Sunday, November 18, 2018

Reading Update: 15%


The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) - Janna MacGregor

If Alex thought she was with her mother and her mother thought she was with Alex, they wouldn’t discover she was missing until Christmas Day. She was truly home alone.

I keep going back to stare at this cover, gorgeous! 


Friday, November 16, 2018

Review: Lovesick

Lovesick Lovesick by Ángeles Mastretta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

"When did you get here?" Emilia asked him, kissing him as she had when their lips were smooth and unwrinkled. The eternal throbbing beat below her breastbone.
"I never leave," said Daniel, stroking her head with its scent of mysteries.


Spanning almost 50yrs, this is the story of Emilia. The vast majority of the story takes place during the Mexican Revolution (1910-20) and does a good job shining a light on how discontent, injustice, and passion bring about such wars. Emilia's childhood friend, who grows up to be her love, Daniel, is more than full of passion for the war and constantly leaves and is at battle leaving Emilia. Their love story is one people in their younger years would find exciting, dramatic, lustful, and love torn; a lovestory that is exciting to read about but hellish to live.

Emilia's father was a pharmacist, and she starts to study under him and grow her own passion but for medicine. She naturally and fights her way to becoming a doctor, no mean feat during this time period. She meets a Dr. Zavalza and love triangle ensues.

I really enjoyed the first 70% of this, as we get a historical feel for the Revolution with discussion and interaction with Diaz, Madero, Zapata. I do wish we could have had some scenes from Daniel to get a feel for the battles but this look at it from ordinary citizens was encompassing in its own way, too. Emilia's aunt and a poet who is in love with said aunt, were my favorite secondary characters and I would happily read the aunt's life story, what a woman she sounds like.

The last 30% was very rushed through as we get some of the conflict following the Revolution with Zapatistas and Cardenas with Daniel and Emilia continuing their relationship in a not thought of conventional way. Years pass quickly and Emilia becoming a doctor and having children is quickly told. This rushed ending kind of gave all the emotional upheaval and drama, I as the reader, went through less gravitas.

Lovesick couldn't be a more apt title as Emilia and Daniel's relationship wasn't exactly healthy. Daniel's passion for the war and how he constantly puts it above Emilia and Emilia's inability to let impulsive Daniel and his frenzy for fighting go in favor of Zavalza's calm supporting love will make you want to pull your hair out.

The historical context was weaved expertly into the story and Emilia's life journey will definitely make you feel.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Reading Update: 50%


Lovesick - Ángeles Mastretta, Margaret Sayers Peden


The Revolution did not begin at 6 P.M. on November 20, but it began. Many different times on many days following the morning of the eighteenth in Puebla.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: The Hating Game

The Hating Game The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5 stars

I am very close to being a complete outlier on this one, a handful of friends seem to have had the same issues I did but the vast majority LOVED this story.

I Buddy Read this with others who loved it, so for their comments/thoughts and more of mine - The Hating Game BR

I finally finished and honestly, it was a struggle for me. I don't want to yuck people's yum but the general tone of this didn't work for me personally.
What didn't work for me:
-The tone, only having Lucy's pov made it hard for me to read Josh the way I think the author wanted me to.
-Their hating game, came off immature from Lucy's pov, Josh seemed dickish instead of shy (he was rude to the hotel staff, I didn't enjoy his shyness coming off as rude/mean/abrupt to the extreme that people cried after talking to him and feared him.
-The many, many, many reminders of Lucy being short/little but wait, she eats like a NFL O-lineman!
-The fat-shaming is truly cringe worthy here
-Their chemistry, one or two lines between them worked for me, other than that, their first kiss where Lucy honest to god thinks Josh is going to hurt or kill her before he kisses her was uncomfortable.
-Lucy solves Josh's decades old feud with his father, something his mother who knows how to handle his brusque father and loves Josh oh so much and misses him like crazy, couldn't step up and do, once.

Suffice to say Lucy genuinely fearing Josh at many points, his shyness that came off as making hotel employees cry after dealing with him, and their "flirting/foreplay" of back and forth actual HR sexual harassment complaints, didn't personally jive with me. It all felt immature and forced.

Books with similar stories that I really liked - Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie and Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Review: The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans

The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans by Jonathan Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

If you're fan of the movie Mean Girls and like to get together with your friends who are also fans, this cookbook would be an excellent additive to girl's night.

You'll get a look at some of Aaron Samuels' (aka Jonathan Bennett) favorite dishes, a recipe from his mom!, along with fun quizzes, facts, and trivia that will solidify your place as a true Mean Girls fan.

Overall, the recipes are pretty simple and most of the ingredients are fairly common, you won't be running from grocery store to grocery store trying to complete these dishes. Some of the recipes are so simple, Fairy Toast, that they're inclusion seems a bit immature but they do provide some great ideas for that all important girl's night.

Some of the recipes featured in the book and that I made:

Spring Fling Rolls - These take a little effort to put together but everyone needs that fancy smancy hors d'œuvre. The peppers, mint, mango, and spritz of lime made these light and tasty.

I Can't Help That I'm So POPular Popcorn - Who doesn't need pink colored popcorn in their lives? Obviously very easy to make but pretty and on theme.

Is Your Cornbread Muffin Buttered - Carbs, scary! But so worth it. A good replacement for the spring rolls if you live in a colder climate. The honey added gives it a nice sweet flavoring, careful to not over mix as that can cause your muffins to be dry.

Boo You Whore-iental Salad - An obvious one I had to make. Easy to make and even more fun to say. Mandarin oranges and honey roasted peanuts give this a nice flavoring, don't skip out on making the dressing as it will draw the salad flavors out.

You Will Get Pregnant and Diet Smoothie - With the popularity of smoothies right now, this was a recipe I was very excited to try. It had just the right amount of sweetness with the raspberries and honey but saved from being overly with the adding of kale (you could use spinach, also). Break out your blender and enjoy the yummy healthiness.

