's not your average crime fighter! Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it's only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation. Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can't resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities' attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor's match-making schemes can't slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mailbox Monday - Angelina's Bachelors

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Angelina's Bachelors
Author: Brian O'Reilly
Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2011
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 384
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


When Angelina’s husband suddenly dies of a heart attack, she is devastated. When she loses her job a few days later, she’s in real trouble. To escape her worries, she dives into the thing that has always brought her comfort—cooking. As a young woman, she had planned on culinary school, but her mother’s, and then father’s, terminal illnesses rerouted her dreams. Still, she’s a world-class amateur and treats her close-knit South Philly neighborhood to the results of her recent grief. One fan is Basil Cupertino, neighbor Dottie’s retired brother, who’s recently moved in. Basil—escaping his sister’s almost deadly cooking—makes Angelina a proposition: He will pay her handsomely for breakfast and dinner six days a week. Trying to hold poverty and depression at bay, Angelina agrees. Word spreads through the neighborhood, and soon Basil and Dottie’s handsome nephew Guy (escaping the seminary) joins in, as does young Johnny from across the street, the discerning Mr. Pettibone, the elderly Don Eddie and his driver Big Phil, and Jerry, who’s known Angelina forever. Her bachelors are treated to exquisite fare, and also company—the motley crew make a companionable dinner club in Angelina’s home. One night, feeling tired and faint, Angelina gets bittersweet news: After years of trying, she is four months pregnant. The thought of raising a child alone is terrifying, but the bachelors help out, and soon Angelina’s grief is replaced with the somber joy that her husband will live on. There are some mishaps along the way, including the city trying to shut her down, but Angelina triumphs when her long-lost dream of owning a restaurant becomes a reality.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday At The Movies - Breaking Dawn

Taylor Lautner ... Jacob Black
Gil Birmingham ... Billy
Billy Burke ... Charlie Swan
Kristen Stewart ... Bella Swan
Ashley Greene ... Alice Cullen
Jackson Rathbone ... Jasper Hale
Peter Facinelli ... Dr. Carlisle Cullen
Elizabeth Reaser ... Esme Cullen
Kellan Lutz ... Emmett Cullen
Nikki Reed ... Rosalie Hale
Robert Pattinson ... Edward Cullen

I was a bit apprehensive when it came to seeing this movie. I never read past book number 3 due to Bella’s incessant whining, so the idea of seeing this movie was hovering somewhere at the bottom of my to-do list.

To my relief I enjoyed this film, it was surprisingly funny and the intensity of some of the scenes had you staring slack jawed at the screen. From what I can tell, no extra fluff was included and the story flowed very well from start to finish without me having to constantly ask what was going on. Too many writers and directors assume that the audience is made up of diehard fans and skip too many vital parts, glad to see that this time was different. Well, if parts were skipped that is fine, because what I saw worked.

Having not read the book, I had no idea what to expect in this show. Not sure how much to reveal here since any plot points will be a movie giveaway, all I can say is that the special effects people are geniuses. The visuals that they were able to accomplish are stunning and to my utter amazement, the flow was steady and at no time did I check my watch to see how much longer I had to sit there.

The end, well, that was perfect. Just enough to make you anticipate the next and final installment of the Twilight series.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Countdown to Christmas Week 6

Christmas Countdown

Please visit The Organized Home. This site is designed to help the procrastinator in me get ready for the holidays.

I highly suggest that you check out their homepage and sign up for a weekly reminder. I will only be posting here the items that will fit with my life and home, but there are many more ideas at suggestions at their site.

Welcome to Finishing Touches Week! It's the time to complete the last details and start celebrating.

Week 6

•Advent Calendar. These can be difficult to find, so start looking around.

•Divide the Christmas card list into five groups. Write and address the final group this week.

•Mail Christmas cards by December 10. Earlier if you have cards going to these serving in the military.

•Complete all gift shopping.

•Finish the gifts that you are making. If they are not done by now, put the project away and add them to your gifts to buy list.

•Wrap and mail send-away gifts by December 6. Earlier for military.

•Hold a pre-season toy declutter to make room for new toys. Teach children to give with appropriate seasonal activities.

