Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Glass Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Glass Magician




 Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

The delightful sequel to Charlie N. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician will charm readers young and old alike.


 *I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley*
This was a fun book.  I enjoyed reading it even though I liked the first book more. What keeps me coming back to this series is the magic, which is unique and imaginative.
I probably would have given it more stars if the main character, Ceony, had been less irritating and reckless.  She was firmly in the TSTL(too stupid to live) category in this book.  I don't know if she even learned her lesson.
I loved the other characters, especially Thane.  He is very easy to love.
I will read the next book in the series but I really hope that Ceony grows up.

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy

by Michael Barakiva

18465591A heartfelt, laugh-out-loud-funny story of romance, family, and self-discovery.

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

Meh.  I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as I thought I would.  The writing-style just wasn't for me at all.  It felt clunky and juvenile. 
I didn't care for the characters at all because there was nothing to make me like them.  They were too much like cardboard cut-outs. 
I really wish I could have liked this.  Maybe next time!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers

 by Barry Lyga

7766027What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

*I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
I really enjoyed this one.  It was dark and gruesome at times, which is how I like it.  One thing I don't understand: how in the world is this YA??

Just because the MC is 17 does not immediately make this a YA book.  Not all books with teen characters should be marketed for teens.  I don't understand it.  This book has gruesome death scenes, several mentions of rape, and a MC who is not mentally stable.  It also describes-in detail- how his serial killer father staged his murdered victims, sometimes with the use of hooks, nails, and fishing line. Does that really sound like YA?
Anyway...I loved the writing style and the characters.  Jasper is the kind of character that you can't help but love, even if he is a little unhinged.  He has good reason, after all.  Something to do with the fact that he was raised by a serial killer who loved to talk about his work.  He takes very good care of his best friend, Howie, who is a type A hemophiliac. Their friendship added a whole new dimension to the story.
I'm excited to continue on with the series. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician 




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blackthorn by Simon Hawk


by Simon Hawk


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Precious Metals by L.A. Witt

Precious Metals

by L.A. Witt

22674209For Constable Paul Benson of the North-West Mounted Police, monotony is a blessing. As a provision inspector below the Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush, he’s seen miserable conditions and gold fever turn civilized prospectors into madmen.

Joseph Starling is on his way to the Klondike to find the men who savagely beat him, murdered his eldest brother, and stole their mining machine. They’ll kill his youngest brother if Joseph doesn’t operate the machine for them—it won’t work without him. With time running out, Joseph must purchase an expensive ticket aboard a crash-prone airship. But the station is miles away through dangerous terrain.

Under orders, Paul grudgingly escorts Joseph, but quickly finds himself intrigued by the young man. As they make their way toward Juneau, it’s not just the need for warmth that drives them closer together. But neither man can draw an easy breath until they make it to the gold fields . . . and there’s no guarantee that Joseph’s brother will still be alive when they do.

*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley*
This is the second book in L.A. Witt's steampunk m/m romance series set during the Klondike gold rush. Like the first book, it has everything you could need for an amazing adventure, but it just fell flat for me.  I did like this one a little more than the first.  I happen to like Mounties.

My problem with the books is that you don't get to know the characters very well at all and I have a difficult time caring what happens to them.  There isn't any character development.  The characters don't grow or change or have epiphanies...they just stay exactly the same when they weren't very interesting in the first place.
What I did like was the world-building.  I like the machines and the airships and the gold rush prospectors.  It just wasn't enough.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Iron Bells by Jeanette Battista

The Iron Bells





Monday, November 10, 2014

Nest by Esther Ehrlich


by Esther Ehrlich

For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
   Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
   Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.

I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately.  I've been moving and going through our things.  Packing, unpacking, and organizing all of our stuff is so ridiculously overwhelming that I haven't felt like doing anything at all.  Add NaNoWriMo and NBRC's Tower Teams on to that and you have a perfect storm, which led to me saying "screw that, I'm just going to read". 
I'm glad that Nest is the book I chose to read.  I'm not sure that any other book would have been able to pierce through the wall of 'meh' that I was putting up. 
Chirp is an amazing character.  She's the sort of character that feels more real than the pages of the book(or the Kindle, in my case). 
This is a beautiful story about family and hope, heartbreak and friendship.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying

by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying is Faulkner's harrowing account of the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Told in turns by each of the family members—including Addie herself—the novel ranges in mood from dark comedy to the deepest pathos.
I've read a lot of reviews where people said this book is confusing and not readable.  It didn't really seem all that confusing to me.  If you try to understand every sentence you're not going to get anywhere and it will be difficult to understand.  Just go along with it and everything will be fine.  I think that's true of most stream of consciousness type books.
Faulkner has a way with words and it's a beautiful thing.  There isn't a strong, overreaching plot to this one.  It's more about family, human nature, and selfishness.  You won't find many likeable characters but you will get a glimpse into the lives of people who are so delightfully messed-up.

That ending, though?

