Monday, November 30, 2009

What are you reading on Mondays?

The Thanksgiving holiday is over and it's back to work for most. With only 24 or 25 days until Christmas (depends on which day you're counting to), days will be busy with plans for another holiday while trying to complete the usual tasks at hand.

For my, I've got to get back to reading. I've done a little - a few pages in this book and a few in that, but not really enough.

So, it's Monday and I'm participating in the "It's Monday! What are you reading this week?" a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finished this week.

With the holiday, I haven't done as well as I would have like to for my second Monday participation, but here goes:

Books I finished last week:
Dirty Little Angels - Chris Tusa

Currently Reading:
Eggs Benedict Arnold - Laura Childs
Girl with Skirt of Stars - Jennifer Kitchen
 To Tempt the Wolf - Terry Spear

Books to Finish this Week:
Eggs Benedict Arnold - Laura Childs

What are you reading? Have you got to read as much as you would have liked over the past week? What books would you like to read or recommend to others?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Salon: Dead Pan by Gayle Trent

The holiday season brings vision of all types of delicious desserts to mind so it’s only fitting to read an intriguing murder mystery featuring a amateur sleuth who runs her own catering business.

Decorating cakes and solving murders seemed to be Daphne Martin’s specialty.

Moving back to her hometown and opening her catering business, the last thing Daphne needs is people getting sick after eating her cake.

All but one person at the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Christmas party recovers. Fred Duncan goes into a coma and dies.

Trying to make sure her business reputation isn’t tainted, Daphne is drawn into solving the mysterious death.

Daphne is busy tracking down leads in the murder while preparing to cater a New Years’ party involving prize Guinea pigs. Along the way, readers are introduced to Daphne’s family and a number of unique friends who aid in her investigation.

Author Gayle Trent blends just the right amount of humor, mystery, mayhem, and intrigue for a perfect cozy murder mystery.

“Dead Pan” is an enjoyable read. Daphne will venture into situations that will have you saying, “No, no don’t do that.”

An added treat is recipes included at the conclusion of the story.

After reading “Dead Pan,” you’ll want more. Daphne returns for another adventure in 2010 in “Killer Sweet Tooth.” What sticky mess will she find herself in this time?

Dead Pan, A Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mysteries by Gayle Trent * Bell Bridge Books * @2009 * ISBN: 978-0-9841258-4-5 * Paperback * 235 pages

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nicholas Sparks, Julie Powell Audio Book Giveaways

The Hachette Audio Book group has two audio books available for a December giveaway.

The December featured audio book from Hachette Book Group is Nicholas Spark’s novel DEAR JOHN, which is a soon-to-be released major motion picture from Sony Pictures starring Channing Tatum (“G.I. Joe”) and Amanda Seyfield (“Mamma Mia”).

The movie is scheduled for the theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 5, 2010. The audio book edition of DEAR JOHN is read by actor and voice over artist Holter Graham.

Anna and the folks at Hachette Book Group are providing three (3) audio books for the giveaway. Here is a brief synopsis Hachette provided of the book:

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else.

The second audio book is CLEAVING.

Here is a brief synopsis Hachette provided:

Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she'd ever do--until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer's, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs--tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.

The camaraderie at Fleischer's leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world--from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly hear

Now the rules of the giveaway contests:

The contests are only open to residents of the US and Canada and no P.O. Box addresses will be accepted.

To enter, you have to e-mail me at You can enter both contest, but separate entries are needed. Your subject line should read, “Win DEAR JOHN” or “Win CLEAVING.” Your message has to include your name and mailing address (remember no post office boxes).

This giveaway will run until Sunday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. (EST).  No entries accepted after that time.

The winners will be drawn that night. I will post the winners’ names on the blog and forward the information to the Hachette Book Group, who will mail the books to the winners.

Good luck and start entering.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Four Audio Giveaways

Audio books are entertaining and very useful, especially when you’re caught in traffic, or when your working out and need a distraction.

I’ve joined the Hachette Audio Book group and have a number of November audio books to post as giveaways. I thought a giveaway this time of year would be a good way to spread the joy of reading, as well as giving. These will make nice gifts for yourself or that special someone                           someone on your Christmas list

The first is DAVID SEDARIS: LIVE FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE (Unabridged) by David Sedaris and read by the author.

LIVE recordings of new, previously unreleased David Sedaris stories.

The second giveaway is: I, ALEX CROSS (Abridged and Unabridged) by James Patterson and read by Tim Cain and Michael Cerveris.

The best - and scariest - Alex Cross novel since ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

The third giveaway is: THE IMPERIAL CRUISE (Unabridged) by James Bradley and read by Richard Poe.

From the #1 bestselling author of Flags of our Fathers and FLYBOYS, a startling new look at the events that set the stage for World War II.

The fourth giveaway is: HOLLYWOOD MOON (Unabridged) by Joseph Wambaugh

Wambaugh once again masterfully gets inside the hearts and minds of the cops whose jobs have them constantly on the brink of danger. By turns heart-wrenching, exhilarating, and laugh-out-loud funny, HOLLYWOOD MOON is his most thrilling and deeply affecting ride yet through the singular streets of LA.

Now the rules of the giveaway contests:

The contests are only open to residents of the US and Canada and no P.O. Box addresses will be accepted.

To enter, you have to e-mail me at You can enter one or all the contests, but separate entries are needed. Your subject line should read, “Win Live,” “Win I, ALEX,” “Win IMPRIAL,” or “Win HOLLYWOOD.” Your message has to include your name and mailing address (remember no post office boxes).

