Friday, March 27, 2015

Favorite Things Friday: The Best Book I Read in March

It's time to reveal the best book I read in March! For those who don't know, I participate in the monthly blog by The Cephalopod Coffeehouse in which we share book reviews and recommendations.

I'm one of those people who buys a book for my kindle and then sits on it for a year before I ever get around to reading it. That's what happened with this book. I started it months ago and then stopped thinking it didn't really interest me. But then I decided to try it again. I don't know if I was more focused on the reading or simply more interested in the story, but this time I found it riveting! My favorite book from March is...

Big Little Lies is a mystery of sorts, but it's also a domestic drama, and I think that's what I really like about it. I love the combination of mystery and soap opera played out in an Australian suburb. Told through three different points of view, the plot revolves around a group of mothers (Madeleine, Celeste, and Jane) whose children attend the same elementary school. From the beginning of the novel, we know that something really bad has happened. The tension of this event which is yet to come continues throughout the story fueled by snippets of interviews from bystanders, school staff and administration, detectives, and other neighbors. We don't know what has happened or to whom, but it's bad enough that the police are involved. Alongside the mystery, the lives of Madeleine, Celeste, and Jane are laid bare, and the secrets of their-not-so-blissful domesticity spill forth.

Liane Moriarty is my new favorite author. She has this talent for writing storylines about regular people that could easily happen, but the what's-going-to-happen factor is so strong that you just have to read on. Her realistic dialogue is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, but always spot on. Right now I'm reading The Husband's Secret, and the style is similar to that of Big Little Lies (several narrators, domestic story, mystery tossed in for good measure), so if you like Big Little Lies, you might try The Husband's Secret afterwards.

If you're looking for a party this afternoon, stop by my Facebook Party link below from 3-9 p.m and join the party link. I'll be featuring Song from the Ashes from 5-5:30, but there will be other authors in different time slots giving away books, gift cards, and other loot!

Facebook Party Link

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Favorite Things Friday (A Day Late): Reyna Revisited

Sorry, everyone! I'm a day late in posting. It's been quite a week (and that's a whole separate blog post for another time).

A few months ago, I featured a hound named Reyna who was in need of a home and available through The Sighthound Underground. Well, guess what, folks? She's still in need of a home!

This month I wanted to revisit Reyna because she's such a great dog, and she's made huge strides of progress since she first came on board at SHUG.

Like a number of Spanish galgos rescued and brought to the U.S., Reyna arrived in America suffering from man-phobia--most likely due to mistreatment by men in her home country. She's still shy of men, but that might change with time and a lot of patience. However, she would do best with a single woman who might already have a couple of dogs in her household. Reyna loves other dogs and loves to go on walks. She's extremely sweet and would make a wonderful addition to an all-female household.

Reyna is spayed, neutered, and updated on all shots. Her adoption fee is $300. If you're interested in Reyna, or know someone else who might be, contact The Sighthound Underground and fill out an application. Or just stop by the website anyway...there are plenty of wonderful, beautiful, adoptable hounds in need of a home!

 . Reyna .

On an unrelated note, next Friday, March 27th, I'll be participating in a multi-author Facebook party. Song From the Ashes will be featured from 5-5:30, but the party will be ongoing between 3 and 9 p.m. There will be free giveaways (my book, other people's books, and other fun swag). Stop by and join in the festivities!  There will be lots of food! (Ha, just joking...). Stop by my Facebook page to join the fun!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Favorite Things Friday: Best Wine of the Month!

A few weeks ago when my stepfather came to town for a visit, we had the privilege of attending Total Wine's Napa and Beyond wine class. If you like wine and haven't had a chance to attend a Total Wine class tasting, I highly recommend them. I also recommend you sign up early as they fill up quickly. The classes only cost $20 and include tastings of around 8-10 wines (a mixture of white and red), and an assortment of cheese, meat, breads, and antipasto.

Although there were many excellent wines in the mix that day, the best by far was the last (and most expensive at $60), cabernet sauvignon, Chappellet 2012.

