January Photo a Day Challenge

>> Sunday, December 30, 2012

January is a perfect time to join the Photo a Day Challenge!!

Yes, this is my regular monthly reminder and recruitment post about rhe Photo a Day Challenge hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. I've been participating in this daily photo challenge since the middle of March and today will be my 290th day of posting a daily photo. I'm getting a little excited about reaching the full year mark. It's been fun to have so many of my online and in person friends join in to participate in this. I love seeing everyone's photos and how creative folks can be with the daily prompts.

If you haven't tried it yet, January is a perfect time to start. It's not hard and you can participate in so many ways. Looking back through my photos after a few months is fun and turns into a bit of photo journal with all the little daily memories both small and significant that end up being included.

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month. Chantelle's post about January's list includes some extra explanation and ideas just in case any of the prompts have you stumped.

This is the list for November and Chantelle's instructions:

January Photo a Day
Click to view full size

How to play!

Playing along with photo a day is super easy:
♥ Check out the January photo a day list.
♥ Each day look at the daily prompt and take a photo according to whatever the prompt is. For example for day 1 the prompt is TODAY. As it’s New Year’s Day some might be sleeping off a hangover, others might be fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions. Take a photo of what it is you chose to do on the first day of 2013.
♥ Once you’ve taken the photo it’s time to share it. There are loads of places you can share it. See below for more details.
♥ Check out other people’s photos. You can browse through them on my Facebook page. Or on Instagram or Twitter just search for the #FMSphotoaday hashtag to see them all.

Where to play?

There are loads of places to be social and share your photos with the #FMSphotoaday community:

♥ Instagram: Just upload your photo, use a fancy filter, add a caption and the hashtag #FMSphotoaday and then share.
♥ Facebook: There are a few options here. You can simply share on your own personal page, among your own friends. Or you can upload to my page’s wall, or I’ve created a Facebook group for 2013. You can join it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FMSphotoaday/
♥ Blog: If you have a blog, you could share each day or do a wrap up of all the photos at the end of the month.
♥ Tumblr: Add your daily photos to your Tumblr feed.
♥ Flickr: I’ll be playing around more with Flickr in the New Year. You can get their app {for free if I remember correctly} and share your photos there, or upload on their web version. We also have a photo a day group here.
♥ Twitter: You can share on Twitter by uploading the photo and sharing the hashtag #FMSphotoaday. Easy.


I choose to participate in this challenge using only photos from my phone. Between Instagram and a few other photo applications I have plenty of options for editing photos on my phone. It's fun for me to see what I can do using just my phone and apps. I highly recommend Snapseed. It's a bit more than I usually pay for an app but it's got some amazing editing options.

If you’d like to check out my previous photos they’re on my Tumblr blog at at Whimpulsiveness

I'm also now using ShutterCal too. You can see all of my Photo A Day photos in a calendar format. I think this is my favorite way to scan through my past photos and this is the format that ends up feeling like a bit of a journal of my year in photos. If you decide to use Shuttercal, be sure to let me know or link up with me there.

The most important thing to remember about this is the flexibility. For me, using only photos from my phone makes it low pressure so I don't feel like I have to have a perfect shot. That helps me to just relax and have fun with it. Even with the photo promts that are repeated it's fun to try to come up with something different. Sometimes a prompt that was used a couple of months ago can spark a totally different meaning depending on my mood or circumstances that day.

If you've been participating I hope you'll continue or give it another try if you've gotten out of the habit. Please let me know where you are sharing your photos so that I can find them.

Here are a few of my favorites from the Dedember Photo a Day Challenge. Click on the individual photos if you want to see a larger version.

something you held
December 3rd - something you held
looking up
December 5th - looking up
stars
December 7th - stars
outdoors
December 15th - outdoors
makes you feel merry
December 18th - makes you feel merry
something that begins with
December 19th - something that begins with "s"

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Weekend Update December 29, 2012

>> Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished reading The Ridge by Michael Koryta. I really liked this one. It’s similar to The Cypress House in that it’s a thriller with supernatural elements but can still appeal to readers who don’t necessarily like supernatural stuff in their books.
I started reading Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth. It’s fairly light and I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. After reading Jen’s review at Devourer of Books I decided this might be a good change of pace for vacation reading.

