29 June 2010

BRAVA, VALENTINE - Adriana Trigiani, narr Cassandra Campbell

From the back of the BOCD: Adriana Trigiani's VERY VALENTINE, an instant New York Times bestseller about the life of shoemaker Valentine Roncalli, was hailed by critics as "Sex and the City meets Moonstruck" (People)
As BRAVA, VALENTINE begins, Valentine learns that Alfred, her only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes. Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner. Despite their passion for one another, a long-distance relationship seems impossible.
As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, Bret Fitzpatrick, her first love and former fiance, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine to Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.
BRAVA, VALENTINE is Trigiani's best novel yet, delivering a hilarious and poignant mix of colorful worlds and unforgettable characters as only she can create them.
WOWEE wow wow!! I thought BIG STONE GAP was my favorite book written by Adriana Trigiani, but it is now second after having listened to BRAVA, VALENTINE. I was in love with VERY VALENTINE and became enraptured with this second of the trilogy. Now I really can't wait to see what happens in the third one whenver that one comes out. I will get it as an audiobook, too. Hell, I may go get everything Trigiani has written as an audiobook! Especially if Cassandra Campbell is narrating.
Campbell is big part of the magic of this trilogy. She voices the characters wonderfully. I adore Valentine, grin at her bestest buddy Gabe, and swoon over Gianluca.
There's not much more that I can say that wasn't covered in the passage above from the back of the BOCD cover. Except that I loved watching Valentine come to terms with her Gram marrying and moving to Italy; learning how to be partners with her brother; finding out what it was like to trust her heart to someone. She had a lot of growing up to do and she didn't even realize that she needed to.
Please, please, please! Do yourself a huge hug and get this book to read or listen to. It is wonderfully gorgeous!!!
Five Wowee wow wow sparkly diamonds....

28 June 2010

Books in the House - MON - 28 JUN 2010

Some lovely books arrived in the mail last week:

From WonderBunny's contest at her site Cookies, Books & Bikes:
SEX,MURDER, & A DOUBLE LATTE: Sophie Katz series #1 - Kyra Davis, TPB, mystery

From Becky's contest @ NoMoreGrumpyBookseller:
THE SECRET SPEECH - Tom Rob Smith, TPB, suspense

From Mary Ann:
SPLIT IMAGE: Jesse Stone #9 - Robert B Parker, HC, suspense

From Summer Solstice Exchange:
MOON SWORN: Riley Jensen Guardian #9 - Keri Arthur, MPB, paranormal
and some nifty bookmarks

27 June 2010

Blooms on Sunday - 27 JUN 2010

Prairie rose that hitched a ride with the grass my dad gave us a few years ago
California poppy from the seeds I tossed out in the river rock mulch

Mexican hat in the back garden along the fence, this is its second year with us

Stubborn delphinium that I thought I'd cleared in the front berm, but came back stronger and prettier
One of the happiest containers along the front porch with a little bit of gaura or whirling butterflies, nicotiana and marigolds

26 June 2010

CRIME SPELLS - anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Loren L. Coleman

From the back of the book: Phaedra Weldon, Mike Resnick, Michael A Stackpole, Jay Lake, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Steven Mohan Jr, Dean Wesley Smith, Ilsa J Bick, Joe Edwards, Devon Monk, Jason Schmetzer, Randall Bills, Robert T Jeschonek, Peter Orullian, Leslie Claire Walker, Steve Perry
In an ideal world, crime doesn't pay. But there are all kinds of crimes and all kinds of criminals, and though many are brought to justice, many others are never caught. But what about magical crimes? What sorts of crimes might a magic-worker commit, and what price would such a villain pay if caught?
Now sixteen top tale tellers have taken up the challenge of investigating magical crimes, those who commit them, investigate, or prosecute sorcerous offenders. So here's your chance to sleuth out the truth about 'crime spells' in fascinating stories that range from the tale of the public defender out to save an accused arsonist from 'facing the heat' a drug deal gone bad when someone 'iced' five mob a minor superhero trying to save an ex-girlfriend from silicon a woman running a mail order business to 'answer' questions about everything from true love to hidden treasures to a young lady who can 'track' missing people and objects.
I don't always have a lot of luck with anthologies and I tend to shy away from them for the most part. A friend was raving about how much she enjoyed this book and offered to send it to me when she finished. Jen in Alaska knows how I am about paranormal mysteries and knew I'd like the majority of the stories.
And she was right! I didn't find one weak story in the batch and I discovered some new-to-me authors who have been added to the watch list as well as being reminded of authors I've heard of but not read before now.
I don't know if I had a favorite in the batch, but some did stand out like Devon Monk's Sweet Smell of Cherries and Phaedra Weldon's Web Ginn House.
Five not all anthologies are this good beans....

