Summertime Challenge: Challenge Wrap Up

desert CAMPING

This is a summer challenge hosted by Parajunkee. It runs through the month of June and has weekly link-ups.

Challenge Wrap Up 

I have enjoyed participating in Parajunkee’s Summertime Challenge so much. This month has not been very productive for me in the least, especially since this should be my most productive month of the entire year. Indeed, that is far from the case, but I feel like I was productive in other ways than catching up on reading and scheduling reviews in advance.

This month I discovered some creativity lurking somewhere in my depths with some of my posts for this challenge, like my favorite things about summer and my other hobbies.

While this challenge hasn’t helped me get ahead with scheduling posts, it’s made me relax and take a break and appreciate summer for all that it is.


Famous Last Words #8

Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words is a new monthly feature here in Land of 1000 Wonders. I wanted to find a new way to share some fabulous quotations from reads old and new. The inspiration for this feature came from the character Pudge in John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

food should not be fast


Jules has been home for a week after her big catering gig at the lodge in the mountains, where her estranged husband made a mysterious appearance. Now that they are all safely back in Ashland, the town is abuzz.

Carlos is a hit with the local Shakespearean lovers. The locals rave and crave him, and Torte’s new Sunday Night Dinners with Carlos’s cuisine are taking off. Carlos brings his passion for life and for food to Ashland, reminding Jules and her coworkers that food should be made with love and heart and the community embraces it.

Meanwhile, Mindy’s new fast-food business, Shakeburgers, has come suddenly to Ashland’s downtown plaza. It is garish and out of place in more ways than one. She is making more enemies than friends with her presence. And where there’s enemies…there’s murder. Find out who gets Caught Bread Handed.

Summertime Challenge: City Summer Spotlight

desert CAMPING

This is a summer challenge hosted by Parajunkee. It runs through the month of June and has weekly link-ups.

City Summer Spotlight

In the summer my hometown hosts an annual festival that used to be one of the highlights of the year. In recent years the City Council opted to move it up a month to coincide with the famous Luling Watermelon Thump, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Many native residents are convinced the city is trying to get rid of the festival. It is no longer the citywide celebration that it used to be, but it is one that I have attended every year of my life – and while in the womb! Last Saturday was the the 47th annual Western Days Festival, and I have attended 28 of those.

Western Days is a local community event that runs for an entire week the fourth week in June. Earlier in the week the city holds several events that finally culminate on Saturday. On Tuesday the Tiny Tot and Miss Western Days Pageants are held. On Thursday the carnival comes to town. The Tennis Court Dance is held on Friday night.

On Saturday a Grand Parade rides through Main Street, where Miss Western Days and her entire court reign. The parade also features all types of entries from floats, classic cars, hot rods, horseback riding groups, restored tractors and more. The parade usually lasts until about noon. Then the crowds head down to the park for a wealth of vendors, concessions, sand volleyball games, softball tournaments, a petting zoo, and other activities for the kids, including a rock climbing wall.

This is also the weekend when all of the classes get together for reunions and reminisce. The elderly always have joint reunions at a local business location to accommodate for the heat, and the younger classes (40 years and below) host their own reunions on their own, typically at someone’s house or property.

For my five year reunion, my class had small kiddie pools and lawn chairs strewn out on the back of a flat-bed 18 wheeler.

Below are some pictures from previous Western Days Festivals.

WWW Wednesdays (June 29)


This is a weekly meme hosted hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. To join in answer the following three questions and hop over to Sam’s and leave your link.

What are you currently reading? 

I already feel like I’m failing at COYER Summer Vacation. Gotta keep going!

cover78546-mediumI started reading my last review tour book, Heart Like Mine. I’m not too far into it since I barely started it, but I like it so far.

Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake’s Mercy Hospital, where she’s developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she’s assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she’s determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It’s not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other’s hearts?

 What did you just finish reading?

I finished reading  The Neverland Wars and WonderThey were both fantastic reads. I now feel like I’m in a bit of a book hangover, but I’ve got to keep reading! I am now going to try to work on my NetGalley books after my ones below are all finished. The number of books in my Kindle Carousel is getting smaller and smaller! I’ve got a handful of reviews I need to sit down and write, so it’ll be a while before reviews go up.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Review Tour Books   YAY! 🙂

TBR Jar Books 

These are still my pre-TBR Jar reads that I will be reading next! 

 How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share the link to your WWW Wednesday post OR leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog. Happy Reading! 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Children’s Books I Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists. For the list of past topics and future schedule, click here.

