Friday, February 27, 2009


by Charlotte Hughes

I made an incorrect assumption about this book - I expected from the cover and the title that this was a cozy murder mystery. Also, Hughes co-authored several books with Janet Evanovich. Isn't she a mystery writer?

The first 80 pages were enjoyable with humorous, crisp dialogue and quirky, real-life characters. But where was the mystery? I kept looking for it. After some disappointment, I decided it just wasn't a mystery and I needed to get over it. Once I did, I enjoyed this book a lot.

Kate Holly is a psychologist who is a bit nutty in a funny way. That's the thing that made me want to read this book. Her best friend volunteers as her receptionist. Add to that a clientele of people with interesting psychological problems and Kate's life is pretty full. But that's not all, there's an sex-craved ex-boyfriend who keeps trying to get back into Kate's life AND a recently divorced ex-husband who wants to be part of Kate's life and whom she wants in her life (complicated) AND her eccentric mother and her aunt who own a thrift shop. AND one more major player in this book is the big-busted, beautiful new firewoman who works with Kate's ex-husband. Do I need to add that this beauty is hot for Kate's ex?

I liked this book and even ordered the first in the series, What Looks Like Crazy. It would make a perfect addition for travel or beach or summer reading. Or whenever you need a break from serious stuff but you want something more substantial than cotton candy. Hughes is a wonderful writer and her characters are real, some likable, some not so much. I did some searching and discovered that Hughes does have a few mystery/thrillers out there. I ordered And After That the Dark.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Edge of Winter

by Luanne Rice

I thought this was a perfect title to read at the end of February - I was hoping the Edge of Winter referred to the edge shared with spring. I was right.

I am finding it difficult to provide a brief outline. There are several characters with their intricate relationships and more than a few elements that do come together nicely in the end, but to give a brief synopsis - UGH!

Let me just say, that I really liked this book. It all came together with satisfying symbolism and meaning. The cold, buried feelings and hurts of the past give way to new life, redemption, forgiveness and hope. I make it sound a bit hokey, the author doesn't.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Feel Bad About My Neck

And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman by Nora Ephron

I borrowed this audio book from my sister Framed after she reviewed it. Framed is 5 years younger than me so I'm sure she laughed more than me because some of this stuff hasn't hit her as hard. I say, "Just wait. Just wait!"

Actually, I don't remember crying once, but I did laugh a lot. This book is truly funny even though it is mostly true. I was amazed at that Nora Ephron and I had so much in common when our life styles are polar opposites. That's what age does to us. It's the great unifier.

This is a wonderful book to listen to as the author reads it and she is sarcastic, matter-of-fact and frank.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Midori by Moonlight

by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

I'm not really into chick-lit but this one had a little bit more to sink your teeth into. Midori is a Japanese girl who meets the love of her life, becomes engaged and moves to San Fransisco where they will be wed. At their engagement party her fiance runs into an former girlfriend, actually exfiance, and dumps Midori.

Midori is alone in a strange country without a green card, without a job and without a place to live. Finding those things, along with a little mystery and some unexpected surprises is what the bulk of the book deals with in a humorus, endearing way.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

These Books Are Made For Walking

Every 3rd Wednesday of the month Strumpet (my neighbor just next door in Colorado) invites readers to think about a topic that has to do with books and travel.

Isn't the picture perfect for this meme?! I love it.Here's the topic for this month:

Is there a place that you have always dreamed of visiting specifically because of a book you read? It can be any kind of book: fiction, non-fiction, travelogue, you name it. If you have been to the place, did it live up to your expectations? If you haven't been, do you think you'll ever make it there?

I had a dream to visit the Prince Edward Island's because of I book I had never read: Anne of Green Gables. Even though I hadn't read the book I was probably exposed to enough information in pictures, movies, other books, other people that I wanted to visit the pastoral setting for the L.M. Montgomery novels. I was fortunate to visit the PEI in the summer of 2007. On our drive there my husband and I listened to Anne of Green Gables. Oh, my goodness! I fell in love with the book and was even more thrilled that I was going to PEI. The bottom picture is from the house where Montgomery grew up. It is absolutely picturesque - beautiful, peaceful. Well worth the trip.

