Showing Posts From: Reading

03 Jan, 2018

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading That Inevitable Victorian Thing That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 330
Genres: Alternative History, Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Setting: Ontario, Canada

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.


This is a YA alternative history book that imagines that the British Empire is still alive and well.  The decision that made the difference was that Queen Victoria named her eldest daughter heir and then married off all her other children to people in the Empire instead of other European royal families.  Now, the Empire is predominately made up of mixed race people.  Canada has a high percentage of people originally from Hong Kong.  The Church of England consists mostly of a DNA database that chooses the best DNA match for people.

The Crown Princess Victoria-Margaret wants one summer away.  She decides to make her debut in Canada while passing herself off as a cousin to one of the leading families there.  She makes other friends though who aren’t in on her secret and this leads to romantic entanglements that aren’t what she expected.

I thought the world building was interesting in this book.  It was intriguing to think about what might have happened if the British had treated their subjects as people worthy of respect.  If you pick too much at the assumptions made in the book though it might all fall apart.  My recommendation is just to enjoy it and go along for the ride. 

At the end of the book the main characters are hatching a plot.  It doesn’t seem very well thought out to me so I will be interested to see what happens in upcoming books. 


02 Jan, 2018

Evolution of a Recipe

/ posted in: Reading

I read a lot of books about food.  A lot of these books have recipes in them.  I usually don’t make the recipes.  But there is one recipe from one book that I not only made but I have adapted it and screwed it up in so many ways and it is still a family favorite.

It is from the book A Trip to the Beach by Melinda Blanchard.  It is the story of Americans who start a restaurant on Anguilla.  I looked them up while writing this post and they are still in business (but currently closed due to hurricane damage).  This cornbread is still on the menu.

I hate cornbread.  It is dry and nasty.  But this stuff is amazing.  I wrote about it first on February 22, 2005.  (What is the point of having a long term blog if not to remember stuff like this?)  That post has the real recipe.  The real recipe will probably kill you if you eat it too much.  It is delicious though.  Over the years I’ve lightened it up and veganized it.  No matter what I try it is still amazing.  I even made it once without corn meal because I was out.  Still amazing.  No one noticed.

I made it for New Year’s Eve this year.  It is a full meal unto itself.  We have it with a side of baked beans.  It should be the other way around but this stuff is good.  I decided to make a double batch.  I went to two stores to find the ingredients. 

Then I came home and started to cook. 

First off, I didn’t have enough sugar to double it.  So I threw in a little brown sugar and called it good. 

Then I didn’t have any flax.  I keep my flax in the refrigerator.  I was shoving stuff around yelling, “Where’s the flax!!???”

The husband wandered up.  “I don’t know.  What’s flax?”

“There’s no flax and if there’s no flax, there’s no cornbread!!!” That might have come out in a rising shriek because his response was, “RUN FRECKLES!!!  SHE’S MAD!!!!!”  Then he took off for the living room and left the poor dog to fend for herself.  I stomped off to google how to make chia eggs because I had chia.  Then I had to have a serious think about the math to substitute a different type of egg replacer while also doubling the recipe because that could have gone bad.

Then, then, I picked up my can of baking powder and it was suspiciously light.  I was on my knees peering into the cupboard muttering, “I swear to #@$%^&*^%$# god, if there is not another can of baking powder….” I didn’t have to finish the threat because whatever deity was listening wisely showed me where the new can of baking powder was.

It is cooking as I write this and I’m not even worried.  This is a recipe that you can seriously abuse and it still somehow tastes great. 

Here’s my new and improved version of Caribbean Cornbread.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 lb vegan butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flax in 1/4 cup of water, sit for 5 minutes
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1.5 cups creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar.  Add in the flax and applesauce.  Mix well. Add the corn and pineapple and mix to blend. On a low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until blended well. Pour the batter into a 9 inch glass pan and bake until golden brown around the edges and a tester stuck in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

—The totally messed up version I made turned out pretty good.  It needed a little more sweetness so I topped each slice with a drizzle of honey and it was perfect.

01 Jan, 2018

January 2018 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading


Welcome to Foodies Read 2018!

First, let’s sum up 2017.  We had 240 reviews posted to the link up!  Thank you to everyone who participated.

The person with the most reviews was Cam with 37.  I’ll be sending a gift card to her so she can get even more foodie books.

