Monthly Archives: August 2011

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (The audio that caused my meltdown in the kitchen)

Sisters Meredith and Nina have grown apart once they reached adulthood.  Meredith took over the family business and raised a family, while Nina followed her dreams to traveling the world as a photojournalist.  When their doting father suddenly becomes ill and dies the sisters world is rocked to the core.  As a dying wish, their father had made the girls promise to spend time with their Russian mother, who has never been the warm motherly type.

As the girls try to come together on a decision of what to do, their mother, Anya, starts to act oddly – leaving burners on in the house and even pealing the wallpaper off the walls.  Anya starts to share fairy tales that she used to tell when the girls were little and through these tales, the girls discover the stories are not stories at all but the facts of Anya’s life growing up in war-torn Russ.  In amazement of this new discovery, Meredith and Nina decide to help their mother uncover the truth of her tragic past, in the hopes of understanding more about her as well as themselves. 

I wonder what a winter garden would look like...

Kristen Hannah is one of those author’s whose book covers draw me in and I always plan to read … and then rarely do.  In fact out of all of her attractive looking books, the only other one I have read in Firefly Lane with my book club a few years back.  (I remember I was in Honduras on a bus when that book came to its rocky ending that left me in tears)

SO here I am again with Kristen Hannah with probably the least likely choice of all her books – Winter Garden.  Why?  Because winter is my absolute least favorite time of year…. (however… I do like gardens?)  But of course none of this random ramblings has anything to do with the book….

Winter Garden started slow for me.  The two sisters thing and dysfunctional family synopsis has been done and done and done again.  I listened halfheartedly taking in all the facts but not really engaged. 

Then the audio suddenly took a turn to the “holy wah” when Anya started detailing her story of growing up in Russia…. suddenly I was glued to my kitchen, unwilling to shut the audio off, or leave the room I was folding laundry on my kitchen table and cleaning kitchen counters, and straightening seasonings in the cupboards – all to keep on listening. 

It all came to a tearful fully engaged version of me as the story unfolded into what I could only refer to as Kristen Hannah working her magic of story telling. I literally had tears rolling down my face as I heard the story pour out of Anya.

In recap… the first half of the book was meh…. the second half…. a rollercoaster of emotions that has left me wondering what I should choose next of Kristen Hannah’s books.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Winter Garden

I purchased this audio from Amazon

Morning Meanderings… AUDIO Morning!

Good morning.

No, not feeling better.  Still coughy…. and yeah, coffee. :sick:


Yesterday after work I made a little trip to my library for strictly one reason…..


I have cleaned myself out of cd audio.  I have plenty for my IPOD, but I have a CD player in the kitchen and one in the jeep that need to be fed and I have went through all I own, all I had borrowed, and all I purchased recently. 

It was really an audioergency.  😛


Friday I am driving to our cabin and I think hubby is planning on taking his motorcycle so we can tool around the back roads when we are there.  This translates to – 3 1/2 hours in the Durango ALONE… which really means – AUDIO TIME!

Like a kid in the candy store I perused the shelves and finally came out with these:








I have to get ready for work so I do not have time to link them to synopsis… but there they are in all their glory!  On an average day – I listen to three audio … one in my car as I drive around, the one in my bathroom (IPOD) while I get ready for work, and the one in my kitchen while I make meals. 

Tomorrow I have two audio winners to announce from last week. 

Tick Tock by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Michael Bennett is back in this 4th book in the Michael Bennett series.  While taking his ten (TEN!) adopted children to a seaside retreat with live in nanny Mary Katherine and (the hilarious and wise) Grandpa.

What Detective Michael Bennett had hoped for was a little r & r and perhaps exploring his growing feelings for Mary Katherine, he uncovered much more than he bargained for when a rash of bizarre crimes tear through the city, terrorizing  everyone who lives there .  So much for vacation…

When Michael is pulled away from the retreat to investigate the crimes, his family is left open for attack.  Working the case with attractive colleague FBI Agent Emily Parker, Michael finds himself questioning what the future may hold.  All the while the clock is ticking towards who is behind the odd murders that seem to be copy cats old famous crimes…




A couple of years ago when I started to embrace audio books – this series was one of my first audio experiences.  I know this is a Patterson book and I know some people struggle with his books and in some cases I agree, Patterson does have some gory graphic books out there.  This series is not one of them.  I think it is the touch of author Michael Ledwidge that gives this series its likability for me.

This series is centered around a detective, Michael Bennett who had adopted with his wife, 10 children.  As the series opens, Michael loses his wife to cancer and while adjusting to a life without her, maintaining a huge household, and maintaining a high-capacity job, I kind of fell in love with this family.

In this fourth in the series, I enjoyed the start of a possible relationship between Michael and Mary Katheryn and even the annoying presence of the attractive Emily…. tossed in for good measure.  The story line of the kids is always interesting and the crimes are usually good and not too graphic.


I found in Tick Tock the gore level was raised – not a lot, but enough for me to notice.  I could almost sense the shift from Ledwidge to Patterson.  While I still enjoyed this audio, it was probably the one I have enjoyed the least out of the series.

Will I continue with the next one when it comes out?  Absolutely… there is still more of this story to be told and I for one want to know what will happen. 

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Tick Tock

I picked up this audio through Amazon

Morning Meanderings… Oh My GAH!

Good morning!

Excuse while I cough and cough and cough.


I have had a sinus infection since Saturday and it is getting old.


Seriously annoying…

With a big event on the schedule for tomorrow I need to have my A game on.


has anyone seen it?


On a completely Random note….. (because I don’t feel well…. it’s my blog and I feel like being random…)

Has anyone else been coveting this book?

I have adored this cover ever since I seen it and want to know more about the book.  How about you…. read it?  Want to?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  D  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment telling me how many you visited.  **You do not have to have a blog to participate! You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

Last weeks winner:

Lydia – The Lost Entwife

WOO HOO!!!!  Please choose an item out of the Reading Cafe Grab Shelves  and email me your choice with your mailing address as well!

In case you wonder why I offer a book giveaway for those who visit others who do this meme, it is because I LOVE community.  Book Blogging is all about sharing our love for books with one another.  By visiting some of the other participants – you never know where you may find that next awesome read – or a blog that becomes one that you want to read more often.  :D

What a week.  I was at camp from Monday afternoon until Friday afternoon of this past week which was AWESOME and did not interfere with my reading whatsoever.  In fact I posted quite a bit this past week:

After by Amy Efaw (audio review and giveaway!)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (audio review – SO GOOD!!!)

Cut by Patricia McCormick (book review)

Recap of my Camp experience – where I was and what I did

Meet My New Laptop  – Asus (Ah – uess)

Secrets Of Longevity by Dr. Moa Shing Ni (book review)

On top of all that I have two books almost completed and three audio that will end within the next day or two.  It really was a productive book week!  😀

For this week I am super excited.  I finally feel I am over that “book hump” where I just wasnt finding the time to read.  In fact I am tackling a series this week…. check it out. 



Chased by a madman preacher and possibly the rest of his townsfolk as well, young Todd Hewitt flees his settlement on a planet where war with the natives has killed all the women and infected the men with a germ that broadcasts their thoughts aloud for all to hear. This cacophanous thought-cloud is known as Noise and is rendered with startling effectiveness on the page. The first of many secrets is revealed when Todd discovers an unsettling hole in the Noise, and quickly realizes that he lives in a much different world than the one he thought he did.

Sometimes….. sometimes, it takes a swift crack to the head to get my going…. 😛  This past week I seen the third book in this trilogy and read a review on it that knocked my socks off.  Since then I have heard chatter about how awesome this series is and how you need all three and well – I bought all three.  😀 





Todd Hewitt, 13, is locked in a tower in New Prentisstown, a space colony, and separated from Viola, after the dramatic cliff-hanger in The Knife of Never Letting Go (Candlewick, 2008). Tracked down by the manipulative mayor of the all-male community he escaped, he is unaware that Viola is also under guard and recouping nearby. The noise that clatters through men’s minds makes it difficult for Todd to keep any secrets about his intentions to find Viola and accompany her on a mission to contact her people, who are on their way to colonize this unsettled and fractured new world. The previous war, which killed most of the women and made slaves of the aboriginal alien Spackles, has pitted the survivors against one another. The “Answer,” composed of women and a few men who lost daughters and mothers in the war, come to blows with the “Ask,” the mayor’s group of fundamentalist men and their Spackle slaves.

