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27 September 2012

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

You don't even know...

I stopped into the library the other day to drop off and pick up another pile of books for my dear daughter Willow.  I spied this little number sitting on the shelf.  The title caught my eye, the parody sticker reeled me in.

As anyone can tell-- especially if you are unfortunate enough to know me or by some bizarre quirk in your personality, enjoy reading my posts-- I think I'm funny.  No, really, I love to laugh.  It usually isn't hard to get me going either.  Ask Moira.  Ask my BFF.  I laugh so hard tears run down my leg. 

So when I saw the little yellow smile, telling me to take it like a big girl, I knew this was the book for me. 

Andrew Shaffer, writing under Fanny Merkin (the name- not literally under) says in a NY Times interview he wrote this in 10 days.  All I have to say about that is "Brilliant!"

The blurb from the back cover states:
Young, arrogant, tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

Hilarious!  That is the only word I have, I seriously almost had to read this in the bathroom.  You know, in case I, ahem, cried.  I found this to be a parody of the original 50 shades (which I still have not read) and the Twilight books (which I will never read. I mean, come on. Sparkles...really?)

Earl Grey is convinced he's horribly screwed up with all his shames(he has a man crush on Tom Cruise) and Anna has her own quirks and issues(she picks her nose when she's nervous).  She has a drunken roommate in Kathleen and her best friend Jin, is a brony.  No, I will not say what that is.  Find out for yourself. 

All in all, I will probably end up buying this book simply to have it around for when I need a laugh-a-minute pick-me-up.  Over all I have to give this 5 stars, anything less would make me a liar.  So run, don't walk, to your nearest booking establishment--be it library or book peddler--and get yourself a copy.  Oh, you should probably stop at the grocery and get some tissues and t.p. for when you, ahem, cry.

13 September 2012

IT will probably kill me...

    First of all, let me state that I love my husband.  Let it also be known that this fact may not save him from becoming a new "compost heap" in my back yard.  Maybe I'll plant a few shrubs on top, that would look nice.  Ooh, a nice gazebo covered in climbing roses and maybe a swing with....what?  Oh.
    I have tried to come to terms with something that sends me into a state of near panic at the mere mention of the word.  Retirement.  There... I said it and didn't swoon.  I have heard the stories from married ladies with retired husbands, and with, first my father's and now my husband's lay-offs, I have experienced brief glimpses into this world.  So, I have learned some things.

    The main thing, really, is that I would like to opt out but cannot, in good conscience, do that.  He can't work forever.   Right?  My dearest other half is only 40, so this retirement isn't happening anytime soon, but still.  He works as a carpenter, which means- aside from the fact that nothing in the house is fixed- he sometimes has a lay-off because a job isn't quite ready.   Goody!  This also means he becomes, in a word,  insertive.
    Yes, I meant insertiveI'll admit that can be a bonus right after lunch and sometimes twice on Tuesday but that isn't what I meant.  Geez, you people.  Go wash your mind, I'll wait.  Better?  Good.

    What I was trying to say before sally-naughty-pants interrupted was he inserts himself into everything I do, and tries to do the same with me.   I understand these are opportunities to spend time together, honestly, I get that.   But when I hear the phrase,  "Uhm, Hon?"  I usually cringe.  I've tried hiding but that only works for so long.  (Besides, I don't fit under the bed.)  That phrase, you see, is usually followed by either "what are you doing?" or "do you wanna...?"  

    The "what are you doing" is generally obvious in answer.  Some old stand-by answers include---  
    "painting a wall mural" --going to the bathroom
    "knitting" --washing dishes
    "talking to the president" --making dinner
    and the ever popular shriek "what does it look like?!" --everything

    The other phrase "Do you wanna...?", is usually followed by something that, no actually, I don't "wanna do".  Why he thinks I actually "wanna do" most of the things he ever suggests still completely baffles me.  Allow me to set the most recent scene.  I have filled the bucket and have just begun to mop the kitchen floor when..."Uhm, Hon..." he says eagerly with keys in hand, "do you wanna go to the tractor store with me?"  Now, this isn't so much a question as a-- request, let's call it. 

   Now I know what you're thinking, "But Mina," you say "why wouldn't you want to stand around in a store that smells like motor oil and regret, staring at weed wackers and leering lube jockeys?"  Normally, you would have a valid point (if there were any shot in hell said lube jockeys would be passably attractive) but today floor mopping and ground beef have captured my attention.  Like that matters.

    I sigh, loudly.  Knowing that if I do not head straight to the nearest tractor-hawking establishment the rest of my day will be ruined.  If I say "no, thank you" he will proceed to look at me as though I have crushed his very soul.  It is very trying.  So, instead, I sigh again and rub my forehead.  I know, universal, right? This is his cue to act like a giddy 4 year old who has been told I will be serving ice cream for lunch.  I sigh.  A lot.  Stupid tractors.

    Thus go my days, until the call comes for him to head back to work, and I have to admit that I don't really hate packing lunches all that much.

   In closing, let me reiterate that I do love my husband.  He is a great father and provider, friend and worker.  And there are still gonna be those days when I really want that gazebo.....



08 September 2012

Broads On A Budget: The Snack Time Dilemma

My kids are forever searching for a snack.  Left to their own devices, they'd eat every blasted treat purchased from my weekly grocery runs in a day or two!  It's exasperating.  Snacks aren't cheap, and there's nothing worse than opening the cupboard to discover that you are, in fact, Old Mother Hubbard!  (Of course, because the greedy little darlings have raided your stores)

Don't despair.  The Broads are at the rescue!  Here are a few quick fixes for those times when the kids are 'starving' and you're staring at the shelf blankly, wondering what in the heck you can come up with to silence the suffering.

