Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Linkups: The Naked Eye

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you collect things that are book related?  Like bookmarks, nameplates, 1st editions

My Answer:
Other than books themselves I really don't.  It's not that I don't want to own more bookish stuff it's just that it doesn't seem to happen.  I plan on turning one of the bedrooms in my house into a reading room and then the collection of all things bookish will be ON!

This week's book is The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen.  I've been wanting to read a book by Iris Johansen for awhile so when a chance to participate in a book tour for her newest release I couldn't pass it up and I'm really glad I didn't!  The review for this one will be up Monday but I've really enjoyed it so far and can't wait to see how it wraps up!

The Beginning:
She was floating, floating in a pool of blood.
No, now it had become a river of blood.

My Thoughts;
Well that's upbeat!  No seriously that's quite a beginning.  Given the change from pool to river I'm guessing this is a dream.  If not the "she" in question is in serious trouble.

The 56:
Never mind the plastic tub and jugs of hydrochloric acid that were waiting in the cellar for her, Colby thought.

My Thoughts:
Well Colby sounds like bunches of fun.  I think upon meeting someone for the first time your first question should be - do you have a basement?  followed quickly by - "is it filled with jugs of hydrocholoric acid" because if the answer is yes you should avoid them.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Should you avoid people with jugs of hydrocholoric acid stashed in their cellar?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beyond the Books: The Real Me

Once again I'm participating in Beyond the Books hosted by KissinBlueKaren a feature where we look behind the books.  Today's topic is The Real Me and I'm combining it with the Reading Habits Tag.  I was tagged by Tina over at Novel Meals and I think these two should work together.

Five Facts About Me:

1.  My favorite color is green.  I have to make an effort to not choose that for everything - clothing, paint colors, household items, jewelry, etc.

2.  I'm very much a homebody.  Given the choice I would stay at home about 95% of the time.  If I spend to much time away from home I start feeling frazzled.  On the flip side we're planning a little vacation for September and I'm really excited about it.

3.  Without contacts I'm virtually blind.  My vision is really really bad.  Like a prescription of -10 bad.  Forget not being able to see the big E, I can't even seen the chart.  Luckily it's fully correctable but it's a little weird to think if I'd been born 100 years ago I'd be considered blind.

4.  I'm a night owl.  I stay up to 12 or 1 most nights and could probably stay up longer except I make myself get up at at 7 most mornings.  

5.  I'm a total TV junkie.  I love TV - crime dramas, true crime, anything food related, book related Hallmark/Lifetime movies, My To Watch list is almost as long as my To Read List!

Reading Habits Tag:

While this is still book related I think a person's reading habits show a lot about them so I thought I'd share mine.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
I do most of my reading in my bed but I'd really like to do more reading in a big comfy chair in the living room.  However, with the Tornado still being little I don't do much daytime reading!

Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I usually use a bookmark.  My first choice one is one that Emma made for me when she was in kindergarten (she's leaving for college in 2 weeks) and if I'm already using that one I have a set of owl bookmarks that are next.  I have been known to use a random piece of paper but that doesn't happen very often.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?
I normally stop reading when I'm so tired words stop making sense but I do like to stop reading at the end of a chapter.
Do you eat or drink while reading?
I try not to eat because when I'm reading I don't tend to pay attention and could eat an entire bag of chips without realizing it.  I do have a drink with me - generally Diet Coke or herbal tea depending on the time of day and my mood.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
I like to have music on while I read but it's not necessary.  I can read with the TV on if it's not something I'm super interested or if the book has really hooked me.

One book at a time or several at once?
I have at least 2 going at once - 1 ebook and 1 print book but I usually try and do separate genres so I don't get confused.

Reading at home or everywhere?
Most of the time I read at home but that's more necessity than preference.  I don't like to read if I'm somewhere with the Tornado as I get too absorbed.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?
Silently unless it's too funny or interesting not to share.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
It depends.  If there's an animal or a child in a thriller I've been known to flip to the back and make sure they're still around in the ending.  Sometimes I skim a scene or two if something's dragging on a bit too much.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I'm not super picky about this - probably because the majority of my books I've gotten used.

