Sunday Post: December is half gone

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

Still the Christmas prep

I didn’t get too many Christmas activities completed this week. I had a number of appointments to get to and when I would get home I didn’t have too much energy to complete projects. I’m still making Christmas cards and we haven’t mailed any so I’m hoping to get cards made and ready to mail this afternoon.

I still have plans for baking and cooking prep, but time is running out. I need to be happy with what I get done. As one of my uncle’s used to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

World Food Prize Building

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My husband and I went to the World Food Prize Building Open House yesterday. I love that this building is in Des Moines, Iowa and that this is where the World Food Prize is awarded each year. There were choirs singing, cookies and cider and hot chocolate as well as tours of the building. A wonderful morning!

The building is beautiful. It’s the old public library building in Des Moines which was built in 1900 along the Des Moines River. About the year 2000 it was completely renovated to create the World Food Prize Building. The architects kept the classical style of the building and many of the beautiful parts inside including murals in the basement which were painted on the walls in the 1930’s as part of a WPA project. A beautiful stained glass window was added which depicts a family in the Hellenistic Period bringing in the harvest.

Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug was raised in Iowa and  is considered the father of the Green Revolution He  was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1986 Norman Borlaug founded the World Food Prize which is a $250,000 prize given at the World Food Prize Building each year. It’s often called the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.” He is an especially meaningful person to me since he had a degree in plant pathology as does one of my daughters.

Blog

Again, not a lot of work on my blog. I think with everything going on this month that’s probably the way it will be for most of the month of December. I did visit a few blogs and I did comment on a few. Sometimes I visit and get involved reading and following links and then forget to comment! Sorry about that. I hope to visit a few more this week. I do appreciate everyone’s comments and I do love to visit blogs and see what other people are doing.

Last week
Next week
  • Review
  • Can’t-Wait Wednesday
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • A Lot Like Christmas: Stories by Connie Willis
What I read last week
  • The Clincher by Lisa Preston
  • Lake Silence by Anne Bishop
  • Thread the Halls by Lea Wait
Books I got last week

The Starfighter Invitation by Andrea K. Höst

Hurricane by Janet Edwards

Frontier by Janet Edwards

Hera 2781 by Janet Edwards

Death Comes to the School by Catherine Lloyd

Dead Man Walking by Simon R. Green

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Treacherous is the Night by Anna Lee Huber

Tempting Fortune by Jo Beverley

The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week? Do you have winter or holiday traditions?

Review: Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Cainsville #1

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery

Setting: Chicago & Cainsville, Illinois

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2013

486 pages

Synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

My thoughts

It took me a while to finish this book since I read other books and set this one aside, but I’m so glad I got back to it and finished it. The book has such an unusual premise: the main character finds out–all at the same time–that she was adopted and that her birth parents are serial killers. I’ve never read a book about someone whose parents are serving life sentences for killing multiple people. I’ve often wondered what happens to a family when they discover that a family member is a killer.

Plunged into a nightmare

For Olivia her life is suddenly a nightmare. To find the people she thought were her mother and father aren’t her birth parents is bewildering enough, but to discover at the same time that she’s the child of notorious serial killers causes Olivia to flee from her home. It doesn’t help that her adoptive mother (her adoptive father is dead) has always been distant and goes to Europe with friends to get away from the media circus leaving Olivia alone to handle this news. Olivia is engaged, but her fiance isn’t very helpful either and she breaks off the engagement.

Throughout the book there are glimpses into what is really going on and it’s far more than Olivia even can guess. She is guided and moved along to places and to do things, but they’re subtle so she doesn’t realize what’s happening.

Cainsville

Olivia has a trust fund, but she’s determined to make her way using her wits and getting her own job. That doesn’t work out very well in Chicago where everything is expensive and where people recognize her.

Olivia eventually finds her way to Cainsville which is an insular small town south of Chicago. She’s found a spot here to lick her wounds. And she gets a job, makes some friends and discovers things about herself that surprise her. For example, she has superstitions and sayings that come to mind when she sees certain things: she sees a spider in a web and thinks:

‘If you wish to live and thrive,
Let the spider stay alive.’

That was a new one. Just what I needed. More superstitious crap filling my brain.

She starts out dismissing these thoughts as superstitions, but as the story progresses she starts to see some as omens and she and others begin to listen when she sees something. Maybe Cainsville isn’t as benign as it seems. And maybe Olivia is more than she seems.

