Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cupcake Overload by Bethany Lopez

Cupcake Overload (Cupcakes Book 2) by [Lopez, Bethany]



****I agreed to voluntarily read this book and this is my honest review.****

This is book 2 in the Cupcake series by Bethany Lopez.  I reviewed the first quite a while ago and enjoyed it just as much as this one.  The book itself is a fast paced and fun read.  Lila is back with her new hot Hawaiian biker Cade ( I keep picturing Jason Mamoa for some reason), her girls, and her twins.  She is now the owner of the only PI firm in 3 counties and she is not lacking for work.  She is out for an evening of fun with her ladies when a routine trip to the bathroom ends up in an altercation that comes back to bite her in the butt. She ends up having to figure out who killed the very girl her and her friends help save from a potential rape.  The murder and mystery parts of this book are a welcome addition to an already awesome and sexy romance story. This was such a fun read and I will absolutely be adding book 3 to my TBR pile.  I give this a solid 3 because it was a good read but I wish the characters were just a little more developed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Catching A Witch by Heidi Eljarbo

If you are a fan of historical fiction then you should absolutely grab a copy of this book from author Heidi Eljarbo. Set in Norway in 1660, Clara Dahl has returned to the seaside home of her youth to spend time with her best friend Bess and to start a school for the local children. She is just starting to get settled in when she hears that the famed witch-hunter Angus Hill is coming to her town to help root out evil. Clara begins to get alarmed as she remembers stories from other countries of the witch trials that have been happening. Bess comes from a long line of healers and has helped many people in the town. Clara watches as the townspeople she has known and loved turn their backs on their neighbors and get swept up in all the allegations of witchcraft going around town. Angus Hill soon turns his attention to Bess. He holds her prisoner and it is up to Clara to find a way to stop the vile man before anymore innocent people get harmed.
This is a pretty fast paced story that sucks the reader in right from the beginning. I also recommend reading the author's note at the end since she goes in to detail about what was historically accurate in the book. I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Real Thing by Melissa Foster- My Review

Description



My Thoughts:

This book is super cute. It has all my favorite elements in a romance. It has humor, steaminess, touching moments, a sexy alpha male, and a happily ever after.  I love that Willow is such a natural beauty inside and out.  She cares about her family friends, and community. She is very easy to relate to.  Zane is the boy next door who became a huge celebrity.  He has been in love with Willow forever but as one of the hottest male actors around he comes with a very busy past when it comes to women.  Zane wants to make a change in his career and knows that it requires him to clean up his reputation.  His plan seems simple enough. He has loved Willow as a friend and maybe more so a fake engagement seems like the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.  The downside is that he MAY have overestimated just how hard it would be to keep the lines between reality and fiction straight.  I was rooting for this couple from page one. Willow and Zane are like the couple that you can't help but want to hang out with. Willow has a lot of siblings and Zane introduces a few characters of his own that I hope to read more about in the next installment to the Sugar Lake series.

****Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake Romance for granting me an advanced reader copy of this book. All opinions expressed here are my own.***

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

***I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine Books******


Description



My Thoughts

This is the first time I have read anything by Jamie Ford but I plan to change this pretty quickly.  This book has so many layers to it that I am not sure how to begin. It is a romance, a drama, and a glimpse into American history in the early 1900's.  The book is based on the true story of a boy named Ernest who was raffled off at the 1909 World's Fair.

The story starts with a 5 year old half Chinese boy witnessing his mother commit a truly violent act.  The boy and his mother are starving.  She wants to give her son the chance to have a better life so she sends him to America with a group of human traffickers/slave traders.  Ernest finds himself on a boat with other Chinese and Japanese boys and girls on their way to be mail order brides, laborers, and some other very unsavory positions.  He meets the first girl he will ever love on this boat.  Once in Washington, Ernest finds himself bouncing from 1 boarding house to another. He has a benefactor at his last boarding house and he decides that he should ask her if he can be released to make his own way in the world.  She has other plans and Ernest finds himself at the 1909 World's Fair being raffled off like some sort of prize. He is taken in by a madame at a very high end brothel in the red light district.  Ernest begins to embrace and even love his new life as a driver for the house. He also has 2 girls that he has fallen deeply in love with.  Ernest, Fahn, and Maisie form an unbreakable bond that helps them navigate through some pretty tough scenarios.  

This book is so well written that the reader begins to feel what the characters do as the author tackles tough subjects like human trafficking, physical abuse, mental illness, and prostitution.  The chapters are set up so that each one just about is set in a different time period ranging from Ernest in the present (1960's) to Ernest in his childhood/teenage years (1900's).  The fact that a lot of places and events in the book are real as well as the overall treatment of immigrants speaks volumes on the American mindset at the time. I enjoyed this book very much.  I actually plan to add a physical copy to my bookcase. My final thought: 5/5 stars.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Review of The Dark Tower

 ****Trailer courtesy of Youtube and AMC*****

I promised in an earlier post that once I saw Stephen King's The Dark Tower that I would review it and that time has come.  The Dark Tower is actually a series of books.  King fans will recognize this as well as be able to point out that throughout this series you begin to realize that all of the books Stephen King writes are interconnected.  The trailer above will help tie some of this together for you.  I noticed a reference to about 4 different books while watching the movie. ( Talk about your Easter eggs).  If you are not a huge Stephen King fan or you are unfamiliar with the book series that is just fine because you can still enjoy the movie.