25 June 2010

How Lady K Celebrates a Honkin' Hot Day

It has been smokin' hot the last couple of days, so Lady K took advantage of the inground sprinkler system and had a honkin' good time...

24 June 2010

DEAD IN THE FAMILY: Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series #10 - Charlaine Harris, narr Johanna Parker

From the back of the BOCD: The #1 New York Times best-selling Sookie Stackhouse phenomenon--which inspired the smash hit HBO True Blood--continues with this 10th delicious tale, as Sookie attempts to carve a slice of normalcy from her paranormal world.
The devastating Faery War has ended. Still reeling from the deaths of her cousin Claudine and many others, Sookie attempts to settle in with her beloved vampire Eric. But the new Vampire King is keeping a close eye on the relationship. Meanwhile, the government is pushing the idea of mandatory registration for two-natured beings. Then Claudine's triplet, Claude, appears on Sookie's doorstep--and is rather reluctantly shown the welcome mat.
Peacefulness remains elusive, and chaos touches everything as the stakes are raised in this breathtaking chapter from a series that becomes more popular by the minute.
This is the 10th in the series and some would argue (on some of the reviews and blogs I follow) that this is the weakest of the series. I would argue against that line of thought. It wasn't my favorite, but it was definitely a good read/listen. I think a lot of the reviewers took issue with Eric showing weakness, whereas I thought it was a wonderful touch having Eric showing weakness. At some point he needed to show that he could become overwhelmed, at least a little bit, by events. And if your 'father' coming to town after a gazillion years (especially bringing his newest progeny in tow) doesn't make one overwhelmed by events, I don't know what would.
Poor Sookie needs some relaxation time after all the crap she's been through and it doesn't look like she's going to get that any time soon. She's got the Fae after her tail, Eric isn't there for her like she wishes, her two-natured friends are under attack and the Feds are still huntin' for a reason to bring her in to work with them.
Would that I could bring more to the review party, but the spoilers would likely start flyin' I will leave it at...
Five non-spoiler give Sookie and Eric a break beans.....

23 June 2010

DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN YOU AND MY SHOES: Domestic Equalizers #4 - Dixie Cash, narr Peggity Price

From the back of the BOCD: Dixie Cash---best-selling Texas author of MY HEART MAY BE BROKEN, BUT MY HAIR STILL LOOKS GREAT---thrills millions with the ongoing antics of Lone Star duo Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin. This rollicking tale sends Salt Lick's own sleuthing cosmetologists on a collision course with the Big Apple.
When they receive an all-expensese-paid trip to a New York City PI convention, Debbie Sue basks in the glow of validation while Edwina sets her sights on some Fifth Avenue footwear. After raising a ruckus at the Dallas airport, the Texas Tornadoes arrive in New York, where they befriend a small-town librarian. While helping the bashful gal hook up with an NYPD detective, the Domestic Equalizers stumble across a charming killer who could leave them both stone-cold in their new Jimmy Choos.
Peggity Price's spot-on narration keeps listeners laughing as the zany pair--high on hairspray, rodeo boots, and stiletto heels---confronts big-city life.
Lordy! This one is the best one yet of the series!!! The mystery started a lot earlier and the romance was fairly mellow. I honestly don't mind when the mystery starts or how much romance goes long as Debbie Sue and Edwina do their thang, this reader/listener is a happy pup.
Debbie Sue and Edwina are asked to head up to New York City to speak at a convention. There are some gaffes and snafu's, but that's to be expected. And I kept cracking up throughout. Bless their hearts, they take NYC and the NYPD and the bad guys by storm.
What they may lack in 'sophistication' they more than make up for with their common ordinary horse sense. They can read a scene and people like no one bidness and that works in their favor when they discover a likely serial killer.
I think I am getting this whole series on audio for my keeper shelf. I would love to visit with the gals any time I want.
Five big ol' NYC ain't seen nuthin' yet diamonds....

21 June 2010

Books in the House Monday - 21 June 2010

From Mary Ann:
THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN - Kate Morton, TPB, mystery
DYING FOR DINNER: Cooking Class Mystery #4 - Miranda Bliss, MPB, cozy mystery
MURDER HAS A SWEET TOOTH: Cooking Class Mystery #5 - Miranda Bliss, MPB, cozy mystery

and she included some very nifty 3D bookmarks...

From Cassie:

IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE: A Double Feature Mystery - Jeffrey Cohen, MPB, mystery

VICTIM SIX - Gregg Olsen, MPB, thriller

I GAVE YOU MY HEART, BUT YOU SOLD IT ONLINE: Domestic Equalizers #3 - Dixie Cash, narr Peggity Price

From the back of the BOCD: Dixie Cash novels score critical accolades while slaying readers with witty mysteries starring the Domestic Equalizers, aka Debbie Sue Overstreet and her best friend Edwina. In their third outing, the gals from Salt Lick, Texas, wrangl with a mystery involving a handsome bull-riding champeen.
It's apparent to 12-year-old Jill that her I'm-just-fine-without-a-man mom Allison has grown jaded and needs to get back on the dating scene. So she goes on the Internet and lands a catch Allison would be crazy to throw back: strapping rodeo star Quint Matthews. It seems like the perfect match, but Quint comes to town with a heap o' trouble in tow. Now Quint must turn to the spunky Domestic Equalizers to find out who's tailing him before somebody ends up dead as armadillo roadkill.
Peggity Price captures all the West Texas flavor with a narration that adds spice and sizzle to this side-splitting tale.
Oh, how I love this series. I did have to suffer through DH's chatter about some 'anomalies' in the logic, but I know to go with the flow...anomalies schanomalies....Debbie Sue and Ed crac me the hell up!
The mystery kind of meanders and really doesn't make a show until later in the book and that's okay, too. It's also secondary to the sort of romance between Allison and Quint, then later really heats up between Allison and Tag, the best friend of Quint. Allison meets Quint via her daughter's good intentions of the online dating service. She thinks Quint is easy on the eyes, but a little full of himself. Quint takes her to a restaurant that his best friend owns and Allison meets Tag...owner of the restaurant. And they keep meeting up and falling more for each other, but unwilling to do more about it because of Quint.
Quint is in his own world of trouble and hires Debbie Sue and Edwina to help him out. Debbie Sue still thinks of Quint as a good friend and everyone else thinks Quint is an egotistical ex-boyfriend of Debbie Sue, in particular Debbie Sue's husband.
Favorite scene in the book is the 'toy' party...O..M..G!!! It has to be read or listened to, I really cannot do it justice here....but...O..M..G funny!
Please do yourself a favor, if you like a funny mystery, please get this book, this series!
Five funny funny Texas diamonds.....

20 June 2010

Blooms On Sunday - 20 June 2010

One of my baby daylilies
Closeup of one of my many achilleas

A very happy Husker Red penstemon

The lineup of the containers on the front walk

My favorite of the iceplants in the front berm..little baby keeps covering the ground just like it should in the most beautiful way

And TA-DAAAHHH!! We have a solo bike rider!!

She is nothing if not stubborn...Lady K asked if she could go back out again this afternoon to try the bike riding gig one more time...and she succeeded! I do have video (of course) and when I figure out how to load it up, I'll post it.

Celebrating Father's Day

We've still got some learning to do, but the right of passage of learning to ride a two wheeler has begun...


17 June 2010

PAPER TOWNS - John Green, narr Dan John Miller

From the back of the BOCD: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
Printz medalist John Green returns with the brilliant wit and searing emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of listeners.
Cynthia from High Crimes sent this to me not long ago as a gimme in one of my orders. It was a book that was mentioned by Lori Armstrong as a highly recommended YA read at her book signing hosted by Cynthia in February. Cynthia listened to it and concurred and knew that I'd like it too.
She was correct. I listened to it on the roadtrip to Kansas last week and it was perfect. There's a roadtrip towards the end of the book, a crazy long roadtrip that brings out the true nature of friendship.
Q is a fairly typical high school senior in Florida. Getting ready to graduate, get ready for college, hanging with his friends, in love from afar the girl of his dreams....
Girl of his dreams goes a little nuts one night and takes Q along with for the ride on her revenge tour around town.
And then disappears..leaving clues behind for Q to follow and find her. He asks his friends, old and new, to help him find the elusive Margo.
It's an intriguing story of friendship and loyalty and road trips....
Four intriguing road trip beans.....

16 June 2010

Report on Spa Week 2010 aka Girls with Powertools

Lady K and I have returned from Kansas and this year's Spa Week 2010, what we now call our mini fam reunion of our little clan. We meet at Dad's in Ottawa, Kansas to work on this year's project. Mom comes up from Fort Scott and does the cooking. My sister brings her two boys out from Glenview,IL. And Lady K and I come out from Denver burbs.
We started bright and early Sunday morning with a 6 mile walk (just Seester and I partook of this). Each morning afterwards was a four mile walk for me and six mile run for Seester. Then it was on to building the arbor behind Dad's pool. He needs shade big time out there in humid eastern Kansas, so the arbor will help do the trick.
We also mowed his 2.5 acres, saw IronMan2 and Prince of Persia (both hellah good), went to Fort Scott to the feed store, hardware store and sale barn (where livestock are bought and sold for those not in the know) and check on Mom's garden. We received copious rain, so we didn't really have to worry, but it's always fun to check in with the hometown.
Made one trip to DQ and several trips to Hawaiian Shave Ice booth at night and a couple of trips to Daylight Donuts where I located a new sensation called a Pinecone (YUM).
A good week of working hard, eating well, having fun in the's why we started calling it Spa Week..... Lady K doing her part in the above photos....keeping the tools straight and the frogs entertainedSeester and Dad work team And the lovely mostly finished product....Dad will put up trellises on two sides for wisteria vines to climb and cover the roof for even more shade and we will put in a wood floor if Dad wants to next year

