Category Archives: Talk It Up Tuesday

REVIEW: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells

5 stars!!! This YA is the first in a trilogy that has been out for a while. I’m late getting started on it but WOW, am I glad I read it!

Here’s the back story on how this happened: my son picked this up at the library last week. Since they take longer than I do to choose books, my designated role is to sit on the very comfy chairs (!) and read while they look around. He handed me this one and instead of dropping it into our ‘library book carrier’, I opened it and read the first page …then I read the first chapter… by the time they were ready to check out their books, I was well into chapter three!

The plot grabbed me right from the start. Kira is 16 years old and lives on Long island in what seems to be the future about 2076 or so. This is eleven years after genetically modified superhuman/robot things called Partials, that were created by a genetics lab went off the rails and turned against humanity while the RM virus they carry killed just about everybody else that wasn’t immune.

The final indignity of the RM virus is that human babies are not immune so they die. time So the 40,000 or so humans on Long Island are all that’s ever going to be on Earth. When they all die, humanity dies as well.

The way the society deals with this is mandatory pregnancy laws for females of a certain age (which is getting lower!) in hopes of getting a baby with immunity so they can find a cure for RM and save the human race.

Are you hooked so far? Wait, because it gets even better! Remember the Partials? There are millions of them but they have retreated and not been seen for eleven years. Where they went, what they are doing, no one knows but the humans live in fear they will return to finish wiping them out!

In the meantime, Kira who is trained as a medic which is sort of like our doctors, finds out her best friend is pregnant. The baby is doomed, of course, but Kira decides (like every good teenage girl in a YA dystopian book!) that it is up to her to be the one to find a cure for RM and save the world. How do the Partials figure into her quest and what secrets will Kira discover about herself and humanity?  Lots of good stuff happens as we go along for the ride and find out!!

I don’t think I’m explaining the book very well because I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers. Suffice it to say, if someone had said to me ‘hey, read this book’ I would have probably not thought it was my type of a read. I would have been WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! This book was really good, oh, there were a couple of places it dragged with too much explanation/not enough action and some quick learning/acceptance of things that was REALLY quick but, hey, it’s a story. The characters were great and the plot blew my mind!!

If I can’t convince you to read this book any other way, let me tell you that I have the next 2 on hold at the library already!!


Talk It Up Tuesday

Let’s have some good, clean fun today! I think everyone “Otter” be reading more, but how about reading ‘better’. By that I mean, take a step back from your usual books and try something that’s uplifting or inspirational.

I read just about every genre out there and sometimes I get to the point I can’t take one more murder or another scary thing jumping out! Especially with Halloween coming up and all those good cozy/paranormal books I am intending to read ūüėČ This is a great week to recharge my spiritual batteries and it’s always better when it’s combined with humor!

The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck

The classics stick around for a reason! ¬†Good old Aunt Erma literally wrote the book on inspirational family humor. ¬†I read this YEARS ago and always try to re-read every few years because it’s just that good. ¬†Erma and¬†her family moved to the suburbs back in the days when nobody knew what the heck the suburbs were but they flocked there anyway. ¬†This book gives us the unvarnished truth about family and how we are all truly hilarious when we are together.

I Prayed for Patience, God Gave Me Children by Linda Wood Rondeau

Ah patience, I remember those days, before children came along and showed me what life is truly all about!  Linda does a great job with this book; our journey as parents is one we do not have to make alone.  The scripture references are right on the nose and mesh perfectly with the text.  


Humor Me, I’m Your Mother! by Barbara Johnson

Sadly, we lost Barbara several years ago and the humorous/inspirational book world misses her unique blend of scripture and off the wall funny. ¬†This book is uplifting and will have you literally in stitches at Barbara’s take on just about every aspect of motherhood. ¬†She goes into quite a bit of detail about her own children and some of the challenges her family had faced over the years.

I hope you find something a bit different to enrich your reading life this week!! ¬†Tomorrow is mild Wednesday and you just never know what we’ll be reading around here for ‘hump day’!!

