Autumn Adoration LO’s

gone girl web

Mandy has a very pretty new fall kit out today called Autumn Adoration.

I went very simple for my first page, about our love for Gone Girl. I’ve often thought of doing LO’s for books that I love, but they’re not very high on my list for some reason. So I was excited to see that one of the challenges at Gotta Pixel this week was to scrap a favorite book.

Journaling reads- Our favorite book recently has definitely been Gone Girl. I read it this spring, then when I heard it was going to be a movie, I read it again. One night we were in bed and I was blathering on about the book. Jason got out the iPad and went to find it on the iBooks store. He asked me if it was worth eight dollars, and I said “Definitely!” I love that we live in a time when you can buy books on a whim and get them almost instantly! He stayed awake late that night reading, then finished it up on the weekend. It was so hard not to give him spoilers! He would act sneaky and try to get info out of me, but I kept quiet. (Though I think I let something slip, I’m not sure if he noticed). After he finished the book, we obsessively watched the movie trailer and dissected it for way longer than it warranted, I’m sure. It’s funny though, that when we finally saw the movie, we didn’t have much to say. It was a pretty faithful adaptation and we were both pretty satisfied.. But I love that we both got so excited about a book together. It has made for hours of lively discussions for the past few weeks.

Autumn Adoration by Mandy King template by Angelclaud Artroom

I girly-ed it up for my next page, about my sister’s changing style.

Journaling reads- And somehow, without my knowlege or approval, my sister has morphed herself into Stevie Nicks, complete with scarves and long swirly skirts. I find this hilarious coming from a girl who used to throw fits when I made her put on dresses for church as a child.

(template by Angelclaud Artroom)

Thanks for looking 🙂

*I am a Creative Team Member. This means that I receive free products in exchange for making and advertising layouts for designers. However, the opinions expressed here are my own. The enthusiasm expressed here is definitely my own. See more of my CT layouts here.

Good reads- vol. 8

I’ve been plowing through books at breakneck speed recently. I still might not make 100 books this year, but I think I’ll come close.

The Mayfair Witches books by Anne Rice

As soon as we started talking about going to Louisiana this year, I knew I was going to reread the Mayfair Witches books. It’s one of those series I feel compelled to read every few years.

I’ve read The Witching Hour four times, though at this point I know which parts to skip, (like the gross incest chapters), and the parts not to read around mealtime (descriptions of things found in the attic) Other than those bits, I love the book. I am nerdily obsessed with plotting out the Mayfair Family Tree. I love the detailed descriptions of the Garden District. I love reading about the house renovations. I love love love the historical chapters, and the feeling you get like you’re peeling away the layers of an onion as you go deeper into the family’s past.

Lasher, on the other hand, is my least favorite in the series. So much rape and torture and horrible miscarriages. But you get to find out the real story behind the ghost that has haunted the Mayfair family for generations.

Taltos was okay. I’ve just always been a lot more interested in the witchy parts of these books, as opposed to the Taltos.

All three of these were re-reads for me. I didn’t realize that there are a few more Mayfair books out there, but they all have tie-ins with Anne Rice’s Vampire series, which I’ve never read. I was left wondering whether to continue on with this series, or to start the Vampire series first. I’m still on the fence, so any advice on that is welcome!

After I finished those, I needed a break from supes. So for “lighter reading” I picked up a book about the Boxer rebellion. Like you do. Thus started my newest history obsession, which I think deserves it’s own post. So I’ll continue with my regular reading here and save that book for later.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

I’ve been hearing buzz about Bernadette for awhile now. I was getting a little burnt out on series and ready for a stand-alone book. I really loved the first 3/4 of the book, which is told in the form of emails, receipts, and other electronic correspondence. It felt very clever and fresh. I enjoyed trying to piece together the puzzle that was Bernadette’s disappearance. In some places it reminded me of my beloved P.G. Wodehouse. But towards the end I kind of got tired of Genius Bernadette and her Genius Husband and their Genius Offspring. Yes, I get it- they’re all smarter, more talented, and richer than us. Let’s move on. There were really hilarious parts though, it was a fun satirical look at the lifestyles of the upper middle class (or slightly lower upper class?)