The winner of the drawing for December was Rob with his review of The Amateur Gourmet.  He can choose one of the following books.

 Loading InLinkz ...

31 Dec, 2017

2017 in Review

/ posted in: Reading

I read 210 books this year.

That’s a record for me.

What genres did I read?



Science Fiction

  • 14 adult
  • 2 YA



  • 11 adult
  • 12 YA


Urban Fantasy

  • 23 adult
  • 4 YA


Mystery/Thriller – 12



  • 26 adult
  • 12 YA


Historical Fiction

  • 18 adult
  • 2 YA


Historical Romance – 17



Memoir – 26


Science – 10


Political – 7


Experiential/Author Challenge – 3


Biography – 4


History – 1

30 Dec, 2017

Authors 2017

/ posted in: Reading

I read 158 unique authors in 2017.


Once again I read overwhelmingly more female authors. Most of those male authors wrote nonfiction. I only read a few male fiction writers.

How did I do with my goal of reading diversely?


I was right about at 50% white. That’s better than I’ve done in the past but still not representative of the world as a whole. In 2015 I was 72% white and in 2016 68% of the female authors I read were white. One of my goals this year was to read more Asian authors. Last year I only read 13 and none of them were Southeast or Southwest Asian, so not a huge gain overall but more geographically spread out.

What about the men?


Yeah, not so good. 80% white. That’s way worse than last year. I know why too. I talked about it in my post about my nonfiction reading skewing towards white male authors. This is why I keep track of these things so I know if I need to reach out more in my reading to get different perspectives on the world.

My most read author was M.C.A. Hogarth.

These are four of the series of hers that I either started or read all of this year. I read 12 of her books and short stories this year.  Emily Larkin had a strong surge at the end to tie with Seanan McGuire for second with 7 books each.

Who was your most read author?

29 Dec, 2017

Where did I read

/ posted in: Reading

One of the things I like to do every year is make a map of the books I’ve read to see if I am reading widely across the world. For this map I just put a point at the place where the majority of the action takes place. I don’t consider whether or not the author is from there or if it is a good representation of the place. On this map, purple is fiction and green is nonfiction.

I can see at a glance that once again poor South America is ignored mostly.  I really need to read more from there.

My Read Every Country Map is different.  This is a multi-year project inspired by Howling Frog Books to read a book set in each country that is either:

  1. Nonfiction about the country
  2. Fiction written by a person from the country or who lived in the country for an extended period of time


Obviously I still have a long way to go.  Maybe my next goal should be Mexico to finish North America and then focus on Central America.

Most of the books I read were set in the United States.  I had 28 states represented in 87 books.


California and New York were really overrepresented but I guess that’s normal for any kind of entertainment.

Where else did I read?

Asia – 16 books


One of my goals this year was to read more books set in Asia and/or by Asian authors.  I had 9 books set in Asia in 2016 and 4 of those were in India.  I definitely added some variety this year.


Africa – 9 books


Europe – 46 books


Middle East – 4 books


Everywhere Else – 41 books


28 Dec, 2017

My Foodie Books 2017

/ posted in: Reading

My goal this year was to read 12 foodie books – one for each month.  How did I do?

I didn’t know until I made that gallery that I hit it exactly.  It definitely wasn’t one a month.  I read three in January and then nothing until April.  It was a good mix of 5 nonfiction and 7 fiction.  

Keep looking for more great food-based books in the next year!  I’d love to hear about books you read.

26 Dec, 2017

Challenge Accepted

/ posted in: Reading

Do you like reading challenges?  This is the time of year when everyone starts up their yearly challenges.  They all sound fun to me.  However, I use challenges mainly as a place to link up reviews of books that I’m already planning on reading and find new reviews of books that I might be interested in.  

Using Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s handy dandy list, I found some challenges for 2018.

I mean, obviously, I’m doing this one.  

Book Blogger Discussion Challenge

This lives at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight.  I like reading through the discussions each month.

The 365 Commenting Challenge

Nori wants people to leave one thoughtful comment on a blog a day.  You can pick the blogs and/or she’ll give you a list of participants as a place to start.  We all need to be better about interacting.  I know I read a whole lot more blogs than I comment on.

Literary Voyage Around the World

This is something I do anyway but having another place to link up is good.  I’d guess I might be a Literary Hitchhiker at 21-40 countries.  

