Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming, "WOO HOO, what a ride!"
I adore Christmas books and often spend most of December reading as many as I can get my hands on. They are usually short and often sappy but that's all part of the magic. I will try almost all of them and like the majority of them. I was very anxious to try this story The Spy Who Came To Christmas by David Morrell. It sounded like an interesting story and was written by "the father of the modern action novel". Although I don't usually chose spy stories it sounded like a good combination.
This book plays off the traditional Christmas story of the birth of the baby Jesus and an undercover agent who is protecting an infant they are calling The Child of Peace. Paul Kagan is on the run on Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is injured and seeking refuge for himself and the baby. The cities annual light displays and holiday celebration draws in many people and allows Paul some temporary cover as he is being pursued by the Russian mafia. But soon he is forced to chose a hiding spot and in doing so he involves an innocent family. A mother and her young son are enduring their own hardships from domesticate abuse when Paul uses their home for shelter. He is reluctant to involve them but has no choice. Now he must enlist their help to keep them all alive.
I did like the suspense throughout the story and enjoyed how the author used the main character to retell the story of Christ's birth with a new twist. He included spies in his version to explain some elements of the Christmas story. I did find some aspects of the original story too convenient and unrealistic. It may have been because the story was only about 230 pages and there may not have been as much time to develop some of the points I had issues with. One example was whenever Paul needed any type of tool, or anything for that matter, it was always right at his fingertips. Need a hammer? It's in the drawer on your left. Need wire? It's in the drawer on the right. Tape? Tin foil? 20 piece socket set? Crock pot? Lawn mower? In the drawers here, here and there. OK, I might have exaggerated a little but only about the tape. Seriously, we can never find a roll of tape in our house no matter how many rolls I buy! Which brings me back to my point. Even under the best of times it's hard to find certain items on demand but these people were under duress and they still didn't have to move to get to anything. That's hardly a major problem but it's the details that were mishandled at times in my opinion.
It was also hard to believe some of the quick personality changes of the characters involved. I don't want to give anything away but there were some instant changes at critical moments that were hard to believe. It felt like it was more about tying up loose ends than staying true to the characters. I'm not familiar with the author's regular work but I have a feeling that in his full length spy novels he has the time to work out details like this in a more realistic fashion.
All and all it was an enjoyable and intense story that kept me turning the pages. I'm glad I tried something different this year. It did have a nice message and some very likable characters. I think I'll read a sappy one now since it's still vacation!
2 cups (12 oz. package) Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 can (14 oz.) Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Dash salt 1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips
Line 8-inch square pan with foil. In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt; blend well. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter chips, stir just to distribute chips throughout mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan, peel off foil. Cut into squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.
Michele at A Reader's Respite (which I love to visit!) has nominated this blog for best quote in the header. What an honor! Thank you Michele, I do love that quote. Now it's on to my selections.
Six values or characteristics that are important to me: 1) A sense of humor. It's better to laugh than to cry! 2)Kind heart. Be kind to everyone and everything. Why not? 3)Be generous. Give of yourself, whether through time, money, hand-me-downs - just give. Someone always needs more than you do. 4)Be a good friend. There's nothing better. 5)Be respectful. Everyone deserves it no matter their age or station in life. To get it you must give it. 6)Love well. We all have someone we love. Love them with all your heart, always.
Six values or characteristics that I find hard to tolerate: 1)Selfish 2)Mean 3)Lazy 4)Rude 5)Liar 6)Know it all
Best blog to work side by side with is Pudgy Penguin Perusuals. Kaye and I started blogging at the same time and she has been holding my hand all the way here. Thank you Kaye!
Cleverest blog is NW Designs. I saw Cynthia the Nap Warden's work when she redesigned Reading With Monie's blog. She does custom blog design and someday I'm going to hire her to do mine!
One of the first people to be nice to this newbie was J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog . As busy as she must be she has always been helpful and kind and visits often. She also has an amazing blog.
I'm always finding new places that are very cool but the newest cool place is Jill's/Softdrink's Fizzy Thoughts. I get the impression that it's just fun, fun, fun all the time!
I know you just got tagged for Christmas but you're getting it again Anna and The Girl! Diary of an Eccentric has one of the best blogging duos I've seen. Great job ladies!
