Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Lethal Beauty by Lis Whiel ~ Book Tour

Publisher's Description:

Mia Quinn discovers that a series of seemingly unrelated murders are linked. How far up are the strings being pulled-and what happens when one of her own is at risk? The murder Mia is prosecuting seems like an open and shut case-until the accused claims he was the real victim and that the dead girl attacked him first. The tabloids dub her a "lethal beauty." Still, a conviction seems imminent. Then a key witness goes missing. Just when it looks like the killer could walk free, the dead woman's mother takes matters into her own hands. Meanwhile, Charlie Carlson, a Seattle homicide detective, is investigating the murder of a man whose body washed up on the beach of Puget Sound, but he's got little to go on. He has no dental work, fingerprints aren't on file, and he doesn't match any missing person reports. Then a church pianist is senselessly gunned down before horrified parishioners. All three cases seem unrelated-but are they? Together, Mia and Charlie race to find the answer before another crime hits too close to home.

 About the Author:    Lis Wiehl is a New York Times best-selling author, Harvard Law School graduate, and former federal prosecutor. A popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel, Wiehl appears weekly on The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Imus in the Morning, Kelly's Court, and more. Visit her website at Twitter: @LisWiehl Facebook: LisWiehl

My Thoughts:  

Lethal Beauty is the third installment of the Mia Quinn Mystery series by this author. In this story Mia is prosecuting what would seem to be an open and shut murder case of a young Chinese girl. But she watches in frustration as a key witness goes missing and one member of the jury she helped choose becomes disengaged during the trial. And now another young Chinese person is found murdered. But are they all connected? The more she and homicide detective dig into things the more shocking of a story they unearth. And now can they ever get any new evidence to get the proof they need to convince Mia's boss to take the young girl's case back to trial? With all this on her plate and trying to juggle her family after her husband's sudden death, Mia has her hands full. How do you intermingle a high profile job and a young family as a single parent and not have them interfere with each other? Tough decisions need to be made. Gabe, her teenage son, is struggling trying to take on helping his Mom in roles that really should belong to his Dad and with how he fits in at school. When the opportunity to "improve" himself and become more manly comes along, he makes a decision that could change his life forever. But was it the right one? He seems to think so according to his own research until things start happening that he never could have imagined.

 This was another fast paced murder mystery by this author. Though third in the series, it can easily be a stand alone read. I enjoyed it as it kept me engaged without slowing down and I read through in a few days, always being kept on my toes and turning the pages to find out what happens. The author has taken on some interesting issues as the base of the story. The main issue is that of human trafficking and modern day slavery in America. That was an eye opener for me. I have read and thought about human trafficking but never connected it to a modern day slavery in America. It was, in my mind, a horrible thing that was going on elsewhere in the world. It is something that is hard to grasp as happening in this day and age in North America. And the second is of drugs marketed to teens to help them with normal everyday issues or to achieve something without all the hard work. Both lines of the story were well written and informative, making me think, while being woven into the lives of the characters.  Of particular note, is the Reading Group Guide which I thought  asked great questions to really make you think and be more aware.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishers for giving me a free copy for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions were my own and I was not required to give an positive review.

Lethal Beauty is available for purchase here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder ~ Book Review

Little House in the Big Woods is the first in this classic children's literature series of homesteading and early prairie life by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have not read this book since I was a kid. None of my own children had interest in the series, much to my disappointment, so I thought I would jump on board with Barbara at Stray Thoughts and her Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge which happens in February.

 It was fun to revisit the story, but one thing I was struck by rereading as an adult was how "elementary" the writing was. Of course, I didn't remember something like that from reading it as a child.

 Laura's story in this book scans about a year of her life from the age of 4. There were a few things that stood out to me reading it this time around. Even though I watched the Little House on the Prairie series, again as a young person, and had a somewhat visual  in my mind, I was still struck by how difficult and filled with hard work the pioneer life really was. Just a few of the things from the book that jumped out was how disciplined the children in the story were (for the most part, with some exceptions) and how hard they actually helped out with different aspects around the house that was really hard work at such a young age. I think of kids nowadays at that age and how easy their lives are now in North America. I really enjoyed the descriptions of how they had to prepare foods for the winter. We take so much for granted with grocery stores having all our foods readily available without the hard work. The simpleness of their existence in terms of things they had was also something that really stood out. We have so much stuff nowadays that we think are so essential to our survival, when it's really for our comfort and overt luxury. The sheer isolation of life on the prairies back then boggled my mind. That's something I never really thought about before. Being a bit more of an extrovert than introvert I wonder how I would take to something like that. All I can say about the homesteading life of that time is that I'm sure glad that God knew what He was doing and put me into this time as I don't know how I would have survived all that the prairie life required.

 Reading Challenge Goals Met: A book from my childhood, a popular author's first book, a book based on or turned into a tv show

Will also be linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #319

It's Friday, one of my favourite days for many reasons, one of which is joining in with all of you to look back over the week and notice our 5 favourite blessings for the week.  Sometimes it's super easy to find five and sometimes it's darn hard but there is always some to be found.  Sometimes it's all in the perspective.  Thank you to all you faithful participants and welcome to any new or returning!  I'm so grateful you take the time to join in with me.  Guidelines are linked in the sidebar for anyone new.

1.  Fresh paint.  Hubby has been working hard for a couple of weeks now, whenever he can, to freshen up the living room.  Off have come the old chair rails, and a fresh lighter color is going on.  I found a lovely "greige" in Benjamin Moore's "Inukshuk" and we just love it.  We wanted to move away from the yellowy-green toned beige we had and this is a lovely change.  Still trying to decide on the dark colored wall, though.  I'm soooo indecisive when it comes to paint color.  

2.  A new recipe win that will go into the family favourites file.  I love when I try a new recipe and it actually turns out really delicious and I have a new family favourite.  This recipe that I shared at the beginning of the week did just that.  This may just motivate me to start working my way through the scads of recipes to try that I have filed on my computer.

3.  Chores done = free weekend.  Laundry is done, vacuuming done, groceries done.  Wow, what will I do with my weekend?  I feel a book or two calling my name!

4.  Purring furball.  I love the late evenings when my sweet old kitty crawls up next to me on the couch for some cuddling and purring.  It's such a lovely, relaxing way to end the day.

5.  Wonderberry Chocolate Truffle  tea.  When my youngest and I went to the Women's Conference in October we stopped at the mall in Calgary.  We went into a tea store and they had all sorts of lovely teas to try including a Christmas flavor:  Wonderberry Chocolate Truffle .  It was delicious.  But we walked away because it was ridiculously expensive.  When hubby took me to the Mall last weekend we stopped into the same tea store and lo and behold the very same tea was 70% off.  Score.  And I got the last can! It was like it was just patiently sitting waiting for me to come back on Valentine's day so that it could go home with who it was intended for.  LOL.   Sorta makes you wonder how they can justify the huge price hike though, doesn't it?  But at any rate, the tea tastes extra rich and delicious now that I got it at that great deal!

What were your favourite blessings, whether big or small, during your last week?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble - A Hope Beach Novel

Elin Summerall has had a lot on her plate in the last while. After catching a virus that ruined her heart she was lucky to have received a heart transplant and a second chance at life. A young widow and mother she was also caring for her mom who was dealing with early dementia in her 50's. But ever since Elin received her new heart she has been having dreams of being strangled that wake her up in a cold sweat. Knowing that her heart donor had been murdered these dreams are leaving her very unsettled and with unwanted attention from the press and from the donor's murderer. With the police skeptical of any connection between her dreams and the events she is now experiencing, she moves her family to a quiet remote location in Seagrass Pier where she hopes the dreams will stop, her family can be safe and she can finish healing physically in peace. But the dreams and the strange occurrences follow her. And now she must work with Marc Everton, an FBI agent, a man from her past whom she had never wanted to run into again.

 I really enjoyed this story though am finding it hard to write a review because there was a lot going on it. There were sub-plots running that connected back to other stories and characters as this was the 3rd in a series. I had read the second one, Rosemary Cottage reviewed here, and really enjoyed it but it was a while ago and I didn't quite remember the characters. But this book was great as a stand alone read without having to know the details from the first stories.

 The cell memory aspect of the story, where Elin has memories of the donor's murder was interesting. It certainly would be totally unsettling and weird. Though that was the main plot, there were also several story lines revealed throughout the story. A  historical connection with a former owner of the house brings it's own mystery as well as Elin's troubles.  It made for many twists and turns in the plot and caused it to be a real page turner. You just never knew what was going to be revealed next and I never guessed the ending. The love story was clean and sweet which is always a plus in my books.  I did find a bit of how Elin insists and throws herself into the investigation by the FBI agent a little bit unrealistic. I can understand working with him, but him allowing her into some of the dangerous situations rang a little untrue for me, even if he was off-duty and not acting in an official capacity. Without wanting to give away anything in the story, I won't go into more detail than that. Everything was tied together well in the end without anything that left me scratching my head. I really enjoy Colleen Coble's books and this one didn't disappoint in the suspense/romance genre.

Reading Challenge Goals Met:  a book by a female author; a mystery or thriller

Will also be linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books

Monday, February 23, 2015

Brussels Sprouts a delicious new way

When at Costco the other day we picked up a beautiful bag of fresh brussels sprouts.  And yes, the correct spelling and pronunciation is Brussels Sprouts with the "s".  Who knew?  Brussels sprouts are not something I grew up eating but I loved them from the first time I ever ate them in my husband's favourite dinner recipe.  I tried to find a post of mine with the recipe but apparently it is nowhere to be found on my blog though I have mentioned it several times.  I have got to get around to posting that thing.  It is delicious.  Anyway, today is for a different Brussels sprout recipe that I found either through Pinterest or Foodgawker, not sure which.

It is definitely a different way of preparing the brussels sprouts than I have ever done.  I've always just boiled them whole and served with butter and salt and pepper on them.  And I've never served them cooled off.  This recipe definitely takes a bit more work than just throwing the sprouts into a pot of water, but boy oh boy, is it ever worth the effort!  Everyone raved over these and every bite was eaten!  It got gobbled up before I could even think to take a picture though they did look pretty and appealing in the salad bowl and on the plate.   The recipe is written as a single serving appetizer.  I used it as a side.  In fact, I'll have to keep note that the recipe served 3 of us adults who all had seconds of it, so I'll have to double it if I have more people.  I did do a bit of adapting and I've noted that in the recipe.  I also presented it differently than she did so you might just want to link over and see how she originally did it.   I'll definitely be making this again.

Recipe adapted from Recipris (You can click on over to see a picture)

-20 fresh brussels sprouts

-1 1/2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

-1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar  **the recipe called for red wine vinegar but I've never liked it and so      didn't have it on hand, so I used seasoned rice wine vinegar**

-1 Tbsp. capers, drained   **I used a little less and I gave them a quick chopping**

-2 Tbsp. sliced almonds

-1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

-salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

-a pinch of red chili flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350*F.   Place foil over a baking tray and spray with olive oil.  Set to the side.

Wash and dry the brussels sprouts.  Cut off the ends.  Pull off leaves until you reach the core.  I had to make small slits at the base of the leaves as I went along for them to come off easily.  Place the leaves into a mixing bowl as you go.  Add 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss well and place on the baking tray.  Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.  You may now snack on the cores as you continue cooking.  ;)

Place almonds in a small fry pan and over medium heat, watching carefully not to burn, toast the almonds.  You can also do them in the oven along with the brussels sprouts, but they must be watched.

Cool both the sprout leaves and the almonds.  Meanwhile in a salad bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, capers, salt, fresh ground pepper, parsley and chili flakes.  Add brussels sprout leaves and almonds and toss.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder Country... by William Anderson

"The People and Place Behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's LIfe and Books"

I picked this book up for Stray Thoughts Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge. I really enjoyed this "real life" peak and tour into Laura's life. Filled with historical photos and drawings of Laura and her family, family artifacts and pictures of the prairies and homes or replicas thereof where they lived and an engaging commentary. You saw the creek, the farms and landscapes of Laura's life. There were lots of little tidbits that I had never known before that made for a very interesting read. I also found the U.S. map co-ordinated with the different locations of major events of Laura and her families lives very interesting. It really opened my eyes to how much she really did move over her lifetime. Perfect for anyone who has read Laura's books or even watched the tv series to see a real life perspective in photos.

If you'd like to join in on the reading challenge skip on over to Stray Thoughts and join in!

Will also be linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #318

Oh my good gravy.  I just realized that it is Friday.  Sheesh.  Between a four day head ache and a long weekend last weekend and extra children this week because of reading week in the schools, I"m just a bit kafuffled.  Please forgive me.  I'll put up the link and join in when I can seeing as the kids are already here looking at me to start their day.
Whew, grabbing a minute here to reflect and look back over the week.  Even though it's been a bit on the crazy side that is the perfect opportunity to take a moment and take notice of the blessings otherwise they might just escape me.

1.  Valentine's Day.  My hubby set out to make it extra special this year.  First he gifted me with my favourite chocolates, which I've mentioned several times.  Then he whisked me off to Calgary for some big city fun.  We went to our favourite haunt, the Calgary Farmer's Market, where they had a strolling barbershop harmony group, a couple of reeeeally young buskers who were quite good, and all that food!!  I even splurged and got a piece of my favorite dessert, a vanilla slice.  It was delicious.  Then it was off to the Cross Iron Mill Mall where one can get lost for hours.  He didn't even rush me in my favourite stores.  We shopped for an extra special gift for my daughter's birthday, she turns 25 this week.  (I can't believe I even typed that!!).  And then he had yet another surprise in store for me.  He let me pick out a purse at the Coach Outlet store.  Well if you know me and purses, let's just say he knows his way to this girl's heart.  A little dinner at his favourite pasta restaurant and our valentine's day was complete.   We rarely celebrate valentine's this extravagantly but I guess Cupid's arrow must have got him this year.  Yay for me!

2.  Just Breathe Wax Melt by Scentsy.  With my plugged up sinuses and headaches this week, this scent was awesome in helping to unclog and relax me this week.  I needed all the help I could get.

3.  Friendship.  When my friend, who is not working at the moment, heard I wasn't feeling that great, she showed up with a Starbucks and a helping hand.  Such an appreciated gift!

4.  Down Alternative duvet.  Our comforter was really getting bunched and old so after humming and hawwing for months on what kind of blanket to get for our bed we chose a down alternative. Being of European descent,  I had originally wanted an actual down filled one but in my researching and reading they recommended not laying on top of it as it would crush the down and lose it's loft.  Well with Sunday afternoon snoozes by hubby and escape lounging and reading by me and the dog who thinks he's a human sleeping on top we sorta came to the conclusion that a down fill was just not for us.  Then we found this one that can be washed and dried and has a 5 year warranty to keep it's loft at basically 1/3 of the price so we gave it a go.  And it. is. wonderful!!  The only drawback?  It's tough getting out of bed in the morning the thing is so comfy!

5.  Easy peasy evenings.  Again with the week that it was, it was nice not to have be running around with things to do in the evenings.  I spent them quietly chilling watching tv or reading.  I so appreciated that!

What were your favourite blessings this week?