Sunday Post: Nov 29

Sunday-PostSunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

Last Week–home and blog

Thanksgiving–Nov 26–here in the U.S. turkey

We were in the Midwest for Thanksgiving. Had a wonderful time with family and friends. Only about 35 people this year, but we had loads of fun and lots of conversation. It poured rain at times during the day so we cancelled some activities, but we managed to get a nice long walk in between rainstorm.

Lots of food as always so it was good we walked!

Time for a road trip

Now my husband and I are in Illinois with one of our daughter’s. I’m going to stay with her for a week and my husband is driving back home to Maryland on Sunday and Monday.

The blog

Not too much activity this week.

Blog posts

What I’m reading

A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Christmas Miracles by Mary Balogh

What I read last week

Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

No books this week!

NetGalley

None

Library books

None

E-books

None

Audiobooks

None

Next Week–home & blog

I hope to catch up on my blogging this week while I’m staying with my daughter. She’ll be at work all day so that will give me some time. Next week my daughter and I are driving to Des Moines where I will stay for a couple of weeks with my younger daughter.

Blog posts

  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Review
  • Review
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

Waiting on Wednesday: Nov 25

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m Waiting-on-Wednesdaylooking forward to coming out in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey

Series: The Expanse #6

Publication Date: June 16, 2016

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The Free Navy – a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships – has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny, and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante’s problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

……………………………..

Why I want this booksci-fi-month-badge

  • I’ve only read the first book in this series, but own several more of the books. I hope to read book 2 in the series in the next few weeks.
  • The Expanse TV series premieres in December on the Syfy channel.
  • This is my favorite type of science fiction.
  • I’m also highlighting this book in November because it is Sci-Fi Month!

What books are you excited about this week?

12 Sci-Fi authors & a brother I’m thankful for

top-ten-tuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week they suggest a new book-related topic. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

my-brother
my brother in Costa Rica (beside an iguana!)

sci-fi-month-badgeThis week I’m talking about the science fiction authors I’m thankful for. I love science fiction because it so often deals with all kinds of new ideas–all kinds of science, new kinds of people, social taboos.

I’ve read sci-fi for almost as long as I remember reading–probably since I was 10 or 11. My older brother was a big influence on my reading since he read lots of science fiction. So my brother is the number one person I’m thankful for since he introduced me to sci-fi!

The authors who started my love for sci-fi

Robert A. Heinleinrocket-ship-galileo

  • He’s one of the first sci-fi authors I remember reading. I loved the books often called his juveniles. Books such as Rocket Ship Galileo, Starman Jones and Tunnel in the Sky were instrumental in my love for science fiction and space opera. Podkayne of Mars (sometimes classified in with his juveniles) is of my favorites. When I was an older teen I read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land as well as many others. I introduced my kids to his books, too!

Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • I remember my brother reading some of Burroughs’ books so I had to read them, too. I remember A Princess of Mars, some of the Venus series, The Moon Maid  and some of the Tarzan series.

Andre Nortonsargasso-of-space

  • I read so many of her books when I was a teenager. I didn’t know until years later that she was a woman. (That makes me especially glad I read her books.) I especially remember The Solar Queen series: especially Sargasso of Space and The Mark of the Cat; The Beast Master, Moon of Three Rings and the Janus series.
  • I love how she wrote about animals who were partners to humans and also about Native Americans.

Anne McCaffrey

  • I read the Pern books about dragons and their riders and loved them.
  • I love the connection between the dragons and their riders.

Then I started reading . . .

Tanya Huff

  • Ms. Huff has only written one science fiction series: the Confederation series featuring Torin Kerr. And it’s one of my favorites.

Lois McMaster Bujold

  • I love her Miles Vorkosigian series. He’s such a unique individual.

Elizabeth Moon

  • She’s written several of my favorite sci-fi series: The Serrano Legacy series and  Vatta’s War series. They are excellent military sci-fi.

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

  • This husband and wife team write space opera and I’ve been reading their books for years. I’m so glad they’re still writing books taking place in the Liaden Universe.the-postman

David Brin

  • He wrote The Postman in 1985–one of my favorite post apocalyptic books.
  • He also wrote a series called The Uplift Saga I love and lots of stand-alone books.

And since I started my blog . . .

John Scalzi

  • I’ve read six of his books in the last two years and love all of them.

Andrea K. Höst

  • Her Touchstone series is one of my favorite sci-fi series.

Ernest Cline

  • I’ve read his two books this year and thought both were really good.

What or who are you thankful for?

Santa 365 by Spencer Quinn

santa-365Santa 365 by Spencer Quinn
Series: The Chet and Bernie Mystery Series
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Arizona
Published by Atria Books, 2015
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Nov 24, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
47 pages
Grade: C
Synopsis: Santa doesn’t just deliver gifts—he takes them too!—in this delightful holiday e-short featuring New York Times bestselling sleuths Chet and Bernie.

