Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

I had a good week, for the most part. It got a bit cool early in the week, but then it rebounded midweek. Still not super hot though- which is OK. I've been splitting my time between reading and Netflix, depending on my mood. :)

I'm finishing up The 100- that show is a trip. They are taking Clark in an interesting direction- did she just agree with Lexa to let everyone get blown up? Seriously?

This week I read Matched by Ally Condie. I'm getting into fall mode, and have a few books that I'm looking forward to- which is good as my "must read" pile has dried up, a bit. I also had my third A Dance with Dragons re- read chapter- this week it was Jon. And I was nominated for a blogger award- you can check it out here to see my answers, and who I nominated.

Matched (Matched, #1)

This week I also received this book and a cool mug, from a giveaway at Readerbuzz. Thank you Deb!

Eight Hundred Grapes

Here are the pictures of the week! 


Not a lot of bookish news, again, but...

This week I'm revisiting Brys Estate Winery and Vineyard for more great recipes. This time we have two great burger recipes- Feta Stuffed Lamb Burger with olive tapenade, and California turkey burgers with lemon aioli. Can't wait to try these...




This is hilarious (and a little scary). ComicBookGirl19 talks... Weird Love!

Whymermaids discusses Unpopular Opinions - the book tag

As part of Top Ten Tuesday this past week, Awkwardly Emma actually created a syllabus for her Saving the World 101 class. Kinda neat- you can check it out here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Dance with Dragons- Jon I

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Welcome to my A Dance with Dragons re- read. This week we have Jon's first chapter, picking up at the Wall. Jon is now Lord Commander of the Nights Watch- and Stannis has arrived as well, causing all sorts of complications for Jon. Jon's arc is one of the biggest of this book, and a lot happens. So let's take a look. 

Jon is dreaming of wolves- his white wolf is sensing his packmates far away- Arya's with her hundred smaller packmates, Bran's north of the Wall, and Rickon's wolf somewhere (apparently on Skagos). He wakes up to Mormont's raven asking for corn, and gets a report that wildlings are still streaming in- they have refugees from the wildling host coming for shelter. Jon goes to see Stannis, who has settled in at Castle Black after routing the wildlings. Stannis is not happy after receiving a reply from Bear Island, home of the Mormonts. Stannis has sent letters to the northern lords, asking for their loyalty, and so far only Karhold has declared for him. Lyanna Mormont, the youngest daughter of Maege Mormont, replies that the only king she recognizes is the King in the North a Stark. 

Stannis and Jon disagree about what to do with Mance Rayder. Stannis wants to burn him as an oathbreaker, but Jon says Mance could be useful. Stannis has offered Jon the lordship of Winterfell and the title of Warden of the north, but Jon has refused- he will hold to his vows as a member of the Nights Watch.  Stannis wants Jon to give him the abandoned forts and Jon refuses. He doesn't want to help Stannis too much, given the Nights Watch has always remained neutral. Stannis is not happy with Jon's refusal, and orders him to leave- but when Melisandre walks him out she tells Jon that Stannis likes him. She also warns Jon that he has enemies, including some he doesn't suspect, and even offers names, but Jon declines. Dummy! I thought Jon should have listened to her, but he's a bit dense at times in this one. Mel tells Jon that there is power at the Wall, it is one of the  "hinges of the world."


Jon starts a pattern here of dismissing Melisandre when she could be very helpful. also the relationship between Jon and Stannis is fascinating- something you don't really get on the show. Stannis is blunt with jon but underneath it is respect.  Jon feels he has no choice but to refuse Stannis, and that doesn't sit well with the prickly king. The young Lord Commander also realizes he could have his family name- Stark- and be lord of Winterfell, if he only acceded to Stannis. To Jon's credit, he holds to his vows- but imagine the temptation!

Also Melisandre is clearly in the drivers seat when it comes to Stannis- but then we knew that. I think it's very interesting the interest she takes in Jon- what's going on there? Even though she seems to be reading everything wrong (the prophecies), she must at this point sense that Jon is important, both to Stannis and to the overall conflict. They could be quite a team- but Jon has to get over his hesitation to trust her. And to be fair, she IS dangerous. 

"His Grace is growing fond of you."
"I can tell. He only threatened to behead me twice."
Melisandre laughed. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at A Daily RhythmTo participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author. 

"I remember one- night stands," said Madeline wistfully. "The things I did in the nineties. Lordy me. I hope Chloe never finds out. Oh, calamity. Was yours fun?"

