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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blog Tour Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Joshua and the Lightning Road by Donna Galanti!



Title: Joshua and the Lightning Road

Author: Donna Galanti

Pub. Date: May 19th 2015

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC



Book Description via Goodreads:



Stay away from the window, don’t go outside when it’s storming and whatever you do, do not touch the orb.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever.

To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him.

In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life.





Get It Here:


Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

Excerpt:


A dark swarm swelled in the sky. Dozens of wings fluttered and a cool wind swept toward me in waves. I rubbed the crystal in my pocket crazily, wishing hard to make the birds disappear. It didn’t work.

“The korax,” Charlie said in a cracked voice. “Hold on tight. I saw a kid fall just before you got here.” He smiled to reassure me, although he nervously bounced a curled thumb to his mouth. “But he squirmed a lot. Screamed too. Broke his leg. They took him off to the bunkhouse doctor.”

Charlie certainly had guts for wanting to come with me.

As the swarm drew closer, they appeared as monstrous black ravens with a giant wingspan that filled the sky’s empty spaces. Their massive beaks opened and closed with gurgling croaks, but it was their eyes that terrified me. They burned a bright green, shooting us with a mean glare as they torpedoed down. Chanting words echoed across the dark land: light bringers, light bringers. Imagined words? The whirring of wing beats throbbed in my head as they grew closer, matching the beat of my own thudding heart.

The cackling screech of these mutant birds slammed through my ears as their beaks opened on giant hinges, and tongues like fat worms squirmed about in cavernous mouths. Screaming kids pushed up against me on all sides as a rancid wind roared over us. The words light bringers stabbed me over and over, and I cupped my hands to my ears. The other boys stampeded around me, shoving, yelling, but the guards pushed us back, vapes hissing.

We had nowhere to go, not with monsters and men on all sides.




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Click here!


About the Author:


Donna is the author of the Joshua and The Lightning Road series and the Element Trilogy. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at www.project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogs..., a cooperative of published middle grade authors. Visit her at www.donnagalanti.com and www.ElementTrilogy.com. Donna wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote a murder mystery screenplay at seven and acted it out with the neighborhood kids. She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship (and has been writing fantasy ever since). She’s lived in other exotic locations, including her family-owned campground in New Hampshire and in Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse and dreams of returning one day to a castle.

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Stacking the Shelves [95]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

New from Netgalley:

Hipster Animals: A Field Guide by Dyna Moe



Fabulous Freebies:

Eat Play Lust by Tawna Fenske
The Withering by Joshua Jacobs
Over the Line by Sarah Winter



In My Email Inbox:

Last First Kiss by Lia Riley



In My Mailbox

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius



The Trading Post

Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler



Thank you Jen!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Review & Giveaway: Better Sex in No Time by Josey Vogels!



Title: Better Sex in No Time: An Illustrated Guide for Busy Couples
Author: Josey Vogels
Format: Paperback, 282 pagesegalley
Pub. Date: April 14th 2015
Source: Cleis Press


Book Description via Goodreads:



In those first heady days of a relationship, couples can barely keep their hands off each other. But as relationships mature, sex can get pushed further and further down the list of priorities. Suddenly, instead of a passionate date you can’t wait to keep, sex might start to feel like one more nagging to-do.

It doesn’t have to be that way. And it doesn’t require quitting a job or wearing dirty clothes to reclaim the spark. Couples just need a few moments of tender connection a day (and a few pointers from Canada’s leading sexpert), and soon they’re looking for ways to devote even more time to amazingly hot sex.

Josey Vogels has created a fun and approachable guide for couples that is packed with tips, tricks, and time-guided ideas to try. With this book on their bedside tables, readers start having better sex in no time.

What you learn from this book:
• Ways to sexually connect to your partner in five minutes or less
• Massage techniques
• Why romance matters
• The importance of self-pleasure (and learning new private tricks!)
• Sex on the go
• Tantric sex for busy couples






Review:


★★★★★

I'm a firm believer that your sex life can always be better. For the most part, I'm pretty satisfied with my sex life, but I mean there is always room for improvement. So when I got asked if I wanted to read Better Sex in No Time, I was excited to say yes. I think this book can help any couple improve, even if a little, no matter how long you've been together.

It's important to start out by saying that my partner is a female. This book is written primarily for heterosexual couples- which is in no way a complaint. I found that it was easy to pick and choose the physical things that would work for females, and almost all of the romance aspects are still applicable, regardless of gender. I'm not sure how it plays out for gay men, but for lesbians, there's still plenty of tips in here for you!

The book is divided into four big sections. Part one is "Seduction". Part two is "Foreplay". Part three is "Union" and part four is Spice. I appreciated that this book was chunked in this way, because it makes it easy to focus on the parts that you know that your relationship may be lacking in. There's smaller sections in each part, narrowing the focus even further.

There's a lot of really good tips and advice in this book. There are some really nice (and non-explicit) photographs that help keep the romantic/sensual vibe about the book. There are also helpful illustrations throughout the book that help to explain what the text is trying to convey. Things such as positions or ways to move your fingers, things like that, become more clear when you look at the illustrations. I was a little bit worried when I found out that it was an illustrated book, but they really do add to the advice.

Honestly, I think that this book is perfect for any couple (over 18, blah blah). It's full of advice for any part of your sex life that may be struggling, from adding some kinky fun to the mix, or communication and intimacy problems. It's a book that will happily find a home on my sexuality shelf for reference in the future.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



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Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers



Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 14th 2015
Source: St. Martin's Griffin


Book Description via Goodreads:



The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?






Review:


★★★

I waited a long while to write this review. All the Rage is a very intense book to read, and I needed some time (a few weeks, actually) to decompress everything long enough to write a coherent opinion on it.

First, I'd like to say that this book's message is so damn important. I think it's crazy that every day when I get on Facebook, there's a new trending story of some teen rape/bullying/sexting case. It's horrifying. Books with themes as deep as the ones found in this book are often close to my heart, because I have experienced them first hand. These are books that need writing, because it is still happening across the country and the world. It's worth reading. End of.

The writing itself is beautiful. Though I can name other books Summers has written, and I've come across her name often on the internet, this is the first time I've ever read anything written by her. She has a great ability to describe human emotion in ways that I'm not sure that I could give a voice. It's beautiful and haunting at the same, almost hollow. It was an almost soothing sense of dread and darkness, which was an odd sensation but a lovely one as a reader (that might make no sense to some of you- sorry about that).

That said, the timing in this book left me puzzled. I wasn't always entirely sure where in the timeline I was, and that made it a bit hard to focus on what was happening. I had all of the puzzle pieces, but struggled at times to put them together into a bigger picture.

The characters left me divided. I felt for Romy, truly, and I wanted her to get all the things that she needed and wanted to calm her mind and restore her life. Because she was so turbulent of a character, my own feelings for her matched. Sometimes she left me confused, and sometimes I really couldn't connect to her. Other times I felt like she was sharing thoughts I've had personally, verbatim. The adults, don't get me started. They're accurate enough- the not listening, the lying, the small town politics. That is where I felt all the rage. I wanted to punch some of them (not unlike the adults in other books on similar topics I've read lately). The romance aspect didn't really add anything to me, but I'm sure there are others who will disagree with me.

In short, this book left me torn. And honestly, I think it was meant to. It's a book that's hard to swallow and slow to read, because some pretty bad themes and actions are within its pages. It is a book that demands more thought and reflection after it's been read. As I mentioned before, I think it's definitely a book that is worth reading, even though I didn't always follow or connect to it in the best way. Be warned, rape and bullying are main themes in this book, so tread with caution if you are sensitive to them. If you benefited from reading books such as Some Boys or The S-Word, you might want to give this one a go.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Center Ice by Cate Cameron!



Title: Center Ice

Series: Corrigan Falls Raiders #1

Author: Cate Cameron

Release date: 5/19/15

Publisher: Entangled Crush



Summary from Goodreads:


The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him…

Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.

But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.

Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…




Get it Here:


Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks


Review:


★★★★

This book has so many things that I love, all rolled into one little book. Contemporary romance? Check. Young adult? Check. Hockey? Triple check. I knew I had to read this one the moment I saw the cover (I know, I know). I'm glad that the story inside is just as cute as the cover represents it to be.

Center Ice is a really sweet book. We meet Karen and Tyler, who tell their story from both sides, as the book flips between each of their points of view. They're absolutely adorable together, and I enjoyed every minute of watching them fall deeper in love. Tyler is a hockey player with NHL goals in mind, and I loved him. Karen, well, I didn't like her much as her own character. She did a lot of things that made me sigh, and I found it hard to connect with her. That said, I liked her with Tyler as a couple, so I wasn't horridly put off by it while reading. I appreciated the overall depth of the characters- this book is more than just a sweet romance. There's a lot of other issues working here such as reputations, family struggles, and pressures for perfection. This made the book a lot more realistic for me, and I appreciated it.

I absolutely adore hockey (Go Blackhawks!) so I really liked that it was a focal point of this book. I don't just mean that in regards to Tyler being a stellar, NHL bound player in the plot of the book. The author seems really well researched on the sport, it sounded like it was written by someone familiar with hockey, not someone just using it as a plot device. There was slang and details that I really enjoyed.

I think that this is a really good romance for fans of hockey or sports themed romances, as well as contemporary romance. I'd place it somewhere between YA and NA for age range. I'm told that this is the first book in a series, and though I had some issues with Center Ice I would definitely continue on with the next book in the series.

I received my copy in exchange for my honest review.


About the Author:


Cate Cameron grew up in the city but moved to the country in her mid-twenties and isn't looking back. Most of her writing deals with people living and loving in small towns or right out in the sticks - when there aren't entertainment options on every corner, other people get a lot more interesting!

She likes to write stories about real people struggling with real issues. YA, NA, or contemporary romance, her books are connected by their emphasis on subtle humor and characters who are trying to do the right thing, even when it would be a lot easier to do something wrong.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook


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Review: Gone Bitch by Steve Lookner!



Title: Gone Bitch: A Parody of Gone Girl
Author: Steve Lookner
Format: Paperback, 160 pages
Pub. Date: September 19th 2014
Source: Goodreads Firstreads


Book Description via Goodreads:



Meet Nick. He's kind of dumb. Meet his wife, Amy. She's kind of a bitch. One day Amy goes missing. What happened? Find out...in GONE BITCH!

GONE BITCH is the hilarious new parody of Gone Girl which will have you on the edge of your seat AND rolling on the floor. All your favorite characters from Gone Girl are here...but way funnier!

First off, there's NICK. Nick doesn't seem particularly upset that his wife is missing, or particularly anxious to find her. But he is perfectly willing to stop by the searches for Amy...because he can try to pick up girls there using lines like, "I'd like to search YOUR woods." Nick also loves lying to the police. For example, Nick's alibi for the morning Amy disappeared is that he was hang gliding, taking a karate lesson, and shooting a major motion picture with Keanu Reeves.

There's also AMY, Nick's wife. Amy is basically the worst person ever. Which is unsurprising, since she's a really hot girl. Therefore her one goal in life is to make her hot girlfriends jealous, no matter what it takes. Would Amy really stoop so low as to frame Nick for murder just to make her hot girlfriends jealous? If you don't know the answer, then you haven't hung out with enough really hot girls.

There's GO, Nick's sister. Go makes out with Nick a lot, but don't get the wrong idea: they are NOT having sex. (Although they do get to third base once in a while.)

There's RAND and MARYBETH, Amy's parents, whose “Idiotic Amy” book series chronicles the embarrassing moments of Idiotic Amy, a girl who looks suspiciously like Amy and does embarrassing things suspiciously like things Amy has done. The books have been a huge success, with millions of girls worldwide buying volumes like “Idiotic Amy Wets The Bed” and “Idiotic Amy and the Guy She Had Sex With and Never Called Her Again”.

There's DESI, who's been stuck in the friend zone with Amy since kindergarten. Desi still hopes that one day Amy will come around and want to take things to another level, but tragically, he fails to realize that no guy ever escapes from the friend zone.

And don't forget BONEY and GILPIN, the detectives investigating Amy's disappearance. They strongly suspect the "crime scene" in Nick's living room is fake, because it's pretty hard for a grand piano to flip upside down accidentally.

With every page of GONE BITCH the tension builds:

Will Nick go to jail?
Will Amy ever return?
Will Nick ever get over his diarrhea from eating a search volunteer's Frito pie?

You'll want to keep reading to find out what happens, but you might not be able to stop laughing long enough to do so!

You've seen the movie. You've read the book. Now read the parody that makes fun of both!






Review:


★★★

So first, I'd like to put out a disclaimer about my reading of this parody: I haven't read Gone Girl. The thriller/mystery genre isn't really my bag, so I didn't really have an interest in it. Then I got excited when I found out it was being made into a movie, because I could skip the book and just watch that (I know, I know. I'm a terrible reader.) Then I found out that the movie starred Ben Affleck, an actor whom I don't enjoy in the least. So I decided not to watch this either. Then I stumbled across the parody, chuckled at the title, and had to give it a go.

As someone who is unfamiliar with the original book Gone Girl, I thought this was a pretty funny story. The characters were really over-written and dramatic, and the narration was snarky. I snickered aloud more than once throughout the course of the book. While I know these characters are based on the ones from Gone Girl, I honestly have read quite a few books where Lookner's version of Amy was how I viewed the main female character: obsessed with her looks and image, really shallow, boring, and altogether unlikable. And on top of that, though Nick too is written with a sense of humor, and is not without his own problems, you kind of start to like him. Maybe I should give Ben's onscreen version a try after all.

This is a pretty quick read at 160 paperback pages, and it didn't take me very long to get through it all. If you have actually read Gone Girl I think you'll feel more strongly about this parody version; either you'll be angry that he satirized a book you loved, or you'll get a laugh or two at the expense of a book you didn't enjoy. As a neutral reader, that's how I feel- neutral. It was funny, but not something that I'll probably read again (that is, unless I read Gone Girl and come back to this). I think those who read it will enjoy it more or less than me, depending on how you liked it. I'd also recommend it to people who enjoy works like Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon.

I received this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spotlight Tour Excerpt & Giveaway: Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper!


Title: Night of the Highland Dragon

Series: Highland Dragons, #3

Author: Isabel Cooper

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Release Date: June 2 2015

ISBN: 9781402284731



About the Book:


“They say,” said the girl, “that people disappear up there. And I heard that the lady doesna’ ever grow any older.”

“The lady?” William asked.

“Lady MacAlasdair. She lives in the castle, and she’s been there years, but she stays young and beautiful forever.”


In the Scottish Highlands, legend is as powerful as the sword—and nowhere is that more true than in the remote village of Loch Aranoch. Its mysterious ruler, Judith MacAlasdair, is fiercely protective of her land—and her secrets. If anyone were to find out what she really was, she and her entire clan would be hunted down as monsters.

William Arundell is on the trail of a killer. Special agent for an arcane branch of the English government, his latest assignment has led him to a remote Highland castle and the undeniably magnetic lady who rules there. Yet as lies begin to unravel and a dark threat gathers, William finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Highlands…and the woman he can neither trust nor deny.

He prays she isn’t the murderer; he never dreamed she was a dragon.

Author Fun:


This June marks the release of The Night of the Highland Dragon, the third in Isabel Cooper’s fantastic paranormal Highland Dragon series. To celebrate the release, Isabel is giving us an exclusive peek into some of the MacAlasdair’s more interesting ancestors – some of them may even appear in future books of the series!

The Ancient One, The Ancestor, “Raven”, Ravi (dates unknown)

Ancestor at least to the MacAlasdair line, and possibly to other families of shapeshifting dragons, this…being…had a friendly relationship with the servant of a Roman merchant travelling through Persia around 300 BC. Her account and that of her master, such as they are, suggest that he at least looked Indian, that he was more considerate than the average man in his situation, and also that he seemed both amused and occasionally startled by most facets of human life. Both Indian and Chinese mythology speak of dragons or snakes that can take human form; both mythologies suggest that these beings are close to divine in nature.


Excerpt:



From the soot-stained sides of the alley, shadows emerged and became men. Judith counted five: big fellows, all of them, and at least two openly carried long knives. She let out all her breath, hissing it through her teeth, and took a step back.

“It’s all right,” William said, putting a hand on her arm. Oh, good: he was going to try and be protective. This day was going wonderfully. He turned to the men. “Very sorry to disturb you. We’ll just be on our way.”

Protective and diplomatic. Even better.

“Don’t move,” growled one of the larger men. “Don’t run. Don’t scream. You’d better not scream. Nobody’d hear you. Nobody’d come anyway.”

Even from a distance, he reeked of drink. His eyes were glassy, and he grinned when he spoke in a way that Judith didn’t like at all. Neither did she like the way the others were looking at him, taking their cues. On their own, sober, any of them might have been reasonable. Right now she could feel the avalanche building.

Judith took more quick inventory. The men would probably catch up quickly if they tried to run. The alley was dark, and the leader was probably right: she’d never known most people in cities to intervene, and the local constabulary didn’t take much interest in a neighborhood like this one. She wasn’t armed. She didn’t know if William had brought whatever weapon he’d been reaching for out at Finlay’s, or how skilled he was with it if he had. And she was wearing skirts.

She sighed, held still, and decided to try a little diplomacy of her own. “I’m sure we can settle this peaceably. Just leave us enough money for tickets home, aye? We’ll hand over the rest.”

The leader shook his head. “Won’t need money when we’re done with you. Won’t need to go home, either,” he said. Judith didn’t recognize what cue he gave, and he didn’t speak, but she heard footsteps behind her.
Fine, then. Fine.

She whirled, caught the man’s outstretched hand as he tried to grab her arm—they always tried for the bicep if you were a woman, devil only knew why—and used his body as a pivot for her own. Her elbow smashed into his jaw with all her weight behind it. His head snapped sideways with a cracking sound: his jaw, not his neck, for he yelled in agony and staggered back, clutching the side of his face.

There was no time to see William’s reaction.

“Are we finished—” she started to ask.

Then the leader roared and rushed forward, and the rest followed his lead. It was an answer, just not the one Judith had wanted. “I did my best,” she muttered, not sure if she was speaking to William or the robbers or her own conscience. Then she gave herself over to the moment.




Get it Here:


Amazon | BAM | BN | Kobo | IndieBound | Indigo


About the Author:


During the day, Isabel Cooper maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Review: Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady



Title: Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day
Author: Tara O'Brady
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 21st 2015
Source: Ten Speed Press


Book Description via Goodreads:



The much-anticipated debut from the author behind the popular food blog Seven Spoons, featuring distinctive, crowd-pleasing recipes; engaging, writerly essays; and the same stunning photography that has earned her website a devoted following.

Roasted Carrots with Harissa A├»oli and Dukkah. Plum Macaroon Cake. Chaat Tostadas. Roasted Peaches with Glazed Sesame Oats. Few food writers have such an insightful, intuitive understanding of flavor—or a more eclectic and inspiring range of culinary influences at work in their kitchen—than Tara O’Brady. Fewer still write with her trademark warmth and thoughtful prose, which Saveur describes as “like pulling up a seat at the table of an old friend.”

Seven Spoons is O’Brady’s remarkable and much-anticipated debut. In it, she shares more than one hundred of her best and most mouthwatering recipes—crowd-pleasing breakfasts like Blackberry Buttermilk Whole Grain Scones, weeknight staples like Everyday Yellow Dal, and terrifically inventive desserts like Roasted Grapes with Sweet Labneh. These elegant, flavorful, and wonderfully creative recipes, plus the show stopping photography, will have you heading straight for the kitchen to get cooking.






Review:


★★★

This cookbook really starts out strong. There is a really big introduction section that introduces what you should have in your pantry, and the gear you might need to use throughout the recipes in the book. There's also a really big ending section, that contains all the recipes that the "main" recipes used- things such as sauces and cheeses. While I love that even these aspects were made for scratch, I didn't really like that they were all scooted together at the end of the book, instead of being on the following page or something.

This book is sorted into chapters according to meal/course: Breads & Breakfast, Lunch, Soups Starters and Snacks, Suppers, Vegetables and Sides, and Sweet Treats & Sips. I liked this way of organizing things, because it makes it easier to find what you need. I also really appreciated that this cookbook included drink recipes. (That's an under-appreciated section in cookbooks, in my humble opinion.)

The book contains nice little notes and tips on techniques or ingredients, which were helpful and a nice touch to the recipes. There's also a fair share of stories that give the book a more personal feel to it. The steps are in small paragraphs as opposed to shorter, numbered steps.

There's a nice variety of cultures present here, ranging everywhere from Greek to Vietnamese to African. This is widely reflected in the dishes themselves, which range from basics like lemon chicken to dishes with bold Indian spices. Some of the dishes in this cookbook are very, very simple. But some of them are pretty complicated and have long ingredient lists. This isn't a bad thing, it's just less likely I'm going to have all of those things on hand to cook on a whim. On the same note, there are some ingredients here that are rather hard to get a hold of, at least near me, such as za'atar and halloumi. I'm sure they're wonderful to cook with, but it's definitely not something I currently can run to the store and fetch. The pictures that are in this book are gorgeous, but there's not really enough of them for my liking. Photos are a key element to whether or not I purchase a cookbook; I like knowing what I'm supposed to aiming for.

Some of the dishes I'd most like to prepare from this cookbook include Dipper Eggs with Cheese-Fried Toast Soldiers, Hard Cider Gougeres, Walnut Cherry Oat Butter Tart Pie, and Roasted Grapes with Sweet Labneh.

Overall, this is a pretty good cookbook. I think both beginners and more experienced cooks can benefit from it, but be prepared for ingredient lists that you might not necessarily be used to.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Such a Secret Place by Cortney Pearson



Title: Such a Secret Place

Series: Stolen Tears #1

Author: Cortney Pearson

Purchase: Amazon | BN

Release Date: April 1st, 2015



About the Book:


Raids splatter across the news--Arcaian soldiers are stealing magic left and right, using it against the people they steal it from.

When sixteen-year-old Ambry Csille's brother gets taken in one of these raids, her utter fear and panic should be enough to invoke tears in any normal world. But for Ambry, tears are a thing of the past.

Because of a spell, people can no longer feel emotion; not enough to cry, and definitely not enough to defend themselves against the tyrannical soldiers stealing her people’s magic. A rare vial of enchanted tears chooses Ambry to reverse the spell, and soon she finds herself the target not only of the Arcaians, but of battle-scarred Talon Haraway, who wants the tears for his own reasons.

All Ambry wants is to rescue her brother, but when her tears get stolen, Ambry determines to work with Talon to get them back. Any day the Arcaians could drink her tears. Any day they’ll succeed at draining her people's magic completely, and all hope will be gone—not only for her brother, but for her world.

About the Author:


Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates stories for young adults. Cortney lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.

Purchase: Amazon | Facebook | Twitter


Review:


★★★


Cortney Pearson is one of those authors whose name I see all over the blogosphere, but whose books I had never read. I was excited to get a chance to read Such a Secret Place for the review tour. I'm a big fan of both fantasy and young adult literature, so I thought this would be up my alley. All in all, this was a decent read.

I wasn't really a big fan of the main character throughout the novel, but I didn't hate her either- I still was rooting for her throughout the book. It just got to some points where she really, really annoyed me. It was kind of like that one friend that we all have that you love dearly but just want to shoosh them sometimes. Most of the time, I was able to push this aside to focus on other aspects of the book, such as the awesome world building. I really liked the way that magic was integrated throughout both the world that Pearson created as well as the plot of the story. I liked that there wasn't really instalove, though there is a romantic kindling. I adore Talon, and I can't wait to read more of him in the next book in the series.

This book is rather complicated at times, but that's part of why I liked it. I think that's part of what I like about fantasy in general- the intricacies of a new world, and of the new creations or races or what have you that take up that world. The writing got a bit flowery for my liking in some parts, but overall I thought Pearson was really well detailed. It was easy to get lost in the story and swept up in Ambry's adventures.

Unrelated to the content of the book, I also really like the cover design. I think it's a fair reflection of the story within, and it'd catch my eye on a display.

I'd recommend this to fans of YA fantasy, especially ones that feature magic as a key part of the plot. While this wasn't a perfect read for me, I enjoyed it well enough and I would definitely consider picking up the next book to read more about Talon and Ambry. The strongest element to this story is the world building, which I absolutely loved.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Giveaway:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mini Review: The Ungifted Elf by AJ Martinez



Title: The Ungifted Elf
Author: AJ Martinez
Format: Paperback, 70 pages
Pub. Date: May 20th 2014
Source: Goodreads Firstreads


Book Description via Goodreads:



Eckxio, an exiled elf journeys to a mountain in hopes of gaining an ability that all elves are born with. Since his childhood, Eckxio was unable to cast magic and relies on his magic sword and shield to survive. He hopes to find the legendary fairy king in the mountain and believes the holy entity will grant him incredible magical powers. Eckxio desperately fights obstacles that cross his path as his faith fades away.





Review:


★★

I received this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program in exchange for my honest review.

I love fantasy books. That being said, I especially love fantasy books that contain elves. They're my favorite race/creature from fantasy, and I'm a sucker for any book that features them. That's why I was so excited to read this book, which is actually more of a short story at 70 pages.

There was definitely potential here. I could see where the author was trying to go, and the plot itself wasn't bad. I liked the ideas in regards to magic and world building that the author gave. It had all the elements that make fantasy great to me: a little companion, magic, a fairy king, elves, and a mountain adventure.

Unfortunately, this book is in need of some serious editing. There were quite a few grammatical mistakes that made it a bit rough to get through. Plus, when the story was technically correct in its writing, the sentences were short and choppy, lacking the long, detailed flow that I look for in a fantasy tale.

Like I said before, I think there is definite potential here. Maybe it just needs editing, or maybe it would be better reworked into a full length novel. I'm not entirely sure. I see good in this story, and I would happily read it again and edit my review if it is ever republished/re-edited.

Thanks to Goodreads for my copy.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stacking the Shelves 94: The Semester of Missed Mail Edition!



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

Good lord y'all. So I came home to a MOUND of books. MOUND. Maybe even a mountain. To the books that accumulated at my home address while I was away at school for the semester. This is


GOING

TO

BE

A

LONG

ONE


Also, I'll be cleaning my shelves this weekend and organizing what I have for trade, so be on the lookout for my tweets in the #booksfortrade hashtag. Shall we?

New from Netgalley:

Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1 by Peter J. Tomasi, Viktor Bogdanovic



Fabulous Freebies:

Order Up by Katie Golding
Let Her Go by M.R. Pritchard



In My Email Inbox:

The Violet Hour by Brynn Chapman



THE MOTHERLOAD


And unwrapped.



Demon Child by Kylie Chan
Pearls & Poison by Duffy Brown
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran
A Roux of Revenge by Connie Archer
Gilt Trip by Laura Childs
Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown
Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Between the Lines by Claudia Whitsitt *Signed, 4 stars!*
Rutabaga the Adventure Chef by Eric Colossal
Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau & Joe Sutphin


Bite at First Sight by Brooklyn Ann
Give It All by Cara McKenna
In Hot Water by JJ Cook
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler
Three Many Cooks by Pam Anderson, Maggy Keet, Sharon Damelio
The Ungifted Elf by AJ Martinez
Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? by Fujino Omori, Suzuhito Yasuda
The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe
Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Better Sex in No Time by Joesy Vogels


Holding Strong by Lori Foster
Flirting with Fire by Kate Meader
Captain Hawk by SJ Garland
Manhattan Mayhem by Mary Higgins Clark
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick

SIGNED


The Token 9: Chet Sinclair by Marata Eros
The Italian's Deal for I Do by Jennifer Hayward
Hades Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Embers by Karen Ann Hopkins

Other Mail


Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz


Tame Me by J Kenner
Find Me in Darkness by Julie Kenner
Wanted by J Kenner


Thanks so much to Beth over at Printcess for the amazing eye shadows to review!