Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Banana Muffins

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

For more information, see the Welcome post on Beth Fish Reads.

For other food-related posts this week, click here.

I've been making these muffins on and off for over 20 years and I'm still not tired of them. It's my standard recipe when I want muffins.

Banana Muffins
3 bananas - very ripe
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine - softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup water (1/4 - 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup walnuts

1 tbsp white sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare muffin tin.

Mash bananas. Add sugar, margarine, egg and vanilla. Beat well.

Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the banana mixture to dry ingredients and mix lightly.

Add enough water to make mixture moist. Fold in nuts. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full for small muffins (makes 12) or full for larger muffins (makes 9).

Mix white sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Variation: For a slightly different taste, add 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut (the baking kind) to the dry ingredients. Yum!


The History Book by DK Publishing

The History Book presents "a trip through history from the stone age to the digital age". In this book, history is split into 6 time periods from 4 million years ago all the way to the present. It uses humour and flashy modern paraphernalia for the presentations that include large illustrations, photographs and other visual aids.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a joy to read and quite hilarious at times. The material isn't new, but the presentation is unique and makes learning history so much fun. As I've said many times on this blog, history is not my thing. If this book was around when I was first learning about history, I probably would have liked it a whole lot more. Besides being fun, the book is also educational and I learned a few things along the way.

I couldn't possible list all of the great items in this book. Every time I open it, I find something new. There are games: board games, arcade games, mazes, jigsaw puzzles...just to name a few. None of these are interactive, but it would be really fun if they were. There are also web pages/sites/blogs for historical figures, newspaper articles, interviews with the famous and infamous of the past, collages, comic strips and numerous maps and so much more. Each page is different from the last. All of the material is presented in a big, bright, eye-catching and informative format.

Some of my favourite pages for content and presentation:
- board game featuring Egyptian after life (page 32-33)
- boxing match between Sargon of Akkad and Nebuchadnezzar II (page 34-35)
- the Irish Rebellion presented on a song sheet with annotated lyrics. (page 232-233).
- curious quotes, mix-ups and misquotes (page 286-287)
- report card on Joseph Stalin (page 230-231)
- Roman Emperors' high school photographs along with interested, goals, voted most likely to... etc. (page 56-57)

The table of contents is fabulous. It's clearly grouped by time period and is nicely laid out. In addition, each of the topics is listed with a short description. The index is a little short, but it's still adequate. Both of these items should aid the reader in finding items in the book.

Highly recommended. While this book will probably never be used as a text book in school, I think it would be ideal for young history buffs or for those whose eyes glaze over when past events are mentioned.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the DK website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

The History Book by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley Limited(DK), ©2008. ISBN 9781553631347(Paperback), 304p.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Socks and Quilted Wrap

It's time for another instalment of "Needlework Tuesday", which I first saw over at Heather's blog, Books and Quits.

I finished the socks! These yoga socks don't have toes or heels, so that the wearer can grip the yoga mat more easily. While the first sock took awhile, the second knitted up in no time. When I first looked at the pattern that said 'One size to fit average lady', I thought the socks might be too small. To me, average would be size 7 or 8. I have wear an 9 or 10. I like tight socks, so I thought they'd work anyway. However, as I was knitting, the sock looked too big. As it turned out, I was right. (Perhaps if I checked my gauge before I started, I might have been able to adjust something. *sigh*) Anyway, I still like them and will probably wear them occasionally.

Here's the photo (another self-portrait with the help of a mirror):

I also found a border fabric for my quilted wrap and attached it to the rest. Here's a photo of the whole thing:

I still need to decide how I'm going to finish it off. Batting, yes. Backing and binding, probably muslin. Quilting, not sure. I've made a couple of other larger quilts, but ended up tying them inside of quilting them because I was too lazy. I might do that here, too.

As for my next project, I'm probably going to make another pair of socks. Again from Patons. This time with toes and heels. Woohoo! I'm definitely going to check my gauge first and hopefully have socks that actually fit me.

Hopefully Heather will post an update on her socks and other projects. When she does, I'll update this post.

