Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Out Of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

Out Of Sorts
by Sarah Bessey
Release Date: Nov 3rd 2015
Stars: 4 out of 5

If there's one thing I can say about Sarah Bessey's writing, it's that she is full of hope, encouragement, and beautiful words. Even when this book started feeling preachy and occasionally overly theological, I kept reading for the stories, the prophetic words, and the poetry of it all.

This book is a story of a journey as well as a vision for the future. It's not a practical guide-book or a self-help book, but it will leave you feeling like even when you can't see the ripples, things are happening inside church communities. New life and healing is there for the people that look for it.

It hasn't convinced me to go back to church. But I don't believe that was the book's purpose... and I've found much of the hope she describes outside the church. But it makes me long for the feelings she has – the optimism and the sentimentality.

Like her first book, this one is an auto-buy for me because of her beautiful way of looking at the world.

*I received a complementary copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

**This review is archived on my blog: The Theory of Lieto Fine

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

In Your Dreams
by Kristan Higgins
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

My Review:
The one thing I can say for this book, is I never thought about not finishing it. I still like the author's writing style, and the book was *interesting* to read. I even had my almost-cry moment that I normally get with her books.

But...I had two major problems with the story...

First off, this series has been going on for quite a while. And each book adds more people, who show up in each subsequent book. By this point in time, I can't keep anyone straight. I'm pretty sure I know most of who married who, but then there are all these extra people that just randomly show up. There were so many first and last names that I basically have no idea what the point was. No one had a solid personality because there were just so many people.

On top of that, with so many people involved in the book, I felt it really took away from the main romance. I didn't feel like Emma and Jack even got to know each other, or like we saw any of their good points, because someone else was always butting in.

But the worst thing of all...I couldn't stand Jack. Oh, he's so nice. Oh, he's such a hero. Oh, everyone likes him. Yeah, until he didn't like something going on and he was all nasty to Emma. He was nice to every single person, always, except her. And a small “sorry” right before the end of the book did not cut it for me. With the way he acted, he needed major groveling and major grow-the-f-up and he didn't get any of that. He kept going on his regular life, and when it was convenient again, he decided he could handle having Emma in his life again... and Emma totally let that happen. She sounded all tough some of the time, but as soon as Jack wanted anything, she made a token protest and then just rolled over and gave him whatever he wanted.

I think that might be the end of the Blue Heron series for me. Sad because I still really like the writing, but without giving some of the characters a good kick in the ass, I won't be able to handle anymore.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast

I've been experimenting with different breakfast recipes. I have this one blueberry oatmeal bake that's super yummy, but oatmeal tends to make me starving hungry an hour later. So I decided to play around with quinoa instead. My first try was a casserole with uncooked quinoa and while it wasn't bad, it didn't turn out quite right.

Since then, I've adjusted the recipe a bit and found something that works pretty well. Quinoa does not stick together as well as oats, so I might eventually try this with some additional sticky liquids (I was thinking extra eggs or maybe even some applesauce). But here's what I have so far.

Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Bake

1-1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
½ cup (or more!) chopped nuts
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
½ cup maple syrup
1-1/2 cups almond milk
2 large eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas
1 pint fresh blueberries

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions, in approximately 3 cups of water, and let cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, half the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, mush up the bananas and then beat in the maple syrup, almond milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla, until it has an even consistency.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir until combined. Transfer to a 9x13 glass baking dish, sprayed with oil. Sprinkle the top with the remainder of the nuts and the blueberries, mixing in a little bit. Bake for 35 minutes or until it looks set (higher altitude means I went with 55 minutes). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

December 2014 Roundup

So, let's just sort-of forget that November is missing from the Roundup menu. Nothing to see here, move along. We're bursting right into December because it's already February and that's how I'm rolling. Breaking those unwritten rules all over the place.

What I've been up to
It took until the end of December (a month late), but I finally typed the end on my first story. A bit over 50K words and still a lot of editing/revising left to do. It's exciting to say I did it, but a little anti-climactic knowing that I still have so much work ahead of me. And don't even get me started on the hamster story. I have to keep working on that, but seeing that the boys just went back to school today, I've been a little lacking in time and motivation these last few weeks.

What I've been reading
Tempted by His Best Friend by Cari Quinn
I didn't feel anything special with this one. It's been quite a while now since I read it and nothing specific stands out. I read it, I enjoyed it, I'm sure it was a good distraction for all the stuff I do while I read.

Crossing The Line by Megan Hart
This book was recommended in one of the comments from a HaBo on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books as being a really good FemDom story. It was enjoyable, well written and very sexy, but I honestly had some problems with it. They had this whole dance around whether or not each of them were ok with Caite being dominant in their sexual relationship. It's an interesting dynamic to think about, especially when the guy is your boss.

But one of the things that really bugged me was, I hate how it always comes up when something would be really special to the woman, everything goes wrong. Was the guy sorry later? Sure, but I can't say he did anything to really make up for that. I wanted some definite grovel and apology from him because of how poorly he reacted and I didn't feel like we got that.

Mari Shu Vol 2, Martian Conquest by Jody Wallace
It seemed like not as much sex as the first story and I'm not up on enough of the sci-fi pop culture to understand all the references, but I had a good time with this story.

Intermezzo by Del Dryden
I'm a sucker for stories with music, so this was a must-read for me. Very sweet, a little sad and painful, but overall a story of second chances. I liked it enough to read it twice, even though it doesn't have a ton of music in it.

In Bed With The Transforming Alien Robot by Crystal Lattis
Cuz yeah, sometimes that's the way we roll, right? It was a fun story. Rather short and has some sexy times with a gear shift, cuz of course.

What I watched
My DH was out of town for 10 days just before Christmas, so I got a bunch of time to watch movies in the evening. I watched a couple old favorites including French Kiss, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and My Best Friend's Girl. Plus I tried Good Luck Chuck. Couldn't get into it at all. At least with My Best Friend's Girl, Dane Cook's friends are filthy but likable. In Good Luck Chuck, the friend was just a major ass. I might watch it again sometime to see if any other parts redeem it, but mostly just to look at Dane Cook a little more.

What I've been listening to
We'll have to go with January for this one. I just bought some new songs finally. My kids were requesting more Pentatonix and pretty much anything that's not SpongeBob or something funky like that, gets my approval - even if it means we listen to a Christmas album for the next six months. This song is not Christmas, but I can't stop listening to it on repeat and the music video is pretty awesome too. The boys were wide-eyed when I showed them. I love, love, love the cello and violin parts. No real surprise there I guess.
And then I had to explain to my kids the definition of post-apocolyptic ideas and why they were so dirty in the video. I'm really hoping I didn't freak them out.

What I've been cooking
I tried making gluten free gingerbread pancakes over Christmas. My DH was a little hesitant because he doesn't like gingerbread that much, but he was totally onboard once he got a whiff. They are super yummy tasting, but I still haven't perfected them. They just don't stick together or flip very well when you use almond flour, which means some broke apart and some got a little burned. I'm thinking what I need to do is try them as Aebleskiver instead of flat pancakes. I'll report back once I've tried.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Mindtraveler by Bonnie Rozanski

The Mindtraveler
by Bonnie Rozanski
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

My Review:
This is one of those books that's hard to rate, more so from the expectations than the actual content. As a romance, this book gets one star. It does not fit the loosest definition of a romance, being there's no happy ending, happy for now, or anything related to that. Even slightly more picky: the male character in the book is not likeable, the female character is interesting but not necessarily likeable either and their relationship is almost unimportant. I didn't feel emotionally invested in whether or not Margaret ended up with her boyfriend. It was simply a side note in the rest of the story.

Margaret is an interesting character. Her motive seems to be more “proving to the world that I can do this”, than looking for a second chance at love. She's angry, bitter, and wants recognition and fame. Living her 35 year old life a second time does give her some perspective and desire to avoid mistakes, but I was sad that she seemed so helpless most of the time. The world affects her, including her past self, and it felt like she took a free pass to be bitter, angry, and powerless. She had one moment to shine, but then external forces took control again and she's right back where she started from.

