Friday, October 18, 2013

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)
Genre: Horror, YA, Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
Buy It: Amazon
Reviews: Goodreads

Alice grew up  never allowed to leave the house after dark. Her alcoholic father built their house into a fortress, paranoid about monsters only he could see that came out at nighttime. Alice and her little sister, Emma, never got to do anything after dark. On her 16th birthday, Emma begs Alice to ask to go to her dance recital as a present. Alice can't say no so she convinced her parents to go. On the way home, her father is terrified the creatures are coming and causes her mother to lose control of the wheel and they get into an accident which kills Alice's family...and allows her to finally see the monsters.

Alice goes to live with her grandparents, and at her new school she meets a group of tough kids who carry secrets...and one of the boys, Cole, shares a strange connection to her.  As stranger and stranger things start to happen to her, down the rabbit hole she goes.

Ok, so I'm not the biggest zombie anyway. Zombie themed books, however, are blowing my mind. I like monster books, but after a while, all the themes on vampires and werewolves are getting hackneyed. Zombies, however, are so new (in comparison) that their stories are all so unique.

This one is a retelling, re-imagining of Alice In Wonderland. I can't say how true this is to Lewis Carroll's books since I've never read them. I grew up hating Alice In Wonderland. The Disney version upset me and the Jabberwocky scared the bejesus out of me. Not fun for a kid.

As an adult I haven't been able to revisit Alice's tale, but even without much knowledge of it, this book is still amazing. Ali is tough, smart and a well drawn character. At times she reminded me of Tris from Divergent, and other times she reminded me so much of Kate from Wilde's Fire I was almost convinced it was the same author. Cole is dreamy, brooding and surprisingly patient.  I loved them both so much.  The other characters were great and I may have shed a few tears for Alice's family.  You have to respect an author who makes you feel that much emotion for their characters.

Filed with romance, suspense, humor and horror, this was a fun, refreshing new take on zombies and on Alice in Wonderland.

Need a recommendation?  If you like Alice in Zombieland, you may also like:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And Down The Pinterest Rabbit Hole I Go...

Pinterest is a fun website.  You can find loads of pictures of makeup, outfits, recipes, books, decorations, furniture, art, photography, puppies, kitties, polar bears hugging wolves...pretty much anything you can imagine.  However, it is a rabbit hole...once you enter, you fall into it and find yourself in an entirely new world.

Yesterday, I took one particularly disastrous tumble. You see, I have wavy hair.  Thick, frizzy, wavy hair. Picture Kelly McGillis from Top Gun.  That's my hair.

While I'm sure this was considered hot in 1986 (it wasn't), it really isn't my style here in 2013. I usually straighten my hair, but a) it's time consuming and b) it's very damaging to my hair. I decided that maybe I'd see if I could rock my waves.  I mean, I'd be okay with my waves if they were tamer, smoother, glossier.  More like this:
This is when I made my mistake.  My "Pinterest Fail".  I started searching for ways to get my hair from looking like Kelly McGillis' to looking like the woman in picture 2.  I stumbled upon various different pins showing gorgeous curls and waves by using the "plopping" method.  Well, this gave me pause.  I've recently had a string of unfortunate Google searches which have resulted in porn. (I wanted to find the .gif from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure of the character Large Marge, so I innocently typed "large marge gif" in the search bar...and got images of SIMPSONS PORN.  Did you know that's a thing?  Well, now I do and no amount of brain bleach will get rid of THOSE images.)  But steeling my courage and with one eye closed (to lessen the amount of porn I could accidentally see), I typed "plopping method" into the search engine.  Lo and behold, I found not porn but legitimate non-porn websites explaining "plopping" or "plunking". 

Basically it goes like this:
  • Step 1: Condition your hair.  It is strongly advised that you no longer shampoo your hair (the no-poo movement (enter joke here)), but if you must, do it and then condition. And then re condition. You can comb your hair while in the shower, but not once after!  This is it for any knots.
  • Step 2: Condition your hair.  Seriously, now you put in leave-in conditioner.  This is supposed to keep your hair so moist that it can't frizz (dry hair frizzes more than moisturized). But do NOT towel dry your hair.  Step away from the towel.  Towels cannot touch your hair.  Bad towel, bad!
  • Step 3: Plop.  Ok, so this is when you do the plopping.  Since you can't use a towel on your hair, you use either a micro-fiber towel or a t-shirt.  Long or short-sleeved, your choice.  Leaning over the t-shirt, you position your hair on the t-shirt, put the shirt over your head and then twist the edges around and tie them at the back so you have a sort of turban deal going on.  
  • Step 4: Dry. You leave your hair plopped for 20 minutes, and then you can blow-dry your hair with a diffuser only! until your hair is 80% dry.  No more than 80%.  How you can tell then your hair is 80% dry versus, say 84% or 76%, I have no idea.  If there's a hair dryness meter, I don't have one.  It also says that you can just leave your hair up and sleep in the t-shirt and skip the hair drier all together.  
  • Step 5: No touch!  That's right. No touching your hair.  It'll just frizz, so noooo touchy.
What followed were the aforementioned pictures of gorgeous hair, curly or wavy.  And I fell.  Hook. Line. Sinker.

Last night I decided to wash my hair before going to bed and since it's humid outside, I figured straightening my hair was a lost cause (humidity + straightened hair = frizz).  I washed my hair (the dreaded shampoo) and conditioned it.  Left the conditioner on for like 5 minutes.  I put in leave in conditioner.  I didn't so much as LOOK at my combs/brushes. I found a t-shirt (while dripping wet) and went for the plop.  Not as easy as they describe, let me tell you.  Attempt 1 immediately fell off again.  Attempt 2 was slightly better, but I had all this extra t-shirt hanging out the sides.  Attempt 3 was finally right...ish.  No matter, I jumped into bed prepared to wait my 20 minutes and then see what it looked like.  Unfortunately, this is just when my husband decided to come into the bedroom...and laugh.  I explained to him plopping (more chortling) and how it would give me gorgeous, frizz-free waves.  He replied by asking me where the snake I was going to charm was.  20 minutes and several wise-cracks from the husband later, I was falling asleep.  I had no energy to blow dry my hair (only to 80% but still), so I opted to sleep in it.