15 June 2010

MAMA DOES TIME: A Mace Bauer Mystery - Deborah Sharp

From the back of the book: It all started with a phone call. I was just about to plop down with my leftover fried chicken, wanting to see if I could spot any of my ex-boyfriends on COPS, when it rang...What do you say when your mother announces she's got one foot behind bars for murder?
With impeccable manners and sherbet-colored pant suits, Mama is a true Southern woman. Who would ever suspect her of cold-blooded murder? But when a dead body is found in the trunk of her turquoise convertible, that's exactly what Detective Martinez sets out to prove. Now, to save their mama from the slammer (just like a tacky lyric from a country-western song), Mace and her sisters must wrangle the truth out of their small town neighbors and track down the real culprit.
People, people, people!! If you dig a supremely funny and well thought out mystery, get this book! I laughed myself pee-less throughout my time. It was my bedside book, so I went to sleep each night with a big grin on my face.
I was pleased with how the main character became an amateur sleuth. Mace knows Mama did not murder the man found in her trunk and, so, is drawn into the investigation to protect her mama from the big bad big city police detective newly arrived from Miami.
Mace and her sisters know everyone in their small town and set about asking questions, much to the possible endangerment of Mace and her sisters.
I kept thinking I knew who the bad guy was and I totally dug it that I was wrong and did a 'What the...??!" at the big reveal.
I am Southern by proxy (DH is from Virginia/Tennessee border) and I lived in Louisiana and Texas and Florida at varying times in my life and this may explain why I adore the Southern humor in the books I read...or it may just be that they, along with this gem, are just wonderfully written.
My favorite character, besides Mace and Mama, would be Ollie the one-eyed gator in the park where Mace works. He has an interesting charisma about him. Read the book and find out...
Five watch out for the gator, baby sparkly diamonds......

14 June 2010

A PLACE FOR DELTA - Melissa Walker, Illustrated by Richard Walker

From the inside flaps of the book: Joseph felt safe with Chipic, but with active volcanoes threatening to erupt and a monster moose next to the trail, he was really ready to go. As he boarded the helicopter, Joseph felt butterflies in his stomach. Soon he would meet Delta.
Joseph can hardly believe what he has been asked to do. His aunt Kate is waiting for him at a research station and needs help taking care of an orphan polar bear cub only a few months old. He will leave his friends and family and venture to the farthest northern town in the United States: Barrow, Alaska.
As the adventure unfolds, Joseph and his newfound Eskimo friend Ada find mysteries wherever they look. The bear cub, Delta, remains in danger. Who would want a polar bear dead? Joseph will have to look to the North Georgia woods and his family to save Delta.
When his parents were kids, they too embarked on an excursion into the unknown. Their encounters with the wilderness beyond their backyard have moldedthe future for Joseph and Delta. A PLACE FOR DELTA is about one family's journey--a passage born in the Appalachian Mountains and leading to the Arctic seas.
I like to think of myself as young at heart, but maybe not so much. At least not young enough to get as much as I'd have liked from A PLACE FOR DELTA. I really wanted to enjoy it, the premise was superb with the story of a little boy getting to go on the adventure of a lifetime: flying to Barrow, Alaska to help his aunt to care for an orphaned polar bear cub. There are mysteries to be had and as much as I love mysteries (and you know how much I dig mysteries), I could not get into the story.
I will pass this one on to my nephew who loves animals and loves mysteries almost as much as I do and he is actually young at heart since he's ten.
I received this from OnlinePublicist...
Three wish I were more young at heart beans......

13 June 2010

Books in the House - Monday 14 June 2010

Another nice sweet bennie from my visit to Dad's last week...BOOKS!!!
ONE SHOT: A Reacher Novel #9 - Lee Child, MPB, suspense
SECOND SHOT: A Charlie Fox Thriller #6 - Zoe Sharp, MPB, thriller
BLACK OUT - Lisa Unger, MPB, suspense
TRAGEDY AT LAW - Cyril Hare, MPB, suspense
BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE: A Reacher Novel - Lee Child, MPB, suspense
HEARTSICK: A Gretchen Lowell Book One - Chelsea Cain, MPB, thriller
A FAINT COLD FEAR - Karin Slaughter, MPB, thriller

Blooms on Sunday - 13 June 2010

We've had some banner rain the last couple days, so basically everything in the flowerbeds are happy happy happy.....brought a few plants from the visit to Kansas last week. We make sure to visit Suburban Lawn & Garden each time. I love love love this nursery! Acres and acres of plants for each gardener's dirt diggin' pleasure...
This is a new agastache, Golden Jubilee..I love my agastache collection
Above is the chocolate section of the shade garden...a new ligularia dentata, Brit-Marie Crawford, part of the treasures I brought back from Kansas..there's a cimicifuga that seems to be happy as well as the Husker Red penstemon in the forefront..