Friday, October 17, 2014

An Hour in the Darkness by Michael Bailey

An Hour in the Darkness

by Michael Bailey

Michael’s novel begins when his narrator, Franklin, suffers a bang on his head that jars his grasp on reality. Franklin begins his desperate journey through his home town in his search of love, forgiveness and understanding. He finds comfort in conversations with his young sister Jenny – but as he reveals himself to be a highly unreliable narrator, we must ask if Jenny exists or is merely a figment of his troubled mind?
Franklin is increasingly losing touch with reality when, against the backdrop of a local landmark he meets a man he believes to be God. This stranger tells of his own son who had similar problems and in his increasing confusion Franklin believes the man is likening him to Jesus. As Franklin’s life spirals further out of control his behaviour becomes ever more erratic, culminating in his touching, frightening attempts to win the affections of market-girl Ronnie, who is fascinated and frightened in turn by this strange, funny, ill young man.

Dealing with such universal themes as loss, love, guilt, forgiveness, relationships and mental health, this is an unsettling, but powerful, novel which will appeal to readers of books such as The Shock of the Fall.
*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley*
The author has said that he was hugely inspired by J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and even though I am only a few pages into Salinger's book, I can definitely see it.  There is a tough-guy stream of consciousness feel to this book that I really like.  Franklin is a confusing character even before the bang on the head, and afterward his narration is a dark walk through madness. 
I really liked this one.  It kept me interested in the character because I was seeing the world through the eyes of someone who was insane.  It was refreshing, in a vaguely creepy way.  He's not a good person but I still felt a lot of empathy toward him.
I would recommend it to Salinger fans and people who love stories about madness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shroom by Becky Selengut

Shroom: Mind-bendingly Good Recipes for Cultivated and Wild Mushrooms



Chef and cooking teacher Becky Selengut's Shroom feeds our enduring passion for foraged and wild foods by exploring 15 types of mushrooms, including detailed how-to's on everything home cooks need to know to create 75 inventive, internationally-flavored mushroom dishes.

 The button mushroom better make room on the shelf. We're seeing a growing number of supermarkets displaying types of mushrooms that are leaving shoppers scratching their heads. Home cooks are buying previously obscure species from growers and gatherers at local farmers markets and adventurous cooks are collecting all manners of edible mushrooms in the woods. People are asking the question, "Now that I have it, what do I do with it?" Home cooks and chefs alike will need a book and an educated guide to walk them through the basics of cooking everything from portobellos and morels to chanterelles and the increasingly available, maitake, oyster, and beech mushrooms.

Shroom is that book and Chef Becky Selengut is that tour guide. In a voice that's informed, but friendly and down-to-earth, Selengut's Shroom is a book for anyone looking to add mushrooms to their diet, find new ways to use mushrooms as part of a diet trending towards less meat, or diversify their repertoire with mushroom-accented recipes inspired from Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisines, among others. Recipes include maitake tikka masala, caramel-braised king trumpet mushrooms with bao buns and cabbage slaw, and simpler fare such as mushrooms and grits with fried egg. Written in a humorous voice, Becky Selengut guides the home cook through 15 species-specific chapters on mushroom cookery with the same levity and expertise she brought to the topic of sustainable seafood in her IACP-nominated 2011 book Good Fish. Selengut's wife and sommelier April Pogue once again teams up to provide wine pairings for each of the 75 recipes.
*I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley*
 My husband and I love mushrooms.  He wants to find mushrooms in the wild and I would really prefer to buy them from a store or the farmer's market so I know we won't die from mushroom poisoning.  It's an ongoing debate. 
This is a beautiful book.  The photographs are amazing and I like the layout a lot.  I haven't tried any of the recipes yet because I know that will start the "we should go mushroom hunting" conversation again.  But I really, really want to make some of these recipes. 
This is a great book for mushroom-lovers and home cooks alike.


The Knowledgeable Knitter by Margaret Radcliffe

The Knowledgeable Knitter

by Margaret Radcliffe

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley*

I didn't realize that this book was for the advanced knitter- of which I am not!  I love to knit even though I still make a lot of mistakes.  I am slowly learning more techniques and trying to make mistakes less frequently.  I'm not comfortable enough to draft my own patterns or even to modify an existing pattern. 
Someday in the future when I am advanced enough I can see myself finding a copy of this book to learn new techniques, or to help me understand the math behind my knitting.  Everything is clearly explained and there are a lot of diagrams and photographs.  At the moment it's just a little too much for my brain to handle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

At the Mountains of Madness




This Lovecraft classic is a must-have for every fan of classic terror. When a geologist leads an expedition to the Antarctic plateau, his aim is to find rock and plant specimens from deep within the continent. The barren landscape offers no evidence of any life form - until they stumble upon the ruins of a lost civilization. Strange fossils of creatures unknown to man lead the team deeper, where they find carved stones dating back millions of years. But it is their discovery of the terrifying city of the Old Ones that leads them to an encounter with an untold menace.