Do you write in your books?
Absolutely not!  I wrote in a cookbook once and I still don't feel quite right about it.

For this one I'm tagging:
Quinn at Quinn's Book Nook
Bea at Bea's Book Nook
Lark at The Bookwyrm's Hoard
BrittanyL at This is the Story of my (Reading) Life
and anyone else who I missed but wants to do it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Storm Rising - Blog Tour Review + Excerpts

Storm Rising by Rachael Richey
Source: Blog Tour

Description: Frontman of the grunge rock band NightHawk, Gideon Hawk has had enough of the rock star life.  He is jaded, disillusioned, and haunted by the memory of an unresolved heartbreak.  On a whim, he leaves the band in New York and heads to England in search of answers.

After attending the funeral of her estranged mother, Abigail Thomson makes a shocking discovery in her parents' attic.  The still-raw memories that surface, along with even more startling discoveries, force Abi to face a devasting truth that leads to a series of life-changing events.  She and Gideon must race against time to reclaim the life stolen from them a decade before.


Abi saw the car as she came along the main road. There were never many tourists around in November, and to see a strange car parked in the lay-by was worthy of a second glance. Probably someone who got lost, she thought to herself as she turned down her track.

            She had spent the day with one of her clients in Penzance, sorting out the artwork for their new marketing campaign, and she was very glad to be home. She had lit the fire before she left the house that morning, and the chimney was smoking cheerily as she got out of the car and headed for the front door. As she turned to close it behind her, she once again noticed the strange Range Rover parked on the main road. She paused for a second, then shivered and closed the door. For some reason the sight of it had given her a little chill in her heart. She shook her head in exasperation. What was she turning into? The events of the past week must really be taking their toll.

            She tossed her jacket down on the sofa and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. As anticipated, the little cottage was very warm and cosy, and Abi anticipated a lovely warm relaxing evening. Although she was very fond of her friend and neighbour, she couldn’t help hoping that Chris wouldn’t pop over. She really fancied a night to herself.

            She made a cup of tea, cut herself a slice of cake, carried them both over to the fire, and sat down on the hearth rug. A basket of logs stood to one side of the woodburner, and Abi opened the doors and tossed another log onto the already roaring fire. She gave a little shiver of pleasure. She really liked to be warm. She was going to enjoy the evening.

            She leant back against the sofa, extended her legs in front of her, and took a large bite of cake. No sooner had she done that than the doorbell rang. Abi rolled her eyes and tried to swallow her cake.

            “Come in, Chris, the door’s open!” she called, spraying crumbs in all directions.

            After a moment the door slowly opened and a deep voice said, “I’m not Chris. Can I still come in?”

            Abi leapt to her feet and swung round to face the door. For the last ten years she had dreamt of the moment when Gideon Hawk would appear on her doorstep, and now it had finally happened she had no idea what to do. For a few long seconds they stared at each other, neither daring to speak. Then Abi took a tentative step forward and nodded her head jerkily.

            “Yes. Come in,” she croaked, her mouth suddenly dry, adding automatically, “Mind your head.”


This book is told in 2 different time periods - Abi as an adult in 2005 and Abi as a rebellious teenager in 1995.  I found the modern day Abi really interesting as she tried to build a new relationship with her father as well as face some of the old and unhealed wounds from her past.  Unfortunately I wasn't nearly as interested in teenage Abi.  She was a seriously realistic 15 year old with the attitude and the naive-ness that they don't even know is there and she drove me absolutely nuts!  I did do a lot of skimming through the teenage years and was always relieved to see the 2005 at the top of the chapter.  While this wasn't for me the pacing was good and I did keep reading because I wanted to find out what the secrets where and how Abi and Gideon dealt with them.

This is the first book in a new series and I like that the other guys in the band will each have their own book.

Thanks to Tout Sweet Tours for this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Fellow Book Nerds

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Fellow Book Nerds.  Is there anything more fun than reading books with fellow book nerds in them?  Here are a few of my favorites!