He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. This year, jolly old St. Nick knows Bernie has been sleeping on preparations for a special Christmas celebration with his son Charlie. Enter Plumpy Napoleon, fresh from a short stint in prison, to save Bernie from the naughty list. Plumpy calls his latest business plan “Santa 365.” For a small fee (that only gets bigger), he’ll fill your life with holiday cheer, including elves, a festive party, gifts, and even a Christmas tree delivered right to your front door. Bernie signs on for the full yuletide experience. But after the blowout holiday bash, Bernie and Chet the dog discover one of Santa’s helpers helped himself to more than Christmas candy. The intrepid duo sets out to find the sticky-fingered perp and reclaim the stolen goods. Add in a surprise visit from Bernie’s mom, two elderly sisters seeking their own brand of justice, and an elf with a stocking full of secrets, and you have a Christmas mystery that only Chet and Bernie could possibly unwrap.

Initial impressions

  • This is a very short story and I was confused during much of it.

Cheers

  • Since I haven’t read the other books in this series I’m giving this story a bit of a pass thinking I might have enjoyed it and understood better if I had read some of the books.
  • I did like what I saw of Bernie’s friends and family.

Jeers

  • I didn’t understand why Bernie would do business with Plumpy Napoleon who just got out of prison.
  • This was too short to develop the story.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I have the first book in this series so I thought this would be a good way to try the series. However, I think I might have understood this story a little better if I had read one of the books in the series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Spencer Quinn lives on Cape Cod with his dog Audrey, and is hard at work on the next Chet and Bernie adventure.
  • Spencer Quinn is a pseudonym of author Peter Abrahams.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog

Sunday Post: Nov 22

Sunday-Post

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

Last Week–home and blog

Almost Thanksgiving here in the U.S. turkey

Thanksgiving here in the U.S. is on Thursday November 26. My husband and I are driving this year. So there was lots to do this week. Figuring out what to bring (winter clothes needed), packing, to the doctor (for my allergies and a cough).

Thanksgiving week is always a busy time for us. Lots of family activities. We have a large group every year though my father-in-law is lamenting it’s a small year this year (only about 40 people–some years we’ve had as many as 80 family members and friends!)

Time for a road trip

We had an early dinner with our son who is visiting friends in the Washington DC area before driving a ways Friday night. We stopped in Ohio to visit friends whom we hadn’t seen for over five years. So great to see them. Then we drove on to Illinois where we are staying with our daughter.

There was a big snowstorm in the Midwest Friday night and Saturday and we first ran into rain and then snow in Indiana. Not too much snow, but very windy. In Illinois we passed at least a dozen accidents. We finally got to our daughter’s house. There’s not a lot of snow, but the temperature has dropped and it’s staying below freezing today. On Monday it’s on to Iowa where they got a lot of snow!

The blog

I didn’t have time to do too much this week. The Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon finished. I had a great time!  I probably won’t comment very much on other blogs for the rest of November. I do have some posts pre-scheduled and hope to use my computer when there’s time.

Blog posts

What I’m reading

Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Christmas Miracles by Mary Balogh

What I read last week

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

No books this week!

NetGalley

None

Library books

None

E-books

None

Audiobooks

None

Internetsci-fi-month-badge

Here are some posts written for Sci-Fi Month:

Rinn Reads talks about falling out of love with the doctor

Greg @ Book Haven talks about the “Top Ten Planets”

The Bibliosanctum bloggers–“Getting our SciFi Gaming on with Brianna Shrum and Kristi Charish

Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings reviewed Down Station by Simon Morden

Next Week–home & blog

Thanksgiving will keep us busy all week. Lots to do–grocery shopping (buying two turkeys and a ham plus all the other food we need.) Two of my sisters-in-law are coming early, too, and lots of people will be in the kitchen on Thanksgiving!

Since we’re in the Midwest again for a family wedding in December I decided to stay until after Christmas. My husband has to work so he’s driving back home and will fly back out for the wedding and Christmas which we are spending in Iowa.

Also a busy week  with the blog. I’m really enjoying Sci-Fi Month. We finish up the Read Along–The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I have a few posts scheduled for the rest of November and I may get a few more done during the week.

Blog posts

  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Read Along–wk 3
  • Sci-Fi authors I’m thankful for
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Read Along–wk 4
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon–It’s over!

Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-ThonThe Ho-Ho-H0 Read-a-Thon is hosted

by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jennifer @ The Book Shelfery.

December is one of my favorite times of the year and I really like reading holiday themed books set in the winter. I love sitting by my fire on a cold winter day reading and love reading about that, too! Kimba and Jennifer host a fun Read-a-Thon and I enjoyed participating last year.