Worducopia has such a nice look to it. I love the blue color and the silver pens in the header. It looks great and it is great. I enjoy your posts too Ali!
nominees: you are to go forth and follow these simple guidelines:
Mention the blog that gave it to you. Comment on her blog to let her know you have posted the award. Share 6 values that are important to you. Share 6 things you do not support. Share the love with six other wonderful blogging friends.
Happy birthday to my oldest son. As I glance at the clock it was 20 years ago today, almost to the minute that he was finally born. I say finally because even though he was almost three weeks early, I had been in labor for 10 days by the time I had him. My doctor decided that he would be fine if he was born at that time so they wouldn't try to prevent it but they weren't going to help things along either. The longer I could last the bigger he would get so we let nature take it's course. For me it felt like a long course. I had no clue what real labor was. It was painful enough for me and I was begging my baby to be born. It felt like forever but all 5 lbs. 10 oz. of his tiny but healthy body finally made it's way into the world and the next 20 years have flown by in the blink of an eye. I know it's a cliche but it's so true. Where does the time go?
His personality has been very much like his birth, stubborn, pushy, resistant to following directions, glorious, determined, on his terms, magnificent, loving, gorgeous, stubborn and stubborn. He was our first child, the first grandchild and one of the three most beautiful, amazing children ever born. (Can you guess how many kids I have?) He is so handsome and charming with his sweet grin. He's gotten away with a lot of things over the years because of that grin. He is an amazing athlete and very bright although school has never been a priority for him and many report cards have reflected that. The first three years of high school were a constant battle over his grades and homework. I have several bald patches on my head that I owe to him. I was constantly tearing my hair out. He was also the typical oldest child and bossed and bullied his younger brothers constantly. (I'm so glad I never did that!)
But something happened during his senior year. He started to change. Friends had reassured me that it would get better, we would survive the teen years. Although I definitely looked forward to that I didn't want to wish the time away. Their childhoods were already zipping past at warp speed. As he really began to enjoy his last year in high school he also became more mature. He has a nice group of friends and they are close classmates. Graduation was very emotional and bittersweet. We were thrilled he had graduated but so sad to see it happen. And although his college was only two hours away, taking him there was one of the saddest days of my life. Such a huge milestone for all of us. I missed him terribly but I was happy for his new found independence. This was an important time in his life and I would do anything to make it a great one.
So something more happened that first year. He began to appreciate his home and his family. He called home just to say hi. He replied with "I love you too" at the end of our chats. He was more helpful when he was on break. (I said more helpful. He's still a slob!) He even offered to do things without being asked. When he transferred schools and decided to work full time for the summer and fall semester to save up some money he returned home to live. I was thrilled. Especially with his younger brother leaving for college that year. Two sons leaving home one year after the other was going to be agony for me. It's only a ten minute drive to his work and will take even less time to drive to his campus when the next semester starts. He loved having his own place but he will again soon. He will have a lifetime of utility bills and mortgage payments. I was proud that he chose wisely and even more proud when he became a responsible worker. This is his first full time job and he is very dedicated. He's never late and he works hard. He's even saved some money. He calls home before he leaves to see if we need milk or if his youngest brother wants a ride. He calls if he won't be home for dinner. Now, I did say more responsible. He's still a young man and he acts like one. He still argues with his brothers and fights over the remote control. He still leaves his dirty clothes on the floor and his dirty dishes on the coffee table. He takes too long in the bathroom and doesn't notice when the dog dish is empty. But I am grateful for even those issues. Because in the grand scheme of things, they are so small. And I know I will actually miss even those things someday.
Happy birthday to my son, my sweet baby, my little boy, my young man. You and your brothers are my everything. I love you with all my heart.
Dale Hammer wants to live the American Dream but is a dismal failure. He wants to be a good father and husband but can't really accomplish either. This book is a week of his life. A week when it is all falling apart.
Dale, or pen name D.T. Hammer, is a failed author who earns his living as a mortgage broker. He has moved his family to the suburbs because he was convinced that all of his problems will be solved if they move out of the city. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once they are relocated he decides that they should move back to the city and everything will be fine, this time. Such is life for Dale. The desire is there but the motivation and the responsibility is not. There is no sympathy for this man because he brings it on himself and has damaged his relationships with his wife, his children and his neighbors. To add to his misery his father, who was not a good father figure himself, has moved in with them. But the weekend brings Rocket Day for his son's scout troop. He is determined to give his son a great experience and himself some redemption.
Dale's struggle are especially timely with our recent economic hardships. When many people define themselves by their careers and their roles in society, who do they become when they lose those parts of their lives? Are we setting our goals based on the expectations of others or are our goals what we really hope to achieve in our life? This story was well written with interesting characters and plenty of conflict with everyone struggling to maintain their own form of normal.
My thanks to Library Thing for a copy of this book.
1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk) 1 (12 ounce) package Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass dish) in 13x9-inch baking pan, melt margarine in oven. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over margarine, pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top with chips, press down firmly. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Garnish as desired. Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Tip: Melt 1 cup Hershey's Chips with 1 1/2 teaspoons shortening. Drizzle over bars.
Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!
Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO entries to win a number of prizes.
Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):
~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan ~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott ~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones ~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas ~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield ~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT) ~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack ~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch ~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU
For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!
A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.
THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers' attention in the book known as HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger's new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J.K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore.
This book has 5 stories that are the equivalent to fairy tales for we Muggles (humans). They have the common factor that good usually overcomes bad but in fairy tales magic tends to be the cause of the hero's or heroine's trouble. In Beedle's tales the heroes and heroines can often perform their own magic but it's not always the cure to their problems. But those who triumph are the ones who demonstrate the most common sense, kindness and ingenuity.
With each story is commentary from Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary, that gives insight into Wizarding history. Footnotes are also added by the author, J.K. Rowling, to explain terms or facts to the Muggle readers. She has also done her own pen and ink illustrations throughout the book. Funds generated from the sale of this book will go to a charity developed by J.K. Rowling in 2005. CHLG (Children's High Level Group) charity was formed to help children left to large residential institutions and prevent it from happening anymore.
Whether you enjoyed the Harry Potter series or not (I loved it) I don't know how anyone wouldn't be impressed with the talent of this author. She has created a whole world in these books in such rich and interesting detail. I am still fascinated by her vivid imagination and so very grateful that she decided to share it with the world. She created these stories as part of Harry's world. She mentioned this book in the series and then later went on to actually write all of the stories and put them together to form the actual book. They read very much like fairy tales and are truly believable as tales passed on from generation to generation.
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I promised a good friend of mine that I would buy this book for her as soon as it came out. She was still sad from the series ending and I thought this would be just the thing to cheer her up. (Yes, we both have lives, but the books are fun!) I went to my local K-mart since it is now the only source for new books in our small town. Our bookstore closed up years ago and the next closest one is 30 minutes away. There is always the internet but I do try to buy local when I can. Anyway, I knew it would probably cost a bit more than Walmart or B&N but it's only 100 pages so I didn't think it would be be too much more than the $10.00 sale price at other stores. I picked up a book from the display but there wasn't a sign with a price on it. The back of the book had the UPC code and a price of $12.99 stamped on the cover. Even for that price I was still going to buy it. I took my copy to a nearby self scanner on a pole to check the price and it said $6.99! I checked it again. $6.99! I picked up another book and scanned it. Still $6.99! I was thrilled! I'm not cheap but I am frugal and always look for the bargains first. I had been planning to borrow her copy when she was finished because I never buy my books new. I love to read and I just can't afford it. I've always made very good use of my library and used book sales. I decided to splurge and picked up two copies. Hey, it's for charity. I did make sure the price was correct when they were rung up at the register, just in case. Yep, still $6.99! So now my friend has her copy and I have my very own copy. It came to less than $14.00 to make two women in their 40's very happy. Did I mention we live in a small town?
(This can be made from scratch or combined with a cake mix. This is the faster version.)
1 pk. (18 1/2 oz.) chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa 3 eggs 1 cup mayonaise 1 1/3 cup water bag chocolate chips
Grease and flour 2 (9") layer cake pans. In large bowl at low speed, beat cake mix and cocoa. Add remaining ingredients, beat until blended. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pour into pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. When cool remove from pans and frost with chocolate frosting. Enjoy!