I really liked this one. H.P. Lovecraft takes his time to set the scene and he does it with such detail that it becomes very real to the reader. It's not a good book if you're in a hurry or looking for a lot of action. You have to take your time with it.

His writing reminds me a lot of classic movies, which rely on shadows and increasing the tension slowly...until you just want to pull your hair out because you know that this discovery is going to be very bad and maybe you don't really want to talk to that old lady in the swivel chair.

Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen

Awakening Foster Kelly

by Cara Rosalie Olsen

If only a pile of wayward curls and the inability to stay on her feet were seventeen year-old Foster Kelly’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, stubborn hair and clumsiness is just the tip of it. It was only a mistake, but when at the age of five Foster is told “You don’t belong here” the result is one broken heart. These four carelessly spoken words have shaped and shadowed Foster, and now—a senior at Shorecliffs High School—she seeks the wallflower’s existence, denying herself the most casual of friendships, much too afraid that someone will see what Foster believes is certain: she does not belong anywhere – or with anyone. This reality would continue to suit her just fine, however . . .

Love has a long-standing history of undoing broken hearts.

Like a comet, an unexpected arrival knocks Foster out of the crowded, starry sky, sending her directly into the limelight. Exposed and afraid, she will attempt to regain anonymity; but it isn’t so easy now that someone is watching. He pursues this shy enigma, confronting Foster’s deepest fears head-on, and in the process falls wholly and completely in love with her. But there is something he is not saying; a secret capable of certain ruin. There are two probable outcomes: either he will break her heart once and for all, or he will heal it.

In the end, though, it is Foster who must decide if she is worth mending.

What to say about this book?
I read this one because the author reached out to me through GR and asked if I would review her book. It sounded pretty good so I went for it.

This book was way too long for the type of story it is. Everything was described in detail. And I mean everything.

Almost every time a new character was introduced there was a flashback to show how the MC had first met them. There were dream sequences that lasted for pages and pages and added nothing to the story or character development. I kept waiting for something to happen. Was there a reason for this book to be so long? I understand that it was supposed to be character-driven, but even character-driven novels have to have a basic plot. There was no rising action, no payoff, nothing to keep my attention. This book wandered a lot, got lost a few times, and then rushed to the finish.

Did we really need 679 pages about a shy girl who does nothing but go to school, talk to her friends, and fantasize about the cute boy who's been giving her some attention? That's it. That's the entire story in a nutshell. I didn't stop reading, though, because I had heard about a surprise twist that had people shocked and awed and they said things like "OMG that was so good!"

Really? Really?? The twist didn't add anything to the story, it only undermined everything we've read so far!

I also had a big problem with the writing style. It was too contrived and it didn't feel natural at all.

“The moral debate was suddenly not so much a debate, but a reproving outcry, derived from a very distant part of my mind I currently paid very little attention to. As I crept closer to the ajar door, an instinct like nothing I had ever felt took over. Tiptoeing softly, I took care not to drag the soles of my feet. I nearly ruined everything when I lost my balance, and was forced to clench my teeth to avoid making any noise. Despite my best efforts to quiet my landing, my hands slapped noisily against the wall as I steadied myself. Cringing and palpitating, I waited to see if someone would emerge from the room. When that didn’t happen, I permitted myself a rewarding gasp of oxygen and bent at the waist to catch my breath. With a moue, I stared at the objects responsible for my trouble- my two hapless feet.”

This is one paragraph from a scene where she is sneaking down the school hallway to eavesdrop on a conversation. The entire sneaking scene takes up several pages. Several. Pages. O.o

*beyond irritated*

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beloved Healer by Bonnie Dee

Beloved Healer

by Bonnie Dee

The healing power of love.

His special ability to heal at a touch seems to be slowly draining the life out of Mason Reed. It might be a blessing for the people he heals, but feels like a curse to him. Hiding out in a small town, he just wants to work his menial job while he gets his strength back—no helping and no entanglements. But when he meets waitress Ava Wheaton, avoiding involvement becomes impossible.

Ava has her plate full working to support herself, her disabled younger brother and her alcoholic mother. She doesn’t need the distraction of falling for a stranger who’s just passing through, yet can’t deny the magnetic attraction between her and Mason. They begin a tentative romance, each finding something they seek in the other.

When Mason’s power eventually comes to light, the locals learn his secret and people begin asking for help. He must decide whether to move on to avoid the pressure of their needs. Will he continue to drift through life, not truly committing to anything, or is his relationship with Ava worth fighting for? And when Ava’s brother needs his help, will Mason make the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loves?
I liked this one.  It's the first M/F book I've read by Bonnie Dee.  I loved the other books I've read by her so I thought I'd give this one a shot. 
I was intrigued by Mason and I tolerated Ava.  This is not unusual for me.  I have a difficult time relating to heroines, anyway.  I liked that both characters were a little messed-up but their personalities complimented each other nicely. 
There were a few things that I wish Ms. Dee had explained more.  Some details were just glossed over and even the main characters didn't seem to be trying to understand it.  I think in reality they would be trying to figure out why that happened and if it can be done again.  Most people don't just let things like that go. 
All in all, Beloved Healer was pretty entertaining.  It was light, fluffy, and a little sexy.  Definitely a fun read.  I just might not be in a rush to buy it.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Moonlight Raider by Amanda Scott

Moonlight Raider

by Amanda Scott

In a flawless blend of history and romance, 'USA Today' bestselling author Amanda Scott transports readers again to the Scottish borders in her brand new 'Border Nights' series.

