Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

Welcome to my remodeled cyber neighborhood coffee shop! Grab a mug of your favorite beverage and a cozy chair to read and comment a bit. Be sure to try a piece of black forest cake or the tiramisu. Try both; cyber-cake is calorie free!

Contact Nani at chroniclesofnani@gmail.com

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hell's Corner (Camel Club #5) by David Baldacci

Finished November 18, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads

Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return in #1 bestselling author David Baldacci's most stunning adventure yet.

An attack on the heart of power . . .

In sight of the White House . . .

At a place known as . . .


John Carr, aka Oliver Stone-once the most skilled assassin his country ever had-stands in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, perhaps for the last time. The president has personally requested that Stone serve his country again on a high-risk, covert mission. Though he's fought for decades to leave his past career behind, Stone has no choice but to say yes.

Then Stone's mission changes drastically before it even begins. It's the night of a state dinner honoring the British prime minister. As he watches the prime minister's motorcade leave the White House that evening, a bomb is detonated in Lafayette Park, an apparent terrorist attack against both leaders. It's in the chaotic aftermath that Stone takes on a new, more urgent assignment: find those responsible for the bombing.

British MI-6 agent Mary Chapman becomes Stone's partner in the search for the unknown attackers. But their opponents are elusive, capable, and increasingly lethal; worst of all, it seems that the park bombing may just have been the opening salvo in their plan. With nowhere else to turn, Stone enlists the help of the only people he knows he can trust: the Camel Club. Yet that may be a big mistake.

In the shadowy worlds of politics and intelligence, there is no one you can really trust. Nothing is really what it seems to be. And Hell's Corner truly lives up to its name. This may be Oliver Stone's and the Camel Club's last stand.

My review at Good Reads
4.5 of 5 stars

Wow! This was a great book with lots of action . I've said before they the Camel Club series has a definite Scooby-Doo essence to it, maybe in the way of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show’s Scooby Gang which was darker. Given that, I accept that the heroes and the villains are sometimes a bit over the top. They are very enjoyable.

The story involves multiple big agencies in Washington and England battling the group responsible for a bomb that caused much damage and a major investigation. Oliver Stone was asked to work for the government again for one case. Paired with Mary Chapman, an MI-6 British intelligence agent, they always seem to be one step behind the perpetrators. Clues lead them one direction only to find the truth seems to begin another. Why is that happening? There is a traitor in the ranks, but who?

I enjoyed the plot that seemed to leave the gate twisting. It made a book that was exciting to read. If you enjoy crime mysteries and stories revolving around governments, I definitely recommend the Camel Club series, but read them in order and don't expect to nitpick the believability - just enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Think I Got It Tough?

I’ve been very self-involved the past few weeks. I haven’t shared a lot because I’ve sorta been in a serious dark spot for me and I don’t want to share that in case it’s contagious. Hey, I’m serious there. I know a smile or a laugh can be passed on when someone is feeling low and I’ve experienced someone else’s bad mood sucking the life out of my mood. Anyone who cohabitates with their significant other or even a platonic best friend knows what I mean, you’ve felt it first hand. Its part of the emotional connection. But as much as strong happiness can put a dance in a stranger’s step when they walk by, a very dark brood can push that same stranger into traffic.

I was sorting through my art journals and I decided the MS art journal pages should be their own book instead of throwing them in my main scrapbooks in chronological order. They express an area of my creativity that I want to keep in its own compartment, I’m not ashamed of it at all. I think it’s good and it’s great therapy. It’s just that it’s very dark compared to most of my scrapping and certainly compared to the parts of my world that I want to preserve.

While pulling out folders, I came across this page I did in September.

Ghost From The Past
Credits: Distressed and This Can’t Be Happening by Created by Jill Scraps, 
When Skies Are Gray by Ginger Bread Ladies

Who we are and who we will always be is a work of art itself. Ideally, it’s a work we love being and others appreciate it too. That work of art is a combination of everything and everyone who has touched our lives. Because we’re always being “painted” or “sculpted” with a stroke here or smoothing out there by different artists we are ever-changing works. Everything we see, every life we touch, leaves a little and takes a little.

