Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Reviews Part 4

Emilie's Christmas LoveEmilie's Christmas Love by Joyce Lavene
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She's a rich teacher
Handicapped, wants to adopt
He has sister's kids

Sweet Christmas romance
Too much in character's heads
Good action ending

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

He annulled marriage
She ran away, remarried
Now widow with son

Quite a few errors
Too much thinking, not doing
Nice happy ending

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Undercover cop
Plays Santa for surveillance
Meets woman with dog

Wish it were longer
Superficial mystery
Very nice romance

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

CEO's a mess
A new housekeeper appears
And his eyes open

Liked characters lots
And hint of Christmas magic
Plot could be tightened

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Her husband was killed
She joined a theater group
Met two men she liked

Christmas love story
Not bad, but superficial

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She drinks way too much
Breaks into his antique store
Will he arrest her?

Clever novella
Lots of sexual tension
And the perfect end

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review haiku:

Very short story
Venice airport--she meets cop
He's handsome, of course

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Reviews Part 3

A few more of my reviews of Kindle Christmas freebies. Most are lendable if you want to borrow.

Jingle This! (a somewhat sassy Christmas novella)Jingle This! by Stephanie Rowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She gets dumped, can't write
Business is his everything
Do they have a chance?

Her angst broke my heart
Like both of these characters
Ending too easy

No Exchanges, No Returns (Return to Redemption, #4)No Exchanges, No Returns by Laurie Kellogg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She'll be surrogate
For her sister and husband
Then sis leaves them both

Misleading cover
Not Christmas story at all
Way too much drama

31 Kisses31 Kisses by Chautona Havig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She says what she thinks
Meets him in grocery store
It starts with one kiss

I loved this story
Clean, innocent Christian love
It warmed up my heart

My True Love Gave to Me by Christine Lynxwiler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

She loves Christmas things
He takes family away
On RV journey

Doing Christian good
Not traditional romance
But family love

View all my reviews

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Reviews Part 2

Here are a few more of my reviews of free Kindle books. Remember, they may not be free anymore, but I'd be glad to lend.

Gift Wrapped for ChristmasGift Wrapped for Christmas by Mona Ingram
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Roommates find romance
Overcome difficulties
Fall for two brothers

Two stories in one
Neither is quite deep enough
But enjoyable

Two-haiku review:

Student meets rock star
He's nice and also Christian
He loves her right off

Fanfic done for teen
Reads that way--very YA
Not believable

Two-haiku review:

TV home show host
Moves next door to novelist
He beheads snowman

Sweet Christmas story
Well done, if a little short
Loved the characters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Review haiku:

Their daughters are friends
She assumes mistakenly
He doesn't give up

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Reviews Part 1

There have been a plethora of free Christmas books for Kindle in the past month or so. I've read a number of them, and here are some of my reviews. Note, some of these books may still be free for Kindle, but many were limited time offers and may no longer be free. But most are lendable, so if you'd like to borrow them from me, just let me know.

Look What Santa BroughtLook What Santa Brought by Annmarie McKenna
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Decorator chick
Has stalker ex, blind guy friend
He's hot--she falls hard

Short, superficial
Characters not developed
Glad I didn't pay

The Christmas LampThe Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

He tries to save town
By cutting back on spending
She falls anyway

Novella done right
Well written and heartwarming
With Christmas spirit

Gift Wrapped for ChristmasGift Wrapped for Christmas by Mona Ingram
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Roommates find romance
Overcome difficulties
Fall for two brothers

Two stories in one
Neither is quite deep enough
But enjoyable

Merry's Christmas: a love storyMerry's Christmas: a love story by Susan Rohrer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Wife died at Christmas
Orphan waitress loves Christmas
Needs a family

So sweet and touching
Just perfect for holidays
I cried, so five stars

View all my reviews

Monday, December 10, 2012

Notorious Nineteen

Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum, #19)Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-haiku review:

Ranger's in danger
And missing men mystery
More like early books

Steph's magic hoohah
Keeps two men pursuing her

Came pretty close to giving this four stars, but in the end, the fact that there's been no growth through nineteen books kept me at three.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Goodbye, Europe

If it's Saturday, this must be Nuremburg.

