Author Archive

Book Review: Altered to Death

Altered to Death is another one of the Scrap This murder mysteries.  When I started this book back in December I realized that I had missed out on 2 of the books in the series and considered going back to read the other two before this one.  When I realized I was never going to find the time to catch up, I decided to skip them.  I don’t think that I missed out on any major details by skipping those 2 books in the series and maybe eventually I will be able to go back to them.  I think this is the first one that I read where the murder mystery didn’t revolve around the scrapbook store.

Faith was hired by the town to put together a historical scrapbook of its history and it uncovered a body and a mystery that of course gets Faith into all sorts of crazy predicaments and situations.  There is a diary and no one really knows what is going on with the heir and of course, small town, everyone is all up in everyone else’s business.  Faith tries to solve the mystery and get the information she needs from other people in town without revealing too much of what she has found, or thinks she has found.

This was another fun read like the others in this series that I have read and I love that there is such a niche genre of scrapbook murder mysteries out there for me to enjoy.

About the Book

Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

“Faith Hunter is a delightful amateur sleuth and the quirky characters that inhabit the town of Eden are the perfect complement to her overly inquisitive ways.” – Jenn McKinlay, New York Times Bestselling Author of Copy Cap Murder

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you’ll probably like them all.

Author Bio: The Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series brings together Christina Freeburn’s love of mysteries, scrapbooking, and West Virginia. When not writing or reading, she can be found in her scrapbook room or at a crop. Alas, none of the real-life crops have had a sexy male prosecutor or a handsome police officer attending. Christina served in the JAG Corps of the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, children, a dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid or allergic to felines.

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Blog Catchup

I’ve been having a terrible time trying to keep track of what I have to blog about and what I haven’t. Or putting together actual blog posts and reviews. So here’s a brief recap of what I’ve been doing for the past 2 months…

The Last Bandoleros
My friend Lauren asked me if I’d be interested in checking out The Last Bandoleros at The Wolfs Den. I really had no idea what to expect (w

e had met one of the members something like 10 years ago!) but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought they would be more country but they were not so I am sold! I picked up their EP after the show and have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

Jeff Dye
Lauren also dragged me to see Jeff Dye. You may know him from Last Comic Standing or Better Late Than Never. I typically don’t like comedians but Jeff had me laughing his entire set and he was a lot of fun to chat with after the show as well. I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last blog post about him.

Kinky Boots
David Cook made his Broadway debut in Kinky Boots in NYC – so of course I had to check it out! Also in the show was Wayne Brady and Kirstin from Pentatonix. I wasn’t sure what to expect since he would need to have an accent since the show takes place in England. But he did great and it was so fun to hear “him” come through on the songs. A really, really fun show as well.

Andy Grammer
Andy Grammer took his “The Good Parts” tour to the Ridgefield Playhouse. We had about 6th row for the show. Everyone was sitting until Andy made a comment on it and said we could stay seating if we wanted, but we could stand too. I had a feeling that would be how it works because the Playhouse tends to sell their closest seats to members of their ‘club’ and they are usually there moreso to support the venue than as a fan of the band. Although I’m not sure how you can sit still listening to Andy and all of his upbeat songs! After the show we had a chance to meet him briefly and snap a few photos. Always enjoyable!

*NSYNC Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Sometimes all the stars in your life align up perfectly and you end up getting booked on a trip to California just a few days before *NSYNC is set to get a star on the walk of fame, so you ask your manager if you can extend the trip out a bit and she agrees… so a baseball game, Disneyland and seeing all 5 members of *NSYNC on stage together again end up happening. The ceremony was a LOT of standing around and I am not sure I will ever get feeling back in my legs or feet but it was truly amazing to be a part of such a special moment! Now I have to plan a trip back to LA because we were far too exhausted after waiting for the ceremony and then for The Dirty Pop-Up Shop to head back and see the star!

Ruben Studdard sings Luther Vandross
You know I love me some Idol, so when Ruben came to the wolf den to sing the songs of Luther I had to check it out. Unfortunately we didn’t get in line early enough to get a good seat and for a while we weren’t even sure we would get any seat, so I think being on the side of the stage kind of lost some of the interaction for us, but I thought Ruben sounded great and it was a lot of fun to hear him do a different song catalog (even though he did do a few Luther songs back on Idol).

