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text 2017-10-29 19:34
The Sunday Post: Halloween Fun

With Halloween happening on a weekday night this year, my friends and I had a bit of seasonal fun this weekend at this lovely place: Glamis Castle.

 

 

Glamis is my favourite castle hands down (and I have visited ... many). It's not just the Macbeth connection, or the connection with Queen Mother, or anything like that, it is because they (still privately owned by the Strathmores) really care about the place and about making visitors feel welcome. There is always something special about what they put on. And it is a community thing - the castle is staffed by locals who have been there for a long time, the guides have been there forever, the old castle kitchens (now the restaurant) uses local produce from the estate, etc. I seriously love visiting this place and try to do so at least once every year. 

 
This year, the castle put on a Halloween event - A Halloween themed tour of the castle and they also made up a Macbeth inspired walk around the grounds that was fitted with sculptures and a light and sound installation.
 
 
One of my friends has problems with her eyesight at the moment and can't really manage well in the dark. So, we decided to get there in the afternoon and walk around the castle gardens and woods first, while there was still daylight.
It was so much fun. The other friend who came was a bit sceptical at first because, well, how much fun can trees with lights really be, right? However, we spent nearly the whole walk laughing and being shocked by the sounds. At one point my sceptical friend found a big, bright red button in from of the witches sculpture - of course she pressed it! The thunder, lightning, and smoke that ensued set us jumping. One of us even lost her shoe! Seriously, we had so much fun.
 
 
After the woods, we joined the castle tour that we had booked. It was fab! They had dimmed the lights so the parts of the castle were completely dark, others just lit by candles. They decorated everything with gargoyles, skeletons, cob webs ... and live actors dressed as ghosts, zombies, knights, witches...all turning up at random times to make you feel really, erm, uneasy. 
 
(This photo was one I found on the Glamis Castle Facebook page.)
 
The tour told only of the castle's ghosts and gory stories, and a little history. Not much history, tho, because this was a Halloween tour and there were kids present (who might have been bored). And still, we all learned something new. 
 
At the end of the tour, I ended up as a tribute to the resident witches but managed to escape just in time to follow my friends to the old castle kitchens for homemade roast pumpkin soup and a well deserved and absolutely huge pot of tea. 
 
 
So much fun.
 
On top of that, I picked up from the tour that there seems to be a connection between Glamis and Bonnie Dundee (Graham Claverhouse or Bloody Dundee) - who was the subject of Josephine Tey's only (as far as I know) work of non-fiction (which is on my TBR). And because of how rabbit holes work, I now need to know what the connection is. (There is a portrait of Claverhouse in the portrait gallery at Glamis...) 
 
 
Happy Sunday!
 
 
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text 2017-10-21 14:00
#30DaysofReadathon - Day 30 through 20
Public Secrets - Nora Roberts
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Vision Vol. 2: Little Better Than a Beast - Tom King,Michael Walsh
An Encounter at Hyde Park - Ava Stone,Deb Marlowe,Claudia Dain,Karen Hawkins
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia - Wade Von Grawbadger,Dave Stewart,Greg Rucka,J.G. Jones
A Slight Miscalculation: A Half Moon House Short Story (Half Moon House Series Book 3) - Deb Marlowe
The Christmas Child (Love Inspired - Linda Goodnight
Blue Dahlia - Nora Roberts

I bombed out on doing this part of the Dewey Read-a-thon. I just don't do well with daily challenge prompts. So I figured I group them in tens and make three posts.

 

Day 30 Favorite Book - Public Secrets by Nora Roberts

 

Day 29 Short Book - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

Day 28 Red - Vision, Volume 2: Little Better Than a Beast by Tom King et al

 

Day 27 Snacks - Pretzels for salty snack, as they are not greasy like potato chips but have the same crunch factor. Starbucks' London Fog (venti, cause go big or go home) for sweet.

 

Day 26 Short Stories - An Encounter at Hyde Park by Various Authors

 

Day 25 Comics craze - Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka et al

 

Day 24 Drinks - My newest favorite drink is Kraken Black Spice Rum and Coca-Cola. All time drink is still a cuppa tea.

 

Day 23 Space - A Slight Miscalculation by Deb Marlowe

 

Day 22 Cozy - The Christmas Child by Linda Goodnight

 

Day 21 Blue - Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts

 

 

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text 2017-08-31 07:30
August 2017 Wrap Up
Falling for the Enemy - Naomi Rawlings
Homicide in High Heels - Gemma Halliday
Her Holiday Family (Texas Grooms (Love Inspired Historical)) - Winnie Griggs
Mission of Hope (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter
The Dragon and the Pearl - Jeannie Lin

 I am burning out on COYER. I need something other than Harlequin romance. Bring on Halloween Bingo!