This giveaway will run until Sunday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. (EST).  No entries accepted after that time.

The winners of each contest will be drawn that night. I will post the winners’ names on the blog and forward the information to the Hachette Audio Book, group who will mail the audio books to the winners.

Check back tomorrow, I have two December audio book giveaways to post. Send me e-mails now for one or all of today's audios.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone


This is a day to give thanks for all things we have. When thinking about what we’re thankful for I realized  the word Thanksgiving says a lot.

T - Thoughtful
H - Hope
A - Affection
N - Nice
K - Kindness
S - Sincerity
G - Generous
I - Imaginative
V - Virtuous
I - Invigorating
N -Noble
G - Gracious

Have a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving. Check back tomorrow for a audio giveaway.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Second Book Giveaway

This is my second book giveaway since joining the “Host a Hachette Book Group Giveaway on your Blog” group.

I decided rather than waiting several days to post my second giveaway, I’d go ahead and do it today.

Valerie and the folks at Hachette Book Group are graciously providing five (5) copies of “Exit Music” by Ian Rankin.

I haven’t read the book yet so I’m unable to post my own review, but the Hachette Group has provided a brief synopsis of it.

It's late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong.

Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus's investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history.

Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?

Now the rules of the contest.

The contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada and no P.O. Box addresses will be accepted.

To enter the contest, you have to e-mail me at  Your subject line must read, “Win Rankin Book.” Your message has to include your name and mailing address (remember no post office boxes).

This giveaway will run until Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. (EST).  No entries accepted after that time.

The winners will be drawn that night. I will post the winners’ names on the blog and forward the information to the Hachette Book Group, who will mail the books to the winners.

Even if you have entered the Patterson Book Giveaway, you can also enter to win the Rankin book, you just have to send separate e-mails. Good luck and enter often.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

7th Heaven Book Giveaway

I recently joined the ‘Host a Hachette Book Group Giveaway on Your Blog’ group.

They are graciously providing five (5) copies of “7th Heaven” by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro for a giveaway. Five lucky people will receive a copy of "7th Heaven."

I haven’t reviewed the book so here is a brief synopsis provided by the Hachette Group.

A terrible fire in a wealthy suburban home leaves a married couple dead and Detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner Rich Conklin searching for clues. And after California's golden boy, Michael Campion has been missing for a month, there finally seems to be a lead in his case--a very devastating lead.

As fire after fire consume couples in wealthy, comfortable homes, Lindsay and the Murder Club must race to find the arsonists responsible and get to the bottom of Michael Campion's disappearance. But suddenly the fires are raging too close to home.

Frightened for her life and torn between two men, Lindsay must find a way to solve the most daunting dilemmas she's ever faced--at work and at home

Now the rules of the contest.

The contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada and no P.O. Box addresses will be accepted.

To enter the contest, e-mail me at Your subject line must read, “Win Patterson Book.” Your message should include your name and mailing address (remember no post office boxes).

This giveaway will run until Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. (EST).  No entries accepted after that time.

The winners will be drawn that night. I will post the winners’ names on the blog on Wednesday, Dec. 9, and forward the information to the Hachette Book Group.

Good luck.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What are you reading on Mondays?

This blog post will be a little different from my normal. I've signed up to participate in a weekly event telling what I'm reading.

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finished this week.

Books I finished last week:
Dead Pan - Gayle Trent
Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses - Carol Walker
Easy and Healthy Ways to Prepare Fresh Vegetables - Arnold Weislo and Annabelle Delaval

Currently Reading:
Dirty Little Angels - Chris Tusa
Eggs Benedict Arnold - Laura Childs
Girl with Skirt of Stars - Jennifer Kitchen

Books to Finish this Week:
Dirty Little Angels - Chris Tusa

I hope this will help me read more. Hope you have a chance to check out the books I've already read. They were all good. I plan to have a review of Dead Pan up this week. The reviews on Wild Hoofbeats and Easy and Healthy were posted yesterday.

What are you reading this week while getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Salon: Two books

Cookbooks and coffee table books are not the normal genera that I review but these two books caught my attention in a recent IPBA request list so I ask for them. The books were "Easy and Healthy Ways to Prepare Fresh Vegetables" by Arnold Weislo and Annabelle Delaval and "Wild Hoofbeats: America's Vanishing Wild Horses" by Carol Walker.

Turns out, they were both very delightful books. Hope you find them interesting as well. With the holidays coming up, they’d make great stocking-stuffers. Here’s the reviews:

Looking for recipes to entice your family to eat healthier?

Look to “Easy and Healthy Ways to Prepare Fresh Vegetables” for an interesting twist on recipes.

This easy-to-read cookbook features preparation methods, origin and production, nutritional qualities, and health benefits of various vegetables. In addition, the guide offers the calories, water, fiber, carbs, and protein count of these vegetables.

There are four recipes for each of the vegetables. The cookbook contains over 400 color photographs illustrating the dishes. These photos show the ingredients needed to prepare the recipe, along with steps of the preparation, and the finished dish.

The cookbook covers such popular vegetables as potatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, and carrots. It also covers Belgian endives, fennel, celery root, and turnips to name a few others.

Among the recipes are Eggplant Casserole, Spinach and Ricotta Cake, Pumpkin Chip (Tapas), Cucumber Canapes, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Pesto Soup. The Pasteur Institute of Lille, France, collaborated on this handy collection of recipes.

Add this cookbook to your own collection and pick up one for the chef on your Christmas list.