A man of his word...

Border Lord Walter Scott of Rankilburn, grief-stricken after burying his father, goes to the forest seeking solace. Instead he finds a half-naked young lady fleeing pursuit. Wat offers his protection, but honor demands that he return the golden-eyed beauty to her rightful husband - even though the last thing he wants is to see her in another man's arms.

A runaway bride...

Molly Cockburn has fled her home, family, and the brutal scoundrel she was forced to wed. Her pursuers are closing in when the powerful new Lord of Rankilburn bravely intervenes, then promises to help prove her marriage unlawful. Though fiercely loyal to her family, Molly fears they might harm the man she is coming to love, and now she must decide whether to remain faithful to her blood... or to her heart.
*I received a free copy of Moonight Raider in exchange for an honest review*
This one just wasn't for me.  I maintain that I was seduced by the cover.  I requested this one just because of the cover...with all that color, the period clothing, and the Scottish landscape.  
Unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me.  I made three aborted attempts to finish it before finally giving up.  The characters were flat and boring and I couldn't care less what happened to them.  I didn't get a good sense of their personalities, which is a big deal for me.
The plot is one I've read several times in historical romance except that maybe the setting is a little different.  Otherwise...been there, read that.
What irritated me was the writing style.  It felt forced and after a while I wished that the author had not tried to inject every sentence with historically accurate terms and expressions. I love historical fiction (it's one of my favorite genres) but I wasn't expecting to be bogged down with terminology in what is, essentially, a romance.  I felt like I was reading something that was only written half in English and I just wanted to focus on the blossoming romance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Cop Town

by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter, author of the bestselling Will Trent novels, is widely acclaimed as “one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post). Now she delivers her first stand-alone novel: an epic story of a city in the midst of seismic upheaval, a serial killer targeting cops, and a divided police force tasked with bringing a madman to justice.

Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.
This is my second book by Karin Slaughter.  Even if I hadn't read Kisscut, I would have known that anything written by anyone named Slaughter was going to be a tough read.  That's okay...I like them tough.   And it was definitely tough.  It was full of characters who would have been poster boys for the KKK.  They were bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic assholes.  I couldn't wait for our two main characters, Maggie and Kate, to show them a thing or two about being real cops.  I also wanted them to go off on a ball-ripping, rage-fueled rampage through the stationhouse.  
I read this with my Goodreads group, so we were able to get some feedback from people who know that yes, this kind of shit really did go down.   I am glad that I didn't live through the 1970's in a major city.  I'm sure Atlanta is very nice now.
I loved everything about this book.  The atmosphere was very real and there were times that it made me very uncomfortable because of how real everything felt.  I call that very good writing.  The characters were very flawed and oh so human. 
On another note, I just looked at the cover and thought "there's a face in there!"  I thought it was just an orange cover with some swirls for effect.  Yes, I am oblivious.
I'm definitely looking forward to the next book by this author.
I received this copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Letter to My Cat by Lisa Erspamer

A Letter to My Cat



The follow-up to "A Letter to My Dog" takes on cats, with celebrities writing letters of love and gratitude to their beloved pet felines.
Alluring, elusive, mysterious--the cats in our lives are not always easy to get to know. But as with all pets, they have unique personalities and stories to tell. Alongside beautiful four-color photos of their cats, "A Letter to My Cat" collects personal letters from celebrities offering love and gratitude for all that their cats bring to their lives.
*I received an ARC copy from Netgalley*
I requested this book purely because it is about cats.  I love reading stories about how they've brightened the lives of their families or overcome terrible odds.  I love cats and will read just about anything about them.  I could probably fall very easily into 'crazy cat lady' territory.

 While I can understand the passing fancy to write your cat a letter (because letter writing is fun!) I just can't bring myself to give this book a very high rating.  Because while there are some very touching stories, most of them are just...too sweet and fluffy.  That's fine, but it's similar to listening to a stranger talk for hours about their uber-cute children.  You don't know these people and the cuteness factor wears off pretty quick.  Eventually you just want them to shut up and leave you be.

What I did love was the photographs of the cats.  Most of the cats are absolutely stunning.  The pictures alone are worth it.

There was one letter that made me sit in silence for a moment just because of how beautiful it was.  It was by a US Army Staff Sargent who rescued a cat from Afghanistan who was being abused repeatedly.  He snuck his new friend into the Army base, even though it was against the rules.  Not long after, several of the soldier's platoon mates were killed by a bomber.  His cat, Koshka, kept him from suicide and gave him hope for the future.

There are a lot of wonderful letters and the book gives a nice glimpse into the lives of other cat lovers.  It's worth reading if you like a lot of very sweet, sappy letters and a few deep ones, along with some beautiful photographs.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Memory Zero by Keri Arthur

Memory Zero

by Keri Arthur


For Sam Ryan, life began at age fourteen. She has no memory of her parents or her childhood. In a decade of service with the State Police, Sam has exhausted the resources of the force searching for clues to her identity. But all mention of her family seems to have been deliberately wiped off the record. Everything changes the night Sam’s missing partner resurfaces as a vampire... and forces her to kill him in self-defense. Now Sam is charged with murder. Suspended from the force, and with no one left to trust, Sam accepts some unexpected help from Gabriel Stern, a shapeshifter who conceals startling secrets.

While investigating the circumstances surrounding her partner’s strange behavior, Sam discovers that Garbriel’s been involved with a dangerous organization that’s planning a war on the human race. More immediate, someone is guarding the truth about Sam’s past—someone who’d rather see her dead than risk her knowing too much. To stay alive, Sam must unravel the threads of her past—and find out not only who she is but what she is.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley*
I usually love everything that Keri Arthur writes, but this one was very disappointing.  I really didn't expect that.  I expected to love it just as much as her other books.  But this one fell very flat for me.
I didn't care about the characters at all, not even Gabriel who is the type of character I would normally love.  I felt disconnected from both main characters and there wasn't any suspense for me because I didn't really care what happened to them.  I didn't sense any personality whatsoever.  
Nothing else was working for me, either.  I thought the book was very wordy and the plot was thin.
I'll still read more from this author and hope it was a one-time miss.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bliss by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau


by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

They're always happy.

Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.

So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.

If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley*
I love, love, LOVE the concept of this one.  It has a very creepy Stepford type feel to it and I was constantly raging at the characters in the book to get a clue!  The city Rory has just moved to looks like a utopia on the outside, but secretly it is a dystopic nightmare of slavery and behavioral modification where you can't possibly know who to trust. 
I loved the issues brought up with this book.  Are you really guilty if you don't know you were doing wrong and believed that the other person was in their right mind?  If the other person gives you every indication that your advances are welcome?
It was a good book and I couldn't put it down because I just had to see what would happen to Tate and Rory. 
The characters could have been more fleshed out, especially Tate.  But isn't that the point of behavior modification?  That the person you think you know isn't what you would expect? 
I had a lot of fun reading this and I would recommend it to anyone who loves dystopian stories...but beware that there are explicit rape scenes!  

Friday, August 29, 2014

In Bed With A Rogue by Samantha Grace

In Bed With A Rogue

by Samantha Grace

He's the Talk of the Town

The whole town is tittering about Baron Sebastian Thorne having been jilted at the altar. Every move he makes ends up in the gossip columns. Tired of being the butt of everyone's jokes, Sebastian vows to restore his family's reputation no matter what it takes.

She's the Toast of the Ton

Feted by the crème of society, the beautiful widow Lady Prestwick is a vision of all that is proper. But Helena is no angel, and when Sebastian uncovers her dark secret, he's quick to press his advantage. In order to keep her hard-won good name, Helen will have to make a deal with the devil. But she's got some tricks up her sleeves to keep this notorious rogue on his toes...

*I received an ARC copy via Netgalley*

It's been a while since I've read any historical romance.  I gave up on them for a while because every heroine I came across irritated me to no end.  It was like every author went out of their way to make them stubborn as a mule and TSTL(too stupid to live). 

I didn't know what to expect when I requested In Bed With A Rogue, but I was sure that I was going to have the same issue with the heroine as I usually do.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find a heroine who wasn't TSTL, and I was overjoyed when the author put her in several situations when it would have been easy for Helena to act stupidly.  And then she used her head and communicated with her friends!  She was very independent and intelligent and while she didn't let Sebastian run roughshod over her, she also didn't act stubborn just for the sake of it.

Sebastian has to be one of my all-time favorite heroes.  He is a very sweet man who cares very deeply for his family and isn't afraid to show it.  He has a wicked sense of humor and I loved hearing about his past antics. He was the absolute perfect hero to match with Helena.

The absolute best thing about this book was the communication between the two characters.  They discussed their feelings and their fears.  It made their love more believable and real for me.

The only problem I have is that the book's synopsis makes Sebastian sound like a scoundrel who uses Helena's secret to get her in bed with him, and that may be off-putting to some people.

Definitely a book I would recommend for people who love historical romance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ply-Split Braided Baskets David W. Fraser

Ply-Split Braided Baskets

Exploring Sculpture in Plain Oblique Twining

David W. Fraser


Ply-split braiding is a technique for making textiles by parting the plies of one cord (the splittee) with a needle or similar tool, drawing a second cord (the splitter) through the gap made in the first cord, and repeating the process many times over. With images, including patterns, these techniques illustrate how to make baskets using plain oblique twining, a version of ply-split braiding particularly well-suited for the art of basketry.
I received a copy of this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
There are some very neat projects in this book.  The instructions are well done and easy to follow while also having a lot of in-depth information.  I thought I'd try them out, but I think I'll start with something a bit easier when I finally begin making some baskets. 

