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Soul of the Desert

Book Discussion: Pinned Post Week 13

Oh, what to read this week! Last week, I read The Professor and the Bootlegger. I’d had it on my kindle for a while and somehow forgot all about it! Cute story, definitely a sweet romance, and because of the bootlegging angle it has more action than most. If you like romance books, you’ll like this one as a quick and fun historical beach read.

This week, I’m in the mood for…chocolate. But that doesn’t help with my reading selection! Just in time for Halloween–this ghost story sounded quite interesting!

’til Death

Sam Rockwell is a fledgling private investigator specializing in Returns, or, recently deceased ghosts with unfinished business. After his no-nonsense father is murdered and comes back, Sam takes the case hoping for a big break and a chance to win the heart of his Girl Friday.

Short on experience and long on the swagger of the dog-eared pulp fiction he keeps in his desk, Sam sets out to find his father’s killer only to find himself caught up in a madcap game of Cold War Intrigue as the Doomsday Clock inches close.

Secrets of the Past

Charlie Gilchrist has the unique gift, or curse, of retrocognition. Objects and artefacts are enough to trigger visions and he can see scenes from the past play out in front of him. When his brother asks him to meet an old friend who is managing a historical home, he has no idea what’s in store. Astrid Buchanan, estate manager at Addleston House, is struggling to make the venue a profitable tourist attraction. But Addleston has no real history or mystery behind it, and that’s a problem.

When a box of old letters and a diary is found under some floorboards, Astrid gets Charlie to look at them, thinking he might be able to unearth something from the house’s history to build on. But when Mrs. Toon, her colleague, gets wind of Charlie’s unorthodox methods, Astrid finds herself fighting for her job. As Charlie reads, he discovers that Richard Tunney – who used to own the house – was a difficult man, and cruel to Amelia, his second wife. Amelia hides herself in these long letters to her true love, Harry Bramall.
But Richard Tunney knows something is up, and tells a woman only identified as ‘Mary Ellen’, that she must read all letters Amelia sends and receives.

When disaster strikes, can Amelia and Harry’s love survive the trials of her vindictive husband? Who is Mary Ellen and what brought her to Addleston? And will Charlie solve the mystery before Astrid finds herself out of a job?

A sad love story set during the Regency period becomes a modern day mystery that will make Charlie Gilchrist confront his past, and come to terms with the gift that has kept him an outsider his entire life.

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Posted: October 14, 2017
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Non-Fiction Pick: Endurance: A Year in Space

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery — finally the long awaited memoir from astronaut Scott Kelly is out!

A stunning, personal memoir from the astronaut and modern-day hero who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station—a candid account of his remarkable voyage, of the journeys that preceded it, and of his colorful and inspirational formative years.

The veteran of four spaceflights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he takes us inside a sphere utterly hostile to human life. He describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both life-threatening and mundane: the devastating effects on the body; the isolation from everyone he loves and the comforts of Earth; the catastrophic risks of colliding with space junk; and the still more haunting threat of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home–an agonizing situation Kelly faced when, on a previous mission, his twin brother’s wife, American Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot while he still had two months in space.

Kelly’s humanity, compassion, humor, and determination resonate throughout, as he recalls his rough-and-tumble New Jersey childhood and the youthful inspiration that sparked his astounding career, and as he makes clear his belief that Mars will be the next, ultimately challenging, step in spaceflight.

A natural storyteller, Kelly has a message of hope for the future that will inspire for generations to come. Here we see the triumph of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the infinite wonder of the galaxy.

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Posted: October 17, 2017
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Call for Orders – Lotions, Shampoo and Soap

Some of you have taken advantage of my custom lotion, soap or shampoo products. Orders tend to be high from this point on until right before Christmas when EVERYONE then puts in a last minute order. I don’t mind the last minute orders, but if I don’t have supplies, I can’t make the product. So in order to stay organized (ha!) I’m asking for you to comment or email me if you think you might order between now and Christmas so that I can order enough supplies. I won’t hold you to your “maybe” unless it’s an actual order–you can always order later if you so choose.

I generally cannot get supplies after November because the places I order from take about two weeks from the time I order to get it to me–that means I can’t make it in time for Christmas! So if you are thinking of ordering soap to give as Christmas gifts, it would really help me out to know NOW. If you plan to order six or more bars (of any scent or mixed scents) I really need to know early so that I can plan and get the soap made. Soap takes at least a week to cure BEFORE I mail it out.

