Black Widow: Forever Red, Margaret Stohl

black-widowspolier alertTitle: Black Widow: Forever Red

Author: Margaret Stohl

Pages: 401

Genre:  YA, action, adventure

Part of a series?  Yes, thank God!  This is book one of the Black Widow novels.

Published:  October 13th, 2015

I first heard about this book from a co-worker’s teen daughter.  The premise sounded really good, but the reviews were all over the place.  Miser that I am, I decided to get it at the library and decide if the series is worth my book money.  Whoo boy!  I bought the second book, and will be getting this one for myself.  I loved it so much!  Seriously, I am kind of fan-girling here.  I loved the fast paced story, the snippets into Black Widow’s past, the other characters… Tony Stark.  I loved that there was a lot of adventure, and a great amount of sarcasm ( as expected from a novel featuring parts of the Avengers) but also a whole lot of heart.  Let’s get to the summary shall we?

Natasha Romanov is after the man that ruined her childhood.  It is rumored that Ivan the Strange is back to nabbing children for the Red Room program.  More torture, more killers, more pain.  She wants to stop him, and put an end to her old tormentor.  When she reaches his base, though, he has just one girl and a machine.  The little Russian red haired girl is so like who Natasha was that it’s scary, but she can’t let herself be distracted.  In the fight, Black Widow wins, blowing up the machine and, she thinks, Ivan himself.  The girl is taken into protective care, and Natasha is gone.

Eight years later, Ava still hasn’t forgiven Natasha for abandoning her.  Life hasn’t been easy since escaping S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, but at least she’s free.  When she sleeps, though, she sees a boy,.  She never met him, but she knows him.  She sees him and his friends.  Why?  At a fencing tournament she  sees the boy.  They meet, but who could know how important this meeting is?  Natasha comes back, grabbing both minors to protect them from Ivan,  who is coming for Ava.  As the three talk it’s obvious that odd things have happened.  Ava has Natasha’s battle experience, and memories.  Alex,  the boy, can speak Russian and doesn’t remember much of his childhood.  What if there’s a reason the three are connected?  How?  The answer is stranger than anything they can imagine…

Did I mention I loved this book?  I loved the characters, though both Ava and Alex annoyed me at times.  I felt for Natasha, so in control and secluded having to open herself up.  I loved having Stark and Coulson in the book, one for comic relief and expertise and the other to move the story along.  I enjoyed that the book was written in three POV’s so you got to know Alex, Ava, and Natasha.  I also liked that there would be recaps in the form of exerts from a interview between Romanov and Coulson.

I had a hard time with Alex’s acceptance of everything.  Pretty/crazy girl thinks I know her?  Ok, I want to.  Pretty/crazy girl is getting attacked by some CIA lady?  I’ll save her!  Wait, we’re being shot at by someone else?  Let’s all go together!  Life threatening mission with the girl I just met?  Sign me up!  It was sweet,  but frustrating.  I feel like he really ought to have had more questions instead of the insta-love “must be with Ava” thing.  I did like him though.  That said, this is still very much a five star book for me.  Five Stars

On the adult content scale, this isn’t bad as far as sexual content- there isn’t any.  No drugs, no alcohol.  There is a lot of explosions, violence, and language.  I would give it to a young teen, but then I am not as worried about violence in books as some.  I would give it a four.  Still…  Parental Guidance

The book is out now, let me know what you think!

Link to book:




What’s New Wednesday? Week 33!

Hey guys!  Today is December 28th and National Chocolate day (and here I thought that was February 14th)!  Raid those stockings (If you still have candy there) and celebrate!

What’s new with me?

We celebrated Christmas with the O’hana over the weekend.  It was great seeing everyone, especially my Aunt Janice that came from California.  My brother and sister were in town, so that was nice.  We got my mother Pioneer Woman measuring bowls and a ceramic measuring cup.  I got “library” book tabs for my actual paper books, Alton Brown’s Everyday Cook, a t shirt that says “I have lived a thousand lives: BOOKWORM”.  Grandma got a large thing of Tupperware during Dirty Santa, but as she is kind of a klepto with dementia my sister decided to steal that from her.  Grandma ended up with cookies (by the way, this is how I got Alton Brown’s cookbook).  The husband and I watched Storks Tuesday and that was a great amount of fun.  Oh, and I got Amazon money- should be good for like two months lol.

Otherwise I am prepping for my New Year’s reading plans.  I have made myself new notecards for books that have been on my TBR list for way too long.  Twenty titles are in the jar and I plan on reading them all in 2017.

What’s new in news?

In Australia, a man with a cam was on a bike ride when he was dive bombed by a magpie six times!  Apparently this feisty bird is a legend with the cyclists in Coonabarabran, New South Wales.  See video here.

What’s new with books? 

          alton-brown-every-day    Well, I don’t think I am going to finish my December TBR list because I got seriously side tracked.  What with Christmas to get ready for- both at home and work- I read less; but more than that I was offered two e-ARC’s that come due before my FTR reads.  Add to that, I just cannot get into my Kindle First pick for the month.  Instead I read two historical romances and am starting Forever Red by Margaret Stohl.    I am also grazing through Alton Brown’s Everyday Cook (does anyone ever read these cover to cover?  I look at pics, find recipes I want to do, and read the tips… am I the only one?).  I mean, if it is a good cookbook, one is never really “done” reading it.  It’s amazing, though and I can’t wait to make my own Thai Iced Tea.  There are so many yummy recipes!

           So that’s it for me.  What’s new with you?


Waiting For an Earl Like You, Alexandra Hawkins

waiting-for-an-earl-like-youspolier alertTitle:  Waiting for an Earl Like You

Author: Alexandra Hawkins

Pages:  352

Genre:  Historical romance

Part of a series?  Yes, book three of Masters of Seduction.

Publish Date: January 3rd, 2017

Many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Olivia Lyndall and Justin Netherwood, Earl of Kempthorn have been neighbors forever but it was always Justin’s twin Gideon that was close to Olivia.  When Gideon comes back after years away, both men are faced with a very different, grown up Olivia.  When Olivia finds herself in romantic conflict, she turns to her friend Gideon for help- only it’s Thorn in his place.  Justin, “Thorn”, has tried to convince himself that he is saving his brother from Olivia… but really he just can’t stay away and, well, she is more comfortable with his twin.  The more time they spend together, though, the more he wants her to see him.  Can the two get through the confusion and pain of the trick he played and find happiness together?

I am a fan of these books.  There is an air of humor, but also a lot of very sweet emotions.  The characters are well developed and diverse, and there is enough information in this book to allow for it to be a stand alone- but you want to read the others.  There is a very rich background here, between families and friends, that builds on previous books.

I will admit, Thorn was a very hard sell for me.  For a smart man he seemed very arrogant and stupid, and there were several times I wanted to shake him for his handling of Olivia.  The romance did not always seem organic- the attraction did, yes, but he kept getting in his own way.  While I enjoyed this book, I have to admit I liked the others in the series more.  3.5 stars- let’s just round up to four.  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, there is a lot of language and quite a bit of violence.  Also, the sexual content is a bit explicit.  I would say a seven.  adult content road sign

The book comes out 1-03-2017, let me know what you think!

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle



Ready, Set, Rogue, Manda Collins

ready-set-roguespolier alertTitle:  Ready Set Rogue

Author: Manda Collins

Pages:  320

Genre: Historical romance

Part of a series?  Yes, book one in A Study in Scandal.

Publish Date: January 3rd, 2017

Many Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Wareham is one of four lady scholars set to inherit Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s home and extensive library.  Unfortunately, as determined as she is to go and start her life of learning, Celeste’s nephew Quill is determined to stop them.  He wants the home that he loved as a child to stay in the family.  With all of this going on, and meeting the heiresses, there is just one more thing.  Celeste’s death was not as strait forward as everyone thought, in fact a letter addressed to Ivy tells her that Lady Celeste felt someone was after her.  Can the two put aside their differences, and their attraction, and find the killer before anyone else gets hurt?

I loved this book.  The cast of characters were wonderful and the verbal diarrhea that was Daphne definitely kept a small amount of comic relief in what could have been very serious.  That said, it still wasn’t the light hearted, funny one I normally pick when choosing this type of book, but I loved it and eagerly away Daphne’s story June of 2017.  The characters are well developed and really pull you in.  I adored them.  The relationship between Ivy and Quill was sweet and believable, allowing me to go through the motions with the couple.  Five Stars!  Five Stars

On the adult content scale, there is some violence,  language (thank you, Daphne) and sexual content.  The latter is fairly tame, so I give it a four.  As with most romances, it is not written with young teens in mind; but this certainly isn’t smut.  Parental Guidance

The book comes out 01-03-2017.  Don’t miss it!

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle


Lotus, Lijia Zhang

lotusspolier alertTitle: Lotus

Author: Lijia Zhang

Pages: 384

Genre: literary fiction

Part of a series?  No.