I'm Sorry People Are So Jealous of My Perfect Pink Taco - One of the most perfect for a girl's night. Easy to put together, people can add or subtract whatever they want, and they taste great. I substituted half of the mayo amount with Greek yogurt. You can never go wrong with shrimp and lime based tacos.

Strawberry Frose, Obvi - For the over 21 fans. Who doesn't love rose wine? As a close to a wine slushy, this would be a great bachelorette part drink, pre-drinking night out, or some random Wednesday We Wear Pink.

She Asked Me How to Spell Orange Chicken - I love the sweet spicy taste of orange chicken and this held up really well. Using fresh squeezed orange makes a difference in the crispness and definitely go for fresh grated ginger as it gives it the kick. I served mine with white rice and a night in alone.

Why Are You So Obsessed with MEatloaf - I knew immediately I would have to make this when I saw the title, I'm sure any fan will agree with me. I used ground turkey and the suggestion for Bloody Mary mix is inspired. Easy to make and you'll have the best Instagram titled photo around.

You Go, Glenn (Hot) Coco - Having a relaxed jammies girl's night? No problem, this sweet hot coco has you covered.

Like I said, the vast majority of these recipes are easy to make, you won't stress over the food for you party. There is a crown jewel recipe, Cake Made of Rainbows and Smiles (also includes a smaller version - The Fun-Fetchy Cake) that would bring your Mean Girls party to the top. It's a pink rainbow cake made from scratch and you'd win the crown if you ended your party with it.

As I said, with all the fabulous recipes, facts, and trivia, the workouts, beauty masks, and party plan layout for a Boozy Burn Brunch, you can't go wrong with this Burn Cookbook. It is less a comprehensive cookbook and more about bringing your friends together for a fun Mean Girls night together with easy but tasty recipes. How could you say no to a cookbook that has a section titled "Mean Grills (She Doesn't Even Grill Here)?

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Reading Update: 50%


The Hating Game: A Novel - Sally Thorne

Oof, not liking this one as much as everyone else. So many raving reviews but my discontent with 1st person pov is part of the problem again.

More comments/quotes: Buddy Read The Hating Game

Friday, November 9, 2018

Review: My One and Only Duke

My One and Only Duke My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

If the eyes were windows to the soul, Mr. Wentworth's soul was a bleak, silent moor under a gray December sky.

First in a new series and an introduction to the Wentworth family, My One and Only Duke, stars the oldest Wentworth, Quinn, and a minister's daughter Jane. This was a slow burn story from both accounts, the romance and mystery. The beginning with Quinn imprisoned in Newgate awaiting to be hung dueled with the investigators from the College of Arms as they searched for an heir to the Walden Dukedom. This gave the start of the story a suspenseful and tense back and forth as Quinn's time was running out and the investigators were closing in.

In the complicated economy of a prison, a returned bribe meant one of two things: Somebody else had paid a much bigger bribe, or had made a more effective threat.

The mystery is the engine that keeps the story going, but it does start to putter around midway through. There's a lot of talked about danger but even though Quinn has a good idea who he thinks is behind wanting him dead, his investigations are pretty slow to get to and it ends up feeling like no one is really doing anything as the focus seems to revert back to Jane and the household whenever someone goes off. The eventual wrap-up and reveal ended up feeling a tad convoluted tight as character connections, money, and motivations flew from everywhere; we also don't get to form much of a connection to the villain(s) and supposed villain(s).

Don't give me that Yorkshire growl, as if you'd tear me to pieces when I know you feed wild birds, marry stray widows, and work yourself half to death for your family. It won't wash, Quinn. You can intimidate every rolled-up title in Mayfair with that performance, but I know better.

The romance is that cherished Burrowes' hero and heroine connection that speaks of soulmates but also has some slow burn as they learn each other. Our heroine starts the book pregnant, she's a widow and our hero marries her to help her gain freedom from her zealot father, which kind of keeps her home bound. Jane was a wonderful showcase of growing into her own, standing up to father, and being the more emotionally courageous one in putting herself out there to connect with Quinn. We get a lot about the background of Quinn but his character still felt too blocked off to me. There was some seeing with the large amount of telling about Quinn and the Wentworth family but only a couple of the emotional connections filtered through for me; I felt stiff armed by Quinn for most of the story. Quinn was big-hearted stoic and Jane was emotionally courageous, which provided for some sexy scenes but if Quinn had been unveiled just a little more, their romance would have popped some more.

The daft woman like swiving him, liked touching him, liked talking with him. The touching was bad enough---Quinn well knew the danger of sweet touches---but the talking would be his doom.

The mystery was a bit slow and drawn out but I'm excited to read more about this family; a possible Althea, hero's sister, and Joshua, hero's business partner, romance has me intrigued and I absolutely demand Ned eventually gets his own book. This was more gentle and methodical, with some dry cheekiness from and between characters that will tickle your fancy. This was a solid start to a series that I'm looking forward to reading about each family member.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Menu Monday

Halloween wrap-up and three solid good meals.


Mini Halloween Cheesecakes


Ok, so most of the love I had for these was how cool and fun they looked, they definitely pop! It is a very easy recipe, your crust or base is a Halloween Oreo cookie and for cheesecake purists out there, you might turn a nose up at the easy cheesecake. I thought it all tasted great (yes, of course, the cheesecake doesn't have that thick goodness) but I was super pumped about how pretty they turned out.



I cut the recipe in half, I only wanted 8 breadsticks, not 16. I don't know if that somehow hurt how much I had to work with, but as you can see, mine weren't coiled as much as the pictured ones. I had to really work with the dough to to get them thin enough and coiled. I don't know if all of this worked to make the dough more dry but these turned out super crispy, I like my breadsticks more soft. I also couldn't find black sesame seeds so I had to take a red pepper flake and cut it in half, time consuming and a lot of them ended up falling off anyway. UGH. I dipped them in sriracha ranch, good but too crispy for me.




