Friday, January 24, 2014

Spirit and Dust

Spirit and Dust
by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Goodnight Family, book two

Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide.

But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal.

Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic—and Daisy—to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.
(description from

I love Rosemary Clement-Moore's writing.  She's both realistically sarcastic and fun. In fact, if any of you are Veronica Mars fans, the main characters in all of R C-M's books feel very similar. Daisy is a girl who uses sarcasm as a deflector when she's terrified and as someone who talks to ghosts, that happens more than she ever would have hoped. 

Her FBI work doesn't usually put her into danger, but when her latest case gets her pulled into the clutches of a mob boss unused to people saying no, Daisy finds herself kidnapped and tricked into working with an arrogant, but very compelling partner... Reading along as Daisy and Carson interact was so much FUN.  They threw quips at each other in a style almost reminiscent of Lizzie Bennett and William Darcy.  Seeing them grow closer as secrets were revealed and they learned the truth of each other, I couldn't help but cheer their relationship on.  

Fun, exciting, and suspenseful, I very much enjoyed another adventure in the Goodnight family's chronicles...I hope to visit another cousin soon!

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fever Crumb

Fever Crumb
by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb is a girl who has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the order of Engineers, where she serves as apprentice.

Soon though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb – nearly the only person she's ever known – to assist archeologist Kit Solent on a top-secret project.

As her work begins, Fever is plagued by memories that are not her own and Kit seems to have a particular interest in finding out what they are.

Fever has also been singled out by city dwellers, who declare that she is part Scriven. The Scriven, not human, ruled the city some years ago but were hunted down and killed in a victorious uprising by the people. If there are any remaining Scriven, they are to be eliminated. All Fever knows is what she's been told: that she is an orphan.

Is Fever a Scriven? Whose memories does she hold?
(description from author website)

So, a while ago I had picked up the first book in the Mortal Engines quartet, but just wasn't in the mood to tackle it then.  So, when I was looking for something to listen to in the car and saw that we had Fever Crumb available I was excited, but got even more stoked when I realized it was actually the first in a prequel series to the infamous Mortal Engines.  

The futuristic steampunk setting to this series is really intriguing.  The idea of variations of human species made things really interesting and played up the socio-economic dynamics that built tensions in London.  Trying to guess Fever's origins as she herself is trying to reason things out made the story feel more intimate and she's a great, strong character that I'm definitely interested to read more about.  

This book sort of embodies a lot of the things I really like about the steampunk genre: the mix of old and new technologies and societal expectations and mores, the imaginative possibilities of how things might have developed differently, and the discoveries characters have to make within these interesting setting frameworks.  

I listened to this as an audio book and found it well done.  I hope that I can sneak the second book in some time between review titles. 

Full disclosure: Audio book borrowed from my Library

Thursday, January 16, 2014


by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

When Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can't wait to escape her New Jersey beach town, and her mom, and start life over in California.

The first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren's learned anything from being the oldest of six, it's that you can't always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.

Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they've never met. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives...and each other. (description from 

I LOVE the concept for this book. It's a great and interesting way to look at that time period when so many teens' lives go through a really significant change. Leaving high school and starting college is terrifying in some ways and having to try and adjust and make new friends can be totally intimidating.  Add into all of that, some personal drama and you've got a great storyline for a book.  

The best part of this book, though, is really the format.  The alternating chapters reveal what's happening in each girl's life as the summer progresses and through their emails to one another, they filter their stories into the versions they want to tell each other. I love that the book ends right as they actually meet in person at school for the first time!

So many topics get covered in this book. Family, friendships, romance, pressure to have sex, homosexuality, truth/lies, and pressures about where life is going... This book touches on all these topics in a lighthearted and yet very authentic feeling way. I would recommend this book to just about anyone. 

Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Witches of East End - Book vs TV Show

Witches of East End 
by Melissa De La Cruz
Beauchamp Family, book one

It’s the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran’s gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.
(description from Melissa De La Cruz's website)

So, I've had this book for years and always told myself I would like it (why not? I love the idea and I love M. De La Cruz's Blue Bloods series) but I kept putting off reading it.  Thennnnnnn, they started advertising the show on Lifetime.  

OMG, what a wonderfully soap-opera-esque and addicting TV show! I started watching it for a lark and to support Melissa De La Cruz and I got totally hooked.  No lie, I waited with held breath each week for the next episode! I'm so sad that I have to wait months and months and months for it to come back... 

The spells, the family relationships, the...steamy romance.  *grins* This show's a winner with a great cast. As long as you know not to take it too seriously.  It's like Charmed used to be... a show that I desperately loved in its time, too.  

My favorite character, of course, is Ingrid, the librarian and eldest sister.  She not only is a LIBRARIAN, but she's smart and a lot tougher than expected at first glance.  She's fiercely loyal and loving and very sweet.  

I also love Joanna's strength, Wendy's determination and willingness to circumvent the usual rules, and Freya's quest to make those around her happy.  These women make up a core group of strong, interesting characters that greatly overshadow the men on the show... though they are rather pretty to look at... see?