I woke up still in the t-shirt turban and stood in front of the mirror to see...waves.  And no frizz.  Ok, so the waves on the right side weren't as tight as the waves on the left, but I just heated up my curling iron and spruced them up a bit.  I was dressed and out the door in no time...and walked out into a damp, humid, slightly windy day.  Wind + damp/humidity is even worse on frizz than just regular humidity.  It's like blow drying your hair with humidity.  My hair immediately started to grow.  And frizz.  I didn't have time to fix it, so I ran out the door.  I could feel my hair frizzing as I drove to the train station.  It was growing as I waited for the train.  It started invading my face and tickling my eye lashes as I made my way in to the city.  And on the final walk from the station to my office, I was in full on attack. 

My hair was trying to eat me. Like straight out of Looney Tunes, the hair monster was trying to attack and eat me.
No amount of trying to smooth (broke the rule - no touching!) it helped.  I tried adding a glossing/smoothing coconut oil, but it was too late.  I was in full-on Kelly McGillis hair.  The hair monster had won.

So here I am, armed only with one stretched out hair tie and baby clip which can only hold about 10 strands of my hair and having to face my day as Kelly McGillis.  It's too bad Halloween is still 2 weeks away.  I would totally win any costume contest.  I would take a picture and show you, I really would, but my phone battery is dead, so there goes that.  Instead I invite you to use your imagination.  Create what you imagine me to look like in your own heads.  I assure you, it can't be as bad as the real thing.

Lesson learned. Pinterest is a cruel, cruel master and I think I need to slowly and calmly walk away.

Stay tuned for tomorrow. I promised an actual book review and you'll get one!  Alice in Zombieland. (Hence the rabbit hole theme.  See what I did there?)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Fall Photos

Wordless Wednesday time!

Every fall I take my two favorite models and pose them around the neighborhood.  I can usually get them in some cute and candid shots while showcasing the gorgeous changing leaves, but this year I thought was a total failure.  Benny Blanco wouldn't look at the camera.  Riley decided to pee on something the second I hit the button.  The sunlight blocked out the trees and everything looked over-exposed and washed out.  I deleted most of them, but I found a couple that looked okay and amazingly enough, the over-exposed one (with some help from Instagram) ended up looking amazing.  So I present to you my boys, awash in sun beams!
This past Saturday, I spent the day with veterans from WWII and the Korean War as we toured the war memorials here in DC as a part of Honor Flight Dayton.  For those of you who have been keeping up with the news and have heard the rants of the righteous who have been screaming for blood since the government shut down, I say to you this: we got in to every memorial just fine.  Well, Iwo Jima, which is located next to Arlington National Cemetery (located across from DC in VA), was blocked off by a police car and the port-a-potties were chained closed, but there were off-duty marines who escorted us to the memorial and the Arlington City Police gave us an escort back across to the river into DC.  But the National Mall?  Here is what greeted us:
Well, as you may know, the First Amendment includes the right to peaceably assemble, which is what I assume we were doing, so we just walked around the sign and the (moveable) barricades and viewed the war memorials.  Speaking of story.  At the Iwo Jima memorial, there was a woman with the following sign: "Please take down the barrycades." I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's an "i" not a "y". 

So that's me and my Wordless Wednesday.  Stay tuned for a book review (shock!).  I finally read something and I'll post my review of it shortly.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Benny Blanco's Birthday!

Guess what day it is?

Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike! What day is it?

Ok, sorry, it's not quite hump day but any excuse to giggle over that commercial. What today IS though, is my puppy dog's birthday.  The last time I celebrated one of my dogs' birthdays here on blogger and on Wordless Wednesday was the day after the Boston Marathon Bombing in April.  And here we are a week and a day after the Navy Yard Shootings and I'm celebrating my other dog's birthday. (On a sad note, one of the victims is from my little town in Maryland where I grew up and I was on swim team with his daughters as a child.  While I don't remember him, my brother and my father do.  Apparently he was just the nicest man.)

I do have to pause and wonder what is going on with this world.  This week it's the mall attacks in Kenya.  It makes me somewhat scared for next week.

However, life does go on and we really must celebrate all the good there is in the world because it IS there.  It's not as publicized as the evil, but it's there.

So to a good thing in my life, my boy Benny Blanco from the Bronx, I wish a very happy 9th birthday.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The DC Navy Yard Shooting: My Thoughts

As you may or may not know, I work in DC.  I was born here in DC and I live outside the city.  Today's shooting at the Navy Yard happened maybe a mile and half - two miles from my office.  A quick 5 minute cab ride.  I've been following twitter and the trending hashtag #NavyYardShooting and several of the posts infuriate me.  So I thought I'd straighten a few things about about DC for everyone.

First, it's a tiny city.  Teeny tiny in the realm of major world capitals. 68.3 square miles, including water.  It is sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia. Since it's small, many of the people who work in DC commute in from the MD and VA suburbs, like I do.

Second, for 32 or so years, handguns were banned in DC.  That was repealed in 2007 (it's true, look it up). However, considering its close proximity to Maryland and Virginia, you could live in one of those states, get your gun there and then drive on over to DC in no time at all.

Third, since 9-11 and the sniper shootings, security in DC is high.  My building rents out 3 or 4 floors to the DoJ (Dept. of Justice) and there are armed guards on each of those floors.  I pass armed MTA, K-9 units and TSA agents at the train station EVERY DAY.  And frequently DCPD as well.

So arming DC?  It's not the answer here.  The DC cop and the security guard who were shot today were armed and unfortunately, they were still harmed.  Guns aren't the problem or the solution.  Unhinged people are the problem...I have no idea what the solution is.

Fourth, while DC is overflowing with military and government agencies, they all employ civilians.  A lot of civilians.  We don't know who was injured aside from the DC police officer and the security guard, but I would assume that civilians got hurt as well.

So stop making jokes about this being a military hit.  Stop assuming that more guns would have solved the problem.  Just stop.

People died today. Let's all have some respect for them and the families who are grieving.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sure is quiet around here...

Hello all my lovely followers! 

So sorry for being MIA lately.  I have no excuses, really.  I've been reading, but I just haven't read anything spectacular that I want to share with everyone.  I downloaded a bunch of books to take on my recent vacation, but I was distracted by the fact that I was in Costa Rica. It was so freakin' beautiful I didn't want to waste any awake time by not looking at the scenery and animals and doing all the fun things.  I mean, I went zip lining upside down!  See?  Proof:

So now I'm not in the gorgeous "tropical humid forest" of Costa Rica, but in the "mid-Atlantic humid swamp" that is DC.  And back to books I go!

Well, as I mentioned before, I haven't read anything ZOMG in quite a while, so I decided to go back to the beginning. Back to the first books that made me fall in love with reading.  It was in 8th grade when my fabulous friend Beatriz introduced me to The Belgariad by David Eddings. 

The first book is Pawn of Prophecy.Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad, #1) Taking place in a different fantastical world, it's the story of a young boy, Garion, who is being raised on a farm by his Aunt Pol.  A migrant story-teller, Mr. Wolf, comes to visit now and then and befriends the boy. When Garion is about 14, events in his life take a turn for the strange and dangerous and he, his aunt, Mr. Wolf and the farm's blacksmith, Durnik, leave on an adventure to search for "someone" who has stolen "something".  These people and that thing will turn Garion's ordinary life into something extraordinary, and everything he thought he knew gets flipped around. 

It's such a fun book.  It's epic high fantasy.  The first 5 books in this world are The Belgariad and the second 5 books are The Mallorean.  These books gripped me and dragged me into their world right away and I found myself dying to read the next and the next and the next.  When I finished with them I realized that I needed another book to take the place of this fabulous series...and thus my love of books began.  20 some years later, I've reread the series 4 or 5 times.  Each time I learn something new, smile at something that I know now will happen but didn't realize then.  I always enjoy it and I love sharing these books with others and vicariously reliving that first time in David Edding's world through them.

I highly recommend these books.  They start out YA, so are totally appropriate for younger readers, but they have a maturity that lends them well to adult eyes.  I must say that my high English SAT score can directly be related to these books.  Also most of my speech affectations.  I didn't realize how unoriginal I was until I started reading it again this time and realized how much of my speech I stole from these books.  Oh well, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer!  If you have anything spectacular that you'd like to recommend to me to read, please do!  In the meanwhile, if you need me, I'll be buried in The Belgariad and The Mallorean.  I'll be in touch again soon!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Pop Travel by Tara Tyler

Pop Travel
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 5 stars

In the year 2080, the newest technology is Pop Travel, a way to "pop" from one place to the next. It still takes place in an airport (unless you're rich enough to own your own pop travel set up), but instead you are issued a tranquilizer and when you come to a moment later, you have arrived at your destination.

J.L. Cooper is a private eye in a little town outside Atlanta. He leads a quiet life until a nervous, paranoid man comes with him asking for help. His fiance disappeared after popping and the authorities are writing him off as just a jilted lover, but he knows otherwise. He's convinced there's a cover up and that the government is out to get him. Cooper has no idea that by trying to help this man, he will put his own life in danger.

I loved this book. I could so easily see it being a movie. It is sci-fi in that there's advanced technology, but otherwise, it's not that far out of the realm of reality and current technology. The characters in this were likeable and real. It was suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat, unable to put the book down.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 Stars

16 year old Clarissa "Clary" Frey's life is turned upside down when she meets 3 mysterious teenagers at a club.  Next thing she knows, she's being attacked by a demon, her mother is missing and she's being taken in by those teenagers into their sanctuary.  Everything she thought she knew turns out to be a lie. She learns about a whole other world of demons, vampires, werewolves and Nephilim, who are children of the Angel Raziel - and who she is one of.   She has to help stop a rogue Nephilim from making himself an army to destroy the peace accords keeping all these entities in check.

Ok, so I'm late to the game with this one.  The movie is coming out in August and I decided to read the book.  I liked it.  It was fast-paced and interesting.   I liked the characters and the story.  It's not the OMG IT'S SO GOOD that The Hunger Games was, but it's more along the Twilight "It's enjoyable I'll keep reading" good.


However, with all that said, at the end of the book when Clary confronts Valentine and Jace is there and we discover that Clary and Jace are brother and sister?  Yeah, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.  And said EWWWWWWWWWW really loudly.  And gaged.  And squirmed in my seat. Then made more retching sounds.

My favorite movie may be The Empire Strikes Back and I love all thing Star Wars, but all that Luke and Leia share is a peck.  A peck!  No tongue!  No hints at them destined to be soul mates!  And absolutely not love.  YECH.  Seriously, I am so skeeved out by this, I don't want to read the rest of the books even if it turns out to be an elaborate hoax.  Just the thought of it is too ... YUCK.  I mean, if they had reacted like I am now, I might have been ok with reading more, but they are still so clearly in love and OMG IT'S YOUR SIBLING!!!  Oh God, I'm gagging again just thinking about it...

So yeah, book 2? No thanks.

And to the author - way to ruin a book for me.  Well done, you.  Well done.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Summer time and the living is easy

Summertime in my family means relaxing by the pool, reading books and...dirty dogs.  We pay exorbitant amounts of money to get our dogs groomed at the beginning of summer, just thinking that they'll be cooler with less hair on them.  We always forget what is coming up...

Before - aren't they so nice and white?

You see, my dogs love to float on rafts, be squirted or splashed and one of them even likes swimming.  And what fun would being wet be if you couldn't immediately go roll in dirt?  No fun, that's what it would be!  

After, dog from above, left
After, dog from above, right

They're lucky they're cute.

*This is a part of the Wordless Wednesday blog hop hosted by Create With Joy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

O Brave New World!

One of the things I love most about books is that some of them will spark interesting conversations.  Not all of them are intelligent, in fact some of them are volatile, but I always enjoy that two people can share a moment based on a book they've both read.

Today, my coworker, we'll call him Al, came into my office looking bewildered.

Al: Ok, I was on the elevator going to C1 (our basement/storage/mail room level) when this woman got on.  She asked if me I knew I was going to C1. I told her yes and she asked me if I was sure and if I realized that was the basement.  I mean, I pressed the button, didn't I?
Me: Weird.  She got on one of our floors (we rent floors 2-5 to the Dept of Justice)?
Al: Yeah. 
Me: Why would anyone from one of our floors question going there?  Everyone goes there to mail something or get something out of storage.
Al: It was weird.  And especially from someone on 7.  Don't we breed them for their docility?
Me: So they're Gammas?  What are we, Betas?  Let's face it, we sure as hell aren't the Alphas.
Al: We can dream, Susie, we can dream.
Me: [mumbling as I walk off to get tea] But I like being a Beta. Alphas work too hard...

