30 December 2011

2011 Goal Review

Back in January I gave myself a list of goals for the year and while I looked at it at mid-year, I seem to have forgotten to monitor during the Fall (oops!). Let's see how well things held up on my goals for 2011:


Read 100 books: Done! I hit 105 books for the year, and already have some bookmarked for 2012. I wonder if I shall hold steady, or should I challenge myself to more?

Review at least 2x a month: I had a bit of a slump this fall. Writing became difficult, and I was not driven the way I wanted. I averaged at least 2x a month, but was not consistent. Also, I started another blog, which has slumped a little at year's end too. Am I spreading myself too thin?

Try Audiobooks: Yup, just the one. Time to pick up some titles again. As I discovered, it is a lot easier for me to get into non-fiction audio than fiction. I think that has to do with the imagery my brain creates while reading fiction - which is not always the best to do while driving.


Finish Four Projects: Two! Better than none, but not to my goal. I get ambitious, then lazy about my knitting. I think smaller projects are key for me, along with understanding my knitting habits better.

Sort my Stash: Much of this has been unpacked in the upstairs room, but still sorting through a couple bins. I know there is yarn I haven't seen in years. Maybe it is time to start purging it?

Get It All on Ravelry: Well, this was not accomplished. I think it is still a good idea, however. Ravelry is a wonderful resource for knitters (you should see my pattern queue).


Get Tattoo: Done! I was happy to get the start of what will become a larger arm piece this fall. I really hope to add to this in the next few months.

Other Pursuits:

Grow My Garden: This was another so-so year for growth. I did get a soil sample out before the ground froze too much, and that is on its way to UMASS for testing. Hopefully this will give me a start on what I need to do to make the beds better for what I want to grow.

Preserve More: Ketchup, tomato sauce and applesauce were done. Unfortunately the October storm knocked out power for a week at the house, and I lost the quarts of strawberries I had in the chest freezer. That will definitely go on my list for next summer, as I am out of jam. I also discovered that the kind of apples used make a difference. I had a bag of Macs among my Empires, and they were so watery I only ended up with a half-dozen pints of sauce. That won't last the winter.

Take Space: The Ferry Beach conference was wonderful and I am definitely headed back next year. In fact,  this next year I am one of the conference coordinators! I feel honored to have been asked to participate in such a direct way, and look forward to seeing my spirit sisters again next August. I am also blessed to have a family willing to take on my children during occasional vacation times, and now their father lives in the same state, which benefits everyone.

I am already pondering the goals I will have for next year. Some are close to my heart and not ready for reveal, but others will definitely be listed. This was a terrific experiment for me in intention and manifesting when dealing with Life goals. I want to continue this process, and will definitely have a new list of goals for the coming year on the blog.

Do you already have some goals, resolutions or Life changes decided? 

28 December 2011

Review: Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Plus Dark Swan Giveaway Winner!)

The Book:

Eugenie Markham will do everything she can to protect her unborn children, but knows that it is getting harder and harder to avert the forces striving to make sure the Storm King's prophecy goes unfulfilled. As she struggles to make sure that both the mortal realm and the Otherworld lands stay safe, she faces the ultimate challenge when a blight strikes her Thorn Land and many more in the Otherworld. Eugenie realizes that only she will have the courage to find the way to protect all those she loves, whatever the cost.

The Yarn:

It was so hard to believe this is the last of the Dark Swan series. Eugenie has faced a long road becoming Queen of the Thorn and Rowan Lands, yet stay connected to her shamanic heritage in the mortal realm. As she works to protect the children that many are trying to destroy, another force brings a horrible blight upon her lands. In usual Eugenie headstrong fashion, she heads off to the place where the trouble originates, not knowing that this will be only one stop along a trail of trouble.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series since the beginning. Many difficult topics are faced during these books, especially revolving around the prophecy of the Storm King's first grandson. Eugenie is headstrong as always but still vulnerable, having to fight against many who would either kill or use her not-yet-born child. Her relationships with both Dorian and Kiyo are addressed on different levels, as Eugenie must make decisions that not only affect her and her children, but those who live on both sides of the Gate between the two worlds.