REVIEW: Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

trial by fire


Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

WOW! This book knocked my socks off! This is book one in a planned trilogy. Don’t pass this by because it’s a fantasy about witches. This has a great premise, great writing, super interesting characters. There are witches, alternate worlds, weird/scary creatures trying to kill people, and a heroine that has so many flaws that she should already be dead!

Lily is a Salem, Massachusetts teenager with life-threatening allergies that confound the finest medical minds. She attends a party that turns into a disaster and then mysteriously finds herself in an alternate Salem ruled by witches, the main & baddest one is her alternate self! She learns (maybe a bit to quickly, but that is a minor criticism) to harness her unique gifts because what is deadly to her in our world, makes her a powerful force in the alternate one.

There are very few missteps in this book, Angelini does a masterful job of weaving the story threads without dropping any important plot points. The plot moves along quickly and while there are some points where the reader has to suspend disbelief when things happen very conveniently, I think the reader will be so enthralled by the storyline and fantastic world building that they will be delighted to go along for the ride.

Take a Bite Tuesday

It’s not all Cozy Mysteries around here; we do put our books down long enough to eat like we mean business!! ¬†I have several cookbooks on my Amazon wish list including these three that are being released this month. They look so good-I may have to treat myself to some early Christmas gifts!


by Laura D.A. Pazzaglia

Can I just say how much I LOVE pressure cooking? ¬†One of my best birthday gifts ever, was a pressure cooker-don’t say ‘awww, poor girl’; say ‘wow, he sure knew what he was doing!’ ¬†Seriously, when my kids were little I didn’t have time to do much more than take something out of the freezer, throw it in the pressure cooker, feed the baby and boom-supper was on the table.

I have long since moved up to an electric/digital model instead of the old hop up & down stove top cooker but even with the higher cost up front, I still save TONS of time and money in the kitchen.

Now, as to this beautiful new cookbook!  Laura has a fabulous website that I have been using for ages to get recipes, tips and techniques for pressure cooking.  The cookbook takes all the best from the website and more, and puts it in one gorgeous book.

This book is perfect for new & experienced pressure cooker cooks.  The recipes etc. cover the older models and the newer digital setups.  Combine book and website for more than you ever thought you would want to know about the ins & outs of utilizing the best tool in your kitchen to make fast, flavorful meals.  Top of the must-read list for this one!!  Will be released TODAY and is available on Amazon if you want the Kindle version.



by the Pillsbury Editors


You already know I love fast & easy in the kitchen-with kids around, there’s no waiting for a gourmet meal! ¬†Pillsbury dough in all its forms has been in my fridge forever and this huge cookbook gives the reader even more ways to use refrigerated dough to feed the family.

200 recipes/100 photos from appetizers to desserts and everything in between including GLUTEN FREE! We all enjoy a new twist on old favorites-I would almost buy this book for the Crunchy Monkey Bars recipe alone!  That sounds so good I want to make it first.  Release day for this one is September 16th.



by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living


Well, this cookbook is one I put on my wish list, took off my wish list, then put back on. ¬†Why the indecision? ¬†Because I always think Martha Stewart will be too hard, too involved, too many ingredients etc etc. ¬†Then I got a look at it and I think it may be a pretty good resource. ¬†The 120 recipes are organized by cooking vessel-skillet, slow cooker or what not. ¬†So you can just dip in for the exact preparation you need and move on. ¬†I always tweak recipes anyway so if I get this one and it has too many weird spices or KALE I’ll just leave that out! ¬†This will be released on 9/23.


Just thinking about all these cookbooks has made me hungry; instead of cooking, I’m spending the rest of the evening with a plate of cookies, a cup of tea and a cozy mystery. ¬†Join me tomorrow for more great books you “Otter” be reading!!

Talk It Up Tuesday

Do you read “public domain” books? ¬†Because you should!! ¬†I’m not even going to pretend I can accurately explain copyright laws and how they apply to books because it makes my brain hurt!

Basically, there are TONS of great books that you may have missed.  Books that are just floating around on websites like Project Gutenberg ( that you can download to your eReader or computer and read-read-read!

