Friday, August 31, 2012

Middle SIster's August Reads

An interesting month for books, August was. Forthwith:

  • Classic Elite Quick Knits by Classic Elite Yarns Quick Knits is a nice compendium of quick knit projects for knitters of all levels of experience. The hat and sock patterns are particularly nice, with a range from easy to intermediate patterns. Large-sized photos and information on yarn types and weights make it easier to substitute yarns. Although these were individually published in pattern books or the CEY newsletter, this would make a nice holiday gift.
  • Walking Meditations by Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk who has written and instructed lots of people on mindfulness walking. The text is a short and easy introduction to the concept of meditation walking. The accompanying DVD and CD instruct the walker who wants to engage more fully with nature and themselves. Apparently I wasn't in the right frame of mind to follow the CD, as I found the repetitive instructions frustrating at times, so clearly I need to practice my mindfulness walking more. I do wish they had not used the terms 'in-breath' and 'out-breath' for inhale and exhale, though; I found it grating and that may be why I had trouble focusing on the exercises.
  • Face of the Enemy by Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Excellent mystery, first in the Wartime Mysteries series. Set in 1941 NYC, the story opens with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the rising hysteria within the city regarding invasions and spies blends well with the rising tension of the murder of an art dealer. Louise is a nurse from Kentucky, an exotic herself in the gritty Big Apple, hired to nurse the American professor husband of a Japanese artist. Masako, the artist, is arrested as an enemy of the state, and the night before she is arrested, the art dealer who decided to stop her show because of public anger, is killed. While the feds and NYPD fight over who has jurisdiction over Masako, Louise and Abe, a feisty lawyer, investigate the murder as they try to clear Masako and save her very ill husband's life. This has to have been the best galley I've read all year for Net Galley. The book is scheduled for release in September and I urge all fans of historical mysteries to read it. Beyond a good mystery and superb ambiance, and despite some distressing racial slurs, the attitude of several characters is mirrored in our current society's issues over Mexican-Americans and illegal entrants, and makes this a particularly thoughtful and timely mystery story.
  • Drop Dead on Recall by Sheila Webster Boneham The wold of canine obedience trials is cutthroat, and this mystery captures that perfectly. When a contender for top obedience handler drops dead in the ring, 50-year-old Janet MacPhail, photographer and dog lover, hastens to help, and is drawn into a dangerous, murderous world. The author is a bit heavy-handed with her suspects, making it pretty easy to figure out whodunnit, but the grown-up romance between Janet and fellow dog-lover Tom is nicely and realistically portrayed, and gives all of us dog-loving women of a certain age hope, even if it is a fictional romance. Who knows? The author got the world of obedience trials and competition right; maybe she's right about middle-aged romance, too. Definitely a recommendation for dog lovers.
  • Pets at the White House by Jennifer B. Pickens and Barbara Bush Lovely book showcasing the pets that have helped our First Families make the White House a home. The book begins with a brief review of the early presidents of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, but focuses on the presidential pets beginning with the Kennedy administration. A nice book for dog lovers and history buffs. Filled with great photos, both staged and informal. And it was nice to be reminded that even presidents I didn't vote for and disagreed with vehemently have a humane streak, and if they love animals, they can't be all bad, right? I just wish there had been more on the earlier presidents; Pickens has tracked down some interesting trivia, like Jefferson's parrot, so there must be other stories and information out there. 
  • Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson Nice re-release of small knitted projects that would be nice for holiday presents. Patterns range from a scarf and mitts to a tea cosy, even a blanket. The section at the back on presentation and wrapping is nice, since the perfect gift needs the perfect package. Nice photos give good views of the projects from different angles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Good Buddies

Mr. Big sends everyone a raspberry.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Big Sis' July Reads 2012

I did a lot of reading this month, contrary to Middle Sis...  It might well be one of my better months in recent history...  I guess since work is actually a bit slow, there's more time to read before, during lunch, and after work, and there were some good vacation days that were productive reading days, as well.

Enough blathering  ---  here are July's books...

XO, by Jeffery Deaver - I do love Jeffery Deaver.  I especially love his Lincoln Rhyme books and even though this was actually a book from Deaver's Kathryn Dance series, Lincoln made an appearance to help solve the mystery of the stalker following young singer Kayleigh Towne.  I love the idea of body language being used to help solve a mystery.  Personally, I rely a LOT on people's faces, their eyes, the sound of their voices, to help me make judgments when meeting new people, or when deciding if I believe them or not...

The Third Gate, by Lincoln Child - Oh, I had such plans to read this book and send it on to Middle Sis for her enjoyment.  After all, wouldn't she just L.O.V.E. a book about an archaeological team trying to locate the tomb of an ancient pharaoh in Northern Sudan?  The pharaoh who united Upper and Lower Egypt in 3200 B.C., whose tomb has been whispered about for years??  Yea, NOT.  The story itself was good, but I was disappointed in the writing.  It seemed a bit disjointed, more so than previous Child books.  There were some cool "special effects," and he came up with a great description of the scene, but it just seemed the usual character development wasn't there. 

