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29 March 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight.  No one wants to be outside of the Glade at night.  And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


 I loved this book.  The Maze Runner is a mash of action, sci-fi, suspense and overall great writing, which constitutes as a pretty good book to me.  I'd suggest this book to anyone around thirteen or older.  Yes-- even you old folks would enjoy it.  It relates a bit to the Hunger Games, so if you liked those, you will love this.  I found the beginning a little hard to get into, but after that, the only thing I had trouble with was putting it down.  Believe me, you don't want to miss out on this book; it left my nerves jumping at every turn, and even crying at one point.  Now don't let that scare you away, it was only one part.  But the suspense is thrilling, and once you're in the book, it's impossible to get out.


This is the first book, but be on the lookout for my review of the second novel : The Scorch Trials
~Willow Naveen ♥


Overall Rating:  ♣♣♣♣♣

27 March 2012

Brazen Review - My Wicked Highlander, Jen Holling

The MacDonell Brides Trilogy
My Wicked Highlander: The MacDonell Brides Trilogy
Blurb From Amazon -
With Scotland in the grip of a nationwide witch hunt, Isobel MacDonell is hiding in England. But when Sir Philip Kilpatrick arrives to escort her to her betrothed in the Highlands, Isobel must face a harrowing journey through a land of fear and suspicion. Soon, however, Philip grows reluctant to deliver Isobel to the noble intended she has never met. Isobel has charmed her way into his heart...and yet her determination to use her magic to solve the dark mystery of Philip's tortured past could destroy them both.

My Thoughts -

Isobel MacDonell has been with her foster family for twelve years.  Sent away from her Highland home for her own protection, Isobel joyfully anticipates the day she will be re-united with her father and sisters.  But when Sir Phillip Kilpatrick of Clan Colquhoun arrives to escort her home - Isobel experiences a deep sense of foreboding.  Learning of her arranged betrothal to a Highland Earl, Isobel begins to despair.  Not only does she begin to fall hopelessly in love with her protector, Isobel has another, more terrible problem.  She's a witch.

My Wicked Highlander is a wonderful story.  Well written, balanced between romance and solid story, Holling's novel had me staying up way past my bedtime to read 'just one more chapter'.  Holling's heroine, Isobel was fine - as far as heroines go.  What made her stand out was the excellent storyline surrounding her.  At times, she is bright, engaging, and quick witted, at others, disappointing in her foolish disregard for the all-too-obvious danger around them. 

It is the hero, Phillip, stealing my praise.  It's a well known fact that I've a wee bit of a thing for a strapping Highlander, but I'd like Phillip in any story.  Holling writes a man sufficiently tortured, but one of principle.  Phillip truly does battle to remain a man of honor as he falls in love with Isobel.  What won my heart irrevocably was his response after surrendering to that love.  If Holling continues to write heroes of this calibre, I foresee a long and successful writing career.

Another great facet of My Wicked Highlander was the dramatic ending.  It struck me that the story seemed to naturally demand the reunion of Isobel and Phillip, negating the need for an absurd and forced reunion.  Jen Holling is an author I will search out on Amazon's Kindle store.

Overall Story - ♣♣♣♣♣

Plot - ♣♣♣♣♣
Hero - ♣♣♣♣♣
Heroine - ♣♣♣♣
Setting - ♣♣♣♣
Romance Heat - ♣♣♣♣

 - Moíra ♣

26 March 2012

Man Candy Monday, March 26


Man Candy ...It Makes Mondays So Much Better...



This week, I'm taking everyone on a Tour Of Italy!  Is anyone familiar with comedian Eddie Izzard?  If not, you've got to watch his older special, 'Dressed To Kill'!  I mention it because he refers often to Italian men as being the only men who can appear sexy and manly while riding on a scooter and waving and yelling in sultry tone, 'Chow'.  I have to agree...lol. 
 