•Plan holiday parties what are you hosting and where will you be going. Hostess gifts and wardrobe.

•Set aside favorite holiday books, music and video for use during the season.

•Does your family collect holiday figurines, houses or collectibles?

•Review the Christmas holiday menu plan, and order poultry or special roasts for any
holiday meals held in your home.

•Cultivate a calm and quiet home during the height of the season. There is enough stress enough.

•Set out a tray or Christmas card holder for incoming holiday cards and letters

•Complete interior and exterior decorating. Don't forget your frong door wreath

•You should now be ready for a peaceful holiday season. Relax and enjoy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Abandoned

Title: The Abandoned
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal
Source: NetGalley
Series: The Graveyard Queen (prequel)

Let us just say that it is a good thing I had read book number two - or is it book number one if you do not count the prequel, I always get confused when authors do this - or I would have never continued with this series.

The Abandoned comes across more of an outline for a book then an actually novel, with no real catch or lure.

Ree Hutchins is a graduate student working in a psychiatric hospital on the evening of the death of Violet Tisdal, one of their longest residing patients. Ree is curious about this woman and on the chance of returning files to the “dungeon”, Ree snoops out her patient’s records only to be attacked by an unknown assailant, a person who is determined to keep Violet’s past a secret.

Being a paranormal novel, you know that the spooky factor has to come in to play, so one evening Ree finds herself half-undressed in a cemetery in front of Hayden, a moonlighting ghost hunter. She has no idea how she got there, but was it possible that the spirit of Violet or Ilsa, Violet’s mother, entered her and was now using Ree to exact revenge.

See how convoluted this tale is? The storylines are not developed and you are left wondering, “what am I missing, what am I not being told about the past”. Sudden character comments are made and you find yourself going back a couple of pages, trying to figure out what you missed only to realize that it was never there in the first place.

My advice, skip this book and start with The Restorer you will like that installment much better.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lucky Stiff

Title: Lucky Stiff
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Lucky O'Toole #2

When listening to the audio version, you have to separate the storyline from the narrator. Bless Renee Raudman’s heart for attempting all the different accents, but the poor girl cannot keep them straight. Her Australian accents falls into to Midwest cowboy and what I think is a Hispanic cab driver slowly turns into a something that sounds more Asian. It got to the point that every time an accent would come up I would be more in tuned with how it would be butchered then with the actual words that were being said.

Once you are pasted that, I do like this series. Deborah Coonts has a way of naming her characters that have you chuckling at her creativity; it appears that very few have a normal name, which I guess is ok since this is Las Vegas.

Just another day for Lucky O’Toole, head of customer relations at a Las Vegas strip mega hotel. A truck carrying bees has had an accident and thousand of those pesky things are now attempting to descend on the tourist downtown. A district attorney with a beast of a wife is trying to CYA – literally. Then there is Numbers Neidemeyer (love that name) who has an unexpected death in a shark fish tank and the Beautiful Jeremy Whitlock is standing accused of her murder.

With a few more distractions thrown in, Lucky has to hold it all together and work on her personal life, keep her staff in line, keep the working girls out of the bathroom stalls, head off her mother’s next ill reasoned adventure, help a heavyweight fighter through his last bout and remember where she left the Ferrari .

As I said, all in a day’s work.

I do like this series, the storylines are fun and the things that Lucky gets herself into are very entertaining. If the accents do not bother you, check out the audio, but if that would be a distraction, definitely pick up the book. It is a fun series to follow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Immortalist
Author: Kyle Mills
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Thriller


What would you do to save the life of your child?

It’s a question microbiologist Richard Draman thought he’d answered when he walked away from his career to focus on curing a genetic defect that is causing his daughter to age at a wildly accelerated rate. But now he and his wife Carly are being forced to come to terms with the fact that eight-year-old Susie’s time is running out. Then they receive an unexpected gift: startling new research into the fundamental secrets of life that could be the miracle they’ve been looking for.

When Richard is arrested on a trumped-up charge of having stolen the data, he takes his family and runs, seeking out a retired special-forces operative and old friend to help dig up the truth behind the controversial experiments. Determined to either save Susie’s life or die trying, the Dramans plunge into a bloody conflict between two powerful factions vying for control of a discovery that could change the face of humanity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph

Title: The Abandoned
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Amazon Digital Services
Series: Graveyard Queen (prequel)

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

First Paragraph:

Ree Hutchins was dozing at the old woman’s bedside, a dog-eared copy of The Call of the Wild open on her lap, when Violet Tisdale passed away.

Exhausted from her hectic schedule, Ree had fallen asleep reading from the leather-bound edition Miss Violet always kept on her nightstand. Ree often wondered how many times the old woman had heard Buck’s story during her confinement at the Milton H. Farrante Psychiatric Hospital. She was well into her eighties and had been institutionalized for as long as anyone could remember. Other than her clothing and toiletries, the book was the only personal item in her quarters, although the inscription in the front read: To my daughter, Ilsa, on the occasion of her tenth birthday. June 3, 1915.

No doubt the tattered volume was a hand-me-down from some former staff member or another patient perhaps, because no one could remember the last time Miss Violet had a visitor.

Back Cover Summary:

When her favorite patient at a private mental hospital passes away, psychology student Ree Hutchins mourns the elderly woman’s death. But more unsettling is her growing suspicion that something unnatural is shadowing her.

Amateur ghost hunter Hayden Priest believes Ree is being haunted. Even Amelia Gray, known in Charleston as the Graveyard Queen, senses a gathering darkness. Driven by a force she doesn’t understand, Ree is compelled to uncover an old secret and put abandoned souls to rest—before she is locked away forever…

An ebook exclusive prequel to The Graveyard Queen series.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Dire Threads
Author: Janet Bolin
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 336
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
Series: Threadville Mystery #1


Willow Vanderling wants to leave her New York City life behind and has joined good friend Haylee in tour bus destination town Threadville. Nicknamed for the abundance of fiber art and fabric stores, Elderberry Bay, PA, looks like a perfect setting for Willow's new machine embroidery shop. And it is, until a powerful bully from the village is found dead in Willow's backyard, and she was the last one to wish him dead! Being the newest shopkeeper in town, Willow has no way to figure out her allies, initially. But as she and Haylee sleuth, they learn about the village's dark secrets.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday at the Movies

Angelina Jolie ... Christine Collins
Gattlin Griffith ... Walter Collins
Michael Kelly ... Detective Lester Ybarra
Frank Wood ... Ben Harris
John Malkovich ... Rev. Gustav Briegleb
Colm Feore ... Chief James E. Davis

No matter what you think of Angelina Jolie’s personal life, you have to admit that this woman can act. From the first scene of 1928 Los Angeles, to the final frame, I was captivated by this movie.

As single mother Christine Collins returns from work, her nine year old son Walter is missing. The police department refuses her initial call, but eventually is willing to file a missing persons report. Five months later a child is found who fits a very loose description, but Christine knows that this boy is not her son and will not give up until her Walter is located.

The corrupt police department refuses to believe her and begins to label her both a liar and a hysterical woman. Back in that day, when called hysterical, a woman would be locked up and treated to horrific conditions.

With the help of a local minister, attorney and an investigator, all points converge on a ranch where a young boy tells a shocking tale of kidnapping, abuse and murder.

There are a few continuity inconsistencies in the movie, but that should not take away from the story that this movie tell.

The Changling, in part, is based off the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders.

If you are interested in the full background story, please check out the Wiki page on this time Los Angeles history. A fascinating read.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Countdown to Christmas Week 5

Christmas Countdown

Please visit The Organized Home. This site is designed to help the procrastinator in me get ready for the holidays.

I highly suggest that you check out their homepage and sign up for a weekly reminder. I will only be posting here the items that will fit with my life and home, but there are many more ideas at suggestions at their site.

Welcome to Decorating Week! It's the time to focus on decorating. I know, Thanksgiving isn't here yet, but take this time to get the decorations out and see what you have, what you need and what you can donate.

Besides, if you have family visiting, it would be a perfect time for them to help you get the stuff out of the attic and take with them those decorations that have special meaning to them and start their own traditions.

Week 5

•Divide the Christmas card list into five groups. Write and address the fourth group this week.

•Complete one-fourth of gifts to make this week.

