Weekend Update January 29, 2011

>> Saturday, January 29, 2011

This week:
Work has been using up all my energy this week. It’s the busy time of year for my department. It’s been tough to snatch what lunchtime reading I can manage, but I’m doing what I can. I finished Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk and while my first thought when I closed the book was that it was good, I’m finding myself still pondering just what I’m going to say in my review. This is one of those books that needs to percolate in my brain for a few days before I can write a review.

I started Blood Brother by J.A. Kerley and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. The author is still Jack Kerley to me since that was the name on his first three books in the Carson Ryder series. He seemed to drop off the map (at least at my bookstores) after the third book, but I found him and maybe the next three books in the series. It seems that his US sales were slow, but he’s remained a successful author in the UK and Australia. I was able to obtain a copy of Blood Brother via interlibrary loan and am hoping to also be able to track down copies of the other books in the series that way.


Other than books and reading:
Pretty much any spare time I’ve had that’s not been spent reading has been used for knitting and crocheting. My last of three knitting classes was this week and I’m very glad I took the class. It’s not much of a scarf, but it’s a good chance to learn some basics. I’m looking forward to starting another knitting project soon.



I can’t start any new knitting project, however until I finish the baby afghan I’m crocheting. The baby shower is next Saturday and I’m only a little over halfway through. I need to watch some TV. I always get most of my crocheting done while watching TV. So my focus this week needs to be leave the laptop on my desk and pick up the crocheting. By next week I’ll have a picture of the finished afghan.


Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:


The Borgias and Their Enemies – I’m eagerly anticipating the Showtime series about the Borgias that premieres in April and want to get some background on the real stories before I watch the Showtime version of history.


Purchased this week:
I’ve been reviewing my series lists and had the chance to pick up a couple of books from a couple of favorite authors. They both write mysteries, but they could hardly be more different in style.




Mistletoe Man and Bloodroot by Susan Wittig Albert

The China Bayles series is a cozy mystery series set in the hill country of Texas and one I highly recommend.





Pig Island and Ritual by Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder on the other hand writes books that in no way could be called cozy. These are twisted, dark mysteries and I love them. In addition to a series featuring troubled detective Jack Caffery, she also writes great standalone suspense stories.




And, the current library stack holds steady at four.

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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The ones I’ve neglected

>> Friday, January 28, 2011


The tough thing about reading so many series (62 at last official count, but that’s no longer accurate) is that inevitably, some get pushed down the To Be Read list and neglected. I’m not talking about the series I’m not interested in continuing, I’m talking about the ones that I do want to read, but for any of a number of reasons I haven’t picked up the next book in ages.

I updated my series list in my TBR spreadsheet and added the dates I read the most recent book. I wanted to see which series It’s been the longest since I’ve read one of the books. Yikes – it’s been a long time for some of these. The interesting thing is that I do want to read and continue all of these, but I keep getting distracted by the new and shiny on the shelf and the latest books that are getting all the chatter. I read a high proportion of backlist, but there are always a few on the list that keep getting deferred.

These are the series I’ve neglected the longest. I’m not making any promises about any of them, but hope to get to at least one on each of these series sometime in 2011. All the covers and links are to the first book in each series. They’re all good series so I encourage you to give them a try.

The Wilderness series by Sara Donati – I read the first one way back in 2004 and have just not managed to pick up the next one yet. Part of the reason is that these are chunksters. Diana Gabaldon sized chunksters. In fact, the author is a friend of Diana Gabaldon and Claire Fraser from the Outlander series makes a cameo appearance in the first book “Into the Wilderness”. I need to be in the mood for a big fat historical fiction saga. Maybe I need to read this along with some shorter faster moving books at the same time for a change of pace.


The Boldt/Matthews series by Ridley Pearson – I read the first one in 2008 and liked it a lot. I can’t really explain why I haven’t picked up the second yet, but I’ve got it on my library list to get to in the next few months.


The Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George – I love British detective series and the first two of this series were wonderful. I didn’t realize it had been so long so I’m glad checking the dates has put this series back on my read soon radar.


