A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
03 Aug, 2020

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

/ posted in: Book ReviewFoodies ReadReading A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking A Wizard's Guide To Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
on July 21, 2020
Pages: 289
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Red Wombat Studio
Format: eBook

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…

Goodreads

It is a well-known fact that if you want to make me rave about your book forever and forever the number one thing you can do is be clever.  Be imaginative.  Think of something that is a smart variation on something I’ve seen a million times and I will love you forever.  

That is the magic of this book.  We’ve all seen the story of the young person who has to save everyone despite only have a little bit of talent.  The genius of this story is to make that little bit of talent the ability to use magic to make baked goods and use that to power a hero’s tale.  

Mona is fourteen and works in her Aunt Tabitha’s bakery.  She uses her magic to make the dough behave and sometimes to make gingerbread men dance for customers.  Once she accidentally put too much magic into saving a sourdough starter and now there is a carnivorous sourdough starter named Bob who lives in the basement.  But really her life is pretty quiet until small magic users like her start to get targeted by the government and a murderer at the same time.  Suddenly she is in hiding with only a street kid named Spindle who is able to help her. 

This book was both amazing funny and introspective.  Should magic users have to register with the government?  

“It seemed like once you agreed that the government could put you on a list because of something you were born with, you were asking for trouble.”

How many layers of authority have failed if it is up to a fourteen year old to save the city from an invading army?  

What are you capable of with even just a little bit of talent if you start thinking big?

There are even discussions about post-military service PTSD and the concept of heroism in here.  I have to admit Knackering Molly whose magic is based around horses had me in tears but I cry over anything horse related.  

But overall the book is fun.  

“The enemy warrior clearly had no idea what to make of the berserk woman charging at him, with her housedress flapping madly over her jingling armor. He gaped at her. Aunt Tabitha whacked him with the hammer so hard that his helmet got knocked halfway around his head, and he fell down. She kicked him a few times. Aunt Tabitha had very definite opinions about people who tried to invade her city.”

 

“The gingerbread man began to dance a very respectable hornpipe. Don’t ask me where the cookies get the dances they do—this batch had been doing hornpipes. The last batch did waltzes, and the one before that had performed a decidedly lewd little number that had even made Aunt Tabitha blush. A little too much spice in those, I think. We had to add a lot of vanilla to settle them down.”

August 2020 Foodies Read
01 Aug, 2020

August 2020 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading

 

Welcome to August 2020 Foodies Read!

  We had 41 entries in July!  You guys were certainly reading and writing a lot last month. The winner of the drawing this month is Mark for A Deadly Inside Scoop.

The Foodies Read Rules:

  1. Every post must feature a book about food.  Posts that don’t center a book will be removed.
  2. Every entry is entered into a monthly drawing to win a gift card.  Once you win a prize you are not eligible to win for 6 months.

 

 

 

 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


31 Jul, 2020

July 2020 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

July seemed like a quiet reading month.  I was either reading all out or not reading at all.

I continued reading some romance.

I read some nonfiction.

 

 

The rest of the books

That’s 16 books.

The books I read were:

  • 1 audiobook
  • Set in the U.S. and England and imaginary places

 

 


Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

Nothing this month

 

 


 

A Good Match for the Major
25 Jul, 2020

A Good Match for the Major

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading A Good Match for the Major on May 5, 2020
Format: eARC

Beautiful young widow, Lady Eliza Wyndham, is determined never to remarry after a disastrous first marriage. The undeniable attraction that fizzes between her and Major Nathaniel Overton terrifies her. She rejects his advances.

With his pride badly dented, Nat vows to forget Eliza until he finds her in danger from an old adversary of his army days. His protective instincts are stirred and he steps back into her life, but will Eliza be prepared to accept his help?

Goodreads

Eliza had a disastrous marriage.  Now she’s a widow and she has no interest in revisiting married life.  Unfortunately for her, she was left fairly well off and she is being sought out as a potential bride by men who need money.  One of these men decide that he is not going to take her no for an answer.  He set out on a series of increasingly aggressive plans to make her marry him.

One thing that I appreciated in this book is that Eliza was informed that she had a stalker.  In historical romance there is sometimes a tendency to try to show men as protectors who keep their concerns about women to themselves so they can solve it and be the hero.  I hate books where a large part of the plot hinges on people not discussing things that need to be discussed.

