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review 2020-07-21 02:34
Her Pretty Face
Her Pretty Face - Robyn Harding

This, this was like, amazingly good.  I loved how the two stories connected and then wow!  To me, the story led me down some dark streets as the characters were dealing with some pretty heavy issues.  Disturbing issues.  These are the books that have my eyes glued to the pages, every word is ingrained in my head, and I can’t stop thinking about these individuals, that have consumed me, no matter how loud my life has become.

 

When her son Marcus gets accepted into the Academy, Frances thought her life was now headed into the right direction. Boy, she was wrong.  Not fitting the Academy image, Frances finds that she’s not even close to the holding the ticket. After an incident, she slides further down the ladder until she meets Kate.

 

Hello Kate! Kate was also a new mother at the Academy.  Kate, was one individual that you loved and you also hated. You hated her because she’s so perfect and you loved her because she’s so perfect.  Kate has a son named Charles and teenage daughter, Daisy.  Charles becomes friends with Marcus and is a huge help to him. As I was reading, I kept wondering when would Charles’ moment be? When would he turn on Marcus?  Was he really as nice as he seemed to be?  Daisy was a teenager with loose strings, she seemed to be running wild yet looking at Kate, you would think she would have this child under her wings.  

 

As the families come together, their friendships build, the trust between them becomes dependable.  With talk of their past and the secrets that they have kept hidden, it’s no wonder their current lives are in the shape that they are in.  I enjoyed the book’s twists and I highly recommend this book.  4.5 stars

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review 2020-02-14 03:52
Review: "Certain Dark Things" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Certain Dark Things: A Novel - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Initial reaction: Highly engaging and original story. Probably one of my favorite vampire stories. 4.5 stars overall.

Full review:

I remember back in 2016 when I first read Silvia Moreno-Garcia's "Certain Dark Things" that I was blown away by how rich the writing, worldbuilding, and characterization were in this action-packed novel. Even as I revisit the novel today in a different format (audiobook, which was very well narrated by Dan Bittner), I'm still left feeling with a sense of wonder and wanting to dive more into this universe while following the characters and the vision of Mexico and Mexico City depicted here. I wish that this story (now out of print) would be brought back into circulation so that more people could have the chance to experience this for themselves. It's one of the most original and fascinating vampire novels I've read in a long time.

To build a bit of background, in this universe vampires are real and they have been discovered since the 1970s, living and thriving in different parts of Mexico. There are many different types of vampire groups, many of whom you do not want to cross in the wrong path whether you're human or vampire, especially since they are in rival gangs with their own motivations and alliances. Domingo, a sweet, naive, but well meaning protagonist, is a clumsy human who happens to cross paths one fateful night with Atl in Mexico City. Atl is descended from Aztec vampires and walks her own path with her dog Cualli, only really seeing Domingo as a means to an end at first, but she keeps him around. Technically, vampires are banned inside Mexico City, so Atl keeps a low profile, but the two of them meeting sets off an unlikely camaraderie which leads the two into a whirlwind of trouble while crossing paths with rival vampire gangs. Atl's journey is especially heavy as she's on the run from those who want to capture or kill her. She persistently seeks aid after a tragedy befalling her family and left not knowing whom she can trust. Domingo follows her and her dog willingly, fascinated by her intrigue and wanting to know more about her, but ends up learning more than he thought he would about the underground workings of the narco-vampire gangs.

This book is written in third person, and follows a colorful cast of characters which I enjoyed watching. Ana was another character I enjoyed following, a cop who endures a lot of difficult circumstances in the pursuit of several crimes committed by the vampire gangs and her determination to discover the truth of things. Nick, one of the antagonists of the novel, is truly sinister and hell bent on capturing/killing Atl for his own reasons, yet I also found myself following his perspective to see how events would unfold through the novel.

One caveat of "Certain Dark Things" I found overall was the open nature of the ending, which made me think there could be more stories down the line in this universe given the fate of some of the characters (others...not so much considering they meet some pretty brutal ends). If there's a chance of that happening, I would love to follow it, since the action scenes were strong, the characterizations were solid, the building of the different groups of vampires, their lore and history were very well drawn, and it felt like a solid entry in urban fantasy that I wanted to revisit long after I put the book down.

Definitely glad to have this as a part of my library and I look forward to reading more of Moreno-Garcia in the future. For me, it was a wonderful introduction to her work.

Overall score: 4.5/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher. I also purchased a copy of the book in audio.

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review 2020-01-20 20:36
Review: "The Girl the Sea Gave Back" by Adrienne Young
The Girl the Sea Gave Back - Adrienne Young

Iniital reaction: I really enjoyed this story, namely for the stakes in the story, the action scenes, and the intrigue of the lore.

Full review:

My first full book finished for the start of 2020, and this ended up being a solid read for me. I'd probably rank it only slightly below the author's debut novel "Sky in the Deep" as far as how much it intrigued me and immersed me through the read. The story follows two protagonists, the first of which is Tova, a young woman who can see the future among the runes she carries. She's taken in by a group called the Svell after being found on a half burned boat and taken in for the value of her abilities. But she's been used by the Svell much of her life and as war clashes between the Svell and a sworn enemy, she finds herself in the middle of the crosshairs with a series of bitter losses. She tries to do the best she can with her abilities and willingness to do the right thing, but with what she feels is a cursed existence, Kova finds herself lost in the fray. Enter Halvard, a young warrior who's attempting to find his own way and gets caught thrown into the tides of battle. Both Tova and Halvard's fates are destined to meet and intertwine, but it's not without heavy losses along the way.

What I really enjoyed throughout this novel were the action sequences and really the dynamic of the relationships Tova and Halvard had among their respective groups. I felt the writing for the action scenes were well written and paced throughout the book, immersing me into the battle sequences as they unfolded. Tova's willingness to help those around her, yet feeling helpless with her role and overarching missing identity was palpable. Likewise, Halvard wanting to protect his family and loved ones alongside finding his own purpose was something I could see through the narrative. Where the narrative faltered fell more on developing the leads with a deeper connection to themselves as well as their overarching journeys. I could sense the book rushing towards its conclusion without necessarily tying those threads together and giving Tova and Halvard more character connectivity to make their chemistry and intertwined fates more realistic and immersive. The novel certainly circled back to the feeling of identity on Tova's end and related to the title towards the conclusion, but it still left me wanting more to see where the characters would go from here on out.

This book takes place many years before/is a prequel of sorts to "Sky in the Deep" and features the reappearance of characters from that novel, though they are only in minor roles in the book. I liked "The Girl the Sea Gave Back" for what it offered and found it a valuable read. Still, there were steps that could have been taken to deepen the experience and round out the story better than it was. I'm looking forward to seeing where Young takes this universe in the future and reading more from the author as well.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

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review 2019-12-20 14:01
REVIEW BY MERISSA - Outcast Girl vs Pretty Boy (Forever Love #4) by Jordan Ford
Outcast Girl vs Pretty Boy (Forever Love #4) - Jordan Ford

@mpearlauthor, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Young_Adult, 4 out of 5 (very good)

 

Outcast Girl vs. Pretty Boy is a continuation of Bianca and Cam's story. This is the fourth book in the series and I definitely recommend reading them together or the story just won't make sense.

Cam and Bianca are perfect for each other, yet they keep secrets. Not just tiny, insignificant secrets, but big, HUGE, ones that have a direct impact on their relationship. We also get snippets of Stacey and Hayden in here too.

Just like the others in this series, I was engrossed in the story and never noticed how close I was to finishing it until there were no more pages to read. One thing I had to google was 'Milo'. I was intrigued before but now I know what it is, I'm oh so tempted! Now to find somewhere here in Germany that stocks it!

I loved how this story worked out, with both Cam and Bianca dealing with their issues. I look forward to seeing how their relationship progresses as the story continues. I thoroughly enjoy hearing how Tane and Harper are getting on, so I'm hopeful we will get the same here.

Absolutely need to be read in order and definitely worth it! As recommended by me

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/post/outcast-girl-vs-pretty-boy-forever-love-4-by-jordan-ford
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review 2019-10-16 19:45
pasta, pretty please
pasta, pretty please - Linda Miller Nicholson
I do love my pasta and I was excited to see this cookbook about pasta. This cookbook was more than I expected though. This was not a book for the pasta-maker in me, but was for a more advanced pasta maker. I did learn a great deal from this book and you really should see the pictures inside this book. Who makes this pasta?! It’s beautiful.
 
I like looking at all the pasta varieties in the store. It feels like every week, there is something new on the shelves. This past week, I saw thick & hearty noodles, before that it was pasta made out of beans. What’s next? A few years ago, I bought an attachment for my mixer so I could make pasta and I think I’ve only used it a few times. Before that, I had my grandmother’s old pasta maker that attached to our table. My husband used it a few times a year to make noodles. I keep thinking that I want to make my own pasta and when I saw this book, I thought perhaps this was a “sign.”
 
If it was a “sign,” it was really telling me, “see if there is a beginner’s guide to pasta because this book is not for you, YET.” I did like this book as it had lots of information for making pasta, packed with the different varieties and it was laid out with nice details.
 
I like colored pasta and this book talks about creating them and how to achieve the right color. We are talking 25 colors! From Red Beet Dough to Beet-Paprika Dough, they give you the lowdown on what ingredients you need to mix together, in step-by-step directions to get those rich colors. From there, they talk about how to roll-out and cut the dough. We are talking techniques here, this is an art. Should you freeze, store or dry your pasta? “You’ll want to serve your pasta projects in this book when they’re at the peak of their beauty.”
 
The author discusses the different types of pasta and I was drooling over the pictures of the fresh pasta in this section. From colorful farfalle, to hand-cut tajarin, to a six-colored fettuccine, the author gives you instructions on how to create these masterpieces. There were stars (actual stars) on pappardelle, polka-dotted farfalle, 4th of July pappardelle and then, the argyle lasagna sheets were simply amazing!
 
The book is set up in sections beginning with the basic dough. It goes next into the sheeting section, then the advanced section where the pasta became a work of art. Rolled pastas and gnocchi were in the next section. There was a section of sauces and a final section of fillings for your works of art. A conversion chart and index complete the book.
 
This book is not for me YET but hopefully in the future, I will need it. It does begin with the basics and progresses quickly with detailed information. If I were to create these works of art, I would definitely make sure we savored every bite.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEQncX19Wh4

 

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