The woman represented by this page was very real and although we never spoke a word to each other, I don’t recall ever even making eye contact with her, she left an impression on me. She is one of the artists who added a few strokes to who I am today. I find myself thinking of her a lot as I struggle through the especially trying times.

When I was a young adult, I often went to a bar/concert theater with friends in a rough part of Detroit. They had the local bands and hard rock and heavy metal bands that weren’t big enough to book arenas when they toured, but they could sell out a downtown concert bar. It was festival seating and for the big concerts it was common for there to be a line going around the building before the doors opened of young people, mostly from the suburbs. Safety in numbers, it was a party atmosphere with plenty of six-packs and wine coolers, talking, flirting and getting to know strangers.

She lived there, in those rough streets. To the quiet woman, concert nights were working nights, collecting the empty beer and wine cooler bottles which were worth a dime apiece in Michigan. Sometimes she had a cart, but usually it was a plastic shopping bag or two that she collected her dimes in. It was the unwritten and unspoken rule that she never spoke to us and we never spoke to her. When anyone finished a bottle or can when in line, they left the empty on the sidewalk where she could reach it. The only time anyone ever heard her voice was the occasional time someone would get an extra hamburger at McDonalds and leave it with the beer can. She took the burger and said “thank you.”

She was ragged, dirty and didn’t smile, but she didn’t let her lot in life completely destroy her either. She didn’t panhandle, she collected bottles. Altruistically, she cleaned up after the kids for her payday. The piece of her that she left with me was pride and determination. She left me her dignity and the knowledge that despite the standards I’ve given myself, that dignity is much deeper than a credit score or clean hair. I am able to feel good about the little victories because they are MY victories. Every time I use a bag to move something because I only have one free hand, or lament at my ”Snape hair” or that I was too weak to shower and “smell like a bag-lady,” her image comes to my mind. It might get better, it might not. But as long as I do the best I can and never stop trying today, I can still grasp an ounce of pride, of dignity, even on my worst days.

It was over 25 years ago that the unnamed woman touched my life every couple weeks. The rough life in the streets tells me she’s probably gone. But she is not at all forgotten.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mentioning Many Things

Yesterday was election day. In odd-numbered years the ballot is smaller and the lines at the polls are too. After our mayor died earlier this year, the interim mayor, Paula Hicks-Hudson, won the special election and is now our duly elected mayor. I kind of knew where I was going with my vote, but I was swayed away from voting for Mayor Hicks-Hudson with what I considered a major faux-pas when she addressed Halloween and the weather with cold and forecasted rain during trick-or-treating time. She had no intention of postponing the time and it’s not me worrying about the kids that made me talk back to the TV. She could have said it was bad for general scheduling. She could have said after the last couple of years it sets an erratic precedent. Heck, she could have said with the election so close I just have too much going on to address it - get wet or go to the mall. It would have been a TON better than what she did say days before the election. Her defense for not changing the time for trick-or-treating started “In MY day…” She went on to talk about being from the area and going out in the cold and rain and all, but the parenting mindset is different now and I’m from this area too; it’s been colder and rainier than it was when I was a child. But the big thing with saying that so close to the election is that I don’t want to vote for someone who freely admits that “their day” was 50 years ago. I want to see my city move forward with someone who’s day is TODAY.

Oh yeah, and don’t start pointing fingers at parents “who should” put coats on their kids; the idea of a kid, regardless of what their told, not wearing a coat over a costume is as old as a child catching a cold not buttoning up her coat because Zuzu didn’t want to crush her flower.

In issues, I’m sad that the citizen’s initiative to legalize marijuana for personal and medicinal use was voted down. For me personally, I wanted to see the medicinal use be a legal option for people with chronic pain. I don’t think that’s necessarily me, but I have a number of friends who qualify. The recreational use wasn’t a big deal to me, but I don’t drink much either. Pot is less inhibiting than alcohol and not addictive. It would have been available for 21 and over, like booze, and couldn’t be smoked in public places except in designated smoking areas, like cigarettes, which are also more harmful and addicting. It saddens me that misinformation swallowed by people who don’t use a product makes it unavailable to people who could medically benefit from it and keeps it illegal, high-priced and often dangerously laced to make the profit higher for the illegal sellers for the people who will keep using it anyway. Score one for the pushers.

