Saturday, April 11, 2009

Question for Gardeners

I want to order a few plants that have been recommended to me and can't find locally: a corkscrew vine and Arctotis plants. Please tell me your favorite mail order gardening companies.

Celebrate Easter with Family & Friends

excuse my cross posting today - but just wanted to share:

I am really missing my Mama today. She loved Easter just as much as she enjoyed Christmas. The celebration of faith in Christ Jesus was foremost.

But she also loved the trappings of the day: cooking the ham, making potato salad and green beans. She dyed eggs until she was probably 68, always bought a new hat, suit, shoes and "pocketbook" for Easter Service.

My mother has been gone almost four years now and I have a new "family" of friends who have embraced me and I will enjoy an Easter feast with them tomorrow. In the meantime, celebrate the joy we have because of the Resurrection and the love of friends of family.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bahama Burnout by Don Bruns

Don Bruns is back with the fifth book in his Caribbean mystery series featuring music journalist Mick Sever in Bahama Burnout. This time Sever is on assignment for Newsweek in Nassau, Bahamas. He is there to tell the story of the resurrection of a music studio that once produced legendary music. After the changes in the music industry when anyone with a laptop and the right software can engineer their own CD, the studio fell on hard times. Then there was the fire with an unidentified body.

Sever is friends with the new owners of Highland Studios, Jonah and Rita Britt. So, when he learns of the urban legend concerning a ghost and other strange happenings, this becomes more than just a news story for Sever.

At first the question is who burned down the studio a year ago, and is there really a ghost, possibly the spirit of the charred unidentified body causing all the recent mayhem. Is it simply teenagers seeking drug money or fun that busted one guitar and stole another – from a locked room? Or is it as the islanders and Rita believes the work of the ghost?

Bruns has created a story that entertains on many levels. You have an island paradise setting, and enough music references from Elvis to Robert Palmer and Sheryl Crow to light up your iPod along with a solid whodunit with many twists and turns. Old fans and first timers will enjoy Bahama Burnout from fiery start to the surprising ending.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My 1st Blogging Award

WOW, Dorte is so kind. She awarded me the "Your Blog is Fabulous" Award!

Dorte, is a fellow book lover in Denmark. So I guess I can say I am an international winner...LOL. Thank you so much for your kindness. Now I truly must do better.

Believe it or not, I think about the blog everyday. Most mornings on my way to work, I think "today I will just do a quick post on XYZ. "The next thing I know I am in the car the next morning, fussing with myself about the fact, I did not post anything the day before. I am seriously considering the idea of buying a bluetooth just so I won't look so odd arguing with myself in the car, but I digress.

I am asked to award another newbie blogger, however all of the wonderful folks I read are experienced pros. So I will pass on the honor to encourage another newbie as soon as I can.

Thanks again Dorte.

No, I'm Not Compulsive

I have no idea why anyone would think I am compulsive!

Just because my GoodReads to read list is at 200, does not make me compulsive.

Just because I, who has never grown a vegetable in my life and recently went an entire week not eating any veggies [unless french fries count] spent over $40 today [$19 last week] on seeds, starter trays, potting soil and liquid seaweed - that does not make me compulsive.
It is unfair to suggest I am compuslive because my Google Reader is tracking 897 blogs. And there is nothing wrong with the fact they are categorized.

I do not consider myself to suffer from any sort of compulsive behavior disorder. I prefer to think of myself as a fascinating, dynamic woman with a wide assortment of interests.
You agree don't you?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Long-Legged Fly by James Sallis

The Long-Legged Fly, originally published in 2000, introduced James Sallis’s detective Lew Griffin. The book feels more like a short story collection than a novel, as the focus is not a single mystery. Instead, the common thread is Griffin himself. Although he frequently finds missing persons, Griffin struggles to find himself.

The book traces his life and career over a twenty-six year period (1964-1990) as Griffin shifts from women, crimes and sanity. The last chapter is perhaps the most haunting and enigmatic. It involves Griffin’s search for his grown son, who failed to return to America from Europe as planned.

Narrator G. Lamont Thomas expertly draws the listener into the sultry and somber atmosphere created by Sallis. The combination of Thomas’ voice and Sallis words easily encompasses you in a melancholy world, where all to frequent there are not happy ever after endings.

The talent of the narrator was a key reason I enjoyed this book. It was a rainy week when I listened to the audiobook. The combination of cloudy days, and Thomas’ narration left me wondering, if the sun would ever come out again.

The Long-Legged Fly is perhaps not a great mystery story but it is a well written examination of the title character’s life and dark world. I give the book a solid three stars.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Welcoming New Friends

2009 is proving to be a year where I try to reach out and get in touch with the things that have brought me joy in the past. First it was reading, after spending 2008 reading maybe five books, I nearly matched that total in January alone.

Something else I have loved is probably best described as garden watching, because I have great plans to garden, I normally start out well and lose steam as the Texas heat soars. Today I discovered a great wealth of photos and more important information on gardening across the blogsphere.

Now I have a flower bed in my front yard, that includes four roses that thrive despite my neglect. A recent flowerbed clean out by someone who was being helpful but not too knowledgeable took out a few of other items that grew so I have really blank palate.

So, this week I will order those seeds, stop by the nursery and recruit the assistance of my neighbor to create those beds in my backyard. I look forward to inspiration from the experienced folk out there!

First question: I am looking for a flowering, SCENTED vine to grow on my gate. I know I could do honeysuckle but looking for other ideas to consider. I bought a jasmine last year, which has grown a little bit but I have to admit I never smell it.

I live in Dallas, TX which is Zone 7 I believe. Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Life's Bookmarks

There are moments in the life of a person they never forget. Not due to a particular event within the moment itself, rather the moment becomes a bookmark in your life. A door closes and the next chapter in your life begins. Yet in that moment you did not realize you would never be the same again.

I am reading a wonderful book, in fact the New York Times included Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson one of Top 10 Best Books of the year. I think books that we love do one of two things very well: show us a face of the world we never knew (or perhaps create a new one) or illustrates our commonality by letting us see reflections of our experiences in the lives of others.

In the story the father gives instructions to his son about to embark on his trip home and says he’ll “be right behind” him. Leading the son, in hindsight, to remember the moment and think:

“…and the vital question I have put to myself again and again during the time that followed is whether something happened he could not control, or whether he knew already then that he would never follow me. That this was the last time we saw each other.”

Those words caused me to remember the last time I saw each of my parents and consider how unremarkable each moment was, that if it were not for the fact of their passing, I would never remember. Yet the fact my father stood in the kitchen the night before he died making tuna fish sandwiches is something I remember clearly 26 years later. I remember lying in bed quietly the next morning listening to him shave and brush his teeth, dress and leave for his doctor’s appointment. I was being moody and did not want to talk so I never got up and said “good morning” or “have a nice day.” Only to come home after school with people at my house and my mother crying because my father had suffered a massive heart attack and died at the hospital.

My mother died three years ago and although she had been ill for years, there were no signs that her passing was imminent. I tucked her in for an afternoon nap while I went to the birthday party of a friend’s five year son. We joked and talked about plans for her to get out more visiting the senior center. I remember her so clearly saying, “I believe I’d like that.” When I returned home a few hours later she had passed away. I remember more from our conversation throughout that day than I do from the many we shared during our 40 years together.

The moment is a bookmark in my life.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Quiche of Death

M.C. Beaton’s Quiche of Death not only introduced her now beloved heroine Agatha Raisin but it also kicked off my 2009 reading year. It did both with a bang.

For over eighty years readers and TV fans have shown a love for the idea of a spunky mature woman solving murders between baking pies for the church social or county fair. From Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (1927 – 1976) to Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher on CBS’s Murder She Wrote (1984-1996) fans eagerly awaited the next book or episode featuring their favorite unofficial detective. Perhaps it is the charm of the ladies, and their ability to outwit the “professionals” who continually underestimated the silver hair sleuths.

Now the female crime solver arena is a little more crowded. Readers enjoy such tough cookies like JD Robb’s Eve Dallas to likeable, though perhaps not the best crime fighter, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum.