Hiss and Hers (Agatha Raisin #23) by M.C. Beaton

Not my favorite Agatha book. Agatha is in love again (of course), with someone completely unsuitable (as always). He ends up dead and she investigates. This has been the plot for several other Agatha books. I know a lot of fans are getting tired of recycled plots, but I’ll keep reading as long as she keeps churning them out. Because the author always throws in little tidbits that keep me wanting more, in this case clues to how Charles really feels about Agatha. And I’m always hoping she’ll find a good man in the end…

More posts on Books.

Good reads vol. 7

I haven’t written a books post since March!

Most of the earlier part of the year was taken up with reading the entire Dresden Files series. 2014 will be known as “The Year of Dresden”.

I also read a ton of series books, including the latest two Stephanie Plum books (meh), and my two loves, Elvis Cole and the fabulous Phyne Fisher.

I’m all caught up with the Oak Knoll series, (so creepy!) and Goldie Bear.

I also continued on with a few other series- Faith Fairchild,  Peter Diamond, The Hollows, Ellie HaskellMrs. Pargeter, Callahan Garetty, and Maisie Dobbs

I read a couple of Heather Graham books, and a couple of stand alone books.

I’m coming to the realization that I read way too many series. An informal count last night showed that I’m in the process of reading 29 different series! That’s just nuts. No wonder I get confused…

A few more things of note- I reread A Time to Kill and then read Sycamore Road, written 25 years later. I loved them both, though A Time to Kill was very violent and upsetting in parts.

I finished up the Sookie Stackhouse series with After Dark: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse. It was pretty universally hated as a blatant ploy for money and not a real book, but I didn’t think it was too bad.

Speaking of universally hated, I also read Allegiant, the last in the Divergent trilogy. I actually thought it was an interesting way to tie things up, and very fitting with the characters. But I’m in the minority on that one.

On a happier note, I also discovered a fun paranormal series starring Elizabeth I as a vampire. The Immortal Empire books are pretty ridiculous as far as science goes, but they were fun to read and I blew through them pretty quickly.

I didn’t read much at all this summer and I’m behind on my goal of reading 100 books this year. I’ve spent the last few days filling up my iPad with audiobooks, so I’m ready to go!

Has anyone read any of these? I’d love to hear recommendations. I read pretty much anything except Westerns, though mysteries and histories are my favorite, with the occasional trashy vampire book thrown in. (Hello run-on sentences)

More posts on Books.

Around here


I love snails.


I recently discovered the secret to perfectly peel-able boiled eggs! Put your raw eggs into water that’s already boiling. I’ve always done cold-start boiled eggs, so I guess that’s why my eggs always looked so awful and never peeled right. It’s like magic!


Little Man got some funky sunglasses and sent us a pic. Love how you can see his hand in the reflection. I can’t get over how long his hair is! It’s going to take some getting used to. But it’s his head so….


Double rainbow!


My seedlings are coming right along. Amazingly all my orphaned plants are still doing well. I’ll need to do a garden update soon.


I tried the new caramel crunch frappuccino. It’s pretty tasty, the “crunch” comes from bits of toffee.


We got library cards!


I’ve been without a pedometer since I lost my fitbit in December. I need to see numbers for motivation, so I picked up a cheap one at Target.


Jason did some repair work on the RC car and we took it out for a spin at the park.


Who’s the prettiest girl?


I’m working on hanging things on our walls finally. Last time I meticulously measured everything out and they were still not evenly spaced. This time I just guestimated and used my fingers as measuring tools.

And lastly, today is the nine year anniversary of our first meeting IRL. I will say a lot of things privately today, but I do want to say here- Thank you for taking a leap of faith and getting on a plane and flying almost 1000 miles to come meet me. Thank you for that first hug that changed my life. You still make me feel giddy and awkward in the best way. ❤

Good Reads vol. 6: Holiday Murder Mystery Extravaganza, Part 2

I’m playing catch up talking about the books I’ve read lately. Back in December, I took a break from my regularly scheduled books to try something different. To get into the holiday spirit, I decided to devote December to only holiday themed mysteries. You can see the first installment here.

Murder in the Dark (Phryne Fisher #16) by Kerry Greenwood

It’s Christmas, and Phryne has an invitation to the Last Best party of 1928, a four-day extravaganza being held at Werribee Manor house and grounds by the Golden Twins, Isabella and Gerald Templar. Phryne finds that the jazz is as hot as the drinks are cold and indulges in flirtations, dancing, and mint juleps. Heaven.

It all seems like good clean fun until three people are kidnapped, one of them an abominable child, and Phryne must puzzle her way through the cryptic clues of the scavenger hunt to retrieve the hostages and save the party from disaster.

I’ve already talked about my love of Phryne Fisher. I skipped ahead a few books in the series to read this one. What can I say? I adored it. Especially the ladies polo team. Fair warning- This book is not for the faint of heart. There are orgies involved. Also drugs. Though if you’ve gotten this far in the series that should be of no surprise. Our Phryne does love the fellas. Also you can check out the TV series on Netflix streaming. And you should.

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler (Editor)

Each year, for the past seventeen years, Otto Penzler, owner of the legendary Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has commissioned an original story by a leading mystery writer. The requirements were that it be a mystery/ crime/suspense story, that it be set during the Christmas season, and that at least some of the action must take place in The Mysterious Bookshop. These stories were then produced as pamphlets, 1,000 copies, and given to customers of the bookstore as a Christmas present.Now, all of these stories have been collected in one volume—Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop

I’m not always a fan of short stories, but I mostly enjoyed these. Some were funny. Some were scary. A couple were just odd. But all in all a pretty good read. I love the backstory of how the book came to be, and it was very entertaining to see how different authors treated the Bookshop- and it’s proprietor. I liked seeing familiar characters in the same setting but in very different situations. And I found a few new-to-me authors, so that’s always a win.

The Raven in the Foregate (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #12)

It is Christmas, A.D. 1141, Abbot Radulfus returns from London, bringing with him a priest for the vacant living of Holy Cross, also known as the Foregate. The new priest is a man of presence, learning, and discipline, but he lacks humility and the common touch. When he is found drowned in the millpond, suspicion is cast upon a young man who arrived with the priest’s train and was sent to work in Brother Cadfael’s garden. Indeed, he is soon discovered to be an impostor. To Brother Cadfael, now falls the familiar task of sorting out the complicated strands of innocence and guilt

How have I never read Brother Cadfael before? I know my dad has been trying to get me to read these for years, but somehow they fell through the cracks. Well better late than never! I liked this one quite a bit. I really need to start the series from the beginning though because I got a little lost with some of characters and their relationships. I’m a sucker for historical mysteries and this is a period of history that I don’t know much about. So I’m not sure how historically accurate it is. And I really don’t care. I enjoyed it anyway.

Finding the Forger (Bianca Balducci Mystery #2) by Libby Sternberg

This title is for ages 12+. For the second time, sophomore Bianca Balducci is helping her private-eye sister solve a mystery, this one involving forgeries at the local museum. Bianca becomes involved after her friend Sarah’s security-guard boyfriend is implicated in the crimes. However, the mystery takes a backseat to the drama and angst of teenage relationships. Bianca is an extremely likable character: smart, funny, and able to find humour in the worst situations

I picked this one up by accident, not realizing it was YA. Clearly I need to read the synopsis more carefully 😛 I actually did like this though. It was very silly, reminiscent of the Georgia Nicholson books if Georgia solved crimes and was American. Very silly girls worrying about boys and their hair. I can’t imagine that I was ever that boy crazy, though I am getting on in years so maybe it’s a memory lapse. Cute book and a quick read.

