Morning Meanderings…. The Crocodile Hunter Meets the Arrival Of The First BEA Box!

Good Morning ! 

*sips coffee… slowly.. stalling…*


So – the good news is my first box arrived from BEA yesterday afternoon.  Super SQQQUUUEEEEE’s heard throughout Brainerd Minnesota. 

And uhhhh… the bad news, or perhaps I should say super geeky news… is that I had an idea to announce it’s arrival.  Bear with me while you watch the short video:

and as if that wasn’t bad enough…. I did it a second time….

Yup.  I did that.

Anyway…. lets forget about the box.  Let’s talk about what was in the box.  😀

Smart Pop Preview is a book about

The Taker by Alma Katsu (I met this author and the book sounds wonderful!)

Fare Forward by Wendy Dubow Polins (this is an info postcard about the book – with an email to request a copy)

The Revisionists by Thomas Muller (part of the BBC make your own swag bag)

Something Inside Of Me by Chitoka Webb (I me this wonderful woman and wow does she have a story to tell!)

Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini – graphic novel sampler

Lot’s Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan (I met Sandra last year, and again this year and the woman amazes me!  I am so excited to check out her new novel and she handed it out with chocolate rocks….. got to love that!  :razz:)

Icefall by Matthew Kirby (part of the BBC build your own swag bag)

The Maid (A Novel of Joan Of Arc) by Kimberly Cutter – more BBC Build your own swag bag!

The Winters In Bloom by Lisa Tucker (I got this one at the Atria blogger reception)

Bobblehead dad by Jim Higley (BBC Swag Bag!)

Who What Wear by Olivia Bennett (BBC swag bag!)

(I think this picture is a little blurry because I was shaking at the sight of Forever :D)

Lost Angel by Javier Sierra (from BEA)

Between by Jessica Warman (BEA  – doesn’t it look good?)

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (OOOHHH!!!! Off the BEA show floor!)

Bloodspell by Amalie Howard

Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly (I thought I had missed out on this one and then there it showed up in the BBC swag bag!)

The Unbecoming by Mara Dyer (this is that book you see on the blogs with the awesoem moving graphic like they are under water!)

Lethal by Sandra Brown (would you believe I have never read Sandra Brown?)

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (Hmmmm… not sure where I picked this one up and now wondering if it is Reagan’s?)

Murder On The Oriental Express by Agatha Christie (SSQQUUEE!!! Picked up at the Harper Collins book blogger reception!  I have never read Agatha Christie either….)

Stupid fast by Geoff Herback (BBC swag bag)

Verso is a light for your e reader – woo hoo 😀  I am excited to try this!

The Beekeepers Lament by Hannah Nordhaus (Harper Collins BBR and wow does this one sound good!)

Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter (oooh audio!!!!!!)

Fallen by Karin Slaughter (I am dieing to know if she was born with that last name!)

So there is the first box in…. this is actually the second box shipped… the other one was sent UPS.  Honestly, I was not expecting either of them until the end of the week at the earliest. 

Anything is this group that peeks your interest?

Almost Home by Mariah Stewart


When she was young, Steffie Wyler always knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life: 1. Make ice cream. 2. Marry the coolest boy in town. 3. Live happily ever after. These days, Steffie is the proud owner of One Scoop or Two, a wildly popular ice cream parlor. But the cool guy left town right after high school, before they could scratch the surface of their mutual attraction to see what, if anything, lay beneath. Steffie’s made a great life for herself in St. Dennis, but true love has never come knocking.

Wade MacGregor left for college in Texas and remained there to start a successful business with his best friend, Robin Kennedy, but he’s always felt something was missing. Then life throws him a curveball: A third partner has robbed the company blind, and Robin has died—but not before entrusting Wade with a precious secret. Now back in St. Dennis, Wade’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect his friend’s legacy—and to figure out, once and for all, if the sparks that fly whenever he’s with Steffie are just temporary fireworks or the lights in the window leading him home.


Here is why occasionally it is a good idea to try stepping out of your genre.   You will not find many romance novels here.  I just don’t read them.  Yet here I am.  Admitting I read this book… and I enjoyed it.  

Was the draw the ice cream parlor?  Certainly…. that is interesting, who wouldn’t want to own an ice cream parlor? And I liked Steffie, making it on her own and doing fine, but of course…. she misses Wade who moved away some time ago.  Upon his return to town, Steffie is turned upside down trying to decide what to do…. and while the romance part is ok, I prefer the mystery and suspense in the story that kept me interested in knowing more.  There are plenty of twists and turns along the way that kept me engaged.

