First of all

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fall is Here! How about some Fall Bucket List Ideas?

 Happy first day of fall! 

This tree is an overachiever.

What activities do you look forward to when fall arrives in all its burnt orange, yellow and red glory?  

I plan on making a scarecrow for the front porch, trying new soup recipes, raking leaves, having a bonfire or two, eating plenty of Honeycrisp apples, and watching It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! 

I'll also be voting! Click here if you need to register to vote! 

Now that I've started my list, I think I am going to literally make a list.  Stay tuned, I'll post a picture from my planner later this week. 

Need some Fall Bucket List Inspirations?  Here are some links to help you get in the fall spirit! 

Hallmark Channel's Fall Bucket List

Printable Bucket List

Family Fall Bucket List Ideas

Fall Activity Ideas from Readers Digest

Stay safe, stay healthy! Wear a Mask! 


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Watching Fall Cooking and A Nice Afternoon Mystery!

 The highs are in the low 70s with sweater weather at night and I am ready to try all the fall recipes--and at the same time, I'm not really in the mood to cook. What is a person to do?  

Watch fall-themed cooking shows!  Food Network has a streaming service and I had a deal for one free year of the service so here I am binging the best Food Network has to offer in Autumn programming. 

One episode of The Kitchen is start-to-finish recipes I would actually want to make.  The link is here for the video and below is the description of the episode: 

"The Kitchen celebrates Fall with the two stars of the season: squash and pumpkins! Katie Lee makes her sticky-sweet Grilled Pumpkin BBQ-Glazed Pork Chops and Sunny Anderson whips up her Quick Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Mini Butternut Squash. Jeff Mauro makes a creamy Cacio e Pepe e Zucca pasta, and Katie puts her spin on squash with Spaghetti Squash Crust Pizza. Baker Renato Poliafito brings some pumped up Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and Geoffrey Zakarian spices things up with his Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas."

I really need to stop watching TV on an empty stomach. I am hungry but I don't want to get up and go downstairs to cook! Ha!

Here is a review of a book I recently won in a giveway- 


I enjoyed this novella. The story made for a nice afternoon escape. I found the gothic nature of the murder interesting and I found the main character interesting as she was much more introverted than your typical cozy mystery protagonist. I have mixed feelings about her aunt. I hope that in future installments Viv makes a local friend and finds a way to be able to use her computer skills legally to help people since that seems to be something she excels at and likes to do.

The backdrop of a town immersed in the Victorian age, with all the tech and conveniences of modern 2000s life is interesting. I am looking forward to grabbing a PSL or a golden Tumeric latte and reading the next book in the series as it is themed for Fall!

This is a good read to have on your phone or tablet to read when you are waiting at an appointment or if you take public transportation to and from work.

You can see my goodreads reviews here

Thursday, September 17, 2020

It's Official! I have hit my 2020 Reading Challenge Goal- A Pefect Book to Peak On!

You Should See Me in a CrownYou Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When it comes to YA, I love character growth. This book delivers a wonderful story and Liz Lighty grows into to her own right before our eyes.

This was an interesting take on a prom centered story. I enjoyed experiencing the prom season with all the kids at Campbell. One of the things I liked about this book was the relationships between the characters when there were hurt feelings and miscommunications they weren't too drawn out. People said they were sorry, people apologized. I would say this book is appropriate for middle school readers as well.

Start to finish this is a very well-done book. It's easy to root for Liz and to hope for all the good things to happen to her. If Leah Johnson would want to write a follow-up book where we see Liz at college, I would pre-order it as soon as it was available.

I was very happy to learn this was Leah Johnson's first book, it's such a good debut and I look forward to reading many more stories from Leah Johson. When you read this book, it's so easy to envision the town, Liz's friends, and her family. You also feel joy. So much joy in this book. I hope that someday very soon LGBTQIA stories of High School life are commonplace and not an exception.

I also appreciated the spotlight on Sickle Cell Anemia, I had thought that there were more medical advances for those who have it and it seems there is a lot more research and treatment that needs to be funded.

I read this for a book club and am really excited to discuss the book with the group via Zoom. Can't wait to hear what others thought of the book!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Who likes Spooky Books?

 One month from today I'm participating in...

What's that?  Just a fun on-line reading even where anyone can participate any book that has a bit of spookiness, from a witchy cozy mystery to classic Stephen King to Urban  Fantasy to Paranormal counts.  There will be little prizes and on-line camaraderie of the best kind as we read!  

Click here to join in the fun!

