Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Update on my Reading Life

Yes it has been a while since I posted...April 2017 is pretty much a blur for me. But I wanted to update my readers on what is going on in my reading and tea drinking life, so I thought now would be a good time.

Upcoming Read-a-thons
1. Dewey's 24hr Read-a-thon - happening this Saturday, April 29th about 1pm in my time zone. The goal is to make it to 12 hours of reading, the stretch goal is to make it to 15 hours. I don't really have a TBR set aside for this read-a-thon; I am just going to finish up any April reads or read a book for a book-related game I am playing with some online friends. I think there is still time to sign up and participate.

2. Bout of Books (Cycle 19) - happening Monday, May 8th through Sunday, May 14th. Again, no real TBR set aside, just the one big book I am reading for the Pop Sugar challenge (fills in the 800+ page prompt) and any book for the bookish game. My real goal is to really participate in the daily challenges - this is one area of the BoB read-a-thon I continually suck at. Sign ups are active; I've done the declaration post on my BookLikes blog.

Reading Challenges
1. Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2017 - 29/52 prompts filled. Starting in May I will be reading London by Edward Rutherfurd, and 829 page historical fiction about my favorite city. This is to fill in the prompt for 800+ page book. It will take me all of May and June to read it while I also read other books for the online game. If I don't get this prompt done before the first half of 2017 is over, I won't get to it in the second half due to procrastination and lack of enthusiasm for reading long books.

2. Library Love Challenge (OverDrive Junkie level) - 29/36 read; I don't count DNFs. Since I am close to finishing this one early, I might take the summer off from borrowing and picking up again in the fall. This will give me more room to read off my physical TBR shelf.

3. BookLikes/Good Reads Challenge - 57/150

Upcoming Events
1. RT Booklover's Convention 2017 - in just a few days I will be in Atlanta for my first RT convention! This has been on my bucket list for as long as I have known there was such a convention. And I have always wanted to visit Atlanta, so there will be some sight seeing as well as indulging in all things romance. I'm also excited for some warm weather - right now England is in a rain/cold snap weather pattern.

So that is what I have been up to. Can't wait to share my RT experience, my British Library experience, and more with you in May. Until then - happy reading!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Hey everyone! I know I have been majorly slacking here on my blog lately; it seems BookLikes is back up and running, so I have been reviewing and blogging there.

Today's topic is about the #trypod campaign - a hashtag that invites people to promote their favorite podcasts to friends, blog readers, family, etc. I am a big fan of podcasts; sorry not sorry but British radio really doesn't do it for me and the one American station here plays the John Tesh radio show for three hours every weekday morning....yeah so I have turned my iPhone into my personal talk radio station. I listen in the car, when I am cleaning the house, or at the gym; I use iTunes podcast app to listen.

So here is a list of my favorite podcasts, in no particular order:

1. Book Riot Media Group podcasts
    There is a group of podcasts from the bookish people at Book Riot. I listened to the Book Riot podcast, All the Books!, and Get Booked. The first and last podcasts are about a hour long; the second runs about 30-40 minutes. All of them release new shows once a week. Price: $Free, the shows are supported with advertisers.

2. Stuff You Missed in History Class
    My first podcast. I have only been listening to this since the current hosts have been doing the podcast. Each episode is about 30-45 minutes long and some topics take up two episodes. You don't have to be a history buff to enjoy this podcast - this podcast has the ability to make you into a history buff! The show releases two episodes each week; if the topic is a two-part subject, I wait until the second show is aired before listening to show number one. $Free, the show is supported with advertisers.

3. Disaster Area Podcast
    A relative new kid on the podcast block. Created, researched, hosted, edited - the whole enchilada is done by Jennifer M. who has a curious fascination with disasters, natural or man-made. There are no ads, so the host has a Patreon account if you want to donate some money towards the upkeep of the podcast. My favorite episodes are the movie breaks - they are hilarious! Episodes released when Jennifer has the opportunity to get them out. Price: $Free, no ads, donations welcomed!

4. Dirt Cast/Big Time Dicks
    The newest additions to my podcast listening, both podcasts are from the team at Dirt Cast is all about celebrity news and gossip, but they end up doing some really extensive journalism on some subjects; for example, their show on Scientology is a must listen to. Big Time Dicks is all about US politics and this new administration. Episodes release once a week. Price: $Free, no ads, no donations.

5. Throwing Shade
    I was recommended this podcast by iTunes as I also listened to Stuff Mom Never Told You (a now-defunct podcast). It took me a couple of episodes to get a feel for how Bryan and Erin work and interact, and then I went into the mother of all binge listens and listen to every episode in a matter of weeks. Hilarious, insightful, really great interviews - and cute dogs. Bryan and Erin also just finished their weekly television show (same name) and will be touring soon. Episodes release once a week. $Free, some ads, donations taken at the website.

6. Smart Podcast, Trashy Books
    My favorite romance book blog in podcast form. Sarah is a great host and Sassy knows her traditional Celtic music. My favorite episodes are All the Bitches Assemble (basically when all the bloggers get together and talk about a whole bunch of stuff, some not related to romance) and when the owners of The Ripped Bodice are on. Episodes release once a week. $Free, there are ads, but you can also send donations to Patreon.

7. The Readers
    Simon from Liverpool and Thomas from D.C. are the best trans-Atlantic Odd Couple you could ever listen to. I'm not one for literary fiction, but no worries as these guys read across a wide variety of genres. Usually episodes are released once every other week. $Free, no ads, no donations taken.

Until next time, happy reading podcast listening!

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 d├ęcor 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.