Saturday, July 31, 2010

FoldTuck Roaster

It has been a long time since I entered a giveaway for anything other than a book..and few of those. But I saw the FoldTuk Roaster a long time ago and have been so curious about it. I just could not resist! If you are wondering about this product, go to visit The Not So Blog and read her review. If you then find yourself as curious as I, ENTER! 
Would it be rude to hope if you enter, I still win? I'll go back to my books now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I have lowered the mountain!

What do you do if you don't want to sponsor a giveaway but the mountain of books must be reduced as they are taking up as much space as the that yarn that keeps escaping!?  I have the answer! Invite your mom up!  Well, that's what I did. Seems fair to me as she is the one that turned me into a bookie! Good thing DH is strong. 
book dropping onto a stack of books

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I figured it out!

I am nutty as a fruitcake! I mean seriously! I keep reading all these tweets and other postings about how to increase your blog's followers. 
Do I read them and try the suggestions? NO.
Are you nuts? YES, I told you that at the very beginning!
Why don't you? Because I started it for me. To talk to myself about 'stuff'. That people started following me, just flabbergasts me! That my followers are increasing in number is amazing! And when they pause for a moment to talk back to me is just special. 
If you just read the above, I thank you for you indulgence! (((((HUGS)))))

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What a movie...want to read the book!

The movie is High Crimes. It stars Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and James Cavezel. It's the story of a blissful couple trying to make a baby. He is making fruniture, she is an excellent lawyer. He gets grabbed up by the Marine cops and thrown into the brig. She comes to his defence. Problem: a first leuie Marine lawyer up against a high ranking Marine lawyer, and her without a good understanding military law. She needs help. Enter reputed atternaty (aka, Mr. Freeman). And how is this related to the opening scene in El Salvado with a bunch of dead natives? Ready! Set! GO! 'Cause it's not going to stop 'til the end. DH and I watched in HBO, almost burned dinner, we were so caught up!
High Crimes
Now I want to read the book . Turns out it has the same title and is by James Finder. And I can get both on! Now, where are those SwagBooks points!

Oh, dear!

This is not a good sign. It took 30 minutes to realize, I've heard this book before! 
I loved the narrator, Davina Porter. Her voice sounded age appropriate and the accent went along perfectly. So why hadn't I reviewed it? I know I listened to the whole thing,
Publisher's summary:

New York Times best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith has become a household name through his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Now he continues his equally charming Isabel Dalhousie series with the third mystery starring the highly ethical, plucky protagonist.
Isabel's life is thrown for a few loops when her cousin Mimi arrives from Dallas with her husband Joe. Through Mimi and Joe, Isabel meets Texas hotshot Tom Bruce, who is about to marry someone Isabel suspects of gold-digging. Further complicating matters, Tom seems to have an unusual level of interest in Isabel. Meanwhile, Isabel has her own feelings to deal with, not to mention those of her beloved niece Cat, whose romantic interest may not be up to snuff.
It would all be quite a lot for one person to contend with if that person wasn't Isabel, who is always ready to apply her well-defended sense of ethics to any situation.
Sounds like a good read, right? Why didn't I review it earlier? Then it came to me...I just didn't know what to say!  ('not sure I do now.)
Let's try stream of consciousness:
I didn't hate the book. Could it be my expectation was too high? Yes! THAT'S IT. I had great expectations for a book that is just a nice, leisurely little life mystery. Looking at it from direction, it would have much appeal to a wide range of people. My problem is I wanted more. I expected it to pick up (which it didn't). So I was let down. 
As the saying goes, "It was not my cuppa tea.". But that doesn't mean it can't be yours, as long as you know what to expect. 
Giggle, I just didn't have "The Right Attitude to Rain"! ('sorry, I'll go back to reading now.)

Do you like Ian Fleming?

