Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book review - Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated (Alienated, #1)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I hope you have lots of turkey, family time, desserts and reading.

We will be having two meals with family. Tonight me and the husband are going to the movies. Horrible Bosses 2 is on the agenda.

I had planned on making fabulous desserts. I have been stalking Pinterest for delicious delectables. I did find several and was prepared to make them. But I'm sick with sinus issues. At least one of  us is sick on the holidays. It's a grand tradition!

So, I rummaged through Walmart yesterday and found a good-looking cheesecake and chocolate cake. But there's always Christmas right to bake my little heart out right? :)

On to the show: Teenagers (one of whom is an alien), a love story, aliens versus humans can all be found in Melissa Landers' Alienated. I'm not a big science fiction reader, but the plot sounded too fun to pass up.

From Goodreads: 
"Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet."

I "know" Melissa from an online book club. I'm so happy for her she is now a published author. She also writes romance novels as "Macy Beckett."

I was left wondering, hmmmm, could this really happen? Not the "whoa, I could one day fall in love with an alien" but instead "what if there are aliens?" .... Nah, that's crazy-talk!

I think this book is one for teens who love romance plots and for adults who love teens.

I would also like to give a big round of applause for this cover! It's one of my favorites for 2014. I bought the hardback for the cover. The next book "Invaded" is set to debut in February.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mockingjay and bone broth

Get ready for an odd combination of topics in this post. Saturday I had the pleasure of going see Mockingjay with my friend, Jessica. Hip, hip hooray!

Of the three movies so far, this was my least favorite. However, we all know how the plot thickened in the first half of Mockingjay, the book. This movie was setting up the end of the series. So to say I'm excited, anxious and ready for the SECOND part of Mockingjay, the movie, is an understatement. One more year to go before we see the end! sigh.

This past year I've tried a lot of new things in regard to my stomach problems. As you may recall I have IBS. I have figured out ways to calm the beast, but it takes a lot of discipline.

After several, and I mean more than three, rounds of antibiotics for bronchitis this year, my gut is completely out of whack. It is going to take some rebuilding to get back to a pain-free tummy.

One way to rebuild your gut is with bone broths. It's all the rage now. A man in New York is starting up his own bone broth shop to pass out broth like Starbucks passes out coffee.

We are all familiar with broth in our soups. But the broth I've made and will continue to make is to drink like a nice cup of coffee.

Broth can also help with reducing joint inflammation and pain; promotes strong bones, builds a good immune system and it's great for your skin.

One of my friends has actually made chicken broth with chicken feet. It looked like a witch's stew. But the feet have the most collagen, which is the essential part of broth.

One day I'll get brave and try that. First I need to find a reputable farm here that sells feet. GAH!!!

For my broth, I bought bone marrow from Whole Foods. It was $5. That's it. The recipe also included carrots, onions, garlic and water.

I used this recipe.  

There are so many recipes out there. You really can pick and choose based on your cooking experience.

You can cook broth for three days in a slow cooker. I needed my slow cooker for a meal, so I only cooked the broth for 24 hours. Good news is I CAN REUSE THE BONE MARROW. Yay! I don't have to get grossed out for a while buying new marrow. (FYI: I did not include a pic because I didn't want to gross anybody out. It looked like your basic bone.)

I'm happy to report the bone broth tastes like bone broth. It's much better than Campbell's broth. I would like to cook it longer next time for a stronger taste.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book review: Poison by Bridget Zinn


This book was a bit unusual for me. I'm not into fantasy books or historical fiction for the most part. Poison has a bit of both those elements. It was a fun read.

Fun reads are good sometimes because there is no heaviness, sadness and sometimes the stories have a happy ending.

However there was a bit of sadness with the actual book. Bridget died before the book was published. She had stage 4 colon cancer while writing this book. Sadly, she did not see it in it's published form.

I am not sure, and I say this as a former cancer patient, how Bridget had the ability to write while going through treatments. She had blurred vision and migraines, yet she did not let that stop her. You can read more about Bridget and Poison's amazing journey to publication here.

From Goodreads:
"Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?"

It took about 50 pages for me to really get into the plot. I loved that a pig was her sidekick. You don't see that everyday in young adult books!

I recommend this book for those ages 11 and up. There is a bit of violence, magic, witches, pigs, cute boys and mannequins.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

I apologize if you can't see the cover! I've tried and tried to get the cover to show, but if you read this on your phone, it may not show the cover. gah!!

Going into 2014 I heard a lot of hype about a number of books. Unremembered is one of them. This book, if I'm not mistaken, was optioned for a movie this year. I was able to buy it on sale for my Nook. I was pretty excited to get that deal. When I read the book, I was a bit underwhelmed. Although I like the cover and I think it's excellent for this book. 

From Goodreads: 

"When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?"

Since reading this book I've read many books that involve the main character not knowing who they are, where they came from, loss of memory and so on. Those books were easier to follow. This story was confusing at times. I'm not sure I'll read the next book in the series.

It is true in the summary, with every clue comes only more questions ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book review: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees

This book, ah, this book, I read this earlier in the year. I STILL think about this book even today. Those are the best books - the ones that stick around in your head for along time. I tend to shy away from books that deal with child abuse or neglect. I work at a newspaper so I already read a lot of stories about those type of situations. I heard the rave reviews about this book, so gave it a shot.

From Goodreads:
"A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both."

You can't help but feel for both of the sisters. It always amazes me how parents can sometimes be "unparents" if that makes sense. But sadly, there are many, many kids who deal with the neglection of parents.

While the subject matter was tough, the resiliency of all the characters, including the side characters, was fascinating to read. I'd recommend this for both teens and adults.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book review - Help For The Haunted by John Searles


One of these days I'll have a what-did-I-do-this-weekend post. But this past weekend, I was sick most of the weekend. I think I had a several day virus. Gah! So my list of projects to work on was not worked on. at. all. I'm going to look at it in a positive way as, holy cow, I needed some rest. Even to just veg on the sofa. It's been a long time coming.

For whatever reason most books I read are written by women authors. I don't think it's on purpose. I usually pick out books based on recommendations. Blogs are my go-to for suggestions, but my sister-in-law is also a great source of interesting books.

She recommended this one by John Searles. There are appearances by a handsome young man, a crappy sister and ta daaaaaaaaa....a creepy doll! I have no idea why I'm now, in my 40s, infatuated with creepy dolls.

One night while reading the book I texted my sis-in-law a picture of the humongous Hello Kitty doll that inhabits my daughter's bed. "I'm particularly concerned about Hello Kitty who is probably about the same size as Penny."

From Goodreads:
"It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter."

Another book where the parents' mistakes cause problems for the kids. In this book, unlike others, I believe the parents truly did love their kids. 

This book would be enjoyed by most teens, especially those with dolls (LOL!). Adults will appreciate the mystery of the plot.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book review: Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher


Exactly what can drive a teenager to go through with a plan of killing one's self? This book was another one of my "I'm scared to read this!" books.

From Goodreads:
"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers."
Do you ever wish you could just write a letter or send a message to someone who has done you wrong? That's what Hannah did to 13 people. I do not agree with Hannah's way of getting her point across after her death.
It does seem like the best revenge though, no? 
Something that threw me off with the story: not enough parental involvement. I wish the author had placed more emphasis on what was the parents' role in her act? Did the way they raise her contribute to her demise?
We also get a nice up-close look at the damage gossiping can do. It's all around us. It's like a cancer that takes over people's lives. It's often used as a weapon. The story does a good job of displaying the ramifications.
I don't know how the teenagers today do it with the presence of social media. I have had not-so-nice things said about me online (by someone I know-not strangers). The damage that did to me was heavy. So to be a teenager, as opposed to adults like me, navigating all the crap online said about them is tough I'm sure.
I recommend this book for teenagers and adults.