Saturday, December 3, 2016

This Week in Reading - December 4

I'm linking up with the Sunday Post hosted by the awesome Kim over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Thanks everyone for their kind words about my Grandfather's fall.  It's been a hard few weeks but I've been really glad I could be here to lend a hand so that it all didn't fall on my Grandmother.

For those that missed my note last week.  My Grandfather fell on November 19 and fractured his 6th and 7th vertebrae which in short hand means he broke his neck.  He's 92 but otherwise in excellent health though he's not getting around quite as well as he used to which frustrates him at times.

He's been improving steadily since the injury other than some pain from the injury and some aches from having to be so immobile for an extended period of time.  I was planning to head home this past Friday but then Wednesday happened.  What started out as a great day with him in good spirits quickly went sideways and we ended up in the emergency room with him almost unresponsive.  He had low blood pressure and a touch of pnemonia and had to be hospitalized for several days but thankfully both issues reacted quickly to treatment and he's been in good spirits ever since and is getting stronger every day.

I'm hoping to head home Monday or Tuesday and am looking forward to catching up with everyone and seeing what you're all reading.  I'm sure there's some great Christmas books I'm missing!

With his niece and mother
I thought I'd share a couple of photos of my Grandfather I found while clearing out some stuff.  They're from 1944 right after he got out of flight school and he's awfully proud of his new uniform and shiny wings!  I think he's rather dashing but I'm a bit biased!

On the Blog:

I have no idea what's coming up next week but I think there will be a mystery review tomorrow and hopefully a top ten list on Tuesday!  I know I haven't been visiting or replying to comments but I have read each and every comment and have been so glad to hear from everyone.  Hope everyone is having a great week and happy reading!

All I Want for Christmas...

It's the time of year to think about not only what I'm giving for Christmas but what I want under my own tree!   I love giving gifts and trying to determine what someone would really love and would really use.  I've got a few ideas this time around that I"m pretty excited about!
Please excuse the terrible photo - I'm out of town dealing with a family emergency so J had to take a quick snap for me

1.  I discovered this company called Uberprints that does the most incredibly fun customized shirts!  They have just about every style shirt you can think of from tank tops to hoodies and they're completely customizable.  You can use any phrase or non-copyrighted image and design it any way yiu want it.  They even have shirts for pets!  I did a Nancy Drew title subway art type design and have been so impresed with it.  The print is beautifully done and it's been washed and dried and looks good as new.  Uberprints were kind enough to send me a shirt for review and I was so thrilled that they did because this year basically everyone I know will be getting a customized shirt.  They have a lot of clip art and other already completeled designs to choose from and if you're looking for shirts for a family reunion or other kind of group this would be perfect!  The size chart was right on though the sizes are a little on the small size (I'm a 4-6 which is a medium here) but they have up to 2XL.  I know both of my girls will be getting shirts from here and most likely the Tornado will too!  I'm just trying to come up with different bookish or foodie quotes for myselfl!  Check out their website or instagram for more examples.  I don't endorse things that I don't like and have been really impressed with the quality.  Total tshirt price runs around $30 including shipping though there is a price break for larger orders.

2.  Cuisinart 5 n 1 Griddle - Both girls are in apartments with not much cabinet space and this little device is perfect!  It's a panini press, grilll, griddle, and waffle maker all in 1 (with 3 sets of plates!).  I have one and I absolutely love it and I think the girls would both get a lot of use of it too and with all the things it can do it defnitely earns the cabinet space.
3.  Le Creuset Honey Pot - Okay, this one is for me but isn't it cute!  At $40 it's a bit splurge but I love it and I like a little honey in my tea so this will work really well with my next 2 items.
4.  Fred ad Friends ManaTEA Silicone Tea Infuser - I always mean to try loose tea as I've heard it's better and fresher and there are more varities but I always chicken out and pick up the box of bagged teas instead but I think with this little cutie I think I'd be more willing to give it a try.

5.  Plum Deluxe Tea of the Month Club - I saw Kim over at Caffeinated Book Reviewer  talking about this a few months ago and I knew this was going on my Christmas list both to give and to receive.

6.  Literary Candles from Uncommon Goods - My favoritecandle shop on etsy has stepped away from book related candles which makes me a little sad so I was thrilled when I saw these candles on Uncommon Goods.  While the selection isn't huge (only 4) they sound amazing and this is another gift I'll be getting and giving.

