Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Closed for the Holidays


I should have written this post last month, and I am sorry. Due to my busy schedule this season, I will be unable to post anything new until January 6, 2013.


I'll still be floating around the blogosphere, but what breaks my heart most is that I wont be able to comment on YOUR blogs. Due to the minimal time I'll have to be on my computer, most of my reading with be from my phone, at a stolen moment. I'll be reading, though.

And of course, Happy Holidays everyone! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares (#2)


Summary (from Goodreads)It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.


Review: How do I describe something so amazing except to say: READ THIS SERIES. Blake has created another stunner with Nightmares that will leave readers clamoring for more, yet luxuriously satiated by the last line. Anna, Cas, and the gang are back for more off-the-page terrors and achingly suspenseful delights. New mysteries are invited into the mix, giving Nightmares its added edge. Best read late at night for optimal enjoyment, yet don't expect the daylight to keep away the shivers crawling up your spine!

Formats: e-book, hardcover, audiobook

Senator Recommends:





Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Dr. Anderson's Nanny


Summary (from Goodreads)Magical Nanny University graduate Wednesday is excited about her first assignment at Dr. Thomas Anderson's home. Since the death of his wife, Tom has buried himself in his work. He has little time for his three daughters. Wednesday's first goal is to make Tom see how important it is to spend time with his little girls. Secondly, she needs to get rid of his girlfriend (with a little magic of course ) who hasn't a shred of compassion or love for his children. Third, she wants to bring laughter and fun into his life. But Wednesday never plans on falling head over heels in love with Tom. It's forbidden for her kind to love a mortal. How will she ever explain she's a cauldron-boiling witch to the scientific doctor and that she has to leave him and his girls forever when all her goals are achieved?


Review: There are so many things wrong with this book, I don't know where to begin. The on/ off attraction between Wednesday, the magical nanny, and Dr. Anderson, surgeon widower extraordinaire, are downright tedious. And also, Wednesday is a pretty bad nanny. Not just because she kisses her employer ON HER FIRST DAY AS NANNY, but also that all she ever feeds the three girls is junk food (seriously, healthy eating habits can be in literature too)! In short, Dr. Anderson's Nanny fails miserably to string together a good plot, only moments and glimpses of what it could have been.


Formats: e-book, paperback

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Dearly Departed (#1)


Summary (from Goodreads)Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Review: This is probably one of the toughest books for me to read thus far. It's got steampunk elements, zombies, a mysterious government, and a human/zombie love interest. Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately Dearly Departed fails to really excite readers. The multiple viewpoints comes off as confusing, rather than bringing the readers more into the New Victorian world. All in all, it's a hit or miss. Readers will either love it or dislike it.


Formats: e-book, hardcoverpaperback, audiobook

Senator Recommends:





Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: I Kissed a Zombie & Liked It


Summary (from Goodreads)Algonquin “Ali” Rhodes, the high school newspaper’s music critic, meets an intriguing singer, Doug, while reviewing a gig. He’s a weird-looking guy—goth, but he seems sincere about it, like maybe he was into it back before it was cool. She introduces herself after the set, asking if he lives in Cornersville, and he replies, in his slow, quiet murmur, “Well, I don’t really live there, exactly. . . .”

When Ali and Doug start dating, Ali is falling so hard she doesn’t notice a few odd signs: he never changes clothes, his head is a funny shape, and he says practically nothing out loud. Finally Marie, the school paper’s fashion editor, points out the obvious: Doug isn’t just a really sincere goth. He’s a zombie. Horrified that her feelings could have allowed her to overlook such a flaw, Ali breaks up with Doug, but learns that zombies are awfully hard to get rid of—at the same time she learns that vampires, a group as tightly-knit as the mafia, don’t think much of music critics who make fun of vampires in reviews...


Review: No. Just no. For the life of me I could not relate to Alley. In a world where being goth and “post-human” is normal, Alley and her friends make it a point to not hang with the in-crowd. She’s a self-admitted bitch and her friends aren’t that much better. It’s kind of like that moment in the movie, The Heathers, when you realize Christian Slater’s character isn’t really any better than the Heathers or jocks; Worse, in fact. (Side note: if you haven’t seen that movie you must). The silver lining of the book was the good-natured, zombified love interest -- Doug. Doug opens the reader’s eyes so much more with his patience, his understanding, and gentle, resigned nature.

Choppy, at best, I Kissed a Zombie fails to find empathy or excitement.

Formats: e-book, paperback

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues (#2)


Summary (from Goodreads)Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right—the zombie mafia.

Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower—and maybe a brain smoothie as well—in order to get through it without falling apart. 

Review: Angel is back and ready to kick some ass. Well, to entertain and make readers laugh. A new mystery and more trouble brews, inviting entertainment on every page. Rowland has created another stunner with Blues that fans (new and old) will adore!

Formats: e-book, mass market, audiobook 






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Monday, October 15, 2012

Quote It!: Diary of a Submissive








"It felt like a whole new world full of people who knew each other and were talking a language that I didn't quite grasp, with many using an elaborate form of pronouns (always capitalized for dominant, always lowercase for submissive no matter whether it was the start of the sentence or the word 'I'), which I found rediculous. I decided quickly that committing crimes against grammar was a hard limit for me."







Oohhh boy. In the sea of things described in this book this bit was too funny to pass up. Never mind that a chapter after this my face contorted in shock and puzzlement. If I were a daintier woman, I may have fainted.

Question of Note: What is something you will not, absolutely, stand for?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie (#1)


Summary (from Goodreads)Angel Crawford is a loser.

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue—and that it's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.

Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey—just when she's hungriest!

Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat.

Literally.

Review: This was a re-read, and still as amazing as I remember. Angel might think she's a loser, but in reality she is one tough cookie. She is joined by a full cast of flushed out characters, aiding to create a terrific book. Amazingly funny, filled with mystery, and fast-paced White Trash Zombie will make any reader an addict!

Formats: e-book, mass market, audiobook 

Senator Recommends:

 



Monday, October 8, 2012

Vegan Salted Caramel Mocha Cupcakes

It's officially becoming fall around here, and inspired by a recent post by Juju from Tales of Whimsy featuring Starbucks' salted caramel mocha I figured I'd whip up a batch of cupcakes! Best of all? They're vegan. Have no fear, animal product consumers, this recipe is easy enough that you can substitute the soy milk/ creamer for cow milk/ heavy cream and margarine for butter. Even if you keep it as is, no one will ever be the wiser!


Salted Caramel Mocha Cupcakes
Yields approx. 14 cupcakes

Cupcake
1 C.          soymilk
1 tsp.          vinegar
¾ C         granulated sugar
1/3 C         canola oil
1 tsp         vanilla extract
2 T         instant coffee
1 C         all-purpose flour
1/3 C         cocoa powder
¾ tsp         baking soda
½ tsp         baking powder
¼ tsp         salt

1)   Preheat oven to 350 F. Line pan with cupcake liners
2)   Combine soymilk and vinegar in small bowl (liquid measuring cup) and allow to rest for about 3-5 minutes until curdled.
3)   Add sugar, oil, extract and instant coffee. Mixture will become foamy.
4)   In another bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients.
5)   Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry (do this in three stages) until batter is combined. A few lumps is OK.
6)   Divide batter into liners, about ½ full. I use an ice cream scooper for easier transfer
7)   Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.
Fun Fact: the instant coffee will not give you any flavor of coffee in your chocolate cake but, instead, will enhance the flavor of your chocolate cake making it that much more moist and delicious!

Coffee Buttercream

½ C         shortening, softened
½ C         margarine (I use Earth Balance “butter”), softened
2 ½ C         powdered sugar
1/3 C         COLD coffee
1 tsp         vanilla
¼ C         soy creamer

1)   In mixer, using whisk attachment, cream shortening and butter together until fluffy and white (2-3 min on high). Scrape down bowl frequently.
2)   Alternate whisking on medium/low sifted powdered sugar and coffee into buttercream until combined.
3)   Pour in creamer into buttercream and whisk on medium. Mixture should form glossy medium peaks.
4)   Using piping bag and starred tip, pipe FILLED CUPCAKES (see below) to desired height.
Note: If buttercream is too fluid, add approximately ¼ C more powdered sugar. Alternatively, if buttercream is too stiff, add more soy creamer.

Caramel Filling

1 C         vanilla creamer
¾ C         brown sugar, packed
¼ C         maple syrup
3 T         cornstarch
3 tsp         vanilla
½ tsp         salt, or more (to taste)

1)   In saucepan whisk creamer, sugar, maple syrup, and cornstarch over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until thickened.
2)   Take off heat and whisk in vanilla and salt*. Allow to cool slightly.
3)   Once cooled, pour into piping bag. It will still be slightly hot, so wrap with towel to avoid possible burns. Pipe caramel into center of cupcake (you will have to scoop part of cupcake center out), access caramel may spill out.
4)   Drizzle extra caramel over frosted cupcakes.
*Note: The salt depends on how salty you like your salted caramel. Start with ¼ tsp, and pinch more in until desired taste is acquired. I got up to ½ tsp (or a little more) before it tasted right.


Cupcake and buttercream frosting adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. Caramel filling is adapted from an unknown vegetarian magazine, October 2012 issue.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Quote It!: I Kissed a Zombie & I Liked It








"Sadie is my oldest friend. She kind of falls for the whole vampire thing, but at least she's realistic. She likes dead guys, like every other girl in school, but Marie loves them. She isn't even interested in dating living guys. She's, like, necrosexual."







I may or may not have shrieked in delight when I read this. At a very inappropriate/ inopportune time, no less.

Question of Note: If you had the possibility of dating the undead, do you think you would be 'necrosexual'? And with what type of undead?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey


Summary (from Goodreads)A shrewd, laugh–out–loud parody of E. L. James' bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey series: 

Young, arrogant, tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

Review: A delightful parody that will have you bursting out laughing. Shaffer does a fabulous job making light of 50 Shades, as well as Twilight. Readers will fall in love with Anna's inner "guidette" and her blatant naiveté (see also, stupidity). The outrageous lengths Earl Grey will go to in order to catch Anna's attention, only to dump her are equally amusing. Easy and thin, this is the perfect afternoon, easy read for all.



Formats: e-book, paperback, audiobook

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Great Escape (#7)


Summary (from Goodreads): Where do you run to when your life has fallen apart?

Lucy Jorik is a champ at never embarrassing the family she adores—not surprising since her mother is one of the most famous women in the world. But now Lucy has done just that. And on her wedding day, no less, to the most perfect man she's ever known. 

Instead of saying "I do" to Mr. Irresistible, Lucy flees the church in an ill-fitting blue choir robe and hitches a ride on the back of a beat-up motorcycle plastered with offensive bumper stickers. She's flying into the unknown with a rough-looking, bad-tempered stranger who couldn't be more foreign to her privileged existence. 

While the world searches for her, Lucy must search for herself, and she quickly realizes that her customary good manners are no defense against a man who's raised rudeness to an art form. Lucy needs to toughen up—and fast. 

Her great escape takes her to his rambling beach house on a Great Lakes island. Here, she hopes to find a new direction . . . and unlock the secrets of this man who knows so much about her but reveals nothing about himself. As the hot summer days unfold amid scented breezes and sudden storms, she'll also encounter a beautiful, troubled beekeeper; a frightened young boy; a modern-day evil queen; and a passion that could change her life forever. 

In this dazzling follow-up to her New York Times bestseller Call Me Irresistible, Susan Elizabeth Phillips tells the funny, touching, enchanting story of a young woman searching for her destiny . . . and of a damaged man who doesn't believe in second chances.

Review: Gah. I'm usually such a fan of Phillips but, man, did this feel forced. Both Lucy and her bad boy biker love interest -- Panda -- felt hollow. The story did redeem itself 3/4 of the way through, when they both felt like real characters, but by that point many readers will be lost. Instead, I'd offer up Breathing Room (by Phillips) as a better do-the-opposite-let-loose story line.


Formats: e-book, hardcover, paperback, audiobook

Senator Recommends:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Ten


Summary (from Goodreads)And their doom comes swiftly. 

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury. 

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Review: Ten blows horror/suspense out of the water. Vibrant and very vivid, you’ll think you’re on the island trying desperately to avoid death from an unknown killer – most likely one of your new friends. Well written, Ten demands visceral reactions from its readers as instinct to hide or turn the page and go deeper into the mindset of each character. Simply put, it’s gleeful terror in perfection.



Formats: e-book, hardcover

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: Farewell to Charms (#3)


Summary: (from Goodreads) Desi Bascomb is a princess substitute prodigy--she's the fastest employee ever to advance to level three in the Facade Agency, and the youngest to ever be a full-time sub. But now with all eyes on Desi, the only thing she wants is a moment alone to talk to Reed, who's a Facade legacy and secretly a sub for princes. As Desi trains for her new role, she spies more than a few cracks in Facade's perfect appearance. But uncovering the agency's dark past might require more than a princess sub can handle by herself. Desi is no damsel in distress, but sometimes a girl needs a knight in shining armor.


Review: Leavitt has created a whimsical and magical series, yet, Farewell to Charms falls flat. Readers enchanted by Facade, Desi, Meredith, and Reed will find that all the build-up, secrecy, and romantic tension told in the previous two novels comes to a point in this latest book. And promptly falls off a cliff. While still enjoyable I have to recommend it, but don't be expecting the same gleeful anticipation as the last two Princess for Hire books.

Formats: e-book, hardcover

Senator Recommends:

 
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Running: An Introduction

I must confess.

I'm a runner.

I'm not an expert, or advanced (yet), but I put one foot in front of the other just like the best of them. I just happen to go slower and shorter distances.

I caught the running bug freshman year of high school. I loved it and I was hooked.


[insert awkward picture of teen with braces here]
Pictures are all at my parent's house, and therefore unavailable at present. 


Then senior year hit and suddenly I stopped.

Over the years I've started. Then stopped. And tried again. It wasn't until the Awesome 80's 5K that it truly stuck. It made running real.

Mere minutes after finishing
Rank: 1139


It's taken me many stops and starts to get to this point. A point of peace, of knowing in my heart of hearts this is something that will be part of my life for the rest of my life. And the best part? I'm just getting started.

Question of Note: Do you struggle with your passions too? What thing or things do you do for yourself that you couldn't live without?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Book Club

Four friends.
Attempting to read and discuss...
Book Club will never be the same. 


I couldn't help posting this. I saw it and just laughed and laughed. Happy Sunday!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Ready Player One


Summary (from Goodreads)It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

Review:  The imagery and detail was beyond amazing. Ready Player One is one of those books that you can SEE while you're reading the book, like you're watching a movie, or transported outside of yourself and into Wade's world. That being said, coupled with it being a dystopian... I found it pretty depressing. The quest to find Halloday's egg, while noble, becomes an obsession and the Oasis (the Internet on steroids) is transformed into a diseased drug that sucked me in too much.

A great statement on how society escapes and disregards human connection, I offer Ready Player One with caution. Read with a flare of detachment, and be open to the geek inside of you to roam free for a while.

  ****Audiobook Recommended****

Formats: e-book, hardcover, paperback, audiobook

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