There are of course some clunkers, but that’s part of the search. ¬†There probably won’t be colorful covers or photographs and darn few illustrations or drawings inside; but if you take some time to scroll around Gutenberg or do a general web search for public domain books, you might stumble upon reading gold like these classic gems:



The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

World War I, spies and the basis for a brilliant Hitchcock thriller of the same name. ¬†This book has it all for fans of intelligently written ‘intelligence books’.



The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The first ‘detective’ novel ever. ¬†There is a mysterious diamond, British, India, upper crust society, red herrings and a long convoluted story that will keep you guessing.

Secret_Adversary_First_Edition_Cover_1922Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence) by Agatha Christie

Oh, I adore Tommy & Tuppence! ¬†This is the first of their series of novels and introduces the reader to the irrepressible pair of mystery solvers. ¬†It begins on board the RMS Lusitania and just gets better the further you read-Christie was at the top of her game with this one. ¬†Sadly, this novel and one other, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, are the only ones currently available under U.S. public domain (see, it doesn’t make any sense to me either!)


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of the best loved novels of all time and probably the #1 Sherlock Holmes novel. ¬†Sir Charles Baskerville is dead, his heir Sir Henry is coming from Canada to claim his inheritance amidst warnings to stay away. ¬†Dr. Mortimer seeks the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and beneath it all is the curse of the spectral hound. ¬†This book is spooky & creepy without being an actual horror story. ¬†Holmes & Watson are so good in this one-juggling clues and mysterious ‘stuff’ from London to the wilds of the ‘moors’.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some public domain books by authors you may not have heard of but that you definitely “Otter” be reading!!

Talk It Up Tuesday

There are some great books, and some pretty good books out right now!!  My reading list is overflowing with awesomeness.

Cut and Thrust by Stuart Woods, #30 in the Stone Barrington series. ¬†This just came out in July. ¬†I tend to approach Stone with a long stick-the early books were really good and the middle books well, hit or miss. ¬†I’m reading this one right now and, so far, it’s surprisingly good; I’ll have a review up soon.

Secrets Underground: ¬†North America’s Buried Past by Elizabeth MacLeod. ¬†Lost and hidden subterranean ‘stuff’. ¬†This books is listed as Children’s Non-Fiction so my kids are reading it, but I am enjoying it, too. ¬†Especially the parts about our¬†home state of West Virginia. ¬†Review will follow when we finish.

Snack Girl to the Rescue! by Lisa Cain. ¬†I follow the Snack Girl blog so I was glad to get a review copy of this¬†book. ¬†100 recipes under 400 calories and lots of tips for eating healthy. ¬†So far it’s a gold mine of ideas for quick, easy eats. ¬†School has started the fall session here so anything fast and still healthy is very welcome! ¬†I’ll get a review up as soon as I try a few more recipes.

So, that’s what I’m reading this week-what pages are you turning?


Let’s talk about what we have been reading. ¬†I have been reading more than ever lately, lots of freebies and several library holds came through. ¬†It’s been so hot, this is the perfect time to sit in the shade and read, read, read!! ¬†Here are my thoughts on a few of my most recent reads: First up the most perfect children’s book ever written and it will blow-your-mind!

 Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young

Gaiman writes the perfect kid’s book: great story, fleshed-out characters, unexpected events and a wrap up that fits the story and ties up all the loose ends with some heartwarming details. ¬†Skottie Young’s illustrations seamlessly match every character & situation in the book. ¬†What is it about? ¬†Well, how does time travel & cereal sound as a description?! This is the simplest plot ever: ¬†Mom is away so Dad pops out to pick up some milk for breakfast. But, this simple errand goes so awry it will boggle your mind! Does Dad get the milk? Does something odd happen? Will he have some fantastic adventures? Will it involve time travel? ¬†Very likely and then you will laugh so hard YOUR milk will run out of your face!! I loved it, my kids loved it. ¬†I will say that for adult books, Mr. Gaiman is kind of hit or miss for me-sometimes I ADORE his books and sometimes …meh… but this one is a home run and he (and Skottie Young) deserve infinity stars for Fortunately, the Milk.