The series was launched in 1992 with Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton. The books are a part of the “cozy mystery” genre. Cozy mysteries are described as:

“The cozy mystery usually takes place in a small town or village. The small size of the setting makes it believable that all the suspects know each other. The amateur sleuth is usually a very likeable person who is able to get the community members to talk freely (i.e. gossip) about each other. There is usually at least one very knowledgeable and nosy (and of course, very reliable!) character in the book who is able to fill in all of the blanks, thus enabling the amateur sleuth to solve the case.”

Agatha has finished a career in advertising and plans to retire to Carsley, a picture perfect village. Everything is carefully planned, boxed and shipped but after spending a lifetime pushing press and the clients around Agatha has no idea how to unwind and enjoy retirement. She immediately hatches a plan to win friends, by cheating in the local quiche contest. But as Agatha’s luck would have it, the judge dies after eating her quiche. Naturally she is humiliated when she must disclose to the police that she lied about baking her own quiche. You can imagine how long that little secret stayed between Agatha and the police in the picturesque village. So, Agatha realizes to regain any dignity she must find the killer.

The mystery aspect of the book is entertaining, once they finally settle down to it. However the first half of the book focuses more on establishing the characters and setting for this series which with the debut of a new title in May 2009 includes nineteen books.

An aspect of the book I really found interesting was Agatha’s inner turmoil when she reflects on how little she has to show for a lifetime focused on career, not people. Beaton does a great job of tackling this topic and I was surprised to find myself thinking about such a weighty topic in what I thought was simply a lighthearted book. Agatha is a woman readers can relate to because yes she is smart but she is also rude, vulnerable, overbearing when in control but frightened and lonely at heart.

Eventually Agatha gets her bearings in her new home and finds her killer. I enjoyed this book so much, I immediately read book two in the series: The Vicious Vet.

I highly recommend the Quiche of Death with 3.5 stars I and look forward to reading all nineteen books, probably this year.
By the way, in the UK the books are referred to as Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death, etc. The cover at the top of this post is from the UK edition and the cover on the Amazon link below is the US version.


Monday Musings....on Bookmarks

Just One More Page is hosting Monday Musings and she is asking do we use bookmarks: What do you use to mark your place while reading? Do you have a definite preference? Do you use bookmarks, paper, or (gasp) turn down the pages? If you use bookmarks, do you have a favourite one?

Personally I NEVER dogear a book, I will try to remember the page number first. I like bookmarks and back in the day I had several. Now I can't seem to find them or new ones that I really like. Barnes & Noble is trying to push us to the magntic type but I want the good old fashion cardboard or plastic decorative type. When I cannot find one I generally use a biz card or something stiff I have picked up along the way. Currently I am using a freebie bookmark from the coffee bar at Barnes & Noble but really want something pretty.
What about you?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Salon

Yes I'm still alive and yes I have fallen a bit behind on my reading. Goes without saying I am behind on my posting but I will catch up this week I hope.

Despite a four day weekend last week, I did very little reading. Between time spent with friends, hours watching history happen live on CNN and then drowning at work, I had very little time for reading. When I had time, I had very little energy.

But my local bookclub has the first meeting of the year on Friday night, so I must get going on the selection for January. The book is Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away. The title let's you know this likely not going to be happy ever after story. I generally do not enjoy memoirs, however June Cross is rather talented and does not treat this difficult subject with a heavy hand.

It is always a good idea to have a paperback in your purse to pass the time when stuck in a long line or waiting somewhere. This week my little paperback has been M. C. Beaton's Death of a Dentist. This is my third Beaton book this year (ever actually) but my first Hamlet MacBeth.

So often to brunch with friends, perhaps a nap and then down to some serious reading on Secret Daughter because I must finish the book by Friday and I think I am on page 12.

I will also try to post at least one review tonight because tomorrow I have eight books I believe to highlight on Monday Mailbag.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Salon: 1st Try

Sunday Salon is an opportunity for readers around the web share what they are currently reading. This being the first week back to work, and boy was it a busy week, my reading has suffered a bit.

  • I finish listening to The Long Legged Fly by James Salis. The audiobook narrator does a great job of setting the mood for the detective story that spans 30 years.

  • Currently reading M.C. Beaton's Vicious Vet, the second in her Agatha Raisin's cozy mystery series.

Yes I do read something other than mysteries but to kick off my challenges I guess I fell back on my comforts.

Tomorrow I will share the books I received in the mail and bought last week.

If you would like to participate in Sunday Salon, check here for more details.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blog Improvement Project Assignment

In 2009 I decided to focus on trying to really learn the blogging game. I've dabbled in it and started off 2008 real strong before fading. I believe my love for books and loving to learn about more books, chatting with other book lovers will help keep the fire going.

So I signed up for the Blog Improvement Project, Kim posted the first assignment: set goals. Not wanting to go overboard and overwhelm myself I have decided on three goals:
  1. post at least three times a week
  2. be an active member of the booklover community by posting on other bookie blogs
  3. write & post my book review within five days of finishing the book

It is not too late to join in.

Book Giveaway - Sunday's at Tiffanys

Sunday's at Tiffany's which is James Peterson's latest effort to step away from his usual suspense thrillers. He collobrated with Gabrielle Charbonnet, a children's book writer, to create an usual love story.

The book summary:

As a little girl, Jane has no one. Her mother, the powerful head of a Broadway theater company, has no time for her. She does have one friend-a handsome, comforting, funny man named Michael-but only she can see him.

Years later, Jane is in her thirties and just as alone as ever. Then she meets Michael again-as handsome, smart and perfect as she remembers him to be. But not even Michael knows the reason they've really been reunited.

SUNDAYS AT TIFFANY'S is a love story with an irresistible twist, a novel about the child inside all of us-and the boundary-crossing power of love.

If you would like to win a copy of the book, visit Alyce's blog At Home with Books for the rules.

Olivia TV Series Starts January 26th

Fans of the popular OLIVIA will be happy to learn that Nickelodeon is adding a series based on the character to their preschool line-up on Monday, Jan. 26, at 11:30 a.m. (ET/PT), followed by a week of brand-new episodes. The new half-hour series invites children into the life -- both real and fantasy -- of an adventurous, can-do 6-and-3/4-year-old girl named Olivia. The program is based on Ian Falconer's award-winning titles, OLIVIA captures the book series' trademark humor and the irrepressible personality of its heroine with its gorgeous CG animation. OLIVIA will air regularly weekdays at 11:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

"Children already know and love Olivia from Ian Falconer's beautifully illustrated books, and we're honored to have her join the Nickelodeon family," said Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group.

"Olivia is a role model for all preschoolers who will be inspired by her imagination and keen sense of humor."

"OLIVIA is a show where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, and we've worked closely with the team at Nickelodeon to bring Olivia's world to life," said Megan Laughton, Supervising Producer for the OLIVIA series at Chorion. "Olivia's imagination takes her all over the world, but her daily interactions with family and friends will resonate with children everywhere."
Olivia believes she can do anything and sees every day as an opportunity to try new things. Olivia's real life revolves around her friends, family and school, while her vivid imagination takes her everywhere from Egypt, the Wild West and outer space, to a pirate adventure and a concert hall. She is a pillar of self-confidence and enthusiasm promoting independent thinking, ingenuity and persistence.

The premiere episode of OLIVIA will feature the following stories:
"Olivia Measures Up" - After Olivia teases her younger brother Ian forbeing too short for a ride, Father mentions that some day Ian may bethe taller sibling. Olivia employs a variety of comical methods tostop Ian from growing. She eventually comes to terms with her ownheight -- with the help of a great pair of shoes.

"Olivia Plays Hotel" - When school is let out early due to snow,Julian and Francine come over to Olivia's house. Olivia has theperfect game for them -- Hotel! She transforms her house into amake-believe hotel, but then some strange things start to happen. Does the hotel have ghosts, or is Ian just playing tricks on them?

Olivia is today's girl. She is a 6-and-3/4-year-old dynamo who believes she can do anything and sees every day as an opportunity to try new things. Her vivid imagination takes her on grand adventures, both real and fantasy, and like all children, her antics occasionally result in endearing misadventures. Olivia's confidence and positive nature inspires kids everywhere to think boldly and follow their dreams.