A group of men around Eliza realize that this guy is up to no good and they know that he had a history of violence towards women.  They involve the women Eliza knows in the issue so they can all watch out for each other.

The conflict between Eliza and Nathaniel arise out of the baggage that they bring from past relationships.  Eliza is concerned both that she is seen to be attractive to men purely for her money and she is coming out of an abusive marriage.  Nathaniel hates the shallowness and games of high society women and feels that Eliza’s wavering feelings towards him are more of the same fickleness that he has seen before.

This is a good debut novel. I’ll be looking forward to more from this author.

A Good Match For The Major Full Tour Banner

Gentrification Entertainment – Good Bones
20 Jul, 2020

Gentrification Entertainment – Good Bones

/ posted in: Current EventsEntertainment

The husband and I are suckers for a home improvement show.  We don’t have HGTV at home so when we go on vacation somewhere with a TV we have a tendency to binge-watch and get notions in our heads.  This is dangerous.  Recently he realized that we can watch HGTV shows on Hulu.  This is bad.  We started with a show called Good Bones.

The premise is cute.  A mother and daughter team in Indianapolis buys run down properties and renovates them.  They are cute and quirky and have a strange extended family helping them.  They do really good work.  But there is a problem with the show.  The whole idea is gentrification although they never say the word.

They are focusing on a few neighborhoods in the city.  They use a lot of code words.  The neighborhoods are “up and coming” or “transitional”.  People are just “finding out about the area.”  Let me translate.  These are low income, predominately black neighborhoods that didn’t have a lot of investment where white people can swoop in and buy investment properties.

From Wikipedia – “The neighborhood has seen a significant amount of renovation and house-flipping since 2010. Several of the house renovations have been aired on the Good Bones television show. In 2018, the median price of the 149 homes sold was $189,900, ranging from $41,000 for a “fixer-upper” to $409,000 for a completely renovated one. Median household income in 2016 was $24,748, lower than the $43,369 for all of Marion County, but up from 2015, when it was only $19,567.[7]

I can see both sides of this debate. I like to see homes fixed up nice and used again instead of continuous sprawl out from city centers.  These are mostly abandoned houses on the show.  If no one is keeping them up, then why wouldn’t you let people who want to invest in them buy them?  On the other hand, these are probably neighborhoods that were redlined.  On one episode they even say that east of one particular street, investors won’t go.  They say that in another area people will have a hard time getting a mortgage.  That was in a conversation with other realtors.  One says that all it would take is a cute cafe opening and then people would come there.  Guess what?  There are already people there.  It is like the Europeans saying that North America didn’t have any people until they showed up.  There are plenty of people already there.  There just aren’t white people with disposable incomes, good credit, and the ability to get mortgages already there.  The other realtors’ recommendation was to buy more houses in the area and redo them so people will want to move in when they see the neighborhood is “getting better.”  

It might even be ok if they were renovating houses for people who live in the neighborhoods.  But they constantly talk about “bringing new people” into the neighborhoods.  We know what that means.  Every potential buyer they show are 20/30-something white people who don’t live nearby.  

This is probably the case with a lot of other shows of this type so I’m not sure if this is just more blatant than others or I’m just more aware.  I may be part of the problem myself.  I own a rental property in a low-income area that we bought because the price was much lower than houses in our neighborhood.  We fixed it up.  It isn’t as fancy as they do but it is a house that won’t be owned by a person from that neighborhood because more economically privileged people were able to scoop it up.  Now, we are renting to someone who values that neighborhood but isn’t interested in home ownership at this time so maybe that’s a half point back for us?  I don’t know.

For now we are still watching the show.  We tend to yell, “Gentrifier!” at the TV whenever they say something egregious in the same tone as Shuri yelling, “Colonizer” in Black Panther.  We try to spot anyone who isn’t white who shows up in the show.  Spoiler – there have been a few men on the demo crew and one woman who served them coffee in the season and a half we’ve watched so far.  

What do you think?  Is gentrification good, bad, a necessary evil, or something else? 

Refocusing My Family
14 Jul, 2020

Refocusing My Family

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Refocusing My Family Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God by Amber Cantorna
on October 1, 2017
Pages: 268
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Fortress Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

In 2012, at the age of twenty-seven, Amber Cantorna came out to her family as gay. As the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive, that transparency cost her everything.

Refocusing My Family is Amber's journey from the suffocating expectations of Focus on the Family to the liberating joy of claiming her own identity.

A powerful story of survival, Amber's struggle under the weight of perfectionism, reputation, and appearances is transformed into freedom when she boldly steps into her identity and discovers that the true love of God surpasses all.

Goodreads

When I saw the title of this book I laughed and immediately reserved it from the library.  

If you grew up in the evangelical church like I did you couldn’t avoid Focus on the Family.  They had programs on Christian radio for kids and adults.  They had books in church libraries.  Pastors used their materials in sermons.  

Of course the family that they want you to focus on is a heterosexual and patriarchal one. 

The author grew up with Focus on the Family as the family business.  She was even the voice of some of the characters in their kids’ radio drama.  She was trained to be the perfect Christian woman.  It all fell apart when she realized that she was gay.  Her family’s response was basically to tell her to knock it off because she was going to make them look bad.  

She remains estranged from her family, who still maintain that they are “loving her” by refusing to have contact with her until she leaves her horrible lifestyle and returns to the religion she was raised in.  They will be “there for her” whenever she comes to her senses.  These are the people who drive gay kids to suicide.  I’m reminded of when my uncle came out and my parents said that their pastor told them to keep loving him because eventually he may come back to “a godly lifestyle.”  (They have, he hasn’t, and we’re all good!)  

She discusses how she found a gay-affirming Christian church where she ultimately met her wife.  I think this would be important for gay people who very strongly want to stay in the faith.  Personally, I’d say run fast, run far after all that but other people feel differently.  

 

The Voice in My Head
13 Jul, 2020

The Voice in My Head

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Voice in My Head The Voice in My Head on May 29, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Setting: United States

For Indigo Phillips, life has always been her and her identical twin—Violet. The perfectly dressed, gentle, popular sister. But now Violet is terminally ill and, in a few hours, plans to die on her own terms via medically assisted suicide. Even though she and Violet have drifted apart lately, Indigo doesn’t know how to face life without the only person who really understands her. Until suddenly she hears a mysterious voice claiming to be God, insisting that if she takes Violet to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert, her sister will live.

Indigo is sure she’s losing it. But Violet agrees to go—if their incredibly dysfunctional family accompanies them on their trek from Seattle to Arizona. Indigo can barely be in the same zip code as her distant mother and controlling big sister, much less keep the peace on a road trip. Speaking her mind is the only way she can deal. But between facing senseless mishaps and strange lodgings, and meeting even stranger folks along the way, Indigo will learn shocking things about those she thought she knew too well. When a sequence of wrenching secrets detonates, Indigo must figure out how to come to terms with her sister, her family…and the voice in her head.

Goodreads

 


This isn’t so much a review of this book as it is a rant about other reviews that I’ve read.  

I like to check out the reviews on Goodreads after I’ve read a book.  I just like seeing what other people thought of it.  But reading the reviews on this book had me just wanting to bang my head on a desk.

 

Ok, so, all the spoilers – There aren’t miracles in this book.  Why?  Because we live in the real world where people die and God doesn’t suddenly step in to stop it.  That’s what bugged me about the reviews.  Over and over people put, “I didn’t like this ending” or even worse in my mind, “I didn’t expect this ending.”  Did all these people literally expect a miracle in this story?  I read this at the same time I’m just getting overwhelmed with science deniers in real life.  I think the combination meshed together in my brain and made it explode.

Expecting a miracle and not getting it and being ok with that IS THE ENTIRE POINT of this book.  Be grateful for the life you get.  Live it to the best of your ability.  

I was happy to see a discussion of medically assisted suicide in this book.  I’m a supporter of being allowed to make your own medical decisions including when/if to give birth and when to die.  

I also liked the discussion with a kid who tried to commit a crime.  I’ve been listening to discussions on how to get away from heavily policing low-income areas and this fit right in with those discussions.

So, read the book.  It is good.  Just don’t check your brain at the door.  

Raspberry Kiss
02 Jul, 2020

Raspberry Kiss

/ posted in: Quilting

I finished a quilt top!

I checked the blog and I started this in January 2016.  Honestly, I thought it was older than that.

raspberrykisssquare2

I had bought a FQ bundle of this Birds of a Feather fabric line. I usually don’t make quilts with all one line but I liked these fabrics. Then I chose some beige fabrics mostly with words for the corners.