Eugenie has had to face a lot of tough challenges through the series (no spoilers this time!), and faced disagreement with those she loved because of them. I will say there was disagreement in this reader with some of the choices she has made, however there has not been one that I did not respect, even if I did not agree. I believe that this actually made this fantasy more "real", as you can see definite parallels with choices that Eugenie makes with those faced by others during life. To me, that makes a believable protagonist in a story. When I start thinking "Would I have done what she did?", then I know that I not only empathize with the character, but I have been pulled wholeheartedly into the story. I can see that some of the sequences may not please every reader, and I felt a lot of "But what is going to happen now?" at the end of Shadow Heir.

Mead did not skimp on the emotional turmoil of her protagonist, but it is these feelings that connected me to Eugenie through all of the books. Mead has successfully built an intricate world with the Otherlands, and I will definitely miss it.

The Ink:

Title: Shadow Heir (Dark Swan, #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Zebra
Date: December 27, 2011
Read: ARC Provided by Publisher


Congratulations go out to SKYLA11377. Skyla11377, you have won the first three books of the Dark Swan series (Storm Born, Thorn Queen, Iron Crowned)! I will send you an email shortly to verify your information, then send that on to the publisher to mail your books out. Thanks again to Kensington Books for supporting this giveaway.

Happy Reading!

20 December 2011

Dark Swan Giveaway

Richelle Mead's Dark Swan series will come to a close with the release of Shadow Heir on December 27th. To celebrate the release, Kensington Books has graciously offered copies of the first three books - Storm Born, Thorn Queen, and Iron Crowned - as a giveaway to my readers!

Storm Born

Eugenie Markham is a powerful shaman who does a brisk trade banishing spirits and fey who cross into the mortal world. Mercenary, yes, but a girl's got to eat. Her most recent case, however, is enough to ruin her appetite. Hired to find a teenager who has been taken to the Otherworld, Eugenie comes face to face with a startling prophecy--one that uncovers dark secrets about her past and claims that Eugenie's first-born will threaten the future of the world as she knows it.

Thorn Queen

Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she’s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It’s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one—except Eugenie—seems willing to find out why.

Iron Crowned

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land’s queen, she’s fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear…

(All synopses from author's website)

To enter, just fill out the Google Docs form below. One winner will be chosen at random from all entries to receive the first three books of the Dark Swan series. Only US & Canada entries please, books will be shipped directly from the publisher. Deadline to enter is December 27th at 9 PM, winner will be announced December 28th with the review of Shadow Heir.

Good luck!


14 December 2011

Review (and Giveaway Winner!): Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

The Book:

After battling Reapers of Chaos, mythological creatures and all-around evil classmates, Gwen Frost just wants to survive the rest of her semester at Mythos Academy. Learning how to use weapons seems like a good start, even if that means being taught by her unrequited crush, Logan. Maybe Daphne's suggestion of attending the Winter Carnival will turn things around and let her move forward? However, there is more than snow, boys and fun awaiting Gwen and her friends at the ski resort; Gwen will have to face the past once again and fight for her life.

The Yarn:

Kiss of Frost opens not long after Touch of Frost. Gwen works on improving her fighting skills after her fight with the Reaper Jasmine. Against the Spartans, Amazons and others at Mythos Academy, she seems at a serious disadvantage. However, her Gypsy gift of psychometry once again shows Gwen is not as limited in power and skill as she may seem, and Gwen discovers more about her role as Nike's Champion, maybe more than she bargained for! Even with this power and goddess-given mantle, Gwen is still dealing with her own sadness from her mom's death and Logan's rebuff of her feelings. While you definitely know you are dealing with teens, powers and battles aside, the emotions of the characters stay true to age and you can see true growth in them without belief-suspending leaps.

I have really enjoyed Jennifer Estep's adult Elemental Assassin series, and Mythos Academy brings a lot of the same elements: a strong female lead; family interactions and issues; developing powers - all leading to a delightful book that makes me anxiously await the next in the series. Gwen is finding answers to some of the questions that were asked in Touch of Frost, good and bad, that will definitely push the storyline forward. There were some definite moments that were revealed far too early, but Estep countered those with some surprises towards the end. I believe some of the best parts of these books are the secondary characters: Daphne and Carson are back in the thick of things, and the introductions of Oliver and Kenzie, along with Morgan hints at some intricate relationships for Gwen and the future.

Estep gives the "teen outcast" storyline a fresh twist with the Mythos Academy series. I will be waiting for the next book, Dark Frost, when it appears on shelves in June 2012.

The Ink:

Title: Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kensington
Date: November 2011
Read: Purchased Nookbook


Congratulations goes out to JenniferK for winning a copy of Kiss of Frost!  Jennifer, I will be sending you an email to confirm details. Many thanks to Kensington Books for supplying the book to the winner.

And stay tuned, as I will be announcing another giveaway next week!

07 December 2011

Review: Highland Bride by Hannah Howell

The Book:

Gillyanne Murray holds her own lands, and decides it is time to visit them before she begins courting. Unfortunately upon her arrival Gillyanne finds not one, not two, but three lairds (with adjoining property) waiting to lay claim to it - and her. To prevent a battle, she chooses Sir Conor MacEnroy, a knight as handsome and bold of action as he is quiet of words. Gillyanne is not one to flee from a challenge, however, and as she fights to find a place in her husband's keep, she hopes to also find one in Conor's heart.

The Yarn:

How can you not enjoy a romance in the Scottish Highlands? Hannah Howell brings us another of The Murrays with Highland Bride. While the typical plot of first-comes-marriage, then-comes-love is in play, Gillyanne is a strong, spirited young woman who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, facing off against the suitors. She is also willing to give in to protect what is hers, as she marries Conor to stop the battle that would destroy the peace the land so needed to keep. She needs all of that strength to try to keep up with a husband who really does not know how to woo the wife he needs to keep.

Humorous and poignant, Howell delivers a sweet Highland romance that will please her readers.

The Ink:

Title: Highland Bride (The Murrays, #6)
Author: Hannah Howell
Publisher: Zebra Books/Kensington
Date: August 2011 (First Printing: October 2002)
Read: Mass Market Provided by Publisher

30 November 2011

Giveaway: Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep (like me), then you have been anxiously awaiting the publication of Kiss of Frost, the next book in the Mythos Academy series!

From Goodreads:
Logan Quinn was try­ing to kill me. My Spar­tan class­mate relent­lessly pur­sued me, swing­ing his sword at me over and over again, the shin­ing sil­ver blade inch­ing closer to my throat every time. A smile tugged up his lips, and his ice-blue eyes prac­ti­cally glowed with the thrill of battle...

I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...
The first book, Touch of Frost, was an exciting start to the series and I reviewed it back in September.  Gwen is an amazing young woman on the way to discovering her path among the powerful teens at Mythos Academy.

There is also a prequel novella in ebook format, First Frost, which is available now for FREE from Barnes and Noble, which you can find here. UPDATE: The e-novella is also now available free for Kobo (here) and Kindle (here). Don't wait - it will only be free until December 5th.

Plus, if you haven't picked up your copy of Kiss of Frost yet, then you are in luck. Thanks to Kensington Publishing, I am happy to be hosting a giveaway of one copy of Kiss of Frost for my readers.  Just fill out the GoogleDocs form below with the information. The winner will receive the book directly from Kensington Publishing, open to residents of US and Canada only. Giveaway will close at 9 PM on December 13th; on the 14th will be my review and announcement of the winner. Good luck!


16 November 2011

"Mistress" Mini Reviews

A mistress is a fine thing - especially in the times of Regency England. Scandal and passion and love all meld together. Here is a look at two delightful titles.

A whirlwind courtship can be every romantic couple's dream, but when reality sets in, Baron Edward Christie knew his marriage to Caroline Parker was a mistake. Beautiful and scandalous, not even her banishment to the notorious Jane Street diminished her. Caroline and Edward meet for one night each year, on their anniversary, to give into the painful, glorious passion they have for each other. Yet both know that it is only a matter of time before they must admit it is time for divorce. So why is it so hard to finish what should never have been started?

Romances where the couple is already married are such a treat, even when the story is about falling in love all over again. Edward and Caroline clash with their opposing ways: she is brash and forthright, he is composed and stiff. Neither feels they have to change for the other, nor are they willing to admit the other may be right. A twisting tale of rediscovering love and assumed betrayal, Robinson brings two engaging characters to life with strong wit and dialogue.

Title: Mistress by Marriage (Courtesan Court, #3)
Author: Maggie Robinson
Publisher: Kensington
Date: September 2011
Read: Trade paperback supplied by publisher

Lady Veronica Smithson has been a widow for the last three years, and a very happy one at that. She knows that she would love to feel the touch of a man once more, but also realizes her independent nature abhors the thought of getting married again, even to the handsome explorer Sir Sebastian Hadley-Attwater. Sebastian needs to prove himself worthy of his inheritance, and a wife would do just that if Veronica was not so stubborn. Veronica has no qualms about becoming his mistress, now if only Sebastian didn't have other plans...

This book engaged me from the start. Veronica knows exactly what she wants (or so she thinks), and Sebastian is bowled over that a woman would not be desiring to tie herself to a man such as him. While obviously ego starts the walk down the path to love, both Sebastian and Veronica are willing to play the game the other sets up. The hilarity increases when Sebastian's family shows up for the holidays. If you enjoy the Christmas romances, definitely take a look at this one.

Title: His Mistress By Christmas (Sinful Family Secrets, #1)
Author: Victoria Alexander
Publisher: Kensington
Date: October 2011
Read: ARC provided by publisher

05 October 2011

Review: It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl

The Book:

Aidan York has spent the last ten years running away from the past. The love of his life was lost to him, first by an argument then by her death. While his life has been filled with business deals and women, nothing will stop the emptiness in his heart occupied by his Kate. But when he steps into that coffee shop only to be faced with Kate - as alive as can be - will Aidan's heart heal, or will Kate's secrets destroy whatever is left?

02 October 2011

In My Mailbox (21)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased. Titles link to Goodreads.

I have been used to the "drought" weeks. Being so busy I haven't had as much time to get to the library or dig into review titles, however the last couple of weeks has brought a bounty of books!


Heart of Darkness by Lauren Dane. Won from Goodreads, and I am looking forward to this one. I really enjoy her on Twitter, but this will be my first time reading her work.

Cheat the Grave by Vicki Pettersson. Won from Bitten By Books. If you like fantasy titles of all shapes, you will love this blog and the contests, interviews and books covered. I really loved this series and not only got the book but two of the special poker chips based on the last book's cover (series is based in Las Vegas).

For Review:

Switched by Amanda Hocking. Sent by St. Martin's Press (Sent to work, even. I never get titles at work!). Books that were self-published ebooks by Hocking, who went on to get a great publisher's deal. 

The Real Werewives of Vampire County by Alexandra Ivy, Angie Fox, Jess Haines and Tami Dane. The title certainly gives me a giggle, and I hope this collection is as crazy as the tv series that inspired it.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Girlfriend came through for me again (plus I read faster than she does :). I was led to this by the terrific review on Stacked. Computer games and 80s references - count me in!

Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
Awakened: A House of Night Novel by P.C. and Kristin Cast.
I Came Out For This? by Lisa Gitlin.
Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs.

I was able to get to the library right when it opened last Saturday morning and hit the jackpot in the YA section display. I had been hoping to get hold of most of these titles. Plus a lesbian and favorite mystery series title on top of it.

These two titles were picked up to help with a chapter proposal I am writing for publication. I was fortunate to work with a couple colleagues and co-authored a chapter two years ago, and have been interested in continuing to write again. I need to get to work!

Happy Reading!

30 September 2011

Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

Note: References to plot from previous books.

The Book:

October Daye is settling in to her new role as a countess in Faerie, she is dating again, and all seems relatively calm. So of course it is time for things to go wrong.

The children of the regent of Saltmist have been kidnapped and the Queen of the Mists stands accused. In three days the Fae of land and sea will go to war, unless Toby can find the missing boys. While there are those who will stand in the way of Toby, there are others who will always stand with her.

But in a time of war, not everyone survives.

28 September 2011

Review:Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

The Book:

Welcome to Mythos Academy, where teenagers are being prepared for the world not only with a first-class education, but with the skills for battle and magic. When a student is murdered and a magical relic stolen, Gwen Frost is determined to find out who is behind the deeds. Especially since she was supposed to be the victim.

21 September 2011

Review: Pay Me In Flesh by K. Bennett

The Book: 

Mallory Caine just wants to live her life quietly, at least as quiet as a lawyer in L.A. can. Being hit on by lascivious judges, pursued by an ex-boyfriend and having a killer roaming the streets is not helping in that department.

But then, neither is being a zombie.

18 September 2011

In My Mailbox (20)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week. Or four. Titles link to Goodreads.

I am thrilled that I received two boxes from Kensington Publishers now. I have lots to review and share with you all!

