Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone has had a restful and joyful Holiday. We are still away visiting with family so I fear the blog has been neglected. Last post was on my birthday!

Hoping for a year in review post soon and also a wrap up of the Sherlock Challenge. If you haven't linked your reviews yet be sure to get it done by Tuesday night. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

X Generation Book Blast and GIVEAWAY

About the Author:

Brad Magnarella grew up in North Central Florida. As a boy he discovered Marvel Comics, text-based gaming, Bruce Springsteen, and Stephen King, roughly in that order. The prize, however, was a creek that wound through his neighborhood, providing him and his friends a wooded sanctuary in which to lose themselves, while discovering natural Florida.

A graduate of the University of Florida and American University, Brad has long aspired to write the kind of fiction that colored his childhood. His books include The Prisoner and the Sun trilogy and the first in his new young adult series, XGeneration.

Brad lives in Washington, D.C. When he's not writing, he's somewhat hard to find.
His latest book is XGeneration 1: You Don’t Know Me.

Sign up to Brad's mailing list for new releases:
Connect & Socialize with Brad!


About the Book:

In the fall of 1984, Cold War tensions between Washington and Moscow are close to breaking.

But in sleepy Gainesville, Florida, fourteen-year-old Janis Graystone is mainly worried about starting high school, earning a spot on the varsity soccer team, and keeping her older sister from running her life. And then there are her nighttime experiences. Experiences where she awakens in her backyard—out of her body—with the disturbing sense that someone is watching her.

For Scott Spruel, the start of high school means the chance to start over. And he’s willing to ditch everything—computer hacking, Dungeons & Dragons marathons, even his comic book collection (well, except for his X-Men)—if it means getting closer to Janis, the secret love of his life. But will Scott’s past be so easy to shed. And what about the eerie delay on his telephone, a delay he senses through powers he is only beginning to understand?

Welcome to the gripping new series, XGeneration: part The X-Files, part Freaks and Geeks, and totally '80s.

Rated 16+ for language.

Book Excerpt:

“Do you ever think we’re being watched?” Janis asked.

She lifted her head from her soccer ball and squinted past her toes, still slick with sunblock, to where the beach crowd thinned near the crash and rumble of the ocean. For the first time, she and Margaret had the beach blanket to themselves, and she knew it wouldn’t last. Beyond her feet and off to the right, her sister’s three friends squealed and pranced from the water’s edge, breasts bobbing inside new bikinis. The bright pastel colors made them hard to miss. They would probably be running back this way any minute.

“Well, we are at the beach,” Margaret said. 

Janis turned onto her elbow. In contrast to her airhead friends, her older sister lay in quiet repose, brunette hair tucked into a neat bun that cushioned her head and opened her lithe neck to the sun. Black Wayfarers hid her eyes. When the breeze stirred, the strings of her apple-red bikini fluttered against her hip.

“Not here, I mean,” Janis said. “In the neighborhood. At home. I keep having this feeling that we’re—”

“Being watched? Like the song?”

Janis groaned. She had walked right into that one. “Somebody’s Watching Me” had played on the boom box a half hour before, the deejay at I-100 FM using a creepy ghoul’s voice when he recapped the song and artist. And it was a creepy song. The video was even creepier. But no, that’s not what Janis was talking about.

“Not funny,” she said.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON for 99 cents during his book blast!


Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Literary Advent Calendar

Instead of hanging my advent calendar and filling it with treats, the little girl and I will be choosing one book from my very large selection of Christmas and winter themed books to read each night before bed. A different book each night until Christmas! I am very excited about it. I am sure she is, too. 

I first heard of this idea at Joyful Abode awhile back and absolutely loved it. What a great way to get the little girl excited for the holidays and to help foster her love of reading. She also has absolutely no need for extra treats! 

I have a large collection of books from teaching prekindergarten, so we are all set for the whole month. The only thing I didn't do was wrap each book like Emily did. I am so not a fan of wrapping. It would never have gotten done. A basket of unwrapped books to choose from works fine. ;)

Our first book was Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. It was the perfect read to start the season, especially since we got our tree, and it was also too tall for our house. I didn't allow our top to be cut off, though. 

Here is what else we have read this week:

Happy Holidays!

This post was checked and found to have three issues, which were explained and then fixed by me. There were two missing commas and a problem with mixed tenses. That last one is always something I have to check.

