Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Henry Dunbar is wealthy and powerful. And he turns all over to his two older daughters. In exchange, they have him committed and put out of the way. Only his youngest daughter seems to care about him and not his power and money. After a dramatic escape from the hospital where he is incarcerated, Henry and Florence, his youngest, find each other. But for how long remains to be seen.  

In a modern retelling of King Lear, St. Aubyn has written a wonderful story. A short read, only 244 pages, it is worth an afternoon in the recliner with a cup of hot coffee while it's cold outside.

While this isn't my favorite Shakespeare story, I will be passing it along to my oldest daughter who loves King Lear.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

You are the Beloved - Henri J. M. Houwen

Although raised in the Methodist Church and a constant church-goer until my junior year in high school, I do not consider myself Christian. So this book might come as a bit of a surprise as one I requested to review.

Set up as daily meditations on various aspects of life, I found them quite enjoyable. It was easy to replace some of the terminologies with a more generic meaning, or a meaning more suited to my personal beliefs. I also feel one shouldn't hold another's beliefs against them. They are valid to that person and as long as they aren't forcing them on me - blessed be.

Another reason I wanted the book is to forward on to a good friend of mine who is very interested in religion and is strong in her Christian faith. I think it will make a nice gift to pass along.

I enjoyed the quick read on a daily basis and they give you something to think about, regardless of your leanings.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mandala Monday

Not a mandala, but I loved the tone this picture made when I put it through a filter with the Portra app. Despite some of the negative reviews, I didn't have an issue at all with it. The only problem I had was to stop playing with it on the pictures on my phone!

Personally, I think this picture conjures up a great book idea.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Week In Review - November 5 - 11

This morning I finally 'played' with the Portra app on my phone.  Don't pay any attention to the negative reviews, as I had zero issues with it. Other than wanting to go through all my pictures and play with it. 

I am behind on my NaNoWriMo writing. Don't understand it, as I was so jazzed to get started. But when it came time to actually put words on paper, wasn't happening. Part of it I feel is I need 'alone' time to write. I can't write at home if others are running around. But I can go to a coffee shop or the library and write. Go figure. Anyway, will attempt to play catch up this coming week.

I'm blaming this face for the problem with being behind in my writing. She was home for two days last week (and several the week before) with pneumonia. Not enough to make her feel bad and lay in bed, just enough to give her a cough and not being able to go to school and spread it around to everyone else. So selfish!

Part of Monday and all of Tuesday morning was spent making 120 mini-cupcakes with roses. A lot of damn roses and icing. But they turned out nicely and were appreciated by Savvy and Jensen Jewelers.

And with the onset of cold weather and snow, I have been feeding the entire sparrow population of Helena, plus a few friends. We have had seagulls and now crows came to partake of my stale bread I threw out. The snow has stopped and nothing in the forecast for any this coming week. It will give a chance for the rest of the snow to melt.

Otherwise this week...

  • Potted up my amaryllis for my contribution to Christmas decorating. They are already starting to put out the stem and leaves...barely.
  • Did a bit of Christmas gift sewing
  • Some crocheting on my Corner-to-Corner afghan
  • Bundled up a trash bag of scraps to move on
  • Had my permanent crown put on my broken tooth
  • Saw Murder on the Orient Express with a good friend
  • Got a ton of laundry sorted and put up (mostly)

So for the coming week...

  • Catch up on NaNoWriMo
  • Clean plants out of bay window and put up window cover to help stop cold air leaking in
  • Attend Orchid Society meeting
  • More crocheting while binge-watching Midnight Texas. I'm hoping they didn't butcher it like they did her Sookie Stackhouse vampire series.
  • Going to see Thor: Ragnarok at the movies Tuesday (discount day)
  • Working the Turkey Challenge at our local library (taking in turkeys for the local food bank)
  • Punch Class Saturday at Gulch Distillers
  • Lots of reading (huge stack of books at hand)

But for now...

More coffee, some oatmeal, and fresh fruit salad for breakfast.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Comic Book Story of Video Games

We are a gamer household. 

My daughters grew up on Zelda and the Pokemon games. I still think the first Bomberman was one of the best. My oldest daughter met her fiance playing World of Warcraft and we still play. We have owned and currently own, different platforms for gaming.

So, Jonathan Hennessey's The Comic Book Story of Video Games was right up our alley. Especially since graphic novels are also a passion in our household.

This was more a walk down memory lane for me as I remember going to the local 7-Eleven to play Joust. 

It was fun to read about how various games evolved and (cringing) how many I and my family have played over the years. 

In full color, even non-readers will love this book. However, it did make me sad to think about all the money I have spent over the past few decades on consoles and games.

This is a great book for the gamer in your life!

 "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Awesome Things Matching Game

Considering the stack of books beside my bed (and pending reading) was beginning to become more than unmanageable, I opted for this little jewel as my next 'book' to review.

Needless to say, I have actually handled it for about 5 minutes total since it arrived. Lady K, who is 4.5 years old, loves it.

Some of the great things about this set of 'matching' cards...

  • Size fits little hands nicely
  • You can match by color or by image
  • You can pull out one stack of 10 at a time for a small game or use them all for a larger game
  • Pictures are fun and there are 2 blank ones so they can make their own cards
  • Made of study cardboard with bright, simple images 
  • The box they come in is study and will hold up better than the regular card boxes

Since we are on the 'decluttering before we move' stage, we sent the game to 'school' for everyone to play with, especially as we are entering winter here in Montana and days they can play outside will be few and far between. 

And the head of the day care brought up a good point - they aren't 'commercial' images, like Disney Princesses and the like. She was really excited to get them for the classroom.

