4.23.2017

Fate of Flames, The Effigies #1 {Book Review}

Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley is the first in a new YA Fantasy series. The premise is that ghostly monsters called phantoms have begun terrorizing the world and are only barely held at bay. There are four Effigies, each associated with an element, who are mysteriously chosen to fight the phantoms.
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Fate of Flames free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley is the first in a new YA Fantasy series. The premise is that ghostly monsters called phantoms have begun terrorizing the world and are only barely held at bay. There are four Effigies, each associated with a classical element (fire, water, earth, air), who are chosen by fate to fight the phantoms.

We join the story when Maia Finley learns that she has been chosen as the newest fire Effigy. Early in the novel, Maia struggles with her selection, especially given her former fangirling of one of the Effigies. Maia followed them in internet forums, created homage videos, and knows every detail about them. And now she has to learn how to become one of them.

I love the process of world-building in a new series and this culture is technologically unique. I wanted to know more about why the phantoms exist, how the technology was developed, and why it kept failing.

A few holes in the plot and some places where the pacing dragged a bit for me kept me from getting completely carried away by this one. Even so, I'll pick up the second, Siege of Shadows, hits shelves in November 2017.

4.18.2017

All Our Wrong Todays {Book Review}

{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of All Our Wrong Todays free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai is not your average time travel novel. It imagines what would happen if the most important scientific experiment ever goes awry thanks to an inept slacker who also happens to be a chrononaut (fancy name for time traveler).

In this novel, our world is the dystopia while Tom's world is a beautiful, futuristic, paradise. (I would completely choose to live in his world, by the way, despite the technocratic leanings.) Instead of just magically being this way, we learn exactly what the tipping point in history was, then our dear Tom ruins it.

The beginning and the end of this novel were especially delightful. So many pop culture references, jokes, and self-deprecation. The middle moved a bit slowly as Tom sorted out thoughts, feelings, and relationships while I was begging to hear more about the future and how Tom was going to get back there (or not!).

It was also fun to read a novel that was so aware of the reader, even breaking the fourth wall quite often and with purpose. (There is probably a real literary term for that, but I went to law school instead of an MFA program, so cut me some slack). Also, the author reads the audiobook, which can go horribly wrong, but instead went very right in this instance.


4.10.2017

Faithful by Alice Hoffman {Book Review}

Faithful by Alice Hoffman is not a novel for the faint of heart. The pace is a slow burn, with a great deal of heartache, angst, and grief along the way.
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Faithful free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Faithful by Alice Hoffman is not for the faint of heart. The pace is a slow burn, with a great deal of heartache, angst, and grief along the way. But the journey is worth it!

After a car accident with her best friend that changed the course of her life, Shelby embarks on the challenging journey of finding a way to move forward. She changes overnight into a depressed, angry, grief-stricken young woman who cannot seem find her way out of the dark place she found herself in.

Along this journey, Shelby find people are are good, people who are pretty evil, and many an animal who needs rescuing. She's not a character that is easy to root for all the time, but there is always a glimmer there that kept me hoping she would turn a corner.

This was such a departure from the lyrical and sweeping historical fiction of The Marriage of Opposites, but in the hands of Hoffman, the story of an individual's life was just as impactful.

3.31.2017

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay {Book Review}

I'm just going to say it: Katherine Reay's books are delightful. A Portrait of Emily Price is the newest addition to my Reay library and like the others, it has subtle nods to classics. In this case, it's Emma and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of A Portrait of Emily Price free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

I'm just going to say it: Katherine Reay's books are delightful. A Portrait of Emily Price is the newest addition to my Reay library and like the others, it has subtle nods to classics. In this case, it's Emma and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

In A Portrait of Emily Price, the titular character is a serious and risk-averse art restorer who loses her job, then gets swept away by an intense romance. We follow Emily as she deals with the "new her" while trying to adjust to the new life she has chosen.

In addition to a whirlwind romance, this novel also has a family mystery running through its pages. Given that this is a Katherine Reay book, I knew that it was going to be somewhat tame (because that's how she rolls) but I find that comforting.

Sometimes you just need a story to take you out of everyday life, but that isn't going to blast you with agonizing situations. That's not to say that there isn't heart and emotion in this story, because there is, but it's not going to keep you up at night worrying!

3.30.2017

Degustabox March 2017 {Subscription Box Review}

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.
{Many thanks to Degustabox for sending me this box free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

The Box:

Degustabox

The Cost and Coupon Code:

Degustabox is regularly $19.99 per month, with free shipping. Use code 8PICG for 50% off your first box.

What's Included:

Degustabox includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.

Degustabox Review:

As usual, this month I found a great variety when I opened up my Degustabox. Here's what I received in Degustabox this month:

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.

Good Thins, Sweet Potato, $3.69 - These are made with real sweet potatoes, but without high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial papers, or partially hydrogenated oils.

Paul's Quinoa Bars with Nuts, Seeds, & Honey, $7.49 - These certified organic quinoa bars are 100% natural and gluten free. You get a high energy, but low calorie, snack bar. 

Lemoncocco Italian Beverage, $1.59 - This non-carbonated beverage from Italy has lemon and coconut flavors. 

Energems, Mint Dark Chocolate, $6.99 - these supplements have Vitamin B and D, plus caffeine to give you a boost!

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.
Goya Quinoa Blend, Black Beans, Bell Peppers, and Spices, $2.99 - This blend includes brown rice and quinoa, along with vegetables and spices. It's gluten free, whole grain, vegetarian, and trans-fat free.

Tolerant Chickpea Pasta, $4.99 - Who knew there was such a thing as Chickpea Pasta? This version from Tolerant gets outstanding ratings. It's gluten free, organic, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO.

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.
Cookie Thins, Chocolate Chip, $2.99 - If you are a fan of thin and crispy cookies, these are for you! I like these for snacking, but they'd be great on ice cream, too.

7 Days, Soft Croissant, Peanut Butter Creme and Jelly, $1.49 - these baked croissants are perfect for breakfast or snacking on the go!

Loacker, Tortina, Dark Chocolate, $3.99 - these little lovelies have crispy wafers, hazelnut cream, and dark chocolate. 

Degustabox is a subscription box that includes 10-15 food items each month, from a wide variety of categories. Every month is a new surprise, but you'll find snacks, beverages, and pantry items, too.

Boboli Pizza Crust, $4.99 - my kids were excited to see this! We used the Boboli crust for a make your own pizza night. Each kids got to create their own half and I ate whatever was left over!

Conclusion:

I continue to appreciate how Degustabox is not a one trick pony. Each month, I receive a box that has pantry items, snacks, sweets, and even beverages. It's such a treat to discover new things to try, plus the value is always there. This month, the box (without a coupon code) would cost $19.99, but it included products totaling over $41. Give this one a try!

3.27.2017

Plan to Eat Hosting One Pot April

{If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

I am an evangelist for Plan to Eat. It really saved my life when I wanted to streamline meal planning each week. Plan to Eat lets you upload your own recipes, drag and drop them on to a calendar, and then it creates a shopping list for you. You can save a list of "staples" and easily add them to your list, and mark items that you already have. Then you walk through the store and check items off the list on your phone. Ta da!

If you have been thinking about trying Plan to Eat, now would be a good time. They are hosting an event called One Pot April, with 20 featured recipes from cookbooks and bloggers (thanks for including bloggers, Plan to Eat!) that can be made in one pot or in a sheet pan.

You just click a button to participate, then drag and drop the recipes that appeal to you onto your own planning calendar. I so appreciate the curation of recipes, which saves me the time I would have spent searching for recipes, with the added bonus of less cleanup when I cook.

Plan to Eat has a 30-day free trial if you want to give it a shot! Let me know how it works out for you.

3.26.2017

Glitter by Aprilynne Pike {Book Review}

This mashup of 18th century France and a futuristic society does not disappoint! Glitter by Aprilynne Pike will keep you turning pages.
{Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Glitter free of charge. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Some books defy a simple summary and Glitter by Aprilynne Pike is one of them. Here's my best effort: set in the near future, a corporation creates a sovereign pocket kingdom at Versailles and live as if they are in 18th century France and participate in political machinations, but with robots, tablets, and much better hygiene. This is the first installment of a duology. I will definitely be reading the next one!

Glitter was different than any other book I have ever read and I mean that in the best possible way. The mashup between the culture of Louis XIV with the technology of the near future was completely fascinating. The sense of humor and flawed main character will keep you on your toes.

The plot was full of so many twists and turns that at one point, I almost wanted the main character, Danica, to simply give up. All seemed lost. With the exception of a case of insta-love, I found the characters interesting and three-dimensional. In fact, there were a few characters whose backstories would make pretty great stand alone novels.

A quick note on the intended audience. This is shelved as YA, but I'd say it's veers toward an older YA audience due to the pervasive sexual tension, some of it in the form of threatened violence, among the characters. There is a "fade to black" treatment of actual trysts, but attraction, affairs, and sexual violence are featured throughout.

PS - Is that cover just so beautiful or what?