Big Little Lies

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sisterhood (Brotherhood) of the World Bloggers Award


Amy at A Novel Start nominated me for the award- thank you Amy! Even though I'm a guy I guess I still qualify, so I'll go with it! Just don't call me sister... :)

I've done a few of these and they are fun- a way to share a little about yourself with the blogging community, and get to know others as well. I'll pass it on, but of course my nominees can disregard if they don't want to do it. On to the questions!


1) What's your favorite book and why? 

Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle #2)

My favorite might be Planet of Exile by Ursula K. LeGuin. A slim book, it's the story of a lost colony on a distant planet where the seasons last a generation. Kinda sounds like Game of thrones doesn't it (the seasons part). In fact, there are a lot of similarities between Game of Thrones and Planet of Exile actually. But it's a favorite because I read it as a kid and it had a big impact on me.

A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)

Another influential book for me was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I read it many times as a kid, and the first few books of that series were big favorites of mine growing up. It's a different read now that I'm older, but it still has a place due to nostalgia but also by the fact that it is so influential. It was written in 1912.

2) Who's your favorite author? 

This is a toughie. I might have to say JRR Tolkien here, for the incredible world he created in Middle Earth.

3) When and why did you start book blogging? 

My first posts went up in August of 2012 although I started in earnest in June 2013.

4) If you could see any book turned into a movie or TV series, which book/ series would it be? 

The Slated series comes to mind- a YA series about a girl who is mindwiped and begins to retrieve her memories even as she is watched by everyone, including her won family.

5) Name one book that makes you really nostalgic and why 

The Sword of Shannara comes to mind- yes it's a blatant ripoff of Lord of the Rings to some extent, but I didn't know that when I was a kid and I read that book so many times. It was a huge influence on me, and I still think a good read for kids getting in high fantasy.

The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy #1)

6) Name three books everyone simply must read. 

This is so subjective and should probably be classics or something, but I'll just list three books I like.

Star Man's Son by Andre Norton. This is probably the first (or one of the first) post apocalyptic novels and holds up well today. My thoughts here.

Star man's son

The Lord of the Rings- I enjoyed it as a kid, but I appreciate it so much more as an adult. The breadth and depth of the world, the appendices, the background of the world- it's just fascinating.

The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings, #1)

I just think the Pooh tales are so whimsical and comforting, and of course perfect for kids (and not bad for the adults reading it to them, either). So this would be my third...

7) Name three books/ series you really wish you could be a part of. 

I would love to be part of the Lord of the Rings. To visit the Shire, Rivendell, to hear the elves singing in the woods.

Also the Game of Thrones world (the books, not the show).

The Star Wars universe.

8) Name three book BFF's. 

I liked Regan from Fangirl.

Aragorn from LotR. Between the Prancing Pony and Rivendell, he hangs out at all the cool places.

Maybe Madeline from Big Little Lies- loved her character.

9) What do you love the most about reading? 

I think visiting other worlds, being able to escape from the reality of the real world for a few hours. I always gravitated towards fantasy/ SF for that reason, to get that sense of wonder, and even though I read more mysteries lately fantasy fiction is still my first love reading- wise.

10) What's your top bookish pet peeve? 

Right now, honestly- probably the love triangle in YA books. They seem almost omnipresent. I get that sometimes they may work, but they just seem like a check off item at this point.


Life, The Universe and Cats

Bingeing On Books

Little Miss Reader

The Local Muse


Reviews and Cake

Once Upon A Littlefield

A Nurse and a Book


1) Do you have a favorite book to share?

2) If you could go back in time, what era would you goto?

3) If you've read Divergent, which faction are you? If not, skip this one.

4) What is your favorite game?

5) What fairy tale setting would you visit if you could?

6) Do you have a favorite movie?

7) TV or movies?

8) Do you share your blog with family or do you keep it on the down low?

9) What is your favorite food?

10) If you had an all expenses paid visit to anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sunday Post #105

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

This was a good week, I got some reading in but not as much as I would have liked. I reviewed The Blue and Daenerys chapter for my A Dance with Dragons re- read. And I watched some Netflix too- still working on The 100.  

This week was week two of my A Dance with Dragons re- read.  I'll be reading and reviewing a chapter a week. Whether you're a book fan, show fan or both, stop by and let me know what you think. I'm also still working on my Choosing Your Path interactive story- it's surprisingly complicated but fun to work on. I hope to roll it out soon. 

In other news, I also won a copy of Eight Hundred Grapes and an EHG mug (love that) from Deb at Readerbuzz. Thank you Deb!

This week's up north pics.


Not a lot of bookish news again this week. How about some up north and food stuff?

Here are some nice pics of Lake Michigan, including beaches and sand dunes- from the air.

I found this photography site- and her Facebook page is here. Worth checking out!

Aubrieta Hope Photography- love her cover image! And this site is nice as well.

Play the Press Start to Play choose your own adventure game.

* You have received a package containing Press Start to Play, a groundbreaking new book of stories about video games *YOUR MISSION: Survive the work day so you can go home and read it. Do you accept? Just press START to play.


Matched (Matched, #1) Need


It Starts at MidnightBookshelf Reflections and The Thousand Lives are doing something awesome- Shattering Stigmas: A Mental Health in YA Event. Discussions and guest posts about mental health- I've seen some amazing posts so far. Two standouts here and here.

My Expanding Bookshelf has a nice COYER revie of Divergent.

Whymermaids discusses what's on her shelf this week.

This week ComicBookGirl19 discusses the Epic History of House Baratheon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Dance with Dragons - Daenerys I

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Welcome to my A Dance with Dragons re- read. This week we have Daenerys, picking up her story after the event of the third book. A lot happens with Dany in this one, and this- the first of her chapters- sets the stage for it. so let's dive in.

Daenerys is presented with the body of one of her Unsullied, who was killed in a most unpleasant way in the city. She is angry, and we learn that the Sons of the Harpy, a rebel group drawn from the old nobility, are behind the killings, targeting Dany's loyalists. Dany has sent Daario Naharis off to negotiate a trade deal, and she misses him. She's not sure what to do about the killings, and as she reflects on her problems she thinks that her dragons are getting big- and wilder by the day. As she prepares to meet the days petitioners, she thinks that she must somehow win over the Meereenese people. 

Her two pirincipal advisors are Reznak mo Reznak, who gives gentler advice, and Skahaz the Shavepate, who takes a hard line and advises her to kill members of the Great Houses every time she loses someone. Blood for blood. Reznak protests, and Dany sides with him, upping the reward for information on the Harpies to a thousand coins instead of a hundred. she reflects on how she doesn't trust either man very much. Among the petitioners who come before her is Hizdahr Loraq, who encourages her to reopen the fighting pits- as he has numerous times before. She turns him down again, convinced that pit fighting is savage and not something she wants to support. Many of the issues brought before her relate to the sacking of the city when she took over.

Dany makes some curious decisions here. A wealthy woman lost her husband and son defending the city, and when she fled her home it was taken over and turned into a brothel. She wants the house back and Dany grants her the jewels the whores stole but declines to give her the house back. Um, okayy. A slave then comes and say his wife was a bedslave before they were married. She was pregnant from her owner and he wants Dany to geld the noble. He also wants gold to raise the noble's bastard. Dany grants him the gold but refuses the gelding, as the woman was his property when it occurred. And then a young boy comes and wants two men hanged- they were former slaves who rose up and killed his father, brother and mother when the slaves rose. She refuses as she has pardoned those committed crimes during the sack. The boy rushes her and she lets him live, but knows she has made an enemy. 

Then the last petiotioner of the day brings her a sack of bones, for recompense. She has been reimbursing those who lose sheep to  dragons, but this time is different. the bones are not those of a sheep... but of a child. 

My Thoughts: 

This chapter, for me, starts a rather dreary period in Dany's story. Dany is now queen of Meereen, a slaver city with a population and culture that are alien to her. Their ways are foreign, and she is not welcome there among the old aristocracy. She closes the fighting pits, frees the slaves and wonders why everyone hates her. The nolbility want nothing more than for her to be deposed, and she has a tough road. She has a thing for Daario, but he's gone, and the one she really trusts is Ser Barristan. Martin here is showing us, I think, how Dany rules, and frankly it's not all wine and roses. I think she makes questionable decisions and could show more compassion with those who have lost even if they were on the wrong side of the fighting. In many ways she reminds me of Jon a bit- as we will see in later chapters, Jon makes some decisions that are questionable too- or if they are the right decisions, he doesn't support them by explaining them to those who may be affected. Thus making enemies. And of course the takeaway here is that the dragons are a bit out of control... already. 

Dragons are fire made flesh. She had read that in one of the books Ser Jorah had given her as a wedding gift. "You should be hunting with your brothers. Have you and Drogon been fighting again?" Her dragons were growing wild of late. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Blue

The Blue: A Novel

The Blue by Lucy Clarke is a fascinating tale of two young girls from England- Lana and Kitty- who are in the Phillipines when they come across a yacht called The Blue. The crew are a bunch of free spirits, and after meeting and getting drunk with them one night, they find themselves aboard. Shaking off hangovers, they get to know the crew better and discover that the Blue and her crew sail from Australia to Fiji and all points in between. Everyone keeps their past to themselves for the most part. New crew members are voted in or out by the existing crew, and when Lana and Kitty decide to join they are welcomed aboard.

Lana and Kitty have reasons to escape. Lana in particular has deep seated reasons for fleeing her home, and her and Kitty have been inseparable for years- best friends.  The crew votes on where they stop and one of the few rules is that no relationships are permitted between crew members. They spend their time anchoring in secluded lagoons, drinking under the stars and living by their own lights. It's idyllic and romantic and Lana and Kitty feel like they've never been happier. But it soon becomes clear everyone aboard has secrets- and when someone dies, those secrets threaten to tear the group apart.

I picked this one up based solely on the cover, and the synopsis didn't hurt either. This  is told in both the past and the present- we get current events mixed with the events of eight months ago, and slowly the secrets and lies are revealed. Lana finds the rule about "no relationships" hard to observe, and you're never quite sure who is telling the truth and who has something to hide. Lana and Kitty find their loyalties tested, and there are several surprises, including not one but two big twists at the end that I didn't see coming. I enjoyed the little details of life on the yacht, and the descriptions of the islands and locations were so vivid.

Who hasn't wanted at some point to get away from it all and live for the day? This is a great mystery and summer read and I'll be looking for more from this author. Her other books do seem to explore the same themes- the power and challenges of friendships, alienation- and I look forward to exploring those as well. This one was a lot of fun.

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at A Daily RhythmTo participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author. 

"I picked something with lots of sex, drugs and murder," Madeline had said, "so we have a lively discussion. Ideally there should be an argument." 

Big Little Lies

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sunday Post #104

This has been a busy week, with lots going on, but I did get some reading in and had a good week on the blog. I reviewed a fun cozy - my thoughts here. I also I've been watching a bit of Netflix too. I'm still watching The 100 and Arrow and enjoying both.

I also posted my first installment of my A Dance with Dragons re- read. I'll be reading and reviewing a chapter a week- this week is Tyrion. Whether you're a book fan, show fan or both, stop by and let me know what you think. This week's post is here. And I also had Bookcover Spotlight- I'm kinda fond of this one.

This week I read The Blue and thought it was great- I'll have my thoughts up on Tuesday.

The Blue: A Novel

Here are the week's northern Michigan pics.


Not much bookish news but here's some miscellaneous stuff.

Another recipe from Brys Estate Winery and Vineyard- this one is for a wine and cheese board.

Some Perseid meteors up north.

And here's Lake Michigan in January- not good swimming weather obviously!

And here's a neat link to the Floatilla I from a few weeks ago.

Love photography? northern Michigan courtesy of a local area photographer.

Don't Even Think About It  The Adventuress (Lady Emily, #10)


The Hiding Spot was interviewed over at Netgalley

Read Me Away talks about writing reviews.

Boarding with Books talks Paper Towns- book to movie.

Whymermaids discusses her Top 5 Maps for Top 5 Wednesday

Wanna know all about the Starks (and maybe who Jon Snow's parents are) without reading the books? Here ya go (warning for language).

Here's a new TV spot for Star Wars The Force Awakens, from Korean TV.

Is there a dating apocalypse? This article got a lot of attention this week, and there were several articles that rebutted it as well. an interesting read. And this kinda summarizes it.

And this for fun.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bookcover Spotlight #9

John Carter of Mars (Barsoom, #11)

This isn't one of the better Mars books, but I've always liked the art. John Carter and Dejah Thoris on some great flying beast, with a fabulous city in the background.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Dance With Dragons- Tyrion I

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

This is the first installment of my A Dance With Dragons re- read. I read the book in 2011 when it came out and again a few years ago, so this will be the third time. Yikes- and the next volume, The Winds of Winter, has no release date yet.

If you're interested, you can see my review of A Dance With Dragons here- the non spoilery one.
The spoilery version is here.