Easy and Healthy Ways to Prepare Fresh Vegetables by Arnold Weislo and Annabelle Delaval * Cookaction Inc. * @2009 * ISBN: 978-2-9529842-5-6 * Paperback, 88 pages


With Christmas just around the corner, many are searching for that unique gift for that special someone on their list.

Look no further than “Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses” by Carol Walker. This coffee table book contains 185 brilliant color photographs of wild horses herds in Wyoming.

The photographs illustrate one herd’s plight as it battles the elements and man’s threat to remove it from the public domain land.

Carol Walker’s encounter with a gray stallion one April morning lead her to document the wild horses through her photographs and narrations. She followed seven herds over a four year period capturing their interacting with each other and a stranger watching them.

Through her words and beautiful photographs she shows the bonds the horses develop. She also tells how the horses’ lives are shattered during the round ups conducted by the government when the foals are taken from the mares and the mares from the stallions.

She further explores the treatment and condition of the horses after the round ups and the events that follow.

Through her stunning photographs and words, the author’s attachment and dedication to the wild horses is evident. She encourages citizens to become involved with the protection and preservation of the wild horse.

“Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses” is a must have for any horse lover and a fascinating insight into these magnificent animals that symbolize the American West.

Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses by Carol Walker * Painted Hills Publishing * @2009 *
ISBN: 978-0--9817936-4-1 * Paperback, 160 pages,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vanishing Days

That event doesn’t occur for at least another month so I have plenty of time to prepare for it. What, it’s next weekend, wait I’m not ready.

That’s the way I feel when I realized that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. It seems like only yesterday I had plenty of time to get organized and ready. Now it’s almost here and I’m no more ready than I was two weeks ago (well maybe a little).

We’re not celebrating Thanksgiving until the weekend, but then we have several family gatherings to attend. The problem is I have to keep reminding myself that the stores will be closed Thursday for the holiday and then there’s Friday (oh, no).

You see, I hate the Friday after Thanksgiving .. Black Friday. I’m not big on shopping with large crowds. I’m not one of those who get up at 2 a.m. to get a really great deal at some store. I’d love the deal, but I enjoy my sleep more and can’t see pushing my way through a crowd.

I’m always in town on Black Friday because of work and then I have to go grocery shopping. I’ve tried to get all my groceries earlier in the week so I don’t have to be there, but I always forget something or something comes up and we need extra stuff from the store. So there I go, but it is usually later in the afternoon so the crowd is not so bad.

The reason I’m a little better off than I was two weeks ago, I did pick up a ham and a turkey today. But when I got home I was informed we’d probably need another turkey - so it’s back to the grocery store.

The holidays are hectic enough but then trying to keep up with what stores will be open when, what else is needed, where we’re gathering, when are we gathering, who’s bringing what and oh yeah, there’s the daily routine that has to go on too.

It all just gets rumbled in my brain and the days vanish before I know it.

Do the holidays cause days to vanish for you? What about Black Friday … are you a shopper or wait until the crowd thins out?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Original Vampire

I try to limit the number of DVDs I buy. I know before I turn around, DVDs will be a thing of the past like VHS tapes and something new will be all you can play.

But when I come across a DVD of an old television show that I loved, I can’t help myself.

That’s what happen this week when I found a DVD of “Dark Shadows,” the original television series. It wasn’t an entire season, but 3 ½ hours of the series.  The DVD is called “The Vampire Curse” and “the story behind Barnabas’ transformation from mere mortal to living dead is detailed in a selection of storylines from the supernatural series.”

Jonathan Frid portrayed Barnabas Collins, the original vampire and became a cultural icon.

Dark Shadows aired on the ABC network from 1966 until 1971. I remembered watching Dark Shadows after school and loving it. I think I liked it because the storyline was so unusual and different from anything on TV at the time. I mean, there was no hunky villains or heroes for a young girl to fall for, so it had to be the storyline. Looking back now, even the storyline wasn’t all that great. But on second thought, David Shelby did make a good werewolf.

I think it was the mystery and mystic of vampires, witches and the supernatural that made “Dark Shadows” a must see program. As I recall, most parents weren’t crazy about their children watching it, but tolerated it.

I believe in the 90s a remake of the series was attempted, but only last one season.

While I was purchasing the DVD, the clerk and I talked about the show (she was a fan, too) and how back then the show was no big deal. Now with “Twilight” and “New Moon,” to mention a few, vampire-hype is everywhere.

Thinking about it, I realized why vampires can become heroes instead of villains and why it’s not strange to see so much promotion about it now.

Our parents’ generation had few vampires. So with the next generations (our children and their children) we offer them vampires based on the ones we loved. Each generation cultivates ideals for the next so what we love, we pass on to the next generation. And, let’s face it, the vampires are better looking than they use to be.

Do you know of other things that were once old, but are now new again? Were you a fan of “Dark Shadows?” Was there other shows you loved that you’d like to share with your children? And finally, vampire - scary or sexy?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Color Me Jazzmyne by Marian Thomas

A fellow member of Book Blog recently made a request for blog members to assist in an endeavor she is undertaking.

The request was to help announce the debut novel of Marian Thomas by hosting a post on our blogs.

I agreed to help. The book is Color Me Jazzmyne.” I haven’t read it yet, but the following information was provided and it sounds interesting. I will have the tote giveaway button on the sidebar until it deadlines.

Check out the debut novel and the Amazon Spike Day on Nov. 27.


On Friday, November 27, click on Color Me Jazzmyne’s Amazon page ( and buy a copy for yourself (and one for a friend). In order to be entered into the drawing to win a very special tote bag from the author, you must email a copy of your Amazon receipt to the folks at Author Exposure Book Blog (bookpromo at authorexposure dot com) within 24 hours of your purchase.

