Sunday, March 31, 2019

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Review: Can't Forget You

Can't Forget You Can't Forget You by Rachel Lacey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hero broke up with heroine after high school without a goodbye to join the army. A suicide bomber ends his career and he comes back state side to run an adventure company with two buddies. The hero and heroine end up having to buy a parcel of land together and reconnect from there.

This was so lifeless and had a couple paint-by-numbers points, highschool love, PTSD from military service, and abandonment issues from parents. Then had a couple random thrown in points, heroine suffering from mysterious illness, turns out to be (view spoiler), and (view spoiler) None of the random points are really fleshed out, especially the last one, a lot of what was the point, story elements going on.

The romance and relationship development between the two was seriously lacking, they just kind of start meeting up and then having sex again. This was a lifeless story that felt like it was just going through the motions.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Review: When a Duchess Says I Do

When a Duchess Says I Do When a Duchess Says I Do by Grace Burrowes
My rating: 3 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.

The worst betrayals came from the closest ties.

The series Rogues to Riches follows the Wentworth family and their sudden inheritance of a Dukedom. Duncan Wentworth is cousin to the new duke and has traveled for many years as tutor to the duke's younger brother Stephen. He's a bit of a mysterious figure as he hugged the walls more in the first book (My One and Only Duke) and is a very quiet and contained person. Here he is sent to one of the dukedom's failing estates and told if he can't make it profitable in one year, Quinn (the duke) will require him to make it his permanent post. For how restless Duncan is, this feels like a punishment but is really a set-up by Quinn and his wife to help Duncan finally settle, calm, and come to terms with whatever past issues are making him run.

Matilda is on the run and ends up rescuing Duncan from a pair of poachers, prompting him to offer a meal and bed for the night. Matilda plays her cards pretty close to the vest but the reader knows she is on the run from her fiance and possibly, father, after she discovered some traitorous correspondence in her father's office. Matilda has traveled all over the world with her father who hunts for antiques and paintings, she was very briefly married to a duke and when Lt. Colonel Lord Parker hints at wanting a stable, stationary home, her dream, she accepts his proposal. Fearing Parker saw her with the traitorous correspondence, she runs, in fear of being hung for a traitor or forced to testify against her father and see him hung for a traitor.

How long since Duncan had noticed a woman? Truly noticed that the curve of her cheek and the curve of her eyebrow---the same graceful arc---both begged to be traced by his fingers?

As the reader only has Matilda's interpretation of the events that led to her flight, we're left in the dark, giving the story a little bit of a mystery feel. The full mystery part of the story isn't revealed until the latter half of the book, some readers may start to suspect Matilda's interpretation of certain characters before then. POVs from Parker and Matilda's father begin to be added as the story goes on, which brings a better well rounded view to the reader. Parker, somewhat, fell flat to me as his character was uneven and Matilda's father wasn't quite flushed out enough for me. However, the three characters that work for/with Matilda's father, Carlu, Tomas, and Petras, practically cry out for their own series.

Duncan's baggage also isn't fully revealed until the second half, although, there are some hints to his story that readers will probably have a decent idea to what caused his disillusionment. One of the strong suits of Burrowes is her talent in writing families. This could be read as a standalone but if you read the first, you'll enjoy how Quinn and his heroine make appearances and Stephen's relationship with Duncan is still featured, I did miss seeing the “Valkyrie” sisters. Bringing the relationship Duncan has with these characters to the forefront at times, envelopes the reader into this world Burrowes has created, it makes reading the book and series so much more whole and fulfilling.

Heaven help her, he could make a chess game of a kiss.

Chess is a running theme in this story, all the characters trying to position themselves for best personal outcome, while still trying to protect certain pieces. This tone gives the story a very deliberate pace, this is a slower moving story and one you sink into, instead of gobble up. I did think the romance was pretty quiet, these two maneuver around and then just kind of seep into each other; there's no loud chemistry explosion. They were sweet but not particularly inspiring, I wished for a little more life from Duncan and Matilda, although, there is something to be said for thoughtful loving.

I thought at the end, the villain collapsed extremely easily and the mystery/danger Matilda seemed or thought to be in, ended up feeling weakly constructed. As I said, the romance was quiet between these two but sweet. The strength of the novel was simply living with the Wentworths for a while, this family is so well drawn and charismatic, I'll be on the lookout for the next time I get to visit them and get to experience another one falling in love.


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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

35%

When a Duchess Says I Do (Rogues to Riches #2) - Grace Burrowes
"Come," Mr. Wentworth said, rising to put his full glass in her hand. " 'He who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.' "
"Samuel Johnson," Matilda replied, loving the familiar feel of the glass against her palm. "Dr. Johnson made no provision for what girls, women, or heroines should imbibe."
"Perhaps he didn't feel qualified to expound on the subject, or perhaps"---Mr. Wentworth could pour brandy and aim a curious gaze in Matilda's direction---"he knew that women can be heroines without the fortification of spirits."

Reading Update: Page 1


Still getting over my sickness, so soup for lunch today. Can't wait to start reading about Matilda and Duncan!

