Saturday, September 29, 2012

Books, food, wine and a blog hop

Today was my community's garden day.  We all took turns shoveling, digging, playing in dirty and ultimately planting chrysanthemums and junipers.  I am officially dead.  Seriously, there is no harder work than working the garden.  You use every muscle and ones you didn't even know you had.  My fingers nails hurt.  How is that possible?

After the gardening, and my subsequent nap, my husband and I decided to make our "go-to" meal...and it just happens to have come from a book.  It was New Years Eve several years ago and I had picked up a few cozy mysteries to keep me company over the holidays.  I picked up a book, Murder Uncorked by Michele Scott, and was instantly dragged in to her story, but more, her recipes.  They made my mouth water!  But it wasn't until book 2 that I had no choice but to try out her recipe.  It's super easy and so very flavorful.  I made it and after the first bite my husband got a look of ecstasy on his face.  "This is from a book?  Please keep reading!" I later wrote the author to tell her of my culinary success and to pledge my undying gratefulness.  I've tried several other of her recipes from other books and they are all incredible.  But the best part?  They come with wine pairings.  Because of Michele Scott and her pairing, I found my favorite wine varietal,  Zinfandel (red, not the white that comes in a box).

The book is Murder by the Glass Murder by the Glass (A Wine... and the recipe is for Pork Tenderloin in Port Wine Mushroom Sauce.  Make it with a liberal slathering of the "rub" and a glass of Zinfandel and enjoy.  Your taste buds will love you for it and, if you're so lucky, so will your spouse.  I'll be happy to share the recipe if you'd like it - just comment - but I still say you should read the book.

Finally, this is part of a blog hop - an attempt to find some friends and get some followers.  I'm new to the blogosphere, so please follow me if you like what I write - I'll even follow you back. And check out some of the other blogs - you may find something new you like.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Funny Friday

Today my brain has already shut off in anticipation of the weekend, so all I'm capable of doing now is trolling the internet for funny stuff.  I haven't read a ton of humorous books, but here are two books which literally made me LOL.

Me Talk Pretty One Day Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.  A friend lent me this book, and it took me a while to realize that it was just a compilation of funny stories - vignettes of experiences in his life.  Once I understood that it wasn't a cohesive story, I fully enjoyed it...and one story in particular had me rolling.  It's sad to admit but it involves poop...because when is that not funny?  Definitely check it out if you want a laugh.

The other book that made me laugh hysterically is Hot Six (Stephanie Plum, #6) Hot Six by Janet Evanovich.  The Stephanie Plum books are all funny, but this one had me chortling with laughter.  Three words: Bob The Dog.  If you're a dog lover and if you've ever seen a dog get sick, especially a big one, well, you'd enjoy this book as much as I did.

Do you all have any books that really made you laugh? 

Also, if you need some funnies for today, check out this and this.  And prepare to laugh hysterically.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Simon Says...Read!


I was reading One Magic Bean Buyer's blog this morning and noticed that she is doing the Fall Into Reading challenge.  I thought it looked interesting, so I stopped on by Callipidder Days to check it out.  So now I've decided to do it and that I need to pick some books to read!

Due to my reading slump, I threw the question out to the Facebook world: what should I read? Couple that with the book recs I got yesterday and I've got the following books:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murde...The Night CircusGone GirlNationReady Player OneTenAnna Dressed in Blood (Anna...Midnight Rising: John Brown...Mr. American
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Joanne Fluke
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Nation, Terry Pratchet
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

Ten, Gretchen McNeil
Anna Dressed In Blood, Kendare Blake
Midnight Rising, Tony Horwitz
Mr. American, George MacDonald Fraser

These are the books that are either coming out this fall or have been on my "to-read" list for far too long:

A Beautiful Blue Death (Cha...The Twelve Clues of Christm...Death in the Floating CityThe Evolution of Mara Dyer ...Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Notorious Nineteen (Stephan...
A Beautiful Blue Death, Charles Finch 
The Twelve Clues of Christmas, Rhys Bowen
Death In The Floating City, Tasha Alexander
The Evolution of Mary Dyer, Michelle Hodkin
Insurgent, Veronica Roth
Notorious Nineteen, Janet Evanovitch

This list is a very eclectic mix of YA, mystery, fantasy, dystopian future, non-fiction and historical fiction. I just hope I can read them all!

Thanks for all the recommendations!  Now, Simon Says...Start!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tweet Tweet

I have been avoiding Twitter since I first learned of it's inception.  When it was first explained to me, it sounded like a haven for the self-obsessed.  Then I went on the site to read a few tweets and I just...didn't get it.  It made sense to me if you were promoting yourself or your business, but for plain old me to get an account?  Why?  I don't care about my thoughts that much, so why would anyone else?

Then I started this lovely blog.  And it was suggested to me (and by suggested I mean told that I really should) get an account.


Be that way.

So here I am, after years of holding out, finally signing up for a twitter account.  Please follow me.  I can't claim that I will tweet anything insightful, but hopefully I'll tweet something funny once in a while.  Or newswothy.  Or bookish.

Twitter name: @LevineSusie (I may have to change this)

Let me know your twitter name and I'll follow you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In a reading slump

I'm an avid reader.  I will read the back of the shampoo bottle while in the shower (has anyone ever noticed that shampoo bottles are in English and French?  Are people who speak other languages not washing their hair?).  Yet suddenly I am finding myself in a reading slump.

I have several books in my queue in both my Kindle and my Nook.  I have a book out from the library.  I have a stack of books friends and family have lent me.  None of them are calling to me.

Fall is usually my favorite time to read books.  The weather is getting cooler so I don't want to be outside, the days are growing shorter, and I'm starting to go into full hibernation mode.  I should be reading with gusto!  I started a historical mystery, one of my favorite genres, and just couldn't get into it.  So I picked up a romance novel.  It had me rolling my eyes so hard, I thought I was going to get an eye muscle strain.  I love a good romance novel, but come on!  You can't have them going at it like bunnies in the second chapter!  Play hard to get!

So here I am with a brand-spaking-new blog on book reviews and I haven't read anything new since last week.

Do you ever get into a slump?  How do you shake yourself out of it? 

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number
Genre(s): ChickLit, Romance, Humor

When I saw that Sophie Kinsella had a new book, I did a happy dance.  I am unashamedly in love with her books and this one did not let me down.

Poppy Wyatt is about to get married to the man of her dreams, Magnus.  While at her wedding shower and in the midst of a few glasses of champagne, Poppy let's people try on her engagement ring (a priceless heirloom) and then the fire alarm gets pulled.  Everyone scrambles to leave but without giving Poppy back her ring.  Poppy's phone then gets stolen so she has no way to contact people to see if they have it.  Until she sees a cell phone just lying on top of the trash can.  Surely if it's trash, anyone can take it?  And she'd only be using it until she got a replacement for her stolen one.  Thus begins a texting relationship between Poppy and her cell phone's former boss, Sam Roxton.  Sophie agrees to forward all the business emails Sam gets to his phone if she can keep the phone for a little while.  But Sophie just can't help but read a few of the emails and answer them on Sam's behalf.  She never realized that this might present problems for unreachable, stone-cold Sam.

Through a series of texts and phone calls, Sophie and Sam start to help each other: Sam learns to be more approachable and Sophie learns to stick up for herself.  And she learns that her perfect fiance may not be so perfect, but maybe the person on the other end of the text is.

I absolutely adored this book.  The very first chapter had me laughing as Sophie did a rendition of Single Ladies for some Chinese delegates.  Then the relationship between Sophie and Sam progressed and I fell in love.  It was so sweet and had a perfect HEA.  When I finished the book, I didn't want it to end, so I had to reread the good parts of the last few chapters again.

