Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Linkups: Dead Bolt

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's your favorite "Halloween" snack to munch on while you're reading?

My Answer:
I actually don't eat much when I'm reading for a few reasons.  The main one is that reading distracts me from eating or eating distracts me from reading.  And also because I do most of my reading in bed and after the Great Cookie Crumb Incident of 2008 I don't do much eating in bed.  I do normally have a beverage with me as and the temperature starts dropping I tend to drink more hot tea and less Diet Coke.  I do love all the Halloween-y and fall type foods that are starting to show up but if I'm being really honest the snack I get most excited about are the Reese's Pumpkins.  I don't know why they're so much better than regular Reese's Cups but they definitely are!

To continue with the Halloween theme I'm reading a paranormal cozy this week.  I really enjoyed this first book in the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series by Juliet Blackwell so of course it took me years to pick up the second one.  So far I'm really enjoying it and am quite glad I have the rest of the series already on my shelves.

The Beginning:
"My father always used to say: There's nothing quite like a protracted remodel to test a person's sanity.
Still one thing was very clear to me: The handprints on the ceiling were real, not a product of my imagination.

My Thoughts:
The very first sentence made me laugh.  That's definitely oh so true.  The second sentence makes me wonder what's going on!

The 56:
After another moment of hesitation, I reached up, grabbed the string, and pulled open the attic access door.  The whispers grew louder.

My Thoughts:
I feel like I should scream "Don't go into the attic!"

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Beyond the Books: The Worst Movie I've Ever Seen

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 question is - What is the worst movie you've ever seen?

This was a tough one because I have SO many choices!  I think like most people with kids I have sat and wished for death through tons of movies.  Some I ended up enjoying (Kicking and Screaming with Will Farrell) some I secretly enjoyed (The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Princess Diaries 2) but there were lots of bad ones.

In terms of worse I have 2 finalists - one is the winner of worst movie and the other is the winner of worst movie experience.

The Worst Movie Award goes to:
Image from

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl

This was the movie I seriously considered trying to drill through my forehead into my brain with my thumb nail.  I was expecting it to be bad and it was just as bad if not worse than I expected.  Luckily, it wasn't a big favorite of the kids' either so I only had to see it once.

The Worst Movie Experience goes to:
Image from IMBD

Spy Kids 3-D

I actually kind of liked the first 2 Spy Kids movies.  They were campy and the dialogue was awful but they were also kind of fun and I liked that the older sister was so tough and smart.  However, it had worn more than a little thin by the 3rd entry.  But what makes this really bad was something else.  If you can't tell by the clever title the movie was shown in 3-D and the glasses were the red and blue type which means you need to be able to see clearly out of both eyes for it to work. I have really bad vision which is perfectly correctable with contacts - one of which had been bothering me that day so I took it out.  3-D movies with only one functioning eye is not a good time.  The movie was so blurry I ended up with a migraine level headache AND motion sickness.  I was quite convinced that Spy Kids would be the death of me.

My Worst Non-Kid Related Movie is:

The Big Lebowski

This is apparently a huge cult classic but I HATE this movie.  I think the primary problem is that I knew a bunch of people who LOVED it and watched it ALL the time and then they would discuss it.  I went from thinking it was kind of dumb to absolutely loathing it.  I get a bit rant-y anytime it's referenced.

What is the worst movie you've ever seen?  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Candy Corn Murders + Some Short Reviews

Source: NetGalley
Blurb: Mayhem, sabotage and a little bit of murder both past and present, interrupt the festive fun of Tinker's Corner Pumpkin Festival.  Luckily Lucy Stone is here to save the day and solve the mystery - especially when her own husband is suspected of murder.

