Where do you fall on the MiddleEarth spectrum?

But hopefully tomorrow.

With our discount, this was less than amazon’s price!

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Excited, as I am more of a Sherlock Hobbit fan than a Lord of the Rings fan.
Where do you fall on the Middle Earth spectrum?

And now, for a very special blog post

This is a post for the ages.

Liken it to that episode of Blossom where she became a woman…

I officially posted my first book review to a blogger site 11 years ago TODAY…

It’s on my site now, and you can reach it by clicking here.

And, to celebrate, I am giving away a copy (via Amazon) of Cress by Marissa Meyer. It’s no joke how much I have enjoyed reading the Lunar Chronicles series, and I want to get you hooked as well.

Check out the following site, I will ask that you be following me (@alwaysreiding) on Twitter, so I can announce other giveaways. Share it with your friends, too!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/347d5c7f576039f4

Space’s Silent Spring : A Review of Star Trek: NightShade by Laurell K Hamilton

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Disclosure: I’m a geek, which means I like Star Wars AND Star Trek. I also used to read a fair bit of Laurell K Hamilton. When I heard that Hamilton had written a Star Trek book, I added it to my radar—this was years ago and for a very long time the item in question was out of print. I checked PaperbackSwap and other sites, but had a hard time finding a reasonably priced copy. Boy, was I glad to see Amazon’s re-release of this, with a new cover. I snagged it as soon as I saw it and am very happy I bought it. Hamilton presents a compelling story that lends well to the Star Trek Universe.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are called to help negotiate some peace talks on the dying planet of Oriana. Factions that have been at war for centuries are now ready to talk, with the help of Picard. Picard, Counselor Deanna Troi and Commander Worf beam down to the planet, as the Enterprise gets called away on a distress signal, and find that the peace talks quickly de-evolve as the death of a key negotiator dies, and a new faction (the Greens) arise. Picard is a murder suspect and it is up to Deanna and Worf to get to the bottom of the mystery of whom is the assassin before Picard is killed in three days time. Will they be able to break through this insular underground community in time, or will they have to return to the Enterprise without their Captain?

I enjoyed this story a lot more than I thought I would, as it includes two of my least favorite characters on the Enterprise (Note, I enjoyed Worf’s storylines and character a lot more in Deep Space Nine). And, surprisingly, I was not as motivated to hurry onto those parts to get to non-Deanna or non-Worf pages. Laurell K Hamilton did A LOT with both the characters actions and the way they spoke to endear me to them. For example, Deanna was tortured throughout the novel, and I finally understood the pain she must feel when surrounded by others in pain.  Worf was a great and skilled negotiator, which I felt like was never really allowed for him in Star Trek : The Next Generation.

I also really enjoyed the secondary mission the Enterprise found themselves pursuing (mostly Data, Geordi and Beverly). There was a suspicious element that I enjoyed, along with the mystery of why the ship was distressed. It was great to see Geordi shine, despite it not being an engineering problem. There was one slight timing issue (it seemed that the ship would have expired by the time the final precautions were complete), but it was just a minor issue.

I credit Laurell K. Hamilton with the success of this novel. I waited a very long time to read this, and cannot believe it was so long. I am happy that I was able to snag an ebook. Hamilton’s characterizations and dialogue were on-point and perfect. I really liked this book, despite it heavily featuring two of my least-favorite (and most-weak) characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation! I felt like, had I read this when I was reading the books during the series run, I would have thought differently about Deanna Troi (and possibly Worf).

I was also able to find a picture of the original cover, as I had known it—how funny is this cover in comparison to the new cover? I really like the newer cover, but the old cover takes me back to the 90s and reading the series books while the series ran. I would have loved it had there been a lot more females writing episodes during that run.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Nightshade by Laurell K. Hamilton can be found (or ordered) from your favorite retailer, available in paperback and ebook. Pick up yours now!

Bloggiesta : Do it because you love it…

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As part of Bloggiesta, there are challenges and link ups throughout the week. Sometimes it’s about a really cool app or method to use when blogging and other times it is about something completely different. Today, we’re being asked Your Best Blogging Advice Ever!

For me, the answer is simple. The best advice I have ever been given is:

Because in the dark of night when you are tossing and turning about all the things you need to do that you didn’t do, love will help.
Because when you sit at the computer and have the world’s worst case of writer’s block, love will help.