I have liked most all the movies based on his novels since I first saw Gold Finger while I was in high school. I had never read Ian Fleming, which of course Scottish born DH had. I didn't want to be left behind, so when I saw Quantum of Solace on special at, and read this publisher's summary, I had to get it. About 8.5 hours long, Quantum of Solace is a compilation of several short stories. I listened to one each night before sleeping. 
Narrator, Simon Vance, does a lovely job. 
While Mr. Bond might not indulge in the explosive activities of the movies, the stories are still very enjoyable . I won't tell you about each short story except to say, "I will probably indulge in more of Ian Fleming's writings." Translate the last comment: the book gets better than a "good" rating and I am glad I spent the money! 
I love the cover! 'Glad they didn't "modernize" it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It is a bright, sunny, hot, humid day in North Texas

So, I stayed inside and listed to I, Alex Cross by James Patterson. This was a cd audio from Hachette via Ms. Jen of Jens Book Talk. Lucky me, I won it! If you like reading reviews of books (audio or hard copy), you really should visit Jen's site. She is an awesome reviewer! (But apparently not active on that sites, As soon as I relocate her, I will update this post!)
OK, OK, OK.! I know I was not thrilled with the the last of James Patterson's book I reviewed but, well, I loved the character of Alex Cross (played by the most wonderful Mr. Morgan Freeman) in Kiss the Girls. Also, so many of my trusted reviews really, really liked it! has the abridged and unabridged versions (I checked). This (or I would not have entered) is an unabridged copy (thank you very much). There are are 2 narrators for the unabridged version, Tim Cain, and Michael Cerveris. Both are good but at times I missed the switches as the voices are somewhat similar. This did not distract from the story at all, though I do wonder what it does to the reader. 
The publisher summarized the book this way:
Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. Alex vows to hunt down the killer, and soon learns that she was mixed up in one of Washington's wildest scenes. And she was not this killer's only victim.
The hunt for her murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to a place where every fantasy is possible, if you have the credentials to get in. Alex and Bree are soon facing down some very important, very protected, very dangerous people in levels of society where only one thing is certain--they will do anything to keep their secrets safe.
As Alex closes in on the killer, he discovers evidence that points to the unimaginable--a revelation that could rock the entire world. With the unstoppable action, unforeseeable twists, and edge-of-your-seat suspense that only a James Patterson thriller delivers, I, Alex Cross is the master of suspense at his sharpest and best.
If you haven't read or listened all the books (I hadn't), you won't be familiar with the back story characters but that's alright because by the end of the story, you will be better informed...well, except for the kids but they didn't bother me.  What did bother be is the cliff hanger for the next book in the series. Couldn't it have just end with the kiss or something without the lead for the next book. I know, it is my own pet peeve but if a writer has a good character, readers will want to read another book but not necessarily in the order written (in my opinion).
My only other problem with the book is the villain, I was surprised. Mainly because I didn't hear any clues to the identity. (I don't think I lost consciousness.) 
If you like series books and/or you like the Alex Cross character, go for it! You'll have a lot of fun and probably feel it is above average (but you will probably want to start at the beginning). If you are like me, you will just give a "good" rating. That a good thing if you want to stay in where it's cool or a nice rainy day as you into and out of someone else's life. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Peanut butter

I love peanut butter! My stepmom used to put it into the would really tear up the bread! PB&;J was always a fav (in college I had to mix the two together so my roommate, who thought it looked gross, would leave it alone!) My mom used to mix it with the bananas that were going a bit off...dissappeared so fast! O, then she taught me to spread each slice with peanut butter and put thin slices of apple in between...YUM!  I had to try the 'natural' kind sold in the health store in later years. What a pain! Had to mix the old into the butter! and it didn't taste any better!
Why am I ranting on about peanut butter?
Because I get to try something new for me and I am giddy with excitement! Tropical Traditions is sending me some of their organic Coconut Peanut Butter! This is how they described it:
Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Peanut Butter is made from organic peanuts and organic coconut. Two ingredients: nothing else! No fillers, no binders, no sweeteners, and no preservatives. The peanuts are 100% organic Valencia peanuts grown organically by family farmers in New Mexico and Texas. Grown in the dry climate of the southwestern United States, these peanuts are certified organic and free from aflatoxins. The dried coconut is certified organic coconut meat from the Philippines from coconuts that are grown with no fertilizers or pesticides. This premium dried coconut contains no additives or preservatives, and is not sweetened. Unlike most dried coconut on the market, our dried coconut products are not treated with sulfites to keep them white. Together, these premium organic roasted peanuts and the premium organic dried coconut are ground together to make a delicious and nutritious spread!
No additives...nothing but coconut and peanut butter. I am hoping it is natually creamy and I can cook with it dandan noodles and saty. I shall see soon and report back to you on how well it spread, etc.
O, this is what is on the label if you want to compare it with your current peanut butter now:
Organic Coconut Peanut Butter Nutritional Panel
16 oz. size
Ingredients:Organic Dried Coconut, Organic Roasted Valencia Peanuts
Here's a bit more about peanuts Tropical Traditions uses:

What Makes Valencia Peanuts Unique

We call them nuts, but like all peanuts, Valencias are legumes, more closely related to peas and beans with one important difference: they grow beneath the ground.
Valencias are smaller, sweeter and have more intense flavor than other varieties of peanuts. They have three to five kernels in each shell and are grown almost exclusively in eastern New Mexico. In fact 90% of the Valencia peanuts produced in the US are grown within 120 miles of the Sunland plant. Portales claims the honor of being the "Valencia Peanut Basin of the Nation."
Farmers plant Valencia peanuts in May in the sandy soil of eastern New Mexico and west Texas. From a single peanut comes a beautiful plant which blooms in late August. Each blossom drops a "peg" which implants itself into the ground to grow a tasty Valencia peanut...more than 20 per plant.
Valencia peanuts love the sandy soil of the Portales valley and the surrounding high plains. After the peanuts are dug in the fall, they dry naturally in the sunny autumn days which are unique to the area. It's a climate that is vital for the Valencia- a time for the peanuts to be "kissed by the sun" before they're gathered for processing.
The peanuts destined for New Mexico's only peanut butter plant are shelled and roasted, and most of the red skins removed. Then the peanuts go through several crushing and mixing areas. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Kitchen House

I'm not sure where to begin with The Kitchen House. Can you imagine being 7 on a boat from Ireland with your parents and brother? Your parents die. You are separated from you brother on arrival to the southern colonies. You are indentured out to a plantation and raised in the kitchen house with the slaves. Time and events will have a strong effect on you, no doubt. But how? And how do those changes effect others as you grow to maturity?
What were the differences between the way 'indentured servants' and 'slaves' were treated, or were there?
Oriagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin voices enliven Kathleen Grisssom's characters as she explores a bit of this history that most of us have forgotten or never knew.
I found it provocatively interesting, but you will have to decide for yourself.
I am glad I used my Audible credit on this one. Whether you read or listen to the story, I think it will well worth your time and thoughts.

The past and the present combine again

Raise you hand if you liked the tripping back and forth in time with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation? OK, so I can only see two hands (my own and DH's), but they are waving enthusiastically! 
What? You didn't? 
OK, but you have heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel and all that mess in France. right? Well, the Pink Carnation took up where the Pimpernel stopped (due to the discovery of his identity). In the present there is a grad student finding decedents of the Pink Carnation with letters from and about that time (the past). 
I was rooting around in when I stumble on TSHOFPC and used one of my credits on it. 
Later I found The Masque of the Black Tulip. Noticing it was by the same author, I had to use another credit to indulge myself in what I hoped would be a continuation of the story with it's fast pace and witty dialog. 
Pink carnation, I think, feminine and frilly. 
Black tulip, I think, dark and strong.
Will the story line be gloomier? Will the pace be slower?  And who the heck is the Black Tulip?
No. No. And you have to read it yourself to find out!
I will tell you that Kate Redding's narration is good on this one, although I did almost miss the transition from one time period to another a couple of times. 
(DH  wants me to find out if Lauren Willing has more...she does!)

Has there been a MURDER?

Why yes! J. D. Robb is starting a fun series of mysteries with Detective Eve Dallas and Roarke, the wealthy Irish business man (with a bit of a shady side). With a bit of help from her soon to be lover, Eve will solve the murder of a senator's granddaughter and we will learn some of the back story of the 2 characters as they fall in love. 
Do you need to read this book before reading any of the others? 
Heck NO! Well, I didn't. This was the second book I read about them. These two characters were as stamped in the first novel I read as they are in Naked in Death. As each novel revolves around a new case, they can be read or heard independently. 
Away from our duo, the characters are as clear and the plot has wonderful twist and turns as it reaches it's solution.  
Don't try to read or listen to a bit Naked in Death before going to sleep, it just doesn't work unless you are very disciplined (which I am not) or you will be up all night (which I was) trying to see if you put all the pieces together before the end (which I didn't quite). 
It's a bit under 10 hours of listing time but speeds only nicely with the narration of Susan Ericksen.
p.s. I purchased this via one of my credits.

Two, Two Books on One!

Publisher's summary:
From humble beginnings and a narrow escape from death in childhood, William Marshall steadily rises through the ranks to become tutor in arms to the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Based on fact, this is the story of William Marshal, the greatest knight of the Middle Ages, unsurpassed in the tourneys, adeptly manoeuvring through the colourful, dangerous world of power and politics to become one of the most powerful magnates of the realm and eventually Regent of England.
©2006 Elizabeth Chadwick; (P)2006 Soundings
Read by Christopher Scott
William Marshal is my idea of the 'knight in shining armor'. His tournament skills were outstanding. He was a gentle man who, when he pledge himself, would not waver. His story in this time in history is fascinating! I enjoyed all 15 hours of it! 
At times I stopped the recording to check a fact or learn a bit more of the history, it  was always there. Ms. Chadwick does her research well. As an historical, fictional biography, this is one of my favorites! If you like good historical fiction, do by all means, indulge yourself with this one. I give this 5 out of 5 stars to the The Greatest Knight
Publisher's Summary:
The prowess and loyalty of the great knight William Marshal have been rewarded with the hand in marriage of Isabelle de Clare. William has weathered the difficult years of King Richard's absence on crusade and is currently serving him on campaign in Normandy. But the stability William and Isabelle have enjoyed comes crashing down as Richard dies and his brother John becomes king.
Rebellion stirs throughout the Angevin domains, and William and Isabelle distance themselves in Ireland. As the situation escalates, William steers an increasingly precarious path that will lead him, eventually, to the rule of a country in desperate straits, with Isabelle walking with him every step of the way.
©2006 Elizabeth Chadwick; (P)2007 Soundings

Read by Christopher Scott
I must talk for a moment of the importance of a good narrator.  Christopher Scott is an example of a really good narrator, his voice is easy to listen to. The characters are easily identified and non distracting. Why is this important to notice?  All it takes is one audio with a voice that irritates to stop a book dead. That is why I attempt to inform my readers of my opinion of the narrator's skill.
I posted this two books together because they are both about the same man. The first novel ends very nicely and you do not have consume it before reading the second (but I did). 
William Marshal is still my 'knight in shining armor' in this second half of his story.  While there is lots of good information in The Scarlet Lion, I found it moved slower than The Greatest Warrior. If you are like me, and want to know the rest of the story, you will move on to the end.
The one is some where between a 3 and a 4 for me but you may rate it higher. If you are as curious as I, you will have to have it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I don't know why I used my credit for this book...

But I am so glad I did!  Let me start with the publisher's summary:
The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God's protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina's new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.
Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, 16-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant - young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl's cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.
As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena - with her history of visions and ecstasies - locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess's job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.
Sarah Dunant, the best-selling author of The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, brings this intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life. Amid Sacred Hearts is a rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story, encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship.
©2009 Sarah Dunant; (P)2009 Random House
I knew nothing about the writer before listening to this one but remembered long gone quotes like, "Taker her to a nunnery!"   I read a novel where a queen forced a lady to give her young daughters. Really young girls (under 8), to the church. I knew that many women of the time gave themselves to the church rather than be forced to remarry but wondered about what it might be like living in a convent in those times. 
This story answers some of my questions but in a most digestible way. I really liked the story line as well as the characters.  (In some ways, they reminded me of my college years at an all girls university and the dorms I lived in!) 
Rosalyn Landor is a wonderful narrator by the by. 
Before I listened to the book, I was thinking it would probably end up as 3 out of 5 but I finished it as a 5...yes, I really, really liked it!

So I like English history..

And I gotta tell you, Elizabeth Chadwick, does such a marvelous job! This time she caught me with this one:
The Time of Singing is 16 hours of wonderful story telling with the voice of Peter Wickham. This is what the publisher had to say:

When Roger Bigod, heir to the powerful earldom of Norfolk, arrives at court in 1177 to settle a bitter inheritance dispute with his half-brothers, he encounters Ida de Tosney, young mistress to King Henry II.
A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida is attracted to Roger and sees in him a chance of lasting security; but in deciding to marry Roger, she is forced to make a choice. As Roger's importance as a mainstay of the Angevin government grows, it puts an increasing strain on his marriage.
Against a volatile political background the gulf between them threatens to widen beyond crossing, especially when so many bridges have already been burned.
©2008 Elizabeth Chadwick; (P)2009 Soundings

You won't believe where I first really became of Roger Bigod (our primary character)!  Yes,!  Turns out he was involved in my ancestors' lives! So naturally I had to use one of monthly credits on it!
If you have read (or listened to) The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, you will find this book dove tails nicely with them (like I did) as all the characters were ones you became familiar with in those books.  I periodically had to stop listening to go online to understand a bit more of the history or I had to go a bit deeper into the history.
Roger's father is verbally abusive. His step mother is out for her sons only. Things don't get a lot better after his father's death. Ida's lot, in it's way, is not much better. Life is not easy for the upper crusters who have to watch what they say and do so they do not fall into the pits dug by others or those tinder toes of THE KING.
If you have not read any of her novels, and you like historical fiction, what rock have you been hiding under? The people are real, the language seems realistic to me, and the fiction just carries me right along as I learn!
Even if you don't care a fig about the history, it is still a good story! So scoot on out to your bookstore or library and pick up the book in it's written or spoken version and see how fast you become a follower!

What to do?

Cleaning up a mess you made on line can be very boring and time intensive.  My friend then is audio!  BOOKS!!!  With a big mess, that means LOT OF BOOKS! First up is:
The publisher's summary:
A hero of the crusades, Dominic le Sabre has returned in glory and in triumph to claim his reward: the beautiful Saxon bride awarded to him by the conqueror king. But Lady Margaret of the Blackthorne cannot yield to the bold Norman invader.

The beloved daughter of a sacred tribe of the Celtic mystics, she fears an ancient curse that could bring further turmoil to her battle-scarred land...and sorrow to her marriage bed.
With a word, the lady could turn her wedding into war. But there awaits in the noble knightᅵᅵs embrace a promise of passion unbound - and a love that neither violence nor treachery can tear asunder, a love both invincible and...untamed.
©2008 Elizabeth Lowell; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio

This was a really fun romp which helped the time fly.  I have to admit that a few times I was really glad my computer was running slow. Of course I could have rebooted but then I would have to stop the book. It does lean more to the fictional than the historical but I needed something lighter.
I don't normally go for series books because they so often leave you dangling.  (I hate when authors do that to me.)But I have to give props to Elizabeth Lowell as this books wraps up nicely. I guess that means I will probably put the next one on my wish list. 
Oh, the narrator on this book (Anne Flosnic) was good. A nice English voice to complement a nice English story.  I am glad I used my monthly credit on this one. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


No kidding! It has become adictive! Not only have a found some really interesting dead relatives, I have gotten to meet some that are very much alive! We have shared pictures and stories and, boy, are they helpful! The other thing that is nice is finding out just how large our family is.  As an Army Brat, we traveled a lot...and not toward were the extended family, for me, they did not exist...except for my father's father and his aunt. I didn't know until my dad died that my father's mother was one of 3 or that his dad was from like 8. Until I got onto Ancestry, I didn't know how to reach out and find out about them.  AND THE STORIES! I love the stories! It's like history comes to life because I'm meeting people who were creating it. I love when I find pictures. Wait! Let me find one to share! Then I must move on to more homework!