Rating: 5 stars

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) 
Genre(s): Fantasy

When Diana Bishop accidentally calls (and then returns) a bewitched book up from the library archives, she doesn't realize that she's stirred up a hornet's nest.  Witches, vampires and demons all want this book and will do anything to get it.  Vampire Matthew Clairmont is one such entity, but when he meets Diana, neither of them are prepared for attraction they both feel.  Matthew quickly realizes that Diana is not safe from the other creatures, so he whisks her off to France to keep her safe, and they end up falling in love instead.  Diana will have to learn witchcraft so she can defend herself and also try and solve the mystery of why everyone wants the book.

I'm going to start off by saying I liked the book. When I first started the book, when Diana first sees vampire Matthew in the library, I was so excited. It just had the feel of a book I was going to absolutely love. They just have such chemistry and they are both strong characters that I just knew the book was going to be great. Then the middle happened.

At the beginning of the book, you have a strong, independent, smart, 35 year old woman. She's sure of herself and stands up for herself...and then she meets Matthew. Diana starts off holding her own, but then quickly turns into the damsel in distress who falls apart at the drop of a hat. Matthew started off ok and then quickly dissolved into the stereotype: gorgeous, ridiculously rich, and over protective. After Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray and Overseas, I am quite over this type of "hero". Luckily, in the end, Diana started to remember herself and grew into her own, and Matthew respected it and started treating her as an equal (go figure). Unfortunately, it took wading through the middle to get there.

Now that I'm done griping, I'm going to repeat: I did like this book. I just think it was about 200 pages too long. I've heard book 2 is better, so I look forward to reading it.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Monday, September 24, 2012

Overseas by Beatriz Williams


Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance

Kate Wilson is a career driven young woman working on Wall Street in New York.  One day she finds gorgeous and rich entrepreneur Julian Laurence standing at her desk.  She quickly takes his interest and then she doesn't hear from him again.  6 months later, he ends up back in her life and begins to court her.  But all is not perfect in her world.  When she is wrongly fired from her job, Julian comes to the rescue and sweeps her away to Connecticut to protect her.  But Julian has a secret...he's really a famous World War I hero and somehow ended up in the 21st century instead of dead somewhere in France.  But that's not all - someone is after them...

This book switches back and forth from 1916 France where Kate is trying to find her husband to 2008 when they first meet and their romance begins. In 2008, Kate starts out as a driven, competent young woman, but as soon as something bad happens, she quickly crumbles and lets Julian take care of her, pay for things and keep her safe.  For her character to go from very motivated and a workaholic to someone who is happy to do nothing all day and live on someone else's dime just doesn't ring true for me.  A vacation is one thing, but she gave up her lifestyle with barely a struggle. I find it difficult to believe it would be an easy transition for Kate to go from Wall Street to kept woman only allowed out for parties where she is decked out in jewels and designer clothes.  It made her seem so cheap.

And Julian was so protective of her and yet wouldn't explain anything which would make the over protectiveness make sense.  I understand at first it being awkward to explain that he was from the past, but once she knew, I don't know why he couldn't tell her what was going on.  Lack of communication between two people in a relationship isn't realistic nor is it indicative of a relationship that will last.  I liked Julian's character once his motives were made clear, but until they were, his old-fashioned ways just annoyed me.

I did like this book, I really did, and I found the love story in 1916 to be quite sweet.  And at the end of the book, once Kate has gone back in time and you find out why Julian was being a cave-man, then it makes sense and it is also sweet, but getting there was frustrating.  I just hate seeing a smart, strong female character reduced to nothing more than a mannequin for a high end jewelry store.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Discovering Nowhere by Lisa Bork

Discovering Nowhere 
Genre(s): Fiction

I'm used to Lisa Bork's murder mysteries, so this was quite a change. It's a novel about a woman whose husband dies while parachuting. His son goes to live with his mother, he nullified his life insurance by parachuting and there's no money. His wife finds the will left by his parents in which he, and now she, owns a house in Nowhere, SD. Broken hearted, alone and low on funds, she leaves Rochester, NY for Nowhere with the intent on selling the house. But she never expected to be welcome by the little town, or for it to help her heal.