Popular Children’s Books I Never Read 

I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a true public library until I was in middle school. My mom bought me books only through the Scholastic order forms and book fairs. Being one of four children, it was very limited what I could pick. Once I started getting past about 3rd grade, I got even fewer books so my younger brothers could get books. I primarily checked out books from my school library, but these are books I never read as a child…and still haven’t.


The Chronicles of Narnia

Nancy Drew

A Series of Unfortunate Events


The Boxcar Children


Series (1)

Swiss Family Robinson

Treasure Island

Black Beauty

A Wrinkle in Time

The Bridge to Terabithia


Were there any popular books you didn’t read as a child? 


Upcoming Topics:

July 5 ~ Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2,000 Goodreads Ratings  (An easy way to do this: Go to Goodreads, Your Read List, at the top of your read list where it says Settings you can add a column for # of ratings to sort by)
July 12 ~ Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger)
July 19 ~ Books Set Outside The U.S.
July 26 ~ Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them

Summertime Challenge: Favorite Quotes from Books

desert CAMPING

This is a summer challenge hosted by Parajunkee. It runs through the month of June and has weekly link-ups.

Favorite Quotes from Books

I have a mad love affair with book quotes. In college, I kept a running Word document that I just kept adding to. It got unruly and I think I lost it after the crashing death of four computers. However, I have some favorite book quotes. Don’t be surprised that most of these come from the Outlander series. I mean, it is my favorite book.


Outlander Quotes 

Je suis prest – I’m ready. (Outlander)

Luceo non uro – I shine, not burn. (Outlander)

Then let amorous kisses dwell
On our lips, begin and tell
A Thousand and a Hundred score
A Hundred and a Thousand more.
(Dragonfly in Amber)

If it was a sin for you to choose me…then I would go to the Devil himself and bless him for tempting ye to it. (Dragonfly in Amber)

It was a leap of faith, to throw one’s heart across a gulf, and trust another to catch it. (Drums of Autumn)

This is our time. Until that time stops – for one of us, for both – it is our time. Now. Will you waste it, because you are afraid? (Drums of Autumn)

Thig a seo, neart mo chridhe. Come to me, strength of my heart. (The Fiery Cross)



Other Book Quotes 

And then there’s the truth beyond, sitting like an old rock under green creek water: none of these things matter. Right now, in this moment, we have love. It will come again, and when it does I’ll give up everything and take it. Just like an addict. Like dry grass in new rain. It’s not something I’m proud of, necessarily. Then again, maybe I am. That’s it, I guess. That’s all I know. (Girls in Trucks)

I’m a person, not a portfolio. (He Forgot to Say Goodbye)

Keeping your mouth shut doesn’t exactly qualify as doing something. (He Forgot to Say Goodbye)

Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone. (Dead Poet’s Society)

Release + Giveaway: Caught Bread Handed

Welcome to the release event for Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander! This is the fourth book in the Bakeshop Mystery series and releases June 28th by St. Martin’s Press. You can buy it from your local bookshop or order a signed copy from the authors local bookshop.

Guest Post: Baking Behind the Scenes

Welcome to Torte, where the bread is always served warm with a pat of hand-churned butter, and a side of love. Torte, the artisan family bakeshop in my culinary mystery series, is a gathering place for the community. Locals and tourists stop in for fresh raspberry scones, slices of decadent double chocolate cake, and to talk about all the gossip and news around town. I love getting to create a comforting and welcoming bakeshop and writing about food. However, I’m not a trained pastry chef which means that I spend a lot of time visiting real bakeries and interviewing professional chefs. It’s a rough job, I know.

I thought it would be fun to give you a taste (pun intended) of the research that goes into learning the inner workings of the culinary world.

For starters I think about the actual space. Because Torte is located in Ashland, Oregon, home of the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, it has to have a touch of Shakespeare and whimsy. It’s painted cheery red and teal blue with corrugated metal siding, bistro tables, and a chalkboard menu. One of my bakery inspirations is a place called Cake Happy in Camas, Washington. It’s a family run shop with gorgeous window displays, a rustic elegant vibe, and plenty of cozy couches to curl up with a red velvet cupcake and steaming hot latte.

