Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: Bodies in Trouble by Cynthia Cooke

Hannah Kizer is a caterer who spends as much time away from her family as possible.  The black sheep of the family, Hannah, is surprised to get a call from her mother asking her to come home for her step-sister Sarah's wedding. The wedding is one day away... Hannah was never invited.

On her way home, she realizes that there is something coming with her. A fairy? That's impossible; they aren't real.  After a disastrous evening, she finds a big clue that leads her to question who she is and where she came from.

Family secrets, mystery spells, and a mischievous fairy intent on destroying Sarah's wedding and leaving all the blame on Hannah make for a very interesting read!

Cynthia Cooke writes a great story - the characters are fun, the bed scene is hot, and the story line leaves the reader wanting more. Hannah is a bad girl but you can feel how desperately she truly wants to fit in with her family.  The end leads the reader to believe that this is just the start to a great series... I really hope so! I want to read more about Hannah and her adventures.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

Last month, my local library recommended a book called Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass.  I wondered what a body farm was, and after I did some internet-searching, I was super-excited to check out this book! 

The Body Farm, or more accurately known as the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility in Knoxville, is an actual place. A morbid place to some, but truly is a one of a kind research facility that studies human decomposition for not only anthropological purposes, but also to provide assistance to "the State Medical Examiner System for the District Attorney General's Office, arson investigators, and various state, local, and national law enforcement agencies and county medical examiners for over thirty years".

This book was great! The authors are actually a team: Dr. William Bass, founder of the program at the University of Tennessee, and Jon Jefferson, a journalist.  The main character in the book is Dr. Bill Brockton (basically the literary version of Dr. Bass) who is asked to assist in a case outside of Knoxville. The small town where the body is found is in East Tennessee....a remote mountain community with many secrets of its own. As Dr. Brockton gets more involved, so does the level of danger that surrounds him.  

I love a good mystery. The characters were great, many based on real-life people. And the science is great! Think CSI on paper... only better than the show.  I will definitely be checking out other books in the series!

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Orleans, Day 2

Our first full day in New Orleans began with Keith getting up super early for a run.  (I slept in.)   When he got back, we took advantage of the expanded continental breakfast that the hotel offered.  It was yummy, except for the waffle-making incident someone incurred. ;)  After I finished getting ready, we headed out to walk around the French Quarter. We found ourselves on the other side of Jackson Square for my first beignet in 10 years.  It was wonderful! I love the cafe au lait as well.  Even when you order one around Chicago, it just doesn't taste as good as when you have it at the Cafe du Monde. :) 

After eating, we walked down to the French Market, this amazing flea market that has basically everything you could imagine.  For lunch, we ate at the French Market Cafe - Keith had an alligator po-boy, dressed, and I had a muffaletta.  Thank goodness I only ordered half - Keith had to finish it! It was huge!
 After lunch, we walked around for awhile - checking out the inside of St. Louis Cathedral. I visited the St. Thersese statue and bought a few Holy cards in the gift shop for the kids. We went back to the hotel to rest before heading out again for dinner.

We chose a restaurant right down the street from the Dauphine - it was called Deanie's Seafood. I had the crab cakes. They were delicious!

After dinner, we headed back to Bourbon Street. We love to people watch, and this is the best place for that. We made our circle down Bienville to Royal - shopped on Royal a little - then went to head up St. Ann's back to Bourbon when we happened upon the filming of NCIS: New Orleans! Lucas Black was filimng a scene so we watched that for quite a bit.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Orleans, Day 1

For fun and memories, I'm sharing a day-by-day recap of our anniversary trip to New Orleans.

We arrived on November 3. Our flight left Chicago at 11:30 a.m., so our morning was a flurry of getting kids ready for school, last minute packing (for me and the kids), and driving to the airport. The flight was uneventful - I am glad we went with Midway since it's smaller.

The hotel shuttle dropped us off at the amazing Dauphine Orleans hotel. Choosing a hotel was one of the hardest decisions I had to make about this trip. I wanted something in the French Quarter, close to everything we love, as well as steeped in history... and ghosts. Yup, that's me. :)  Now, sadly, we did not see a ghost, but we still had a great time!

Our room. We stayed in one of the carriage house guest rooms.
I loved the look and feel of the room.