I am quite happy that the issue that creates a bipartisan process for drawing districts passed comfortably . I will admit the 800,000 people who think gerrymandering is a good thing frighten me.


November promises to be an exciting book month in Naniland! I just finished the last book in the Rare Traits trilogy. I love those books; David George Clarke is an incredible writer! I hope to read more from him, maybe even a fourth book in the trilogy? Douglas Adams did it. The hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy had 5 books. Sure, that works for that trilogy because it’s humor, but the point is that more than 3 books in a trilogy is not unprecedented.

I’m currently reading Hell’s Corner, the last book of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series and I have a list of new in November stuff now! I’m definitely set for reading material through November and likely into December. An e-reader fixes my dyslexia problems but it doesn’t make me a fast reader. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that although I read slower than an average person who reads a lot, I only have only ever had to read once because I have great reading comprehension. That was a plus all through school and a godsend in college where the reading assignments were multiple chapters to discuss in the next class a couple days later. Considering I never took a semester that was only one class, TGFRC! It didn’t take any math skills to know the reading comprehension scores on those standardized tests were essential for-multiple chapters + slow reading + dyslexia to equal success!

My preorders on parade started on November 1, when I got the email telling to refresh my Kindle app to load Pyramid Deception by Austin S. Camacho, the new book in the Hannibal Jones series. If you’ve read any of my book reviews, you know I love me some Hannibal Jones! Two days later Alan Jacobson, my favorite current author, released The Lost Codex and on November 17, David Baldacci’s The Guilty, new in the Will Robie series will be released. I preordered The Guilty and The Lost Codex both in early September. So if I fall off the radar for a while, it’s because I’m sitting in my recliner with the reading apps on my iPad IV tapped into my brain! Okay, maybe just relaxing with Buddy Bat (my iPad by name) and coffee in the IV!

And score one for Nani for name-dropping 5 authors I love in three paragraphs! ;)

Saturday is International Digital Scrapbooking Day

One would think that one of the good things, aside from more reading time, about being more of a shut-in the past few months has been more scrap time. (Although there have been a lot of days where I’ve somehow been on the phone so I can to try to break free from the mobility siege or cleaning things.) While I’ve been able to do more scrapping, I have looked but not bought anything new, choosing to save my monthly scrap-stipend for right now! I’m emptying my wish lists and the saved scrap allowances for the %40-%50 off sales! A few stores have already started great sales that run all week; great to get kits now and use them for chats and games on Saturday.

I’ll end today with a few recent layouts I’ve done. I’ll be enjoying some new scrap toys very soon! :D

Carla’s greeting card from Halloween:

Credits: Black Cat by Little Rad Trio

From our casino night when the girls turned 21

Credits: Class Is In by Just Because Studio and LJS Designs

My annual homage to pumpkin and spice and fall things nice!

Credits: Pumpkin Passion by Lindsay

And finally, I did this one with a leftover pic from our reception weekend in 2009 to commemorate our 6th anniversary last December.

Credits: A Love Like this by Pixelily Designs, beautiful On The Inside 
by Aprilisa Designs, Hazel by JayaPrem’s Hangout, Tenderly by
 Craftastrophic Designs, Template by Oklahoma Dawn

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another Off-Season Begins

Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals, the 2015 World Champions! I predicted the Royals would win it in 5 after Game 1, but I would have rather have been wrong and have seen the Mets win last night so the Royals could have won it at home.

                                                                                                      AP photo

Now, my gripes:

First Gripe: Remember that I remain loyal to “My Tigers” from the “Who’s Your Tiger?” campaign. My Mariner who became My Cub (Austin Jackson) and My Yankee who is now My Met (Curtis Granderson) were both in the post season this year. There were other former Tigers and former Reds in the post season too, including Johnny Cueto who started this year as the Reds’ Ace and ends it with a ring from Kansas City. The Reds and Tigers ended 2015 in the basement of their respective divisions. A good portion of the Kansas City roster was built through their own system, having scored some high draft picks in their worst years. With salary caps the trade deadline becomes less of “a thing” and the playing field becomes level. Franchises can build within their own systems and there is no need to buy and sell championships.