Peeking through to make herself known is penstemon barbatus, Elfin Pink, in the front berm

Residing next to the little red wagon full of sedums is lychnis chalcedonica, Maltese Cross...I need to get more of this's one happy camper no matter what and I think it would like some company

07 June 2010

Books in the House Monday - 7 June 2010

Lotta lotta books in the last couple of weeks....can't wait to read them all!!

From my sister:

RITUAL - Mo Hayder, MPB, thriller
DEEPER - Jeff Long, MPB, thriller
MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW: MY LIFE AND TIMES - Dr Ralph Stanley with Eddie Dean, HC, autobiography

From Online Publicist,Lisa:
A PLACE FOR DELTA - Melissa Walker, HC, YA

From Becky (NoMoreGrumpyBookseller):
THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES - Brunonia Barry, HC, current fiction

From my High Crimes Mystery Bookshop order:

THE COLD DISH - Craig Johnson, TPB, suspense

PUSHING UP DAISIES: A Dirty Business Mystery - Rosemary Harris, MPB, amateur sleuth

From my buddy Jenna (Imzadidragonfly):


Miss Jenna also included some nifty magnets, stickers, a Reading is Sexy bookmark, bookplates, and a notepad...isn't she the ginchiest??

From my BTO buddy, Janet:
IF BOOKS COULD KILL: A Bibliophile Mystery - Kate Carlisle, MPB, amateur sleuth
HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER: A Bibliophile Mystery - Kate Carlisle, MPB, amateur sleuth

04 June 2010

Headin' to Kansas...

Lady K and I are heading out for Spa Week 2010 at my dad's house in Ottawa, Kansas tomorrow early in the AM. We had such a good time last year building four or five windbreak fences for Dad, we decided we needed to do this every year. It's only the clan: Mom coming up from her house in Fort Scott to cook for us all, Dad who is housing us and making sure we don't hurt anyone with the powertools, my sister and her two boys and Lady K and spousal units allowed for the week.
This year we're building the grape or other vine arbor for the back of his pool area. Add some extra seating area, shade, and more planting area.
There will be trips to the movies, the DQ, the shaved ice stand and the nursery for more plants for all.
See you in a week!

HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE: A Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty Mystery - Kris Neri

From the back of the book: Imagine the surprise of scam psychic Samantha Brennan--when she encounters the real thing--that's right: an honest-to-heavens Celtic goddess, hidden beneath the steely exterior of FBI Special Agent Annebelle Haggerty. Yet Annabelle's magical powers might not be enough when America's sweet and sexy movie star, Molly Clare, is made the centerpiece of a gangland siege that brings the City of Angels to its knees. And if Annabelle and her family of deities are no match for the Demon of Darkness that she believes is masterminding LA's own Armageddon--what chance does a poor little fake like Samantha have?
There is more on the back of the book and it's all praise. It's a veritable paranormal Who's Who on that back cover singing praises over this book: Charlaine Harris, Casey Daniels, Shirley Damsgaard, Diana Gabaldon.
I cannot remember where I saw the review or synopsis of this one, but, once again, I am so glad that I did! This turned into a 'danger book' for me..the type that keeps me up reading past my bedtime. I loved Samantha and Annabelle, then the chemistry between the two main characters made me laugh and cheer them on. The story is a good one of quirky-means-well working with straightlaced good to fight the evil that is trying to take over the world, starting with Los Angeles.
All that appears normal isn't so, as Annabelle the goddess shows Samantha the fake psychic. Samantha knows the ways of the world, how to pull a good scam and where to find nifty vintage prom dresses. Annabelle knows where the gnomes and flower faeries reside and who to call when in need of a magical recharge.
The twists and turns were fab, especially the "Whoa! Did not see that coming" moment in the end.
Please let there be more to this series!! I'll look for Kris Neri's other books, that's for sure.
Five goddess sparkly diamonds....