•Plan holiday decorating with a room-by-room plan. For me, it is still too early to decorate, but I do like thinking about what I want where.

•Inspect and inventory decorations. Check light strands for cracked or broken bulbs. Make a list of what you need to replace.

•Does your family give children new ornaments each year? Check craft boutiques for something special.

•Prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, Can anything be made ahead and tucked into the freezer?

•Give thanks on Thanksgiving Day!

•Check in with family members at Thanksgiving celebrations. Ask for gift suggestions, and arrange to share or contribute to holiday meals.

•Shop Black Friday sales. Plan a girls day out.

•Be ready to start decorating.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase

Title: The Boy in the Suitcase
Author: Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Format: Trade Paperback, 313 pgs
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library

From start to finish, the only word that I could use to describe this book is intense. From the first paragraph, you are drawn into the life of Nina Borg as she enters a station to retrieve a package for a friend and comes away with a young boy who has been drugged and lying near lifeless in a suitcase.

No, that is not giving away too much since that is pretty much the title of the book, but what the title does not tell you is what got us to this point. Is there more to this story than the obvious dark side of human kind.

Nina Borg is not your usual protagonist, she has some dark secrets of her own and only in future books, do I think, you will see more of what and who she is. Obsessed with her work as a Danish Red Cross nurse and helping immigrant refugees, Nina has seen the good and the bad in people and carries all of their scars; but what Nina finds in the train station locker will spin her world.

There are many storylines going on and the reader is pulled from one to the other knowing that they will all come to a climatic ending. But what ending will it be – as a mother searches for her missing son, a nurse trying to find where a child belongs, and a wealthy man who has set this whole nightmare in motion.

Kaaberbol and Friis know how to bring an intense book to a climatic end. The reader is left with only one thought, “Wow”. Riveting and entertaining, this book is a proposed first in a series and I certainly hope that the future storylines will captivate me as this one has.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sauvignon Secret

Title: Sauvignon Secret
Author: Ellen Crosby
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Wine Country Mystery #6

If rumors are true, this is the last in the Lucie Montgomery wine making series by Ellen Crosby. Apparently, she has deciding to branch off in a new direction, which I find disappointing, since this is one of my favorite series and I hate to see them go. When you are six books into a series, the characters begin to feel more like friends, then actual words in a book.

"I didn’t want to kill Paul Noble. Yes, I said I did. Worse, I said it in a public place. In my defense, half a dozen people at that same meeting chimed in. “Get in line” or “join the club” or “you and me both. It was a figure of speech, and everyone in the room—twenty-five northern Virginia winemakers like me—knew it."

Lucie Montgomery is left rethinking her words when she finds the body of Paul Noble, a local wine merchant, hanging from a beam in an apparent suicide with a bottle of Montgomery Vineyards wine tipped over underneath him. This is so not going to be a good day and as the story of Paul’s past comes to the forefront; Lucie slowly unravels the cover-up of classified government research, murders and other secrets that might have been better left buried.

Branching out from the usual Virginia landscape, Lucie and her grandfather travel to San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma as they uncover the clues to this murder mystery. Quinn Santori reappears, but as Lucie and her self-confidence grow, she and Quinn must decide if they have a future together. Do they have enough to keep them together or is it time to go their separate ways.

I guess we will have to see what Ms Crosby’s decision will be concerning this series, but I do hope that she will give us a new book from time to time and we can keep connected to the vineyard and the people of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter
Author: Lisa Scottoline (Author), Francesca Serritella (Author),
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Genre: Humor / Semi Biographical

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella are the best of friends—99.9% of the time. They’re number one on each other’s speed dial and they tell each other everything—well, almost everything. They share shoes and clothes—except one very special green jacket, which almost caused a catfight.

In other words, they’re just like every mother and daughter in the world. Best friends, and occasional enemies. Now they’re dishing about it all—their lives, their relationship, and their carb count.

Inspired by their weekly column, “Chick Wit” for The Philadelphia Inquirer, this book is one you’ll have to put down—just to stop laughing.

Lisa on Being a Mom - Motherhood has no expiration date. Francesca lives in the city, and I worry about her all the time. My daughter moved out, so why am I still lactating?

