Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book: The Body Reader by Anne Frasier

The Body ReaderThe Body Reader by Anne Frasier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley for the purposes of providing a review.

Wow. The Body Reader provides us a unique main character in Jude Fontaine. When she escapes from captivity, we have no idea who she is, and only an idea of how long she's been held. She gets across the city via cab to the first place she thinks of: the home she shared with her boyfriend. Her second choice is the police station, and she gets quite a welcome there.

The Body Reader takes us into the mind of a woman who's been abused and manipulated and terrorized, without going into the gory details. We know what happened, but we don't see it onscreen, as it were.

The Body Reader is a fast-paced thriller, full of twists and turns, and the surprises don't stop until the end. There are hints of sexual attraction, but not a whiff of romance, and the book is better for it. This one's intended to make you think, to examine one woman's path toward recovery, and it doesn't pull many punches.

On the other hand, a secondary character's name was Uriah, and I was more than halfway through the book before I stopped mentally adding Heep to his name. Guess I'm showing my age. lol

Even so, The Body Reader earned its five stars, a rarity for me, even for books I like. Kudos to Anne Frasier.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

MaineMaine by J. Courtney Sullivan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a slog for me. I started to get more interested toward the end, and the book just ended. I'm not sure if I want to interpret that last line as the woman finally croaking, or just another woman from her group coming over to get her for their meeting.

There were definitely moments, but for the most part, I did not find this book enjoyable. It was not funny. It was painful to watch the hateful way this family interacted with each other.

I couldn't identify with Alice at all, and being the matriarch, she pervaded the book. Reading her life story in bits and pieces was a train wreck, surrounded by the train wreck of her current existence.

It was well-written, and I found few, if any, mistakes, so I can't go lower than three stars, but I really can't recommend this book to anyone I like.

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Books: FBI Trilogy by Allison Brennan

I saw these at the local library, and since I'd enjoyed the Lucy Kincaid books so much, I decided to read these, too. These are set earlier than the Lucy series, and Lucy does not feature in them, to my recollection.

Sudden Death (FBI Trilogy, #1)Sudden Death by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a helluva start to a trilogy.

The killer was amazingly smart, and had a personal stake in keeping Megan involved in the investigation.

It was great to watch the foundation being built for the family which will surround Lucy Kincaid. And I learned something new about acupuncture!

I did find about a dozen mistakes, and those always pull me out of the story.

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Fatal Secrets (FBI Trilogy, #2)Fatal Secrets by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the slow-burn in this one. The plot featured heavily, and though the romance was present, it wasn't the focus of the story, so the relationship progressed by a series of stages.

Xavier Jones isn't who anyone thinks he is, and finding this dude and taking him down take some serious footwork, cooperation, risks, and thinking outside the box.

Found this one at the local library.

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Cutting Edge (FBI Trilogy, #3)Cutting Edge by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one felt familiar almost from the beginning, so I must've read it in the last year or so, and hadn't marked it. It was worth reading again, though.

In this one, Nora survives an off-the-grid early life, finds a way to get out, and manages to take her little sister with her.

She and Duke, along with a sizable team, investigate the arson fire and death of a biotech guy, and find much more than they bargained for. By the time it's all done, Nora's got several surprises in store.

I enjoyed this one, and really liked getting to know Lucy's family, before Lucy is a real character.

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Books: Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep was on my wishlist, and though I didn't find the book I was looking for at the library, I did find Touch of Frost and decided to read it. I found all of these at a local library.

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy, #1)Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not generally a big fan of first-person pov, but I'm finding this semi-clueless heroine sort of refreshing.

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Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun twist on mythology. Egregious overuse of "that." Estep is a bit heavy-handed with the info-refreshers, and the main character regularly maims the English language, but I'm enjoying the series anyway.

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Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, #3)Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am getting a bit weary of the heavy-handed recaps in each book, but the narrative is still keeping me interested. One of very few YA books/series I'm actually enjoying.

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Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy, #4)Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stakes went way up in this one! Gwen is growing, learning more about herself and her powers.

Huge challenges for her to face, resulting from previous actions.

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Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy, #5)Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Midnight Frost was a wee bit predictable. I saw the villain coming the moment we met the person. I knew what would happen when Gwen met the Gryphons. There were a couple of surprises, and knowing what would happen didn't negatively impact my enjoyment of the book any.

I loved learning more about Gwen's extended family, and I look forward to seeing how what she's learned will impact her future actions.

I do enjoy Gwen reaping the fruits of being herself - she's a kind person at heart, and it shows in the way the supernatural world responds to her, Reapers notwithstanding.

Looking forward to Killer Frost.

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Killer Frost (Mythos Academy, #6)Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an end to a series, it was pretty good. Gwen muddled along fighting the bad guys until the very end, and her blast of genius made a dramatic difference in the fight.

I'm still so very curious about many of the main characters, so I wish the author would post some shorts or snippets of post-series life on her website for fans to read.

I'll probably be looking for some more Estep to read fairly soon, and I hope her other YA books have the same style. I don't enjoy most YA, but her characters were complex and there was no dreaded love triangle.

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Books: Lucy Kincaid #7-10 by Allison Brennan

All of these books were from local public libraries.

Cold Snap (Lucy Kincaid, #7)Cold Snap by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cold Snap was fun. The first third of the book was about Lucy's brother Patrick, who had been sent to check on a friend of the family. Except for frequent mentions of the Kincaid name, I pretty much forgot I was supposed to be reading a Lucy Kincaid novel. I enjoyed Patrick and Elle's adventures. They're both compelling characters.

The middle third of the story was set at "home" for the Kincaids, where they'd all been planning to gather for a family Christmas.

A family emergency pushes the timetable forward, and stuff happens, as is wont to do with Lucy around, and almost the entire Kincaid clan is involved in one way or another.

The remainder of the book is wrapping up loose ends, catching a killer, gathering for Christmas, and a surprise visitor.

Anyway, unlike the book which "starred" Sean, I didn't feel a sense of missing something because Lucy wasn't front and center.

Cold Snap was a great addition to the Lucy Kincaid series.

This was one of my wishlist books, and I found it at the local library.

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Dead Heat (Lucy Kincaid, #8)Dead Heat by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dead Heat is the first of the series set in San Antonio.

So far, other than generic references to local places of interest, I haven't recognized anything. Didn't really expect to, though.

Parts of this one are a bit unbelievable. Lucy's been up before the OPR three times, twice as a recruit, and yet, she's still a special agent? I know Lucy's good, but someone somewhere's got to be pulling strings for her, and I'm left wondering about their intentions, and why no one else (character-wise) wonders.

I really liked Lucy spending so much time with Kane. He's a strong, silent type, and getting to know him through Lucy's eyes is fun. He's actually a nice guy, and I'm looking forward to learning more about him, and to him falling in love. Because, let's be real, this is a romantic suspense series. I think it's in the rule book. :D

Sean has made the adjustment to SA pretty well, and is digging in and networking. He's getting jobs, and because of one, he's only in part of the book. When he gets more involved, he's fairly peripheral, and Lucy works mostly with Kane, not with Sean. I like the division here - Lucy is a competent person and needs to remember that. Sean tends to take care of her a little too much.

Bottom line, I liked this one, and look forward to getting the next one.

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Best Laid Plans (Lucy Kincaid, #9)Best Laid Plans by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this one, Lucy and Sean have some good moments, taking a little time for themselves and spending quality time with family.

Lucy struggles with inner demons relating to her ordeal when she was a teenager, and it wears on her, both at work and at home.

As the trial of Nicole Rollins approaches, everybody shifts into high gear to keep up with current cases and make sure Nicole goes to prison for a long time.

I'm giving this one a four, though bits of it dragged for me. It's a good enough addition to the series, and moves Sean and Lucy's relationship forward, too.

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No Good Deed (Lucy Kincaid, #10)No Good Deed by Allison Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stakes are raised in this one; so much more is riding on Lucy keeping her cool despite the pokes at her weak spots. The people being hunted know things about her they shouldn't, and Lucy has more than a few moments of doubt about herself and her future as an agent.

She's got interesting insights into the murder investigation and manhunt, and fights to have her opinions heard. On top of everything else, someone she works with just plain doesn't like her, and Lucy can't figure out how to handle that.

This was a great addition, and should be read right after #9, if at all possible, as it follows directly.

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Book: Anything For Her by Jack Jordan

Anything for HerAnything for Her by Jack Jordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free digital copy of this book via Netgalley for the purposes of providing a review.

I had a wee bit of trouble getting into this book; there were British terms I hadn't heard before.

By the time the author started revealing what happened That Night, I was more than ready to learn what ridiculous thing Brooke had done to mess up her life. It wasn't what I thought, was much more serious, and in the end, it was Louise's decisions I was disturbed by.