1. Karen Holloway from Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels - Karen is obsessed with books both for professional reasons and just because she loves books.  At one point she starts talking about how her family complained that she had books everywhere and it was hard not to relate!

2.  Dana Steele from Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts - Dana is a librarian who loves books of all kinds.  She has an ex-boyfriend whose an author and what she does with his books is pretty funny.

3.  Aurora Teagarden from the Aurora Teagarden mysteries by Charlaine Harris - My relationship with Harris has not been all sunshine and rainbows but the Aurora Teagarden books are a series I really enjoyed - probably because they're basically traditional mysteries.  Plus there are 2 Hallmark movies based on this series that I have recorded and can't wait to watch!

4.  Emily from The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman - Books are Emily's one constant in life as her family moves constantly and not only does she love books for the stories she contains but she actually plays a game called Book Scavenger in which participants find and hide books.

5.  Tricia Miles from The Booktown Mystery series by Lorna Barrett - Tricia owns a bookstore that specializes in mysteries AND has a grey cat named Miss Marple.

6.  Maggie Dupres from The Moment of Everything by Shelly King - For starters I love that cover!  Plus I like that you can tell that the cat is up to something because in the book the cat is kind of evil.  I really enjoyed Maggie's character in this one.  In response to extreme stress her response is to take up residence in a used bookstore and just read everything she can get her hands on.

7.  Jill Gardner from Tourist Trap Mystery series by Lynn Cahoon - Not only does Jill own a bookstore but she spends a lot of time actually reading books which I love!

8.  Phoebe O'Dunn from That Night on Thistle Lane by Carla Neggers - Phoebe is a librarian and has a pretty serious book collection.  Plus she finds a hidden room filled with clothes in the attic of the library so how could I pass that up?

9.  Aubrey Wellington from Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis - Aubrey is another bookstore owner but she's not someone you would look at and automatically think bookish which I kind of liked. Plus I loved how much a source of comfort just being in the same room as books were to her.

10. Brooklyn Wainwright from the Bibliophile Mysteries series by Kate Carlisle - To be honest I can't remember Brooklyn ever actually reading in any of the books I've read but that's mostly because she's generally trying to catch a murderer, getting framed for a murder, or trying to protect herself or a loved one from a murderer.  But she is a book restorer and her talk about the books she works with makes my mouth water.

Who is your favorite bookish character?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mini Reviews: London from my Windows and Mandy's Father

London From My Windows by Mary Carter

Description: Ava Wilder's home in small-town Iowa is her sanctuary.  A talented sketch artist with severe agoraphobia, Ava spends her days drawing a far more adventurous life than her invisible disability allows.  Until she receives a package from London, explaining that she has inherited her Aunt Beverly's entire estate - on condtion that she lives in Bev's West End flat for a year. (from Goodreads)

My Impression: I don't DNF a book very often and the reasons I had for DNFing weren't the normal variety.  I didn't absolutely hate it, I didn't intensely dislike a character, and the writing and pacing were actually quite good. My problem, I think, was what I wanted from this particular book and what I actually got.   I wanted to love this one.  And I tried - I really tried.  The story starts off with a bang with Ava as a happy little girl who suddenly suffers a dramatic loss and we see her spiral into agoraphobia start.  After that I kind of lost connection with the story.  To be honest, Ava is hard to like and with this kind of character driven fiction I have to have some connection for the main character.  I think her reactions and thoughts were probably realistic for someone who has kept themselves isolated from the outside world since they were 10 and has struggled with severe anxiety but unfortunately for me that didn't make this any more enjoyable.  While the move to London seemed like a positive development and I was intrigued by some of the conditions of the apartment the collection of characters borders on the absurd.  I would love to see a review from someone who has or knows someone who has struggled with agoraphobia to see how accurately portrayed it is here.  As for me I made it to about the 35% mark before I was just done.  While I thought the story itself had potential my lack of connection to any of the characters ended up making me put the book down.  Rating: DNF (Did Not Finish)
Would I Read More From This Series/Author: Definitely.  Even though this book didn't work for me I'm enjoyed the author's writing style and am looking forward to trying another of her books.