Plot:

 The Dark Tower is the only thing that holds the universe together and something or someone is trying to destroy it.  Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) is the last Gunslinger and as such has sworn an oath to protect the Dark Tower at all costs.  However, he has lost his way and now all he cares about is revenge.  He has been chasing the Man in Black, Walter O'Dim (Matthew McConaughey) for what seems like an eternity.  Walter is responsible for the deaths of the previous Gunslingers including Roland's father but for some reason his magic does not work on Roland. Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is a teenager living in modern day NYC who has been having horrible nightmares for the past year.  He wakes from each dream and draws what he has seen.  It soon becomes clear that he is drawing both Roland and Walter as well as places and events from Mid-World.  Walter is searching for the right child to bring down the Dark Tower so he can let in darkness and rule over everything. Jake finds himself being tracked by the Man in Black and so he decides he must find the Gunslinger if he has any chance of saving himself and possibly the world.

My Thoughts:

Truth time....I have not read any of the Dark Tower books except the first one when I was a teenager.  I have read several other books by King which was enough to help me spot the little connections shown throughout the movie.  This was a PG-13 rating so it was not filled with swearing or gory scenes. It ran for about an hour and a half but it felt pretty fast paced to me.  The action sequences were awesome.  I know there were some haters that felt like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey were wrong for their respective parts but let me assure you they were cast perfectly.  McConaughey makes being a baddie look so good and Idris Elba was a badass with his weapons.  Both of these men have had plenty of experience playing both good and bad guys so it made the dynamic between them that much better.  I will not spoil too much of the movie but I will tell you what I saw that tied in other King novels. There were references to It, Misery, Christine,  and The Shining.  I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: You Say It First-Happily Inc. #1 by Susan Mallery


Book Blurb Compliments of NetGalley: 

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool's Gold romances invites you to visit Happily Inc., a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale 
Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue's captivating owner, Pallas Saunders. Although he won't let love consume him, for ecstasy with an expiration date, he's all in. 
Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can't turn the floundering business around, she'll have no choice but cave to her domineering mother and trade taffeta for trust funds working at the family's bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn't belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he's right—where she really belongs is in his arms.
Susan Mallery has done it again!  I have yet to meet a series by her that I didn't love and this one is going to be no different.  First of all, who doesn't love the idea of an entire town dedicated to falling in love and finding your happily ever after? The chemistry between Pallas and Nick is undeniable and had me cheering them on from the beginning.  The other characters  which include Pallas' group of girlfriends and Nick;s brothers all had me guessing as to who the next couple was going to be.   I loved the addition to Pallas' twin brother Cade and her cousin Drew to the mix of available bachelors in the town as well as reclusive writer Jasper.  My mind was literally going crazy trying to figure out what couples would be formed in upcoming books.I laughed so much throughout this book and now I can't wait to sink my teeth into book 2 which comes out in September.  No worries I will be reviewing that one as well since the wonderful people at NetGalley and the publishers were awesome enough to grant me ARC's of both.
If after reading the book, like myself, you can't get enough of the Happily Inc crew then I highly recommend heading over to Susan Mallery's website (www.susanmallery.com) and checking out all the fun extras she has like a map of town, coloring pages, a widget to create your own wedding story, and all kinds of behind the scenes info on the many characters.

Review: The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

The Art of Hiding

Nina came from meager beginnings and was looking forward to becoming a nurse after high school but one day while visiting a construction site with her father Nina's whole life changes.  She meets Finn. He is older, successful, and owns his own company.  They fall in love and before she knows it, Nina has the comfortable and luxurious life she always wanted. Years pass by with Nina busy caring for her husband and her 2 boys, Connor and Declan.  A twist of fate destroys the life Nina and her sons have known in the blink of an eye. They are forced to start all over again in Nina's hometown with hardly anything left to their names.  The rest of the story is one of hope and finding the strength to be happy with what you have not miserable thinking about what you don't.

Reading Nina's story of life after tragic loss helps put in perspective the whole question of whether or not money can buy happiness.  Nina had what she considered to be the perfect life with the exception of always feeling isolated and timid around the other families in their prestigious neighborhood. The aftermath of her life blowing up is realizing that money and material things can certainly make life comfortable but it's the people and experiences in your life that bring true happiness.

The characters in the story are easy to relate to. I enjoyed seeing Nina's personal growth as well as that of her children. The one scene that stuck with the most happens at a sports banquet for her son Connor and is rugby team.  He gets an award and in his acceptance speech he thanks Nina for always being strong and someone whom he could look at like a personal hero.  This scene is very touching. It's the first time the reader gets to see Nina truly appreciate how far she has come and what survivors they all are.

I have seen some mixed reviews about this book but I just want to go on record and say that I really, really enjoyed this book. The only reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5 is because I wish that Nina had been just a little bit angrier and less zoned out when it all started to fall apart.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for granting me an ARC and being cool with me leaving my honest opinions of the book.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang


 I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I honestly do not know where to start. It's been a long time since a book has left me feeling so unsettled for lack of better terminology.  The book is a collection of stories told from the viewpoints of young girls that immigrated to NYC in the 90's with their parents from China and Taiwan.  This is a very important collection of stories that I do believe help the reader put themselves in others shoes and realize how fortunate their lives have been.  The first story " We Love You Crispina" sort of reaches out and grabs a hold of you.  The descriptions of the poor living conditions, the lack of food, and racism is pretty graphic.  There was a scene involving regurgitated food that almost made me gag my damn self.  The rest of the chapters were filled with shocking, perverse, and even uncomfortable sexual interactions.  It was a tough read for sure.  I actually had to put it down a few times.  I really liked the way the author wrote in very plain and brash language because to be honest that  voice is what makes the book so memorable.  I would not recommend this for young adults under the age of 18 because of the sometimes graphic nature of the stories.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Friday Night Plans!

                                                        ***Courtesy of Youtube ***

I have always admired Stephen King's ability to continually write stories that suck the reader in and terrify and intrigue all at the same time.  I have read some of the books that included the characters in The Dark Tower. I am very glad to be going to see this movie tomorrow night.  I mean let's be real....Matthew McConaughey and  Idris Elba in one movie! How can anyone not wanna see that?   I will post a full review on here as soon as I get a chance this weekend.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Releases For Theses Two Kindle World Series



I don't know about you but I love being able to read books all set in the same place or with characters who show up again in different stories.  If you haven't experienced any of the Kindle World series then let me introduce you to two of my favorites.  The "Dare To Love" series is based on the popular book series by Carly Phillips.  These novellas are steamy and fun. 

Check them out now!
Falling for the Dare Elaine Marie http://amzn.to/2h0dspo
Don't Dare Me Jen Talty http://amzn.to/2uUr77h
His Daring Play N Kuhn http://amzn.to/2h0uBiz
Stunning Dare Taige Crenshaw http://amzn.to/2uujR0E
A Stranger's Dare Vonnie Davis http://amzn.to/2uyQWXX




The second series worth getting into is based on author Aleatha Romig's "Infidelity" Series.  These books are filled with dark romance, suspense, sexiness, and sometimes shocking scenes. These are hard to put down for sure.

You can also join the series fan club here! https://www.facebook.com/groups/368121873586542/ 
Envy A.D. Justice http://amzn.to/2uUVhVw
Revelation Amy Briggs http://amzn.to/2uSjcVu
Collared LeTeisha Newton http://amzn.to/2ue0FkH
Diamonds N Kuhn http://amzn.to/2uVwLU7
Devious Solease Barner http://amzn.to/2f2K1lS
Captivate Stacey Lynn http://amzn.to/2uSx7Li 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: The Fat Bitch Diet by A.R. Khan

               *****I agreed to voluntarily read this book and give my honest opinions.*****

Viola Ginamero has life but the tail.  She has had the greatest boyfriend, Franklin, for the past 9 years and just knows he is gonna propose anyday. Her best friend Shaniqua and her have been working at The Protein Hut in perfect unison forever and she has an amazing video channel.  Then the unthinkable happens and in the middle of her day Viola hears her beloved tell the entire world that not only does he not want to marry her but he refers to her as a "Fat Bitch".  Just like that her whole world starts to spin out of control.  She then decides to lose weight  and get Franklin back and a proposal to boot.

This was a fairly decent read but a slightly difficult one for me.  I actually found Viola to be disgusting and annoying in some scenes. I also felt that Shaniqua was unnecessarily ghetto at times.  However, the story of redemption and perseverance was pretty a compelling one.  I really liked the secondary characters that became like Viola's family and how they supported each other. I only gave this a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads and Amazon. However, I believe it is the beginning of a new series and the book got so much better by the end that I would read part 2.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Something New Review: Book 2 in the Brides of Cedar Bend Series


I love reading Lena Hart books. Honestly part of the appeal is that they feature interracial couples and it isn't the main focus of the book.  I love that she is so color blind when she writes.  The main couple here is actually not interracial but it completely irrelevant. This series is going to be one of my favorites.  It is just so well written that you can't help but get sucked in from page 1.  I read this in one sitting simply because I could not put it down.

Savannah " Savvy" Williams  is a nutritionist fresh off a pretty bad break up on her way to be maid of honor in her little cousin's wedding.  She just wants to get through it and move on to the next phase of her life which includes finding a new job.  Damian Carson is a mechanic in the small town of Cedar Bend and the minute he rescues Savvy he knows he doesn't want to let her go.  These two have chemistry off the charts and end up in a fake engagement themselves.  How far will they go to maintain the farce?  I guess you will just have to grab a copy and find out for yourself.

This one is getting 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon for sure.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'm Back!!




I posted last Wednesday and then nothing. I know, I know this is very bad for business so to speak but we went away fro an extended weekend.  We had never been to the Thousand Islands in NY and so we thought we would give it a try.  It was simply amazing. We actually stayed at a campsite, tent and all.  It was right on the water and I got lots of great pics of sunrise and sunset.  We took a boat tour that took us all around the islands and it's popular castles ( the Boldt Castle and Singer Castle) and just relaxed.  Needless to say this is why I have not posted since last week and why I have no particular movie to discuss today.

I did notice that Netflix has added some new and interesting shows to start watching.  There is " Van Helsing" and it is one season.   "Ozark" stars Jason Bateman is new and is also 1 season.  It seems to involve some sort of murder and drug money. The have added a family friendly original series called "The Worst Witch".  This one looks super cute.  The one I am starting tonight is "Friends From College".  It stars Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Fred Savage, and a slew of others.  It takes place 20 years after college graduation with a group of friends trying to reconnect.  I will post a review when I finish it but until then I am off to eat espresso chip ice cream and Netflix.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Newest Show You Should Be Watching On TV


***Courtesy of YouTube***

I spent most of this past weekend watching live interviews and new trailer premiers that were featured at San Diego Comic-Con.  There were so many live interviews on Twitter that I didn't know where to start. There were a few things that made me super excited but more on that later.  

My new TV obsession is NBC's new show "Midnight, Texas". It premiered Monday 7/24 at 10 pm est. It is based on the book series of the same name by Charlaine Harris (also the author of the Sookie Stackhouse aka True Blood series). All the books take place in a small town called.....wait for it.....Midnight, Texas.  The town in on a crossroads literally in the middle of nowhere and all the inhabitants have secrets. There are witches, vampires, murder, and all manner of paranormal creatures. Manfred Bernardo is the newest resident. He is a psychic on the run looking for a place to fit in. There are currently 3 books in the series so that is a pretty good indicator of how long this  TV series could potentially last.

I love the books and was not in the least disappointed in the TV adaption.  There are a few actors you might recognize such as Jason Lewis ( think Smith in "Sex in the City"), Peter Mensah (or as I remember him...Kibwe in "True Blood"), Dylan Bruce (Adam Donner from "Arrow"). and Arielle Kebbel ( Lexie from "The Vampire Diaries").  This show is odd to a great start and sure to be popular with "True Blood" or "Supernatural" fans.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Today I have two books added to my "TBR" list. First is a book I actually found for a buck at a local Dollar General.  The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith. I read 2 of his other books which went on to become movies. I, of course, watched them both ( Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter and Pride and  Prejudice and Zombies). The main character in this new book, Henry Sturges,  actually appeared in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The story is told from Henry's point of view as a lone vampire traveling throughout the 20th century. I love how the author takes what you think you know about history and twists into something almost unrecognizable and highly entertaining.







The next book has me so excited that I am actually scared to start
reading it for fear I won't be able to put it down.  I mentioned in
an earlier post just how much I love Anne Rice and I was honored
to be gifted an ARC of her newest book. The only thing I almost
love as much as her Vampire Chronicles series is the Ramses The
Damned. The first book ( The Mummy or Ramses The Damned)
 was so freaking good I read it in 1 sitting.
Actually, make that 1 1/2 because I did take a break and inhale
a pot of coffee so I could read the rest.  This new book picks up
with Ramses and Cleopatra as immortals who are constantly
fighting each other while at the same time trying to come to
terms with the new powers they possess.  The are trying to
figure out all there is to know about the elixir that made them
this way and find themselves being hunted down by an entity
even older and more powerful than they are.

FYI: It was announced in April this year that Paramount
Television and Anonymous Content optioned the rights to 11
of Anne's the Vampire Chronicles books with the intent to
produce a long- form TV version. The companies have
already produced series together such as "Berlin Station" and
"13 Reasons Why".

Monday, July 24, 2017

5 Things I Love About Spider-Man: Homecoming

                                        ***Clip courtesy of YouTube and Marvel Studios***


Oh Monday, how I despise you. I am feeling fairly sluggish today.  It is Monday and it's very rainy here but I need to talk about my feelings on Spider-Man have changed drastically. I have seen all the movies made about Spider-Man and I really liked Andrew Garfield's version so I was positive I would hate this new reboot. Now all of a sudden we have a relatively unknown guy playing him and he actually is high school age, It just seemed confusing to make him a teenager while all the members of the Justice League he idolizes are adults. I will admit to finding his appearance in Captain America: Civil War pretty entertaining. I just wasn't sure I wanted to watch a whole movie abut him. I WAS SO WRONG! I loved it and here are my reasons why:

1. The opening sequence where they roll the Marvel Studios logo out is all new and updated. It shows all the characters in the Marvel Universe including Black Panther and other newer characters in their live action form instead of in their comic book version.

2. Tom Holland makes a really perfect teenage Spider-Man. Spoiler: The movie opens to show the viewer that Peter was videotaping his stint with the Avengers. In fact Happy is driving him around and yelling at him not to record anything. It is such a teenage thing to do these days. He films himself all through the movie and it is very funny.

3.The evolution of the suit throughout the movie. There are a couple of versions in the movie thanks to Tony Stark. He gives Peter a new suit that he has trouble figuring out but it comes equip with his very own "Suit Lady" guide. (See clip above)

4. The girl Peter is crushing on is NOT Mary Jane. It was a nice surprise not seeing him fawn over MJ until the end where you realize the error of your mistake. Watch the movie and I promise that will make perfect sense.

5. Michael Keaton as the bad guy. He is one of my favorite actors. I just watched him in the movie The Founder ( about how he "founded" McDonald's- He made me not want to eat there again just because he was not a nice man). He was a pretty awful guy in that movie. Well, at least I thought he was but it was nothing compared to how bad he was in his role as Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture.