If you've ever experienced that feeling of your eyes rolling back in your head when you taste a really good wine, then you'll have some hint of what it's like to sample this jewel. Dark cherries roll across the palate like velvet, accompanied by smokey plum and blackberries. Lush and rich, the flavors burst forth in a kaleidoscope of flavors--assaulting the senses in the most pleasurable way possible. What can I say, but ....oh, wow!

Chappellet comes from the Chappellet family vineyards in Napa, California, where they've produced wines since 1969.

If you buy one wine this month, make it the Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon. Your tastebuds will thank you for it!
(My stepfather and I happily savoring Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon 2012)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Favorite Things Friday: Snow Days (and Healthy, Uninjured Dogs)

Snow days are one of God's greatest gifts, as far as I'm concerned. They're a reprieve in the midst of the madness of our day to day life and usually greatly needed and appreciated. There is a still, quiet, pensive quality to snow in and of itself--almost as if God is telling us to take a moment, breathe, and rest from our normal duties because we can't really do them anyway (especially if we live in Northern Virginia).

Although I've appreciated the snow days as much as ever, this most recent batch of snow just could not have come at a more inconvenient moment. Chase, our big retired racer, has been injured since February 22nd with a foot laceration that happened while playing with carefree and wild abandon in the previous snowfall. A trip to the vet the next day ended with minor surgery on his foot to repair the damage, which included clearing away dead skin and intricate suturing techniques (since greyhound skin is like that of a 90 year old woman's). Layers and layers of bandages were applied, and we were warned to keep them completely dry until they were about 17 days.

Over the years people have told me I should have gone into the veterinarian field (because of my love for animals). These same people did not realize that I am THE MOST squeamish, stressed-out individual on the face of the earth when it comes to sick animals. Last week I was literally having chest pains as I worried and fretted over Chase's injury. I took Monday off of work to monitor him continually; every few hours I felt and sniffed his bandages for any signs of wetness or odor (which might signal infection); and I became nearly apoplectic when he stepped into a huge snow bank to potty and snow gushed into the plastic IV bag the vet gave us to put over his bandaging to keep it dry. Frantic use of the hairdrier ensued as I attempted to dry the tiny corner of his bandage that got a little bit damp.

After that, I pulled out the big guns. I bought press and seal cling wrap, found a heavy-duty grocery bag and reinforced the inside with the press and seal, and pulled out a trash bag sized for kitchen use. The grocery bag with reinforcements was applied first followed by a swath of press and seal. This was followed by the IV bag boot and another application of press and seal. Finally the garbage bag, which I had to tie off where his leg meets his body and two more reams of press and seal were applied. I bit my fist the whole time we were out in the six to eight inches of snow, gasping at each incident of Chase stepping into un-shoveled areas, so worried was I that some layer of the body armor would come off. When we returned inside, and I stripped off nine layers of waterproofing, I found that his foot was clean and dry. Huge sigh of relief. All my work paid off. And then I had to do it all over again about two hours later, and I've had to continue doing it for each subsequent bathroom break to maintain peace of mind about that bandage.

Through it all, Chase has been tolerant and patient with me, although his expression seems to say, "Really, Mom? Must we go through this every time I need to pee?" My husband, also, has been extremely tolerant of my neurosis, patiently enduring my overly excited preludes into walks and bathroom breaks punctuated by frantic strips of press and seal. "Honey, you need to relax and have a little faith," he finally told me. "The vet said the stitches are healing better than they even expected."

This is true. At a bandage-change visit the other day, the vet confirmed that everything is healing perfectly and more quickly than they expected. (Praise for that, as I'd been praying that it would heal faster than they thought it would).

Over all of my desperate and frenzied preparations I imagine God looking down and shaking his head at my all-too-human need to stress over something that I don't have ultimate control. He's the great healer and protector, and all my panic is futile at the end of the day. Nevertheless, I also imagine He, too, might be slightly amused and even chuckle a little at the press and seal overkill.

(Chase sleeping comfortably with bandages)

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. --Genesis 1:25