Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Books: HALO: The Thursday War by Karen Traviss


Welcome to humanity’s new war: silent, high stakes, and unseen. This is a life-or-death mission for ONI’s black-ops team, Kilo-Five, which is tasked with preventing the ruthless Elites, once the military leaders of the Covenant, from regrouping and threatening humankind again. What began as a routine dirty-tricks operation―keeping the Elites busy with their own insurrection―turns into a desperate bid to extract one member of Kilo-Five from the seething heart of an alien civil war. But troubles never come singly for Kilo-Five. Colonial terrorism is once again surfacing on one of the worlds that survived the war against the Covenant, and the man behind it is much more than just a name to Spartan-010. Meanwhile, the treasure trove of Forerunner technology recovered from the shield world of Onyx is being put to work while a kidnapped Elite plots vengeance on the humans he fears will bring his people to the brink of destruction.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 076532394X
ISBN-13: 978-0765323941

PURCHASE AT AMAZON!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WSJ Wednesday - Interviews and Your Frame of Mind



As you know, I've been job hunting--unsuccessfully. Part of the problem is most people use online applications, which don't allow you to talk about your qualifications in any great detail. It also makes it unnecessary to visit the potential employer, so they don't see you. When I was a hiring manager, meeting a potential employee face-to-face when they came in to fill out an application allowed me to ascertain how passionate they were about working for our company. Now, like many other things, it's become an impersonal process.

In the Saturday/Sunday, February 16 - 17, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal, I came across the "Ask Ariely" column with Dan Ariely. A person was asking if the bad weather (rain) and/or a book he was reading that ran contrary to his political beliefs could have impacted his performance during a job interview.

Ariely's answer said the weather and the book may have impacted his mood, but if he had to lay odd bets the book had a larger impact. Ariely's suggestion: take a funny book to improve both mood and chances.

He could be right. Your body language could be saying much more about you than the discussion. What do you think? Will you perform better in an interview if you're in a good mood?


Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Finale Doesn't Sit Well With Viewers

Photo: Giles Keyte, Carnival Film & Television Ltd. for Masterpiece

Season 3 of Downton Abbey has had its ups and downs. And while I think overall this season, which recently ended with an explosive finale that left many declaring they had no plans to tune in for Season 4, was a good one, it ended very badly.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Unless you've been living under a rock or purposefully avoided it, you've heard the major news about the untimely death of Matthew Crawley in the final moments of the episode. 

Photo credit: PBS

Unhappy with the storylines his character Matthew has been strapped with over the past three seasons, especially his Season 2 miraculous recovery from a war injury that left him paralyzed, Dan Stevens opted not to renew his contract. This left creator and writer Julian Fellowes with a big issue. The entire premise of Downton Abbey has centered around the entail and how the sinking of the Titanic and the presumed death of the heir to Downton brought Matthew from his solicitor's job to the estate as the next in line to inherit. Lord Grantham, the father of three lovely daughters, but no sons, isn't thrilled with the idea of a country bumpkin like Matthew Crawley inheriting, but if he's going to inherit the estate, then a pairing between Crawley and the oldest daughter, Lady Mary is best. And though they faced many obstacles--the war, Matthew's engagement to Lavinia Swire, the Spanish Flu, fertility issues, and more--Matthew and Mary finally tied the knot at the beginning of Season 3.

Since happiness is so hard to dramatize, according to Fellowes, Matthew and Mary's marriage would be plagued by fights over his ideas to modernize the running of the estate, sticking Mary in the middle of the two men she loves (her husband and her father), Matthew's desire to have children and Mary's desire to wait, and the tragic loss of Lady Sybil after giving birth, which found Mary and Matthew supporting their brother-in-law Tom's desire to see his daughter christened as a Catholic, while Lord Grantham was determined to fight it. 

When the dust finally settles during a cricket match, Lord Gratham concedes to Matthew's ideas on how to make Downton self-sustaining and profitable, Tom is in as the estate's new agent, and it looks like Matthew and Mary will finally enjoy wedded bliss and concentrate on doing their duty to produce an heir. 

The season finale picks up a year after the cricket match, with the family visiting cousins in Scotland. It was nice to see them in a different environment, but knowing Matthew's death was coming--since Season 3 wrapped up in Britain on Christmas and angry fans started screaming about it more than a month before the season begin in the States--made it less enjoyable. 

One of the reasons people--myself included--are so up in arms about Matthew's death, is because it was handled so poorly. Lady Sybil's death, while tragic, was not only realistic, it served a higher purpose. Tom could never grow into the man he will become or prove himself to the family if Sybil was there to push her family into liking him. The rift that occurred between Robert and Cora over Sybil's condition, would not have happened. I partially agree that happy couples are boring--just look at Anna and Bates now--so we need a bit of tension in Robert and Cora's relationship to make their healing and reconciliation a part of their growing together as a couple. 

The reused plot of killing off a parent on the day/night of his/her child's birth has also already been done in the case of Lady Sybil a few episodes earlier. Fellowes took the easy way out. Matthew was so blissfully happy at the birth of his son, he's busy thinking of how wonderful life is, his eyes looking into the sky instead of on the one-lane road in front of him where a truck is coming the other way. Really? That's how he meets his end? He survives a war and gets killed because he's too happy? Even an agents' blog I follow is talking about this poorly written ending. 

I feel the fans' reactions to Matthew's death will put a lot of pressure on Fellowes to come back with a stellar Season 4. News in recent days has found that all the main characters will be returning. The new season will start six months after Matthew's death, so we won't be subjected to another funeral. Fellowes is calling this season the "rebuilding of Mary," and there is a casting call out for a new love interest (also not sitting well with some fans). I plan to tune in, but if Season 4 doesn't come out strong I don't know if I'll be sticking with it. It will definitely be interesting to see how many viewers tune in as opposed to how many did for the first episode of Season 3.

Monday, February 25, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday



After an exhausting weekend, it's good to rest up and look through the mail. It was a catalog and magazine week, not much more.

There were the usual culprits, Land's End and Oriental Trading. We just firmed up reservations for a trip to Disney in Florida around Memorial Day weekend, so I'll be needing to pick up a few things for the girls from Land's End--if I can find some good deals. Our vacation might also mean a trip to Justice. The Lil Diva (11) needs a new bathing suit. She went swimming at the YMCA this weekend and hers is a bit tight. It certainly won't fit her in a few months.

One new offering was Boston Proper. They have some beautiful clothes, most of them costing way more than I would spend on myself, but they had a few things I would consider since the prices were reasonable.

My latest issue of All You arrived last week, too. The Easter/spring cover is really making me sick and tired of all this snow. We're expecting another 4 to 8 inches this week. Ugh. All You is one of the magazines that I actually make the time to read because it offers advice and tips I use. The coupons and recipes are an added bonus.

That's it from my neck of the woods. Did you find anything interesting in your mailbox last week?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Buzzard Bay by Bob Ferguson


Murder, drugs trafficking, kidnapping and betrayal are the detonators that set Bob Ferguson’s explosive thriller BUZZARD BAY into motion.
The tale begins on a cold winter night in a remote area of Canada. Five assassins surround an old farm house. They have already made four kills and this one seems as routine as the others. But then a dog barks and the murderous plan is suddenly disrupted. In a breathless chase over the next two days, three of the assassins lie dead, including their leader.

Eventually, the only assassin to escape is a man named Henekie. He had vowed to kill the man they missed and knew someone who would be willing to pay him to do it. He heads back to Germany to find that contact.

The killers’ target is Bob Green, a Canadian farmer who needs some serious funding to keep his business operating in the black. A solution seemed to materialize when Bob joined the other assassination victims to work on a farm project in the Bahamas touted as “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Bob and his wife, July, had spent a blissful honeymoon in the Bahamas, so he is happy to return to his paradise with the promise of making money. But paradise turns deadly when his fellow workers discover that the project is just a front to keep an airstrip open to be used as part of a cocaine distribution route from the islands. Now, the Canadians are being eliminated one by one after being sent back home, and someone is holding July in the Bahamas. Bob must get back to the Bahamas to find her.

The suspense mounts as Bob sets out to rescue his wife and set things right. To do that, he must agree to a CIA plot to go underground and pose as a well-known drug dealer thought to be dead. His decision puts both July’s and his life at stake.

Bob Ferguson’s Buzzard Bay gives readers all the adventure and thrill they could ask for in this unputdownable read.

Read an excerpt at http://www.buzzardbaythriller.com/excerpt.html

Purchase at http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0107439050/default.aspx


Bob Ferguson grew up in a remote region of Canada without electricity or telephones. He spent evenings listening to an old battery-operated radio and dreaming of faraway places. Later in life he traveled extensively. His travels to the Bahamas form the basis for Buzzard Bay. The author and his wife currently live in Fiji, where Bob writes and his wife teaches. Their children and grandchildren live in Canada.


WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


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Guest Post and Giveaway: Frank Nappi, Author of Echoes of the Infantry


Echoes From The Infantry is the tale of one Long Island World War II veteran, the misery of combat, and the powerful emotional bonds that brought him home to Rockaway Beach and the love of his life, Madeline Brandt. It is about a father and son, and their ultimately redeeming struggle to understand each other's worlds - one a world at war, the other shaped by its veterans. Nappi moves artfully between the present and past, weaving a fictionalized tale of this Long Islander's struggle to reconcile with the demons from long ago and his family's neverending battle with many of the intangible burdens caused by the private life of a man they never really knew. He touches our hearts with a story of courage and perseverance...a story of men who faced the greatest challenge of their generation.

Read Chapter One at http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/304983-excerpt-from-echoes-from-the-infantry

Echoes From The Infantry was inspired by my fascination with the WWII period and a very special relationship forged between me and and two WWII veterans, Mr. Bill McGinn and Mr. Eddie Hynes, both of the 95th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Some years ago, as a way of enhancing my students' understanding of WWII and the haunting experiences that many soldiers had, I invited  Mr. McGinn and Mr. Hynes to my classroom to share their insights with my classes. It was and still is the most rewarding moment I have ever had as a teacher.

I watched and listened as these two men captivated a room full of 16-year-old students with their poignant reminiscences of their time in war-torn Europe, as well as the daunting specter of returning home, to family, friends and communities that just did not understand the unrelenting, insidious vitality of the war's residue. So many of our young men who fought valiantly in both Europe and Japan returned home damaged; true, they managed to elude the cold hand of death, and in many cases came back unscathed physically, yet they were damaged just the same; they remained mired in the cloud of combat for the rest of their lives. The atrocities they were forced to witness and engage in became indelible snapshots that infiltrated every facet of their lives. Everywhere they looked they saw the ruin, and the senseless violence. And when they closed their eyes, it was worse. There was no rest from the "echoes from the infantry." Many of these men who made up our nation's "greatest generation" found it very difficult to function in the conventional sense, although they tried. However, it was an impossible task for many, and their family lives, as well as their professional existences, suffered because of their previous lives on the battlefield.

Mr. McGinn and Mr. Hynes passed away after visiting my classroom for 10 consecutive years. It was a devastating loss for me that I still feel to this day. Both men became very dear friends of mine and shared things with me that they never thought they would ever tell anyone else. My most treasured possessions include countless letters from both men, and some videotape of their stirring presentations that influenced not only me but countless numbers of students.

As a tribute to both men, and to all of the WWII soldiers who suffered quietly from PTSD after the war, I wrote Echoes From The Infantry. The novel, which is an amalgam of both fact and fiction, is the tale of one Long Island World War II veteran, the misery of combat, and the powerful emotional bonds that brought him home to Rockaway Beach and the love of his life, Madeline Brandt. It is about a father and son, and their ultimately redeeming struggle to understand each other's worlds - one a world at war, the other shaped by its veterans. It is a fictionalized tale of this Long Islander's struggle to reconcile with the demons from long ago and his family's neverending battle with many of the intangible burdens caused by the private life of a man they never really knew. It is also a story of courage and perseverance...a story of men who faced the greatest challenge of their generation.




Price/Format: $3.99, ebook
Pages: 256
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release: October 13, 2005

Kindle buy link ($3.99):
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BTN8EW?tag=tributebooks-20


Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the just released thriller, Nobody Has to Know, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Frank is presently at work on a third installment of his Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. He lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.

Frank Nappi's Web Site:
http://www.franknappi.com/

Frank Nappi's Blog:
http://www.franknappi.com/blog.html

Frank Nappi's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/authorfranknappi

Frank Nappi's Twitter:
https://twitter.com/FrankNappi

Frank Nappi's YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/user/FrankNappibooks?feature=watch

Frank Nappi's Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/fnap33

Echoes from the Infantry Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1214973.Echoes_from_the_Infantry

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

Echoes from the Infantry blog tour site:
http://echoesfromtheinfantry.blogspot.com/


Enter to win an electronic copy of Echoes from the Infantry. Use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Books: Fun Day Fairies #4: Thea the Thursday Fairy by Daisy Meadows




The Fun Day Fairies are each responsible for adding spunk and sparkle to one day of the week! But when their magic disappears, they need Rachel and Kirsty's help.

No fun in Fairyland?

The Fun Day Fairies are each responsible for adding spunk and sparkle to one day of the week! But when Jack Frost steals their magic, they need Rachel and Kirsty's help. Without the fairies' special flags, every day of the week will be gloomy and glum.
The goblins will do whatever it takes to find Thea the Thursday Fairy's flag first -- even swim with sharks! How can Rachel and Kirsty stop them?

Find the magic flag in each book, and help fill every day of the week with fun!

File Size: 1115 KB
Print Length: 84 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0545067596
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (January 1, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00B01Q1Q0

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WSJ Wednesday - A Library with No Books



Sometimes an article catches your eye solely because of the title. Such was the case when I was skimming the February 7, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal and found Miguel Bustillo's article, "Library That Holds No Books."

Bexar County in Texas is set to open one of the nation's first entirely digital public libraries. According to Bustillo, skeptical librarians are keeping an eye on this one. They warn digital versions of many popular titles aren't available to libraries and they can often be more expensive than printed versions.

The move is an effort to help residents where libraries are scarce. The office will have about 10,000 titles and 150 e-readers for patrons to borrow, 50 of which are designed for children. Though there will be staff to help with technical questions, this office will have no research assistants. County officials believe this type of library will be more cost effective than traditional libraries.

The article goes on to discuss how publishers interact with libraries and the reason a move to totally digital has been slow to catch on.

As a book lover, I just about cried when I read this. It was bad enough when I walked into the library at our town's middle school and found it over half empty. The thought of these 100% digital libraries replacing traditional libraries is enough to make me sick. While my husband believes the day of the traditional public library is long gone, I can't tell you how much I depend upon our local children's librarian and the reference librarian for my writing. The Internet doesn't replace everything. And while I'm all for having libraries offering e-books, the thought of walking into a library and not being able to browse the bookshelves isn't appealing.

What do you think of this idea? Is it the wave of the future?

Book Review and Giveaway: Showstoppers by Helen Smith

Emily Castles returns in a new mystery, Showstoppers.

Life gets tougher for Emily in this second book of the series. Having already lost her beloved pet in the first book, she has now lost her job. After her neighbor Victoria confides in her that she has been receiving threatening letters, Emily decides to help her out at her stage school. When the school's landlord is found dead, Emily and her eccentric philosophy professor neighbor, Dr. Muriel, team up to solve the crime.

In the second installment of the Emily Castles series, author Helen Smith continues exploring a cast of quirky characters in present-day London. We meet Victoria and her husband Piers. Victoria runs a local stage school and is in the middle of planning the end of the year show. She's distracted by a series of poison pen letters she's been receiving. She confides in Emily that she wonders if her ex-boyfriend might be responsible, since he has suddenly reappeared in her life, expressing an interest in having his daughter attend the school.

Like in the first book, Smith's strength resides in her quirky characters. She truly knows how to create memorable characters, which is a big plus for this series. The introduction of Morgana and her relationship with Dr. Muriel was fun to explore.

While I felt Showstoppers was a stronger book than the first, the plot still had a few issues. Now, I'm guessing the short length of these stories may be part of the reason, but in Showstoppers I wasn't convinced the motive was strong enough. If we had time to uncover the culprit's history more deeply, it may have been clearer why he/she acted in that manner. In addition, Victoria hires Emily to help her at the school and quickly puts her to work. Why did Victoria put so much trust in Emily? They were neighbors, not best friends.  I also didn't feel the running joke about the video Victoria made when she was in film school added much. I'm guessing it's supposed to be funny everyone thinks it's "that kind of video," and someone's misinterpretation of what the video contains plays an important role at one point, but it felt overdone.

All that said, I truly love the characters Smith has created, so I'm eager to see what happens when a full-length Emily Castles novel comes out. If issues are smoothed out by more time to develop the storyline, then Smith will have a winning series.


File Size: 182 KB
Print Length: 48 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Tyger Books (December 5, 2011)
ASIN: B006ITK0AW

Tour Giveaway

10 winners will each receive a Kindle Ebook copy of Showstoppers & Three Sisters Ends 2/28/13

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I received a free Kindle version of this book from the author through her publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - February 19th


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Bear set three bottles of beer in front of him, popped the top off one, and gulped down more than he should have in polite company. "Okay, Boss, what's the scoop?"

~ page 75, The Tartan Shroud (A Pinky and Bear Mystery) by Ken Dalton

Monday, February 18, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday



I certainly wish the grass around my mailbox was as green as in this picture. Alas, though last week was mild, we still have plenty of snow to keep us company. The kids had a two-hour delay on Monday thanks to some sleet and freezing rain, but some communities couldn't hold school until Tuesday. At least the kids had fun playing in all that snow.

Today kicks off winter vacation, so it will be crazy around here. I figured I better get my blog post done early or it might not happen at all. Vacation did not stop the Lil Diva's (11) teachers from giving her a boatload of homework. I think they missed the definition of the word "vacation." I'm all for letting kids enjoy their time out of the classroom.

So, back to my mailbox. It was definitely a book week. I treated myself to some used books from Amazon a couple of weeks ago. They finally arrived: The Gift of Family by Linda Ford and Karen Kirst, Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach, and The Mommy Diaries: How I'm Surviving Parenting without Killing Anyone by Dallas Louis.

I won a copy of The Tartan Shroud by Ken Dalton during a blog giveaway. A copy of Iced Chiffon autographed by author Duffy Brown came in, and my review copy of Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach arrived, which I'll be reviewing in March at The Book Connection.

The products I ordered from Zulily arrived, too. They have great deals. I bought a sundress for North Carolina. A new trash can for Dad's office. And the whole reason for my excursion to their website: a Chroma Dry-Erase 4-Piece Calendar Wall Decal Set, which I bought for the Lil Diva and Lil Princess (9) to play school with. These are peel and stick calendars that can be removed and used again. It came as a pack of four, so the girls and their friend that plays school with them each got one and I have one for my office. I also ordered a black belt to go with my bargain dress ($1.91) that I bought recently. I was disappointed that the belt had a little blemish, but I'll get over it. It's not overly noticeable and I got it at a steal.

Dad had ordered the second season of Simon and Simon. That came in at the end of the week. He and the girls watch a TV show before bedtime each night. We've run through all the seasons of Walker, Texas Ranger, and have been moving quickly through the seasons of Magnum P.I., so we figured Simon and Simon would give us something else to watch. I'm hoping to convince the girls they would like Murder, She Wrote. I watch it on Netflix.