Mandy's Father (Lockwood Legacy #4) by Juliette Harper
Oh how I love the Lockwood sisters!  It was so nice to have visit them again though I did miss some of their mother's contemporaries who had been such a part of the previous book.  This book focuses on the sisters and the ranch again as the treasure hunting heats up, discoveries are made, and it appears the sisters are not quite done with all the drama and danger yet.  I felt like in this book we mostly see through Kate's eyes which was a little unexpected since a major subplot involves younger sister Mandy's biological father.  This worked for me as Kate is my favorite of the three sisters.  There was one even that happened about 75% in that seemed so unnecessarily but by the conclusion it really worked and while it was heartbreaking it made sense that it happened.  Overall, I really enjoyed this and I have the rest of the series.  This is not a book that will work as a stand alone and since each book is around 150 pages and a quick read at that there's no need too.  So far I've really loved this story and these characters and can't wait for September for when the 5th book gets released!  Rating: 5 Stars

Would I Read More From This Series/Author: Yes to both!  I'm looking forward to continuing this series and trying out some other books from this author as well.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

This Week in Reading - July 26

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Only 2 books this week and one is for a blog tour that I signed up for a month or 2 ago so it doesn't count.

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain - Seriously how could I pass this up?  I've been wanting to try a book by Chamberlain for ages and this one was to much to resist.  (NetGalley)

A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont - Another author I've been wanting to try and I'm really looking forward to reading this mystery set in Newport in 1895!  (Blog Tour)


Reading: The Naked Eye by Iris and Roy Johansen and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Listening: Nothing yet.  I'm thinking I'm going to start slow once school starts back and I start listening again.  Maybe a David Sedaris or something else on the humorous side.

Watching:  We're still watching Tiny House Hunters and I've started composing letters to the house hunters in my head while watching.  Most go like this:

Dear Tiny House Hunter,
You cannot have a king size bed, a bathtub, full sized appliances and lots of storage space in 200 square feet.  You do not want a tiny house, you want a TARDIS.

Other than that not a huge amount.  Emma and I have been watching The Bachelorette in all it's train-wreckness and then I've been watching Next Food Network Star.  I actually like most of the people participating this time (Food Network Star not Bachelorette) which is kind of nice.

Off the Blog:

This is actually Paul's last week of summer!  His school starts back next Monday.  The Tornado has an extra week but he starts back in 2 weeks.  It's hard to believe summer is already over.  I'm looking forward to being able to get more things done but I will miss this.  We/ve had a great time this summer.

We did a little swimming this week and went to the Space and Rocket Center twice.  I had the opportunity to be there when Bobby and Jamie Deen were there back in April filming their Food Network show Southern Fried Road Trip.  They were very nice and incredibly professional but mostly it was just fun to watch the behind the scenes shooting and even more fun to see the finished product when it aired on this past Monday.

Also, this week I got back into cooking a little and made these BBQ Chicken Burgers.  I love anything burger related and I'm also pretty fond of barbecue so the 2 together is hard to pass up.  The burgers were good but the sauce was a standout.  I always taste a little bit of the sauce before I put it on food and I could have literally eaten this one with a spoon.  I accidentally added an extra tablespoon of brown sugar but it really worked so I think I'd do that again.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Mini Reviews: London From My Windows and Mandy's Father
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who are Fellow Book Nerds
Wednesday: Storm Rising - Contemporary Romance Blog Tour Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Linkups with current book
Saturday: Something foodie.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Straight Up Tasty - Cookbook Review + Recipe

Straight Up Tasty: Meals, Memories, and Mouthfuls from My Travels by Adam Richman

Adam Richman is one of those foodie TV personalities that I recognize but could tell you literally nothing about other than for very vague reasons my thoughts are positive.  I'm guessing I saw an interview or two of him on Food Network or something and liked him but I haven't actually seen his show.  However, if this book is indicative of what he has to offer that will definitely change.