Brave New World

If you haven't had the (for some, dubious) pleasure of reading Brave New World, then that exchange will mean nothing to you.  However, if you have read it, you may remember that in this futuristic dystopian novel, people were made in petri dishes to fit into one of three groups: Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, the blue collar laboreres; Betas, the middle of the road beings; and the Alphas, the high intellect, upper class people.  Gammas love being Gammas because Betas and Alphas have to think too much.  Betas love being Betas because they're smarter than Gammas but don't have to work as hard as Alphas.  And Alphas love being Alphas because they are superior to the two other groups.  Etc.

While I didn't love this book - it's way too disturbing for me and depressing at the end - it provokes a lot of interesting conversations.  There are so many themes in the book: technological advances, the caste system, lack of self, hedonism, Freud's Id, Ego and SuperEgo, etc. Again, I didn't like this book, but I appreciate it for the brilliance and the importance of its themes.

This isn't why I read books, but it is an added bonus.  I love to have a conversation about them and glean some other insight, to see how someone else responded to it.

My favorites to discuss are: Brave New Work, The Handmaid's Tale, The Hunger Games, World War Z, and, just because I hate it SO much, 50 Shades of Grey.  Oddly enough they're all dystopian.  Except for 50 Shades, which is just awful.

So what books have you found relevant in today's world?  Ones that spark conversations or arguments?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Colour Wielders by Dawna Raver

Colour Wielders (Heirs of the Magykal Realm, #1) 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 4 stars

Twenty-two year old Quinn thinks she's losing her virginity to the love of her life - to the man she's seen in her visions.  But after the deed is done, things quickly go bad.  Not only is Thaene not who he seems, he is much worse - an evil changeling. Quinn's world continues to be turned upside down when she discovers that her father is a Magyikal (Fae) King, her mother is a Fae Goddess and she is a Princess.  Also, an evil Magykal is going to use her to get out of his prison, so she is in danger.  She needs to learn to trust new and magical (magykal even) people and beings to help keep her safe. 

Six hundred year old Arik - nephew to Loki (Norse God of Mischief) and son of Tyr (Norse God of War. Side note: his name is Tiw in Old English, and Tuesday was originally Tiw's Day.  Fact.) and Morgana le Fey (evil sorceress of Arthurian legend) - feels pulled to Quinn but is fighting it tooth and nail. 18 years prior, he had a falling out with his father and Finn, the man who raised him (coincidentally, Quinn's father)and after threatening the Princess, he banished himself. Living only for himself and between the Light and Dark, no one trusts him except for the one person who shouldn't: Quinn.  And she may be the one who can turn his life around and save him.

So to start with, readers should know the basic mythology here: Norse and Fae/Arthurian.  Magykals are people with colorful powers who live in another world (like old Ireland), Flaitheas Draiochta.  Their main god is Dagda and Quinn's mother is a Goddess, Corra.  They are able to shift from one place to another, change their clothing and each have "special" powers specific to them.  Also, their eyes change colors depending on their emotions.  Norse gods also live in this world, hence Loki and Tyr.  No other Norse gods are mention, nor any other mythology, so you don't need to worry too much about that.  The Magyicals and Gods are ruled by the Triarchia.  They are mystical, not so nice beings who somehow got power after Morgana le Fey entombed Merlyn (who in this book called Myrddin Emrys).  The Triarchia made a ruling stopping procreation, so any Magyikals who want children are banished to the Mortal realm (our world) and are outcast as Bizzarelings.

So now that you've got that, you can read the story and not be quite as confused as I was.  The reader learns all this at the same time that Quinn does.  Turns out there is a glossary at the end of the book, but I didn't know that until, well, the end.  Anyway, about half way through, things start getting explained.  This also coincides with Arik and Quinn interacting.  At this point, the story is easy sailing and totally enjoyable.  Arik is swoon-worthy and his romance with Quinn is just awesome.  Sure, he's a bad boy with mommy and daddy issues, but he's still pretty awesome.  Quinn is naive and I have some serious issues with her boy-craziness and decision making skills (lack there of), but she's an immature 22 year old, so I suppose it's to be expected. I look forward to seeing her mature in future books.

The ending leaves us with a cliff hanger for book 2, and it is quite an ending: a jaw dropping, OMG did that just happen ending!  I cannot wait to see how things progress from here.

You can find Colour Wielder's on:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Death on Telegraph Hill by Shirley Tallman

Death on Telegraph Hill
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 4 stars

This is the fifth in the Sarah Woolson mysteries, and was a long time in the waiting since the previous book was published 2 years before.  I'm used to only waiting a year for a book, so this one had me tapping my toe with impatience.

I finally got my hands on a copy of the book and dove back into 1880s San Francisco and the world of Sarah Woolson, one of three female attorneys in California.  Sarah has a hard time overcoming the popular notion that women should be in the home, married with children, and not doing "men's work" like being a lawyer.  While this irks Sarah, and me, it is how society thought then and for quite a while afterward.

In Death on Telegraph Hill, Sarah attends a reading of poetry by Irish writer Oscar Wilde with her brother, Samuel.  Afterwards, on their way back down the hill, a shot wrings out and her brother stumbles to the ground.  Luckily, her brother's wound is not life threatening, but when other people connected to that poetry reading and Telegraph Hill start ending up dead, Sarah starts nosing around to figure out who the culprit is.  She has reluctant help from her colleague, the besotted, loud, overbearing yet sweet Scot, Robert Campbell and the young hackney driver Eddie.  Sarah has also been hired to stop a bullring from being built in San Francisco and agrees to defend a friend wrongly accused of murder.

The "romance" between Sarah and Robert has been progressing slowly over the series.  In this book, Robert's intentions become clearer and clearer to everyone but Sarah, and the end of the book leaves us with a cliff hanger ending between them.  One thing I have to give Ms. Tallman credit for is being true to her heroine.  Sarah has resigned herself to the fact that she will not be a wife and mother because in that society, a single woman is barely tolerated in the working world.  A wife and mother would be anathema. Despite her feelings for Robert, confusing tho they may be, I just can't see her throwing her arms around him and having a HEA. She's way too logical to listen to her heart, so I can see the next book being rather awkward for her and Robert.  I am looking forward to finding out, tho!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Healthy Blog Hop - Insanity Work Out

When I read about the Get Healthy Blog Hop on Michael Di Gesu's blog, I had to join.  You see, two weeks ago, I decided to drink the kool-ade (and by kool-ade, I mean water) and do the Insanity workout. The system is expensive at $144.80 on Amazon, but lucky for me my friend owned it and let me borrow hers.

For those you who haven't spent hours watching the infomercial on the Insanity workout, here's a little bit about it.  It's a 60 day exercise program made up of 10 DVDs which you alternate through out your 2 months.  There is no special equipment required - just room enough to move. The fitness instructor is Sean T, who sometimes talks about himself in the third person, which is off-putting, but otherwise he's ok - not as annoying as some instructors. The system also includes a diet plan and a (disturbingly difficult) formula to calculate your caloric needs while on this program.  Surprisingly you must eat A LOT.  5 times a day, meals of around 300 calories (depending on your caloric needs) per meal.  Seriously, it's a lot to try and eat in one day.  In the first 4 weeks, you do 5 of the DVDs and in the second half of your 60 days, you do the other 5.

So day 1 of the Insanity tour is your Fit Test.  This is a series of 8 exercises you do for 1 minute each and you count the number of times you can do the move *with correct form*.  You do this every 2 weeks or so to show your progress.  The first time I did it, I was dying afterwards.  Dripping sweat head-to-toe, out of breath, but pleased with my results.  I was better than the guy but worse than the girl in the video.  So I figured I was average.  Warm up, cool down, exercises and water breaks all said added up to right around 30 minutes.  I could handle that!

Well, then day 2 came.  Cardio Power & Resistance.  It killed me.  It was 40 minutes of fast moving, barely enough time to catch your breath, HARD exercises.  I finished it, but I can't say I did it well.

Day 3 was Plyometrics Cardio Circuit, which is like interval training.  Only harder.  And insane.  My friend didn't give me this DVD, so I used Plyo disc from the month 2 set.  OMG HARD!  55 minutes of crazy hard jumping and squatting and more jumping...I was dead and had to keel over and stop the DVD with 20 minutes left to go.

Day 4 I was dead.  Dead tired.  I had no energy and was a walking zombie.  But I am nothing if not determined.  I was supposed to do Cardio Recovery, but the DVD labeled that actually played Cardio Power & Resistance and I was damned if I was doing that again!  I put in the Pure Cardio DVD (day 5's plan of action) and managed to rock it out.  It was very hard - no breaks here! - but I did my best and, as Sean T. says, "dug deeper".  I also managed to give myself shin splints.

Days 5, 6, and 7, I took off to rest my shins, which screamed in pain every time I took a step. 

Day 8, I was back into the swing of things and suddenly, the Plyo DVD wasn't so hard and I made it all the way through.   

So here I am, Day 17 and I completed my fit test for the second time last night.  I am amazed at the increase in my stamina and strength, so clearly this is working. I haven't lost weight (at all) but that is totally my fault. I mean, hello! Memorial Day weekend BBQs!  A girl only has so much will power.

I still have moments (ok, days) when I wonder why I'm doing this.  I keep my upcoming Costa Rica trip firmly in mind, but also the fact that, if nothing else, we learned in Legally Blonde that people who exercise don't kill their husbands.  They just don't.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Veteran's Day & Honor Flight

Today's Wordless Wednesday is, once again, not wordless.  Today I am sharing pictures of this past Saturday, when I had the honor and privilege to escort two amazing American heroes around the war monuments in Washington, DC through the Dayton Honor Flight program.  This programs flies veterans from the Dayton, OH area (there are honor flights all over the country, but I happen to work with Dayton) for the day to DC to tour their monuments erected in their honor.

The whole group of WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans at the WWII memorial.

We started at the WWII memorial, then went to the changing of the guards at Arlington National Cemetery, did drive-bys of Iwo Jima and the Air Force memorials, then toured the Vietnam Wall and the Korean memorial.
Korean War Memorial

Meet Ed, left and Bear, right (that's me in the middle)

Ed joined the Army in 1944 at the young age of 18.  He was shipped off to the front lines of WWII - Versailles, France.  They were called 90 day-ers because that was their life expectancy.  He and one other lucky boy were reassigned to a different duty and were moved to the rear.  And they both lived.  Ed is one of the most friendly, warm, caring, cheerful individuals I've ever met.  And a flirt!  Whew!  He gave an interview of his experiences during the war, which I hope to post as soon as it's up and online.  A local high school recorded it and is creating a living memory so people can hear first hand accounts of the war.

Bear joined up at age 18, too.  He would have lied about his age and joined earlier, but his mother begged him not to.  He joined the Navy and sailed to every port in the Pacific with the exception of Central and South America.  His ship got within 40 miles of the island where the first A-Bomb was released.  While he was there they detonated some type of bomb.  Everyone on deck had to face away and close their eyes when it detonated.  Despite 40 miles and his eyes being closed, he could see the bones in his hand and feel heat on his back. Bear is quieter than Ed, but as sweet as can be and just as charming. 
Bear and Ed: brave Buckeyes (what you call someone from Ohio)

Spending the day with these two characters was the most wonderful way I could think to spend my Saturday and thank two brave and extraordinary men for their service. 

Echos of Dark and Light by Chris Shanley-Dillman

Echos of Dark and Light 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure, Young Adult
Rating: 5 stars

When 17 year old tom-boy, Bobbi, learns that her older brother is MIA and assumed dead after the Battle of Gettysburg, she decides to cut her hair off and join the Yankee army posing as a boy to find him. Bobbi has never been very lady like, so acting like a boy isn't hard for her. She follows the army and is quickly taken on as their newest soldier. She must learn how to march, clean her weapon and learn the chain of command, all while convincing the other soldiers that she's a guy, just like them. Despite her best efforts to keep herself aloof, she ends up making friends with a handful of the soldier: Toby, a Texan who went against his family to fight for the Yankees, Preacher, a very religious man, Woody, who is as smart as a block of wood, and Kenny, who signed up with his twin brother. Bobbi has to deal with the horrors of war that she never took into consideration - terrible wounds, dead and dying men, hunger, exhaustion and coming to terms with killing someone else to save yourself.

I really loved this book. Bobbi was such a likeable character. She believed so strongly in her brother being alive that she would do anything for him. She was brave in the face of danger and loyal to her friends, almost to a fault. The guys she was friends with were great too - very individual and very real. You wanted to pet Woody on the head because he was so thick, and give Kenny a hug because he was so sweet. And Toby...well, he was just the best. Even the not-so-nice characters were realistic. You have bullies everywhere, even in war time, and her bullies seemed like some people I've known in my lifetime.

I think this book would be great for teens who are studying the Civil War to read. It's one thing to learn about war in a classroom, but somehow reading about it, even in fiction, really brings it to life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Gaslight Mysteries: Murder in Chelsea

If you haven't picked up the Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson yet, I highly recommend that you do.  If you have and want a review of the latest book, skip to the bottom.  If not, here's a little description of what the series is about:

Set in turn of the century New York City, the stories revolve around Sarah Brandt, a young widow from an upper class family who eschewed that lifestyle to marry for love.  Her husband was murdered years before, but she carries on working as a a midwife and when her work gets her caught up in a murder, she does her best to help solve it.

Detective Frank Malloy is of Irish descent, which in late 1800s NYC means lower class.  The police are looked down upon as thugs since they frequently solve crimes based upon how much you bribe them to clear your name.  Malloy is different in that he has integrity, and while the bribes to bolster his meager salary, he actually looks for whodunnit.  He lives with his mother and his young son.  His wife died in childbirth and he blames the midwife for her death.  Needless to say, Sarah and Frank's first interactions aren't all that pleasant.  However, they learn to work together and to help each other solve the mystery.  They become friends and it eventually becomes obviously that they love each other, but perceived class restrictions keep them from one another.

The stories take place all over New York, and it's neat to learn how the neighborhoods first started out and what they've turned into today (if you're familiar with NYC).  It also involves a lot of New York history, which I'm not all that familiar with.  The Irish were looked down upon, but more so were the Italians, and the two did not like each other, and the Chinese...well, that's an even worse story.  The city's politics were determined by a thing called Tammany Hall (which according to the interwebs, was the Democrative Party in NYC that helped immigrants enter politics), which seems to have been very corrupt.  New York's aristocracy, called Knickerbockers (descendents of Dutch settlers of New York) had mansions on "Marble Row", which has long since been turned into sky scrapers, but used to house the creme de la creme of NY society.  Class segregation is a big theme in these books, particularly the difficulty to elevate oneself.  Basically you have to be born into a Knickerbocker family, or be filthy stinking rich.

The first book is called Murder on Astor Place

Now that I've helped you understand why I love the series so much and what's been happening over the course of 14 books, I give you my review of book #15, Murder in Chelsea

Murder in Chelsea
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4.5 Stars

When someone comes looking for Sarah Brandt's foster daughter at the mission where she was found, Sarah, Sgt Det Frank Malloy and her family set forth to find out if the real parents are worthy of the child. But when a murder crops up, they have to do everything they can to protect the little girl before she becomes the next victim.

I was waiting (quite impatiently) for my library to get the book for me, so I read it less than 24 hours.  Sarah and Frank usually only work together on mysteries, but since this involves Catherine, Sarah's foster daughter, the whole family (even her father) stepped in to keep Catherine safe. It was nice seeing Sarah's parents, the Deckers, interact with Malloy. Especially her father, since he's been so disapproving of Frank. I can't remember how the last book ended (it's been a year!) but they must have come to an understanding because Mr. Decker finally put Frank on equal footing.

This is the 15th book in this series, and if you are like me and have been waiting and waiting for something to happen to the couple, well, I think you'll be happy with the ending. I know I was! I'm looking forward to the next book - I hope Mrs. Ellsworth and Frank's mother figure into the story more. I enjoy Mrs. Ellsworth's craziness and Frank's mother's orneriness.  I gave this 4.5 stars instead of 5 because I could have done with a bit more romance there at the end.  But that's just me - I'm a hopeless romantic at heart.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Best First Lines

Sometimes an opening sentence to a book sets you up to the whole theme of the book.  I've read books where I've seen that first sentence and just knew that I would love it.  Of course, I have been wrong, but generally it's a good thing.

*Disclaimer - I totally stole this idea from Lisa Collicut

"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again."
The very first book I can remember the first line from was Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.  I was in eighth grade and I was transfixed immediately.  You know that somehow, the reader hasn't gone back and won't go back and you need to find out why.  It is haunting and lovely and still one of my favorites, all these years later.

"Few people would look kindly on my reasons for marrying Philip; neither love nor money nor his title induced me to accept his proposal." 
And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily, #1)
And Only To Decieve by Tasha Alexander. The cover had caught my eye, so I picked it up at the library and then went to my parent's house.  My mother was intrigued by it as I was, so we sat together, on that gorgeous summer day, and stayed inside and took turns reading the chapters out loud to one another. 

"To say I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate." 
Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia, #1)
I mean, how can you NOT want to read a book that starts out that way?  Silent In The Grave by Deanna Raybourn It also has the best follow up line: "Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." I liked this book and it started me on the series which I quickly grew to love. 

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." 
 Pride and Prejudice
Well, duh!  Obviously he must be. :) How could I leave off one of the best books written and one of the best opening lines?  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
is one of the most lovely books I've ever read, and if you haven't read it, you really should pick it up.

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." 
Anna Karenina
I should have paid more attention when this line grabbed my attention.  The book was to be about an unhappy family, not a happy one. I knew Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy was supposed to be a love story, but I didn't realize it would be so depressing and so political.  To say I was incredibly mislead by that first sentence would be an understatement.  I was tricked into believing I would love the book, and let me tell you - I did not.  I hated every page and considered reading it to be a person challenge, my own Mt. Everest. I trudged along, 400 pages into it, when my coworker stopped by and told me the ending.  With that, I gave up. I did not finish and have no desire to ever go back to that book. But I'll give it credit - it has a catch first line.

"I am dead, but it's not so bad." 
Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)
I had seen the trailer for the movie for Warm Bodies and though it was beyond cute.  When I saw it was a book, by Isaac Marion, I had to read it.  I thought it was going to be funny - I had no idea how incredibly sweet it would be.  A modern day, happier-ending Romeo and Juliet.

So what books have you read and were totally caught up by the first sentence?  Or totally fooled by that first sentence?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sometimes I'm Clueless

Ok, yes it's true.  Sometimes I'm clueless. 

As a relative "new-bee" to the blogging world, I am learning new things about blogging almost on a weekly basis.  Today's big AH-HA! moment was when I was just playing around Amazon and was looking at the reviews I've done and saw that I have a reviewer ranking!  I had no idea they ranked their reviewers as well as their books.  I am #82,062 on their top reviewer list.  Ok, so I have a lot of work cut out for me to get up to one of their coveted badges for top 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10 and #1.  But I had no idea these were even options!

Which brings me to another thing I have been clueless about.  I almost never click on the bottom of the review where it asks me if the review was helpful or not.  If someone takes the time to write a review, and I bothered to read it, I should actually take the 10 seconds and click the "yes" or "no" button.  Sheesh!  Clueless!

So there you go, my book reviewer lesson of the day: Not only should I review things on Amazon, I should also give props to other people who do.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Author Appreciation Day Blog Hop Is Here!!!

Happy Author Appreciation Day!!!

I asked you all to join my blog hop and give a rating, review or dedicate a blog entry to an author whose book you love, but haven't rated/reviewed yet.  Have you signed up yet?  If not, you can do so here:

My choice for author appreciation is:

The Family Way (Molly Murphy, #12)
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Historical Mystery

Rhys Bowen for The Family Way.  This is in the Molly Murphy mystery series and I just love it.  Set in the early 1900 in NYC, Molly is pregnant with her first child and is bored out of her mind.  Used to being busy, and to solving crimes, she is finding her imposed "rest" before having the baby unbearable.  When a letter comes to her old detective agency asking help in locating a girl who came to NY from Ireland, Molly figures it can't hurt to look into it, but her husband, Daniel, asks her to stop.  When she escapes the oppressive heat of summer in New York for the suburbs, and her mother-in-law's house, and she just happens to hear the name of the last known employer of the missing girl. Molly's investigations lead her to a convent with a secret and murder.

I love the Molly Murphy series, but this one made me angry at Molly.  She was 7-8 months pregnant and put herself in a lot of unnecessary danger.  I understand that she enjoys solving mysteries, but to not tell anyone where you are going and to put your unborn child in such risk is beyond stupid.  I like the book and the mystery, but that just rubbed me wrong.  I also wish there had been more interaction with Daniel.  He and Molly always have such funny exchanges.

Regardless of my annoyance with Molly, I still loved the book and read it in 2 days.  Rhys Bowen writes such fun 'cozy mysteries' and I would highly recommend them - especially for a beach read.

You can get it here: Amazon 
Learn more about Rhys Bowen here: Goodreads

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hey You Guys!!! Author Appreciation Day Is Tomorrow!

Why is it when I say "Hey You Guys", I instantly think of Sloth from The Goonies?

Anyway, tomorrow is the day!  It's the Author Appreciation Blog Hop!  Have you all picked a book or author to give some love to...and a rating/review?

In preparation, I thought I'd share one of my recent reads.  Ok, four, really.  But they're all a part of a series and I totally marathoned them.  Do you like the Sookie Stackhouse novels?  How about Stephanie Plum? If you answered yes, then allow me to introduce you to The Deadwood Mysteries.

Nearly Departed in Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery, #1)Optical Delusions in Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery, #2)Dead Case in Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery, #3)Better Off Dead In Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery # 4) Nearly Departed in Deadwood, Optical Delusions in Deadwood, Undead Case in Deadwood and Better off Dead in Deadwood by Ann Charles.

The books are about a single mom, Violet, who recently moved to the town of Deadwood and is trying to make her career selling real estate...and failing.  As she tries to save her career, she picks up a host of hilarious characters that "help" her.  Harvey, the horny, potty mouthed old man with a shotgun named Bessie, her best friend Natalie, the mysterious and sexy Doc, the disapproving Sheriff Cooper and her coworkers. Violet has the worst luck with clients and with houses and they all seem to involve ghosts, which of course, she doesn't believe in. 

These books are funny, sexy, easy to read and totally addicting.  While Violet's daughter and her coworker Ray are the worst characters (Ray on purpose, Addy just because she's a 10 year old bratty child), I totally enjoy all the colorful characters that make up these stories.

Check them out - the first two are only $.99 on Amazon and are totally worth the read!

So remember to sign up for the Blog Hop if you haven't already and use #huganauthor tomorrow and post some reviews!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Author Appreciation Day Blog Hop!

Before I was a book blogger, and before I knew any authors, I didn't realize the importance of book ratings and reviews.  Authors rely on readers to review their books and post those reviews online.  How many times have I been swayed by a review and end up purchasing a book?  I always look at how many stars a book has on Amazon, and how many people rated it, before I purchase.  I've only been rating and reviewing the books I read for a few years now, and only recently on Amazon.

Well, after talking to an author friend and lamenting that a fellow friend should have more ratings for her book than she did, we decided to do something about it.  We have decided that this Friday, May 3rd, shall be Author Appreciation Day.  And we decided to make it a blog hop! 

All you have to do is pick a book you like that you haven't rated or reviewed and post it up on your blog with a sentence or two (or more) about why you liked it.  Then, link your post with the LinkyTool so we can check out who you've chosen.

And since you've done that much, maybe you can put that review/rating up on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, etc? 

Let's make history today and celebrate those fabulous people who teach us things, transport us to other worlds, make us fall in love and also show us an alarming number of elaborate ways to kill someone. :) 

Use the hashtag #huganauthor on twitter on Friday.  Let's see if we can get it to trend!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Remember and Celebrate

Ok, so it isn't actually Wednesday nor is this Wordless, but the blog hop is open today, so I'm taking advantage.  Yesterday was awful.  As a runner and supporter of the running community, I can only imagine what the people viewing, helping and running the Boston Marathon went through.  The runners are exhausted but elated that they've reached the incredible feat of running 26.1 miles - and at the pace they were going, they had consistently held a sub 10 minute mile pace for 26 miles.  The fans are cheering and screaming their loved ones on, helping to motivate them to push that last tenth of a mile.  The volunteers are also cheering, calling out names if they're on the running bibs, or just yelling general encouragement and enjoying the day.

And then there is not one but two explosions.  Screaming, chaos, blood, tears, heartbreak.  We've all seen the videos and pictures. We've heard the mayor, governor, and president speak.  Now we mourn the losses and support the people effected by this.

Today is the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, and in another 4 days is the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.  Clearly, something is very wrong with this time of year.  So today we remember all of these tragedies, but we also have to remember to move forward, and to celebrate what we can.

April 15th was not only Patriots Day in Massachusetts, but it was also the anniversary of the first baseball game that Jackie Robinson played in the Big Leagues.  On April 16, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, so in DC, today is Emancipation Day.  And in my small world, today is my silly dog Riley's 7th Birthday. 

Which brings me to my picture for Wordless Wednesday.  I raced home last night, trying to get to the TV in time for the president's press conference, and my dogs rushed to me and were extra happy to see me, giving me extra kisses and wanting extra hugs and petting.  I may be projecting (ok, I probably am) but I swear they knew something was wrong and were trying to cheer me up.  So today I am still sad, but I'm celebrating life.  So here's to one little life that does nothing greater than make me smile every day.

Happy 7th birthday, RiRi!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Blogger Hop

I haven't done one of these in a while and I've missed them!  Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer took over the Friday book blog hop, and I'm so grateful!  Today's question is:

What was the last book you read from a genre you don't normally read?

Answer: Redeye by Michael Shean.  This is cyberpunk/noir/science fiction.  I have read a limited number of science fiction novels, one other cyberpunk and (to my knowledge) zero noir novels.  Thus, this is about as outside my usual reading comfort zone as it gets.  With that said, I'm glad I gave it a try because it was really good!  Action packed and fun and creative.  I reviewed it here, so check it out.  Today is also the official release day of Redeye, so this question could not be more perfectly timed.

Happy Friday to all and Happy Hopping!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Cherry Blossoms and my new Kindle!

Once again, I am joining in on Create-with-Joy's

Spring is in the air!  The weather has finally turned warmer and the trees are in full-bloom.  On my morning commute in to work, I passed a man taking a picture of a cherry tree.  I paused and realized that I should probably do the same.  Once it gets to be 99% humidity and 100 degrees out, I'm going to want to look back at the halcyon days of spring.

Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms

And on a more book related theme, I bought a Kindle Fire HD.  This is totally unrelated to the cherry blossom except that that is a picture and I also have a picture of my Kindle.  It's so pretty.  I love it.  I think I shall call it my precious.

Kindle Fire HD

Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Eight Series I Stalk

Happy Friday!

Every year I have my list of the series books that I eagerly await the newest book to be released.  However, I never remember when each of them are coming out.  So here are the books that I await each year and am in the process of procuring and reading.  I'm late to the game on some of them (which I didn't realize until I posted this!), but now that I've written them down, I'll be sure to stay on top of the rest.  I also didn't realize until I'd written them down that they're all mysteries.  Hmmm...telling, huh?

Death in the Floating City ...
1. Death In The Floating City, Tasha Alexander, published Oct 12, 2012.  This is book 7 in the Lady Emily series.  The series follows Lady Emily as she uncovers murders in Victorian England.  Romance, mystery, murder and humor, I love this series, but clearly I'm behind on reading it.
Death on Telegraph Hill
2. Death on Telegraph Hill by Shirley Tallman, published October 16, 2012.  This series is about Sarah Woolson, a sleuthing female lawyer in late 19th Century San Francisco.  I love a strong heroine and a female lawyer in a time when men ruled the profession definitely counts.  The 4th in the series, this series has, again, romance, murder and mystery, although less romance and more mystery than anything. UPDATED: READ!
What Darkness Brings (Sebas...
3. What Darkness Brings, C.S. Harris, published March 5, 2013.  The 8th in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, this is about an early 17th Century English lord who goes against popular society and solves murders. Gruesome murders, hot romance and a history lesson thrown in, it's more serious than the other mysteries on my list. UPDATED: READ!
India Black and the Shadows...
4. India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy, Carol K. Carr, published February 5, 2013. This series follows a madam (as in of a whore house) who helps a secret agent for the Prime Minister solve mysteries in Victorian London.  A madam solving mysteries!  Love it! UPDATED: READ!
The Passion of the Purple P...
5. The Passion Of The Pink Plumeria, Lauren Willig, expected publication August 6, 2013.  This is number 10 in the Pink Carnation series.  Set during the Napoleonic Wars, each book in this series features a different spy (with a flower name).  It's a mystery, yes, but mostly it's a romance.  They are fun, lighthearted and sweet.
The Family Way (Molly Murph...
6. The Family Way, Rhys Bowen published March 5, 2013. The 12th of the Molly Murphy mysteries, this series follows Irish immigrant Molly Murphy and her attempts at being a private eye in early 1900s New York.  Once again, romance and mystery with a very strong female character. UPDATED: READ!
Murder in Chelsea
7. Murder in Chelsea, Victoria Thompson, expected publication May 7, 2013.  Sarah Brandt is a member of New York City's upper class, but she deserts that to become a midwife.  She starts helping a policeman solve murders and crimes in early 1900s New York City.  I love the murders and mysteries in this but mostly I love the interaction between Sarah and the policeman, Frank. UPDATED: READ!
Heirs and Graces (Her Royal...
8. Heirs and Graces, Rhys Bowen, expected publication August 6, 2013. Number 7 for the Her Royal Spyness series, this is about Lady Georgianna Rannoch, 35th in line for the throne.  Dirt poor and struggling in England during the depression, Georgie has the bad luck of always seeming to stumble upon murder.  With the help of the dashing Darcy O'Mara, they manage to solve them, but not without a lot of humor and sticky situations.  I love the lightheartedness of these mysteries and the fact that Georgie is not a perfect lady at all.

What about you?  Do you have any book series which you wait on pins and needles for the next installment?