Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Week in Reading - May 2

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

This was a pretty quiet week for NetGalley though I did pick up a few things from the library and paperbackswap.

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths - I've been wanting to start this mystery series about archaeologist Ruth Galloway for ages and I'm so excited to finally be starting this one.  I've just started it but so far so good!  (Library)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - I put this one on hold as soon as I finished Cinder and am looking forward to seeing where the adventure goes.  I'm going to try reading this one instead of listening so we'll see which one I like better.  (Library)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - I've been obsessed with reading this book since I saw the preview for the movie.  I'm a little scared it will make me ugly cry but I think it'll be worth it.  (Library)

Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon - This is a cozy mystery involving glass blowing.  (Paperbackswap)

Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd - I really just love the title!  It looks like an interesting read.  (Paperbackswap)

Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle - I love Carlisle's Bibliophile series and I really want to read this new series by her about home repair. (Paperbackswap)


Reading: Starfish Moon by Donna Kauffman and The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Listening: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Watching:  J and I have started watching The Blacklist which I am enjoying and he is a bit more meh about it.  I'm also still watching Supernatural.  I just started season 3 and so far am still enjoying it.

Off the Blog:

Everyone stayed healthy this week!  Which is good because our small appliances have become suicidal and it's taking some effort to deal with that.  Our dryer decided it was about done this week and then we thought J had gotten it fixed and it worked for a little bit and then changed it's mind and decided that it was really some ridiculously expensive electrical panel that was broken and so we ended up with a new dryer.  After all the annoyances we've had with the old one which I paid a ridiculous amount for I wanted the absolute simplest one I could find and it was installed today so hopefully all will be well.  We're talking about replacing the stove because that's the only thing left but I have faith in it so we're leaving it alone.

I've started walking with some friends after we drop the kids off at school and it's been great though I'm learning just how out of shape I really am.  We walked a few miles and I was limping for days and we're not going to even talk about the blisters! But we walked again Friday and it wasn't nearly as much of a shock to the system so I'm hoping I'm going in the right directions.  As Trish says "I'm going to keep on keepin' on!"

I bought plants!  I'm hoping to actually get them in the ground this week and I'll have tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers soon.  I'll still be buying from farmer's markets some but I'll be getting some of my vegetables from my own garden too!  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall - Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Childhood Characters I'd like to Revisit as Adults
Wednesday: What I'm Listening To - The Selection and Others
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Linkups featuring Current Book
Saturday Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen - Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April Edition

I love Pinterest.  I love pinning recipes from my favorite food blogs or scrolling down the Everything section to see what everyone else has been pinning.  I love the idea of all the crafts and recipes and everything else right there at my fingertips.
Right now I have around 9,600 pins in 60 boards.  I do use Pinterest a pretty good bit but tend to stick to the boards regarding Dinner and let other delicious looking recipes or fun crafts languish unused and ignored.  This year I'm trying to get more use out of Pinterest so at the beginning of the year I created my 52 Pins in 52 Weeks Board as well as a Results Board to keep track of it.  I'll be posting my results the last Saturday of each month.

This month is low on pictures but it was definitely productive!  I had 2 pins that didn't work out but 3 that really did so I'm considering that a win!  Since I hate to have a picture-free post here's a picture of some of my tulips this year.  They didn't last very long but they were pretty!

Week 14

The PinChocolate Cherry Cookies from Shugary Sweets

Reason Picked:  I love cherries and chocolate together
The Basic Idea: A chocolate chip cookie with dried cherries mixed in
The Results:  These were so good! The texture of the cookie was nice and soft and I loved getting the explosion of cherry flavor when I bit into a dried cherry.  I used milk chocolate chips to follow the recipe but next time I'll use semi-sweet because I like the flavor better.

Week 15:

The PinPork Tenderloin from More Than Easy Mac

Reason Picked: I love pork tenderloin and am always looking for more recipes that use the crock pot
The Basic Idea: Dump a pork tenderloin in the crock pot and cover it with wine, onion soup mix and some other stuff.
The Results: It was okay.  I thought the wine over powered the rest of the ingredients and the flavor just wasn't anything remarkable.  I didn't keep this recipe.

Week 16:

The Pin: Extra Cheesy Tortellini Bake from Averie Cooks

Reason Picked: I love baked pasta dishes
The Basic Idea:  Tortellini tosed with a tomato sauce and covered in cheese
The Results: This was really tasty and quick to throw together.  I did toss the tortellini in marscapone as the recipe calls for next time I probably won't to see if you can taste the difference.  I'll definitely be making this one again.

