Thursday, March 22, 2018

Beyond the Books - 2018 Spring Goals

Beyond the Books is a weekly feature hosted right by Kissin Blue Karen. Beyond the Books is a weekly writing prompt where she throws out a topic (mostly non-bookish) and others blog about it.

Spring is here, but someone should probably tell Mother Nature that the Northeast has had enough winter and the snow can stop at any time. Thankfully, we missed the brunt of this latest Nor'easter.

Since most of my goals center around reading and writing, I'm going to step away to draw up some more personal "me time" goals.

  1. Plant a vegetable and fruit garden. We had one, but as soon as I went back to work it became almost impossible to keep up. I'm determined that even if it is a very small one, a garden will be in my yard this year.
  2. Get back to exercising. Between work and taking care of the family and my in-laws, exercising has been non-existent. Need to change that for my own sake.
  3. De-clutter the house. I'm renting a dumpster, taking a week off, and cleaning the house. I'll donate a lot, but there is some stuff that is totally useless. 
These are my three large personal goals. They are pretty vague, but my plan is to order some seeds by the end of the month, and hopefully, if we don't more snow, I can clean up the garden area by then too. As far as exercising go, I need to add it to my work calendar or it won't get done. I'm thinking maybe Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. First step to de-clutter is decide on a week off. Maybe it is school vacation week, but then I fear the girls will want to go out instead of help with the house. I might get more done if I do it when they are in school. 

That's it for me. What are some of your goals? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway: Lie to Her by Mehrisa Mex

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mehrisa Mex will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. 

Despite years of treatment, twenty-one year old Lydia still struggles with trauma from being attacked as a teenager. House-bound with anxieties and haunted by ghostly visions, she soon comes to suspect her psychiatrist husband, Myles, of sabotaging her recovery.

Her pursuit of the truth uncovers secrets more terrible than she ever imagined and it soon becomes clear that nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted – not even herself.
Read an Excerpt:

She drew out a baseball bat from the cupboard and gripped it tightly. Then she swung it at the camera on the landing until she was sure she had destroyed it.

She thundered down the stairs and knocked out the one in the hallway. She then went about smashing the one in Myles's study. She was out of breath by the end of it, but also completely exhilarated.

Good girl.

Now out of view of any detectable surveillance camera, she went over to his desk drawer, which was locked. She hoped the gun was still in there and she tugged on it on the off-chance that it was a bad lock. No such luck.

With her hands shaking from the adrenaline, she pulled the hairpins out of her jeans pocket and laid them out on the desk. Her eyelids fluttered as she surveyed them. What was she thinking? She couldn't do this.

You've done it before a hundred times.

"That was years ago." Her days of picking locked liquor cabinets were long past her.

You can do this. Or, I can do it for you.

"No, wait."

She bit the soft end off one of the hairpins and pulled it apart while bending the rounded end of another pin into a lever. She pressed the lever hairpin into the lock cylinder and with the other one, she began to work on shifting the spring-loaded internal pins into their required position.

At any moment, it would all be over. The doors of the house would fly open and people would come crashing in to get her - the unstable fugitive, the runaway lab rat.

About the Author: Mehrisa Mex writes mystery-thrillers, neo-noir and international crime. She often appears in her own imagination lit in the chiaroscuro style of film noir and narrating thoughts to herself in moody, hard-boiled tones.

Amazon link for book purchase:

Info links:

Mehrisa Mex will be awarding a $10 Amazon 
or Barnes and Noble Gift Card.

Enter via Rafflecopter below.
Follow the tour and comment for your chance to win. 
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Monday, March 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Mar 19

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

How are we back to Monday again? I must be getting old because the time flies too fast.

My review of Caroline by Sarah Miller was posted last week. You can find it here if you missed it.

I'm currently reading Welcome to Moonlight Harbor, a new series by Sheila Roberts.

Once happily married, Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday—lucky her—she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman.

Still, as her mother always says, every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great-aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging Aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna’s financial problems are solved!

Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembers, but that’s nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire.

But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach.

Next up will be this poetry collection by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz.

What's going on in your reading world? Read anything good lately? Hope you have a great week.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Beyond the Books - St. Patrick's Day

Beyond the Books is a weekly feature hosted right by Kissin Blue Karen. Beyond the Books is a weekly writing prompt where she throws out a topic (mostly non-bookish) and others blog about it.

I won't have much to contribute to this week's theme because I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I grew up Catholic, so patron saints were a big thing, but even back then it was just another day for me. Holyoke, MA holds a large parade. I was talking to someone from Holyoke today and she said the city would pretty much be shut down this coming Sunday because of the parade and all the corresponding events. I recall many years ago--before my girls were born--going to someone's house on the parade route early in the morning for breakfast and we hung out there until the parade was over. That's probably the closest we've ever come to celebrating St. Patrick's Day.

If you want a history of the holiday, you can visit

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? What are some of your favorite traditions?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Caroline by Sarah Miller

Every Laura fan is going to want to own a copy of Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller.

This novel is the story of the Ingalls family's journey from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to their settlement in Kansas told from Caroline's perspective. By the time the Ingalls family leaves home, Caroline is pregnant with their third child. She faces isolation with her family no longer close by. She fears the danger that settling in Indian Territory could present. As Caroline struggles against the hardships of pioneer life and rises to the challenges, the reader appreciates this story in a new way that makes Caroline Quiner Ingalls more than just Ma.

I cannot even express how much I loved this novel. From the opening pages, Miller's fine descriptions combined with her touching and real portrayal of Caroline, pulled me in and held me fast until the last page was done. As a wife and mother, I relate much more to Caroline than the young Laura who first shared her stories.

One thing the reader needs to be aware of is that this novel may include some scenes you wouldn't expect in Laura land. Caroline is married and already a mother of two with another baby on the way. She and Charles obviously enjoy some alone time. There are a few moments when the author explores Caroline's feelings on this subject. Part of the story delves into her attraction to Charles, how she feels when he looks at her a certain way, and there is a tastefully done sex scene. It's not vulgar or obscene but it is descriptive of how he makes her feel while performing her wifely duties and how her body reacts. Truly, this took nothing away from the story for me, but it was surprising.

Caroline is a book that was way overdue. It captures how amazing a person Caroline Quiner Ingalls was to follow Charles from place to place, how she worked alongside him, how what her mother taught her prepared her to be a good wife and mother, and how she envied the freedoms and rights Charles had because they were denied to her as a woman in the 1800s. All these things make this a timely story for women today. My admiration of Caroline has grown as a result of reading this novel. It's definitely a must read for Little House fans.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 12, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006268535X
ISBN-13: 978-0062685353

I purchased a copy of this book for my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)

I've never seen myself as a fan of dystopian fiction. Lord of the Flies ruined that genre for me. When my daughter was gifted The Hunger Games by a teacher in the fifth grade, I decided we should read it together in case I found it objectionable. We quickly ordered the next two books and were thrilled when they were made into movies.

I knew I would read Harry Potter one day. The series had too much of an impact on children's literature to ignore. I'm simply not a follower. So, I waited until I wanted to read them. Then I was hooked and realized why everyone was so crazy over them.  

This is a book I shouldn't have liked at all: time travel steampunk sci-fi. Could the author toss any of my other least favorite genres in there? But it worked. Charlie was a great protagonist. The action and adventure were wonderful. Romance a bit too adult for a ninth grader as far as I am concerned, but loved everything else about it.

You won't catch me running to read zombie books, but this steampunk sci-fi was another great one. It's gruesome, but hilarious. 

A dragon detective, a magical nun, and a Mensa convention--who knew that could be so funny? Probably one of the funniest books I've ever read. Great story. Nothing not to love. 

This true crime novel surprised me in how sensationalized the press coverage became, that the all male jury had to decide if they would put Mary Alice Livingston to death, and how Joseph Pulitzer put together his own jury of "twelve well-known, brainy New York women" who would follow the case and pronounce a verdict. A story ahead of its time. 

Though I like many books with a Laura Ingalls Wilder connection, I can't say a novel focusing on life of immigrants and how they assimilate into American culture is my first choice of reading material. Though the mention of the gold-leaf brooch possibly belonging to Rose Wilder Lane is what made me agree to review the book, a masterfully told, heartrending and inspiring story of one woman's journey to find her place within her family and to boldly embrace the future is what kept me reading.

I opted to review this book because I've loved other books by Rhett DeVane. But a vampire spoof? What could I expect from such a thing? I should have expected a lot since DeVane has an outstanding talent for bringing characters to life. Here is how I opened my review: "If Fantasy Island was set in Florida and hosted by a flamboyant party planner turned reluctant vampire, you might just get a taste of what Evenings on Dark Island is like." This fang-in-cheek novel is a superb read.

This is an excellent story. One day the main character wakes up and is a totally different person. Once a bully, he's undergone a transformation that impresses everyone...except Scott Beckett. This new Bryan Dennison is attracted to Scott, but he has no recollection of the way he used to treat him. I've never read a story like this before. It has a unique plot and an inspiring message. 

I can honestly say this is the first book I've ever read--and finished--where I didn't like a single character. The story is an engaging and edgy look at life in a small town during World War II. The multiple points of view tell a story that is both riveting and tragic. But I didn't like--at times despised--every character in the story. The main character garnered some occasional sympathy, but it pretty much was a book filled with shifty, unethical people who you wouldn't want to call your friends.

What books have you read that surprised you in some way?

Monday, March 12, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Mar 12

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Gosh, it was a long week. Thought last week would never end. Thankfully, I got some reading time in...and not just in the bathtub. Expecting another snowstorm this week, so maybe more reading time for me.

I'm almost done with this book:

I had started this one on vacation, but dropped it to read Caroline, because I've been dying to read it. Need to finish The Pirate Bride. 

I've got to finish Hot Mess too. The review isn't coming up for a while, but now that I started it I want to get it done.

I'll have to start this one soon, because I have a review coming up mid-April.

What are you reading? Hope you have a great week.