Midnight Clear (Callahan Garrity Mystery #7) by Kathy Hogan Trocheck

Ex-Atlanta cop-turned-house-cleaning entrepreneur Callahan Garrity doesn’t know what she is getting for Christmas, but she never expects the gift that arrives at her door: her estranged, ne’er-do-well brother, Brian, and his adorable three-year-old daughter, Maura. A rebel who’s been in and out of trouble most of his life, Brian’s deep in it now since he illegally abducted Maura from under the nose of his shrewish former wife.

When the beautiful child’s mother is found murdered, the police come looking for Brian. And now, to save her brother and her holiday, Callahan — along with her irascible mom, Edna, and a gaggle of House Mouse employees — must uncover the truth and a killer, even if it means digging around the roots of her own family tree and exposing the rot underneath.

This was another new-to-me series. I really liked it and have since started the series from the beginning. I love the setting in the Atlanta neighborhood. It reminded me of the neighborhood I grew up in East Nashville. Callahan’s mother got on my ever-loving’ nerves, though she shares my view that Pull-Ups are the worst invention ever and that they have stunted the potty training of a whole generation. I actually laughed out loud when she started talking about that. The story was sad (why does everyone want to abandon their children at Christmas?) Decent mystery, but I’ll keep going with the series for the characters.

Five more down!

*Book blurbs taken from Goodreads.

See more natterings about books here.

Good Reads vol. 5: Holiday Murder Mystery Extravaganza, Part 1

I’m playing catch up talking about the books I’ve read lately. Back in December, I took a break from my regularly scheduled books to try something different. To get into the holiday spirit, I decided to devote December to only holiday themed mysteries. You’d be surprised how many of those there are! I’ve barely scratched the surface of this sub-sub genre (is that a real term?) I still have a pretty long list of books I didn’t get to, so I can see this becoming a yearly tradition for sure.

First up were a couple of oldies but goodies.

Kissing Christmas Goodbye (Agatha Raisin #18) by M.C. Beaton
English Cotswolds. Wealthy matriarch Phyllis Tamworthy, suspecting that a family member is trying to kill her, hires detective Agatha Raisin. Soon after, Phyllis is fatally poisoned. Agatha investigates while planning a holiday dinner to woo her ex, James, and training a teenaged new employee who makes her feel old.

I’m a bit torn on this one. On the one hand, this is one of my least favorite Agatha books as far as the mystery goes. The victim is so horrible, you kind of wish you’d had the opportunity to kill her yourself. The more you learn about her, the more sympathy you have with the killer. So much so, that by the end you don’t really even care who actually did it.

On the other hand, I really love Agatha in this book. As prickly and unlikeable as she can be, she really shows a softer side in this book. She really does a lot of good here, even if it’s in her own self interest. I know a person or two who can’t get past Agatha’s abrasive personality, but Christmas brings out the best of her here.

Agatha Raisin and the Busybody (Agatha Raisin #21) by M. C. Beaton
PI Agatha Raisin assists Miriam Courtney, a suspect in the murder of health and safety officer John Sunday–universally despised for banning the traditional village Christmas tree. When Miriam’s mansion burns down with her in it, Agatha continues investigating the case on behalf of Miriam’s grown children.

I can’t say much about the actual mystery without getting too spoiler-y. Overall I liked it. This story spans a whole year, which is unusual for the Agatha books. I worry a bit when I see authors do this with older characters. It stretches plausibility to have a heroine in her 50’s at the beginning of a 20+ book series where each book takes place during several months to a year. The author also uses a plot device that I find pretty tiresome which I can’t go into. Which is also tiresome. But trust me, everyone has used it.

