Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dark Currents - Review

TitleDark Currents
Author Jacqueline Carey
SeriesAgent of Hel #1

Synopsis:”The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.

To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.

But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.  “

ReviewDark Currents is a wonderful new urban fantasy from one of my favorite fantasy authors.  Several reviewers have been comparing Dark Currents to the author’s previous novels, the Kushiel series.  This is unfair.  While those novels were also wonderful, please keep in mind that this is a completely new series and a very different genre.  Jacqueline Carey has created an awesome world where paranormal characters exist in a setting much like our own world. 
Daisy’s life is caught between the two worlds and this has made her life hard.  When a student shows up dead Daisy has a mystery to solve, before it’s too late.  Sexy werewolves and ghouls, with an engaging cast of characters made Dark Currents a super fun read.  I highly recommend it to fans of urban fantasy.


If you like this book you may want to read:

October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Friday, November 9, 2012

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End - Review

Title:  Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End
Author: Manel Loureiro
Translated to English By: Pamela Carmell

SynopsisThe dead rise…
A mysterious incident in Russia, a blip buried in the news – it’s the only warning humanity receives that civilization will soon be destroyed by a single, voracious virus that creates monsters of men.

Humanity falls…
A lawyer, still grieving over the death of his young wife, begins to write as a form of therapy.  But he never expected that his anonymous blog would ultimately record humanity’s last days.

The end of the world has begun…
Governments scramble to stop the zombie virus, people panic, so-called “Safe Havens” are established, the world erupts into chaos; soon it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.  Armed only with makeshift weapons and the will to live, a lone survivor will give mankind one last chance against…
Apocalypse Z

Review:  I’ll admit that I have become addicted to zombie apocalypse fiction.  I'm pretty sure it was after reading Feed by Mira Grant (the best zombie novel ever, by the way.  Read my review of Feed here).  I have been devouring everything zombie apocalypse based since then.  I've also been sleeping with the lights on, and a baseball bat under the bed.    
          I loved Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro, which was translated into English by Pamela Carmell, and it has been added to my list of the top ten zombie novels.  I literally had to force myself to put my Kindle down long enough to write papers, eat, go to class and go to work.  I stayed up way past my bedtime for three nights in a row, unable to stop reading long enough to get any sleep.  I was sure that this novel was going to end in tragedy.  The engaging first person narrative, and the story about the nameless lawyer and his cat searching for a safe place during the nightmare of a zombie apocalypse, kept me on the edge of my seat.  I became so emotionally involved in Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End that I found myself getting upset when things looked bleak.  This is a definite must read for lovers of zombie fiction!    

Publisher: AmazonCrossing

If you like this book you may also want to read:

The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stuffed French Toast

I love to cook and I love to eat.  When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease I was upset.  I thought my diet was now going to consist mainly of rice.  Grocery shopping became a nightmare and I had to get rid of almost all of the food in my pantry.  Now, after nine months of living gluten free I have finally starting branching out and trying new things.  I am cooking even more than I was before because of the unavailability of decent gluten free premade meals; and I am taking more satisfaction in my cooking because I have had to develop many of the recipes myself.  Friends and acquaintances have been asking me to share some of my recipes so I will be posting some recipes and product reviews here in addition to book reviews.

I was craving french toast the other day.  Now, you may think that living gluten free means no more bread.  For a long time it did.  All of the gluten free bread that I tried was disgusting, dry, and crumbly, with the texture of cardboard.  But then I found The Grainless Baker.  My favorite products are the Cinnamon Raisin Bread and the Flax Seed Bread.  

I won’t lie.  It’s expensive, to the tune of approximately $6 a loaf, and the loaves are small.  So I still don’t eat bread very often, but it’s nice to know it’s available when I have a craving.

So, I was craving french toast.  Using the above mentioned Cinnamon Raisin Bread I came up with this gluten free French toast recipe.

BookGirlR’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon-Raisin Stuffed French Toast

4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon butter
8 Slices of Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin bread
*2 Bananas, 4 Tablespoons Nutella, Raspberry Syrup* Optional

In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, sugar and ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon until thoroughly mixed.  Spread the cream cheese mixture onto 4 slices of cinnamon raisin bread.  *Spread 1 Tablespoon of Nutella on top of the cream cheese mixture on each slice*  Top each with another slice of raisin bread to make 4 sandwiches.

Grease a skillet with the Tablespoon of butter and place over medium heat. 

In a pie plate beat the eggs and milk and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.   Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture, thoroughly coating both sides.  Place dipped sandwiches into the hot skillet.  Brown sandwiches for about 2 minutes per side in the skillet.  *Covering the skillet with aluminum foil or a lid will allow the cream cheese and Nutella to get all hot and melty.*

*Before serving top stuffed French toast with sliced bananas and Raspberry syrup.*

It’s awesome and horribly fattening, but we all deserve a treat now and then.  Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease doesn’t mean we have to relegate ourselves to a lifetime of boring, cardboard-like food.  Enjoy food.  Enjoy life.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Library Receipts

Libraries should give patrons receipts when they return books.  I received a disturbing letter in the mail yesterday that I have overdue books from my local public library.  The fine is $70, and is being sent to collections.  Excuse me?  I don't have any library books, and haven't even been to the library since August.  So I called.  I was told that I have two books out and that they have been marked as lost.  I told her that yes, I had borrowed those two books in July but that I vividly remember returning them in August.  She put me on hold and went to check the shelf.  Nothing.  The books aren't on the shelf where they should be.  So today I went to the library myself, letter in hand.  Now, you have to understand, I hate confrontation.  I will go out of my way to avoid any type of confrontation.  But I forced myself to be brave, to be an adult, and deal with this.  Also, I bribed myself with a promise of a mocha from Starbucks when I was done.

I spoke to two different employees at the library.  The first was very nice and sympathetic but didn't have the power to do anything for me.  She checked the shelves for the books, and when she couldn't find them she went and got someone else.  The second employee, let's call her Lynn, was condescending and rude.  Lynn stared me in the eyes and said "It's not our fault you don't read your email.  We sent you an email notifying you of this in September".  She then checked to make sure they had my correct email on file.  Ummm... Guess what?  They did not have my correct email on file.  They had my old, old, old email on file.  An email that I had asked an employee to change in July by the way.  However, they had my correct phone number and address on file.  Why hadn't they tried to contact me again after receiving no response to the email?  Even in this digital age not everyone has email, how do they contact people with no email?  Lynn had no answer for me.  She just kept pointing out that they emailed me, once.   I pointed out that this still was not changing the fact that they are trying to charge me $70 for books that I returned two months ago.  "We don't have the books," Lynn said.  "I returned them," I said.  At this point we were pretty much engaged in a staring contest.

Even though eye contact, especially with a stranger, can be scary I'm very good at staring contests.  Because of my nice contact lenses I barely have to blink, I'm used to dry eyes.  So we stared.  "Let me see what I can do," Lynn mumbled as she broke eye contact and went into an employees only room.  I waited, and waited and waited.  Finally she came out with the library director.  The director, while outwardly nice, I could tell thought that I was a deadbeat.  She thinks that I never returned the books, that I ignored the notices that I never received and that I'm wasting her time.  She smiled, and said that she would personally check the shelves to make sure that the books were not misfiled, next week.  Several times while assuring me that she would check thoroughly she pointed out how rare it would be for the books to have been returned,  not scanned in, and then misplaced.  I smiled and agreed, "Yes, it is strange.  Perhaps you should rethink your return procedure."  And then I left.  I had been in the library for an hour and the issue is still unresolved.  I am now drinking my mocha from Starbucks and praying that she will find those books next week, because if she doesn't find them I will have to pay $70 for two books that I know I returned two months ago.

The moral of this story?  Get a receipt when you return library books, even if you have to write it out yourself and force a clerk to sign it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Haunted on Bourbon Street - Review

Title: Haunted on Bourbon Street
Author: Deanna Chase
 Series: Jade Calhoun #1
Format: Kindle E-Book

Synopsis: “Jade loves her new apartment--until a ghost joins her in the shower.
     "When empath Jade Calhoun moves into an apartment above a strip bar on Bourbon Street, she expects life to get interesting. What she doesn't count on is making friends with an exotic dancer, attracting a powerful spirit, and developing feelings for Kane, her sexy landlord.
     "Being an empath has never been easy on Jade's relationships. It's no wonder she keeps her gift a secret. But when the ghost moves from spooking Jade to terrorizing Pyper, the dancer, it's up to Jade to use her unique ability to save her. Except she'll need Kane's help--and he's betrayed her with a secret of his own--to do it. Can she find a way to trust him and herself before Pyper is lost?”

 Review: I love a good ghost story. After reading the above description of Haunted on Bourbon Street I was super excited. However, this novel was not all that I had hoped it would be. The story itself was wonderful and I did enjoy that aspect of the novel. The idea that author Deanna Chase has come up with is wonderful.  Who wouldn't love an empath who can connect with ghosts and who befriends the lovable strippers who work below her apartment.  This story could have been great, and shows a lot of promise.
     The writing  however, is what left much to be desired. In Haunted on Bourbon Street the characters are flat and large chunks of time are skipped over with no explanation.  These large chunks of time simply seem to be spots where the author didn't know how to describe certain things, or  perhaps it's where she got bored and wanted to skip ahead to the sexy bits.  However, by skipping chunks of time she leaves the reader hanging.  The author, Deanna Chase, may know what happens during these chunks of missing time but the reader doesn't.  And perhaps she would argue that what happened during those missing moments, hours, or days doesn't impact the story that she is trying to tell, but the way she handles it leaves the reader confused.  If a story teller is going to leave out large periods of time a bit of explanation is still required.  Because of the unprofessional writing I recommend that readers skip this novel and spend your time reading something else.

Publisher: Bayou Moon Publishing
ISBN: 0983797803
Skip this read and try one of these instead:

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory (Jolie Wilkins #1) ISBN: 1470088282

The Dead Path by Stephen Irwin ISBN: 978-0385533430

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls and Coffee

I had "cinnamon rolls" for breakfast. Cinnamon rolls hold a special place in my heart. All of that gooey cinnamon and sugar rolled up in rich pastry dough, served with a cup of fresh brewed coffee with just the right amount of vanilla creamer makes the rest of my day a little brighter. So you can imagine my delight when I found this in the freezer at my local grocery store.  They are made by Kinnikinnick Foods.

I was perusing the gluten free pasta and had turned to go to the checkout when I spotted this package through the partially frosted door of the freezer.  Surely they aren't gluten free and are just in the wrong spot, I thought.  When I opened the door and withdrew the package so I could read it more thoroughly I gasped in delight.  "They are gluten free!"  I exclaimed out loud, garnering myself a strange look from the lady buying six boxes of organic cereal and two boxes of chocolate snack cakes. I thought about those cinnamon rolls all night. Several times while watching the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory (which was excellent by the way) I was tempted to eat one. "No," I told myself. "You will be unhappy with yourself if you eat a cinnamon roll now. Save it for morning when you can have a cup of coffee with it." So I dreamed about cinnamon rolls, and woke up early (with a big drool spot on my pillow) so I could have one. I brewed coffee from freshly ground beans and added my favorite vanilla creamer. The cinnamon rolls are frozen, so I carefully placed one on a plate and heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Isn't it beautiful?

I bit into it, waiting for the taste of cinnamon to explode in my mouth. And I waited, and I waited. I rolled the bite around my tongue a little, and chewed and swallowed. It looks like there is cinnamon in these cinnamon rolls. You can see it. But I couldn't taste it. The pastry itself was kind of rubbery, but you can expect that from pretty much any packaged and frozen baked goods, gluten free or not. It was sweet, and it tasted good, but I don't think Kinnikinnick Foods should call these Cinnamon Buns. Maybe they should change the name to Sweet Rolls instead.  So, although I was disappointed by the lack of cinnamon, and I did eat more than one from different ends of the package to make sure, these rolls are still a good breakfast treat and were excellent with my coffee.  But I will be continuing my search for the perfect gluten free cinnamon roll, even if I have to make it myself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brand New Day

I'm back. After months of being sick I am finally ready to get this blog going again. I apologize to the authors and publishers who had sent me books in the hopes that I would review them here. I will still be reviewing them all, even though it is a little late. I also apologize to my readers. However, the way that I was feeling I was unable to concentrate on anything for very long. Thank you to everyone who contacted me concerned about my health and asking when I was coming back to the BookNook.

The doctors have decided that I have Celiac Disease. (For information about Celieac Disease go here.)  As long as I make sure not to eat anything containing gluten I feel great. So let's have some fun, and read some books!

I am also going to add some new content. Due to my recent experiences with learning how to live gluten free, I am going to be adding reviews of gluten free products and gluten free recipes.

It's a brand new day!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dead on the Delta - Review

Title:  Dead on the Delta
Author: Stacey Jay

Synopsis:  “Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams.  Then came the mutations, and the dre-ams became nightmares.  Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood – and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death.  Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans.  The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t.  Including helping law enforcement – and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective – collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.
          “But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a six-year-old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case.  Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects.  Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run – from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her…”

Review:  You know how I’m always looking for a book that’s original?  I’m always complaining about how all the books I read are starting to blend together and they’re all the same… blah blah blah.  Here is that original novel we’ve all been looking for.  Dead on the Delta is definitely different.  This is the first time I’ve ever read a novel and severely disliked the heroine but still loved the book. 
        Yah, that’s right.  I didn’t like Annabelle.  I thought she was a whiney alcoholic who just needed to suck it up and get on with her life.  But, I couldn’t put the book down!  I loved the post-apocalyptic feel of the world and the dangerous venomous fairies. Add to that the mystery of who killed Grace the six-year old whose body was found in the bayou, Gimpy, the unlovable cat, and Cane and Hitch the two sexy men in Annabelle’s life and Dead on the Delta is a winner!

Publisher:  Pocket Books
ISBN: 978-1439189863

If you like this book you may want to read:

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (ISBN: 978-0756406004) See my review here.

Hounded by Kevin Hearne (ISBN: 978-0345522474) The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One.  See my review here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wicked Witch Murder - Review

TitleWicked Witch Murder
Author:  Leslie Meier
Series:  Lucy Stone Mystery Series

Synopsis: “When the bewitching Diana Ravenscroft comes to quiet Tinker’s Cove and opens Solstice, a quaint little shop offering everything from jewelry to psychic readings, Lucy Stone writes her off as eccentric but harmless.  Even after Diana gives her a disturbingly accurate reading, Lucy can’t help but befriend the newcomer.  But not everyone in town is so enchanted.  And when Lucy stumbles upon a dead body near her home, she can’t shake the feeling that something sinister is lurking in the crisp October air…
          “Convinced Diana is an evil witch, prominent businessman Ike Stoughton blames her for a series of recent misfortunes, including Lucy’s gruesome discovery and his own wife’s death, and rallies the townsfolk against her.  But after Lucy learns the murder victim was a magician and close friend of Diana’s, she starts to wonder who’s really stirring up a cauldron of trouble.  By Halloween, her suspicions lead her to a deadly web of secrets – and a spine-chilling brush with the things that go bump in the night…”

Review:  Cozy mysteries are one of my dirty little secrets.  I call them fluff books, and I love them.  These cute little novels don’t play with my emotions and I don’t get so involved that I can’t put them down, but I still look forward to picking them back up.  For those who are confused and wondering, what is a cozy mystery?  Don’t be embarrassed, it took me awhile to figure it out too.  Click here to go to a page that explains cozy mysteries.
          I love how the Lucy Stone Mystery novels are all based on holidays.  I picked up Wicked Witch Murder right before Halloween and had planned to read it during the holiday.  However life had other plans, as that’s when I started getting sick.  I also bought another of these cozies, Turkey Day Murder and had planned to read that one during Thanksgiving, but I was still too sick to feel like reading.  So I am now catching back up on all of this reading I had planned to do.
          I love everything about this novel.  Diana Ravenscroft is delightfully eccentric and naïve, and Ike Stoughton is a bad guy that I found it easy to dislike. I love the change in the heroine that this novel shows.  When Lucy first meets Diana she doesn’t believe in witchcraft or witches at all, but by the end of the novel she has changed her mind.  Rebecca Wardell reminded me of my mother and my nana and I wish that she was real so I could be her friend.  I couldn’t figure out the who-done-it until it was revealed at the very end of the novel.  I had many theories, but they all ended up being wrong.  This novel was amazing, as are Leslie Meier’s other Lucy Stone Mysteries. 

Publisher:  Kensington Publishing Corp
ISBN: 978-0758229304

If you like this book you may want to read:

Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier  (ISBN: 978-0758228895)  First book in the Lucy Stone Mystery Series

On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle (ISBN: 978-0425192139First book of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First Grave on the Right - Review

Title:  First Grave on the Right
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1

Synopsis:  “Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper.  Meaning, she sees dead people.  Really.  And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light”.  But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice.  Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life… and it turns out he might not be dead after all.  In fact, he might be something else entirely.  But what does he want with Charley?  And why can’t she seem to resist him?  And what does she have to lose by giving in?”

Review:  First Grave on the Right is a seductive read.  I love paranormal romance novels, but sometimes I get sick of thinking a novel is going to be something new and different only to find out it’s the same old vampire/werewolf story.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my vampire and shape shifter stories.  But sometimes I crave something different.  First Grave on the Right fulfilled that craving. 
          I also love a good ghost story.  Charley’s attitude toward the ghosts in her life cracked me up!  There’s Aunt Lillian who makes nonexistent coffee which Charley pretends to drink, and Mr. Habersham whose sole ambition in the afterlife seems to be to see Charley naked.  I like Ms. Jones’ writing style.  It only took me three hours to read First Grave on the Right because I simply could not put it down!  The scenes with Reyes were hot.  Hell, as a bad boy/protector figure Reyes himself is super hot!  I found Charley Davidson to be a highly sarcastic and fun character, and I highly recommend reading First Grave on the Right ASAP.

For an excerpt and some fun facts about First Grave on the Right see the authors website here.

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
ISBN:  978-0312360801

If you like this book you may want to read:

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price  (ISBN: 978-0451463807)

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens (ISBN: 978-0778329817)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gateway - Review

Title:  Gateway
Author: Sharon Shinn

Synopsis: “Adopted from China and raised in St. Louis, Daiyu is used to feeling a little out of place, a little restless.  But what kind of adventure is there in the Midwest?  One day, while she’s at a city fair near the Gateway Arch, Daiyu spots a gorgeous black jade ring, and when the elderly vendor tells her that “black jade” translates to “Daiyu”, she impulsively buys the ring and wears it as a token of her heritage.
          “It is much more.
          “Daiyu walks through the Arch on her way home.  She never gets there.  Instead, she passes into another world, another version of St. Louis – where almost everyone is Chinese.
          “Now she has more adventure than she could ever have imagined.  Taken to a safe house, she is trained as a spy in order to help topple the existing government.  Daiyu spends hours learning  refined manners and niceties and flirtations to pass among the elite – and steals moments to be with handsome Kalen, the only person in the alternate world whom she truly trusts, or truly loves.
          “There is only one problem.  Once her task is done, she must return to her own St. Louis, and leave Kalen behind… forever.”

Review:  I should start out by saying that I love Sharon Shinn’s novels.  Her Samaria Novels and The Twelve Houses Novels are my favorites.  When I picked up Gateway I somehow failed to miss the fact that it’s a young adult novel.  Not that there’s anything wrong with young adult novels.  I read plenty of them.  It’s just not what I was expecting when I picked up Gateway. 
          That said, even though it’s not what I was expecting, this is an amazing story.  I love Daiyu, and her quirky family reminded me of my own family.  The descriptions of the worlds and the people were fascinated and rich with a new culture.  Kalen and Daiyu stole my heart with their young love and innocence.  As a bonus surprise Gateway didn’t end the way that I thought it was going to.  Usually I can have the ending of a novel figured out about halfway through reading it, and with Gateway I thought that I had.  Nope, surprise!  This was a delightful, quick read that I highly recommend. 

Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0670011780

If you like this book you may want to read:

Archangel by Sharon Shinn (ISBN: 978-0441004324)

Abarat by Clive Barker (ISBN: 978-0062094100)