Leslie Meier is an author I've been wanting to read for awhile.  I love her covers and her holiday themed titles and when I had a chance to read Candy Corn Murder (amazon link) I just couldn't resist.  This one set right before Tinker's Cove's Pumpkin Festival had all kind of Halloween-y goodness.  The mystery itself was interesting if only one of many plot lines.  This is one of those cozies that talked about everything that was happening in the small town and not just the mystery but I tend to enjoy this.  I haven't read a book by Meier before and was able to jump right in.  Unfortunately, I did have some issues with the book.  While I liked Lucy and her family her relationship with her husband Bill seemed odd and they had zero communication.  As well, the hostile tone to the police and a number of blanket statements saying that all police were inept and/or corrupt (such as a comment made that stated that all police inflate the value of property they seize so they look more impressive) grated on me.  I particularly had issue in one scene where the police officers screamed at a 4 year old and made him put his hands up.  It seemed a bit much.  This was a very readable cozy but the negatives will probably keeping me from reading much more in the series. 3 Stars

Source: NetGalley
Blurb: A decade old art theft receives fresh attention when a stone Celtic cross is stolen in Ireland and a woman is murdered in Maine.  FBI Agents Emma Sharpe, granddaughter of legendary art detective Wendell Sharpe, and Colin Donovan must investigate and discover if their recent engagement will affect their working relationship.

I've really enjoyed Carla Neggers Knight's Bridge series so I was really curious about her more suspenseful Sharpe and Donovan series.  I love an Irish setting and throw in some art theft, a mystery and a romance and I figured Harbor Island (amazon link) was the book for me.  Except that it wasn't - not that it was bad but more that it was a complete neutral for me.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it.  I think the majority of the reason this didn't really grab me was because this is a series that really needs to be read in order and I was coming in on the 4th book.  The relationship and the mystery continue throughout the series so the character development is on the slow side and in this book we see neither the beginning or a conclusion.  However, I'm going to try the next book - Keeper's Reach to see if I like it better the more involved in the series I get.  This isn't really a fair rating because I haven't read the rest of the series which I imagine would make a difference but 2 Stars

Source: Library (audio)
Blurb: Trains, murder and fraud plague Moose County.  Luckily Jim Qwilleran is on the case with lots of help from his two Siamese cats!

I can't remember when I started reading The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun but it was at least 20 years ago.  I was looking for an audio book and decided it might be fun to revisit the series when I saw The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (amazon link) was available.  It was a pleasant listen.  The man who did the narration did a decent job on the women's voices which is a rare feeling for me.  My feelings towards the main character, Jim Qwilleran, are similar to my feelings towards MC Beaton's Agatha Raisin.  I find them both annoyingly endearing.  This one of those mysteries where there's a LOT going on and not all of it has anything to do with the mystery itself.  I don't quite understand why Qwilleran lies so much as it just seemed to make things more complicated and he's been solving mysteries for 20 years in a small town so surely everyone knows what's going on by this point. Also, the solution came completely out of left field and didn't feel very probable.  I'm not sure if I would've enjoyed it as much if I'd read it but it was a nice listen - especially if you're fond of the series.  Qwilleran's Siamese cats play a pretty large role so that's always fun.  I won't be racing to pick up more books form the series but I might grab another audio at some point.  3 Stars

Source: NetGalley
Blurb: Murder most foul in the Scottish Highlands.  A couple is killed at a party and the murderer must be among the guests.

I really wanted to love Murder at Midnight by C.S Challinor (amazon link).  I mean just look at the cover!  It screams classic locked room mystery and the setting is in the Scottish Highlands so I settled in for a nice modern classic mystery.  The mystery itself is interesting.  A couple is murdered at a party and the murderer must be one of the guests.  We're left with the classic - Who? Why? and How? in the paneled drawing room on a stormy Scottish night.  Unfortunately this read a bit like a play script.  There's not much emotion and everything is described without getting the feeling of being shown.  The characters are flat and it was a little hard to keep track of who was who.  By the time the solution came around I unfortunately, wasn't particularly interested.  I liked a lot of the pieces - the setting, what I did get to know of the main characters, Rex Graves and Helen d'Arcy - so I will try another book in this series but I just can't recommend this one.  2 Stars

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top Ten Bookish Things I Need to Quit

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Bookish Things I Need to Quit (well something like that, I'm changing it a little).

Bookish Things I Need to Quit:

1.  Buying or requesting a bunch of books in a series before actually reading one

2.  Reading a book to the bitter end instead of admitting that it isn't working for me and moving on to something I'm actually going to enjoy

3.  Buying a book that I absolutely have to have and then waiting YEARS to read it

4.  Doing time wasting things instead of reading when I actually have time to read.  Why am I starting at Facebook when I could be reading?