I think I could write a post every month about places I've read about in books that I would love to visit. There are so many.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another for the Soup's On Challenge

I remember joining the Soup's On Culinary Challenge with enthusiasm, but over a few month's time I forgot all about it. Thankfully, Raidergirl3 reminded me with her post today. I've read and tried recipes from several cookbooks since the challenge began last April. Since the challenge doesn't end until March 31, I have time to share my culinary experiences. Who knows, I may successfully complete a challenge for the first time in months!

I have the public library to thank for having this book on its shelves. I want to check it out again and try some more of the many recipes I listed that looked delicious.

It's such a satisfy feeling to throw a few items in the crock-pot, enjoy the aromas all afternoon and present a delicious to the family in the evening. The recipe I tried from this cookbook is Carmelized Onion Chicken. It was fun learning the technique of carmelizing onions.

The chicken is delicious, but it is a bit dry even though there is plenty of moisture in the crock-pot. I served the chicken with Funeral Potatoes and a tossed salad.

The best thing about this recipe is the leftover chicken. I cube it and freeze it in 2-cup amounts to use later in chicken fajitas, chicken quiche or whatever. After the first time I made this chicken, I doubled the recipe so I always have several baggies in the freezer to pull out whenever I need precooked chicken. It's some of the best flavored chicken ever.

The Secret

by Rhonda Byrne

I have had this on my iPod for since it was first released. My friend who works at the library insisted that I read and/or listen to it. Every time I saw her she asked if I'd read it yet. I was not excited to read it because I had read Psycho-Cybernetics and The Magic of Believing some 30+ years ago and felt like I understood the concept behind The Secret.

On our trip to the city last week, Candleman and I were talking about positive thinking and his discussion with a friend that didn't seem to understand what Candleman was trying to say. In just the little bit that was said I picked up on the fact that Candleman and his friend had different definitions of positive thinking. This conversation eventually led to Candleman asking if I had ever read The Secret because he had been hearing some buzz at work about it. Since I had my iPod with me we plug it in and listened to the first 30-45 min of The Secret. Finally, we couldn't take anymore and turned it off.

It came across to me as a bunch of mystical mumbo-jumbo that was supposed to solve all life's problems. The secret, or the law of attraction, was the one and only thing anybody needed to know to be happy. I don't have any problem with the 'law of attraction' as Bryne calls it because I've been taught since I was young, "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." I was majorly turned off by the way it was presented. Maybe if I would have read the book instead of listening to it, I would not have the same impression.

A few days later I decided I would finish listening to the book so I could give it a fair review - one that was based on its entirety and not just a part. I'm glad I did. As the book continued some of the mystical approach was dropped and the book got down to the practical application of the law of attraction and how and why it works. Although, I still recommend Psycho-Cybernetics and The Magic of Believing as better teachers of this "secret" then The Secret. It never fails to amaze me when a book such as this one grabs the public's attention over much better books on the same subject.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seeing Redd

by Frank Beddor

I love that there are so many books available and in so many different genres. We have the freedom to branch out and enjoy the best of the creative world, not just in books but in art, furniture, vehicles, television, movies, and food. Creative is the perfect word to describe my most recent completion.

I read the first book in this series, The Looking Glass Wars, two year ago and loved it. I encouraged my daughter to read it and she loved it. She has laid claim to the book! Which I actually don't mind because I don't tend to reread very often, but she might. Besides one of the joys of being a mom is watching your child's library and love of books grow.

