Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Snapshot

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken.   Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. 
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

 A few weekends ago, Shelly, April and I went on a trip to  a distant town.
(okay, only 4 hours away--- in the west that's not very distant, but "a land far, far away, sounds more romantic than a little road trip)

As we drove, we had to stop to (shhhh---to use the bathroom.  Can you say bathroom?  On a blog?  Should I say restroom?  Okay, restroom. NO, we stopped to powder our noses, that's it.)
The Rockhouse advertises its "unique bathrooms" and "great coffee"
It's true!

 Bathroom art!

Getting our coffees

The 'famous' restroom !

Old buildings along the way...

And then...THEN... We came upon... a Winery!!
In the middle of nowhere!
We had to take a detour. 

Long story short?
We bought wine.
we had a nice girls weekend!

What Angels Fear

From Goodreads:

 It's 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III's England. Then a beautiful young woman is found raped and savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol discovered at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.

Now a fugitive running for his life, Sebastian calls upon his skill as an agent during the war to catch the killer and prove his own innocence. In the process, he accumulates a band of unlikely allies, including the enigmatic beauty Kat Boleyn, who broke Sebastian's heart years ago. In Sebastian's world of intrigue and espionage, nothing is as it seems, yet the truth may hold the key to the future of the British monarchy, as well as to Sebastian's own salvation....

From Me:
4 Stars!
Could have been because I was in a series mystery mood, BUT this is a really GOOD series mystery.
The characters are really 'deep' as is the mystery, and hint of things to come...

A couple of weeks ago, I was going thru blogs and on The Quirky Bookworm's Blog, she  did a  blog post titled:
 Addicting Books: 8 Authors You Won't Be Able to Put Down 

She said that if I  (and yes, she was talking just to me!) hadn't read any of C.S. Harris's,  Sebastian St. Cyr books, that I had a lot of great reading to look forward to.

I do believe she is right!
I just loved it!

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by 

Every Friday, she'll pose a question, submitted by a fellow book blogger.

(stop by her Blog to find out all the details)

This week's question is:
(submitted by Elizabeth at  Silver's  Review's)
Does the title of a book make or break your choice to read it?  
I had to think about this one for a while... and, I don't think it does.
I've never really thought about titles before. 
The name of the author, the cover of the book,  yes! But title's?
Usually not.
Of course, now that I'm aware of it, all I will be thinking about as I choose my next book is "This is a STUPID title!" 


Friday, April 24, 2015

Big Driver

From Goodreads:
 Tess Thorne, a famous mystery writer, faces a long drive home following a book signing engagement. Advised to take a shortcut at the suggestion of the event’s planner, Tess sets out for home, well after dark. On a lonely stretch of New England road, her tire blows out, and when a man in a pick up stops, it is not to help her, but to repeatedly assault her and leave her for dead. Tess survives, and she plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself, capable of gruesome violence
From Me:
3.5 stars from me!
I enjoyed listening to this short audio book by Stephen King.
It was gritty and there some were scenes in the story that made my skin crawl... not from King's usual creepiness, but from 'this could happen in real life evil creepiness'.  As I get older, I usually don't like to read about those kinds of situations,  but I did  like how strong the main character became...even tho, she, herself committed some atrocities. 
The narrator, Jessica Hecht,  did a good job of transitioning the main characters voice from the 'before' and 'after'.
I understand it was originally published in King's 2010 anthology; Full Dark, No Stars.
Lifetime also made this into a movie, or rather a TV EVENT (as it says on the cover).
Now I want to see the movie.  It looks like there are some great strong female characters.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cookbook Countdown, Cookbook Wednesday and some muffins!

Number 76!!

In my very own Cookbook Countdown!
I am also  calling this Cookbook Wednesday, but at the moment, there isn't a link-up.  I just wanted to give a shout out to Louise!

As  I said the last time I posted a cookbook for the countdown,  
this isn't even making a dent in my collection.
And it's #76!
This will keep me busy until I die. (posting from each cookbook)
I'm so glad I have a purpose in life!  A goal!  I can never give up!

This is what Goodreads had to say about this cookbook:

A mouth-watering cookbook from the New York Times bestselling author of America’s Most Wanted Recipes features more than 100 dessert recipes from your family’s favorite restaurants.Ron Douglas has wowed home cooks across the country by uncovering the best recipes from hundreds of popular restaurants, including Applebee’s, Arby’s, Baskin-Robbins, The Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, Hooter’s, IHOP, and more. America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts features the best of the best copycat recipes, this time focusing on desserts!     Ron has perfected his versions of recipes from more than seventy-five different billion-dollar establishments: think Applebee’s Deadly Chocolate Sin, The Cheesecake Factory’s Banana Cream Cheesecake, and Cracker Barrel’s Banana Pudding. Just Desserts will cover what Ron’s knows people crave: inexpensive, easy, and delicious dishes that the whole family can enjoy. Perfect for satisfying sweet tooths across the country—at home, minus the cost of eating out.

I had a hard time choosing something to make from this cookbook.  Mostly because everything sounded so good!
I decided on a nice muffin to serve in the morning with a good cup of coffee.
Pumpkin seems like a fall ingredient, but I had it in my pantry.

These muffins are a copy-cat recipe from
Dunkin' Donuts
Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

 It made  a good muffin.

You can't really see it but there is a kind of crunchy caramelized topping of brown sugar on top.
I liked that part best of all.
I would make these again--they were good.
I can't compare them to the ones at Dunkin' Donuts, as I have never had their's.

I can't wait to try some other desserts from this cookbook!

Dunkin' Donuts
Pumpkin Spice Muffins 

One box  18.25 oz spice cake mix
One 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix
One 30 oz can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbls plain yogurt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together the box of spice cake, the pudding. Stir in the pumpkin puree and blend well.
Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla, yogurt, canola oil and pumpkin pie spice.  Beat until the ingredients are well incorperated.
Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with muffin batter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

*mine made more than 12--like 18 or 20.


The Same Sky

From Goodreads:
 In this heartrending and poignant novel, award-winning author Amanda Eyre Ward tells the story of Alice Conroe, a forty year old Texas barbecue owner who has the perfect life, except she and her husband long for a child. Unable to conceive, she’s trying desperately to adopt but her destiny is quickly altered by a young woman she’s never met.

Fearless thirteen-year-old Carla Trujilio is being raised by her grandmother in Honduras along with her four year old twin brothers. Her mother is sending money home from Texas where she’s trying to make a better life for her family, but she only has enough to bring one son to her. When Carla’s grandmother dies, Carla decides to take her fate into her own hands and embarks on a dangerous journey across the border with Junior, the twin left behind.

Two powerful journeys intersecting at a pivotal moment in time: Alice and Carla’s lives will be forever and profoundly changed. Heartbreaking, emotional, and arresting, this novel is about finding the courage to trail blaze your own path in life with faith, hope and love, no matter the struggle or the tragedy

From Me:
4 stars!
You see where the Goodreads review says  "Heartbreaking, emotional and arresting"?
I will just say DITTO. 

This is a quick read, but very powerful and timely in today's world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Born With Teeth

From Goodreads:
 Raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew "how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil," Kate Mulgrew grew up with poetry and drama in her bones. But in her mother, a would-be artist burdened by the endless arrival of new babies, young Kate saw the consequences of a dream deferred. Determined to pursue her own no matter the cost, at 18 she left her small Midwestern town for New York, where, studying with the legendary Stella Adler, she learned the lesson that would define her as an actress: "Use it," Adler told her. Whatever disappointment, pain, or anger life throws in your path, channel it into the work.

It was a lesson she would need. At twenty-two, just as her career was taking off, she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Having already signed the adoption papers, she was allowed only a fleeting glimpse of her child. As her star continued to rise, her life became increasingly demanding and fulfilling, a whirlwind of passionate love affairs, life-saving friendships, and bone-crunching work. Through it all, Mulgrew remained haunted by the loss of her daughter, until, two decades later, she found the courage to face the past and step into the most challenging role of her life, both on and off screen.

We know Kate Mulgrew for the strong women she's played--Captain Janeway on Star Trek; the tough-as-nails "Red" on Orange is the New Black. Now, we meet the most inspiring and memorable character of all: herself. By turns irreverent and soulful, laugh-out-loud funny and heart-piercingly sad, Born with Teeth is the breathtaking memoir of a woman who dares to live life to the fullest, on her own terms.

From Me:
3 stars.
I liked it.
I listened to the audio version which was narrated by the author and I think she did a fine job.
I read once that if a biographer or memoir-est, has a good story to tell it doesn't matter if the writing is good or not.  There's probably a kernel of truth to that, but I still think you have to be able to put things in order and write fairly well to have people want to read your book.
Kate Mulgrew came thru-- she wrote an engrossing story.
I was not a big Star Trek  (of Mulgrew's series anyway) fan but I am a big Orange is the New Black fan, so it was   interesting to learn about her early life.

The only thing that bugs me a little bit -- in all celebrity memoirs or biographies -- is, that, they (the celebrity authors) really like themselves a lot.
Have you ever noticed that?
Everything is exquisite (Mulgrew used that word a couple of times).
Falling in love is like nothing any one has ever done before (maybe it's like that for all of us--we just don't write it down)  
Everything is wonderful, perfect, exquisite!  or it's not.  And they've had horrible awful miserable experiences. More horrible, awful and miserable than any of us normal, pedestrians. 

Maybe that's the nature of being a celebrity.  You have to like yourself quite a bit to be able to put yourself out there.
I don't know.  Celebrity memoirs, whether I like them or not, just seem a bit self-absorbed to me.

But I liked this one!  I really did.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ordinary Grace

From Goodreads:
 From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.
From Me:
You know how sometimes people will say:  this was so good, I couldn't put it down?
Well, this one truly was!
I read it in just over 24 hours.  
5 stars!!
I can't even find the words to describe how I felt about this book.
It's truly a wonderful book.
It's beautifully written with wonderful characters.
My friend Kathy at BermudaOnion told me:  You are in for a treat with Ordinary Grace.
My friend Susan at The Spice Garden told meI really loved Ordinary Grace ... in fact, it's up for a second read for my little church's monthly book group. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it!
I am thanking them for helping me chose which one to read!!