Francesca on Being a Daughter - My mother is always right. Just ask her.

Lisa on Things Every Daughter Should Know - Your mother is always thinking about you, but that’s not creepy. Your mother will never forget who did you dirty in the sixth grade, for which you can thank her. And your mother will never stop asking you if you need to go to the bathroom, before you leave the house. Well, do you?

Francesca on Closet Wars - My mom is a great dresser. Mostly because she’s wearing my clothes.

Lisa on Aging Gracefully - My sex drive is in reverse, I have more whiskers than my cat, and my estrogen replacement is tequila.

Francesca on Apartment Living - When I saw a mouse, the first person I called was Mom. She told me to call my super, but I felt bad bothering him. I hate to bother people. But I love to bother my mother.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph

Title: Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 14, 2008
Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: YA - Science Fiction
Source: Purchase
Series: Hunger Games #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

First Paragraph:

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.


In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Blood of the Prodigal
Author: P.L. Gaus
Publication Date: September 28, 2011 (reprint)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 256
Genre: Mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
Series: Ohio Amish Mystery #1


When an Amish boy is kidnapped, a bishop, fearful for the safety of his followers, plunges three outsiders into the traditionally closed society of the `Plain Ones'. In the Old Order Amish communities of Ohio's Holmes County, it is rare for one of the self-styled `plain' people to seek aid from an outsider, one of `the English.' But Bishop Eli Miller needs help and finds it in a local academic, Michael Brandon. Murder, suspicion and seclusion abound in the first novel in a brand new crime series set in Amish country.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday At The Movies

Denzel Washington ... Melvin B. Tolson
Nate Parker ... Henry Lowe
Jurnee Smollett ... Samantha Booke
Denzel Whitaker ... James Farmer Jr.
Forest Whitaker ... Dr. James Farmer Sr.

I almost gave up on this movie. About one-third of the way through and I was bored senseless. There seemed to be no forward movement and the acting felt stagnant. I knew that Denzel Washington couldn’t let me down in this way and Jurnee Smollett is just too captivating of an actress to not keep my attention, so I decided to give it a little bit more time.

Once we hit the halfway point I was hooked, I do not know for sure what happened, but the storyline started to evolve and I was becoming more attached to the characters and the story they were telling.

Based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, who inspired his students to form the school’s first debate team. Not just any debate team, but a team from a small rural all-African-American college during the height of the depression. A team that would one day take on the likes of Harvard in the national championship and would go on to record one of the greatest debate records of their time.

I do not know if this movie will appeal to all, but if you stick with it and watch the extra footage at the end of the DVD, you will get a completely new appreciation of the people and the times. This was an extraordinary group of young people and to see what they have achieved since is in itself remarkable.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Countdown to Christmas Week 4

Christmas Countdown

Please visit The Organized Home. This site is designed to help the procrastinator in me get ready for the holidays.

I highly suggest that you check out their homepage and sign up for a weekly reminder. I will only be posting here the items that will fit with my life and home, but there are many more ideas at suggestions at their site.

Welcome to Get Cooking Week! It's the time to focus on holiday meals and menus.

Time to get the kitchen ready before the holiday rush begins.

Week 4

•Divide the Christmas card list into five groups. Write and address the third group this week.

•Complete one-fourth of gifts to make this week.

•Fill out a holiday menu planner for each remaining holiday meal that you will serve in your home. Can you delegate to other family members? What about a potluck holiday meal? Plan one with a potluck menu planner. Simplify holiday cooking!

•Inventory the pantry, and record contents. Make room to stock up on non-perishable holiday staples.

•Check spices for freshness; replace outdated or stale items.

•Start planning holiday baking Try to buy nonperishable holiday foods this week and next week for all upcoming holiday meals.

•Clean out the refrigerator.

•Clean out the freezer, and inventory contents.

•Do a mini-freezer stock up at the supermarket. Purchase or make ahead 5 to 10 entrees into the freezer. Use these meals on busy December evenings.

•Prepare for drop-in visitors. Cheese, crackers, frozen desserts.

•Simplify baking chores: organize a Cookie Swap. Invite 6 to 12 guests to bring as many dozen cookies as there are guests. Swap so that each guest leaves with a lavish assortment of holiday goodies. Freeze immediately.