When Seeing Redd arrived in the mail a few weeks ago she was ecstatic. Lucky for me she was 'into' another book so I was able to read it first.
Alyss of Wonderland’s rule has only just begun and already those who prefer chaos to peace are threatening to destroy everything worth imagining. Trailed by newly appointed Royal Bodyguard Homburg Molly, Alyss does her best to keep pace with the spiraling, non-stop demands of being Queen while attempting to evade Molly for a few private moments with Dodge. Alyss’s life is already a challenging mix of duty, love and imagining when a series of phantom sightings set fire to an urban myth of her Imperial Viciousness’s return and have everyone… Seeing Redd.
Has Redd somehow freed herself and her chief assassin, the Cat, from the confines of the Heart Crystal to challenge her niece once again? If not, then who has resurrected Redd’s brutal footsoldiers, the Glass Eyes, and set them loose to attack Wonderland on all sides?
Battles rage, looking glasses explode and the Alyssians are once again uniting to defend White Imagination in this fast-paced second book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy.
It's not necessary to have read Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to enjoy this splendid take-off. I have but my daughter has not and it doesn't seem to diminish her enjoyment of the book. The story of Alice is so well known and the characters are familiar. We already know the evil Queen of Hearts, we just didn't know that she is Alyss's aunt Redd.

I would classify this trilogy as science fiction more than fantasy. The alternative world of Wonderland is quite the scientific marvel especially when compared with Alice's quiet life as the daughter of the Dean of Christ's church in 1860's England.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Singer of All Songs

by Kate Constable

This book has been on my to-be-read list for such a long time. It feels good to finally transfer it to the finished list. Only about 1800 more to go! JK

When I finished An Incomplete Revenge my daughter reminded me of one of her favorite books that I had wanted to read. The Singer of All Songs is Constable's debut YA fantasy and it is the first in The Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy.

Calwyn is a novice ice priestess who has never been outside the walls of Antaris. Her job is to tend the bees and provide honey to the rest of the sisters. Once a year the sisters walk along the ice wall singing chantments to reinforce it. Calwyn finds an Outsider laying wounded by the wall. She tends to him and learns things about the world outside the wall and about a dangerous threat to all of Tremaris. And that's just the beginning . . .

A very enjoyable book with a good storyline and complex characters. Constable creates an interesting fantasy world populated by diverse groups. I particularly liked the tree people probably because I like the idea of living in trees luxuriously gowned in their summer greenery. (Must be the time of year!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Tipping Point

by Malcolm Gladwell

Yesterday Candleman and I drove to the city to buy some new interior doors. We listened to The Tipping Point on the way and really enjoyed it. It provide some food for thought and discussion. Candleman began thinking about a "stickie" slogan for the company he works for.

Gladwell presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. He provides a wide variety of examples from epidemic diseases to advertising successes to Sesame Street and examines the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.

He suggest 3 agents of change:
1. The Law of the Few - there a handful of people who bring the world together, who spread ideas faster than others. Or in the case of a disease, spread the germs due to greater contact.
2. The Stickiness Factor - the conent of the message that makes it easy to remember or easy to pass on
3. The Power of Context - "Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bookword Game

I always marvel at the innovative ideas people have. This one impresses me a lot and I think it is going to be so fun to see what's up each new week.

Raidergirl3 of An Adventure in Reading and Suey from All About Books came up with this great game. From Raidergirl3's post we learn more:

Game objective: "We will, as a book loving community, come up with some phrases to describe books or book-related situations."
"The situation: what can we call a book that you read after hearing other people rave about it, they love it and want to name their children after, but you don't get it. They loved this? You don't love the book but everyone else does. What is the new bookword for this?"

Each week there will be a new situation. Readers suggest a 'new' word to describe the situation. It reminds my of when Nancy coined the word 'chunkster' for a really thick book.

Words for this week's situation (described above) are listed on Suey's blog. You can go there and VOTE for the word you think best fits the situation. On Monday the winner will be announced and a new reading situation will be posted.

I totally love this idea. Just moments ago I voted for my choice. I was impressed with the suggestions made, but there were two that really fit the situation the best, but I had to wheedle my decision to just one. I won't tell you how I voted so you're not swayed. Hope you'll stop by and vote. It won't be surprising to someday see one of the words in the bookword game end up in the dictionary.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

6 Things That Make Me Happy

I've been tagged by OnlinePublicist, Lisa Roe for this fun meme. If you haven't e-met Lisa yet you should skedaddle on over and check out the review books she is currently offering. I liked her take on this meme - instead of listing things that make her happy, she used images. Since copying is the highest form of flattery, I offer Lisa the highest form of flattery!