This is one of the few times I wish the book had ended with the climax. There wasn't much point to continuing, and I didn't really learn anything new about any of the characters.

Anything For Her just didn't work for me. It was well-written, though. Your mileage may vary.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Life Hack - old shirts

People wear beloved t-shirts until they are nearly tatters, then toss them. Or try to, if they have sentimental value. Here are some ways to keep those shirts around and still useful, or to use old t-shirts which would otherwise be tossed in the trash.

Cut off the arms of large t-shirts, above the seam, and they make fantastic hair covers/sweat catchers when you're working around the house or yard. You can pull them over your hair and wear them under a hat or cap. Or wear one under a wig.

You can also sew the hemmed end together and gather the ragged end to create makeshift grouch bags or utility bags for small items or items which might otherwise leave a mess behind - baby eating utensils, bottles, milk bags, etc.

Scraps from fronts or backs are great for:

  • working on the car - who cares if it gets greasy or gross?
  • wearing around your neck in the yard for a quick sweat wipe.
  • t-shirt material doesn't usually leave a lot of fibers behind, so it's great for wrapping sex toys made of jelly or silicone or other soft materials. If you wrap your sex toys, anyway.
  • baby burp rags.
  • baby chew toys.
  • baby lovies - many babies want something soft in their hands when they're going to sleep.
  • oversized handkerchiefs for the snot overachiever in you.
  • oversized handkerchiefs for your runny-nosed toddler.
  • clean and toss - no guilt for throwing money in the trash if it was already scrap anyway, and t-shirts are much sturdier than your average paper towel for those extra elbow grease places.
  • kitten and puppy rags - cleaning them up after birth and housebreaking/litter training accidents.
  • cat and dog rags - lining pet beds, wiping allergy eyes or noses, tying in knots to play tug-of-war, cleaning up pet yak, cleaning up cages at a mobile pet adoption center.
  • keeping in the car for emergencies - vehicle accidents, unexpected visits from aunt flo (in case you don't pack sanitary supplies in your purse all the time - many women don't), tying to your antenna if you want/need help but don't feel comfortable standing outside your car, carsickness, moving injured animals off the road.
  • practice sewing, applique, test stitch changes on your machine.
  • in your purse to line the back of a movie theater seat - have you ever gotten lice that way?
  • in your purse for any emergency/random act of kindness - I can't count the number of times having a wad of t-shirt in the bottom of my purse means having exactly the thing someone else needs right then.
  • wrapping rolls or biscuits right out of the oven.
  • tossing over rising dough.
  • wrapping thawing meat so the flies don't get to it.
  • tossing over cooked meat on the platter if you're grilling outside, or any other non-liquid food outside.
  • cleaning out that fridge containing science experiments.
  • cleaning around that nasty toilet or urinal.
  • cleaning out under the kitchen sink which has had one too many broken pipes - vinegar, wipe with a t-shirt, toss that motherfucker.
  • bathing/molting your snake - your actual serpent, not your body part. lol
  • napkins for barbeque or eating watermelon or other messy foods.
You can wash t-shirts until they literally fall apart, so you're going to get your money's worth out of even the most expensive t-shirt.

What do you use old-t-shirts for?

Book: Suddenly Spellbound by Erica Lucke Dean

Suddenly SpellboundSuddenly Spellbound by Erica Lucke Dean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book from the author for the purposes of providing a review.

Ivie has a wacky sense of humor, and I laughed out loud several times while reading Suddenly Spellbound.

Ivie is surrounded by a family of both blood and love, and enjoys her life, with one possible exception: her dad has been acting so weird since she changed him from a cat to a human. Long story.

So Dad asks for Ivie to swing by his work really quickly, and when she does, he pulls her into a little spell. Turns out not to be so little, and boy is her fiance pissed when he picks her up at the police station later.

After the spell, Ivie is stuck in a love triangle, but it's not what you might imagine, and the resolution of this triangle is funny and dramatic and suspenseful and sad and unexpected.

If you're looking for a contemporary romance with humor, more than a touch of paranormal, and a happily ever after...well, two out of three ain't bad. It's not exactly a cliffhanger, but there's a twist on the final pages of the book, and in the overall scheme of Ivie's life, well, it's just another day.

I look forward to reading what happens next.

On the technical side, I found few errors and no formatting issues.

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