Everyone who purchases a copy of Color Me Jazzmyne on November 27th from AND emails a receipt to will have a chance to win a nifty tote bag!!

A brief synopsis of the book:
Color Me Jazzmyne by Marian L. Thomas is a fictional story of a jazz singer named Naya Mona, who was raped by her father. In the tale, Naya recounts her life to her son whom she is meeting for the first time. How do you tell your son that your father is his? Women will relate to the drama, romance, and struggles Naya Mona goes through as she takes on the stage name - Jazzmyne. She has a voice that commands your attention and takes you on a journey through the life of Naya Mona that is filled with the melodious tones that make Color Me Jazzmyne a true reading pleasure.

To read the first three chapters of Color Me Jazzmyne, visit the author’s website at (or us the direct link…

About the author:
Marian L. Thomas is a native of Chicago with a passion for the words that reflect the issues that face women today. However, the concept of putting her thoughts into written form wasn’t realized until her second year in high school when she wrestled with the thought of writing a book she then called What Color is Jazzmyne. In fact, 20 years would pass before she finally debuted a more refined version of her original concept, calling it Color Me Jazzmyne. It was just a few years prior to this that she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Communication, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Marian now resides in Atlanta, Ga., with her husband and their spoiled, but playful dog. She enjoys writing short stories that have full impact and is currently working on her second novel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness

You may have noticed that I've added a breast cancer awareness button on the right hand side of this blog.

In case you've never used this button, let me explain about it (and if you have, please bear with me). Just click on the button and it will take you to another screen where it will explain that you need to click one more time to help raise money to provide free mammograms. The process only takes a few seconds and cost you nothing. You aren't ask for any information or required to fill out anything. The final screen does offer items for purchase, but you're not required to buy or even browse unless you want to.

I signed up for an e-mail that reminds me every morning to visit the site and click.

I had planned to add the button to the site, but just hadn't gotten around to doing it. Yesterday something touched me and I want to do what I can to raise awareness. In a small way, this is a start.

Let me tell you a story. I'll try to keep it short and to the point, but I tend to ramble on.

I'm on Facebook. I don't do a lot on it. I signed up because some friends invited me and I've reconnected with a number of people I graduated with some ___ years ago. I've also added friends that are friends of friends and not someone I really know.

Over the past couple of months I've had numerous invitations from new friends to join them playing one or more of the games on Facebook and I haven't taken them up on it. In a few days time I had 50-something request for an apple, tree, etc., and come join the game.

I felt bad those requests/invitations were being ignored, but I didn't have time to play. So I decided to write each of those making the request a note basically saying, "thanks, but no thanks."

Yesterday I heard back from one of the new friends sending the requests. She said she no longer played either. She had been diagnosed with cancer, had had a mastectomy and was preparing for chemo.

I don't know this person. I've never met her. But my heart aches for what she's going through. I've had a number of friends that have survived breast cancer and I've lost some to this disease. A dear friend of mine's husband also died of breast cancer last year.

The past couple of days mammograms have been in the news. Now there's reports you don't need a mammogram until you're 50, while others think those between 40 and 50 should have mammograms. I don't know the answer. I think it should be up to the individual and their thoughts and feelings.

I know I've rambled on for a lengthy post, but thanks for listening. Sometimes maybe one voice can be heard. Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paper or Audio

I enjoy audio books very much. They can be entertaining, as well as educational.

I listen to audio books in the car going to and from work, as well as trips to town. To me listening to a book in traffic is more relaxing than listening to the radio.

I can take a book on CD, transfer it to my MP3 player and it can go anywhere with me. I send the CDs to my best friend in Houston, Texas, and we both enjoy the book (sometimes at the same time and discuss it). She sends me the CDs she has purchased.

But I don't want to give up my paper books.

I enjoy reading book as much, if not more, than listening to audio books.

There's something magical about holding a book, turning the pages and having a story unfold as you read.

My friend has a Kindle and loves it. I'm not sure I'd like one. I know they can be handy. The best part would be the ability to obtain a book in a matter of minutes compared to having to go to the book store or waiting on a book to be delivered to your home.

However, the joy of going to a book store can't be beat. To browse aisle after aisle searching for that certain book or just looking for something new can be a joy for a book lover.

Another thing ... I can't seem to get rid of any books, even the ones I don't like. I keep thinking one day I might like them. And if I find an author I really like, then I try to find everything that author has written. I may not read it right away, but I have it just in case.

The audio books are the only ones I'm able to swap and then there are certain ones I still collect.

I've seen lamps and bookends make out of old books. The craftsmen suggests buying old books from a library sale to make the items. I can't bring myself to damage any book even to make a lamp or bookends.

How do you feel about paper verses audio books? Do you like both or one better than the other? What about paper verses Kindles and Nooks? Do you think paper books will soon be a thing of the past like eight track and VHS tapes?

Are you a collector or just a reader? Do you keep everything you read or do you do anyway if it as soon as you finish reading? A lot to think about. Let me know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Carry All

I have noticed from my own experience and from watching others that women are "carry alls."

We tend to "carry all" we can. An example is when we take groceries in. We try to limit the number of trips between the car and the house by "carrying all" we can each time. When possible, we'll only make one trip.

Meanwhile, men will take one or two items in at a time. Thus, we usually wind up helping them. Guess they've got that figured out.

