Saturday, October 31, 2015

This Week's Menu plus Menu Planning

It's always been interesting to me how dinner is handled in different houses.  Growing up my parents kind of shared the dinner duty but they were light on the planning.  Most nights involved a last minute trip to the grocery store and dinner was usually around 8.  My best friend growing up's house was the exact opposite.  They had a monthly menu plan that they stuck to completely with no deviations and dinner was at 5PM sharp no exceptions.

I think I fall somewhere in between.  I do 2 week menu plans but I kind of pick and choose which meal we're having on the day of based off what I feel like.  I do my menu plan and grocery list at the same time (in 2 different notebooks because I have a system!) and I try to limit grocery shopping to once every 2 weeks but generally have to make a stop in between for a couple of things.

This coming week my family will be eating (most likely)

Sunday: Out - because after all the Halloween madness I'm not going to feel like cooking though I might not feel like getting out of my pajamas so it may be takeout!

Monday: Chicken in Dijon Cream Sauce from Carla Hall's Carla's Comfort Food cookbook and the Pioneer Woman's Delicious Creamy Mashed Potatoes, pinto beans

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday which around here translates to fajitas.  I use this flour tortilla recipe from Mom on Timeout, saute some chicken with fajita seasoning and then we have shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, and pickled red onions (though that's mostly for me)

Wednesday: Garlic and Vinegar Glazed Pork Chops with Scallions from the Chopped Cookbook and brown rice, sugar snap peas

Thursday: Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Scampi from Diary of a Recipe Collector.  I haven't tried anything from this blog before so I'm really curious to see how this recipe turns out.  It looks tasty and I like the look of her blog so I have high hopes.  And a salad

Friday: Tortellini Carbonara from Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook.  This is one of the few things the Tornado eats and it heats up beautifully so I always double the recipe.

Saturday:  This is kind of a freebie.  We may pick something up or go out to eat or I may make one of the meals that I always have the ingredients on hand for like - Stuffed Pizza Sticks from Southern Plate (we call it Inside Out Pizza) or Easy Chicken Ranch Tacos from Six Sisters Stuff

There will also be bread on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday but I tend to pick the recipe that day depending on how if I have time for a yeast bread or a quick bread.

Extras: Every week I like to tackle a fun recipe.  Sometimes it happen and sometimes not so much.  This week I'd like to try Geoffrey Zakarian's Cinnamon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting from his My Perfect Pantry cookbook.
Also, instead of getting my dad a Christmas or birthday gift I basically do a Cookie of the Month club because the man is impossible to buy for.  We made this agreement a couple of years ago and he enjoys getting a different batch of cookies every month and I enjoy experimenting.  For the November entry I'm planning on making Milk Chocolate Thumbprints from Fat Witch Bake Sale which I got from the library last week.

So how does dinner work at your house?  Do you plan or are you more spontaneous?

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Linkups: Disney After Dark

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

The Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
If you could give away any books instead of Candy to Trick or Treaters what would the titles be?

My Answer:
Hmmm... This is a tough one.  I think I'd give away books from the Magic Treehouse series.  My older kids loved them when they were in elementary school and they were the first series that got two of mine reading for pleasure.  Plus they have some scarier titles that would be good for Halloween.

I came across this week's book the other day while looking for books for the Tornado at the library.  We've started reading chapter books at bedtime.  Right now he's enjoying Geronimo Stilton, The Magic Tree House Books, and the Mercy Watson books (he's 5).  I have a feeling that The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson might be too intense for him for a few years but I'm really looking forward to it.  The idea of Walt Disney World really coming alive is just a fascinating concept!

The Beginning:
He found himself standing next to the flagpole in Town Square, in the heart of the Magic Kingdom.  In his pajamas.

My Thoughts:
I love Disney World so the beginning makes me happy though I do wonder why he's wearing his pajamas!

The 56: 
"I told you:things are happening in the park.  We - you and your friends, actually - need to stop them."

My Thoughts:
I haven't gotten to this part of the book so I have no idea what's going on but it sounds like an adventure.  I'm kind of sad that my older kids aren't younger because I think Emma and Eleanor would have loved these books.  It would be fun reading before a trip to Disney!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beyond the Books: My Anti-Bucket List

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's question is - What's on my anti-bucket list?

My Anti-bucket list, or things that I absolutely won't do, isn't really that long but I'm definitely determined to never do any of them!

1.  Bungee Jumping, Skydiving, or pretty much anything else that feels like falling - I so don't like the falling feeling.  I actually like roller coasters a lot but only the ones with lots of quick turns.  Any of them that centers around a long fall does not make the cut.

2.  Scuba Diving - I actually got pretty close to scuba diving when I was 19 and on the fearless side but ended up not being able to do it due to my asthma. After that my desire just evaporated and now the idea of going down deeper than I could regularly swim (which isn't all that deep - I'm not a good swimmer) with my source of air strapped to my back freaks me out.

3.  African Safari - A few reasons why this is a no go.  1. My idea of roughing it is an Embassy Suites.  2.  I'm quite sure there would be mosquitoes and other bite-y bugs and those love me so I'd be an itchy bumpy mess.  3.  While we wouldn't be there to hunt I'm sure other people would and then I'd probably have to hear about it and while I'm not against hunting in general the less I know the happier I am.

4.  Hiking the Appalachian Trail - See reasons 1 and 2 against the African Safari.  I'm also incredibly paranoid and am sure that a Criminal Minds style murderer would find me if I was sleeping outside.

5.  Running a Marathon - I'm good, thanks.  Running and I don't get along.

So what's on your anti-bucket list?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nine Lives - Review

Nine Lives: A Lily Dale Mystery by Wendy Corsi Staub
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  After the death of her husband, Bella Jordan and her son need a fresh start.  But on their way to visit family in Chicago they stop in Lily Dale, New York and a storm forces them to spend the night.
Brimming with psychics and mediums, Lily Dale is just the kind of quirky little town Bella's husband always talked about settling down in.  So, when the local hotel's owner, Leona, passes away, Bella agrees to step in and help temporarily.  The longer she and Max stay there, the more Lily Dale starts to feel like home.
But for Bella, finding a home means finding danger, too.  Leona was murdered, and it's up to Bella to track down the killer before her sanctuary comes crashing down.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I was intrigued by the Lily Dale connection and this is an author I've been wanting to read.

My Impression:  One of the interesting things about being a reader is that I seem to pick up bits and pieces on information on a wide range of subjects.  Lily Dale is one of those bits and pieces.  Before this book I knew quite a bit about it - or at least about it during its early days - but I have no idea where I picked up any of it.  It was fun to see this community come to life through Bella's eyes.
I also enjoyed getting to know Bella, Max, and Chance the Cat.  They were likable characters (especially Chance the Cat) and my heart broke for all Max had lost and I could feel Bella's exhaustion seeping through the pages.
This isn't one of those books where the mystery shows up right away but pretty much as soon as Bella lands in Lily Dale it's obvious that something's up.  Chance the Cat seems to be able to walk through walls, stuff is disturbed that shouldn't be, and it becomes obvious that things aren't as they appear with Leona's death.  This isn't so much an active investigation as an unraveling and Bella realizing that something is really wrong with some help from friends, Odelia and Luther.
It took me a little while to really get pulled into the story but once Bella and Max land in Lily Dale I became more involved.  The book is written in present tense (she goes to her car, he runs through the foyer, etc) which is definitely not my favorite and it took me a little longer to be pulled into the story as a result.  There were a few times I wanted to reach into the book and shake Bella.  I got why she was moving to Chicago but there are a few opportunities offered to her during the course of the book and I wanted her to at least try to make the most of them since living with her mother-in-law sounded so miserable.
I really enjoyed the setting and getting to know the characters.  I'm curious to see where the series goes from here.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  I would.  I liked the characters she introduced and I enjoyed this book.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes, this was an interesting setting with interesting characters and made for an overall enjoyable read.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Halloween Movies

This week the topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a Halloween freebie.  My first thought was for ghost stories but I used that a couple of weeks ago.  So today I'm doing My Top Ten Halloween movies (well 8 and 2 I want to watch this year)

1.  The Conjuring - I loved this movie!  It was one I ended up watching covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers.  And no one was allowed to clap around me for at least 2 week!

2.  Annabelle - Seriously why would anyone want the doll in the movie??  And why would you put it in a baby's room?  Nothing good will come of it!

3.  Amityville Horror - I think I've watched everything about this story - documentaries, the original movie, and the new movie.  I think the new movie was actually pretty good.  Ryan Reynolds did a good job of losing his mind and the special effects from the first movie were toned down a bit.

4.  Young Frankenstein - And on a completely different note is this hilarious bit of craziness with Gene Wilder.

5.  It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - This is one of my absolute favorite movies and the Tornado loves it too.  When he was 3 he used to just watch it on repeat but now at 5 he still enjoys it.

6.  The Haunting - By The Haunting I'm referring to the 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.  While I have a couple of issues with casting this movie has some seriously creepy bits and is responsible for why I can never let my hand hang off the edge of the bed.

7.  Paranormal Activity - This movie was sneaky.  We watched it on the Tornado's first Halloween when he was too little to go trick or treating or anything but we still wanted to do something Halloween-y.  I was enjoying it but wasn't scared and then suddenly I realized that you couldn't have paid me to go upstairs by myself!

8.  The Ring - This was the first movie in awhile that scared me senseless!  Seriously terrifying.  This was one I had to watch through my fingers.  I'm not sure why that helps but it does!

9.  Sleepy Hollow - I'm hoping to watch the Johnny Depp version of this movie this week.  Somehow I never saw it but I love the story so was excited to see that it's on Netflix.

10. The Birds - I've been wanting to watch this movie since I read and was terrified by Daphne du Maurier's novella by the same name.  It was Hitchcock's inspiration for the movie.  I never understood how birds could be scary until I read that book.  Now I can't wait!

So what's your favorite Halloween movie?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Trick or Deceit - Review

Trick or Deceit Mystery (A Celebration Bay Mystery) by Shelley Freydont (Amazon Link)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: Purchased
Description:  This October in Celebration Bay you can't hit a black cat without hitting a haunted house.  There are three finalists in the contest for the town's official Haunted House, and ten thousand dollars will go to the winner, with the rest of the contributions and proceeds funding a new community center.  Event coordinator Liv Montgomery has invited her friend Jonathan Preston, the debonair CEO of a philanthropic organization, hoping he will award a grant to the center.
But after the Museum of Yankee Horrors wins first prize, the transformed Victorian boarding house is vandalized... and among the scattered mannequins of Hester Pyrnne, Lizzie Borden, and the Headless Horseman, a real dead body is found - one of the contest judges.  Now in addition to playing host to Jon, Liv has to play detective and coordinate the clues to unmask a self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I thoroughly enjoyed Freydont's historical mystery, A Gilded Grave, and wanted to try this new book in the Celebration Bay series.

My Impression:  First off - can Celebration Bay be a real place?  Please?  It'd be high up on my travel itinerary if it was.  I mean if you get rid of all the murder the holiday celebrations sound like lots of fun!
While this is not the first book in the series it was the first one I've read and this is an easy series to jump into.  I immediately got to know Liv, Ted and the rest of the Celebration Bay residents.  I liked that Liv is still getting settled in and getting used to living in a small town but isn't angsty about it and the town has funding problems like most small towns do.
The mystery itself gets started pretty early in the book and there are tons of misdirection, red herrings and distractions.  I liked that Liv relied on the gossip mill for information but did report to the sheriff if she though of anything or discovered anything of importance.  I enjoyed watching Liv deal with all the drama of fundraising and dealing with small town politics and I especially liked that she does have a support team and isn't all on her own.
I did figure out the solution fairly early on but I enjoyed seeing how it all unraveled.  I'm also looking forward to seeing more of these characters and getting to know them better.  I'm hoping to see more of Yolanda especially.  I'm planning on getting the rest of the series and reading the books near each of the holidays they're set around.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you like mysteries on the cozier side I think you would enjoy this and the holiday festivals are an extra bit of fun.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