•Start tracking "Black Friday" sales with a holiday sales planner. Be ready--and organized--to score bargains at the post-Thanksgiving sales!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another Man's Moccasins

Title: Another Man's Moccasins
Author: Craig Johnson
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: May 29, 2008
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery
Series: Walt Longmire #4
Source: Library

I do not know what has taken me so long to write this review, I finished this book almost a month ago, but still I keep putting off the review. I love this series and I enjoyed this book, but when I sit down to write, I come up completely blank as to what to say. This is one of those series where it is so well written that you do not want to do it any disservice by writing a review and risking that your words will not translate and you will inadvertently turn a reader off.

Walt and Katie are now back home in Absaroka County, Wyoming after a harrowing adventure in Philadelphia that left the Greatest Legal Mind fighting for her life and Walt reanalyzing the choices that he made while there. However, no day goes by without its challenges in their small part of the world and when the “bad things come in three’s” saying rears its ugly head, Walt is faced with reliving his war years.

When the body of a young Vietnamese woman is found along the interstate, Walt and his friend Henry Standing Bear, whom he calls the Cheyenne Nation, rehash their time in Vietnam. When an old picture of Walt is found with the dead girls belonging he must recall a case from forty years prior when he was an investigator in the Marine Corps and he realizes that ghosts don’t stay buried for long.

Told in a flashback style, the reader sees more of Walt’s story. Who he was and how he became the man that he is today. Still told with humor, honesty and un-politically correct verbage, that is a trademark of Walt Longmire, he has me both laughing and cringing at the same time. Not to say that he is offensive, but in this day and age, it is hard to find either a person or a character that actually says what they are thinking without running it through social filters first.

Please take the time to track down this series, meet Walt and his gang of wryly-funny personalities and enjoy a series that will take you on quite an adventure.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree

Title: Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree
Author: Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Aunt Dimity #16
Source: Library

I love this series; it is like comfort food for me.

No matter how much Lori Shepherd says her instincts tell her something I have to giggle since her “instincts” have gotten her turned so far around, she never comes to the correct conclusion without the helpfulness of her friends and family, not to mention her dearest companion Aunt Dimity herself.

Since this is book number sixteen in the series, I recommend that you start at the beginning to find out who exactly Dimity is and how their lives are so intertwined, but I can assure you that each book is a delight and each builds on the next explaining their lives and the busybodies in the village of Finch.

Village living is never dull and Finch lives up to that saying when Willis, Sr. buys and refurbishes Fairworth House and Sally Pyne returns from her Mexican adventure with a reputation to live up to.

"There is nothing wrong with pretending to be someone else for a little while, is there?"

And off they go, the current inhabitants of Fairworthy, all trying to be someone or something that they are not. Each person has a secret and poor Willis, Sr, trying desperately to keep his wits about him and help the best doughnut maker in the area from having to leave the village out of sheer embarrassment and mortification.

Since patience is not one of Lori’s virtues, everything comes to a head one night when she decides to stake out Fairworthy in hopes of learning what is really going on with the new help that Willis, Sr has hired. In so doing, all the secrets will become known and a new pact of friendship and respect can be forged. That is until the next round of gossip and backbiting can begin. This is Finch after all, where they look out for each other, ok some might calling is snooping, but deep down they all have good hearts and an understanding of what a community is.

"You have to stand up to the busybodies or your life will never be your own.

Though she does not appear until the end of the book, I sure hope Aunt Augusta returns in future storylines. She was my favorite and had me laughing out loud and I really think that she could add quite a bit of spunk to the life of Willis, Sr. I loved her self-depreciating humor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope
Gabrielle Giffords (Author), Mark Kelly (Author), Jeffrey Zaslow (Contributor)
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Biography


From one of the most admired and beloved couples in recent American history, an extraordinarily moving story of public service, risk-taking, romance—and the journey toward recovery. This book delivers hope and redemption in the face of the tragic shooting, and introduces two unforgettable heroes.