Swan Prince by Erin Lark

Swan Prince

by Erin Lark

Trapped between his royal heritage and swan shifter status, Oliver doesn't pay close attention during his flock's winter migration, and gets caught in the crosshairs of a trigger-happy hunter.

Careening toward the ground with no place to go, Oliver submits to his human form. As his swan's feathers recede, he seeks shelter in an old barn.

Bastion's spent the better part of his adult life caring for a bunch of bullheaded stallions, but this is the first time he's ever found a naked and gorgeous man in one of his stalls. When he asks the man his name, he doesn't get a reply. Without a wallet or a voice to tell him who this stranger is, Bastion takes Oliver in, clothes him and tends to a mysterious wound.

Oliver has nowhere else to go. Bastian is in a bind after firing a farmhand who would much rather call in sick than do his job. When passion flares, can Bastion and Oliver overcome their differences, or will this swan prince fly south?
I received an ARC copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
I've read a lot of shifter romances, both M/F and M/M.  I've come to love shifter stories, but they're not always unique enough to hold my attention.  I had high hopes for this one, especially after reading the first chapter.  Oliver's flight and his injury had me curious for more.  Bastian's gentle nature and their first meeting really interested me and I began to get invested in their characters. 
And then it just fell flat.  The characters didn't develop any further and there was no story arc.  The situations the characters were placed in were forced and unrealistic.  And not much happened.  I don't mean sexytimes.  There was plenty of that and I ended up skipping them eventually.  Been there, read that. 
I wanted more tension, more character development, and more of a plot.  This one just didn't do it for me.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Great Little Gifts To Knit by Jean Moss

  Great Little Gifts to Knit

by Jean Moss


17572499Today's knitters are avid—and busy. Although they love to knit for friends and family, and enjoy trying out new patterns and stitch techniques, they're constantly faced with the challenge of finding enough time to complete their projects. Great Little Gifts to Knit solves this problem. Jean Moss, author of Sweet Shawlettes, has designed 30 fun, fresh, beautiful patterns that incorporate traditional knitting techniques from all over the world: from Fair Isle and Aran knits to Peruvian intarsia patterns and Japanese shadow knitting techniques. Beautiful, clever, and, most of all, quick to knit, these projects offer knitters a chance to learn and experiment with new techniques—all in projects that can be made in less than a weekend.
*I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley*
I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I love the idea of quick knits that I can make with my leftover stash yarn.  Even better if they can be gifts for someone else.  I found the patterns in this book a little...lacking.  I just wasn't in love with any of the patterns or the photos of the finished result.  It would probably be better for someone who likes to make small knick-knack items or someone who has kids.  I'd rather spend my time on something that inspires me. 

California Foraging by Judith Larner Lowry

California Foraging

By Judith Larner Lowry

18266948  The diversity of California’s terrain and climate are a forager’s dream, with unique offerings from the coast, the mountains, the deserts, and everywhere in between. A passionate wild foods expert, Judith Larner Lowry shows you what to look for and how to gather it in a sustainable way.

California Foraging is a hardworking guide packed with detailed information and clear photography for the safe identification of more than 120 wild plants. It also features a seasonal guide for foraging year-round and collecting tips for sustainable harvesting.
*I received an ARC copy of this book through Netgalley.*
For a few years now I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about natural healing and foraging for wild foods.  I think it is something that is important to know.  Our ancestors knew it...they lived by it.  I think it's a shame that not many modern people are connected enough to the land that we know where to turn for food in case our supply runs out.  Until a few years ago, I had no idea that I was living in an area with a bounty of wild foods literally right outside my door.   
I've run across a lot of books in my search for information and I can say that this one ranks pretty high in terms of quality of information and pictures.  There were several things I've never heard of before (madrone bark tea!), as well as more information on plants I regularly gather (salal, chickweed, purslane).  There is a wealth of information in this book and it is one that I will most likely buy for myself some day.  It is definitely worth a look if you are interested in foraging in California. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Historical Heroine Quiz and Giveaway!

Authors Grace Burrowes, Katie MacAlister, and Shana Galen wrote this quiz.  Are you royal, an operative, or member of a retinue?  After taking the quiz, be sure to enter the giveaway by clicking the link below!
Quiz: Which Historical Romance Heroine Are You?