Yup -book two… I hope I love these… I could use a real strong series…. 😀





The genocidal tyrant Mayor Prentiss leads an army on one side, the terrorist healer Mistress Coyle heads a band of revolutionaries on another, and a massive legion of native Spackle threatens from a third. All three sides see only the complete annihilation of the others as the sole option for victory and survival, and they might be right, no matter how Todd and Viola use their formidable wills to advance peace as an influx of new colonists nears. It’s a thick book, approaching Russian-novel territory, but it rarely feels bloated; and readers invested in the story will likely concede that Ness has earned the space. His rapid-fire litany of impossible choices makes for captivating thought fodder, and what has already been a potent display of the power of voice to drive, amplify, and transform a story gets a third, unexpected soloist. And in so doing he shows just how deep and complex, as well as how versatile, a symbolic narrative device like Noise can be.

so.. the plan is – I love this series so much that I fly through them one after another.  At least… that s the plan.  😛





Many years have passed since civilization’s brush with apocalypse. The world’s greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace… and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.

Fleeing pursuit, with only moments to live, a young man named Rom stumbles into possession of a vial of blood and a piece of cryptic writing. When consumed, the blood will bring him back to life. When decoded, the message will lead him on a perilous journey that will require him to abandon everything he has ever known and awaken humanity to the transforming power of true life and love.

But the blood will also resurrect hatred, ambition, and greed.

Yup – here I go, Dekker again.  This is for the next Faith In Fiction read. 




Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he’s off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.

Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman’s books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists–men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the “Soul of the World.” Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy’s misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself,” the alchemist replies. “And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

I have never experienced this read – and have to admit… I didn’t even know what it was about.  Already listening to it. 



Thats my week – I think I will be plenty busy with these and thank goodness for the long weekend coming up 😀

Now its time to see what you are reading – join in by adding your link to where it says “click here” below.



Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Secrets Of Longevity by Dr. Moa Shing Ni

I think as we get uhhhh….. older….. many of us try to make healthier choices in our life style and in our diets.  Key word for m here is – TRY.  😛  However, I know first hand that when I do eat right and exercise I feel (and look) better. 

Books like this one fascinate me.  I love to read up on herbs and spices that burn more calories, or take away headaches, or seem to reduce risks of disease.  When I think about all the junk we have added to our diets the last 50 or so years (fast food, restaurant chains, anything fired and on a stick for serving purposes) it really is a no brainer that we have always had the ingredients and the tools to live healthier lives if we choose to do so. 


Secrest of Longevity in other languages

Secrets Of Longevity is written by Dr. Moa Shing Ni (a 38th generation doctor!).  The book is broke into easy to use chapters:

Chapter One:  What You Eat

Chapter Two: How You Heal

Chapter Three:  Where You Are (environment, ecology)

Chapter Four:  What You Do  (exercise, lifestyle)

Chapter Five:  Who You Are (relationships, faith)

Chapter Six:  Bringing It All Together

Each page is about a paragraph long with bits of information, some of which we know such as:

Smaller Meals four to five times a day

Eat Like a King by Day, a Pauper at night

but many I did not know…

Tea is the beverage most commonly drank by centenarians around the world.  The free radical property of tea is more potent than that of vitamin E, and the antioxidants ward off diabetes and cancer

Honey is better for you than table sugar – and a gauge soaked with honey can help in healing burns and wounds.

Olive Oil regulates blood pressure

Orange peel served in meat dishes lowers cholesterol

Drinking your celery (yup – in a blender) helps arthritis and lowers blood pressure

Ginseng increases energy and stamina and has been used bu China for 5,000 years

Angelica Root reduces menstrual pain, strengthens bones and releases menopause effects

Positions to sleep in to cure insomnia

I took away so much from this book, and will keep it handy for future reference.  Nothing in the book involved going out and buying expensive ingredients or equipment…. is in the book, is already in your home.

This review is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  While I have no recipes to share – he tips in this book refer to healthy eating and drinking to enjoy a long, happy, healthy life.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE are You Reading map has been updated to include Secrets of Longevity

I purchased this book in a small shop in Grand Marais MN

Morning Meanderings…. Decisions Have Been Made

Good morning.  Sunday already!  😀


Several decisions were made around here yesterday – 2 bookish/ blog  related…. one random.


First of all let me just say that it is that with a heavy heart that I finally had to realize that Laptop is not going to fully recover.  Our time now is short…. he has brief moments of being coherent – and then his screen goes black.   So…. yesterday I went out to Best Buy and came home with….


"Asus" (ah- zuess)


Meet Asus.  He is new to the family and yesterday we spent a lot (A LOT) of time together transferring pics and files off of Laptop when Laptop cooperated.  I was going in with my heart set on a Dell (I am pretty brand loyal) but this guy was right around the same price and I liked his keyboard, size, and shape better.  Here is hoping we have a long and happy life together.


