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January 1, 2018 / Leslie

First Book of the Year 2018

Happy New Year!

And welcome to First Book of the Year hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Join us as we kick off another year of great reading.

Second Book in a Supernatural Trilogy

This year’s choice is Crown of Stars, book two of a trilogy.

I’ve been having trouble focusing lately – even with books I should enjoy, I’m having trouble staying engaged – so I wanted to pick something I was pretty sure I could get into right away. The first book, Love is Red, was a creative, engaging mashu-up of genres I enjoy — murder mystery, suspenseful thriller, horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. Hopefully this one won’t suffer from “second book syndrome”.

Crown of Stars by Sophie Jaff

Rumors of witchcraft have haunted Margaret ever since she was born. A strange, dark-eyed child, she was feared and then shunned by her medieval English village after her mother’s brutal murder. When her father remarries, Margaret—now a young woman—realizes that she must leave the village for good.

Hundreds of years later, as fall comes to Manhattan, Katherine Emerson prays her horrific summer is over. She survived a killer’s attack, but her roommate Andrea was not so lucky and now Katherine is raising Andrea’s son, Lucas. However, the rest of her world is in ruins: the man she loves has left her and she’s pregnant with his child. She accepts she’ll be a single mother—until he insists on doing “the right thing”, which means taking her and Lucas with him to London for his new job. Katherine hopes that maybe she too can start over.

But starting over doesn’t mean that the disturbing and dangerous encounters with strangers will end. As Katherine begins to fall apart, Margaret’s fight to survive in a hostile world reveals she has inherited her mother’s extraordinary gifts—but will she use them for good or evil? Can Margaret change the destiny of Katherine and her unborn child? And what will happen if she succeeds?

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December 27, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: Song Sparrow

Almost wordless: The cheerful Song Sparrow is a year-round resident in the Chicago area. I see them often in the nature park and forest preserves.

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December 25, 2017 / Leslie

Merry Christmas

ChristmasBird2011_IMG_3989

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December 21, 2017 / Leslie

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Only 88 more days until spring.

I am so not a winter person and I countdown the days to spring every year. But I celebrate the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, because from now until summer, the days keep getting longer.

Astronomical winter began this morning at 10:28 a.m. CST in North America. Here in Chicago, we will have only 9½ hours of daylight today. It hasn’t been too bad with no measurable snow and mostly average temperatures. We’ve even had a few sunny days. But I miss the color of the other seasons and will have to make do with shades of brown.

Solstice facts

  • The solstice occurs because the earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees.
  • The word solstice comes from ancient Latin. Sol meaning “sun” and sistere, “to stand still.” For several days before and after the solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky and it’s noon time elevation does not change.
  • Some say early Christmas celebrations have their roots in the Feast of Saturnalia, a winter solstice celebration to the Roman god Saturn. When Christianity was introduced to the Roman Empire, the church allowed the feast to continue but dedicated it to the birth of Christ.

solstice-december

  • The custom of giving presents comes from the Roman feast of Saturnalia.
  • Stonehenge is aligned with solstice. The timber circle is orientated towards the rising sun on the midwinter solstice.

 

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December 18, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ December 18th

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of To Be Continued, a place where readers share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

After several years of being on tour with different blogs as the monthly host, the Mailbox Monday Blog is now the permanent home for the meme.


 
Another busy week without a lot of writing time, but I was still able to listen to audio books. A few new ones arrived in my email box last week . . .

New Arrivals

From PRH Audio

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
A charming unconventional love story about the owner of a record shop and the mysterious young woman who steals his heart.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next.

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor
A riveting and brilliantly plotted psychological suspense, this whip-smart debut will keep listeners guessing right up to the shocking ending.

The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
A time-traveling novel of love, lust, and avarice set in the destiny-altering dreamscape of Newport, Rhode Island.

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December 11, 2017 / Leslie

Mailbox Monday ~ December 11th

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia of To Be Continued, a place where readers share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

After several years of being on tour with different blogs as the monthly host, the Mailbox Monday Blog is now the permanent home for the meme.


 
I’ve been volunteering extra hours for the parrot rescue the past few weeks helping promote and feature the birds on our Facebook page and website, which meant less time for reading and blogging. Without meaning to, I have become the social media and technology coordinator.

Here’s what arrived in my mailbox last week . . .

New Arrivals

North on the Wing: Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring by Bruce M. Beehler from Smithsonian Books through AmazonVine.

The story of an ornithologist’s journey to trace the spring migration of songbirds from the southern border of the United States through the heartland and into Canada.

Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country by Steve Almond from Red Hen Press.

Almond looks to literary voices―from Melville to Orwell, from Bradbury to Baldwin―to help explain the roots of our moral erosion as a people.

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December 6, 2017 / Leslie

Wordless Wednesday: African Violet

Almost wordless: My African Violet thrives despite my neglect (or maybe because of my neglect). My secret to houseplant survival is never overwater them.

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