Another thing that I do when I’m working on a book is interview pastry chefs. I’ve learned so many tricks of the trade, quick tips for baking, and even gotten a few new ideas on how to bump someone off in a bakeshop from chatting with chefs. I’ve been so impressed to watch how they orchestrate a blur of staff, a frenzy of chopping knives, and plate after plate of styled food. One of the most amazing experiences that I’ve had behind the scenes in a professional kitchen was at the NW Culinary Institute where I spent an evening watching chefs-in-training at work as they prepared a six course meal that almost too pretty to eat and tasted even better.

Speaking of taste, I can’t even begin to count how many pastries and baked goods I’ve sampled in the last few years. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, but my waistline might be in trouble. Whenever I travel I ask for recommendations on the best places to score a sweet eat in town. I’ve never been disappointed in my search and I try to find unusual flavor combinations and exotic delicacies when I’m exploring a new place, some of which have even found their way into the pages of the books. One standout tasting memory was at the dessert buffet in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I still dream of the miles of cakes, macaroons, chocolate dipped strawberries, and petit fours. Yum!

Lastly, one of the most rewarding and humbling things about writing the series has been connecting with local bakers. They have welcomed me into their kitchens, championed the books, and created stunning masterpieces like this cakescape from the book release party for the third book in the series, On Thin Icing. My local pastry muse is Kristina with Tier Catering who treated the audience to a hands-on icing demonstration and a tutorial on the best way to cut a cake. Seriously, I think I have the best job ever!

Here’s to all the bakers—whether in your home kitchen or in a 5-star restaurant—I hope you enjoy my fictional bakeshop in Caught Bread Handed.

Happy Baking!


About the Book:
Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakeshop where the oven is heating up as high as the body count…

Jules Capshaw is still chewing over her husband Carlos’s return to Ashland, Oregon. Could there be too many cooks in the kitchen? Whatever is stirring between those two will have to wait. Despite the Oregon Shakespeare Festival being dark for the winter, the bakeshop is bustling, the dough is rolling, and there’s no rest for the weary… especially when murder is thrown into the mix.

When Mindy Nolan, the owner of a new restaurant in town, turns up dead, the batter at hand thickens. Jules knows that there was bad blood between Mindy and others in town, and tracking the killer could prove to be an unwelcome treat. And to top it all off, there’s Carlos, who is pleading—with those delicious dark eyes and sexy Spanish accent—for Jules to take him back. Is home where the heart is or will she make a fresh start… and risk getting burned?

About the Author:
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.




Signed copies of all 4 books in the Bakeshop Mysteries, Cupcake tea towel and pot holder, Love cake topper, Bakeshop page flags, Assortment of gourmet lemonade and Triple Chocolate Chunk cookie mix.
US only.
Ends July 20th
Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.


First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Heart Like Mine

First Chapter First Paragraph

Today I’m participating in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, in which bloggers share a bit about a book they’re reading or planning to read soon.

I started reading Heart Like Mine today.


Chapter 1

The CFO’s office smelled of sweat, burnt coffee, and tears. That’s all Delaney Blair could think as she sat in the guest chair, awaiting her doom.

Six people had sat in this same chair over the past week, and every single one of them had left with an HR escort and the ironic farewell gift of a Mercy Hospital mug and tote bag. On the outside, she was a successful financial analyst dressed in a charcoal power suit, a pasted-on smile, and her favorite Jimmy Choos. On the inside, she harbored a pod of baby grasshoppers.


Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake’s Mercy Hospital, where she’s developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she’s assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she’s determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It’s not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other’s hearts?

Would you keep reading?  

Summertime Challenge: Write a GOOD Summer Poem

desert CAMPING

This is a summer challenge hosted by Parajunkee. It runs through the month of June and has weekly link-ups.

Write a Good Summer Poem

I wrote this poem in 2009, the summer I worked at an exotics ranch.



The hot sun beats down on the land

The dry grass crackles with jumping grasshoppers

The gentle breeze whispers through the trees

The animals frolic in the fields

The rows are long, the crops ripe

The water is always cool and welcome

The cold iced tea slides down like sweet brandy

The days are long and hard on the back

The evenings are flirtatious at the dancehall

The nights are soothing with the soft words of a lover

The storm nights reign over it all,

Through the heated days and heated nights of Summer.

Review: Lost in Yonkers

170539Title: Lost in Yonkers
Author: Neil Simon
Publisher: Samuel French, Inc.
Release Date: June 2010 (first published 1990)
Length: 114 pages
Series?: no
Genre: aDram, Humor

Find the book: Goodreads |Amazon

Neil Simon’s inimitable play about the trials and tribulations that test family ties – winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

What happens to children in the absence of love? That is the question that lies at the heart of this funny and heartrending play by one of America’s most acclaimed and beloved playwrights. Debuting at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 1990, Lost in Yonkers went on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Play, as well as the Pulitzer Prize, and tells the moving drama about the cruelties and painful memories that scar a family.