Week 17:

The PinSpring Onion and Cheddar Scones with Bacon Butter from Sugar Dish Me

Reason Picked:  I love cheese scones and was intrigued by the bacon butter
The Basic Idea: A butter cheese scone with green onions topped with a mix of bacon and butter
The Results; So ridiculously good.  The scones themselves were so good that I'm not sure the bacon butter was necessary.  I used red pepper that she listed as optional and I think next time I won't.  I like spicy food usually but I think these would have been better without the red pepper kick.

Week 18:

The Pin: Cross Bun from a site that no longer exists

Reason Picked:  This looked simple enough and I thought it might dress my usual ponytail up a bit.
The Basic Idea:  Not 100% sure because there were no instructions.
The Results:  Not so much.  For starters I'm terrible at hair stuff so even if there had been detailed instructions making this work was questionable.  Then there's the fact that my hair is very thick and has a lot of layers so that made this a bit trickier.  Having absolutely no instructions was kind of the death blow and I couldn't quite get it to work where it looked like anything.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Linkups: The Whispering Statue

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you read and review books mainly for publishers or authors?

My Answer:
Probably more for publishers than authors.  NetGalley and Publicist requests make up the bulk of my ARCs and I've only read a handful of author requests.

This week's book is The Whispering Statue by Carolyn Keene.  Growing up Nancy Drew books were my absolute favorite.  I read every book my library had at least once and most of them twice.  I read the "updated" stories that were written in the 80s and 90s as well but the original yellow bound books were always my favorite.  This is the 2nd or 3rd I've reread as an adult and I will admit that the books definitely have flaws but I guess because I loved them so much as a child that I kind of like the flaws.  For one thing Nancy is basically a human version of Google.  There is nothing that girl doesn't know and can discuss at a moments notice and sound like an expert.  She also has a gift for getting hit over the head and passing out without having a concussion.  I don't remember this book at all though I know I read it as a kid but when I saw one of my favorite podcasts was discussing this book I couldn't resist picking it up when I saw it at the library.

The Beginning:
"Nancy, you're kidding.  No statue can whisper"
My Thoughts:
This is one of Nancy's friends, George - which is short for Georgiana - and right away we have the title of the book brought in.  Nancy Drew books always work the title in somehow.  It's kind of fun to see how they do it.

The 56:
Nancy was fearful that he might ask for s social security number or other type of identification but he said nothing about it and she bubbled eagerly, "How soon may I start?"

My Thoughts:
I love how dated this statement is!  We had to overnight my daughter's Social Security card to her before she could start her new job after she left for college.  She couldn't work without them having a copy on file and they had to see the original.  I can't imagine anyone getting a job and not having to prove who they are now!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Were you a Nancy Drew fan as a kid?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Beyond the Books - Birth Order

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's topic is - Birth Order
The oldest (Eleanor) and youngest (the Tornado) in Tampa in 2010

Birth order is a strange thing and comes out in odd ways.  My husband is the youngest of 2 and if you met him and his brother you'd think the order was reversed.  J's brother is loud and always the center of attention while J is Mr. Responsible and on the quiet side until you get to know him.

I don't think mine would be too big of a shock - I'm an Only.  I'm not the center of the world kind of only but I'm very much of a "my stuff is my stuff and don't mess with it" kind of only.  They idea of someone going through my stuff and messing with it makes me twitchy even as an adult.  I have a feeling it would've driven me absolutely crazy as a child!

The downside of being an only child is that I had no idea how bickering works.  When J and I got married - me bringing in 1 child and him 2 - we had an instant large family and they spent a lot of time bickering.  It took me awhile to get my head around the fact that that was normal and that it didn't mean they hated each other.