The only other item of mention this week was a catalog from Grandin Road. Haven't seen this one before. Loved their Leather Julien Stools featured on the back cover, but so would my cats. As much as I love those furry little beasts, they are tough on the furniture. If they clawed a leather stool, I would have to get cranky. What I like about this catalog is that the decor is elegant and the prices affordable. I'll have to look at it more this week.

That's it from my neck of the woods. Hope you enjoy President's Day.

Book Spotlight: I Left My Prostate in San Francisco by Rick and Brenda Redner




Rick and Brenda’s lives were changed forever when Rick went to the doctor to get a prescription refill. The doctor unexpectedly decided to perform a prostate exam. When he did, he felt a suspicious lump. Weeks later, a biopsy confirmed that Rick had prostate cancer. As a couple, they found their lives changed in unexpected ways following robotic surgery. They decided to share an intimate glimpse into their lives after surgery so other couples would be more prepared than they were. If you are thinking about surgery, or if you just had surgery, you will want to read about their experiences and the life lessons they learned along the way.

• Things you need to know before and after prostate surgery.
• How surgery will permanently change your sexuality.
• How a simple mistake could cost you thousands of dollars in out –of- pocket medical expenses.
• Tips on breaking the news to friends and family and what to expect when you do.
• How erectile dysfunction and losing urinary control will affect you and your partner.
• Why you could experience a severe depression after receiving the news you’ve been cured of cancer.
• How faith and prayer impacts the disruptive moments in life.
• What attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors will lift your spirit and repair broken relationships.

Rick and Brenda know how important it is to hear from other people further along the journey of adjusting to life without a prostate. They want to end the isolation couples experience before or after prostate surgery. To accomplish their goal, they host a website at: whereisyourprostate.com where there is a pre-surgery and post -surgery forum. On these forums men and women can connect with Rick and Brenda as well as with others who join these forums to share information and provide on going support. Rick blogs at: http://whereisyourprostate.blogspot.com/. His on-line diary at: http://www.mdjunction.com/diary/journey-from-diagnosis-treatment-recovery has received more than 26000 hits.

Purchase from:






After receiving his master’s in social work from Michigan State University, Rick Redner spent two years as a medical social worker. From there, he decided to become an entrepreneur, owning and operating two sandwich shops for the past 30 years.

Also a Michigan State University graduate, Brenda Redner obtained her RN/BSN and became an oncology nurse, psychiatric nurse and teacher. She went on to teach their four children at home.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thanks Goodness Some Smiles for Residents of Downton Abbey

photo credit: pbs.org


Well thank goodness, some sun on the horizon for the residents of Downton Abbey, at least some of them anyway. If you haven't seen last Sunday's episode, you might want to stop reading now.

SPOILERS AHEAD

After the tragedy of Lady Sybil's death, the fights between Robert and Matthew over the future of the estate, and the tension over Baby Sybil being christened Catholic, everyone needed some cheering up.

Bates makes a quiet return to the estate, which is great news to everyone except Thomas Barrow, who will now be forced to step down as Head Valet. As we soon see, however, Bates's return is the least of Thomas's worries. After weeks of being fed lines from O'Brien that Jimmy appreciates Thomas's overtures, Mr. Barrow decides to act. He slips into Jimmy's room and attempts to kiss him while he's sleeping. Not only does Jimmy awaken, he's horrified. To make it worse, Alfred witnesses the whole thing.

As Thomas tries to explain to Mr. Carson, men like him have to try and read the signs, and he felt Jimmy was giving him those signs. While disgusted by the whole thing, Mr. Carson agrees to let Thomas go quietly with a good recommendation. Jimmy will have none of that. If Mr. Carson doesn't get rid of Thomas and provide him no reference, he'll go to the police.

Surprisingly, it's Thomas's nemesis Bates who comes to his rescue and gets O'Brien to call off the dogs; though ultimately it will take Lord Grantham's influence to squash the potential scandal.

I have to admit to not liking Bates much in this episode. Lord Grantham offers he and Anna a cottage, but when they get a peek at it, Bates does not show any gratitude. He only complains about its condition. Though it seems like Bates is almost letting bygones be bygones when he helps out Thomas, he's actually trying to get him a reference so he'll move on. His goodness is a bit clouded by these actions, and I can't help but wonder if prison has changed him more than we realize.

The arrival of cousin Rose brings with it a breath of fresh air. But this flapper is destined to bring shame on the family. This storyline bugged me, too. Having a flapper can add an interesting element to DA, but I don't know why they paired Rose with a married man. Though, this did give Matthew Crawley one of the best lines of the episode, "‘Married men who wish to seduce young women always have horrid wives."

I was glad to see Rose sent away, but I've heard rumors she'll be back next season. Part of me can't help but feel she is partially a replacement for Lady Sybil. The main difference is that Lady Sybil never stopped being a lady, despite her forward-thinking ways.

This also brings me to the disappointing storyline for Lady Edith. Someone finally recognizes her talents and he happens to be a married men who flirts with her, justifying it by telling her about his wife who is in an asylum and no longer knows him. I know World War I wiped out a lot of the men Edith's age, but can't they find one who isn't attached for her to fall in love with?

And though there is much more that takes place in this two-hour episode, I will only comment on two other things:  Mary and Matthew, and Matthew, Robert, and Tom.

Mary and Matthew have done their share of sparring lately. Matthew sees his plan as the future for Downton Abbey and Lord Grantham wants nothing to do with it. Mary's loyalties are torn between the man she loves and the father she adores. To complicate matters, Matthew and Mary have been trying to have a child without any results. Matthew is worried his war injury caused the problem. Mary isn't sure what it is, but she goes to the doctor without telling Matthew and discovers the problem is her. She secretly has surgery performed, but that means no physical relations with her hubby until she sees the doctor again. When they accidentally run into each other at the doctor in London, Mary spills the beans over lunch. Her aristocratic upbringing doesn't allow her to share the details with Matthew, but he's just relieved that she's still interested in him. And when she tells him she's in his corner with the plans for Downton, things couldn't be any better for the two lovebirds.

Throughout the episode, Robert is fighting Matthew's ideas for the future of Downton, but he has Tom in his corner. They all meet with the estate's manager, Jarvis, who ends up resigning in a huff. I liked how Cora stuck up for Robert when Matthew said the last time he took an interest he ruined the family. At breakfast one morning, Tom has a pointed conversation with Robert, telling him for Downton to survive they must pool their resources and work as a team. Impressed with how Tom expresses himself and Matthew's ideas, Robert agrees to give it a go. At the end of the cricket match against the villagers, Robert, Matthew, and Tom share a manly group hug, painting a happy picture for Lord Grantham and his sons-in-law.

