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.)   😛