Almost Home is actually the third book in the Chesapeake Diary Series.  The first two being Coming Home and Home Again.  While the other two books build on this one, it is not necessary to read them before Almost Home. 

I think the moral of my review is that when we know what we like to read and stick to only that we are doing ourselves a disservice.  Occasionally we as readers need to read out of the normal habits.  Not only should we not judge a book by its cover, we also should not judge a book by its genre.

Mariah Stewart was a wonderful author to take that genre leap with. 




About Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of twenty-nine novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and their dogs amid the rolling hills and Amish farms of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she gardens, reads, and listens to the voices in her head. She is currently working on the next book in her bestselling Chesapeake Diaries series.

Connect with Mariah:
On her website
On Facebook


There are a few more stops on this tour:

Thursday, June 2nd:  A Cozy Reader’s Corner

Monday, June 6th:  Colloquium

Wednesday, June 8th:  A Chick Who Reads

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour

Morning Meanderings…. Some Days My Dogs (and my hubby) Are Like Children

Good morning.  Can you smell the fresh brewed coffee?


Take a moment and smell it. 


Yesterday afternoon I came home with a plan.  My hubby on Monday evening was scrounging around the house for something sweet.  Cake is actually what he was craving.  Cake.  We never have cake in the house but apparently he had been watching some tv show that had cake and now he too wanted cake.  All I had in the cupboards was a brownie mix, but no eggs in the frig as I forgot them when I went shopping.  Disgruntled… sweet tooth unsatisfied he went to bed.

So on Tuesday I came home from work armed with the missing eggs, a lemon cake mix and cream cheese frosting.  I also picked up a couple of steaks and shrimp (shrimp was on sale – woo hoo!!!) for dinner.  I was planning a special dinner since I was gone in New York all last week.  So I came home and I baked not only the cake, but the brownies.  I doctored up my steaks – tossed the shrimp on top and put them in to broil, feeling a lot like Betty Crocker as I never put this much effort into cooking.

Yay, I thought…. me time!  I text Al (hubby) to let him know when dinner would be ready, and grabbed Laptop and got comfy in the recliner in the reading room.  I was going to catch up on emails before dinner.  That is when Bailey (see exhibit A) decided he would like to go out.  Ok.  Out of the recliner I get, Laptop carefully to the side and let Bailey out.  I see it looks like he is going to stay outside awhile so I get cozy in the recliner again, and just get emails opened when…. Bailey wants in.

Of course he does.

Laptop carefully to side…. out of the recliner, let Bailey in and then back to the recliner wondering if I still have any time before dinner.  I think I do…

Then comes Elmo… he looks at me.  He wants to go outside.  (See Exhibit B)

Now, I can not deny Elmo anything.  Elmo is my dog.  We have had him since 1997.  He grew up with our boys, has been lost (and found) three times in his life, hit by a car 2 years ago and dragged (gah – awful story) and has just been through the ringer.  He is blind in one eye, has loss of hearing, and the early stages of dementia.  Needless to say – I get up and let Elmo out.

Ten minutes later, I get up and let Elmo in.

Some days…. I think I am the pet.  😛

Ok off to work.. later I return to kickboxing class where I have been MIA for three weeks now and am probably going to be hurting in the morning.  Oh well…. it’s all good for me.  😀

Have a lovely LOVELY day everyone!

Dinner with Beth Hoffman – author of Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt

There are moments in my life that are so wonderful I have to pinch myself to make sure they are real. 

On Tuesday, May 24th, I had the privilege to join a group of wonderful book bloggers and have dinner with the amazing Beth Hoffman.  We were to meet at 7:15 pm at Mercer’s Kitchen, in Soho New York. 

I experienced my first subway ride which I caught with Candace from Beth Fish Reads, Dawn from She’s Too Fond Of Books, and Swapna from S. Krishna’s Books.  We arrived early and waited at the bar for the rest of the bloggers and for Beth.

I met at the restaurant Lydia from Lost Entwife and she brought her sister Candace too.  Shortly after Nicole came from Linus’s Blanket, and then Julie from Booking Mama and Kathy from Bermuda Onion.  Two new to me bloggers were Stephanie from Steph The Bookworm and Mandy from The Well-Read Wife.