About the Authors

A third generation Arizonan, Gabrielle Giffords has represented Arizona's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2007. She serves on the Armed Services Committee and is the Ranking Member of the Science Committee's Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. A graduate of Scripps College, she has a Masters degree from Cornell University. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico and a fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Mark Kelly was a Captain in the United States Navy when he commanded the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour in May of 2011. A veteran of four space flights to the International Space Station he is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and holds a masters degree from the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School. As a naval aviator he flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow was the coauthor, with Randy Pausch, of The Last Lecture, the #1 New York Times bestseller now translated into forty-eight languages. His other bestsellers include The Girls from Ames, and as coauthor, Highest Duty, with Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Paragraph First Chapter

Title: The Boy in the Suitcase
Author: Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Format: ARC
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Nina Borg Mysteries #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

First Paragraph:

The house sat on the brink of a cliff, with an unhindered view of the bay. Jan knew perfectly well what the locals called it: the Fortress. But that was not why he looked at the whitewalls with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. The locals could think what they liked; they weren’t the ones who mattered.


Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can't say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.

Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy's are in jeopardy, too. In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.

Now I have to admit that this first paragraph isn't too exciting, but this book has drawn me in from the first chapter. Reminiscent of Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway Series.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Time In Between
Author: María Dueñas
Atria Books
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 624
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster Advisory Board


Between Youth and Adulthood . . . At age twelve, Sira Quiroga sweeps the atelier floors where her single mother works as a seamstress. At fourteen, she quietly begins her own apprenticeship. By her early twenties she has learned the ropes of the business and is engaged to a modest government clerk. But everything changes when two charismatic men burst unexpectedly into her neatly mapped-out life: an attractive salesman and the father she never knew.

Between War and Peace . . . With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and her fiancé, impetuously following her handsome lover to Morocco. However, she soon finds herself abandoned, penniless, and heartbroken in an exotic land. Among the odd collection of European expatriates trapped there by the worsening political situation back on the Continent, Sira reinvents herself by turning to the one skill that can save her: her gift for creating beautiful clothes.

Between Love and Duty . . .As England, Germany, and the other great powers launch into the dire conflict of World War II, Sira is persuaded to return to Madrid, where she takes on a new identity to embark upon the most dangerous undertaking of her career. As the preeminent couturier for an eager clientele of Nazi officers’ wives, Sira becomes embroiled in the half-lit world of espionage and political conspiracy rife with love, intrigue, and betrayal.


This book fascinates me. I do not usually read this historical time frame. But just possibly, I will be picking this one up soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday at the Movies

James Van Der Beek ..... Seth Webster
Mrs. Merkle ............ Doris Roberts
Reba Maxwell ........... Erin Karpluk

This is one of those endearing holiday movies that I love watching each year. Seth Webster is a widowed father trying to raise his twin sons. Mrs. Merkle comes to the rescue when the most recent nanny leave, but Mrs. Merkle is no ordinary nanny. She is a heavenly emissary and her job will not be done until Seth opens his heart and allow himself to greive his wife’s death and to allow a new love into his heart and home.

Mrs. Miracle ............ Doris Roberts
Jewel Staite ............ Holly
Eric Johnson ............ Jake

Holly is a single aunt responsible for her nephew while her brother is deployed overseas. As if this is not overwhelming enough, she must also contend with a demanding boss and a career that is not going exactly as planned.

Jake the heir apparent of Finley’s department store has also hit a career crisis, trying to convince his father that stocking their store with traditional toys would be a better move.

Enter Mrs. Merkle also known as Mrs. Miracle who uses her own brand of heavenly influence to bring these individuals together for a classic heartwarming Christmas.

Told in the typical Debbie Macomber style of happily ever after, bringing family and home together, these two movies make for a wonderful snowy afternoon movie marathon day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Countdown to Christmas Catch Up Week

Christmas Countdown

Please visit The Organized Home. This site is designed to help the procrastinator in me get ready for the holidays.

I highly suggest that you check out their homepage and sign up for a weekly reminder. I will only be posting here the items that will fit with my life and home, but there are many more ideas at suggestions at their site.

No matter how hard we try, there are just sometimes that we fall behind, so this week, we are going to working on those pesky little parts that we let slide by.

Week 1: Planning and Calendars and Lists

•Calendar. Add important get together dates.