This Week in Reading - October 25

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle - I love Carlisle's series about book restorer Brooklyn Wainwright is one of my favorites so I'm really looking forward to starting this new Home Improvement series. (paperbackswap)

Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova - A writer who goes back to working in family restaurant combines 2 of my favorite things - bookish characters and food.  (paperbackswap)

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller: Curse of the Ruby Necklace by Francine Pascal - I'm madly in love with the podcast called Super Serials where they talk about a middle grade book each week.  So far they mostly cover older books and while I devoured all the Babysitter's Club books as a kid and remember them really well I'm not sure I ever read a Sweet Valley Twin book.  This is the book they'll be discussing this week and it's extra fun if you've read the book.  (paperbackswap)


Reading:  I'm finishing up Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub and then I'm planning on starting Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott.   I'm also reading (still) Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie.

Listening: I just finished listening to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming and read by David Tennant.  It was fabulous and I'm hoping Tennant will narrate a lot more books.  I would listen to anything he reads.  I'm still loving my podcasts and have kind of narrowed my listen list down to 3 - Super Serials which is my favorite, Dancing with the Stars Afterbuzz, and the Readers.  If you read Babysitter's Club or Goosebumps as a kid you MUST listen to Super Serials though not in front of small children as the language isn't something you want your kindergartner repeating.

Watching: I've been catching up on Masterpiece Theater's Poirot episodes and am trying to watch all the ones I've read so far this year.  It's interesting to see what changes they've made to the story.  Sometimes the ending is changed and the story is barely recognizable and other times it's pretty close.  

Off the Blog:

So the big news here at the Library is that Paul has signed his deferred enlistment papers for the Marines which basically means he has committed to the Marines and will be leaving for basic after he graduates from high school in May.  He's been thinking about it for awhile and we've been discussing it for a few months and J actually went with him to sign the papers.  I'm in between panic and pride at the moment though I have a feeling there will definitely be times when panic takes over!

On the non-life altering front I'm still struggling with allergies which is really causing my reading to take a hit.  Because my eyes are swollen I'm having a hard time focusing on print and all the allergy medicine is making me tired so I've been going to bed early quite a bit this week.  This has also caused my blog visiting to take a hit and we're not even going to talk about comment replying.  Don't give up on me though!  I love comments and read them all even though my replying sucks.  I will get better soon!  Promise!

This week will be all about Halloween here.  I've got a couple of Halloween treats that the Tornado always enjoys that I'm planning on making and we have his school party Wednesday and a costume party for his soccer team on Saturday before some old school trick or treating.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Trick or Deceit - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Halloween Movies
Wednesday: Nine Lives - Paranormal Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Beyond the Bucks: My Anti-Bucket List
Friday: Linkups With Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Review

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (Amazon link)
Rating: 2 Stars
Source: Gift
Description:  This guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari method for simplifying, organizing and storing.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book:  Who doesn't want to be tidier?  Plus I kept seeing the book everywhere so I couldn't resist.

My Impression:  I felt like there was quite a bit lost in translation and definitely a cultural gap with this one.  On a large scale I'm not sure how the KonMari method would work in American homes where the layouts and purpose is so different from Japanese homes.  A lot of the more general home organizing advice I just didn't find applicable.  The chapter on books just hurt.  I'm not getting rid of all the books I haven't read or hiding my bookshelves in a closest.
Not to say this book was a waste of time.  I did get inspired to really clean out my closet and drawers and I'm intrigued by the idea of vertical folding.  I also came to a realization that I should just toss all those accumulating magazines that are taking up space and that I'm honestly never going to read.  But there's a lot of repetition and the language is stilted and a little disjointed (I'm guessing this is from the translation).  While there was some interesting information I think the book could've been consolidated into a magazine article with much the same results.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Probably not.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Eh - it was okay and it's a short read so if you really need inspiration for clearing out this isn't a bad read.  I'd get it from the library or borrow a copy instead of buying it though.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Linkups: Read It and Weep

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Name one book you've read in the past that still haunts you today?

My Answer:
The first 3 Patricia Cornwell books terrified me.  Postmorten has me nervous every time I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I heard a sound.  Thanks to Body of Evidence losing my luggage makes me panic and traveling as a couple never felt completely safe after All That Remains.

This week's book is Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay.  This series is kind of my happy place of cozy mysteries.  There's a library, there's a small town in Maine (has anyone noticed that Maine has a lot of mystery series set there?  There's tons of cozy mystery series and that's not even counting Jessica Fletcher or Stephen King), there a murder, there's food, and I like the characters.

The Beginning:
"Of course you're all going to audition for the play," Violet La Rue said.

My Thoughts:
I know from the blurb on this one that the play is a major focus on the story.  I have a feeling Lindsey, the main character, is getting talked into something she's really not sold on!

The 56:
She was always first on the list for the newest Debbie Macomber books, and she doted on Dylan, who was her only child.

My Thoughts:
Not the most exciting teaser but I absolutely love how characters are described by the books they check out!

So what is your happy place series?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dead Bolt - Review

Dead Bolt: A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery by Juliet Blackwell
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: Purchased

Description: Turner Construction's latest restoration project is a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco.  This time general contractor Mel Turner has to work around the owners who insist on sticking around - along with some ghosts that insist in their own way that the work stops.
The ghosts aren't the only ones standing in the way of the renovations.  A crotchety neighbor, Emile Blunt, secretly wants the house, and could be behind some of the disturbances.  But when Emile is found dead, it's Mel who appears guilty.  Now she must restore the building - and her reputation - before it's too late. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I really like Blackwell's writing style and can't resist a book with home renovation.  Plus, I really enjoyed the first book in the series.

My Impression:  I love a home renovation story and if you throw ghosts in I'm even happier.  This was a fast paced read.  I really like Mel.  She's a good contractor and a tough woman in a male dominated field but she still loves her sequins.  I also like how positive her relationship with her former stepson is.  It's nice to see a step-parent/step-child relationship portrayed in a positive light.

Mystery-wise I think it did suffer a little bit from 2nd Book Syndrome.  Mel is willing to admit that ghosts are a thing but at this point has only had one experience (aka the first book in the series) so is kind of in a weird in between of belief/not belief and it takes her a long time to come up with a plan.  This kind of makes the book feel disjointed and almost like it's a place holder.  There are mysteries - one involving the living and the other not so much - but I felt like they need to be fleshed out a little more.  By the end Mel seems to have found her stride and her focus so I have a feeling the 3rd book is going to be fantastic!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I will.  I'm looking forward to the 3rd book in this series and she has another series featuring a witch who owns a vintage clothing shop that I'd like to try.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Read the 1st book and then get this one.  This is a fun read but the first one is better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Guaranteed to Bleed - Review

Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern (Amazon Link)
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  With his dying breath, Bobby Lowell begs Ellison Russell, "Tell her I love her."
Unable to refuse, Ellison struggles to find the girl the murdered boy loved.  Too bad an epically bad blind date, a vindictive graffiti artist, and multiple trips to the emergency room keep getting in the way.
Worse, a killer has Ellison in his sights, her newly-rebellious daughter missing, and there's yet another body in her hostas.  Mother won't be pleased.
Now Ellison must track down not one but two runaway teenagers, keep her promise to Bobby and elude the killer - all before her next charity gala committee meeting.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I heard great things about the first book in this series so I was quick to grab the 2nd book of NetGalley.

My Impression: I've been on a roll of mediocre books or books that were just continuous depression. I had seen some positive reviews of this book and the first book looked great so I was hoping this would be the book to break my ho-hum streak.  And it did not disappoint!  Right away I was drawn into the book. From the beginning I liked Ellison and she's a character I really connected to easily.
Ellison is an interesting character to me because unlike what frequently happens in books she doesn't necessarily like brunching with her mother or dealing with the more society things she's supposed to do but she does them because she's supposed too.  I also like that while her relationship with her mother wasn't all unicorns and rainbows it isn't all negative.  There are times when her mother drives Ellison crazy but there are also times she really comes through for her.  This just felt more realistic to me.
And while we're talking about realism the way Ellison got involved in the murder made sense too.  The victim was someone that she knew and she felt like she was supposed to honor his dying request.  Her goal isn't to solve the murder it's to find the girl Bobby was in love with.  If she comes across something related to the murder she tells the police and the times she doesn't also make sense because it involves a child and she has no proof.
The 70s time period isn't over done.  I didn't feel like certain expressions or slang were pulled out just as window dressing.  Instead in showed up in subtle ways - like answering the phone and being surprised who was at the other end because there's no Caller ID or Ellison not being able to get in touch with Grace because she's not at home or a mention of Grace making a crazy amount of noise because she's wearing Dr. Scholls sandals on wood floors.
Overall, I found this to be a well done and incredibly entertaining mystery.  I liked the characters, loved the author's writing style, and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I've heard her next book won't be the next in this series but I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  If you enjoy a good mystery this is a great read.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Wishes I Want From the Book Genie

This week's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is My Top Ten Wishes From the Book Genie.  Can this be a thing?  Because a Book Genie would be really useful!

1.  I wish that Beverly Connor would write another book - I LOVE Beverly Connor's books.  Her Lindsay Chamberlain mysteries are awesome (except for 1 or 2 at the beginning) and her Diane Fallon remind me very much of Bones.  She's had that a book is coming soon on her website for 3 or 4 years now with no change.  I despair of there being another one.

2.  I wish I could pause time to get more reading done - I have so many books I really want to read but my reading time gets squeezed in at night and I can't read nearly as much as I want to because I do need to get a little sleep.  A pause button would be nice!

3.  I wish I would never have a reading slump - After a bunch of mediocre reads I'm kind of in one right now and I just don't have time for it!  Looking over my book list I'm just kind of meh about all of them and I need something to snap me out quick!

4.  I wish I could tell immediately that a book wasn't going to work for me - I can't even count how many times I've been all excited or intrigued by a book and then come to find it just isn't for me.  I wish instead of reading to page 50 (or sometimes to the bitter end) I could tell just by looking that I wasn't going to love it.

5.  I wish every book with a great cover lived up to the cover - I love a good cover and it frequently increases my interest in a book but how often does a great cover end up containing a not so good book?

6.  I wish I could have a TARDIS for book storage - Here's the thing - I don't really own that many books.  I use paperbackswap to get rid of most of the books I've read - especially regular paperbacks, I use the library a lot, and most of my review books are ebooks.  Plus I have a decent number of bookcases.  BUT somehow the books have spread.  The smaller bookcase I keep for my fiction that I tend to trade is double stacked and crammed full.  And then there's the boxes under the bed and then there's the stacks situated all around the boxes.  It's becoming a problem!  So a TARDIS would be fab.  Especially if it just looked like a box but could just contain an infinite amount in a way that I could access the books easily.  That's not too much to ask right?

7.   I wish I could immediately get comfortable when reading - I think by nature I'm fairly high strung and I don't idle well so even though I really love to read and really want to snuggle up and read I always have a hard time getting comfortable.  If I can manage to sit down and not come up with other things to do then I have a problem getting comfortable.  If I'm in a chair I don't know what to do with my legs or my feet go to sleep or I'm too cramped.  If I'm in bed I'm too slouched or my necks at a funny angle or the pillow isn't just right or the blankets are perfect.  For any of them I can be too thirsty, too itchy, too hot, too cold, too anything.  I would love to just be able to sit and be all nice and cozy immediately every time.

8.  I wish that my book budget was infinite - I started to wish that all books were free but I want to be sure authors get paid for them because I want them to keep writing so I'm going with an infinite budget!  Especially with cookbooks.  Seriously, I could spend a ridiculous amount of money just on cookbooks. I want them all

9.  I wish I literally lived in a library - or at least next door to one where I can access it after hours - Because sometimes I just want to bookshop in my pajamas but don't feel quite right leaving the house in them

10. I wish that everyone who wants access to books had as many as they needed and someone to really talk books with - I know I was lucky in that I had (and still have) access to fantastic public libraries and could bring home just piles of books that interested me.  Even better was that I have my Grandmother who is as big of a reader as me and was always willing to talk books.  I started reading adult books when I was probably 10 or 11 (there wasn't nearly as much YA at the time or it doesn't seem like there was) and we read a lot of mysteries together.  I think having someone to talk books with really intensifies the love of books.

So what bookish things would you wish for?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wendy Darling - Review

Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes
Rating: N/A
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller's son.  But while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children's nursery and - dazzled by the flying boy with godlike powers - they follow him out the window and straight on till morning, to Neverland, an intoxicating island of feral freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy's paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed.  As Peter's grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from - and begins to suspect that this island of dreams and the boy who desires her - has potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I adored Colleen Oakes' Queen of Hearts series so when I saw this new story by her I was so excited to see her new book - Wendy Darling.  Peter Pan is one of my absolute favorite movies (I've yet to read the book but more on that later) and the cover is absolutely spectacular so given my previous positive experiences with Colleen's work I couldn't hit Request fast enough.

My Impression:
For years I wanted to love salmon (stay with me - this is going somewhere logical really!).  It's the healthy eating golden child being low in the bad stuff and high in the good stuff.  Plus, so many people seem so devoted that I really felt I was missing something.  I'm not a big fish person and I'd been convinced that what I had tried was maybe just not well prepared but once I had some good salmon angels would sing and I would fall in love.  Then one day I was at a party and everyone was raving about how excellent the smoked salmon was and I thought "Ah ha!  I know this is good so I will try it and love it."  So I did and then I didn't.  At all.  Turns out salmon is just not for me.  This was apparently very good smoked salmon and lots of people really enjoyed it but I was stuck trying to figure out to dispose of my portion discreetly.
That's kind of how this book was.  There's nothing wrong with it.  In fact there's quite a lot right with it.  As I've come to expect from Oakes the writing is beautiful.  It's incredibly descriptive and dripping with atmosphere without being over word-y.  The characters are wonderfully and immediately well fleshed out that I could picture them immediately in my head.
BUT, it's dark and the characters are flawed and much more dimensional than the sweet little Wendy and the adventurous John and Michael of Disney film fame.  And for me I was back at the party trying to get rid of the salmon.  It just didn't work for me.  I want Wendy to be sweet with just a little bit of spunk and I want all the Darling children to get along.  I don't want there to be hidden secrets and jealousy and some pretty vicious sibling rivalry.  And this book is chock full of that plus some.  I've heard that the original book is a bit darker and I think that's one of the reasons I've avoided it.  It's also a reason why I probably should've avoided this one.  However, since my reaction was very personal and really had nothing to do with the merit of the book itself I'm not going to rate this one.  I did learn a pretty useful life lesson - if you really love a fairy tale a certain way skip the retelling.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  While I won't read more of this series I will definitely be looking for more books from Colleen Oakes.

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would definitely recommend Colleen Oakes as an author.  I've really enjoyed other books by her even though this one didn't work for me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

This Week in Reading - October 18

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss - I couldn't resist the title and the blurb sounded pretty good too.  (NetGalley)

The Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart - I'm no the blog tour for this book in December and I'm looking forward to reading it.  (NetGalley)

I also got a cookbook:
The Barefoot Contessa: Family Style by Ina Garten - I had gotten this one from the library awhile ago and saw it for about $1 used on amazon and couldn't resist.  I love her recipes!

I actually don't have any requests pending on NetGalley at the moment and I've left Edelweiss alone lately so there's a slight chance I might be making some progress on getting Mount Review under control.


Reading: Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern and Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

Listening:  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming.  While I've wanted to read this one for awhile what got it checked out this week is that it's narrated by David Tennant.  I couldn't resist!  I also found a very awesome podcast called Super Serial. It's like a weekly book club but they read Babysitter's Club books!  And sometimes Nancy Drew!  And some others but those are the 2 I'm the most excited about.  The language isn't particularly family friendly but I'm absolutely loving it.

Watching: I've been watching Rosewood and enjoying it.  It's still a crime show but different enough that it doesn't feel like every other one. I've also been loving the Holiday Baking Championship of Food Network.  It has me wanting to make some Halloween-y treats.

Off the Blog:

My allergies are driving me crazy!  I think it has something to do with cotton.  I don't know if it's the cotton itself since it's being harvested, something that gets sprayed on the cotton that gets stirred up as they pick it or something that happens to bloom at the same time.  All I know is that the bigger the stacks of bales get at the gin near me the worse my eyes get.  The good thing is that I know it's temporary.
Emma came home for a visit for part of the weekend which was nice.  She hasn't been home since she left for school in early August.  It was great to see her and it seems like she's adjusted pretty well to her new place.
I've kind of hit a reading slump.  I think it's mostly because a lot of the books I've been reading were just kind of okay and then I followed that up with a few books that were on the depressing side so I'm now just feeling really uninspired to pick up a book.  I don't think the allergies are helping because my eyes hurt and the medicine is making me a little sleepy but I need something to pull me out of this.  I'm hoping the Christmas romances I'm planning on starting soon will help.  Maybe light and fun is what I need.
I've gotten obsessed with taking the bookish quizzes on here.  It's making me realized that I need to get lots more books read because I'm woefully underread in the classics.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Wendy Darling - Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: My 10 Wishes I'd Make to the Book Genie
Wednesday: Guaranteed to Bleed - Review (maybe)
Thursday: Beyond the Books: Something I Found 
Friday: Linkups with Excerpts from Current Book
Saturday: Something foodie

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mexican Hot Chocolate Shortbread and the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

So here's a confession - I don't like pumpkin stuff.  I mean, pumpkins as a decorative object is pretty great but pumpkin as food is not so much.  I'm also good with it as a candle fragrance but all these pumpkin-y treats just leave me a bit cold.  I've really tried to like pumpkin stuff.  I really have but something about the texture and general flavor just don't work for me. So during the fall season when everyone is happily gobbling up pumpkin flavored everything I'm looking for something else that's fall-ish but not pumpkin.
And that's how these shortbread cookies came to be made.  I love shortbread in general.  I love the buttery goodness and the perfect simplicity of really good shortbread so I was a little hesitant about adding all this other stuff to it.