The view outside our door

Another view from our doorway

The door to our room
After checking out the hotel (they serve iced tea and cookies every day at 3 p.m.!), we took a stroll around the Quarter. The first stop was Jackson Square. This is easily one of my favorite places. I love the cathedral, but also the life around the square. People selling artwork, the psychics outside the cathedral reading your palms, and the quaint little shops along the square.

Since we flew in to New Orleans over lunch time, we were pretty hungry. We chose Bubba Gump's for an early supper. I called home to check on the kids and received a good report overall. They were super excited to be staying at Grammy's (the boys) and Nana's (Keira), so they were too busy to talk. :)

After we ate, we walked around the Quarter some more.

As we headed back to our hotel, we did hang out on Bourbon Street.  Since it was early on a Monday evening, it was the slowest I've ever seen the infamous street; but even slow, it was still full of life.

Since we are an old married couple now with three rambunctious kids that still wake us up in the night, we actually headed back to our hotel relatively early for New Orleans' standards.  The hotel gave us complimentary drink coupons for the famous May Bailey's bar (it was once a well-known bordello in the Storyville district), so we relaxed by the pool, enjoying the warm weather and a margarita.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Anniversary gift - NOLA style

We just got back from an amazing 10 year anniversary present to ourselves: New Orleans!

I'll be blogging about the trip soon, but wanted to share the present I got in NOLA. Every time we go, I buy a piece of jewelry from a place where everything is made by local artists.

Here is my newest piece:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Excerpt & #Giveaway - Seventh Grave & No Body by Darynda Jones!

Twelve. Twelve of the deadliest beasts ever forged in the fires of hell have escaped onto our plane, and they want nothing more than to rip out the jugular of Charley Davidson and serve her lifeless, mangled body to Satan for dinner. So there’s that. But Charley has more on her plate than a mob of testy hellhounds. For one thing, her father has disappeared, and the more she retraces his last steps, the more she learns he was conducting an investigation of his own, one that has Charley questioning everything she’s ever known about him. Add to that an ex-BFF who is haunting her night and day, a rash of suicides that has authorities baffled, and a drop-dead sexy fiancĂ© who has attracted the attentions of a local celebrity, and Charley is not having the best week of her life.

A tad north of hell, a hop, skip, and a jump past the realm of eternity, is a little place called Earth, and Charley Davidson, grim reaper extraordinaire, is determined to do everything in her power to protect it.

We’re doomed.

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Meet the Author:

NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a Rebecca, two Hold Medallions, a RITA ®, and a Daphne du Maurier, and she has received stellar reviews from dozens of publications including starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the Library Journal. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike, and she is ever so grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. She currently has two series with St. Martin’s Press: The Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of almost 30 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty,      Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at


I set Cookie to finding out everything she could on the missing suicide-note victims. There had to be a connection between them somewhere in their pasts. In the meantime, I would go talk to their closests, but first I needed to know if the victims were still alive. If they’d been abducted, this would quickly become a much different case. We would probably have to get the FBI involved, if they weren’t on to it already. 
Reyes was still working, so I decided to cut out alone. I knew he’d freak. He wasn’t about to leave me alone for long, and neither would he put up with my running off without him, so I decided to pick up a passenger. Well, another passenger. The one I had at the moment would be of no help in a fight against hounds from hell, should they spot me in a crowd.
Jessica was harping again, this time about how her friends were at the restaurant, fawning over Reyes as though she had never died. She’d called dibs the moment she saw him, and they seemed almost relieved she was out of the way. I refrained from reminding her that (1) I’d had dibs long before that, and (2) she was as dead as the Twizzler I was gnawing on in an attempt to forget about my extreme caffeine depletion. Poor little Twizzler.
“She said that!” Jessica shouted. “Like, she said it. Right to Reyes’s face.”
“Wait, what?” I almost slammed on the brakes, then realized my foot was already on the brake, as we were idling at a stoplight. “Who said what to Reyes’s face?”
“Oh . . . my god. Have you heard a word I’ve said?”
“Not especially. Who said what?”
“She said she’d do anything, any . . . thing, for an interview.”
I turned to her. “Are you telling me you heard what Reyes and Jolene—I mean, that hooch—were talking about?”
“Duh. I was so upset with Joanie and the girls that I started to walk out when that—that ho practically assaulted our man.”