¬†Don’t Judge a Lizard by His Scales, Book One in The Principle Gang Series by Dan and Bli Dugi

Ah, me. ¬†I was given a copy of this book to read and review but yikes, I just didn’t like it all that much. The little lizard was kind of rude and talked down to his fly friend so no wonder the other lizards picked on him. ¬†The way he kept sneaking around the fly, I felt like he was a stalker lizard. ¬†Also, when I started reading the book, I thought the fly was named Bill so for the first half of it I thought they were a gay couple! ¬†Just so you know, it’s not always just me-I read this to some kids and they didn’t ‘get’ it either. There were a couple of secondary plots (second chances and how the mother fly was so wrong about the lizard) these took away from the main bullying plot. ¬†The idea is great-fight bullying with cartoon characters but this little book just didn’t make it.

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

The Plum series is always worth reading but this one is not one of the best in the series. ¬†I do love the series and the first ones were a hoot and the last two were getting back to that level. Then came this one. ¬†Stephanie & Lula are trying to find Jimmy Poletti. ¬†Jimmy is a used car dealer selling quite a bit more than cars. ¬†This book has so many plot twists going on that nothing ever really happens. They find Jimmy, lose Jimmy,¬†attend a funeral, eat something. ¬†Lula has a date, Ranger has an issue that only Stephanie can help him solve. It is so familiar and seemed like Evanovich took all the plot ideas she could find and shoved them into this book. There are familiar faces like Randy Briggs who just happens to work for Jimmy-what are the odds? Briggs is a favorite character, fans love him, so he gets a part in this book. ¬†I hope Sally Sweet shows up again soon, Sally & Lula together are an entire book!! But, I digress-Top Secret Twenty One has some great ideas, just nothing ever gets more than just a quick going over. ¬†No deep plot or character development. ¬†There are¬†funerals, shootings, fires, explosions, FBI, casino’s, Russians, tight dresses, dogs, crazy people, crying people, people eating, people running for their lives and don’t forget to drop a few nuggets in Rex’s aquarium. Of course there are the usual tired/sad FTA’s and scary/YIKES FTA’s that have to be tracked down so Stephanie can pay her rent. I do have to say there were a few places in the middle where it felt like the first books-I was reading until too late because the book got GOOD, and I laughed so hard at some of the antics! But, most of the book was a very formulaic, check list type of book. Evanovich has another series going on and I felt like it took her attention and she let my old book friends in Trenton down with Top Secret Twenty-One. So, just like life-reading is some good, some …meh… but at least we are reading and that deserves a smile ūüôā


What’s going on in books this Tuesday? ¬†For me I just hit my Goodreads goal of 100 books read for 2014. ¬†YAY, me! I’m never sure what life will bring so I was too conservative in that 100 goal. ¬†Next year I’ll aim a bit higher. ¬†Do you do a ‘goal’ thing? ¬†Or keep track of the books you read?

Goodreads is perfect for me to track what I’m reading and what types of books I’m liking. ¬†Mystery of all kinds is still the top of my list but this year I’ve delved into more mainstream or popular fiction. ¬†Non-fiction is also a biggie with me and I have more of this genre on my TBR (to-be-read) list than anything. ¬†I’ve given more 4-star ratings this year than anything and only 21 5-star reads. ¬†I have read a few stinkers this year but I always figure it’s more my taste than the author blew it with the book so no 1-star ratings.

How about a look at the top 15 books on my 5-star list? ¬†Let’s start today with #15-#11:


15.  Books #1, #2 & #3 in the Parasol Protectorate series.  Soulless, Changeless and Blameless by Gail Carriger

14.  Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

13.  Field of Prey by John Sandford

12. I Survived the Nazi Invasion by Lauren Tarshis

Antique calendar on the abstract background.
11. The Aunt Paradox by Chris Dolley

Oooh, some good books here!  I enjoyed reading all of these.  Stop back tomorrow for a look at #10-#6.  Gail Carriger has 3 books on my top list; wonder which author made the list twice?

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