The Saltine ...Oft Overlooked Staple

My grandmother, being a child of the depression, offered me this tasty treat one afternoon when I was quite young.  I've never forgotten how yummy it was, and she shared that during those lean days of her childhood, her mother had come up with the idea. 

You'll need saltine crackers, butter, a dish of sugar, paper plate(s), knife and spoon.

Butter the crackers and let the kiddies hold it over a paper plate and sprinkle sugar over the buttered surface.  Tap off excess - and Voila! - Happy Kids.  The sugar is minimal and the kids still get a sweet treat.  That's It!

Sunflower Seeds - Long Lasting Yet Not Filling

I regularly keep sunflower seeds in the house.  Ranch, Buffalo Ranch, Dill-Pickle, and Buffalo Wing Red-Hot are among the favs in this house.  Give the kids a dish for the shells, and they'll be busy for at least half an hour.  Plus, my boys can chomp away without ruining their appetites for dinner.  *Warning:  This Snack May Cause The Need For Vacumming.*  I would never kid around about extra vacuuming.  Okay, enough said.

Microwave Popcorn:  Cheap And Easy To Hide (I say that last word with a completely straight face.  Anyone with kids old enough to raid cupboards is nodding and smiling.)

'Pop' (Ahhh, I crack myself up sometimes) into your local Wal-Mart and you'll find the 24 pack Gourmet brand microwave popcorn for about $5.00.  That's a lot of snacking-for-your-buck.  Adding to the draw of this option, most kids are capable of peeling the wrapper off, plopping the bag into the contraption we call a microwave, and pressing the 'popcorn' button.  No fuss, no muss.  And... you're getting the kids to eat their fibre. 

Happy Snacking!


01 September 2012

Cover Reveal For A Practical Arrangement, Nadja Notariani

Brazen Reveal!

Nadja Notariani made a splash last year with her historical novella, Her Dark Baron.  Well move over, because her newest release, due out in early September, is sure to please with this beautiful cover!  Join in our Cover Appreciation.
A Practical Arrangement, Nadja Notariani

۩ A Practical Arrangement, Nadja Notariani ۩

Miss Evangeline Grey, intelligent and sensible, has no desire to marry, her reluctance born from the dire warnings of her overly emotional mother. Her father has other ideas, however, and decrees that unless she weds by the spring, he will choose a husband for her.

Prim and proper Evangeline accepts her father's issue with little more than mild alarm. Knowing herself plain of face and sharp of tongue, she believes herself capable of warding off any perspective suitor. Her plan goes awry when the scandalous seducer, Mr. Thomas Masterson, visits her family's home, for Thomas has learned that he must procure a wife to receive his full inheritance.

When he discovers Evangeline's predicament matches his own, Thomas determines to orchestrate a practical arrangement. A war of wit and word results, and Thomas finds himself ever more beguiled by the soft heart he discovers under Miss Grey's stern, inhibited exterior. Patiently, he endeavors to gain her respect and awaken her passions. As tenuous trust blooms between the rake and the reluctant, unfortunate events – and Thomas' past reputation – threaten to destroy the peace and happiness he has found within the bonds of his Practical Arrangement.

28 August 2012

Ahh, vacation...

     Well, I did it.  I survived my first family vacation.  I'm pretty sure I have a little less hair and an eye tic, but dammit, I'm  alive!!  
     Yes, we have taken little vacations in the past.  My grandparents had a cottage on a lake about 2 hours from here and we'd go for long weekends, but this was different.  This was the 9 hour drive-stay in a hotel kind of vacation.  Everyone better thank their lucky stars it was on the beach, too.  No shoes makes Mommy a happy girl.  
     While I was somewhat mollified by the "Yay! No Shoes!" thing, the planning and keeping in-line of the entire family and their things was slightly less enjoyable than stepping on legos in your bare the dark....while sick. Yeah, for me, it's like that.
     As my dearest sister Moira can attest, I am not up for any organizational awards, I am a procrastinator extraordinaire, and I have adopted the "This is my I-don't-care face" attitude.  Meaning take your stress to the next exit please.
    No, no, wait.  It gets better.  On top of every single detail of this trip being left to me, my wonderful and loving (he maybe has 5 minutes to live, tops) husband decided to completely redo my living room and  the boys bedroom this summer.  And by completely redo, I mean rip everything out down to bare studs and replace everything.  Wiring, duct work, light fixtures, main staircase... everything.  Awesome.
     I know what you're thinking.  Mina, you think adoringly, tell us how this can possibly get better for you.  We await in rapt attention.  Also, tell us why your husband is not yet missing and presumed lost at sea.
     So just to make this whole scerenio  seem cake-like and satisfy your curiosity, let me add the sprinkles.  He scheduled vacation for the week before school. 
     Also, Snake(my baby) turns 13 on Friday and Willow(my oldest) turns 16 on Sept. 4th.  So I have that, too. 



      Just to recap, my summer has been spent planning a major vacation, ripping out two rooms in my house, not killing anyone, slowly rebuilding those rooms, 8000 trips to Home Depot, vacation shopping, still not committing mayhem, planning for some milestone birthdays, school shopping, losing my hair and trying to keep my eye tic from getting me picked up for escaping "the ward", and finally going on said vacation.  Also not killing anyone.
     My bff sent me a text whilst I was vacationing, she said simply, "I haven't seen any reports on the news about a crazed tourist killing her family so I'm assuming the vacation is going well."  She should know better.  I would never kill anyone with that many witnesses around.  What do I look like, an amateur?  Sheesh.


25 August 2012

Brazen Review: Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

LolitaAwe and exhilaration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

My Thoughts:  Lolita recounts the sad and convoluted tale of Humbert Humbert's tender, twisted obsession with a young nymphet, Dolores, whom he affectionately refers to as his Lolita.  Lolita is a young, pubescent American girl unfortunate enough to catch the attentions of our poor, sick Humbert.  But, Lolita is not exactly what she seems to be, and neither is Humbert.

I mostly enjoyed Nabokov's superbly written tale of unrequited love, albeit a dark, demented love that reeks, from the first chapter, of the tragedy it is.  Humbert is self reflective throughout, taking readers along the pocked and rutted path to destruction he travels knowingly - yet compulsively - to its conclusion; somehow turning toward justice, repentance, and redemption without ever granting the absolution the pitiful Humbert knows he doesn't deserve - and would never accept if offered.

The depravity of H. Humbert is portrayed alongside intelligence and thoughtfulness in such a way that brought this character to life.  In telling his tale, Humbert opens his experience, his highs and lows, to the reader in complete abandon, confessing his crimes with regret and self-loathing even as he relishes each sweet moment with his lovely Lolita.

Dolly's portrayal is equally intriguing, her adolescence jaded and infected by the infamous H. Humbert.  I hoped and hoped throughout the novel that a happy ending of sorts could be procured for Delores, Dolly, Lolita - who had endured so much, overcome and contrived, survived - a triumph within itself.  Reader beware, the ending's irony will not be what you expect. 

One complaint I must mention is that the novel became nearly incoherent in chapters 22 through 27.  At least twice, this Broad seriously considered abandoning Lolita.  In the end, I'm glad I continued reading.

 Lolita is nothing I expected it to be, instead, the novel is a voyeurs peek into the life of a disturbed man. 

Overall Rating: 

Fair ~ ♣ ♣ ♣


31 July 2012

Brazen Review: Fifty Shades Of Gary The Vampire: Anais's Sin

Fifty Shades of Gary the Vampire: Anais's Sin

Fifty Shades Of Gary The Vampire: Anais's Sin, Sabrina Swan

With all the hype buzzing 'round over Fifty Shades of Grey, I thought I'd feature an alternative - an hysterical alternative. 

Anais has been a naughty, naughty girl and continued on a naughty woman.  With her life in shambles due to her string of poor choices, she thinks suicide is her best option.  Enter Gary The Vampire - a savior of sorts.  The whole premise is too rich!

Gary introduces himself, shades (and by shades I mean sunglasses - Ha! - Again, it's just too hilarious) and all, and Anais is drawn in quick, fast, and in a hurry.  She's desperate for love - even if it means sharing her blood with a hungry vampire.

But Gary is on a mission, more than one in fact.  For starters, he's going to teach Anais some discipline and reform this bad girl's wretched manners.  She won't like it - yet she will, and will be all too happy to thank him in the end.  It's his gift to her, in a way.
Gary The Vampire is much more than a dominant reformer, he's on a search for his eternal mate.  Anais is just one of his candidates!  Oh My!

I enjoyed this short comical romp of satire and silliness a great deal.  Sabrina Swan wrote a laugh out loud novella, mixing in humor with a dab of learning for our heroine to accept responsibility and change her destructive and unacceptable behavior.  This author also added a few tender moments and a dash of delicious danger.  Well done, Miss Swan!

This is by no means a story for young readers.  Explicit themes run throughout - best left in the hands of mature Broads able to appreciate such nonsense.  Anais is likable, but underdeveloped.  The character grows under Gary's tutelage but still, there could have been much better character development.  No deal breaker, but needing a mention. 

Anais's Sin is the first of our adventures with Gary The Vampire, and I will gladly read his next!  He's a quirky character.  If the few editing issues are handled, this Broad will likely follow Gary until he at long last finds his eternal mate - and vanquishes his arch-frenemy, that rotten Marquis!

I'll give 3.5 stars, but would have given 4 if not for editing issues.  All in all, a daring, fast paced read with a quirky, spanky-fingered vampire of a rare sort.  Able to be enjoyed in an evening, it's worth the time if you like a naughty laugh. 

Overall Rating:

♣ ♣ ♣ 1/2   


24 July 2012

Broads On A Budget: Breakfast On A Dime


It's Monday morning.  The kids need to be out the door by eight a.m. and the middle child has just announced - in a voice loud enough to incite panic - 'There is no cereal!'  All heads turn toward Mom...

Even a seasoned Broad shivers at the thought. 

Or maybe it's nothing so dramatic as all that.  Families everywhere are looking to cut expenses.  Broads, we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Sending the kids off with a healthy meal under their belts is the best start we can give them.  Today, I'm featuring a time-tested and kid-approved favorite.  And you might be surprised to learn that mom (or grandma) didn't only know her way around the kitchen, she knew her way around a budget. 

Forgotten Favorite:  Oatmeal ~ Brown Sugar & Cinnamon

1 Cup water (per serving)
1/2 Cup Quick Cooking Oats (for each serving)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
Brown Sugar (to taste - 2-4 teaspoons per serving.  Cost breakdown is based on 4 teaspoons per serving for those who like it sweet!)
Hearty sprinkle of cinnamon added to the pot.
Milk (to desired consistency.  I add approx. 1 - 2 cup for five servings)
Boil water.  Add salt and oats, then stir.  Cook 1 minute.  Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk.  Stir, serve, and enjoy.