Second decision of yesterday…. you may remember last week I mentioned for the BEA nominations I was nominated for Best Audio Book Blog and Best Eclectic Book Blog.  Both very exciting!  😛  BUT – I had to choose and finally decided to go with Audio blog as I have become a bigger and bigger advocate of audio over the past couple of years.  It was fun to choose the posts and we will see what happens… it was fun to be nominated.  😀


Finally – the third decision was hubby Al’s and that was what movie we seen yesterday afternoon.  He wanted to see either Conan The Barbarian or Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.  (UGH…. to both)…. I craved a little girly movie or comedy but he rarely chooses the movie so off we went, a smile planted firmly on my face as we went and discovered – Conan had started 30 minutes earlier than what it said online so – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes it was.  Turns out…. it was pretty good.  Sad in that “abused animal” sort of way, but good.

Ok – off to get things done.  I have two audio finishing today and at least two books… possibly three.  😀  (Oh, and this is the first post written on Asus.)   😛

Morning Meanderings… A Little Camp Recap

Good morning!  I am home… home at last 🙂 I am a little tired, a little whelmed, and I have a lot to do.  😀

This morning for the Saturday Snapshot, I thought I would share a little bit with you about the camp I was just at and what I did all week.  The camp was Camp Benedict.  It is the camp I ride the CBC ride I rode a few weeks ago for, and it is the camp organized by Connie, whose story I am writing. 

My reason for going to camp was to see Connie in action.  She has run this camp for 17 years for people and families who are touched by HIV/AIDS.   My attending, I felt was really going to help me see the world through Connie’s eyes…

and it really did.

When the board accepted me going last winter I was excited and then as it got closer… a little nervous.  I had an idea of what camp would be like and the people who attended.  Let me say this out loud – I was wrong. 

Camp was….


I arrived Monday afternoon and was settled into my room for the week. 

Me - ready to camp 🙂

Where I stayed

A view from camp

Everyone arrived by Monday late afternoon.  A bus brought people from all over Minnesota.  Connie provides the camp for free to the “campers” (as we are called all week long 😛 ).  She does not want the week to be a financial burden on anyone.

Monday evening we had about 200 pictures placed on the floor of the main lodge.  We were each asked to pick up two pictures that spoke to us.  I chose:

Some of the pictures on the floor

The two pictures I chose

Then we each had to say our name, what the two pictures made us feel – and how we were feeling right now at the beginning of camp.  It was interesting that most of the people there were nervous, or unsure of what to expect.  The picture responses were amazing what people seen in them… responses ranged from feeling on inadequacy, to missing a parent or loved one, to feelings of despair, loneliness, imprisoned, to hopefulness, dreams…

by the end of the night… I was a mess between sweet bouts of laughter, to times of tears.  (I joked with one of the nurses that I thought I was bipolar…. laughing, than crying, than laughing again…. 😛 )

On Tuesday – a doctor Bill (I have his card somewhere) had a session on the pills that everyone is taking.  It was very interesting to hear about the different combinations, what they each do and changes to the combinations to work better for some people.  I think everyone got a lot out of this session including me. 

Afternoons are free time – there were opportunities to work on your Affirmation boxes (which I loved!),  an hour-long pontoon ride to a Dairy Queen, and horse back riding. 

The first afternoon I worked on my Affirmation box.  We were each asked to make these and then throughout the week we each put an affirmation in the others boxes of something we noticed in them…. (Ie.  we appreciated their honesty, they are strong, incredible speaker…)

Affirmation Boxes

My random work station

On Wednesday morning – we had a fun morning session of Yoga and stretching on the ball.  Russ led this group and did an amazing job!

prepping for the morning class

Russ - teaching the stretches

I love working out with the exercise ball and this was a lot of fun for everyone to try.  The group was taught that there are certain moves in Yoga that can actually increase your T cell count.

Dining hall and session building

Connie with her friend Anita on the pontoon to the Dairy Queen!

In the evenings we hung out and talked or there were group sessions.  On Wednesday evening I sat in on the women’s session which was amazing.  The women shared hurts and strengths – and some who felt isolated, now have found positive ways to move forward thanks to the friendships they built during the session.  I left this session completely drained.