True to Marvel fashion there are 2 extra credit scenes but only one of them foreshadows what is to come.  I really, really liked this movie so much. It had just the right blend of humor, action, and teenage angst.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

So Many Books, So Little Time



Hello there! I know it's been a few days since I posted anything new. I have been trying to catch up on some reading that I was way behind on. I hit a wall. The problem with loving books like I do is that sometimes I don't know when to stop . Seriously, I have a stack of 8 books waiting to be read and I have literally started each one. They are all pretty good which is made it hard for me to just settle on reading one. Does this happen to you? I can't even begin to tell you how many ebooks I have purchased for my kindle. I have decided that the lucky winner will be the newest Anne Rice book. She is one of my very favorites and her series The Vampire Chronicles is just so good. Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis was published in November 2016. If you are not familiar with the title you may recognize Interview with the Vampire as one of the books in the series or the movie version of it starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Product DetailsProduct Details

She has several different series out and I love them all.  If you like witches then you should read her series Lives of Mayfair Witches. Do wolves make your heart race? Try her series The Wolf Gift Chronicles. Anne Rice is amazing. I am looking forward to her new book due out this fall.  I get very picky about the whole "book to screen" situation but the 2 movies made from her The Vampire Chronicles series have been done so perfectly that I have watched them at least 30 times each.  Lestat as played by Tom Cruise was admittedly not what I had pictured but it worked out well enough. Lestat as played by Stuart Townsend was exactly spot on. If you haven't read the books or seen either of these movies do yourself a favor and do so immediately. You will not be sorry.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Select by Marit Weisenberg



Description

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Shakespeare Will Never Be The Same!


I mentioned in a previous post that TNT was debuting a new series called Will.  It is a modernized version of William Shakespeare's life in his early 20's. There is not much known about his life prior to him becoming the famous playwright we've all heard of.  I have read several reviews that were less than kind. I personally loved everything about it. The music is punk/rock and so obviously not what would have been heard in the 16th century in London but I love the extra edge that it adds. I know so many people are going to pick apart every little thing about this series that doesn't seem historically accurate but it is too much fun for all that.

Spoiler Alert:
The series is meant to show how Will (Laurie Davidson) leaves his wife and 3 young children to move to London to make his fortune as the next famous playwright. He comes from a very strict Catholic family at a time when members of this religion are being hunted down. He is mugged almost immediately by a street rat but none the less he manages to find a job working at a theater run by James Burbage (Colm Meaney).  It is in this theater that he meets Alice and Richard Burbage who he clicks with right off the bat as well as Christopher Marlowe (Jamie Campbell Bower).  Marlowe is also a playwright, a spy, and Will's greatest rival.

The first 2 episodes played back to back on Monday night and I can't wait for the next one.  The series is 10 episodes long and it is rated for mature audiences.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My July TBR List


This month my TBR list is pretty long. I have about 10 books on tap but these 3 are the ones I am reading first.  These ones are all ARCs offered to me through NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for my voluntary and honest reviews.  I have almost finished Select by Marit Weisenberg.  I will not go into detail here because I will post a full review later but it is so good. I literally hate putting it down.  The other two books I have not started yet but I am really looking forward to it. I am also in the middle of Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty and Prince Lestat and the Realm of Atlantis by Anne Rice.  These are my own picks and I am only a few chapters into each and can only imagine the awesome endings each has in store for me. I am also auditing a course through the University of Virginia called Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction because I clearly need more reading in my life. Seriously the reading list for the course is fairly lengthy. Today's post is super short because...I have some reading to get back too. Later!

Monday, July 10, 2017

ChiPs Was Too Funny




I don't want to show my age with this but....I actually remember being a little kid and watching the TV series of CHIPS. I may or may not have thought Erik Estrada looked amazing in his California Highway Patrol uniform.  Seriously though, I was actually excited to see what a movie version of this would look like.  It stars Dax Shephard (Hit and Run) and Michael Peña (End of Watch).  The general storyline is that Ponch is an undercover Federal agent that has been assigned to the CHP to bring down a criminal organization and he gets a rookie Jon Baker as his partner. Jon is an ex-motocross racer who has just been beaten up by life literally and figuratively. His wife ( played by real life wife Kristen Bell) wants nothing to do with him and he is sure being a cop will help save his marriage.
I was surprised that this was only rated 6 out of 10 stars on IMDb.  I really enjoyed it.  I laughed so much throughout the whole film.  The way that a bromance forms between these two is super funny. There is a scene where Ponch has to carry a naked Jon to his bathtub and he slips. The end result was laugh out loud funny.  I would give this one at least 8 out of 10. It is definitely a must see if you are looking for something to unwind with after a long week.

FYI: Be on the lookout for a guest appearance of Erik Estrada at the end of the movie.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bully Hill Vineyard is a Must See

I usually enjoy spending my birthday just relaxing at home with my family and eating my favorite meal.  This year my sister-in-law surprised me by inviting me along on a girls only road trip to Bully Hill Vineyard. Her mother and I share a birthday so it was a perfect gift for us both.  I have never been to a vineyard but have always wanted to go.  The road trip there and back was filled with laughter, pics, and lots of singing to the radio. We decided to eat lunch first and then walk around and experience what Bully Hill had to offer.  The restaurant is overlooking Keuka Lake and the view was breathtaking.

The food was the very best part.  We all tried to order something different but my sister-in-law and I couldn't decide what to order so we each got something different and shared. Then of course we ordered wine!  

They let us sample the kind of wine we wanted before deciding. Clearly we liked Red and White both. I can't remember what the white wine was but the red was Sweet Walter Rose and if you love a sweet wine then this is for you.
This is the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich. It is fantastic as long as you can get past the legs dangling from the bun. The fries are covered in garlic, parmesan, salt, and pepper.
This is the Portabella Crab Cake. This is by far the tastiest hing I have eaten in forever. It was topped with scallops. So yummy!

Needless to say, after the wine and food, we did not actually go on the  minute walking tour. We opted to go through the gift shop where I purchased my very own Bully Hill wineglass and coaster.  We did tour the Walter S. Taylor Art Gallery.  This is filled with stories from the early beginnings of the vineyard to the original paintings by the founder himself. Our last stop was in the tasting room where we all purchased several bottles to take home.  I had the best day and left feeling relaxed and stuffed. I will be returning in the very near future and may just tour some of the other vineyards through out the finger lakes region.  

If you are in the area and want to plan a visit you can find all the info you need on their website
https://www.bullyhillvineyards.com/

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine is FANTASTIC


 This is the 3rd book in what I have recently found out will be a total of 5 books.  I enjoyed the first 2 so much that I was on pins and needles waiting for this book.  I almost passed out when I was lucky enough to get picked to receive an ARC ( hence the not so colorful pic above) from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group. This one picked right up where I left off in the previous book without missing a beat. I just can not get enough of these characters. I would be lying if I didn't say that I really love the badass ladies of the group. A book about books and an evil Library that writes history as it sees fit is a genius concept. The way the characters interact with each other to form a family is one of my favorite things about the series.  I agreed to give my honest opinion of this book voluntarily and I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Why not 5? I am dying from suspense due to the extreme cliffhanger I was not ready for.

Here is a quick blurb compliments of NetGalley for those of you not too familiar with this series:

The unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire unite to save the Great Library of Alexandria from itself in this electrifying adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.
 
Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny....
 
Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.
 
Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library....


Ash and Quill will be released on July 11. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or whatever your favorite retailer is. Just make sure you grab a copy!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Welcome to July!


Wednesday came too soon this week.  I had plans for the holiday weekend but to say they went well would be a gigantic lie.  I had planned a 2 day camping trip to a state park in PA that we had never been to. I had my book all picked out to take with me and I was feeling particularly stoked about spending less money than these trips usually cost us. My version of camping is to explore during the day, spend late afternoon reading, and roasting marshmallows by the fire at night. None of this happened! The trip there was 3 1/2 hours of nothing but windy country roads. Seriously, I felt like I was on a roller coaster. I have never been car sick a day in my life but this trip had me feeling nauseous for sure. The road to the campsite (which was on top of a very steep mountain) was loose gravel and only suitable for 1 vehicle at a time. Did I mention we were very high up in the mountains and the roads were narrow and WITHOUT any guardrails? Upon reaching said campground we discovered that all the tent sites were literally inches apart. Ours promised it was by the water. We had a swamp. Don't get me wrong there was a very large creek nearby but it could be heard instead of enjoyed because of all the people. We passed a few places at the bottom of the mountain that sold firewood but we decided to set up first and then go back for the firewood.  This was a huge mistake. It turned out that it was another 15 miles uphill to get to our spot and it took 40 minutes to get there.  Needless to say, after our disappointing site was revealed we had to drive all the way back down to get the stupid wood. We only stayed overnight because we were both so stressed out on the way there it would have been a nightmare to make our way back out of the forest in the dark. Oh and the best part.....the road destroyed my muffler so now it sounds like I am driving a jet. Screw you tiny PA state park!

However, we came home early Sunday morning and the rest of our weekend was amazing.  We grilled and relaxed by our own fire pit. I got my read on (see pic above) and it was fantastic. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty is just one of the books I am in the middle of.  I am also finishing up Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine ( more on this will be posted tomorrow). I didn't get any ,movie watching in but I did discover a couple of new series that I plan to check out. The first is Daytime Divas. It's about a popular daytime women's talk show with co-hosts Maxine, Nina, Mo, Kibby , and Heather. They discuss the same types of things you would expect from a talk show but behind the scenes is a world full of drama.  It's based on a book called Satan's Sisters by Star Jones.  It features Vanessa Williams, Tichina Arnold , and a few other familiar faces.  You can find this on VH1 on Mondays at 10 pm est. The next one premiers on July 10th on TNT. It is called Will and it is a modernized, steam punk version of the life of William Shakespeare in his early 20's and his rival Christopher Marlowe. TNT is airing the first 2 episodes on the premier night. I love Shakespeare and look forward to this series, especially since Jamie Campbell Bower will be playing Marlowe.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nuts ( Hudson Valley #1) by Alice Clayton


I have been holding off posting a review for this one simply because I wanted to read all the books in the series first.  I can't wait any longer. You may have read some of my earlier posts on the Wallbanger series and the Redhead series by Alice Clayton.  I freaking love her books. I know the second I pick one up that it will be hysterical, sexy, and have the perfect amount of smuttiness. This is book 1 in her new Hudson Valley series.  It did not disappoint at all.

Roxie Callahan ( a character that appeared in the Redhead series) has been a private chef in Hollywood catering to some pretty famous people.  She is constantly re-vamping recipes to fit in with her clients various eating habits which makes her love cooking that much more for those clients that eat real food.  Her mother calls out of the blue one day to inform her that she needs to come home and run the family dinner.  Mom and her sister are picked to be on a reality show and so they will be gone for several months. Roxie is stuck because she loves what she does even when she can barely make ends meet but needless to say her family loyalty (with help from an unfortunate, career ending dairy incident) wins out in the end.  She moves back home to upstate New York to her small town where nothing exciting happens and everyone knows you. The only good thing she can see about the move is that she will at least be close to her best friends again.

Enter Leo Maxwell and his gorgeous farmer self.  The minute he walks into her diner carrying a basket full of walnuts Roxie knows she is a goner.  The sparks fly and witty, sexy banter starts flowing.  Leo is part of the farm to table movement and is helping Roxie realize maybe there really is no place like home.  Naturally Leo comes with a little baggage and a tall, dark, broody, hot friend who runs the neighboring dairy farm. Hint: He is one of the main characters in book 2. Leo is everything you want in a sexy farmer.

Naturally, I loved this book.  I will warn you though. I laughed out loud so many times that I actually had tears running down my face at one point. I will also warn you that the food mentioned throughout this book had me starving and.....I ended up planning a visit to upstate New York myself to tour one of the many farms supporting the food to table movement. I did not run into any farmers quite like Leo but it was an amazing time for the whole family.

In case you are wondering, this was a 5 star rating for me on Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Netflix Original: Girlboss

                                          ******Courtesy of YouTube and Netflix*******

This is my pick for "What to Watch Wednesday".  It is a full season but each episode only runs about 25-30 minutes long.  I will admit I had only a vague notion of  Sophia Amoruso prior to this show. It's based very loosely on her life ( so it says at the beginning of each episode).  I loved everything about it but this is NOT kid friendly. I repeat NOT kid friendly. There is a lot of filthy and yet wonderful language flying around not to mention the sex scenes and drug use. It is super entertaining though.  I didn't like the main character periodically just because she was pretty nasty and mean at times. I believe the message behind it is to show what a struggle Sophia ( as a young woman of 22) went through trying to find her calling in life and achieving it but this is sometimes a bit overlooked in my opinion.  I actually did Google her afterward because...duh, why wouldn't you?  She published a memoir called #Girlboss that tells all about her founding her eBay store Nasty Gal. I must read it now because Netflix has canceled the show and her comment regarding it implied that she would rather have control over the facts of her career and life anyways.  I am unsure how much is true or false in the series but you will absolutely be glued to the screen. I can definitely appreciate any woman trying to become a self-made business mogul. I am sad that the show has been canceled because there is so much more to the story that the viewers will not get to see.

Side note: Nasty Gal filed bankruptcy in 2016 and was sold to a British company but that didn't slow Amoruso down. She is now the founder and CEO of Girlboss Media

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Waking Land by Callie Bates


***I was granted an ARC of this from NetGalley and Ballantine Del Rey.  All opinions and thoughts are my own honest views.***

The cover on this book was the first thing that drew my attention and then once I read the description I knew I had to read it.  This was a very good book. This is the first book by author Callie Bates and it is a fantastic start.  The book itself is much longer than I had thought ( 32 chapters plus a prologue and epilogue) it would be but it moved at such a steady pace that I hardly noticed.

Lady Elanna was stolen from her home as a very young child in what was a cleverly orchestrated political move.  She is taken because she is Caerisian and her father is key in leading a revolt against a neighboring country.  She is taken to the palace of  Antoine Eyrlai, the King of Eren and her captor.  He raises her for 14 years as if she is his own daughter. She is given all the best in clothing and education and fed lies about her home country. She is 19 and all she wants is to study botany when suddenly her precious King is murdered and she finds herself accused of regicide.  She knows she must escape and somehow the magic that has been lying dormant in her must be awakened to help her.  Suddenly, everything and everyone she knows is being tested. She is aided back to her parents in Caeris but then begins questioning the loyalty of everyone she encounters on her way to fulfilling her destiny as the steward of the land.  This is a story of magic, betrayal, love, hope, change, and finding one's place in the world.

I am giving this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads but only because I found some of the words difficult to pronounce and so it distracted me a bit from the story but overall a solid read.

The Mummy was Awesome!



 I want to start by saying that I was very skeptical about rebooting The Mummy and having Tom Cruise play the lead.  I love the funny versions that Brendan Fraser is in and couldn't imagine anything different being as good.  Once again, I have been proven wrong in the best possible way. This movie did not open to great reviews and I really feel that it has been grossly overlooked.  It is awesome.

The first thing that sort of grabbed my attention was the references I had seen online to Universal starting a series of films that would become part of their "Dark Universe" ( If you want to check it out...http://www.darkuniverse.com/). I love the idea of a monster-verse. There will be a series of movies to follow that includes Bride of Frankenstein (starring Javier Bardem) , Frankenstein, The Invisible Man ( starring Johnny Depp), Phantom of the Opera, Dracula ( at this point no one has mentioned if Luke Evans will be reprising his role from 2014's Dracula Untold),The Wolf Man, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It is still early on so some of this may change but how amazing is this plan?!

The Mummy is the first to kick it off and it was a solid start for sure.  It starts with Nick Morton (Cruise) and his partner/friend Chris in the Middle East looking for a hidden antiquity that they can sell on the black market but of course, what they discover is the hidden tomb of  an Egyptian princess that has been purposely removed from history.  The minute Nick enters the tomb he begins feeling a connection to her. The tomb is moved to London where the Mummy rises and unleashes holy terror all over the place.  I will not lie.....I jumped at least 3 different times throughout the film.  There is a surprise I was not prepared for in the form of Dr. Henry Jekyll ( Russell Crowe).  He is the mysterious buyer of the Mummy tomb.  The brief interaction we see in the film between Jekyll and Nick in the mysterious building known as Prodigium is enough to make me super excited by what all may come.  The ending of the movie surprised me a bit as well but I love some good foreshadowing.
This film is action packed from the very beginning and I love how dark and entertaining it is.  This is by far gonna be one of my favorites for quite a while ( sorry Brendan). The Mummy/princess Ahmenet is played by Sofia Boutella whom you may recognize from the movies Atomic Blonde and Street Dance 2.  Jake Johnson ( New Girl/Let's Be Cops) is a familiar face in the role of Chris. Do yourself a favor and go see this one you will not be sorry.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

5 Reasons Why the Wonder Woman Film is a Must See

                                      ***Trailer courtesy of Regal Cinemas and YouTube***

Yes! Yes! Yes! I saw Wonder Woman and I will never be the same.  This is hands down one of the best movies I have seen in forever. I know there are like a million reviews out there on this film so I will not bore you with another one. However, I will break down the things I loved most about it.

1. I love that it opens with Diana having a slightly jaded view of humans in the aftermath of Batman vs. Superman.  She is in Paris in the opening scene and there is an truck clearly labeled Wayne Industries. She then opens a letter from Bruce that includes the very same pic she was trying to steal from him in that movie.

2. Diana is the only child on the island of Themyscira. Her mother reads her a bedtime story that was awesome!! It explained the relationship between the Gods and the Amazons. It also featured a pretty bad ass fight scene of her mother Hippolyta (played perfectly by Connie Nielsen).

3.The fight scenes were AMAZING!!! They go into slow motion at the perfect time and are just breathtaking.

4. Chris Pine is so funny which was an unexpected bonus. I can't imagine a better pick for Steve.  The love story between Diana and Steve is handled very well. It's not the main focus of the movie and their roles are reversed since he is always trying to keep Diana from harm and she is always rushing forward into battle.  

5. Speaking of battle, one of the most powerful scenes in the film to me is when Diana is taken to the front of the war line in her search for Ares. Her and her band of soldiers (a very diverse group of men) are walking through the trenches and she is stopped by a woman and begged to find her family and the rest of the village that have been trapped across the line by enemy forces and free them. She is told by Steve that it is called "No Man's Land" and they will never be able to cross through with out dying.  Diana immediately removes her coat and is in full battle gear.  She grabs her shield and sword and charges forward without a second thought.  She inspires everyone else to follow her and it is fantastic.

There are so many reasons to watch and love this film but if I list them all we would be here for hours and there would be some serious spoiler alerts.  Hats off to Patty Jenkins for bringing us the first female action hero movie. I can hardly wait to see Wonder Woman in action yet again in the Justice League movie. Way to step up your game DC. Marvel may be getting a serious run for their money.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty Book vs Series

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I read this amazing book in the Spring of 2015 and I loved everything about it.  The characters created were so memorable and the story was so good I literally couldn't put it down.  I had never read anything by Liane Moriarty before but I saw that my local library had made it their book of the month so I gave it a try.  I was excited and apprehensive all at the same time when I heard HBO was making it into a series.  You just never know how it's going to turn out.  I have seen some great adaptations of books into series or movies ......and some not so great.  The thing that gets under my skin when these adaptations happen is that you can miss out on a lot of great stuff because it got cut  or changed in the process.  I loved this book EXACTLY how it was and so any changes could be awful.  I had nothing to worry about. HBO made this series pretty darn perfect.  
The story revolves around 3 women and their lives and friendship.  Madeline Martha Mackenzie (played by Reese Witherspoon) is on marriage #2.  She is funny and pretty passionate about almost everything.  Her oldest daughter is a very moody teenager who suddenly starts spending more time with her Dad and his new, very young, yoga loving wife and their daughter.  Did I mention that the Ex's youngest is in the same class as Madeline and her new husband's daughter? Talk about awkward!
Jane Australia ( Shailene Woodley) and her son Ziggy have just moved to the town and because she is so young she actually gets mistaken for a nanny.  She is a single mom and she doesn't talk much about her past or Ziggy's dad but she always seems on edge.  There is a mishap on the way to orientation day at the school and she finds herself befriended and defended by Madeline.  Jane meets Madeline's other friend Celeste Wright and the 3 click right away. Celeste ( Nicole Kidman) and her husband make a stunning couple.  They are literally the talk of the school because of the way they seem to still be so in love after all the time they have been together.  Celeste has twin boys that are very rambunctious and as such seem to keep her pretty busy. She may seem like she has the perfect life from the outside but it is nothing like people expect.
The story covers a lot of topics from abuse, bullying, murder, and more. I can not say enough good things about either the book or the show. Read it, watch it, do both!