Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Favorites | Drinks


Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the month, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Drinks

It's getting harder to come up with weekly topic ideas, so you're going to see a slight change in Friday Favorites; instead of every week, it will be the first Friday of every month.

But anyway, drinks. I wasn't really thinking alcoholic or non-alcoholic when I came up with the topic, so I'm going to do both.

Dr. Pepper: sadly not readily available in Korea
Coffee: the drink of the gods
Blue Moon: with an orange slice. Also not readily available in Korea.
Any Hefeweisen: German beer. It really doesn't get much better.
Cabernet sauvignon: or any red wine, really


What do you like to drink? Leave a comment or a link so I can stop by! Don't forget to come back for April's topic, quotes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday | Quintana of Charyn


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Melina Marchetta
Lumatere Chronicles #3
Expected publication: 23 April 2013
Candlewick Press

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.

I wasn't a huge fan of Finnikin of the Rock, but Froi of the Exiles was amazing, and I can't wait for Quintana. I'm so jealous of the Australians who already have this one! (Don't tell me anything, okay?)

And as I was looking up the release date, I happened to see that Jellicoe Road is only $1.99 for Kindle! If you haven't read it, you should definitely check it out.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review | Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

Midnight Blue-Light Special
Seanan McGuire
InCryptid #2
Published 5 March 2013 by DAW (Penguin)
Urban fantasy
4 stars

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity--and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn't quite work out that way...

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ--assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done. It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.

Bite-Sized Review
One of the best books I've read this year, Midnight Blue-Light Special is an excellent followup to Discount Armageddon, filled with excitement, danger, suspense, romance, and the religious ecstasy of Aeslin mice. HAIL!

Chocolate (things I liked)
-MBLS has what I consider a perfect balance of action, romance, humor, suspense, and all the other things that make a book great. The romance is more background, but intertwines well with the actual plot. Parts of the book are absolutely hilarious, nail-biting-inducing, and heart-breaking.

-The world has enough that's familiar to avoid being too descriptive in world-building, but is creative enough to seem different from anything you might have seen before. Plus the idea of being a cryptozoologist is pretty awesome.

-MBLS's cast of characters is diverse and relatable. Verity, a cryptozoologist-cum-ballroom-dancer, has a fun voice to read, and it's distinct from Sarah, the telepathic mathematician who narrates for part of the the book. The supporting characters are also unique and fascinating, which is a huge part of what makes this series special.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-I'm rarely a fan of sudden point of view changes. Granted, I didn't hate this one, and I did like seeing things from Sarah's perspective, but it still didn't seem entirely necessary to me. So while the perspective shift isn't awful, it isn't my favorite either.

-I have to wait a whole year to read the next book...

Recommended for
People...who like good stories. You will probably enjoy InCryptid if you like Diana Rowland, Ilona Andrews, and Jim Butcher.

Quality: Excellent
Enjoyability: Excellent

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Favorites | Animals


Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Animals

I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like animals (although knowing people, I'm sure there's somebody who hates every conceivable form of life). But they're so cute and fuzzy and murder-y! What's not to love?


Dogs: awwww. Don't you want one of your very own?


Tigers: I can't be the only person who wanted a pet tiger after seeing Aladdin.


Maiasaura: Because dinosaurs are animals too.


Penguins: They're adorably awkward.


Platypus: An egg-laying, venomous, otter-flippered, duck-billed, beaver-tailed mammal? Sure, why not?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review | Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned
Patricia Briggs
Mercy Thompson #7
Published 5 March 2013 by Ace (Penguin)
Urban fantasy
3 stars

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Bite-Sized Review
While any fan of the Mercy Thompson books will probably enjoy Frost Burned, it doesn't really add much to the series. There's nothing here that we haven't seen before, and more than once.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-Frost Burned is not a bad book. On the contrary, there's a lot that's good about it. Mercy has now really accepted her role in Adam's pack, as well as the mate bond and all that comes with it, and the pack has, for the most part, accepted her as well. It's great to see how much she's grown throughout the series.

-My favorite character is the book is definitely Kyle. He's one of my favorites in the series, but in Frost Burned, he really shines. I seriously wish we could have seen some more of Warren as well, but I guess you can't have everything.

Brussels Sprouts (things I disliked)
-Although I certainly enjoy the series, which is why I'm still reading at book seven, I've never really been a fan of Mercy herself. She has always struck me as a bit on the annoying side of self-righteous, even (read: especially) when she has no reason to be. That's the main reason I prefer Briggs' spinoff Alpha & Omega series -- I'm pretty sure it's impossible not to love Anna.

WARNING: the next couple bullets are a bit spoilery. No actual plot details, but there are things you might not want to know if you really hate spoilers.

-I don't want to say too much about the plot of the book, but it really seems like every aspect of it has already happened in a way that's quite similar to what occurs here. The characters even reference those past events explicitly. Now I've heard that there's nothing new under the sun, but there really can't be that small of a range of options that it doesn't even last seven books.

-The pacing of the book is...odd. At the point where it seemed to be wrapping up, I looked at the progress bar on my Kindle and it informed me that I was less than halfway through, and unfortunately the entire second half turns out to be mainly tying up loose ends. Not to mention the fact that the conclusion sort of jumps out of nowhere and isn't even that clear in retrospect, which always leaves me a bit disappointed.

-I really expected there to be more fallout from the end of Fair Game. I guess it's technically a different series, so maybe more will happen in the next Alpha & Omega book, but it honestly barely affected the plot at all.

Recommended for
Anyone who enjoys the series.

Quality: Fair
Enjoyability: Good

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Favorites | Sports

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Sports

I like sports -- yes, you can be bookish and athletic at the same time, although judging by the current condition of my ankle, I'm not sure I qualify as the latter.


Softball: I've been playing softball forever, so it kind of had to be on this list! This is my college club team -- I'm the tall one.


Football: I enjoy watching it. It makes particularly good background noise, especially if you don't care who wins.


Hurling: The greatest sport no one has ever heard of. It's Irish and sort of a cross between lacrosse and Australian rules football, only without any rules. It's awesome.


College basketball: While I can't stand pro basketball, college basketball is much more fun, especially if I'm watching the ACC (because then I might actually care about what happens).


Quidditch: What kind of bibliophile would I be if I didn't include a fictional sport on my list? (Yes, I know people have made it into a Muggle sport, but until they can fly, I refuse to count it as real Quidditch.)

Short one today -- what are your favorite sports? Don't forget to stop by next week to share your favorite animals!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review | The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know
Mike Carey
Felix Castor #1
Published 2007 by Warner Books (Hachette)
Urban fantasy
3 stars

Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. It may seem like a good ghost buster can charge what he likes and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle--but there's a risk: Sooner or later he's going to take on a spirit that's too strong for him. While trying to back out of this ill-conceived career, Castor accepts a seemingly simple ghost-hunting case at a museum in the shadowy heart of London - just to pay the bills, you understand. But what should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. That's OK: Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It's the living who piss him off...

Bite-Sized Review
The Devil You Know is a fairly intriguing start to a new series despite a slightly dragging middle.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-The world is sort of a less malevolent version of Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series. In spite the abundance of necromancers in the world of urban fantasy, exorcists seem to be in short supply, so it's always interesting to see one. And with the huge variety of legends and beliefs surrounding ghosts and life after death, that kind of world-building allows an author to be very creative.

-The mystery remains a mystery until the solution is actually revealed. I cycled through a number of suspects and never guessed the real culprit, much less the full horror of what happens. Granted, parts of the story are clear pretty early on, but for much of it I wasn't even close. The Devil You Know is a dark and gritty story, another feature it shares with Downside Ghosts.

-While the book doesn't end in a cliffhanger (fortunately), it does leave quite a few possibilities for future stories. There's just enough question to keep the reader interested in the next book without being actually painful. (I'm looking at you, Fever.)

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-The book could have been tightened up a bit, especially in the middle. There's a point where Fix has no idea what's going on, and that point stretches out for more than a bit too long. I think I would have finished this book a lot faster if I hadn't kept getting distracted because I was bored in the middle.

-I'm not really enamored of any of the characters. I don't dislike any of them, they just don't seem to have enough personality to actually have real feelings about. This particular issue is something that could definitely resolve itself in later books, so I'm hoping the problem will eventually disappear.

Recommended for
Fans of Downside Ghosts or Simon R. Green's Nightside series.

Quality: Acceptable
Enjoyability: Acceptable

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Favorites | Dessert

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Dessert

I have to admit, there are (not infrequent) times when I look forward to dessert more than my actual meal. I love baking, so I usually have some form of baked goodness in my house, something my tastebuds appreciate more than my waistline. But in any case, dessert is awesome, so I thought it deserved its own post.

I'm sorry I don't have many pictures -- I'm not very good at remembering to take pictures of my dessert before I eat it. But if you click on the links, they all have pictures AND recipes, so you should definitely do that!

This awesome chocolate cake (with cream cheese frosting)

These amazing cinnamon rolls (also with cream cheese frosting. I really like cream cheese frosting.)


Frosted Oreo brownies

These brown sugar cookies


The vanilla cookies that I have been "helping" with since I was two

These chocolate chip cookies

This funfetti cake

I decided that was probably enough for one post, but if you want more recipes, I have an entire dessert board on Pinterest, and I've actually tried a pretty decent portion of them. And while we're on the topic of dessert, anyone have a really good recipe for red velvet cake?

What are your favorite desserts? Don't forget to fill out the linky below (please? It's lonely), and join in next week to share your favorite sports.