I finished my audiobook. Death Without Company by Craig Johnson. This was the second in the Walt Longmire Series read by George Guidall and I thought it was very good. There’s a holiday themed short story collection by Johnson that features Walt Longmire available as an ebook (Christmas in Absaroka County). Since I’m on vacation and in holiday mode I might try to fit that in before I go back to work on January 2nd.

My new audiobook is Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas (narrated by Lorelei King). I’ve heard good things about both the print and audio versions of this book. Interestingly enough it’s the third book I’ve started this year related to the American internment of Japanese during World War II. The other two were both written by Julie Otsuka (Buddha in the Attic and When the Emperor Was Divine).

I still haven't picked up a new graphic novel yet, but I've got the second and third in the Fables series out from the library and as soon as The Hubster finishes the second Fables book I’m diving into those.

Other than books and reading:
We had our usual low key Christmas and it was very nice. My brother and The Hubster’s sister came over and spent the day with us and we did stockings for everyone. Dinner was yummy.

The Hubster grilled lamb and we had the best mashed potatoes The Hubster has ever made.

After Christmas our relaxing vacation plans took a slight detour. The Hubster had some vision problems and a visit to our eye doctor on Thursday afternoon led to a visit to an eye surgeon and surgery that night to repair a detached retina in his left eye and some preventative laser treatment in his right eye to hopefully keep that retina from doing the same thing. It was stressful and scary and we’re still feeling rather unsettled as we wait to see how much of his vision in his left eye really does come back in the next few weeks. Luckily we’re still on vacation and had nothing planned other than watching football and relaxing. That fits perfectly with his recovery needs right now and it’s nice that we didn’t have to add trying to organize time off work into the mix of everything else on Thursday. My message here is don’t take changes in your vision lightly. These things need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Looking through this week’s photos:

No home repair project in our house is complete without some feline assistance.
As usual, Abby is reading the instructions (the laptop is on the washing machine) and Howie is ignoring them.

This is pretty much how I plan to spend my time between now and when I go back to work on Wednesday.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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What's in a Name 5 Challenge Completed

>> Friday, December 28, 2012

I have officially completed the What's In A Name 5 Challenge.


As I mentioned last week when I signed up for the 2013 version of The What’s in a Name Challenge, this has been my favorite reading challenge for the past several years. Beth Fish Reads always manages to come up with an interesting, fun and just challenging enough categories for this one.

For this year’s challenge readers were once again required to read 6 books. The books had to be chosen based on words their titles matching up with the six categories. I managed to find books to fit most of the categories from within books I already had on my TBR list. Some of the categories were harder than others but they were all fun to pick which book to use.

Here are the books I read for each category (links are to my reviews):

A book with a "topographical feature (land formation)" in the title: The Ridge by Michael Koryta. This is an excellent suspense thriller with just a touch of supernatural.

A book with "something you'd see in the sky" in the title: River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters. One of my very favorite audiobook series featuring the inimitable Amelia Peabody

A book with a "creepy crawly" in the title: The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout. My first exposure to Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie made me want to read more of this classic series.

A book with a “type of house" in the title: The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak. The story of Catherine the Great of Russia as seen through the eyes of a palace servant.

A book with "something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack" in the title: Hannah’s List by Debbie Macomber. This is typical Macomber feel good predictable fare but only barely connected to her Blossom Street series.

A book with "something you'd find on a calendar" in the title: Blue Monday by Nicci French. This is the first in a planned mystery/suspense series featuring a psychotherapist.

Big thanks to Beth Fish Reads for a fun and interesting challenge!

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The Ridge by Michael Koryta

>> Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

Genre: Suspense/ Thriller
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 279
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
There is an evil present at Blade Ridge and it’s going to be up to a sheriff’s deputy and a reporter for a now defunct local newspaper to figure out how to fight it.

Why I Read It:
I have been a fan of Michael Koryta for several years first reading his Lincoln Perry series and then his standalone thrillers.

The Book:
From the publisher:

In an isolated stretch of eastern Kentucky, on a hilltop known as Blade Ridge, stands a lighthouse that illuminates nothing but the surrounding woods. For years the lighthouse has been considered no more than an eccentric local landmark-until its builder is found dead at the top of the light, and his belongings reveal a troubling local history.

For deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble, the lighthouse-keeper's death is disturbing and personal. Years ago, Kimble was shot while on duty. Somehow the death suggests a connection between the lighthouse and the most terrifying moment of his life.

Audrey Clark is in the midst of moving her large-cat sanctuary onto land adjacent to the lighthouse. Sixty-seven tigers, lions, leopards, and one legendary black panther are about to have a new home there. Her husband, the sanctuary's founder, died scouting the new property, and Audrey is determined to see his vision through.

As strange occurrences multiply at the Ridge, the animals grow ever more restless, and Kimble and Audrey try to understand what evil forces are moving through this ancient landscape, just past the divide between dark and light.

My Thoughts:
This is another book like Koryta’s The Cypress House that has a supernatural element to the story yet is one that can appeal to readers who might not describe supernatural books as something they normally like. I would definitely describe it as a suspense story before I’d describe it as a supernatural or paranormal story.

The setting in an isolated part of Kentucky gives it a strong sense of place as well as the dark atmospheric backdrop necessary for such a story. The looming danger is echoed in the cats at the wildlife refuge that are clearly on edge in their new environment.

Deputy Kimble and Roy Darmus are both interesting characters. Their pursuit of the truth about what is happening and has happened in the past at Blade Ridge is kicked off when just before he kills himself, Wyatt French calls both men and demands that they tell the true story.

The story has its roots deep in the past but reaching its deadly influence into the present day. As he did in The Cypress House, Koryta lets the story come together in bits and pieces increasing the tension gradually until it builds into a final confrontation that makes it difficult to stop once you get to the final quarter of the book. Good and honorable men seeking to defeat an unexpected evil in an extremely well done story.



4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #167

>> Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Contented Cats

Contented cats
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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here

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Merry Christmas

>> Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry
Christmas


Merry Christmas


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Weekend Update December 23, 2012

>> Sunday, December 23, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
Well the holiday craziness and wind down to vacation from work was in full swing this week which meant that my reading time was quite limited.

I’m still reading The Ridge by Michael Koryta. I’m liking this one a lot. It’s a good combination of suspense thriller with a touch of supernatural elements.

I’m also still listening to the same audiobook. Death Without Company by Craig Johnson is very good. It’s the second in the Walt Longmire series and I thoroughly enjoy George Guidall’s narration of this series.

I haven't picked up a new graphic novel yet, but I've got the second in the Fables series out from the library and plan to start that this week.

Other than books and reading:
Last Sunday we ran The Holiday Half Marathon (for the Hubster) and 5k (for me). It was just as cold, rainy and windy as I thought it was going to be but I survived. I didn’t run the whole thing but I ran more than I walked and met my goal of finishing under 36 minutes. My official time was 35:13 so I’m happy with the result. Even though it was cold and wet the post race beer tasted great!

Post Race Beer


I still have to work tomorrow but then I’m on vacation until January 2nd. Keeping up with our holiday traditions that have developed over the years has already started.

Beginning with this: breakfast yesterday was Cranberry Cream Cheese bread. I only make this for Christmas so it’s the taste of the holidays for me.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread
This old post has the recipe.



I can’t leave you without some Abby Antics.
She’s decided she likes sleeping on her toy chicken.


Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Criminal Plots II Challenge Completed

>> Saturday, December 22, 2012

I have officially completed the Criminal Plots II Challenge.

I had promised myself that I would only do the What's in a Name Challenge but this one combined my favorite genre (crime fiction) with the books by category format of the What’s in a Name Challenge. Resistance was useless.

Participants were required to read 6 books from any subgenre of crime fiction (hardboiled, P.I., police procedural, cozy, thriller, etc.) that qualified for one of each of six categories.

The amazing Jen at Jen's Book Thoughts put this one together and she came up with a great list of categories.

Here are the books I read for each category (links are to my reviews):

A novel with a Weapon in the title: Fer de Lance by Rex Stout. Fer de Lance is French for spearhead and also a type of snake. This was the first book in the Nero Wolfe series.

A book published at least 10 years ago: Pronto by Elmore Leonard. I am a huge fan of the TV series Justified. This book was one that was a basis for the series and it was a ton of fun.