I’ve put together a page with a list of what I currently make. I am considering ordering jasmine and vanilla scents. If there are other scents you don’t see on the list, but are interested in (including the jasmine and vanilla) please let me know. All of what I currently make is made to order because I specialize in helping you find the right product. Even if you are not ordering or don’t plan to order, it would help if you tell me your favorite scent because I’m learning as I go. Right now, lavender is the most popular scent! Chime in and opine!

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Posted: October 16, 2017

Book Review: The Flaw in All Magic

The Flaw in All Magic was an absolute gem of a read! I loved it! Great and fun characters, plenty of action, a good plot, wonderful world and world building–nary a word was wasted on boring descriptions either. This book moved right along and told a fun story. If you like Frank Tuttle, Mercedes Lackey, Helen Harper or any of my books, I think you’ll like this book.

This is an author I’ll be keeping an eye on. Five star read, a huge bargain, highly recommended.

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Posted: October 15, 2017
Filed in Book Reviews, Under $5
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A Freebie Cozy and New Release

The first in the Sally Nimitz series is free: The Death of Amelia Marsh

Sally Nimitz is a widow living in a small mid-western town with a satisfying ordinary life. She is invited to visit her neighbor one afternoon, an elderly lady with a charming English accent. When she arrives for the appointment, the lady is lying on her kitchen floor, dead from a blow to the head. Sally finds herself drawn into the puzzling crime; why would anyone want to kill Mrs. Marsh? As she looks for answers, Sally discovers a talent dormant within herself for solving such a puzzle. With the aid of two friends this budding female sleuth learns Amelia Marsh’s life was a mystery in itself, and there are secrets hidden in her past.

The latest two in the series are Ending the Varney Curse and Who Was Nathan Spencer?

Ending the Varney Curse

Sally is asked to assist in an ongoing undercover operation investigating shipping magnate Jock Varney. All she has to do is slip away to Phoenix for a few days to fill in as caregiver to Varney’s elderly mother, Elizabeth. And while doing that, carry out her primary assignment. It all goes smoothly.
So why, less than two weeks later, is Mrs. Varney’s regular companion standing at Sally’s front door with a suspicious mind and a lot of questions? One reason: her employer is dead and the loyal Vera Riley isn’t convinced it was natural causes.
And no wonder. The Varney family has experienced more than its share of sudden deaths. Sally and her two loyal assistants travel to California where they team up with Mrs. Riley to find out the truth. Who or what is behind the dark events plaguing the Varneys?

Who Was Nathan Spencer?

Miss Anne Carey’s affluent brother Ira consults her for advice. Should he loan his son Craig thirty thousand dollars although he cannot say what the money is for? This isn’t like Craig at all. Decidedly odd, agree Anne’s friends Sally Nimitz and George Thomas.

Craig gets the loan, and what began as puzzling quickly turns deadly. The money disappears, Craig is fighting for his life, and the name of an elusive older brother crops up in connection with the whole mess. Sally and George step up to help their dear friend’s family find answers. Who was Nathan Spencer? Was he responsible for robbery, kidnapping, and murder?

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Posted: October 14, 2017
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Short Hike – Bird Refuge, Doeskin Ranch

Click for larger pictures.

There’s a few areas in Austin designated as the Balcones National Wildlife Refuge. The area isn’t necessarily completely connected. We’ve hiked on some of it before, but not all of it is open to hikers. Some of it is reserved entirely for birds and whathaveyou during breeding times. I’m all for preservation, but I do believe these places have to allow hikers and people. How else will anyone learn to appreciate nature?

Anyway, we went to hike one of the areas known as Doeskin Ranch. We’ve been before. It’s not all that large and this time we didn’t see much wildlife–not a single deer or even a rabbit. I think we saw a total of two birds and one was while we were driving! It’s a nice hike with some trees and a lot of open spaces. It used to be a cattle ranch. Before that, looong before that, settlers used to harvest the trees and grow cotton.

There’s still an old house that has been restored near one of the creeks. As houses go, it’s not plush. It’s one room for however many people had to squeeze in. Note that it has a lot of gaps. Built-in air conditioning, but that’s okay because there were no windows.