The book is almost scrapbook style.  In addition to the pretty solid amount of recipes there's lots of pictures and little notes stuck in margins with notes, tips, favorite restaurant suggestions and just bits and pieces of other things.  It's fun to flip through and several nearby restaurants that I haven't tired yet have made it on the list.  The food is interesting without being over the top in difficulty or weirdness.  There's a Twice-Baked Sweet Potato that literally made my mouth water with it's bourbon-y, fontina-y goodness, a pizza recipe that's on deck for next weekend, Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwich Dumplings is happening with all the green tomatoes in my garden suddenly ripen at the exact time, and the Kentucky Hot Brown Bluegrass Sandwich just sounds yummy!  There's a few things I don't see myself making - suishi and kimchee for example - but those are few and far between and it's kind of fun to read how to make them.

Today's recipe is fairly simple but don't be fooled by it's simplicity!  This is a tasty pasta dish.
The Recipe:
Cacio e Pepe
Kosher salt
1 lb dried spaghetti
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the pasta and cook until slightly al dente (it should be a bit chewy).  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
Over low heat, melt the butter in the same pasta pot.  Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, adn stir, adding more water if necessary.  Add the cheese and pepper and stir until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce, about 5 minutes.  Serve with additional cheese.

My changes and observations:  Next time (and there will so be a next time) I won't grate the Romano up so fine.  I used my microplaner and it was a little too fine and kept clumping together so I had a hard time getting it all to melt.  I used black pepper right out of my pepper mill and while it may not have been 2 teaspoons it was a pretty good bit.  Also, I wouldn't necessarily say this created a creamy sauce but more of a coating on each of the noodles so don't be expecting a really saucy pasta.  I used fettuccine instead of spaghetti because that was what I had and I prefer it.

The Results:  SO good!  It was so simple that it could work as a side dish with a seasoned chicken or whatever but I actually made it for a weekend dinner when I didn't feel like cooking.  It was flavorful and filling without feeling super heavy.  The recipe says it makes 4 servings but they were some seriously giant serving.  The Tornado who is quite possibly the worlds pickiest eater ate 3 plates of it and kept talking about how good it is.  This will definitely be on the short list for quick meals or a yummy side dish.

I'm definitely looking forward to trying more from Adam Richman and I'm hoping to hunt down some of his Man V Food shows on the Travel Channel.  If he's half as much fun on the shows as he is in the book they'll be a treat.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Linkups: Sanctuary Island

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you use bookmarks?  If so, do you match them to the book you're reading or use random scraps of paper?

My Answer:
Yes for the first question and a little of both for the second!  I normally have a couple of print books going and so I have several bookmarks that are always in rotation.  I use a bookmark that Emma made me when she was in Kindergarten (she'll be heading off to college in a couple of weeks) as my primary bookmark and it's currently in an Agatha Christie mystery.  After that in priority is a set of magnetic bookmarks with owls on them that my husband got me awhile ago.  I've been known to grab receipts, index cards, reminder cards or random other scraps if needed though!

This week's book is Sanctuary Island by Lily Everett which is one I picked up at random at the library.  This one grabbed my attention because the cover was pretty and I thought I remembered some positive reviews about this author.  The blurb caught my attention so I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm not very far in but so far I'm enjoying it.

The Beginning:
If one more thing messed with Ella Preston's schedule she was going to scream

My Thoughts:
Oh I so identify with this beginning.  I can't even begin to count the number of times I've felt this way!

The 56:
This is ridiculous, she thought despairingly.  Why is this happening now, of all times?

My Thoughts:
I have a feeling things aren't quite as extreme as Ella's making them out to be but I'm not here yet so I could be wrong.

What do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beyond The Books: My Dream Career

Today I'm really excited to be participating in the Beyond the Books feature hosted by Karen over at KissinBlueKaren.  This is a meme that focuses on stuff about us bloggers that aren't related to books.  Today's topic is My Dream Career (or what I do for a living).