I've even made the elves mad at me! I can't believe December is half over already. I don't have anything finished - in fact barely started for the holidays. I'm not one to be ahead of schedule anyway. I have never in my life had my shopping done in October, November or any other month for that matter. It seems like everything else in life just happens to be happening now too. Ah well, I wish I had another month to prepare but it will work out. My greatest wish in life is certainly not to have one more month of winter! Even though I have less time I'm going to try to do the opposite of my normal reaction to hurry up and instead slow down and enjoy the season. We've cut way back on the material aspect of the holidays, now we need to emphasize the spirit and enjoy our family and friends. Oh it will still be hectic around here but why should our normal routine change?
is having her first giveaway for Perfect on Paper the author's first book!
Hop on over and check out the interview with Maria Murnane and find out how she created this book and how she had to publish it herself. It's a great story and is the perfect winter read. Hurry! This contest ends 12/20.
This is a lovely children's book about a lonely little girl who wants a bunny. Emmaline lives on Shipshape Street in Neatasapin. Everything there was very tidy. The mayor, a portly man named Orson Oliphant, demanded order and neatness. If anything didn't meet his standards, it was removed. The trees were removed for being leaf litterers, the weeds were whacked and the wild animals were sent away. Emmaline is not a tidy, quiet child. She tries but she likes to play and dig, to sing and dance. She likes to hop, hop, hop and yell "Dinglederrydee!" when she's happy. But this made her unpopular with the other children who were tidy and quiet. This also made her lonely. She desperately wanted a bunny to keep her company. Her parents were worried she would be sent away like the wild animals so they made her a promise. If she could be quiet and tidy for a month she could have her bunny.
The author writes a sweet story about Emmeline's efforts and her heart's desires. She makes good use of alliteration and creative words. The rhyming, sing song verse is reminiscent of a toned down Dr. Seuss. There are approximately 100 pages but the chapters are only one or two pages long. There is at least one soft pastel watercolor in every chapter painted by the author herself. The targeted age is 7-12, grades 2-7 but I thoroughly enjoyed it myself. It's the perfect story to snuggle up and read together this winter.
Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books for this Advanced Reading Copy.
When I first received this book I was curious to see if a hunting enthusiast would write a story that the average, non-hunter could relate to. I wasn't sure if this topic would be interesting to me but I was pleasantly surprised. Steven Rinella wrote a memoir about a lottery he won in 2005 to hunt wild buffalo in Alaska. Before his trip only 3 hunters has succeeded in killing a buffalo. He became the fourth.
The author's fascination with the majestic animal began when he was a child. While on a hunting trip with his brothers he unearthed part of a buffalo's skull. He's been hooked since and even commented on the frequency of buffalo coming up in conversations. He's developed his own word game of random association of related facts and trivia. I was surprised that there were so many ways to do that. (I live near Buffalo, NY so that's one I can think of.) Steven has gone to great lengths to learn every possible fact there is. As he describes his trip in the Alaskan wilderness he interweaves within his chapters all of those details of the history of the buffalo in North America. From the Native Americans to current times he explains everything about how they have hunted this huge animal and why. Because of their size, over one thousand pounds, hunters have had to be creative over the years. Sometimes weapons were used and sometimes they were able to use the land to their advantage. Indians used the "buffalo jump" to effectively kill many animals by gently herding them across a plain and then creating a stampede to drive them over a precipice, an act much more complicated than I would have imagined.
Although this does not emphasize the brutality of hunting and killing, it is described in detail. Growing up on a farm I'm no stranger to using animals for a food source but I do adore animals and don't even like to squash bugs. The stories of how buffalo were hunted, injuries they sustained and how the body was cut up and used after a killing bothered me. I was impressed though when all parts of the animal were used in as many ways as possible. Everything from the fat used as grease, and hair for stuffing in pillows, to buffalo "chips" used to burn in fires.
Steven Rinella's story telling is enhanced with black and white photos and footnotes. He has a dozen pages for his notes for each chapter and the bibliography. Although some of the information he provides may be more interesting to fellow hunters and nature lovers, it's by no means boring to those of us who aren't. He knows his subject well and is a very effective storyteller.
Thank you to Spiegel & Grauand Shelf Awarenessfor an ARC of this book.
