Thursday, September 29, 2016

Beyond the Books: Do You Believe in Ghosts?

This week I'm linking up with KissinBlueKaren for Beyond the Books.  This is a meme where we all answer a non-bookish question.  It's always so fun to see everyone's answers and get a peak at the blogger beyond the books.  This week's topic is -Do I Believe in Ghosts?

So awhile back I hinted that I worked in a building that was supposedly haunted and a few people were intrigued so I thought I'd use today's Beyond the Books topic to tell that story.

Before I start 1. It's not that dramatic and 2.  I'm not sure what exactly I believe so I'm only telling my experience.

When I was in college I worked as a runner for a lawyer whose office was in a 200 year old home that had been converted into offices.  Her office consisted of a waiting room that was one half of a double parlor, few small offices and a long hallway.  This wasn't a quiet building.  The floors creaked when you walked and anytime you opened or closed a door you had to put a shoulder into it a bit because they tended to stick. 

One afternoon I was in the office alone.  The lawyer was in court and the receptionist  and paralegal were out somewhere and I was sitting in the waiting room to answer phones.  I was on the phone and needed to take a message so I turned to the other side of the desk to grab a pen without full straightening up and there in the middle of the sitting area was a man.  I saw his heavy dark shoes and dark pants clearly.  So clearly that I put my finger up to signal just a minute and when I got off the phone I straightened up with a customer service smile on my face prepared to say "How can I help you?"

Except no one was standing there.  I was so convinced I had seen someone standing there that I searched the entire office and found that I was completely by myself.  As I was walking back down the hall I realized that the floor was creaking as I walked just like it always does but the floor hadn't creaked at all when I saw the man and I hadn't heard the bell or the sound of the door being pushed open or shoved closed.  I then spent the next 30 minutes trying to recreate just what I saw and never managed anything even close.  There wasn't anything even vaguely the color I had seen and it wasn't a matter of shadows because of the way the lighting was.  And I had felt like someone was in the room though that isn't really evidence.

For the rest of my time there I never saw anything else but I used to hear things all the time.  My office was at the end of that long hallway and I used to hear people walking down the hall towards me regularly.  I can't even count how many times I looked up expectantly waiting to see what whoever it was wanted only to never have anyone there.

One afternoon I was leaving a little early.  It was just the paralegal and me in the office and when she saw that I was leaving she asked me to wait a minute and we could leave together.  She kind of shoved stuff in her bag obviously not really done and hurried to catch up with me.  When I asked her why she was leaving as she clearly wasn't ready she told me that she didn't stay in the building by herself because it was haunted and gave her the creeps.

I really don't know much about the history of the house or if there was any truth to it being haunted but I know it definitely felt like it was!  A few years ago J and I went on a Haunted Walking Tour through downtown here and we walked by that house.  The guide stopped and said that the medium they had brought in saw a red haired woman running out the door and over the balcony.  It was all I could do not to ask "What about the man in the parlor?"

So that's my story.  What about you?  Do you believe?  Have you had any experiences?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Christmas in Eternity Springs - Blog Tour Review

Christmas in Eternity Springs (Eternity Springs #12) by Emily March

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description:  After a devastating betrayal, Claire Branham packs up her life, along with a twenty million dollar secret, and moves to Eternity Springs.  She opens a specialty shop - Forever Christmas - and, with the help of a surprise romance with the town's sexy new handyman, Claire's heart begins to heal.  Until her past comes knocking...

Jax Lancaster never questioned the need to abandon his career as a Navy submariner in order to care for his young son in the wake of his ex-wife's death.  Desperate to help with this loss, Jax straps on a tool belt to give Nicholas the one thing he wants: A life in Eternity Springs.  What Jax never expected to find a second chance at love with a fascinating woman for whom Christmas has become a business.  But when the truth about Claire threatens their newfound happiness, can Jax prove to her that in Eternity Springs, the spirit of Christmas is real... And will last a lifetime?  (From Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I love this series and each new book makes me love it more!