The food?  Did I not mention the food yet (I should have took pictures!).  The food was so good!  My Fitness Pal diet was put on hold for the week…. but I am back on it now.  😀

Thursday another doctor spoke in the morning and was there mainly to answer questions about treatments, medications, etc…. I did not see all of her session as I went with Connie to watch her work with the teens who were there with their families where she did a skit of a person just diagnosed with AIDS and how heavy that can feel (she piled large books on her “patient”) as they learn how their life has just changed forever.  She ends this with asking the other teens what they can do to help take the “heaviness” off their friend…. IE.  being a good listener, reminding them they are loved, helping them…)

Thursday afternoon…. I went horse back riding.  😛

The horses

Connie on her horse

Me - on mine.... (his name is Apache)

Thursday night we had a ceremony were we all lit a candle and said what we got out of camp.  Oh wow…. more tears…. after that a DJ came in and the kids got to do Karaoke. 

Friday morning we ate, packed up – and the bus came at 11:30 am.  to take everyone home.   The camp staff (which were AMAZING all week long) made a pyramid for when the bus drove out of the camp.  It was all pretty emotional… and I know I will never be the same from the experience. 

Connie and I

The Camp Staff saying good bye!

I think most of you know why I am working with Connie and the camp, but in the event that you do not – here is my recent post on that. 

Morning Meanderings… I think I am losing Laptop

Good morning.  Final day at camp.  Today we finish up around 11:30 am this morning, I will say good-bye to all the people I met as the bus comes to pick them up.  What a week.  (i plan to write a full post on the week on Saturday morning with a few pics).

As many of you know Laptop has been “going out” not for about 9 months.  It started last winter, he would not turn on and I thought, “It’s over,” but then two days later – he worked again….  and this went on like this for several months… the occasional “death” and then – recovery.

Now however I fear the end is drawing near… a couple of nights ago at camp Laptop came up with the black screen of death.  Oh he was on – but there was no screen…. and then – he would just shut off.  He worked good yesterday – and then last night….

same thing.

Now – he does not recognize Firefox so I am blogging in Explorer (pooey!) which I have not used in years.  Sadly, I may need to stop by Best Buy today to see what they have available.  It has been 4 years with Laptop (my first laptop!) and they have been good ones.  I hate to move on from what is comfortable, but it looks like it may be time…. 


Anyway – I need to get off to breakfast…. Oh who am I kidding…. I need COFFEE.  😛

Once I get home today I have laundry to catch up on , maybe part of the lawn… but nothing too extreme.  Should be a nice quiet weekend for a change with no (NADA) commitments!  😀

I will leave you now with this…

Cut by Patricia McCormick

A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.

Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside.

Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak.

But Callie can only stay silent for so long….


Injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object — enough to break the skin and make it bleed — is called cutting. Cutting is a type of self-injury, or SI. Most people who cut are girls, but guys self-injure, too. People who cut usually start cutting in their young teens. Some continue to cut into adulthood. 

~Kids Health.Org


How interesting that I recently finished After by Amy Efaw, and find myself right back in a girls treatment facility with this book….. hmmm…. 😛

Cut is a book I have been wanting to read for quite a while.  When I first heard about it I was wondering what a book with the subject of cutting would be like.  With the same YA draw about teen issues as SPEAK had, I was pulled into this story about Callie and the reason she cuts.

This book is told from Callie’s perspective and much of the dialogue is her thoughts as for most of the book…. Callie does not speak… not to the other girls, not to the doctor and nurses, and not to her therapist.  While she does as she is told, she does nothing verbal.

The girls in the facility (the facility is called Sea Pines, but the girls call it “Sick Minds”) have mixed reasons for being there.  Some have eating disorders, depression, substance abuse… yet until Amanda comes, there are no other girls who cut.  Amanda plays a bigger role in this book then you would at first think.  Although she enters late, her being there for the same reason as Callie is huge, and really a step in the right direction for Callie’s start to recovery.

I found this book to be a fairly quick read – while small is size, it packs in a wallop of a topic that is big for teens.  The book had an impact but not as big of one as I had originally thought I was going to experience pre- read.  It was fast, interesting, and hopefully it speaks to anyone who cuts.


*On a more person note, I have an acquaintance that cuts.  As a Kinship Partner, I am also a mandatory reporter and therefore must report any activity I notice or may suspect that could be harmful to a child or to oneself.  This acquaintance was my first real experience with cutting and I did not understand why someone would do this to themselves.

When I spoke to her about it she explained that she had been physically abused as a child…. with such turmoil and fear in her life at a young age, she took to cutting because she said she had no other way to release the pain.  Cutting – hurt her, but at the same time was release as she had control over the pain. 

This was how I began to understand the need for some to cut.



Good Reads Review

I have updated the 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map to include Cut (Well I would map it if I knew where it took place 😛 )

I received this book from a friend (Heidi) who had read it and passed it to me