Hard to tell just from picture if they turned out, right? Lol. I swear this is what they were supposed to look like. I think the creator was going for Slimer from Ghostbusters, which once I saw the recipe, I HAD to make. The hardest part was separating the egg yolks from the white, I use a plastic water bottle to do this and have about a 70-80% first time success rate but just beware the struggle can be real when trying to do this. I think they tasted a lot like cotton candy. If I were to make these again, I would flavor them, recipe says to add vanilla but I'd go with cherry, strawberry, or something stronger or more fun. They were somewhat blah or boring flavor wise. 




This one probably took just under an hour but I really enjoyed the flavor of the sauce. I used 99% lean ground turkey and Sweet Heat Stubbs BBQ sauce with 1/4 cup of packed dark brown sugar. Yummy! I don't like super saucy things, I call it drowning it, you can see by the picture, some would say I like mine dry. If you're a saucy person, I would recommend doubling the sauce as there wasn't much left over even after I used it. 




I added corn and avocado. This was super simple to make and not time consuming. It was tasty and did have a little spice to it. Kind of one of those simple almost boring ones but gets the job done. 



Along with the Halloween cheesecake bites, this was a big winner. Easy to make and oh my god, so good. The flavors, the way they all combined together! Magnificent! I didn't have a Caribbean Jerk spice, so I went with our Spicy Creole and yowza, did this end up having some kick you in the pants and make your nose run. The avocado and mango worked wonderfully to help tone it down, though. I'll definitely be making this one again and you should too!

Don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday my American friends!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Copy a Romance Cover


I had the perfect window for this, the perfect "gloves" are probably up for debate :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review: Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this for the Supernatural square for Halloween Bingo

Legends were never what you expected when you saw them up close. I was no exception.

Second in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, you definitely want to have read the first in the series before you dive into this one. While the first drops you into this world filled with supernatural beings, our heroine Amani is a demdji, daughter of a human woman and male djinn, and country at war. This first was a lot of action and I felt a little lost as the world building and explanations felt a little forgotten. This second one still had action in it but it slows down a bit with a focus on the characters and we get to know the other side, the father of the Rebel Prince, the Sultan.

‘The world is a lot more complicated than it seems when you are seventeen, Amani.’

Amani is captured and spends the majority of the book as a prisoner in the Sultan's harem. The conversations she has with the Sultan were some of my favorite parts of this books, I love when the villains are given more depth, not just evil caricatures. I thought it was very interesting how the author had Amani having an internally battle about what she was fighting for; analytical conflict makes things more compelling.

I’d move the whole world to make up for what I’d done to Tamid. But I wouldn’t ever give it up for him. Not for anyone. The difference was, Jin had never asked me to. He’d taken my hand to show it to me instead.

If you're looking for a lot of Jin and Amani, you're going to be a bit disappointed, they spend the majority of the book apart. Jin kind of gets the shaft in this book and while I thought all the other characters had great insights and depth explored, he was left out in the cold. When Amani is captured and he “disappears” I was disappointed in how vague and forced his absence seemed to be to keep Amani in the harem, his whereabouts and reasons are given like a sentence to explain it away and didn't make a lot of sense. However, when they are on the page together, they spark enticingly.

He stood as tall as one of the huge pillars down here in this ancient palace vault. Only he wasn’t just holding up a palace. He was holding up the world. One of God’s First Beings who had made the First Mortal. Who had made all of mankind. Who’d made me.

There was a lot of tales, myth, and history weaved into this, at times I thought it helped with the world building and others it seemed to make things unnecessarily clogged with extra characters and more supernatural ethos that was hard to keep track of. It does set-up the third book nicely though with a new challenge for our Rebel crew and potential for a huge battle.

‘The trouble with belief is that it’s not the same as truth.’

Even though it changed the action pace of the first to a more slowed down get to know the characters pace, I really enjoyed this second addition to the trilogy. There is a huge cast of characters and magical world to keep straight and track of but I believe this is worth the effort. I can't wait to read the third where we, hopefully, get more Jin and Amani, and the conclusion to the Rebel Prince's battle for a country.

On that day, a hundred thousand men and women would come to watch and each would tell the story of what they saw there.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Reading Update: 50%


Traitor to the Throne - Alwyn Hamilton


‘The world is a lot more complicated than it seems when you are seventeen, Amani'

Definitely can't just pick this on up, want to have had read the first in the series. Started off kind of slow, a good amount rehashing. Has picked up the last couple chapters, though. Missing more Jin and Amani action but I'm kind of digging her time with the Sultan and the conversations they are having. Gives great depth to the villain or opposition that was more of a shadowy evil in the distance in the first book.

Still, though, more Jin, please :)

Review: A Brief Lunacy

A Brief Lunacy A Brief Lunacy by Cynthia Thayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this for the Genre: Suspense square for Halloween Bingo

What have I done? Who is he? Does he know something? Does he know Sylvie? He’s not just a camper who’s been robbed, is he?

A retired married couple living in Maine get a phone call that their schizophrenic daughter has runaway from her institution with her boyfriend Ralph. As they sit at home waiting by the phone for more information, they get phone calls from their daughter Sylvie saying she is in Ohio to get married to Ralph and at other times she is making her way to them, visits from their neighbor Hans and his wife Marte, and a camper claiming he was robbed looking for a place to sleep for the night. These happenings are told from pov chapters from both Carl and Jessie our married couple as they think back on their life and their connection to one another.

“Carl, I have to do this. God is watching me.”

The first half of this was slow nail biting dread as the story has you get to know the nice normal couple but the atmosphere is building the suspense. Interspersed with the happenings are personal stories that help give us a deep delve into Carl and Jessie. We learn that Carl was interned at Birkenau during WWII but Jessie has never really asked about it, she knows but doesn't know.