The Christmas Thief (Regan Reilly #9) by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
During a vacation weekend in Stowe, Vermont, lottery winner Alvirah Meehan and her friend private investigator Regan Reilly become involved in the case of a stolen Christmas tree. The tree, designated for Rockefeller Center, connects a scam artist, a swindled waitress, and a sparkling treasure.

I don’t love MHC. Every ten years or so, I pick up one of her books to make sure I still don’t like them… Yep, still don’t. I think the characters have the potential to be interesting. But I can’t get past some of the writing. There are a few phrases in the English language that make me grind my teeth, and I think MHC used most of them here. I don’t mind a sprinkling of “Little did she know…” but pair it with “She didn’t realize how beautiful she looked”, and you’ve lost me. If MHC had used the phrase “As a mother…” she would have inadvertently stumbled upon my Trifecta of Annoying Phrases. And caused my head to explode.

Hard Christmas (Cat Marsala #6) by Barbara D’Amato
Researching a feature story on the Christmas-tree industry, Cat spends Thanksgiving with the DeGraaf family near Holland, Michigan. The beauty of the rural landscape and the clan’s warm welcome mask growing tensions until someone puts a young farm worker through the tree baler.

Every time I read a Cat Marsala mystery, I learn about something new that I thought I had no interest in before. I love that about this series! This time around Cat delves into the world of Christmas tree farming, which a lot more complex than you’d think. In doing so, she inadvertently stumbles into a family full of secrets. Though the reason for her researching this industry is not necessarily in character for Cat, if you get past that, the rest of the book is very good.

Definitely a favorite new-to-me series this year.

The Body in the Sleigh (Faith Fairchild #18) by Katherine Hall Page

It’s Christmastime, and the Fairchild family is spending the holidays on idyllic Sanpere Island in Maine while the Reverend Thomas Fairchild recuperates from surgery. His caterer wife, Faith, is rejoicing in the rare, holiday family-time together—watching ice boaters, snowshoeing, and doing plenty of reading in front of the fire.

But Faith’s high spirits are dampened when she discovers the body of a young woman in an antique sleigh in front of the Sanpere Historical Society.

I generally like the Faith Fairchild mysteries. I’ve been slowly working through the series for years. I skipped ahead in the series a bit to get to this one, to keep with the holiday theme. The Body in the Sleigh was good but quite sad. The backstory of the murder victim and the secondary mystery of an abandoned baby were well done, but the ending wasn’t clear cut by any means. I think this book will have repercussions later on in the series.

I have many (many) reviews to catch up on. And by “reviews” I mean “longwinded blatherings”. I’m going to try to blog these once or twice a week until I get caught up.

*Book blurbs taken from Goodreads.

See more natterings about books here.

Good Reads vol. 4

Here are a few books that I’ve been reading lately.

Monsieur Pamplemousse Aloft by Michael Bond (Monsieur Pamplemousse #5)

“The fifth in Bond’s series about Aristide Pamplemousse, France’s premier gourmet guide, begins with a mission right up his allee. Once more, however, a fairly simple task grows into an escapade for M. Pamplemousse and Pommes Frites, his smart little dog. They are driving to Port St. Augustin where Aristide is to advise on epicurean treats offered VIPs on a dirigible flying from France to England, reaffirming the entente cordiale signed by the two nations in 1904. Nothing must fail, but M. Pamplemousse senses threats to the great occasion even before arriving in the seacoast town. A group of oddly behaving nuns; a near-fatal fall by Yasmin, the trapeze artist at the local circus; the snubbing from Aristide’s old friend, a British detective; and other events plant suspicions that turn the gastronome into his former self as inspector of police in Paris. The funny, exciting mystery will delight readers who may weep with envy of the feasts that are ordinary fare for M. Pamplemousse and Pommes Frites.”

