Thursday, January 26, 2017

Finished for Challenge

Book Review
Heir to a Desert Legacy
Harlequin, 2013
Read January 2017
1 star
I usually love Maisey Yates sheikh romances, but this one was a long slog to get through. It took me almost the entire month to read this less than 200 page book. The premise was different, but this was too stereotypical of the Presents line for my taste. The only reason I continued reading this to the end was that it filled a spot on the bingo card.
Sayid was a decent hero, but Chloe was all over the place mentally and emotionally and not smart for a doctoral candidate in physics. Their conversations were stilted when they weren't cringe-inducing. I could have done without the constant reminders that she had just given birth (yep, a virgin birth) and she was breastfeeding while sexy times were going on. And rocket scientist in training Chloe didn't realize breastfeeding was not a suitable replacement for birth control when she ends up pregnant at the end of the book (mere months after giving birth - which most medical doctors warn not to do, as it increases complications in second pregnancy and increases the chances of the mother suffering PPD or PPS). 

Damn Good Romantic Suspense

Another book for the Romance Bingo. Downloaded from OverDrive. New to me author that I will be putting on my list of authors to read more from.

Book Review
Harlequin, 2012
Read January 2017
4 stars
I haven't read a romantic suspense book in a long time. The author is one I haven't read before, but I was aware of her from an interview on a podcast I listen to and she seemed really interesting. I saw the book while browsing OverDrive and decided to give it a shot. I am so glad I did.
Aaron Bain is the hottest hero I have read in quite sometime. He has a healthy amount of brains to go along with his brawn, which a nice change of pace from the usual alpha-holes that dominated the subgenre. Risa Peters is smart, funny, and brave - she really was Aaron's equal even though she didn't have any experience in security or military. The two had a few dates prior to the opening of the story, but Bain hadn't called Risa to set up another date in weeks; Risa felt that any potential for a relationship was dead in the water. Until the two meet up when Bain rescues Risa from two hired thugs who were sent to kidnap "a brown haired young woman on the fifth floor" - which unfortunately for Risa, put her in the wrong place at the wrong time. Intense fighting scenes, escape plans, a bombing, and another attempted kidnapping of Risa makes this book 75% suspense, with the other 25%  all about the romance with adults actually talking to each other. The mystery is solved before the romance, which felt realistic. Overall, I want to read more from this author.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tea Review: Twinings of London Christmas Tea

I picked a box of this tea at my base commissary every year around Christmas time. The cover art is full of holiday cheer without being overly fussy, so it can be used as holiday décor in most styles. When you open the box, you don't get a whiff of the tea due to each bag being individually wrapped, which I fill is a bit of a missed opportunity to sell the product.

This is a black tea, and therefore is at full caffeinated strength. Please be mindful if you are sensitive to caffeine. The strength of this tea is a little less than a full English Breakfast tea. There are also artificial flavorings, mostly of the spice variety. Check the box for an ingredients list.

First Impression: the color of the steeped tea is a reddish brown but the smell finally kicks in and is simply soothing and delicious. The scent more than the color is what is appealing about this tea.

First Sip Reaction: A beautifully balanced tea - neither too plain (such as normal breakfast teas) nor overpowering spicy. You can taste the holiday cheer on your tongue via the clove and cinnamon flavor.

Bottom of the Cup Reaction: Well, I wished I didn't put sugar in this tea. Maybe a little honey, but honestly this tea doesn't need milk or sugar - it stands on its own really well. The spice level is a bit lower than in the beginning of the drink.

Final Verdict: The caffeine in this tea didn't keep me awake, so it can be consumed at night if you aren't sensitive to caffeine (or I must have a high tolerance to caffeine....). I went without sugar for the remaining cups of tea and would recommend the reader do likewise. A really great tea to settle down with some cookies and watch a holiday movie.

If you would like to try some, check out Twinings; the tea is sold in boxes of 20 bags or 12 count K-Cup pods.

Gaffigan Does It Again

By hour 10 of the 24in48 read-a-thon, I just couldn't get any more motivation to read another physical or electronic book, so I switched to an audiobook. I found this book on OverDrive and it fit a Pop Sugar prompt - a book about food, so win-win.

Book Review
Food: A Love Story
Random House Audio, 2014
Read in January 2017
5 stars
I have to say that Gaffigan is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedians. His delivery is spot on and his observations are keen without being snarky or mean-spirited. His work is also "clean" - no cursing or explicit material is found here, so you can listen to this with kids present.
I think this book is better than Dad is Fat (which I gave 4 stars) because it is the material is funnier, the author seems more comfortable with the subject matter, and the pacing has improved. With Dad, I had to set the speed of speech at 1.25; with Food, I kept it at the standard 1 and still listened through the entire book in one sitting. While I chuckled at the material in Dad, I laughed so hard with Food I gave myself hiccups. He is really passionate about food - as he states, he is not a "foodie" but an "eatie." There are also a lot of material dealing with his travels for his work. Of course, he had a section on Hot Pockets, which made me choke on my tea I laughed so hard.
A very pleasant and rewarding end to 24in48. I can't recommend this book enough, but I would suggest getting the audiobook over the print/electronic due to Gaffigan's delivery. 

Does Not Age Well

I read this book for Romance Bingo - Twins square and Pop Sugar Challenge prompt - read as a child.

Book Review
Double Love (Sweet Valley High #1)
Bantam Books, 1984
Read in January 2017
1 star
Oh, Sweet Valley High, how I adored you back in the late 1980s and through the 1990s! The twins, their family and friends, the town of Sweet Valley, California was everything I had hoped my teen years would be. My favorite twin was Elizabeth; she was good and kind and going to be a writer! She and Todd were meant to be together 4EVER! My favorite side character was Lila Fowler.
Well, I was eight when I first read this book, so cut me so slack.
Re-reading this book at 37, and OMG, this book does not age well. Liz and Lila are still my favorites, but now that is like saying my favorite Real Housewife show is NJ; the sane stuff amongst the shit show is pretty easy to spot and stick to. Yet, Liz does not have a backbone whatsoever; she had fortitude of a doormat. And I can't believe just how much Jessica was as an emotionally exhausting character. You could make a drinking game of just Jessica's personality traits that were repeated ad nasuem (take a shot every time she uses "hundred and thirty-seven" or chug a drink when she starts a crying jag - you will be on the floor passed out drunk in no time). But Todd - holy crap, was he this fucking dumb as a box of rocks or what? Seriously, what did Liz see in him? I'm actually glad Liz dumped his ass in the Sweet Valley University series and got with Bruce Patman (as played by Zachary Quinto in my head) in the newer series - she deserves so much better than dull as a dish rag and just as smart Todd.
The plotline still holds up though; the battle for SVH's football field is realistic for a YA contemporary. The side plotline of a possible affair within the Wakefield marriage was stupid and if Steven would get his head out of his ass he could have put his sisters' fears to rest long before the end of the book. Steven seemed so mature to me back in the day, now he is just as stupid as Todd and emotionally stunted as Jessica - a real gem.
Well, I got some reading challenge mileage revisiting this mess. Glad I stopped myself from buying more than this first book.

Another P&P Re-telling

I read this book for Romance Bingo - YA square.

Book Review
Prom & Prejudice
Point Publishing, 2011
Read January 2017
3 stars
A quick read, entertaining but a bit shallow in terms of feelings. Lizzie attends Longbourne Academy as a scholarship student, making her an outcast at the school. She has just two friends, Charlotte (fellow scholarship student) and Jane (Lizzie's room mate). At the beginning of the book, Lizzie meets Charles and Darcy (from Pemberly Academy, the sister school to Longbourne) at a welcome back party and is in instant dislike of Darcy; likewise, Darcy is immune to Lizzie's charms due to her status at school. Add there is Charles' twin sister, a Pemberly drop out named George Wick, and Jane's little sister Lydia, and well, the gang's all here (here being small town Connecticut).
The story was fun to pass to the time to and gain another square completed for the bingo. Lizzie and Jane are adorable and you can really tell their friendship runs deep. Lydia is just exhausting as a human being and just as stupid/naïve to fall for Wick as in the original. I connected with Darcy more here than I did in the original, but he was a little too thirsty for Lizzie's affections so soon into the story. Lizzie was the best character - she knew herself and had no problems standing up for herself and her friends. She also kept her wits about her, especially in dealing with Darcy and Wick. Wick is still an asshole of the highest order. The fact that she and Darcy were together in the end and both of them opted out of prom rang true for the story and was the best ending.

Timely Read

I read this book on the same day as the Women's March in Washington, D.C. and the sister marches all over the world. Pretty timely reading I must say. I read the first volume in March of 2016.

Book Review
March Book Two
Top Shelf Productions, 2015
Read January 2017
5 stars
March Book Two comes after the success of the cafeteria and luncheon sit-ins in Tennessee. Lewis star is rising among the different Civil Rights groups and within his own SNCC. The SNCC decide to take on the bus companies in the wake of the US Supreme Court decision of Boynton v. Virginia. This new campaign would become known as the Freedom Riders. The book ends with the 1963 March on Washington and Lewis' speech.

The pictures and story were engrossing and powerful, but still historically accurate. Lewis begins to spend some time with MLK Jr. but also describes how Malcolm X was a part of the struggle, even though the two men had differing ideas of how to go about fighting. Lewis also has no issue with mentioning Bayard Rustin and his role (and the backlash that came with him) in the planning of the march. Lewis talks about the divide within the SNCC between the voter enfranchisement sect and the direct (non-violent) action sect. Both would play a key part in continuing the fight, and much like MLK Jr and Malcom X, both showed a range of personalities and ideas within the Civil Rights Movement, making the movement less monolithic than simple history lessons often show the movement being.

I decided I needed the entire trilogy for my own personal library (the first two volumes were borrowed from the library). This is the type of story you give to your children to help expand their knowledge of their country's history.