This really is a great service for any writer. Even for the casual book blogger like myself. Check it out. They have a 7 day free trial.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: Broken by CJ Lyons

Broken by CJ Lyons
336 pages, Hardcover
Published November 2013, Sourcebooks Fire

Source: Sent by publisher for review

Scarlet knows she is dying but wants the chance to be a normal girl and experience high school even if just for a little while. And she is willing to take the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it.

Scarlet is an interesting character. She is strong and weak at the same time. I was amazed at her tenacity and need to feel like a normal high school student. She quickly makes friends, stands up to a bully and falls for a boy. All exactly what she was looking for.

It is really too bad that the high school she attends seems full of more bullies and drama than most. The racing of her heart when a cute boy touches her seemed very real, the kids teasing her and making threats all because she has a weak heart and could die seemed terrible and unrealistic. Of course, I haven't been in high school for a very long time, perhaps kids have gotten meaner. The real threat, though, isn't the bullies.

Really, a good read for any YA enthusiast, both contemporary and thriller.

For more info about the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

Also, check out CJ Lyons guest post here for more insight into her inspiration for the character of Scarlet.
Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Guest Post by CJ Lyons

Please welcome CJ Lyons, author of Broken to the blog. Her new book is about a young girl named Scarlet who has a heart condition called Long QT. 

"The long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a rare inherited heart condition in which delayed repolarization of the heart following a heartbeat increases the risk of episodes of torsades de pointes (TDP, a form of irregular heartbeatthat originates from the ventricles)." Wikipedia

Scarlet is loosely based on CJ's niece, Abby, who has Long QT.

MariReads: How is Abby coping w/ Long QT?

 CJ: Abby’s great, thanks for asking! She’s totally opposite of Scarlet, fiercely independent and refuses to let her heart condition hold her back from anything she wants. She rides horses, raises Rottweilers, is a straight A student, and a budding fashionista.

You can see for yourself in this video my publisher produced:  
Abby has never allowed her heart condition to define her life. I think a large part of the credit for that goes to her parents—they were always open and up front with Abby about her Long QT. By the age of three she could explain what Long QT was (including a short summary of the genetics!) to anyone who asked about her MedAlert bracelet.

Since then, she’s grown into a smart, independent young woman who is the first to jump in to defend a friend (or tell them they’re making a mistake), confront a bully, or lead a cause she’s passionate about.

If I sound like a proud aunt, it’s because I am!

About CJ:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.
Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).
Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at

You can find my Review of Broken here.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Gift of Reading

 Post written by me, sponsored by ebooks by Sainsbury's.

Along with the usual knitted hats and photo books of the little girl, I will be giving books for Christmas.   It's tradition. I always give books.

The gift of reading is an important one and traditionally I have given books to everyone in my family. Unfortunately, not all of them love to read as much as I do and the books go unread. Sad, I know. So this year, only those who love to read, and will read what I give them, will be getting books.

My mom will read anything I recommend. She loves YA, thrillers, classics and biographies. Also, children's books. She actually introduced me to the Harry Potter series. So I am thinking, why not give her the gift of JK Rowling as well? She will be getting a copy of The Casual Vacancy.

I love giving my niece YA books that I have discovered through book blogging.  There are so many out there, I want to make sure she is reading some really great ones. She has just finished reading The Hunger Games series and loved it, so I am thinking she will enjoy Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy as well.

My sister likes enjoys fun books. Think, YA supernatural, urban fantasies and thrillers but has recently been asking for some good history books. So, why not give her something that  blends the two? Going to get her 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

What books will you be giving this Christmas?

All books mentioned are available in ebook format at 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Easy Crockpot Turkey Chili

Here is a quick chile recipe I made tonight. I was going through the pantry to see what I could make with what I already had. Only a quick trip to buy some ground turkey and I was set. 

I browned the turkey in olive oil with some chopped onion, garlic and seasoning. (Cumin, paprika, italian seasoning, salt and pepper). 
Threw it in the crockpot with a can each of red kidney beans, white kidney beans, black beans, corn, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. I added more seasoning (same as above). 
Turned the crock pot on high and let it cook for three hours. 

I served it over white rice, like the hubby likes, with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Yummy! Made a nice warm meal, perfect for a chilly fall night. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review and GIVEAWAY: Winter at Death's Hotel by Kenneth Cameron

Winter at Death's Hotel by Kenneth Cameron
368 pages, paperback
Published August 2013, Sourcebooks Landmark

Source: ARC sent from publisher for review

So, here is a little something different to read if you enjoy Sherlock Holme's stories or anything Sherlock related. This seemed the perfect read right now considering the Sherlock Challenge and my anxious waiting for the next season of Sherlock to start again, and it was.

This was an interesting twist. Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife are in NYC to start an American book tour. On their first night, a woman is murdered and Louisa is intrigued by the mystery since the artist's sketch in the paper looks like a woman she saw in their hotel upon their arrival. While her husband continues on the book tour, Louisa stays back and starts investigating on her own. Not easy to do being a woman in 1896 and on crutches.

Part historical fiction and part murder mystery, Winter at Death's Hotel is entertaining and fun. A good mystery, interesting characters and a great backdrop- the gritty back alley's of NYC and the posh Hotel and guests where Louisa stays. All makings for a good late night read.


Would you like to read it? 

Great! Because I am having a GIVEAWAY.

All you have to do is leave me a comment and you will be entered to win a copy.  I would love to know your favorite murder mystery. Just be sure to do so before midnight PST on Sunday, December 1st. 

Good Luck!

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Handmade Christmas

An almost finished candy cane ornament.
For the past 10 years, my family has exchanged handmaid gifts in an attempt to limit the amount of money we all spend. I has been a tough year for some, but we still wanted the excitement of opening gifts. In years past, I have knit hats, made photo books and ornaments. This year is a mix of all of the above.
I started this Moderne log Cabin blanket in 2007! This may be the oldest WIP ever.Untitled
My plan is to finish projects, that have been sitting on needles for years, in time for Christmas. I have an unfinished lap blanket for the inlaws, a pair of gloves for my SIL, a cowl for my sister and some pottery at my ceramics class that need to be glazed. I am going to be busy this month. Ack! I only have one month left!!! Yes, a month. In Laws Christmas will be on the 21st!

Will you be making handmaid gifts this year?

Happy Crafting!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Toddler Tales: Finding time for Mom

Being a mom of a three year old, finding time for myself is often very difficult. Especially since the hubby travels for work. Breaks don't come until the little girl is in bed at 8pm. 

It is so important, though, to find some time to re-energize yourself when you can. Be it 5 minutes or 5 hours, even a little time helps. Makes you ready to engage fully with your little one. Makes you more patient, as well. 

So, if you can only get a few minutes here are some ideas...

Enjoy a cup of coffee inside while your child plays outside. Of course, keep a visual and only do if they have a safe enclosed space to play. 

Close the door when you go to the bathroom. If like me, I only do this when the hubby is around. Funny how this is relaxing. ;)

Silent reading time. The little girl and i each get a book and read quietly. I usually only get through a page or two, but that's more than if I didn't do it. 

Go for a walk. Most relaxing when the three year old is in the stroller. 

If you are lucky to get more time away, how about...

Go to a coffee shop and enjoy a latte and a book. 

Walk or hike. You always feel so much faster and lighter minus the Ergo or Bob. 

Take a nap. This is the best. Even just a 30m one is refreshing. 

Take time for yourself, at least once a day and you'll be ready to tackle the rest if your day with a little more patience. A 3 year old standing in the coffee table won't seem as scary. ;)

Moms, do you have other ideas for ways to get time for yourself? I would love to hear them. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Drowning by Rachel Firasek

About the Author:

Rachel Firasek spends her days daydreaming of stories and her nights putting the ideas to ink. She has spent a dull life following the rules, meeting deadlines, and toeing the line, but in her made up worlds, she can let the wild side loose. Her wonderful husband and three children support her love of the written word and only ask for the occasional American Idol or Swamp People quality hour.

She has a philosophy about love. It must devastate or it isn't truly worth loving. She hopes that you all find your devastating love and cling to it with all your heart!
 Her latest book is the new adult contemporary romance, Drowning.
Visit her website

Connect & Socialize with Rachel!


About the Book:

Title: Drowning
Author: Rachel Firasek
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

"I dare you." 

Those words would change adrenaline junkie, Alice Harrison's life forever. She's a party girl that doesn't believe in love until she meets a man that only writes about it.