I’m working my way through a M. Pamplemousse omnibus. This is the fifth in the series, and just as fun as all the others I’ve read. The mystery is a bit unsatisfying, but the humor and ridiculous cast of characters more than make up for it. And of course, you’ve gotta love Pommes Frites 🙂 One side note- It seems like Goodreads and Amazon are getting this one confused with Monsieur Pamplemousse Afloat, which apparently takes place in a vineyard.

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

“Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life–solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. In response, Marlowe finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism. Ranging from American museums to the coast of Normandy, from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love, THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope.”

I (mostly) really enjoyed Kostova’s book The Historian.  The Swan Thieves was super slow at times, but it was quite absorbing. Following along with Marlowe as he unravelled Oliver’s backstory kept me interested through the slow bits. His unethical behavior made me cringe at times. I’m a sucker for a good flashback, and this book is full of them. The Swan Thieves seems to be a more polarizing book, at least on Goodreads. Most people loved it or hated it. I actually kind of loved it.

Getting Old is a Disaster by Rita Lakin (Gladdy Gold #5)

“Back from schlepping all over New York City, P.I. Gladdy Gold is happy to be on her Florida turf again. Especially now that she and boyfriend Jack Langford are officially an item. But no sooner has the yenta brigade gotten back to their routine–complete with poolside stretching and kvetching–than a notorious outlaw, a.k.a. the “Grandpa Bandit,” issues Gladdy’s detective agency a direct challenge: Catch me if you can.

The dapper thief has already knocked over six Fort Lauderdale banks, with no end in sight. It’s up to Gladdy and the girls to stop him before he hits the next one. But when a killer hurricane leads to the discovery of a fifty-year-old skeleton, they have to put the bandit on the back burner. With the storm wreaking havoc and a dark mystery swirling around the Lanai Gardens retirement community, Gladdy and the girls are about to confront a ruthless killer determined to bury the past—and them along with it..”

Another fun Gladdy Gold mystery. These are becoming my new mystery comfort food. This one deals with some serious issues though. As the story unfolds, we get a peek into the past of one of Gladdy’s neighbors, a Holocaust survivor. I really like how the author is using a bigger story arc in this series, clearing up things that I’ve been wondering about since the first book. She did the same thing in the fourth book, which I talked about in this post.

Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer by Andrea Lyon

“Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded. Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence, they deserved a chance at redemption.”

This was one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It shines a light on the inequities of the justice system, for both the people accused and the people deciding their fate. Lyon’s stories don’t all have happy endings, but throughout the book there is a theme of hope. I’m so glad she had the opportunity to tell her story in book form, and I’m so glad that I read it.

Bridget Jones- Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones #3)

I’m not going to put a blurb describing this book because they either a) only talk about the past books/ movies, or b) give away spoilers. Suffice it to say that this Bridget is a completely different Bridget that we all knew and loved from the first two books… or is she? Despite vastly different life circumstances, she is still hilariously self absorbed and accident prone.

I started this in West Virginia, but kept having to put it down. The *big spoiler-y part* was devastating to me and I had to take breaks so as to not ugly cry in public. But it made me laugh a lot, so it wasn’t too traumatizing. No I take it back, it was traumatizing! How could you do that, Helen Fielding??

Setting that aside, I found this book to be a little confusing. The time hopping around felt stilted. I kept trying to do math in my head to figure out how old certain characters were supposed to be at different points. That, and the transparent ending were the only bad points for me. Other than the *big spoiler-y part* Whyyyyyyyy? Ok it’s been a couple of weeks since I read this and I’m clearly still not over it. Read it if you want to laugh and snort drinks up your nose. But be prepared to have your heart broken before you finish the Prologue.

Those are a few of my latest reads. A good portion of November was taken up reading a forever-long biography. I’m taking a break from that one to read some holiday books this month. I’ll try to come back before the end of December to recap those (a lot of them are really short).

*Book blurbs taken from Goodreads and Amazon.

See more natterings about books here.