The British Books Challenge

This is a link up for books written by British authors.  I read a lot of books that fit this category.

European Reading Challenge

This is for books in European countries.

Swords and Stars

This challenge has a list of 20 challenges that can be met by reading scifi and fantasy.  

Memoir Reading Challenge

I read so many memoirs that I should definitely join this group.  There is a list of categories. 

Nonfiction Reading Challenge

This is a no-brainer for me.  It is being run at Doing Dewey.

Beat the Backlist

I’m a Novel Knight in this challenge.  You get points for every book you read published prior to 2018.  Um, that might be most of the things I read in 2018.  My goal is at least 100 books. 

Passages to the Past

This is for historical fiction.  I always read less historical fiction than I think I will unless I’m still on my historical romance kick into 2018.

It seems like a lot but they are categories I read normally anyway.  What challenges are you doing?

22 Dec, 2017

“New to Me” Author Discoveries #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

What authors did I love this year that I didn’t know about previously?

Hannah Moskowitz

I’m not sure what came first – reading the books or following her on Twitter.  I feel like I’ve known about her for a long time but I first read her books this year.

M.C.A. Hogarth

She’s a very prolific author with all different types of fantasy genres.  I’ll write more about her next week when I discuss my most read authors of the year.  I’ve read so many of her books this year that I can’t believe I only read her first in January.  Here are just a few I loved.

Mishell Baker

Fae in Hollywood?  How could I not love that?

Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Wonderfully detailed historical fiction and the first one counts as a Foodies Read book.

Sarah Gailey

The hippo stories you didn’t know you needed and she gives wonderful Twitter too

Y.S. Lee

Historical mysteries based on a female detective in London

Lydia San Andres

Historical romance in the Caribbean

Emily Larkin

Also one of my most read this year because I loved her paranormal Regency romances

20 Dec, 2017

Sins of the Cities series

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Sins of the Cities series An Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles, Matthew Lloyd Davies
on February 21, 2017
Pages: 247
Series: Sins of the Cities #1
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Format: eBook
Source: Owned

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship...
Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding... it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.
Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.


This is all Joce @squibblesreads’ fault.  She had a video comparing this book to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.  I had recently read a m/m historical romance and found it pretty disappointing.  She said that Rowley and Clem were her favorite couple.  I decided to give this one a try.

This book was so good.  Clem runs a boarding house that his half brother owns.  He was born after an Earl raped an Indian nanny who accompanied his brother’s family home to England.   Clem is seen as an embarrassment to his snobbish family and this is a way of keeping him out of sight.  The only condition of his employment is that he has to keep a drunken ex-vicar in the house no matter what.  Clem is a methodical person who needs to do one thing at a time.  Other people think that he is slow and clumsy because he gets flustered with too much stimuli.

Rowley is a taxidermist who takes lodgings at the house after setting up shop next door.  He prefers to be alone and can’t handle other people’s anger well after surviving an abusive childhood.  His quietness settles Clem.  The two of them gradually find enjoyment in each other’s company.  They have a nightly cup of tea together.  They are just starting to acknowledge feelings for each other when there is a robbery attempt and then a murder.

This is when homosexuality was still banned in England.   There is a pub called the Jack and Knave that Clem frequents.  It is open only to approved people brought by known clients.  Inside the Jack, gay men and women are free to socialize openly.  Many of the characters in this series are regulars there.

This book does a very good job on the romance portion of the book.  There is sexual activity but it is loving and in context of a relationship.  A mystery is introduced in this book but is not fully resolved until the series is over.   It involves Clem’s half-brother and then inheritance of the earldom.

Sins of the Cities series An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities, #2) by K.J. Charles
Pages: 250

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.
Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.
Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.
But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.


Nathaniel is a regular at the Jack and Knave who is still grieving his partner’s death five years ago.  He is a journalist and is assigned to debunk a medium.  He starts his investigation with Justin Lazarus and finds himself intrigued.  Nathaniel is surprised when investigating Clem’s mystery also leads him back to Justin who met one of the players in the saga one year ago.  This is not a slow burn romance like the first book.  This is hate/lust leading to sex leading to regret/embarrassment.  Then they are forced back together and over time a relationship builds.