We used to have something similar out on our ranch in NM that my grandfather built when he was young, but all that was left by the time I was a teenager was an old metal bed frame. There was no restoration going on for Grandfather’s cabin, but you could still see a few of the cut tree planks scattered around. There was bits of wire that possibly held some of the wood together. Down one of the ranch roads just a few feet from it, an old tub was perched against some rocks as though a huge explosion had just delivered it to the middle of nowhere. I am not sure the tub had anything to do with the one room house. I think it was hauled out there to hold water or feed the cows.

I took a few pictures from the Doeskin Ranch hike to share with you. We walked about four miles total, maybe a little less. It wasn’t very strenuous other than near the top of the one ridge. Still, even that wasn’t more than a few feet, so we were able to haul ourselves up quite handily. I walked in regular sneakers; my hiking boots are at the ranch!






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Posted: October 12, 2017
Filed in Texas, Walks in Life

New Waterproof Kindle

Amazon has announced a new waterproof Kindle (Oasis). Releases Oct 31st. It has improved, integrated audible capability too so you can listen to audio books easily. Works with bluetooth, and so on.

What do you think? Do you need a new kindle? Work in the kitchen or go to the beach so you like the waterproof aspect?

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Posted: October 11, 2017

Book: Non-Fiction – The Woman Who Smashed Codes

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

This sounded really interesting to me. When I read the article and blurb about the book, I immediately thought of Margaret and her bootlegger book, The Professor and the Bootlegger. (Love the Bootlegger cover! Great cover and bargain price!)

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life

National Geographic Article (may require a login to read) with an in-depth look at the story if you want to know more before reading the book.

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Posted: October 9, 2017

Book Discussion: Pinned Post Week 12

This week looks like an urban fantasy kind of week, but you tell me! What are you reading?

The bargains of last week led me to this book:

Tombyards & Butterflies: A Montague and Strong Case Files I’ve already sampled it and it’s passed that test. I saw one typo in the sample (comma missing) and the plot was pretty entertaining.

An emissary from the Dark Council has just materialized in the office of the Montague & Strong Detective Agency, and makes Simon Strong an offer he can’t refuse. Charon is missing. The legendary ferryman responsible for transporting sorcerer souls across the river Styx hasn’t been seen in days. And with each passing hour, those unable to cross the river are left to walk among the living, tilting the world further out of balance.

Meet Simon Strong, an immortal, who is also the best private detective in New York City. Together with his surly partner-Tristan Montague, a mage of indeterminate age, they must find the Ferryman and get him back to work before another Supernatural War ravages the earth, destroys humanity, and Simon’s local coffee shop.

Time is running out. His landlord wants the rent and Karma with a capital K is paying him a visit, and she can be a real…

Join the Montague & Strong Detective Agency and help them locate Charon, so he can restore balance to the universe, put the dead sorcerers to rest, and maybe solve the age old conundrum-coffee or tea?

And in fantasy, I thought this one sounded good, especially the first line of the blurb!

Banished

13-Year-Old Assassin for Hire.

Ayrion learns the consequences of being exceptional.

Staying on top is not always a good thing, especially when the head of your clan has a son who can’t stand to lose. Trained as an assassin, competition for Ayrion is serious. The higher he rises, the deadlier it becomes.

Can he manage to keep his identity as a wielder hidden, or will he ignore his parents’ advice and use his magic to win?


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Posted: October 8, 2017
Filed in Under $5
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Article: Mary Walker US Medal of Honor

I didn’t realize that Mary Walker was the only female to be awarded the US Medal of Honor. Apparently she is also one of the reasons I am allowed to wear pants (shorts and/or sweat pants) today. I’m very grateful.

When I was an exchange student in high school, I went to Japan my senior year. We had to wear uniforms to school, and they happened to be skirt/dresses that look similar to the dress Mary Walker has on in the picture (they were a bit longer). Because of the absolutely freezing cold during Japan’s winter, I often wore jeans underneath the uniform. It was prohibited to do so, and I was told several times not to do it. BUT I WAS COLD so I continued to do it, using various excuses of not understanding the rules, not understanding the language, NOT CARING A WHIT and so on. We had round belly stoves in the classrooms. Only those sitting close to the stoves were anywhere close to warm. When we arrived in the morning, we would huddle around the stoves. Because I had pants on underneath my skirt, when my skirt caught fire, I didn’t realize it at first. 🙂 No harm done other than the hole that burned through the skirt. The other girls were quite mortified. A kind soul patched it for me (even then my sewing skills were quite legendary. We won’t go into details.)

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Posted: October 6, 2017
Filed in Walks in Life
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