How’d I do?

I had lots of fun reading Christmas stories. I read two books, a very short story by Spencer Quinn and a short story by Jennifer Crusie from an anthology. And I’m part-way done with another book.

  • Read holiday books before the beginning of the Read-a-Thon and review them during the Read-a-Thon (Reviewed books read before the Read-a-Thon–Mistletoe Murder & The Christmas Joy Ride)

Christmas Gifts by Mary Balogh

Christmas Miracles by Mary Balogh–started reading the book on 12 Nov

“Christmas Crumble” by M.C. Beaton

√“Hot Toy” by Jennifer Cruisie

√“Santa 365” by Spencer Quinn

My Buddhist Christmas by Jeremy Phillps

√Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

  • Participate in at least one challenge and the Twitter Party (I completed two challenges; however I missed the Twitter party. I’ve been sick the last two or three weeks and I was in bed by 7 p.m. 😦
  • Share one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes

——————————–

Have you read any holiday books yet this year? How did you like them?

Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

christmas-is-murderChristmas Is Murder by C.S. Challinor
Series: Rex Graves Mystery #1
Genre: Mystery
Setting: English countryside at Christmas
Published by Midnight Ink, 2008
E-book, purchased
203 pages
Grade: C-
Synopsis: Christmas is murder… when you’re stranded with a killer

Not even a blizzard can keep Rex Graves away from Swanmere Manor, a secluded Victorian hotel in the English countryside owned by the eccentric Dahlia Smithings. But instead of Christmas cheer, the Scottish barrister finds a dead guest. Was it a stroke that killed old Mr. Lawdry? Or an almond tart laced with poison?

When more guests die, all hopes for a jolly holiday are dashed. Snowbound and terrified, no one can escape the cold-blooded killer. Rex takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery. A biography of President George W. Bush found charred in the fireplace might offer a few clues. Could the killer be the sherry-swilling handyman? The gay antiques dealer with the biting wit? The quarreling newlyweds? Surely it’s not Helen D’Arcy, the lovely lass Rex seems to be falling for…

Initial impressions

  • This didn’t work very well for me. There’s not much Christmas cheer in this mystery. And it doesn’t feel cozy!

Cheer

  • This is the classic isolated country home mystery often written about by Agatha Christie.
  • It was really hard to tell what time period this book takes place. I finally decided it was a contemporary after it mentions cell phones. It also mentions war and the hotel owner’s son killed in Iraq, but that could have been several wars. Part of my puzzlement about the time period is because the hotel is still lost in Victorian times.
  • It doesn’t bother me too much that this isn’t a cozy Christmas mystery. I like mysteries so the time of year didn’t matter.
  • However, I don’t like the characters very much. They were mostly one-dimensional and used to propel the plot.

Jeers

  • I thought the mystery was far-fetched. The motive doesn’t work for me.
  • Rex Graves is in a relationship with someone who is now in Iraq, but he’s attracted to Helen D’Arcy. That bothered me.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I bought this book to read last Christmas, but never got around to it.
  • This year I read it as part of the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon and as a book for Wendy’s TBR Challenge. (See below)
  • Since this is the first in a series the books written after this may appeal to me more.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • C.S. Challinor was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and was educated in Scotland (St. George’s School for Girls, Edinburgh) and England (Lewes Priory, Sussex; University of Kent, Canterbury: Joint Hons Latin & French). She now resides in Southwest Florida. Her short stories have been published in women’s magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom. Challinor is a member of the Authors Guild, New York, and is the author of the Rex Graves cozy mystery series featuring Rex Graves, Scottish barrister-sleuth.

Reading Challenges

Favorite sci-fi quotes

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes each week. Check out their blog for more information.sci-fi-month-badge

This week the topic is “The top ten quotes from books we’ve read in the last year or so.” Because it’s Sci-Fi Month I’ve changed the topic slightly–these are favorite quotes from some of the science fiction I’ve read in the last year or so. I love quotes so it was both fun and hard to choose just ten I really like.

Books my quotes are from:

The Martian by Andy Weir

quote-the-martian

 

 

 

 

The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

“Time was when I couldn’t walk anywhere on Mars without being recognized as the Lady Astronaut. Now, thirty years after the First Expedition, I was just another old lady, whose small stature showed my origin on Earth.”

Lock In by John Scalzi

“Rich people show their appreciation through favors. When everyone you know has more money than they know what to do with, money stops being a useful transactional tool. So instead you offer favors. Deals. Quid pro quos. Things that involve personal involvement rather than money. Because when you’re that rich, your personal time is your limiting factor.”

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

i-robot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Better Part of Valor by Tanya Huff

“And the moral of the story: never call a two star general a bastard to his face.”