First up is Raoul Bova.  Click here to learn more about this Italian Man-Candy!
Date of Birth14 August 1971, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Nickname  Rollo

Height  5' 11¼" (1.81 m)

Mini Biography
Raoul Bova was born in a Roman white collar family, his father was an employee and his mother a housewife. He has two sisters who he is close to. His passion in his youth was swimming and he became a champion at 16. He performed his military duty in the "Bersaglieri" and he studied at the ISEF but didn't finish in order to begin an acting career. His first role was in "Una storia italiana", a TV movie, and his debut in cinema was in "Piccolo grande amore" by Carlo Vanzina. He quickly became a star in Italy. But tired of being always considered a sex symbol unable to play deep roles, he started shooting movies a little more complex like "Rewind" where he plays a terrorist, "I cavalieri che fecero l'impresa" where he plays the role of a medieval man whose soul is possessed by the devil, or "La frontiera" where he plays an Austrian officer, or saint Frances in "Francesco". And finally a great Italian-Turkish director, Ferzan Ozpetek, gave him the role of Lorenzo in "Facing Windows", his most complicated and introverted character that he portrayed with application and passion, becoming a respected young actor rather than a sex symbol. In private life Bova is a happy husband and father, very close to his wife and their children Alessandro Leon and Francesco.


Next up is footballer, Fabio Cannavaro.  Click here to study up on Fabio!
Date of Birth  13 September 1973, Naples, Campania, Italy

Nickname  Canna

Height  5' 9¼" (1.76 m)

Spouse
Daniela(? - present) 3 children

Trivia
Soccer player, starting his professional career at Napoli.
His brother, Paolo (born in 1981) is also a soccer player and currently playing for FC Parma.
Has two sons named Christian (b. July 17th 1999) and Andrea (b. October 20th 2004) and one daughter named Martina (b. December 22nd 2001).
Has played for Napoli (1992-1995), Parma (1995-2002), Inter Milan (2002-2004) and Juventus (since 2004). In 1999, he won the UEFA Cup and the Italian Cup.
Has two siblings, Paolo and Renata.
Captain of Italian National Team. Wears #5 for Italian National Team and #28 for his club Juventus.
He played for Italy in the 1998, 2002, & 2006 FIFA World Cup of Soccer.
Captained the Italian Soccer team to victory at the 2006 Fifa World Cup. To date, he has collected 100 caps.
Was voted "sexiest player" of the 2006 World Cup.
Best player in the world according to FIFA in 2006.
After the World Cup, Fabio was signed to Real Madrid C.F. in Madrid, Spain. Wears the #5 shirt.
His younger brother, Paolo, is also a defender, and plays for Napoli. The two brothers played alongside each other at Parma from 2000 until 2002 when Fabio left for Internazionale.

Where Are They Now
(July 2006) Won Fifa World Cup in Germany



Last, I give you Alessandro Terrin.  I don't think I have to say anything else.


Full name: Alessandro Terrin
Gender: Male
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
Weight: 209 lbs (95 kg)
Born: July 11, 1985 (Age 26) in Dolo, Venezia, Italy
Affiliations: Fiamme Gialle, Castelporziano
Country: ITA Italy
Sport: Swimming




And so our Tour Of Italy ends for this fine Monday.  Hmmm...Come back next Monday for a new geography lesson.  Wonder where our travels will take us?  Glasgow?  Dublin?  Budapest? 


How to join in:


-You should run a book blog or be an author with blog. Because most pictures may contain some nudity, the blog should mainly be 18 & over.

-Make a separate post for Man Candy Monday on your blog.

-Copy the html for the button above and place it at the top of your post.

-Tell us who your man candy for the week is and post pictures. (Of course if you are shallow like me and don't know the model's name, that's ok too)

-Place your name and blog title in the linky below and the url for a direct link to your post.

-Check out the other sites participating. Make sure you leave a comment about the delectable men featured.

-Contact me (redheadsreviewitbetter@gmail.com), Lily (lily.graison@gmail.com) or Shauni (teaandbook@yahoo.com) with any questions!


 - Moíra ♣

23 March 2012

Brazen Review ~ One Hundred And One Nights: A Novel, Benjamin Buchholz

One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla's stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city's rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments--his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant--reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.

A breathtaking tale of friendship, love, and betrayal, One Hundred and One Nights is an unforgettable novel about the struggle for salvation and the power of family.
 
My Thoughts -
 
Abu Saheeh, so he is known, appears in the small border town of Safwan.  Under the patronage of a local Sheikh, Abu Saheeh sets up shop as a merchant, and so begin the nightly visitations of a young girl, Layla.  Poor and dirty, lively Layla reminds the troubled Saheeh of happier times, of unfullfilled dreams, of unmeted justice.  Quickly, the ominous shadow of tragedy taints Abu Saheed's every endeavor. 
 
Navigating the intricate relationships of Southern Iraq, old time tradition blending quietly, necessarily, with changing leadership, Saheeh balances strength with respect and seeks to fulfill his purpose while maintaining the illusion woven about his presence. 
 
Eerily poetic, One Hundred And One Nights held me captive through out Abu Saheeh's dark and perilous journey.  From resignation to acceptance, acceptance to hope, hope to despair, and despair to vengence, Saheeh embarks on an elusive path toward justice, a path he may never find.
 
I enjoyed this novel.  Buchholz crafted wonderful, fluid characters that shifted and changed as the story progressed, reshaping my ideas about them, my feelings toward them chapter by chapter until the climactic ending.  Fabulous!  I was disappointed with Buchholz' ambiguity about Saheeh's grasp on reality at the novel's conclusion and the existence or non-existence of Abd al-Rahim, who was an important pillar on which Saheeh's actions rested.
 
One Hundred And One Nights stands alone in my mind, apart from my regular reads, but I'm glad to have read it.  I've nothing to compare it to, no category in which to neatly tuck it away.  Love, hate, loyalty, and loss fueled Saheeh onward, and his story will linger in my thoughts.
 
Overall Story - ♣♣♣♣
 
Plot - ♣♣♣♣
Setting - ♣♣♣♣
Characters - ♣♣♣♣
 
 - Moíra ♣
 

21 March 2012

Braised Broads

    Well, my husband has gone and done it.  High cholesterol.  The nerve.  While it isn't astronomical, at 235 he needs a low cholesterol diet nonetheless.  Ah, crap.  This pronouncement only succeeded in sending me into a panic.  What kind of life did I have now?  Stuck on the fringes of culinary society with nothing but skim milk and oatmeal to keep me company.  I can feel the abyss clawing at me, stripping away my bacon and butter.
    Oatmeal can at least be doctored (I still won't eat it, a textural thing), but skim milk is down right raunchy.  And not the yee-haw-leather-chaps-party kind of raunchy either(don't judge me); but that nasty kind that looks like watered down milk and tastes like it's been on the counter too long.  My horror cannot fully be expressed here.  Before you start; yes I have tried it.  Several times.  Same gagging response, sorry.  No, chocolate can't even fix it.  Yes, I have tried that.  Geez.
    Anyway, I figured a good place to start is olive oil and vegetables.  Healthy, right?  But how would it taste?  
    As I have explained before, I don't follow recipes to a T.  Generally, I don't even have one.  If I do start with a recipe it usually ends up changed to the point of not being anything like the original thing anyway.  These, I just sort of made up.


    The first thing I tried was roasted potatoes(I love potatoes, in any form).
*red potatoes-quartered
*mushrooms- I removed the stems, but it isn't necessary
*olive oil-generous amount
*seasonings- I used thyme, basil, paprika, garlic and onion powder, pepper and a wee dash of kosher salt.
    I tossed all this together in a bowl and spread it on a non-stick foil lined pan.  I had some grated parmesan cheese so I sprinkled a bit of that on top, too.  I popped that into a 450 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes(depending on potato size).  Stir about half way through, and voila!  It was so so so so good!  The great thing is you can adjust your seasonings to whatever you like, and however much you like.  You can use whatever potatoes and shrooms you have on hand as well. 
    
    The next one I tried, was again potatoes.  This time I used baking potatoes.  
*large potatoes-cut into spears
*1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
*olive oil
    I tossed this together in a bowl, and then arranged it onto a non-stick foil lined baking pan.  Flip about half way through.  450 degrees, about 25-35 minutes.  Again, it depends on the thickness of the potatoes.  Yummy!!