7.  Ballerina Warming Slippers from Uncommon Goods - My feet are always freezing and thanks to my love of really high heels frequently on the achy side so these lavender slippers that you can heat (and cool if you put them in the fridge though I can't imagine why you'd want to do that) that are also soft and squishy sound like a little piece of foot heaven.

8.  Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain - I loved Bourdain's Medium Raw and have always been curious about what kind of food he really does eat given his extensive traveling and culinary experience.  I really want to try cooking some of his recipes!

9.  The Sprinkles Baking Book by Candace Nelson - I LOVED Cupcakes Wars and watched it regularly so I got to know Candace Nelson pretty well and I know she's was one of the bakers in the forefront of the cupcake craze.  I know cupcakes have lost some of their popularity but while not as trendy they're still pretty tasty and I'd love to give this book a try!

10. Solar System Bath Bombs from Uncommon Goods - I love a warm bath with a good book and these bath bombs sound like the perfect addition.  The scents all sound amazing and the bombs themselves are GORGEOUS.  I think they'd be so pretty in a clear glass jar on the bathroom counter and perfect in the bath at the end of a long day.

This is my Christmas list this year - stuff I want and stuff I want to give and most a little bit of both!  My ideal day would be a warm bath with a solar system bath bomb with a literary candle burning, a cookbook to flip through and a mug of tea to drink followed by comfy sweats, my Nancy Drew uberprint shirt and some warm ballerina slippers!

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Linkups: Appointment with Death

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:
What format do you use to set up your giveaways?  Rafflecopter, Google, leave a comment or something else?

My Answer:
I typically just use leave a comment unless I've been sent something from a blog tour company and then that's usually Rafflecopter code.

This week's books is one of my favorites - Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie.  It's one of her exotic location type books and takes place in Jerusalem.  There's something about Hercule Poirot as a tourist that is just incredibly entertaining.  This is an interesting family drama with lots of tensions and resentments.

The Beginning:
"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

My Thoughts:
Agatha's beginnings tend not to be too dramatic but this one I think makes up for the less dramatic ones!

The 56:
I think that because she was a quiet docile young girl, old Mrs. Boynton underestimated her force of will and character.  She appreciates it now, but it is too late.

My Thoughts:
Well that sounds ominous!  I don't remember this one enough to remember just what happened here but it doesn't sound good!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Holiday Gift - Holiday Romance Review

The Holiday Gift (Cowbowys of Cold Creek) by RaeAnne Thayne (Amazon link)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: With two kids and an active life, widow Faith Dustin only wants peace and quiet for Christmas. But her snowy Pine Gulch ranch is nothing but chaotic. All that keeps Faith going is her helpful neighbor, cowboy Chase Brannon. He's always been "good ol' Chase," her faithful friend. Until he kisses her under the mistletoe…
Years ago Chase blew his chance with the woman he's loved since childhood. Now he's determined to step out of the friend zone…and into the role of husband. But the scared and stubborn Faith won't let herself fall. With Christmas just days away, Chase will need all the magic of the season—and the help of her two matchmaking children—to unwrap a second chance at love.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I always enjoy Thayne's books and her holiday books are especially good.  Plus, I had enjoyed meeting Faith in last year's book which centered on her sister Celeste.

My Impression:  I always find Thayne's Christmas stories the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit and while this was no exception here it definitely was not my favorite of books.
I like be Faith and her family and Chase and his daughter were super cute.  Watching Chase and Faith interact and the support that exudes from the rancher community was really special.  I always enjoy the children that Thayne puts into her stories.  Sometimes they're on the perfect side but they are never sugary sweet and in this story they were a very real reason for Faith to be careful with getting involved with Chase.
While Faith and Chase are interesting and truly nice people there were a few times I was frustrated with Faith's extreme hesitation to move forward in her life and Chase at times felt a little repetitive.  

Overall, this is an enjoyable read but not one I'd recommend starting the series. I think readers will enjoy this book more if they are already invested in the sisters by reading Celeste (A Cold Creek Christmas Story) or Hope's (The Christmas Ranch) books.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  While this wasn't my favorite I still enjoyed it and can't wait for the next book

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would recommend this series and definitely recommend this author for anyone who enjoys romance with low heat and a focus on the emotional relationship but I don't think this is the book to start with.  It's s good read but not her best in my opinion'

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When All the Girls Have Gone - Romantic Suspense Review

When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz (Amazon link)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.
Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn's closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn's past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way.