When A Duchess Says I Do pre-order link

Easy Thai Shrimp Soup recipe

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Review: The Takeover Effect

The Takeover Effect The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.7 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.

Mina had seen her fair share of beautiful men, but the Singh brothers were in a whole different league. They were like the Punjabis her mother warned her about when she was a child. Their edges weren’t just rough, they were serrated. Built, with smooth dark skin and light brown eyes, their masculinity was barely restrained in custom-fit suits.
Especially Hemdeep Singh.


The first in the Singh Family series, The Takeover Effect, brings together the eldest brother Hemdeep and Mina, a lawyer sent to assess if Bharat, Inc (Singh family company) should take a buy-out from WTA. This was a story full of corporate espionage, insta-spark, and family drama. Ms. Sharma created such a fascinating and emotional world that I was instantly sucked in.

Spending time with Mina meant engaging in a constant battle of wit and lust.

We start off being introduced to Hem and learn that he left as CEO of Bharat to start his own firm. The catalyst was due to family pressure to get married and how he saw that as damaging his relationship with his now ex-girlfriend. When he gets a call that his father had a heart-attack and there is some shady dealings going down by the Bharat board to accept a buy-out, he rushes home to stand with his other two brothers, Ajay and Zail. Hem makes a strong impression right off the bat and I loved his take charge attitude. He's instantly attracted to Mina when he sees her and while their business relationship worked as a credible reason to keep them apart, thus providing some steamy can't quite act on it lust, I would have liked to see more of a gradual mentally falling in love. I also thought that in the second half we lost Hem a little bit, Mina's strong character comes on and instead of them shining together, he fades into the background more. I did, though, immensely enjoy his personality of strong and protective but also sweet and caring.

She’d do anything to get her mother’s company back, except lose her integrity.

Mina's mother died in a car accident when she was younger and since then has worked to be able to eventually take back the law firm she thinks her mother's brothers pushed her mother out of, causing her drinking. Her uncle has been pressuring her to agree to an arranged marriage, claiming he'll make her an equity partner if she does. When her uncle comes to her with another deal, this time to unethically and illegally present a biased opinion on a buyout report, she knows it is time to start taking action against her uncle. Mina was a fantastic heroine, she was strong, capable, smart, funny, cheeky, and had that hint of vulnerability that creates just the right amount of empathy, sympathy, and endearing. I loved how she more than matched Hem's strong personality, they absorb each other's emotions instead of having them bounce off. I liked the friendship she seemed to have with her friend Rajneet but I wanted them to appear more together; Rajneet was a defined character but also a pretty clear series baiting one, too. I also think Mina's relationship with her father could have been flushed out more, he's pretty absent for most of the story to then come forward at the end to provide what is supposed to be a heavy emotional moment.

“Hiriye, I’m a sardar. A Punjabi Sikh man. Do you really think I can resist a challenge?”
“And I’m a sardarni,” she snapped. “Do you really think I’ll put up with your bullshit?”
He leaned forward and stole a quick kiss. “Challenge accepted.”


These two were such a well matched couple, I loved them but I also wanted more. Like I mentioned, it was pretty much insta from Hem, with Mina a little emotionally slow to get there and being the one to recognize the professional problems. The professional issues worked very well to hold off the ultimate physical insta-lusting, giving our couple more time to interact on the pages before the sex scenes started, something I, personally, appreciate. I did think the sex scenes got a bit over-the-top at times, let's just say I'm happy about all the chai they are drinking because of all the screaming going on. They had such delectable back and forth, I craved more scenes of them just being together.

“Mai tuhade lai a ri aahn.” I’m coming for you.

The corporate espionage plot was intriguing and this may be a weird thing to point out but I liked how the author mentioned/incorporated all the technology (tablets, etc) that would be such common instruments for business people, gave it a sleek and actual contemporary feel. I did cringe at times when Mina's uncle's weight comes into mention (paunch, neck rolls, sweaty) in such a way that it felt like it was supposed to highlight his villain status, this is old imagery that needs to go away. I also thought, there was some unneeded drama at the end where Hem had some slightly out of character angst. It was pretty quick and quickly dealt with but I just didn't feel the ending needed that. However, the conversation between Hem and his father provided lovely heartfelt emotion.

This was an excellent start to the Singh Family series and because of how vivid the world and stirring the characters were that the author created, I craved a Danielle Steel-esque page count. The corporate espionage takes pages away from Hem and Mina more than I would have liked but they're still worth the price of admission. Bharat, Inc isn't out of the woods yet and with a cliffhanger involving that thread, I can't wait for the second in the series to see Ajay and Zail (or perhaps their cousin Brahm?) find a heroine (or hero) to more than match them.

They linked fingers and tangled limbs. “It was worth the wait,” she said softly.
Hem chuckled. “That was just the start.”


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Monday, March 25, 2019

30%


The Takeover Effect: The Singh Family Trilogy - Nisha Sharma

“Want a whiskey?”
“No, a martini. I don’t think I’ve ever really tried whiskey. Maybe in college once, but it always smelled too strong for me.” The pained looks of horror that flashed across both Hem’s and Zail’s faces were almost comical. 
“What about trying it under the guidance of a whiskey expert?” Hem said. He pressed a hand to his chest. “I can take care of you.”
“I’m sure you can,” she murmured.
 His eyes narrowed on hers, and her breath caught at the hunger she saw reflected in them. “Are you asking for something more than whiskey, Mina Kohli?”

I'm starting to get bitter about all the overcooked burgers I've had to endure at my white family gatherings, this is another book where the food talk has me Googling/Yelping. #MangoPickle

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


I'm just getting over the flu, so I didn't actually get to make a dessert or meal purposefully to enjoy when I start reading this, but I made this Chili Mango Zesty Quinoa Salad a little while ago and loved it. Mango and cayenne are my peanut butter and jelly :) 
Hoping the book has some sweet and spice to it too!

Review: Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

Women Warriors: An Unexpected History Women Warriors: An Unexpected History by Pamela D. Toler
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.

In fact, women have always gone to war: fighting to avenge their families, defend their homes (or cities or nation), win independence from a foreign power, expand their kingdom's boundaries, or satisfy their ambition.

In 2017, when the “Birka Man”, in fact, turned out to be the “Birka Woman”, I felt like women all over the world shouted a “Yes!” collectively in euphoria and then simmered with rage over how our contributions over time have be left out of the annuals of history. With Women Warriors, Toler delivers a world wide smattering of women fighting at the head of and in the trenches with men.

Njinga was forty-two years old when she succeeded her brother as the ngola of Ndongo. In December 1657, when she was nearly seventy-five, she led her army into battle for the last time.

While I enjoyed the vastness of time periods, cultures, and geographical places the author touched on and named women warriors for, the organization kept me from fully placing, absorbing, or delving into these women. The first chapter is titled “Don't Mess with Mama” and the second is “Her Father's Daughter”. The women featured in these chapters are essentially categorized by their children, their father, and how that relationship defined their battle cry. This gives a new spin on viewing these women and helps to showcase the vastness of women's contributions but I'm more of a linear and structured reader. I would have enjoyed a more time line driven categorization, this helps with placement and remembering who was where and when. It wasn't until chapter seven, titled “In Disguise” that I thought the chapter had more cohesiveness and I enjoyed how the women were grouped by more interpersonal notes. Although, I still thought this chapter had issues because of the author's decision to relay the women's story but give their individual one line endings grouped together at the end of the chapter.

I also found some of the footnotes to be tiresome. The author had a tendency to footnote personal feelings, which brought some humor, but as they became repetitive, they worked to disrupt my reading flow. I felt the page room would have been better served with added factual information given to the women warrior stories.

“The horror of women in body bags is not a horror of a dead woman. It's that the woman was a warrior, that she is not a victim. American culture does not want to accept that women can be both warriors and mothers...To accept women as warriors means a challenge to patriarchy at its most fundamental level.”
Linda Grant De Pauw

As I mentioned, the author did a fantastic job touching on numerous women from numerous cultures, time periods, and continents. I recognized some probably more well known names, the Trung sisters, Emma Edmonds, and the Joshigun, but was also brought to the attention of some maybe lesser known, Pingyang, Ani Pachen, and Aethleflaed. I was particularly touched by the story of the unnamed American Civil War woman solider who not only fought in Fredericksburg but gave birth soon after and we only vaguely know of because of male soldier letters sent home giving mention of her.

This reads as more of a primer, whether the reason is lack of research material available, facts, time, space, or personal decision, the author only devotes a couple paragraphs to the majority of the women's stories. It is, however, deeply satisfying to read the evidence of women's contributions to fights, battles, and war, an area women were and are constantly trying to be written out of. This is a “coffee table” book each household should have, as these names deserve to live on in memory. These pages were full of heroic and blood thirsty women, women who fought for country, revenge, adventure, and escape, tactical geniuses, and women simply trying to survive. No matter the time period, circumstances, or historical erasure, women have been right beside men actively living the human experience, this book importantly relays those facts to readers.


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Review: Glitter Baby

Glitter Baby Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you can make it through the first half of this, especially the first 15%, you'll enjoy the heroine's story in the second. The first 15% is all about the mother and how the heroine is conceived, it does play an important part in showcasing her mother's personality and the circumstances and players that shape the heroine's existence, but before you see the payoff in the second half, there is definitely a feeling of "what is the point?".

The second half is the redemption and finding her strength for the heroine. A blank canvas of a mother who wants to get her self-worth only from Hollywood stars and an old lecherous father (he is her step-father but not known to heroine until start of second half), emotionally damages Fleur (heroine) enough, that she runs away from her modeling and acting life to live obscurely and in hiding from her step-father, for a couple years. When she matures enough to gain her strength again, she starts to build a life for herself. The last quarter is Fleur building up her business and friendships and I really enjoyed her character and personality; she can be self-depreciating but also witty, strong, sassy, and fearless.

Her wit and sass really shine through in the relationship between her and the hero Jake, her co-star in her first movie. Jake has quite the background story with his PTSD from the Vietnam War but it is just about buried, until the end, in favor of the dramatics involving Fleur's mother and step-father. I loved when Fleur and Jake got to be the center of attention together, they were fun to read but I would guess their romance is only around 30% of this story. Jake was a hero I would have loved to have seen delved into more and given more page time.

This was kind of a mish mash of women's fiction and romance and until you read the last half, you can't really appreciate all the lecherous old men wanting adolescent women to make them feel young again, that you had to suffer through to fully understand what shaped Fleur's circumstances and give it emotional heft. Fleur and Jake were a pleasure but I'm not sure I was given enough of them to make up for having to read about Fleur's step-father's (he's around 70ish to her 19) dream of creating a perfect child with her because she was the child of Errol Flynn, his lecherous old friend in arms.

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Reading Update: 30%


Glitter Baby - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Older published books really take my "building blocks are needed and wanted" to the extreme, the first 15% of this is the heroine's mom having an affair with Errol Flynn (all before heroine born). Wild, y'all. 
I could really do without the grooming, or "seducing" as the heroine's mom calls it, between the heroine and who she thinks is her father. ICK

Friday, March 22, 2019

Reading Update: 50%

Duke of Scandal - Adele Ashworth
He'd flattered her as he'd flustered her, and somewhere in the dark recesses of her mind it occurred to her that not only had he done so intentionally, he'd done so with perfect honesty. She realized at that moment that she'd never been courted by any man who'd made her feel like the Duke of Durham did with a simple look, a word or two.

60%

Women Warriors - Pamela D. Toler
Our only glimpse of Buffalo Calf Road Woman during this time comes from historian and novelist Mari Sandoz, who places Buffalo Calf Road Woman at the Battle of Punished Woman's Ford in Kansas on September 17, 1878---"a gun in her hands, ready, the baby tied securely to her back."

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Reading Update: 30%


Tomyris sent Cyrus a message in which she denounced the Persian ruler as a coward and threatened him with revenge for the death of her son:  "I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony.


(I thought this loaf was yummy but, probably predictably, people who don't regularly eat wheat bread, were not fans)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Review: Six Impossible Things

Six Impossible Things Six Impossible Things by Elizabeth Boyle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you want to have an idea of what is going on in this, make sure you've read from #3 and on in this series, this is #6. I read #3 in 2014 and #5 in 2016 and I could barely hang in there as it was in the beginning.

This pretty much follows the mystery set up in the books I mentioned, one of the bigger villains is pretty much already dealt with but while the other books dispatched of him, they also hinted at someone else behind the scenes, this is all about the hunt for that someone behind the scenes.

I feel like I've been complaining about this a lot lately, just my string of luck with picking stories I guess, but our hero and heroine had a childhood friendship, we get no scenes of it. Basically, she already has found him sexy and wanted him, while he is waking up to the fact that he, too, has always wanted her. I missed watching and experiencing the development of attraction.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: Hot to the Touch

Hot to the Touch Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton
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.

The first in a new series following three firefighting brothers, Hot to the Touch was a steamy fast paced read. After his parents were killed in a car accident, Jackson was sent into the system, only to become a teenager living on the streets. He finds himself a sort of leader trying to take care of kids younger than him but really bonds with two other boys, Rafe and Kal. When a firefighter ends up rescuing them one night, they finally find themselves adopted and in a happy home but Jackson still bears the scars of those early years.

Rebecca “Becks” had a crush on Jackson when they were homeless kids and missed him when he and his “brothers” disappeared. When fate brings them back together, she finds herself attracted to the man. With some matchmaking brothers, healing old wounds, and sexual tension, two former homeless kids may just get their happily ever after.

I enjoyed the set-up of Jackson and his brothers being rescued by a firefighter only to be adopted by him and grow up to work along side him. In order to create some tension between Jackson and Becks, the author had him being unnecessarily rude and short to her. His poking at her for cleaning and cooking while she stayed at their home (she loses hers after a fire) was forced and had him coming off more of a jerk than grumpy teddy bear. His supposed reluctance to love anyone (he seems to have no problem loving his brothers and parents) was dragged through the whole story and only overcame/worked through at the very, very end (90ish%). I'm not even sure I understand the big deal about him not wanting to discuss and/or wallow about his past as a homeless kid.

Becks was a positive character with her raising herself up to become a business owner. However, I felt like her character was never really delved into. She ended up being adopted by a good family but there's no foundation felt from that and her journey from doodling artist to tattoo business owner delivers no emotional impact. She still visits her old stomping grounds and brings essentials to homeless kids but they are such short scenes that they never fully make an impact.

The romance between the two definitely had their steamy moments but since the emotional components weren't fully there for me, I had a hard time connecting. I got from both of them that they found the other sexually attractive and some emotional carryover from Becks' childhood crush but I was never able to feel their connection. Jackson's “don't ever want to talk about the past” dominated the story and it kind of felt like we were spinning our wheels for the majority.

The writing style had a lot of short sentences, which I think hurt the flow for me. The characters also felt very surface, their issues are stated but never expanded on, delved into, or flushed out, making this feel a little dry. There was also an inclusion of a secondary character that is probably being set-up to be a heroine in a future book and her actions felt over-the-top and forced to try and create some friction. The outline and character issues were there but the depth behind them wasn't, this was a fast read but not particularly engaging.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1

Great looking cover ;) and great tasting supper

Book Pre-Order Link

Recipe (Beware, these are tasty but time consuming. Subbed Greek yogurt for mayo in tartar sauce)


Ch 6 & conclusion

If the cuckoo egg hatches first, the early-bird chick pushes its rival eggs out of the nest. Now it can catch the worm – it’s won the undivided attention of its new foster-parents. And if the cuckoo emerges after the host bird’s chicks, it shoves its step-brothers and sisters over the edge to their death.

I had no idea the cuckoo was so hardcore, dang. 

the strike rate of one species is more than 94 per cent.

I thought the experiment of seeing if the fish is born with the ability or has to practice was interesting but then saying they only did it once and then ran out of funding kind of gives it a flat ending. 

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher, Matin Durrani
And if your diving buddy is pale, you’ll have noticed their face turn green and their lips blacken as you sink deeper.

Yeah, this is creeeeeepy!

This is one of the disturbing things about doing underwater research, Johnsen says: something can be the size of a 747 Jumbo Jet and only 3m (10ft) away, yet it’s impossible to see. ‘That’s true underwater all the time,’ he adds. ‘Even if the water seems quite clear, you’re never going to see more than about 100m [330ft].

Reading about the depths that some of these creatures live in the ocean (up to 3,300ft for octopus) is a great reminder for how vast ocean life is and how much we do not know about it. I feel like I need to watch the movie Abyss again, lol. 

I don't know, I thought this last chapter was the least interesting of all. Maybe light refracting is just not as interesting to me but I felt like there was some whiffing on details and depth. The first half was vastly better to me than this latter half. I thought there was some fascinating information in here but I found myself furthering my research from other sources because this didn't provide enough. However, like I mentioned, I am a visual learner so, I'm naturally more inclined to get more out of YouTube and other videos. Definitely wasn't to technical and would worked great as a baseline informational read. I still can't help feeling the last two to three chapters lost the energy of the first. 

Updates with comments and quotes:




Thanks to Flat Book Society for letting me hop into another buddy read!

ch 4 &5

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani
In 2003 the British composer Sarah Angliss held an experimental concert at London’s Purcell Room, playing music laced with infrasound at a frequency of 17Hz. More than a fifth of the audience claimed to have felt anxious, scared or sorrowful, or to have sensed chills down the spine. 

I find stuff like this so interesting, you know the military is experimenting with infrasound. I can't really remember but a couple years ago, was that in Cuba? where people in the embassy thought something like infrasound was used against them? I always wonder about things out there that humans can't organically detect and science isn't there yet. I wouldn't have liked to have been a human guinea pig in the experimental concert.

Others emit sound at a frequency they can’t hear – at least, not until the noise bounces back.

Planes always play havoc on my ears, they become very plugged. It is difficult to talk without hearing myself, I'm uncertain about how much to regulate my volume. Bats that are emitting sounds they can't hear, to use, is wacky to me. How do they trust they are really doing it and correctly??

Many moths have developed ears that hear ultrasound to warn of hunting bats. Fighting back works: moths that have ears tend to be preyed on less by bats than their non-eared mothy cousins.

Moths that have ears! I did not know about this and consequently, it was all I could think about the night I read this. Also, "Biologists call this skewing of the odds the life/dinner principle." Do psychologist apply/incorporate this in a way for human actions? 

raising one foot puts more weight on the others, helping them pick up vibrations from the ground. And having three feet in place rather than four could make it easier for the elephant to work out where the sound is coming from using triangulation.

Elephants and electric eels battled for my favorite in these two chapters. I did not know about elephants and their raising one leg triangulation. I'm again awed by evolution and how it, well, evolves. Using their feet and ears is brilliant. 

It’s a time-critical business as female elephants’ eggs are ripe for fertilising for only four to five days every four to six years.

What??? I did not know elephants cycles were like this. This is probably something I'll go read more about because I'm wondering how this plays into their herd numbers.

California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) is top of the strange-sounds charts.

If you have time, you should definitely go to the Discovery of Sound in the Sea  and listen to this. They also had a better Mantis Shrimp. I spent an hour listening to everything. Their Fact and Myths section was fun/enlightening, too.

electric eels are up to 2.5m (8ft) long

8 Feet. No.

they rise to the surface every 10 minutes to breathe air before sinking back to the river bed. They have strange reproductive habits too: the female lays her eggs in a nest the male makes from saliva.

Electric eels are wild, y'all! I do think, though, that every ten years I read about electric eels and gasp about strange or different they are, forget, and then become shocked(lol!) again about their wildness. I went to YouTube to see if they had any videos of the male eel making their saliva nests and couldn't find anything, if anyone has a link that would be much appreciated. I didn't look too long as I can across a video of the eel flying out of the water to attack and I had to bounce because I was going to bed and that was enough nightmare fuel for the night. 

 It’s a fact marketers don’t highlight on the packaging – honey is basically bee vomit.

I've known this for a while but it is one of my favorite knowledge bombs to drop. The look on people's faces warms the cold cockles of my heart. Knowledge, pass it on!

Only one in 4,000 hatchlings makes it to adulthood.

So tough out there in the wild kingdom. Bees have my warrior banner on land but sea turtles have it on water. 

During that time, many of the growing turtles circle the Atlantic in a 15,000km (9,000 mile) once-in-a-lifetime round trip. ‘They swim and drift around the Sargasso Sea, cross over to the coast of Spain and Portugal, move south along the northern coast of Africa, and then loop back to North America,’ explains Lohman.

This was something that I vaguely "knew" but I'm not sure the hard facts, distance and time, ever penetrated until I read it with actual numbers and in black and white. 5-10 years to complete this journey, I feel like the sea turtle world is full of Katharine Norburys and/or David Foster Wallaces.

but it turns out wasps (or at least some of them) are masters of electricity and expert at quantum mechanics.

Because of course they are. This has done wonders for my already very afraid of wasps attitude. 


This section had more animals that fascinated me, elephants, electric eels, sea turtles, and, god help me, quantum wasps but I feel like I didn't learn as much. Possibly, I just happen to know more about what they talked about this time but I felt like less technical knowledge (more surface feeling) was included in these two chapters. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Review: The Highlander Who Protected Me

The Highlander Who Protected Me The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“You know I don't flirt,” he said. Then he titled his head, as if considering. The late afternoon sunlight caught the red in his burnished mahogany hair, making it glow like fire. “Except with you.”

This is the first in the series but there felt like a lot of background I was missing. What I felt from our hero Royal was insta feelings and “ok, sure” from the heroine Ainsley. They seem to have met in a previous book where Royal abducted her, which she liked, didn't like? I really felt like I missed them bonding or getting to know one another.

The story structure of this felt off and cobbled together. The first half is Royal sad because he thinks there is no future for him and Ainsley, the middle is Ainsley lying while Royal is a mary-sue, and the last half is Ainsley lying, arguing with Angus (Royal's grandfather), and Royal wanting to sleep with Ainsley while being in pain with his leg injury.

This just didn't flow for me, it was a little over four hundred pages and whole sections dragged for me as we went round and round with Ainsley keeping some big secret from Royal, leg pain, and arguing. For Royal having such a large supportive family, I forgot some brothers even existed as their names were mentioned only a handful of times, I do know the twins were little devils to raise though, as it was mentioned over and over. I liked Ainsley's Aunt Margaret but after appearing in the middle part, she is never heard from again. Angus and Ainsley's relationship could have been a nice secondary addition if the fighting didn't last so long and feel so acrimonious and skim over their eventual starting to like one another finally.

Since it seemed some of these two's story started in another book, I missed their bonding; there didn't feel like any romance in this story. The pacing was slow and the structure had this feeling like three sections not melded together and characters spinning their wheels for four hundred pages.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

5%



Holy smoke, that prologue was on 🔥🔥🔥
Hero unabashedly jonesing for heroine, heroine trying to keep the jonesing for hero covert. 

Banter, flirting, and Misunderstanding. 

Reading Update: Page 1


St. Paddy's week dessert :)





Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: An Irish Attraction: Emerald Isle Enchantment

An Irish Attraction: Emerald Isle Enchantment An Irish Attraction: Emerald Isle Enchantment by Louisa Masters
My rating: 3 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.

“Stop laughing!” Keela demanded, smacking him with a cushion between her own bouts of giggles. “It’s not that funny.”
Flopping back against the sofa, Seamus gasped for breath. “Not that funny? A ghost who lived before the Industrial Revolution wanted to give you the sex talk!”


Castle Tullamore Hotel is a hot spot for supernatural activity, when the owner assigns the senior concierge, Seamus, to assist another paranormal investigator coming to visit, he is none to happy. Keela is not your average investigator though, for one, she can see and communicate with the ghosts. An elevator that can send you on interdimensional travel, matchmaking ghosts, and a budding romance, help make this a short and fun read.

The story starts off with Keela giving validation to the existence of supernatural and paranormal beings, she can see and communicate with them, so the reader gets to just settle into and enjoy the world the author has created, no questioning of what is real in that aspect. I liked the spark and interaction between her and Seamus, their romance moves very quickly (short page count) but their closed door romance added some cute moments and emotion to the story.

The main mystery Keela is there to investigate, a Victorian age elevator that can send its inhabitants time traveling or on an interdimensional journey, started off intriguing. I would have liked Keela and Seamus to have went on a journey and the final reveal of what was truly happening was a very quick, kind of confusing at certain points, info dump feeling of an explanation.

The setting of Castle Tullamore Hotel provided a fun location and seems rife with interesting characters for the author to highlight. There are matchmaking ghosts, a studious library ghost, werewolf bellboys, and many more to wreak havoc with guests. This was just over one hundred pages, you won't get a lot of depth to characters, but if looking for a fun, quick read, this will immerse you in a lively little world.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Reading Update: 45%

Every Breath You Take - Judith McNaught
Mitchell felt himself plunging through thin air, sent over the edge by a beautiful young redhead with the face of an angel and the stubborn pride of an Irish rebel.


Endless mentions of loafers and blouses not withstanding, I'm really enjoying the banter, conversation, and chemistry between these two.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Review: Hero at the Fall

Hero at the Fall Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

The Rebel Prince will rise again. He will bring a new dawn. A new desert.

Obviously, you have to read the first two in the series to understand this one. After most of Amani's group of friend's was taken prisoner, the majority of this was about journeying and working to set them free. The focus on the magic of the world seemed to takeover a lot in the middle until the later second half came back around to fighting, defeating, and ending the war.

This tone had a ragged, tired at times, but still striving through the fight, which fit as the last book wrapping up a rebellion story. This really worked on portraying how wars started by powerful, more so affect the powerless and how even when you're fighting for right, wrong can be done. I liked how this in no way glorified war.

Some of the visuals the author provided through her writing, especially the ship sailing on sand scene, were incredible, very well done fantasy. The emotion was heightened at times but with Amani, I started to feel very drained.

Amani and Jin didn't get near enough time together for me; a big important talk between the two was completely off screen.

The ending went a little overly long and repetitive, some could easily have been edited out. However, the long out look at what our characters encounter was satisfying and a tad depressing as we see the same wars being fought over and over because of power greed. I can't say this ended on a very high note but I enjoyed the journey into this magical land the author created.

But he wondered if a boy from the sea and a girl from the desert could ever survive together. He feared that she might burn him alive or that he might drown her. Until finally he stopped fighting it and set himself on fire for her.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

80%


This was a war between the people who belonged in this desert. Not the people who wanted to own it. We would decide it for ourselves---no one else.

Review: The Woman in the Dark

The Woman in the Dark The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage
My rating: 3 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 sees the beautiful Victorian house he grew up in, with its pitched roof and gabled ends---a fairy-tale house before it became the county House of Horrors. He sees happy memories of a childhood lived by the sea. He doesn't imagine blood on the walls or whispering ghosts. He doesn't see the Murder House, but I do.

Sarah grew up with a mother who suffered from agoraphobia and a father who left, her childhood was less than ideal. When she meets Patrick, as a young nineteen year old, he sweeps her off her feet with his pretty face and pretty stories of a charming childhood. When he introduces her to his newborn baby boy Joe, she is swept up again. Her friend Caroline warns her that she is losing herself to Patrick but Joe needs her and she agrees to a pleading Patrick to get married. An abandoned college degree, birth of a daughter, and deep depression over her mother's death, has Sarah slowly seeing underneath all the pretty facades.

With my mother's money, I could make my husband's dream come true. But in doing that, I'd be destroying every dream of my own.

Woman in the Dark, has a strong Amityville Horror vibe with elements of The Girl on the Train. The story is mostly told all from Sarah's point of view with little snatches of a mystery person's pov. If you're familiar with the aforementioned stories, you'll know pretty soon where the story is headed. There were plenty of secondary characters to try to throw you off and have you second guessing supernatural or psychological, but most of the feelings of dread found here are from the knowing what Sarah is about to go through. The writing style, especially in the beginning, used a lot of short choppy sentences that gave it a staccato flow for me. This worked and didn't work for me, not a personal style favorite but when put together with how Sarah, her husband, and her two kids are portrayed in the first half, isolated or detached from one another, the style fits. The second half flows more smoothly as the pace picks up a bit, the reader starts to learn more as Sarah and her family start to interact and blind spots from only getting Sarah's point of view, start to fill.

I'm thinking of the dozen cracks in his control that have grown since we moved here.

When the reader comes into the story, Sarah is trying to emerge from deep depression over her mother's death and a maybe suicide attempt. Patrick convinces her to give up her inherited money to buy his childhood dream home, which they can only afford because fifteen years ago, a family, except for the younger son, was murdered there. Patrick's childhood home is called Murder House. Every thing is murky for Sarah as she is on medication and trying to become herself again, this makes the story murky, along with a lot of characters. Some secondary characters worked as credible misdirections and others, like Ian Hooper convicted of one of the murders, Tom the surviving younger son, and Sarah's friend Caroline, ended up landing very flat because of how they weren't utilized correctly; introduced, tangentially boogeymen, at times forgotten, and then left to sort of drift off.

I have to face it, stop hiding. I shake my head. I always do this---eyes tight shut, hands over my ears, hoping it will all go away if I just pretend it isn't happening. I can't do that anymore.

While I mentioned the constant circling of the question between supernatural or psychological, which the story never really gives a definite answer to, and Patrick's slow unraveling sending shivers down your spine, I think a lot of women will recognize the true horror of the story to be all the gaslighting. Murder House felt like an allegoric symbol for a woman trapped, pretty veneer covering up rot, showing once again, ghosts might not be the scariest beings haunting your home.

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Reading Update: 30%

Hero at the Fall - Alwyn Hamilton
They said that as long as Ashra’s Wall stood, the Destroyer of Worlds would be imprisoned. If it fell, so would a new age of darkness fall on the world. 

A friend on GRs said this reminded them of GOT, and oh yes! Only one more month to go and I'm hoping my call of Brienne of Tarth sitting on the throne comes true :) 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

65%


The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage

"You have to get us out of here, Mum," Joe says again as I go back toward my room.

This has a fairly strong Amityville Horror vibe.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

40%

The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage
Three people died in the house, but there are six cold spots. It makes me imagine undiscovered bodies rotting in the garden.

Reading Update: Page 1


The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage

Starting this one tonight with some pistachio cake (green for upcoming St. Paddy's Day :)
The cake was a little bit of a fail, hopefully the book picks up the weight!

Recipe (In case you want to try "a little bit of fail" cake, lol. Not strong enough tasting for me)



Monday, March 4, 2019

Review: Tinderbox

Tinderbox Tinderbox by Rachel Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“There’s a fine line between evil and desperation. One easily leads to the other."

Holy hell was this fascinating, entertaining, hot at times, and plain absorbing. I didn't really take notes to write a review but want to alert anyone looking for a rom suspense that's high on the suspense, this is an absolute go to.

Quickly, our heroine is an archaeologist sent to Djibouti to survey land that wants to be developed by both China and U.S. There is a butt load of politics involved with secondary characters trying to maneuver to place them or their country in power. It is, as the title suggests, a tinderbox situation. Morgan meets a Special Forces soldier who she ends up having mad chemistry with and they battle it along with the elements of the country.

I have to be honest, the romance was a pretty far second to the overall suspense, political, anthropology, and people of Djibouti setting the author magnificently created. Morgan and Pax had chemistry but his stop and go, feet dragging on not wanting to be together came off even more slow paced in comparison to the suspense of shady country dealings, double agents, and people fighting for survival. I also thought the issues Morgan had with her Dad were, eh; made her come off still kind of childish and wrapped very easily up to make her whole issues even more, eh.

Loved this line about the hero: She’d pulled back her blonde hair in a neat French braid, the kind his little sister made him learn how to do when she was eight because she couldn’t braid behind her head herself.

He learned to French braid his little sisters hair! You know how I thirst for building blocks of characters, this was a majorly sweet one that gives a great insight into the hero.

There really was no end to fascinating and intriguing tidbits in this story: She picked up a triangular rock and jogged back to his side to press it in his hand. She wrapped his fingers around the warm stone. “You’re holding in your hand a tool that was made by either Homo ergaster or Homo habilis around one-point-five-million years ago.”

I spent hours at the computer intermittently looking up new anthropological finds and the current situation in Djibouti. Personally, I felt like the author did an amazing job giving us enough solid facts weaved in with some plausible fiction, without technically overloading or stunting with "look at all the research I did!" facts, to create one heck of an interesting story.

Like I said, the romance was more three stars for me as I liked the couple's banter but they got pretty lusty right away (thoughts more than actions in beginning). I'm also nerdy enough though, that the author's fascinating inclusion of threads, facts, and plausible sounding anthropology, archaeology, world geography, military, and political talk, the main couple could have been anyone.

She caught his smug grin. She rolled her eyes and hoped he didn’t notice her heart was still in overdrive. “Not a bad bit of rescuing,” she said as nonchalantly as she could muster.
He laughed. “Sometimes I even amaze myself.”
It was her turn to laugh. A guy who could quote Han Solo might just be her catnip.


This was my catnip. If looking for some really interesting, intriguing, heartbreaking, make you feel incredibly lucky where you were born, action, and some sexy time romantic suspense, you will really want to read this. I'm delighted there are more books to discover in this series.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Review: Embers

Embers Embers by Helen Kirkman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

I did a buddy read for this, for more thoughts, comments, and quotes: Embers Buddy Read

It was not ten paces of Northumbrian soil that separated him from her. It was a whole country. It was grief and loss and blood and the inescapable ties of other loyalties and other cares.

You'll definitely want to read the first in this series as this one deals with Brand, the brother to the hero in the first, and follows the timeline immediately after. Brand running away with a woman, Alina, that was politically refused to him, started the fallout for both brothers. Here we have Brand meeting back up with Alina and dealing with the ending fallout.

I liked the first better than this one, as I found the story with the author's style of ethereal writing/tone slowed down the middle too much and made characters' motivations too murky; I spent a good portion of the latter half confused.

Still, if looking for different tone and style, Kirkman is vastly different from a lot of authors out there. I wish our main couple could have gotten more scenes simply enjoying being together or verbal interaction as an ending scene of them together had amazing chemistry, wit, and banter.

Read the first before this one, enjoy the wonderfully set early medieval time period, and prepare for a slower ethereal tone.

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