A book written by an author from the state/province/etc. where you live: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain. I've been a fan of Chelsea Cain from back in the days when she was a columnist for the local paper. This challenge was a good nudge to get closer to caught up with her Archie and Gretchen series..

A book written by an author using a pen name: The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. I love the Amelia Peabody series and the author's true identity is Barbara Mertz

A crime novel whose protagonist is the opposite gender of the author: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny. I admit to having a literary crush on Penny's main character Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

A stand-alone novel written by an author who writes at least one series: The Prophet by Michael Koryta was another outstanding stand-alone by the author of the Lincoln Perry series.


I enjoyed this challenge. In all honesty I didn't have to look to hard to find books to fit each category. I've always got plenty of crime fiction on my TBR list to choose from.

Big thanks to Jen for a fun and interesting challenge!

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The What’s In a Name 6 Challenge

>> Friday, December 21, 2012

What's in a Name 6

What’s In a Name 6


This is the only challenge I plan to commit to for 2013. It’s been my favorite challenge from its very first incarnation. I was so happy when Beth Fish Reads took over the reins and has kept this challenge alive and fun.

Yes I know I haven’t completed this year’s version of this challenge but I’m reading the final book and will have it wrapped up in the next few days.

The Challenge is really pretty simple and you don’t have to list out specific books ahead of time. Sometimes I’ve ‘accidentally’ completed a category and only realized later that a book title qualified.

Here’s how it works:
Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:
1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs
3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire
5. A book with an emotion in the title: Baltimore Blues, Say You're Sorry, Dreams of Joy
6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches
The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

Other Things to Know
• Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
• Books may overlap other challenges.
• Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
• Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.
• You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
• You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order.

Once again Beth Fish Reads has managed to come up with a fun set of categories. She allows for a lot of creativity and even though some are easy it always seems like there’s one category that I have a hard time finding a book that qualifies. I browsed my TBR list and bookshelves and found books that will work for all but the Kitchen category. I have a feeling that might be my tough one this year but you never can be sure. I’m constantly adding books to my TBR list and the perfect title might come along any day.

I know you’re looking at the categories and thinking of what books you have that might fit. Admit it. You are, aren’t you? Why don’t you get yourself over to the Sign Up post at Beth Fish Reads and join the fun.

One very important note that’s not included in the above information is that you do not have to have a blog to participate. You can use a Tumblr account, your Facebook page or just post in the comments on the sign up post.

Here are the books I have initially listed as possibilities for each category. I may read something different but these are the ones I came up with fairly quickly:

A book with UP or Down in the title – Watership Down by Richard Adams(I read it years ago but I’ve got the audio version on my ipod)

A book with something you’d find in your Kitchen in the title – Do cats count? I have cats in my kitchen.

A book with a Party or Celebration in the title – Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

A book with Fire in the title – Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille or Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

A book with an Emotion in the title – Envy the Night by Michael Koryta

A book with Lost or Found in the title – The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins.


Oh come on – click on over to Beth Fish Reads and join the fun.

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Wordless Wednesday #166

>> Wednesday, December 19, 2012

North of Pacific City, Oregon
February 2012

Click on photo to view full size

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here

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Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

>> Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)
Series: #6 in the Unwritten series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 240
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Tom Taylor’s battle heats up and more of the history of his father and his enemies is revealed.

Why I Read It:
I have become addicted to this series and was on the waiting list for this one at the library before it was even released.

The Book:
This volume 6 is a compilation of issues 31 - 35 of the comic series plus several bonus half issues.

From the publisher:

IF WORDS COULD KILL...

When Tom Taylor's father Wilson created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series --- boy-wizard novels that gained immediate and widespread fame ---- fans relentlessly compared the real Tom to his counterpart, garnering him a type of notoriety he just didn't want.

But when it's revealed that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, he comes into contact with a mysterious cabal that has secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom and his companions must travel the world, hitting up locations featured on a special map --- one kept by the deadly group --- that charts places throughout the world where fiction has impacted reality, stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture yarns. Throughout this quest, Tom must use every weapon he can get hold of --- but even storybook magic carries its own risks...

My Thoughts:
This series just gets better and better with each new volume. In this collection of 5 issues plus several bonus smaller issues several threads from the earlier issues start coming together.