I'll share what books I read here with some posts and also you can follow me on here  I'm working on making a Fraterfest 2020 bookshelf so look for that!

Lest I forget, audiobooks, novellas, and graphic novels all count. Heck if you have kids, share the fun!  Have a challenge with your kids.  You read your favorite a witch falls in love with a vampire stories and they read Goosebumps! 

For safety sake we won't be having Halloween parties this year, so this readathon can be a good way to embrace that Halloween Spirit! 

Comment below if you are going to participate in the Challenge! I'd love to follow along with you! 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

They Don't Tell You Having Cancer Never Ends

Since I finished active treatment six months ago, I have had three follow-up scans. This is what I mean when I say cancer never ends.  The first scan I had was to follow up on all the treatments; and was used to compare the new post-treatment me, to the scans I had before treatment.  Then the next scan (a PET scan) was to get more info on a couple changes found in the CT scan and then the most recent scan was to see if anything changed from the PET scan.

First and foremost, nothing changed!!! Nothing is more wonderful than hearing your scan was unremarkable! That means the initial couple of weird things found in scan 1 and seen on the PET scan were due to changes from radiation. I hear that many people have cancer treatment and go merrily on their way, no follow up scans necessary.  I, however, get extra close treatment because I'm BRCA-2. 

On the one hand, I'm grateful to have close follow up in that if anything showed up, then it would be smaller and able to be treated faster.  On the other hand, scans cause major anxiety for many cancer peeps, like me.  It's a very stressful time that brings back all the worries of when you first found out you had cancer and all the worry that this scan is going to say the cancer is back and spreading.  That's what no one tells you, once you have cancer, you can never go back to not having had cancer.  The only way you know that you have "beat" (and I do not like that term) cancer is if you die of another cause. Otherwise you just never know what the future holds for you.

The key is to figure out how to balance having very valid worries and living life.  That's one tough key.  Because of the COVID-19 virus, many people now know more about living with uncertainty.  So welcome to my world, it's a bummer to be here. Let's hope there is a great vaccine for COVID-19 soon and some amazing new treatments in the world of cancer that turn advanced cancer into a treatable disease that doesn't shorten lifespans.

Below is a review of a fun book.  Books are a great escape when life is filled with uncertainty. I like mysteries and romances because I know the killers will be brought to justice and the lovers will get their happily ever afters.  When life is uncertain, stories can give you certainty!


The Diva Takes the Cake (A Domestic Diva Mystery, #2)

The Diva Takes the Cake by Krista Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment in this series and both Sophie and I made a very silly mistake. My mistake was reading this book while hungry. Oh my goodness Krista Davis is masterful at writing about food preparation. I wanted to eat the book! And it doesn't end there, the book is also full of discussion on how to set a table for festive events.

Sophie's mistake, I'm not going to spoil that for you. Suffice it to say, she overlooks a really obvious clue--but that is understandable, she has a lot going on! I enjoyed the wedding backdrop for this story. I missed June and the Colonel--and Francie! I do not know why Humphrey is the way he is but I hope he finds what he is looking for!

This book just keeps me turning pages. Oh by the way I loved that in the advice columns Krista Davis includes links to actual websites. Too funny. My only complaint is that Sophie doesn't stand up for herself more when she is dealing with Natasha, her mom, or Hannah.

You can read this as a stand-alone, but book 1 "The Diva Runs Out of Thyme" is very enjoyable so add that to your TBR!

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Where Do I Go From Here?

What do you do when you get to the end of a book series, or TV series, or podcast series you love? Look for another one to love or reread?  I'm a look for another series to love. There are so many good stories out there, and only so much time. 

I'm a little sad today to say goodbye to Kate Daniels, she was funny and she was smart and she was really good with a sword! I'll miss spending time with her! If you are looking for a relatively long series with a great heroine, this is an excellent series to read.

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, #10)Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very fitting end to a wonderful series. If you haven't read Iron and Magic already, read it before starting the finale in the Kate Daniels series. Once again I was amazed at how well Ilona Andrews balances snarky humor and drama.

I loved how this fantasy series is really about Kate finding family and being family for other people. The mythologies used in the stories are always fascinating and I would love spinoff books featuring Roman and his family.

One of the reasons I so enjoyed this series is that Kate and Curran build real, solid love. There is some drama and there are worries along the way but there aren't dramatic fights added as a device just to keep the couple apart so I keep reading. I think it's a testament to Ilona Andrew's world-building that we have a central couple and so much action, drama, and interesting side characters that we never get bored.