Now I'm a stay at home mom which I actually love though I never would have believed I would 15 years ago.  I can't imagine doing anything else.  Before that I was a Systems Analyst who specialized in computer support and network security but I wouldn't say that was a dream job.  In college I went into that field because I was good at it, I enjoyed it and I could make good money doing it but the considerations were far more practical than not.

Now if I could do anything in the world with no thought to job security, money or anything else practical I would be a genealogist.  I LOVE genealogy and have spent more than my fair share on tracking down family lines.  I love genealogy not to prove I'm related to some king or someone famous but because it proves a real peak at what real life was like at different times for regular people.  I would love to really be able to research and hunt down family lines and records and all that.  Plus I just love research and all the tedium that comes with it.
If you could be anything what would you be?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Art of Sinning - Review

The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  American artist Jeremy Keane refuses to return home and take over his father's business.  He'd much rather sample bevvies of beauties abroad, in search of a model for the provocative masterpiece he's driven to paint.  When he meets Lady Yvette Barlow at a London wedding, he realizes she's perfect for his work and determines to capture the young heiress's defiant spirit and breathtaking sensuality on canvas.
No stranger to scandal, Yvette agrees to be Keane's subject - in exchange for his help gaining entry to the city's brothels he knows intimately, so she can track a missing woman and solve a family mystery.  But when their practical partnership leads to lessons in the art of sinning, can they find a bold and lasting love? (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  Sabrina Jeffries is one of my absolute favorite authors in this genre.

My Impression:  I found American artist Jeremy Keane intriguing when we first met him in How the Scoundrel Seduces.  It was nice to meet a possible heir to a title who was in no way scheming
after the title.  He was an interesting and unusual character so I was looking forward to seeing him in his own book. Yvette is also a familiar character as we met her and her brother when he was all set to marry Jane in If the Viscount Falls.
As I expect from Jeffries the premise and the characters are interesting and unique.  Jeremy and Yvette both want something from each other - Jeremy wants her to model for an unconventional painting and Yvette wants his help getting into a place no lady should go.  They're fairly upfront and honest with each other though both has their secret pasts and pain. Much of the book takes place while Yvette is posing which makes for lots of very focused conversations and thoughts.  While they do keep secrets from each other it does make sense.  They're strangers when they meet and they don't really trust each other so I think it's pretty natural to not be spilling out your deepest fears and darkest secrets.
These weren't my favorite characters in a Jeffries book and I did have some difficulty forming a connection with them.  Yvette was too argumentative and defensive and Jeremy is so driven that it's difficult at first to really seem him in a romantic way. These are purely personal preferences however as both characters are well done.  The plot kept me turning pages and while this wasn't one of my favorite books by Jeffries I'm really looking forward to Edwin's book and seeing where else the series goes.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Oh definitely!  I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, even though the characters didn't work for me this is still a good book and my issues were purely personal preference.

Challenges Met?  Historical Romance

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Review

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Library
Description:  Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway.  Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy -full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox - the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy: Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot: Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.  (From Goodreads)

Genre: SciFi

Why I Picked This Book: I read this book about 25 years ago and remember enjoying it so I really wanted to reread this.

My Impression: This is all kinds of madness in the best possible way!  After reading this I'm not surprised that Douglas Adams wrote episodes of Doctor Who as the very dry humor and irreverent tone of Hitchhiker's Guide is very similar to the feel of many of Doctor Who episodes.  I love the tone and humor of this book and it's definitely a story that stays with you even though there is no life lesson to be learned - other than be prepared and be willing to roll with whatever happens and even that's kind of a stretch.  I loved Arthur and Ford and their journey through space was definitely entertaining.  The end isn't really an end of a story but an end of a phase and I'm looking forward to continuing with the rest of the series.

I know several people who didn't care for this book and reading it I can see why.  There's a number of tangents that kind of go nowhere.  While I found them amusing and adding to general feel of the story and the universe I can see people getting frustrated.  Also, character development is on the light side.  Even Arthur who is basically the main character has one primary emotion which is basically bewilderment.  I'd really like to see more of Trillian/Tricia and am hoping that will happen in the next books.