Tomorrow night is the Christmas special. I already know some of what is going to happen, so this happiness seems like it will be short-lived. I can't imagine going almost another year before Season 4 airs. I might have to break down and buy Seasons 1 - 3 on DVD, so I can get my Downton fix. I also have some Downton Abbey fanfiction ideas brewing. This is a wonderful period drama. And I highly recommend it.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Three Sisters by Helen Smith

A short cozy mystery awaits you in Three Sisters by Helen Smith, the first of her Emily Castles mysteries.

In present-day London, Emily Castles lives alone among a diverse group of neighbors, which includes eccentric philosophy professor Dr. Muriel Crowther. Emily usually keeps to herself and has recently lost her beloved pet. Hoping to raise her spirits a bit, she manages to accept an invitation to a party at the big house down the street.

This gala features fabulous entertainment, including a knife-throwing show by a set of sisters. It appears one of the sisters is killed during the show, but when she appears very much alive flaunting a prop rubber knife, the crowd believes it was part of the entertainment. Emily isn't convinced, however, and now she needs to find out what truly happened and get people to realize they just witnessed a murder.

The first book of a series is so crucial. It sets the stage for the books that will come after it. Smith has in under 50 pages created an interesting and unique mystery set in present-day London. She fills this story with a cast of engaging characters that captivate the reader. Her strength resides in her ability to create quirky characters like Emily and Dr. Muriel, but also the DJ, the knife-throwing sisters, and a small group of potential suspects. They were all unique and fun to get to know.

I felt, however, that the mystery plot was a bit too easy. Early on I had figured out what happened, and though I didn't know every detail, the majority of the pages were merely seeing how it all came together. I wanted a few more twists and turns; a few more pieces to fit into the puzzle. That's probably challenging to do in such a short book, but I needed it to make it a perfect reading experience.

Three Sisters is a good pick for cozy mystery lovers and those who like quirky characters. I'll be reviewing the next book in this series, Showstoppers, later in the month. Hope you'll stop by on the 20th to read my thoughts.



File Size: 142 KB
Print Length: 44 pages
Publisher: Tyger Books (February 5, 2011)
ASIN: B004M5HK0M

Tour Giveaway

10 winners will each receive a Kindle Ebook copy of Showstoppers & Three Sisters Ends 2/28/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received a free Kindle version of this book from the author through her publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Tim Forbes, Author of It's Game Time Somewhere


Tim Forbes was like many Americans: painfully unsatisfied in his corporate job but making too much money to walk away. But then, one momentous day, he and his wife struck the Deal, leading to a career in the one field he loved more than anything: sports.

Years later, having carved out his place in the sports business, he was surprised when a friend asked, "Do you still love sports?"...And stunned when he didn't know how to reply. Of course he still loved sports! Didn't he? Was it possible that walking away from a perk-filled Corporate American life had all been for nothing?

His year-long quest to find that answer started with a single game. But what he discovered there soon led to an unlikely coast-to-coast “sports walkabout” involving 100 more games and 50 different sports—from major-market events to the smallest of the small. Poignant, irreverent, and ultimately inspiring, It’s Game Time Somewhere chronicles one man’s search for the love of the game.

Getting Back to My Sports-loving Roots
by Tim Forbes

Cards on the table – yours truly is not quite right.

How else could you explain the fact that I spent a year of my life attending and writing about 100 uniquely different sporting events involving 50 separate sports? But that’s what I did, and literally thousands of readers helped me keep score. And when it was done, we all knew more about sports in America than it was thought to be humanly possible. Or at least I did, anyway.

“But why?” you ask. Well here’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

As Bill Cosby once said, I started out as a child. A child inexorably drawn to sports – the organized kind and especially the disorganized kind favored by my circle of friends. Consequently I grew up chasing a ball. It didn’t matter what size or shape, I chased them all. I was fortunate enough to have come of age in a time when kids themselves scheduled their own games and “officiated” them via the kid’s code of sports ethics – an arcane collection of arguments, declarations, and insults that inevitably led to the Do Over. Or somebody taking their ball and going home.

On those occasions when a quorum wasn’t available for even the most streamlined of games, I played them solo. Some might call it “practicing,” but I knew it as “having fun.” And as is the case with many things one repeats endlessly, I managed to develop some level of skill. So it came to be that I went to college on a basketball scholarship.

Annoyingly enough, they don’t let you just major in Basketball – well, not in 1977 anyway, and not in any conference that, like mine, did not start with the word “Big.” So I chose to pursue a degree in Psychology. Don’t ask me why. And when my undergraduate days ended, I decided to obtain an MBA, because, well…because.

The ironic thing was that neither Psychology nor Business Administration would have even been in the race had Sports Management been an academic option. Ubiquitous now, at the time that I entered college there was no such degree program. And so, a career match made in heaven went by the boards…for the time being, anyway.

In my mid-30s, having acquired over a decade of experience in Corporate America, I became vaguely aware of the fact that people were getting paid to work in sports! Having thus discovered the existence of what was rightfully MY chosen field of work, I spent the next several years alternating between a state of agitation over having been born a decade too early, and thoughtful rumination on how I could still pull off a second half rally and transition to my natural calling.

At the age of 40, the confluence of a certain set of circumstances, not the least of which is the most understanding wife in the cosmos, enabled me to take the plunge. I enrolled in an accredited four semester program that rewarded me upon completion with an Associate’s Degree in Professional Golf Management. I was on my way – a little late out of the gate, but with a full head of steam and ready to use my transferrable skills to claw my way to the top of the sports business.

Nearly a decade later, having come to know quite well the good, the bad and the ugly about pursuing a second career within the sports industry, I was innocently confronted one day with the following question: ”After working in the industry for ten years, do you still love sports?”

Hmmmm…great question. One I honestly didn’t have an answer for. As you can imagine though, it became critically important for me to find one. And thus began germinating the idea of a “sports walkabout” – an effort to reconnect with my ball-chasing, sports-loving roots.

I went to a game. And then another. And another. Big games, little games. Tournaments, matches, meets and bouts. Men’s games, women’s games. Professional. Amateur. High School. College. Games that I was intimately familiar with. Games that I didn’t have the faintest idea as to their rules.