When I was reading and saw there were only 50 pages until the end of the story, I was very worried about the ending, I shared Kate's concerns, I didn't see how my favorite people could survive and how everything could be resolved in 50 pages. And yet, there was resolution and a very satisfying ending. So well done!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Happy National Ampersand Day & A Book Review!

See what I did there?

Today Middle Child begins his college experience.  The first couple of weeks will be completely remote and since he is our family's IT person, I expect that he will manage the Zooms ( or whatever software they use), without issue.  His computer space is also the closest to the router giving him the least buffered of streams.

I hope you have a lovely #NationalAmpersandDay!  It's a great day for peanut butter & jelly, macaroni & cheese, or fun & games!

Here is my latest book review!

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the penultimate book in this series, Ilona Andrews masterfully balances snark, marriage planning, and battle action. They also manage to rehabilitate a dead villain, not an easy task. All the fan-favorite side characters have a part in the installment and it doesn't seem forced when they show up.

I really enjoyed what they did with Christopher's story and it was great to see Roman- a dark priest planning the wedding. This book was just what I needed to read this weekend, it was very engaging, filled with characters I have grown to love and as always so empowering to read about Kate Daniels kicking evil ass!

Lucky for me, the 10th and last book in the series was available on the Libby app, so I've already got that downloaded from my library.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Happy National Read A Book Day! Book Deals! Free! Almost Free!

Grab a book, or use an app on your phone or tablet, find a shady spot and enjoy some quality self-care!

If you have a Kindle or the Kindle App you can find some freebie book deals. You can also check out books electronically from your library!

Another great way to get books is to take a little time and enter the book giveaways on Goodreads

Here is a book that is free and looks like a fun fall read! 

Here is one set in the roaring 20s- only 99 cents for a limited time! 

And another book for 99 cents - more witches!

If you are looking to enjoy a cocktail with your quiet reading time today, you can click this link for over 20 apple-centric cocktails!  Cheers and welcome apple season!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Holiday Weekend is Here! Don't Forget...

Don't forget the reason we have this holiday!  A toast to the labor movement! I hope you have some nice work free plans for the weekend. I might go with the hubs to a local brewery to try their Oktoberfest beer.  It will depend on if we can go in the early afternoon and most importantly if the beer garden is very empty. If not maybe we can get a growler and enjoy a pint of Oktoberfest beer in our backyard.  I have my 2018 Oaktoberfest Boot ready for a refill. Prost!

I finished another really fun paranormal romance - below is my review! 

Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy, #4)Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a well-done paranormal romance! You can't read this and not love House Baylor, plus Linus Duncan is basically Ironman, how fun is that! I love the sizzling romance between Catalina and Alessandro and all the obstacles in their way, I have to keep reading just to see how they will overcome everything that is thrown at them.

Ilona Andrews is so skilled at writing action-paced dramas. They balance action scenes with romance in a way that never makes you want to skim the fight to get to the romantic banter.

Emerald Blaze just came out and I'm on the waiting list at my library to read the next installment of Catalina's story. I'm really looking forward to learning more about Alessandro's quest and I hope maybe Catalina's mom will go on a date with Sgt. Heart???

View all my reviews

Monday, August 31, 2020

Sure It's Monday, But a Three-Day Weekend is at the End of This Week!

The weather in my neck of the woods was wonderful this weekend, the temps dropped from intolerable to tolerable.  A local brewery released their Oktoberfest beer and I was very tempted to see if it was possible to go there and stay away from everyone and have my first beer of the fall season. I am planning to taste some new fall beers this year and write about them as I did in the fall of 2017. I also plan to read some beer-centered cozy mysteries!

It's the last day of August, and as you can see I'm working on planning my fall.  On my to-do list for today, I have allotted time to reflect on August and plan September.  If that sounds good to you, join me in doing this practice each month.  I write about the highlights and low lights of the month and then review my planner and see what I want to do in the upcoming month.

I read a novella from a book series I really enjoy over the weekend. I loved that it was set up in classic mystery style, think Agatha Christie or Clue. Everyone had means and motive, and the Main Character had to solve it.  Lots of fun! My review is below-

Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5)Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is done as a classic mystery, everyone involved is at the Rogan family estate and
Catalina is our detective. There is also the comedy that comes from planning a wedding and I enjoyed seeing the wedding planning from Catalina's perspective as well as the scenes with Mrs. Rogan. It was also fun to read how Ilona Andrews had a Sherlock Holmes climax were the mystery was revealed to all the suspects present. I'm already halfway through the next book in the series, the Hidden Legacy series is so hard to put down!

View all my reviews