#30Lists Day 6

I’m joining in 30 Days of Lists again this round. It’s a fun little way to document a snippet of your life. Find out more about #30Lists here.

On my reading list-
The Cat Who Came for Christmas (always!)
Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body
Agatha Raisin- Kissing Christmas Goodbye
Agatha Christie holiday books
Visions of Sugarplums
And Four to Go
various other holiday murder mysteries

I’m starting a new tradition with myself this year. I’ve downloaded 20 or so holiday mysteries. Some I’ve already read, some will be new to me. I’m going to see how many I can get through this month.

If you have any holiday mysteries that you love, please share! I just did a search for “Christmas” and “murder”, so I’m definitely open for suggestions!

Also, you may notice that one of those books is not like the other. I’ve read the first chapter of The Cat Who Came For Christmas almost every single year since 1991. But that deserves a post all on it’s own 🙂

See my other attempts at #30Lists here.

Good Reads vol. 3

I’m playing catch-up with some blog posts. Here are some more of the books that I read back in August.

Cuckoo’s Calling
I’m struggling as to how to talk about this one. I tried not to let the whole pseudonym thing color what I actually thought of the book, but to be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to reading it. I have absolutely no problem with an author taking on a pseudonym, especially if they’re venturing into a new genre of writing. Authors do it all the time, that’s fine. The thing that has left a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning is the alternate persona she chose. Pretending to be a war veteran writing a story about a war veteran, and putting phrases in the book like “No civilian can begin to understand the sacrifice…”, it all just seems really tacky to me.
Having said that, I did enjoy the book. I think it’s really hilarious how so many people who wouldn’t ordinarily touch this genre with a ten foot pole are gobbling it up. I think it would be awesome if she continued to write mysteries! There are some problems with the story, especially the timeline. But the characters suck you in, and I found the book to be a nice solid mystery. I don’t want to go too much into the story, because I don’t want to get spoiler-y, but if anyone else has read it, I’d love to talk about it!
And the last thing I’ll say is this, if you’re new to the genre and liked this book, I highly recommend Elizabeth George. She writes in a similar style (British procedural mysteries with tons of family drama centered stories), but she does it better.
(Now I’m going to stand back and wait for people to start throwing tomatoes at me…)

The Collegia Magica Trilogy
I loved these books! I’m not always drawn to fantasy books, but these books were a really interesting mix of science, magic, and religion. At first, I didn’t like the multiple narrator points of view, but I quickly realized why it was necessary. The people were coming from such different places and had so many different motivations, it was like peeling an onion and finding layer upon layer of hidden insights into their characters. I will certainly be revisiting these again.

The City and Town Gardener: A Handbook for Planting in Small Spaces and Containers
Very informative. I loved her little anecdotes, and I learned more than I had expected to. Most notably, water in the morning. I’ve always been an evening waterer, especially since I moved to Florida. I’ve always heard that water would evaporate in the heat before it could do what it needed to for the plants. What I didn’t take into consideration was that water sitting in containers overnight can lead to mold growth and other unsavory things. Which might be why I keep killing every basil plant I’ve ever owned? Maybe.
I did skip around in this book a bit. Although I’m sure it was very interesting, I don’t really need to know how to pile snow around the base of ornamental trees to winterize them.
One slight disappointment in the book was the author’s dislike of growing from seed. I’m attempting to do that this fall, so I would have liked some info on that. I don’t agree that space limitations should limit you in that area, but I see why a lot of people don’t like growing from seed when they can get plants that have already been started.

Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss
This book has been known in my house as “that crazy ass diet book”. While a lot of what it says makes sense, like you should be eating a lot more vegetables, and the Standard American Diet is terrible, this diet is a bit extreme for my tastes. I don’t usually go for any diet that restricts you to just a couple of food groups. But if you’re already vegan, or wanting to explore that lifestyle, this book is definitely worth a read. There are a lot of really tasty vegan recipes that I’d like to try. I think it’s a great companion book if you’re trying to eat Clean.
The best thing that I took from this book is the idea of using different cooking methods. Did you know that you don’t need oil to make stir-fry? Or to roast veggies? I didn’t, but you totally can! I’ve “water sautéed” veggies a few times since reading this book, and it works great. I haven’t tried roasting yet, but whenever my broken oven gets fixed, that’s on my list.

So that’s what I’ve been reading lately. I have a huge pile of books that I want to plow through this month, so stay tuned for some non-fiction, and possibly a French detective or two 🙂

Good Reads, vol. 2

Here are the books I’ve been munching on the past couple of weeks.

The Green Mill Murder and Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher #5 and 6)
Still on my Phryne kick. The Green Mill Murder was typical Phryne book. Murder at a dance competition, family intrigue, and we get to see more of her famous flying stunts. I’m loving these books not only for the characters, but also because they give a look into Australian and WWI history.
Blood and Circuses went off the rails a bit. To help her friends, Phryne has to go undercover as a circus horse rider and solve a murder. She has to leave all her fancy clothes and luxuries behind, taking her far out of her comfort zone. I mostly liked this one, but one thing bugged me… I am accustomed to the fact that Phryne is going to take a new lover in each book, but does she need two? At the same time? And the men don’t even seem to mind. It just seemed a bit unrealistic.

You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap) How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too
This was a really interesting book, and one I can recommend to a few of the hoarders in my life. You probably don’t want to live in a Tiny House (300 square feet), but the author doesn’t expect you too. She tells lots of stories from her own life, and people she knows, that show the benefits of decluttering and “right sizing” your life (Side note, I have immense hatred for the term “right sizing” in any other context). She offers small action steps at the end of each chapter that almost anyone can benefit from. She also stresses that each person and family are different. You have to find your own version of happiness. This is something I super strongly believe in. We are much more into “experience gifts” than giving each other stuff. The part on time management and commuting was especially interesting to me, and something we’ll definitely take into consideration when our lease is up in April. The only downside to this book is that her writing style gets a bit repetitive. She says the same few phrases and tells the same stories over and over. If you can get past that, it’s definitely worth a read.

In the President’s Secret Service, Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect
This book was half interesting, informative book, half US Weekly. It’s so trashy in parts that it made me cringe. Do I really want to know about the President who took a leak in front of the press corps? Or about the (many) extramarital affairs of our government officials? Well ok, yes I do. But I don’t want those stories mixed in with Important Stuff, like the history of the Secret Service, assassinations, and budget and morale problems that are undermining the efficacy of today’s SS. It’s almost like you’re reading two different books. Two very interesting books, but two books that don’t even belong on the same shelf. The author shows a clear Conservative-leaning bias, and some of the anonymous accounts stretch credulity. But the actual fact-based parts of the book give a fascinating look into the men and women protecting our nation’s leaders.

I went from trashy politics to trashy vampire romance. Actually this wasn’t very trashy at all. An entertaining story about a woman who hates vampires falling for… wait for it… a vampire! I know, right? It was a fun read though, and despite a few truck driver sized plot holes, I enjoyed it. I have the unfortunate habit lately of picking up books in a series without realizing it. And then getting really pissed off when I reach the end. Do people even write one off books anymore?

Anyhoo, next up will probably be Cuckoo’s Calling. And I have a couple of gardening books in my queue. I’m not sure how well audiobooks about gardening will translate, but we’ll see.

Oh, and one other book-related thing. We watched Beautiful Creatures the other night. I talked about the book in my last post, and I’m happy to report that the movie was WAY better than the book. I know a lot of BC fans were pissed off about some pretty major divergences from the book, but I think they made it better. And Serafina made that movie. Totally. Jason actually loved it too. He thinks it’s even better than Hunger Games. I don’t agree, but I’m glad he liked it 😛

You can read more of my blatherings on books here.