Monday, May 23, 2022

"The Admiral's wife" by M.K. Tod

This is the story of two women, separated by about a century in time, who share a similar tale. Both were born and raised elsewhere, but have come to live in Hong Kong. One in the 1900s when her husband was given a position there in the British Navy, and the other in more modern times to get to spend time with her family & to learn more about her Chinese heritage. 

I enjoyed this book a great deal. I loved the parallels between the lives of the two women. Both felt very out of place when they first arrived. There was a great deal that was unfamiliar to each that they needed to adjust to in their new lives.  Yet despite the difference in the time period in which each lived, there were quite a few similarities and a kind of parallel between them as well.

And the way that their stories were so interwoven made it clear that this was one story rather than two separate tales. It was very well brought together so that it seemed to come around full circle in the end in a way that made perfect sense. Yes, their lives were quite different from each other and obviously they’d never met, but there was a connection between them just the same. There is a lot more going on in each woman's story than first meets the eye, and that, as well as the choices they made, brings a great deal of depth to this book and made it a very enjoyable book for me to read. I would definitely recommend that others give this one a try. In my opinion, it’s worth it.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook”
by America’s Test Kitchen

Recently, my husband checked this cookbook out from the library for us to look through to see if it might work for us. We often find that while one or two recipes in a cookbook work well for our family, there’s rarely more than that. But this book was different. We found quite a few recipes that we could use with only minor alterations of substitutions of ingredients. 

I was really impressed by the format of this book. It discussed not only ingredients, but storage options for leftovers as well as foods that had not yet been cooked, simple methods of cooking various foods, what changes to make if you are using dried ingredients rather than fresh ones, and it divided things into weekly meal plans that utilized a lot of the same ingredients in different ways so that you could reduce the number of shopping trips/ amount of items needed to purchase for the meals on that week’s recommended dishes.

The book also provides grocery lists for the various dishes, including either the full week’s meal plans as suggested as well as separated by individual dishes if you don’t intend to make all of the items listed in any of the weekly menu plans they’ve suggested. That made it really convenient for us as quite often we’ll like a dish from one grouping but not the others for the rest of that week.

The book provides complete and easy to follow, step by step cooking instructions on how to make the various dishes that have been thoroughly tested out by America’s Test Kitchen so that they will be easy enough for those of us with little or no cooking experience to follow. And for me, that alone was a huge plus over other cookbooks that are not designed for new or inexperienced home cooks to be able to easily follow & end up with a delicious meal. 

I also like that at the back of the book it includes nutritional information on each dish so that anyone watching what they eat can clearly see the information they might want or need in one location, as well as a chart for conversions and equivalents for ingredient portions and an index to make it nice and easy to find a dish without needing to know which meal grouping it was in. 

I found this book very well organized and extremely helpful. And after having made a few of the meals for ourselves & loved them, we ordered a copy of this book to keep in our home library as we will soon need to return this one to the library. If you think this book sounds like it might be a good one for you as well, I recommend starting out by borrowing it from your local library to test out a few of the dishes yourself. I suspect you’ll also wind up finding it a good one to buy for yourself as well, but this way you’re not out any money if it turns out not to be right for you.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

“A Bride’s Love and her Daughter’s Hope”
by Florence Linnington

Harriet Miller’s marriage had seemed like a dream at first. He was handsome, rich, and well-connected. She was none of those. And his mother detested her, refusing to have anything to do with Harriet or her daughter Alyssa. Until, that is, Harriet’s husband died while Alyssa was a child. Then the woman wanted to take Alyssa into her home to raise as a “proper” lady. Harriet, on the other hand, would be expected to give up all rights to her daughter and never see her again. And with wealth & power behind the older woman, if Harriet were to stay to try and fight to keep her, Harriet would only wind up losing her daughter forever.

So Harriet and Alyssa did the only thing they could, and using the last name of McKinney, they fled as far from their home as they could afford to get. (Harriet’s husband had turned out to be a heavy drinker who was not a very good gambler, leaving them with very little money upon his death.) At the end of her journey, Harriet meets with a matchmaker to find her a husband as she will need one to survive out in the west. But before a husband can be found, we learn that Alyssa’s grandmother has offered a huge bounty for the girl to be found & returned to her. So what can Harriet do now to keep them hidden and safe?

I enjoyed this book. There were some surprises along the way, a character who grew from someone with a simple belief in what was right or wrong, into someone who came to see that there is often more than a single side to the story and begins to see the shades of gray that he had been missing before. We also got to see that like any good mother, Harriet was willing to do anything to protect her daughter and keep her safe, even if doing so is likely to lead to unhappiness for herself. Such actions are something she considers a small sacrifice to protect her daughter, just as any mother would.

It was a very good story and one that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys mail order bride stories or any of Ms. Linnington’s other books.


Monday, May 2, 2022

"The Vampire's Maid" by Cara Wylde

Elise was a young woman with no family and not much potential for a future as anything other than a cleaning woman. At least not until she was offered a job to clean a very large home (more of a castle, really) for which she was paid a very large sum up front with the remainder to follow once she had finished cleaning the place from top to bottom.

This was a shorter tale and one that I found rather amusing. The author can clearly write well, but in this story a lot of what happened felt somewhat too convenient to me. I don't want to go into detail because that would spoil the story too much for anyone yet to read it. For most of the story, there was very little surprise for me, though the ending was quite a bit different than what I was expecting to see happen. I can honestly say that I didn’t see it coming.

The reader does need to be warned that this is not a story for younger readers as there is some very explicit sex in the book including clothing being ripped as it is removed (yet in a later scene was left neatly folded for her to be able to wear again.)

Would I read another book by this author? Yes I would. She can clearly write well and the story was entertaining. For the rest of you, that’s up to you to decide.

Note: My apologies to my readers. This book has been sitting in my far too long "to be read" list for a while, and when I started editing this review to post on Monday, I could not find it listed on Amazon. And unfortunately, I do not have time to get another book read and reviewed before this needs to post. So please accept my apologies for I do not have a link to share this week. But I do promise that this book does exist.

Monday, April 25, 2022

“Wolf’s Pregnant Bride”
written by Jane B. Night,
narrated by Gerri Green

After finding herself pregnant a few months after a ball that she’d attended, an American girl visiting England with her father found herself in the unhappy position of learning that the child’s father had been married shortly after getting her pregnant. And her father was demanding that they make things right, thus forcing Nathaniel, the younger brother of the man who had conceived the child, and Sophronia to be wed immediately in order to avoid a scandal. Clearly neither one of them was happy about the situation, but there appeared to be no other option open to them. (It should also be noted that neither Sophronia nor apparently the brother who impregnated her seem to remember the act itself. She didn’t even know she was pregnant until the child started moving within her.)

It wasn’t until after the birth of her daughter that Sophronia learned that she had married into a family of werewolves and that her daughter would grow up to be one as well. Terrified and not knowing what else to do, Sophronia ran away and boarded a ship bound for America with intent of returning to her parents' home. But other problems got in the way, and now she knows there is something else that she must accomplish before she can return to her husband and daughter.

I discovered this book after purchasing a program for a children’s play we attended & decided to purchase the audiobook version to review. The author is local to the area and it piqued my curiosity as I’d never heard of her or this series before. 

Listening to the audiobook, I would guess that the narrator is British. She did a decent job creating unique voices for the characters, but something about the way she handled the American southern accent of Sophronia and later several other American characters just grated on my nerves, though I can’t really explain why. As for the characters and the story, there were a number of questions that I had, a few of which appeared to be explained, others just left for us to wonder about. 

This is definitely a book that is not appropriate for younger readers, as it does contain some rather graphically detailed sex between the two main characters. Also, some listeners might take offense at the language used when referring to various females in the story, and while some of those terms may turn out to be justified, others do not. But at the same time, I believe that it was possible that the author was using those terms as a means of depicting werewolf attitudes about many things rather than as an intended insult.

Overall, I’m not entirely sure what my opinion on this book is. I also haven’t decided whether or not to continue on with the next in the series. So on this one, you’ll just have to decide for yourselves if it sounds like something you might or might not enjoy.

Monday, April 18, 2022

"Secret Beast" by Amelia Wilde

Kaley's father is an inventor. He's been trying to find someone to invest in his ideas for years with no luck. But this time Leo Morelli and he signed a contract. Unfortunately, signing a deal with a Morelli will likely get Haley's father killed. (Reputation is highly important to the other members of the Constantine family, and they have had an ongoing feud with the Morelli family for a very long time. It is not permitted for a member of the Constantine family to work with rather than against a member of the Morelli family.) So Haley meets with Leo to try and get her father out of the contract. Unfortunately, the only thing she has to offer in exchange is herself.

I bought this book thinking it was a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, which it was, I just hadn't expected it to be borderline erotica as well. This book is definitely not for younger readers. It is very explicit with very graphic sexual details. Erotica is not really something that interests me, and as this book was described as steamy rather than as erotica, I hadn’t expected quite what it turned out to be.

Given the circumstances of the deal Haley is forced to make, Leo Morelli has complete and total access to her body for one month. And if she refuses to do anything he demands, her father will be forced to honor a contract that will cost him everything. So while not exactly rape, I still consider it to be sexual abuse given the circumstances and the actions taken within the story. Not really something I enjoy.

The writer does have talent, so if this is the type of book you enjoy reading, then you will likely enjoy it more than I did. The story was well written, but it had far too much explicitly graphic sex for my tastes. But be warned… it does end on a cliffhanger. And as much as a part of me does want to know how the character's story ends, erotica (or borderline erotica) just isn't something I enjoy reading. So I don't plan on picking up the rest of this series.

Monday, April 11, 2022

"Blood Bound"
written by Patricia Briggs,
narrated by Lorelei King

Mercy Thompson owes the vampire Stephan a favor. He requests that she accompany him in her coyote form and wearing a harness while pretending to be his pet, on what was supposed to be a simple assignment to meet with a new vampire in the territory and find out why he hadn't followed Hive protocols by notifying the local vampire queen of his visit. Unfortunately, it turns out to be anything but a simple mission and things definitely go about as wrong as is possible.

A demon-ridden sorcerer turned newly made vampire in town is bad enough, but add in a heat wave & werewolves barely able to maintain control, causes Mercy to have to team up with the vampires in an attempt to hunt him down and kill the sorcerer. A hard enough task for anyone under the best of circumstances. And currently, things are about as far from normal as they can get.

I listened to this as an audiobook rather than reading the printed version and enjoyed it just as much as the previous book in the series. The story held my interest through to the end and the narrator did just as fantastic of a job as she did for book one. I enjoyed listening to it and look forward to the chance to read (or listen to) book three in this series.

I believe that anyone who enjoyed the previous book will not be disappointed with this one. And I believe whether you choose to read it or listen to it isn't important. It's just as good in either format.

"The Admiral's wife" by M.K. Tod

This is the story of two women, separated by about a century in time, who share a similar tale. Both were born and raised elsewhere, but hav...