Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: "Taste: A Love Story" by Tracy Ewens (Contemporary Romance)

Taste (Love Story #3)
by Tracy Ewens 

Publisher: Tracy Ewens
Series: Premiere (#1), Candidate (#2), Reserved (#4)
My Other Reviews: Reserved (#4)

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication date: October 27, 2015

(Affiliate links)

Description from Publisher:
In her twenties, Kara Malendar found herself at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, thousands of miles away from the harsh media coverage of her political family. But Paris ended abruptly when she was summoned home to Los Angeles and expected to stand in again as the senator’s perfect daughter.

Now, thirty, Kara has made a different kind of life for herself. As a food critic for the Los Angeles Times, she casts a critical eye on other people. That is, until her past finds his way back into town and opens a new restaurant.

Logan Rye, the youngest son of the Ryeland Farms family, is a chef and knows exactly what he's doing with his life. After a few years spent getting his head and heart together, he's opened a new farm-to-table restaurant, The Yard, in Los Angeles. It’s his passion, but according to the LA Times, he’s a trend.

Kara and Logan haven't seen each other since she left him in the lobby of her Paris apartment building, but when she is asked to write a feature on him, it's not long before they are rediscovering the delicious parts of each other. As things heat up, all recipes are forgotten, and Kara and Logan realize nothing was what it seemed in Paris.

If Logan can only find a way to trust, he may be exactly what Kara needs . . . if she's ever going to taste life again.

My Rating:
My Content Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

This book caught my interest the first few pages and kept it until it was finished. It was funny, touching, and basically everything felt very natural. The characters, both primary and secondary, were well-shaped, multi-dimensional, relate-able, and likable. The story was mostly believable with just enough fantasy to keep it interesting, and I felt it was very well paced. The details about the area (Pasadena, primarily), food, restaurants, farms, journalism, political campaigns, etc. were just enough to paint the picture without killing it. (It can really bother me when an author goes into TOO MUCH detail about a characters career, hobby, lifestyle, etc.) The style really reminded me of a good rom-com movie that I might watch at least a few times.

Also like a good rom-com, their was enough sexual tension and just enough steaminess without crossing into the territory of traditional "romance novels." The sexy scenes weren't graphic, but weren't Doris-Day-Fall-onto-a-bed-end-scene either. :)
I really enjoyed the twists and didn't actually see them coming.

**SLIGHT SPOILER** I actually thought they were going to throw a wrench into the romance when Logan was getting in touch with the lamp woman and that she was going to be someone that he was also interested in (or would appear interested, at least). And I was actually disappointed at the idea! ha :) And I expected Logan's mom, once we knew she was alive, to spoil something with the Senator, so I was glad when the story didn't go too off course.

The fact that this is the 3rd in this series of books makes me pretty happy because that means Tracy Ewens has two more books I haven't read yet! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading something light but touching "romantic comedy" style.

­čîčREVIEW: "Crochet Stories: Grimms' Fairy Tales" by Vanessa Putt (Dover Publishing) (Crochet, Craft, Childrens Books)

Crochet Stories: Grimms' Fairy Tales
by Vanessa Putt, Brothers Grimm

Publisher: Dover Publications
Genre: Crochet, Craft, Childrens Books, Childrens Toys
Publication Date: January 14, 2016

(Affiliate links)
Description from Publisher: Practitioners of amigurumi, the Japanese art of crocheting stuffed dolls, will adore this collection of sixteen playful patterns for fairy tale figures. Projects include the witch and the gingerbread house as well as the hero and heroine of "Hansel and Gretel"; the giant and the golden goose's eggs of "Jack and the Beanstalk," in addition to the beanstalk and Jack himself; the long-haired captive of "Rapunzel," her lonely tower, and her rescuer, the prince; the animals of "The Hare and the Hedgehog" plus a juicy carrot; and the wee subject of "Tom Thumb" and his cow. Clear instructions for creating the characters are accompanied by color photos of the finished products along with charming retellings of all five fairy tales. An introductory chapter offers general notes and tips, including pointers on working in the round, stuffing, measurements, and finishing.

My Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

This book is so cute! I had thought before opening it that it would just be patterns and hadn't realized it has the stories the characters are from as well! What a fantastic idea!

The patterns are written clearly and should be easy for even a novice to follow (I would consider myself to be advanced, having written my own patterns and crocheting for 8 years now, just to give an idea of where I'm coming from. :) ).

I've made almost the complete set of Jack & the Beanstalk toys and it's so much reading the story to my 3-year-old son and having the toys to play with at the same time.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: "Bright Stars" by Sophie Duffy (New Adult, Fiction)

Bright Stars
by Sophie Duffy

Publisher: Legend Press
Genre: New Adult, Fiction, Scottish
Published: February 1, 2016

(Affiliate links)

Description from Publisher:
Cameron Spark’s life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie. Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music, and late night protests, Cameron feels as though he’s finally living; until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever. Christie’s letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt, and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?

My Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

Around 25% or so, I was feeling like it was taking me a long time to get through this, but the first 15% of it had me intrigued and around 35% it really started to pick back up. By 60%, I was really interested to see how everything turned out. The characters are interesting and the slow unveiling of everything had me impatiently devouring the book. :) The only thing that I can say is a bit odd to me are all the footnotes. I would prefer a section in parenthesis, personally. (Though I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek at the back about the footnotes).

All-in-all, this book was a bit less dramatic than I expected, though that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. The secret was an interesting one, but I thought it would be something that would come back to haunt (ha) the characters more. This was a lighter read than expected, with a good amount of 'heavy' thrown in to balance it out.

Something to note: This is definitely not a book for those who have a problem with slang, as there is quite a lot of Scottish (and British) slang used. I'm American, but am very comfortable with colloquialisms, so I mostly enjoyed picking up a few more. I did use the Kindle's ability to look up words several times throughout, to be sure I understood.

Review: Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo Busy Book (Childrens book, Toy)

Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo Busy Book
My Rating:

My 3-year-old son and I are both big fans of the Busy Books line of toys. We have both Cars ones and both Planes ones, as well as this one.
This playset comes with a poster-sized play mat with a nice shot of the ocean floor, and 12 little plastic (1-piece) figures.
The figures included are:
Gill (the fish with the scar from the tank)
Sheldon (seahorse classmate)
Pearl (octopus classmate)
Tad (fish classmate)
the 3 sharks
Crush (daddy turtle)
Squirt (kid turtle)

My son loves the variety of characters and the size is great for playing with either while we are out somewhere (including a restaurant, though the playmat stays folded in that case) or while at home. Because the characters are made of solid plastic, they're safe to toss into a water table or the bathtub as well. Though be careful they don't go down the drain in the tub, since I imagine the smaller ones can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

­čîčREVIEW: Disney/Pixar Cars 2 "My Busy Book" (Children book, Children Playset)

Disney/Pixar Cars 2 My Busy Book
Genre: Childrens Books, Childrens Toys

(Affiliate link)
My Rating:
My Cars-obsessed son got this for his 2nd birthday and it quickly became his favorite gift. There are 12 little plastic cars and a play mat, as well as 6 board book pages about some of the cars. The cars are really nice for kids playing because they don't have moving parts or small crevices to pick up dirt or sand (my son plays with them in both), and they don't have any metal to get chipped when dropped (which happens) or to rust when they get wet (he also takes them in the bath or pool). They are small, but not too small and are also nice for traveling! He loved this set so much that I got him the Cars 1 Busy Book as well. :)

It's worth nothing as well that he's now 3.25 and still loves this set!

Something to also be said about anyone who has one Cars Busy Book and is considering the other is that you don't get any actual duplicates if you buy both!

This set has:

Lightning McQueen (with a different paint job than the Cars 1 set)
Mater (the brown/orange rusted version)
Holley Shiftwell
Finn McMissile
Francesco Bernouli
Acer (lemon car)
Grem (lemon car)
Tombe (the French informant)
Professor Z
Torque (the American spy)
Carla Veloso(Brazillian racecar)
Uncle Topolino (Luigi's uncle)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

­čîčREVIEW: The Cars 2 Big Lift-and-Look Book (Disney/Pixar Cars) (Childrens books, Lift & Look, Lift a Flap)

Cars 2 Lift & Look Flap Book
by Frank Berrios

Publisher: RH/Disney
Genre: Childrens Books, Lift & Look, Lift a Flap
Publication date:August 9th 2011

(Affiliate links)
Description from Publisher: Lightning McQueen, Mater, and all their friends from Disney/Pixar Cars and Cars 2 make early learning concepts fun! Boys 3 and under will love lifting the sturdy flaps to reveal numbers, find shapes and more in this big board book with over 50 flaps!

My Rating:
My 3-year-old son loves Cars (and cars without the capital C :) ). This book is great because it really does have a ton of flaps and it has all of the characters, especially several of Lightning McQueen and Mater. It's a large size (about 11.5" x 10"), which is also nice for smaller kiddos. I first got this for Max when he was just under 2 1/2 and the flaps were all easy for him to open, which was great.

All of that said, some of the flaps are a bit uninteresting, which is why it only gets 3 stars.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Review: "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisburger (New Adult, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Fashion Fiction)

The Devil Wears Prada
by Lauren Weisberger

Publisher: Broadway Books
Genre: New Adult, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Fashion Fiction
Publication date: October 3, 2006

(Affiliate links)
Description from Publisher: A delightfully dishy novel about the all-time most impossible boss in the history of impossible bosses. Andrea Sachs, a small-town girl fresh out of college, lands the job “a million girls would die for.” Hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the high-profile, fabulously successful editor of "Runway "magazine, Andrea finds herself in an office that shouts "Prada! Armani! Versace!" at every turn, a world populated by impossibly thin, heart-wrenchingly stylish women and beautiful men clad in fine-ribbed turtlenecks and tight leather pants that show off their lifelong dedication to the gym. With breathtaking ease, Miranda can turn each and every one of these hip sophisticates into a scared, whimpering child. THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA gives a rich and hilarious new meaning to complaints about “The Boss from Hell.” Narrated in Andrea’s smart, refreshingly disarming voice, it traces a deep, dark, devilish view of life at the top only hinted at in gossip columns and over Cosmopolitans at the trendiest cocktail parties. From sending the latest, not-yet-in-stores Harry Potter to Miranda’s children in Paris by private jet, to locating an unnamed antique store where Miranda had at some point admired a vintage dresser, to serving lattes to Miranda at precisely the piping hot temperature she prefers, Andrea is sorely tested each and every day—and often late into the night with orders barked over the phone. She puts up with it all by keeping her eyes on the prize: a recommendation from Miranda that will get Andrea a top job at any magazine of her choosing. As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not the job is worth the price of her soul.

My Rating:
I enjoyed the style of writing and how light and quick this was to read, however, there were many things that bothered me.

I didn't honestly think it was that awful to have to do several coffee runs a day, order breakfast a few times a day, set up dinner reservations, research restaurants or whatever, and run errands. Every single thing Andy had to do was at NO COST to her whatsoever. EVERYTHING was comped and thus she was actually making GREAT money to do what she did.

I kept hoping that she would grow up throughout it all... Stop being so whiny and ungrateful and start realizing that she really did have a pretty great job, especially considering her lack of experience. Her best friend annoyed me and her boyfriend was awful...

In the end, Andy was blamed for her friend's alcoholism (and what, pray tell, could she have honestly done if she hadn't had a life of her own?? She even tried to bring it up a few times and Lily brushed her off) and for her goody-two shoes boyfriend losing interest. Andy says she used to call him every single day, yet he whines that he had been trying to talk to her for a year??

Writing crap for Seventeen magazine is a considerable step DOWN since Seventeen is the teenage equivalent of Runway! It was absurd that Andy worked so hard for so long and then her idiot friends convinced her to quit and fly home because THEY were irresponsible. The ending was highly disappointing.

Andy didn't change at all, beginning to end. She was still as immature as ever, just like her "I don't know what to do, so I'll just travel Europe until I'm broke" at the beginning of the book! Is it honestly THAT hard to get an entry-level job?

Andy wasn't very likable and the whole thing seemed exaggerated. I never rooted for her to fly back home, I was angry at her "loved ones" and even more angry when she told Miranda off. I also don't see how exactly it was a problem doing the work she did to begin with. Say she needed a night off, was there NOBODY she could have had deliver The Book? Not even a messenger service she could pay $100 to deliver it? Could she not have told Miranda that something wasn't possible?? Or that she needed more information? Those who catered to her enabled her to be as controlling as she was, so they could only blame themselves. Not to mention that all of these "impossible" things like getting a book pre-release and finding a restaurant were entirely possible because of the respect the woman had earned all over.

Not bad for a fluff novel, but disappointing on many levels.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello World.


Welcome to my review blog!

I am starting this with the hopes to create a space on the internet for what could be called "Mom" reviews: reviews on products that moms, like myself, might be interested in.

So, I'm sure you're thinking "Another parenting products review blog?!"

No, not exactly. :)

There will be the occasional baby product reviewed, but this will be books (both those that women when they have the time, as well as those parents read to their wee ones), toys (predominately 'boy' or 'neutral' as we don't have many things pink or princess in the house at the time I'm writing this), and handmade goods (I look forward to sharing small business' products!).

Bear with me for a bit as things get figured out, and feel free to shoot me questions about anything you are wondering about, as well as any other feedback you may have.

Incase you are wondering, here is me and my little family. My kiddo, Max, is 3 years old and my pup, Wicket, is 5.5 years old (and a few dog-related products may occasionally find their way here).

Wicket, Mike, Max, and me!
Photo taken by Marina at TinyTraits