Justin had a rough upbringing and has major trust issues.  He doesn’t feel bad at all about fleecing the rich and gullible.  Nathaniel is firmly on the side of living a moral life and not hurting anyone.  He has a hard time accepting the good in anyone in a dishonest profession.  Nathaniel is also uncomfortable moving on and feeling attracted to another man for the first time.  He especially doesn’t want to fall for someone so unlike his beloved partner.  The book talks about how difficult it was grieve when no one in the outside world knew of the love between the men.

The mystery continues to be resolved.  In each book a little bit is solved so it doesn’t feel like you are missing a conclusion even if you don’t have the whole picture yet.


Sins of the Cities series An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles
on October 3, 2017
Pages: 246
Series: Sins of the Cities #3

On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.
Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.
But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.


In this final book of the series, detective Mark finds the lost heir to the Earldom.  He is a trapeze artist performing with his twin sister.  Most people would jump at the chance to go from music hall performer to aristocrat but Pen Starling wants nothing to do with it.  He is genderfluid and comfortable living in a world where he is able to dress in a costume that fits how he feels on each day.  If he becomes an Earl, he would be forced to live as a man full time.  As he says, if he had been raised to be an Earl he might have been able to pass himself off as an eccentric recluse but as a former commoner he would be watched.  Information is given about court cases of the time regarding transgender people.

Mark is a Polish immigrant.  He was born with one arm.  He makes his way confidently through a world that makes no accommodations for people with disabilities.  He is pansexual and has previously had relationships with both men and women.  He embraces Pen’s genderfluidity as a wonderful aspect of him.  

This is my favorite of the books.  I loved Mark and Pen’s relationship.  The resolution of the mystery was unexpected and very satisfying to all parties involved.  I will definitely read this author again.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in Europe
19 Dec, 2017

The Newcomers

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Newcomers The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe
on November 14th 2017
Narrator: Kate Handford
Length: 15:09
Genres: Nonfiction, Social Science
Published by Dreamscape Media
Format: Audiobook

Offering a nuanced and transformative take on immigration, multiculturalism, and America's role on the global stage, The Newcomers follows and reflects on the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of their 2015-2016 school year at Denver's South High School. Unfamiliar with American culture or the English language, the students range from the age of fourteen to nineteen and come from nations struggling with drought, famine, or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, and some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their family. Their stories are poignant and remarkable, and at the center of their combined story is Mr. Williams: the dedicated and endlessly resourceful teacher of their English Language Acquisition class-a class which was created specifically for them and which will provide them with the foundation they need to face the enormous challenges of adapting to life in America.


I’ve often wondered what it would be like to move to the U.S. from a non-English speaking country and have to learn to survive here.  This is a book that answers those questions.  I think this should be required reading for anyone who wants to talk intelligently about the immigration debate in the U.S.  

The author spends 18 months with a group of teenagers who are in a Newcomers class in a Denver high school.  All of them are recent immigrants and have tested at the bottom level of English language proficiency.  They represent most of the major conflict zones on the planet – The Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Burma, Central America, Eritrea.  The school year starts with learning how to introduce yourself in English.  Most of the kids are stumped.

One of the things I found interesting in this book was the transparency of the author’s process.  She is writing about minors who have all experienced a great deal of upheaval and trauma in their lives.  She explains how she approaches the kids with a translator in their home language to ask if she can include their stories in the book.  There are kids who say no at this point and she respects that.  If they agreed, she sent home a letter written in their language to their parents that requested permission to interview the children and requested to interview them.  If permission is given, then home visits are started with an interpreter.  In spite of all these precautions, there are still communication errors and just the plain inability of an American to truly understand the lives that refugees have led.  She discusses her thought process about what questions to ask about their backgrounds.  When does reporting the story just become an excuse to pry into things for the sake of the sensational details?  She talks about when she chose to walk away from lines of questioning that are relevant to the story but would lead to retraumatizing the people being interviewed.

For the families that agreed to participate, it opens a window in to the lives in war zones.  Hearing what they had to endure before fleeing their homes was heartbreaking.  There are Iraqis who worked with the U.S. Army and then were left behind.  A Central American female police officer was targeted for murder after arresting gang members and when they couldn’t get to her they starting threatening her children.  A family with 10 children had to walk out of the DRC to avoid repeated violence.  Some of the kids were born in refugee camps.  Most are already multi-lingual.

Life in the U.S. isn’t easy.  Resettlement agencies help but families are required to be self-supporting within 4 months of arrival.  That’s hard when you don’t speak the language and can’t get a good job.  I’m surprised how many families did it.  Other families’ stories show how one small setback can upset their whole resettlement journey. 

The importance of this story is underscored by the fact that it takes place from September 2015 to December 2016.  Reading about the rise of Donald Trump as it relates to these families was stressful all over again.  Incidents of racism rise on public transport as the election takes place.  Court cases to receive asylum for Central American children are suddenly in doubt.  Family members scheduled to arrive from Somalia are suddenly turned back at the airport.  

The author does go to the DRC to see where the family that she knew from Denver came from.  She traces their route to refugee camp and meets friends and family members who have been left behind.

This is an ultimately hopeful book as you see how far the kids come in 18 months.  Some go from silent observers on day 1 to being a part of the student government a year later.  Others are still struggling with English but are able to have full conversations.  No one who reads about these families would think they are lazy and trying to work the system.  This is a book I’d love to force all Trump fans to listen to in order to see if these people’s realities align with their idea of what immigrants are.  


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobooks
  • Books Set in Africa
  • Books Set in North America
18 Dec, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week


New This Week

I’ve fallen into a historical romance rabbit hole.  I keep adding more and more to my ereader.  Here’s a bunch of books I bought this week that I haven’t read yet.



What Am I Listening To?

I’m not sure yet.  I finished The Newcomers and after that I started a few that didn’t stick.  I went through and cleaned out my Playster list and then added new releases that sounded good to me. 

















15 Dec, 2017

The Baleful Godmother series

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Baleful Godmother series Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin
on November 7th 2016
Pages: 391
Series: Baleful Godmother #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Historical
Published by Emily Larkin
Format: eBook
Source: Owned

On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.
Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.
As Charlotte plunges into London’s backstreets and brothels at Cosgrove’s side, hunting his persecutor, she finds herself fighting for her life—and falling in love…


This is historical romance series with a fantasy twist.  Once upon a time a fairy was helped by a woman.  In exchange, she asked for each of her female descendants to be granted one wish when they are in their early twenties.  This series covers a few of the descendants as they choose their gift and then deal with the consequences in their lives.  I hadn’t read a series before that combined fantasy and Regency romance.

In the first book Charlotte decides to wish for the ability to shapeshift.  She uses this gift to disguise herself as a man to attempt to live an independent life.  This is a good opening for some social commentary about the restrictions on women.  The book is also funny as Charlotte tries to control a male body with its over large hands and obvious responses to sexual attraction.  Her employer (and eventual love interest) thinks he is taking a young, particularly naive man under his wing and teaching what life in London is like.  As their friendship and attraction deepen, both need to comes to terms with their own understanding of what it means to be attracted to a personality no matter the shape of the body that it is in.

The Baleful Godmother series Resisting Miss Merryweather by Emily Larkin
on December 5th 2016
Pages: 157
Series: Baleful Godmother #2

Sir Barnaby Ware made a mistake two and a half years ago. A massive mistake. The sort of mistake that can never be atoned for.
He knows himself to be irredeemable, but the captivating and unconventional Miss Merryweather is determined to prove him wrong…
The daughter of a dancing master and a noblewoman, Miss Merryweather had an unusual upbringing. She sees things no one else sees—and she says things no one else says.
Sir Barnaby knows he’s the villain in this piece, but Miss Merryweather thinks he’s the hero—and she is damnably hard to resist…


Barnaby Ware was introduced in book 1 as the man who broke up a marriage and a lifelong friendship by having an affair.   When the wronged party attempts to reach out to him in forgiveness, he resists because he feels that what he did was unforgivable.  When he visits his former friend he meets Miss Merryweather.  Unbeknownst to him, she is due to receive her fairy gift in a few days.

This is a novella instead of a full length novel.  It is also the most forgettable of these books for me.  I was more interested in the friendship that was trying to be repaired instead of the romance that is supposed to be blossoming.

The Baleful Godmother series Trusting Miss Trentham by Emily Larkin
on January 9th 2017
Pages: 375
Series: Baleful Godmother #3
Published by Emily Larkin

Letitia Trentham is noteworthy for three reasons. One, she’s extremely wealthy. Two, she can distinguish truth from lies. Three, she’s refused every man who’s ever proposed to her.
Until Letty receives a proposal she can’t turn down.
Icarus Reid barely survived the Battle of Vimeiro. He lives for one thing—to find the man who betrayed him to the French. He doesn’t want to marry Miss Trentham; he wants to use her talent for uncovering lies.
Suddenly, Letty finds herself breaking the rules, pretending to be someone she’s not, and doing things a lady would never do. But her hunt for the truth may uncover more than one secret—including the secret that haunts Icarus day and night. The secret he intends to take to his grave…


This is one of my favorites of the series.  Lydia has been living with her gift – the ability to tell lies from truth – for several years.  She has refused all offers of marriage because she knows that the men have only wanted her money and not her.  She gets involved with an injured former soldier who hears about her ability (but not the magical reason).  He wants her to help him find out what happened in the ambush where he was injured and all his companions were killed.

I liked the fact that this book had an older and wiser heroine.  She’s seen it all moving through society with the ability to cut through all the games and polite phrases.  The chance to do something new thrills her.

Icarus is suffering from severe PTSD.  He’s suicidal and has nightmares every night.  It is a good representation of this.  As the wife of a veteran with PTSD, I appreciated the thoughtful portrayal.

The Baleful Godmother series Claiming Mister Kemp by Emily Larkin
on February 6th 2017
Pages: 220
Series: Baleful Godmother #4
Published by Emily Larkin

Lucas Kemp’s twin sister died last year. He’s put aside his mourning clothes, but not his heartache. If Lucas ever needed a friend, it’s now—and who should walk in his door but Lieutenant Thomas Matlock…
Lucas and Tom are more than just best friends; they’ve been in love with each other for years. In love with each other—and pretending not to know it.
But this time, Tom’s not going to ignore the attraction between them. This time, he’s going to push the issue.
He’s going to teach Lucas how to laugh again—and he’s going to take Lucas as his lover…


I did not like this book.  I wanted to.  This book focuses on two male characters who were important in the last book.  I liked them.  I wanted to find out more about their relationship.  My problem with this one was the way the sex was handled.  I’m not a huge fan of sex in books anyway.  I much prefer slow burn romances and fade to black sex scenes.  While the other books have had sex scenes there was enough romance and character development to balance them.

In this book, there is just sex.  You don’t get the romantic parts that were seen in the other books.  I think that the difference was here because it was switched to a m/m story instead of a male/virginal female story.  I don’t think that is a good reason to leave out the romance and tenderness though.  Relationship development is still important and that didn’t happen here.

The Baleful Godmother series Ruining Miss Wrotham (Baleful Godmother, #5) by Emily Larkin
on May 25th 2017
Pages: 390
Published by Emily Larkin

Eleanor Wrotham has sworn off overbearing men, but she needs a man’s help—and the man who steps forward is as domineering as he is dangerous: the notorious Mordecai Black.
The illegitimate son of an earl, Mordecai is infamous for his skill with women. His affairs are legendary—but few people realize that Mordecai has rules, and one of them is: Never ruin a woman.
But if Mordecai helps Miss Wrotham, she will be ruined.


Eleanor is searching for her sister, who ran away to marry a soldier.  Eleanor’s fiance ran off because of the scandal her sister caused.  Her father and aunt kept her sister’s letters from her.  Now she has found a several month old letter saying that her sister is in trouble. The only person willing to help her is a relative of the man who jilted her. 

This ends up being a road trip story like book 3.  I don’t think it is quite as strong as that one but is enjoyable nonetheless.

The Baleful Godmother series Discovering Miss Dalrymple by Emily Larkin
on October 24, 2017
Series: Baleful Godmother #6

At the age of four Lord Vickery was stolen by gypsies and sold to a chimney sweep. At the age of five he was reunited with his father. His history is no secret—everyone in the ton knows of his miraculous rescue.
But when Vickery finds his father’s diaries, he discovers that there may be a secret buried in his past…
Georgiana Dalrymple knows all about secrets. She has several herself—and one of those secrets is her ability to find missing people.
When Lord Vickery turns to her for help, Georgiana sets out to discover just who he actually is…


Georgiana can find anything, including the answers to old mysteries if she just asks the right questions.  But is uncovering the truth always for the best?

I liked this book a lot.  It was nice to see the heroine trying to convince the hero that she would stand by him instead of the other other way around like it is common in a lot of historical romances.  There is no meet-cute here.  They have known each other all their lives and their relationship is formed out of their friendship.  It was a nice end to the series.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this series if you like historical romances.  Just skip the third book. 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in Europe
13 Dec, 2017

Favorite Book to Movie or TV Shows #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

What book to TV adaptions am I excited to see?

I’m so excited for this series.  This is a book series that I reread at least once a year.  If you follow the author Deborah Harkness and/or @daemonsdomain on Instagram or Twitter you can see updates from the current filming of the TV series in Wales.  Just the behind the scenes photos are beautiful so I think the TV show is going to look amazing.  At this point the show doesn’t have a U.S. network that has contracted to air it, which needs to get fixed ASAP.  I think it is scheduled to air in England sometime in 2018.

This is also a favorite reread.  The miniseries currently shooting stars David Tennant who is my all time favorite so I’m all in on this one.  

This is the book that turned me into a raging Nnedi Okorafor fan.  Of her books, it is probably the last one I’d think about turning into a TV show but I’m excited anyways.  This will be on HBO. 

What upcoming adaptations are you excited to see?

12 Dec, 2017

The Promise Kitchen

/ posted in: Reading The Promise Kitchen The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman
on August 16th 2016
Pages: 380
Genres: Fiction
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Setting: Georgia

Shelby Preston, a young single mother, is at a crossroads. She feels suffocated by her hardscrabble life in rural Georgia and dreams of becoming a professional chef. Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good.
In Atlanta, Mallory Lakes is reeling from a bad breakup. The newspaper food columnist is also bracing for major changes at work that could put her job at risk. Determined to find the perfect recipe for how to reinvent herself, she gets involved in the growing farm-to-table movement. But an emotional setback threatens to derail everything she’s worked for. Shelby and Mallory couldn’t be more different. But through their shared passion for food, they form an unlikely friendship—a bond that just might be their salvation.


This book has been sitting on my ereader for a long time.  Now I’m upset that I didn’t read it sooner.

Shelby is a young single mother who follows food blogger Mallory and loves to make her recipes.  She wants to be a chef but that would require her to leave her daughter with her mother in southern Georgia and move to Atlanta to work and go to school.

The newspaper Mallory writes for has just moved totally online and she has thrown herself into creating a new, indispensable, digital persona.

Shelby and Mallory cross paths at the grocery where Shelby gets a job.  Their lives start to intersect more and more until the day when they are bound together by an accident.

The writing in this book was very beautifully done and pulled me in immediately.  I loved the contrast between the poor, rural Shelby who dreams of a better life and urban Mallory.  One of the themes in the book that haven’t seen written about much in foodie fiction was the accessibility of foodie culture.  Shelby decides which of the meals that she will make based on what is available and affordable at her local grocery store.  She talks about how she understands that Mallory feels that all the produce needs to be organic but that isn’t possible for her.  When Shelby tries to get a job in a deli at the grocery store, she wears her best clothes for the interview but realizes that they are shabby compared to the affluent people she sees there.  The grocery store in question just rebranded as an upscale store, losing some neighborhood clients in the process.

Overall, I wasn’t as invested in the story by the end as I was in the beginning.  I wasn’t a fan of the romance angle for Mallory or of the accident plot that seemed like it wasn’t necessary.  However, I think that the well done characterizations of Shelby and the secondary characters is still enough to recommend this book.

There are recipes in the back of this book like there are in a lot of books that feature food.  But guys, I actually made one of the recipes.  I know, shocking, right.  I think that reading all the people who link up at the Foodies Read pages is getting to me.

There was a recipe for Pimento Cheese.  I eat 99% vegan at home but back in time I really did love some pimento cheese.  I decided to try to veganize it.  I used vegan mayo and Daiya cheddar shreds.  I love Just Mayo’s vegan mayo but I actually hate Daiya fake cheese.  I think they taste like wax.  There wasn’t another cheddar selection in the store though so I gave it a try.

It was amazing!  Totally had the right taste and texture.  I can’t take attractive food pictures to save my life and I contend that there is nothing that can make pimento cheese photogenic anyway, but here it is.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in North America
  • Foodies Read 2017
11 Dec, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week


What Am I Reading?


I got the library to order this one and they finally got it in.  You know when you have been anticipating a book for a long time and suddenly you have it but you don’t actually want to start it because you don’t want to finish it?  I’m there with this one.  I have read the absolutely amazing prologue though which is everything I’ve ever wanted in a recap.  Of course it was Nnedi Okorafor who wrote the prologue of my dreams.


What Am I Listening To?


The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

Yep, still.  Almost done!















08 Dec, 2017

4 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Reading

I’m one of those readers who is normally totally out of the loop as to what the newest greatest book is. But this year I have read a few that have a lot of buzz around them. These are four books that totally deserve the hype.

Seriously, you can quit reading now. Just buy the above books.

The Hate U Give – There isn’t much I can say about this that hasn’t already been said. The movie has already wrapped. Read this one before the movie comes out because there is no way a 2 hour movie will be able to capture all the nuance of this book about the aftermath of a cop shooting a black teenager.

Allegedly – A black girl was charged with killing a white baby who was being babysat at her house. Now she’s a teenager and is pregnant. In order to keep her baby she needs to convince people that she did not commit the murder. Depressing, suspenseful, and wonderful.

River of Teeth – Alternate history based on the fact that there was once a proposal to release hippos in the Mississippi River. This is a western with hippos instead of horses.

Dear Martin – A black teenager is racially profiled and detained by police. Afterwards, he starts to write a series of letters to Martin Luther King to work out how to live his life in the face of the racism he sees around him.

06 Dec, 2017

This Is How We Blog #AMonthofFaves

/ posted in: Reading

Join hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for our 4th annual #AMonthofFaves blog event – a fun way to recap the year that was. We have every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out for you, so you can join in anytime. There will also be a link-up on all our blogs – put a link to your post so  that we can stop by each and every post to leave comments, high fives, good vibes and well wishes.

Wed. | Dec. 6 – This Is How We Blog #AMonthofFaves – Essential Computer Programs, Browser Plugins, Websites and / or your blogging routine, blogs on blogging that you follow, blog tips you learned and used this year


I already wrote a post about all my favorite blogging tools this year.  Today I want to talk about what I’ve learned about blogging after doing this for a very long time.  It will be 14 years in January.

No one cares about your schedule

I see this question all the time from bloggers.  How often should I post?  What if I need to miss a day?  Is Monday-Wednesday-Friday better than Tuesday-Thursday? 

I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t matter one bit.  Think about the blogs you follow.  Off the top of your head do you know if they have a posting schedule if they don’t announce it?  Would you really notice if they posted a day “late”.  I bet you wouldn’t. 

Ignore the stats

I always feel like patting baby bloggers on the head when sometime in their first year of blogging they get stat obsessed.  It happens to almost everybody.   Suddenly they are all about the page views and improving SEO and backlinking.  Then one of two things happens.

  1. They get over it
  2. They quit blogging because it isn’t fun anymore

Unless you are trying to make a living from blogging, ignore the stats.  Find a core audience who likes what you write.  Write what you want to write when you want to write it.

Enjoy what you are learning

I think about Malcolm Gladwell’s advice that it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something.  I see this in action when I have to write something now that isn’t on the blog.  I can sit down and write out papers for work, etc in no time.  Write every day for NaNoWriMo?  No problem.  You are learning to write when you blog.  Enjoy your learning.  Don’t rush.

It’s Ok to have a hobby

I get this one mostly from nonbloggers who hear I’ve been doing this for a while.  How much money do you make?  They are surprised when I say none.  I’m not trying to make money doing this.  I have a job.  This is a hobby.  It’s ok if you don’t want to make money doing it.  For me the work involved in trying to monetize isn’t worth the small amount of money I might make.  Other people may make other decisions.  It is all ok.

 My number one piece of blogging advice:

Do whatever it is that attracted you blogging in the first place.  If you wanted to write about your day, do that.  If you want to review books or movies or products, do that.  If want you want to write about changes over time, fine.  Go with it.  You do you.  Don’t try to please everyone else. 

What have you learned from blogging?


04 Dec, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week


What Am I Reading?

Andorra Pett is a book I got for review.  It is basically a cozy mystery set on a space station in cafe.  How could I pass that up?  The review isn’t scheduled until February but it is very good so far.

The Taliban Cricket Club is fiction about a woman who is trying to use cricket to escape Afghanistan.



What Am I Listening To?


The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.