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  I always enjoy a Jayne Ann Kretnz book and this one looked intriguing!

My Impression:  One of the good things about a Jayne Ann Krentz book is that I always know what I'm going to be getting.  It's going to be a good story with lots of suspense and a bit of romance.  It's not necessarily the kind of mystery that will hold up under scrutiny after I've finished it but it's always one that will keep me reading to find out what happens next.  This book did not disappoint on any of these levels.

Let's start with the characters.  I liked Charlotte right away.  She's tougher than people give her credit for - especially her world weary stepsister Jocelyn - but does struggle with standing up for herself.  She and Jocelyn are very clsoe but at times does feel herself rebelling about how Jocelyn tries to take care of her and protect her.  She's also intelligent, incredibly compassionate, and cool headed when needed.  No one questions how tough Max Cutler is.  A seasoned profiler tirned PI he has his own baggage to work out but doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about and truly wants to do the right thing.  The other characters aren't particularly flehsed out but are easy to keep track of who is who.

The mystery is interesting if somewhat predictable with an occasional twist and turn.  At times I felt like it got overshadowed by the romance aspect but it never got lost completely.  I liked how Max and Charlotte worked together and it was interesting to see how the investigation worked.  I really liked that he treated her like a partner and listened to her suggestions even though she was a novice when it came to crime.  While they don't quite fall into insta-love category they do have a very quick connection but I didn't find that particularly unrealistic since they suited each other so well.  I loved the way all the different subplots wrapped up and would really love to see another book with one of Max's brothers as the main character.  They're an interesting read.

While the focus on the personal kept this from being super suspenseful it was still fast paced and I enjoyed it.  If you're looking for a light entertaining read to keep your mind off the incoming holiday craziness this one would be a great choice!

 - side note: while there are some darker subjects covered (abuse and sexual assualt) they weren't described in particular graphic detail.  I wouldn't call this a cozy but it's not a double check your locks kind of book either.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  These are always fun reads if not entirely perfect.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy romantic suspense this is a fun book!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Gift Guide for Children's Books

This week the Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is A Holiday Gift Guide freebie.  Lately I've been really enjoying children's fiction so that seemed like the natural genre to focus on today!

0 to 5

We've just come to the end of this age with the Tornado and I miss it!  These picture books are so fun to read out loud and great for little ones just learning to read themselves.  While there are tons of great books I'm leaving out (like anything by Mo Willems) these are some of our absolute favorites.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney - This was one of those accidental library finds and by the time we'd had it a week I'd ordered our very own copy.  We ended up with almost all the other Llama Llama books the original will always be my favorite!  There's also a Llama Llama stuffed animal which makes it extra fun.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw Illustrated by Margot Apple - I have this book memorized and the illustrations are wonderful and there's always a surprising new detail to be discovered!

The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown - This was actually my book when I was little and the Tornado discovered it in a box my mother had given me and promptly fell in love.  The illustrations are lovely and the book itself is a delight with lots of talk about color combinations, images to entice the imagination and adorable mischievous kittens.  It's a great bedtime book!

6 to 8

For me this age is all about the chapter books.  Right now we are reading them aloud a chapter at a time but I'm sure soon he'll be reading them on his own.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warren - These were some of my absolute favorite books as a child and when I started reading them to the Tornado a year or so ago he promptly fell in love.  The idea of the kids being out on their own and completely in control is a concept that appeals to most kids I think.  While I like the older stories better then new more modern books the new books have less stereotypical gender roles.  This is a series that appeals to both genders which is always a great thing.

Geronimo Stilton series by Geronimo Stilton - When Eleanor was a little girl these were her absolute favorite so when the Tornado was ready for chapter books these were high up on my list of books to look for and he LOVES them!  While they are chapter books there are lots of pictures and the books really make use of different fonts to add visual interest.  Plus, the stories are just hilarious and there's a ton of them to choose from.

The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne - This was the series that turned Emma into a reader and the Tornado loves them too.  I love that both children have their own skill set and strengths and weaknesses.  As well, with all the topics covered it's easy to find one that will interest just about any child.

Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol - I was thrilled to discover this series in the library both when I was a little girl and when the Tornado was starting to look for chapter books.  Each book is essentially a collection of short stories with each one featuring a different mystery.  Most of the time the solution can be discovered by paying attention to the details but if you're not not sure the solution is in the back of the book.  Perfect for the early mystery lover!

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright - While I discovered Enright's delightful Melendy family as a kid but I didn't discover the Gone-Away Lake series until I was an adult and if I could add one book to my childhood bookshelf it would have been this one because it's absolutely wonderful.  The idea of having an entire summer to explore all these abandoned mansions under the rather relaxed supervision of 2 people who could tell stories of the former inhabitants sounds absolutely magical.  Since that's not likely to happen this book is close as you can get to the adventure without the risk of falling through the floor of one of those abandoned houses!

9 and Up

This is kind of a difficult age for giving books as preferences are really starting to develop.  I'm always amazed by the YA section in bookstores or at the library now.  When I was that age the options were so much more limited (not that I'm terribly old!)  I started reading adult books around this period because there just wasn't a huge selection of anything else.  Now it's just amazing what there is.  These are two of my favorites - one old and one new!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - This weird little mystery was probably the closest thing I read that qualified as YA and I can't even begin to count how many times I read it!  I loved the mysteries and the puzzle aspect of the book.  Emma discovered it when she was probably 11 or 12 and fell in love with it as well.  It's surprisingly undated for being published in 1978 though I think readers now would be a bit puzzled why everyone is so excited about the plush carpet and other decor items that aren't so much the thing anymore!

Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud - This is the new book but is just as odd and just as good though a bit darker than the previous book.  In some ways this is basically the Boxcar Children with a much higher probability of dying and lots more ghosts.  The kids are smart and brave and entirely on their own battling ghosts and keeping the world safe.  While I think most kids 9 and up would enjoy this (though maybe not right before bed) it's also great reading for adult as well.

What books would you give to the children in your life?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator - Young Adult Mystery Review

Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison (Amazon link)
Rating: Good
Source: Library

Description: Ever since her father died, quirky Gilda Joyce has been working hard to sharpen her psychic skills. She's determined to communicate with spirits from the Other Side and become a crack investigator of spooky, twisted mysteries. After wrangling an invitation to visit relatives in San Francisco, Gilda discovers that her dreary, tight-lipped uncle and his strange, delicate daughter need her help to uncover the terrible family secret that has a tortured ghost stalking their home. From poignant to hair-raising and hilarious, this is a behind-the-scenes, tell-all account of the very first case in the illustrious career of Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator. (from back cover)

Genre: Young Adult - Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  It was on one of the display shelves at the library and looked interesting.

My Impression: Going in I knew absolutely nothing about this book or the series so I had no idea what to expect.  Judging from the cover and the blurb I was thinking it would be more of a Middle Grade story and was a bit puzzled by the fact it was puzzled by it being filed as YA - until I started reading it that is.
There are a lot of very serious topics discussed - suicide, depression, death of a parent, grief, growing up and just not fitting in - and the book was definitely not the light romp I had the impression it would be.  I did like how the subject matters were treated.  Nothing was dismissed and at no point did I feel like the girls' feelings were trivialized however there was a wider perspective and Gilda and Juliet found a lot to admire about each other even when they didn't get along.  I think 5th grade and up would be fine with the subject matter.  
Gilda is a bit of an interesting character.  I think she read pretty true as 13 year old girl.  Everyone around her is growing up and she's not quite sure she wants to start being interested in boys and makeup and all that stuff.  She's also struggling to come to terms with the death of her father 2 years earlier and the changes in her world.  Gilda is a bit immature and has a very in your face attitude which while not aggressive or mean does get annoying at times and she is definitely not a character everyone will enjoy.  
The mystery element is intriguing and while not all questions were answered I was satisfied with the way the story resolved.  
This was an entertaining book that tackles some very sensitive issues sympathetically and realistically.  While I think Gilda's at times abrasive personality will not be for everyone I'm looking forward to seeing where the series goes next.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I'm curious about where the series will go and the 2nd book had much better reviews.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes, if you enjoy Middle Grade or YA with quirky characters I think you'd like this one.