Second Gripe: Last year having been such a “devastating loss” in Game 7 and coming back this year not just determined to get back to the World Series, but almost as if anything but winning it wouldn’t be good enough, because it had been SO LONG since they’d won the title. I will NEVER understand the concept that being the second greatest team in the league in any given year is somehow failure. Yes, winning is fun and an accomplishment, but winning and losing is not synonymous to success or failure.

The Royals have worked hard to develop the great team they have and they’ve earned the title; they weren’t entitled to it, but they earned it. If the Mets had won it this year, the Royals would still be a great team and winners for having been there 2 years in a row. Okay, soapbox notwithstanding, the Tigers haven’t won the title since 1984 and last I checked that was before 85, so forgive me if I congratulate you although my violin that plays “My Heart Bleeds For You” was very small.

Third Gripe: My last gripe is ages old. Mariano Rivera was a modern exception and I love Aroldis Chapman and rallied that he was great closer material rather than a starter, but I still remain of the opinion that the closer is the most overrated position in current day baseball. (although it's still better than the designated hitter) If you have a closer that can get it done, great, but don’t be so stubborn about the job title that you throw out the baby with the bathwater when you put him on the mound. Regardless of the score or inherited runners, the job of that last pitcher is to get quick outs and not let any runners advance.

Baseball Trivia: Who is the only closer to blow three saves in one World Series?

Answer: Jeurys Familia, 2015 Mets.

There have only been 2 other World Series with three blown saves (2001, 2010,) but never by the same pitcher or even the same team all three times.

Just Sayin’

Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review Murderous Traits: The Rare Traits Trilogy Book III by David George Clarke

Finished October 29, 2015

Synopsis from Good Reads

The third book in the fast-paced Rare Traits Trilogy of modern and historical mystery thrillers, Murderous Traits continues the tale of the apparently immortal 15th-century artist John Andrews and those who share his extraordinary longevity, interweaving once again the present and the past, self-preservation and murder, art history and forensic science, immortality and DNA.

John Andrews is in a state of shock. Just weeks after meeting his daughter Paola for the first time – almost 500 years after she was born in Naples – she is abducted and DNA evidence shows that the culprit is Jacques Bognard, John’s seafaring friend from 17th century Marseille.

When the body of a brutally murdered, unknown woman is discovered in Paola’s Cape Cod house and Paola’s own identity is found to be false, the police are baffled. And the deeper they dig, the more mysterious the case becomes.

In the gripping, fast-paced finale to the Rare Traits Trilogy, the apparently immortal John Andrews finds himself in a desperate search for his daughter that leads him from the US to the UK and then to the area of Tuscany he knew as a young man in the 15th century.

Meanwhile, in the frustration of her captivity, Paola must come to terms with her psychopathic tendencies …

My review at Good Reads
5 of 5 stars

The only thing bad I can think to say about this book is that it’s number three in the trilogy! Even at that there does remain an opening for possibly more at the end...

John Andrews, as he is currently known, has been painting master works since the Renaissance under many different names., The rare trait of his DNA leaves him impervious to ailments and factors that cause aging and he enjoys the appearance and health of a man in his 30s with the mind and an impeccable memory of a man who has seen over 500 years of the world. He has loved, married and seen friends, family, even children age and leave his world. There are also a few offspring who have inherited their father’s remarkable traits and those family members have begun to find each other.

But there are “bad apples’ in every family and having incredible health and near immortality is in no way a guarantee of happiness or morality. How are those rare traits passed on? Can a test-tube baby be created to have those traits? To what extent will someone go to create progeny of their own?

The final book of the Rare Traits trilogy takes the reader through the intrigue of how the remarkable genetic traits become easier to understand and discover and possibly exploit in the modern world. The antagonist, who has kidnapped and threatened in order to replicate the DNA to a new generation, must be discovered and the captives freed using both modern technology and ages old methods for remaining elusive. The action is great, the drama intense and it intermingles great fictional “traits” and rich historical references. And, like any of rare Traits trilogy, once you pick up the book, it’s near impossible to put down!