5.  Picking up new books rather than reading something off my TBR pile even though I'm at the point where I'm wedging books into all random available nooks and crannies

6.  Requesting more books from NetGalley than I can possibly read in a month (or a year)

Bookish Things I Need to Start:

7.  Read more classics.  There's so many off my Classics Club 50 that I'm really looking forward to reading and bunches of classics that I've had recommended to me that I can't wait to start.

8.  Read a broader mix of genres.  I tend to stay in my comfort zone with reading which can sometimes lead to a rut.  I always enjoy mixing it up a bit but don't do so very often.

9.  Read more from my TBR - Did I mention I'm in the cramming book stage? 

10. Working on getting my review books down to a more manageable stack.  I've been requesting a lot less books from NetGalley so that's helping but I have so many books outstanding that I really want to get read and reviewed.  I'm starting to make some progress but it takes awhile.

So what bookish things do you need to quit and/or start?

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Fine Summer's Day - Blog Tour Historical Mystery Review

A Fine Summer's Day coverAbout A Fine Summer's Day

• Paperback: 384 pages • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 29, 2015)
On a fine summer's day in June 1914, Ian Rutledge is planning to propose to a woman he deeply loves, despite hints from his family and friends that she may not be the most suitable choice for a policeman's wife. To the north, another man in love—a Scottish Highlander named Hamish MacLeod—asks his own sweetheart to marry him.
Back in England, a son grieves for his mother, dredging up a dark injustice that will trigger a series of murders that Rutledge must solve. The victims are all upstanding and well-liked. The local police have their suspicions about the culprits and are less than cooperative with the London detective.
As clouds of war gather on the horizon, Rutledge digs deeper, finding similarities and patterns between the murders. With every moment at stake, he sets out to right a terrible wrong—an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honor and truth.
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My Review:

I have been wanting to read a book by Charles Todd for a long time so I was very excited to get a chance to read A Fine Summer's Day.  I was able to easily jump into the book without having to read the first one because this is a prequel.  We're seeing Ian just as the clouds of World War 1 are starting to form in the distance. 
The mystery is fascinating.  There are bits and pieces that don't seem linked at all and I enjoyed watching Ian figure out what was going on and the connection.  I felt like I was right with Ian anxiously waiting the results of different queries.  I also very much enjoyed the background noise of the book. The war is discussed in conversation at work and at social events and I enjoyed seeing the opinions and thoughts of all the characters.  
I found the pacing of the book excellent and my "one more chapter" before I turned off the light at night frequently became 2 or 3 or sometimes 4.  While the book itself was grim it didn't feel unnecessarily so and it didn't feel angst-y.  I very much enjoyed this mystery and I'm looking forward to catching up with Ian on the first book in the series.  4 Stars

Charles ToddAbout Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina. Visit their website at and like CharlesToddNovels on Facebook.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

This Week in Reading - October 4

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:

Look Both Ways by Carol J. Perry - This is for a blog tour next month and I'm looking forward to it.  I love a good paranormal cozy and this one looks especially intriguing.  (Blog Tour)

Christmas at Evergreen Inn by Donna Alward - I love the Jewell Cove series and I couldn't resist this Christmas-y story. (NetGalley)

Heartsong Cottage by Emily March - This is another series I enjoy and I'm looking forward to reading Shannon O'Toole's story.  She's always been an interesting side character.  (NetGalley)

Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis - I was lucky enough to win a copy of this in a Goodreads giveaway and there may be been some rather awful dancing when I got the email.  I've enjoyed the later books in this series and am looking forward to seeing where the series started. (Goodreads Giveaway)


Reading:The Hidden by Heather Graham and Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

Listening: I finished The Cat Who Blew the Whistle by Lillian Jackson Braun (review Wed) and am listening to podcasts for a little bit.  I discovered one called Television Crime in which Wil Wheaton and Mikey Neumann discuss old shows.  The one where they talked about the episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where they go to the rave was absolutely beyond awesome.  