We've reached the end of our journey here, and it's been wonderful. Our city tour today took us past Hitler's rally grounds and into the unfinished stadium where he expected to address tens of thousands.

Our tour guide was a German man, and he spoke with great sensitivity about the difficulty of growing up knowing his grandparents had been Nazis. He said the stadium would never be finished or used for anything, but also would never be destroyed, lest the German people forget.

Then we bussed to the center of the city to see the castle. It has stood on the hill there for a thousand years, although has been reconstructed after being bombed in the war.

We saw the courthouse where the Nuremburg trials took place, and spent an hour or so in the city shopping area.

Finally we returned to the Viking Embla for our last dinner aboard. Now our alarms are set to leave for the airport at 3:30 a.m.

See you all on the flip side.

Romans and Royalty

We began our day Friday with a walking tour of Regensburg, whose history goes back to the Celts in the Stone Age. We saw Roman ruins, and a great Gothic cathedral.

Our guide said, if you've seen one medieval castle you've seen them all, but that's certainly not true about cathedrals. Each one we've seen has been unique and beautiful in its own way.

One of the cool things, at least if you're a geeky engineer, was the old stone bridge, completed in 1146. An amazing feat of engineering for those times.

In the afternoon we took an optional tour to the palace of modern royalty, formerly a monastery. It was amazing to see the contrasts between the older monastic portion of the building and the very large, elaborate newer section. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but just imagine gilt and silver, brocade and lots of tall mirrors, and huge crystal chandeliers.

We closed out our afternoon by walking around the corner from the palace to a brauhaus. Huh? Oh, a brewhouse. We enjoyed a stein of the local beer before returning to the ship.

One more day. In a way it's sad, but we're also looking forward to getting home.

One final picture for my Muddy babe... a detail of architecture from city hall.

Who knew they fought zombies in the middle ages?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers! Hard cider looked like water, but had a kick!
Missed wishing you all happy Thanksgiving last night because we were cruising and the internet was very slow.

Since they don't celebrate our thanksgiving in Europe, we toured all day. First a walking tour of Passau, a lovely town in Bavaria.

Of course there was a cathedral named... guess what?... St. Stephen's, of course! It was the third St. Stephen's we've been to. This one was the best, though, in my humble opinion. Baroque style, very friendly and yet magnificent. It boasts the largest pipe organ outside the U.S. I wish we could have heard it.

After a ship lunch of salmon, mussels and calimari, we boarded a bus for an optional tour of a small farm. Cows, piggies, homemade bread, farm smoked meats, honey, and hard cider were all part of the farm family's products. It's difficult to make ends meet on a small farm in Bavaria, just like at home.

Finally, back to the ship for an "authentic" thanksgiving dinner prepared by our Austrian chef, Karl. Roast turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, followed by pumpkin cake. It was delicious!

We miss Betsy and Molly and the rest of our family, but we're still having a wonderful time and will soon be home.

Auf wiedersehen for now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hey, sunshine!

So today we saw some castles and fortresses as we cruised along the Danube. Pretty nice.

The most impressive thing was Melk Abbey. It has been in existence for something like a thousand years, although the current abbey was built in the early 1700s.

We had a nice tour, and I won't bore you with the hundreds of pictures I took.

You're welcome.

Honestly, after days of fog and haze and clouds, the best thing was to finally see the sun for a couple of hours this afternoon.

We walked back down the hill from the abbey to the ship, and then we rewarded ourselves by opening our bottle of Hungarian ice wine. It's Tokaji Aszu 6, and it's delicious. Look it up if you're interested.

Then we had a short German lesson from the staff in preparation for Germany.

That is all. Gute nacht.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not the Erie Canal

Last evening we went through our first lock on the Danube. May I just say... wow!

You can see from the picture how high that lock was. And we were standing on top of the ship, with three decks below us.

Simply amazing!

We went through some other locks during the night, but we were too busy sleeping to see them.

We arrived in Vienna at about 8 a.m. and immediately got onto out tour bus to see the city.
Cathedral of St. Stephen

Although it was foggy to start, we saw lots of churches and palaces. The guide told us there are 360 churches in the city, so you could theoretically go to a different church every day of the year.

The architecture of the city is just beautiful. The coolest part was the Imperial Palace, or Hofburg Palace, which includes the stables of the Spanish Riding School. They were actually unloading some of the Lipizzaner stallions for their training when we were there. I was so busy taking pictures that I almost got left behind by the tour. Lucky thing Davey was watching for me.

Finally, we spent our free time in the Sacher coffee house, originators of the Sacher torte. It was delicious!

Seems like every place we go on this trip, we get coffee and cake.

The diet starts next week. :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome aboard!

We boarded the Viking Embla yesterday. It was docked in Budapest right by the Chain Bridge, the first bridge built to connect the cities of Buda and Pest.

After a good night's sleep while still docked, we left the ship in the morning and toured the most important sights, including Heroes Square and the gorgeous Matthias church.

Matthias Church
The views were just amazing.

Then the bus had to hurry up river for an hour to catch up with the boat.

Since then we've been cruising along the Danube toward Vienna. It's very calm and a bit hazy, but just lovely.

Just a little while ago we passed Estergom Basilica, rising majestically over the river.
All is well and we're having a great time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beautiful Budapest

St. Stephen Basilica
What a wonderful day we had!

This morning after breakfast in the hotel dining room we did a walking orientation of the area around the hotel. Then we found our way to the marketplace, a huge conglomeration of vendors in an old train station. Lunch there, goulash and hot wine, was delicious!

Opera House
After lunch was a walking tour of the Pest area of Budapest. Lucky for us, it included both a trolley ride and a subway, or underground, ride. We went from the Basilica to the Opera House, then to a bookstore/ cafe for cappuccino and cake, then a quick stop at a confectioner.

We topped off the evening with an amazing dinner at an Italian restaurant, supplemented by free champagne, a free appetizer, free after dinner wine, and, you guessed it, FREE limoncello.

Wonderful day! Tomorrow the ship. :)

Oh and last night after dinner, we enjoyed a bottle of delicious Hungarian white. And lucky for us, corkscrew in the room. No opening the wine bottle with a shoe. :D

Friday, November 16, 2012

Made it!

Room with a view: Buda Castle
 Here we are in beautiful Budapest! Getting here was hell, but it was worth it.

Staying for two nights at the Budapest Marriott, right on the Danube. Amazing view from our room.

Not your American McDonalds.
Not going to write too much. Internet at the hotel is quite expensive, so guess where we came to get free WiFi... McDonalds! Not just any McDonalds, though... a historic place, the first McDonalds behind the Iron Curtain. Kids, if you don't know what that is, Google it. :)

Anyway, just wanted everyone to know we're fine.

The Chain Bridge, from our window.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Squirrels'r'us, maybe

A week ago

Trying to figure out how to use Davey's tablet and the micro SD card from my camera to post here. It's not easy! We leave for Europe tomorrow, and I want to be able to keep you all up to date while we're there.

So if I'm successful, here's Molly's pumpkin and its fate.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My friend Enny believes in bugs. So in order to try to break me of my habit of smacking first and asking questions later, she gifted me a bug catcher.

I used it for the first time the other day, and here are the pictures to prove it.

I must admit, I was a bit inept. I caught the bug on the sunroom window, turned to show it to Davey, and accidentally released it.


But I caught it again and set it free outside.

Mind you, spiders still get smashed. No freedom for those bitey little bastards.

And stink bugs, horrible pests that they are, still get flushed.

Oh, well, at least one bug benefited from the catch-and-release method. Thanks, Enny.

I think.