What I really enjoyed about this volume was the variations in the artwork. The smaller issues between the main ones all had a different look and feel to them and clearly showed that they were out of the main present day storyline and were filling in some history of Tom’s father and the Cabal. The final one was a nice touch with the inner workings of the Cabal as seen by one of their minor employees.

The filling in of the history and background was nice to get. As Tom’s war with them grows in intensity (and it gets seriously intense in this volume) it’s good to finally get a bit more information about who and what he’s up against and how they operate.

The only downside about getting caught up with this series is that now I have to wait for the next compilation to be published.

On the other hand, that gives you a perfect opportunity to get caught up with this excellent series If you haven’t picked it up yet, you should.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Where in the World Are You Reading? - Holiday Reading Escape

>> Monday, December 17, 2012

Where in the World Are You Reading is a monthly themed Meme jointly hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, Lisa at Books. Lists. Life. and Kailana at The Written World.

Where in the World Are You Reading

Click on any of the links for the posts that explain the details of the Meme. It's never too late to join in so please consider doing so.

Lisa is this month's host so here is her explanation of this month's theme and a link to her post:
Meanwhile, what does your Christmas Reading Escape look like? Do you enjoy Christmas themed books? Are you already sick of the Christmas spirit? (If you are, you probably haven't read this far down this post!) Do you enjoy a nice glass of spiked egg nog with your books?

I wasn't sure what I was going to do for this month's topic because at first I interpreted it as being about what books I read for a Holiday Reading Escape. I don't tend to read holiday themed books and I didn't have any in my readinh plans this month.

After reading Lisa's post I realized that I was being too narrow in my definition of reading escape. I realized that for me escaping into my reading no matter what book is my way of escaping from the hubub and craziness of the Holiday season.

My favorite way to spend a weekend afternoon this time of year is to start by lighting the cranberry scented candles. For me that's the scent of the holidays because my mom always burned cranberry candles this time of year.

Then I brew up a cup of tea in my Christmas penguin mug.

Penguin Mug

I still don't know why penguins are in almost all the holiday animated specials and so popular in Christmas decorations because they're from the South Pole and not the North Pole but whatever . . . they're cute.


Fireplace

If it's cold I'll turn on the fireplace but even if it's not turned on it's decorated for the holidays.

view from my chair

Finally I plant myself in my recliner with my book and just enjoy the view over my slippers.

That's my Holiday Reading Escape. I escape from the chaos by just enjoying some time reading.

Check out the link to Lisa's post above and join in on this fun monthly meme.

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Weekend Update December 16, 2012

>> Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished reading Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. I’d put that for a while and it was fun to get back to it. I’d only read short stories by Agatha Christie before and it was nice to read a full length book featuring Miss Marple.

I started reading The Ridge by Michael Koryta. I’ve had it for a while and kept meaning to start it but other books kept catching my eye first. The fact that it fits the last category I need for this year’s What’s in a Name challenge for a book with a topographical feature in the title finally got me to pick it up. It’s just as good as I’ve come to expect from Michael Koryta. There’s a mystery but also a bit of a supernatural element and I’m hoping to get some time to really immerse myself in this one.

My current audiobook is Death Without Company by Craig Johnson. This is the second book in the Walt Longmire series featuring a Wyoming Sheriff and it’s just as good as the first one. I really enjoy George Guidall’s narration of this series. He’s excellent as the voice of Walt.

I’m trying to also continue reading a graphic novel along with a print book and an audio. The mix of three formats seems to work well for me. I’m almost done with the latest in the Unwritten series by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. It’s such a fun series for booklovers because it’s all wrapped around how stories impact public opinion and history.

Other than books and reading:
The Holiday stuff is winding down and I’m looking forward to some time off work between Christmas and New Years. We’re college football fans and with Bowl Season kicking off yesterday we’re soaking up all the college football we can before the long stretch between the National Championship game and next season’s kickoff. There are 35 bowl games and we’ll try to watch at least part of all of them. You never know when one will surprise you and turn out to be a great game. The last part of yesterday’s New Mexico Bowl was a perfect example of that.

Today is race day for us. It’s the Holiday Half Marathon (for The Hubster) and 5k (for me).

Holiday Half Marathon and 5k
The weather looks like it’s going to be pretty awful but hopefully worst of it will hold off until after we’re done.

Checking my phone photos from this week:

Bank of America Building Christmas Trees
The bank building across the street from my office always has beautiful holiday decorations

Bank of America Building Christmas Trees

We had a tree incident this week. Actually for Abby’s first Christmas I’m surprised it took this long.
Christmas with cats
 At least the one that crashed was the small owe with unbreakable ornaments. My favorite part was the “He did it.”, “She did it.” looks on their faces.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Audiobook –Leader of the Pack by David Rosenfelt

>> Friday, December 14, 2012

Leader of the Pack by David Rosenfelt

Leader of the Pack by David Rosenfelt

Genre: Mystery
Series: #10 in the Andy Carpenter series
Publisher: Listen and Live Audio
Publication Date: 2012
Length: 6 hours, 58 minutes
Read by: Grover Gardner
Source: Library

The Short Version:
I read many of the first books in this series but once I switched to the audio versions narrated by Grover Gardner I won’t go back to the print versions.

Why I Read It:
This has been one of my favorite series for several years. When the new one came out I asked my library to order the audio because I love Grover Gardner's narration.

The Book:
From the publisher:
Over the course of his legal career, Andy Carpenter has lost a few cases. But that doesn’t mean he forgets his clients. Andy has always been convinced that Joey Desimone, a man convicted of murder nine years ago, was innocent and believes that Joey’s family’s connections to organized crime played a pivotal role in his conviction. While there isn’t much Andy can do for him while he serves out his prison sentence, Joey suggests that he check up on Joey’s elderly uncle. He’d rather not, but as a favor to Joey, Andy agrees to take his dog, Tara, on a few visits.

The old man’s memory is going, but when Andy tries to explain why he’s there, it jogs something in the man’s mind, and his comments leave Andy wondering if Uncle Nick is confused, or if he just might hold the key to Joey’s freedom after all this time.

Andy grabs on to this thread of possibility and follows it into a world where the oath of silence is stronger than blood ties, and where people will do anything to make sure their secrets are kept.

My Thoughts:
I’ve always had a good time with the Andy Carpenter series even though they’ve been rather formulaic. This time around there are a few differences. While Andy’s dog Tara is still around there’s less of a dog-centric theme to this book than there has been in others. That turns out to be a bit of a refreshing change. There’s still plenty of humor mixed in but it feels slightly less forced than in the past couple of books.

The story moved fast and had plenty of twists and turns. The recurring character continue to add plenty of fun and Andy is still his sarcastic and somewhat lazy self but when he believes in a client he won’t stop until he has to.

A couple of my favorite quotes

Andy would really rather watch sports than just about anything
"I've got an idea, Andy."
Uh, oh. Laurie's ideas often involve my expending energy by actually doing things, and today I really just want to plant myself in front of a large-screen TV in the den. I'm so looking forward to total relaxation that I bought a bag of already-popped popcorn so I don't have to deal with the microwave.

He’s persistent when he’s on a case
Ryerson's refusal to talk to me is in a strange way sort of encouraging. I'm fairly well known, and he could easily have me checked out. Because I've been so persistent, I would think that he would talk to me, at least to find out what I'm calling about. If he didn't talk to me personally, he could have an associate or a lawyer learn what the issue is about.
The fact that he doesn't do those things means he probably knows what it's about, and doesn't want to deal with it. And if he doesn't want to deal with it, that could be because it's problematic for him.

His approach to planning his case is to go with the flow
I have no set way that I do it; I go by instinct, and often it depends on the way I feel the jury reacted to the prosecution's evidence. In that sense for me it's more art than science, though in real life I usually pick science over art ninety-nine times out of a hundred. The only exception is when I'm pretending to be touched by art so that Laurie will think I'm sensitive.

As for the narration, Grover Gardner is the reason I now prefer audio to print for this series. He’s great at conveying Andy’s personality. Here is a clip of him reading the section that includes one of the quotes I have above but my favorite part of this is the very end of the clip. Don’t stop this until the very end.