I think it's in our nature somehow. I've tried to take fewer items in at a time, but I always end up with both hands carrying as much as possible. I don't want to waste time going back and forth.

I also see this in a lot of the characters I read about. They try to carry all the responsibility of solving the murder, while balancing their everyday life.

Are you a "carry all" person or can you limit how much you carry at a time? Does it bother you to make numerous trips back and forth between two points?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Salon: Pretty Is As Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig

An octogenarian sleuth may not sound like an interesting story line, but the way author Elizabeth Spann Craig spins this one, you’ll be laughing and asking for more. Elizabeth has created a delightful character in Myrtle that you can’t help but love, despite her crankiness.

So sit back and prepare to be entertained by this cozy murder mystery:

Retired schoolteacher Myrtle Clover is not ready to be shuffled off to an assisted living home in her small Southern town.

Her son Red, who’s also the police chief, decides to sign her up for the Altar Guild and United Methodist Women to keep her busy. But, Myrtle wants nothing to do with that.

Over night a village of a hundred gnomes mysteriously appear in Myrtle’s yard to the horror of Red, who lives across the street. The ceramic gnomes are Myrtle’s way of showing her son she disapproves of what he’s done.

Despite her misgivings, Myrtle stomps off to the church for the United Methodist Women meeting. She’s not looking forward to it because of Parke Stockard, who seems to be taking over everything in town.

Parke is already at the church. But, she’s sprawled on the floor dead.

No one seems to be grieving over the deceased. In fact, Myrtle sees Parke’s death as a way to prove her independence to Red. She’ll solve the murder before he does.

Myrtle begins her investigation (snooping) into the life of Parke Stockard. Soon the octogenarian Holmes decides she needs a “Mr. Watson” to help solve the murder or at least to drive her around. She enlist the help of her new neighbor, who has all the local widows swooning.

Before long the suspect list is growing and the body count is going up as well.

Red’s “red herrings” backfires and Myrtle closes in on the killer.

Author Elizabeth Spann Craig throws together a cast of zany church members, a frazzled daughter-in-law with a rowdy two-year-old, and a French exchange student for the makings of a laugh-out-loud murder mystery. The antics of the 80-something-year-old Myrtle leaves you holding your breath one minute and shaking your head the next.

“Pretty Is As Pretty Dies” is a cozy mystery that will have you guessing “Who dun ‘it” until the end.

Having never been a gnome person before, they now have a quirky place in my heart. Every time I see one, I’ll wonder what mystery Myrtle is solving now.

Grab a glass of sweet tea and a copy of “Pretty Is As Pretty Dies” for an enjoyable read and a wonderful, witty new character to love.

Myrtle Clover is not your typical grandmother.

For more on the Myrtle Clover Mystery series, as well as mysteries by author Elizabeth Spann Craig, go online to , In addition, check out author Elizabeth Spann Craig at and

Pretty Is As Pretty Dies, A Myrtle Clover Mystery by Elizabeth Spann Craig; Midnight Ink @2009
ISBN: 978-0-7387-1480-6; Paperback, 214 pages.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall Leaves

Trying to think of a post this morning, my mind was jumbled with ideas that wouldn't come together. I thought of several topics, but nothing would complete itself.

While thinking about all the Christmas decorations that are out in stores, Christmas movies on TV and Christmas music already playing on the radio, I decided to share a bit of fall with everyone.

I live in the Northwest Georgia mountains, Rome to be exact. Where we are the leave have been beautiful. Granted a lot of people from here drive to the "mountains" (Blue Ridge, Helen, etc.) an hour or so away to see fall leaves. I think they just want to get away from home for awhile.

Like I said, our leaves have been beautiful. However, this past week we had four inches of rain followed by almost two days of winds blowing from 10 to 20 miles an hour. So the leaves aren't looking quite as good anymore.

I want to share some photos I took last week of the leaves. There are also a couple with our cats playing around a tree in the yard. I'm afraid the photos don't do the leaves justice. They were bright and beautiful this year.

Hope you enjoy these.

Check back tomorrow. I plan to post my review of "Pretty Is As Pretty Dies" by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deadline and Commitments

When I think of “deadline and commitments,” I always remember the Bob Seger song. Over the years I have come to understand the words to that song much more rather than just listening to the music.

Deadlines can be a helpful tool. We (are at least most of us) need a deadline to complete a task. Deadlines keep us focused.

But a deadline can be a difficult thing as well. Deadlines can cause problems or maybe it’s just trying to meet deadlines that causes the problems.

My first editor at a weekly newspaper I worked for told me once that I seemed to work better under the pressure of a deadline. Since we only published once a week, I usually waited until the last day (or next to the last day) to finish my more in-depth articles. I rarely did an article several days ahead, if I didn’t have to.

My way of looking at it then (and now), is that by waiting until the last day to write the article I was making sure I had all the facts possible. If I wrote it earlier, some of the facts could change.

I still wait until the last minute possible to complete an article. I want to make sure I have all my facts and that I’ve thought out the article for the best lead and body of the story.

However, as I get older I’ve noticed that I sometimes push the envelope just a little too far. It seems I wait until the very last second to finish some things. When I do that, it usually causes problems.

By waiting until the last few minutes or hours to do something, I find it sometime interferes with commitments.

If you wait until the last few hours to do something, and then something happens to you - that something you wanted or needed to do, doesn’t get done.

There are a lot of unexpected things that can go wrong. A family member can get sick and need your attention. You could have car trouble and not be able to make it to work to complete your task. Just a long list of things that can cause commitments and deadline not to work together.