My Impression:  Did I mention I love this series?  I've always enjoyed it but the last book - Reunion Pass - completely hooked me and this one has only made me a bigger fan. Because I was so anxious to revisit Eternity Springs I didn't even really even read the blurb so I was thrilled to discover that Nicholas, the little boy I had loved meeting in the last book is a big part of this newest book.  Normally I'm not a big fan of kids in romances but Nicholas is such a great character.  He's sweet and intelligent but not perfect and the trauma he has endured just broke my heart.  I absolutely loved seeing him start to regain his spirit in Eternity Springs.
Jax and Claire also were impossible to resist.  They're both trying so hard to help Nicholas and do the right thing.  Their connection to each other basically leapt off the page and I was rooting for them.  Claire does have a bit of a secret but as it isn't something that is continuously brought up and angst-ed about it didn't bother me.  
Eternity Springs is a delightful place to visit and I always enjoy revisiting it.  While the characters frequently have very dark back stories they tend to be just discussed occasionally and don't unfold on the page.  While there is some heat it is mostly fade to black but the emotional connections are up front and center.  
This is a series that I always immediately get swept up by.  While you do meet Nicholas in Reunion Pass I don't think reading it is necessary to enjoying this one (though you should because it's wonderful!) and understanding what is happening with the characters.  This is the perfect read to soothe a holiday frazzled brain and get into the Christmas spirit!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  There are a few early books in the series and I need to go back and read them plus I know I'll be looking for the next book!

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would!  If you enjoy RaeAnne Thayne or books that focus on emotional connections this is a book and a series that is not to be missed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR

This week's topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books in my Fall TBR.  I love this topic because I get to think about what's coming out, what's already on my shelf and what I really want to read.  I did okay with the last TBR post and only have 2 unread so I'm hopefully for similar if not better results for this one.

1.  The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - This is a book I've been wanting to read for ages and I've decided now is the time.  I've heard fantastic things so I'm looking forward to this one.

2.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman is an author I've been wanting to read for awhile though I'm a little nervous because the episodes he's written of Doctor Who tend to be my least favorite.  The blurb on this one really caught my eye though so I figured this would be a good place to start.

3.  The Duke and I by Julia Quinn - This is the first book in the Bridgerton series which is one of my favorite historical romance series.  I'm trying to squeeze some rereading into this year and I want to revisit the Bridgertons before reading the newest book that Quinn released earlier this year.

4.  All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris - I have had mixed results with Charlaine Harris.  I loved 1 series by her but didn't love another and to be honest I've never really felt the urge to pick up the Sookie Stackhouse series though it is becoming more tempting.  I love this series about a librarian who investigates murders and am really excited that this new one is coming out in October.

5.  The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal - Between the cover, the 1940s setting, and mentions of a copycat Jack the Ripper I just could not pass this one up!

6. The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin - This is about a young woman in need of healing who owns a flower shop in Dublin.  It looks like there may be a touch of magical realism.  Even if not I have high hopes!

7.  Sun Sand Murder by John Keyse-Walker - I love a good murder mystery and I love when people aren't who they say they are (in fiction of course, in real life that would be troubling) and this is a new to me mystery author so I'm excited!

8.  When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz - I love a good romantic suspense and Krentz's are always so much fun!

9.  The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak - This is an older release but one that has been sitting on my Kindle for far too long.  I enjoy Novak's writing and I love romantic suspense.  Plus, this one has a heaping scoop of family secrets so it really sounds like something I'd enjoy.

10. Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward - Alward's Jewell  Cove is one of my favorite fictional towns to visit.  It's been awhile since I've been there so I'm looking forward to this one from a couple of years ago that somehow I missed when it came out.

What are you looking forward to picking up this fall?

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Munich Girl - Review

The Munich Girl: A Novel by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Rating: Good
Source: Author

Description:  Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna's journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

Genre: Fiction - Historical 

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoy a good historical fiction and I realized I know almost nothing about Eva Braun.

My Impression:  When this book came across my desk I was instantly intrigued by the premise.  While I know who Eva Braun is I've always dismissed her as just Hitler's mistress/wife and the idea of someone discovering they have some kind of connection to her is intriguing.  Plus, I can't resist a good family secret - especially not when paired with some historical fiction.
In the present day time line I really enjoyed getting to know Anna.  She's intelligent and hard working and it's hard not to sympathize with her struggle to stay positive after her mother's death as well as making the best of a troubled marriage.  I also liked that while Anna's husband, Lowell, is most definitely a creep he does come off as a fully fleshed out character.  He has his moments of sweetness as well as being incredibly brilliant.  I also found the research that Anna did during the book fascinating.  Not only did we get a look at Eva Braun but she also interviews a woman who was a journalist on assignment in Germany during World War II.  I also enjoyed getting a look at life in Germany during wartime for regular civilians.