Things that make me happy: *family
*autumn & traveling
*books & my new library
*flowers & nature
*my computer
*trying new recipes.

The Rules are as follows: Link to the person who has tagged you. Write down six things that make you happy. Post the rules then tag six others and let them know you did it. When your entry is complete, tell the person who tagged you.

I tag the following people for this meme:
Susan from Going Walkabout
Shaneen from Life's a Picture
Cassie from Lines of Communication: Open
Julie from Mes Bijoux
Kristen from We Be Reading
Staci from Life in the Thumb

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Incomplete Revenge

by Jacqueline Winspear

Hooray! I'm caught up in one of the series I'm reading. It's astonishing that I've had this book for so long (over a year) and only just read it. I can't believe how time flies and gets away from us.

Winspear provides us with glimpse of the time period just after WWI. In England the class system is very much alive and so is hate and suspicion of unfamiliar groups of people. This book deals with a group of gypsys and the crimes they are suspected of committing in an English country village.

The Maisie Dobb's mysteries have a gentle pace but they are such good stories. Winspear brings together an interesting cast of characters and weaves an interesting tale of events that she brings together in a satisfactory conclusion. I love this series.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Still Life

by Louise Penny

Many of you have read this book over the years. It was your enthusiastic reviews that encouraged me to pick this up. I loved it!

Still Life is the 1st of four in the Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series. This one is set in a village south of Montreal. I don't know if any of the others will continue with this same group of people or if Gamache will be tracking down the killer in another area. I can see that he may have to move to a different area if that's were the murder occurs, but I would love to come back to the same people in this book.

Penny does such a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters and making them real-life people. I felt like I wanted to move into the neighborhood and get together with those characters as they celebrate life. I wish I could have seen inside Jane's house. Don't you? (those of you that have read this) And didn't you really like Inspector Gamache? I wish I knew how to pronounce his name.

Last summer we visited Montreal and a cute little village southeast of Montreal named Knowlton. It was such a beautiful area and I pictured the little village in the book looking something like it. And there were some mention of 'Canadian' icons that I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't visited. I don't know how many Canadian Tires we passed on our trip before we learned it was an eating establishment and not a car hardware store. And when Ruth stood up at the funeral and started singing, "What do you do with a drunken sailor" I really enjoyed a good laugh. We listened to that and many other shantys as we drove for weeks through Canada. This book helped to rekindle those good memories I have of my visit to Canada.

I thought the mystery was a good tale and I didn't figure it out until it was obvious who the murderer was. In addition, the writing was superb. I used quite a few book darts to mark passages that I really liked. This passage about a mother of a troubled teenage boy brought me to tears:
"She'd tried praying, but had forgotten the words. Instead she kept repeating the only thing she could remember: Little Boy blue, come blow your horn, the sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. She's recited it over and over to Philippe when he was little but now she couldn't remember the rest. It seemed to matter, even though it wasn't itself a prayer. it was more than that. It was proof she'd been a good mother. Proof she'd loved her children. Proof, whispered the little girl's voice inside her head, that it isn't your fault. But she couldn't remember the rest of the nursery rhyme. So maybe it was her fault."
This passage reminded me of the feelings I had when my father died:
"All Quiet of the western front, thought Gamache, listening to this gentle life. His magical thinking allowed him to be surprised that when such a good soul dies it isn't remarked. The bells of the church didn't set themselves off. The mice and deer didn't cry out. The earth didn't shudder. It should have."
I thought I had book 2 sitting on my shelf, but since I couldn't find it and didn't have it entered in Library Thing* I got online and ordered it. It's so fun to have it to look forward to.

*neither of these things guarantees it's not somewhere in my house since it's hit and miss with me.