A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles


I relished every page of this book and every character. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. It is through his eyes and heart that we watch the historical events reaging through the country from the 1920s to the 1950s. For all those years the Count could not leave the hotel. Reading the book, I was entranced to be there with him.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.



By Darlene Jones Posted in Books

A few things to see in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Menchaca Studio


Chapultepec Park 



Museo Papalote for the kids, but I loved it too!













Us Against You by Fredick Backman

Intense! Ostensibly about hockey, this book is really a revelation about the dynamics between people — love and hate and violence that we are all capable of.
Backman is a master storyteller with a unique writing style. We know from the beginning that someone is going to die, but who and how? And knowing does not detract from the suspense.

READ Beartown first to appreciate fully this sequel.

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local junior hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. As the tension between the two towns simmers, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to try to save the Beartown club.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more heated.

As the big game between Beartown and Hed approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Us Against You is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that form and color our communities. Compelling and heartbreaking, it’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions and a showcase for “Fredrik Backman’s pitch-perfect dialogue and unparalleled understanding of human nature



Beartown by Fredrik Backman


You don’t have to like hockey or even know much about it to find this novel riveting for the story revolves around the inhabitants of a small town, their fears, and sorrows and loves – all wrapped around the town hockey team. When violence enters, hearts break and yours will break too for the characters you have come to love.

NB After you’ve read Beartown, read the stunning sequel Us Against You.


People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Dia de los reyes – Day of the kings

For many Mexican families, gifts and celebration are centered around Day of the Kings on January 6, rather than Santa and December 25.

Catering to the Dia de los reyes, Gallerias Vallarta shifts from pictures with Santa to pictures with the three kings (beautifully outfitted in opulent robes of ancient times) – none of whom are white guys, by the way.



!!!! Boxing Week Sale !!!!

 For your reading pleasure this holiday season, I’ve put all of my books on sale.


Sci-fi series

Gifted with superpowers she can’t refuse, her life spirals out of control.

EMPOWERED – 50% 0FF $1.50
She’s crazy to build her life on childhood visions, but….

EMBRACED – 50% OFF $1.50
Controlled by an Alien, Abby must decide if he’s real before she loses her life.

EMBROILED – 50% OFF – $1.50
Inexplicably drawn to the man stalking her, she knows she needs help.

Mystery/Adventure Duo  

Her dream was to go to university. Instead she’s wworking in a nursing home hunting a killer.

Will it be battle that kills him or the testimony of an old lady?


MALI TO MEXICO and Points In Between – 50% off – FREE

Happy Holidays and happy reading!



By Darlene Jones Posted in Books

Posada – Christmas party Mexican style

Tonight (Dec. 19) we were honored to be invited to the neighbors’ Posada – a traditional Mexican party held at Christmas. We enjoyed Atole (a hot corn and chocolate drink) and ate tamales and of course had a piñata. See below for more information about Posadas.


How did posadas originate?
Posadas in Mexico began as a way for the Spaniards to teach native people about Christmas. During the nine days leading up to Christmas Day, masses would include representations of Mary and Joseph. Following mass was a party where people were blindfolded before hitting a piñata with a stick, a representation of faith defeating temptation with the help of virtue. The fruits and sweets that poured out of the piñata represented the joys of union with God.
In time, posadas started to be held in neighborhoods and people’s homes, becoming a more familiar and tightly-knit occasion, as well as preparation for Christmas. At the beginning of a posada, people are divided in two groups, the ones “outside” representing Mary and Joseph, and the ones “inside” representing innkeepers. Then everyone sings the posada litany together, re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search, going back and forth until they are finally “admitted” to an inn. After this tradition, the party proper starts. Posadas have spread to other countries—such as Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela; the celebrations vary by location. Carlos Villamayor