Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

As we say goodbye to 2009 and usher in 2010 I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone for making 2009 a memorable year for me. I started blogging a few months ago and everyone has been welcoming and kind. I look forward to getting to know you better and meeting new blogs in the coming year.

I hope that those of you who are going out tonight have a safe evening filled with all the fun you can handle. For those of you who have already welcomed the New Year I hope you had a great time no matter how you celebrated it in.

I will be staying home with my son and a few close friends. We will spend the time by watching TV, playing games, and reading. We will be feasting on a whole bunch of junk food, including; little smokies, jalapeno poppers, pizza rolls, boneless buffalo wings, Doritos w/hot bean dip, coleslaw, potato salad, and all the pop (non-caffeinated) we can drink.

So have a safe and fun night and I look forward to talking to you all in the next year!

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

I was super excited when I got my Book Blogger swap package today. I started jumping up and down with joy. Then I opened it and I jumped even higher. I want to thank Nicole of Linus's Blanket for my wonderful package. My digital camera is still broken, so I had to resort to images of some of the presents I got. I wish I could give you a wonderful picture of them all together but I can't so after I'm done with this post I'm going to pout in a corner.

First of all was The Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. It's the first book in an as yet still unfinished trilogy but it's brilliant all on it's own. I'm so glad I have a copy again.

I also got a wonderful book of postcards that features Hollywood fan magazine covers from the 1940s. I was able to find a picture of one of the postcards in the book and I thought I would post that here. It's a picture of Myrna Loy as Nora Charles and Asta from the Thin Man movie series.
I also received some wonderful hand crafted stationery from Nepal. My collection has more muted colors, than what this picture has, which I really enjoy. It's mainly browns, silver, blues, greens, reds, and yellows. They are absolutely gorgeous and have a wonderful texture.

I also got some wonderful wild flower stickers and some index tabs for when I'm reading and need to mark places for future reference.

Top 10 Favorite Books of 2009

I've been reading a lot of "Favorite Books of 2009" posts lately and I decided to join in the fun. Obviously, from looking at the list you can tell that all of these did not come out in the last year. Some of them are quite a bit older than that. I assure you that this list is of books that I read for the first time in 2009. The links will either go to my review or if it was a book I read before I started blogging, it will go to Barnes & Nobles site. I'm not affiliated with them in anyway, I just like the site. So with no further ado, here is my list of Favorite Books of 2009. By the way they are not in order.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Dark Time by Dakota Banks

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

The Devil's Alphabet by Daryl Gregory

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie

The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard

When You Don't See Me by Timothy James Beck

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character --- Jessica Fletcher

I decided to go with one of my favorite TV detectives for this weeks Favorite Fictional Character. The brilliant and always classy Jessica Fletcher from the show Murder, She Wrote.

Jessica was a widow and former high school English teacher who took to writing mystery novels. Shorty there after, her life started to imitate the adventures she wrote about. For the most part she stayed in her fictional town of Cabot Cove but as the seasons progressed she found herself traveling more and more around the States and internationally. For some odd reason whether she stayed at home or travelled people always seemed to die around her.

Most of the dead were friends or acquaintances so she felt compelled to solve the case, especially when the police always seemed to be chasing the wrong leads. She never cared about the danger she found herself in, she only cared about finding out the truth. Sometimes that truth wasn't what she wanted it to be, as she sometimes had to put friends in jail. No matter what she never backed down and always proved to be smarter than the criminal.

I've loved this character so much that I have read quite a few of the over 30 books by Donald Bain that are based on her exploits. I keep telling myself to buy the DVDs of the show but I always get distracted by other purchases, so for now I stick to the reruns that occasionally air on cable.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Agatha Christie Challenge --- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

In the village of King's Abbot, a widow's sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study-but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow's blackmailer. King's Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd's wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim's home. It's now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King's Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd-a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard's ingenious sister, Caroline.

This was a reread for me so I'm way past some of the controversy that this book sometimes causes. Some critics have said that this book wasn't done in a fair manner, that the solution to the crime comes out of thin air. The first time I read it I have to admit to being taken by surprise as to the identity of the killer, but with each reread I find myself picking up one the clues that Christie left for us to see and that Hercule Poirot explains to the killer as he is recounting how he solved the case.

Now this book is a little hard for me to review because of how important the identity of the killer is to the overall impression of the book. I can't say too much more without giving more away that would be fair to new readers. I will say that his is one of Christie's best mysteries in my opinion, one that is based on a limited reading so far, and the solution is genius. She pulls the reader into the story and into trusting the killer, not even thinking that this person is even a suspect. It's brilliant and I urge everyone to give this one a try.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday for 12/28/2009

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

From Mountains of Ice by Lorina Stephens was received for review by the Member Giveaway program on Library Thing.

I bought The Turret by Margery Sharp from The Friends of the Library Book Store in hardcover for $1. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, this is the third book in the series starring Miss Bianca of The Rescuers fame.

I got The Big Four by Agatha Christie in paperback for Christmas.

I also got Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen in paperback for Christmas. I owe Deb at Bookmagic a big thank you for bringing this series to my attention.

I received the DVD of V: The Complete Series for Christmas as well. Now I just need to get the the miniseries of V and V: The Final Conflict.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone


I wish you and yours a very special Christmas filled with family, laughter, love, and fun. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your kind words and your welcoming me into the blogging community.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character --- Santa Claus

I love Santa Claus is all his incarnations but the version that Rankin & Bass brings to life in the TV special, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, is hands down my favorite. This was their take on the origins of Santa Claus and attempts to answer questions concerning many aspects of the Santa Claus legend.

The story begins in Sombertown, a depressing village where everything is grey and dark. Santa is introduced as a baby who is left at the door of Burgermeister Meisterburger, the ruler of the town. He quickly sends the foundling baby to the orphanage but a strong storm, and some helpful animals, sends the baby to the other side of the Mountains of the Whispering Winds instead. He is then found by a family of elves named Kringle and they adopt him and name him Kris.

Kris grows up to be a fine young man and vows to restore the Kringles as the toy makers to the king. Tante Kringle, the queen of the family, gives Kris his own Kringle suite (hence the red/white outfit) and sends Kris off with a bag of toys for the kids of Sombertown. Unknown to them however is the new rule by the Meisterburger outlawing all toys.

Kris quickly learns the lay of the land from the children and the school teacher, Miss Jessica. He quickly wins them over and fun begins anew. The rest of the movie tells the story of how the toys keep getting taken away and the new tricks Kris comes up with to deliver them to the children (chimneys and stockings to hide them in come into play).

Eventually Kris is named an outlaw and is forced to run away with Jessica, the Kringles, and a few other friends including his newly flying reindeer. He grows a beard to hide his appearance and the Tante informs Kris of the name tag around his neck when he was born that named him Claus. The find there way to the North Pole and set up shop there.

The rest is history.

I love this movie, when I watch it I feel like a kid again. It brings me back to that place where I believed in all the magic of Christmas, when Santa Claus was still real and I would stress about how he would deliver presents when we didn't have a chimney. Now I'm allowed to share this with my son and when we watch it together I can see the wonder and joy in Aidan's eyes and I find myself wondering if maybe Santa Claus is really real. He is in my heart and the heart of millions of children.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

10 Of My Favorite Christmas Movies

Since I've already listed my 10 favorite Christmas songs I figured I should list 10 of my favorite Christmas movies as well. Now this list is not to imply that these are my only favorite Christmas movies, I have tons of them and will probably share 10 more next year. I hope I don't have to explain that Christmas movies includes TV specials as well, some of the best ones were made for TV. So with no further ado I present Wordsmithonia's Top 10 Christmas Movies. All of these are available on DVD by the way, just in case this inspires someone to go buy a late Christmas movie to enjoy.

How can you not love "A Charlie Brown Christmas"? It is a Christmas staple and should be mandatory viewing for all during this time of the year. Between the music and the poor little Christmas tree this TV special has held a place in my heart since I first saw it as a kid and continues to do so today.

I am a humongous Barbara Stanwyck fan and "Christmas in Connecticut" is one of her most endearing movies. It's also a romantic comedy gem full of misunderstandings and love set against a beautiful white Christmas.

I had only seen "The Christmas Toy" once as a kid but the story had stayed with me my entire life so when I found it on DVD last year I was so incredibly excited. What child doesn't wish their toys would come to life and play with each other when no humans are around? It's a story of courage, friendship, and learning to share the limelight. Classic Christmas story.

"Frosty The Snowman" has appeared two other times on my blog this year. The song about his life was featured in the 10 Of My Favorite Christmas Songs post and was a featured in a FFC post. Well here he is again as the star of his own TV special. This animated classic about our favorite living snowman has enchanted me for years and never fails to bring a smile to my face.

"Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" is pure fun and entertainment the addition of Boris Karloff as the narrator is simply the icing on the cake. If you couldn't tell I'm a huge fan of the cartoon version not the abysmal Jim Carey movie.

Jack Skellington misguided attempt to steal Christmas for his own was the basic storyline to Tim Burton's " The Nightmare Before Christmas". This was and still is a beautifully crafted work of art that captures the imagination. Tim Burton is a genius, which he proved with this movie.