#1 What word best describes you?
a) effervescent
b) nonconfrontational (mostly) 
c) stealthy

#2 My favorite hobby is ...
a) comparative study of the male form
b) looking after my darling baron   
c) target practice

#3 What is the perfect late night snack?
a) bread, cheese, meats, lemon tarts … whatever can be liberated from the kitchen
b) the baron's kisses
c) ratafia, shaken not stirred

#4 My ideal man must have ...
a) a sublime derriere
b) an aptitude for growing hardy, contrary flowers 
c) brains

#5 What accessory do you never leave home without?
a) my corset (large bosoms are such a trial)
b) my composure 
c) my pistol


If you choose mostly As ... then you are as sparkling and resourceful as Her Serene Royal Highness Dagmar from The Truth About Leo by Katie MacAlister. Dagmar may have been raised in a strictly formal manner, but she’s never let that stop her from pursuing anything that catches her interest. She’s a bit quirky, marches to her own drummer, and has a fine, fine appreciation of the manly form.

If you choose mostly Bs … then you are clearly the stuff a baroness is made of, much like Millicent, from The Traitor. Milly is sweet, fierce, determined, and brave but slow to trust. Sebastian, Baron St. Clair, is ALSO sweet, fierce, determined and brave, and relentless when it comes to protecting those he cares for. Alas for both Sebastian and Milly, an enemy stalks them who is not sweet. By the time Milly is done with Sebastian's enemies, they are not very brave either. So if you chose mostly B's, the bad guys better steer mighty clear of you!

If you choose mostly Cs … then you are equipped to be a master spy like Jane Bonde from Love and Let Spy by Shana Galen. Jane is smart, cunning, and loyal, but she has her weaknesses too. Her latest weakness goes by the name Dominic Griffyn. Planning a wedding and defeating a villain intent upon the destruction of England is tricky, but if you're the sort who multitasks easily, then you too have Jane's unique skills and panache.

Enter to win from dozens of books by clicking the link below!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Release day for Blood In Snow by Robert Evert!

By day, Robert Evert is an ordinary university professor bent on stamping out ignorance and apathy wherever they may rear their ugly heads. By night, and during various faculty meetings, he is an aspiring fantasy writer. Living in northeast Ohio with his wife, two sons, dog, four cats, and a host of imaginary friends, Robert enjoys teaching, yoga, hiking, and writing. You may learn more about Robert Evert at where he discusses being a neurotic writer. Riddle in Stone is his first novel.


The final installment in the epic Riddle in Stone saga.

Having committed treason by claiming the Highlands for his own kingdom, Edmund
the one-eyed, stuttering former librariandecides to stop running and make his final stand. Along with his best friend, Pond Scum, and his manic dog, Becky, he must fight off goblins, magic users, and King Lionel's entire army in order to protect what he loves. However, his deadliest adversary is the approaching winter, and neither Edmund nor his men have the supplies they need to survive.





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout

Dog Gone, Back Soon

by Nick Trout

When Dr. Cyrus Mills returned home after inheriting his estranged father's veterinary practice, The Bedside Manor for Sick Animals, the last thing he wanted was to stay in Eden Falls, Vermont, a moment longer than absolutely necessary. However, the previously reclusive veterinarian pathologist quickly found that he actually enjoyed treating animals and getting to know the eccentric residents of the tiny provincial town-especially an alluring waitress named Amy.

So Cyrus is now determined to make Bedside Manor thrive. Not an easy goal, given that Healthy Paws, the national veterinary chain across town, will stop at nothing to crush its mom-and-pop competitor. And the rival vet practice isn't Cyrus's only competition; a handsome stranger shows up out of nowhere who clearly has a mysterious past with Amy. To top it off, Cyrus finds himself both the guardian of a very unique orphaned dog and smack in the middle of serious small town drama.

*I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley*

This is the second book in a series about small-town vet Cyrus Mills, who recently returned to his hometown after twenty-five years of trying to distance himself from his family and his past.  Used to looking at life through the lens of a microscope, Cyrus is incredibly awkward in social situations as well as with the animals who are supposed to be his patients.  He truly cares about them, though, and that's what has me hooked on this series.  He goes above and beyond to make sure that not just the animals are happy, but their humans as well.

The author is a veterinary surgeon and his own expertise gives the book a very authentic feel.  The medical mysteries are very interesting and I love how Cyrus is able to look at the behavior and environment of the animals to get to the root of the problem.  Sometimes it is definitely not what you would think! 

This book has a lot of things to love!  Great characters, a lot of humor, and sweet, funny animals throughout. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is A Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz

Is A Worry Worrying You?

by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz

Suppose, just suppose, one hundred elephants come to tea and you discover you don't have any tea bags.
Uh, oh. What will you do with a herd of thirsty elephants?
Now that's a worry!
But you can get rid of that worry by offering the elephants lemonade instead.
Adults think of childhood as a carefree time, but the truth is that children worry, and worry a lot, especially in our highly pressurized era. This book addresses children's worries with humor and imagination, as hilarious scenarios teach kids the use of perspective and the art of creative problem-solving.
*I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley*
This book was darling!  It handles the topic of worry very well and without trivializing a child's worry.  Instead of focusing on the worry, it teaches alternatives or ways that you can make a situation better instead of worrying about it.  The examples were all very sweet and also dealt with being kind to others and putting yourself in their shoes.  For example, the child who was afraid of the first day of school because the new teacher is a bear.  Instead of worrying, the books says, imagine that the teacher may be nervous about her first day teaching and bring her a nice jar of honey.  I think a lot of children (and parents) can learn from this book!
The illustrations for this book are amazing and it would be worth buying the book just for the illustrations alone.  The cover pictured above is pretty but doesn't quite do it justice. 
My nephew is a bit of a worrier so I made sure to read this book to him when he found out that his mommy was pregnant again.  He was very quiet, but I think it helped.  I know we both enjoyed it a lot.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cursed by Lizzie Ford


by Lizzie Ford

The Red Man is coming ...

Five years after her sister disappeared, seventeen-year-old Adrienne finds the strength to return to her father’s home in New Orleans. But soon after she arrives, the mark of a curse appears on her, leaving her worried. Will she be the next victim of a four-hundred-year old family curse ... the next to be claimed by a serial killer roaming the back alleys of the city?

The day before his senior year begins, Jayden is given a skeleton key passed down through his family for generations -- a gruesome reminder of how his ancestors betrayed their own people and sold them into slavery. He doesn’t believe in the curse the key allegedly bears and puts it away with the intention of forgetting about its message. Until he meets Adrienne, a girl he’s compelled to for more reasons than her beauty.

He’s not the only one who notices her. A man in a skeleton mask and a voodoo gang member are also drawn to Adrienne. One is determined to protect her. The other intends to mislead her. Haunted by the mythical Red Man, all are connected to the ancient curse.

Can they overcome their misgivings about one another and prevent the dark prophecy looming over them? Or will they be lured away from each other by evil’s siren song?
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through Netgalley*
This was a good book, a little slow in the beginning but it picked up at the halfway point when the characters started to interact more.  I especially loved the setting and the descriptions of New Orleans.  I love any book that takes place in New Orleans and the author did a great job of setting the mood.  It had a creepy, magical undertone to the book that made it great to read in the evenings when the hubby was asleep  :).
My favorite character was actually the grandmother that Jayden was so embarrassed by.  Of course, we all know by now that the creepy grandmothers are the ones with all of the answers.  
I liked the book, especially the dark atmosphere, and I especially liked the piecing together of a mystery.   I would definitely read something by this author in the future.

Artisan Preserving by Emma Macdonald

Artisan Preserving

by Emma Macdonald

Everyone can enjoy the fruits of their labours with Artisan Preserving - whether you have foraged, picked produce from your own vegetable garden or allotment, or searched out the best seasonal buys in the supermarket or market. Whether you want to preserve fruit and vegetables, meat or fish, mushrooms, flowers or nuts, this book has over 200 recipes for them all.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netalley*

The recipes in this book sound absolutely delicious!  I haven't yet tried any of them out- our garden is only beginning to produce vegetables and fruit.  I can say that I am quite looking forward to trying out a lot of the recipes given in this book.  There is something for everyone and every mood.  Sweets, savories, and in-between.  I am a jam-maker at heart and every year I pride myself on making a variety of jams that no one has ever tried before.  Now I'll have several more to add to my repertoire. 
The instructions are all very clearly given and most use ingredients that can be found at your local farmer's market or grocery store.  What I really love is that the author has tips throughout the book to help you figure out the more detailed instructions.  The photos in the book are so beautiful!  This is one I will definitely buy for myself some day. It would be a good book for people who are new to preserving, as well as the 'old hats'.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

Noble Metals

by L.A. Witt

 Ever since Robert Belton gambled away the money to stake his claim in the Klondike gold fields, he’s been stranded in Seattle working as a prostitute. When an attractive customer needs help hauling provisions to the frozen north, Robert eagerly volunteers.

Dr. John Fauth is only searching for one thing, and it isn’t gold. He needs platinum for the prototypes of his revolutionary inventions, and if he doesn’t find it in the Klondike, his university career—and his research—is over.

Getting to the Klondike is a grueling, dangerous journey, and just hours after leaving Seattle, John and Robert find themselves in over their heads. John is carrying an invaluable device that his competitors will do anything to get their hands on. And as the cold nights and mutual desire pull John and Robert closer together, they discover that they have much more to lose than gold or platinum.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley*

This one fell a little flat for me.  I was expecting more and I think I just got my hopes up.  I feel like I didn't get to know the characters well and I couldn't connect with them at all.  Their relationship didn't feel believable to me and I was beginning to wonder what they saw in each other that made them profess their love.  For me, they were just flat and one-dimensional. 
The worldbuilding was interesting and I liked the steampunk aspect.  The machines that the prospectors used to carry their gear over the passes were very unique and I just wished we could have learned more about them. 
I probably would given this book a higher rating if I had been able to like the characters more.  In a book that focuses mostly on the relationship between two characters, that is very important to me.

I am still a fan of L.A. Witt and look forward to reading her next book!