The Nick Travers series by Ace Atkins – The first two in this series were such a great combination of noir-ish mystery and love letter to blues music that they really drew me in. Again, I didn’t realize it had been that long so I’ve moved this one up the list to get back to soon.



What about you? What series have you been neglecting? Is it because you’re not sure you want to continue or is it because you got distracted by the new and shiny.

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An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

>> Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

Genre: Mystery
Series: #5 in the Maisie Dobbs series
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 303
Source: Library


The Short Version:
This is a bit more of a mystery than some of the earlier books in the series, but still primarily a story of the time and place that is England between the two world wars.

Why I Read It:
I’m trying to get caught up with the series before the newest one comes out this summer.

The Book
This is the 5th in a series so if you're concerned about spoilers for earlier books skip on down to the My Thoughts section although I really don't think there are any spoilers in this summary.

In the midst of the continuing tough economic times, Maisie is happy to accept what appears to be a fairly simple assignment from an old friend. He’s working out a deal to buy some property and a brickworks in a small village in the countryside, but is concerned about reports of vandalism and petty crime in the area and whether this is enough of a concern to his purchase plans.

Hop picking season brings many people to the area on a temporary basis. Both gypsies and Londoners seek out the wages and the escape from the city that the hop harvest provides. The permanent residents of the village are quick to blame both the gypsies and Londoners for any and all of their seasonal troubles, but Maisie senses an undercurrent as she investigates. It’s apparent that the villagers are keeping secrets, but Maisie can’t figure out what it has to do with a wartime zeppelin raid on the village that no one seems to want to talk about. In the meantime, petty thefts and apparent arson incidents are shrugged off as either accidents or the work of the outsiders in town for the hop-picking.

Maisie’s assistant Billy and his family are using their holiday time to earn some money picking hops in the area and this works out well for Maisie. While Billy checks out what’s going on and being said in he hop fields, Maisie can spend time in the village and also with the gypsies in the area to try to find out what is really going on and what all the secrecy is about.

My Thoughts:
As with the previous Maisie Dobbs books, this one is a bit light on the mystery and more a portrayal of England between the two World Wars. The people and the country are still trying to recover from the devastation of World War 1 and the economic depression that followed it. While there are signs of recovery and hope for the future, there is still much healing that needs to happen for individuals touched by the horrors of the war as well as the country and its economic health.

I enjoyed the storyline with the gypsies and Maisie’s interactions with them. Perhaps it is a little too coincidental in places, but still an interesting storyline of the society within a society (or on the fringe). The recurring characters of Maisie’s father and friends and the storylines that continue throughout the series are interesting, enjoyable and at times a bit heartbreaking.

Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #69

>> Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yachats, Oregon
August 2010



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The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

>> Monday, January 24, 2011


The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 336
Source: eGalley provided by publisher through NetGalley




The Short Version:
Tension and suspense gradually build and combine with a tinge of the supernatural in an isolated Florida gulf coast setting.

Why I Read It:
I’ve enjoyed the first few of the author’s Lincoln Perry mystery series and heard good things about his stand alone novels so when I had the opportunity to read this one I jumped at the chance.

The Book:
In 1935 a train headed for Key West, Florida carries a group of CCC workers headed to work on a railroad. Arlen Wagner is one of these men. A veteran of WW1, he can tell when death is near for people. In the dark, they appear to him as skeletons and in the light their eyes are replaced with swirling smoke. When he looks around the railroad car and sees death in the eyes of all the men, he knows he must get off the train at the next stop. Only young Paul Brickhill joins him in not returning to the train.

Stuck without a way to get to their initial or any other destination they end up hitching a ride. Soon they find themselves at an oddly isolated and empty fishing resort called The Cypress House. Its owner is the beautiful and mysterious Rebecca Cady. They soon discover that this strange area of Florida is under the control of a corrupt judge and his cronies.

Questioned regarding a murder they did not commit and then released but broke, they stay to help Rebecca prepare Cypress House for a coming hurricane. After the storm blows through, the trouble just keeps brewing and boiling into a tension filled brutal finish.

My Thoughts:
Well first of all, don’t get to the last 100 pages or so late in the evening. If you do, you’ll be up into the wee hours finishing it. The gradual building of tension and suspense starts in the first few pages and by the final scenes I was dreading the end of my lunch hour and the end of my train ride and the need to get to knitting class because they all made me have to stop reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author built the sense of place as much as he did the mood in the story. I could almost feel the dampness and humidity and the stormy weather as I read. The supernatural stuff was just enough to make the story really spooky without being too overpowering. It added to the story without being too much and would not keep me from recommending it to people who aren't necessarily fans of supernatural books.

As I read the story I could visualize it as a black and white movie in my head with the palms and mangroves blown by the storms in the background of most of the scenes. Perhaps the depression era setting enhanced that mood for me. The good guys are struggling to survive when jobs are hard to come by and just surviving is the primary occupation of most of the population. Add to that a small isolated town and corrupt officials and thugs and you’ve got a no win situation that gets more and more complex as the pages turn. The bad guys are really bad and it’s difficult to tell if there are any good guys most of the way through the story.

Arlen Wagner’s struggles with his unwanted ability and the demons of his past are hauntingly told at the same time he battles the very real demons of the present and tries to protect a friend.

This is an excellent standalone suspense story. I highly recommend it and I must read the rest of Koryta’s books just as soon as I can.



Rating 4.5/5

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Weekend Update January 23, 2011

>> Sunday, January 23, 2011

This week:
The nice thing about having a week with a fairly empty calendar other than work means I actually got some reading done. I finished up both Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear and The Cypress House by Michael Koryta. I started reading Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofumik. That one has been on my TBR list for over a year because Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog just couldn’t stop raving about it. I just haven’t gotten around to reading it but a bunch of book bloggers were talking on Twitter a while ago and decided to read it in January and discuss it together at the end of the month.

Since I’m a huge mystery/thriller/crime fiction fan, I was happy to see the Edgar Awards Nominations this week. Not only did I look for authors I know, but I also use that list for browsing for potential additions to my TBR list. I’m very very happy to see Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter Crooked Letter nominated for Best Novel. I think he’s an amazing author and this is an amazing book.

I was also thrilled to see James Thompson’s Snow Angels nominated for Best First Novel by an American Author. His book set in Finland is just a wonderful moody noir mystery that makes you want to snuggle in a blanket because he does such a great job of making you feel the cold of the Finnish winter. I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel to this book.

Seeing a few already favorite authors on the nominations lists makes me itchy to move some of their books I havn’t read yet up near the top of my read soon list (Tana French, Harlan Coben). And Timothy Hallinan’s nomination for the 4th book in the Poke Rafferty series shows that I need to get to the first book in that series.


Other than books and reading:
Sunday we took a drive up to Hood River for the annual family get-together for Dad’s Birthday. Good food, good beer, good company at the Sixth Street Bistro. Even when the weather is icky, the drive through the Columbia Gorge is pretty.

I’m trying to make time for lots of knitting and crocheting.

My second knitting class was Thursday and I’m making progress, and having fun learning. I’m already looking for a pattern for my next project which will likely be another baby afghan.

The Baby afghan I’m currently crocheting is growing, but I’m feeling the pressure. I have less than two weeks until the baby shower when it needs to be finished.


Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

Dear Mr. Holmes
A short story by Steve Hockensmith made available in PDF format or read directly on his blog. As you may or may not remember I read his short story collection Naughty: 9 Tales of Christmas Crima a few weeks ago and loved it. I want to read his Holmes on the Range series and this story is the debut of the characters from the Holmes on the Range series. It was originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 2003.


Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark
This one is an upcoming release by Mulholland Books. They introduced me to Mark Billingham and are an imprint I follow. This one sounds promising and I’m frankly curious to see how Marcia Clark’s experience as a prosecutor translates to legal thriller author.



Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
I’ve been hearing great comments about this book from a multitude of book bloggers, but I’ve been a bit burned out on Young Adult fiction so I’ve brushed it off. Then I saw that it was nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best Young Adult category so I gave in and put it on the list.


Purchased this week:
I didn’t buy any books this week. My stack of books checked out from the library is beginning to intimidate me so I need to focus on that for a while.

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Weekend Cooking - Yummy All Purpose Trader Joe’s based Side Dish

>> Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Since I made some of this earlier this week I decided to post it as a Weekend Cooking post today.

I discovered Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend on one of our weekly shopping trips there. We always check out the demo / tasting area for food ideas and this is one I adapted and is now a regular happening at our house.

I’m never sure what to call it and “That Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend Stuff I make” although it works with The Hubster, is not a great name. So I’m calling it an “All Purpose Side Dish” because it really is. This stuff is great with many different kinds of meat as a side dish. It’s also worked just fine as dinner for me with a salad.

So what IS Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (besides yummy)?
“A Savory Blend of Israeli Style Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans and Red Quinoa”



And what do I DO with it? First of all, forget the water and butter part of the instructions on the package. Use Chicken Broth and Olive Oil.


1 ¾ cups Chicken Broth
Italian Seasoning (Basil is good too – use whatever you like to add a little extra flavor)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (less is just fine)
1 ¼ cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (about half a package)
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
Feta Cheese (I usually use the Fat Free Feta from Trader Joe’s)



In a saucepan, add some Italian Seasoning (or whatever you like) to the chicken broth. I probably add a teaspoon or a little more (see the photo - about that much). Bring that to a boil.






Stir in the olive oil and the Harvest Grains Blend. Bring that back to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until most of the moisture is absorbed.









Take the pan off the heat and stir in


A handful of grape or cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

A handful of Feta cheese crumbles.


Stir it all together to mix and you have a hearty yummy side dish to go with just about anything or to eat on its own. The leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave.

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Audiobook – Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

>> Thursday, January 20, 2011


Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (Audio)

Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Series: #4 in the Peter and the Starcatchers series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 2009
Read by: Jim Dale
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Moving past the prequel to Peter Pan that the first 3 books in the series were, this one takes place 20 years after the 3rd book with an alternate first adventure for Peter and Wendy than the one told by J.M. Barrie.

Why I Read It:
I loved the first three books in this series that created a wonderfully entertaining prequel to the well known Peter Pan series. Although the authors had intended to stop with three books, when I heard they were writing a fourth I had to read it.

The Book:
This is the 4th in a series so if you’re concerned about spoilers for the earlier books, you should skip down to the My Thoughts section.

London, 1901. It’s twenty years after the events of Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. Molly and George Darling are married and have three children, Wendy, Michael and John. From that point on, the story differs from the classic Peter Pan but with all the fun and adventure of the earlier books in this series.

It turns out that the bad guys from the earlier books may have not been defeated after all. One group is determined to take control of the magical starstuff that keeps Mollusk Island the unchanged paradise it has been for the past twenty years. Even more frightening are the signs that a man close to the soon to be crowned King of England may me none other than the incredibly evil shadow creature that was thought to have been destroyed at the end of the last book. Why is he searching for something in London? And what does it have to do with a broken sword that belonged to Charlemagne?

My Thoughts:
I loved the first three books in this series because they presented a possible prequel to the classic Peter Pan story without actually interfering with it. That changes a bit in this one because it presents an alternate first meeting and adventure for Wendy and Peter. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful follow up to the earlier Peter and the Starcatchers books.

I’m not sure which I enjoyed more: the story itself or Jim Dale’s performance of the story. Both are highly entertaining and pure fun. There are villains who are incredibly scary and creepy as well as a few who are more comic-relief. The natives of Mollusk Island are both noble and fun and have the best naming conventions of any fictional society I’ve ever encountered. There’s probably some sort of ‘Mollusk name generator’ out there on the internet somewhere and if there’s not, then there should be. The adventures that Peter and Wendy undertake are both frightening and fanciful, and even though you’re sure it’ll all work out just fine in the end, there’s plenty of tension before the end of the book.

All in all, this installment is not a necessary part of the series, but still a delight.


Rating 3.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #68

>> Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Multnomah Falls on a Stormy Day



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Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham

>> Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham

Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction
Series: #2 in the Tom Thorne series
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 369
Source: Library



The Short Version:
Tough but troubled detective Tom Thorne is trying to track down a team of killers before anyone else is killed.

Why I Read It:
I recently read the first in the series and liked it enough that I want to get caught up before the new one is released in the US in July.

The Book:
When two women are attacked and killed in a similar fashion at nearly the same time, the police are soon forced to face the fact that they are dealing with not one killer, but two. Are they working together equally or is one following the instructions of the other?

As the case proceeds with many intriguing and disturbing twists and turns the story alternates present day storylines with flashbacks to the killers who first met when they were in school together. As their history is revealed so are clues as to who they are and where they are now. Will Tom Thorne and his team be able to find and stop the killers?

In the meantime there are several side plots that move along with just as much tension and drama as the primary crime investigation. There are troubled detectives, troubled relationships, and plenty of reasons to not be sure who is really trustworthy.

My Thoughts:
As with his first book in this series (Sleepyhead) Billingham has created a story that is as much a psychological thriller as it is a procedural detective story. The main character is likeable but has issues in both his personal and professional life. The recurring characters are excellent. The newly introduced members of the team bring storylines that add to the complex personal issues that confront a team of detectives as they hunt the killers.

Several times I thought I’d had this one figured out. There’s enough foreshadowing to give a mystery fan a pretty good idea of how it’s going to play out and much of my speculation turned out to be correct. The part that wasn’t correct came as a total surprise and just made me want to read more of Billingham’s work.

His heroes are flawed, his villains are disturbed and disturbing, but it all works together into a twisted dark melancholy and moody kind of book.



Rating 4/5

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Weekend Update January 15, 2011

>> Saturday, January 15, 2011

This week:
So there was this little football game on Monday. My team didn’t win, but I’m still proud as heck of them and can’t wait until the next season starts. I do love me some college football despite the fact that by the time the game was actually played I wasn’t too fond of most football fans. Only 230 days until the season opener kickoff!

Didn’t get as much reading time as I would have liked this week, but I could probably say that every week. I finished Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham and I'm still reading An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear. I also finished listening to Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and read by the amazing Jim Dale.

There was a fun link wandering through Twitter this week where you can find the list of the NY Times Best Sellers for the week you were born (or obviously whatever date you choose to enter). Find the Bestsellers for your Birthday Week.

This was kind of fun. I was pleasantly surprised that the #1 for my birthday week was Hawaii by James Michener because I’ve actually read that book at least three times. I read it for the first time when I was in high school and it is still one of my all time favorites. Even more fun is that it was still #10 on the list for the week The Hubster was born a year 16 months later.

Here is the Fiction list for my birth week
  1. HAWAII James Michener
  2. ADVISE AND CONSENT Allen Drury
  3. THE CONSTANT IMAGE Marcia Davenport
  4. OURSELVES TO KNOW John O'Hara
  5. TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN Irwin Shaw
  6. THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE Morrs L. West
  7. THE LINCOLN LORDS Cameron Hawley
  8. DEAR AND GLORIOUS PHYSICIAN Taylor Caldwell
  9. POOR NO MORE Robert Ruark
  10. KISS KISS Roald Dahl
  11. ALL THE DAY LONG Howard Spring
  12. EXODUS Leon Uris
  13. THE UGLY AMERICAN William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick
  14. MRS. 'ARRIS GOES TO NEW YORK Paul Gallico
  15. FUEL FOR THE FLAME Alec Waugh
  16. A SEPARATE PEACE John Knowles

In addition to Hawaii, I’ve also read A Separate Peace and Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to New York. I haven’t read Exodus, but I loved Trinity by Leon Uris and although I haven’t read Dear and Glorious Physician, I have read Captains and the Kings by her a couple of times. I do love big fat historical sagas.

The only book on the Non-Fiction list for the week that sparked any memory was The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan which I read for a high school history class.

Other than books and reading:
I’m working on a baby afghan for a friend. I have until February 4th to finish it (the shower is scheduled for the 5th). I also started a knitting class this week. I’ve crocheted for years and although I have completed one knitted baby afghan, there is no way I can say that I know how to knit. Fortunately there is a cute little knitting shop near my home and I’m taking a three week knitting basics class.

Tomorrow is our annual family get-together for Dad’s birthday. We don’t try to add to the holiday chaos and instead gather for lunch sometime mid January to celebrate his birthday (which was actually the 10th) and catch up a bit.



Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran – Pam at Bookalicio.us mentioned this one the other day on Twitter and it definitely intrigues me. I know lots of folks have been impressed with Moran’s earlier books, but they haven’t jumped out at me perhaps because of the settings in Egypt, but this one with the French Revolution as part of the story definitely has my interest.


Purchased this week:

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Classroom in a book. I’ll talk more about this next week.

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How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino

>> Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino


Genre: Humor
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 106
Source: Purchased


The Short Version:
Survival guide for when those insidious little critters go on the attack and they WILL go on the attack.

Why I Read It:
Hello??? THIS is in my back yard!!




The Book
The opening line: “Keep reading if you want to live.”

Part 1: Assess your level of risk. Learn how to identify suspicious activity and be on the lookout for signs of gnomish communication. (mini crop circles?)

Part 2: Protect your home and yourself. Learn how to gnomeproof your home inside and out. Hint: get a “Big %&*! Dog”. Also, don’t stick your hand in the mailbox without checking first.

Part 3: Defend yourself and your home from an attack. This includes such useful information as “practice rising from bed in attack mode”. Also part of this section is an extensive analysis of their weaponry and yours. Metal garden rakes and pitchforks are essential, but landmines and flamethrowers are on the not recommended list.

Part 4: Apply what you have learned. Putting it all together to successfully survive and of course, where and how best to dispose of gnomes in without unleashing them on yet another unsuspecting potential victim.

My Thoughts:
This was a fun way to spend a short time.  When I saw this book on display last fall I just knew I had to get it for The Hubster’s Christmas stocking. He wanted a garden gnome for our backyard for a long time and although we searched the various yard and garden shops in our area, we couldn’t find one he liked. We ended up ordering it online.  I actually think it’s kind of cute and our dearly departed cat Tequila used to sit out there next to it on summer afternoons. I think they were buds because they had the same number of brain cells.  Tequila was a great cat, but not a bright boy.

But I digress. I need to get back to the book.  It’s hilarious. This was pure fun and silliness with a great wit all the way through. It takes itself seriously with a huge dose of tongue firmly in cheek. I loved all the suggested ways to defend and fight against little ceramic creatures. I giggled all the way through it even though at 106 pages it’s an incredibly quick read.

The photos accompanying the text are just as amusing as the ‘how to’ itself.  Seriously pick it up, start to page through and you’ll find yourself going ahead and reading it from cover to cover.

*** Note to the editor of this book: ‘Hoard’ and ‘Horde’ do not mean the same thing. You made the wrong choice of homonym all six times.  Obviously it was annoying enough that I counted.

But for the rest of you, try to ignore that incorrect homonym and just enjoy the book. It’s fun.

Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #67

>> Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Low level beauty in a winter flower bed



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Blood of My Brother by James Le Pore

>> Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Blood of My Brother by James Le Pore


Genre: Suspense
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 313
Source: Sent to me by the author



The Short Version:
A New Jersey lawyer seeks both the truth about and revenge for his best friend’s murder as well as the identity and story of the woman involved.

Why I Read It:
I had read and enjoyed the author’s first book “A World I Never Made” so when he offered me a copy of this one I jumped at the chance.

The Book:
Newark attorney Jay Cassio is handling a complicated divorce case, representing the wife in a mess of high profile, high dollars and hints of scandalous accusations and shady business dealings. When his client’s severed head is found in the river and her husband is found dead, the authorities come to some pretty quick conclusions that Jay doesn’t necessarily agree with.

Jay’s best friend since childhood, Dan Del Colliano who works as an investigator, announces that he’s got a new client that he just might be in love with and he’s off to Florida to take care of returning some cash to her. Jay is suspicious, but knows Dan can take care of himself.

Isabel Perez is a beautiful woman who was raised in an orphanage in Mexico, but the man who took her into his household as a teenager didn’t exactly rescue her. She’s now trapped in a life she’s desperate to escape.

When Jay gets the news that his best friend has been brutally tortured and murdered in Florida he’s determined to find out who did it and see that they are punished.

My Thoughts:
This was another good suspense story from Le Pore. As with his first book there was an element of the protagonist being on the run from criminal elements way out of his league. Jay was not exactly a likeable hero, but I wanted him to succeed because he was up against some nasty criminals as well as the FBI. The story wasn’t all a fast paced on the run type of story and in fact, got a little slow at times, before hitting another stretch of tension and danger.

Some of the outcome was predictable. As an example, I knew the romance element was just around the corner, but there were plenty of surprises and twists along the way. The story of Jay and Dan’s friendship from childhood and the way their past has shaped their lives and cemented their friendship was as interesting to me as the present day story. There were good guys I liked, bad guys I despised, and enough action and suspense to keep me turning the pages.

I’ll be passing this one along to The Hubster and on the lookout for Le Pore’s next book.



Rating 4/5

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Hangin' With Howie

>> Sunday, January 9, 2011

Howie's How To

How to be in one cat bed and on a second cat bed all at the same time


(Professional Napper, Closed course, Do not attempt)

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Weekend Update January 8, 2011

>> Saturday, January 8, 2011


So this is an experiment. I’ll give it a few weeks (or less) to decide whether or not it’s something I want to continue. I like the idea of a weekly overview post.

A lot of book bloggers I know participate in the “Sunday Salon” postings and I enjoy reading them. I’m hesitant to commit to joining the Sunday Salon party for a variety of reasons. First of all, I get a bit rebellious about the committing to one day thing. I already have a commitment to posting on a specific day of the week with my Wordless Wednesday photos and I don’t really want to commit to this type of post being always on Sunday. In fact, it’s much more likely to get posted on Saturday, but might show up on Sunday once in a while if I continue. Another reason I don’t want to join the Sunday Salon group is that it’s now hosted on Facebook. My blog is my blog and it's here, it’s not on Facebook. I have no intention of creating an additional Facebook identity for my blog. I have a Facebook account already for my family and face-to-face friends and don't want two accounts. I tried that a while ago and deleted it. I also may not always talk about books and reading in these weekend updates. They might be my place to ramble on about completely unrelated matters (to be a little whimpulsive so to speak).

Moving back to the topic at hand:

This week: 

Well the whole New Year, New Beginnings process always seems a bit rejuvenating to me. Setting up fresh worksheets in my spreadsheets for tracking my reading feels like opening a door to possibilities for adventure, learning, and fun with the books I’ll read this year. While I enjoy the holiday season, there’s something refreshing about packing away all the decorations and moving out of vacation mode and back into my normal routine.

I updated the blog with a new template and new look and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I spent a lot of time getting it ready and tweaking a test blog and it paid off with a fairly easy transition when I actually made the changeover. I hope you’re enjoying the new look too.

As for reading, being back into the routine means a little less reading time than I had while I was on vacation. I’m struggling a bit with balancing work, life, and reading time into a mix that I’m happy with. Work has been busy and I’m finding myself easily distracted when I sit down with a book these days. Perhaps it’s a bit of vacation hangover right now. I’ve got a pile of books that I want to get through in the next few weeks and I’m excited about reading each and every one of them.

Books I added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:


State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy – it seems that this White House Chef series is the buzz of the book blog world this week. The newest installment was released this week and many of my book blogging buddies are reading and raving about this series. I do enjoy a cozy mystery type of series and this one sounds fun so I requested the first book from the library.






The Radleys by Matt Haig – my Bookseller friend from Alabama mentioned that she’s reading this one so I checked it out and I’m definitely intrigued.









Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress – another one my friend in Alabama is reading that sounds like fun. I do love books set in the South.







Obviously I need to come up with a better way to refer to my Alabama Bookseller friend. She used to have a book blog I could link to, but that’s no longer an option. I need to come up with a good Code Name and/or link for her because I get a ton of book recommendations from her and will likely be referring to her often.


Books I bought this week:



Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – one of those that’s been on my list forever but I have yet to read it.

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