Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things Pt. 2

Merry Christmas to all my book loving friends!  This time of year is just crazy for me, and blogging has had to take a backseat to holiday parties, cookie making, present shopping and cleaning for the impending influx of relatives on Christmas day.  Now that all of that is done, I am taking these two days before Christmas to catch up on my favorite Christmas movies.  Christmas movies are a part of my holiday season, so here is a list of my favorite holiday movies.

(in no particular order)

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Die Hard (not your typical Christmas movie, but hey, it takes place during a Christmas party!)
It's A Wonderful Life
The Holiday
Love Actually
How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Most people have The Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on their lists, but honestly, I just don't like them.  I must prefer a happily ever after with true love, friends coming together, and, in the case of Die Hard, Alan Rickman falling out of a window from a great height.

Anyway, I hope you are all celebrating your usual holiday traditions and preparing for a fantastic 2013!  I'll post my "best of 2012" list soon enough, but until then...

May your days be Merry and Bright.

Merry Christmas to all.  And to all a good night.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Blogger Hop: December 14-20

This week's Book Blogger Hop is brought to you by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

This week's question is:  What bookmarker are you currently using? 

Well, I usually use whatever receipt or scrap piece of paper I have stuck in my purse because I've forgotten an actual book mark. 

I have several book marks, but my favorite is one that was embroidered by my aunt.  It has my name misspelled (on purpose) in cross-stitch and I love it.  I'll add a picture of it when I get home.  I got it for Christmas or a birthday at some point in the mid to late 80s when the height of fashion was peach and green.  My bedroom was peach and green, my parent's living room was, and my wonderful book mark followed the same trend.  My aunt, Pam, and my great-uncle, Lloyd, always thought it was hilarious to come up with a new way to spell my name (Susanna) every time they saw me.  Susannah.  Suzannah.  Suzanna.  Soozanna.  Siouxzannah (that was my personal favorite).  This book mark is an homage to their silly war on my name.

Anyway, I am always fearful of losing it because it means so much to me. My aunt passed away in 1999, so it's one of the few things I have left that she made me.  I usually keep it at home, safely tucked away in a drawer and used only for books that I read at home and don't tote around the city on my daily commute with me.

Aunties out there: if you have nieces who read, make them one.  I can't even tell you how much it's influenced me to have a home-stitched bookmark made with love.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Merry-Go-Round by Donna Fasano

The Merry-Go-Round 
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4 stars

Independent lawyer Lauren Flynn is finally getting what she wants: a divorce from her husband, Greg.  When he lost his hardware store, and all her retirement savings, Laura had had enough.  A year later and she's getting her divorce and a piece of land she didn't know about, which comes with a Merry-Go-Round on it.  Restoring the Merry-Go-Round becomes her project, and brings her and Greg together.  But she's interested in moving on - with her teenaged client's sexy father, Scott.  Will she choice to start over with Scott or will she go back to her past - Greg?

I like Donna Fasano's books.  They're sweet, realistic and modern.  Lauren doesn't need a man and she's a modern woman.  I tend to get annoyed with contemporary romances with weak, virginal women.  Lauren is not those things.  Both guys, Greg and Scott, were sexy.  Although Scott had some, er, problems.  Which brings me to Norma Jean, Lauren's secretary, who was freakin' hilarious.  She was the comic element of the book.  The only character I didn't like was Lauren's father.  He was just your typical curmudgeon, but I'm not a fan of curmudgeons.

Anyway, great book, sexy and funny, with a super sweet ending.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley

Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish
Genre: Humor, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

I've had a hard time thinking of what to rate this and how to review it. I want to almost work backwards because it might make more sense that way...

I had a hard time picking out 1 main character, but I guess it'd be Nigel, the police officer. Then there's Death (as in the Grim Reaper). And a penguin who got put into the body of a millionaire. And a scientist Celina who invented robotic elves. And of course there's The Devil and the Goldfish. See what I mean about hard to review?

Ok, so here's the summary: Nigel, the police officer, is investigating why no one is dying in London and why a cat suddenly has turned into the devil. He also has a gambling problem and is harassed by two stupid goons. The Devil, on a week-long jaunt to earth ok'd by God, got "accidentally" (always read the fine print) put into the body of a cat. He, as the cat, convinced Death to quit. Hence the no one dying. The penguin knew he was meant for bigger things and then *bam* he ends up a man and washes up on the same island where Death is vacationing. Back in London, Celina is locked in the lunch room kitchen hiding from the robotic elves that have taken over due to a programming glitch (there's the Devil at it again). And the goldfish? Well, he's prophetic. He receives messages and flings them out to the universe hoping that they reach the appropriate person. And since he's a goldfish he has about a 10 second attention span, he constantly wonders why there's a castle in his bowl. So, the motley team of Nigel, the penguin, Death and Celina have to try and stop the Devil and his evil mechanical elves from completing his dastardly plan.

I had a hard time getting into the book because I was so confused. It reads similar to a Douglas Adams book - very witty with dry British humor. I had to get adjusted to it. And the plot jumps from person to person, so I had to figure out what each story had to do with the next. It does come together, it does, I just had to figure out how. Once it did, it was funny and I enjoyed the characters. It was fun. And silly. And a bit ridiculous, but it's supposed to be. It's set up with a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end, so I'm assuming that there will be a sequel, which I'll have to read since by the end I cared about the characters. And that's the point, right? To care about the characters.

I recommend this for fans of The Hitchhiker's Guider To The Galaxy, people who enjoy British humor, or anyone who read this and just has to find out HOW all these things came together.

Review: The Green-Eyed Monster by Mike Robinson

The Green-Eyed Monster
Genre: Paranormal thriller, horror
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Two men have almost identical lives.  Born the same day, at the same time, in the same town but to different parents.  They are both best-selling authors.  They live next door to one another as adults.  You'd think they'd be friends.  You'd be wrong.

In a series of flashbacks from their youth, some from first person accounts, some from 3rd person stories, we learn all about these two men and their malevolent "grandfather" and the butterflies that announce his presence.  He influences their lives (although he only exists to them) and through their writing, he is able to manipulate innocent people into killing.  You see, he has a bigger plan and they are just his tools.  Because in the end, everything must die to become one again.

My thoughts: This book was marketed as a mystery, but to me it wasn't one.  It was a thriller.  It was psychological.  It was uncomfortable at times.  The only "mystery" was who was the grandfather and what was his purpose, which we do learn at the end.  The writing is very well done and bravo to the author in pointing out how infrequently we end a sentence with "me" instead of "I".  But back to the plot.  The flashbacks are so well done and yet disturbing because they don't have happy endings.  You get to care about the people who "star" in the flashbacks (it is not the two men, but people in their lives) but you know it's going to end badly for them and you almost don't want to read it.  Like when you're watching a horror movie and you want to yell at the character not to open the door that the murderer is standing behind.

Over and over we are told that the men are almost identical, even though they don't look alike.  Well, I have to say that after reading the book, I still can't tell them apart.  Which one died?  They were too similar.  I just don't know.  But I guess that was the point.

If you're looking for something different, something a little creepy in a psychological way, check it out.  Again, it's written well and it definitely kept me turning the pages.  It just made me long for a nice Happily Ever After, but hey, you can't always have one.

Thanks for Curiosity Quills Press for giving me a copy of this for review.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A few of my favorite things. I mean books.

Hi everyone!  Sorry for being a touch incommunicado, but after having a two-week cold and trying to read all my books for review, beta reading and proofreads, I've been swamped.  Plus, the holidays always take up a lot of my time.  Just the nature of the beast.  Anyway, if you are awaiting a response to me regarding a review, etc etc, I am getting to it!  I swear.  But feel free to bug me if you're getting impatient.

Anyhow, on to today's reason for blogging.  I figured that I would, like so many have, put a list of my favorite Christmas themed books up!  So here we go.

Sus's Favorite Christmas Books

There's nothing I enjoy more than a good book to curl up with in front of the fire, especially where there's a nice HEA in it for me.  Therefore, most of my favorite Christmas books are romances, but quite a few are mysteries, too.

What Happens At Christmas What Happens at Christmas, by Victoria Alexander.  I already reviewed this book here, but it is a sweet little romance set during a traditional English Christmas turned not so traditional.

The Twelve Clues of Christm... The Twelve Clues of Christmas, by Rhys Bowen.  Reviewed here, it's a bit of romance, a lot of murders and some comical drunk scenes.  I really love Bowen's writing and this book was great fun for this time of year.

The Mischief of the Mistlet...The Mischief of the Mistletoe, by Lauren Willig.  I love a strong female character and a dashing male hero, but sometimes having a bumbling idiot for a protagonist is just awesome.  Poor (as in unwealthy) Arabella has taken a job at a school and inadvertantly stumbled upon French espionage.  With the help of handsome yet clueless and not-so-smart Turnip (yes, his name is in as smart as one), they save the day, have a Merry Christmas and fall in love.  It was hilarious and sexy.  Love it!

Silent in the Sanctuary (La...Silent In The Sanctuary, by Deanna Raybourn. Lady Julia goes back to her father's house for Christmass only to have one of the house guests murdered.  She must figure out which guest did it before they all leave, and she has the devilishly handsome and charming Nicholas Brisbane to help her.  Lots of intrigue and a touch of romance.