Don't forget to drop in on Heather's blog post this week to see how her socks are progressing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards

The Lake of Dreams, Lucy Jarrett returns to her childhood home after being away for some time. She's still haunted by her father's death ten years ago. Shortly after she arrives she finds some letters, pamphlets and other items hidden in a window seat of her mother's house. She discovers that these items may be related to her family's past and a secret that been buried a long time. As she reconnects with her mother, brother, old friends and relatives, she must come to terms with the changes around her before she finally learns the truth about her father's death.

I enjoyed this multifaceted story. There was so much going on with Lucy coming home to find numerous changes in the community and in her family, the guilt and emotions she's harboured about the death of her father, a family history and the connection to the suffragette movement, the mysterious stained glass windows and the artisan who created them, and a long lost relative who wasn't talked about. There were just so many secrets to uncover and learn about during the course of the story, I really wanted to see how the book would end.

I really liked Lucy and Keegan. Lucy's desire to research her family history and right past wrongs was admirable. I also understood her reaction to Keegan after not seeing him for years. As for Keegan, I'm not quite sure why I liked him. Maybe it was because he was so welcoming to Lucy or maybe it was the attraction he had to her or maybe because I found his business so fascinating. I was also rather fond of Iris. As for characters I didn't like, I couldn't quite put my finger on Lucy's boyfriend, Yoshi. I didn't feel the closeness between them as I did with Lucy and Keegan. I also didn't care for Lucy's mother. She felt a bit distant to me.

I was enamoured by the stain glass windows and the history surrounding them. I could have read a whole book just about them and the artisan who designed and created them.

New word:
susurrations (page 327): a whispering sound

My one complaint about the book was the way that information from the past was introduced by way of Rose's letters to her daughter Iris. Not only were these letters never sent, but Rose never intended to send them. I know that people do this (write letters they don't send), but I guess I don't get it. The content of the letters also seemed a bit odd to me. It seemed that sometimes Rose was writing to someone much older, not a young child. Also, do (or did) people really write lengthy punctuated dialogue in letters? Anyway, I think I would have preferred flashbacks, diary entries or something else. As it is, it didn't work for me.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Penguin's website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Kim Edwards's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Penguin for this review copy.

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards, Viking (Penguin), ©2011. ISBN 9780670022175(Advance Uncorrected Proofs), 378p.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Eyewitness Companions: World History by Philip Parker

Eyewitness Companions: World History features history starting in the very early times to the present from all corners of the world. The book divides history into 7 times periods from the prehistoric world (up to 3000 BCE) the modern world (after 1914). It has short articles on lots of subjects many with relevant photographs/illustrations of artefacts, architecture, people and the like. There are also other visual aids such as maps, charts and much more.

I really like this book. I've mentioned a number of times on this blog that history is not my forte. I think it was all of the memorizing of dates and stuff in school that really turned me off. However, books like this really get me interested in it for, what feels like, the first time. I love learning new stuff and this book presents history in an interesting way. The book is a nice compact size, contains lots of great information and is beautifully laid out. Beside the articles, there are plenty of photographs and lots of quotes from various historical figures and documents. I especially like the timelines of each period, which are presented right after the introduction. These timelines list and briefly describe the major events of the era in chronological order.

Lots of little things make the book visually appealing. Many two-page layouts have three or more colour photographs or illustrations. That's a lot for a book this size. There are also large, clear headings, colour coordinated boxes around the titles, nicely spaced text and photographs and an adequate font size.

For me it's not the type of book you sit and read in a straight-through fashion, although, I guess it's possible to do so. I prefer to flip through it reading whatever catches my eye or use to look up stuff I'd like to know more about (like ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the terracotta warriors or WWI).

The directory near the end of the book provides tons of information in chart form. I love lists, so as you can guess I love this part of the book. It lists world rulers, such as Egyptian Pharaohs, Emperors, Kings and Presidents. There are also lists of major battles in each of the wars from the Greek-Persian Wars (490 - 448 BCE) to Afghanistan War (2001-). This section also has lists of explorers, inventors and discoveries, advances in medicine, artists, architects, writers (Yay!), composers (Yay!), faiths and thinkers.

The book opens with two appropriate quotes regarding history, both of which I liked:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana, 20th-century philosopher)

Think of tomorrow. The past can't be mended. (Confucius, Analects, 6th century BCE)

The table of contents is pretty good. It's nicely laid out and not only lists the major time periods, but it also breaks them down into areas of the world. Therefore, if you want to find out what was happening in The Americas during Medieval times, it's easy to find. The index is quite extensive and is good for finding items in the book.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the DK website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

Eyewitness Companions: World History by Philip Parker, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2010. ISBN 9780756649845(Paperback), 512p.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Night Sky: Month by Month by Will Gater and Giles Sparrow

The Night Sky: Month by Month is a year-round guide to the night sky. It's divided into three sections: Introduction, Monthly Sky Guides, Almanac. The introduction shows Earth in the Universe and shows how and why the night sky changes. The main part of the book is the Monthly Sky Guides section, which features monthly star charts to viewing the night time sky as well as information on what to look for. There are separate charts for both the northern and southern latitudes. The almanac is presented in calendar form, which lists the major celestial events from 2011-2019.

I really enjoyed this book. It's well laid out and very informative. The meat of the book, the sky guides, lay out the constellations at different times of the year. It starts off with a really good explanation of how to use this part of the book. The guides themselves are large enough to read easily, but not too large to make holding the book for longs periods of time difficult. I learned that Orion, my favourite constellation, is best seen in my area in January. I always wondered about that. Why couldn't it be visible in June when the weather is a lot nicer and I don't have to stand outside when it's -30ºC? I think it's time to find another favourite. I'm thinking Hercules. It's best visible in the summer time and I already have an idea of what it looks like.

I especially liked the almanac's calendar design. It's visually appealing and very easy to understand. I laughed out loud at myself when I realized that moon phases, lunar eclipses, solar eclipses and planet alignments can be calculated far in advance and not just something that is stumbled upon weeks before hand. Yes, I have a *lot* to learn when it comes to astronomy.

My one minor complaint is that the photographs, while plentiful and stunning, are rather small. I'm sure that's to make room for the large format star charts/sky guides.

New words:
• asterism - a recognizable pattern of stars, where the stars are either a part of a constellation or are members of several constellations. An example is the Big Dipper in Ursa Major. (from the glossary)
• annular eclipse - This term was new to me. I've heard of partial eclipses and total eclipses, but not annular eclipses. I got the following definition from an eclipse of the sun in which the moon does not cover the entire disc of the sun, so that a ring of sunlight surrounds the shadow of the moon.

The book contains a decent table of contents. It lists numerous entries for each section (especially the sky guides) so it should be easy enough to find any item. The glossary contains concise definitions for some of the terms used in astronomy. This is especially useful for someone like me. The index is also pretty good. I looked up a few items and found everything I was looking for.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the DK website.

For more information about the author, please visit Will Gater's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

The Night Sky: Month by Month by Will Gater and Giles Sparrow, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2011. ISBN 9780756671488(Hardcover), 128p.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Lemon-Ginger Refrigerator Roll

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

For more information, see the Welcome post on Beth Fish Reads.

For other food-related posts this week, click here.

I love to bake so I don't usually go for these types of desserts that call for prepackaged items. However, my sister-in-law served this one to us over the holidays and we really enjoyed it. Since we are still painting/renovating our kitchen it's either a really easy dessert or no dessert. While my hips could go with no dessert, my sweet tooth isn't so sure. This recipe comes from the Kraft Kitchens hence it calls for their Kraft products. I used what I could find.

I've made this recipe twice now and noticed that I didn't have enough topping to frost the entire roll after assembling the cookie part. I must be putting more of the mixture between the cookies than is called for. My solution was to mix in more Cool Whip (at least another cup) before frosting the roll. Also, I didn't have a platter long enough to accomodate this so I made two logs, placed them side by side with a little of the topping inbetween them and then frosted the whole thing. The photo below doesn't do it justice. It tastes better than it looks.

Lemon-Ginger Refrigerator Roll

1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jell-O Lemon Instant Pudding
1 cup cold skim milk
1-1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Light Whipped Topping
30 Mr. Christie's Ginger Snaps Biscuits

Make It
BEAT pudding mix and milk in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in Cool Whip.
SPREAD about 1-1/2 tsp. pudding mixture onto each cookie. Stack cookies, standing on edge on platter to make log. Frost with remaining pudding mixture.
REFRIGERATE 8 hours. Cut diagonally into 12 slices to serve.

Kraft Kitchens Tips
Dessert needs to be refrigerated at least 8 hours before serving to allow the cookies to soften to the desired cake-like texture. If desired, dessert can be stored in refrigerator up to 24 hours before serving.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Facebook and Twitter

Did you know that Daisy's Book Journal is now on Facebook? That's right. Click here to check it out. Each time I create a new post on my blog, it's automagically syndicated to Facebook. It's a great way to get the new content delivered to your Facebook feed. If you like what you see and you're on Facebook, I'd love it if you'd "like" me over there.

By the way, I'm also on Twitter. Just recently I set it up so that when I create a new post on my blog, Twitter is updated with a link. Click here for my Twitter feed. I love following other book people, so if you like books and follow me, I'll follow you!

Is your blog on Facebook? Leave a comment and I'll check it out and "like" it. Likewise, if you're on Twitter. Either way, let me know how to find you on those sites. I'm always looking for new people to follow.

That's it for now. Good Night.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

In Left Neglected, Sarah Nickerson is a working mom with a busy schedule and not enough hours in the day. One day, while driving, she momentarily takes her eyes off the road to make a call on her cell phone and gets into a car accident. This accident leaves her with a serious brain injury, known as left neglect. Her brain unable to recognize anything on the left. As she recovers, she sees what she's been missing by being so busy and realizes that her life can go on albeit differently.

I loved this book. It contains a well written story on a timely subject with wonderful characters that will stay with me for a long, long time. It was also a little scary in that something like this could happen to any of us or our loved ones. The story is basically split into two sections: before and after the accident. I knew the accident was going to happen and got a little anxious waiting for it. The part before it might have been a little long, but I really got a sense of Sarah life. The hurried mom with no time whose job is so demanding really came across. I can't imagine looking after a family and working 80+ hours a week. Afterwards, I really appreciated Sarah's attempt to recover what she'd lost before the accident.

I had a hard time wrapping my head around Sarah's affliction of left neglect. I could understand not being able to see to her left or being paralysed on her left side, but this is something else. She can't see the left hand side of anything. Genova did a great job of explaining it, but as I tried to imagine it (or explain it to my husband), I found that I couldn't. It was just too weird. I'm sure that's part of the reason it's hard to treat or cure. There's so much about the brain that remains unknown. Even what is known is sometimes weird and mysterious. Maybe that's I find the subject so fascinating.

If I had a small complaint about the book, it would be that a few of the chapters at the end made the story a little choppy. I would have, perhaps, rearranged a couple of them or tied a few of them together somewhat differently.

This story outlines why driving and using a cell phone is dangerous and why laws like Manitoba's new cell phone law is so important. Maybe this book should be required reading for those who get caught (in addition to a *huge* fine) as well as those who are about to get their driver's licenses.

I've also read Genova's Still Alice (my review). It's a fabulous book.

Highly recommended. I can't wait to see what Genova comes up with next.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

For more information about the author, please visit Lisa Genova's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster for this review copy.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster), ©2011. ISBN 9781439164631(Advance Reader's Edition), 327p.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bobby Flay's Throwdown! with Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron

Bobby Flay's Throwdown! is a companion cookbook to Bobby's TV show on Food Network. The book offers a selection of recipes from the show as well as information about the episodes. There's also an episode guide and a introduction written by the author.

This is a great book and a great companion to the TV show. Throwdown! has been around for several seasons, but I just started watching recently. The premise of the show is quite simple. Each week, Flay competes against another cook who has a signature dish and is well known in their communities for that dish.

In the book, each "episode" is introduced with information about the competitor (along with contact information) and the food. I especially love that both recipes are represented with the winner of the Throwdown! clearly marked. There are also large, clear, appealing photographs of the completed dishes and the competitors.

I haven't tried any of the recipes yet because I can't decide which one to try first. They all look so good. Another reason I haven't made anything yet is that these recipes are not simple. If you've familiar with Flay's recipes, you'll know that he loves big, bold flavours (as do I) and uses lots of ingredients or specialty ingredients to achieve get them. After I decide which recipe to try first, I'm going to have to go shopping.

The flyleaf invites readers to make both recipes and choose a favourite or to challenge friends and family in their own throwdowns. That might be kind of fun.

The table of contents is pretty basic. It lists the Throwdown! theme (i.e. lasagna) and the page number. The index looks good and should aid in finding the recipes. It not only has the recipes under the name, but also under different categories. For Cheesecake, can also be found under "cakes". There are also some ingredient categories, such as coconut, lobster, black beans etc, under which recipes are listed.

Highly recommended. I'm definitely going to get good use out of this cookbook.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author and his other books and activities, please visit Bobby Flay's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people from The Recipe Club on Facebook for holding a giveaway and for sending me this book. For more information about "The Recipe Club", see their Facebook page or their website.

Bobby Flay's Throwdown! by Bobby Flay, Clarkson Potter/Publishers (Crown Publishing (Random House)), ©2010. ISBN 9780307719164(Hardcover), 272p.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Shrug and Socks

Well, I didn't get as much done on the crafting front this week as I hoped. We are busy planning renovations for two bathrooms (so many decisions to be made) and painting the kitchen. I did manage to finish the shrug, which turned out ok. I really like it and have worn it a number of times already. Here's the photo (Please excuse the paint on my wrist. Did I mention that we were painting the kitchen?):

I also started on the socks. I'm not sure about them though. The one I started looks like it might be too big, even though the pattern states it'll fit an average size lady. My feet are not small. I'll have to wait and see. I don't have a ton of experience knitting on four needles, so it's taking a little extra time. Also, last week I mentioned that I might have trouble going from the 10mm needles (for the shrug) to the 3.25mm needles (for the socks). Sure enough, I *am* having trouble. I feel like a giant who's been dropped into munchkin-land. It's getting easier as I do it more. Here's what I've done so far:

I haven't done any work on the quilted wrap, however, I discovered that I had some quilt batting. In January, we did a quick across-the-border shopping trip. We didn't find any bathroom fixtures we liked, but we did find out that Lowes was trying to get rid of their leftover Christmas decorations. They had dumped them all in shopping carts and were selling the contents of the carts for 5 bucks. A whole overflowing shopping cart (the home improvement size, not the smaller grocery shopping size) for $5! Because we can't resist a deal, we bought one. They were so packed there was no way we could go through the cart to see what was in there, so we didn't really know what we got until we got home. That's when I discovered I had three packages of "Season's Cover", which looks very much like repackaged-for-the-season quilt batting. Yay!

One last thing, you should drop in on Heather's blog post this week. She's knitting two socks at once. How cool is that? I can already see how smart this is. Brilliant! Way to go Heather!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Death Notice by Todd Ritter

In Death Notice, George Winnick is found dead on the side of the highway. He's in a coffin and it looks like someone tried to embalm him. If that's not bizarre enough, Henry Goll, the obituary writer for the Perry Hollow Gazette, received a death notice for Winnick before he died. The town's police chief, Kat Campbell, has never handled a murder case simply because there hasn't been one. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Investigation is called in to take over the case. They have been looking for the "Betsy Ross Killer" and suspect that Winnick is another victim. It just keeps getting worse when the death notices keep on coming and the body count climbs. Campbell just can't sit by and watch. She's determined to restore order to her town and stop the killer, if she can.

This debut mystery by Todd Ritter is awesome! It's so well written that I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading it. It was definitely compelling enough to read in one sitting. Through Ritter's story, I got a sense of the small town and the people who live there. I grew up in the city, but this is pretty much what I imagined a small town would be like. Even though the story was a bit strange, it seemed real enough...and scary. I was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing.

The story does get pretty gory at times. While I usually don't flinch when it comes to stuff like that, I think the gore combined with the intensity made me a little scared to turn the page a few times. I feared what was going to happen next. A few times I could feel my heart beating in my chest as the team realized what was going to happen when another death noticed arrived.

Kat Campbell, Nick Donnelly and Henry Goll, the three main characters, were all excellent. Each brought something different and intriguing to the story. I really liked reading about them. As for the killer, I suspected a few different characters as the story went along, but, of course, I was wrong. Ritter kept me guessing until the very end.

