Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: Beyond Risk

Beyond Risk Beyond Risk by Connie Mann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 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.

Beyond Risk starts off the Florida Wildlife Warriors series dropping the reader into relationship drama and murder mystery. There are a lot of characters to keep track off and I have to say, I didn't quite get a handle on who was who until the second half of the story. Our heroine Charlee is a former Fish and Wildlife Officer who is starting to take over her parents' business of selling outback supplies and offering guided kayak rides down the rapids. Last year a teenage boy was killed on one of her guided trips and now on the anniversary, another teenager is almost drowned and shot. Last years accident is starting to look like murder and the murderer is back.

Along with Charlee, we have her two big brothers Pete (cop) and Josh (Fish & Wildlife Officer), her younger sister Natalie, an ex-boyfriend who doesn't want to be one, an employee who has a big crush on her, another younger male who has a crush on her (or at least her cupcakes), the two different families of the teenage victims, a father and mother (recovering from a stroke), and last but not least, our hero Hunter. There are some other minor characters but you can tell by that cast list what I was talking about a lot of who to keep track of.

The story does start off right the bat but I checked twice to make sure this wasn't second in the series or if I had missed some prologue story. Charlee and Hunter's friendship starts and develops before this book starts, so when we come in, the ground work is already laid and feelings have already developed, they now have full blown crushes and want to get together. This was disappointing as that is why I read romance, to witness and enjoy the building blocks of romance. The case work of putting the pieces together, racing to rescue everyone of Charlee's family members (dad isn't targeted I guess, but everyone else has danger moments), and searching for a possible murderer; it all started to feel a bit repetitive.

The chemistry between the leads felt pretty dry, Charlee doesn't know if she can trust her instincts towards Hunter. This started to feel very forced as Hunter constantly is great to her and she is always thinking how his actions put her agency first (there is an ending scene to cause some friction between them to angst this up). Hunter has the ever present storyline of not feeling good enough for Charlee, even though he only really pushes her away twice and then actively is trying to be with her. This was fairly clean overall, their sex scene goes by pretty quick and is cloaked in water rafting metaphors, think something about riding the rapids. They came off as probably would work in real life couple but not particularly romantic, inspiring, or fun to read about.

The murder mystery simply had too many characters along with their backstories to explain motivations, it was confusing and not all that believable in certain parts. There were obvious red herring characters but as they faded into the background or were left abandoned, I couldn't help but think what was the point of them as they only clogged up the story. Charlee supposedly has this great relationship with her siblings but they never really interact in many scenes, leaving an empty hole in feeling their relationship. I did enjoy the one or two scenes she had with her mother, these were heartfelt and added to the emotional feel of the story and brought depth to both characters.

Characters felt a bit like they were standing still as the story weaved around them, instead of feeling like they were a part of and guided the story. The building of the romance and relationship between Charlee and Hunter seemed to happened before the reader is brought in and some secondary characters clogged the story instead of added to it. This was pretty fast paced and if reading about two characters who like each other while stop and go driving around trying to figure out a possible murder mystery, with some crocodiles, a snake, and the hero calling the heroine cher (many, many times) making appearances, there is plenty of that here for you.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Reading Update: 50%


His tenderness undid her. Where did such a hard guy find such soft words?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Review: The Duke I Once Knew

The Duke I Once Knew The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 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.

Though she loved her family dearly , she yearned for something more. Something of her own choosing.

First in the Unlikely Duchesses series, we have a heroine wanting to make a change. Abby was the surprise baby, her older siblings were already out of the house as she grew up. She ends up taking care of her older parents, missing a debut in London, and eventually landing into a role as caregiver for her nieces and nephews. It is when her family is arguing over who gets to have her that Abby decides she would like some control and freedom in her life. She decides to become a governess for the younger sister of the Duke of Rothwell, who just so happens to be her childhood love.

Her rapt gaze followed the dusting of black hair that narrowed to a line, trailing downward across his flat belly to disappear inside his breeches . He looked every inch the wicked rake that young ladies were warned to avoid.
Thirty-year-old spinsters ought to know better, too.


This story was filled with cliches and tropes that help make up the backbone of romance and while they provided the, somewhat, requisite sweet and romantic moments, it also gave this a been there and done that feel. You won't get a fresh take or be particularly inspired by this story but you will like the heroine, she saves this from getting the mediocre tag and raised the rating from two to three stars. Her family is not malicious in their selfishness or obliviousness to Abby possibly having her own wants and needs but they are still selfish and oblivious. The author did a wonderful job infusing and relaying Abby's emotions to the reader, her quiet determination and fear from stepping out on her own. There wasn't villainous family members or a one eighty change from Abby, she still wanted to be in her family's lives but didn't want theirs to be hers. I thought towards the later half we lost a little bit of Abby as the focus shifted to the hero, Max, and the tired “Don't love because it can weaken you”.