Olivia’s birth mother

Olivia finally decides to see her birth mother in prison and agrees to contact a group to investigate part of her mother’s case to possibly reopen the case. She meets Gabriel Walsh who is her mother’s former attorney. She recognizes that he’s unscrupulous, but still decides to hire him to help her investigate the case. They begin looking for family members and friends of the murdered people her parents were convicted of killing.

The bottom line

This is an exciting, action-packed book. I like the mix of mystery and fantasy in the story. I can’t wait to find out what is really going on. The beginning of the book was a little slow for me, but by the end I was racing through to find out what was going to happen! I hope to read the second book in the series–Visions–before long.

My Rating: A-

Awards

  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Paranormal Fantasy (2013)

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a book that’s been on your TBR shelf for over two years (bought July 2014)

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

storm cursed by patricia briggsStorm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #11

Published by Ace

Publishing date: May 7

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.

And a coyote shapeshifter . . . And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.

But we are pack, and we have given our word. We will die to keep it. 

……………………………

This is one of my very favorite urban fantasy series and one of my favorite authors. I’ve read this series since the first book came out.

And isn’t that an awesome cover?!!

Sunday Post: Christmas prep

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

Lots of sun this week, but below freezing most of the time–so beautiful to look at, but cold when I was outside!

Christmas prep

We have our tree up and decorated as well as lights inside and outside the house. I love this time of year with all the decoration and lights on houses. I’m also working on getting my Christmas cards made and then mailed to friends and family. Somehow I misplaced a couple of the rubber stamps I planned to use for some of the cards and spent way too much time looking for them. Time to create different cards!

I’m trying to do some Christmas baking and cooking before all our kids arrive for Christmas. Once they arrive I don’t want to spend all my time cooking.

Blog

I didn’t spend much time working on my blog though my son did help me with some of my security issues. WordPress 5.0 came out this week, too, and I need to upgrade my theme since it’s not supported any longer. I want to make sure when I upgrade to 5.0 that I won’t have issues because of my theme. This all takes time and I’m really busy with other things right now.

How many of you with self-hosted WordPress sites upgraded to 5.0? How did it go for you? Do you like this major upgrade?

Last week
Next week
  • Review
  • Can’t-Wait Wednesday
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • The Clincher by Lisa Preston
  • Lake Silence by Anne Bishop
What I read last week
  • Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet
  • Heartstone by Elle Katharine White
  • Proof by Dick Francis
  • Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait
Books I got last week

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell

Gyrfalcon by Anna Butler

An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley

The Wise Virgin by Jo Beverley

The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima (library)

A Cosmic Christmas edited by Hank Davis (library)

A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis (library)

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week? Do you have winter or holiday traditions?

December 2018 books on my list

I keep a list of all the books I might want to read and add to it as the year goes on. As each month comes along I create a list on my blog for others and for me to keep track of asbooks-on-my-list the months go by.

I don’t buy all these books–since I already have way too many books to read and some of the new books are expensive. I’m trying to stick to a budget.

I hope people reading my post may find some new books to read. I also hope these people will point me toward books I missed.

December 1

A Bad, Bad Thing by Elena Forbes

Series: Eve West Mystery #1

Published by Severn House Publishers

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

320 pages

Synopsis: A highly effective police officer, albeit one who keeps her past carefully hidden, Eve West is suspended from duty after a police operation goes catastrophically wrong. Receiving help from an unexpected quarter – a criminal she put away many years before – Eve feels she has no choice but to agree to his request to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice in return. But why is a hardened criminal like John Duran so keen to help a fellow-inmate convicted of the murder of a stable-girl? And why has he chosen Eve to look into the case?

December 4

Murder at the Mill by M.B. Shaw

Series: Iris Grey Mystery #1

Published by Minotaur Books

Genre: Mystery, Christmas

400 pages

Synopsis: A picture hides a thousand lies . . . And only Iris Grey can uncover the truth.

Iris Grey arrives at Mill Cottage in a picture-perfect Hampshire village, looking to escape from her crumbling marriage. She is drawn to the neighbouring Wetherby family, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated crime writer.

At the Wetherby’s Christmas Eve party, the mulled wine is in full flow – but so too are tensions and rivalries among the guests. On Christmas Day, the youngest member of the Wetherby family, Lorcan, finds a body in the water. A tragic accident? Or a deadly crime?

With the snow falling, Iris enters a world of village gossip, romantic intrigue, buried secrets and murder.