The 2 youngest - 2010
The funny thing is that we're going from having a large family to having an only.  With the age difference between the 3 oldest and the Tornado he will basically be an only child.  It's kind of fun to see the differences each situation definitely has it's own advantages and challenges.
The baby and the middle

So what are you?  Do you think your birth order shows in your personality?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Counterfeit Conspiracies - Review

Counterfeit Conspiracies (A Bodies of Art Mystery Book #1) by Ritter Ames

Rating: It's Okay
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Laurel Beacham may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she has long since lost it digging herself out of trouble.  Her father gambled and womanized his way through the family fortune before skiing off an Alp,leaving her with more tarnish than trust fun.  Quick wits and connections have gained her a reputation as one of the world's premier art recovery experts.  The police may catch the thief, but she reclaims the missing masterpieces.  The latest assignment, however, may be her undoing.  Using ever ounce of luck and larceny she possesses, Laurel must locate a priceless art icon and rescue a co-worker (and ex-lover) from a master criminal, all the while matching wits with a charming new nemesis.  Unfortunately, he seems to know where all the bodies are buried - and she prefers hers isn't next.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I love books around art theft so how can I resist a book where the main character is a recovery expert?

My Impression:  So I've been watching a show called The Catch on ABC the last few weeks.  It's Shonda Rhimes' newest and is about a con-artist and a super glam private detective.  It's super slick with lots of split screen shots of two POVs and the characters say things like "You want to play? Let's play." quite a bit.  Why am I talking about a TV show in a book review?  Because the who time I was reading this book it reminded me quite a bit of the show.  Like to the point that Laurel and Jack looked like the actors who play the two main characters in my head.
In this book there's a lot of running around to get to people, to lose tails, to misdirect, and too look for clues.  No one is quite what they seem and Laurel finds herself in a bit of a mess.  I loved the slickness of it.  It was kind of like reading a James Bond novel in a cozier format.  It was a fun sprint through London on the search for jewels and treachery.

However, because of all the running I never felt like I was doing more than skimming the surface of the story and the characters.  We start off with Laurel in the middle of an art theft (but stealing back something that was stolen) and we get a bit of an inside look at her motives but then after that it becomes one continuous chase and I felt like I needed more of a connection to really enjoy the book.  As it was it wasn't a bad read but it was a story that hooked me.

It's very clear that this book continues into the 2nd book and nothing is really wrapped up by the end of this story.  However, it does feel like one part of the investigation has finished so it didn't feel too cliff-hangery.  I don't know if I'll be picking up the 2nd book.  I did like the characters and the hunt and am a little curious to find out what happens next but I don't know if I'll even remember in a few days once I get another book between me and this one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I don't know.  I'm not opposed to reading more from Ames but I won't be pre-ordering the next book.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Probably not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Delights

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Bookworm Delights.  Here are ten bookish things that make me super happy!

1.  My bookmark - When Emma was in kindergarten she gave me this bookmark for Christmas.  Since she's now finishing up her first year of college it's been around awhile and has had to have a repair or two but I still love it!

2.  My ragtag collection of Agatha Christies - I think I was in college when I decided that I simply had to have all of Agatha Christie's mysteries.  All 85 of them.  Back then my budget was very slim but there was a great used bookstore right off campus and I used to take my list and hunt through the stacks for ones I didn't have.  Because of this my collection is all over the place.  I have books from the 60s and 70s all the way up to more recent printings.  I actually preferred the older books because the pricing at the bookstore was 50% off the cover so if they had a newer book for $5.99 or an older copy for $.95 I always went for the cheaper copy.  I had such a good time looking for them and collecting them that I wouldn't trade them for a matching set in perfect condition!

3.  Autographed ARCs - I love getting review copies but I especially the love the handful of autographed review copies I've gotten over the years.  There's something that just thrills me about getting not only a review copy but an autographed one and it brings the fan girl in me out a little.

4.  My book list notebook - This notebook was actually inspired by Top Ten Tuesday topics.  There's always Top Ten Books I Want to Read or Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR or what not and while I love writing lists of books I want to read I'm not so great at actually keeping up with them.  When I saw this notebook on clearance at Target I couldn't resist it and have had such a good time putting all my lists in the book and then crossing out the books when I read them.  It makes my to do list obsessed soul very happy.

5.  A book that pulls me into it's world - I love that feeling of picking up a book and then looking up and it's 2 hours later and I feel like I've been in a completely different world.  It doesn't happen as much as it used too (more because I have more distractions then a fault of the books) but it's just the best feeling!

6. Sharing books with my kids - One of the best things about being a reader has been watching my kids become readers as well.  Right now both the girls are big readers and the Tornado is starting to read on his own and is really enjoying the chapter books we've started reading at bedtime.

7.  Getting the newest book from a favorite author - I love when I see that one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out.  Even though I usually don't get to it right away I love seeing what other people think of it and the anticipation is always so fun!

