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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


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