December 8

Catch Me if Yukon by Maddy Hunter

Series: Passport to Peril #12

Published by Midnight Ink

Genre: Mystery, Cozy

312 pages

Synopsis: As tour escort Emily Miceli leads her globetrotting band of Iowa seniors into the wilds of Alaska, she discovers that, in the land of the midnight sun, whales aren’t the only killers on the prowl. When a tour member turns up dead on a mountainous hiking trail, Emily blames herself for the mishap—until she learns that something far hairier might be to blame. 

December 18

Wine and Punishment by Sarah Fox

Series: Literary Pub Mystery #1

Published by Kensington

Genre: Mystery, Cozy

352 pages

Synopsis: Booklover Sadie Coleman knows that in life, as in fiction, the right setting can make a world of difference. The small town of Shady Creek, Vermont, seems like the perfect place to start over after losing her Boston job to a merger and her relationship to her ex’s gambling addiction. She’s bought and redecorated the old grist mill pub, transforming the Inkwell into a cozy spot where tourists and regulars alike can enjoy a pint or a literary-themed cocktail, or join one of several book clubs. 
 
Sin as Scarlet by Nicolás Obregón

Series: Inspector Iwata #2

Published by Minotaur

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

320 pages

Synopsis: After a brutal murder investigation ripped apart his life, Kosuke Iwata quit both his job as a detective with the Tokyo Police Department and his country, leaving Japan for the hopefully sunnier shores of Los Angeles, California. But even though he’s left his old life behind, he still has to make a living and Iwata sets up shop as a private investigator. But murder still follows him.

Approached by an old contact whose daughter has been murdered and the case laid to rest—unsolved—Iwata agrees to take on the case out of loyalty. But what seems initially like a cold-blooded murder takes a different turn when a homeless witness recalls the murderer’s parting words: “I’m sorry.”

December 24

Death Comes to Bath by Catherine Lloyd

Series: Kurland St. Mary Mystery #6

Published by Kensington

Genre: Historical Mystery

304 pages

Synopsis: On a visit to Bath, Major Sir Robert Kurland and Lady Lucy Kurland discover that the English spa town is not beneficial to everyone’s health . . .

After Sir Robert’s injury from the battle of Waterloo begins troubling him again, his wife Lucy insists they relocate from the village of Kurland St. Mary to Bath, along with her sister Anna, so that Robert can take the waters and recover.

What books are you excited about this month?

Sunday Post: After Thanksgiving

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in eastern Iowa. This is the last Thanksgiving we will have there since my father-in-law died last spring. It was a 52 year tradition and in recent years we had about 40 to 100 people come to the Thanksgiving celebrations. This year over 70 people came.

We still plan to celebrate with our family each year, but the place is changing to Indianapolis, Indiana. We don’t know yet how many will continue to make this a family tradition.

Christmas season

We decorated for Christmas and at the same time I’m trying to declutter. I’ve donated boxes of books to my library. I’m still keeping favorite books and favorite authors, but slowly letting go of more books. I seldom read paperback or hardcover books these days. I read on my kindle or listen to audiobooks so it doesn’t make sense to keep too many books as I get older. Next week I hope to do some baking plus I’m busy making Christmas cards.

Death in our family

My husband’s uncle died this week so we are headed to his funeral. He was able to come to Thanksgiving this year and I’m grateful for that. He was a real inspiration to me. He’s had cancer for several years, but when I saw him he was cheerful and kind. I never heard him complain. A few months ago he decided upon hospice care so his death was not too much of a surprise. I’m sad he isn’t in our lives any longer, but we have wonderful memories of him.

The above photos are from his 90th birthday party a couple of years ago. He danced with all his daughters and sons and grandchildren and enjoyed himself immensely!

Blog

Not much blogging on this blog the last couple weeks. I’ve had a few posts scheduled and will schedule this Sunday Post. I hope once we return from the funeral I will have the chance to visit other blogs and see how everyone is doing.

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog and thanks if you commented on blog posts. I read and appreciate all your comments and will try to reciprocate soon!

Last couple weeks
Next week
  • Review
  • December 2018 books on my list
  • Can’t-Wait Wednesday
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet
  • Heartstone by Elle Katharine White
What I read the last couple weeks
  • Between Shifts by W.R. Gingell
  • Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan
Books I got the last couple of weeks

Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait

North of the Tension Line by J.F. Riordan

Height of Deception by Shannon Baker

Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White (Library ebook)

The Clincher by Lisa Preston (Library ebook)

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (audiobook)

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week? If you celebrate Christmas or other holidays this month tell me about your traditions.