It was an unsettling thing for a man to question the state of his life. Especially when only a few days ago, he’d found it to be perfectly satisfactory.

The cliches I mentioned before, really hit hard on Max. He is the child of a marriage where his father loved his mother more than she loved him and he now feels he has to shun all love connections. There is a Misunderstanding that has him hardening his childhood heart against Abby but other than a quick plot trick, it is discussed (Thank-you!) and while not completely solved, figured out enough to not be a problem between them anymore in the first half. Abby does outshine him but he also doesn't ever break out of the duke, rake, and scared of love mold; he just isn't interesting or memorable. Their sex scenes do come in the second half but as there wasn't much emotional build up to them, they still ended up feeling abrupt. As a consequence, I can't say I was ever too invested in their romance or caught any sparks from them.

Along with the sweet, fun, and romantic cliches and tropes, there were some very tired ones. There is a “villainous” woman who wants Max and plays into the one dimensional social climbing, jealous other woman. This used to be a favorite of romance but it has been tending to move away from it and at this time, I much rather see female friendships or at least villainous women with some depth (in a time period where it was tough for women, this can be written as intelligent and powerful stratagem).

All in all, this had a sweet inspiriting heroine, Basic Ben hero, tired other woman character, and some possible interest in reading their stories secondary characters.

Oh, hell, why deny it? He was in love with Abby. And nothing in his life had ever shaken him so much.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

70%


“You oughtn’t be here, Max … I mean, my lord duke. Nor should I. If you’ll excuse me…” 
He took a step to block her path . A suggestive smile tipped one corner of his mouth. Reaching out, he brushed his fingers over her cheek, leaving a trail of sparks. “I’m exactly where I want to be. Aren’t you?”

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Reading Update: 10%


The Duke I Once Knew - Olivia Drake

Never in her life had she taken such a bold step. Never had she abandoned her role of caregiver to the family. Never had she indulged her desire to earn a wage of her own. 
The prospect of leaving the confines of her childhood home felt both exhilarating and terrifying.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Review: Blindsided

Blindsided Blindsided by Gwen Hernandez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How could he not admire a woman who understood camouflage?"

A Marine scout sniper working now as a security expert and a hacker who has tried to go white hat from her childhood black hat days.

I loved this heroine, she was smart, not only in her computer abilities but understanding how the hero was better equipped to handle certain situations and listened to him. However, there wasn't a lot of that happening as she was the one who dictated a lot of the efforts to help them out of their bind.

The gist of the story is that her employer has clients that hire them to find security leaks in their computer systems, except the employer is lying about the companies hiring them and takes the weaknesses the heroine gives him and uses it to steal information from the companies. The hero is hired by the employer in a set-up situation as he tells him he thinks the heroine is the one stealing from the companies but is really a big set-up to make it look like the hero is helping the heroine.

I promise you, it makes sense in the beginning and you'll think the employer is an evil genius but the reader doesn't get much insight to the villain and the suspense side gets pushed to the side too much in the middle. Basically, the suspense side started off very strong but faded away and rushed at the end.

This couple was great in that the hero and heroine meshed super well and it was understandable that such an accomplished guy like the hero would be a little rattled about how competent the heroine was and how her skills were more important in this situation, he gets rattled but he also found her hot because of this and I find him hot because of that. Along with the suspense side, I thought their romance stalled a little in the middle, even though the story slows to focus in on it more. I thought the middle meandered or slowed too much overall.

I'm definitely going to find the other two in the series and read them as this author intrigued me with her suspense writing and different characteristics to her characters.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Review: Kiss Me at Christmas

Kiss Me at Christmas Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read

The past twenty-four hours with him had been unbelievable. Not only had he nearly been killed, but when she’d treated the man for a pistol wound, of all things, she’d been lusting after him like a common street doxy.

The leads, Daffin and Regina started off cute and sweet. I really liked Regina as she was a wonderful combination of vulnerable and courageous. When she is talking with Daffin you could feel how much she liked him and how nervous that would make her but then she would charge on bravely, such a great character. Daffin was interesting as a Bow Street Runner but towards the end he started to get a bit redundant with the "I'm not good enough for her" old stand-by.

The first half was a really good beginning but the second half didn't expand on it enough for me with growing depth in their relationship, the murder mystery had a villain seemingly out of nowhere and a very rushed ending, past and future hero/heroines clogged up the ending, and I was wanting a little bit more of a holiday feel.