And of course, there was Beth Hoffman.  Beth may as well have walked right off her website as we all knew her right away – she looks exactly like her picture!  Sweet and friendly she came in and hugged each one of us, calling us her girls and escorting us to a large table for our reservation. 

She had flown in the previous day just to meet with us.  The dinner was lovely and the conversation just as lovely.  It was so interesting to listen to her talk about the characters she brought to life in Saving  Cee Cee Honeycutt as well as the one character in the book that is requested time and again by her fans to make a come back, Oletta.  (I would have to agree)

I ordered the halibut which was so amazing, and a raspberry wafer dessert that was melt in your mouth delicious. 

What a great evening!  As we talked Beth shared what was next on her agenda and I am excited to share that it is another book (SSQQUUUEEE!!!) called Looking For Me.  Beth shared that Looking For Me is going to be quite different from Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt. I am sooooo excited!

A sweet little notepad and a bookmark. The notpad says "What would Oletta Say?" - a gift from Beth Hoffman (so sweet!)

After a wonderful meal and good byes (and a few tears shed), I made it back to the hotel at 11:30 p.m.  Thrilled with a wonderful evening and the excitement of a second book by this incredible author.

Morning Meandering… Why am I still talking about how awesome it is to be home?

Good morning!

Wow.  This morning is a BIG dose of normalcy here.

AND uh huh…. I like it.  😛

It has been over a week since I have sat down at my kitchen table in the morning having  a cup of coffee and tapping at my keyboard a message out to the blogosphere. 

It is GOOD to be home.

Brainerd Minnesota…. is quite the opposite of New York. 

Mmmmmm..... coffee

I love taking my time in the morning with my coffee.  I love looking our my window and seeing blue skies and a yard that has been a part of my life since I was 3 years old. 

I love my deck… and that it is finally time to sit on it and read – my absolute favorite place to read!  😀

This morning.... after a storm last night

No rushing in the early hours, fast walking down busy New York sidewalks, crowds of people everywhere, the smell of donuts on one corner, hot pretzels on the next, and something greasy and fried on the next.

(I had some  really good food in New York and I had some really bad food in New York.) 

Anyway…. I drift.

I am off to work here shortly and even that feels good and normal.  I am hopeful the day turns out to be a nice one so I can ride my bike this afternoon…. (it has been 2+ weeks since I have worked out and I feel a bit sluggish…..)  I have kickboxing and group power on Wednesday and I am soooo looking forward to getting back at it.)

Ok… so this post really was just a ramble and gushing of how good it is to be home… putting images of Dorothy clicking her red (totally outdated) pumps together saying, “there is no place like home…. there is no place like home”. 

Oh… it is good to be home. (I should be over this melancholy by tomorrow…. really)  😛


From Books to Broadway: Mary Poppins

This week, I am planning many posts on my time in New York for BEA.  I will be posting about the YA Teen Carnival, Dinner with Beth Hoffman, The Expo itself, Harper Collins Party and dinner following with Bloggers, The tour of Greenwich Village, lunch with Adriana Trigiani, The Harry Potter Exhibit, and this, seeing Mary Poppins on Broadway.

Now – Mary Poppins was actually the last thing we did in New York this past week.  It was Friday evening and I was hanging with Reagan from Miss Remmers Reviews and Cass from Bon Jour Cass.   They wanted to do something “New Yorky” for our final evening in the big city, I just wanted to go out to eat.  😛

When they came up with the idea of Mary Poppins, it sounded interesting but I was tired and calculating when we would get back… we still had to pack… our flight left at 6:45 am….  (I know… I know… what a pain right? :razz:)  I knew they were right to do something awesome, but really… Mary Poppins?  Really?

Oh.  Ok…..

So off we went stopping for delicious buffalo chicken sandwiches and spaghetti on our way to the show.  Once seated and the curtain was drawn….

I was never the same.

Ashley Brown makes a wonderful Mary Poppins.  I can not even begin to do her justice.  Her voice, her moves, if ever there was a Mary Poppins – she is her. 

I’m practically perfect in every way

practically perfect that’s my forte

uncanny nannies are hard to find

unique yet meek unspeakably kind

I’m practically perfect not slightly soiled

running like an engine that’s just been freshly oiled!

The special effects are phenomenal – props appear from within a seemingly empty travel bag and a bed appears under a sheet…. when Gavin Lee as Bert walks up the stage wall across the tops and down the other side – the audience goes wild!  I imagine children are astounded and will not soon forget the magic of Mary Poppins …. shoot, neither will I.

I think one of the key moments for me was when they sand supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  The song, the dancers, was so good!  See for yourself:

I told Reagan and Cass later that I could study that dance for the rest of my life and not be able to do it!

AND how about the kids?  Their roles are huge, I found it fascinating that there are actually three sets of kids who perform these songs and dances.  What big roles!  Hear from them yourself:

I loved the witch, errr….. the other nanny, Miss Andrew, Mr. Banks’ nanny who he had as a child.  *gulp*  If this actress does not play roles as a witch she certainly should… she was AWESOME!

Overall… I LOVED IT!  How could you not.  I think I had forgotten the story behind Mary Poppins.  Deeply buried no doubt in childhood memories, entwined in stories long since abandoned in the depths of the files in my brain.  It was nice to take these memories out for a refresher. 

BEA is more than books… it is for me, a taste of New York and each time I go I bask in what I can experience this time.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you go and see this visual treat.  You will thank me. 

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:

Sabrina from Thinking Out Loud

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

**Updates have been made to the Reading Cafe Grab shelves!

Last week is kind of a blur as from Sunday evening on I was traveling to New York from the Book Expo (BEA). running around BEA, and then the Book Blogger Convention, and then dragged a very tired version of me back home yesterday afternoon.  All this next week I will share with you posts on authors and bloggers I met, two author events, Publishing events, and the Book Blogger Convention with highlights.  I hope you will tune in for some of these posts as I am a huge fan of BEA and if I can generate enough excitement for you to consider going as well…. I will have succeeded.  😀

With my running around New York this past week while I am on the verge of ending two audio and a couple of books, I have very little to show reading wise for the week.  Here is what I did post:

BEA – Update 1 and a story about overtaking the Info Booth + dinner with Beth Hoffman (TRUE STORY (razz))

Small Update from New York (and a picture with Harlan Coben – SSQQUUUEEE!!!)

BEA update 2

What Do You Look For In A Book Review?

Stop over and see my interview with the Minneapolis Examiner by the wonderful Linda White



So as you can see uhhhh…. not a whole lot of reading going on.  This week however I am hopeful to do a  little catching up with some great reading.  Here is the plan:



In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, a young Orthodox Jewish woman in the holy city of Jerusalem is expected to marry and produce many sons to help hasten the Messiah’s arrival. While the feisty Esther Kaminsky understands her obligations, her artistic talent inspires her to secretly explore worlds outside her religion, to dream of studying in Paris—and to believe that God has a special destiny for her. When tragedy strikes her family, Esther views it as a warning from an angry God and suppresses her desires in order to become an obedient “Jerusalem maiden.”

But when a surprising opportunity forces itself on to her preordained path, Esther finds her beliefs clashing dangerously with the passions she has staved off her entire life—forcing her to confront the most difficult question of all: To whom must she be true?

This little gem is for a book tour on Wednesday… I met author Talia Carner at the Harper Collins Book Blogger Reception and look forward to reading her book. 




D.D.’s former partner and one-time lover, Det. Bobby Dodge, of the Massachusetts State Police, asks her to look into what appears to be a clear-cut homicide case. The evidence suggests that Tessa Leoni, a state trooper colleague of Bobby’s, shot and killed her abusive husband, Brian Darby, who may have kidnapped her six-year-old daughter, Sophie. But Tessa won’t talk about her bruises, her husband, or what might have happened to her child. D.D. examines every detail about the family, while Tessa uses her skills to manipulate the investigation. From Tessa’s point of view, we learn about her and Brian’s courtship, his affection for Sophie, and how the marriage began to disintegrate.

I know.. thats a pretty bad synopsis that I pulled from Amazon.  In my own opinion, I adore Lisa Gardner and look forward to this suspense novel on audio.




And finally… drum roll please….

In Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Uhhhh thats right… super SSSQQQUUUEEEE!!!  Look what I picked up at BEA!!!  I can not wait to read this.  AND (and this is important!) I have an extra copy that I will be giving away on June 9th (mark your calendar!) for my Blogiversary!



That is the reading plan for the week.  As I said above I have a few I am finishing up so I am hoping to have a bit review week as well as the BEA posts.

Now….. I want to know what you are reading!  Add your What Are Your Reading post to the linky below (where it says click here!)  I can not wait to come and visit you!  😀


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