Although Olivia's adventures in her imagination are bigger than life, the challenges in her day-to-day life are preschool size. Olivia's unique ways of dealing with these challenges provide moments of fun and drama. She demonstrates how kids can use their imagination to work out what's happening in their own world. Kids can relate to Olivia because she experiences the same daily trials and triumphs as they do. Every day is a "Big Day" for Olivia; her exuberance is contagious as she takes viewers along for the ride!

The first OLIVIA picture book by Falconer was published in 2000 to rave reviews. Since that time, Falconer has been the recipient of numerous awards and the Simon & Shuster book series has sold an impressive six million copies worldwide in 20 languages.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 A - Z Reading Challenge

OK I think this is the last challenge I will sign up for - for now at least - clearly my compulsive personality is shining through.

There are several methods to this challenge, I am adventerous and trying level two: read 52 books, alpha by authors and titles and no they cannot overlap. Naturally the real challenge will be to find authors of interst with last names beginning with letters like U, X, and Z. Do you have any suggestions?

For the guidelines and registration visit the blog.


A -

B -

C -

D -

E -

F -

G -

H -

I -

J -

K -

L -

M -

N -

O -

P -

R -

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T -

U -

V -

W -

X -

Y -

Z -


A -

B -

C -

D -

E -

F -

G -

H -

I -

J -

K -

L -

M -

N -

O -

P -

Q - Quiche of Death, The by M. C. Beaton

R -

S -

T -

U -

V -

X -

Y -

Z -

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 Pub Reading Challenge

Potentially costly challenge because you can only read books published in 2009. If it was previously published in a hardcover edition then it is not eligible. At least five titles must be ficition and no YA books are eligible.

For guideline info and to register visit here.

2009 New Author Challenge

The challenge is to read x number of new - new to you that is - authors in 2009. I feel that perhaps, aside from the 100+ books, this will be the most challenging reading list for me to accomplish.

When I discover an author, as I did with my first book of 2009, M.C. Beaton, and I learn they have other books, I tend to focus on their other works. So to say that I will read a book from 50 new authors will really be a task for me. Likely just the nudge I need to venture out and not finish my lists with only JD Robb, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich and company.

For more information and to register in the 2009 New Author Challenge visit Literary Escapism's blog.

My new authors for 2009 are:
1. M. C. Beaton
2. James Fredericks
3. June Cross

2009 Audiobook Challenge

A well crafted story is a delight to read, but to listen to one via an audiobook can truly enhance the experience. Perhaps one of the best known examples is the remarkable job Jim Dale did with each of the Harry Potter books.

Although I had seen the earlier movies after reading the earlier books, once I listened to Dale's performance of the third book in the series, I immediately listened to the first two. It was a completely different experience.

From there I have enjoyed the familar voices of Judy Kaye as Kinsey Millhorne in Sue Grafton's alphabet PI series; and Lorelei King who brings Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum to life. The books and familar narrators make great companions during traffic jams to the office or road trips for vacation.

So I know I will "listen" to far more than the required 12 audiobooks for the 2009 Challenge. For more details and registration visit J. Kaye's Book Blog.

My list of completed audiobooks are:

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 Suspene & Thriller Reading Challenge

As a child I loved the Nancy Drew Mysteries and once stayed up all night because I simply had to know the identify of the killer(s) aboard Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Couple that with my delight in Perry Mason's ability to always neatly solve the crime and the charm of Nick & Nora in the Thin Man movies, I have been a mystery fan for years.

Visit J. Kaye's Book Blog to learn more details & registration info in the 2009 Suspense & Thriller Reading Challenge. The bare facts are: one book from any 12 suspense/thriller subcategories between Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2009.

My twelve books will be listed here:
1. The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton [Cozy Mystery]

2009 100+ Book Challenge

In 2008 I probably read six books max, and never even attended any face-to-face bookclub meetings. Thus, I really missed the learning opportunities and escapism which books provide. So when I discovered the 100+ Book Challenge, I knew it would help me leap back into the world of reading and reviewing.

The rules are simple – read at least 100 books between January 1 – December 31, 2009. Audiobooks, eBooks, young adult, mysteries, any genre you enjoy is accepted. Visit J. Kaye’s Book Blog for guideline & registration details.

My completed books for 2009 will be listed below:
1. The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton.