Playing Many Parts

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the books category.

Book Review – The Girl on the Train

the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015I always read the book first.  Since I am a prolific reader I have promised myself that I will always, if at all possible, read the book first.  Before it is made into a movie, and someone else gets to put their interpretation of a book forward as the definitive point of view for millions of people, I want to let my imagination create the world the author has written.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, and might do that to contrast and compare, but I liked the book quite a bit and found it compelling enough to continue reading even though I was quite sure I had figured out the plot a couple of chapters in.  I was right.  It went in the direction I expected, but I think the author intended it that way. . if I ever get the chance to ask her, I will.  There was some important foreshadowing early on that sort of gave things away and that seems like a smart intentional guide. . a kind of Easter Egg for good readers.

I liked this book because I love murder mysteries.  I also love women’s issues and a strong female lead with romance and complications. . .so this book was very interesting to me.  I don’t want to admit it, but I saw parts of myself in the heroine of the story.  I liked very much how Rachel grew and developed and it all seemed somewhat real. . if not romanticized. . but its a novel (it says so on the cover), so I expect that.  Emily Blunt is my Rachel, but that is fine, I look forward to the movie.


Can’t Help It – I Love YA Fiction



I admit, I am a grown woman, but I still love Young Adult Fiction, especially if it is also fantasy!  From C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien to Suzanne Collins and Marissa Meyer.  Perhaps I should also admit upfront that the best job I ever had was working in the Student Affairs Office at a major college and I still run a teen basketball program in my community, so I think the argument could be made that perhaps like Peter Pan, I never grew up.  And I am ok with that!

I finished reading the book Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) in a few hours over three nights.  The best testament to my enjoyment of the book is that the very next day I went out and purchased the second book in the series Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) (The Lunar Chronicles).  I like very much that she appears to have three stories here that have some aspects of three different fairy tales and that they are much darker than the Disney versions.  I also love that the main character of this first book is a techno geek (my own day job) and that the heroine from the second one is a farmer (my dream job).  There is enough action and suspense to have me turning pages and enough character development and romance to feed my need for love.  I will get back to you on books two and three, but so far, so good.  I would put this series at a high school reading level, by the way, since there is a familial death that may be harder for younger readers to deal with.

Learning to Draw

Illustration School:  Let's Draw Kit

Illustration School: Let’s Draw Kit

One of my personal development goals for the year is to spend some time learning to draw. I’m not completely sure where this need to work on my drawing came from, but one of the days during Christmas Break I was at a beautiful scenic location wishing I knew how to draw what I was seeing. I had already determined that I need to embrace the creative side of myself much more in the coming year, so I put working on my drawing down on my list of personal development goals this year.

I took the first step this weekend by purchasing this very cute package, Illustration School: Let’s Draw! (Includes Book and Sketch Pad): A Kit with Guided Book and Sketch Pad for Drawing Happy People, Cute Animals, and Plants and Small Creaturesfrom Joann Fabric.  It includes a small book that starts with doodle people, then moves to doodle animals.  There are men, women and children and elephants and penguins.  This little set couldn’t be more perfect for encouraging me to doodle each night before be do try and release the inner creative in me so that my writing and world can be more creative and inspired.

Personal Development is What I’m Up To

2015 Is Going To Be GREAT!

2015 Is Going To Be GREAT!

This past year was a lot about trying to loose weight for my daughters wedding.  That was less than successful.  I lost maybe 5 pounds and spent WAY too much time being flat out hungry.  This year is going to be all about personal development for me.

I want to focus on some general ways to improve my overall health, mind body and soul.  I want to be a better person all around, not just a skinny person.  I want to read more this year.  I didn’t read much last year and that made me really sad. . .so this year I am going to read whatever I can.  I will read business and management books, I will read some Christian development books, I want to read a ton of great fiction and maybe even a few biographies and travel books.  I will keep you posted on what I am reading and will often put up some reviews and suggestions for things I am enjoying.

I want to pick up some fun hobbies, learn how to eat healthier and get my body moving more.  I will go snowboarding with my son and husband and give you all the tips and tricks I learn.  I will try some of those great projects on my pinterest boards and post pics and let you know if they are wins or fails.  I will eat more veggies and try more recipes and also let you know how that goes too.  I will also be doing some fitness challenges and workouts that should also be fun to share.

I want to learn more about my job and pick up some new skills too.  Management books are on the top of my list, but I also want to learn about project management and finally pick up a programming language and learn to build some basic websites.

I want to blog more about things I am doing that I care about, so I will, and this is how it starts.  Welcome 2015, I am very excited to get started on another fantastic year of being alive!

Book Review – #Girlboss

I got the audio version of this book free a while back, and honestly didn’t expect to ever actually read the book.  But I found myself on an unexpected long car trip recently with nothing else new in my Audiobooks app.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how entertaining and smart this book was.