Now, about halfway through the season, having been thoroughly hooked, I finally dug out the old ARC I had of the first book in the series and decided that I HAD to read it and compare it to the show.  

So, what's the verdict?  Honestly, I love the TV show. I really, really do. Can't wait til season 2! And yet...having read the book...I wish they'd stuck a little more closely to it. I'm waiting to see if they try to bring in some of the missing elements from the book to season two, but I doubt it.  While in the book, the witches are actually Norse gods and goddesses, on the TV show, they are just witches that have a connection to Asgard. In the book, the Beauchamps already secretly use magic in cool ways and know of their talents; in the tv show Freya and Ingrid have no idea they are witches initially.

Really both stories are great and very entertaining. I plan to read all the books and will definitely continue to watch the show. I'm just going to have to divorce them in my mind like I usually do when they turn books into movies.

Has anyone else read the books or seen the show? I'd love to know what you think!

Full disclosure: ARC received at BEA 2010.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pie Adventures (3)

So, since I've decided to have a year of Pie Adventures, I've only grown more excited about the prospect and I want to share as much as I can with all of, recipes, funny pie stories, etc. So... here's what I've made since last time

After the chocolate cream pie, I decided to make another of my husband's favorites, KEY LIME PIE. I was pleasantly surprised with this one...lime's not always my favorite, but this pie was actually a lot sweeter than I'd expected! Not quite as tart as some of the other versions I've had. This one was a HUGE hit with everyone that tried it. The recipe actually came from Ashley English's book, A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies

1 (9 inch) premade graham cracker crust
1/4 cup key lime juice
3 tablespoons grated lime zest
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3 large egg yolks, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the lime juice, lime zest, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl.
3. Whisk until ingredients are fully blended.
4. Pour the filling into the crust.
5. Bake for 15 minutes.

Cool completely before serving.

Here's what I learned...while on the surface this pie was easy to make, without ahand-held juicer, squeezing the juice out of those little key limes was a pain in the tush! I highly recommend that you invest in one like I did (after this pie, lol) before making anything that involves a lot of fresh orange, lime, or lemon juice. 

This pie, with a combination of tart and sweet, would probably go great with a contemporary suspense/romance featuring a sarcastic teen character...something like the book Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore. 

Last week I also made a staple in our house during the winter months.  This savory pie was developed originally from a recipe given to me by my friend, Sharon, who had gotten it passed down through her French-Canadian family. So, my version of French Meat Pie is somewhat more Americanized. 

2 (9 inch) pre-made unbaked crusts
1 lb. ground beef 
Adobo spice or salt and pepper
1/2 medium onion (I prefer vidalia) 
2 cloves garlic
Mashed potatoes (we cheat and use boxed) 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray pie dish and place bottom crust. 
3. Prepare mashed potatoes. If using boxed, make 6 servings worth. 
4. Mince the garlic cloves, chop the onion, then saute until onion is translucent.  
5. Brown the ground beef. Season to taste. 
6. Combine the beef mixture and mashed potatoes. 
7. Pour filling into pie shell and roll second crust over the top. Make sure to poke several holes in the top crust before baking. 
8. Bake pie for 30 minutes or until top crust is golden brown. 

Allow to cool for five minutes before serving. 

This pie, which takes about 10 minutes to put together (before baking) is super easy and is a great comfort food meal, perfect for cold nights over the winter. This is a great pie to eat while reading a book with a cold setting, something perhaps like Trapped by Michael Northrop.

As I continue my pie adventures, I'll be sure to share more pictures, recipes, and reviews of each pie's deliciousness. Look for more tasty posts on the weekends!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Gold Star Review: The Wicked Within

The Wicked Within 
by Kelly Keaton
Gods and Monsters, book three

Her fate is not set in stone.

Having temporarily defeated Athena, Ari races to break the gorgon curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries. Her one lead sends her on a quest for the Hands of Zeus, an ancient relic last seen in the charge of New 2’s ruling elite, the Novem. But if there is one thing that Athena desires as much as revenge, it’s the Hands of Zeus—and Athena always gets what she wants.

Before either can locate the Hands, the statue goes missing, and a trail of blood follows those who once protected the relic’s secrets. Ari knows that her city, her friends, Sebastian—her life—depend upon her finding the statue before Athena. And with rumors an ancient power is on the rise, that may not be her only concern…
(description from

So...let me remind you that I LOVE this series. Both Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil received gold star reviews on my blog.  The lusciously creepy setting of a dystopian New Orleans coupled with an amazing cast of intriguing characters and a great integration of ancient mythology into the near future makes this series a total winner in my book. 

As this is the third book in the trilogy, I don't want to spoil the ending, so this review is going to be a little brief.  I will tell you that I loved how things turned out... there were depths and nuances to each character and their reactions to events that really continued to flesh out the world and show a testament to Keaton's choices.  We FINALLY got to find out exactly what Violet is... and boy, was that surprise worth it. I love Ari and Violet's relationship.  We also see how things develop between Ari and Sebastian... 