Overall, I found this to be a quick and thoroughly entertaining read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, I would though the style is so distinct I can see how not everyone would love this one.

Challenges Met? Library Challenge, The Reading Assignment Challenge

Monday, July 20, 2015

Killing Secrets - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

Killing Secrets by Dianne Emley

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  When she gets the call, Nan Vining responds as a mother first and a detective second.  Her daughter, Emily, has made a gruesome discovery in a secluded section of a Pasadena park: a pretty popular young teacher from Emily's high school and a bright yet troubled transfer student - both dead and bloody in a copse of trees.  But the crime scene isn't the only thing that seems off to Detective Vining.  There's also the cocky classmate who was with Emily in the park - the boyfriend she never knew about.  What else doesn't she know about her daughter?
As she attempts to channel both her maternal and investigative instincts into one single point of focus, Vining's superiors at the Pasadena Police Department are moving at lightning speed.  Before the evidence has even been processed, the case is closed as a clear-cut murder/suicide: a disturbed teenager murders his teacher, then takes his own life.  Vining doesn't buy it.  Now she's chasing dangerous, powerful people with secrets they would kill for - and taking them down means risking her own flesh and blood.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb caught my attention.  I've been wanting to read more thriller type books lately.

My Impression: I believe this is the fifth book in the Nan Vining series and while there are a number of hints about things that happened in previous books I didn't feel like not reading the previous books kept me from enjoying the story or understanding what was going on.  This book begins with a bang as Emily and her boyfriend stumble over two bodies and Nan is immediately drawn in - first as a mother to comfort her daughter and second as a detective when she realizes something is seriously wrong with this investigation.

There was a lot I liked about this book.  Nan is smart and quick on her feet but not always right and doesn't automatically know everything.  Her relationship with her daughter is great at times and rocky at other times which felt very natural given Emily's age and their past history.  The pacing was good.  It definitely hooked me and kept me turning pages wanting to know what would happen next and how everything would turn out. The character development was very good - especially considering the genre.  My heart broke for Jared's mother and for Nan as she struggled to protect her daughter.  There were times I wanted to reach into the book and tell Nan to loosen up but at the same time it was easy to understand why she was so tense.  I enjoyed it to the end and loved seeing everything unravel.

My main problem was there was a LOT going on and I could have dealt with one or two subplot or troubled relationship less.  There's police corruption, regular teenager angst, not so regular teenager crime, domestic violence, old conspiracies, new conspiracies, a somewhat overly enthusiastic stepmother, an aggressive lawyer stepfather, and a few other things.  It wasn't that it was difficult to keep up but more that I personally prefer my stories a little simpler.

Overall, this is a well paced mystery with interesting and realistic characters.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I'd like to go back and read some of the earlier books in the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you like a mystery with a little grit then I think you'd enjoy this.

Challenges Met?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

This Week in Reading - July 19th

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Operation Slow Down Book Acquisition had another hard week but I'm getting back on track! I have no pending book requests, my paperbackswap account is on vacation mode, and I'm only expecting a couple of blog tour books.

Keeper's Reach by Carla Neggers -This is an author I can't resist and I'm looking forward to trying one that's a little more suspense than just a straight up romance. (NetGalley)

Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs - Susan Wiggs makes me happy.  I keep hoping there will be another book in the Apple Orchard series but this will keep me entertained until then. (NetGalley)

Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson - I'm so excited about this one!  This is a new collection of Jackson's work edited by her children.   (NetGalley)

The Year Without a Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting by Scott Dannemiller - Now that we'll have two in college I'm fascinated with the idea of trying to save money.  Plus I'm in a phase where I feel like I'm buying stuff all the time.  This is a little more religious than I usually prefer but the concepts are intriguing. (NetGalley)

Baker's Blue by Judith Ryan Hendricks - I got this one for an upcoming Blog Tour and I'm really exciting.  I love a good foodie book and from the few pages I've read I love the feel of this one!