And the two blank cards? Well, I think a picture of the two classroom teachers will be on them for a fun match.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Gone - by Min Kym

I received a copy of Gone - A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung by Min Kym shortly after our house had burned down and we were in limbo between emergency housing and finding a rental until we found permanent housing. And while the house we lost wasn't a soulmate, it was the home to my daughters, son-in-law, grand daughter and myself.

So in reading this book, I felt I understood a lot of the feelings Min Kym was going through with the loss of her violin. Not to mention it was a priceless Stradivarius.

I think the thing which I really took away from this book is that you really have to go through a loss in your life to understand what it really feels like. In the past, I could empathize with someone who had a major loss, but I didn't know how it felt. Now I do.

But you don't have to go through a loss in your life to pick up this book. At just over 200 pages it makes for a nice read on a rainy afternoon. Preferably with violin music playing slowly in the background.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Considering the huge pile of books on the floor beside the bed to read, not counting the ones of the shelves across from the bed, I felt a little guilty about starting this book almost the moment it arrived. I think there was part of me pleased with being able to read a book before it was actually 'released'.

And I am so glad I did!

Written by Hillary Manton Lodge, it's the story of three sisters who head out from San Francisco to Austin, Texas to try and piece together their lives yet again. Tea and scones meet Texas BBQ in a wonderful combination. 

A modern day take on Sense and Sensibility (and probably some Pride and Prejudice too), Celia, Jane and Margot make a move to Austin to start over again, living on the property of a cousin until they can get their feet under them and a new tea shop opened. Sound familiar?

There is also the wounded military officer, haughty wives and sisters and bad-boy romances, all of which make it imperative you curl up on a Sunday afternoon to 'nap' and finish the book. It's so good, I recommended it to my library as a book club selection.

I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time. Light, fun reading - perfect with a cup of tea.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Story Cure - Dinty W. Moore

Subtitled as a pain-free guide to finishing your novel or memoir, I grabbed this one right up. Plus, I have read other books by Moore in the past and knew, if nothing else, it would be a pain-free read. And I wasn't wrong. 

Under 200 pages, The Story Cure is set up in two parts - Cures and Checkups. 

Within "Cures" you have your 'diagnosis' and then the 'cure' for the ailment. Plus there are prompts and exercises to help. One of my favorite exercises is the "Green, Pink and Yellow of Character". This is were Moore has you take a chapter from the book and color-code various elements in the chapter. And if you have a lot of green and little or no yellow, then you are on the right track to a good story.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book were the examples Moore gives in each section. A lot of books on writing tell you, but don't show you, what they are talking about. He gives an example to illustrate what the section or chapter is referring to. There is no guess work on your part, so you can't get it wrong.

I enjoyed the book and will be using several of the exercises to keep me motivated in my own writing.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The underground Culinary Tour - Damian Mogavero

I have been toting this book around for months now as we have been trying to get settled into a new, all be it temporary, home.  

A bit about the book - 


In the bestselling tradition of  MoneyballThe Underground Culinary Tour is a high-octane, behind-the-scenes narrative about how the restaurant industry, historically run by gut and intuition, is being transformed by the use of data.
Sixteen years ago, entrepreneur Damian Mogavero brought together an unlikely mix of experts—chefs and code writers—to create a pioneering software company whose goal was to empower restaurateurs, through the use of data, to elevate and enhance the guest experience. Today, his data gathering programs are used by such renown chefs as Danny Meyer, Tom Colicchio, Daniel Boulud, Guy Fieri, Giada De Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsay, and countless others.
Mogavero describes such restaurateurs as the New Guard, and their approach to their art and craft is radically different from that of their predecessors. By embracing data and adapting to the new trends of today’s demanding consumers, these innovative chefs and owners do everything more nimbly and efficiently—from the recipes they create to the wines and craft beers they stock, from the presentations they choreograph to the customized training they give their servers, making restaurants more popular and profitable than ever before.
Finally, Damian takes readers behind the scenes of his annual, invitation-only culinary tour for top chefs and industry CEOs, showing us how today’s elite restaurants embrace new trends to create unforgettable meals and transform how we eat. From the glittering nightclubs of Las Vegas to a packed seasonal restaurant on the Long Island Sound, from Brennan’s storied, family-run New Orleans dynasty to today’s high-stakes celebrity chef palaces, The Underground Culinary Tour takes readers on an epicurean adventure they won’t forget.

That being said, the book made me long for a larger city where places to eat, especially small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants thrive. More farm-to-table style places. Food trucks being the norm rather than a rarity, trotted out when warmer conditions hit Helena. 
But while I can go on and on about the description of menus, what is fascinating is something few, if any, of us think about - the day-to-day running of shops and how 'numbers' matter. From the number of people who come in to hear a DJ spin songs, to how many order what on what day of the week. Owning a place to eat is far more than just putting food on a plate and setting it on the table.
I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who loves finding out what goes on behind the swinging doors of a restaurant. And I want to go on one of the culinary tours Damian puts on!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Eat Beautiful by Wendy Rowe

I have to say I was a bit reluctant to pick up this book. It sounded a bit to 'fluffy' for me. However, I must say there is more than meets the eye here. 

Divided by the seasons, Rowe gives foods common during that time of the year, along with the nutrients and some yummy recipes using that ingredient. This is going to be helpful since we all want to eat better this year (lots of stress, you understand) for not only weight management, but overall health.

While it probably will not be my first 'go-to' cookbook, there are a lot of interesting ones I will try. And the layout and pictures are fantastic. Well worth a look through every now and then.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."