My one and only complaint about this book was that it's supposed to be the end of the trilogy! I can't believe it... not only did it leave a few things unanswered that I'm dying to know, but these are also characters that I would LOVE to get to read more about.  

This is basically me BEGGING Kelly Keaton for more... please!

However, as that is a tongue-in-cheek complaint, rather than a true one, I also want to give this book a GOLD STAR. My first one for 2014...for one heck of a series "ender." 

Full disclosure: Purchased on my Nook

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's On My Hold List?

Picture from YaBookNerd's blog,
because, though, I started this meme
she created a much cuter pic for it!
Welcome to the January 2014 edition


"What's on My Hold List?"

One of the most beautiful things about working in a Library is that I have the ability to put lots of things on hold and read them *before* I buy!! These are some of the books that I'm currently waiting for, though I may buy one or two of them after reading, as well.

So, here's what I'm waiting for right now:
by Melissa De La Cruz
and Michael Johnston
Heart of Dread, book one

The Offering 
by Kimberly Derting
The Pledge, book three

P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man
by Caroline Lawrence
Western Mysteries, book two

by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Unleashing Mr. Darcy
by Teri Wilson

You can click on each title to go to their Amazon page for a description...

So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...what are you waiting for??

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


by A.G. Howard
Splintered, book two

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what’s right?
(description from

Okay, before I say anything else, I just have to ask...does anyone else get creeped out by this cover? Don't get me wrong, I LOVED this book just as much as the first, but every time I look at Morpheus on the cover, I find myself actually shrinking back mentally from the's so disconcerting. 

Anyway, moving on...let me tell you how I devoured this book as soon as I couldn't see the cover any more.  I think my imagination just takes me in a different place, but man, can A.G. Howard create the best world inside your head! 

Alyssa's world is darker, creepier, and just plain more addicting than the original Alice's could ever have been.  I love peeling back the little layers of not only Wonderland, but our own to find the secret and creepy things that might be hiding underneath.  As much as Alyssa's dilemma about how she feels with both Jeb and Morpheus is fun to's really the world and Alyssa's power within it that keeps me totally captivated.

I'm itching to dive back down this rabbit hole again.  Soon, I hope!

Full disclosure: eARC received from NetGalley, ARC received for review from VOYA 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Curtsies and Conspiracies

Curtsies and Conspiracies 
by Gail Carriger
Finishing School series, book two

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy--won't Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.
(description from

Another absolutely delightful romp into Miss Carriger's fabulous imagination.  

Sophronia continues to be a witty, sharp, and daring main character, evoking envy from her companions, both female and male.  She is the type of smart, adventurous heroine I'd hope to be if I ever found myself learning poisons and proper etiquette upon a floating derrigible.  I loved how she had to learn to depend even more upon herself, and learn what it meant to truly accept herself, flaws an all, as the other girls shunned her, and how in the end, Sophronia was able to draw them all back to her - very reminiscent of Carriger's other heroine, Alexia.  

In fact, I had so much fun drawing comparisons and making note of all the little hints of what would come in Sophronia's world by the time Alexia came around. I loved seeing characters that readers got to know as adults, perhaps in not the exact way that they are seen in her other series, The Parasol Protectorate.  The first glimpse of Lord Akeldama...priceless! 

I cannot wait to dive back into this world when the third book comes out. Especially with the hints of romance that might be brewing... Carriger's books are truly some of my absolute favorites. 

Full disclosure: eARC from Netgalley, hard copy purchased for personal collection

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Some 2014 Resolutions...

Okay, it does not officially feel like 2014, but since today IS Jan 2nd, 
I thought I would give you all a glimpse at my resolutions for the year: 

Jessica's 2014 Resolutions:
*Continue to work out and eat healthier. I'd like to lose at least another 15 pounds, but really just being healthier is the goal.

*Get back to my professional reviewing, but outside of that I'd like to read *leisurely* this year. 

*Write. I want to try to revise and polish up my face story for potential publication.

*Pie Adventures! (Now, I know this conflicts a little with being healthier, but I do love pie) The Goal is to bake at least one different pie every other week...

*Develop some great programs and services for the adults at our Library. I want to offer the equivalent of the awesome and fun things I used to for kids and teens.

*Continue to lavish affection upon my husband and the dogs. I do love to spoil them.

I guess I can't give you this year's resolutions without commenting on how last year's resolutions worked out, so...

1. Read 15 books off my TBR shelves. - I actually read 17!

2. Make reading less stressful - Had to take a break from reviewing which made me sad, but helped me keep my sanity!

3. Self-publish my Fae book - Nope. The 2nd Draft is being read by new betas for notes, though.

4. Develop a kick-butt book club - Done!

5. Lose 20 more pounds. - Nope, but I did keep off the weight I'd already lost which is great!

6. Continue to lavish affection upon the Hubs and the doggas. - Done! did you all do on you resolurions? Anyone want to help me stick to mine this year?