How do deadlines work for you? Are you one of those people that pushes the envelope until the last few minutes or do you have things done ahead schedule?

By the way, Happy Friday the 13th.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remote Controls

I reached for the remote control last night and picked up the wrong one. Have you ever noticed how many remote controls, control our lives?

We seem to have a remote control to control everything. There’s one for the TV, one for the satellite, one for the DVD player, one for the VCR (if you still have one), one for the stereo system, one for the air conditioner, one for the garage door, and such.

Some people even have remotes for their lights (especially outside lights) and some fireplace heaters now have remote controls.

It’s crazy enough trying to find the right remote when you need it. But, you also have to keep the batteries working in all the remotes.

Some use AAA and some AA batteries. That’s another thing you have to keep up and make sure you plenty on hand at all times.

When it comes to the remotes themselves have you ever noticed how small they’re making the buttons. I mean, sure, they’re more buttons on there, but they’re so small when you touch one, you’re actually touched two or three.

And don’t get me started on where they place the buttons on the remote. When you go to push the play button, it’s next to the record button. And you have to search high and low for the pause button or the stop button.

Does anyone remember the days of having to get up and physically turn the TV from one channel to the other and adjust the volume?

Don’t get me wrong, I may rant about remotes but I don’t want to give mine up. I’ve come to depend on remotes and sometimes wish I had more. I can’t image going one day without using at least one remote.

How do remote controls play a role in your daily life?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Old Wives' Tales

 Old wives’ tales seem to be a thing of the past these days as they’re not used in our normal day-to-day lives.

In a very enjoyable book that I just finished, the main character gives a quote about a red sky in the morning, "Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” Her daughter-in-law thinks she may have suffered a stroke because she's rambling about red skies.

After reading that, I got to wondering … how many old wives’ tales did I remember from my childhood and what would people think if I went around quoting old sayings.

I’m sorry to say, I don’t recall many tales. I do, however, recall my grandmother having a saying for almost anything that happened.

The problem then, I was young and could have cared less about her silly sayings. The problem now, because I didn’t pay attention, I lost a piece of my family’s history and tradition of passing along old wives’ tales.

I remember the sailor’s tale - “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors’ delight.” Another one I remember is about playing in fire - “Don’t play in the fire or you’ll pee in the bed.” And one from school, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.”

I wondered if there was somewhere I could find a collection of old sayings so I used Google. With Google, all seems possible.

There are numerous sites out there dedicated to old wives’ tales. Looking over them, I remembered a few and found a lot I had never heard of.

Maybe the tales won’t be lost even though they aren’t used in daily life as they once were.

The delightful mystery I finished, by the way, is “Pretty is As Pretty Dies” by Elizabeth Spann Craig. My plans are to post my review of it here on Sunday. Check back to read more.

Do you have any old wives’ tales that you remember from your childhood? Have you passed those tales onto your children or younger members of your family? "What was their reaction to your tales?

And I was just reminded that today is Veterans Day. Give thanks to all who have and will serve our country.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Change In Routine

I have a routine I go through every morning. I'm sure most people do. It seems we do the same thing, everyday until it becomes almost automatic.

I say almost automatic, because a routine can change. Oh and when it does - trouble is usually close behind.

If I vary the slightest from the way I normally do things, it seems everything falls apart. I'm not talking about some major change. Just something simple like giving the cats dry feed before they're can food. Crazy huh? Normally I change out the cats' feed in the morning giving them fresh can food and then some dry.

This morning I picked up their dry food bowl, put fresh out and then turned around to go get dressed. As I started down the hall, it dawned on me I hadn't changed out their can food. Something simple, but my routine was off. Not to mention that both cats were looking at me like I had lost my mind.

I think sometimes we do this in our day-to-day routine. We get in a pattern and we don't want to change because it disrupts our lives. I keep saying I need to go see this friend or that and have lunch to catch up. But I don't do it because it would change my pattern for that day.

We are so accustomed to pattern how do we change it without throwing our lives into disarray?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brain Freeze

Has anyone ever experience a brain freeze?

That's the moment you go do something, and you can't remember what it was or why you were doing it or where you were going to do it - brain freeze.

Well, that's what I'm experiencing this morning. When I started to post, my brain froze. I can't remember anything I wanted to write about. I know yesterday I had all sorts of ideas that I wanted to share. Those thoughts have left me. My mind seems to be blank (which some would probably think is a good thing).

I think maybe it's my subconscious taking over. Yesterday I talked with my dearest and best friend about this blog. She said she didn't see how I could do a blog. If it were her, she said, she'd not have anything to say or she'd forget to do it. At the time, I had all sorts of thoughts floating through my head. Not anymore.

What do you do if you lose your train of thought? I have been known to retrace my steps from one room to another to regain that thought. Sometimes I think we just try to keep too many thoughts going at once in our mind. Any thoughts on this :) ?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tragic Magic by Laura Childs

Having never scrap booked before, I wasn’t sure if I could “get into” a Scrapbooking mystery with all the references to die cuts, layout pages, embellishments, borders, etc. I didn’t have a clue. While there is some references to the craft, the story focuses on a bright, facetious character and her friends. Since reading “Tragic Magic,” the Scrapbooking aisle doesn’t scare me quite so much. 

Now for the adventures of a scrap booker:

Amateur sleuth Carmela Bertrand returns just in time to solve a murder mystery before the Galleries and Gourmets celebration sweeps through the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Carmela, owner of Memory Mine Scrapbooking shop, and her closest friend, Ava Gruiex, owner of Juju Voodoo, are still trying to keep their businesses afloat four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. They have taken on the side job of decorating Medusa Manor for their friend, Melody Mayfeldt. Melody wants to turn the manor into a spectacular haunted house in time for DiscordaCon, an upcoming horror convention.

