1/15/17

Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: February 2016
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington
Length: 362 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received for free from RT16

As much as I "enjoyed" parts of this book, it will always be the "ass spanking book." As in: non-consensual ass spanking, which is a firm DO NOT CROSS line for me. So however much the plot grew on me, that one thing still stands out.

The other problem with the book, which is not the author or book's fault, is that it is post-apocalyptic. Which, given what a shitstorm our country is experiencing, was so not the book I needed. It is bleak times 1000, and I suspect it's probably the very last book of this kind that I am able to read for at least the next four years.


1/9/17

Blogging stalled by the CA flood; Book tracking apps

I had great plans to review a book or two over the weekend, but our power and Internet kept going out. Northern CA is experiencing a ten year flood: I-80 is closed due to mudslides and downed power lines. The Canyon is currently closed due to flooding. As in: the highway is underwater.

Meanwhile, the power finally came on last night, but our internet is still iffy. I'm typing this up on my phone.

Since I don't use Goodreads because of the troll incident a few years ago, I've been on the hunt for an easier way to track my reading. This week, I downloaded 3 different book apps: Litsy, Bookcrawler, and Book Buddy. So far, Book Buddy looks the best for my needs, but I'm going to use them all for the next month and report back.

Stay dry, folks!

1/5/17

Review: The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon (Games People Play)

Format: ebook
Pub Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Avon
Length: 384 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Purchased myself

Well...I debated even doing a review of this one because I can't quite figure out how I feel about it. It was getting LOTS of buzz on Twitter, which should have been a huge warning sign for me (I'm a perpetual outlier), but I've also read and enjoyed HKD before, so... I bought it and read it. And now I can't decide how I feel. Sigh.

The whole book is just murky. I never did get a firm handle on the hero or heroine. The only real character that I clicked with was an employee of Wren's named Garrett. Everyone else just kind of existed in a bit of a fog. Unformed. The dialogue was even weirder since Wren is incapable of talking like a normal person and answers every question with another question or simply deflects. After awhile, it started to drive me completely crazy. Which is what it was supposed to do, I think? Murky.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Ok, I admit it. I am weird. I do NOT like chocolate chip cookie dough. Never have. I love chocolate chip cookies, but the unbaked dough is gross. But, that being said, I'm in the minority in this household, so I had my 3 guys begging me to make these after they spotted the recipe on Pinterest. 

I think everyone knows the warnings about eating raw cookie dough, because of the uncooked eggs. Fortunately, these use sweetened condensed milk as a liquid replacement for the eggs, but they DO contain uncooked *flour* which has recently become a bit of an issue, too. So eat at your own risk, cookie dough lovers.

Cookie Dough Truffles
Recipe from CakesCottage

Ingredients:
½ cup (1 sticks) butter, room temperature
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans*
1 pound dark chocolate candy coating**
*My family doesn't like nuts in their chocolate chip cookies, so I just upped the amount of chips to 3/4 cup
** I use the pound-plus bars from Trader Joes or the Ghiradelli chocolate wafers available at my local grocery store. 

Instructions:
  1. In a bowl combine butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. (You can sub more chocolate chips for the nuts)
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approx 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle.
  5. Shape mixture into 1 inch balls by rolling a spoonful in the palm of your hand (I use a melon baller to keep the size consistent.)
  6. Place on paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until firm again.
  7. In a bowl, melt dark chocolate candy coating either by placing atop barely simmering water as a double boiler or by microwaving according to package directions. I got tired of dipping truffles about halfway through, so you might consider doing this in batches, depending on how much time you have.
  8. Dip the cookie dough balls into the chocolate and place on parchment paper. I use a fork to dip and gently shake the excess off before placing on the parchment.
  9. Let the truffles sit until hard, about 15 minutes.
  10. Once set, remelt remaining candy coating.
  11. Carefully drizzle chocolate over truffles either by using a ziplock baggie with a tip snipped off or by dipping a fork and gently shaking it about 2 inches above the truffles. As you can see by the fancy picture, I didn't bother with that part this time. They still tasted fine according to the boys.
  12. Store in the refrigerator and serve cold. These can also be frozen for longer storage.

1/3/17

Review: Since the Surrender by Julie Anne Long

Format: Mass market paperback
Pub Date: August 2009
Publisher: Avon
Length: 371
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: purchased used

I discovered the Pennyroyal series really late. I've read a few over the years, but was so out of the loop that I didn't realize they were a series until recently. This is an earlier entry in the series (there's a myspace page on the author bio), and it's a good one.

Although I've heard complaints about anachronisms, I think what sells JAL's books is her voice. She writes with such emotion and could probably lead a master class on how to show and not tell. Her books are immersive. This one was so particularly strong on sensory details that I made a ton of notes of favorite passages...something I'm usually far too lazy to do.

An example:
Just slightly, he brushed his cheek along hers, and she felt the heat of his skin, the start of whiskers, the hard plane of his jaw. His breath, hot, soft, brushed the lobe of her ear, and then his firm lips were there, just scarcely brushing the whorls of it, and gooseflesh danced over arms and legs and spine and, for all she knew, her very soul.

12/31/16

Happy Hogmanay!

Quickie Review: A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn Macamara

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: March 2013
Publisher: Ballantine (Random House)
Length: 325 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received at RT, no idea where or when.

I'm not 100% certain this is a debut novel, but I *think* it is. If so, it's a fairly good one. A slightly better than average historical romance with strong, if entirely conventional, characters. I guess the title should have clued me in, since it's a throwaway one, but...eh.

Normally, I'm ALL ABOUT friends to lovers stories. Those are my catnip. Seriously. But this one just didn't really click for me. I really wanted more emotion, especially considering the two main characters have known each other forever. With that kind of shared history, there should be shared emotion, shared jokes, etc.

The "villain" isn't very villainous, just a dick, and there's a lot of confusing stuff about a $5000 bet/debt thing that I really just didn't understand. It could definitely have been more clear. There's a secondary romance, too, which felt like it took up far too much page time that could have been spent fleshing out the relationship between our hero and heroine.

There's a lot of potential here. The characters are mostly decent, the plot is ok. The writing is ok. What's missing is a strong voice, atmosphere, and emotion. Hopefully those will come with time.

The Blurb:
After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.

Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…

…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures