Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Random Tuesday: Random This Week

Happy Random Tuesday, My Lovelies!  We're enjoying the first week of fall around here, but where are the autumn temperatures?  This is the hottest September I can ever remember, and I'm over the heat. But in spite of the hot temperatures, I'm dragging out the pumpkins and decorating for fall this week. Stay tuned for a punkin'-palooza post later on this week!

Here's a hint:  Our fall decor will combine cream, blue, and orange, of course!

The main reason I want the weather to cool down is so we can enjoy our patio and outdoor kitchen more.  We made a few changes on the patio: we changed our furniture by the fireplace.  Here's the before:

We had two smaller sofas

And here's the after:

...and replaced them with a semicircular sofa and ottoman.

I thought I'd lost my geraniums, but they've come back nicely because I've been watering the heck out of them.

Our roses and plumbago are still doing well in spite of the heat.

This week is Banned Books Week, and I read banned books!  ;P

My oldest daughter loves cereal (we call them jank-o's) and she bought home these creeptastic jank-o's yesterday:

Did you catch that?

Build your own marshmallow skeletons?  WTH?

Well at least she didn't bring home pumpkin spice jank-o's....

This might be more scary than Bloody Mary!

Our favorite show is back!  Yes!

Poldark, Season 2!!!

Last night our Chicago Cubs won game #100 with the help of a grand slam home run by Javi Baez.

So that about does it for me: Fluffing the house with pumpkins, reading as many banned books as I can, and watching the Cubbies and Season 2 of Poldark.  Life.  Is.  Good!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, September 26, 2016

Congratulations to My Daughter

Good Morning, My Lovelies!  I would like to congratulate my daughter for being selected as a BookBub featured book which raised her Amazon rankings to #6 in paranormal romance.  As a result of her sales, Barnes & Noble is now selling her print books.  

The portrait above was painted by me over the summer.  It's entitled "Graduate School Barbie" and it's an 8 X 10 painting rendered in oils on linen.  I'm currently taking a portrait class from Annabelle DeCamillis.  I never thought I'd enjoy portraiture, but I do love it!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, September 23, 2016

Literary Friday: The Bone Tree

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I hope you have a stack of wonderful books to read over the weekend.  I'm reading the eighth installment of the Flavia de Luce mystery series this weekend, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd."  I'm in a very happy place!

Recently I read the second installment of Greg Iles' Natchez Burning trilogy entitled The Bone Tree. This series is very dark, and the villains and action completely over the top.  But this is the fifth book Iles has written about the series' protagonist Penn Cage, and so far I prefer the first three books which are stand alone novels.  The Bone Tree is definitely not a stand alone: If you haven't read Natchez Burning, don't even bother reading it.

Join us for a readalong of the Natchez Burning trilogy!

More than fifteen dedicated and enthusiastic bloggers will endeavor to read Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree later this summer as they prepare for the release of the final installment of The Natchez Burning Trilogy, Mississippi Blood, on sale Winter 2017!

About The Bone Tree

Paperback: 832 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 13, 2016)

According to Goodreads:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles continues the electrifying story he began in his smashing New York Times bestseller Natchez Burning with this highly anticipated second volume in an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

Southern prosecutor Penn Cage is caught in the darkest maelstrom of his life. The heartbreaking but seemingly straightforward death of his father's African-American nurse, Viola Turner, has fractured Penn's family and turned Dr. Tom Cage into a fugitive from justice. And in the search for his father and his reasons for running, Penn has unwittingly started a war with a violent offshoot of the KKK, the Double Eagles, whose members seem to know much more about Tom's past than Penn or his mother ever did.

Desperately following his father's trail, Penn finds himself in a maze of mirrors, beset on all sides by a family of criminals and corrupt police whose power reaches into the highest levels of state government. To even the odds, Penn must rely on allies whose objectives are very different from his own. FBI special agent John Kaiser sees Tom Cage as the key to closing not only countless civil rights murders, but also the ultimate cold case: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Penn's fiancée, journalist Caitlin Masters, is chasing the biggest story of her career and believes Tom can lead her to evidence of America's most secret, shameful history. In the end, all roads will lead to the mysterious Bone Tree, a legendary killing site that may conceal far more than the remains of the forgotten.

Penn now knows that the death of Viola Turner is a door to the darkest chapters of America's past. In the civil rights battleground that was 1960s Mississippi and Louisiana, powerful men had audacious, sweeping agendas, and their violent race murders concealed a conspiracy that ran wide and deep, involving the New Orleans Mafia, a Double Eagle hit squad, and a world- altering murder in Dealey Plaza in 1963. And if the FBI can be believed, somehow Dr. Tom Cage stands at the center of it all.

Enthralling, captivating, and utterly engrossing, The Bone Tree is a masterpiece of modern suspense and the next novel in the monumental trilogy that Greg Iles was born to write.

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Purchase Links

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Greg Iles

About Greg Iles

Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children. Find out more about Greg at his website, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on Facebook.

My Review:

I read Natchez Burning about three weeks before I read The Bone Tree, and I'm happy that I read them that close together because there are so many characters and storylines to follow.  The Bone Tree adds the assassination of JFK to the mix: this is my biggest criticism of the book.  I read a lot of historical fiction, but Iles does a poor job of integrating the history with his fictitious conspiracy theories.  It just doesn't work in this book, and if it had all been edited out the book would have been better and at least 100 pages shorter.

There is more over the top violence and ridiculously unbelievable rescues in this book as well.  I know that Iles is a better writer than this.  I know because I've read all of his previous novels but one. He doesn't need shock value to tell a good story.  His plot points are so crazy that he expects way to much from me to maintain my suspension of disbelief.  It's so disappointing!  And what he's done to Dr. Tom Cage's character is unforgivable.  His storyline is so messed up!  I wish I'd quit reading about this family before this series because the danger and upheaval Tom is putting his family through is unforgivable.

Although there's lots of tedious repetition in the book, Iles throws out so many new characters with little explanation.   I could have used a character log, truly.  Maybe that's Iles' plan, to write a Natchez Burning Companion so the reader can keep everyone straight.

SPOILER:  A major character dies in this book.  I didn't care, either.  Iles tries to give the character a condition to make the reader care, but when someone continually puts others at risk for selfish gains?
This character is selfish beyond belief.  Hopefully the third installment will benefit from his or her demise.

DISCLOSURE:  I received a copy of The Bone Tree from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, September 22, 2016

8 Colorful, Cozy Libraries *plus* a Book Review

Happy First Day of Autumn, My Lovelies!  One of my goals for autumn is to work very hard to I can have some free time (maybe one afternoon or morning per week) to enjoy our Library.  I'd like to get cozy and read!  Our library is raspberry, our brightest room in our home.  Below is a slideshow from Houzz, and the libraries are bold blue, red, chartreuse, plum, and teal.  Which one is your favorite?

Recently I read a wonderful book for book club.  But our book club can never seem to get it together and meet.  This is so frustrating to me because I Bust my butt to read a book in time for the meeting, then at the last minute almost everyone has something come up and they can't meet. I'm over it.  I'm going to find a different book club.

I know it isn't Literary Friday, but I want to briefly tell you about our book club selection because I enjoyed it.

From Goodreads:

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

My Review:

This is the first book I've read written by Liane Moriarty, and I plan to read another one of her books soon.  I love how she writes, and the way she presented the story in this book is brilliant. The reader is aware that something unpleasant happens at the barbeque, but the narrative flips back and forth from the present to the barbeque told in flashback.

What intrigues me the most about this story is the friendship between Clementine and Erika. We get a glimpse of what each thinks about the other through their points of view, so in a way it's a challenge for the reader to discern who's more at fault in their not so healthy friendship.

Once all the pieces fall into place about the barbeque, the reader can look back and understand the characters' attitudes and motivations much more clearly.  Although there is tension within the marriages, I still think that the storyline about friendship is stronger and more compelling.

This book also makes the reader think about neighbors and boundaries.  How involved do we really need to be in our neighbors' lives?  What's healthy, what's humane?  There are so many layers to Truly Madly Guilty.  This was our book club selection last month, and I'm so sad that the meeting was canceled because this book is worth discussing.

Do you have plans to read any wonderful books this season?  I'd love to add to my Goodreads Want to Read list, so please share your book recommendations in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Random Tuesday: Random *fun*

Happy Random Tuesday, My Lovelies!  Today's random is fun....F-U-N *fun*

First, I want to share some mailbox fun I received from Katie, Derby and Julep's mom.  Seriously, Derby and Julep are the cutest little Westie-bugs on the planet.  I love reading about their shenanigans!

Take a look-see:

Look at how cute Katie wrapped my prezzie!

Katie made me these adorable napkins!  She knows me very well!  I love the retro look of the fabric with the Scooby-Doo flowers and white pumpkins.  So AH-dorable!

Thank-you, Katie!

Last Saturday, Shelley participated in her first demo at a Judson College Preview Day.  She and her team did an amazing job, and it was fun to see her ride!  They also had their team pictures made.  I haven't uploaded her team photos or her video yet, but I'll get to it by next week.  

Speaking of other wonderfulness in the mail.....Look what *finally* arrived!  Yes!  It's the next Flavia de Luce mystery!  I am so, so happy so I guess you know what I'll be doing this week!  Based on the cover, this installment must be a Christmas mystery.  YAY!

I was a bit surprised because I recognized the title from my favorite Shakespearean tragedy, you knw, the Scottish play:

A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron. Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES.

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.

Harpier cries, “'Tis time, ’tis time.”

Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' th' charmèd pot.

Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Hmmm.....I truly thought that the timing of the release (today) and the title of the book meant that it might be a Halloween story, but then I saw the holly under the cat's paw.  Very mysterious!

What are you doing today that's fun?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill