Archive | May 2014

Review: Apples Should Be Red by Penny Watson

Apples Should Be Red

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Recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner:

Start with sixty-two year old politically incorrect, chain-smoking, hard-cussing curmudgeon.
Add fifty-nine year old sexually-repressed know-it-all in pearls.
Throw in a beer can-turkey, a battle for horticultural supremacy, and nudist next-door neighbor.
Serve on paper plates, garnished with garden gnome.
Tastes like happily ever after.

Penny Watson presents an over-fifty romantic comedy novella. 21,000 words. Story includes copious profanity and botanical references.

This was absolutely adorable!

Beverly Anderson (Bev) and Tom Jenkins have known and disliked each other for quite some time. Complete opposites, they typically only see each other for the holidays since their children are married. Bev thinks Tom is horrible, rude and crude while Tom thinks Bev is a “snooty-ass bitch.” Both widowers, circumstances have thrown Bev and Tom together at Tom’s house for the week prior to Thanksgiving.

During their week together, Bev learns to loosen up and stop trying to be “perfect” while Tom learns to show his vulnerable side.

Apples Should Be Red is an adorable book about two people who fall in love just when they needed to the most. This romantic comedy gets most of it’s laughs from Tom. Tom is what Bev thought he was: rude, crude and “raw”: he speaks his mind and is rather funny in a rough-edged way. The things that Tom thinks/says are quite funny. Bev, on the other hand, is the “straight man:” rather repressed and anal retentive – her character spends quite a bit of time worrying or dissolving into tears.

I felt the relationship that grew between Tom and Bev was just so cute – although they are close to complete opposites, they really seemed to balance each other in a very positive way. I had a smile on my face throughout the majority of this read.

There’s not really much else to say about this short novella – the characters are engaging and the story flows well. To be honest, I had very few complaints: Bev and Tom went from severe dislike to lust to sex to a relationship rather quickly. The ending also bothered me somewhat – I felt that Tom’s reaction was true to character but Bev’s reactions were rather underwhelming and did not ring true. The ending was a little to nice and easy but was still so cute that I enjoyed it.

Review: Alta (Dragon Jousters #2) by Mercedes Lackey *Spoilers*

Alta

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National best-selling fantasy legend, Mercedes Lackey created a vivid, dynamic fusion of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of ancient Egypt with the most exciting, authentic and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined.
In the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s richly-conceived Dragon Jousters series, the dragonrider Vetch escapes to Alta, the subjugated land of his birth. There, he hopes to teach his people to raise and train dragons-and build an army that will liberate his homeland.

NOTE: This review will contain spoilers for the first book in this series, Joust. If you haven’t read Joust, please do not read this review unless you are ok with spoilers.

This one is cute. I enjoy this book but not as much as Joust.

Alta continues the story of the serf Vetch from Joust. In Alta, Vetch is no longer known as the serf “Vetch.” He is “Kiron, son of Kiron,” a displaced but well-born son of Alta and a dragon rider. Kiron arrives in Alta, gets settled and becomes a jouster-in-training almost immediately. He is also given lessons: reading, writing, philosophy and history. Throughout the book the reader can see Kiron’s change from unlettered serf to educated noble by the way he speaks and carries himself. I felt Lackey did a good job showing Kiron’s maturation.

Kiron has achieved his goal: he is no longer a serf – he is a free Altan and dragon rider. But in Alta all is not what he expected: there’s something rotten at the core of Alta and Kiron seems to get into the midst of things very quickly.
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Random Recipe: Cauliflower Rice with Sweet Onions and Herbs

I’m trying to cut back on my carb intake. This is very, very difficult for me as I LOVE carbs. LOVE CARBS.

So I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower lately. Cauliflower is a LOT more versatile than I’d ever given it credit for. With that versatility in mind, I decided to try to make a cauliflower version of my favorite seasoned rice. It turned out delicious! This is a great substitute for rice if you are trying to cut your carb intake.

cauliflower rice with herbsIngredients
1 medium head cauliflower
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 cups chopped sweet onions (I use Vidalia)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon Continue reading

B&M Bookstores: The Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, MD

The Annapolis Bookstore
35 Maryland Ave
Annapolis, MD 214001
(410) 280-2339

My Impressions: This place is great! They sale used and rare books – a few new books but not really.

I loved the atmosphere. There’s a cafe right inside but unlike Hard Bean (I visited both on the same day) The Annapolis Bookstore is clearly primarily a bookstore. A wild and crazy bookstore that is the equivalent of having a book crazy old family member who stuffed their entire house to the gills with books. And then let you free to roam with the ability to take home any book you like.

It’s like WOW! My goodness. I need a couple of hours here!

I also located a used copy of Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. Magic’s Pawn was the very first brand new book I purchased with my own money from my first real job. I’d read the entire Valdemar series published multiple times from the library…but this was the first time I could afford to buy my own.

My New(sed) copy of Magic's Pawn beside my trashed copy.

My New(sed) copy of Magic’s Pawn beside my trashed copy.

My uncle (father’s brother) had come to live with us – he was very young and full of himself. Well, we got into an argument before I had to leave for school one day. In retaliation for the argument he decided to take my book, place it in the bathroom sink and turn the water on…just a drip. O_O By the time I got home Magic’s Pawn was totally saturated and I was devastated. Being broke, I carefully dried out Magic’s Pawn page by page. When I was done the book was readable but it was still trashed.

Years have passed (more than 10) but I kept my trashed copy of Magic’s Pawn as a reminder of my uncle. When I saw the used copy at The Annapolis Bookstore I decided that now was the perfect time to replace my original copy of Magic’s Pawn.

2014 Book Purchases: April

I always start the draft for these monthly book purchase updates at the beginning of the month. It gives me a chance to look back over the previous month and encourage myself to do better.

I already feel that I’ve spent too much money on books this month – Sad, aren’t I? 🙂

I’m going to have to try harder. But I’m nervous about April because it is my birth month. I always find a way to indulge myself in April…

01-May-2014 Update: Yaaaay! I managed not to go over my $20 budget!!! 😀

Wind-Gone-MadBook: Wind Gone Mad
Author: L. Ron Hubbard
Cost: $2.99
Format: Paperback
Date Purchased: 02-Apr-2014
Notes: Shits & Giggles, plus that cover! O_o

 

 

The Phoenix EndangeredBook: The Phoenix Endangered (The Enduring Flame #2)
Author: Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
Cost: $4.50
Format: Hardback
Date Purchased: 02-Apr-2014
Notes: Second in a series
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Flights of Fantasy: June 2014 Books of the Month

The June 2014 Flights of Fantasy group reads and my early decision on reading them:

The Alchemist of SoulsFantasy
The Alchemist of Souls (Night’s Masque #1)
Decision: Maybe

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods–and a skrayling ambassador–to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally–and Mal his soul.

 

The StrainHorror:
The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1)
Decision: NOPE

The Strain

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come.

In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country.

In two months–the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city–a city that includes his wife and son–before it is too late.

 

The Amulet of SamarkandYA/MG
The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Sequence #1)
Decision: Maybe

Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the “ultimate sacrifice” for a “noble destiny.”

If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn’t tough enough, Nathaniel’s master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy’s only saving grace is the master’s wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.

Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.

 

The Last PolicemanSci-Fi
The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman #1)
Decision: Still thinking

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.

The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Review: Dealing with Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons

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Meet Princess Cimorene – a princess who refuses to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart…
And bored.
So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul – one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons around. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince and some very oily wizards.
If this princess ran away to finds some excitement, it looks like she’s found plenty!

 

 

This was adorable! I quite enjoyed every minute of this read – and I’ve been a very fussy reader lately.

Cimorene is curious about everything – except those things deemed appropriate for princesses. After being told by her parents she was going to be married off to someone she didn’t want to marry, Cimorene runs away and volunteers to serve a dragon.

One of the things I adored about Dealing with Dragons is that Cimorene gets to be quickly known for her common sense and clear thinking. This is definitely a book I could see giving to a young girl to read! Cimorene isn’t “too good” to do anything, her problem is that everyone wants her to do nothing. Princesses are pretty and ornamental but they don’t learn Latin or magic or sword fighting – everything that Cimorene finds interesting.

Instead of being content with her lot in life, Princess Cimorene takes action. She becomes the servant of a dragon, Kazul, and then proceeds to make herself very comfortable. Kazul expects Cimorene to cook, clean and serve. She also expects Cimorene to know enough (or learn!) to be a Librarian and she trusts Cimorene in her treasure room.

I love that this book explores and embraces being different and experimenting with new and different things until finding what makes you happy.

This was a fun but quick read. It’s much more MG than YA but I loved every second of it. It’s not a book I can see myself re-reading but I would like a copy in my library for future young readers.