Overall though, I liked it as it had some cute moments, humor popping in, and a heartfelt heroine.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Reading Update: 20%


Kiss Me at Christmas - Valerie Bowman

She needed to set this to rights. “When we met last summer, I felt we had a connection, and I think you did, too.”
He arched a brow. “That, my lady, is a dangerous statement, and I make a habit of not commenting on dangerous statements.”


More comments & quotes - Buddy Read

Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: Not the Duke’s Darling

Not the Duke’s Darling Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 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.

First in the new Greycourt series, Hoyt starts us off with a spot of danger as our heroine, Freya, is on the run from some men and finds herself face to face with her childhood crush, Christopher, but who she also blames for her brother's downfall. There's some background foundation to the hows and whys of where are characters are at in life. The main thread is Freya's brother, Ran, tried to elope with Julian Greycourt's sister, she ended up dying (we aren't given specifics), and Christopher just stood by while Ran was beaten bad enough he ended up losing his right hand. Ran, Julian, and Christopher were bestfriends but this fractured their bond and they all separated, the other members of the family cut ties all with each other also.

The Wise Women had long been hunted by Dunkelders— nasty, superstitious fanatics who knew about the Wise Women and believed they were witches who should be burned.

While the ill fated elopement gave us the underlining emotional tones, the Wise Women that Freya is the Macha (spy) for, gives us the suspense as she is trying to stop a law in the House of Lords that gives free reign to declaring women witches along with her trying to hide from members of the Dunkelders, men who hunt “witches”. These are the two main plot threads but there are numerous other ones, some slight and others weighty, that at times only clog an already full story. Christopher has PTSD induced anxiety from his time in India, we get povs from an old friend of Freya's, Messalina Greycourt, who's storyline looks to be set-up for the next in the series, an imprisoned wife, and a whole slew of secondary characters that get little mini-plots of their own. I like full stories but none of these threads or plots were fully fleshed out and it left a lot feeling shallow and dull.

This, this was what he’d been missing without even realizing it: genuine conversation. Genuine feeling.

The romance and chemistry between Christopher and Freya was severely lacking for me; I had more fond feelings for the relationship between him and his dog. Hoyt has been a favorite with word play, sexual and taunting, but these two never sparked; it felt like he just found her attractive out of nowhere, while she relied on childhood feelings and the color of his pretty blue eyes. While their bedroom scenes didn't start ridiculously early, besides kissing once or twice, when they do start to get hot and heavy, Freya's first move is to give him a blowjob, because of course. The latter second half brought more sexual scenes but I almost found myself skimming them as their emotional connection wasn't there.

He might be a duke now, but she was a de Moray woman , small, swift, and above all ruthless.

My biggest disappoint and what frustrated me the most was that Hoyt introduced these interesting ideas, plots, or instances but they all happen off script. The intense ill fated elopement? Happens before this story takes place, no prologue to introduce, show, and explain the basis for the whole the series. Christopher's time in India? No flash back scenes to help immerse the reader into the emotional turmoil of his PTSD or his relationship with is first wife. Freya spending time with the Wise Women? It takes an absurd amount of time for the reader to even get a full explanation of who and what the Wise Women are, let alone the author writing and showing scenes of Freya interacting with the women. This could have been a great emotional fulfillment moment of showing women taking care of one another, bucking the system in a way they could, and female bonding while providing a solid and understandable reason for why this group was so important to Freya and why she might shy away from marrying Christopher.

I missed Hoyt's normally atmospheric writing, I did not feel the time period at all, and the sexual heat between the leads that she has a knack for expressing. This honestly felt kind of generic and with dukes popping up everywhere, I'm not sure I could pick this book out of a lineup. The second book is set-up here and with two leads that at least seem like they have some spark, I will give it a try but am hoping for more showing than telling and emotion.


***************************************************
*Whimpers*



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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Reading Update: 40%


He was a man, both good and bad and everything in between. A man who made her very aware that she was a woman of blood and bone and wants.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Review: Not Quite a Husband

Not Quite a Husband Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



This comes close to visually representing how I felt reading this.

I'll let you soak that in for a sec.



What stupid children they had been, to cause each other such pain and then to hold on to their wounds so fiercely.

The book page count for this claims it is 341 pgs, my friends, I blew through this like it was an author newsletter free story. The first half felt like one huge exposed raw nerve. There are three main characters, Bryony, Leo, and India. The research! The scenery! The setting! I saw some reviews claiming they didn't like how much detail the author went into but I salivated over finally feeling the time and place of a historical story.