•Start a master gift list. Not only the people you are buying for, but to help keep track of what you bought and what you spent.

•Begin a Christmas card list. Locate addresses, and consider making a computerized Christmas card address list for maximum time savings.

•If you are a list maker, search out a house cleaning list. This will help you to keep everything clean and ready for the holiday.

•Will your family travel this holiday season? Make travel plans and reservations this week.

•Will you host houseguests this year? Make arrangements for any overnight guests.

•Declutter tabletops and public rooms before you decorate.

•If you haven't done so already, decorate for Halloween or Harvest celebrations

Week 2: Reality Check. Organizing and Prepping Week

• If you are decorating for Thanksgiving. Look over these items and make decisions as to what you want to put out and what can be donated to other organizations for their holiday decorating.

• Divide the Christmas card list into five groups. Write and address one group this week.

• Make a holiday budget. Set a comfortable level of holiday spending.

• Divide entries into five groups. Begin shopping for Christmas gifts, and try to buy one-fifth of the gifts this week.

• Set up a housework plan. A little bit every weeks makes it whole process possible.

• Grocery shopping list. Time to start thinking about the meal plan and what ingredients you will need to purchase. Start looking around for sales and coupons.

• Do you need a special outfit for a special occasion? Check what you have and what you will need.

• Do you need anything special for your holiday table? Will you be traveling to a potluck and need a special serving dish?

• It’s never too early to think wrapping paper and mailing boxes. Check what you have leftover from last year and see what you need to pick up. Don’t forget the tape. Every year I run out sooner than I think.

Week 3: Gifts and Giving Week! It's the time to focus on gift lists, gift buying and gift wrapping.

• Observe Time Change Sunday. Check smoke detectors and assess your household's emergency plan.

• Divide the Christmas card list into five groups. Write and address the second group this week.

• Review and renegotiate adult gift giving. Can you simplify your family's "unwritten rules? Draw names and set a price limit for a gift exchange. Could your family dispense with adult gifts in favor of gifts to charity or family service project?

• Divide entries on your gift list into five groups. Continue shopping for Christmas gifts, and try to buy one-fifth of the gifts this week.

• To ensure delivery, finish all catalog and online shopping.

• Designate a special envelope for all receipts.

• Will you be making gifts this year? What can you "practically" get done in time? Now cut that list in half. You don't have as much time as you think.

• Plan Thanksgiving Dinner. Order the turkey.

• Review your holiday budget.

• Gift wrapping and supplies ready?

• If you need a babysitter during the holiday, make arrangements now.

• Start a stocking stuffers list.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Northanger Abbey

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austin
Format: Audio
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library

To be honest I have never read a Jane Austin book prior to this and from the beginning, I found myself trying to play catch up. I vaguely connected with the characters and the overall plotline but as the story slowly progressed, all the little parts seemed to somewhat come together. Unfortunately, I did find my head wandering off until I came to a funny expression or banter and my head would be whipped back into place hoping to find another something that would keep me engaged in this storyline. Maybe I am just dense and needed to watch the Masterpiece Theatre version to get the visual that was not fully drawn for me with the audio.

Ok, from what I got, Catherine Morland was rather nondescript. She was not pretty nor plan, was not rich nor poor, she was just there, very middle class by our current stands which I think was my first problem since I was trying to relate to her in modern day circumstances when in fact this book was written about 200 years ago.

At the age of 17, Catherine is invited to Bath for the waters by her neighbors the Allen’s. Once there, she meets the Thorpe’s and the Tilney’s and this seems to be where all the problems start. Triangles and romances seem to abound and once again, this is where I began to wander. How to keep the who’s and the what’s straight was a bit vexing.

From digging a little deeper, I come to find out that this was Ms. Austen’s jab at the norms of the day. Well, ok, but I was still lost. Maybe after reading some of her other works I could come back to this one and appreciate it more, but to tell you the truth, that just seems like too much work.

The character interaction was just too lackluster and the wittiness was too sparse for me to keep fully engaged. I know that this author’s work appeals to a wide audience, I just do not happen to be her target audience.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 960 pages
Genre: Science Fiction ?? Fantasy ?? Supense??


On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.