A Holiday of Love (Westmore...A Holiday Of Love, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Arnette Lamb, Jill Barrett.  I usually don't care for short stories, but this had two of my favorite romance authors in it, so I had to read it.  I fell in love with all the stories and I still read it every Christmastime - and I've had this book since high school!  I Particularly love Daniel And The Angel.  It made me a good way.

There we have it - my favorite Christmastime books.  I'll have to do a favorite movie list next. :)

Happy Holidays!  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #6)
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical Mystery
Rating: 5 stars

Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the throne, is stuck in Scotland with her horrible sister-in-law and her clueless brother.  Longing for an escape, she takes a job from an advertisement requesting a lady of good background to help host a traditional English Christmas in England.  Grabbing her maid and hopping on the train, she gets there only to find that someone has been found dead in the orchard.  Then, each subsequent day there is another death.  With the help of her Cockney grandfather and her mysterious beau, Darcy, Georgie is going to get to the bottom of is - and have a merry Christmas and happy New Year!

I love the Her Royal Spyness books.  This is the 6th in the series and it did not disappoint.  Georgie's always funny, if prim, and Darcy is just dreamy and luckily there is plenty of him in this book.  Other returning characters include her mom, grandfather, and maid Queenie, but missing from this adventure is her good friend Belinda, whom I'm beginning to miss.

Now, I am going to blame this on my cold, but it took me forever to pick up on the theme for the mystery here.  I am ashamed to say that I didn't get it until Georgie got it.  I wanted to smack my head and say "duh", but I also have to give Bowen credit because she did it in a way so as not to be too obvious.  At least to cold-medicine-dosed me.  Regardless, it had me stumped, and it took me quite a while to figure out whodunnit, so bravo to Bowen for that, too.

Finally, I'd like to say thank you to Bowen for the ending.  I've been dying for the Georgie/Darcy relationship to move along, and while I won't say what happened, if you're a shipper, you'll like it, too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

And You Are...? Blog Hop

What a fun blog hop!  Tammy Theriault and Emily posted about it weeks ago and it's been in the back of my head to do simply because the questions are hilarious!  So here goes!

1. How many speeding tickets have you gotten?
Um...5?  We have "speed cameras" in my county, so those darn things have caught me 3 times that I can recall and I've been pulled over for speeding twice.  Guess I need to slow down, huh?

2. Can you pitch a tent?
Maybe.  Possibly.  Last time I went camping was in 2002, and I honestly don't remember if I helped or not.  I'm sure I did.  What the heck - I'll go with YES.

3. What was your worst vacation ever?
I often take "staycations" because I get so much vacation time and my husband only gets 1/2 of what I have.  So my last "staycation" was right before my brother's wedding this past July.  I thought I'd take off, help them out a bit, hang out by the pool, relax.  Instead, my parents decided to redo their kitchen.  6 days before the wedding.  By themselves...or more to the point by using their children as labor.  So there I was, on my vacation, painting, cleaning, painting some more, cleaning some more and then finally cleaning the whole damn house.  I was not happy, but my parent's house and kitchen looked spectacular and my brother's wedding was wonderful.

4. What was the last thing you bought over $100?

I bought a bunch of makeup at Sephora recently.  It needed to be done.  Your face is forever and if you don't pamper it, it'll show!  So yeah.  Foundation, eye palette, moisturizer, serum, eye cream...the whole 9 yards. :)

5. We're handing you the keys to what?
A vacation property in Sarasota, Florida.  Which I will take and catch the first plane to.  OMG want!
6. What was the last meal cooked that made even you sick?
Chicken in "papillote".  Basically chicken in parchment paper with zucchini, carrots and onions.  It was over cooked and had zero flavor.  It literally made us gag.
7. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It is so big. She looks like _____?
Some rap guy's girlfriend.
8. What was your first car?
1982 Buick Le Sabre, nicknames: Big Blue Boat; Lurch.  It was approximately the length of a football field, leaked oil non-stop, had no heat, no air conditioning, and no tape deck. The radio tuner only went in one direction (down) so you had to use the presets to go up on the dial.  Also, the roof liner was coming down, so it was like a giant bubble over your heads.  And it wouldn't go into reverse unless you eased it in and you felt the whole car shift.  The blinker was hanging on by a wire, so I had to turn that gently lest it fall off.  It would frequently stall when pressing the gas after coming to a complete stop, so I was the cause of many people being late to things as my car stalled in the middle of the intersection.  God I miss that car.
9. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if he/she's okay or laugh first?
Since she/he is hurt, I ask if he/she is ok first.  If she/he wasn't hurt, I would laugh hysterically.
10. What's the worst song ever?
Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up and The Christmas Shoes.