The writing and feel of this is a bit different from most in this genre, I can't find the right words to describe it but we get an intense focus on Bryony and Leo with cut-ins to their past experiences that gives you the hows and whys of what they are feeling and how they've reached this place in their relationship. The time duration is actually pretty short of what we get from them together in the present time but with memories from the past relayed, it felt like they were together longer.

While the first half is a raw exposed nerve, the second half is the balm being applied to the wound, done slowly and carefully. The second half slowed down a little bit for me as Bryony's past and why her personality is the way it is never quite jived or fit for me. Young and impressible is going to have to extremely work for you here and carry any good will you'll want to show Bryony. Bryony is a tough one to crack and she is all those characteristics we see in some broody heroes, rigid, harsh, still waters run deep, and etc. Even though her personality was a little cold and I kind of head tilted at the reason given for it, I was still able to stick with the character.

Now, the reason I'm giving this three stars is because of their sexual relationship. Leo has loved Bryony for a loooong time and just thinking about his memories, thoughts, feelings, and actions makes my eyes want to water, But, the majority of their sex scenes (mostly remembered but also a present time one) had me cringing away. I fall more on the side of reading romance for the sexual tension but, for me, sex is an intricate part of a relationship and theirs was off-putting to say the least. I'm going to put in spoiler tags why I cringed ..
(view spoiler)

So, given how I felt about their sexual relationship, this couple had a cringe worthy feel to them and I couldn't feel the gushy fuzzies that put couples near and dear to my heart. However, like I said, on the other side of the coin, the writing is superb, addicting, and raw but when I will think back on this story, a cringe will probably be my first reaction but in the complexity of my own thoughts and feelings, second will be watery eyes over Leo's feelings and some of his actions.



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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Reading Update: 50%

Not Quite a Husband - Sherry Thomas
Damn, this story is raw.




He’d loved her since he was four feet high. Children would be lovely, of course, but children were not essential. She was essential. She had been alone her entire life. He would see to it that she was never alone again.

*******

The Castle. He’d seen this expression far too many times during their marriage. The Castle was Bryony drawing up the gates and retreating deep into the inner keep. And he’d always hated it. Marriage meant that you shared your goddamn castle. You didn’t leave your poor knight of a husband circling the walls trying to find a way in.


********

Ever since he understood what sex was he’d wanted it with her, the girl who kept everything inside, who ached and yearned and mourned in complete solitude.


********

He had choices, and each time he chose to accept the one invitation that placed him in the same country as her, so that help, should she need it, didn’t have to be summoned across oceans.

Review: Garland of Straw

Garland of Straw Garland of Straw by Stella Riley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

It was never going to be anything other than it was. The route to being rid of him.’

Second in Stella Riley's Roundheads and Cavaliers series, we're once again immersed into political, societal, and familial drama during the second part of the English Civil War (1640s). The first in the series (The Black Madonna) was about the build up and first part while also introducing us to three families and other assorted characters that represented sides of the war. While the first installment mainly followed a Roundhead family along with an outsider's perspective, our heroine is a Cavalier and forced to marry a Roundhead.

While in the first, I thought the author had too many irons in the fire that lead to a somewhat fractured story, she nails the inclusion of real historical events and people with her fictional characters. Our hero Gabriel is a Colonel in the Roundhead army and thus, we are given an amazing inclusion and relay of the events of the day.

‘So that,’ concluded Venetia, ‘is it. I’m required to forget the man I’ve been betrothed to for five years in order to marry a base-born Roundhead usurper.

If you read the first in the series, you'll remember Venetia and her betrothal to Ellis Brendan. She's a heroine that will make you feel like she takes stubbornness and obstinate actions to the next level for the majority of the story. Her forced hand and lack of control in instances of vital importance are worth remembering but mirrored against Gabriel's strong, steadfast, and generous attitude, will have you feeling very frustrated with her. Their romance is very slow burning and the turmoil swirling around them are much more front and center; this is historical fiction with a thread of romance. That is not to say that their romance isn't inspired, Gabriel is a hero you'll fall in love with, just that I couldn't help reveling in all the historical drama taking place.

Said Algernon Sidney, ‘The King can be tried by no Court; and no man can be tried by this Court.’
‘I tell you,’ replied Cromwell, ‘we will cut off his head with the Crown upon it.’


The way the author relayed history and wove it into a story that was entertaining along with intellectually stimulating deserves a standing ovation. I was lost into the various different factions of the Army, Parliament, rising up of Levellers, and various others fighting for control, and bringing and introducing new ideals that pop up in our government today. This was living breathing history that directly shaped and impacts us today. I felt the passion of Free-born John, the self-righteousness of Cromwell, the weariness and fear of the people, and the monumental moment of trying a King.

Our heroine and hero have a bit of side story and drama but I thought the author did a better job, than the first, of integrating it into the overall and spotlight deserving Army and Parliament battles of the Civil War. Books like this is how you reach people who think history is boring, they'll learn, it will spark thinking, and be entertained. I can't wait to read on in the series to follow along with these characters Riley has created to see what becomes of them, not mention England's growth struggle.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

50%


Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

‘It’s starting all over again, isn’t it? The taking of sides and being at odds with your neighbours … and the killing.  And for what?  So the Parliament and the Army and the King can go on squabbling endlessly amongst themselves while the rest of us suffer?’

Monday, November 26, 2018

15%

Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley
‘Nothing can convince me why any man born in England should not have his voice in elections,’ snapped Rainsborough hotly. ‘All Englishmen are subject to English laws – and the foundation of all law lies in the people.  Where does it say “I am a poor man – therefore I shall be oppressed”?  And I would know what we have fought for, if not for our laws and liberties!’

Reading Update: 5%


Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

‘So that,’ concluded Venetia, ‘is it.  I’m required to forget the man I’ve been betrothed to for five years in order to marry a base-born Roundhead usurper.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: Under Pressure

Under Pressure Under Pressure by Lori Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Any review I've given Foster could probably be cut and pasted here. It started off very promising with a whiff of HelenKay Dimon hero and situation but the attraction started immediately and the story just kind of ho-hummed from there. I liked it but my god have I read this story over and over before.

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Duke

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor
My rating: 2 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.

He’d been desired before, but never with that look. She thought him noble.
He stumbled back a step.


Fourth in the Cavensham Heiresses series, we finally get Paul Barstowe, the Duke of Southart's story. He is the friend of the previous heroes of the series who has become the outcast due to circumstances out of his control and of his own making. Our heroine Daphne is the younger sister to one of the previous heroes and she has always held a tendre for Paul. When Daphne ends up accidentally being home alone during Christmas time and desperately searching for her stolen diary, Paul ends up partnering her on the adventures.

Even if you haven't read the previous books in the series, there wouldn't much of a problem starting here. The author does a good job of relaying the how and why of past relationships, there would be a missed deeper connection but Daphne and Paul's relationship is the main focus of the story and that starts in this book. Paul's history is a little bit of wrong place, wrong time with some ill gotten luck, his father was cold to him and while he had a loving relationship with his brother, that brother is now deceased. His two closest friends are still wary and cold to him but since obtaining the title of Duke, he has been working hard to make something of himself.

Daphne is surrounded by happy marriages and is starting to get tired of hiding in the shadows as a way to not cause problems as she didn't want to upset anyone after her sister died. When she gets left alone, she finds it a perfect opportunity to get her life in order. I liked the premise of these two coming together, enjoyed a few flashbacks to how she and Paul interacted in their younger years but the physical attraction started immediately and was the focus throughout the vast majority of the story.

I feel like I'm beginning to notice a trend in historical romance where there is an insistence to feature blowjobs. The first one featured here isn't between the hero and heroine but the heroine's desire to watch and want and the heroine's second sexual encounter with the hero where she does the act, felt out of place in this. I, personally, read historicals for a different feel on the romance between the heroine and hero, I like the focus to be more on the words or feelings and not physical acts in the bedroom. I'm not saying this can never work for me but, here, it didn't.

I also like to read historicals for the time period feel and as Daphne and Paul never venture from about three locations, her house, a gaming hall, and his house, I couldn't even tell you within ten years when this story was supposed to take place. I like character driven stories, with the thread of wanting to find Daphne's diary, this story was mainly focused on Daphne and Paul but they never ventured from Paul finding Daphne gorgeous but constantly and morosely thinking he wasn't good enough for her and Daphne wanting Paul, with her wanting to stem only from him being nice to her when she was younger and his good looks. There was also a lot of repetitiveness, with Daphne being close to TSTL with insisting on putting herself in obviously dangerous (reputation wise) situations, Paul objecting but then eventually going along with her, so much rinse and repeat.

There just wasn't enough meat to this story to keep me actively involved, I felt like I was passively reading because all our main characters did was lust (kind of lukewarm meandering lust, at that) and our hero was a little bit of an Eeyore about how he wasn't good enough. I've read the first in the series (debut) by this author and thought she had good promise and then really enjoyed the second, but this one felt like a lackluster phone in. I do, however, find the cover to still be as gorgeous as ever.

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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?