Sorry, I was away all day so I didn't get this done on Saturday. I don't know if this is exactly a "sweet" but we like it, my kids practically inhale it and I just sent a loaf back to college with one of my boys. This is the easy version that you can find on the back of a box of "Jiffy" baking mix. Enjoy!
BANANA NUT BREAD 1 Loaf
3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup shortening
2 cups JIFFY Baking Mix 1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed 1/3 cup chopped nuts
preheat oven to 350
Grease 9"x5" loaf pan. Cream sugar and shortening. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 55 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pan. Get a slice before your kids eat it all!
Upon first glance, this small hardcover book has an attractive cartoon Santa on the cover. But on closer inspection you can see that this isn't the Santa we all know. This version has his big belly hanging out of his short sleeved shirt with a tattoo on his bicep peeking out. He's smoking a cigar, drinking scotch and using his laptop. This gives you a good indication of what is to come. This is not a Christmas book written for kids.
Inside are letters that are suppose to be from children. On the left hand of each page is a letter to Santa in kid's hand writing on notebook paper. On the right hand side is a response to each letter. There is a cute Santa and his reindeer logo at the top from Santa Enterprises, North Pole. Santa's answers are for grown ups. Some are funny, some are rude, some are down right obnoxious but that is the intention. I would qualify this as more of a joke book.
Thanks to Running Press and Shelf Awareness for this book.
Unauthorized, unsanitized, and unbelieveable, here's the real Santa Claus (not that creepy guy at the mall!) (from back cover)
I'm passing along this great idea! Kaye at Pudgy Penguin Perusals and Katrina at Stone Soup need our recipes. Head on over and sign up. I did!
Get ready for the sweetest holiday ever! Sweet Saturday is coming in December. Each Saturday, I'll be posting a sweet recipe, some simple, some not so simple, but all will be tasty. Pudgy promises!!
The brains behind this idea belong to Katrina at Stone SouP. It seems she really liked my peanut brittle recipe, a little celebratory sweet for her after she got her braces off.
Anyway, if you have a recipe you are sweet enough to share, download the Sweet Saturday logo, and post it with your recipe each Saturday in December( with a link back, please). Post your link in comments, so we can add your blog to the list. Katrina and I thought this would be a lot of fun. You can post once or all four Saturdays, it's totally up to you. If you do not have a blog and would like to participate, you can leave your recipe in comments section. To read the recipes, go to the Sweet Saturday Sweethearts and click on a bloggers link and that will take you directly to their site. Let the cooking begin!
I love this book! It reminds me of every cookbook and craft book I looked at as a kid. Amy Sedaris is the author and a comedian who is quirky, perky and cute. I've seen her on television talk shows and she has an unusual sense of humor that is very apparent in her book. She uses real recipes and craft projects and adds her own twist. Her hospitality advice is very real too. What makes this so funny is that it's straight out of 1968 (approximately, I was only 4 then so my time frame may be a little off). Every last detail has been included in the photos and drawings on each page. There are several pages of a step-by-step pantyhose demonstration performed by Amy herself. How to put them on, how to untwist them as you're putting them on, crafts you can do with all of the pantyhose you snag and ruin while putting them on and recipes for cocktails to drink after the whole unsuccessful process. Remember the styrofoam wig heads? In the book. The grease can, labeled as such, that often sat on the counter or back of the stove and contained leftover grease from cooking to be used for another meal? In there. Rick rack on sewing projects? In there. Macrame plant hangers? In there.
My grandparents had the very same dishes and glassware found on several of the pages. They also had the wallpaper, glass candy dish, teakettle, pie plates and Tupperware containers. They still have the plastic, floral letter holder hanging on their wall. (pg 196 if interested) I remember my mom having some of these poofy hairdos and polyester clothes. Of course she was beautiful but everything else...ick.
I took this book to our family Thanksgiving dinner. We had such a good time going through the different chapters and found new things every time we looked at it. Bravo to the team that helped put this book together. Ebay should be calling you for the collection of goodies you have there.
Special thanks to Booking Mama and Hatchette Books where I won this copy. Photo from Library Thing.
My name is Debbie. I am blessed to have a wonderful family - my hubby and three sons (ages 20, 23 & 24), two grandbabies, too many pets, too many books, an awesome hammock and an often messy house, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Well, maybe a house that's just a little bit cleaner but it's obviously not a priority...