Reading:  The Other Daughter by Lauren Willing and finishing up Black Rose by Nora Roberts

Listening: Still nothing but I've been haunting my library's digital site to pick out what I want to listen to next!

Watching: Tiny House Hunters is still entertaining me.  J and I watched one the other day where the couple wanted a hallway and weren't willing to give up their king sized bed.  What they really wanted was a TARDIS - small footprint but bigger on the inside.  I've also got a couple of Island Hunters because I want to know how one shops for an island.  If you can't tell I'm in an HGTV phase!

Off the Blog:

I've been feeling like I'm on the verge of coming down with something all week.  Nothing really wrong but a scratchy throat and a headache I can't quite get rid of.  The Tornado has been really whiny this week so I'm wondering if maybe he feels the same way and we've both picked up some bug our systems are fighting off.  Neither of us are sick very often and I must say I'm not loving this!

I'm trying to get ready for the coming school year.  The Tornado will be starting kindergarten though he'll be staying in private school which has a much shorter day.  It also doesn't require to many supplies so I don't have to join the school supply hunt madness.  Paul will starting his senior year but only has to go half days.  So really all we have to do is get Emma's stuff together and then to her dorm room.  It's hard to believe we are less than a month away from that!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Killing Secrets - Mystery Blog Tour Review + Giveaway
Tuesday: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Review
Wednesday: The Art of Sinning - Historical Romance Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Linkups with Excerpts from Current Book
Saturday: Something foodie

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Good and Cheap - Cookbook Review

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day by Leanne Brown

I couldn't resist the concept of this one - good food that was inexpensive to prepare?  Sign me up!  We'll be paying 2 college tuitions this year and I'm definitely looking for ways to cut expenses.I'm always a little hesitant about cookbooks that focus on budget though because in my experience they can rely on cans of cream of whatever or mixes.  There's nothing wrong with that it's just not my preferred food.  But the cover look intriguing and when have I been known to resist a cookbook?

To start off with we have the normal chapters that seem to be the standard for cookbooks - what kitchen equipment you need and what the pantry must haves are.  What I really liked about this one is that the equipment is relatively inexpensive and multi-purpose.  There's no stand mixer or lots of specialized stuff.  It's things like a good chef's knife (okay this one can get pricey), cutting boards, measuring cups, and casserole dishes.  It'd be a good guide for someone just getting out on their own.   There's also a page on smart shopping and while I didn't find anything groundbreaking I think it would be really useful to someone starting out and trying to get the hang of menu planning and budgeting.

Now for the food!  This isn't one of those cookbooks that only has a few recipes or focuses on one certain type of food.  The chapters here include: Breakfast, Snacks and Small Bites, Dinner, Big Batches, Pantry Staples and Flavors, and Drinks and Desserts.  The recipes vary in difficulty and a few don't really count as a recipe - for example the recipe for Broiled Grapefruit goes like this:

Cut a grapefruit in half, sprinkle with brown sugar (either light or dark) and broil 3 to 8 minutes or until the sugar bubbles and reaches desired brownness.

The book has it in actual recipe format but that's the basic idea.  Also in breakfast is a chart for different flavored oatmeals that look really fun.  There's standard Apple Cinnamon all the way to Coconut and Lime as well as a more dessert themed Baklava.  There's also a lot of more international offerings such as a recipe for Dahl in the soup chapter, Bubble and Squeak in the Small Bites, and a delicious sounding Filipino Chicken Adobo in the Dinner chapter.  The Pantry chapter has recipes for pizza dough, tortillas, flavored oils and a number of different sauces.  Each chapter offers a number of options for Vegetarians that would be great for Meatless Mondays for non-Vegetarians.  There's lots of lovely photographs and most recipes have not just the cost per serving but the cost of the entire recipe.

The recipes are definitely on the basic side and if you're used to whipping up tasty exotic meals than this one probably isn't for you.  However if you're just starting out or are looking for a little variety without breaking the bank this is a great one to try!  Not sure?  You can download a PDF of this book at Leanne Brown's Website

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads