Jamie Begley – The Last Rider’s Series

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Continuing with the theme of Motorcycle alpha males began last week with Reaper’s Property, I downloaded and read the Last Rider’s Series by Jamie Begley through my turkey coma.  Fun, steamy erotic romances with alpha male biker heros and various respectable good girl heroines thrown in for the ride.

As with any of this genre, you do need to practice some belief suspension, but the characters and the pace of the plot pull the reader along.  The characters are what really drive these books, flawed but you end of rooting for them.  The characters recur throughout the books so by the third one the reader feels they really got to know them well.

The only negative that I would say is that they needed a better editor.  There were some odd or just plain wrong word usages in the books, in fact one that made me snort with laughter, and some other things that a good editor would have corrected.

I am looking forward to the next book, the one that the series has been building up to, Shade’s story.

Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde

This is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl to be found here

I have been marathon watching one of my favorite TV series this weekend, Sons of Anarchy.  So that inspired a search for Biker themed reading and I stumbled across Joanne Wylde’s Reaper’s Property.  The cover helped in part to suck me in 🙂

 

This is an adult romance – more plot and character than strictly erotica.  Alpha males and a light theme of reluctance is central to the story line.  I really enjoyed the world of the Reapers MC that Joanna Wylde created.  Her characters were interesting and the plot was well thought out. There were elements of danger and betrayal that added tension to the plot.  Much better quality than many adult romances that I have downloaded on my Kindle.

I found her take on women in the MC world and the different ways that this was delivered to the reader well done.   The reader sees it from an outsider’s, Maria’s, perspective, from long time Old Ladies and sweet butts points of view and from members themselves.  That part was particularly well done.

The romance had the prerequisite Happily Ever After ending that I look for when I’m buying a romance.  The couple was well matched and a pair that you will really root for throughout the story.

The next one in the series comes out in January and I already pre-ordered on my Kindle.

So a perfect book for Sundays in Bed.

Rumour Has it by Jill Mansell and Getting Over It by Anna Maxted

  

I read these two over the weekend.  I picked up both them at my local independent bookshop, Booktrader of Hamilton.  

I loved everything about Rumour Has It.  From the characters (Tilly, among others, was awesome), to the interconnected plot lines, to the setting, it all made for a wonderful read with an all important (to me, for this kind of book anyway) Happily Ever After ending.  The characters that Jill Mansell created here are varied and well developed and make me care about what happens to them.  I have a hard time reading books where I don’t care what happens to the characters.  I need to make some connection and that definitely happens here.  Well written, both funny and heartbreaking, in all it is a very enjoyable read.

I picked up Anna Maxted’s Getting Over It because the cover looked interesting in part, but also because I am constantly admonishing my kids to “get over it” or “suck it up” so I connected to the title.  I struggled with this book, but I can’t entirely say why.  I will admit to skimming somewhere in the middle out of sheer  desperation.  I don’t really get the blurb on the cover – “Hilarious” -USA Today.  Hmmm, not so much, no.  

I think my major issue was that the main character seemed so self absorbed and completely in her own plane of existence.  I think this feeling really was emphasized due to the book being written in the first person, it seemed like the pages were inundated with “I”s. (really – open the book to a random page and count the number of  “I”s on that page and you will get into the double digits)   I get that she showed growth, sort of,  matured, sort of, got over it, sort of…  Anyway, not the book for me, but must have worked for many, many people because it was a National Bestseller (also on the cover) and an Independent Book Seller’s Book Sense Pick.  {{shrugs}}  Moving on..

Weekend Cooking with…Woman and Home

wkendcookingThis is a meme hosted by BethFishReads to be found here.  Yesterday I made what was called a casserole – Beef, Mushroom & Thyme Casserole to be exact, but it was more what I would call (and maybe I’m dating myself here so I haven’t heard the term in years) an oven stew.

The recipe is one that I clipped to my Evernote recipe book from Woman and Home Magazine’s recipes.  This is another online resource that I use quite a bit for recipes.

The full recipe is found here.  It had a wonderful layering of flavors, red wine, beef stock, sherry, onions, thyme, garlic, tomato puree  and… yes, anchovies.  When cooked like this anchovies provided a depth of flavor without being fishy at all.  I suppose you could substitute anchovy paste.  I used beef chuck and cut it into pretty decent sized chunks, maybe 2 inch by 1 or 1-1/2.  I did this rather than use any of  the pre-cut “beef stew meat” because:

  1. I could control the quality of the meat…what exactly is beef stew meat??
  2. Due to the long cooking time 3 1/2 hours plus, I wanted the cubes big so that they did not get tough or alternatively break down

I also substituted baby bellas for chestnut mushrooms because I have never found them here.

 

Picture courtesy of Woman and Home, my own attempts at food photography have been sadly lacking.  Mine came out looking very similar with the exception of just a little less liquid.  I think you can see why I would call it a stew more than a casserole.  I served it with smashed red skinned potatoes.

Good reliable recipe, that has the added bonus of tasting even better the second day when the flavors have really melded.

Hope everyone else has had a wonderful time cooking (and eating) this weekend!  Off to read other posts.

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

 

Found this book at Booktrader of Hamilton and since I had read Good in Bed (Cannie Shapiro #1), I thought I would give it a try.

I have to say that I  while I was able to suspend my disbelief for many things, I had issues with the ending of Good in Bed…most significantly, why the “pusher” was not arrested and why Cannie’s family didn’t seem concerned about that.  (If you read Good in Bed you will know what I mean.)  That leads me to another warning, if you didn’t read Good in Bed, most of this book won’t make much sense to you.

In the first book, I liked the character of Cannie and felt like I could really relate to her and that was basically what held the book together for me.  Unfortunately, in this second book I don’t find Cannie very likeable (or even very rational).  She obviously has still not dealt with her own issues and yet is quick to suggest therapy the minute her daughter, Joy,  acts like a teen, which Joy happens to be.  My biggest issue is that Cannie doesn’t seem to have learned anything from everything she went through in the first book.  So, there are no spoilers, let’s just say secrets and lies.

Finally, this is really not a happily ever after book, seriously NOT happy ending.  Stop reading around chapter 35, after that it is a big downer.

 

Mysteries….and a Lone Romance

 

   
   

I have been going to bed early because I am still sick, but then waking in the middle of the night and reading because I can’t sleep.  These three mysteries and 1 romance/chick lit were on the top of my stack next to the bed.  Very briefly:

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, a cute cozy mystery with an slight magical slant.  The sleuth is a big city girl who has taken a job now in a small town library.  Kathleen, the sleuth was interesting and intelligent and the cats, Owen and Hercules are great as well.  The book dragged a little in the middle, it could have done with being a smidge shorter.  The ending did pick up.  The mystery and setting were both well done.

Death Al Dente, the sleuth returns home to take over or rescue the family business, a general/food/local produce and products store.  I didn’t get into this one as much as I had expected to.  I just didn’t really care about the characters and some of the  reactions/actions didn’t really ring true.  It might work for someone else.

The Body in the Vestibule, I picked this one up out of order.  I was somewhat hesitant due to the fact that the sleuth (and main character) was a minister’s wife. I was afraid that it would have heavy religious overtones, but it didn’t.  The mystery takes place in France, I loved the setting and it was very well done!  The mystery  was full of twists and turns and lots of characters.  Well written and the pace of the plot was steady.  The only criticism was that it was slightly dated (some political references to the European Union, etc) but other than that a nice, cozy mystery.

Goodbye, Jimmy Choo, not so sure what to classify this, romance definitely occurs but there is lots of family drama and shopping as well.  I guess it is a romance/chick lit.  Well developed characters and an interesting plot.  You will have to suspend your disbelief slightly on the business portion of the book, but it is quite a good upbeat (at the end) read.

 

 

 

Weekend Cooking

wkendcookingThe is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.

I spent most of this weekend fighting off some stupid cold, ugh.  In between, I did manage to fit in a visit to Soonja’s, a local Korean restaurant where I had amazing Gobdol bibimbap, which is a Korean rice, veggie, and in my case chicken dish served sizzling in a stone bowl.   The high heat means that when you douse it with some soy sauce it caramelizes with the rice and is just amazing. Excellent restaurant to visit if you are ever in the Princeton, New Jersey area.  They also make amazing sushi.

I did spend a few minutes and threw together a chocolate rum cake with a recipe from Trisha Ashley found here.  It was super easy to throw together, baked beautifully but was just okay as far as rum cakes go.  I like that moist, dense effect for a rum cake and this was just more like a regular bundt cake.  It did make a nice treat with coffee for breakfast though.

Tonight, I’m just making a tray of roasted root veg and a stuffed pork loin. I cannot get enough of root vegetables this time of year.  Super easy to make, just cut them into uniform sizes, toss with olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper and some rosemary and roast in a hot oven until done.  I just butterflied the pork loin with a mixed dried fruit stuffing and then roasted for about an hour and a half. Pretty low key, quick dinner.

The benefit of all this roasting was the house warmed up nicely:)

In other foodie type news, I am going to a demonstration tomorrow night at Williams-Sonoma for deep frying Turkey.  I don’t think it is something I would do, but it will be interesting to see.  I am picturing a result that requires fire trucks, but I hope not!