Pay Me In Flesh by K. Bennett. Lawyers don't have souls - especially if they are zombies.
Highland Bride by Hannah Howell. Gillyanne Murphy knows that men will battle for her Scottish lands, so she quickly chooses one, but the battle continues for her knight's heart.
It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl. Aidan York mourned the woman he loved and lost ten years ago, but what happens when he discovers her alive and well? What is she hiding?
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep. Gwen Frost does not have the same heritage as the rest of the mythic-born students and Mythos Academy, but she is determined to find out the truth behind the murder of one of her classmates.

Let me also add I just picked up two of Estep's Elemental Assassin series, Web of Lies and Venom (#2 & #3, holding to my tradition of not quite reading things in order!) from the library this weekend. Kick-ass character and world-building.

Mistress By Marriage by Maggie Robinson. A whirlwind marriage leads to the brink of divorce. Yet if Caroline was no good as his wife, does Christie expect any better with her as his mistress?

Frozen Stiff by Annelise Ryan. Mattie knows they don't find many murders in her small Wisconsin town, but the beautiful woman found dead is known to at least one person - her love interest, Steve Hurley. As is the weapon that killed her.

Happy Reading!

07 September 2011

Review: Firestorm by Radclyffe

Note: An abridged review is also available at The Lesbrary.

The Book:

Things can get hot when you are a smokejumper. Mallory James leads a crew of men and women who risk their lives to face out-of-control forest fires and rescue climbs. When rookie Jac Russo, a woman with a reputation larger than the Montana mountains, joins the training unannounced, the two women are immediately up in arms around each other. Yet Mallory soon discovers that while she may be known as "Ice" to her crew, her desire for Jac can make anything burn.

10 August 2011

Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

The Book:

In her late twenties, Christine suffered an accident that caused amnesia of a sort that wipes away her daily life. Over two decades later Christine awakens not knowing where she is. Each morning she has to be reminded of her home, her husband, Ben, her past, her present. While working with her doctor, Christine discovers that she has started a journal about her daily discoveries. What she cannot remember is why the first page has the words "Don't Trust Ben"? How can Christine discover the truth if she cannot remember it the next day?

03 August 2011

Review: The Deadliest Bite by Jennifer Rardin

The Book:

All Jaz and Vayl wanted to do was take a few days off before getting back to unlocking the secret of the Rocenz. With Brude in her head (a constant pain in so many ways) Jaz has only a short time left before she loses her soul, unless she can carve his name into the gates of Hell. An assassination attempt on Vayl at their doorstep was the least they expected - as was the person behind it. Gathering the group together for a trip to Romania, and Vayl's roots, the team takes the fight to the source: Hell itself.

01 August 2011

In My Mailbox (19)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week. Titles link to Goodreads.

I skipped last week because of being on vacation and oh, did my books stack up for this post! Let's get started:

For Review:

His Mistress By Christmas by Victoria Alexander. Kensington Books put out a call for reviewers on their Facebook page, and I was happy to get this historical romance from them! It came with a signed card from the author also.


Dead Iron by Devon Monk. I really love this author and was thrilled to have received this from Book Faery! Many thanks to Tori and ROC/Penguin for providing this title.


Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson. An ARC my girlfriend was able to pass on to me. I am finding I am liking these apocalyptic tales, whether involving zombies, robots, or maybe eventually robot zombies?


The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

These were sitting on my library's "Free" cart out front. Normally I tend to walk by as it gets picked over pretty regularly, however I decided to browse through it on a day that had a lot of books. Weeding must have happened! 


Oh yes, I found more used bookstores. Raven Books has opened up in Greenfield (and is really nice!) and we made it up to Brattleboro VT to take a look around. 

You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail. I have always borrowed this from the library and was so excited to see it on the shelf.

I think I have said enough about my adoration for Pierce's books.

A Small Sacrifice by Ellen Hart.
Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle.
Oolong Dead by Laura Childs.

I cannot resist adding to my mystery collection.

Happy Reading!

27 July 2011

Review: Jukebox by Gina Noelle Daggett

Note: This review was originally published on The Lesbrary in June.

The Book:

Harper Alessi is the little rich girl being raised by her grandparents in Arizona; Grace Dunlop is the precocious English-born debutante. Fast friends from age eleven, Grace and Harper grow even closer as they get older. What's love got to do with it? Everything.

20 July 2011

Review: The Devil in Disguise by Stefanie Sloane

The Book:

Lady Lucinda Grey is an intelligent woman, and readily acknowledges that makes finding a match this season...well, difficult. Lord William Randall is definitely not the man to court her, for his reputation as a rake is known to be well-deserved. Yet she is tempted, not knowing that she is the target of a kidnapping plot or that William is in fact a covert spy for the elite Young Corinthians. William is brilliant at his work, and at seduction, but what will he do when he is seduced by the brilliant Lucinda?

17 July 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week. Titles link to Goodreads.


Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. I won this from Lisa at Bluestalking a couple weeks ago and am pretty thrilled to read it. Reviews have been up and down, however I read the earlier books in the series and never like to leave one unfinished.

Love Letters from a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle. This came from a giveaway that Avon had on Facebook. It is an older historical romance, but still one of those Regencies I adore.

Many thanks to Avon and Lisa for these giveaways!


Wolf-Speaker and Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce.

More gifts from my girlfriend, who knows I will not turn down a Pierce book!


This was recommended by Nici Cline at Dig This Chick. Nici is a crafter, gardener, artist, mom and all-around wonderful woman. Do I know her personally? No - but she inspires me all the time.

Happy Reading!

15 July 2011

Review:The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne

The Book:

Everyone wants a comfortable clean home, but with limited time and budgets, it seems there is really no way to do it. Or, maybe you are off to a good start but looking for a little more inspiration? In The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, take a tour through some great ideas to create the home you want in a fun and frugal way.

13 July 2011

10 July 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week. Titles link to Goodreads.

For Review:

The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough. I appreciate Storey Publishing sending me this title to review. I am really great at buying those wonderful seed packets each year, but thought it would be good to look at the opposite side of it and learn about saving them. 


This past holiday weekend I drove my daughter and myself back to upstate NY to pick up her brother before the start of summer camp. Of course, this meant I needed to avoid the highway traffic by taking the long way west, which also of course meant I should stop at my faves The Book Bear and Raven Books because who would pass up an opportunity to stop and shop for books?

Well, fine. I wouldn't.

Summer Knight and Death Masks by Jim Butcher. Love this series, so it is time to start collecting.

Stage Fright and Robber's Wine by Ellen Hart. Great lesbian mystery series I have been reading the last several years.

Decaffeinated Corpse and Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle. I reviewed the last title of this cozy mystery series back in February. Cozies and coffeehouses? Awesome mix. 

Bloodroot by Susan Wittig Albert. Another mystery series I enjoy, this one about an herbalist-shop owner.


I snatched a bunch of books sitting at my parents' home this past weekend. Childhood books that I continue to cling to, even though I know full well my niblets will never pick them up unless an animated series comes out on Disney or Cartoon Network first.

My Oz series. For those that may not have realized that there were books after The Wizard of Oz, the following books were SO much more entertaining, in my opinion. Even back then I didn't know to collect them all in one binding. Although I did have them all in that mass market run, yet Ozma of Oz seems to have gone missing.

My Raggedy Ann boxed set. I used to read Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land, then crave sugar cookies and a tub of frosting. Go figure. I think that Charlotte's Web and Superfudge were bought to read in school, probably third or fourth grade. The others were dug out of the attic of my mother's childhood home: Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse, Janet Lennon: Adventures at Two Rivers, and Trudy Phillips, New Girl

Trixie Belden. The hardcovers came from my mom's attic holdings, the paperbacks were acquired when they were reprinted in the early 90s. 

Do you have any books that were passed down in your family? Happy Reading!

06 July 2011

Review: Deadline by Mira Grant

Note: Some references to plot from the previous book, Feed.

The Book:

It is a world that has cured cancer, but created zombies. A world where the truth comes out over the internet and bloggers bring the news. Running the news blog group The End of Times wasn't part of Shawn Mason's life plan, nor was having a CDC doctor show up on his doorstep to talk about research into curing the virus being buried. Facing the zombies may be easier than what he has to do next, but if it helps Shawn discover who actually killed his sister, he is willing to do it. No matter what the cost.

03 July 2011

In My Mailbox (16)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week (or two). Titles link to Goodreads.

My mailbox was empty this week, although I know of one giveaway that I have won (Thanks, Bluestalking!) so I expect some happiness there in the future. I did make it to the library one evening this week. Now that summer has started, with my niblets' camp schedule I get out of work an hour earlier (and go in an hour earlier) which makes the evenings not feel quite so frantic. So, library time!

Borrowed from the library:

Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson. I have been a fan of caterer Goldy Schulz for a long time. This is probably one of the first cozy mystery series I started reading. The luster has started wearing off though, as can happen with long running series, so we will see if I enjoy this one as much as the earlier books.

I also ran off to the local big bookstore this week. I don't shop there frequently, but I was hoping that they had one book in particular.


Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. I have been hearing about Jeni's ice cream from various people the last couple of years. While not a local brand (they are based in Ohio), Jeni's is available by mail order and at various retail locations (eastern MA and the islands). I found out about this book a couple days ago, scoured my local libraries (no one in my network had it) and decided I MUST have it. I have been wanting to make ice cream for a while, so what better way than with recipes from Jeni?

The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne. This I ended up picking up while browsing the home care section (where I find all the urban homesteading books). I have been on a mental kick to start organizing and personalizing my home, and yes, I liked the cover. The inside tips I pages through while having my coffee were a bit quirky, fun and budget-conscious (thrifting and IKEA are mentioned) so I thought this was worth picking up. 

Happy Reading!

29 June 2011

Back to Back Review: Julie Hyzy

The Books:

In Buffalo West Wing, Head White House Chef Olivia Paras is doing her best to prepare for the new First Family. She knows things may change, but when some mysterious take-out meant for the children takes out several White House staff and a new chef is hired, Ollie realizes she may not have much time left to save her job or the lives of the First Family.

In Grace Under Pressure, Grace Wheaton is the assistant curator at the famed Marshfield Manor. When her supervisor Abe is murdered, Grace steps in to assume Abe's job. Between a reclusive millionaire boss, blackmail letters, and an uninvited stalker prowling around the grounds, Grace knows that Bennett Marshfield must be protected. Along the way some family secrets, a bad Ponzi scheme, and an act of revenge will bring Grace face to face with a killer.

The Yarn:

I really enjoy Julie Hyzy's storytelling. I have read the White House Chef Mysteries since the first book and found them to be a lot of fun without being trite. Olivia "Ollie" Paras has worked her way up to being the White House Chef and gotten involved in a few mysteries along the way. She also started and ended a relationship with a Secret Service agent, but hopefully she will not be alone for too long, judging by the way this book was setting things up. Buffalo West Wing gave the extra twist of bringing a new First Family into the storyline, which has shaken up the entire White House, especially with a not-so-auspicious start with mysterious fast food and a new chef brought in by the First Lady. I will definitely be interested in seeing where the story goes for Ollie and the new family.

I found out a couple months ago that Hyzy started another series after she wrote on her blog about it last month. A definite change from Ollie, Grace is a curator who has moved back to her hometown and is working at the famed manor she loved when she was growing up. When her supervisor, who was basically the backbone to running the manor, is murdered, Grace not only tries to step into his shoes, but manages to step on some toes in the process. With roommates who are trying to ply their wine to a national magazine and a family mystery of her own, Grace never comes off as snooping too much. She is definitely a "hometown girl" and loves the manor both for its history and from her heart. I am really excited to pick up the sequel and see what Grace does next.

The Ink:

Titles: Buffalo West Wing (White House Chef Mysteries, #4)
          Grace Under Pressure (Manor House Mystery, #1)
Author: Julie Hyzy
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Dates:  Buffalo West Wing: January 2011
           Grace Under Pressure: June 2010
Read: Buffalo West Wing: Library Mass Market
          Grace Under Pressure: Mass Market (Provided by author)

26 June 2011

In My Mailbox (15)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! Hosted by The Story Siren, it is a way to showcase books received for review or won, picked up at the library, or purchased in the last week (or two). Titles link to Goodreads.

Well, this was a slow week - for books anyways. No library visit, no running off to a used bookstore. However, my girlfriend did pick me up a couple more titles that I am collecting, and I came home last night to a squeal-inducing package.


First Test by Tamora Pierce
Page by Tamora Pierce
Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce

Can we sense a trend? I love Pierce and am currently collecting the books as I find them, usually used.


Withering Tights by Louise Rennison. I was fortunate enough to win this from Steph Su Reads last week. I have been a big fan of her Georgia Nicholson books and think this will be a great follow up. A big thank you to Steph Su for this!

Happy Reading!