I had never heard of Nastygal before.  This is most likely because my slightly overweight, over 40 body can’t fit any of their adorable clothes.  After reading the book, I had to check the site out and realized that they sell the exact clothes I WOULD wear if my body would just cooperate and allow some of this middle-aged fat to fall off.  I probably will purchase shoes and accessories as soon as my checking account stops bleeding money due to Christmas.  I digress. . back to the book.

I really like Sophia Amoruso, but I have always loved underdogs and rebels, so no real surprise there.  I think this book is perfect for 20 somethings wanting to start out on their own, 30 somethings thinking about starting something of their own, and 40 and 50 somethings looking to break out of mid-life career tar.  Sophia’s story is inspiring and she is right on.  I know not everyone can turn their dumpster diving into a million dollar business, but not everyone needs to.  I love how she repeatedly points out that hard work and determination are what really got her where she is.  I guess that is kinda the message of this book in a very tight nutshell anyway. . .work hard, dream big, and get it done.

Homemade Herbal Salve

Calendula Salve

Calendula Salve

I used to be a Bath & Body Works lotion junkie.  That is, until I realized that the lotion they make is full of harmful chemicals and preservatives and may be doing my body more harm than good.  That is about the time that I started to look into all natural and homemade alternatives to all the chemical laden crap on the market.

About that same time I also started following several herbal blogs and actually bought my first herbal medicine making kit as a kind of fun weekend activity that I had no intention of taking too serious.  But after making and trying my first herbal salve, I was pretty hooked.  I not only got to choose exactly what ingredients went into my salve, but I was part of the process and that gave me a very deep sense of rightness that keeps me making more and more of my own products.  I have tried salves, lotions, body butters, teas, hair tonics, hair gel and even an all natural hairspray alternative.  So far, the salve is the only product that has been so amazing that others have actually asked me to make more.  My son swears this stuff is the best tattoo cream he has ever tried.  For me, it is a great remedy to the terribly dry skin I always get about this time of year.  I use mostly Calendula Oil, and added some lavender and tumeric this time.  I don’t love the orange color of the tumeric and probably won’t use that again.   It is adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide.

Book Review – More Herby Goodness

So I am new to the whole herbal medicine scene.  I have been checking out websites, watching YouTube videos, and ordering all of the things I need.  A friend recommended that I go over to Amazon and see if there were any free books for the KindlePC that might be helpful to me, and boy was he right!

I lucked upon Herbs Gone Wild! and got it the one day it was being offered for free.  And while my favorite herbal website so far has to be, my favorite book so far is this one by Diane Kidman.  I have been copying and pasting her recipes like crazy and have been taking notes on all the new herbs I need to buy and try.  Diane writes in a very approachable style and has a very easy going manner that makes it much less intimidating to give some of her recipes a try.  Watch for posts in the near future using some of her recipes.

I would pay a lot for this book.  It is a fantastic reference book on herbs and how to use them.

I Should Be Able to Finish Soon!

I have been working on this lovely quilt top for a couple of weeks, and am about ready to start the actual quilting on it.  All I need now is for my new book, Machine Quilting Made Easy, to arrive so I can do some practice quilting and then I am off and running to get this beauty done by June 12 for DD’s graduation!  I am soooo excited!

Fun New Detective Series – by Joanne Fluke

cccmurderThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is a fun book that came highly recommended, and free, from a friend. I don’t think I would have picked it up off the shelf, because I am ashamed to admit that I often base my book buying decisions on the cover art, and this one is sadly lacking.  It is a quick, easy read that is entertaining on a couple of levels.

I am still trying to decide if I liked the mystery or the included recipes best.  I really appreciate the main character, Hannah Swensen, as she is a strong, independent small business owner.  Hannah is not intimidating or overwhelming, and is therefore very believable as a main character from a small town.  Both the strong tie to the setting, Minnesota in this case, and the relationship between Hannah and her mother had me remembering my first Stephanie Plum mystery.  I haven’t tried any of the cookie recipes that were included throughout the book, but I do have plans to do so this weekend and will report back with pictures and a full review then.

For now, if you are looking for a cozy mystery to read at the beach or poolside, I would recommend this one for a quick and easy read.

Quick Money Saving Tip – CHEAP Books

I am sure everyone knows this already, but just in case you don’t, many thrift stores have CHEAP books for sale!  You can’t go get the latest titles probably. . .but you can get some great books for next to nothing.  I have been paying full price for books at Amazon, and at least half price for books at Alibris and used on Amazon, but last weekend I got my best deal yet.  At my local thrift store I got 7 books for $6.25!

My haul included several classics, a college literature book (preparing to homeschool my son), and two best sellers from a few years ago (one was a P.D. James book I have had on my “to read” list for a while now).  If your thrift store takes and sells books, in my humble opinion, it is worth a couple of hours to go sort through the pile.  This sure could get addictive!