Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review: The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by by Joanna Wiebe

The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy, #2) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh-on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined.

Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves...or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben's destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others-only to lose herself?

My Thoughts:

This book begins right where the last one ended.    Anne has returned to Wormwood Island where Villicus is no longer headmaster.  The new headmaster, Dia Voletto, has brought many new ideas with him.  Mephisto is still at the island however, and Voletto and Mephisto have plans for a new college.  

Anne finds Ben, who is now a student at Cania Christy with his ex, Garnet, as his guardian.  Ben's feelings for Anne have not changed at all though and Anne has to make Ben want to try to win the Big V.   Anne will do anything to make sure that Ben wins the Big V.  Once she finds out who she is, she goes to great lengths to make sure her plan for Ben works out.

I loved that Molly, Pilot and Teddy were back in this book!  I even liked Harper in this book (at least I liked her more than I did in the last one).  Harper still has some serious attitude but I enjoyed it.  The Seven Sisters were also an amazing addition to the story! 

The twists in this book definitely keep you on your toes!  There are so many of them too!  I won't go into detail about any of them but just for an idea...there is the twist on who Anne really is, who Molly turns out to be,  what happens to Dia and who he really is.  There were so many that I was kept in the dark the whole time.  I didn't see any of the ending coming and that is how I like my books...completely unpredictable!

I really enjoy this series and cannot wait for the third book to come out!   I highly suggest you go out and get the first book in this trilogy to read if you haven't yet to get prepared for the release of this one.  You won't be disappointed!

**Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC copy for review**


Book Review: The Recipe Hacker by Diana Keuilian

The Recipe Hacker: Comfort Foods without Soy, Dairy, Cane Sugar, Gluten, and Grain 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
 Have your cake and eat it too! (and your pizza and your tacos and lots more.) This mouthwatering collection of healthy recipes takes out all those troublesome ingredients like gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy and leaves in all the flavor and indulgence.

My Thoughts:  

I was contacted to review this cookbook and I was really excited to accept!  In the last year, I have lost over 70 lbs. and it's all been from eating a clean diet and exercising.  Eating gluten free, grain free, sugar free is not easy for a lot of people and the recipes aren't always the most appetizing.  

This cookbook has sections for Breakfasts, Appetizers, Main Dishes, Sides and Desserts.  The first recipe I tried was the Banana Pancakes (mostly because I had all the ingredients but I thought maybe my kids would like them too).  These were easy to make but they obviously did take longer than making pancakes from a mix would.  I am happy to report that even my very picky children liked these pancakes.  The banana flavor wasn't strong at all and they had no idea that these pancakes were so much healthier for them.  

I tried the Green Smoothie next.  By the looks on my kids' faces, I knew they wouldn't even try it so it was up to my husband and myself to give it a try.  The recipe calls for a scoop of chocolate protein powder but we chose to use vanilla instead.  Both my husband and I thought this recipe was a yummy smoothie recipe.  We drink green smoothies a lot so it wasn't a new idea for us.  The flavor was mild and we didn't even use any stevia.  In my opinion, the spinach is sweet enough with the protein powder.  

The last thing I made from this book was the Teriyaki Salmon.  I love teriyaki anything so was excited to give this one a try.  Now, my husband is not a huge fan of salmon but even he ate it and appeared to enjoy it.  I loved this dish!  The sauce tasted just like teriyaki you get at the store or restaurant but it had no soy in it!  I may have added a little extra garlic because I love it so much but other than that, I followed the recipe exactly and will definitely be making this one again.

Eating healthy and clean is not easy in today's world.  Almost everything has something modified in it.  We are not perfect at eating "clean" but this cookbook has definitely helped us!  It is filled with excellent looking recipes that aren't difficult to make.  Some of the ingredients (like coconut aminos), I had to really look for because I had never bought them before.  Of course, eating "clean" is also going to be more expensive.  Almond flour and coconut flour are not cheap but I figure that our health is worth the extra money and honestly, since we've been eating better, we hardly ever get sick!

I highly recommend this cookbook if you want some excellent, clean recipes.  Even if you are new to eating this way, this book will help you out so much!  


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
  A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.
My Thoughts:
Jennifer is awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call from her oldest daughter, Emma.  Emma is attends school at Princeton but is studying in Spain for the year.  The news Jennifer gets shocks her.  Emma has been arrested in Spain for the murder of a young boy.  As Jennifer tries to sort through everything Emma is telling her and trying to free her daughter, she discovers that she doesn't truly know Emma at all.

This book is obviously loosely based on the Amanda Knox story so I was instantly interested in it.  As a mother, I found myself wondering what I would do in this situation.  I found Jennifer to be very naive when it comes to her children.  She is constantly telling Emma's lawyer and the private investigator and even her own husband that if Emma said it happened this way then that's what happened because Emma wouldn't lie.  Now, as a mom myself, I want to believe my kids are perfect.  However, I know they're not and I know that they don't always tell the truth.  I would certainly want to give my child the benefit of the doubt but Jennifer seemed to be very blinded.  

I didn't care for Jennifer's husband, Mark, either.  Mark is an American lawyer and instead of heading to Spain to be with his wife and daughter, he stays to finish up some cases.  Throughout the book, while Jennifer is in Spain the entire time, dealing with all these issues by herself, Mark constantly tells her that he has to work to pay for all the legal expenses and Jennifer's living expenses in Spain.  I do see where the expenses would be a serious issue and how he might need to stay and work and also be there for their other kids, I thought he appeared cold and not very caring.  

There were a lot of unresolved issues in this book.  First off, is Emma really telling the truth?  There is quite the twist at the end but it just left you hanging.  There are unresolved issues with Jennifer and what she ends up doing with her life now.  What happens between Jennifer and Mark (did Mark ever cheat on her?  Was he currently cheating on her?  Do they make their marriage work?) and what happens with the relationship between Jennifer and Roberto.  There are just a lot of remaining questions that I have and it annoys me (just my personal feelings here) when I don't have all the loose ends tied up.  

I enjoyed this book and it definitely showed me what kind of mother I do NOT want to be.  I really would have liked more answers at the end but the book was easy to read and had some twists the kept you interested.

**I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review**

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review: The Dark Witch (Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.


County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horseman, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

My Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed novels by Nora Roberts in the past.  I cannot necessarily say the same for this book.  It wasn't horrible but definitely not up to Roberts usual standards.

Iona is the main character in this story.  She is the main character however you really don't ever learn a lot about her.  Iona comes from America and is somewhere in her 20's (I think) but you don't even know how old she is.  You learn a little about her parents, how they divorced when she was young and how they really never cared or paid much attention to her.  You know she loves her Nan and that she loves horses.  That's all you really get.  Maybe that is enough for some but I wanted to know a little more about her.

Iona decides to sell all her possessions, quit her job and move to Ireland.  You might be asking why.  Well, because her Nan told her a story about a witch in Ireland and that Iona was part of that witch.  Nan told her she had cousins in Ireland and that together they needed to defeat some evil being.  That's all it took for Iona to make a drastic, life changing decision.  

Iona pops on over to Ireland, finds her cousin and introduces herself.  The cousin, Branna, accepts everything Iona says and welcomes her with open arms, as does Branna's brother, Connor.  Within two days, Iona has a job and a love interest and getting ready to move in with her cousins and starting to learn magick.  Yeah...realistic much?

Iona annoyed me SO much!  She said literally anything that popped into her mind.  Things that no normal person would ever say.  She just barely meets her cousins and their friends and she is already telling them that she finds Boyle incredibly sexy and attractive and that she is having sex dreams about him.  Did I mention she has only known these people for a week?  She talked way too much and sometimes I just wanted to smack her!  She was not a strong character for me.  

I enjoyed Branna and Meara.  I could relate to both of them a lot more than I could relate to Iona.  Branna is not nearly so optimistic and chipper and Meara says things like they are, no sugar coating anything.  The male characters, Boyle, Connor and Fin, were fine.  Boyle didn't really have a personality at all and seemed to be grumpy a lot.  

My other complaint is that you never find out the back story to any of the other characters.  Branna and Connor are related to Iona.  They live together in Ireland.  There is absolutely no mention of their parents (presumably Iona's aunt and uncle) nor does Iona ever ask about them.  You find out nothing about Boyle, where or who his family is or where he came from.  The only thing you know about Fin is that he is a distant relative to Meara.  It was very unrealistic to me.  If I moved to Ireland on a whim and met up with my cousins, I would at least try to find out a little about my aunt and uncle as well as my cousins.  From what I got out of the book, Iona had never before met these relatives so you would think she might find out a little about them.  

Iona, Branna and Connor have to fight the evil Cabhan, who wants their powers.  Cabhan was defeated years ago by the groups distant relative, Sorcha.  There are some action scenes with Cabhan but nothing overly exciting or suspenseful.  The plan at the end lacked a lot of, well, planning and was a little rushed for me.  

This book was an easy read that didn't take much thinking.  I could easily put it down to do other things and was not distracted by it in any way.  I do like the fact that it was about witches and magic and, since I already have the other two books, can only hope the series gets better.  


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WWW Wednesdays (Nov. 19)

W... W... W... Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. To play along, just answer the following questions.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you'll read next?

 What I am currently reading:

I am currently reading 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs.  I love the Bones books and need to get caught up!

 I am also reading Dark Witch (Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts.  I really enjoy her books but I wanted to wait until all three in this trilogy were out.  I hate waiting long periods of time
between books.  Now I have them all!
What I just finished reading:
I just finished Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis.  I was anxious to find out what happened to Amy and Elder after I read the first two books but this book got shoved to the bottom of my pile.  I'm so glad I moved it up and finished the trilogy.  

What I am reading next:

I am reading The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton.  This book sounds like it is loosely based on the Amanda Knox case, which fascinated me.  I can't wait to get into this one!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs and Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 My teasers this week come from 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs and Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts.

206 Bones (Temperance Brennan, #12)Sounds fill the stillness.  The clink of my pirated tools.  The tick of mortar falling on brick.  The wheeze of air in and out of my mouth.

I was sweat-soaked and panting when the door finally popped free and dropped with a clunk.

I inched to the edge and peered out. 

~page 197 of 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs 

Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1) 

Iona woke trembling.  Her right hand throbbing with pain, she groped for the  light with her left.  In its flash she saw the raw gashes, the run of blood.  On a shocked cry, she scrambled up, dashed toward the bath, snatching a towel as she lurched toward the sink.
~page 52 (on my Nook) of Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #10 by Nora Roberts 

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Susan K. and Tabitha W.!  They each won a copy of Gillian Anderson's A Vision of Fire from my giveaway.  Susan and Tabitha, I have emailed you guys with the information I need.  You have 48 hours to email me the information so I can pass it on to Simon & Schuster.  Simon & Schuster will then send you your copies of the book via UPS. 

Thank you all for entering my giveaway!  Stay tuned for another giveaway soon!

Book Review: Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Devil Bones (Temperance Brennan, #11) 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Following her most successful book to date, Kathy Reichs -- international number one bestselling author, forensic anthropologist, and producer of the Fox television hit "Bones" -- returns to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Temperance Brennan encounters a deadly mix of voodoo, Santeria, and devil worship in her quest to identify two young victims.In a house under renovation, a plumber uncovers a cellar no one knew about, and makes a rather grisly discovery -- a decapitated chicken, animal bones, and cauldrons containing beads, feathers, and other relics of religious ceremonies. In the center of the shrine, there is the skull of a teenage girl. Meanwhile, on a nearby lakeshore, the headless body of a teenage boy is found by a man walking his dog.

Nothing is clear -- neither when the deaths occurred, nor where. Was the skull brought to the cellar or was the girl murdered there? Why is the boy's body remarkably well preserved? Led by a preacher turned politician, citizen vigilantes blame devil worshippers and Wiccans. They begin a witch hunt, intent on seeking revenge.

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan -- "five-five, feisty, and forty-plus" -- is called in to investigate, and a complex and gripping tale unfolds in this, Kathy Reichs's eleventh taut, always surprising, scientifically fascinating mystery.

My Thoughts:
I have to admit that I am very interested in Voodoo and witchcraft.  I don't believe in it but I find it fascinating.  So I was very excited to start this book.  I was so involved in this one (which was not the case with the last "Bones" book, even though it was good) and finished it within two days because I could not put it down.

Tempe gets called to investigate the findings an underground chamber of an old home.  She finds a cauldron, chicken bones and a human skull.  While Tempe is investigating the findings, a body is found with an inverted pentagram carved into the chest.  From there, Tempe and two other detectives are thrown in to learning about Voodoo, Wicca and Santeria.  They are also faced with an Evangelical preacher/politician that is creating fear in the people with talks of satanism.  Top that with Tempe's always confusing relationship with Ryan and now another man and Tempe has herself some problems that spiral out of control.  

There is a lot of forensic science talk and some of that always goes over my head.  I honestly don't think that the author needs to describe every little procedure in complete detail, mostly because those of us who have not studied forensic science will not understand it all.  So that part is a little slow and dry for me but I love the mystery, Tempe's snarky attitude and meeting the new characters.  I found this book to be much more fast paced than Ms. Reich's last book and for the most part, I enjoyed every bit of it.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

My Thoughts:
It has been awhile since I read the first two books in this series so I was a little worried that I wasn't going to remember how they left off or all the characters.  As soon as I started reading, though, everything came back to me and I was instantly caught up in the story.

Shades of Earth begins with Amy and Elder and about 1500 of the people from Godspeed in the shuttle getting ready to land on Centauri-Earth.  Everyone is worried about what they will find on this new planet and if they will even be able to live there at all.  But first, Amy and Elder have to actually land the shuttle safely, which turns out to be more difficult than they thought.

After landing, all chaos ensues.  People are hurt and some are even dead, the Frozen are waking up and there are monsters outside the shuttle on a planet that no one has ever been on.  As Elder tries to maintain some control, Amy is excited to finally be able to see her parents again.  

As soon as Amy's dad and the rest of the military wake up, there is a fight for control.  The shipborns do not trust the military at all and the earthborns think the shipborns are strange and different and they don't really trust them either.  Amy's dad starts leading the people off the ship but the people soon find out that they are fighting against the unknowns of a new planet as well as monsters that they aren't able to see.  

I liked Elder a lot but sometimes he got really annoying and showed that he was really more of a child than a leader.  He demanded to be in control of his people but then he never really took any control.  Amy couldn't decide if she was going to stand behind Elder or stick with her parents.  She would think Elder was right in something but her father would disagree and instead of standing up for herself or Elder, Amy would just meekly follow her father.  I would get so frustrated with Amy and that disappointed me.

I am so glad that the people finally got off Godspeed and were on a planet with real air, sky and trees but there wasn't a lot of exploration of the planet.  The colony went from the ship, through the forest to the ruins where they stayed.  There was a lake and the compound and that was all.  I would have really liked to have seen more of the planet explored but with the ptero monsters out there,  I guess it wouldn't make sense for the people to go off exploring.  

I knew who the traitor was right away.  There are subtle clues throughout the book that I was able to pick up on.  I wasn't sure what the whole twist in the story was though, so it didn't detract in any way.  Once the twist was revealed, I actually felt sorry for the traitor.  I could totally understand what happened.  

I seriously could not put this book down!  It helped that we had our first snow of the year (which means everything shuts down here even though we get snow every year) so I was able to spend the days reading while my kids played.  This book was action packed and so full of questions that you couldn't stop reading until you got the answers.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Friday 56 (Nov. 14, 2014)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
 *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

For one second Maanik's eyes rolled to meet hers and Caitlin felt raw horror wash down her spine.  She had seen young people trapped in terrible circumstances - held hostage by a parent, pinned by a landslide -  but here she felt as if she were looking at someone who had wakened in a coffin and found herself buried alive.  The girl took an uncertain step and her eyes rolled to the ceiling.  She was still trying to scream.
 *This book was so fascinating!  Enter my giveaway to win it HERE. 

Noise swells from the cryo room, interrupting my dark thoughts.  At first I think it's just the natural volume of fifteen hundred people cramped together in one giant room, but then a voice screams in fury over the sound of all the others.