Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

This has long been considered a standard of adventure nonfiction, so it's been on my TBR list for a while. Into Thin Air is Krakauer's personal account of a trek up Mount Everest in 1996 where a number of his party, and several skilled guides, perished at the top of the mountain.

Krakauer's story is harrowing and horrifying, and I found myself flipping to the pictures to keep an image in my mind's eye of those who perished, the result of a snowstorm at the summit. Krakauer did make it to the summit and back again, but his team paid a terrible price.

Fascinating, fascinating read that I tore through in a day. Highly recommended!

A NASCAR Holiday by Kimberly Raye, et al.

Okay, I had to give another one of these NASCAR Harlequins a try, to see if it was better than that Britton novel.

This book contained three novellas, maginally set in the NASCAR world at the holidays. The first story was eh, the second story was very cute, and the third story had an interesting plot. All of the drivers, teams and locations are vastly different from the "real" NASCAR we all know, which takes quite the suspension of belief. In addition, these stories were BARELY related to NASCAR in some cases, so if you are looking for a track-heavy story, these aren't for you.

Cute enough, but I've read fanfic that was better. If you like Christmas and NASCAR, though, give it a shot...

What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles

This is a fantastic YA suspense novel!

Cass McBride is buried alive as punishment for what Kyle Kirby believes was the death of his brother due to her. This story is told from the perspective of Cass, Kyle, and the cops trying to solve the mystery.

I read this in one sitting - the story grabs you and won't let go until you finish it. Well written, creepy and made me feel claustrophobic! Recommended!

(Deer Dance Cabin, Christmas 2005)

In just a few short days, I'll be heading home for Christmas, and for another cabin adventure. That's right! Stay tuned for...

Cake Stand II: Return to the Wilderness!

We are once again renting a cabin in Brown County in which to spend Christmas, and have a ridiculous amount of food, gifts and STUFF to pack and take with us - and yes, I've been assured the cake stand will be going along for the ride. I can't wait to find our new cabin, explore, hit the hot tub, play on the pool table and just enjoy time away from everything but each other - and all the food and prezzies. ;-)

When I return from the wilds, I'll have beaucoup pictures to share, a year end wrap up, a lot of book reviews to post, and my annual book review index summary.

Wishing you all a safe, happy, and Merry Christmas...

The "Quilting Ladies" had our Christmas dinner party tonight out in the country at Jeanne's house, and what a wonderful time it was!

We cooked, we ate big delicious food, we gabbed for hours, and Mary even cheated and gave us each a new quilt block book. It's fabulous. :-)

I know I'm only going to be gone for a couple of weeks, but I'm going to miss my girls. They have truly been my sanity this year. *hugs*


(taken by Mary, giver of gifts!)

As someone who loves Janet Evanovich's novels, and wants to be a novelist someday, I was very interested to thumb through this book (written in Q&A style) to find a few nuggets of knowledge.

As it turns out, much of the content can be found on, and was a bit of a review for me, though Evanovich has some fun insights and valuable answers to most-often-asked questions from would-be published authors.

Fun to skim though...I didn't read every word, as it was most a redux of the website.

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman

Waldman (who has raised a ruckus in the past with her comments about family and her children) has written an engrossing novel about a woman who is trying to learn to love and protect her new stepson, despite the recent loss of her own child with her new husband.

Though at times I hated the main character and her attitude, I found Waldman's writing luminous, and the storyline thoroughly engrossing. I truly felt for her as she struggled to get to know and love her "precocious" stepson William, as well as cope with her loss, and the revelation about her own parents.

Fascinating, well-written, engaging...recommended!

Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart

I don't quite know how to describe this YA novel - part diary, part illustrations, pary mystery, part epistolary novel.

Cathy falls for Victor, but when Victor pushes her away, Cathy learns more about his dark past than she expected. This is written entirely as a diary from Cathy's POV, but is filled with her doodles and illustrations, and include a pocket of "evidence" including ripped up photos, newspaper clippings, a cocktail napkin and much, much more. Readers are encouraged to call phone numbers, surf websites and examine the "evidence" to solve the mystery.

I loved the format and the "extras" but found the story a tad disjointed. Still, a great read for teens!

We began a new tradition at APL last year.

Instead of assigning Secret Santas amongst staff, we decided not to buy gifts for each other, but instead to adopt a family in need in Posey County.

I am always in awe as the presents come rolling in from the staff - this year, we bought for a mother, father, and their three children. Pajamas, games, slippers and books...we had a big pile of presents that we dropped off at the Trustees Office late last week.

Though it was bitingly cold outside, I still felt all warm and fuzzy inside.

I hope we made someone's Christmas a little brighter!


(Our haul after delivering presents to the Trustees Office)

So, last weekend I finally got to attend my first "Peppermint Pops", a performance of Christmas music by the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra with my friend Becca (we're "culture buddies").

It was enchanting.

The orchestra was fantastic, the music was wonderful, and it totally put us in the holiday spirit!

CIMG2846I'm so putting this on my calendar for every December!

Afterwards, we visited the Festival of Lights (a Christmas lights display in one of the Evansville parks), and then...

We went to Oregon Street.

There is one family on Oregon Street that is FAMOUS in Evansville for their holiday light display.

Oh my god.

It was so magnificently tacky, that I stood in the biting cold and just stared in awe.
There are snowglobes and blow ups and lights and displays and...just everything, crammed into one lot and lit up for the holidays.

I was particularly fond of the matching Santas on Harleys and the blow up nativity scene. ;-)

To put this in perspective, I ran across the street and took a wide photo. The little itty bitty black blob in the middle is my friend Becca. It's that big.

Magnificent tackiness and orchestral music - it's what Christmas is all about!


To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell

This is a fictitious account of the "Little Princes in the Tower" - Princes Edward and Richard, who were supposedly imprisoned and then murdered by King Richard III of England back in 1483.

This account is from the female point of view of Princess Bessie and her best friend Nell, as they witness history and thus become entangled in it. The ending of this title is very satisfying for the reader, but I found this is not a title to pick up and put down too many times - trying to keep all the names, alliances and rebellions straight is difficult even for a little old British girl who has read quite a bit on the topic!

A speedy read, and a thought provoking one - if you enjoyed The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, you will enjoy this!

A few of my favorite online finds of late...

Another reason Indiana Senator Evan Bayh rocks:

Bayh Urges Full Funding to Promote Job Skills, Literacy at America's Libraries
Senator says grant program ensures all Americans have access to books and technology
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Evan Bayh and 28 of his colleagues today sent a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Grants to State Library Agencies (GSLA) program, which provides libraries big and small with the resources they need to sustain basic services as well as implement innovative literacy, educational and career-related services. Citing the importance of libraries in narrowing America's "digital divide," the Senators called on the Committee to provide at least $171.5 million for the GSLA program, the amount recommended by the President and provided by the House version of the Appropriations bill.

"Our nation's libraries are so much more than places to borrow books; they are hubs for our communities and portals to our world," the Senators wrote in the letter. "Only a strong, continued investment by Congress will enable libraries to undertake exciting projects that help library users of all ages and backgrounds improve their skills, expand their knowledge base to master challenges, increase student academic achievement and encourage lifelong learning."

The article concludes...

A strong believer in the educational importance of libraries, Senator Bayh has consistently supported increased funding for libraries, especially for technology and literacy programs. For the past two years, Bayh has joined his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to support efforts to increase funding for the Library Services and Technology Act to help libraries close the "digital divide" and allow libraries to improve their services. He has also urged that Congress boost funding for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program to help students increase their literacy skills and develop a love for reading.

Thanks, Senator Bayh!

Full press release can be found here

Now that life is returning to normal, and with the perfect timing of Jimmie Johnson's recent Nextel Cup victory, The Corrupted have revamped, redone and updated the Cheesin' Chadwick site y'all know and love!

Stop by and have a look around! We're happy to be back!

The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry

If Dave Barry wrote it, you know it's going to be funny. :-)

Barry ventures into the world of Christmas fiction with this slim novella (it took me maybe 20 minutes to read) full of pictures and a lovely story that made me laugh out loud several times. :-)

I can't really describe the story, I can only tell you to grab a copy and give it a read - it'll make you laugh too.

Secondhand Bride by Linda Lael Miller

This is the third in the McKettrick trilogy, and was just as much fun as the first two!

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series about cowboys that are hard to tame, but fun to love. This time, the youngest McKettrick, Jeb, falls for a schoolteacher with a past - and a husband. Oh, the drama. :-)

This series surprised me with its complexity, characters and intertwining storylines, and the writing and setting are great. I highly recommend this series!

Fried Eggs With Chopsticks by Polly Evans

I've always been fascinated by the Far East (Japan and China, particularly), so when I saw this travelogue penned by an intrepid British travel writer, I grabbed it off the shelf!

Evans embarks on a 6 week tour of China with only a few Chinese phrases under her belt and the desire to see "the real China" - terrible transportation, language problems and all. Evans does a nice job of weaving humor, history, and her trials and tribulations at ordering food and traveling on buses through the most populous nation in the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual trip through China - recommended!

Okay, I just have to brag for a second. :-)

The local newpaper, for whom I work as a correspondent and columnist, was awarded the best non-daily newspaper in Indiana for the second year in a row!

The Mount Vernon Democrat was awarded the Blue Ribbon by the Hoosier State Press Association Foundation, and this is only the second win for the 139 year old newspaper, the first being in 2005.

The judge said the Democrat “simply out-hustled” larger newspapers with more resources. Also, the MVD had a "good graphic package," judges stated of the newspaper. "Nice mix of community news and in-depth coverage on front page. Excellent overall product given limited additional resources. Genuine attempt at in-depth examination of issues important to readers."

Woohoo! I'm so proud to be a part of such a fantastic publication!

The Rhythm of the Road by Albyn Leah Hall

This is a forthcoming title (to be released January 7) that was sent to me to read and review.

This book is like a car know it can't end well, but you can't look away and you can't help but keep reading.

Jo and her father Bobby are a lorry driving team in England who pick up a mysterious singer one night. What follows are Jo's growing obsession with the band, Bobby's descent into depression, and a transcontinental story of love, loss, obsession and destruction.

I found the pace a bit slow at first, but once the author hits her stride, you can't help but flip pages to see where the story is going to take Jo and her fixation next. Well written and a quick read, but a car crash.

You can't look away.

He Sees You When You're Sleeping by Mary and Carol Higgins Clark

This is ANOTHER Christmas novel, but with a much more mystery/suspense edge to it. Sterling has been trapped in purgatory for 46 years, and is desperate to pass through the pearly gates in time for Christmas Day.

As such, he is given an assignment to make right a little girl's misery at her father and grandmother's disappearance. The story is very touchy-feely, and with a good edge to it, and a few laughs, but the freakiest part to me was that the little girl's name is Marissa.

It was odd to read my name in print so much. :-)

Sweet story!

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I've never really read a Western (other than my Western romance bodice rippers...) so after going to Nancy Pearl's talk and hearing her call this the "best Western", I thought I would give it a shot.

Okay, it's really LONG (over 850 pages!), but it's really, really good. I fell in love with Gus, and struggled with all the highs and lows of Call and Gus' ride to Montana as they take their crew and their cattle north from Texas.

There are a number of storylines and characters that all intersect and tie in together, and I just loved so many of the characters and the setting of the Old West. It's not always a happy-happy-joy-joy book, but it's great.

Highly, highly recommended!

Sweet Sixteen Princess by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot. Princess Diaries. Need I say that I loved it? ;-)

This is one of Cabot's shortest Princess novels, but it was a fun return to Princess Mia's life, as she does battle with Grandmere about her upcoming sixteen birthday celebration.

Loved all the pop culture references, and loved catching up with Mia! Yay!

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

Yet another in my string of "Christmas" novels, this title was recommended to me as a sweet Christmas story that takes place as the main character traverses America via Amtrak after having a "security issue" with a New York airport.

I loved reading about the traditions and travel on trains (something I've always wanted to do), and though the story was a bit sickly sweet at times, I enjoyed the blend of suspense, romance and Christmas morals.

A good all-around Christmas read to recommend to patrons...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I'm so proud of myself for being ahead of the curve this year...the decorations and tree are up, the presents are bought and wrapped, and the lights are wrapped around my shrubs outside.

I love Christmastime.

And my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. ;-)


So what's British girl (I have dual citizenship with the US and the UK) to do when she starts jonesing for British nibblies?

Order some online, of course!

I don't think the Hula Hoops are going to last as long as I originally thought...


Ordered from British Delights...

After Christmas last year, my friend Mary and I did some hardcore stocking up on Christmas decorations for the library to use this year.

A new pre-lit (huge!) tree, stockings for every member of staff, and a lot of garland.

Isn't my library purdy? :-)

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So, Thanksgiving was last week.

It was great. :-)

I finally got to embark on that last rite of passage to adulthood - I got to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Normally, we go to my sister's for a megafeast with her in-laws, but with Mum feeling a bit under the weather due to chemo, we decided to have a minifeast at home.

I stuffed the bird, did veggies, rolls and gravy (and a Jell-O mold!).

Dad tried to help with the mashed potatoes, but I think most of it ended up on the walls and counter. ;-)

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The day after Thanksgiving, Michelle came over for a few hours, and we all hung out, laughed a lot, had a big English "fry up" for lunch.

No, my sister does not cook. ;-)

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We even strung Christmas lights up outside! Woot!


Also, I went shopping with Dad throughout the weekend, and FINALLY got the pair of pink Chucks I've been coveting - on sale!


What a great was hard to come back to reality...

(The entire photoset is right here)