Not only did I enjoy the look into a little discussed (or at least that I'm aware of) aspects of World War II but I also enjoyed getting to know Anna and watching her world open up as she becomes captivated by her research subject and aware of the connection.  Hannes is also an interesting character if at times a little too perfect. There's a lot going on though it's a slow build for the bulk of the book which I enjoyed.  I always love when I feel like I'm figuring out the puzzle right along with the characters.  My only complaint is that a lot of different things developed and were resolved in the last third of the book which made it feel a little more frantic.  Overall, I enjoyed this story and it has made me wanting to find out everything about Eva Braun.  I always think it's  a super high compliment if a historical fiction story has me wanting to dive into my own research about the topic.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Absolutely!  I enjoyed how she brought this piece of history to life and I'd love to see more of that.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy historical fiction I think you'd enjoy this book - especially if you are interested in World War II.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This Week in Reading - September 25

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen - This is a psychological thriller about a woman who comes home to discover not just her live in boyfriend, Matt, gone but every single trace that he ever existed.  It looks like a serious page turner and I can't wait!  (Publisher)

Send in the Clowns by Julie Mulhern - I'm so excited to have this 4th book in the Country Club murders series I can barely stand it!  This is a series that just keeps getting better and better and this one sounds like it's going to be lots of fun!  (Blog Tour)

Only 2 this week!  I'm trying to make some progress with books I already own and get through my ridiculous NetGalley backlist but I don't feel like I'm making as much progress as I'd like.  I only have 1 request pending on NetGalley and it's one that's been there for awhile that I really don't expect to get.  Fingers still crossed though!


Reading:  I'm finishing up Christmas in Eternity Springs by Emily March for a blog tour later this week and almost done with Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams.  

Listening:  I finished Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and loved it!  I'd read the book and enjoyed it but I think I enjoyed the audio even more.  I've been listening to podcasts the last few days but am planning on downloading Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley.  It's the 3rd Flavia de Luce mystery and I've really enjoyed the first 2.  The narrator is so good on this series!

Watching:  J and I are watching the 3rd season of The Blacklist and I have to admit I'm not loving it.  It's not that it's awful it's just as good as it has been the first two seasons.  I've heard rumors that it gets better so I'm keeping my fingers crossed there.  I'm finishing off the last season of Catfish and than am going to go back to watching Blindspot.  I've got a couple of new fall shows recorded (Bull and Designated Survivor) as well as the season premieres for some favorites but haven't really watched any of those yet.

Off the Blog:

It is officially fall though no one seems to have told the temperature that.  It's hard to start thinking about pumpkins and cinnamon and sweaters and boots when it's 95 degrees outside!  However, the nights are getting a little cooler and according to the weather people it will be in the 80s next week so I'm excited!  We pulled out all the Halloween decorations yesterday and the Tornado and I had a good time decorating though now I'm down to the pile of regular stuff that we usually have on tables and things that need to be packed up and a small pile of stuff that I don't really have space for that I need to either get rid of or pack back up.  This is my least favorite part of holiday decorating.

We're in car shopping mode right now because my beloved Toyota Sequoia is showing it's age and needs a few more repairs.  We've gone back and forth on deciding between doing the repairs (especially since J can do them all) or calling it done.  It's 14 years old and has 250,000 miles on it but it is the most reliable car I've ever owned and still drives really nice.  I'm definitely a fan of Toyotas!  However, we don't think it's going to make it the 4 more years until the kids are out of college so we're going car shopping for a car to get us through then until our budget opens up and I can buy the car I really want.  We're looking at the Honda Pilot, GMC Acadia, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota 4Runner.  Anyone have experience good or bad with any of these?  I'm also remembering how much I HATE car shopping.  I know people who buy new cars every 2 or 3 years and I have no idea how they do it.  My blood pressure just can't take it!

Fall break is coming up here and we're actually planning on going on vacation!  We're really excited as this is the first real vacation that the Tornado has gone on in his memory.  The last few have either been to stay with family or help move one of the kids but this we're going to spend a few days in a hotel and all the vacation-y stuff.  Really I think the Tornado would be thrilled with the staying in a hotel part even if that was all we did!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Munich Girl - Fiction/Historical Fiction Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR
Wednesday: Christmas in Eternity Springs - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday:  Beyond the Books - Do You Believe in Ghosts
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Teasers from Current Book
Saturday: Pies and Prejudice - Cozy Mystery Review with Pie Recipe

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - September Edition

I love Pinterest.  I love pinning recipes from my favorite food blogs or scrolling down the Everything section to see what everyone else has been pinning.  I love the idea of all the crafts and recipes and everything else right there at my fingertips.

Right now I have around 10,000 pins in 60 boards.  I do use Pinterest a pretty good bit but tend to stick to the boards regarding Dinner and let other delicious looking recipes or fun crafts languish unused and ignored.  This year I'm trying to get more use out of Pinterest so at the beginning of the year I created my 52 Pins in 52 Weeks Board as well as a Results Board to keep track of it.  I'll be posting my results the last Saturday of each month.

This week went find though I'm not feeling too enthused.  I'm really excited for the Halloween treats I have coming up next month!  I've had them on my board for far too long.

Week 36:

Reason Picked:  Honestly, I didn't know what the pin was and thought it was a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with frosting.

Basic Idea:  Make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and then take two cookies and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle and roll in holiday colored (which ever holiday you're in the mood for) sprinkles and have yummy deliciousness.

The Results: Ice cream sandwiches are just ridiculously good!  I forgot how good they are.   I used the Cook's Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (which you can find here) though I used 1 cup of chocolate chips instead of a cup and a half like the recipe calls for.  I also pulled out a little contraption that's been lounging around forgotten in my gadget drawer - an ice cream sandwich maker I got from Williams Sonomoa.  It's super easy to use and actually really works.  You put a cookie at the bottom, then your ice cream, then the 2nd cookie and put the top on and squeeze and a perfect ice cream sandwich pops out.  You could do all kinds of flavors and different combinations.   I'll definitely be making these again - though maybe a peanut butter cookie and chocolate ice cream or a sugar cookie with some kind of fruity ice cream.  While this isn't exactly the point of the pin it did get me thinking and ice cream sandwiches will be on the menu much more frequently now!

Week 37:

Reason Picked:  I watched Curtis Stone make these on The Chew and it looked so good but somehow I kept passing it by.

Basic Idea: A larger meatball with onions and bacon mixed in and cooked on the grill along with a vinegar based potato salad (which aren't grilled in anyway shape or form that I saw) and salad greens tossed in a light vinaigrette.

The Results: Mixed.  The potato salad which isn't grilled was super good but I found the Rissoles themselves lacking in flavor.  I'll probably make the potato salad again but not the Rissoles.  They weren't bad but just not worth going back for.

Week 38:

Reason Picked:  I've always wanted to try cooking lessons and this seemed like an easy way to do it.

Basic Idea:  Basically taking a cooking class but in my own kitchen which is way more comfortable!

The Results:
 The original pin linked to an offer that has long since disappeared.  However, Flinn has a number of tutorials that seem to be around 10 minutes where she really walks you how to do things.  I watched one about cutting an onion and knife skills and really felt like i learned a few techniques.  I'm definitely looking forward to trying more even if it wasn't what I was originally going for.

Week 39:

Reason Picked:  I'm not artistic and this looked simple enough that even I could manage it.

Basic Idea:  Get a canvas and paint the entire canvas.  After it dries use painter's tape to make some kind of pattern and paint another color on top.  Remove painter's tape for clean lines.

The Results:  You're not getting a picture because I didn't end up finishing this because once I started I realized it really just wasn't me.  However, I did experiment enough to verify that it does work and would be a really fun project and look good if done by the right person.  I do recommend using spray paint over acrylic or anything else just because spray paint finishes so much smoother.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Linkups: Real Murders

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
How many years have you been blogging?  Anything special you want to share about your experiences?

My Answer:
I started blogging on August 1, 2013 but didn't really start focusing on it until February of 2014.  I'm not sure I have any particularly special experiences but it has been a wonderful experience.  I love talking to other readers and dealing with authors and publishers.  I just wish I could figure out a way to read more!

This week's book is a reread and one I read years and years ago.  I really liked Charlaine Harris' Harper Connolly series but had struck out with her Shakespeare series.  However, the Aurora Teagarden series was a hit!  I'm so excited about the new one coming out in October so I just had to get my hands on the first book for a little reread.  Real Murders is the first book that introduces us to Aurora Teagarden and her book club friends.

The Beginning:
"Tonight I want to tell you about that most fascinating of murder mysteries, the Wallace case," I told my mirror Enthusiastically.
I tried Sincere after that; then Earnest.

My Thoughts:
Right from the beginning I'm remembering why I liked this series so much!  I can definitely see myself doing this if I had to give a speech.  In fact I used to do this before presentations!

The 56:
Either he is a murderer and is setting up his alibi, or the real murderer is making sure Wallace will be out of the house Tuesday evening.  And this dual possibility, that almost hanged Wallace, runs throughout the case.

My Thoughts:
One of my favorite things about this book in particular is not just the interest in but the discussion of real crimes.  I love this part where they are dissecting a crime and everyone is tossing around their theories.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do new books in a favorite series make you want to go back and do a reread?