I found the timeline jumping a little unclear sometimes. Sixty years old Margaret seems to be the age reflecting and making note of the story, but when 32 gets thrown in, it's no longer clear that no conscious mind is currently in that time period. Jumping between 32 and 60-in-35yo-body was difficult to separate and determine what part of the story is a reflection and what part is happening in some form of now.

My biggest quandary after reading this book is, can a past-you make a change in the past that affects current “you” and you have no memory of it happening. I haven't figured out the mechanics of how that would work. If everyone around you “lived” for 25 years but because of a decision past-you made 25 years ago, your life is irrevocably different now than the 25 years current-you actually lived. It was interesting theory for the story and tied in with the feeling I had that Margaret stopped living 25 years ago and just coasted all that time, but I can't work out if there's any theoretical way that it would work as shown in the book. They talk about two different paradoxes in the story, but I felt like the story nearly ignored them when it got to the actual time travel logistics.

Was the book interesting? Yes. I never thought about not finishing it. It was an enthralling and well written book. With a science background, but no time to look up every piece of information, I found the theories well researched and interesting. It was laid out in a manner that wasn't confusing, even for someone that doesn't know much about the specifics of quantum physics. As simply a fiction/sci fi novel, I'd give the story four stars. But I can't recommend it if you're looking for a romance.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Slave by Cheryl Brooks

The Slave 
by Cheryl Brooks
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

My Review:
It's been a while since I read a sci-fi story, even though I like them a lot. I had a couple recommendations from friends to try this one and I have to admit it did hold my interest. The story had a lot of action. But I was left kind of ho-hum at the end. There was a lot of strange manipulative feelings that didn't sit well with me.

It seemed to be somewhat of a parody. There was quite a bit of sex and sexuality, but honestly I didn't think it was sexy enough to put into the erotica category. Maybe because it's been a couple years since it was published, but I would have expected a whole lot more sex before I'd place this one as erotica. I mean, yeah there were naked or partly dressed people, but a lot of the ideas could have worked as a slightly racy Star Trek episode, even if the TV show wouldn't have shown the male nudity described in this book.

It was silly and fun, don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the zaniness and the crazy sex things, but I left feeling like there wasn't much of a point or like the characters weren't true to themselves and their adventure didn't resolve in a believable way (realizing how crazy that sounds when we're talking about aliens with addictive sperm and genital-showing clothing).

I felt like Jacinth was a little too passive for my liking. She went right along with the patriarchal manipulations in the story and by the end, I was disappointed that she had no desires outside of her man. She finished her quest, so now she could go home and pump out babies, even though that never seemed to be a part of her framework before. She had a gun, but most of the time she couldn't save herself anyway. She always needed someone big, strong, or magical, to do the saving for her.

The story was also written in first person, past tense. That made it a little jarring for me. Besides not having any idea what Cat is thinking, I just didn't feel like there was much emotional depth. It was an adventure, yes, but I didn't connect with the characters very well and by the end, the story lost a lot of steam.

Oh, and it felt really random how Jacinth came up with the conclusion of the adventure. Maybe there are more details in later books, but I felt like she just randomly had an idea and ran with it because “that's the only possible solution”.

So, I probably won't read book two in the series. At least not anytime soon. Even though the book held my interest and I never felt like giving up the story and moving on, I just couldn't get behind the characterization or the half-hearted feel to the resolution.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rocky's Entrance to the World

For anyone that doesn't know, I received a crochet peen from the venerable Jody Wallace who writes cool sci/fi stories and awesome parodies.  In her spare time she sells earrings and things on etsy and crochets peens for her least I think getting a peen means you count as a friend.

Anyway, I named my peen Rocky. He moans and he has all kinds of adventures at my house while the kids are at school. Which means he's been cooped up for the last two weeks while the kids were home.

Yesterday, I finally made another video of one of his adventures. I hope you enjoy it. If you have good ideas for more, pass them on so I have fresh fodder for future episodes.

These episodes are not specifically filthy, but you probably don't want your boss or your children watching. I made my husband watch and let's just say he found out things about me that he never thought he'd see.

If you haven't seen episode one, you can find it here.