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Saturday, March 28, 2020

More pictures from my walks lately...and my haircut that won't happen...

Hello book friends!  I thought I would share a few more pictures that I've taken this week on my solitary walks.  I'll save the 'best' for last.



Beautiful colors here and so full of blossoms!



More wildflowers with some purple sage plants behind.  The purple sage are not in bloom as yet, but they will be.



I think this looks hopeful - you can see the blossom buds that are on this cactus.  Blooms will be coming and they are surprisingly beautiful.



Told you that I saved the 'best' for last.  Can you see this racer snake that was in my front yard?  My hubby actually took the picture.  I ran inside and told him there was a snake outside and he quickly came and assured me that it was not poisonous.  We found a snake skin in that area a couple of years ago that was about 5 ft long.  My hubby surmised that it might be from this same snake.  Just a reminder to keep my eyes open on my walks.  The snakes are among us.

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OK, I know that in the grander scheme of things the fact that my monthly haircut won't happen is not earth shattering.  However....I have short hair.  I like it to be like I like it to be.  I don't color or highlight it and it's mostly gray now.  I get it cut and trimmed on a fairly regular 4-week schedule.  Of course, my next appointment was scheduled for yesterday.  And my hairstylist is not cutting hair right now.  As is wise and prudent and necessary.  She called me earlier this week and said she was closing her shop right now and, as she had been planning a move to another location, wouldn't be open for several weeks to come - regardless of when we're all circulating in the world again.  She said she was nervous that some of her clients would decide to color and highlight themselves and she'd have a big mess on her hands later.  She also said - don't cut your hair.  I promised I wouldn't (it would be very bad if I did), but I did ask if it was OK if I shaved my head.  Ha!  She said to 'remain shaggy'!  We'll see how it goes. 

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This next week I'm planning on focusing on what impact our current restrictions are having on the book world - bookstores, libraries, books about to be published  Stay tuned...

Friday, March 27, 2020

How about some cupcake pictures and a cozy mystery series to go along with them?

I've shared pictures of flowers of all kinds and also talked about some comfort reads.  I decided today to talk about Jenn McKinlay's cupcake bakery mystery series and also once again share cupcake pictures.  I'll keep it short, but let me tell you, if my daughter has her baker's hat on (as opposed to her nurse's hat), she can create some ultra-yummy treats.  First the mystery series:


Jenn McKinlay is an amazingly prolific author.  She has written several mystery series and now some standalones.  She's a former librarian.  She's got a husband and kids.  And she lives in Phoenix, Arizona.  The only mystery series I've read of hers so far is her cupcake bakery series.  It's set in Old Town Scottsdale and stars two friends, Angie DeLaura and Melanie Cooper.  These ladies own Fairy Tale Cupcakes, partially because of help from another friend, Tate Harper.

In the first book, Sprinkle With Murder, Tate's fiance is murdered.  She was sort of a bridezilla and was actually found dead with one of Angie and Melanie's sample cupcakes.  Hijinks ensue and both the cupcake ladies are suspected of the crime.  Angie has several brothers and so family plays a part.  Angie, Melanie and Tate have been friends since they were kids.  Everyone has an opinion.  Oh, and there is also a 'crazy as a loon' woman who is their competition.  Always fun to see her.

There are now 11 books in this series and the newest will come out in late April, Pumpkin Spice Peril.  So, if you're thinking that a little sweetness would go along well with your murder, you might try one of these books.  They are fun!

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Also, just for fun, here are some of the cupcakes my daughter has created for friends and family over the last few years.  Believe me, they are tasty!  Enjoy and please take care!


Chocolate cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream
 frosting and fondant flower


Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes


Peppermint Hot Cocoa cupcake


Butter Pecan Praline cupcakes


Valentine's cupcakes


Red Velvet cupcakes
 with Cream Cheese frosting

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A list of some of my favorite comfort reads...and now's the time for them...



As I said, I'm going to be taking a look back through some of my previous posts and see if there are some special books or thoughts that might be appropriate to share again, at least this week.  This was a 'Top 10 Tuesday' from a couple of years ago - kay's favorite books to read again and again...otherwise known as 'my comfort reads'.  Hope it might give some ideas for all of you and also for me.

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 I know that not everyone likes to re-visit books favorites.  My top reason is probably to derive comfort when life gives me lemons - which it certainly has from time to time.  And I agree with the 3rd quote:  reading is indeed my refuge.

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.   ~~Francois Mauriac~~

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.     ~~Clifton Fadiman~~

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.     ~~W. Somerset Maugham~~

These 10 (OK, more than 10) books are in no particular order and I almost certainly enjoy and reread other books by the same authors, especially series books.

1.  The Secret - Julie Garwood -  historical romance - Scottish Highlands - a reluctant midwife and a Scottish laird

2.  Die For Love - Elizabeth Peters - mystery set at a romance writers convention - funny - big floppy hats, lots of hearts and valentines - and a body

3.  The Crying Child - Barbara Michaels - spooky old house in Maine - what's in the attic?

4.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the rest of the story - J.K. Rowling - it's Harry Potter - enough said

5.  A Murder is Announced - Agatha Christie - Miss Marple - a murder invite in the paper and you can come - Or if your tastes run to Hercule Poirot, Cards on the Table - 4 sleuths and 4 possible murderers

6.  Dance Upon the Air, Heaven and Earth, Face the Fire - Nora Roberts - the Three Sisters Island trilogy - romance and witches - what more do you want?

7.  The Shop on Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber - knitting and female friendship - plus a little romance - also the other books in the Blossom Street series

8.  Virgin River - Robyn Carr - a community in the Northern California hills - this whole series is delightful - romance and a great cast of characters

9.  Bootlegger's Daughter - Margaret Maron - the whole Judge Deborah Knott mystery series - set in North Carolina and including the very large Knott family - love these on audio

10.  A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie - the whole Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James mystery series - the way the relationships develop and all the interesting things you learn about London and other English locations - and the maps!

Monday, March 23, 2020

To possibly help you take a breath and relax a bit...

I said last weekend that I might be sharing some posts in upcoming days that would be related to themes or lists.  I've decided I might even repost some older things I've already talked about here, with a little editing.  So, this is where I'm starting.  I've used the word BREATHE before for my 'One Word' of the year.  My word for this year was BLOOM and I've shared pictures of flowers.  Here's my thoughts for right now on BREATHE.




The ocean picture above was taken by me at the Oregon Coast in 2010, a trip that showed me how the ocean and the rhythms there were so very soothing to me - the person who always looks to the mountains for solace.  Thinking about BREATHE brings that trip to mind and how I was so mesmerized by watching the waves.  It's a good reminder.

I really like a song entitled 'Breathe' by Jonny Diaz, a contemporary Christian artist.  There are a couple of verses that speak to me very, very strongly:


I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear you say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in, fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe (just breathe)
let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe (just breathe)


If you are interested in hearing the song in it's entirety, you can find it on YouTube.

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Hope you are all maintaining wherever you might be.  Take such good care and get some fresh air and breathe if you're able to.  I'm thinking of everyone and I'll be back in a couple of days with another post about something - who knows what?  Ha!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A few more cheerful flower pictures I've taken all over the place...

I decided that I'll share a few more flower pictures I've got lurking on my saved picture folder here.  I'm sure I've shared all of these on this blog in the past, but I'm going to share them again.  I may do a few posts in upcoming days that have themes or lists - just for fun.  Can you tell I'm a little antsy?  Ha!

Oh, one more thing...I don't seem to be able to comment on several of your blogs, but I'm not going to worry about it right now.  It seems to apply to all the Wordpress blogs and maybe a few others.  No issues with Blogger blogs.  I know that some have solved problems with commenting between Wordpress and Blogger in the past.  I also know that a few people have trouble commenting here.  Again, not going to worry about it right now.  If your blog is listed on my sidebar (a new thing for me), I read it. 

OK, here's some lovely flowers I've seen and their location:



Fredericksburg, Texas 



Fredericksburg, Texas



Bluebonnet in my front yard



Crepe myrtle in my front yard



Kerrville, Texas



Boston, Massachusetts



Boston, Massachusetts



Portland, Oregon

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Take care and have a safe, healthy weekend.  I'll be back next week with some other 'kooky' post.  Ha!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

First day of a very unique spring...an update on life in Central Texas

Hello my lovely book friends!  Well, we live in memorable times don't we?  I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about viruses and restrictions and such here.  I do want to say that I hope each of you are well, that you are being mindful of others through this time, that you are being sensible (whatever that means in your area of the world and in your life with others), and that you also remember that we can be kind.  Hope you are practicing kindness.  I'm trying to be cheerful as well.  So, with that in mind, first day of spring. 

What does that mean?  Well, spring in Central Texas means wildflowers and yesterday I took a few pictures to share while I was on a solitary walk.  Just me, my headphones, my audiobook, and the lovely bluebonnets.  Flowers are coming up practically overnight here because we've had some nice rain and because it's their time.  Enjoy!









In other news, my husband is working from home.  My volunteering is paused for now as the libraries are closed.  Our church will be online for several weeks.  Restaurants are closed except for takeout and delivery.  I'm trying to take solitary walks in my neighborhood and the weather has cooperated.  We live a bit out in the country, though there are houses around us.  I wave to any neighbors that I see and we might shout greetings across the way.  I'm now thinking of all those things that you mean to do 'one day' - like sorting through old photographs or clearing out drawers or files from long ago.  I may do some of that.  Pulling weeds in the yard.  And I'm trying to make a few calls to friends and family to check on them and also say that I'm thinking about them.  That would have been something my Mom would have done.  So, consider this your 'call'. 

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.  Please take a minute to be grateful for the medical personnel that must continue to be available and serve.  I ask that as the Mom of a long-grown Labor and Delivery nurse.  She's doing fine, but babies will come on their own schedule and my daughter has an important job to do in helping run her L&D unit.  So far staffing is OK, but it wouldn't take much to tip the balance in another direction and then she and others might have to 'remain in place'.  I try not to worry too much. 

Again, take care.  I'll be around more often to your blogs to check in.  Enjoy your extra reading time!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Another month goes by...

Hello book friends!  I'm checking in to say that February has passed and we're now into March.  Can you believe it?  I hoped to have a flower picture or two to show, but it's pouring rain outside this morning and I haven't seen many spring flowers yet.  They are coming though.  I know they are.



February was a good month for me with lots of walking and listening to audiobooks.  I've been rereading a bunch of things so I don't have many to share.  I'll talk a bit about American Dirt below and tell what little there was about our afternoon book group's 'Oprah' connection.  Tonight is our monthly mystery book group meeting and we're discussing Jane Harper's latest, The Lost Man.  I liked it OK, but I liked her previous two books featuring Aaron Falk better.  I'm hoping she gets back to those.  I also couldn't wait for Elly Griffiths' new Ruth Galloway mystery, The Lantern Men, and ordered it from 'across the pond'.  Read it and also liked it a lot, though it won't be one of my favorites.  It seems a sort of transition book.  As always, now begins the wait for the next one.



Our book group discussion of American Dirt was quite interesting and the moderator did an excellent job of keeping the ball rolling around the 32 people that attended.  That group normally has between 18-22 people at most.  Because of the controversy and Oprah connection, the meeting room was full.  She and I had talked about possibly dividing into two groups if necessary and she asked if I'd be willing to handle discussion for one of the groups.  I agreed, but privately hoped I wouldn't have to do that.  It turned out that 7 of the people attending hadn't read the book or ever attended the group (it's a library program so people come and go as they like).  They were just curious and understandably so.  We remained in one big group.

As to the sharing part, some loved it, some really hated it, and some were kind of 'meh'.  I came in between 'meh' and liking it.  Honestly, I thought the author tried to do too many things in the book.  Was it a thriller or was it a commentary on society?  My heart broke for the children and young women in the story.  I also thought the publisher didn't handle the publicity at all well.  However, in the end, I was glad that I tried it.  The Oprah aspect of our group's inclusion pretty much amounted to most of us getting a free copy of the book.  Ha!

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As I said above, lots of walking for me.  I'm back on track with my movement and my eating.  And that means that I'm sitting less and checking in here and on your blogs less frequently.  I don't see that changing for now.  I'll try to at least do a post here monthly and comment around now and then.  Here's to a great spring!  Oh, and remember to practice good hygiene in public.  Too many germs floating around, right?  It's OK to be a bit of a germ-o-phobe now and then.  Ha! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday - The Sea of Lost Girls



'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly post I'm going to try to keep up with here - well, weekly.  Today I'm highlighting a new book by Carol Goodman that comes out early next month.  I've read at least three books by this author and enjoy how she brings certain themes to life.  I'm waiting on:



Publication Date:  March 3rd

Tess has worked hard to keep her past buried, where it belongs. Now she’s the wife to a respected professor at an elite boarding school, where she also teaches. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, whose dark moods and complicated behavior she’s long worried about, seems to be thriving: he has a lead role in the school play and a smart and ambitious girlfriend. Tess tries not to think about the mistakes she made eighteen years ago, and mostly, she succeeds.

And then one more morning she gets a text at 2:50 AM: it’s Rudy, asking for help. When Tess picks him up she finds him drenched and shivering, with a dark stain on his sweatshirt. Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress: Lila Zeller, Rudy’s girlfriend, has been found dead on the beach, not far from where Tess found Rudy just hours before.

As the investigation into Lila’s death escalates, Tess finds her family attacked on all sides. What first seemed like a tragic accidental death is turning into something far more sinister, and not only is Tess’s son a suspect but her husband is a person of interest too. But Lila’s death isn’t the first blemish on Haywood’s record, and the more Tess learns about Haywood’s fabled history, the more she realizes that not all skeletons will stay safely locked in the closet.

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Have you read any of Carol Goodman's books?  They are often set at schools or in the spooky forest or both.  I'd love to see her at an event and don't you know it - she's going to be at Malice Domestic 2020 in early May and I'm not attending that conference this year.  Sigh.  Ah well.  Perhaps at another time. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Winter comes...a little bit

I thought I would share a couple of pictures that I took early this morning in front of our house.  We don't see this 'white stuff' very often here in Central Texas.  Not very often at all.  I had to hurry and take the shots before it disappeared.  Winter does come a bit to us.  That being said, it was almost 80 degrees the day before, so I knew it wouldn't really stick when the weather people got extra excited with their predictions on Tuesday and Wednesday.






I was just glad that it waited until after I got home from our mystery book group meeting last night.  People in our area have no idea how to drive in any kind of winter precipitation.  We had a good book group meeting with lots of people there even though it was cold and blustery outside.  We talked about Rhys Bowen's books and everyone there gave her writings a big 'thumbs up'.  Have you read her Royal Spyness series or her historical standalone books such as IN FARLEIGH FIELD?  Good stuff!  Next month we'll discuss Jane Harper's newest book, THE LOST MAN.  Looking forward to it (with no winter precipitation).  Ha! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday - Eight Perfect Murders


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event that I used to take part in weekly.  I'm going to try to do this again in upcoming days and will highlight books that I'm extra excited about.  For this first 'Waiting on Wednesday' of 2020, I'm featuring Peter Swanson's new book - very excited for this one as I've enjoyed this author's books in the past.  This week I'm waiting on:



Publication Date:  March 3rd

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. There is killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.

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What do you think of the eight books listed?  Have you read any of them?  I've only read the Christie book and the Highsmith book, but this might be a good reading list before publication.