Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Fairy Tale Retellings I Want to Read.


I love a good list so I'm always excited when it's Top Ten Tuesday time!  It's hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Fairy Tale Retellings I want/have read.  Now while I want to read a lot of them I don't think I've read too many so this list is going to lean heavily towards the want with a few haves added in!

Books I Want to Read

1.  Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

2.  A Wicked Thing by Riannon Thomas

3.  Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

4.  The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

5.  Valiant by Sarah McGuire

6.  Snow White Red-Handed by Maia Chance

7.  The Best Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

8.  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Books I Have Read


9.  The Queen of Hearts series by Colleen Oakes -  This is a prequel to Alice in Wonderland told from the Queen of Hearts POV.  I like that the Queen of Hearts is made sympathetic but not particularly likable.  So far there have been 2 in the series of short books but it's been awhile and still no 3rd book.  I'm hoping she's just taking a break because I want to know what happens next!

10. An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - The third book in the Bridgerton series is a Cinderella retelling and a wonderful one.  There's evil stepsisters and a seriously evil stepmother, and a ball.  While this isn't my favorite book in the series but it holds one of my favorite scenes - where Violet Brigerton tells the evil stepmother that while the stepmother may outrank her Violet is more popular.  It's great!

Fairy tale retellings are one of those things that I absolutely love the idea of but haven't been so great about actually making the time to read them.  I'm hoping to fix that one day soon!

What fairy tale retellings do you want to read?  Do you have any favorites?


Monday, August 3, 2015

The Naked Eye - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  It's been four months since the events of Sight Unseen, and Kendra Michaels is obsessed with trying to track down serial killer Eric Colby.  Despite his apparent execution at San Quentin, Kendra is convinced that Colby is alive.  The trouble is, she can't prove it.  Even her razor-sharp powers of observation, honed while blind during the first twenty years of her life, have gotten her nowhere.  So no one believes her.  (from Goodreads)
Until a reporter who ambushes Kendra is murdered in a horrific way that mirrors Colby's MO and until a police detective involved in the case disappears.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: This is an author I've been wanting to try for quite some time so I was excited to participate in this tour.

My Impression: 
There are certain genres where I really have to like the main characters to really like the book.  Luckily mysteries - particularly of the more thriller variety - isn't one of those genres.  I didn't really like Kendra.  I found her interesting, intelligent, and incredibly driven but she's not someone I'd want to go to coffee with.  I would however pick her to investigate my murder.  I did like Beth and Sam and thought they contributed significantly to both the investigation and the tone of the book.  I'd like to see more of Lynch but I suspect we will see more of him in later books and I got the feeling he'd been a bigger character in previous books.  We are well into the Kendra Michaels series but that didn't get in the way of getting into this particular story.  For starters the authors did a good job of keeping the character list manageable.  There aren't 100 FBI agents and detectives all with detailed backstories you have to keep up with.  I'm sure that Kendra has quite a history with Griffin, Lynch and the rest of the characters but all I needed to know for this story was contained in the pages of this book.

The pacing was very good and I found that I could jump back into the story pretty quickly if I had to put it down for any time.  Colby is a seriously creepy guy and this was definitely a book that if I was reading at night I had to read a chapter or two of something happy before I went to sleep.  Colby is not someone I'd want appearing in my dreams!

Overall, this was a quick read with a scary bad guy, interesting characters, an intense pace and a well done mystery.  While this was my first book by the Johansens it won't be my lat.

Giveaway:  As part of the tour they're giving away 1 copy of the first book in the series Close Your Eyes for each tour stop.  That means that one commentor today will get a copy of the first Kendra Michaels book.  The rules are simple - just leave a comment with the email address that you can be reached at.  On Monday, August 10th at 11:59 CST I'll pick a random number and contact that person.  US/Canada only please!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, I'd especially like to read the book where we are introduced to Beth.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, while it is suspenseful and creepy I don't think it's too over the top.  I think most mystery readers would enjoy it.

Challenges Met?


Sunday, August 2, 2015

This Week in Reading - August 2


It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Snowflake Bay by Donna Kauffman - I really enjoyed her earlier series and have been really looking forward to her new Brides of Blueberry Cove series.  I already have the 1st book in the series so I thought why not and went on and grabbed the 2nd! We'll ignore the fact that I haven't technically read the 1st book.  (NetGalley)

All Wrapped Up by Kimberly Kincaid - I absolutely loved the previous book in the Pine River series and that was a novella so I'm excited to see what she can do with a full length book.  (NetGalley)

Gone But Knot Forgotten by Mary Marks - This is for a blog tour in September and it's a cozy mystery I'm really excited about.  It's a quilting theme and apparently there's a closet full of skeletons.  Both real and metaphorical.  It looks really fun!  (Blog Tour)

The holiday books showing up on NetGalley are kind of killing me!  I'm trying not to over request as I got so burned out on them last year but they're all so tempting.

Currently:

Reading:  Crushed Velvet by Diane Vallere and Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson

Listening:  Still nothing but something's coming soon!

Watching:  Sadly, HGTV isn't playing any more Tiny House Hunters right now I have to wait to yell at more people horrified that there's no sink in the bathroom and that they'll have to use the kitchen sink.  Seriously, you can stand in the bathroom and reach the kitchen sink, time to get past it.  I'm currently celebrating that Netflix has NCIS on streaming and am doing some binging!

Off the Blog:

For the first time we got two tuition bills - one for Eleanor and one for Emma.  That was a bit shocking!  This weekend was all about getting Emma's dorm stuff together as she'll be leaving in 2 weeks.  Paul starts school tomorrow so we found him a backpack and some stuff but luckily we haven't had any crazy school supply lists.  As for me I'm currently working on To Do list for when the Tornado goes back to school next week.  .
I've gotten obsessed with hidden object games!  I used to play them years ago but kind of pushed them aside and forgot about them when I got a little busier.  I've recently just found them again and have been having the best time.  They have several Agatha Christie games (the screenshot to the left is from Death on the Nile), a Nora Roberts and just a whole host of others.  If you go to Big Fish Games you can download them and get an hour long trial for free.



On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Naked Eye Blog Tour Review and Giveaway
Tuesday: Top Ten Fairy Tale Retellings
Wednesday: Rome in Love - Contemporary Romance/Fiction Review
Thursday: Crushed Velvet - Blog Tour Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Linkups featuring current book
Saturday; TBD but probably a recipe of some kind.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Surplus Cooking

There comes a few times every summer when I have far more of something than I know what to do with.  Last year it was zucchini and we had some kind of zucchini as a side dish for every meal until I wanted to cry at the very sight of a zucchini growing on the plant.  This year strangely enough my zucchini has done nothing.  My squash plants are being very considerate and giving me the perfect about at decent intervals.  My cucumbers, however, did not get the memo.  Add in the fact that I'm really the only person in my house that likes cucumbers and every one else I know has more than enough of my own and I have far more than I know what to do with!

So I pulled out my copy of Favorite Recipes with Herbs which is a book I really should use more than I do.  This is a great book to have on hand if you have a garden and/or herb garden.

This time this recipe for Sweet and Sour Cucumbers saved the day:

3 medium cucumbers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1.  Peel cucumbers, and then score them lengthwise with a fork.  Slice very thin.  Put on paper towels and blot dry.
Mix together sugar, vinegar, water, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Add cucumbers and toss lightly.
Chill for several hours before serving.

I basically followed the recipe.  I cut it into thin disks and didn't worry too much about scoring it and I put the cucumber slices into a mason jar, mixed up everything else, poured it over the cucumbers.  Then I put the lid on and gave it a gentle shake and put it in the refrigerator.  It's been a great side dish with just the right amount of tang.  Plus it's pretty!

If you have a ton of cucumbers this is definitely worth trying!  It's super easy to make, easily doubled and tastes great with a full meal or a quick lunch.

Then came the peach orchard incident.  I'm very lucky that I live about 15 minutes away from two fantastic orchards.  And last week I visited both.  I had this dream of making peach preserves but it didn't quite happen which left with a pile of peaches that were heading past ripe faster than we could eat them.
So of course I headed over to Pinterest to see what peach deliciousness I could find.  First up was this recipe for Peach Drop Cookies from Bake or Break.  I was a little surprised that you diced in the peaches and added them into the dough but these turned out SO good!  They're light with a really nice cake-y texture and just the right amount of juicy peachness.  I ended up using 1/2 peach preserves and 1/2 apricot preserves because I ran out of peach and it worked really well.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Linkups: The Naked Eye














It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you collect things that are book related?  Like bookmarks, nameplates, 1st editions

My Answer:
Other than books themselves I really don't.  It's not that I don't want to own more bookish stuff it's just that it doesn't seem to happen.  I plan on turning one of the bedrooms in my house into a reading room and then the collection of all things bookish will be ON!

This week's book is The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen.  I've been wanting to read a book by Iris Johansen for awhile so when a chance to participate in a book tour for her newest release I couldn't pass it up and I'm really glad I didn't!  The review for this one will be up Monday but I've really enjoyed it so far and can't wait to see how it wraps up!

The Beginning:
She was floating, floating in a pool of blood.
No, now it had become a river of blood.

My Thoughts;
Well that's upbeat!  No seriously that's quite a beginning.  Given the change from pool to river I'm guessing this is a dream.  If not the "she" in question is in serious trouble.

The 56:
Never mind the plastic tub and jugs of hydrochloric acid that were waiting in the cellar for her, Colby thought.

My Thoughts:
Well Colby sounds like bunches of fun.  I think upon meeting someone for the first time your first question should be - do you have a basement?  followed quickly by - "is it filled with jugs of hydrocholoric acid" because if the answer is yes you should avoid them.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Should you avoid people with jugs of hydrocholoric acid stashed in their cellar?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beyond the Books: The Real Me



Once again I'm participating in Beyond the Books hosted by KissinBlueKaren a feature where we look behind the books.  Today's topic is The Real Me and I'm combining it with the Reading Habits Tag.  I was tagged by Tina over at Novel Meals and I think these two should work together.

Five Facts About Me:

1.  My favorite color is green.  I have to make an effort to not choose that for everything - clothing, paint colors, household items, jewelry, etc.

2.  I'm very much a homebody.  Given the choice I would stay at home about 95% of the time.  If I spend to much time away from home I start feeling frazzled.  On the flip side we're planning a little vacation for September and I'm really excited about it.

3.  Without contacts I'm virtually blind.  My vision is really really bad.  Like a prescription of -10 bad.  Forget not being able to see the big E, I can't even seen the chart.  Luckily it's fully correctable but it's a little weird to think if I'd been born 100 years ago I'd be considered blind.

4.  I'm a night owl.  I stay up to 12 or 1 most nights and could probably stay up longer except I make myself get up at at 7 most mornings.  

5.  I'm a total TV junkie.  I love TV - crime dramas, true crime, anything food related, book related Hallmark/Lifetime movies, My To Watch list is almost as long as my To Read List!

Reading Habits Tag:

While this is still book related I think a person's reading habits show a lot about them so I thought I'd share mine.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
I do most of my reading in my bed but I'd really like to do more reading in a big comfy chair in the living room.  However, with the Tornado still being little I don't do much daytime reading!

Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I usually use a bookmark.  My first choice one is one that Emma made for me when she was in kindergarten (she's leaving for college in 2 weeks) and if I'm already using that one I have a set of owl bookmarks that are next.  I have been known to use a random piece of paper but that doesn't happen very often.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?
I normally stop reading when I'm so tired words stop making sense but I do like to stop reading at the end of a chapter.
Do you eat or drink while reading?
I try not to eat because when I'm reading I don't tend to pay attention and could eat an entire bag of chips without realizing it.  I do have a drink with me - generally Diet Coke or herbal tea depending on the time of day and my mood.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
I like to have music on while I read but it's not necessary.  I can read with the TV on if it's not something I'm super interested or if the book has really hooked me.

One book at a time or several at once?
I have at least 2 going at once - 1 ebook and 1 print book but I usually try and do separate genres so I don't get confused.

Reading at home or everywhere?
Most of the time I read at home but that's more necessity than preference.  I don't like to read if I'm somewhere with the Tornado as I get too absorbed.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?
Silently unless it's too funny or interesting not to share.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
It depends.  If there's an animal or a child in a thriller I've been known to flip to the back and make sure they're still around in the ending.  Sometimes I skim a scene or two if something's dragging on a bit too much.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I'm not super picky about this - probably because the majority of my books I've gotten used.

Do you write in your books?
Absolutely not!  I wrote in a cookbook once and I still don't feel quite right about it.

For this one I'm tagging:
Quinn at Quinn's Book Nook
Bea at Bea's Book Nook
Lark at The Bookwyrm's Hoard
BrittanyL at This is the Story of my (Reading) Life
and anyone else who I missed but wants to do it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Storm Rising - Blog Tour Review + Excerpts


Storm Rising by Rachael Richey
Source: Blog Tour

Description: Frontman of the grunge rock band NightHawk, Gideon Hawk has had enough of the rock star life.  He is jaded, disillusioned, and haunted by the memory of an unresolved heartbreak.  On a whim, he leaves the band in New York and heads to England in search of answers.

After attending the funeral of her estranged mother, Abigail Thomson makes a shocking discovery in her parents' attic.  The still-raw memories that surface, along with even more startling discoveries, force Abi to face a devasting truth that leads to a series of life-changing events.  She and Gideon must race against time to reclaim the life stolen from them a decade before.



Excerpt:

Abi saw the car as she came along the main road. There were never many tourists around in November, and to see a strange car parked in the lay-by was worthy of a second glance. Probably someone who got lost, she thought to herself as she turned down her track.

            She had spent the day with one of her clients in Penzance, sorting out the artwork for their new marketing campaign, and she was very glad to be home. She had lit the fire before she left the house that morning, and the chimney was smoking cheerily as she got out of the car and headed for the front door. As she turned to close it behind her, she once again noticed the strange Range Rover parked on the main road. She paused for a second, then shivered and closed the door. For some reason the sight of it had given her a little chill in her heart. She shook her head in exasperation. What was she turning into? The events of the past week must really be taking their toll.

            She tossed her jacket down on the sofa and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. As anticipated, the little cottage was very warm and cosy, and Abi anticipated a lovely warm relaxing evening. Although she was very fond of her friend and neighbour, she couldn’t help hoping that Chris wouldn’t pop over. She really fancied a night to herself.

            She made a cup of tea, cut herself a slice of cake, carried them both over to the fire, and sat down on the hearth rug. A basket of logs stood to one side of the woodburner, and Abi opened the doors and tossed another log onto the already roaring fire. She gave a little shiver of pleasure. She really liked to be warm. She was going to enjoy the evening.

            She leant back against the sofa, extended her legs in front of her, and took a large bite of cake. No sooner had she done that than the doorbell rang. Abi rolled her eyes and tried to swallow her cake.

            “Come in, Chris, the door’s open!” she called, spraying crumbs in all directions.

            After a moment the door slowly opened and a deep voice said, “I’m not Chris. Can I still come in?”

            Abi leapt to her feet and swung round to face the door. For the last ten years she had dreamt of the moment when Gideon Hawk would appear on her doorstep, and now it had finally happened she had no idea what to do. For a few long seconds they stared at each other, neither daring to speak. Then Abi took a tentative step forward and nodded her head jerkily.

            “Yes. Come in,” she croaked, her mouth suddenly dry, adding automatically, “Mind your head.”

Review:

This book is told in 2 different time periods - Abi as an adult in 2005 and Abi as a rebellious teenager in 1995.  I found the modern day Abi really interesting as she tried to build a new relationship with her father as well as face some of the old and unhealed wounds from her past.  Unfortunately I wasn't nearly as interested in teenage Abi.  She was a seriously realistic 15 year old with the attitude and the naive-ness that they don't even know is there and she drove me absolutely nuts!  I did do a lot of skimming through the teenage years and was always relieved to see the 2005 at the top of the chapter.  While this wasn't for me the pacing was good and I did keep reading because I wanted to find out what the secrets where and how Abi and Gideon dealt with them.

This is the first book in a new series and I like that the other guys in the band will each have their own book.

Thanks to Tout Sweet Tours for this book in exchange for an honest review.