    My third roasting was a full meal.  Chop it, toss it, bake it, done.
*2-3 chicken breasts-cut into bite size pieces
*(red skin) potatoes-quartered
*mushrooms-can half or quarter for smaller pieces if you like
*1-2 onions-copped in big pieces or strips
*1-2 peppers-chopped into bite size pieces(I used red peppers)
*4-5 garlic cloves-whole
*1 head cauliflower-cut into pieces
*seasonings-I used the same basic seasonings from the first recipe. 
*olive oil
    Guess what I do now.  Go ahead, guess.  That's right, I tossed it!  I find it's easier to do the olive oiling and seasoning in a bowl, rather than on the pan.  Same temp, same times, same reasons.   C'est si bon.

    These have all tasted so good.  I actually didn't miss the butter.  The greatest thing about them is the versatility.  Add what ever seasonings you like.  Maybe for the chicken dish, use simply some lemon pepper.  Or add some pepper flakes for heat.  Try adding/using different veggies as well.  Sweet potatoes and red beets would be fab.  Add asparagus or artichoke; carrots or celery.  Different kinds of mushrooms, the lists go on and on.  The bottom line here is don't be afraid to make something up, and take some chances.
    These "recipes" work well for me because my whole family loves veggies.  Not just the adults.  In fact, there aren't many veggies my kids won't eat.  Sometimes they are picky about how they come though.  Most stuff in cans is gross.  Fine for soup, but not much else.  Aria loves raw cauliflower, but cooked--not so much.  If your kids balk at eating their veggies, try fresh.  Either eaten raw or cook it yourself, the flavor is so much better. 
    I hope I have given you some great ideas and inspired you to eat, even a little, healthier.  Now I'm off to the grocery....I seem to have run out of potatoes.  Weird.
     
~Mina~

20 March 2012

Teaser Tuesday ~ March 20, 2012



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read

Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Welcome back for Teaser Tuesday!  Here's my selection for this week.  I don't know about you, but with spring in the air, I've been getting outside to read a bit.  It's the way I 'do' fresh air - I take a book out-of-doors. 

My feature for the week is a bit on the serious side.  I'm reading this book for my women's group and just had to share it.  Even with the uncomfortable topics, Radical is thus far a good read.  It's provocative, to be sure, but we all need that once in awhile.  I like the flow and ease of reading, too.  It's a bit of a scathing assessment of the modern day church - and challenges readers to re-evaluate what we've learned about God, 'how-to-do' church, and what the real tenets of faith entail, even require. 

    
Radical, David Platt
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
Pg. 29 - 'We prefer to sit back, enjoy our cliches, and picture God as a Father who might help us, all the while ignoring God as a Judge who might damn us.  Maybe this is why we fill out lives with a constant drivel of entertainment in our culture - and in the church.'

Pg. 108 - 'More than twenty-six-thousand children today will breathe their last breath due to starvation or preventable disease.  To put it in perspective for me, that's twenty-six-thousand Joshuas and Calebs (my two sons).'

 - Moíra ♣

19 March 2012

A Broad's Abode ~ Book Nooks

Book Nook #11




Book Nooks
*Every weekend*
Founder: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Hosting through April 2012: The True Book Addict (@truebookaddict)
Show us something pretty!


I thought this little nook was cozy looking while still being bright and cheery.  Love all those pillows.  I can almost hear the ocean in the background...
Book Nooks is a weekly meme featuring a collective gallery of pretty and comfortable places for book lovers to enjoy a nice read.
Book Nooks posts go up every weekend (we're counting anywhere from late Fri. through early Mon. as a weekend), so please feel free to jump in whenever you like, with your own post - that just means more nice things to look at!







 - Moíra ♣

Man Candy Monday

  Welcome!  Here's a new meme I learned about through another blog.  Cha-cha-cha...


  Great green eyes.


  Who knew a back could be so nice to look at?  We'll never know about the face!  'Pssttt...hey buddy, I think your buns are showing!'

Hope you enjoyed my selections.  I certainly enjoyed posting them.

 - Moíra ♣
   



Here's how to join in -

How to join in:

-You should run a book blog or be an author with blog. Because most pictures may contain some nudity, the blog should mainly be 18 & over.

-Make a separate post for Man Candy Monday on your blog.

-Copy the html for the button above and place it at the top of your post.

-Tell us who your man candy for the week is and post pictures. (Of course if you are shallow like me and don't know the model's name, that's ok too)

-Place your name and blog title in the linky below and the url for a direct link to your post.

-Check out the other sites participating. Make sure you leave a comment about the delectable men featured.

-Contact me (redheadsreviewitbetter@gmail.com), Lily (lily.graison@gmail.com) or Shauni (teaandbook@yahoo.com) with any questions!

18 March 2012

Coffee Talk ~ With Moira





Romance Writers Of America has an interesting survey on their website.  It's all about romance readers...of course!  I was reading author Matt Hofferth's blog post on Goodreads and had to share his link-up!



What stands out on the survey, to this romance reader, is that the number one way we find new books to read is through word of mouth!  Not that I'm surprised.  I have a close knit circle of women that share my love of all things romance - and we definitely recommend books to one another weekly!  At least half of my reviews come about because a friend suggested I read 'such-and-such-book'. 

My other sources are split between my Book Club, Amazon recommendations, and browsing my local library.  Here's a breakdown...
50% ~ Friend recommendation
16% ~ Amazon suggestion
16% ~ Browsing the library
16% ~ My book club
2%  ~  Ways I have forgotten to mention

Next up, RWA featured a section on percentage of readers who read on e-readers vs. paperbacks.  The results did surprise me here.  I thought e-readers would have higher representation in the stats.  I am split in my habits...

60% ~ Books I read on my Kindle
35% ~ Books I read in paperback

I read a few books on my computer, but stopped quickly.  If I can't get it on my Kindle or in a paperback, I'll pass.  Reading on the computer isn't for me. 

How do you read? 

This survey was limited to romance readers, and although I love, love, love my romances, I read a wide variety of books.  Maybe that skews my comparisons - but I think not.  Factors that most affected purchase I found surprisingly absent or conspicuously low on the survey included cover art, ranking at distribution sites, and social media influences.  I would have guessed those to be more important than they are!


How about you?  Where do your greatest influences come from?  Do you fit in with the majority on RWA's survey?  I hope you found this information as interesting as I did.  Share your thoughts!

Moíra ♣


   

15 March 2012

Coffee Talk With Moira ~ March 15, 2012

Attitude...It's Important!



While shopping the other day, I came to a sad conclusion.  Too many people have bad attitudes!  What I mean by 'bad-attitudes' is this - people seem to be eager to get upset!  For the life of me, I can't understand the motivation behind it!?!  Who wants to go around feeling upset, angry, slighted, offended, or spiteful? 

We all get upset.  This Broad admits to getting her panties in a bunch once in awhile *blushes*, but being happy is much better.  And then, I realized an underlying issue that I just had to share with you all during Coffee-Talk!  Our attitudes, whether in the grocery store, at the too-long-red-light, during a poor performance, toward our kids as they come in the door from a hard day at school, with the insurance salesman on the telephone, or with the stranger walking down the same side of the street as we are matters more than we can imagine.

Every day, we affect someone - lots of someones.  We wield power, Broads!  Likewise, we are as affected by those we encounter.  I had to re-adjust after returning home from my outing - that bad attitude...it's catching!  If I continued on with that bad-attitude, you can bet that one of my kids would have caught it, in turn passing it along to another brother or a neighborhood friend.  Just as catching is a good attitude. 

Today, take a deep breath and smile.  Cleanse out all that murky nastiness that builds up inside.  Window girl give you bad-attitude when you ordered your morning coffee?  How about tomorrow you give her a dollar tip - or even a five-dollar tip - and tell her that you appreciate being able to stop on hectic mornings and grab your coveted mocha-latte?  Can you imagine how it would brighten her day?  Even more importantly, what will it do for you?   

Mòirä

13 March 2012

Teaser Tuesday - March 13, 2012




 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Almost HeavenHere's My Teaser ~


Pg. 49 - 'Berta's reminder that she was virtually betrothed had a distinctly sobering effect on Elizabeth, and the mood stayed with her as she walked toward the flight of steps leading down to the ballroom.  The prospect of confronting Mr. Ian Thornton no longer made her pulse race, and she refused to regret his refusal to dance with her, or even to think of him.

Moíra ♣

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