Book Review; 5-Ingredient Smoothie Recipe Book

reviewcover-5ingredientsmoothiereipebookTitle: 5-Ingredient Smoothie Recipe Book

Author: Amy Gonzalez, RD, FNTP

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to get the crucial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to function at its best. This 5-ingredient cookbook of smoothies features 100 balanced recipes you can make with just a handful of basic ingredients for quick and healthy options with minimal effort.

Fewer ingredients means less time in the kitchen, less money spent at the store, and simple, satisfying flavors that can improve your weight, digestion, and overall health. You’ll even find tips and tricks for shopping, calculating nutrition information, and more.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book has an amazing repertoire of smoothie options. I was impressed by the diversity of ingredients, and I like that there are so many different flavor profiles. The calorie and nutrition information was super helpful for someone like me, who is on a restricted-calorie diet.

My one warning though is that not every ingredient is going to be readily available at every big box store – so you may have to do a bit of searching to find the more uncommon ingredients like hibiscus flowers or papaya.

Book Review: Say Yes To The Duke

review-cover-say yes to the dukeTitle: Say Yes To The Duke [The Wildes of Lindow Castle 5]

Author: Eloisa James

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, will stop at nothing to marry Viola, including marrying a woman whom he believes to be in love with another man.

A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

If someone asked me to recommend a historical romance, Say Yes To The Duke by Eloisa James wouldn’t even cross my mind. I’ll be honest, it was… fine. It wasn’t a terrible book, but it also didn’t stick with me. The writing itself was well done, the editing was spotless, the cover is pretty… but I didn’t truly like any of the characters. They didn’t feel like real people, instead, it felt like I was watching a play where characters dashed on and off stage, living out scenes a little more dramatically than necessary to make the audience laugh or boo.

I got 90% through the book, set it aside for an evening, and then completely forgot I was reading it for a week. I picked up the book sometime later, noticed it was on 90% read, and figured I’d made a mistake and skipped ahead in a new book. It was only when I reread the entire first chapter that I realized I’d picked it up before. It wasn’t a mistake. The book just wasn’t memorable. I had to re-skim the entire book to remember what it was about.

Was the book awful? No. Nothing made me want to put the book down or throw it across the room… it just wasn’t great.

Book Review: Opposition

cover-oppositionTitle: Opposition [Lux 5]

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can’t believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

God, I love this series. I’m five books in, and each book is more of the same in the best possible way, and yet unique. This one was geared heavily towards an apocalyptic scenario, which is quite different from the rest of the series, but it was a long time coming to get here.

The characters and world-building have held up amazingly well throughout the series. They have depth, definitive personalities, and you can’t help but feel for them. I also like that the author doesn’t have any qualms about killing off well-loved characters when the plot calls for it – as much as it devastated my soul at the time. The romances and friendships, even the conflicts between the characters felt real and natural. It is all incredibly well-written and executed.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll say this: I loved this book. I love the series as a whole. I am incredibly sad that I have run through the last of the books. If you like Young Adult Science Fiction or Romance, I highly recommend this series and this book.

Book Review: Life and Death

review-cover-life and deathTitle: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined [Twilight 5]

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Because I couldn’t find a good synopsis anywhere, let me give it to you as it is: This is Twilight, re-written as a giant gender swap. Bella is now Beau. Edward is now Edythe, and though there are a few changes to the story (mostly to avoid having to write a sequel, I’m sure—this is basically the same story. If you don’t know what Twilight was about, you live under a rock and probably won’t read this review anyway.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I picked up Life and Death almost as soon as I heard that it existed. Let me pause for a moment to preface this review by saying: I’m not a huge Twilight fan. I don’t have a problem with the teenage angst or the love triangle—theoretically, the young adult paranormal romance should be right up my alley—but, Bella and Edward just weren’t for me. She was a painfully weak character, and he was kind of stalkerish. The writing itself (or more importantly, the editing) was awful. The movie series wasn’t much better—mostly because the characters seemed to lack any personality on the big screen. On the other hand, the story was still entertaining, so yes, I read all the books. I watched all the movies. And I understand that some people are going to hate me for these statements. That’s okay. To each his own.

So, when Life and Death came out, I was curious. Would it improve upon Twilight? The answer is both a yes, and a no. Editing wise, Life and Death was better written. There were fewer typos, less flowery awkward sentences, less teenage in-head drama. I appreciated that. And, since the stories were very similar (though not identical) it was kind of interesting to see what changes were made and how they changed the story. I liked that. Unfortunately, that isn’t where my review ends.

Had I never read Twilight, had I never had the comparison between the two books, I don’t know that I would have liked Life and Death as a stand alone, untried book. I mean, sure… it’s interesting to see the genders swapped and how that affected the sheer number of female characters present in the book… because there was a definite increase. But did I like any of the characters more? No. In fact, I think I liked some of them less. Most of the characters seemed obviously secondary and faded into the background a lot more than in the original telling of the story.

The funny thing is, at the very beginning of the book, the author made a note to point out how one of her most-complained about things in Twilight is how weak Bella is as a character, and one of the reasons she wanted to do a gender swap was to show that had Bella been male, the character would still hold up. Except… I think it backfired. Beau has to be one of the most infuriatingly weak male characters I’ve ever read about. He makes Bella seem strong. He’s carried around, ordered around, basically does whatever Edythe asks him to do… and doesn’t stand up for himself. Like Edward, Edythe invades his room for months, treats him kind of like crap, and he just shrugs and continues on if it’s normal. In fact, it seems to be a running theme that everything just kind of rolls off Beau like droplets off a duck’s back. He didn’t have a lot of personality, and it was kind of frustrating to watch him go along with everything like nothing was a big deal.

I did like some of the changes made to the story. It was great to not have to spend a ton of time with Jacob’s fem ego, Jules. Her character felt kind of superfluous. It was nice to see Charlie in the same familiar role he’s always held as Bella/Beau’s dad. I like that the book ended differently than the original and didn’t drag on into several more installments. I like that Beau didn’t seem as shy as Bella, and I liked that there were more female roles in the story. Also, the book was well edited—I only found one obvious typo.

So where does this book stand with me? Overall, it’s a “meh.” I’m glad I read it, I certainly liked parts of it much more than Twilight… but was it a good book? Not particularly. There were still a lot of problems with the story (mostly, the character’s lack of personality). This felt too much like a ploy to keep the series relevant without having to actually write something new.

If you liked the original series, I’d encourage you to pick this one up if for no other reason that to get a second chance at the story in a new and strange perspective. If you didn’t like the original, you probably won’t like this one much either. It’s a novelty, but I don’t think it’s something I’d actually encourage people to read and enjoy like any other book.

Weekend Wrap-Up #5

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to yet another Weekend Wrap-Up! Let’s get started!

What I Read

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I read! I read! I feel like I should shout that this week. The last few weeks have been a bit slow, but I finally got some reading done, and I’m pretty happy about it—even if it was a bit overwhelming.

Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm & Forget Me Not by Erika Marks were both sent to me by Tule Publishing via NetGalley this past week, and both are Contemporary Romances by authors I’ve never had the pleasure of reading before. Thankfully, they were both excellent books!

Ignited by Desni Dantone was a book I picked up on a whim for .99 on Amazon with my Mother’s Day gift card (Thank you to my family for that one!)—and boy am I glad I did! For a random-whim, it was a fantastic YA Paranormal Romance.

I’ve also started (but haven’t finished) War Kids by H.J. Lawson which was sent to me by the author herself as part of a special readers program she started this past week.