How does our ten-minute-to-table breakfast add up for the weekly budget?

Quick Oats -   $0.07 per serving
Brown Sugar-   0.04 per 4 teaspoon sized serving
Milk             -    0.05 per serving - @$0.23 per cup
                        $0.16 per serving
                     x        5 servings

Calculating roughly sixteen cents per serving, a family of five can enjoy a nutritious and filling breakfast for about one dollar.  Chop a red-delicious apple and add to the water for an additional $0.53 cents.  Stir in peanut butter for something different, adding $0.15 per 2 Tablespoon serving. 

Adding toast, butter, jelly, and a pot of hot tea, you'll still be able to keep costs below $3.00. 

Have you got a time-tested, kid-approved meal that's easy on the budget?  Share it with us! 


06 July 2012

Brazen Review ~ What The World Eats, Faith D'Aluisio, Peter Menzel

  The age-old practice of sitting down to a family meal is undergoing unprecedented change as rising world affluence and trade, along with the spread of global food conglomerates, transform eating habits worldwide. HUNGRY PLANET profiles 30 families from around the world--including Bosnia, Chad, Egypt, Greenland, Japan, the United States, and France--and offers detailed descriptions of weekly food purchases; photographs of the families at home, at market, and in their communities; and a portrait of each family surrounded by a week's worth of groceries. Featuring photo-essays on international street food, meat markets, fast food, and cookery, this captivating chronicle offers a riveting look at what the world really eats.

What Does A Week's Worth Of Food For Your Family Look Like?

This is the question WTWE explores.  After the opening section, World On A Plate, D'Aluisio and Menzel introduce readers to 25 families from around the globe through story and images.  The result is highly impactful.  Twenty-two countries are profiled - each offering a unique picture of life and food.

Sprinkled amongst the family profiles, D'Aluisio included fascinating and disturbing facts such as population poverty statistics, amount in USD of per year monies spent on health care, and sugar/sweet consumption per person per year - in pounds.  Yeah...the disturbing part. 

The striking realization of how blessed we are where food is concerned will not be easily forgotten, nor would I want it to.  I've always known we live in a land of plenty and wealth, but connecting personally with the individual families by reading their stories and glimpsing into their lives hit that truth home powerfully.

An interesting and informative read, WTWE rates a top pick for readers curious on the topic. 

Overall Rating - ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Moíra ♣

28 June 2012

The Naming, Alison Croggon

 The Naming
By Alison Croggon

Mearad is a slave at Gilmans Cot, and believes she will die there as a slave.  Until one day a mysterious man, that no seems to see but herself shows up, and makes her realize her past, and her dark future.  He takes her away, and informs her of her heritage and that she has the Gift.  Now Mearad must face who she really is, and what she has to do to keep balance in the world, and protect all who follow the Light.

I thought this book was very well written, and I loved the plot line.  It was easy for me to slip into this girls life, and it kept me up all night reading, because I didn't want to put the book down.  It is a good piece of fantasy, with a little bit of drama, but not too much to scare you away.  I think the reading level would be for anyone around 13 or older, depending on your reading skill.  I found this book an enjoyable read, and stay tuned for my review of the sequel, The Riddle.  

~ Willow Naveen♥

Overall Rating : ♥♥♥♥♥

26 June 2012

Cheap, Easy and Tasty...

    I love expensive thingsWho doesn't?  I simply lack the funding to support any expensive habits.  Therefore, I need my life to be cheap, easy and tasty.  
    Coming from a large family, Moira and I know how to stretch a buck.  I will happily hit the thrift stores and buy the "generics" at the grocers.  There are times when buying the better brand is, well, better.  If flavor and/or quality is at stake, it isn't a contest.  
    I love this theme  in the kitchen.  I have a few simple recipes for today that are all three, yay!  
    Let's start with stir fry.  This "recipe" is great because you can use whatever happens to be floating around in the pantry and fridge and the quantity is easy to adjust.  
-2 or 3 packs of ramen noodles beef and/or oriental flavor
-1lb. of ground beef
-1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies 
-Soy sauce
   Brown the ground meat thoroughly(drain grease if needed).  Add the veggies, ramen noodles with seasoning packets to the pan along with half the amount of water called for on the packet.  If you are using 3 ramens use about 3 cups of water.  You can add the soy sauce now too.  Stir occasionally until noodles are tender.  You can add more water during cooking if it seems to need it.  That's all. Eat and enjoy.  
    I love this for its versatility.  Sometimes I use canned or leftover chicken.  Leave the meat out altogether and have veggie lo-mein.  If you have a different sauce--teriyaki or szechuan--that works too.  Use the veggies that are in your freezer or produce bin.  There are no wrong answers.  You can be done with dinner in the time it takes to make noodles.  Awesome.

    Another thing I love is garlic bread.  I make pasta simply to have said garlic bread.
-buns- I usually use hot dog buns
-butter, margarine or olive oil- your preference
-garlic in some form - I find a lot of garlic salts have too much salt in them.
       Feel free to use garlic powder, granulated garlic(my personal preference) or even roasted garlic.  You can also add basil or parsley along with a bit of parmesan cheese.
    Spread the butter on the opened buns, sprinkle with garlic and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes until the tops are a brown as you like them.  Yum.

     My daughter, Willow,  has a personal preference for chicken quesadillas.  Again, tasty and easy-peasy!
-flour torillas, any size
-canned chicken (any meat really, leftovers work too!)
-cheese- any will do, but Willow prefers cheddar 
    Those are the basics, I have also added black beans, corn, refried beans etc.  Whatever you like. 
    I start by mixing the chicken and salsa, I would add any extras(black beans, etc.) to the mix at this point as well.   I fill, fold and broil mine, so it works a bit better if you warm the tortillas slightly first.  To do that, I sprinkle cheese on half the tortilla and place it under the broiler for a few seconds.  
    Pull that out shmear some of the salsa mix on top of the cheese, add more cheese on that and fold to close.  Because you warmed and melted first it will stay closed better.  Pop those under the broiler for a minute or 2 to melt and crisp and you're done!  This is a great recipe for kids to do on their own; provided they are able and allowed to operate the oven of course. 
    I like the fill and fold method as it keeps one side closed so the stuff doesn't fall out.  Less mess for the younger kids.  You can, of course use two tortillas and make a sandwich, then you could skip the warming step.
    I hope I've given you some simple ideas to add to your kitchen repertoire.  Never be afraid to mix it up and experiment!  Above all, stay easy!  No, I didn't mean, I meant, I mean...oh, never mind.


21 June 2012

Coffee Talk With Moíra ♣ ~ Honest Reviewing

Here at the Broads, we're inundated with review requests.  Unfortunately time, not to mention preference, does not allow us to feature all the fantastic books available!  It's so difficult to choose.  Taking on a book for review is serious business.  A careful reading and honest assessment is the goal of most reviewers.  Why?  Because we love stories!

I've limited the books I agree to take on, mostly because life is quite busy.  I still have a stack of books waiting for my attention.  Slowly, I work my way through, hoping to offer each my undivided attention at some point.  Oh!  For a two week read-a-palooza with Mina, cosmos, and maybe even a deep-tissue massage thrown in for overall well being.  Sigh.  A Broad can dream, can't she?  Reality dictates something entirely different from that picture. 

Honest reviews are always what you'll find here at the Broads.  Highlighting the things we enjoyed - and the elements that flopped - ensure readers go into a story with eyes-wide-open.  But one Broad's gem is another Broad's rock.  My reviews won't be much help if I do not clearly state my expectations going into the read and how the book fulfilled them, or failed to do so.

For this Broad, varying standards/expectations are held for different sorts of books.  For example, when reading non-fiction, I look for clear and informative text presented in concise yet interesting and well organized context.  This is completely different than what I want out of a romance.  And even that genre holds alternate components of satisfaction.  When reading a novella, I understand the word constraints will impact story depth.  Not that depth and limited word counts are mutually exclusive elements!  On the contrary!  But expectations must be in line with the selection held up for review. 

Another aspect to consider is reader like/dislike.  This Broad cringes when reading over-amplified bravado, especially when a heroine attempts dangerous and ridiculous feats her character clearly has no business doing.  It's a negative for me, but does not necessarily equate poor writing.  It's simply a story aspect I loathe.  There's a difference.  I also struggle to abide characters who immediately act upon sexual attraction yet never develop a relationship.  That's personal preference and needs to be noted in any honest review.

Of late I've noticed that a number of reviews fail to state clearly their expectations going into a read, and therefore, the review, whether five-star or two-star, holds less 'reader-value' than it could.  More troubling is the claim of 'poor-writing' when, in fact, the reader simply didn't like the story content or writing style.  Separating feelings from writing evaluation is a necessary component to honest reviewing.  The term 'poor writing' is bandied about without merit on many occasions.  Consider the style of writing you most enjoy, and go from there.  For example, I adore lyrical prose, artistic imagery, and the use of delicious and inventive description of setting, character emotion, and word pictures.  But the writer who adheres to a simpler descriptive process surely should not be accused of 'poor-writing'.  Some readers want exactly that type of story/writing style.   Granted, stories elicit great emotion, as they are intended to do, but a clear line must be respected when an overall novel evaluation is given.  Most bloggers/reviewers handle this with sensitivity and class. 

When reading reviews, keep in mind your personal preferences and acknowledge them openly.  Twelve five-star reviews mean little if you don't come away with an understanding of why the story offered so much pleasure.  Likewise, twelve two-star reviews should not deter your interest if vague terms such as 'poor-writing' are employed, because one Broad's gem is another Broad's rock. 

Happy Reading; Happy Reviewing!
 - Moíra ♣

14 June 2012

North Of Beautiful

North Of Beautiful
By Justina Chen Headly

Terra Cooper is marked with a big port wine birthmark on her cheek.  This makes her ugly in her own eyes, and, she thinks, in everyone elses'.  Shes also stuck tiptoeing around her father and his temper, and dealing with her mother who hides behind her fat, and food.  Everything changes though when she meets Jacob, a goth kid her life collides into.  Terra has to figure out what she really wants, and who both her, and her whole family really are.

Sounds cheesy right?  Girl has flaw, and flawed life, girl meets boy, girl falls in love, story ends?  Well maybe it is cheesy, but in a good way.  This is the kinda book that will make you forget about yourself for a little.  Its not too sad and upsetting, nor suspenseful, nor scary, not too cheesy, not too teenage girl wrote it lovey, but just the right amount of everything.  well maybe not scary. I didn't find any of that in it.  I loved this book, in the way where I want a good book, but don't want something with.. too much commitment.  Its a good book, but you will be able to put it down, you can relate pretty easily, You could leave it for a few days, and still come back to it remembering everything that went on.  I love it, and I'm sure any other teenage girl would.  I'd say a reading level of maybe 14 and up? So voila and easy reading!

~Willow Naveen♥

Overall Rating: ♥♥♥♥

09 June 2012

Brazen Review ~ An Accidental Greek Wedding, Carol Grace

An Accidental Greek WeddingIn this romantic romp through the Greek Isles, Carol Grace pens the delightful story of maid of honor and groom-to-be hot on the trail of a runaway bride...and quite possibly falling in love! Jane Atwood has loved Alex Woods for years. His upcoming wedding to her best friend -- the Greek- American beauty Sofia Leonakis -- doesn't make it any easier. Nor does the Greek island setting (is there a more romantic place on earth?) or her status as maid of honor. But when Sofia and Alex have a huge fight five nights before the wedding, Sofia runs off with a mystery man and all bets are off.
Thrown together in search of the errant bride, Jane and Alex go island-hopping. Jane tries hard to keep the "honor" in maid of honor, but her attraction to Alex deepens like a Mediterranean tan. Soon, Alex sees that she's not the plain Jane he thought she was -- and that she may be his one true love. Only on the wedding day will Jane discover whether Alex is ready to say "I do" -- and to whom!
A Bon Voyage romance!

My Thoughts:

Jane Atwood's dilemma is that age old tale.  Shy, nerdy girl is secretly in love with hunky best friend - who happens to think he's in love with beautiful goddess.  Nerdy girl lives in the shadows of goddess friend, but blossoms when romantic atmosphere and out-of-the-norm circumstances thrust her into a whirlwind tour of the Greek Isles.  Perfectly delicious plot.  I've always had a dab of nerd dancing beneath the surface - so I adore this particular storyline a great deal.

Grace's book is fair, simple and straight forward.  This book will most appeal to those seeking a relatively fast paced storyline with a romance at its core.  Read it for a night's fun escape with beautiful Greece as the backdrop.  Take a pass on An Accidental Greek Wedding if you're looking for an involved romance that digs deep into character development and relationship. 

Overall Rating - ♣ ♣ ♣
Hero - ♣ ♣ ♣
Heroine - ♣ ♣ ♣
Setting - ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣Romance Heat - ♣ ♣ ♣

 ~ Moíra

28 May 2012

Braised Broads ~ Rice

World Of India...Right In My Own Kitchen!

In my family's bid to eat a healthier diet, I've discovered an entire world of food to explore.  Indian cuisine is something I only tried a few years ago, and I loved it!  Over the last year, I've begun to add Indian recipes to my menu plans.  I was nervous to cook Indian food, thinking it would be difficult.  Not at all!  The recipes are usually quite simple, and I've discovered quickly which tastes are my favorites from the plentiful spices flavoring the dishes. 

Many people from India (and of Indian descent) are vegetarians, but don't be fooled!  There are plenty of meat dishes to try.  Because their diet is so chock-full of vegetables, it's easy to prepare a healthy meal with lots of flavor. I'm lucky enough to have an Indian market near my home, but you'll find that most grocery stores carry just what you need!

Tilda is my usual brand.
From speaking with the local shop owner, I learned that Basmati rice is the preferred grain for most Indian recipes.  It stays firmer that Asian varieties, and has a slightly nutty flavor.  It can be a tad more expensive, but not so much as to tax a budget.  I purchase rice in bulk, opting for twenty or forty pound bags - we eat a lot of rice - but you can find smaller sized bags.  Rice is a very inexpensive and versatile food.

Front Cover  Best Ever Indian Cookbook is my Indian-Food-Bible!  All recipes I'll feature are taken from it.  All the spices are explained and pictured, so it was easy to find what I needed.  Also, measurements are included in metric and standard, which erased the need to calculate conversions.  I've learned to make Paneer, an Indian cheese, in addition to Garam Masala, Curry Spice Blend, and the many pastes used as dipping sauces or recipe add-ins.  It's all well explained and the book features photos as visual aids.  The only difficult to navigate feature is the Nutritional Notes, as Energy, Fat, Carbohydrate and Fibre are calculated in grams.  Today I'll start with a simple recipe, but over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing much more.  Easy on a budget and often one pot cooking, Indian cuisine might be right up your alley!

Here's an easy rice dish my family loves!  Making rice in different ways keeps the kids from getting tired of the same old thing.   This recipe has a unique flavor :} Rice is a perfect starting place when exploring Indian food.  This dish is not spicy at all, so don't worry!

Basmati Rice and Peas

1 1/2 c. basmati rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp onion seeds
2 tbsp fenugreek leaves (I substitute dried when I don't have fresh - and you can omit altogether if you don't have it)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I substitute ginger powder when I don't have fresh.  I make this dish both with ginger and without at times.)
1 tsp salt
1 c. frozen peas
2 c. water

Wash the rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes (I skip this step when I'm in a won't hurt a thing).  Heat oil in a dutch oven pot and add mustard and onion seeds, fenugreek, garlic, ginger and salt and stir-fry for a few minutes.  (Really you are toasting the seeds which give them better flavor).  Drain and add rice to pan and stir together.  Add frozen peas and water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover, cooking for about 20 minutes.  Check once in awhile to stir and see if water has been all absorbed.  Once water is soaked in and rice is tender, I crack the lid and turn heat to low, steaming the rice for at least 10 minutes.  It makes is so fluffy!  When ready to serve, fluff with a fork and voila!

Rice Basics

Rice is one of the easiest side dishes to prepare.  Here are some basic tips to ensure you have light and fluffy rice every time.  I've also added a few tricks to spruce it up.

 ♣ I use this water/rice ratio.  1 cup of rice will require 1 1/2 cups of water to cook.  So for a smaller family, 1/2 cup of rice will require 3/4 cup of water.  A large family will cook 2 cups of rice and add 3 cups of water.  Not everyone uses the same ratio, but this is what works for me. 