I love The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook from Cheryl and Griffith Day!  While it isn't the most unique of all the bakery cookbooks everything I've made from the book is amazingly delicious.  If I'm ever in Savannah The Back in the Day Bakery will definitely be on my itinerary
Mexican Hot Chocolate Shortbread
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder or finely ground coffee
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
about 1/4 cup granulated sugar for dusting

Line two cookie sheets with parchment
Whisk the flours together in a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bow, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter, vanilla, and almond extract until the mixture is pale in color, 1 to 2 minutes.  Turn the speed down to low, add the brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, espresso, salt, and cayenne pepper, and continue to mix until the mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the flour mixture in thirds until just combined.  With the mixer running, sprinkle in the chocolate chips, mixing until just combined.
Transfer the dough to another bowl and finish mixing by hand to make sure no bits of flour or butter are hiding on the bottom of the bowl and the dough is thoroughly mixed. (I didn't do this but I did mix carefully)
Use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies, about 1 rounded tablespoon each, and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch between the cookies to allow for spreading.
Flatten each cookie with a cookie stamp dusted with granulated sugar, or gently flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand and then dust the tops with sugar. (I used the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar) They will have little cracks in the top.  Refrigerate the cookies for at least 1 hour, or up to 5 hours.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350.  (I forgot about the oven position)
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time for even doneness.  Cool the cookies completely on wire racks.  Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

My Changes: I didn't have almond flour so I replaced it with just regular all purpose flour.  I left out the coffee because I just don't love coffee in cookies and used chili powder instead of cayenne pepper because that's what I had.

My Results: Rich chocolate-y spicy heaven.  The cayenne pepper doesn't make it super spicy but instead really exaggerates the spiciness of the cinnamon.  The texture is amazing.  The shortbread practically melts in your mouth but still holds together.  These will definitely be on my Christmas baking list.  They're delicious and chocolate-y but just unique enough to be interesting.

Next Time: I'll probably try to pump up the almond flavor since that didn't come out too much.  If I don't get the almond flour maybe I'll increase the amount of extract?

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Link Ups: Trick or Deceit

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question
You're having a costume party with the theme "Book Characters".  Who would you go as?

My Answer:
Well in the real world I'd probably go as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby because I have a dress and shoes that would work.  If I could be anything that I wanted to be and the perfect costume would just appear I'd like to go as Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables or wartime Penelope Keeling from The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.

Last year I did all kinds of Christmas reading so I decided to try to extend that to other holidays.  The most obvious for me was some Halloween mysteries and I just couldn't resist this cozy series by Shelley Freydont.  I love that the whole series is set in a town that does big seasonal celebrations and that this one - Trick or Deceit - is set around Halloween.  I haven't actually started this one yet as I'm finishing up the paranormal cozy mystery from last week but I'm excited to give this one a try.

The Beginning:
Liv Montgomery stopped at the bottom of the town hall steps to button her jacket.  A year before, she'd moved to Celebration Bay, New York, from Manhattan, complete with a totally new "country" wardrobe of corduroy, plaids, comfortable shoes, even a hat with earflaps.  Now she only brought out the earflaps when it was below ten degrees, which, being early October, it wasn't, and her jacket had finally lost its shiny, right-off-the-racks-at-L.L. Bean look.

My Thoughts:
I have a feeling I'd end up with a whole new wardrobe as well because I have nothing at all appropriate for living in New York cold-weather wise.  Plus, I'm a total wimp when it comes to temperature so I'm all about the ear flaps.

The 56:
But before she even stepped off the curb, the door to A Stitch in Time flew open.  A woman wearing black yoga pants and an oversized black sweater tunic swept out and onto the sidewalk.  She didn't slow down but strode straight across the street and stuck her open hand up to the man's face.

My Thoughts:
Since I haven't actually started this book yet I have absolutely no idea what's going on here.  But it sounds quite intriguing!  I'm thinking perhaps the man will get murdered and the woman will be suspected?  Or maybe vice versa?

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beyond the Books: 5 Things I Just Can't Handle

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's question is - What 5 Things Can You Just Not Handle?

I've always thought I was pretty good at not letting things get to me and at tuning things that irritate me out but I came up with this list in about 5 seconds and could probably easily double it.  I may not be quite as easy going as I thought!

1. Hiccups - The sound of hiccups sets my teeth on edge.  My kids (especially Paul) went through a phase where they would give themselves hiccups and it drove me crazy.  They (okay Paul) actually got in trouble for it a few times which always made me seem super mean "I got sent to my room for having hiccups" so they tease me abut it now.

2. The smell of tuna fish - I don't know if anyone actually enjoys the smell but my reaction is admittedly irrational.

3. Shopping carts left in the parking lot - Oh this drives me crazy!  The only time this doesn't send me into a rant is when the cart is in the handicapped parking area but pushed out of the way of people trying to park.  For that I figure there may be a reason.  But for all others PUT YOUR CART IN THE RACK!  And I HATE finding a decent parking space on a rainy day and starting to pull into only to find there's a cart smack in the middle and most of the time the return place is like 10 steps away.  I HATE this!

4.  Unorganized Crowds - I say unorganized because I don't really mind crowds in general but just crowds that are going every which way and you're constantly bumping into people, or you can't get past them or they're bumping into you.  Think Costco on a Saturday.  Seriously, just thinking about it has my stress level rising.