The second half kind of shifts from the horror suspense angle into psychological thriller with emotional historical fiction leanings. It felt a bit unnatural with characters, Jessie almost starts to join forces with their mysterious camper to learn about Carl's past, acting in a way that was obvious to push this more towards a historical fiction recounting of the atrocities performed at internment camps. This is where I began to lose a lot of enjoyment for the story. I, personally, can find it hard at times to read fictional accounts of such horrific acts, like the Holocaust, in books that are not for educational purposes or non-fiction personal accounts; it starts to feel like salacious horror for entertainment to me. I'm not saying it never works for me but, here, the contrast from the beginning was too jarring.

Sometimes mothers hope against hope for their children.

The mood (stark, dread, building suspense) and writing style (the pov chapters almost read like stream of consciousness at times) in the first half sucked me in but the second half had characters acting in ways that felt unnatural, left some questions unanswered (why was tree so focused on??), and for the most part abandoned it's horror suspense for psychological historical fiction, a transition that didn't work for me.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Reading Update: 50%

A Brief Lunacy - Cynthia Thayer

I look at Jonah, who is holding out a sketch pad. I almost laugh out loud. Here we are, being tortured by a madman, and I’m going to draw a seagull in the midst of it all.

This is chilling in a way I can't fully describe. The suspense build-up slowly weaves in and crawls up you spine. 



And what is up with that damn tree?? Is there anything up with the tree???

Has anyone read this before?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Review: Out of the Frying Pan

Out of the Frying Pan Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this for the Amateur Sleuth square for Halloween Bingo

The myriad of crime novels she’d read had surely trained her for a moment like this. Author Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta dug into every murder she encountered. She’d never leave a crime scene. Fern squared her shoulders.

The cover should say cozy mystery with zany amateur sleuths and a little romance on the side instead of the other way around, this was about 90% zany amateur sleuthing with 10% romance.

Zula and Fern are sisters who find a dead body in their little retirement community and set-out to find the killer. Fern suspects Black Widow Bob, Zula's intended beau and Zula suspects overly suave Phillipe, Fern's intended beau. Detective Jared is sent in to solve the case and Fern and Zula decide he would make a fantastic life long partner for their niece. Little do they know, their niece KC and Jared had met online, developed a close online relationship but KC broke it off when she thought she meet a great guy in real life.

As you can imagine, misunderstandings, white lies, zany interactions, official and not official investigating, and some actual danger fill out the story. Jared and KC don't actually meet in person until around the 50% (the coincidence of it all was thisclose to being too much for me), I would definitely say this story is centered on Fern and Zula as you'll follow them around for the vast majority of the time.

I'm not big on zany stuff, breaking into someone's home and snooping around because you think they are a murderer only to be caught because the little dog with you lets out a yelp/screech/bark, just isn't in my funny wheelhouse but if it's your thing, this story is chalk full of scenes and instances like that.

The eventual unwinding of the mystery and who was guilty seemed overly convoluted and extremely rushed at the end. This story was strong on Fern and Zula running around being zany and not so much on solid mystery plot thread, or maybe the this is who is guilty dump at the end disappointed me enough to not think it was worth wading through all the zany.

This is also a Christian book but wasn't overhanded with it, the beginning mentions it, the middle ignores any heavy tones, and the end brushes broad strokes over certain characters at the end.

The coincidences and seemingly adding and connecting of characters made the story seemed haphazardly thrown together. If you're wanting to read a story with two retirement members running around being zany and quite possibly causing more harm than good with a pinch of clean romance, this will more than fill your zany tank.

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Review: Carolina Moon

Carolina Moon Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this for the Murder Most Foul square for Halloween Bingo

"So many," Tory whispered.
"All were sexual homicides. Raped and strangled. There was no semen. There was some physical violence, particularly in the facial area. That escalates with each victim."
"Because their faces aren't right. Their faces aren't hers. Hope's."


The main and underlining impetus for this story was the rape and murder of an eight year old girl who was the bestfriend of our heroine, Tory; pretty dark stuff. I couldn't help always having that in the back of my mind, even though the author kind of leaves the head on dealing with it until more toward the back end of the second half.

You couldn't erase the past, or kill it, or wish it out of existence . Nor could you will away the present or change what was coming. We were all trapped in that cycle of time, just circling around the core of yesterdays. Sometimes those yesterdays were strong enough, willful enough, to suck you back no matter how hard you struggled.

This story is more of an ensemble piece with a secondary romance that I kind of wish got its own book and two handfuls of family and townspeople edging into the spotlight. This, along with the slow almost murky like way of the atmosphere of the story, kept the main couple's romance from being felt. Our hero Cade was the brother of Tory's bestfriend that was murdered and he never truly felt fully fleshed out for me. He comes on a bit stronger at the end but he kind of instantly goes for Tory (I love me some build up) and it ends up more of a willful strong arm relationship, Cade, at times, just telling Tory how it is going to be with Tory initially balking but eventually going along with him. I like a man who knows and shows what he wants but he immediately starts off this way and without the foundation for knowing Tory, it felt pushy and not too terribly romantic.

"He frightens me, and embarrasses me. By trying to keep it contained, as always, I thought I'd limit the fear and humiliation. It's hateful to be a victim, Cade. Makes you feel exposed and angry and somehow guilty at the same time."

With the underlining murder mystery and the two romances, the bulk of this is family dynamics and oof, are there some doozies. Tory's father was physically abusive and with her psychic abilities (Tory can sense emotions from people so strongly she can "see" their thoughts) she can sense some other dark aspects of his personality. Cade's family has the emotional pain of losing a daughter and sibling, swirling around and tearing them apart. The two handfuls of secondary characters are indirectly and at times directly affected by these issues, which leads to some great real moments between characters. However, it also lead to some dragging issues in the middle.