It is New York, 1942. After the death of their mother, two young brothers are sent to stay with their formidable grandmother for the longest ten months of their lives. Grandmother Kurnitz is a one-woman German front—a refugee and a widow who has steeled her heart against the world. Her coldness and intolerance have crippled her own children: the boys’ father has no self-esteem . . . their Aunt Gert has an embarrassing speech impediment . . . their Uncle Louie is a small-time gangster . . . and their Aunt Bella has the mentality of a child. But it is Bella’s hunger for affection and her refusal to be denied love that saves the boys—and that leads to an unforgettable, wrenching confrontation with her mother. Filled with laughter, tears, and insight, Lost in Yonkers is yet another heartwarming testament to Neil Simon’s talent.


The Skinny

Jay and Arty come to live with Grandma and Aunt Bella after their mother dies. Their father, Eddie, cannot serve in the military, so he is a traveling salesman throughout the south. He sells metals – steel, mostly – to benefit the military and contribute to the war. They learn interesting things about their Aunt Bella and Uncle Louie, both who have their own struggles, while trying to please their hard-nosed German grandmother.

The Players

Jay – called Yakob by Grandma

Arty – called Artur by Grandma

Eddie – Jay and Arty’s father, he is a traveling salesman selling metals for the military, known to be sickly

Grandma – a hard, cold German woman, escaped Berlin, owns a candy store

Aunt Bella – Jay and Arty’s aunt, she lives with Grandma and works in the candy store, has the mindset of a child

Uncle Louie – Jay and Arty’s uncle, he is rarely around and seems to take part in nefarious activities

Aunt Gert – Jay and Arty’s aunt, she has a speech impediment

The Highs and Lows

  • Jay and Arty. The two are wide-eyed coming to live with Grandma. They know virtually nothing about their relatives, since they’ve never really visited. They are a quiet, cute duo who are piecing together and learning the history of Grandma, Bella, Louie and Gert.
  • Grandma. She is a hard, cold, steeled woman who does not believe in showing any emotion. A display that could be interpreted as weakness disgusts her. She suffered in her escape from Berlin, and although she has buried her husband and even some of her own children at young ages, she does not cry. In this, she has pushed the rest of her children away. She keeps a tight reign on the candy store and knows when even a pretzel has gone missing. It is rumored that Grandma has thousands of dollars stashed away somewhere in the house.
  • Bella. She is a grown woman, in her mid-thirties, but has the mind of a child. She will be that way always, and she should be in the Home. Grandma has threatened her many times to go into the Home, but Bella knows she does not want to be alone. She uses this to her advantage. That is Grandma’s weakness. Bella is a strange mix of child and adult, having her own hopes and dreams. She believes she is going to marry Johnny, an usher at the movie theatre. They’re getting married because they’ve gone to four movies together. He is like Bella, but he cannot read. Bella wants to help him open up a restaurant but needs five thousand dollars to do so.
  • Louie. He’s a little gangster! Really, he is. Or, as Arty calls him, a henchman. He’s a real jokester. He carries a black bag, a gun, and has men in a black Studebaker following him. He comes into town spur of the moment and is very antsy. He hires Jay and Arty to keep a lookout for him, and to tell anyone that he’s not around. He teaches the boys what “moxie” is and the boys learn Louie was a rough kid. He ran away from home several times and got in with the wrong crowd to survive.

The Take-Away

I love this story. I read it in my high school drama class, and I had my sixth grader creative writing class read it this past year. It is a funny story. Everyone fears Grandma. Bella has grown-up dreams without a grown-up mentality. She sees the world in a different light, and it’s a beautiful and sad thing. Louie cracks me up. He’s just hilarious, and he scares the boys, keeps them on their toes.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Buy it. If you don’t want to read the play, but the film version with Richard Dreyfuss. It stays pretty true to the script and brings to life the humor – and the embodiment of Grandma – to life.


About the Author

Marvin Neil Simon is an American playwright and screenwriter. He is one of the most reliable hitmakers in Broadway history, as well as one of the most performed playwrights in the world. Though primarily a comic writer, some of his plays, particularly the Eugene Trilogy and The Sunshine Boys, reflect on the twentieth century Jewish-American experience.