You can look forward to reviews being posted for all of these books in the very near future:

  • May 18 – Bride By Mistake
  • May 20 – Forget Me Not
  • May 27 – War Kids
  • June 3 – Ignited

What Was Posted

What I Did

This week has been a little hectic to be honest. Mother’s Day hit last weekend (obviously) and I bought a ton of books (Woot! YAY for Amazon Gift Cards!) which kind of made my week because I am the worst of all book hoarders. I also managed to read quite a few books this week, cleaned my house, and watched way too much Naruto. Yes, I realize I’m 31 and too old to watch cartoons. I have an 11 year old, and I shall use her as my excuse to watch cartoons until she’s an adult… and then I’ll use my grandkids!

One of my top tasks this week was adding my entire e-book library to my GoodReads book lists. That may not sound like such a huge task—until you realize my e-book library is very close to containing about 25k books. I’m not kidding. It took me 2 days to add them all. Talk about a pain in the neck! I may have the largest TBR list known to man.

Last, but not least, I spent a good amount of time this week re-organizing my blog schedule. I can hardly put into words how stressful that was. At the beginning of the week, I’d already scheduled reviews all the way into June—I was ahead of schedule, and I thought that I was fine as far as scheduling go. That didn’t last long.

In very short succession I was then sent two NetGalley books from Tule Publishing (because I’m auto approved by that publisher and they e-mail me new books every week), both of which needed to be read and reviewed by this upcoming week (which had already been scheduled with other posts at that point). The next day I was sent two more books by H.J. Lawson as part of her new readers program (where again, I am automatically e-mailed all the new books she publishes). Those too had an expected review date that meant they both needed to be read within the next 1-2 weeks. I was also notified that I’d be sent the third book in the series in another week or so (which also has an expected review date of 1-2 weeks).

I suddenly found myself with four new books that needed to be read/reviewed in a very short period of time, along with my other previously scheduled reviews—one of which needed to be posted this month (let’s not forget this month is half over already!). Period. I looked at my schedule and realized that I had a review scheduled for every single day for the next two weeks—and that seemed like madness. So, I moved things around. It took me an hour to figure out all the logistics, and I had to fudge two reviews and make them purposefully a day or two late…but I think I have everything under control again. My new schedule looks something like this:

  • May 18 – Bride By Mistake (Release Date & Review)
  • May 19 – Forget Me Not (Release Date)
  • May 20 – Forget Me Not (Review)
  • May 22 – Free Fiction Friday #47
  • May 24 – Weekend Wrap-Up #6
  • May 25 – Art of Cunning (Review)
  • May 27 – War Kids (Review)
  • May 29 – Free Fiction Friday #48
  • May 31 – Weekend Wrap-Up #7
  • June 1 – Survive The Day (Review)
  • June 3 – Ignited (Review)
  • June 5 – Free Fiction Friday #49
  • June 7 – Weekend Wrap-Up #8
  • June 8 – I Dreamt of Trees (Review)

Craziness I tell you. I can only pray that I won’t have to move anything else around before the month is over!

Next Week

Meet Isabella. She says hi.I don’t even know. Right now thinking about next week makes my head hurt. You can check out the schedule above to see what’s coming up. I should have reviews up for Bride By Mistake and Forget Me Not – both of which were 4 star books, and I’d recommend them if you like Contemporary Romance.

To be honest, I’m still trying to take it a little easy. I’ve still got Tonsillitis (oh joy of joys), which is sort of kicking my butt. I do plan to do some baking (cupcakes!) done at some point, but mostly, I think next week is going to be all about reading. I need to finish up reading War Kids and Survive the Day by H.J. Lawson so that I can get those reviews ready for their pre-scheduled releases (and so my TBR is a little shorter when I get the third book in the series)—and then I need to look into what I’m going to read/schedule for the three remaining review days not filled on my calendar. I’m sort of way far ahead (ah, it’s such a nice feeling after being so far behind a month ago!), so I’m not really in a hurry. I’m sure that in another week I’ll probably have a whole new set of books with release dates looming that need to be worked into the schedule. I can’t imagine it’ll be more tangled than this past week was though.