I'm a Yankee, so sometimes when I read these books set in the south I don't quite jive with the beat or tones. There was a languidness, thick, humid, slowly fanning yourself on the porch while you sip iced tea, that I thought slowed the pace the down. Tory's life after her bestfriend was killed isn't really explained until more towards the end but it felt implied she moved back to her hometown to find out truly what happened, for such a big issue, it felt pushed too much too the side. There was also some trope role characters that the author did a good job breathing layers and complexity to, Cade's sister, but others that for a book published in 2000 were disappointingly locked in, Cade's family housekeeper/nanny.

I know mysteries like, to well, keep the mystery going but when they stay to the side for so long, I think they end up feeling unknown or ineffectual. There are clues to who the murderer is but I wanted more insight into them, instead of one ending scene where thoughts and motivations are relayed concisely but quickly.

I liked this, some great emotional complexities were weaved in out, but it was a little slow moving for me. The rape and murder of an eight year old girl is never easy to read about, so be prepared for that, along with physical violence. If you're looking for an unhurried heavy on the family dynamics, mystery, with some romance, and love iced tea, this would be a well written option.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Menu Monday

You get double the usual amount of recipes this time since I missed last weeks Menu Monday :)


Shredded Chicken and Rice Stuffed Peppers (Halloween Style)


Ok, so I won't lie, these take a little bit of time and effort to make, especially if you make the Mexican Rice recipe, which I recommend you do because delicious. I make these every year because they aren't too challenging, just time sucking. But look how adorable they are! They also have the bonus of tasting fantastic, always get a "These are really good!". I pack my little pumpkins and get 4 with a little left over. If wanting to bring some fun to the table and feel the season, these would be top pick :)


Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Chipotle Pizza


You better be a fan of kick and spice because this little puppy has some bark. When I made the chipotle sauce I substituted mayo with Greek yogurt (I know, I know, not technically vegan anymore) and added about two tablespoons of water. Roasting the cauliflower takes 20 minutes but you can make the jalapeno cream sauce while doing that. You have to love hotness to like this one but oh man was this good. I, of course, got the "you should make this with chicken instead of cauliflower" because the sauce was such a hit. For the non-meateaters who love kick, this is a must make.




I ended up loving this one, which first looking at the recipe, I didn't think would happen. This doesn't look like much but it was filling and so tasty. I sauteed my kale with some garlic, cooked the quinoa in veg broth, and then poured some extra cauliflower sauce over the chickpeas and quinoa. Had a nice amount of spice and the combination of everything went so well together. So good, if want something tasty that probably only took me a little over half hour to make and feel like a boss ass healthy person, this is your go to.




I literally had one left when I remember to take a picture of these, lol. I'm a fry gal, I dream of fries, god do I love me some fries. These were pretty simple with some paprika sprinkled on doing most of the flavor work. I enjoyed them because fries any shape, size, or flavor have my vote. If you can see, I also sprinkled some shredded cheese on top because CHEESE AND FRIES. 




This one takes some time because you have to thaw the salmon and then marinate it for half to an hour but after that it goes quick and is really easy. I put mine on rice because hey, simple. Again, I bow down to these people that come up with seemingly wackadoodle flavor combos, peaches?!?, that turn out so freaking good. I'm starting to think "flavor combos" is my new "give it some kick". I paired this with white wine and jammie pants. 




Have I mentioned I love sweet potatoes? I imagine I have mentioned that only slightly less than my love of spicy and kick. This recipe combined those loves together really well. The cashew sauce was so good, y'all. I do think sprinkling on some halved cashews would give it some nice texture and crunch because it did feel like maybe something was missing but still good taste overall and probably only took around 45mins to make. 




The least photogenic and probably what I would call the loser of the week. I didn't add the zucchini because I loathe it, so maybe that would make it better? It was ok but just lacked something taste wise for me. Maybe kick? I kid, I kid, but yeah, blah. Was simple and easy to make without being time consuming, though.




This is another Halloween one I make every year and let me tell you, this are f*ing amazing. God, I'm sitting here wishing I had another 26 to shove in my face. The brownie and cupcake with butter frosting is unhealthy in a way I don't fully want to think about as I ate 2 a day but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I'll go to my grave ecstatic having eaten these even if they send me there early. Takes some time to make but not a lot and are pretty simple to put together. Sometimes I have to be careful taking the wrapper off as the brownie part wants to stick to it, so be aware of that. Make these and then try not to light 10 candles in my name after tasting these sweet, sweet heavenly demons.




This was pretty good but trying to find frozen cherries took me to two grocery stores, who knew frozen cherries were not popular. I think the orange juice worked to overpower this, so I would do less next time but overall pretty good for a smoothie.




Oh my god, did I say the turkey thing was the fail of the week? I TAKE IT ALL BACK. These little shits were the worst. They take TWO DAYS to make, scraping the pith off is not as easy as they make it seem (took me almost an hour), the heating, the draining, the reheating, the sitting, aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. They are a pain in the neck to deal with but my friends, the biggest sin of all? They tasted like bitter peels when I was done. The smaller ones tasted a little better but once you chew enough to remove the sugar coating, the fact that you just spent two days trying to make a lemon peel taste like candy slaps you across the face REAL quick. I halved the recipe, thank god, but I think four were consumed (I can't even begin to tell you how I tried to lie to myself that these tasted good because of all the time and effort. I think it was Raiden walking away, he never walks away when I'm consuming something!) before I threw in the towel and dumped the rest. The time. The effort. I'll be bitter about this one for a while.

Any food goodies to share?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Review: White is for Witching

White is for Witching White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this for the Diverse Voices square for Halloween Bingo

White is for witching, a colour to be worn so that all other colours can enter you, so that you may use them.

Creepy, intriguing, mysterious, frustrating, and melancholy, White is for Witching had a very strong start that sagged a bit in the middle and then ultimately puttered out into its own enigmatic mysteries.

Miranda can’t come in today Miranda has a condition called pica she has eaten a great deal of chalk—she really can’t help herself—she has been very ill—Miranda has pica she can’t come in today, she is stretched out inside a wall she is feasting on plaster she has pica try again:

To me, the house (and any real or imagined non-human inhabitants) is the sun with Miranda being Mercury, her twin brother Eliot as Venus, and their father Earth. Secondary characters such as a friend Miranda makes at college called Ore would be a moon of Mercury and the housemaid Sade could be a comet. This is an odd way to place the characters but I don't want to spoil too much of the story but still give an idea of the story's placement of characters.

The way this story is written and structured is different, povs from mainly Miranda, Eliot, and the house (yes, the house has a pov), flow in and out with blips from Sade, Ore, and maybe a couple other minor ones I am forgetting. You need to be on your game to fully understand who is talking but even then, things can get confusing with possible unreliable narrators and not knowing what is real and mental health issues.

The horror of the story is that there is a house that is possibly haunted, maybe by a soucouyant (a witch in Caribbean folklore), maybe by a curse on the female line of a family, and maybe simply a daughter that lost her mother and is spiraling down a mental health destructive hole. This story centers on women, their strengths and weaknesses; Eliot plays a good sized role but he is still clearly on the sidelines along with his father who is ineffectual in his drowning grief for his wife.

They were naked except for corsets laced so tightly that their desiccated bodies dipped in and out like parchment scrolls bound around the middle. They stared at Miranda in numb agony. Padlocks were placed over their parted mouths, boring through the top lip and closing at the bottom. Miranda could see their tongues writhing.

The beginning had me captured with Eliot leading us into the story about how his mother died and how his sister is withering away because she seems only able to eat chalk. From Eliot's point of view it seems more like a mental health issue with occasional povs from the house and Miranda popping in to make you believe in the shiver going up your spine. The middle starts to transition to more of Miranda's point of view, her struggles with her mental health and the house, along with looks at Miranda's female ancestors.

When Miranda leaves the house for a little while is when the story started to lose me a bit. Sade and Ore get added to the story, I thought Ore was too late of an additive and even though she brought an outside look and probably worked to more definitively answer the mental health or truly haunted question, I missed the atmosphere of the house and Eliot with Miranda.

“I’m to go home. The house wants me,” she cried. The moonlight made her look blue. It made her look as if she was dead. She opened my window and sat herself on the ledge; she dangled her bare legs over it. We were four floors up.

I don't know how many have watched the tv series The Leftovers but this story gave me the same kind of feelings. Majorly intriguing start, with questions, mysteries, and interesting characters everywhere, only to maybe out write themselves and end up leaving a lot up in the air in a way that devalues the story.

As far as giving you the heebie jeebies, this will definitely do it, some scenes had me looking hard into dark corners in my house. As far as the characters sticking with me, probably not, as they didn't quite become fully fleshed out to me. I do know I would love to see this made into a limited series, Netflix get on that, the psychomanteum room scenes would be chilling good.

That was the first and last time I’ve heard my own voice.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reading Update: 30%

White is for Witching - Helen Oyeyemi

Why do people go to these places, these places that are not for them? It must be that they believe in their night vision. They believe themselves able to draw images up out of the dark. But black wells only yield black water.
Holy shit, this is creepy af. Has anyone else ever read this? It's about a twin siblings, the girl has pica (psychological disorder that drives people to eat non-nutritious things, ex. chalk), their mother was killed abroad, their father is drowning in grief, and the house seems to be haunted. 
If you saw the movie Hereditary, this kind of has the same tone with grief, sense of dread, and possible haunting horror. This line about grief was oof to the emotions: Waiting, now, for the day Lily died to be over, but for some reason that day will not stop.
I started this last night and spooked myself out a couple times. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Review: In a Class By Itself

In a Class By Itself In a Class By Itself by Sandra Brown
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I've been posting my reviews online for about 10yrs now, I know I've liked books that could have some problematic characters, actions, and storylines (This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, comes to mind) but as I get older and in our current climate, I'm really having to challenge and make decisions on what I'll go along with for the sake of the story.

Suddenly he bellowed and vaulted out of the tub. Reaching down, he closed his fist around her mane of hair and hauled her up with him. Furious, dripping water and rage in equal proportions, he shoved his angry face toward hers. His voice was surprisingly mild. She would have preferred shouting.

I wish I could say that this would have stopped me in my tracks at 25yrs old as it did at 35yrs old, but I'm not sure. All I know is that currently, it made me immediately put the book down. This is the "hero" acting towards the heroine.

They were high school sweethearts who ran away to get married but her parents forced them to get an annulment because they thought the hero was too poor and other-side of the tracks. They meet back up at their 10yr high school reunion where the hero not quite so teasingly demands a wedding night. They are being hot and heavy when the heroine tries to put the breaks on and she then tells him why she stayed after the reunion broke up at his house, the charity she helps wants to buy some land the hero owns. He gets angry because he thinks she was using her body to get a good deal on the land. He then basically holds her hostage claiming he'll sell her the land if she lives at this house as his concubine.

It's a hurt revenge angle that was seen quite often in '80s romance, along with the endless descriptions of fashion (the heroine has an eel skin purse and matching heels!). After this scene, there really was no hope for me to ever connect to the hero, he physically assaulted the heroine in my eyes. I skim read the rest of the book (I rate books whether I read fully, skim, or dnf, it is the way I keep track of books so don't @ me) and wasn't all into the heroine still wanting the hero to love her.

Everyone has their own opinions but please, let's all agree that this was assault/abuse and call it as so.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Menu Monday

Halloween goodie time!

Halloween Swirl Cream Cheese Brownies


I'm an uber dork, so I have themed months where I make desserts that can match up with some holidays. I love making Halloween desserts. These aesthetically looked nice and Halloween-y and tasted good but, I wasn't wowed. There was also more of the cream cheese layer than brownie, which was a little disappointing. Still would make a fun little party treat, though. Making and cook time easy and quick.




This turned out to be a dark horse favorite of mine. I wasn't expecting much, just a quick, easy, and simple pasta. The flavoring! I loved this one. I halved the amount of noodles but wish I didn't so I would have leftovers. Get that extra lemon for spritzing. I'll definitely making this one again and you should too! Meateaters could add shrimp or chicken easily.




The recipe calls for the chicken to be cooked on low for 8hrs but either my slow cooker runs warmer on low or they are exaggerating because chicken usually only needs about 6hrs in my crock pot. Cooking the noodles in the sauce made them extra tasty. The bf really enjoyed this one but I was just meh on it. The sauce was rich but I just wasn't wowed by the overall flavoring.




I may have posted this one before, it is an old favorite. I halve the butter and use Spicy Ranch seasoning instead of the original. It is so easy and good. Everything meshes together and the potatoes cook to perfection. You'll feel like a competent human being too as you get your meat, potatoes, and veggies :)




My biscuits didn't fluff up as much as I would have liked and I had to add flour to my gravy to thicken it up. Can tell the biscuits are low carb, lol, but I thought they were still tasty, the gravy was good too. I think this recipe works for people on the Keto diet, which seems to be insanely popular right now. Would be a tasty meal for dieters and was very easy to cook-up and probably only took a half hour. 

Any Halloween delights to share?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review: Forged in Desire

Forged in Desire Forged in Desire by Brenda Jackson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish in order to portray heroines as independent and fierce, author's didn't make them fall into the TSTL category.

Our heroine Margo was apart of jury that convicted a guy who announced to the court room that until his conviction was overturned, someone from inside the courtroom would be murdered every 72hrs. 3 people have already been murdered when our hero Striker comes into the picture to guard Margo. Is Margo happy about this and willing to take her personal safety seriously? Of course not, because that would somehow mean she is being bossed around. Ugh.

The insta-attraction also felt a little out of place as it was mentioned over and over immediately in the beginning, it felt a little off when just jumping into the whole life in danger element. I can let go of realism to a certain extent in rom suspense, but let me settle in a little first.

I also thought there was some uncomfortable casualness to some issues (rape, domestic violence) incorporated; they were jarringly, abruptly brought up, to seemingly add instant emotion. I'm needing a little more care and thought behind the why and how for the inclusion of these topics right now.

An example:
Shep, as the other inmates called him, was a lot older than most of them and was serving time for murdering his wife. It didn’t take long for anyone who hung around Shep to know just what sort of man he was: a natural-born leader—a positive one.
Not knowing at this time if Shep was guilty of the crime, reading about a man killing his wife in one breath and the next saying what a swell guy he is, was hard to read.


I thought the idea of ex-cons going into the protection business was interesting but the insta-attraction, mesh of romance and suspense not working for me, and jarring moments kept me from getting into the story. I generally liked the character dialogue and interaction writing, the components worked for me but the structure did not.

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Review: Be Mine Tonight

Be Mine Tonight Be Mine Tonight by Kathryn Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this for the Relics and Curiosities square for Halloween Bingo

Just as they all knew the legend of the Holy Grail, so had they heard of the Unholy Grail.

Pru has cancer and is looking for any way to negate her grim diagnosis, when she starts up a friendship with Marcus, they begin in earnest a search for the Holy Grail. Our hero is a 600yr old vampire who was once a knight of King Phillips of France who was also on the search for the Holy Grail. What Chapel and his group of mercenaries found instead was the Unholy Grail.

"You do not frighten me."
"I think I do, but not in the way I should."


This started off darkly intriguing with the French band of mercenaries and grail that turned them all into vampires. I read this with the anticipation of a danger filled dark and stormy search and chase, filled with villains coming out of the woodwork. Instead this turned out to be a character driven story with a slow burning romance between Pru and Chapel; read this for the romance, not the adventure.

The Silver Palm. Chapel had heard of them before in whispers and old texts. They named themselves for the silver that crossed the palm of Judas Iscariot— coin imbued with the essence of Lilith, mother of all vampires. The same silver that had been melted down to make the chalice from which he and the others had drunk.

The first half was all about the romance while the second gave us a peek into, what I imagine is the set-up between the villains and future heroes of the series. I was vastly curious about the Silver Palm villains but they only make a very brief appearance and other than their name, not much else is learned about them.

The Brotherhood of Blood.

Even though I was a little disappointed in the balance of romance and action in this one, the set-up of Chapel's friends, The Brotherhood of the Blood, being pitted against the Silver Palms is darkly intriguing. Don't get me wrong, I thought the vast majority of the romance was done well here, Pru is a tough, daring woman willing to fight for what she wants, while Chapel was a more lost in his self-loathing for what he was, but they did have a connection that was felt. I thought the ending was needlessly dragged out angst as a sudden change of heart by Chapel gave us a quick perfect bow ending. I'm going to read the next in the series because, like I said, I'm intrigued by the set-up but I'm going to hope the continuing plot thread plays more heavily.

He smiled— just for her. Every woman should know the joy of having a man be joyful just for her presence.

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Reading Update: 10%

Be Mine Tonight - Kathryn Smith


Templars. It was said that the knights had in their possession various holy relics, including items believed to have belonged to Christ Himself.

The heroine searching for the Holy Grail hoping it will cure her illness, the hero drank from the Unholy Grail and has been cursed for 600yrs. 

When I was looking for books in my tbr for this, I can't even describe how giddy I was when I read "Unholy Grail". 

So far has started off deliciously dark and stormy.

Review: Wyrd Sisters

Wyrd Sisters Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I read this for the Free Space for Halloween Bingo

She gave the guards a nod as she went through. It didn’t occur to either of them to stop her because witches, like beekeepers and big gorillas, went where they liked.

Part of the Discworld but also the Witches series, Granny, Nanny, and Magrat run and steal the show. I would describe this as kind of a Monty Python take on Macbeth and Hamlet (with a little bit of King Lear, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and probably splashes of more I missed). If you're a reader of the Discworld, you'll be ready for the little bit chaotic, humor, brick wall bleakness, and underlining too true takes on humanity.

A kingdom is made up of all sorts of things. Ideas. Loyalties. Memories. It all sort of exists together. And then all these things create some kind of life. Not a body kind of life, more like a living idea. Made up of everything that’s alive and what they’re thinking. And what the people before them thought.”

We start off with the murder of a King, who becomes a ghost, our three witches taking a baby from soldiers, the new mad King and his reveling in her evilness wife, and a wise fool. Even though the witches normally try to stay out of things, Granny decides that she needs to set things to rights and have the true heir on the throne. I enjoyed the first half, which was more Macbeth, than the magically fast forward 15 years Hamlet like second.

The duke smiled out over the forest. “It works,” he said. “The people mutter against the witches. How do you do it, Fool?”
“Jokes, nuncle. And gossip. People are halfway ready to believe it anyway. Everyone respects the witches. The point is that no one actually likes them very much.”


Shining through and underlining all these seemingly chaotic going-ons, are some excellent hot takes on propaganda and how history is recorded, by who, why they are writing events and figures the way they are, and how this influences and shapes future attitudes. This is an aspect of history that I don't think is talked about enough, questioning the motives behind historical recorders.

“But I’m his Fool,” said the Fool. “A Fool has to be loyal to his master. Right up until he dies. I’m afraid it’s tradition. Tradition is very important.”
“But you don’t even like being a Fool!”
“I hate it. But that’s got nothing to do with it. If I’ve got to be a Fool, I’ll do it properly.”
“That’s really stupid,”said Magrat.
“Foolish, I’d prefer.”


Granny is the immediate stand-out in this but the Fool is the dark horse. In all this spoofing, he has some of the most thought provoking quotes; they bordered on dystopian at times. I couldn't help reading this through a current political climate lens and it hurt at times reading the scenes with the Fool, the new King, and his wife. Even when we get the second part of the witches work to change things, it doesn't end up quite to their preference but maybe for the best? This would be a great book club selection as I highlighted the heck out of this and could have endless discussions about it.

I've mentioned before how humor is a tough one for me, so that hurt my overall enjoyment along with the frenetic/chaotic tone pushing against my more structured self. Many friends have said this is one of their favorites from the disc world and I can see why, the three witches will delight you, I felt the second half let them down a bit. Even though things may not have worked out exactly like Granny wanted, I leave you with some inspiration from her,

Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points. Genuine anger was one of the world’s great creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn’t mean you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it develop a working head, let it drown whole valleys of the mind and then, just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard stream of wrath power the turbines of revenge.

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Reading Update: 10%


He looked her straight in the eye and said, “I was in jail serving time for manslaughter.”

Probably not in the top ten list of things I'd want my new hot bodyguard to say when I ask him what he did before joining a protection agency.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: The Mysterious Madam Morpho

The Mysterious Madam Morpho The Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I read this for the Creepy Carnivals square for Halloween Bingo

Criminy’s Clockwork Carnival was in full swing.

This is a novella, so the shorter page count (100ish pgs) hampers character and plot depth a bit, but I think the author did a fantastic job with what she had. This is listed in the Blud series as coming before Book 1 – Wicked as They Come but as the main couple from Wicked is already together, I wasn't sure why. Even if familiar or not, you'll get an introduction and refresher on the various characters that make up Master Criminy's Clockwork Carnival. The world building leaves a little bit to be desired as it isn't fully explained how Blud people and animals (vampire like creatures) exist in this other world; it is like Victorian time period Earth but not quite.

She stared down into the nest of books and hidden miracles. Before, the trunk had held hope. Now, in the wrong hands, it held evidence enough to hang her.
“If you’ll trust me, I think I know how best to keep your charges safe.”
Their eyes met over the trunk. She felt as if she stood on a precipice, one step away from freedom or doom. “I find that I trust you, Mr. Murdoch.”
“God help you, Madam Morpho.”


You'll feel for Imogen as you learn her story, Mr. Murdoch less so as I don't think he ever fully emerged from the shadows and fully showed up on the pages. He builds the clockworks and mechanics for the caravan carnival, I would have liked to have seen him interact more with his creations and what was the story behind his partner/friend Vil? They were a calm, cool, and tentative couple and I liked how they worked together but, again, the page count wasn't quite there to build their relationship.

Arm-in-arm, they watched Torno lift his weights, his strength defying physics thanks to Criminy’s magic. Emerlie juggled hedgehogs and rode her unicycle high up on the wire, her lime and magenta costume glowing against the velvety night sky. Next up came Abilene and Eblick and the two-headed Bludman, each waiting behind a curtain to amuse and entertain and, in the twins’case, terrify. A collection of bizarre creatures floating in large jars of liquid was surrounded by a crowd so deep that Imogen caught only a glimpse of the horrors within. They passed Letitia in her turban, telling fortunes in a sequin-spangled tent.

Even though the overall world building was somewhat absent, the immediate caravan carnival world was delightfully detailed and created. There was a sense of unknown, magic, wildness, freedom, jovial companionship, and troubles. I wish I could see the shows.

“Her name is Madam Morpho,” Henry said sharply. “And she doesn’t speak to the riff-raff.”

The main story thread comes from Imogen on the run from her former boss and hiding out in the caravan. I thought the sense of danger and romance was eclipsed by the descriptions of the people and clockworks that made up the caravan carnival. I also thought the magic and wonder of the butterflies Imogen stole got lost in the mix, they could have brought more sense of wonder if utilized more. The ending brought an extremely gruesome conclusion to the issue of Imogen being in danger. I suggest reading this in October to appreciate and enjoy the grisly ending, the spooky vampire like creatures, and the sense of magic and wonder.

“Imogen,” he said, voice ragged as he stepped closer to her, his feet brushing the wide swing of her skirts. “Are you aware that I haven’t seen a woman this close in more than six years?”
“That seems excessive,” she murmured. “Are we such fierce creatures?”


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