Tim Tebow and The Rumble Ponies
Tim Tebow is a Met… so when the Binghamton Rumble Ponies made their way to Hartford to play the Yard Goats, we went to check him out. 2 rows from the field yielded some great photos and an autograph for my friend Christine. Tim ended up coming out of the game early, but it was also a work night so we were happy to have an ‘excuse’ to leave early! We had fun playing baseball bingo during the game and enjoyed some great BBQ. We’ll be back when he makes his triumphant return next month… hopefully this time I can snag an autograph for myself J

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Book Review: My Days

My Days is all about Marion Ross, who you probably know as Mrs. C from Happy Days.  Marion had always said that she would never write an autobiography, but at the urging of her son she ended up writing one and I think she did a great job with it.  The first half of the book is about her growing up, how she decided she wanted to be an actress and background on her family growing up and her marriage to a man who turned out to be a functioning alcoholic.  She was born “Marian” but changed it to “Marion” simply because she thought that name would look better on a marquee. She always wanted to be a star and the center of attention.  About halfway through the book she gets to her Happy Days days and after talking about them a bit the majority of the second half of the book was an approach I thought to be very interesting for an autobiography – she had David Laurell interview some of her coworkers/ cast mates – including Garry Marshall and Erin Moran, both of whom sadly passed away from the time the book was started to the time she finished and released it.  She also interviews with Ron Howard (who also wrote the foreward), Henry Winkler, Scott Baio and her children.  All of them seem to have the same opinion of her – she was wonderful and a kick ass actress.

I really enjoyed this book and how it was constructed. It was nice to hear about Marion’s personal life, which she was previously pretty guarded about talking about.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

For eleven seasons, Marion Ross was head of one of America’s favorite television households. Now meet the lovable real-life woman behind the Happy Days mom . . .
 
Before she was affectionately known to millions as “Mrs. C.,” Marion Ross began her career as a Paramount starlet who went on to appear in nearly every major TV series of the 1950s and 1960s—including Love, American Style, in which she donned an apron that would cinch her career. Soon after came the fateful phone call from producer Garry Marshall that made her an “overnight” success, and changed her life . . .

In this warm and candid memoir, filled with loving recollections from the award-winning Happy Days team—from break-out star Henry Winkler to Cunningham “wild child” Erin Moran—Ross shares what it was like to be a starry-eyed young girl with dreams in poor, rural Minnesota, and the resilience, sacrifices, and determination it took to make them come true. She recalls her early years in the business, being in the company of such luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Noel Coward, yet always feeling the Hollywood outsider—a painful invisibility that mirrored her own childhood. She reveals the absolute joys of playing a wife and mother on TV, and the struggles of maintaining those roles in real life. But among Ross’s most heart-rending recollections are those of finally finding a soulmate—another secret hope of hers made true well beyond her expectations.

Funny, poignant, and revealing—and featuring Garry Marshall’s final illuminating interview—as well as a touching foreword from her “TV son” Ron Howard, and a conversation with her real-life son and daughter, Marion Ross’s story is one of inspiration, persistence, and gratitude. It’s also a glowing tribute to all those who fulfilled her dreams—and in turn, gave us some of the happiest days of our own lives.

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Book Review: The Extraordinary Life of A A Milne

Alan Alexander Milne is probably best known for the creation of Winnie the Pooh and friends.  But AA Milne was also a playwright, screen writer and novelist.  Even 60 years after his death, he is a mystery to many.  He died resentful because he was only known as a ‘whimsical’ children’s author.  His son, Christopher Robin, felt exploited, even though the stories were a combination of things that happened to Christopher, things that happened during AA Milne’s childhood and other things that were made up.  But Christopher was always picked on about being the “real” Christopher Robin.  He ended up marrying his first cousin which led to them having a handicapped child – their daughter, Clare, had Cerebral Palsy.  Alan married Daphne and they slept in separate rooms. Many believe Daphne to be ‘anti sex’.  Most of Christopher’s time was spent with a nanny growing up.  It is also said that the home they lived in was cursed – it was sold to Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, who ended up found dead in the pool.

This book was fascinating to find out about all that was going on behind the scenes.  I love Winnie the Pooh and his crew and the stories, but I didn’t realize how it was Daphne that seemed to play more with the toys than Christopher and all that went on with Alan and how he wanted to be known for his other writings as well. Definitely a fascinating read.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

VERY few authors can ever dream of coming close to the legacy left by A A Milne. He remains a household name in almost every corner of the globe thanks to a phenomenally popular collection of whimsical children’s stories about a boy named Christopher Robin and his beloved teddy bear.

Generations of children have grown up loving the tales of Winnie The Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, which are still among the most popular – and profitable – fictional characters in the world.

But while the adorable poems and stories have brought unparalleled joy to millions, Alan Alexander Milne, himself was never able to enjoy the fame and fortune they brought him. He died deeply resenting Pooh’s success, as far as he was concerned those stories were just such a tiny fraction of his literary work, but nothing else he produced came close in terms of public appreciation.

Milne died still unable to reconcile the fact that no matter what else he wrote, regardless of all the plays and stories for adults he had published, he would always be remembered as a children’s storyteller.

And his son, widely hailed as the inspiration for the adorable character of Christopher Robin, could never accept his unique place in literary history either. He had barely reached his teens before he grew to loathe his famous father, who he bitterly accused of exploiting his early years.

The Extraordinary Life of A A Milne delves deep into the life of Milne and sheds light on new places, and tells stories untold.

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Book Review: Stop Coding: Learn to test automate without coding and get that automation testing job

Stop coding is all about how to become an automated test engineer with no coding knowledge needed. I found this to be interesting since what he is looking to replace is what I had been doing at work, so it was interesting to me and also scary – how easily we could all be replaced! It is easier to retest quickly when things are automated so it saves time and money.  In addition to talking about how to learn to test, the book also goes over common interview questions and what you need to say/know to answer them in a way that is appealing.  I’m not in the market for a new job right now, but this could become a valuable resource to me later on down the road, or anyone who is looking to enter the work field with this discipline.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The world is changing, A few short years ago a manual tester would run tests against software to check that the requirements had been satisfied. Fast forward to today and businesses want fast test execution, Continuous Integration with little to no human intervention.

Stop Coding is a step-by-step guide into the new way of automated testing, using ground-breaking tools like Katalon Studio, a tool that allows you to test automate without coding.

Easy-to-follow, eye-opening and comprehensive, Stop Coding will let you in on the processes and frameworks you should master, useful tips to make you the most eligible candidate in a job interview and all the little details that will lead you to the automation testing job.

Get first-hand experience from Ajamo Adams who entered the automation arena by curbing the coding challenge and delve into the mysteries of pro standard testing WITHOUT coding!

With free katalon studio training courses, intеrviеw рrераrаtiоnѕ and аdviсе, including information on what уоu should and ѕhоuldn‘t do in the interview process. Rеѕоurсеѕ on working in an agile environment, real intеrviеw ԛuеѕtiоnѕ with answers and everything else needed to get that automation testing job.

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Book Review: Alou

Alou is about baseball great Felipe Alou in his own words.  The intro to the book is by none other than Pedro Martinez. Felipe and 2 of his brothers (Matty and Jesus) were the only 3 brothers in the major leagues to share an outfield.  Felipe is often credited as the first Dominican to reach the major leagues, but he says that it was Ozzie Virgil Sr who did it before him.  The book is interesting and has a lot of great stories and facts about Felipe and his family.  His last name is actually not Alou, but Rojas.  He never faced a lefty pitcher until he was a professional baseball player because in the Dominican Republic being left handed was considered a curse so they were all right handed. (Or if they weren’t, tried to be.)  He has a 4th brother, Juan, who stayed home to protect his home in the Dominican Republic and ended up becoming a pretty great civil engineer. There is a lot of information about Felipe’s family as well – he has 11 children and has been married 4 times.  Tragically one of his sons died while he was diving into a pool by breaking his neck and Felipe talks about what it was like to find out about that while he was playing ball and having to fly straight home to the funeral from a game. This was a really interesting read and I enjoyed it.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

 

About the Book

Growing up in a tiny shack in the Dominican Republic, Felipe Alou never dreamed he would be the first man to go from his country to play and manage in Major League Baseball—and also the first to play in the World Series. Today, the Dominican Republic produces more Major League players than any country outside the United States.

In this extraordinary autobiography, Alou tells of his real dream: to become a doctor. An uncle was funding his university education when an improbable turn of events intervened at the 1955 Pan American Games. There as a track and field athlete, Alou was pressed into service on the baseball field to replace a player sent home for disciplinary reasons. A scout noticed Alou and offered him two hundred pesos to sign a pro contract. Knowing his father owed the grocer exactly two hundred pesos, Alou signed.

Battling racism in the United States and political turmoil in his home country, Alou persevered, paving the way for younger brothers Matty and Jesús and scores of other Dominicans, including his son Moisés. A fourth Alou brother, Juan, might have joined the historic trio if not for the improbable direction his own life took.
Alou played seventeen years in the Major Leagues, accumulating more than two thousand hits and two hundred home runs, and then managed another fourteen—four with the San Francisco Giants and ten with the Montreal Expos, where he became the winningest manager in franchise history. Alou became a special friend of Roberto Clemente, roomed with Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and Joe Torre, and suffered the tragic death of his firstborn son.

Alou’s pioneering journey is embedded in the history of baseball, the Dominican Republic, and a remarkable family.

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Book Review: Harry and Meghan Paper Dolls

This is an adorable book with paper dolls to cut out of the Royal couple – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  There is a body for Harry and a body for Meghan and then throughout the book there are outfits that the couple has been seen wearing before as well as where they had worn them.  At the end of the book there is some royal trivia and information about the couple.  This is a really cute idea, but I hope that a new version comes out after the wedding with their wedding outfits! That would just be grand, wouldn’t it?

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Commemorate the wedding of the year with paper dolls of the royal couple!
The world will be watching when Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle wed in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle — and you can relive the events leading up to the big day with this fabulous paper doll collectible. Dress the royal couple in the outfits they wore to their engagement announcement or choose from Harry’s Invictus Games T-shirt, Meghan’s ensemble for her first official duty, and more. Includes two dolls and 14 costumes.

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Book Review: Make It Easy, Cupcake!

The version of Make It Easy, Cupcake, I got to review was just a snippet of some of the pages of the full book, so I haven’t gotten to see ALL the designs that are featured in this book but the ones that I did see were totally awesome.  The book is full of fun cupcake ideas – the one that I liked the most was a BBQ which featured baked beans, hot dogs and burgers – all as cupcakes! Totally adorable and the book has easy step by step instructions as well as photos of the steps so you can easily follow along and make your own awesome cupcakes, easy!  I also liked the crab cupcake.. I am not much of a baker or a decorator but I am just saying if you want to make me happy for my birthday some hot dog cupcakes and crab cupcakes are probably the way to go…

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

From the bestselling authors of Hello, Cupcake! and Cake My Day! comes a collection of brand new, completely irresistible cupcake designs—all of which can be made in just 4 steps!

Let Karen Tack and Alan Richardson show you how to make the most inventive cupcakes—for any imaginable occasion—using easy, everyday ingredients (and tools) from your own pantry or grocery store. The 100+ recipes in Make it Easy, Cupcake will allow you to transform marshmallows into blooming daffodils and wafer cookies into airplane wings, use jelly beans for dragonflies and chocolate cookies as bat wings, and countless other ideas for creative cupcake confections. . .all in four easy steps.

Start with a batch of plain cupcakes (made from scratch or store-bought) and follow the authors’ illustrated instructions for decoration. Each recipe includes a complete list of ingredients and simple HOW-TOs along with color photos illustrating each step. From baby buggies to hot-air balloons, gingerbread men to the Loch Ness Monster, this is the go-to resource for the most creative, crowd-pleasing cupcakes ideas of all time. Enjoy!

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Book Review: Dad Jokes? I Think You Mean Rad Jokes!

I braced myself before opening up this book filled with 101 new “dad jokes”.  The book is illustrated so that it actually looks like Dads are telling the jokes.  I think that most of these will make you chuckle – but I’m not saying if they will because you think they are funny or because they are just that bad…

Some of my favorites included:

I sympathize with batteries. I’m never included in anything either.

If I hear you slam the doors one more time… I’ll be really upset ’cause that’s my favorite band.

Definitely a very punny book and sure to get you some laughs and definitely some groans if you read it out loud to a group!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

 

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Book Review: My Favorite Sport: Baseball

My Favorite Sport: Baseball, is a short book about the game of Baseball.  First it talks a bit about what baseball is and how the game works.  At the end of each section is a “Do You Remember” with a question about something that you learned from what you just read.  There is also a glossary with some of the terms that you should know if you want to play and learn about baseball.  This is a nice easy read for a kid who is just learning to read and loves sports.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

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