8.  Reading a book by an unfamiliar author loving it and finding they have s huge backlist - There's so many bookish possibilities!  I just want to hide and read them all!

9.  Bookish podcasts - I'm fairly new to podcasts but I'm loving all the bookish ones I've found!  Some of my favorites are Super Serials which is a bookclub about mostly 90s serials (Babysitter's Club, Animorphs, Sweet Valley) but they tackle a pretty wide range, All the Books from Book Riot, What Should I Read Next?, Overdue, Read it and Weep (which is about movies and TV shows too), and Get Booked.

10. Stacks of books - the bulk of my reading is done on my Kindle these days but I love seeing stacks and stacks of books!  There's something so satisfying about looking through all the books on the bookcases and pulling out ones that interest me or rearranging them.

What are some bookish things you love?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tumbledown Manor - Review

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley
Description:  The windows rattle.  The roof leaks.  Every surface cries out to be stripped, painted, or polished.  But for writer Lisa Trumperton, the dilapidated manor house that once belonged to her great-grandfather is far more than the sum of its battered parts.  It's the chance for a new start on her own terms.  The fact that it's in the Melbourne countryside of her Australian homeland, far from the deceitful ex-husband she just left behind in New York...well, that's a bonus.  Lisa sets to work refurbishing Trumperton Manor, assisted by her son, his friends, and a "Gray Army" of retired handymen.  But it's not just her ancestral home that;s being transformed.  As she trades her chic Manhattan clothes for jeans and work boots, Lisa is changing and fortifying her relationships with family and her sense of self.  There are floods, fires and catastrophes, but there are new allies too, including a one-eyed cat, a stubborn cockatoo, and a rugged landscaper with an irresistible grin.  Piece by piece, the house is pushing Lisa beyond her old limits, daring her to embrace something bigger, braver, and more rewarding than she ever dreamed.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  A falling down old house is my kryptonite.  I cannot resist them!

My Impression:  This book wasn't what I was expecting.  Going in I was expecting a contemporary romance but set in Australia and I got a lot less romance and much more story about Lisa herself.  This isn't a bad thing it was just a little different than I expected.

I like Lisa quite a bit.  Her fun 50th birthday surprise party turned into something rather awful and sent her scrambling to figure out who she was and what she really wanted.  What she wants is to go back to Australia, closer to her son and her sister but where she hasn't lived since her marriage 20+ years ago.  She's intelligent and a bit of a reformed free spirit who is writing a trilogy about the Bronte sisters but in a much more historical romance sense.  She is also a breast cancer survivor and getting used to her life post-mastectomy.  Her life in Australian isn't exactly all unicorns and rainbows as the history around her old family home is obviously not very pleasant but no one will tell her exactly what it is and figuring out all that needs to be down to the old house is an impressive task on it's own.  Her struggles with her writing are very much a part of the book as she tries to figure out Emily's story and not let her concern for her daughter Portia, who halfway around the world is refusing to eat and becoming more and more standoffish, take over.  The side characters are more developed and flawed than I would have expected.  Lisa's relationship with her sister is complicated and it would be so easy to make her a villain but instead there are flashes of kindness and support and I saw her as more protective than bad. This was the same with the majority of the characters and added more depth to the novel.

I didn't understand her reaction to Scott after their first meeting.  She seems oddly hostile to him at times though he's proven time and again that his intentions are good and that he is clearly helpful. She'll be all fine with him helping her or working on a project and then turns around and slaps him down for what seems like no reason.  I also didn't enjoy the Portia subplot.  She's really hard to like for the majority of the book and it seemed to wrap up a bit too quick.  However, I did understand why Lisa was trying so hard to make the relationship work.

I loved the sense of place in this book.  It felt like it was really set in Australia versus Anytown,Anywhere that was just labeled Australia.  Between the fires, floods, and sometimes hostile wildlife there was never a dull moment.  And I loved how blase Brown is about driving past kangaroos.  I also really enjoyed the Afterword where Brown explains her inspiration for the story.  It made it feel much more personal.

I very much enjoyed this book despite periodically wanting to drown a character or two and wanting to sit down and have a good talk about mixed signals with Lisa.  It's an unusual story with a very unusual main character who is unusual because she seems so normal and just someone you'd really know.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I really enjoyed the author's voice and her ability to really flesh out characters.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes.  If you enjoy books about character growth I think you'd enjoy this one.