You can’t force a blog. Theoretically, you can, but it shows. There are going to be days that you want to pull a Brian Wilson, and that is okay. But you are going to have to get out of bed someday and that blog will be there, silently judging (okay, not really, but it sounds cool).

This blog thing, it’s something completely different than what a lot of people are used to. You’ll get weird questions and find yourself in conversations where people disparage bloggers and you’ll find it easy to just throw up your hands and agree. But if you love something, if you well and truly love it, you’ll give it the respect it deserves. Because, at some point, it will all start paying off. And I don’t necessarily mean via money–I mean with the amount of comments, or followers or to give you that extra boost on a resume. One day you will see that all the love you put in, all the energy you extended towards this crazy goal of writing a blog that perhaps no one you know in real life will ever read (or find appealing), come back out to you.

And that’s how you know you’re a blogger. That undying faith, even when there are no comments, or when people are not reading what you expect them to read, or going to the right pages; Love is what gets you through the hard bits.

If you don’t love it, surviving is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

 

It’s Monday, March 23rd, What Are You Reading?/Bloggiesta Starting Line

 

GG_transIt’s Monday, March 23, 2015. It’s the 10th Monday of the year! Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Monday is a great day to take stock of what you’re currently reading.

I like it because it holds me accountable. And, because I succeeded at the 120 books read in 2014 (via Goodreads), I agreed to read 200 in 2015—I’ve done it before, and for many years read at least that many, but life has come in the way. But, beyond that, I want to publish more reviews this year. I have so many that I’ve written that have not been transcribed. This is a huge oversight and does nothing to help my cause. I need entries to make everyone interested! This is a predominantly a review blog and without those reviews, I have nothing to offer. So, provided I read an average of 15-20 books a month, I can do this! And, I would love to hear your goals.

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So this past week was pretty busy, despite me not liking that word too much. I fought with Charter and, since their visit (knock wood), we have had pretty solid internet access. Mostly because there were a lot of loose cords/cables in the control box.

I fought with a hard drive (very little spare space on my drive).
I wrote a lot of letters to friends from the LEP, the IGGPPC and OLW.

I went to PaperSource and got a coloring book by Johanna Basford, too.

With that, I read:

Brood by Chase Novak (and then realized I had to first book in the series on my ereader, waiting to be read).

GothamGal got her fangirl on in preparation for WonderCon with a Buffy The Vampire Slayer Vol 1 Omnibus review.

I read Landlines by Rainbow Rowell, finally. It took about three hours, but was so worth it!

I read China Rich Girlfriend. I even went to get some Xiao Long Bao (XLB) because of the China Rich Girlfriend book!

What I hope to read this week:
Keep in mind that I am a little bit spread thin at the moment. But I still want to finish:


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This will be a little bit of a geek out week, I think. I got this specifically as a pick up in the store when I read that Riker is a mastermind behind a huge threat to Picard. That he might even be blowing up Federation ships! How is it possible that someone behind Riker-beard could do that?!? It also brings in Dax and a few other characters fans of ANY of the series may be familiar with. I used to read a lot more of the Star Trek books, so this is a welcome home, of sorts, for me.

Astonish-MeThis was an unexpected pickup, and maybe because I have a family member that IS a ballerina (and a lifelong dream of doing ballet) that drew me to this literary fiction. I love that it’s a different cover, that looks more vintage, but I also like to think that there’s a better reason for the change in cover in the trade paperback.download (1)

Can I just say how much I love Veronica Mars? I am savoring and rewarding myself with this book whenever I get a chance. I love the noir aspects of the universe and the cover art is great. I really need to go ahead and finish watching the Veronica Mars movie already, just so I can get a deeper understanding of what is going on and not spoil some of what goes on in this book. After I finish this, I have the second in the series, and I have a feeling it will be picked up rightafter I finish this one.41m0N7IIcsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

This is a book for the #NovelTeaBookClub—I love that we are reading a non-fiction book this month. As someone who can do both team and solo projects, I want to say that there are a few things that make me think I am introverted, but just in certain circumstances. I am not quite certain, yet, and will know more once I finish the book—I hope.

These were from a few weeks ago—I got distracted, LOL. But I am happy that I am catching up with my goal. I am right in line to hit the 200 book mark this year.

Also, it’s Bloggiesta this week!

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And, here’s my to-do list for Bloggiesta:

  • Create a media kit
  • Print media kit for flyers for WonderCon
  • Design & Order Business Cards
  • Go through January Reviews and complete stats for my Inkwell Planner
  • Go through February Reviews and complete stats for my Inkwell Planner
  • Go through March Reviews and complete stats for my Inkwell Planner
  • Finish an indie book for review
  • Comment 50 times on different blogs this week
  • Tweet at least 7 things this week
  • Pin at least 7 things this week
  • Begin Monetization Strategy
  • Update about me, affiliations, etc.
  • Try to post 3 retro reviews

I’m happy that a few of these things have been done already—it makes even more things possible. Very excited for this. And, for the Bloggiesta programming that is available this week for the event.

Are you participating in either of these events? Share your story/post in the comments below!

This Reader’s Life:: XLB (Xiao Long Bao) in the LBC

GG_transWhen you have a hobby like mine that tends to take up a lot of time, sometimes you notice parts of it seep into life. For me, reading is a love and I read so much that I tend to get parts of my reading life into my regular life and vice versa.

Xiao Long Bao, also known as soup dumplings, have been mentioned in two books I have read recently (Fresh off the Boat and China Rich Girlfriend). The idea seemed intriguing—a yummy dumpling filled with meat AND soup? Count me in. I am a habitual chicken noodle soup eater, based on the idea that it has the power to heal almost anything that may ail you (or get rid of ailments before you get them).

While the idea of getting on the metro or driving an hour inland was intriguing, it was a necessity that it be somewhere close—mostly because I wanted to fit a quick trip to XLB yumminess and still be able to hit home and get a few projects out of the way (which I did!). I, of course, turned to Google.

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We found a place in nearby Artesia that featured good comments about their soup dumplings and included chicken! This is a treat, because in everything I had read, I had heard that the dumplings were usually a pork or seafood. I am not always in the mood for pork. We found the restaurant pretty easy, despite Google’s weird instructions about making a U-turn on a street that did not appear to be marked. Welcome to Omar’s Halal restaurant. It features Xiao Long Bao RIGHT on the signage outside, which made me even more excited.

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We saw the ‘A’ grade on the front window, which meant that we were definitely okay to eat there. While we may have taken a chance on a C-grade restaurant, we didn’t need to at all! The place was incredibly clean, and featured an article from the Times (Los Angeles) about its food, and a tv tuned to what looked like a K-pop cooking competition, which then turned into a soap opera at the beginning of the hour. It was odd television for sure. The prices were really great, so we ended up getting (to hit the $10 minimum for credit/debit purchases), an order of dumplings, green onion pancakes, a soda for my husband (with free ice) and a drink for me—and ended up at $13.00. The waiter did not have any iced tea (and was confused by my request for bottled water as well), so I settled for green tea. As you can see, the drink came in a large glass with no ice. I was perplexed—do they not use teacups? As a result, the glass was a bit warmer than I had expected. Eventually it cooled down and I got to drink tea.

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It wasn’t bad, though. The green onion pancakes came out first, and they were something new to the both of us. They were a little greasy, but reminded me of a quesadilla made of phyllo dough and green onions instead of cheese. They were layered very thinly, but the pancakes were really nice. I would order these again. There were just a LOT of them. The dumplings came out and my heart nearly came out of my chest—they looked like the items I had seen online! The steam was coming off of them, so we waited a minute or two in order to let them cool.

Now, the trick was to scoop it into a spoon without breaking the dumpling. Then, we left it on the spoon for a moment or two. From there, I found it easier to take a small bite out of the side and suck out the broth. A lot of broth probably cooked out during the process, but it was flavorful and tasted good. The meat in the middle of the dumpling did not look overtly processed and also tasted like chicken and some mixed vegetables. The dumpling ‘skin’ was a little thicker than explained, and there was a little less broth than explained in the books, but still a great first experience—we will DEFINITELY be exploring XLB (and most likely back at the same place).

And to think, without books, I might never have known…

 

As a book ever influenced you to be foodventurous? Share in the comments below.

Status Quoi? A Review of China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

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When I find an author I really like, I’m sure to follow the progress of new books. Enter Kevin Kwan—I loved his Crazy Rich Asians so much that as soon as I heard about his follow up (China Rich Girlfriend) I knew I needed to read it—and boy, was it worth the read. Special thanks to Doubleday for getting me an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rachel cannot wait to marry Nick. But, marrying into his family is another story. The Youngs, specifically Nick’s mother, Eleanor, is decidedly crazy and concerned that this ABC (American Born Chinese) is not good enough for her perfect son, especially considering Rachel has been raised by a single mother. The Youngs are rich, and are very entrenched into Hong Kong society. What will the neighbors think? In this comedy of social climbing, Eleanor is practically the normal one! The Young family and their extended family are back, and Kwan does his best to chronicle their various upward and downward movements through the ‘decent’-driven world of the lavishly rich in Hong Kong.

Kwan’s style is the same as found in Crazy Rich Asians—it is fun, and full of the most descriptive terms I have heard in a very long time to describe characters. His style is similar to that of Lisa Lutz, but with enough footnotes (that are NOT boring to read) to bring even the most mainland non-China reader up to speed. With an ensemble cast, it is hard to do what Kevin has done in China Rich Girlfriend, and that’s give each of his characters their fifteen minutes, broken up into digestible pieces and fitting within the concurrent storyline. Overall, it is one of the best books I have read in 2015.

Rachel is a great character. I felt for her throughout the novel—she just wanted to marry Nick and do so by taking the path of least resistance. While she would be almost any mother’s dream (a good job, a strong character and a sense of self that rivals many women of her age), Eleanor is completely against her because of her lack of social standing and her lack of a father. But Eleanor’s scheming suddenly changes that in a BIG way.  Suddenly, Rachel has a father (confirmed by her mother) and she is thrust into the social scene of Hong Kong whether she wants to or not.

Kwan’s dead-on portrayal of marriages in trouble, young rich kids getting into trouble and an adult film actress turned to actress are enjoyable and seem effortless. In China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan gives us an insiders look into the very world only a select few ever enjoy. It’s a great summer read, or a read for anyone  who might seem interested in elevated comedies of manners/errors or even those who find themselves checking out tmz.com (or it’s Hong Kong equivalent) throughout the day.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan will be available on June 16, 2015. Published by Doubleday, you can find it in hardcover, audiobook and ebook from your favorite retailer on that day.

Calling 2002: A Review of Rainbow Rowell’s Landlines

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I love a good story with an interesting concept. And it just so happens that one of the most innovative writers out there is Rainbow Rowell. While I picked up Landlines on its release day, I waited until I thought I was ready to read it—because it’s about a broken marriage.

Georgie and Neal are in trouble. Especially when Georgie announces she has to stay at home during their scheduled Christmas trip to see Neal’s widowed mother in Omaha. Neal takes their two daughters, and leaves with things unresolved.  While Georgie’s Mom thinks the worst, Georgie tries to focus on work, and dealing with an iPhone that won’t hold a charge. When calls and texts to Neal’s phone don’t pan out, Georgie takes matters into her own hands and plugs in an older, yellow rotary phone into her somewhat re-organized as a shrine to pugs childhood bedroom…the Neal who answers the phone is NOT her husband, Neal. It just so happens that it is Neal from their college days, when their relationship was rocky and new—and Georgie may JUST have an opportunity to save their marriage for good.

I was worried when I read advanced praise and a blurb about this book, as I tend to find bits of myself in Rowell’s characters. The same is true with Landlines, especially considering Georgie is only four years older than me. The idea of a marriage on the rocks is scary and hurtful to me, personally. Mostly because I also see a bit of Neal in my own husband-he selflessly devotes himself to their marriage, and while our marriage is a bit more equal, I am sure when we have kids, he might want to stay at home with them.

Rowell’s character-centered style is just as great as usual. Georgie is instantly likeable; How great is it that she writes comedy? Her potentially being the head of a series (with her best friend) is HUGE, and completely her dream. So many woman might be called to give up their dreams for the betterment of her marriage—I was worried this would be on the table (spoilers—it isn’t, thankfully).  Georgie is flawed, but honest and she sincerely loves Neal and their family.

There is a bit of power in a rotary phone—I could clearly see each and every thing about Georgie’s mothers home. In particular, the pugs were also a big part of the plot, to build the suspense. The warmth oozes out of the book, and it was refreshing to get a bit attached to the ancillary characters, without losing that connection to a main character.

Overall, I loved this book, just as a few friends said I would. And I am so incredibly happy that I read it. I was a bit teary at one or two points, but am definitely a more mindful person for having read it.

Landlinesis available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook from your favorite retailer. Check it out today.

Have you read anything from Rainbow Rowell? Do you find yourself hesitating to read a certain book because of themes? Sound off below.