5.Olives - Olives ruin everything.  I don't like the flavor or texture and I can't just eat around it because the olive-ness just seeps into everything   I like lots of other Mediterranean flavors and I love feta cheese but olives are just bad.  I don't understand how people can just eat them straight.

So what 5 things can you just not handle?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Crime at Black Dudley - Review

The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  The Black Dudley is an ancient, remote mansion inhabited by recluse, Colonel Combe, but owned by Wyatt Petrie, a young academic who decides to revive his property with a weekend party to which he invites his friends and colleagues.  Among the guests in George Abbershaw, a renowned doctor and pathologist who is occasionally summoned by Scotland Yard to help with consulting mysterious deaths.  Abbershaw hopes that the leisurely weekend at Black Dudley will help him to get acquainted with red-haired Meggie Oliphant whom he quietly admires.  Little does he suspect that instead he will be involved in a series of extraordinary and dangerous incidents which unravel one by one in the gloomy mansion and split the party. (from Amazon)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I love classic British mysteries but Allingham is one I haven't read much of so when the chance to review the 1st Campion book I couldn't resist!

My Impression:  Going in to this one I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  While I love classic mysteries they can tend to be a little dry and can be very dated.  So I was a little surprised to find that the book pulled me in quickly and the story was fairly fast paced.
The mystery itself was interesting and I did really wonder who the murderer was and why.  I found Albert Campion intriguing and an interesting character.  In this book he seems more like Agatha Christie's Harley Quinn than an active detective.  He does more background work and facilitates Abbershaw's investigation.  I don't know if that is standard or if this is just something done at the beginning.  There are some hints and clues that Campion isn't quite the silly fool that he seems. He reminded me of Sayer's Peter Wimsey with his almost talking in riddles and frequently acting the fool wen there is considerably more going on but Campion seems less academic and with a more flexible moral compass.  I'm definitely curious to see if and how his character develops.
My only problem with this book is that the characters -other than Campion, Abbershaw and Meggie - were very flat.  This isn't all that unusual in this kind of mystery but they were so flat that I had a hard time remembering who was who which made the conclusion a little less satisfying.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  I'm quite curious to see where Campion goes from here.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy the classic British mysteries this is definitely one to read.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Canterville Ghost - Review

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (Amazon Link)

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Bought
Description:  This is Oscar Wilde's tale of the American family moved into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance of its tired ghost.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I had spooked myself reading a murder mystery one night and needed something a little lighter to make me not so jumpy and I'd been wanting to reread this one for awhile.

My Impression:  I can't remember the first time I read this story by Oscar Wilde.  It's one of my Grandmother's favorite books and she has several copies of it so I'm sure I picked it up one time when I was visiting her.
This is one of those stories that really should be better known.  It's short - somewhere between a short story and a novella at just over 50 pages - but manages to be stuffed with humor and quietly absurd situations.  There are several parts I laughed out loud at and it's a story I can visit again and again.  My main complaint is that I wish there were more!  I'd love more detail about the ghost and the family and just more of everything.
This is a good read for anyone who wants to read a Halloween-y book but doesn't like creepy and would be suitable for upper elementary age kids.  The language is a little more formal but doesn't feel too clunky.
There are several movies that are loosely based on this book and I'm hoping to watch at least a couple of them soon!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  While I've seen several of Wilde's stories in play form this is the only book I've read.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  If you haven't read this yet you really should.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Hidden - Review

The Hidden (Krewe of Hunters) by Heather Graham
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Can the same killer strike again - a hundred and fifty years later?
Estes Park, Colorado, is a place of serenity.  But it wasn't always so serene.  Shortly after the Civil War, Nathan Kendall and his wife were murdered there, leaving behind a young son.  The crime was never solved.
Now historian Scarlet Barlow is working at a small museum attached to a B and B, the same building where that murder occurred.  She recently came to Colorado, reeling after her divorce from FBI agent Diego McCullough.  Diego - who's just been asked to join the Krewe of Hunters, a unit dealing with "unusual" situations...
When Scarlet unwittingly takes pictures of people who've been murdered - just like the Kendalls a hundred and fifty years before - the police look at her with suspicion.  Then the museum's statues of historic people, including Nathan Kendall, begin to talk to her, and she knows it's time to call her ex-husband.  Diego heads to Estes Park, determined to solve the bizarre case that threatens Scarlet's life - and to reunite with the woman he never stopped loved.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Suspense

Why I Picked This Book: I always enjoy Heather Graham's stories and I really liked Diego's character from the previous book The Silenced.

My Impression:  The Krewe series is a very loosely connected paranormal romantic suspense series.  Each book features a crime with a paranormal element that is investigated by a member of the FBI Krewe of Hunter's unit.  You can jump in anywhere in the series without there being a problem.  We met Diego in The Silenced but you don't really need to read that book to understand what's going on.

The two primary characters - Scarlet and Diego - had been married before and both regretted the circumstances of the divorce.  I liked that these two had an established past and were both willing to own up to what they had done wrong in the relationship.  While insta-love is kind of the usual in a romantic suspense it was nice to not have that be the case.

The plot itself hooked me pretty much from the beginning.  I'd been kind of meh on her last two books but I really enjoyed this one.  The pacing was good and I was wondering what was going on until the very end.  There are a few discrepancies - an event happens towards the end that felt a bit to much even with the uniqueness of the Krewe and the logic that got to the solution was a bit of a jump.  However, I thought the paranormal aspect was well used and it had a good creepy feel to it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely!  I have a couple of her older Krewe books and a few books from another series sitting on my shelf that I'm excited to read and I can't wait to find out where the Krewe ends up next.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  While The Hexed is still my favorite this was a fun read.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This Week in Reading - October 11

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson - So there may have been some dancing when this approval came through.  I've been reading Bryson's books for years and while not all of them have landed on the Keeper Shelf I always enjoy reading them. (NetGalley)

Some Kind of Wonderful by Sarah Morgan - I enjoyed her previous series set at ski resort in Vermont and while I have the first one in the Puffin Island series I've yet to read it so now I have the 2nd one to give me some added encouragement to pick it up.  (NetGalley)

Empty Nest by Marty Wingate - This is another 2nd in a series where I haven't read the first but I have read another book by Marty Wingate and really enjoyed it.  I have the first in the series coming up soon and the premise of this one sounds fab. (NetGalley)


Reading: Dead Bolt by Juliet Blackwell and The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham

Listening: I'm still listening to the Podcasts and am loving them!  I've been listening to The Readers and have enjoyed that and found the Afterbuzz Station and have loved listening to the Dancing With the Stars discussions.  I don't know anyone who watches the show so it's kind of like talking it over with friends.  I've also found a few others I want to try.  I'm hoping to listen to You Must Remember This which talks about old Hollywood secrets and histories and Spilled Milk which is food related and Molly Wizenberg is one of the hosts.

Watching:  I've been gone all week so I didn't watch much TV.  J and I are watching The Middle and loving it.  We've watched for years and always enjoyed it but I'm extra loving it this year.  I also have been watching Scorpion which goes under the guilty pleasure category but so far it's fun.  And also football, lots of football!  Oh and Doctor Who!

Off the Blog:

Whew!  It is good to be home.  We had a great vacation.  My car was making a funny noise so we decided to rent a car for the drive down especially since J wasn't going with us.  It was fun to drive a new car and a car at that since I drive a pretty large SUV.  The actual renting part reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry tries to rent a car (You know how to TAKE the reservation but not HOLD the reservation which is the most important part OF the reservation).  Even though I made the reservation about 2 weeks ahead of time when I got there they weren't sure if they had a car for me and the didn't end up having one in the category I requested.  I finally got a full size sedan (I was going for a premium or luxury) which ended up working perfectly.  While everything worked out it annoyed me that it was so crazy.  I made a reservation with a major car rental place so I expected it to be a little more organized and them to actually have the car.  Crazy I know.
The vacation itself was nice.  We spent some time with my grandparents which is always good.  The Tornado and I did some crafts and Paul and his friend explored the land and swam in the river some so a good time was had by all.

Now I'm trying to get caught back up on laundry and sleep and getting ready for Halloween.  I'm still holding strong on not reading any Christmas books until after Halloween but I did slip and buy a decoration or two the other day!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Hidden - Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Tuesday: The Canterville Ghost - Fiction Review
Wednesday: Either a review for Dead Bolt - Paranormal Cozy or The Crime at Black Dudley - Classic Mystery.  It just depends on what I finish first.
Thursday: Beyond the Books: 5 Things I Just Can't Handle
Friday: Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD but probably something foodie

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Cookbook Wishlist

The temperatures and humidity are starting to drop and the air no longer feels quite like it's pressing down on you here and I'm finding my interest in cooking is starting to wake up.  I'm pretty sure it hibernates once the weather gets above 95.  Cooking dinner every night becomes a chore and I find myself dragging into the kitchen with little enthusiasm and no real urge to try anything new.   But all of a sudden I find myself really wanting to make bread and to finally tackle making candy so I'm guessing the cooking slump is over!  Perfect timing too as there are SO many great cookbooks that have come out recently or are coming out in the near future.

If I was to go on a cookbook shopping spree here are the first ten I would grab:

1.  Brunch at Bobby's: 140 Recipes for the Best Part of the Weekend by Bobby Flay - I love Bobby and became even more fond of him when I spent a month cooking from all his cookbooks.  Seriously good!  Like will never look at burgers the same way kind of good.  While I'm not a big brunch person we do have breakfast for dinner a pretty good bit and I think this could be pretty fun.

2.  The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Dinner by Ree Drummond - I always love Ree's recipes and while not all of them are amazing they're all good, reliable and relatively straight forward.

3.  The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef's Recipes for Fun Fearless Home Cooking by Amanda Frietag  - I've seen Amanda in tons of cooking competitions both as a competitor and a judge and I always like seeing her.  She just seems like someone you'd want to be friends with and I really want to try some of her recipes.

4.  My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl - I read her first book - Tender at the Bone - years ago and it was the first cooking memoir I really read and I absolutely loved it.  I'm looking forward to trying these recipes and really just looking through the book.

5.  Michael Symon's 5 in 5 for Every Season: 165 Quick Dishes, Sides, Holiday Dishes and More by Michael Symon 6- I have the original 5 in 5 and love it so I'm excited to see what new quick and fresh meal ideas Michael has come up with.

6.  Farmhouse Rules: Simple Seasonal Meals for the Whole Family by Nancy Fuller - I don't know too much about Nancy.  I've seen her show a time or two and I've seen her on other shows and always enjoy what she has to say.

7.  Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson -  I love the feel of Nigella's books and her attitudes on food.  Everything's relatively simple but a little different without being TOO different.

8.  Duff Bakes: Think and Bake Like a Pro at Home by Duff Goldman - I loved Ace of Cakes and Duff always cracks me up.  I've tried a few of his mixes and have always gotten good results but I'd love to try his food from scratch.

9.  Sweets and Treats with Six Sisters Stuff: 100+ Desserts, Gift Ideas, and Traditions for the Whole Family by Six Sisters Stuff - This is one of my absolute favorite food blogs and I'd love to have some of their recipes in book form.

10. Sally's Candy Addictions: Tasty Truffles, Fudge and Treats for you Sweet Tooth Fix by Sally McKenney - This is another one of my favorite food blogs though I've never tried her candy recipes.  My goal is to get over my fear of the candy thermometer in time for Christmas treats and this book looks like a good way to start!

So what cookbooks are on your wishlist this fall?

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Linkups: Dead Bolt

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
What's your favorite "Halloween" snack to munch on while you're reading?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

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

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's question is - What is the worst movie you've ever seen?

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

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

The Worst Movie Award goes to:
Image from

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl

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

The Worst Movie Experience goes to:
Image from IMBD

Spy Kids 3-D

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

My Worst Non-Kid Related Movie is:

The Big Lebowski

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

What is the worst movie you've ever seen?