Come Home, by Lisa Scottoline - Jill is getting married.  Well, she was until her ex-stepdaughter shows up on her front steps.  Jill's ex-husband is dead, and Abby, one of the two stepdaughters she lost contact with after the divorce, well she wants nothing more than for Jill to fix it all.  She wants to find out who killed her dad.  And although all signs point to it NOT being murder, some things just don't add up and we soon find there IS a mystery to solve.  What I liked the best in this book, and I don't usually credit this to Ms. Scottoline, I LOVED the feelings, the emotions.  Jill loved these girls like they were her own and they were ripped from her life as a result of the divorce, but she soon feels that love again, up front and personal, and her fiance has to come to terms with a child from Jill's past, actually, TWO children from her past...

15 Seconds, by Andrew Gross - Oh, yay!  This was a GREAT read!  It had tons of twists and turns, and it took quite a few chapters before I figured it out, and even then, even when you knew who the bad guy was, you still had to read 2/3 more of the book to figure out how their lives intersected, and then, THEN his daughter is kidnapped...  And that's ALL I'm going to say.  Read this suspense novel!  It was a great read!

The Line Between Here and Gone, by Andrea Kane - I met Ms. Kane at a lunch her publisher threw for her when I used to work at SDC.  She's a lovely woman and I've been a fan ever since.  Another Forensic Instincts story, we have a dying child, a mom determined to save her son, a missing father who doesn't know he's a father, the Mob, and several investigators who have special talents.  I will be reading every one of these (I think this is the second?) - I sure hope there are several more coming!

Between the Lines, by Jodi Picoult and Samantha VanLeer (Kindle edition) - Ms. Picoult's daughter Samantha came up with the basic premise of this story:  what if the characters in your favorite fairy tale actually had real lives outside the story you were reading?  What if things happened when the book was closed and you weren't reading it?  Could a character from a book come to life, in real life?  Ms. Picoult was intrigued enough to decide to work WITH her daughter to write this book.  In all honesty, I'm only halfway through it, so I can't say if the ending justifies the journey, but so far, while it's not one of Ms. Picoult's traditional novels, it's interesting enough to keep my attention and I'll be finishing it this week.  I'll update this entry with some final words later...

Backfire (an FBI Thriller), by Catherine Coulter - This series started off phenomenally well, then seemed to peter out a bit.  It seems to me to be a 50/50 chance that the book will be up to speed, or disappointing.  This one?  While it wasn't as good as the earlier ones, it was good enough.  A judge is shot, the prosecutor from a high-profile trial is missing, and Sherlock and Dillon Savich are called to San Francisco by the judge's wife (they're friends from a previous case), called to SF to hopefully find the person who tried to kill the judge.

I, Michael Bennett, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge - Again, a great opportunity for an up and coming author to have another bestseller under his belt before he goes solo!  I like the character, NYC Detective Michael Bennett, dad to 10 adopted children.  Michael takes the kids and the nanny on vacation to the family cabin in Newburgh, NY.  Of course, a vacation can't just be a vacation or there'd be no story, but in this book, we deal with the attempted murder of one of Michael's boys, the developing relationship and almost demise of said relationship between Michael and Mary Catherine, the nanny, and loads of fast-moving action.

Midnight Promises, by Kay Hooper - Another in the Sweet Magnolias series, we meet Elliot and Karen, now married after meeting and falling in love in a previous novel as supporting characters.  He wants to invest their hard-earned and saved money in a business venture he really believes in, to make their lives better in the future.  He wants to adopt her children, who already love him like the father they never really had.  But Karen can't get over the memory of the debt her ex-husband left her in, where her children had to live with a family friend because Karen couldn't support them, where they had nothing, and nothing was a lot.  A series of misunderstandings, a family friend possibly suffering from Alzheimer's, everyday stresses... is love enough?

Summer Nights, by Susan Mallery - Fools Gold:  Book 8 - I haven't read 1-7, although I do think I read one or two of them because some of the characters and scenarios seemed familiara.  Shane wants a quiet woman, someone who will be content to be a rancher's wife.  A librarian, perhaps?  Annabelle has a history, and all she wants is passion and heat and overwhelming love, none of which she got in her first marriage.  Can this work?  (Hint, hint:  yes, it can, and it's fun watching the fireworks!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Canine Reflections

With the arrival of Golden Boy last year, I decided that the dogs needed new bowls, so I selected some nice, shiny, stainless steel bowls. The cats had and have stainless steel bowls, and the water is always cool, so I thought this might help keep the boys' water cool during this hot and humid summer better than the ceramic bowls the dogs had. I'm not sure abut that, as they drink far more than the cat does, but it does provide the human some fun.

Best part--their reflection in the bottom of the bowl through the water. I'm trying to get good photos of this, as Mr. Big in particular looks amazing, with all his furry whiteness and that black nose in the midst of it. Golden Boy has not as striking a reflection. I'll keep trying to get better photos.

Don't mind the dirty crocheted mat under the bowls. We've had our fourth rainy weekend in a row, which we desperately need, and which I guaranteed by mopping my floor Sunday afternoon. It started raining, literally, 15 minutes later.