Seth James escaped his overbearing father and moved into one of the James family's vacant condos, hoping to create the music he loves in peace. But the fragile calm he's envisioned shatters when a tiny woman with a world full of energy bounces out of the elevator and nearly takes him out.

 With the patience of a saint, Seth seeks the dark that keeps Alice from enjoying life. He challenges her to exorcise the demons in her past in order to discover the true meaning of love. But when the walls fall down, the hidden deceptions will bare the ugly truth about a woman drowning in sorrow and a man who may not know how to be her hero.

 Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


Book Excerpt:

He tucks a hand into the waistband of my shorts and drags me into the hall, pulling my door shut behind me. “Where did you get that?” His gaze lingers on the small bump decorating my forehead.

I reach up and touch the sore knot. “Oh, I fell.”

“How?” He raises his free hand and traces the swelling.

I don’t even feel the careful prodding. No, my concentration is solely focused on the fingers tucked inside my shorts and only inches away from becoming way too familiar with me. “Um…I was doing yoga when you guys came down the hall.”

 “And?” He tugs me closer. His thumb rakes a small path below my belly button.

Oh my. “Uh…I fell out of…of…my pose and banged my head on the floor.”
His eyes darken and those beautiful lips part. I want to snake my tongue across the bottom one to find out if it is as soft as it looks.

He winces and lowers his eyes to mine. “So this is my fault?”

 I grab onto his wondering hand and pull it free of my shorts. If I didn’t, I’d be asking him for a wallgasm in less than two minutes. Random teasing and fleeing was a no go for me now. “No. It was an accident. Lighten up, G.”

“I don’t want to cause you pain.” 

Wow, that feels like a loaded proclamation. “Okay. Well, keep the noise down and we should be good.”

He drops the hand that had been rubbing away my bruise. Funny, I’d totally forgotten it. “I don’t want to cause you pain. It’s a personal thing.” A deep shudder races over him, and for some reason, I don’t think he is with me anymore.

“You didn’t. I’m fine.” I lift a hand and cup the side of his face, bringing his gaze to mine. It is the gentlest moment I’ve ever had with a man, and we’ve just met. “I’m not sure what this is, G., but I think I should go inside.”

He glances down the corridor, takes a deep breath, and nods. “Yes, you should.”


Pump Up Your Book and Rachel Firasek are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins November 5 and ends November 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 2, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

607 pages, paperback
Published September 1998, Vintage

Source: borrowed from a friend

It is not very often that a book completely draws me in to its world so thoroughly. This was one I read slowly and made last for awhile and it wasn't because of how long it was, but because I wanted to really read everything and make sure I didn't miss a thing. Every word, every look from a character, and each of their stories seemed to have hidden meanings. 

The story at first seems pretty straightforward and simple…man loses cat, man searches for cat, loses wife, then finds cat. It is so not that simple, of course. The man, Toru Okada, comes across a multitude of interesting characters during his search, each with a story to tell. 

Dreamlike and otherworldly, this book has made its way onto my favorites list. I loved its Kubrick-esque feel. It was so different than anything I have read before. I can't wait to find out how the others in my book group felt about it. I am thinking no one enjoyed it as much as I did.

Have you read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle? What did you think about it?

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pin It and Do It : Crocheted Flowers

The little girl is going as a bee to a friend's Halloween party and I have been told that I need to be her flower. :)

Well, I thought, why not be a whole garden of flowers? I looked for a pattern, on Pinterest, for an easy crocheted flower that I could make many of and then chain them to make a garland to drape over my green dress.

This flower worked perfectly. Here is the Pin.
You can find the pattern at AnneMarie's Haakblog.

Thanks, Trish for the Challenge! That makes two pins completed! Yay!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pin It and Do It: Halloween Craft

One item I had pinned earlier this month, was this fun art activity to do with a classroom of 2-4 year olds. It was actually one of three activities, so its simplicity was perfect.

I was looking for something with less prep and with items I already had at home. My teacher supplies came in handy. I have a huge box of cookie cutters I used for play dough and there I found the perfect pumpkin cutters in there. All I had to buy was the paper and the paint. 
The kids seemed to have a good time with the activity and there were some really great results. No paper was the same. The kids did a great job.
Here is the original pin: 

It can be found at: 

Thanks,Trish, for the challenge.