Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: All For One

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Book Review - All For One - Katrina Roets
Brimming with heart, humor, and a bit of mystery, this third book in Melody Carlson’s lively new Boomer series packs a poignant punch! Life is heating up for the four Lindas—and it’s not just hot flashes! Abby’s losing sleep over her husband’s health and neglecting her bed-and-breakfast dreams. Caroline may have waited too long to put her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mom in a care facility. Marley’s hard-won independence is threatened by her grown son’s neediness. And Janie’s having a hard time being everyone’s rock as the relationship she counted on falters. Add to that a house fire, a missing set of dishes, a bully brother, plus a half-crazy blonde named Donna, and things get really complicated. But with each new twist their lives take, the Lindas are learning that good friends are the best family a girl can have.

One of my goals is to start reading through my physical book to be read pile alongside my official review books. After all, it makes it easier to downsize if I know if I actually like something or not! This book was sent to me ages ago by the author along with some of her other books after I won a contest that she was doing.

The Good:

This story had just enough "what's next" to keep me reading. The relationships between the characters seemed very real and thought out.

The Bad:

This was book three in a four book series and the author didn't send me any of the other books so I assumed it could stand alone. Turns out that I was mistaken. More than once I had the very strong impression that I should know more than I did about a character or about something that had happened. Also, the synopsis on this book isn't exactly the story that's inside the pages of the book and that always leaves me feeling misled by the author.

The Summary:

Sadly, this book was just kind of 'meh' for me. I really couldn't connect with any of the characters and having not read the other books in the series, I felt a bit lost more than once. This book just couldn't seem to grab a hold of me enough that I want to pick up the other three books in the series. If you'd like to check out one of Melody Carlson's other books, I would recommend The Christmas Cat.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Crockpot Monday : Lobster Bisque

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Lobster is one of those foods that I get to eat once in a blue moon. It just screams decadence to me and you know what? Every once in a while, you deserve a treat and this is the perfect easy dinner that will hopefully make you feel as if you're the queen or king of the ball!

Lobster Bisque:

3 cups chicken broth
8 ounces clam juice
14.5 ounces stewed tomatoes
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 onion, diced
1 large leek, diced (just the white part!)
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning mix
1 teaspoon dill
1 cup heavy cream (to add later)
2 lobster tails (to add later)
lemon slices as garnish, and to squeeze in at the end


Use a 5 quart or larger crockpot, and combine the broth, clam juice, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, leek, parsley, Old Bay, dill, and parsley.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, high for 4-5, or until onions are translucent and flavors have melded.

Use an immersion blender to blend into a chowdery broth or very carefully add it to a traditional blender and blend before adding it back into the crockpot. Add lobster tails. Cover and cook on high for 30-45 minutes, or until lobster tails have turned pink and the meat is fork tender. Remove lobster tails from crockpot. Stir in heavy cream.

Ladle into dishes, and serve with lemon slices and lobster meat. You can take the meat out of the tail, and mix it in the soup, or leave it intact and pick at it at the table. 

I cannot wait to put this on the menu! My birthday is coming up so that just might be the perfect time!

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Book Review: The Things We Don't Say

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A beguiling painting holds the secrets of a woman’s past and calls into question everything she thought she knew about the man she loved…

Nearly sixty years ago, renowned London artist Patrick Adams painted his most famous work: a portrait of his beloved Emma Temple, a fellow bohemian with whom he shared his life. Years after Patrick’s death, ninety-year-old Emma still has the painting hanging over her bed at their country home as a testament to their love.

To Emma’s granddaughter, Laura, the portrait is also a symbol of so much to come. The masterpiece is serving as collateral to pay Laura’s tuition at a prestigious music school. Then the impossible happens when an appraiser claims the painting is a fraud. For Laura, the accusation jeopardizes her future. For Emma, it casts doubt on everything she believed about her relationship with Patrick. Laura is determined to prove that Patrick did indeed paint the portrait. Both her grandmother’s and Patrick’s legacies are worth fighting for.

As the stories of two women entwine, it’s time for Emma to summon up the past—even at the risk of revealing its unspoken secrets.

Dude! Did you know that you get a free ebook each month if you have Amazon Prime? Somehow I just found this out and this was my first book choice. Let's dive in, shall we?

The Good:

I loved the stories of these two women and how one's past affected the other's future. I've seen some say that they couldn't connect with Laura and her panic, but that wasn't the case for me. I've been where everything I wanted was within reach, just to have it ripped away. Sometimes life can be a cruel mistress. I will admit that Emma's side of the story entranced me a bit more than Laura's, but both were sides worth reading. I knew the book had me firmly in its grasp when I cried at the end. Any book that can evoke emotion that way is worth reading.

The Bad:

If I had one complaint, it would be that this book is  bit of a slow starter. Still, it didn't take me long before I had been pulled in and had to make myself stop reading so that I could get some much needed sleep.

The Summary:

If you get a chance to pick up this book, I would suggest that you take a couple of days to just relax and to read. It's the kind of book that made me wish for a blanket under the trees near the water's edge. I wanted to immerse myself in my own paradise while I read of the ones that Emma made for others. 

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Lima Bean Soup

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Does anyone remember being a kid and saying, "ewww...lima beans!"? I don't. I loved lima beans as a kid. If I had an eww veggie, it would have been beets. I just could not get into them. Lima beans though? More please!

Lima Bean Soup:

1 pound of soaked lima beans, drained (for quick soak: boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and leave covered for 1 hour.)
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 head (about 10 cloves) garlic, peeled
1 (28-ounce) can diced or plum tomatoes with basil
1 (28-ounce) can water
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cups diced ham


Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the drained lima beans into your crockpot and add the onion and garlic. Dump in the tomatoes, then rinse the can into the pot. Add paprika and stir in the ham.

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans are fully soft.

Use an immersion blender to naturally thicken the broth by blending some of the beans and tomatoes. This also helps distribute the flavor and squish up the garlic cloves. If you don't have a handheld blender, you can scoop out a cup or so of the beans and smash them with a large fork or blend in a traditional blender, then stir them back into the pot.

This is one soup that I always look forward to making!

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: Betrothed to the Dragon

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Book Review - Betrothed to the Dragon - Katrina Roets
Cover Art
I like to pretend I’m just another immigrant trying make her way in New York City…but I’m not.

You may know of my family from stories of an older age. Across all nations, all cultures, my family was once worshipped as gods, cursed as demons and shunned as otherworldly creatures.

Reality? I am shen, but the worst kind of shen there is.

One who would rather pretend to be human than to rule them.

One with no magic.

One hunted by the immortal monster that killed my parents.

And now, I just discovered how grandma found us refuge in America, how she thought she could save me.

She betrothed me – to a dragon.

When I first came across this book, I had no idea what a shen is. I'm still not 100% sure, but what I am sure of is that I read this book and I have opinions.

The Good:

This book is fast paced and easy to read. The characters are interesting, although it left me really wanting to know a lot more about all of them. There was just enough back story to keep it interesting, but not enough that I really felt as if I knew any of the characters by the end of the book. I did find the story premise to be incredibly interesting and I love the idea of magical creatures existing right in front of our eyes. 

The Bad:

I received an advanced reader copy which means that the book hasn't gone through it's final edits, but I do hope that the proofreader/editor fixes some of the mistakes that jumped out at me. Above I mentioned not really feeling as if I know the characters. It's not just the characters though. There are traditions and histories mentioned in passing that I would love to know a lot more about. I felt as if some things were simply skipped over and I'd like to see a bit more attention paid to important moments so that the reader realizes that they're important.

The Summary:

This book is a fun, fast read. I will warn you though that if reading about sex turns you off, this isn't the book for you. I found it to be a compelling blend of story and smut. The author made the two work well together and I'm looking forward to possibly checking out the second book in this series when it comes out in September.

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Lentil Minestrone Soup

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Last week, we had Italian Minestrone and this week, we're ditching the meat and having Lentil Minestrone! This would be great for those of you who do Meatless Monday or who just aren't meat lovers!

Lentil Minestrone:

2 cups lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups hearty torn greens, like kale or chard
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth


Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the rinsed lentils into the bottom. Add the diced celery, carrot, onion, and garlic. Add the entire can of diced tomatoes, and then add the seasonings and torn greens. Stir in the broth.

Cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the lentils are soft.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, and a hunk of garlic bread.

Yum! Let me know what you think! Do you prefer this or the Italian version?

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Book Review: The Carnelian

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The Gemstone Chronicles - Book Review - Katrina Roets
When Aidan and Maggie find a fairy cross while rock-hunting with their grandfather, it's just an oddity. But when they discover there is an elf imprisoned in the stone and set him free, they and their grandparents, Nana and Beebop, are attacked by Dark Elves and forced to flee to the magical world of Celahir.

In Celahir, Findecano - the elf the children freed from the fairy cross - leads them on a quest to recover gemstones stolen from the Elven Bow by the Dark Elves. Without the restoration of the gemstones to the Elven Bow, the balance between good and evil in Celahir - and the human world - could tip toward evil.

I very much love a good fantasy book and feels as if it's been ages since I've read one. When I came across this book, I snatched it up. The bonus? It's book one in a series of four. You guessed it. I also love a really good fantasy series.

The Good:

The human portion of the main characters was made up of a strong, loving family. They protected, supported, and encouraged each other every step of the way and it was really great to see. On the other side of things, I also enjoyed the mystical creatures in the story and how things were loosely based upon Irish mythology. 

The Bad:

There are a few things, so let me break it down...

Grammar - I lost track of the number of times I was pulled out of the story due to a missing word, a lack of commas, or in at least one case, the author using the wrong pronoun to describe one of his characters. All of this could be corrected with a good proofreader and I hope that the author does so and releases a new edition.

Descriptions - The book got a bit repetitious at times and yet, at others, descriptions that should have come far earlier in the book were left until nearly the end.

Characters - While I really did enjoy most of the characters, I found Aidan a bit disconcerting at times. Don't get me wrong, I know that 14 year old boys can be headstrong and will at times do just what they want and not necessarily what they were told, but Aidan did this on a frequent basis and as someone who is represented as loving and respecting his grandparents, his actions didn't often back that up.

The Summary:

I am truly on the fence as to whether or not I want to purchase the second book in this series. I think that the premise is fantastic and that the story telling itself was, for the most part, really enjoyable. However, the lack of having a good editor or at least a proofreader really has put me off. It's tough to read a book where every few pages you're thrown out of the story. So, my recommendation? Give this one a try and then decide for yourself where to go. For $2.99 on Amazon, you're out less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks if you don't enjoy it. 

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