The biggest theme in this book (and I have noticed this in her other books) is that of motherhood. Moira, the main character, was a stay-at-home step-mother and put her step-son first. Once he goes to live with his mother, she buys a dog to shower with affection. Once she's in Nowhere, she befriends her neighbor's son and becomes a second mother to him. The end of the book didn't really wrap up everything in a neat and tidy box, but the main point was that Moira was a mom and would do anything for children.

There's a bit of a mystery, a bit of romance, a bit of humor, but not enough for those genres to take over. I would have liked a little more romance but it was still enjoyable.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wilde's Meadow (Darkness Falls Book 3) by Krystal Wade

Wilde's Meadow (Darkness Falls, #3) 
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Expected Publication: November 5, 2012

Synopsis: Picking up where Wilde's Army (Darkness Falls Book 2) left off, Kate and Arland are setting off with their army to seek out the evil god Dugball and his hoards of daemons. They must meet the god in the Meadows, but getting there will be risky - despite fighting off daemons, they also have to fight their own fears, gain the trust of other-worldly allies and not starve in the process. And even if they beat the evil God, who is to say that the ending will be happy?I loved this final installment in the trilogy. Once again, Wade runs you through the whole gamut of emotions. Fear, nerve-wracking anxiety, sadness, and bittersweet happiness. Besides the darkness, daemons and huger, the Army must first conquer their worst fears by going through the caves.  OMG the caves!  Battling through the caves was brilliant and my very favorite part. In a sick way, I wanted them to stay in the caves for much longer - it totally messes with your head as they try to face their fears head on and not succumb to them.  Then, Kate and Arland must enlist the help of creatures from other worlds...including Earth and the loved ones Kate left behind.  

After all that, there is still the battle against Dugball.  She and her rag tag army must fight daemons in all their incarnations, destroy the evil god and restore Brad, and stay alive in the process.  And then when the battle is over, it isn't all happily ever after.  There's the aftermath and consequences to face.

I enjoyed the battle scenes, but more than that, I loved the ending. Bittersweet and touching, I unashamedly cried like a baby. It's hard to say goodbye to such wonderful characters, but I am happy that their stories wrapped up so satisfyingly.

Rating: 5 stars!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wilde's Army (Darkness Falls: Book Two) by Krystal Wade

Wilde's Army (Darkness Falls, #2)
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Book Two of the Darkness Falls Trilogy picks up where Book One, Wilde's Fire, ended: Kate is alone, everyone is missing...except for Perth, the Ground Dweller whom no one trusts. In order to rescue everyone, she must learn to trust Perth, find where they are hidden, and then get everyone to the "relative" safety of Willow Falls. Relative because while there are no daemons to fight in Willow Falls, there are dangerous politics and Ground Dweller customs that she must adjust to and learn about.

In this book we find Kate and Arland's relationship tested.  Not only does she grudgingly befriend Perth (whom Arland automatically dislikes because he is a Ground Dweller), she has to trust him to help her and to save her relationship with Arland.  Kate is supposed to marry Perth, but she does not want to and he doesn't want to marry someone who is in love with another.  Brit, Arland, Kate and Perth have to work together to get around the political machinations to reach their goal: let Kate and Arland marry.  That is, if they can put aside jealousy.

Some people thought Wilde's Fire had some slow parts to it, but not so in Wilde's Army. It is action packed and nerve-wracking to the last.  You have battles with daemons and snakes (yuck) as well as internal battles among the Encardians.

This book elicited a lot of emotions for me. Fear and nervousness for Kate, Perth and the people who were captured (heck, I even was nervous about the horses!). Anger and affronted feminism towards Perth's father. I literally wanted to jump into the book and smack him for some of the things he said.  Happiness, sadness, relief, and anxiety. You run the full gamut of emotions in this book.  

Can't wait to see how book 3 wraps up this awesome trilogy!

Rating: 5 Stars!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ever, Jessa Russo

Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Ever has a secret. 2 years ago her best friend Frankie and she were in a bad car accident. She lived, and even though he was dead, he never left her. Now he haunts her house that she lives in with her parents. Everyone can see him and is used to his presence. The only problem is that Ever has been in love with him from day 1 and now she pines away wishing that he was alive so she could be with him.

Then, on the 2nd anniversary of the accident, someone moves in next door into Frankie's old house. He's gorgeous, he's interested in Ever and, better yet, he's ALIVE. But he's got a secret, too...

19 year old Toby immediately takes an interest in Ever, and despite her lack of experience (she has been pining away for her dead friend for years, after all), she goes out with him and falls for him.  Truth be told, so did I. 

Russo wraps you in the story so well that you care about the characters and become invested in what happens to them.  You don't want Frankie's feelings hurt.  You want Ever's mother to be ok.  You want Ever to be ok.  You want Ever and Toby to make it.  

And Ever was easy to relate to.  I really feel as though my 17 year old self would have reacted the same way as Ever did when in her first relationship.   I totally understand her attraction to Frankie and Toby.  Although, truth be told, my adult self is Team Toby but I think my 17 year old self would be Team Frankie.  As an adult being with a smoker is a no-no and a deal breaker, but my 17 year old self wasn't so picky. 

I started this book at 7:30 in the evening. Aside from a break to eat dinner, I read straight until 3 in the morning. Not because I had to, but because it was so good, I couldn't stop reading it. Even to get some well deserved sleep. And then with the cliffhanger ending...well I can't wait to read the sequel.

Rating: Five Stars!

Wilde's Fire (Darkness Falls Book 1) by Krystal Wade

Wilde's Fire (Darkness Falls, #1)
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

This is my second review of this book and consequently my second read.  This book was first published under a different publisher and I read a copy in advance of the release, so my review was short because it wasn't as fresh in my mind.  For release number two (with the new publisher), I wanted to reread the book and put my thoughts and feelings down immediately.

Even on the second reading, I was immediately sucked right in.  Wilde's Fire starts out with Kate (Katriona) Wilde's nightmare.  Her dream lover Arland is coming to embrace her...and then things go horribly awry.  She wakes up and prepares to go camping with her sister Brit and best friend Brad.  Brad is in love with Kate but is firmly in the friend zone and is uncomfortable in that zone.  Things turn weird in the camping trip when Kate starts seeing things and then when she, Brit and Brad inadvertently find a portal into another world....a world filled in darkness and they are instantly attacked by beasts.

It is in this world that Kate's dreams come true - literally.  Arland Maher lives in this world and although she has always dreamed of him and loved him, he doesn't know her.  Arland helps Kate learn who she is and helps her bring her light into the darkened world of Encardia.  Because Kate has a destiny, one that Arland can help, and one that can save that world from darkness and death.  But only if they survive.

I loved this book.  I was amazed by how richly Wade describes Encardia and how you can feel the oppressive darkness.  You feel Kate's frustrations and uncertainty.  And you certainly feel her love for Arland and I felt myself falling in love with him.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, YA, and a bit of romance.

5 stars


Hello all...

I'm Sus and this is my blog.  One day, not too long ago, my co-worker told me that since I read so much, I should review books.  Well, why not?  I do read.  A lot.  All the time.  You see, I have an hour long commute to and from work every day on DC's Metro, so I read.  And I love to read.  I will read any genre but I really do prefer Mysteries, YA, Fantasy, Romance and Chick Lit.

So you get a taste of some of the types of books I like here are my favorites (in no particular order):

  • The Belgariad, David Eddings
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin
  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlo Ruiz Zafon
  • The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  • Her Highness, My Wife, Victoria Alexander
  • The Gaslight Mysteries, Victoria Thompson
  • The Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire mysteries, Charlaine Harris
  • Lady Emily Mysteries, Deanna Raybourne
  • The Parasol Protectorate, Gail Carriger
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  • Wilde's Fire, Krystal Wade
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
When I'm not reading or commuting, I also watch tv,  movies, cook, drink wine and play with my Westies Riley and Benny.