3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration



SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

>> Thursday, December 13, 2012

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Series: #1 in the Miss Maple series
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: Originally published 1930. This edition 1992
Pages: 210
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
The first novel featuring Miss Marple has her solving a murder which has everyone including the local police baffled.

Why I Read It:
I read a collection of short stories featuring Miss Marple last year and enjoyed them. I’ve had this first novel featuring her for a while and the time finally felt right to dive in.

The Book:
From the publisher:

The first Miss Marple mystery, one which tests all her powers of observation and deduction.

“Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,” declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, “would be doing the world at large a favor!”

It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later—when the Colonel is found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.

My Thoughts:
I like Miss Marple. She’s a busybody and she doesn’t miss a thing that happens in the village St. Mary Mead. Her gift for observation and her talent for listening both to what people say as well as what they don’t say.

As with many of the short stories I’ve read it seems that pretty much everyone in town had a reason and an opportunity to kill Colonel Protheroe, The lies build upon each other and it seems that Miss Marple is the only one who can keep them straight.

The shadow of suspicion weaves in and out among the characters and I changed my mind several times about who I thought had committed the murder. The comments dropped here and there by Miss Marple are both entertaining and provide clues but as usual she’s way ahead of me and had me surprised when she revealed her solution.

It was fun to read more than a short story by Agatha Christie and I will definitely be reading more of these. I think I’ll continue with the Miss Marple series for now. I haven’t read any of the Hercule Poirot stories yet but eventually I’ll get to those.


3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #165

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunset in Ixtapa Mexico
February 2012

Click on photo to view full size

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here

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Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham et al.

>> Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fables Volume 1:  Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham et al.

Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham et al.

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)
Series: #1 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 128
Source: Library


The Short Version:
All your favorite fairy tale characters are living in New York and it looks like one of them killed Rose Red.

Why I Read It:
When I first started reading graphic novels last year this was the series everyone recommended and I knew I wanted to start it but I decided to catch up with the shorter Unwritten series before I started Fables. Now I can immerse myself in this series

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-5 of the comic series.

From the publisher:

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society-within an exclusive luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side-called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Bigby, Fabletown's sheriff, and a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the culprit is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

My Thoughts:
Well, let me put it this way. As soon as I finished this I handed it to The Hubster and told him to put his current book aside and read this before I had to take it back to the library.

I am so looking forward to continuing with this series. This is what comics for adults should be. There’s mystery, adventure, humor and while the characters are familiar they’re presented in a wonderful way that takes their stories far beyond the fairy tales I knew.

Snow White is divorced from Prince Charming and he’s an absolute cad. Bigby Wolf (as in Big. B. Wolf) is probably my favorite character at this point. He’s the sheriff of fabletown and it’s up to him to find out what happened to Rose Red. He’s a bit of a compilation of some of my favorite mystery detectives. He’s clearly troubled and I’m looking forward to learning more about him.

This volume about the mystery of what happened to Rose Red is also an introduction to the characters, their history and setting. It definitely is a stage setting volume and I absolutely want more. Luckily there are about a gazillion volumes and spin-offs to keep me going for a while.

The story is fun and entertaining, the artwork both tells key parts of the story and sets the mood and atmosphere. Characters are portrayed in a way that’s true to how I knew them from the original stories yet wholly original and completely new.

I owe a huge THANK YOU to Beth Fish Reads and Kailana at The Written World for telling me about this series and continuing to encourage me to read it.

If you don’t think you’d want to read comics, think again and get yourself to a library or bookstore and pick up this book.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Weekend Update December 9, 2012

>> Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:

I finished reading Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. This was a fun first in a cozy mystery series that I really enjoyed. I’ll definitely be continuing with it. It’s lighthearted and the setting in 1930’s London is great,

So that means I’m finally back to reading Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. I’d put that aside while I was focusing on books I wanted to read and post about for last week’s Cozy Mystery Week. I think after I finish Murder at the Vicarage I’ll start Michael Koryta’s The Ridge. It fits the last category I need for the What’s in a Name 5 Challenge and is a book that’s been languishing on my TBR list for too long anyway.

On audio I finished listening to Leader of the Pack by David Rosenfelt. It’s the latest in his Andy Carpenter series. I have to say that after finishing it I wondered if it might be the last in this series, but I see that he has another one coming out next year. I’ll be sticking with the audio format for this series because I really enjoy Grover Gardner’s narration of these characters.

