Thursday, January 15, 2015

Make It With A Cake Mix by Lizzy Early

To read my review of Lizzy's other cookbook, click here: Your Cup Of Cake.

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Title: Make It With A Cake Mix
Author: Lizzy Early
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Non-Fiction Cookbook
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Do you love the taste of from-scratch treats, but lack the time to slave over dozens of ingredients? Popular food blogger Lizzy Early has the sure fire solution, as she demonstrates that even the most elaborate desserts can be created from a simple cake mix. With dozens of recipes that ensure all of the flavor and none of the fuss, the bestselling author of Your Cup of Cake proves that you don't have to be a professional chef to create bakery-worthy sweets in your own kitchen. From luscious lemon cookies to rich red velvet doughnuts, family and friends will never believe that these gourmet goodies came from a box!" (GoodReads.com)
Opinions: OH MY HEAVEN!!!!  I loved Lizzy Early's first book, Your Cup of Cake, which I got for Mother's Day a few years back and have received rave reviews from many people when I make them any of those recipes.  Then, last week while volunteering at my local library, I saw that she had a new book out. Flipping through the glorious images of her creations my mouth started to drool.  Not only does she provide new cupcakes like S'Mores Cupcakes and Strawberry Red Velvet Cupcakes, but she has expanded her creations. Make It With A Cake Mix also includes such delectable recipes for Red Velvet S'Mores Bars, Chocolate Waffles, Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies, Carrot Cake Whoopies Pies, Ultimate Grasshopper Cookies, and Rocky Road Cake. And that's just that start. Everything sounds so amazing and looks completely incredible that I've already put it on my wish list for this Mother's Day.  So if you like to try new things and want to expand your baking options, then you must try out this cookbook.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Title: Divergent (Divergent #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Med Violence
Premise: "In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This is the first story where I felt was better understood after seeing the movie and reading the book.  I saw the movie first and then a friend loaned me a copy of her book since the library waiting list was extremely long. There were things that were explained really well in the movie and other things that made a lot of sense in the book. So together I felt it was a better story than either on their own. I personally had problems with the first person perspective as I would have loved to see the world in a move developed picture that a third person story provides. However, I enjoyed getting to see how Tris' mind worked and what she was emotionally experiencing. I liked Four better in the book, but felt the ending was rushed whereas it was move developed in the movie.  I liked the parents better in the movie, but understood the mom better from the book. So in all if you want a fully developed story read the book and watch the movie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fallen Angel by Lisa Swinton

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Title: Fallen Angel
Author: Lisa Swinton
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Romance
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Antonio does not believe in love at first sight until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know if she can return his affection, he becomes Renatta's hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. Together they must discover her past, present and future. In the way of happily ever after stand her opera career, tyrannical mother, and fiancĂ©. Antonio must win Renatta's heart before she bends to the will of her mother and marries Marcello. Failure means a lifetime of loneliness, for love at first sight never happens twice" (GoodReads.com).  
Opinions: I haven't read a lot of romance lately as I'm trying to read in the genre that I'm writing in. But when this author sent me an copy to read I went for it and stepped out of my comfort zone. Fallen Angel has the feel of the movie While You Were Sleeping, but with intriguing twists. I was glad to see the majority of the story is told from Antonio's point of view. I enjoyed getting a greater glimpse of romance from a man's side of things, plus it was absolutely wonderful getting the Italian setting. What I loved most was the interactions between Antonio and Renatta as they learned who she was as a person; they felt flirty, fun and realistic. I was also fascinated by the family intrigue intertwined throughout the story.  Overall, I loved reading this story. If romance is your thing, then give this book a try.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fragments by Dan Wells

To read my review of the first book in this series, click here: Partials.

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Title: Fragments (Partials Sequence #2)
Author: Dan Wells
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Mild language
Premise: "With the Help of Samm and Heron, Kira sets out on a desperate search for clues as to who she is, while Marcus and the remaining human population gear up for war with the Paritals"(King County Library System).
Opinions: Once again Dan Wells sucked me into this world of post-Break Earth and the struggle between humans and partials. His storytelling makes it hard to put this book down. I was fascinated by how he envisions what the world would physically be like after a virus and wars kill off the majority of the population. The downstream effects are fascinating. I still think the overall story provides a fantastic basis for a discussion on ethics, moral choices, and right from wrong based on one's point of view. I can't wait to read Ruins to see how the story resolves itself.  This series is definitely a should read.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron


To read my review of the first book in this series, click here: The Dark Unwinding.

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Title: A Spark Unseen ( The Dark Unwinding #2)
Author: Sharon Cameron
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Historical Mystery/Suspense/Steampunk
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When Katharine Tulman foils an attempt to kidnap her Uncle Tully, she finds herself caught up in international intrigue. Aware that there are people who want to turn her uncle's mechanical fish into an explosive device, and unsure of who to trust, she decides to fake her uncle's death and flee to Paris in search of Lane Moreau, her uncle's assistant" (King County Library System).
Opinions: This was an intriguing follow-up to The Dark Unwinding. I love to see the courage and tenacity that Katharine displays. I love the faith that she has in someone everyone else has given up for dead. I admire her for being willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, in spite of social conventions of the time. The story was an interesting twist on espionage, historical propriety, with a touch of steampunk thrown in. I can't give too much away because I don't want to spoil the story. So you'll just have to read it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Girl With the Windup Heart by Kady Cross

To read my reviews of the other books in this series, click here: The Girl in the Steel Corset, The Girl With the Clockwork Collar and The Girl With the Iron Touch.


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Title: The Girl With the Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles #4)
Author: Kady Cross
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Steampunk
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: There were references to sex, but surprisingly at a high level (keep in mind this book is published through Harlequin TEEN).  There is moderate swearing and some horror aspects.
Premise: "In 1897, part-automaton Mila seeks an independent life in London's West End while Finley Jane plunges headlong into the Aether, hoping to outmaneuver the Machinist who has taken Griffin King captive" (King County Library System).
Opinions: I liked this book a lot better than the last one, The Girl With the Iron Touch. The Girl With the Windup Heart happily answered many questions that I've had throughout the series, and even ones that I didn't know had bothered me until now.  I still struggled to remember that these characters ranged from 18-21 in age. They were more adult, skilled/professional, and had greater depth of history than many people I know twice their age.  Though I wondered if that that might just be part of the steampunk genre. (I'm still pretty new to this style of book.)

I felt this book twisted steampunk with some horror aspects which made it twice as intriguing to me. The concepts were fun, the answers mostly satisfying, and I have to admit that several point made me laugh out loud, and another particular moment made me out and out bawl.  Overall, though I had difficulties reconciling the characters ages and some of their decisions, I really enjoyed reading this book and felt it was a satisfactory resolution to the series.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

To read my reviews of the other books in this series, click here: The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl With the Clockwork Collar.

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Title: The Girl With the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3)
Author: Kady Cross
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Steampunk
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Mild Swearing and some references to sexual situations
Premise: "London, 1897. When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons or forfeit her friends' lives. With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him-and for Griffin. Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine. To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation-an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance of triumph, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has" (King County Library System).
Opinions:  This book was a weird juxtaposition for me. I felt that the story was a see-saw  back and forth between the main plot section and everyone's romances.  The flow in-between the two felt somewhat awkward/forced, and some of the personal decisions characters regarding the romance aspect left me disappointed. 

However, the main plot was what really carried the story for me.   I loved seeing more of Emily and I was glad to see Sam stepping up to the plate more. The concept for the new characters left me intrigued. Overall, I felt that this was a story of decisions--that no matter what your past you have a choice on how you will move forward--and that made it a positive read in the end.  I am still looking forward to reading book four of this series, The Girl With the Windup Heart.