 ♣ I always use a dutch oven, no matter how much or little rice I'll cook.  I like the large bottom; I think it cooks more evenly.

 ♣ I coat the bottom of the dutch oven with Extra-virgin-olive-oil to begin, then add in any spices I'll be using.  Salt is a must!  I add about 1 tsp of salt per cup of rice.  I half my salt when using bouillon - as bouillon is quite salty!

 ♣ For something different, and to add a nice visual, I brown a handful of skinny egg noodles in the heated oil before adding in my rice.

 ♣ To make yellow rice:  Variation One - oil, salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp coriander ground, 1/4 tsp cumin ground. Variation Two - add all of above, then add 1/4 tsp cinnamon (a kiddie favorite).  Variation Three - oil, salt, curry.  Variation Four - toss raisins into the pot of variations one or two.  For one dish meals, add some cooked chicken after the rice is ready.   

 ♣ Once I've heated my spices in the oil, it's time to toss in the rice.  Coat the rice with the oil by stirring it around the pot once or twice.  I let it cook a few minutes to toast the grains a little.  It adds fabulous flavor.

 ♣ After the rice is toasted, add in your water and cover.  That's it!  Simmer until done, fluff, and serve. 

 Moíra ♣


24 May 2012

Brazen Review: Gaijin, Remittance Girl


Not Intended For Audiences Under 18 Due To Questionable Content

When Jennifer left the cold and damp of London for the sparkle and bustle of Tokyo, she imagined she'd find a world full of cherry blossom festivals, ancient tea ceremonies and Geishas. What she got instead was a cramped, shared apartment, harassment on the subway and a mind-numbing job as a hostess at the Blonde Chick Bar in Roppongi.

With a single, unintentional insult all that changed. She wakes up to find that she has been kidnapped by Shindo: a sadistic Yakuza demi-god who doesn't take his loss of face easily. Caught between his hatred of all things foreign and a growing obsession with this blonde gaijin, he is determined to make her pay for her rejection in sadistic and degrading ways.

`A woman's lot is to endure,' says the fox spirit in her dreams, but Jennifer wonders whether there are indeed fates worse than death. Little by little, she finds out.

My Thoughts:

Gaijin, blatent and disturbing, opens powerfully.  Jennifer awakens to discover herself bound, in pain, and immediately her fear was palpable and alive.  Every moment of weakness, despair, and hope spoke to a part of my heart as I uncovered her horrifying situation page by page.  Jennifer was real, flawed, and beautiful in her portrayal, her struggle to make sense of her abduction and rape painful to read.  Yet I did read, seeing through the lens of Remittance Girl's dark prose to the unexpected conclusion. 

As this dark tale unfolded, I was drawn into every word and action of Jennifer's captor, Shindo.  Mocking and violent one minute, almost tender the next, this character fascinated me in a way I don't fully understand, nor am I entirely comfortable admitting.  With sickening disbelief, I found a part of me wishing that this criminal would reveal some redeeming quality to explain my morbid preoccupation, my near infatuation with his strength of presence within this story.

Gaijin contrasted the reality of modern Japanese culture with the romanticised version many Westerners mistakenly perceive - revealing one possible consequence of such dangerous misconceptions.  The author, through masterful character depth, stripped away this Broad's natural instinct to hate Shindo, even as my heart broke for Jennifer, provoking more questions than answers.  I, even now, continue to comtemplate my surprising emotions and reaction to Remittance Girl's frighteningly sensual tale.

Overall Rating:  ♣♣♣♣♣

- Moíra ♣

22 May 2012

Tuesday Teaser ~ May 22, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel, Michael David Lukas

The Oracle of Stamboul: A NovelThis is another of my library finds, discovered while lazily perusing a forgotten shelf near the floor.  You know the shelf I speak of.  The lonely books at the bottom, rarely seeing the light of day outside the stuffy, creaky-floored building housing them.  Well, good deed done!  I sat my rumpus down and browsed those neglected titles...
Here's what I found...

Pg. 1 - 'The hoopoes would probably have been regarded as an auspicious sign, were it not for the unfortunate events that coincided with Eleonora's birth.'

Pg. 198 - 'Eleonora knew from Machiavelli that she should not offer advice unless the Sultan asked her.  If he did ask, however, she would tell him the truth as best she could.'

Happy Reading!  What have you discovered this week?

 - Moíra ♣

20 May 2012

Brazen Review: Love Finds You In North Pole, Alaska, Loree Lough

Instead of a regular blurb, I thought I'd share this neat book trailer I discovered.  Enjoy!

My thoughts: 

The Love Finds You series boasts an impressive number of stories set across the United States.  Loree Lough's is the only in the series I've sampled, and it was a pleasant read.
Bryce, as a hero, was far less Alpha than I prefer, a sentiment shared by the friend who recommended this novella.  But overall, he was likable.  Lough did a fair job at best of creating a back story to - er, well...back up her hero's reluctance for romance, but aside from disappointment, he suffered no betrayal - no shock worthy to cause a man to swear off women!  It was a weakness this Broad noted in the storyline; luckily, Lough's sweet romance made up for it in other areas.

The town of North Pole was well described without going overboard.  I loved being able to picture the Christmas decorations adorning each business and setting as well as the accurate description of average Alaskan homes - tiny yet cozy. 

Sam, the female protagonist balanced spunk and softness, making me hope with all my heart she'd get the guy.  Samantha and Bryce's romance developed slowly; be prepared for a chaste love story.  If you, like me, are used to a racier sort of romance - don't worry.  The characters are so lovable - especially Sam - you'll most likely enjoy this quick little story.

While I enjoyed Love Finds You In North Pole, Alaska, I probably won't seek another in the series, the main reason being I normally gravitate toward much longer, more involved reads; the second being that the Kindle formatting was awful - Summerside Press owes their author an apology. 

Overall Story -    ♣♣♣

 - Moíra ♣

17 May 2012

Spotlight On Up And Coming Author - Angela Brown

in a Pursuit of Publishness
My PhotoI am a lover of books - from classics to steampunk and everything in between. Plus, I'm in pursuit of making my full-time passion more than a part-time gig. This blog is to share about all things reading, writing, movies, TV shows, publication - I think you get the drift. I'll even share the ups and downs of my own journey. If you don't like any of these things, I appreciate your visit, but sadly say you've come to the wrong spot. If just one of these topics tickle your fancy, then please pull up a chair (be a follower of my blog), talk to me and others here (leave a comment) and know that you are always welcome.

Hi, Angela!  Thanks for taking the time to visit with the Broads today.  Your newest project, the A-Z Challenge has been a hit around the blogging world.  Tell us a bit...

The current WiP that shot into high priority status is the result of this year's A to Z blogging challenge which ended as of today.  It's a story that caught me by surprise as I originally came up with a few characters for the daily challenge and pantsed some daily drama involving them.  This morphed into a blog opera that ended with a cliff hanger.  So I've committed to self-publishing a novel/novella that includes these characters and has an ending. 

The WiP is called NEVERLOVE, a paranormal romance for a mature YA group (dark content including a non-detailed rape (can't handle a detailed rape scene...just can't), a suicide attempt and a college student who jokingly sells his soul to the devil, only it was no joke to the devil).  Here's a working blurb:

In the midst of forbidden love, a seed plants and blossoms.
From the heart of one damaged by a warped sense of love, true love springs forth.
For those destined for NEVERLOVE, can the binds of impossibility be broken?

Just started this so no cover image as of yet.  Have to work on getting that done.  For those who may be interested, I created a page with all 26 posts so they can go down the list of links to get acquainted with Abby, Basil, Father Quanon and Drakar: 

Take the time to read about Abby, Basil, and Drakar (evil personified if I've ever read it).  You'll be drawn in, just as this Broad.  Trust me.  You won't mind!
Congratulations, Angela.  The Brazen Broads wish you great success.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Q&A about me:

What are you currently reading? 

An ARC for a YA dystopian novel coming out in June.  SURRENDER by Elana Johnson, and I'm enjoying it.

Best books read this year/recently.....

Middle grade - Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet
Sci-Fi/post-apocalyptic - Angelfall by Susan Ee
YA Gothic - Lacrimosa by Christine Fonseca
YA paranormal/magical - The Secret of Spruce Knoll by Heather McCorkle

How would you describe yourself? 

open-minded and easily led to giggles

Fav color?

Best line you've ever written

- This one is sort of simple, but it grew on me.  It's from my YA urban fantasy/dystopian: He locked his gaze with mine, yanking the scythe off the rack.  I hoped to one day get used to the molten silver color of his eyes. Today was not that day.

Best line you've ever read

- waaay too many to narrow down to just one.

Fav quote? 

Yoda's "Do or do not, there is no try."

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 In France so I could totally stalk Johnny Depp...but don't tell him.  Let it be our little secret

Biggest lesson learned

- Rejections are no fun but they can lead to better things in life.

Thank you again for sharing Abby, Basil, Drakar and a bit about yourself, too! 
May your pen flow easily across the page, or fingers fly across the the case may be!  See you soon, Angela.  We'll be keeping our eyes on you as you pursue 'publishness'. 

15 May 2012

Tuesday Teasers ~ May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  10 Men, Alexandra Gray

10 MenI've not started this novel yet, but it intrigued me as I browsed my local library's shelves.  The reviews vary widely, so I imagine this will be a 'loved it/hated it' sort of read.  Here's a teaser to get us all started, and I'll post a review when I've finished.  We'll see how this Broad rates this controversial read.

Pg. 1 - 'It is one of the wonders of the twenty-first century that a beautiful, brilliant and broad-shouldered man could reach almost forty without someone, somewhere convincing him it was time to drop his guard - or his underpants.'

Pg. 171 - 'And it wasn't the karate chop that worried me, as much as the man: the Billionaire was one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, but what good was that if he was a coward when it came to his heart?'

So much for that.  I'm quite interested to discover each of these 10 Men, and make my final call.  Happy Reading, All!  Thanks for stopping by.

 - Moíra ♣

08 May 2012

Tuesday Teasers ~ May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones, Book 6)
Zen And The Art of Vampires, Katie MacAlister

Pg. 32 - 'A man's voice called out behind me.  Damn that long legged Mattias.  I was already out of breath and had a suspicious pain in my side that warned of a stitch. 
"Please let me get away, please let me get away," I chanted in time to my pounding footsteps as I ran blindly through the still empty town, my brain squirreling around frantically for some way to escape Mattias.'

This is the second Katie MacAlister book I've had the pleasure of curling up with, and although Zen And The Art of Vampires was not the laugh-out-loud romp that Men In Kilts was, I enjoyed this high action adventure with a bit of steamy, albeit confused, passion sprinkled throughout.  That Katie sure can grab a Broad up and carry her off for a few hundred pages or so....

Happy Reading, All!  What's your teaser for the week?

 - Moíra ♣


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