On one of their trips to the manor, however, Carmela and Ava are greeted by a horror attraction that turns out to be murder. Melody had been pushed from a third floor window, after being set on fire, and lands dead at their feet.

Almost before the flames are extinguished, Carmela and Ava are approached by Melody’s silent partner, to continue the project at double their original fee. While considering the proposal, Carmela is besieged by Melody’s husband to find her killer.

Carmela wants to help, but she doesn’t want to upset Detective Edgar Babcock, who she’s been seeing since her separation from her womanizing, soon-to-be ex-husband, Shamus Meechum.

As if she doesn’t have enough going on, Carmela is trying to finalize an on-going divorce settlement between her and Shamus, who still acts like a fun-loving frat boy. She may have to share custody of her two beloved dogs with him. And, she also has to deal with Shamus’ overbearing sister who holds the Meechum family purse strings.

While running their businesses and following clues, Carmela and Ava are busy transforming Medusa Manor into a prime haunted house. Meanwhile, the silent partner is cozying up to the seedy real estate developer who tried to buy Medusa Manor from Melody.

Through a mix of ghost walks, tarot card readings, a séance, and cemetery visits, the reader is introduced to the mystery and mystic surrounding New Orleans and its many legends.

Even though this is a “Scrapbooking Mystery,” don’t be mislead that it’s all about page layouts, die cuts or embellishments. It’s a “keep you on the edge of your seat, lock the doors while you read” murder mystery. The story is filled with colorful characters, witty dialogue and enough plot twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.

Author Laura Childs sprinkles Scrapbooking tips and techniques throughout the story. There are suggestions and tips to delight scrap bookers, while peaking the interest of non-scrap bookers who may find themselves browsing the scrapbook aisle after reading “Tragic Magic.”

While telling a wonderful tale, Ms. Childs gives the reader a feel for New Orleans through her descriptions of the streets and businesses to the food and culture. An extra bonus is a number of delicious New Orleans recipes included in the back of the book, along with additional craft tips.

“Tragic Magic” is the seventh installment in the Scrapbooking Mystery series. First time readers of the series don’t have to know what else Carmela has been up to in the past six books in order to enjoy “Tragic Magic.” However, the captivating charm of Carmela will have readers searching for the previous installments in the series because they won’t be able to get enough of her antics.

The sights and sounds of New Orleans comes alive through the adventures of Carmela and her friends.

For more on Laura Childs, the Scrapbooking Mystery series and other series by Ms. Childs, go online to

Tragic Magic, A Scrapbooking Mystery by Laura Childs, Berkley Prime Crime, @2009. ISBN: 978-0-425-22989-7, 320 pages, hardcover.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

To Twitter or Not

     Well, it's official ... I've lost what little bit of a brain I had. First of all, you have to understand, I am the most unorganized person in the world. I make list on top of list trying to keep up and remember what I'm doing. With this new blog I've even started a journal to keep up with all the sign-in names and passwords I've created recently.
     So, why have I lost my brain (or mind)? I joined Twitter yesterday and have no clue what I'm doing.
     I was already on Facebook and didn't understand it, so why would I join something else? Just lost my brain is the only reason I know.
     Facebook is interesting. It's a neat place to connect with people you haven't heard of in years and share photos with everyone. I just don't seem to have enough time to participate in all the games and swaps they have. When I don't respond to someone who's sent me this or that, I feel guilty that I've left them hanging.
     So why join Twitter? I'm not sure. I talked with a friend yesterday who is a computer tech wizard and he tried to explain it to me. In general, it sounds good. Just not sure I'll be able to keep up with it either.
     Cleo (Coyle) recommended I check into Twitter since I was going to be blogging about book reviews I had done. I can see where it would help generate more traffic to one's blog. So, I'm giving it a go. I make only visit and read, but at least I am finding my way back to the Internet Superhighway after being at the rest stop way too long.
     Any thoughts on Twitter or Facebook? With all these new venues, does anyone write letters anymore? Just wondering.
     Hope to have a another review to post tomorrow, if I can get everything to work right. Hope everyone has a safe and carefree Saturday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where do you read?

I was wondering if most people have a favorite place to read. I don't really have one, I just like to read no matter where I am.
I've often thought that a big bay window with a window seat would be the ideal place to read, but then I'd probably be too busy looking outside to get much reading done.
I know some people like to read in bed. I do at times. But I've found that if I'm really into a book, I keep reading way past my bedtime and I pay dearly for it in the morning so I try to limit the time I read in bed.
The reason for my wondering about favorite places to read is where I found myself reading yesterday.
See the past week or so I haven't been able to read as much as I wanted to, so I'm behind on some of my reading. This week I've finally got a chance to start reading.
I tend to take the book I'm reading with me where ever I go so that way if I'm delayed, I'll have something to do. If I'm not currently reading anything I take my knitting or crocheting instead.  I can't seem to sit and do nothing.
Anyway, this new book I'm reading is really good. The main character in it reminds me of several people I know (one for the physical appearance and another for the actions).
Yesterday I found myself wishing the red lights would hold longer and even hoping there was road work so I could read.
I was able to read a few pages waiting in line at the bank's drive thru (no way I was going inside when I could sit and read). And usually when you leave the stores you have to wait in long, long lines to get out into the highway....not yesterday. Everywhere I went, traffic moved way too fast.
I didn't take any chances by not paying attention to the road or my driving (I don't try to drive and read or text). It was just those moments that I usually have when driving that make me crazy for waiting, didn't yesterday because I had something interesting to do while I waited.
I'm taking the book with me again today.
Oh, the book is "Pretty Is As Pretty Dies" by Elizabeth Spann Craig. I love Myrtle ... I think I hear her calling me now. Gotta go read. Have a favorite place to read, let me know.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Theme

I've changed themes one last time. I'm serious this time. I've finally found one that has the layout like I want. I'm able to post my books on each side and not cover the post up.

I have another review ready to be posted, but it will be several days before I do. There are so many wonderful books to be read and shared with others. I hope through this blog I can share some and encourage others to read books they might not otherwise try.

Let me know what you think of this layout.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

This will be my first attempt to post a review that I have done. This is the eighth installment in the Coffeehouse Mystery series and the storyline is set around Christmas. With cooler temperatures and snow already arriving in places, there's no better time to get ready for the holidays than now. So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

The slow economy has touched Village Blend, the coffeehouse operated by Clare Cosi. She tries to find new coffee drinks to entice the shoppers inside, but instead finds her staff with less than a “Merry Christmas” spirit. Hoping to lift their mood, Clare goes looking for Alfred Glockner, the “Traveling Santa” that frequents the Blend and suggested the “Fl-la-la-la Lattes.”

Clare soon finds Alf in an alley not far from the Blend, but it’s not a cheery sight. Alf’s been killed. Clare finds his body near a dumpster and things look amiss to her. She phones the police, but before they arrive she decides to do a little snooping on her - besides the snow is covering the footprints and she needs to know where they lead to tell the police, right?

The police arrive, determine Alf’s the victim of a random mugging. Clare doesn’t see it that way and goes head to head with the lead detective - a “do-rag“ wearing brute named Sgt. Emmanuel Franco.

In the following days, the more Clare learns about Alf and his killing, the less she knows. Not able to help herself, she agrees to look into Alf’s killing for his daughter, a former employee of the Blend. Clare begins her search after enlisting the help of her ex-husband and current partner in the Blend, Matteo, and his elderly mother (owner of the Blend) Madame Dreyfuss Allegro Dubois. She also has  help from her boyfriend, Detective Mike Quinn, but feels things are on slippery ground where their relationship is concerned.

Author Cleo Coyle takes readers on a whirlwind ride of ups and downs, ins and outs as Clare finds clues and suspects only to discover more unanswered questions.

Clare’s undertakings leads her around the city and into danger more than once. Just when you think you know her next move, she’ll surprise you. Just when you figure out who the killer is, a new clue will prove you wrong.

“Holiday Grind” will keep you spellbound from beginning to end. Along the way you will laugh, cry, reminisce about Christmas’ past, and stay on the edge of your seat waiting to find out who the killer really is.

As an added bonus, the latter part of the book is really a second book. Author Cleo Coyle and Clare Cosi provide a mini-book of coffeehouse terms, recipes and coffee-making tips from the Village Blend. Readers can make their own “Fa-la-la-la Lattes.”

Holiday Grind is the eighth installment in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. If you’re thinking, I can’t read a book at the end of a series because you won‘t know what‘s going on. You can and you can’t.

You can because Holiday Grind is a stand-alone book. There’s no missing elements you need to know from a previous book to keep up with Clare and her antics.

You can’t because once you read “Holiday Grind” you’ll want to know Clare’s history and find out what other madcap adventures she’s been on. Each of the previous Coffeehouse books also offers some recipes and tips at the end.

Whether you’re a coffee drinker or not, Holiday Grind will be a mystery you can’t put down except long enough to sip your hot chocolate or latte.

For more on the Coffeehouse Mystery series, as well as lots of other tidbits and the Haunted Bookshop novels by author Cleo Coyle, go online to, also check out author Cleo Coyle at

Holiday Grind - A Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle, Berkley Prime Crime, @2009. ISBN: 978-0-425-23005-3, Hardcover, 384 pages,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Changing Themes

If you're returning to this blog, you'll notice I've changed the layout again. Hopefully this will be the last time. It's not exactly what I want, but it's close enough for now. I can add gadgets and widgets and it not upset the layout.

I recently did a review of "Holiday Blend" by Cleo Coyle. The book makes it debut today. It's great mystery and I plan to post my review here shortly. If you love coffee and mystery, you can't go wrong with the Coffehouse Mystery series. If you just love coffee or mystery, give the series a try.

The Coffehouse Mystery series is the reason this blog exists. Without reading that series, following that author and her website to a new blog she participates in, I would have never blogged. I am not an Internet superhighway participant. I'd be happy with a typewriter (mind you an electric one).

Guess I've rambled enough for now. Thanks for stopping by and return often.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I have tried numerous templates for this blog and not had much luck.

The templates I like, won't work with the widgets I want. The templates that will work with the widgets, are nice (don't get me wrong), but speak a personality to me. I wanted something that showed some of my interests - books, coffee, writing, and such. Maybe in time I'll find the right one.

For now, I guess if you check out this blog you may find it different from time to time.

Anyone else had problems finding the right template?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Putting words down

Once again I put fingers on keys to make sense of the thoughts in my head.

Do you have days when thoughts come to you left and right, but when you go to write them down, they have all vanished? I do. And if I don't write the thoughts down minutes after they come to me, they don't sound as good on paper later as I thought they did in my head.

I've often thought it would be a great thing if there was a way to record your thoughts like we record our voice. But that in its self could be a scary thing. Any opinions?