Highly recommended. Todd Ritter is now one of my favourite mystery/thriller writers. I'd love to read another book by him.

For more information about this book, please visit Macmillan's website.

For more information about the author, please visit Todd Ritter's website.

Thanks to Dana Kaye from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

Death Notice by Todd Ritter, Minotaur Books, ©2010. ISBN 9780312622800(Hardcover), 326p.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Marie's "Not-So-Benedict" Eggs

I like Eggs Benedict, but I wanted to put something on the bottom besides bread. Also, I didn't want to go through the trouble of making my own hollandaise sauce. This recipe was adapted from a few different places.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsps Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
1 tbsp hot water

Mix all of the above in the top of a double boiler. Heat for about 8 minutes over simmering water, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thin out as it warms up. Thin with more hot water if necessary.

2 cups water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp dried oregano (or your favourite herb. Tarragon goes great with eggs.)

Boil water. Whisk in cornmeal. Mix in oregano. Turn down heat and cook until done, whisking occasionally. About 5-8 minutes.

Other ingredients
Eggs (2 per person, poached)
Bacon (Canadian or side), cooked
Cheddar cheese, sliced

Spoon out cooked polenta onto plates.
Top with slices of cheddar cheese, slices of bacon and finally the eggs.
Spoon sauce over eggs.


I've made many variations of the above. Once I made a pizza version using turkey pepperoni and mozzarella cheese instead of the bacon and cheddar. It was yummy. I've also been thinking of using cooked spinach in place of the meat.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

No Way Out by Joel Goldman

In No Way Out, ex-FBI agent Jack Davis meets a young bookkeeper, Veronica "Roni" Chase, during a shootout. Roni has just shot a man after he shot and killed his wife. Jack is working in the private sector now and comes to Roni's rescue as the shooting appears to be justified. However, it turns out one of the guns used in this shootout was stolen from a gun dealer. Things are about to heat up and get very dangerous for everyone involved.

This is the 3rd book in the Jack Davis series, but the first one I've read. I loved it! It's fast paced and provides an edge-of-your-seat intensity that doesn't let up. It starts off with a bang and goes right to the end with hardly a break. Besides the shootout, there's also a case of missing children and another where guns are being stolen from gun dealers. Somehow these are all connected and Davis tries to sort it all out as he searches for redemption.

I loved Jack. He was forced to retire from the FBI because of a movement disorder, but that didn't really slow him down all that much. He paid attention to details and worked the cases while juggling a former love interest, an ex-wife with terminal cancer and his disorder. I admit his movement disorder made me a little uncomfortable. It was all so unknown; how/why did he get it, how is it treated, when will it manifest itself. It scared me a little because it's the first time I've heard of it. After I finished the book, I learned that the author suffers from the same disorder. Looking back, that part of the story was quite the eye-opener. I think now if I meet someone who also suffers from this, I won't be that uncomfortable or scared.

As for other characters, I also really liked Davis's co-workers, Lucy Trent and Simon Alexander. Kansas City also plays a big part in the story. I've never visited there, but I almost feel like I have after reading this book.

Favourite quotes:
Never watched a [hockey] game from beginning to end, but I've liked Gretzky ever since I heard him say that you miss a hundred percent of the shots you don't take. (page 325)

Each of us serves different kinds of sentences, some imposed by law, some self-imposed, and some that are part of the inexplicable nature of life.(page 437)

New words:
kvelling (page 210): being extraordinarily proud. Yiddish.

Highly recommended. I'd love to go back and read the first two books in the series. I just know I'm going to love them. Also, I'm going to keep an eye out for other Goldman books.

For more information about this book, please visit Kensington's website.

For more information about the author, please visit Joel Goldman's website.

Thanks to Dana Kaye from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

No Way Out by Joel Goldman, Pinnacle Books (Kensington Publishing), ©2010. ISBN 9780786020416(Mass Market), 439p.

Friday, February 4, 2011

CSN Stores Time Again!

Now that I have a cool new knife holder (see the post on January 30) in the kitchen, I still need something for the newly-finished basement, which I still haven't decided how to decorate. I could also use something for the bathrooms, both of which are about to be gutted and redone. While our house is a Victorian Queen Anne style reproduction on the outside, it's definitely more modern on the inside. Our tastes are somewhat eclectic.

Once again, I've been looking around the CSN stores website to find something interesting. Every time I visit the site, I'm amazed at what they have. Since I have a few books, a bookcase is always a possibility. However, I was also thinking of something a little more fun and funky, like some of the items in their modern décor section. Did you have a look? Doesn't that stuff look fun? Like last time, maybe something from their newsletters will catch my eye.

Anyway, I haven't decided yet, but once I get the item (or items) I'll be back to tell you about it.

Time to go shopping.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro

In The Debutante, Cate is sent by her aunt Rachel to Endsleigh, a crumbling old mansion in England. She is to work with Jack cataloguing and evaluating the contents. She doesn't know much about this work, but she needs a break from her life. Once in the mansion, she discovers an old shoe box hidden at the back of a bookshelf. It contains a pair of silk dancing shoes along with other miscellaneous items. She's soon caught up in the mystery of Baby Blythe, the most famous debutante of her time.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. However, I had some trouble getting into it. It didn't really grab me until about 50 pages in. Before that I started the book three times, putting it down the first two times to read something else. In the end, though, it was quite a good read. I liked all of the mysteries that the book contained: Cate's past, Jack's past and, of course, the shoe box mystery of Baby Blythe.

The story offers a really good mix of past and present. The past dealt with Diana "Baby" Blythe and her sister, Irene "Wren", while the present day story featured Cate and Jack. I really liked how past events were brought into the story through a series of letters from Baby to Wren, which were interspersed with the present day narrative. I enjoyed the letters and really got a sense of society life as well as Baby's life from them. I did have a small problem with them, though. They appeared to be placed randomly without introduction or connection to the what was going on in the present day story. Therefore, it was a little jarring at times to be taken from one time period to another.

The characters were all very likeable. I loved how they interacted with each other and once I got into the book I couldn't wait to see what would happen to them.

I really liked the cover of this book. It's pink, frilly and sophisticated. It is a bit deceiving, though. I thought the story was going to be light-hearted and be from the chick-lit genre. However, the story was substantial, dark and mysterious.

Endsleigh House, the old mansion, was very intriguing. I think it would be fun to visit an old forgotten mansion that held so many secrets.

Recommended. Even though I had a few problems with this book, I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro, Avon (HarperCollins), ©2010. ISBN 9780061125782(Uncorrected proof), 386p.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Socks, Shrug, Wrap

It's time for another instalment of "Needlework Tuesday", which I first saw over at Heather's blog, Books and Quilts.

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to be making socks next. Since I haven't made socks before, I'm going to start with yoga socks, which have no toes or heels (easier to grip the mat to hold those poses). I've chosen my yarn (colour: Demin Jacquard) and have everything ready. Here's the photo:

I've also done a bit of work on the shrug from Lion Brand . It's the one that is basically sleeves that are joined at the upper back around the shoulders. (I think you have to join the website to see the pattern). It's knitting up really quickly; I've done about 1.5 feet of it since the last time I posted. I haven't picked it up lately, but if I try hard I should have it done in a few days. I'll post a photo when it's done.

When I picked up the needles and yarn for the socks, I realized how different it was from the stuff I was using for the shrug. For the shrug: 10mm needles, bulky yarn. For the socks: 3.25mm needles, super fine yarn. I think I might have trouble going from one project to another, so I might have to finish the shrug before starting the socks. I'll have to see. Here's a photo demonstrating the differences:

(needle/yarn for shrug on left; needle/yarn for socks on right)

The last thing I've been working on is a quilted wrap (to wrap around your shoulders) with some fabric that Heather from Books and Quilts sent me over a year ago. I finally decided what I was going to make. Since I had an abundance of plain muslin around, I figured I'd use it up. Right now the size is 74"x25". Here's a little teaser photo:

I realize now that it needs some pizzazz and could probably use a border or something. I'm going to search through my fabric stash and see what I can come up with. I'll post a larger photo after I've pressed it and made a decision on where to go from here.

Anyway, that's it for this week.

Update: I forgot to mention that Heather is also going to be making socks. Head over to her blog to see her yarn selection. It's so nice! Don't forget to check out all of the other wonderful things she's doing.