Sunday, October 27, 2013

Good Reads: Chasing Serenity

Chasing Serenity (Seeking Serenity, #1)Chasing Serenity by Eden Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, there I was searching about for a book that had some of the things I love which include: rugby, The South and romance. I saw Chasing Serenity listed as being on sale at Amazon and snapped it up. I am so glad I did! It ended up being one of those unexpected gems that come my way when I take a chance on a new author.

The story takes place in a small university town in Tennessee that is a bastion of naturalized and expatriate Irish. A rugby loving town with a rich history, surrounded by the beautiful Smokey Mountains. I fell in love with this town and was heartbroken when I couldn't find it on the map. I so wanted it to be real because the author made it real for me.

One of my pet peeves is weak heroines, so imagine my joy when I met Autumn. She has had a rough life of great loss, yet she persevere with amazing grace. She is educated, self supporting, independent, loves rugby and is a survivor. Her personality quirks and occasional defensiveness are understandable and normal.

The Hero, Declan, originally comes off as a big lug rugby player on a sports scholarship. He begins to expose the layers of his personality to Autumn as she learns of his sensitivity and intelligence. Their eventual love almost becomes an unrequited love.

Secondary characters are well written and interesting. I believe the second book in this series, Seeking Serenity, will involve two of them, but this is a stand alone novel.

There is a satisfying HEA.  This is a heart warming romance and an amazing first novel.

*Warning -  Does include some sex acts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Good Reads: Far Horizons

Far Horizons: Across the Great DivideFar Horizons: Across the Great Divide by Andrew Earnshaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an American it was so interesting to read about the journey of a Scottish motorcyclist and his experiences on his road trip through the United States and Canada.

The author was surprised and pleased to discover that Americans are friendly, outgoing and tolerant people (there are always exceptions), the smaller cities are clean and well maintained and the countryside is breathtaking. His fears of guns toting citizens and bears were understandable, but unfounded.

I enjoy reading travel books, but Mr. Earnshaw's storying telling abilities and great sense of humor made Far Horizons particularly fun to read.

Recycled Materials Art

Last year the art teacher at my daughter's school requested that we save plastic bottle caps.  After collecting for awhile the middle school children began an art project using paint, plywood, screws and bottle caps.

They started by painting the back of the elementary school to look like a field.  Green for grass below and blue above to represent the sky.

Plywood was cut out in the shapes of flowers and insects, then painted using exterior paint.

Using screws the bottle caps were applied over the surface of the plywood shapes, taking advantage of both the color and texture of the caps.

Now what was a plain walkway between buildings is filled with color.  The children had a great time and now they enjoy their artwork every day.

God bless,

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Frugal Kitchen: Potato or Pasta Salad

This salad is an all time favorite at my house and I am often asked to bring it to gatherings.  You can use either potatoes or pasta and it is about as simple as a recipe gets.


Boiled potatoes (six large) or cooked pasta
10 sweet gherkins
1/2 sweet, mild onion
celery seed
4 hard boiled eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 heaping mixing spoons of good mayonaisse (I use Duke's or Hellman's)

I used potatoes this time and I prefer a waxy potato such as red bliss or yellow Yukons.  Boil peeled or unpeeled 1 inch potato chunks in highly salted water until a knife point easily passes through them.  Drain and rinse with cold water until they stop steaming.

Cut sweet gherkins into a large dice.  Finely dice sweet onion.  Eggs should be cut into large chunks.  Mix these ingredients into the potatoes.  Mix gently to avoid breaking up the potatoes.

Add several pinches of celery seed, salt and pepper.  Mix, then add mayonnaise and again mix well.  Taste to see if you need to adjust seasoning.

Enjoy!  We had this with grilled hamburgers last night.

God bless,

Good Reads: Buried Leads

Buried Leads (A Headlines in High Heels Mystery #2)Buried Leads by LynDee Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Buried Leads is the second book in the well written Headlines in High Heels mystery series. It is a highly enjoyable romp through the adventures of Nichelle (Nicey) a crime reporter for a Richmond, Virginia newspaper.

The twists and turns of the mystery kept me guessing, while Nicey's personal interactions with her coworkers, police officers, politicians and witnesses kept me entertained and amused. The developing romance between Nicey and Joey, her Mafia connected friend, is surprisingly sweet and gentle. Kyle, the love of her life ten years ago, appears in her city as a newly transferred ATF agent, which added tension to Nicey's romantic life when he declares his interest in her.

Nicey is a great heroine. No overdone baggage, no hysteria; just an intelligent, well rounded, independent woman living her life and working hard on her career. It's a refreshing change from the desperate, insecure heroines that seem to dominate in books nowadays.

I highly recommend Buried Leads. ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good Reads: Pharaoh

Pharaoh (Jack Howard, #7)Pharaoh by David Gibbins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pharaoh is the seventh book in the Jack Howard series. It is a well written, well edited novel and can be read as a standalone, but I think it would be better enjoyed if read as part of the series. There are a large number of characters from previous books and my lack of background with them led to confusion.

This book is a combination of history and modern mystery. There are two stories being told: One the history of the British in the Sudan during the late nineteenth century and the other the modern story of archeological discovery. Archeology is the unifying factor between the two.

The two main characters, Jack and Costas, are trying to discover the artifacts and history of an ancient Pharaoh. They are endearing characters with a lively style of interaction. Secondary characters are equally interesting, but not well fleshed out.

While much of the story was slow moving there were parts of Pharaoh that had me glued to the story they were so beautifully written. I could have done without the detailed descriptions of equipment and scientific procedure. It was like reading a science textbook rather than a novel.

If you enjoy history, archeology and mystery you will like Pharaoh. The ending of this novel is a cliffhanger.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.