Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong


18398797As #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s new Cainsville series continues, Olivia’s power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her new hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

Goodreads

Source: Copy provided by publisher for my honest review

Review:
I enjoyed, yet didn’t love, Omens, the first book in The Cainsnville series. I wanted to give it another try though, since I’ve loved so many of Armstrong’s previous series. 

Looking back at my review of Omens, I see that I basically feel the same way about Visions. It was ok but I’m still really frustrated by the pacing and lack of plot development.

I really like almost every character in this series but they’re all very one dimensional. They’re nice but flawed which should lend lot of messy complications but it doesn’t. Everyone keeps their feelings to themselves and just goes about their business no matter what. No feathers are ruffled. Well, except one - the ex fiancé but that feels forced.

The paranormal elements and the more prevalent Fae world are as always, fascinating but I wish we could see more, learn more of that.

I feel like anytime something starts gaining momentum, Armstrong just changes course and moves on. Find a head in your bed? A corpse in your car? See a wolf that looks at your BF too closely? Olivia is upset for a few minutes, takes a picture, makes a phone call, then moves on. There’s so much investigating and very little action.

There are quite a few (BIG) new reveals but again, they just add to the mystery.

I know I seem like I’m knocking this book a lot, and I guess I am, but the conclusion I’ve come to, is that it’s not so much this book, it’s that I don’t like mysteries, or investigations. That all bores me to tears. I thought the paranormal elements could overcome that for me but it isn’t enough. This series just isn’t the right fit for me.

Several of my friends, who didn’t love Omens all that much, really enjoyed this one so I would still recommend it. Especially if you did liked Omens.

I think I’m done with the Cainsville series unless I hear that the next book is the last one because at least then there would be answers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

{Short & Tweet} Review: Lock In by John Scalzi


Unknown

Inspired by Midnight Book Girl, Short & Tweet reviews are my way of taking time off from the daily blogger grind for the hellish month of August while still keeping you posted about what I’m reading.

Because I can't be confined to 140 characters – expect twitlonger length reviews lol

***

21418013

A novel of our near future, from one of the most popular authors in modern SF
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselvs “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people “locked in”...including the President's wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.
This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse.


Source: ARC provided via Tor books at BEA 2014

***

{Short & Tweet}

I’m not usually a fan of sci-fi or crime thrillers, but Lock In is fast paced and thoughtful with fantastic, witty banter between FBI partners Chris Shane and agent Leslie Vann.

***
* I found the beginning to be very confusing regarding the Haden Syndrome. I highly recommend reading this prequel novella up on Tor.com (free) It’s a little dry and scientific – but it helped clear up all my confusion.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blog Tour Review: One Dirty Bowl by Christina Dymock


One-Dirty-Bowl-Blog-Tour-Christina-Dymock

Hey everyone! I’m happy to have received a copy of One Dirty Bowl by Christina Dymock to review as part of the One Dirty Bowl Blog Tour. 

You can follow the tour on The Hungry Family Blog

Find Christina!


***



Front CoverQuick desserts and even quicker clean up mean more time with your family and friends, and less time in the kitchen. With One Dirty Bowl, whip up show-stopping desserts like Hazelnut Puffs, Peanut Butter Truffle Bars, and White Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes, Very Vanilla Brownies,Hazelnut Puffs, 3X Chocolate Cookies.

From Christina Dymock, author of Young Chefs and The Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook, this cookbook will impress your guests and satisfy any craving. And these quick, tasty desserts only dirty one bowl, which means more time with your family and friends at the table.
Fast desserts, faster cleanup—grab a bowl and get ready to bake ~ Goodreads

~ Source: e–arc copy provided by Cedar Fort Publishing for my honest review

Review:
I love eating desserts. I do not love making desserts so I was excited to give this book a try. The emphasis on quick & easy with little clean up seemed right up my alley.

Chapters include:

~ Small & Scrumptious
~ Beautiful Brownies & Bars
~ Decadent Dessert Breads
~ Enticing Cookies
~ Divine Sweets
~ Charming Cakes, Cupcakes, Cobblers & Pies
~ Measurements & Equivalents

The layout for the book is beautiful. Clean, crisp, bright and easy to read with photos for most of the recipes.

The very first recipe in the book, Hazelnut Puffs, requires only 4 ingredients and no baking.  White Chocolate Cherry Delights was another no-bake, 3 ingredient treat.

20140813_160102I love quick breads, so I tested the Lemon Bread with Blueberry Streusel. It required a few more steps than some of the other recipes (still one bowl of course!) but I liked the idea of using fresh grated lemon zest and the seasonal blueberries that I had on hand. It didn’t seem to rise as high as the bread in the picture but otherwise it was easy and delicious. Personally, I would have doubled up on the streusel topping for more crunch, but that’s just me. I love my streusel toppings! lol I do plan on trying a few more treats in the future.

I do wish there weren’t so many processed ingredients. This book relies heavily on cake mixes, pre-made sauces, candy etc. and I’d prefer an emphasis on fresh but I can't deny that kids will love these treats because of that!

I think that’s also what makes this cookbook perfect for so many people though. For example. busy parents who need something quick for a school event or when you have to throw together a simple but elegant dessert for a last minute dinner party. And that’s where I think this cookbook really shines. It takes something like baking – which seems complicated – and makes it easy, fast and with beautiful results.

At the very least it won’t be as messy with only one dirty bowl!