I didn’t even have a plan for the layout. I finally decided to figure that out a few weeks ago so I had a goal.

IMG_20200628_112245_779

I’m pretty happy with it. Let’s see how many years it is until I quilt it now!

The Scoundrel’s Bartered Bride
01 Jul, 2020

The Scoundrel’s Bartered Bride

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Scoundrel’s Bartered Bride The Scoundrel's Bartered Bride by Virginia Heath
on July 1, 2020
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical, Romance
Published by Harlequin Historical
Format: eARC
Setting: England

Marriage…



To the highest bidder



Lady Lydia Barton cannot seem to avoid Owen Wolfe since he’s returned after being wrongly transported for stealing her family’s jewels! But Lydia has more pressing problems, like her impending arranged marriage. Until Owen makes her father a counteroffer for her hand. Is Owen purely after her society connections, or dare Lydia hope that the charming stable boy she once loved is still within her ruthless, wealthy new husband?

Goodreads

I don’t tend to agree to read historical romance books for book tours because I’m so picky.  I’m glad that this one worked out well for me.  

There is a little bit of suspension of disbelief that I had to do to make this story work though.  If someone’s family had had me arrested, sentenced, and transported across the globe to a penal colony for a crime I didn’t commit, I’m not so sure I would care what happened to her.  For that reason I would have loved to see a little more anger from Owen towards Lydia’s family.  He seemed to agree to help her (although it was against her will) a little too easily to be readily believable. 

Setting that aside, I did enjoy the story.  I agree with other reviewers that Owen was much easily to like and root for than Lydia.  She held onto her hurt feelings for way too long considering that she wasn’t the one that had had her whole life ruined.  

I will definitely check out more books by this author.

August 2020 Foodies Read
01 Jul, 2020

July 2020 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading

 

Welcome to July 2020 Foodies Read!

  We had 22 entries in June!  The winner of the drawing is this post about JD in the Kitchen:  Indian Sweet Snacks from Eliot’s Eats.

The Foodies Read Rules:

  1. Every post must feature a book about food.  Posts that don’t center a book will be removed.
  2. Every entry is entered into a monthly drawing to win a gift card.  Once you win a prize you are not eligible to win for 6 months.

 

 

 

 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


30 Jun, 2020

June 2020 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

It was a quieter reading month in June than I’ve been having lately.

I continued reading some romance.

 

I also got into reading some historical mysteries.

The rest of the books

 

That’s 16 books.

The books I read were:

  • 1 audiobook
  • 0 nonfiction
  • Set in the U.S. and England and the Dominican Republic

 

 


Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

I actually did manage to add the Dominican Republic to my list!

 

 


 

It’s Not You, It’s Me – Clap When You Land
29 Jun, 2020

It’s Not You, It’s Me – Clap When You Land

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading It’s Not You, It’s Me – Clap When You Land Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
on May 5, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Setting: Dominican Republic and U.S.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Goodreads

I have loved this author’s previous two books.  I was so excited to get to listen to this one as well.  However, I didn’t really enjoy this book.  I think this is an issue of having wrong expectations of what the book was going to be about.  

Reading that description, I expected to hear a story about two sisters who find out that they share a father.  I was interested in that.  Instead this book is a study of grief from several different viewpoints.  It does that very well but because that wasn’t the story that I thought I was signing up for I was frustrated through most of the book.  I just wanted them to get to the point where the girls meet each other.  That doesn’t happen until about 3/4 of the way through.  

The father in this story was just a horrible person as you find out the facts about his life.  It was hard for me to care about their grief for this man when he had been not good to the women around him.  There was also a subplot about a man trying to prey on Camino now that her father was dead that I’m sure was realistic but it was quite disturbing.  It added to the whole “women are forever being victimized by men and they have to just take it” feeling that the story had.  I just was not in the mood for it.  

So, great writing as expected from this author but it wasn’t for me.  I think if you know what the book is really about, you might enjoy it more when you are in the mood for something deep and sad.  

What’s Up?
16 Jun, 2020

DogGone Trouble

/ posted in: Pets

The husband and I pretty much got ourselves banned from the rescue where we got Freckles.  Yeah.  It got ugly.  It was so overwhelmingly stupid that I finally had to stop playing nice and say something.

