Deja Demon by Julie Kenner

This is the fourth book in the "Days and Nights of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom" series, featuring Kate Connor, wife and mother of two living quietly in suburbia, who also happens to be a Demon Hunter.

This series just gets better and better as Kenner continues to build Kate's backstory, as well as her circle of friends and family, some of whom are getting suspicious about her odd behavior at times...not to mention that old friend who has come for a visit...

These books make me laugh out loud, root for Kate, and I love that they are a non-gory demon book - think Buffy, chick lit and funny!

I highly recommend this series - I can't wait for the next title, since Kenner keeps giving us cliffhangers!!


Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie

This is a fast, fun novel by Crusie, that, while enjoyable enough at the time, was actually pretty unmemorable in terms of characters or story.

Kate is searching for a man to complete her life - a rich, successful man to complement her own career-driven style, so she heads to a resort to try and snag one. Naturally, things go awry, and she ends up with an unexpected man in her life after all...

Funny at times, and very cute, this is a quick read that will fill the hours, but won't be much remembered after you close the book. Not one of Crusie's strongest efforts, but still enjoyable...

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Renee Raudman. I really struggled to get used to her voice, but over the course of the discs, she improved on me, but it was a fight at first...


The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

I was eager to read this YA novel, the sequel to Dairy Queen, which I so enjoyed listening to. While this one was not audio, it was still a great follow-up to the first novel, though with a slightly more serious tone.

DJ and Brian have continued their cautious friendship, and DJ is happy to be playing football for Red Bend High School when a series of events turn her world upside down, and not for the better. Between Amber, her mother, her brother, her own body and Brian, DJ suddenly has a plateful of worries, and discovers she a lot stronger than she thought as she deals with each problem, one at a time.

This is a great read, though heartbreaking at times. DJ is just such a likable, dynamic character, and can't help but root for her on every page. She really is like a little sister or friend that you have true affection for.

I hope this isn't the last of DJ Schwenk, but if it is, it was a good ending...

Highly recommend both this and Dairy Queen...


The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

I have long been a fan of Gregory's works since devouring The Other Boleyn Girl several years ago. This book shifts slightly later than her other titles, this time focusing on Mary, Queen of Scots and her early imprisonment ("guest", in the parlance of the time) at the hands of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.

This story is told in three voices: Mary herself, Bess of Harwick and her husband George Talbot, who have the charge of taking care of "The Other Queen", and seeing that she is comfortable and well treated as plots, treason, armies assembling and marriages proposals flow around Mary, who by all accounts was stunning, charming, beguiling and yes, ambitious.

This book focuses on her early imprisonment and on the relationships Mary has with those around her, rather than on her unfortunate demise 16 years later at the executioner's axe.

As with all Gregory's books, I had to do oodles of research after I finished the last page to see what history truly tells us, and what Gregory took license with. I absolutely love this writing style, the stories she tells, and am fascinated by this period of British history.

Another winning title by Gregory - highly recommended!


Last weekend, we battled the remnants of Hurricane Ike to spend three days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

MotoGP has finally come to town. :-)

My bro-in-law is a big motorcycle fan, and over the last several years, I have morphed from a devout NASCAR girl to a bigger and bigger fan of international motorcycle racing, particularly cheering for Nicky Hayden, who is from just down the road (Owensboro, Kentucky).

It was so amazing to see the riders on the track at IMS, even if we did have to sport sexy ponchos for a few days. ;-)

It was SO much fun, and we even wore our Relay for Life shirts to the track on Friday, knowing that Mum would have enjoyed our trip as much as we did. She was quite the GP fan herself, after all...

What an awesome experience! I can't wait for next year!

The poncho crowd:

Rockin' the stylish gear, waiting for the race:

Nicky Hayden in the turn right in front of us (love the Colts helmet!):

Standing on the "Yard of Bricks", proud in our shirts:

Yard of Bricks II

Despite the rain, we had GREAT seats, and an occasional view of the Indy skyline:


I only wish pictures could accurately depict the 70 mile an hour gusts we experienced from the top of the grandstand as they finally red flagged the race...

Good times. :-)

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Hall_and_OatesHall and Oates are haunting me.

A couple of months ago, I was listening to Pandora, and a Hall and Oates song came on. I thought to myself, "I should download some Hall and Oates. Good songs from the 80s, and it reminds me of summers on the boat on Lake Monroe."

(For some reason, this became a boating soundtrack one summer).

So, I went home and downloaded Hall and Oates songs, because I never heard them otherwise.

Now, Hall and Oates are haunting me.

I think I have heard a Hall and Oates song every single time I have been a public place since the day I downloaded those songs.

In restaurants. At the grocery store. At the bank. On the radio. In the freakin' car dealership. EVERYWHERE.

So, in a bid to rid myself of the haunting, I'm tell you all about it. Now YOU'LL be followed around by "Sara Smile", and I can go back to jammin' to Hall and Oates only on my iPod when I so choose. ;-)

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Southern Storm by Terri Blackstock

This is the sequel to Cape Refuge, a series by Christian author Blackstock (I know, I know). I was curious to see how Blackstock furthers the story of tiny coast town Cape Refuge, and the Christian residents.

Oh, and the TOWN LIBRARIAN who's an atheist. ;-)

Once again, this is mostly a mystery and suspense novel, this time kicked off by Police Chief Matthew Cade, who, on his way to a routine traffic incident hits and kills a man who stumbled into the road. What follows is a very twisty, at times confusing plot, but showcases not only the power of a small town, but also the power of prayer. I guess. ;-)

I'm curious to read the third one...I'll add it to my list one of these days...


Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews

I actually listened to this title, a quick listen, and a fun one. Gina is the host of a southern cooking show (think Paula Deen, but with less laughing), but her show is threatened when her boyfriend (soon her ex) ruins a sponsorship deal by sleeping with the wife of the owner. Now, Gina and her crew must scramble to stay on the air, only to have a possibility emerge - a chance to be on The Cooking Channel!

But first, she has to win a "food fight" against fellow Southern cooking show hottie Tate Moody.

And that's when things get interesting. ;-)

This is another fun, feisty read from southern author Andrews, and I really enjoyed the lighthearted, fun storyline - plus, hey, great sounding recipes. ;-) It took a while to really get going, but when it did, woo!


Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Isabel Keating. She seemed to really struggle with a couple of the male characters voices, but overall, I thought it a fine production.


Courting Susannah by Linda Lael Miller

I picked this up at a secondhand book shop, having enjoyed other novels by Miller, and wanting a change of pace from her usual "cowboy romance" novels.

In this quick read, Susannah has traveled to early 1900s Seattle to care for the infant daughter her best friend has left behind after dying in childbirth. What Susannah didn't count on was her best friend's husband...or learning about the implosion of their marriage...

Susannah is an engaging character, and I liked the interplay between her and Aubrey, and even though you know how the book will end before it starts, you enjoy the journey there...


Captain Jack's Woman by Stephanie Laurens

Because I went home in such a rush, I only took one book with me, so I had to raid Dad's reserves for something to read after I finished Austenland and he recommended this read, the beginning of "The Bastion Club" series by Laurens (a series of novels set in the Regency Era of England), though this is actually a prequel.

Young Kit Cranmer is stifled in her role as a young, proper woman and takes to dressing as a boy and riding the wilds of Norfolk at night, helping a band of smugglers along the coast. So what happens when she meets a rival leader, who happens to be a dashing smuggler himself? Fireworks!

This is a well-written, steamy, at times hilarious novel - definitely not your mom's Pride and Prejudice. Kit and Jack are a great couple, and leap off the page! I've already snagged the next novel in the series from Dad - stay tuned!


Austenland by Shannon Hale

I have to admit, I don't remember much of this novel, as I read it in the days surrounding my mother's passing. However, what I do remember was a light, at times funny novel about a girl who spends three weeks at a Regency-era retreat in England, trying to find her soul mate.

Between falling for the (non-Regency) gardener, the dress, deportment, and a snooty man in Mr. Darcy dress, she struggles to find herself, and what she wants out of life.

This was a pleasant, warm novel, and it made me long for empire dresses and a retreat of my own...


Prey by Lurlene McDaniel

In a bit to return to normalcy, I thought it was time to blog the books I've managed to read over the last few weeks...

This short YA novel was recommended to me by our Bookmobile lady, and I admit, I haven't read a McDaniel novel since *I* was a teen - I loved all the morbid, sad, weepy books she used to write!

This is a very different novel - instead McDaniel is echoing past news articles of the much older, predatory (female) teacher seducing a high school student, and the fallout from their relationship.

Like our Bookmobile lady, I thought it was an easy read, written in "teen speak", but I did question parts of the ending, the message McDaniel was trying to convey. I think this is appropriate for older teens, but there is some language that younger readers may be shocked by - or their parents. ;-)

Glad I read it, though...


I have been unable, until now, to make this post.

And even now, it's hard beyond words to write.

The most courageous woman I have ever known died peacefully, with her family by her side, on September 3rd.

My beautiful, charming, exuberant, fighting spirit, full of laughter, bad ass cook, Project Runway-lovin', English accent talking, amazingly inspiring mother finally lost her battle to breast cancer.

Words will never express how much I miss her, the ache in my heart that will never be fixed, the tears that I shed at the smallest thought of her smile, her voice, her laughter.

In ten years, she never stopped fighting, inspiring others, or living full of joy.

I miss you, Mummy.

Candles lit in her memory...

(We have asked for donations in her memory to be made to the American Cancer Society, and I urge all women to do a self check exam, to get a mammogram, to watch for early warning signs. It may save your life...)

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Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock

I loved this book.

Loved, LOVED this book!

DJ is just your typical farm girl in Wisconsin, except that she's really NOT typical - at 15, she is running her family farm and trying to stay afloat in school when suddenly Brian Nelson shows up on the farm, being made to help out for the summer in order to stay on the football team.

The duo begin a cautious friendship, and begin football training together, all while baling hay, writing English papers and trying to find their places in a football-crazy county.

This is just such a sweet, lovely YA novel - sarcastic, cute, endearing, and full of good hard, train hard, love what you do, love who you love.

I've already checked out the follow-up, The Off Season, and I can't wait to read more about DJ, who already feels like a friend or a little sister. So, so recommended!

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Natalie Moore, who did an AMAZING job sounding like a sarcastic 15 year old, complete with the Wisconsin accent and just the right pace and voice. I think the narration made me love the story even more!


Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Our YA librarian threw this to me when we were talking about "other" vampire books to recommend following the Twilight series. This is an uber-fast read, which is good...

...because I thought it was kind of silly.

Yes, I like the idea of the rebel girl being the main protagonist, but c'mon - the deserted mansion? The boy who *may* be a vampire? The language seemed more juvenile than YA, and the story was just sort of...well, silly.

I'm glad it didn't take long to read, and it might be good for less advanced readers, but I wasn't really feeling it. It is a series, though, so maybe it gets better...maybe...


Envy the Night by Michael Koryta

I am a big fan of Koryta's previous three novels, so I was eager to read his first stand-alone novel, this time taking place in the lake country of Wisconsin.

Frank Temple III is trying to live down the legacy of his father, but when he receives a call that his arch-enemy is on the way to his family's beloved camp on the lake, Frank hits the road. What follows is a fast-paced thriller with a car crash, a body shop owner who happens to be a girl, blood, guts, secrets, gunplay and a little time spent out on the water.

This is such a well-written book, and makes you feel tense throughout as it slow burns to the very end, just waiting for the inevitable...

Koryta is a great writer, and a great storyteller. Stumped for a good suspense novel? Give him a try!

(Plus, is a Hoosier and is only, I think, 26 years old!)