My new audiobook is Death Without Company by Craig Johnson. As with the first book in the Walt Longmire series, it’s narrated by George Guidall. Walt Longmire is a great character and I also enjoy the recurring secondary characters in this series. I highly recommend the audio format if you’re considering reading this series.

I also read a graphic novel this week. I finally read the first in the Fables series by Bill Willingham. Fables: Legends in Exile is about all your favorite fairy tale characters but they’ve been exiled from their homeland and are living a rather underground existence in contemporary New York City. I can already tell that I’m going to love this series. I’m going to try to get The Hubster to read these.

This week I’m going to start the 6th in the Unwritten series for my next graphic novel.


Other than books and reading:
Holiday madness is beginning to ramp up in Portland. On the days I work downtown the feeling of festive yet frantic is definitely in the air.

We took yesterday to have a fun day downtown. We got our Christmas picture taken with The University of Oregon Duck at the university bookstore downtown. Yes it’s kind of goofy but fun.

We also spent some time at Pioneer Courthouse Square listening to Tuba Christmas. I’ve heard about this event for years but always after it was over. This year I went searching for the date so we could go. Such fun. Unfortunately the musicians were mostly under a tent so photos didn’t turn out that great but the music was wonderful. I never expected that Carol of the Bells played by tubas and euphoniums would be so beautiful.

Tuba Christmas at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square
Tuba Christmas at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square
Check out the Tuba Christmas Website to see if there’s one planned anywhere near you. It’s really lots of fun.

Browsing my other phone photos from this week . . .

Abby knows that the back of our recliners is the only place she’s really allowed to sleep on furniture and she takes full advantage of it.
sprawled on the chair
It's a recliner right? I'm reclining.

I took this photo of the skylight at the mall downtown the other day and for some reason it makes me think of the Wonkavator from Willy Wonka. Mostly I just like this picture a lot.
Pioneer Place Skylight
Pioneer Place Skylight

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Audiobook – Death of a Gossip by M.C Beaton

>> Friday, December 7, 2012

Death of a Gossip by M.C Beaton

Death of a Gossip by M.C Beaton

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: #1 in the Hamish Macbeth series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 1999 Recorded Books (Book originally published 1985)
Length: 4 hours, 35 minutes
Read by: Davina Porter
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
Small town constable Hamish Macbeth doesn’t rush into much of anything but with a body turns up in a local fishing pool he’s got plenty of suspects.

Why I Read It:
I gave up on the author’s Agatha Raisin series because of the unlikeable title character. I’ve had several friends recommend this series though and with Davina Porter narrating I knew I’d at least enjoy listening to her.

The Book:
From the publisher:
Lady Jane Hamilton, one of the guests at the Lochdubh School of Casting, is positively ruining everyone’s holiday with her knack for digging up nasty secrets. As the week-long fishing class progresses, she gives each person there a reason to hate her. But figuring out which one of them would go so far as to commit murder is trickier than catching a Lochdubh salmon.

My Thoughts:
I have mixed thoughts on this one. I liked Hamish Macbeth. He’s got a quick wit and is smarter than most people give him credit for. I also liked the setting in the Scottish Highlands. Davina Porter’s narration was enjoyable. She remains one of my favorite audiobook narrators and salvaged this book for me.

On the other hand one of the primary characters in this particular episode reminded me of many of the things I disliked about Agatha Raisin and why I quit that series. Alice is one of the attendees at the fishing school and one of the initial suspects in the murder. She is also pathetically desperate to get married and ridiculously stupid and annoying. I kind of wished she had been the murder victim.

The rest of the story was fine and despite the fishing parts of the story which I honestly didn’t let sit in my brain long enough to register I did find myself trying to figure out who the killer was. The story was really not that well put together and the attempt to give everyone a possible motive was more irritating than interesting.

On the other hand, all of those elements that I disliked are definitely particular to this first book in the series. I’m not ready to give up on the series and I’ve got the next one requested from the library. I’m hoping that folks who have read or listened to more of this series can reassure me that they get better.

2 stars Rating 2/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration


This post is for Cozy Mystery Week hosted by Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves.




SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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