And now, on to the re- read!

The book starts with a Tyrion chapter.


Tyrion is on his way across the Narrow sea to Pentos, one of the Free Cities. He is smuggled there in a barrel, and has a pretty rough crossing! He's also drunk all the time, wallowing in self pity after having killed Tywin in A Storm of Swords. When he gets there he is taken to the estate of Illyrio Mopatis, the fat cheese merchant who has been conspiring with Varys since the first book. Illyrio takes Tyrion in, and the dwarf soon realizes that Illyrio is a player. They discuss Danenerys and Illyrio makes the case that if Tyrion wants revenge on his family, the thing for him to do is make alliance with Dany.

In the meantime Tyrion is still full of self loathing and resentment over both what he has done and what his family has done to him. He thinks of Tysha, his long lost love, and obsesses over where she went all those years ago. "Where do whores go?", his father asked- and Tyrion asks himself that repeatedly throughout the book. He's a little mean in this one, at first, he terrorizes a serving girl after sensing she is repulsed by him.


This chapter is the first installment of Tyrion's story since A Storm of Swords, which was published in 2000, so it's kinda weird to think of that while reading it. Tyrion is utterly down and out in this one- he's killed Tywin, lost Shae and lied to Jaime. He has a price on his head and has to be smuggled offf the boat in a barrel to keep him hidden. He keeps of Tysha, his wife who his father humiliated and drove off all those years ago. And he's now in Pentos- starting a pattern in this book of showing us the Free Cities of Essos. Tyrion comes face to face with Illyrio, the grossly fat merchant who is in league with Varys, and they spar verbally a bit before coming to an understanding.

Tyrion doesn't really care what happens to him at this point, he basically just wants to drink himself silly- but Illyrio does get his attention when he talks, over dinner, about another way to get Casterly Rock. Tyrion had thought about going to Myrcella in Dorne and proclaiming her queen, per the Dornish, but Illyrio tells him that would be the same as killing her, and Tyrion realizes he's right. Illyrio says there is one better than Myrcella or stannis- someone with a better claim. A dragon... with three heads.

He wondered where he was. Even the air smells different here. Strange spices scented the chilly autumn wind, and he could hear faint cries drifting over the wall from the streets beyond. It sounded something like Valyrian, but he did not recognize more than one word in five.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Murder in the Paperback Parlor

Murder in the Paperback Parlor

I've been anxiously waiting for this one ever since I read the first book in this series, Murder in the Mystery Suite. Ellery Adams is a new to me author who writes several series- I'm currently reading these as well as her Books By The Bay series. The premise here is a resort that caters to book lovers- there are rooms named after literary figures, and several (!) libraries. I know, right?

Jane Steward is the owner of Storyton Hall, a rambling stone manor and hostess of a book lovers retreat. In this one she is planning a Romacing the Reader week- a Valentine's Day event that will bring several famous romance writers to the resort for all kinds of fun activities. The problem is, there is bad blood between two of the best selling authors- and when one ends up dead, there is no shortage of suspects. The dead author dropped advanced reading copies of her latest book and the reaction among the many fans was not positive- several threats are heard against her and the atmosphere turns tense very quickly.

The other thing going on is Jane's role as guardian of the secret library. As we learned in the first book, Jane and her ancestors are dedicated to preserving many old manuscripts, unpublished Shakespeare plays, and the like- a priceless collection of literary treasures. The top staff members of the resort are highly trained and are devoted to keeping Jane (and the library) safe. It's fun to watch the very proper and stiff butler Butterworth, and Sinclair go about their business while at the same time running a resort- wide surveillance network and investigating guest. There are secret passages amd hidden rooms and lots of intrigue- a fun concept.

There a re a ton of literary references here, and I enjoyed this one more than the first volume. Jane is more assured and settling into her role as guardian of Storyton Hall. The supporting cast is lightly developed in this one, but there is a subplot regarding the newest member of the team. I don't think the Cover Girls reading group is nearly as developed as the reading group in the author's Books by the Bay series, but then they don't play as large a role in the story as that group does. And Jane herself grows as a person in this one, as she has to juggle her new responsibilities with a burgeoning love interest. You don't need to read the first one to enjoy this one- I was a little fuzzy on the first one but she tells you everything you need to know.

There's also a hint at the end that there will be a third book- something to do with medieval herbalism. Okay at this point Jane should probably stop having event weeks- but if she keeps having them, I'll keep reading them.