Ok, when people want to adopt a dog a lot of rescues want to call your vet and ask if you take care of your pets.  It is usually a two minute phone call.  When we adopted Freckles it was a complete debacle.  They called my office and my receptionist ended up telling them off.  They wanted dates when my cats had their visits.  She tried to explain that my cats don’t come to the office.  I treat them at home.  There have to be some perks to having a vet as a mom.  This is balanced out by knowing that if you look suspicious in any way you can be suddenly grabbed for an impromptu vet exam in the kitchen or worse, the bathroom, at any time.  Given the information that my cats don’t go to the office, they failed us on the vet exam.  Let’s review.  I AM A VETERINARIAN.  I FAILED THE VET PORTION OF THE ADOPTION INTERVIEW.  Cooler heads finally prevailed and we got Freckles.

medical-563427_1280

Fast forward eleven years and we are reapplying. I decide to head this off at the pass and explain what happened last time.  I say that if they call my office they will just get me on the phone.  I explained what vaccine protocols I use.  I say that I give heartworm prevention that I get for free from drug reps.  This is not ok.  I should have lied.  It starts to spiral out of control.  Basically you see, there is a form that needs to be filled out.  They want to see when I bought heartworm prevention.  I don’t buy it.  I also don’t charge myself for vet exams.  There are no invoices.  This is bad.  They can’t fill out the form.

Many painstaking weeks of emails and phone calls ensue.  HOW ARE THEY GOING TO FILL OUT THE FORM?  I kept saying to just write down what I do on the form.  This can’t happen.  There’s a form, you see.  Finally when I get an email asking me to provide Freckles’ medical consultation notes, I put my foot down.  Actually I told the husband to take my phone away from me before I derailed the whole process.  He then answered that email and told them very nicely that they were being really weird.  I wrote to their national organization and explained all that was going on.  I thought that they would agree that this was ridiculous.  I got a response back that basically said, “Sorry you are offended but you see, there’s a form….”

The husband got a nasty email back that said that she didn’t care that I am a vet and that we were repeat adopters.  We were strangers to her and why should she give a dog to strangers?  I mean, I thought that was literally her job….  Anyway, we once again failed to prove that we would provide medical care to a dog despite my being a veterinarian.  He wrote a scathingly sweet response back that ended with “Best of luck to your dogs” which I think is a lovely set down if read in the tone I imagine him using.

There are lots of rescues in the world but we were looking at a specific breed rescue because we are picky dog people.  Vets tend to look at dogs and immediately classify all the problems they are going to have based on their breed.  There are only a few breeds/mixes that the husband and I can agree on.  We are also still so amazingly pissed off at that rescue that we’d probably bite the head off the next rescue person who says, “We need to talk to your veterinarian…”

So despite our wish to adopt an adult dog in need of a home and my horror at the prices dogs are being sold for we broadened our search.  Seriously, if you add up all I’ve spent buying horses in my life, the total wouldn’t buy me a purebred puppy.  Now I’m side eyeing all the puppies I see in the office.  Is everyone I know paying thousands of dollars for puppies and then claiming my $12 rabies vaccine is extortion?  I’ve had purebred dogs all my life and every one was free.  The only mixed breed dog I’ve ever had was Freckles and she was the only one I had to pay for.

We are now on the waiting list for a puppy hopefully to be born in July.  The litter will be 3/4 Springer Spaniel – 1/4 Border Collie or as I like to explain, “Freckles but smart.”  (Freckles was Springer/Beagle and the sweetest dog in the history of the world but not the brightest bulb, bless her heart.)  The price is the same as the fee we were going to pay to adopt.

I set out to sweet talk the husband once I saw the ad.  I got an email back that said, “I’m not a puppy lover.”  By the time I got home from work that night (you know, at my job as a VET), he was saying, “If there is a little female that has an all black head we could consider it….”  I emailed the owner to get on the waiting list.  I texted the husband the next day and explained that there was NO COMMITMENT but we were just on a list of people who MIGHT be interested.  He texted back, “Yay”.  Not a puppy lover, huh?  

Hopefully our new dog is cooking as I write and we’ll find out next month.  I haven’t had a puppy since 1990 but I spend most of my day with them.  It will be an adventure at least.  

 

The Kat Holloway Mysteries
15 Jun, 2020

The Kat Holloway Mysteries

/ posted in: Book ReviewFoodies ReadReading Genres: Mystery & Detective
Format: eBook
Source: Library

Death Below Stairs
This series actually starts with a novella called Soupcon of Poison but Death Below Stairs is listed as the first book. It is confusing. I didn’t read the novella that introduces all the characters and that was fine. You can start right in with Death Below Stairs if you like.

Kat Holloway is a Victorian-age cook.  She’s young for the job since she isn’t yet 30 but she is very good.  She knows her worth and is willing to fight for her rights as a working woman.

She has just started at a new position as a cook in the household of Lord Rankin.  The household consists of Lord and Lady Rankin and Lady Rankin’s unmarried older sister, Cynthia.  There are a few rules she is going to have to lay down but overall she thinks it will be a good position until the next morning when she finds her young assistant dead in the larder.

I’m forever going on about hating mysteries where some busy body interferes in the police investigation.  I can’t appreciate a mystery book unless there is a legitimate reason for the main character to investigate.  The reason here comes in the form of Daniel McAdam.  He is some sort of undercover investigator.  Kat doesn’t know who he actually works for.  (SPOILERS FOR THE NOVELLA – They met in the first novella when Kat was accused of murder.  He helped her get free and they are tip toeing around the fact that they are attracted to each other.)  He is able to find place himself in the household as a stable helper and together they start investigating what happened.

The series is interesting because it is very much focused on the people in service’s perspective on the aristocracy.  Lady Cynthia is a spinster who loves to be outrageous by wearing men’s clothes in public and spending a lot of time with the servants.  She gets tapped to help with the investigation also because she can go places and question people who Kat can’t.

It is clear that the author did her research about how Victorian kitchens ran.  No matter what is going on with the plot Kat has to get all the meals on the table at the exact time every day.  The books describe how it was done every day and what meals were prepared.  It is a fascinating look at how these households actually ran.


In the second book Lady Cynthia recruits Kat to help her try to solve a mystery of some missing artwork.  One of her friends is being accused by her husband of stealing to cover her gambling debts.  Things get complicated when guests get ill and some die after a dinner party that Kat helped cook.  They can quickly prove that it wasn’t the food that killed them but who wanted to murder these people?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Kat is enlisted to help out with a neighbor’s household when the master of the house dies suddenly. Suspicion falls on a Chinese man who was seen in the area. Kat has talked to him and is convinced that he was not involved. She vows to prove his innocence as soon as anyone can find him.

 

I believe this series will be continuing.  There are a lot of overarching mysteries that haven’t been solved yet, such as Who exactly is Mr. McAdam and who does he work for?  What is going to happen to Lady Cynthia?  Is she going to have to marry to appease her relatives or does she have options?  

 

Heartstrikers/DFZ series
10 Jun, 2020

Heartstrikers/DFZ series

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading

I totally read these series in the wrong order.  I didn’t know that they were in the same world.  It worked out ok.  I understood what was going on.  But the second series has MAJOR spoilers for the first series.

Reasons that was good:

  • Less stress when it looked like one character was going to die because he had a cameo in the second series
  • When the first series bogged down a bit in the middle, wondering how it got to the end that I knew had to happen kept me going
  • I actually audibly gasped when a character in the first books was suddenly revealed to be a major player in the second series.  If I didn’t know this new incarnation was going to be a huge deal it wouldn’t have been so momentous.

So, I guess sometimes reading out of order is ok.

The Heartstriker Series (the one that is supposed to go first)

Seventy years ago magic returned to the world.  This wasn’t necessarily a good thing for humans.  Algonquin, the spirit of the Great Lakes, rose up and flooded the coastal cities that she blamed for pollution.  She was really mad at Detroit.  She has maintained control of the city.  It is now known as the Detroit Free Zone.  There are no laws except for those that protect water and fish and the one that bans dragons.

Julius is the youngest member of the Heartstriker dragon clan.  The Heartstrikers are the dragons of North America, descendants of Quetzalcoatl through their mother Belinda.  Dragons don’t breed often but she has had 10 clutches.  She gave the first clutch names that started with A, the next one B names, and so on down to J clutch and Julius – the most useless dragon.

Julius is so useless that his mother just grabbed him in the middle of the night, bound him magically so he has to stay in human form, and put him on a plane to the DFZ.  Maybe he’ll survive.  Maybe not.

He meets up with a human who was in graduate school for magic when her father was killed.  She’s on the run from his killers now and hiding in the DFZ.  Now Julius and Marci are going to work together to try to figure out why her father was killed and decide what to do with their lives now.

The problem is that Julius is nice.  He had no cut throat tendencies at all.  This is very upsetting to proper dragons.  He wants to talk through their differences instead of just attacking someone.  It’s unnatural but sometimes that’s the only approach that is going to work when everything else has been tried.

 

 

 

Over time Julius manages to bumble and sweet talk his way into more and more authority in his clan. It doesn’t hurt that his big brother Bob the seer is manipulating everything behind the scenes. No one knows what Bob’s plan is or who he will be willing to sacrifice in service of it. Marci is coming into her own as possibly the most powerful mage the world has seen since magic reappeared. Not everyone is happy with that.

 

 

 

 

Eventually dragons from around the world are showing up to defend themselves against Algonquin. The Siberian dragons have been a part of the series from the beginning. Chinese dragons travel to America. They are much more powerful than the upstart American dragons so it up to Julius to broker an alliance.

 

 

 

 

I really loved this world. The magical system is complex. The story is big with unexpected twists and turns. Julius is delightful in his certainty that nonviolence and cooperation with other dragons is the best way forward. His relationship with Marci is sweet and romantic but she never becomes just a love interest. She has her own story as a fully realized character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The DFZ series

 

This series takes place decades after the Heartstriker series. Again, you can read it alone but it will give you spoilers for the first series.

Opal is a cleaner. She bids on homes, offices, and apartments where the tenant has been evicted. Her job is to go in and clean it out so it can be rented again. She can sell anything in the apartment to make money. She has a degree in art history and was making a good living at this until five months ago. Her luck changed then. Now she is close to defaulting on a loan backed by someone who you don’t default with. She’s found a dead body in her latest unit. Her Cleaning rival, Nik is a cybernetically enhanced human who is nosing around her buys for some reason. Now she has to figure out how to make money and not let Nik steal any of her potential profits.

 

 

She eventually figures out that she is under a curse. That is why she has such bad luck. In the second book she goes to extremes to try to get her curse lifted. She may even need to make a deal with a God.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Now Opal has to protect the man who had her cursed and held her financially under his thumb. She also has to free Nik who is being forced to fight in gladiator-style matches in the meanest section of the DFZ.

My new toy
09 Jun, 2020

My new toy

/ posted in: Hobbies

I was able to test out my kayak this weekend.  The husband had been saying that he was going to come with me to make sure I was ok.  I swear he is getting anxiety when it comes to me.  He doesn’t want to let me out of his sight.  Even going to work has him worried and then I spent the weekend protesting and kayaking.  He decided at the last minute that I would probably be fine and let me go on my own.

I went to a local reservoir that I knew had an easy place to get into the water.  There were loads of other kayakers there.  I decided to treat this trip as sort of a proof of concept trial – Can I get the kayak to the water without it falling off the truck?  Does the kayak float?  Can I manage to float around without capsizing?

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So far so good.

I went for a quick spin around a little cove and then left. I was starting to feel it in my abs. I’m such a wimp!

Now I know that I can do everything I need to do. Next time I’ll be going for longer!

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Protest Time
08 Jun, 2020

Protest Time

/ posted in: Current Events

This weekend I went to a march in Akron in support of Black Lives Matter.

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It was peaceful.  The organizers threatened to beat down anyone who wasn’t.  The mayor was there.  I think it was a bit under duress.  They didn’t say a whole lot of nice things about him to his face.  The police were mostly guarding police headquarters.  There was a helicopter overhead and people up on office building roofs.  I saw a group of mounted police but they left just as the protest was getting started.  

August 2020 Foodies Read
01 Jun, 2020

June 2020 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading

 

Welcome to June 2020 Foodies Read!

  We had 42 entries in May!  I think you guys actually broke my blog for a few days.  The winner of the drawing is Avid Series Reader’s review of Death Runs Adrift.

The Foodies Read Rules:

  1. Every post must feature a book about food.  Posts that don’t center a book will be removed.
  2. Every entry is entered into a monthly drawing to win a gift card.  Once you win a prize you are not eligible to win for 6 months.

 

 

 

 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


31 May, 2020

May 2020 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I had another fun reading month.  I changed from all romance all the time like in April to a mix of romance and urban fantasy.

I continued reading some Alissa Johnson.

 

I read a companion series to one of my favorites in April.

I read 2 series set in the same world but read them in the wrong order.

I read this great series. I want more from this world!

I already posted about this fun mix of magic and romance.

 

The rest of the books

That’s 27 books in total!  

The books I read were:

  • 2 audiobooks
  • 2 nonfiction
  • Set in the U.S. and England and India

 

 


Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

Nothing new in my comfort reading month.

 

 


 

The Extraordinaries Series
26 May, 2020

The Extraordinaries Series

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Historical, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Owned

The Extraordinaries Series

 

This is an unusual series.  It uses the tropes of Regency Romance but places them in a world where some people have Talents.  I would describe these more as historical fantasies with romantic plots.

In Burning Bright, you find out about the world as a woman wakes up in a burning bed.  She has just manifested her ability as a Sorcher – she can set fires.  However, she is also able to put out fires which earns her the title on Extraordinar Sorcher.  She is the only one in England.

In this world, women with talents are awarded more freedom than ordinary women.  To escape her domineering father, Elinor offers herself for service in the Navy.  Her job is set enemy boats on fire.  Sorchers are common in naval battles but she is more powerful and she can also protect her ship from enemy fires.

Obviously, pirates and romance follow quickly.

 

 

 

 

 



Sophia is an Extraordinary Seer. She can see the past, present, and future. She was high in the War Office until a Lord that she accused of a crime convinces the powers that be that she falsely charged him. She is dismissed but is determined to prove that he is a criminal and restore her reputation.

“Sophia’s allies are few, but loyal. Cecy, her best friend, supports Sophia in her quest, while her cousin Lady Daphne, an irrepressible Extraordinary Bounder, is always ready for a challenge. And always watching her is the mysterious Mr. Rutledge, who claims to be interested in Sophia’s friendship—and possibly more than that—but who has an agenda of his own.

But as Sophia delves deeper into prophetic Dreams, Cecy and Daphne begin to fear for Sophia’s health and sanity. Driven to collapse by her frequent Dreaming, Sophia is forced to reevaluate her motives: does she want Lord Endicott brought to justice, or is it revenge she seeks? Sophia’s Dreams and Visions are leading her to just one place: the destruction of Lord Endicott. But the cost of her vengeance may be too high—and may demand the sacrifice of her own life.”

This book had a wonderful villian but didn’t really have a strong romance.  There is a romantic plot but it seems a bit tacked onto a good thriller/crime story.  The book didn’t really need it but I guess if these are being advertised as romances it had to be there.

 

 

 

 


“Calcutta, 1813. Lady Daphne St. Clair, who as an Extraordinary Bounder is capable of transporting herself anywhere in the world with a thought, has longed to serve in the Army for years. But an unexpected weakness at the sight of blood makes her responsible for a good man’s death in battle. Unable to serve on the battlefield, Daphne is sent to India to be transportation for the Governor-General’s wife and children. In disgrace, Daphne fears she will never achieve the fame and glory she has worked so hard for.

A chance encounter with Captain Phineas Fletcher, attached to the Honourable East India Company as a troubleshooter and investigator, leads to Daphne being given a new opportunity: help Captain Fletcher discover the truth behind a series of strange occurrences in the town of Madhyapatnam. Daphne is willing to do anything to restore her reputation, even something as small as Captain Fletcher’s investigation. As the days progress, her attachment to the members of the team grows deeper, as does her growing attraction to the captain.”

I would like this talent.  She can jump anywhere in the world as long as she can visualize the room where she is going to end up.  They are used a bit like evac helicopters.  They grab wounded people and jump them back to the hospital.  Her career falls apart when she faints that the sight of blood and isn’t able to transport a man who dies because of it.  She is sent to India to be a servant/transporter instead.  

Anytime you get get books set in the British Raj featuring British characters you are going to get some touchy storytelling.  Characters either feel superior to the Indian people or they are so excited to find out everything about them while objectifying them for being so different from British people.  That’s probably historically correct but can still feel off when reading it today.  Having more fully realized Indian characters might have helped.  

The story between the British characters was well done.  The romance was sweet and believable.  The logistics of a world where some people can teleport was well thought out.  

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