Publish Date:   January 10th, 2017.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt and Co.  for giving me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

This book is inspired by the secret life of Zhang’s grandmother.  Lotus defies her fate and heads to the city to find her fortune.  What she finds is that there’s not a lot of honest work- especially the kind that will allow her to pay for her brother’s schooling.  Having been pulled from school herself, she wants more for Shang.

Becoming a ji (prostitute), Lotus wires money home saying that she waits tables.  Through out her time in the city she meets several men, a big business man, a savvy migrant worker and a kind photographer- all three want Lotus in their life, but whom will she choose?

I liked this book a lot, with it’s diverse cast of characters and lyrical prose.  I loved Lotus, always trying to reconcile what she has done with who she sees herself to be.  I loved Hu Binbing, wanting to show the world of the ji.  I loved his gentle nature and kindness.  I especially loved that none of these characters were perfect, but it was their imperfections that made me love them.

Now, I will say that I was hoping for something as magical as Memoir of a Geisha,  and I just didn’t get that amount of magic.  Maybe I was just expecting too much.  All in all I give it a four.  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, there is sexual content, language and violence.  I would say a seven.  mature audience.

The book comes out 1-10-2017, I highly recommend it.

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle




The BFG, Roald Dahl (Book and Movie Review)

bfgTitle: The BFG

Author: Roald Dahl

Pages:  224

Genre: children’s fantasy

Published:  Reprint edition August 16th, 2007, originally came out in 1982.

The book tells the story of a young orphan, Sophie, and what happened one sleepless night.  Unable to sleep, she peers out her window at the Witching Hour, only to see a giant!  Having been seen, the giant takes Sophie away to Giant Country.  We learn about The Big Friendly Giant (the only one of ten that don’t eat humans), and his job of collecting dreams.  The two grow close and become best friends, but Sophie knows something must be done about the other nine giants.  With the help of BFG and his dreams, she takes the issue to the only one she thinks can help- the queen.

I found this book to be a fast, charming read.  I loved the characters, and the descriptions in this book.  I will warn parents that BFG makes up more words than Trump; but he has a reason and the chosen words make an odd sort of sense.  Personally, I didn’t mind this as I accepted it as part of the character development.  I have heard that some people had issues though.  This is my first book by Dahl, but it won’t be my last.  I really loved it!  Five Stars

This is a book written for about the age of nine.  I would say that there really isn’t any adult content- there is a bit of bullying and talk of eating humans, but it isn’t at all graphic.  I give it a one on the adult content scale.  General.svg

The new movie ( I haven’t seen the older one) was wonderful. It was beautiful and engaging.  I enjoyed the portrayal of Sophie and BFG, as well as the other giants.  The story line is a bit different, giving more interaction between Sophie and BFG as well as a slightly different end to the story.  I enjoyed it though, and would actually say that I found the movie better than the book.  Five Stars


What’s new Wednesday? Week 33!

winter-berriesHey guys! Today is December 21st, and the first day of Winter (also called Winter Solstice).

What’s new with me?

Well we got my brother-in-law Danny from college on the 18th, and saw him on a plane on the 20th.  He will be spending Christmas in St. Petersburg, going to museums and practicing his Russian (as he goes through summer classes he says this is the only time he can go.)  Danny is duel majoring in history (emphasis on Russian) and the Russian language.  I’m pretty proud of him, honestly… but then all the Garabrandt men are brilliant.  We ended up having our celebration with him on Sunday so that I could give him his gifts (long scarf, thermal gloves, and hat- hey, Russia is cold!).  He got us a bottle of mead called Viking’s Blood. Not heavy drinkers, the husband and I had still been intrigued by this drink for a number of years- we just never got it.  It is really good!

What’s new in news?

Heaven help me, I still don’t know how to process this.  In Guatemala it is customary to “burn the devil”- effigies made to look like demons- in order to ward off bad spirits.  Well… a new effigy has been added.  An untold number of Trump effigies were burned at the festival this year.  Part of me is saddened- first because it comes too close to wishing harm on another (or am I just reading too much into this?), and second because this is how other countries see the man that will be our president for the next FOUR YEARS.  Ack!  See video here.

What’s new in books?

So I don’t think I will finish December’s TBR.  I got a few books from Netgalley after the fact that come out before the ones from First to read.  Plus there’s my Kindle First book for this month.  Instead I will be reading:

  • Ready Set Rogue, by Manda Collins
  • Waiting For an Earl Like You, Alexandra Hawkins
  • Original Dream, Nukila Amal.

That’s it for me, what’s new with you?