Like Frosty before him this is Rudolph's third mention this month on my blog. He to was part of the 10 Of My Favorite Songs post and starred in his very own FFC post as well. This classic tale of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a endearing today as it was all those years ago. This is the perfect tale of a "misfit" who finds his own way to stand out and become someone.

"Snow" is an adorable ABC Family Channel movie that stars Tom Cavanagh as the new Santa who is tyring to track down his missing reindeer. Along the way he meets the girl of his dreams and makes her Mrs. Santa. I just found out there was a sequel to this so I will be hunting that down as well.

"The Ref" is my "Die Hard", it's the one Christmas movie that some may not consider a Christmas movie but because it takes place during Christmas it counts. Dennis Leary plays Gus, a cat burglar, who takes a family hostage on Christmas Eve. Little did anyone know that this was the catalyst the family needed to bring them close again.

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Allen all star in the Christmas spectacular that is "White Christmas". That's all you need to know about this one other than that it is a brilliant musical that never fails to get me in the Christmas mood. Now if only I could get a white Christmas this year.

Alaina Reed-Amini, 1946-2009

Alaina Reed-Amini, who played the wonderful Olivia on "Sesame Street" as well as starring on "227", passed away from breast cancer today at the age of 63. She was a part of my childhood that I will never be able to forget and I owe her a big "Thank You" for the hours of enjoyment that she, along with her cast mates, provided me as a young child. She will be missed by all those she helped entertain and educate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday for 12/21/09

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. This was a light week for me since I've been concentrating on gifts for others.

I finally bought the sequel to one of my favorite books. The Fire by Katherine Neville is the sequel to The Eight.

I won the audio version of Hope for Animals and Their World by Jane Goodall with Thane Maynard and Gail Hudson from Beth at Beth's Book Review Blog.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Award Time X 3

I decided to post these three awards together since they all ask the recipient to convey large amounts of information about ourselves, so this way all the wonderful tidbits can be found together. I want to apologize to those who have given these awards to me since I'm been so slow in getting them passed along. You guys are wonderful and your kindness means so much to me.

Carol from Carol's Notebook passed this on to me and I am so excited by it. I think the award itself is wonderful to look at and it's nice to know that my blog is enjoyed by others. Her blog is fantastic and I encourage everyone to go visit and say hi.

Now the rule for this one is to pass it on to 7 other bloggers and tell everyone 7 things about yourself.

I would like to pass this along to the following blogs:
  • Laurel at Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow. She always has a kind word for her fellow bloggers and has a brilliant writing voice.
  • Ceri at Not in the Pink. Hilarious blogger who puts me in a better mood just by visiting her blog.
  • Michelle at The Christmas Spirit. Michelle was already a brilliant blogger but by starting a blog that is about Christmas all year round, she cemented herself in my pantheon of brilliant bloggers.
  • Stephanie at Misfit Salon. If you have not checked this blog out you have to do so right away. Stupendous doesn't even begin to describe this fantastic place to visit.
  • Nely at All About {n}. Great blogger who happens to be hosting a great holiday reading challenge that I'm enjoying quite a bit.
  • Tasha at Heidenkind's Hideaway. A lovely blogger who brings an interesting perspective that I normally would not think of on my own.
  • Jaime at Revenge of the Book Nerds! Jaime has been one of the nicest bloggers I've met since starting my own blog and I appreciate her kindness more than I can say.

Now for 7 things about myself, though trying to say 7 things that I haven't mentioned before may be a little hard.

  1. From the Summer after my 5th grade till high school we traveled with a carnival so I would go to a different school about every two weeks depending on what town we were in. We did Winter in one location though, either San Marcos, TX or Skiatook, OK.
  2. Taking custody of my nephew was the best decision I have ever made in my life.
  3. Becoming an Oceanographer was one of my dream jobs as a kid.
  4. My guilty pleasure TV show was and is still, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
  5. Sweet potato and butterscotch cream pies are my two favorite sweets during the holidays.
  6. I'm in love with ferns for some reason. I can never have enough of them around the house.
  7. I want to retire back to MN.

This was another award I received from the wonderful Carol at Carol's Notebook. This award is such a compliment, who doesn't want to be Over the Top?

The rules are pretty simple. Answer the following questions with Single Word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers. Make sure you let them know about it though.

  • Your Cell Phone? Gone
  • Your Hair? Short
  • Your Mother? Biker
  • Your Father? Passed
  • Your Favorite Food? Seafood
  • Your Dream Last Night? Odd
  • Your Favorite Drink? Tea
  • Your Dream/Goal? Published
  • What Room Are You In? TV
  • Your Hobby? Reading
  • Your Fear? Clowns
  • Where Do You Want To Be In Six Years? Italy
  • Where Were You Last Night? Work
  • Something That You Aren't? Bored
  • Muffins? Cranberry
  • Wish List Item? Massage
  • Where Did You Grow Up? Everywhere
  • Last Thing You Did? Ate
  • What Are You Wearing? Shirt
  • Your TV? On
  • Your Pets? None
  • Friends? Fun
  • Your Life? Comfortable
  • Your Mood? Tired
  • Missing Someone? Yes
  • Vehicle? Gallant
  • Something You Aren't Wearing? Shoes
  • Your Favorite Store? B&N
  • Your Favorite Color? Blue
  • When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Earlier
  • Last Time You Cried? Movie
  • Your Best Friend? Frankie
  • One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Work
  • Facebook? No
  • Favorite Place To Eat? Home

I'm going to pass this on to the following blogs:

  • Melissa at My World. One of my favorite bloggers and B&N friend in the world.
  • Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Kind hearted blogger who has shown me nothing but kindness.
  • Deb at BookMagic. She is the whole reason I started blogging to begin with and is a fantastic example to follow.
  • Zia at My Life In Not So Many Words. Great blog and twitter friend who always has something wonderful to say.
  • Tracy at The True Book Addict's Sister. A new blogger on the block who has a unique voice that always keeps my interest.

This award I got from two great bloggers and they are both deserving of all the respect and thanks I can give them. Sheila of One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and Melissa of My World both gave this really tough looking award.

Here are the rules for this award. You must name 10 true and honest things about yourself then pass this along to 7 other bloggers.

  1. Another dream occupation I briefly considered as a kid was working as a chef.
  2. I was in love with all things dinosaur as a kid and could never get enough of them. Toys, sheets, books, puzzles, models, and the list goes on. You name it, I wanted it.
  3. I still love cheesy bands from the 80s; Journey, Foreigner, Chicago, and Boston to name just a few.
  4. The older you get the less patience I have for you. I've been thinking about going back to school to teach and when I first started thinking about it, I wanted to teach HS English. Then I realized the first time that one kid asks me the same question more than twice I would probably be called to the Principal's office. So now I'm thinking about 1st or 2nd grade since I have infinite patience with younger kids.
  5. I love the sight of a Christmas tree lit up in a dark room. There is something so peaceful about it.
  6. I want to take a year and visit the Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Vietnam. Whether it will ever happen or not is another matter.
  7. I love snow. I could never get enough of it and the sight of a snow covered forest makes me smile like nothing else.
  8. My favorite bird is the common loon.
  9. Pepperoni, black olives, and cheese on a thin crust is the best pizza in the world.
  10. I like to put a little bit of barbecue sauce in my mustard potato salad.

I will be passing this along to the following blogs:

  • Bella at A Bibliophile's Bookshelf. Her blog never bores me and I add to my reading list every time I visit.
  • Alexia at Alexia's Books and Such. Fantastic blogger who never fails to entertain and has a killer Balderdash talent going on.
  • Elena at With Extra Pulp. Concise and articulate writer who gives you her honest review and does it in a way that entertains and informs.
  • Jennifer at Rundpinne. Her Christmas decorating talents are awe inspiring enough but she tops herself everyday with every post she does on her terrific blog.
  • Carol at Carol's Notebook. The love she has for her family shines threw on her blog and is one of the many reasons I keep going back to read what she has to say on books, games, and Amber's Art work.
  • Peter at KyusiReader. Another blogger who never fails to add books to my reading list. His Bookshelf feature never fails to entertain and make me green with envy.
  • Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog. Great blogger who has a very eclectic taste in books and has a unique perspective on them.

Goodbye to Brittany Murphy

It always sad when someone passes away but when it happens suddenly and to one so young and talented it takes your breath away.

Brittany Murphy, at the young age of 32, passed away from cardiac arrest today and I'm saddened by the loss of such a talent.

She is in some wonderful movies "Clueless", "Drop Dead Gorgeous", "Don't Say a Word", and "8 Mile". Thankfully we have at least 3 more movies yet to come out that she will be starring in.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Typically British Reading Challenge

I've been seeing a lot of challenge for the new year lately that I've found intriguing but I've been trying not to join too many of them. For some reason when I saw this one I had to do it, maybe it's the dog. I just don't know, but whatever the reason I'm on board.

Here are the details for the Typically British Reading Challenge hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City. Here is the link to the launch post. The Timeline is Jan. 1st, 2010 to Dec. 31st, 20140. Only books started on or after Jan. 1st will count for the challenge.

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. There are four levels:
  • "Put the Kettle On" - Read 2 Typically British novels.
  • "Gordon Bennett" - Read 4 Typically British novels.
  • "Bob's Your Uncle" - Read 6 Typically British novels.
  • "Cream Crackered" - Read 8 Typically British novels.

3. Any book format counts.

4. You don't have to select the books ahead of time, you can just add things as you go. Also if you do a list upfront they you can change them, nothing is set in stone!

5. The books you choose can crossover into other challenges.

6. If you decide to participate in this challenge please use the link provided with the button and post on your sidebar, this way others can find there way back to the post and join in the fun. Also post your joining post back to the original post.

7. There will be a place to post your reviews though that will be optional.

8. Only British authors count.

I don't know what "Cream Crackered" means but I'm going for it anyway. I already have about 4 books already set in my head but I have no doubt that I will be able to get 4 more lined up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Noises Off!

Synopsis From Back:

This hilariously sexy, all-star comedy promises to be an entertaining treat you're sure to love! Featuring some of today's biggest comedy favorites-including Carol Burnett, John Ritter, Michael Caine, and Christopher Reeve-Noises Off! is an outrageously funny look at the love, lies and deceit that take place behind the scenes as a group of ridiculously inept stage actors rehearse a Broadway-bound play! Just when members of this chaotic cast finally get their performances right-everything starts going wrong!

I've been watching so many Christmas movies lately that I needed a break, and boy did I get it. I have owned this movie for years and I watch it at least 7 times a year if not more.

For those of you not familiar with it, this is the movie version of the play. The play is about a a group of actors putting on a play, so you get two stories in one, and both are hilarious.

The plot is so complicated (in a good way) that I can't really begin to describe it because my brain is not functioning properly but the basic plot is this; a bunch of second rate actors who have conflicting personalities and loyalties are trying to get through a dress rehearsal. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong; flubbed lines, prop defects, broken hearts, drunk actors, and misunderstandings.

I love this movie and the cast is unbelievable; Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Julie Hagerty, John Ritter, Nicollette Sheridan, Christopher Reeve, Marilu Henner (love her), Mark Linn-Baker, and Denholm Elliott. If you love slapstick, physical, or smartly written comedy you have to see this movie.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character --- Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey

I'm choosing one of the lesser know Rankin/Bass characters for my FFC post this week. For those of you who are not familiar with Nestor, he is very pleased to meet you. Nestor is the star of the Rankin/Bass special, Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey. Like Rudolph before him, Nestor is a misfit who is out of place at home. He lives on a donkey farm during the time of the Roman Empire and he is made fun of for his overly large ears. Now I personally think he's adorable, but I wasn't alive back then to help him out.

One day some horrible soldier come to confiscate some donkeys for the army. The soldiers try to take Nestor and some of the other but soon realize that Nestor is different from the others. The jerks figure the farmer was trying to trick them so the take the donkeys without paying for them and leave Nestor behind. Well the farmer is so mad at poor Nestor that he throws him out into the cold, wild woods. Nestor's mom tracks him down and protects him from the snow storm that rolls in that night. Now this is where the Bambi moment comes into play, and it never fails to make me cry.

Now on his own Nestor is befriended by a young cherub named Tilly. Tilly convinces Nestor to travel to Bethlehem but doesn't tell him why. She will only tell him riddles that allude to great things to come. After months of travel the arrive outside of Bethlehem and Tilly tells Nestor to stay put so he finds himself in a stable where no one is willing to buy him.

Along comes a very special couple who are in need of transportation for the wife and expectant mother. Now since this is a Christmas story I'm sure you can guess that it's Joseph & Mary who need the assist. Mary selects Nestor for his gentle eyes and they are on there way. During the journey a horrible sandstorm overtakes the traveling group and Nestor protects Mary with his over sized ears and guides them safely to Bethlehem. Once there Mary gives birth and Nestor is able to find his way back home where he is welcomed as a hero, THE END.

I am drawn to Nestor in the same way I was to Rudolph. I find myself identifying with misfits and oddballs who don't quite fit in and feel it to their core. Especially the misfits who don't let other's destroy their sense of self just because they are different from the norm. These are the role models I looked up to as a kid and still do today.

Nestor is a strong willed individual who finds strength and triumph through personal tragedy and hardship but never gives up. Nor does he turn to anger for the world to make him feel better. Nestor is the type of person I want my son to be when he grows up; strong, independent, and comfortable enough to be himself no matter what life throws his way.