Watching: I'm a little nervous about my beloved NCIS!  There's lots of hints that Gibbs is going to go through some emotional crisis which I don't like at all.  Surely the man has been through enough!  I'm liking NCIS: New Orleans and am excited for the premieres of Criminal Minds and Elementary.  I've got the first few episodes of Rosewood recorded which I'm hopeful about.  I'm also loving The Great British Baking Show (or Bake Off - I've seen it listed as both) and have been watching The Supersizers Go on Hulu which I'm loving.  If you like food and history this is a fantastic show.

Off the Blog:

Thanks for all the kind comments about my neck pain last week.  I've been working on some stretches and using ice packs and that seems to be helping.

This week is going to be a busy one!  It's fall break for Paul and the Tornado so I'm taking them and heading south to stay with my grandparents in the country for a few days.  It's always a fun trip  and it'll be good to get away.  Poor J has too much going on at work to go but he'll have a quiet house in the evenings which I'm sure will be nice.  Obviously, I won't be around to do much commenting this week but I hope to get caught up my blog visiting next weekend.

I've hit kind of a reading slump which I think is because I'm coming off a couple of books I was kind of meh about.  I started a few but just couldn't get into them.  I'm starting a Heather Graham book because those normally help but if that fails I'm pulling out Barbara Michaels who is a guaranteed slump buster!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: A Fine Summer's Day - Historical Mystery Blog Tour Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Things I Need to Quit
Wednesday: Short Reviews including Reviews for Candy Corn Murders and a few other mysteries
Thursday: Beyond the Books: The Worst Movie I've Ever Seen
Friday: Linkups Featuring Excerpts from my current book
Saturday: My Cookbook Wishlist

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sheet Pan Suppers - Cookbook Review + Recipe

Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes For Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight From the Oven by Molly Gilbert (Amazon Link)

I love the concept of this book.  Chop some stuff up and roast it for a delicious, simple, and relatively tasty dinner.  There are some tasty looking recipes - Fresh Tomato Bruschetta, Crispy Chicken Strips and Biscuits, Cheesy Herb Focaccia, Ham and Swiss Pastry Braid, and Banana Cinnamon Toast are a few of the ones I have marked to try.  However, I wasn't quite as inspired by this cookbook as I wanted to be.  There were some delicious looking recipes bit there were a lot more that didn't really appeal to me or I knew wouldn't work for my seriously picky family.  Recipes like Spaghetti Squash "Noodle" Bowls,  Portabella Cap Pizzas with Garlic Knots, and Roasted Fennel Panzanella would probably cause a mutiny among my family.  It'd be a quieter mutiny now that we're down to 4 with the 2 girls at school but I think they could take me.  There's also a good number of seafood dishes which don't appeal to us.  So while this didn't work for me I still think it's a great cookbook - particularly if you enjoy seafood - and the concept is awesome.

For the recipe I immediately knew which one I had to share!  This Chicken Parmesan is a game changer!  Chicken Parm is one of my favorite meals but I've always disliked making it at home because the frying makes such a mess. This sheet pan version is very good and you still get all the crispy chicken goodness without nearly as much oil.

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 tablespoons sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut or pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
1 jar (24 ounces) good quality marinara sauce
6 to 8 slices provolone
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 with a rack in the upper third.  Generously mist a sheet pan with cooking spray.

Stir together the panko, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl to combine.  In another bowl whisk together the flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and teh pepper.  In a third shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

Dip each chicken cutlet first in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then in the eggs, and finally in the panko mixture, patting to coat thoroughly on both sides.  Place the breaded chicken cutlets on the prepared pan.  Mist the chicken with cooking spray to lightly coat.

Bake the chicken until panko has browned and the cutlets are almost entirely cooked through(they'll no longer feel squishy when you poke them), about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Top each chicken cutlet with about 1/2 cup marinara sauce and the provolone and Parmesan and return to the oven.  Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, an additional 10 minutes.

My Changes: I used an Italian seasoning blend because I was out of straight oregano and I thought that seemed like too much paprika so I cut that down by quite a bit - I think to just a heaping teaspoon.  I used mozzarella slices instead of provolone and I forgot the Parmesan because somehow I never noticed that part until today when I was typing out the recipe!  I also used only a few spoonfuls of the marinara and that seemed to cover the chicken really well and I still had some left over for the spaghetti.

My Results: Yum!  They're crispy and cheesy and everything that Chicken Parmesan should be.  Plus this method is just crazy simple.

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