Stretching out his regenerated leg, Captain Rose leaned away from his desk and drummed his fingers against the inert plastic trim. “I’m a little surprised you didn’t already know that.”

“You and me both, sir” Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr stared down at the general’s orders on her slate. “You and me both.”

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

earth-girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready-player-one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starpilot’s Grave by Debra Doyle & John D. MacDonald

“Still no reply from the target,” she said. “Regular starpilot’s grave over there–no emanations of any kind.”

. . . . “What the merchant spacers call a drifting wreck,” she said.

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

the-last-colony

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

scorch-poster-ph

 

 

 

 

What about you? Do you have favorite quote from books?

Sunday Post: Nov 15

Sunday-PostThe Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading. This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

Last Week–home and blog

People’s inhumanity to others continues. My heart goes out to the people of Paris.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
Only love can do that.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The above quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. is inspirational and gives hope that we can change other people. It’s hard to believe that when something like the attacks and killings in Paris happen.

Blog posts

What I’m reading

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

 Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Christmas is Murder by C.S. Challinor

What I read last week

Not a Creature Was Stirring by Jane Haddam

Christmas Gifts by Mary Balogh

“Hot Toy” by Jennifer Crusie

“Santa 365” by Spencer Quinn

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

NetGalley

None

Library books

None

E-books

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Drop Dead on Recall by Sheila Webster Boneham

Still Midnight by Denise Mina

The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina

Audiobooks

None

Internet

I love reading posts about blogging and how to do it better. I was searching for new ideas this week and found these posts:

Elle & Co posted “Clever Solutions to 4 of Your Biggest Blogging Hang-ups

From the Daily Post: “Calling Emily Post: A Blogging Etiquette Roundup

Nelle and Co. posted “9 Things I Started Using in 2015 That I Can’t Blog Without

Next Week–home & blog

Lots to do before we leave for Thanksgiving. Friday evening we’re driving into Washington DC to meet our son for dinner. He’s taking the train from NYC to visit friends. Since we’re driving to Iowa this year we will drive a bit Friday night and then get an early start on Saturday. It looks like we will have good driving weather.

Also a busy month with the blog. I’m really enjoying Sci-Fi Month. The Read Along–The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet–is going well. I’m continuing to read Christmas stories and books for the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon.

Blog posts

  • Sci-Fi Quotes
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon–it’s over!
  • Earth & Fire” and Earth 2788 by Janet Edwards
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Read Along–wk 3
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

Christmas cookies

I want to celebrate the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-Thon with an easy cookie to make hohohorat_2015while reading your holiday books and drinking tea, coffee or hot chocolate!

I love making Christmas cookies though I don’t make as many as I used to when our kids were still at home. This is a recipe I’ve made most years since I found the recipe. The recipe is from a 1990’s Christmas cookie magazine.

One of the reasons I like the recipe is that the cookies are easy to make. It’s fun toDSC_0010 make intricate Christmas cookies which are rolled out and cut into shapes, but sometimes it’s nice to have a cookie that tastes great, but is quickly made!

I was going to make these cookies and have step-by-step photos, but when I started to make them I realized I didn’t have enough granulated sugar and didn’t have time to go to the grocery store. 😦  So instead I’m adding a photo of our Christmas tree from a few years ago!

Mocha-Chocolate Crinkles

The cracks on the surface give a hint of the rich, chewy texture inside.

1 Tbsp. coffee liqueur or milk
1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1½ C. granulated sugar
3 beaten eggs
½ C. cooking oil
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 C. all-purpose flour
⅓ C. sifted powdered or granulated sugar

Stir together coffee liqueur or milk and espresso powder or coffee crystals in a small bowl or custard cup; set aside for a few minutes till coffee is dissolved (see Notes).

Place cut-up chocolate in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat till melted (see Notes). Cool 15 minutes. Stir in granulated sugar being careful not to introduce any water into the chocolate.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Set aside.

Combine eggs, oil and espresso mixture in a large bowl. Add chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring till thoroughly combined. Cover and chill 2 hours or till easy to handle.

Shape dough into I-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar or granulated sugar to coat generously. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes or till edges are just set. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. If desired, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Makes about 60.

Notes
  • I sometimes use about 1½ tablespoons strong brewed coffee instead of the liqueur or coffee crystals. I have never used the milk or espresso powder. (I was given a Godiva chocolate liqueur about the same time I found this recipe and used that for years before I used it up!)
  • I usually use the microwave to melt my chocolate. Follow the directions on the chocolate package for melting in the microwave. Be very careful not to introduce any water when you melt chocolate by itself. Chocolate is composed of fine, dry particles (cocoa and sugar) and fat (cocoa butter). When you melt chocolate, a few drops of water or even steam will moisten the dry particles and cause them to stick together and form a dull, dry, grainy mass, called seizing.