To those that virtually accompanied me I offered to share everything that I found – both positive and…not so positive. I promised to keep it light-hearted, and they in turn agreed to laugh, learn and share the link with others. This blog, this portrait of Americans at play, became a love letter to sports, warts and all. My friends at Google Analytics tell me that it has been read by thousands of people all over the world.

I hope it brings a smile of pleasure and recognition to your face as well. Because it’s always game time somewhere.

To read more of my stories, please visit:
http://itsgametimesomewhere.com/the-igts-tour/the-stories/



Format/Price: $15.95 paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781938008122
Publisher: Bascom Hill
Release: February 12, 2013

Barnes and Noble buy link ($15.95):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/its-game-time-somewhere-tim-forbes/1113793386?ean=9781938008122

MyBookOrders.com buy link ($15.95):
https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/945




Alternately blessed and cursed by the notion that everyone should do what they love for a living, Tim Forbes creates and writes about the games that people play.

Tim grew up in the farmlands of northern Connecticut, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College—where he played Division III basketball in front of literally tens of people. He received an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an Associate’s Degree at the Professional Golfers Career College in Temecula, CA. Yes, in that order.

After 15 years spent meandering about in Corporate America, Tim went on to work for three professional golf tours: the Symetra Futures Tour, the LPGA Tour, and the PGA Tour. He also served as general manager for golf clubs in Nashville, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida. In 2009, he founded Outside the Mode, a sports marketing and production company based in his adopted home of Los Angeles.

Tim lives in Redondo Beach, California with a perennially underachieving fish named Halo, a cat, and a wife he fondly calls Bird.



Tim Forbes's web site:
http://itsgametimesomewhere.com/

Tim Forbes's blog:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/itsgametimesomewhere/smXM

Tim Forbes's Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/sports_quest

Tim Forbes's Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsgametimesomewhere

Tim Forbes's YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/itsgametimesomewhere

Tim Forbes's Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6584252.Tim_Forbes

It's Game Time Somewhere Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16161464-it-s-game-time-somewhere

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

It's Game Time Somewhere blog tour site:
http://itsgametimesomewhere.blogspot.com/


As part of Free for All Friday, you can enter for your chance to win a free electronic copy of It's Game Time Somewhere. Please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!




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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cover Reveal: Fading Echoes by Jaime McDougall


In a town full of werewolves and legends, Charlotte Peterson is unique. As the first ‘pure-bred’ werewolf in Echo Falls, she struggles to fit in even amongst her pack.

When Dr. Adam Baker arrives in town, Charlotte is forced to balance their growing friendship with her need to keep the pack’s secrets – and her own. But she is not the only one keeping secrets and Adam’s past could threaten them all.

That is not the only danger. Compass, the genetic research company intent on isolating the ‘werewolf gene’, will do whatever it takes to gain the final advantage over all werewolves. Compass CEO Calvin Stephens has a very special plan in mind for Charlotte…

Time is running out for Charlotte and the pack as Calvin’s plans near completion. In a town where secrecy is the key to survival, can Charlotte trust Adam to help her? Or has she revealed the deadliest secret of them all?

Coming soon!




Jaime McDougall is a citizen of the world, currently loving life in beautiful country Victoriain Australia. She loves eating sushi, kidnapping her husband and naming her pets in honour of science fiction authors.

She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: High School: The Real Deal and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles. So You Want to Write a Guest Post: An Author’s Guide to Promoting with Guest Blogging is her most recent non-fiction ebook. She has also enjoyed writing a column called ‘The New Australian’ in local newspapers as well as various articles online.

Echo Falls is her first paranormal romance novel. The sequel, Fading Echoes, is coming soon.

You can visit her website at InkyBlots.com.

Thursday Books: Creative Thursday by Marisa Anne Cummings



Whether you're just beginning to trust your artistic voice or you've been refining it for years, Marisa Anne is the loving guide and caring mentor you need to help you commit to moving through resistance, stepping outside of your comfort zone and making creativity a regular part of your life.

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: North Light Books (December 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440320993
ISBN-13: 978-1440320996

Purchase at Amazon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WSJ Wednesday: Downton Abbey and Class Warfare


The Wall Street Journal has become the only paper I read. Why? Because like the geek that I am, I enjoy politics, business news, book reviews, and the chance to look at some mansions every once in a while--which they feature in their own special section.

In the Saturday/Sunday, February 2 - 3, 2013 edition of the Journal, I found an article that capitalized on my love of politics and my favorite current television show, Downton Abbey. Raymond Zhong, an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe, sat down with Julian Fellowes, the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, to discuss its appeal, but also some of the criticism it garners. Fellowes says he doesn't understand the accusation of snobbery, because he feels it's the opposite of that partially because all of the characters are taken seriously:  upstairs and downstairs. In addition, his mother came from an upper-middle-class family, but his paternal aunts always looked down on her because of she was descended from traders and farmers. One can assume this would impact his work.

Now that I've gone the scenic route in finding a focus for my article, I found a few things that Fellowes said about Americans thought-provoking. "...I think politicians try to encourage us to think in a hostile sense [of] people who have a different circumstance to our own. Which I find very unproductive and uncreative."

The man doesn't even live here, but he knows us so well. Actually, I think he was more referring to life across the pond, but it definitely applies to America, too. All political parties use class as a source of division. Instead of helping Americans to find their common ground, they seek to divide us to further their own agendas.

But then Fellowes says something that makes me shake my head. "...the impression I get is that there is not the kind of obligation to dislike those who are better off or be frightened of those who are worse off...The Americans, I think, are better at seeing themselves as a kind of community--that the important thing is to be an American."

Well, we might be better at it than the people of Great Britain, but if anything, the Tea Party movement, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and union versus non-union scuffles are just some ways in which we are made to feel some type of obligation to dislike those who are different than you. I'm fairly certain most people have heard about the 1% versus the 99%. If that isn't divisive, I don't know what is.

But I think my favorite comment by Fellowes is about history and our pasts. "..you'd go into the attics of some of these houses and there would be lines of bedrooms, and in some cases, there'd be nameplates, and it would say 'Mary' on it, and inside was an old iron bedstead. And you had a real sense, then, of a life that you just missed..."

As a lover of history and a believer in preservation, I am fascinated by this concept of "a life that you just missed." We all come into this world with hopes and dreams. We aspire to leave our mark on the world in even the tiniest of ways. And those that come after us, preserve whatever legacy we leave behind. I think that's all been lost in a world that focuses more on what divides us--the haves and the have-nots as it is often said--because we aren't taught to cherish what we have anymore. We're taught to always want more. That's a concern for a mother of two young children:  how to steer our daughters' focus from never being satisfied to feeling blessed. It's a regular battle, because I grew up with next to nothing. Even with the challenges our family deals with living primarily on one income, I'm grateful because I already have been blessed with more than I had as a kid, and because I don't take things for granted. I'm not unhappy because Bill Gates and Donald Trump or even Cam Neely have more than I do.

What a better world this might be if could find a way to focus on common goals rather than be torn apart by our differences. How would that change the political arena? Could you imagine a world where Democrats aren't labeled as bleeding-hearts and Republicans aren't accused of only caring about the wealthy? Could they then be more productive in improving our economy and in building a better world for future generations?   I fear what I hope for is an impossible to reach utopia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Moses Quilt Giveaway Winner!



Congratulations to Dorothy T. for winning a copy of The Moses Quilt by Kathi Macias. This is the first book in Kathi's new Quilt series that blends historical figures with a contemporary storyline.

Thanks to all who participated. Look for a new giveaway coming soon!

Wilton Petite Silicone 12 Cavity Heart Pan Giveaway Winner!



Congratulations goes out to Patty W. for winning the Wilton Petite Silicone 12 Cavity Heart Pan. Thanks to all who participated. Look for more giveaways coming soon.

Looking for Bloggers: Thy Kingdom Come Book Blast!

Pump Up Your Book is recruiting bloggers to participate in Lakesha Monique Ruises’s Thy Kingdom Come Book Blast! This event will take place March 8 – April 8, 2013. Lakesha will be giving away a $25 VISA Gift Certificate. All bloggers who sign up are eligible to win!

There will be no interviews, guest posts or reviews with this Book Blast. Just book spotlights in which we will send everything to you ahead of time for you to copy and paste into your blog on the selected day.

When requesting a spot on his tour, please let us know which date would work for you. Thank you!

About Thy Kingdom Come:

After petitioning the Father for answers to basic theological questions about the universal church, she took an eight-year journey with the Holy Spirit to provide clarity for herself about His vision.

Thy Kingdom Come provides readers with that clarity.

For anyone wondering what has happened to the Church, for anyone whose faith in God has been diminished, for anyone whose life has been destroyed by the yolks of bondage, Ruise offers new answers. She encourages her readers to follow along in the Bible itself to see how each of her lessons is validated by the Word of God.

“We perish because we don’t know how to survive,” writes Ruise. Thy Kingdom Come offers not only an apt diagnosis of the problem, but equips readers with the cure, as well. It is an excellent source book for Biblical history and spiritual revelation and it prompts valuable internalizing and soul-searching for veteran Christians as well as for new converts.

About Lakesha Monique Ruise:

Lady Ruise is a native of Thomasville Georgia. She is the First Lady of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Macclenny Florida. She medically retired from the U S Navy in 2007. Since her retirement, she obtained a degree in respiratory therapy and works as a Registered Respiratory Care Practitioner. She has a strong Christian background. She dedicated her life to the Lord at the age of 9 and became a minister at the age of 14. She has been licensed through the Holiness Church and the Baptist church as a minister for the past 24 years. She has been mentored by countless Pastors and Elders in the COGIC, Holiness Church, and the Baptist Church. She currently labors in ministry with her husband Pastor Joe Nathan Ruise as a praise team leader. She is also the president and founder of the Baker County Circle of Sisters in Macclenny, Fl. Lakesha Ruise is a prayer-warrior and intercessor, who is holy-ghost filled with an assignment from Jesus Christ to build his church!

Website Address: www.theerrorproofchurch.com

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/ThyCome

Facebook Address: http://www.facebook.com/#!/lakesha.ruise.5


If interested in participating in this book blast, email Cheryl at ccmal(at)charter(dot)net with the following information:

Name:
Name of Blog:
Blog Link:
Twitter or Facebook Link for Rafflecopter:
What day would you like to host?


Thank you for participating!

Teaser Tuesdays - February 12th



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Did you know that things are still being discovered in our solar system? Well, when I say "discovered," I'm not talking yesterday, but I do mean recently, some even in my lifetime, and contrary to what my children think...it wasn't all that long ago.

~ page 59, The Mommy Diaries: How I'm Surviving Parenting without Killing Anyone by Dallas Louis

Five Sweet Historical Romances Giveaway at A Family Friendly Blog



Blog: A Family Friendly Blog

Prize: A chance to win one of five sweet historical romances by Linda Weaver Clarke (electronic formats)

U.S. or International: International

Dates: Feb 8th - 14th

Link: http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/2013/02/five-historical-sweet-romances.html

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Unspeakable by Tessa Stockton Book Blast and Giveaway


Who said forgiveness was easy?

When a furtive conflict is pitted between violent leftist guerrillas and a rightwing paramilitary group in Colombia, a North American woman mistakenly gets caught in the middle.

“I spent four months, one week and two days in a clandestine prison referred to as The Water Cave. Every day I stared hell in the face, and each day I wanted to die. I don’t want to share too much too quickly. To understand fully, you must join hands with me, fasten your heart to mine, and course through my book. Stumble over the incomprehensible human rights journey with me. I’ve pondered it to the brink of questionable sanity, and it is the only way. It’s the only way to explain. I suppose I should consider myself lucky I survived at all—for many did not—yet, perplexingly so, that’s not the premise of this narrative.

He altered my life, marked me forever.

But it’s not how you might imagine.

This is a story involving Horacio Botello, my torturer known as Puma.”


Purchase your copy:




A veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, Tessa Stockton also contributed as a writer/editor for ministry publications, ghostwriter for political content, and headed a column on the topic of forgiveness. Today she writes novels in a variety of genres, often laced with romance and intrigue. In addition to her Christian suspense/thriller, THE UNSPEAKABLE, she’s the author of the political intrigue/romance, THE UNFORGIVABLE, a fable, LOVE AND LULL, and the upcoming inspirational fantasy romance, WIND’S ARIA, with more in the works.


Visit the Author:


~ ~ ~ $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD + 2 BOOK GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~

Pump Up Your Book and Tessa Stockton are teaming up to give you a chance to win some fabulous prizes!




a Rafflecopter giveaway


If the Rafflecopter form doesn't work, you can visit Tessa's virtual book tour page at:

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2013/01/03/pump-up-your-book-presents-the-unspeakable-book-blast-win-25-amazon-gc-free-books/


You've Got Mail Monday



Our mail week was cut short by a major snow storm last week. I guess it's good for us to get used to not having mail on Saturdays after the announcement that the United States Post Office will cease Saturday delivery in August. Here's the view out my back door on Saturday morning.



This one is after we cleared the sidewalk:


Unfortunately, the snow blower died before we finished and we weren't plowed out until this afternoon. The governor had placed a traffic ban on all non-essential road traffic from 4 PM Friday until 4 PM Saturday, and some streets still haven't been plowed. People are getting aggravated. Some in Eastern Mass lost power, but around here the lights stayed on.

Okay, long rambling message over. My mailbox was fairly boring this week except a couple items to mention.

I received an ARC of Princess April Morning-Glory by Letitia Fairbanks. Fairbanks was the niece of silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. She passed away in 1992, and this book has emerged as a "lost treasure from the golden age of Hollywood." I'll be reviewing it on February 28th at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection.

Also in the mail came a package from The Children's Place, which I will state for the record I refuse to order from ever again. I purchased a Floral Embellished Denim Skort with Sash for the Lil Diva (11). This purchase was made online with gift cards I had from Christmas. I also ordered a few other items for both girls. When the skort arrived, I thought it odd I had ordered something without a belt or sash because the denim skirt I ordered for the Lil Princess (9) had a lace sash.

Turns out, I didn't. The original photo (there's a new one posted now) on their website showed a pink sequin  sash on the skort. I tried contacting The Children's Place via email, but it kept kicking it out saying their security settings were picking up something that wouldn't let it go through, so I was forced to call them. The Customer Service Representative (CSR) was not originally helpful. She tried to encourage me to visit a store to handle my replacement. I ordered it online because it was more convenient. Why would I want to drive to the nearest store to fix their error? So, she processes the replacement order and tells me she will mail me out a return label to send back the original product.

When I received the new skort last week, it also didn't have a pink sequin sash. I'm also still waiting on the return label. I just tried writing a review of this product online, which also allows you a place to state if you would recommend The Children's Place to a friend and why, but that also would not go through. I've been writing reviews on websites for years. I'm fairly certain the problem isn't me. I'm so unimpressed by my experience that even if they had a spectacular sale I wouldn't buy from them. It's not worth the effort.

Not sure what the mail carrier will be bringing this week, but hopefully it includes some books I ordered. Hope you have a great week.




Saturday, February 9, 2013

Trouble Brewing Upstairs and Downstairs at Downton Abbey


SPOILERS AHEAD. STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN SEASON 3, EPISODE 5.

As the last of the mourners leave Downton Abbey, a somber Lord Grantham and Carson seemed dwarfed by a house filled with tragedy. As I said in my last post about DA, dark days are ahead. Perhaps the only tiny glimmer of light is that it looks like Bates will soon be returning home. Thank God, because I don't think I can stand any more of those dreadful prison scenes.

In preparation for tomorrow night's episode, a brief review of last week's episode is in order. Lord Grantham is destined to continue his desperate attempt to hold onto the past while the world is quickly changing around him. With Tom's announcement that he will name his newborn daughter Sybil and that he will christen her a Catholic, Lord Grantham has just about had his fill. And just when you think he might explode if he has to take any more, his wife, daughters, and mother attended a luncheon at Isobel's house which was prepared by her new kitchen maid, Ethel, who was previously making a living as a prostitute. He storms over there demanding his family leave at once, only to have to tuck his tail between his legs and run home alone. And let's not forget that Matthew keeps pushing for him to review new ideas on how to make Downton Abbey profitable. Even Mary is not agreeing with her father these days. It is she who announces at the dinner table in front of everyone that Lady Sybil confessed she wanted the baby to be christened Catholic. It is she who tells her father that it is nice Tom wants to name the baby Sybil and who isn't afraid to tell her father that the reason he's angry is because things aren't going his way. Prior to Lady Sybil's death this conversation might have been between Lady and Lord Grantham, but Cora is still avoiding him like the plague, blaming him for not heeding Dr. Clarkson's advice to bring Sybil to the hospital.

That brings me to my one bone with this episode. Poor Dr. Clarkson. Even when he's right, he's wrong. The Dowager Countess, concerned for her son and daughter-in-law asks Dr. Clarkson to tell Lord and Lady Grantham that even if Lady Sybil had been brought to the hospital she probably would have died anyway, in the hopes this will help Cora forgive Robert and allow them to grieve for their loss together. At least he sticks it to Sir Philip Tapsell when he informs them of this news destined to start the healing of their marriage.

Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore sums it up nicely, “You know the trouble with you lot is that you’re all in love with the wrong people.” While Daisy pines for Alfred, Alfred hopes to catch the eye of Ivy, and Ivy thinks Jimmy is a dream. Problem is so does Thomas, who is being set up to take a huge fall thanks to O'Brien. This can't end nicely for those involved.

Daisy does get some grand news, however. When she visits Mr. Mason, he tells Daisy he wants her to come and live at the farm and learn the trade because he plans to leave it all to her some day. Hmmm...from servant to land owner. How do you like them apples?


The picture above is from perhaps the most touching scene of the entire episode. Mary and Matthew come up to check on Tom and Baby Sybil. Here, we get a glimpse of how these three adults and perhaps Tom's daughter might hold the key to the future of Downton. It is obvious at this moment how much Matthew wants children; and for the first time, I feel viewers get a glimpse that Mary might really be changing her mind about waiting.

The previews of Sunday night's episode include Rose, so we'll have to get used to another new character making her way to Downton Abbey. I can't help but feel her addition is in some way a replacement for the loss of Lady Sybil, but only time will tell.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Product Review: CableYoYo from Cableorganizer.com


On thing I truly despise about the plethora of hardware and devices hanging around the house these days is the spaghetti mess of cords everywhere. Nightstands, bookshelves, desks and more have become homes to various cords going in every direction.

Thankfully, there is Cableyoyo™. This ultra-thin case allows you to store up to 6 feet of cord that is up to 5 mm in diameter. Simply set the cord across the front of the Cableyoyo and begin turning the cord around the center of it. The cord is held in place by the internal clasp. The Cableyoyo has an adhesive strip on the back, which allows you to stick it to almost any surface. I chose to lay mine on top of my desk, but I could just as easily have stuck it to the side of my metal filing cabinet. Great for iPod and iPad cords, speaker cords (which is what I used mine for), and other devices, I'm happy to say I am not looking at hanging wires by my desk anymore. I'm going to buy Cableyoyos for all four rooms where we keep our devices.

The Cableyoyo is an effective and inexpensive way to cut back on the cord mess around your home. I found it easy to use and would recommend it to anyone.

I received a free Cableyoyo from Cableorganizer.com®. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I was not compensated in any way.