 

Challenges:

BL/GR: 128/150; 85% completed

Pop Sugar: 2; 42/52 prompts filled

Library Love Challenge: 2; 42/36 for the year

COYER: 12; 82% of list read from June-August

 

1. Falling for the Enemy by Naomi Rawlings (COYER) (Pop Sugar) - 5 stars

 

2. Homicide in High Heels (High Heels #8) by Gemma Halliday (COYER) (Library Love) - 4 stars

 

3. Chaucer's Major Tales by Michael Hoy and Michael Stevens (Pop Sugar) (COYER) (Library Love) - 2.5 stars

 

4. Her Holiday Family by Winnie Griggs (COYER) - 4 stars

 

5. Mission of Hope by Allie Pleiter (COYER) - 4.5 stars

 

6. The Baby Barter by Patty Smith Hall (COYER) - 3 stars

 

7. Emma and the Outlaw by Linda Lael Miller (COYER) - 1.5 stars

 

8. The Bootlegger's Daughter by Lauri Robinson (COYER) - 1 star

 

9. Love, Special Delivery by Melinda Curtis (COYER) - 2 stars

 

10. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin (COYER) - .5 star

 

11. The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin (COYER) - 4 stars

 

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text 2017-08-31 07:25
COYER Summer 2017 Wrap Up
A Lady for Lord Randall (Brides of Waterloo) - Sarah Mallory
A Mistress for Major Bartlett - Annie Burrows
The Bull Rider's Homecoming (Blue Thorn Ranch) - Allie Pleiter
Mission of Hope (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter
Homefront Hero - Allie Pleiter
The Doctor's Undoing (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter
Persepolis I & II - Marjane Satrapi
Falling for the Enemy - Naomi Rawlings

 

I am cutting COYER short to make room for Halloween Bingo. Between IRL obligations and running this beehive, my reading time is shorter than it was in the beginning of summer. So here is my wrap up post.

 

I chose the reading list option for this challenge, which helped a lot because I didn't spend so much time choosing which book to read next - it was already done for me. I tried to pick books that were languishing on the TBR for a long time. I only read 2 books not on my list.

 

When it came to the quality of what I read, there are some highlights: book one and two of the Brides of Waterloo trilogy, all of Allie Pleiter's books, Falling for the Enemy, and The Complete Persepolis. Some lowlights include the Midnight Breed novella, Butterfly Swords, and a few books I received at RT that failed to impress.

 

I completed a trilogy in the first read-a-thon of the challenge (Brides of Waterloo). I got ahead of a few series as well. The first two read-a-thons went well, the last one I tanked hard. I also did BL-opoly for a little while and did two outside read-a-thons (#24in48 and BoB Cycle 20). I also got a few more prompts from the Pop Sugar challenge filled.

 

For the most part, I kept up on reviews and participated in the FB group most days. The Instagram challenge went well for the first 18 days, then I completely lost the will to keep going - this is still MUCH more than I usually do, so I am happy. I won during one of the Twitter chat parties, so I just have to pick out my prize.

 

Overall, I am happy with my work in this challenge and look forward to the winter edition. For the winter edition: sign ups start November 18th, challenge starts December 18th (not as long as the summer one). The title of the winter edition is Winter Switch, and there is hints at having another list option and new rules to play by. Stay tuned.

 

Stats:

45 books total on the list (30 original and 15 additions)

37 books read

     .5 star - 2 books

     1 star - 4 books

     1.5 stars - 2 books

     2 stars - 10 books

     2.5 stars - 1 books

     3 stars - 3 books

     3.5 stars - 3 books

     4 stars - 4 books

     4.5 stars - 3 books

     5 stars - 3 books

6 books sent back to the TBR pile

2 books DNF'd

6 books from the library, everything else was from my personal library

3 non-fiction books

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-13 22:55
Review: The Baby Barter by Patty Smith Hall
The Baby Barter (Love Inspired Historical) - Patty Smith Hall

I read one other book by this author and that was a DNF. I picked up this book during Harlequin's October sale, so that was prior to the DNF. I struggled at times to get through this book, but it was a decent inspirational romance.

 

Sheriff Mack Worthington is trying to handle the changing times in his small town of Marietta, Georgia while also trying to adopt a baby girl named Sarah. Sarah was born with a mouth deformity (read to me like it was a cleft palate). The changing nature of his small town was due to the war ending (sending GIs home) and the bomber plant cutting jobs (mostly women employees). The judge for the adoption is not looking favorably on Mack's lack of marriage prospects. Lucky for Mack, his high school friend/crush has come home from the war along with the GIs.

 

Thea was an Army nurse during the European campaign and is home only to help out her dysfunctional family. Thea left Marietta eight years ago (for nursing school, then the Army) and her presence has the whole town buzzing. Thea's goal is to find her recently deceased sister's baby and raise it as her own. Her high school friend/crush just so happens to be trying to adopt the baby.

 

There was a lot to like about this story. Mack and Thea had a history that was based on friendship and honesty. Thea was a capable nurse and had a wonderful bed side manner. Ms. Aurora Adair is an angel and the confident both Thea and Mack needed individually. She was my favorite character in the book. The pacing was slow in the first half of the book, but picked up when Thea agreed to a marriage of convenience to Mack.

 

There were some lackluster parts to the story. For one, all the answers to the question of Sarah's birth parents can be found in Ms. Williams' letter that neither Mack or Thea ever opened or read. That was the major plotline behind the stalled adoption and it was never resolved. Mack's cousins and his lawyer were cloying and annoying, especially Beau (Mack's conversations with Beau is what I struggled with). For a book that took place mere weeks after the end of WWII, there was hardly any world building or period details. The religious tone and actions/words from the characters felt very performative and shoe-horned in and not natural to the story or the characters.

 

I am glad I kept reading this book, but I don't think I want to read anything more from this author. I just wasn't "Wow"ed by the writing.

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