Sunday, March 29, 2020

TV Show - Sex Education

Just finished watching Season 1
Season 2, Finished watching 3/29/2020, see below!
Premiered: 1/11/2019
Season: 1
Number of Episodes:  8
Length of Episode: 45 min.
IMBd:  8.3
RT Critic's Consensus:  Bawdy, heartfelt, and surprisingly wise, Sex Education is a raucous romp through a group of teenagers whose sexual misadventures are so thoughtfully rendered, adults could learn a thing or two from them.
RT Audience Score:  95
cag: LOVED it, going to be an all-time favorite
Produced by: Netflix

     Otis Milburn - Asa Butterfield (main character, a HS kid whose mother is a sex therapist)
     Jean Milburn, Otis' mom, is played by Gillian Anderson
     Maeve Wiley is played by Emma Mackey, the "hot" female lead, who befriends Otis
     Eric Effoing is Otis' best friend, gay and black and wonderful
     Adam Groff is the mean kid, who we can tell is attracted to Eric, very much against his will, lol
     Ola Nyman has appeared on the scene, and becomes Otis' girlfriend
     Jakob Nyman, Ola's dad, has an on and off relationship with Otis' mom, who doesn't "do" relationships, but is very much attracted to Jakob....

My comments:  This was totally and fulfillingly entertaining.  X rated in places, R in others. British.  FUNNY and heartfelt, with some really serious stuff thrown in, too.  What a MARVELOUS cast!  Some are newbies, and they're wonderful.  I was so upset when the short series one came to an and, but an happily awaiting season two which is currently in production.

Storyline from IMBd:  Feeling pressured by the rumor that everyone in his class is having sex except him, awkward teenager Otis (Asa Butterfield) struggles with masturbating. It doesn't help that his mother, sex therapist Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), constantly meddles with his personal life. Things come to a weird turn when Adam (Connor Swindells), his school's resident bully, learns about Jean and asks Otis for help regarding his sex life with girlfriend Aimee (Aimee Lou Woods). The situation becomes even weirder when the school's resident bad girl Maeve (Emma Mackey) and Otis' gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) persuade Otis to open a "sex therapy clinic" in school, with Maeve and Otis splitting the profits.

Season 2, Finished watching 3/29/2020, see below!
Premiered: 1/17/2020
Season: 2
Number of Episodes:  8
Length of Episode:  45
IMBd:  8.3
RT Critic's Consensus:  Sex Education's sophomore season definitely has more going on, but by treating each new subject with care and humor, it leaves plenty of space for its characters to grow.
RT  Audience Score:  97
cag: LOVED it, going to be an all-time favorite

Produced by: Netflix

Additional and new characters for Season 2
Jackson Marchetti is Maeve's old boyfriend and swimming star, who is tired of swimming and takes up acting
Viv, a socially awkward smart girl who tutors Jackson
Isaac, a wheelchair bound trailer park neighbor of Maeve's
Aimee Gibbs, sweet, slighty dumb, and promiscuous, she's Maeve's best friend
Lily Iglehart is Ola's bestie...and becomes more....
Rahim is the sexy new student who instantly goes after Eric

Saturday, March 28, 2020

58. Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong

#5 Rockton
borrowed from Bosler, listened on Libby
narrated by Therese Plummer
Unabridged audio (10:32)
2020 Minotaur Books
368 pgs.
Adult mystery
Finished 3/28/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.26 - 2732 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting:  Yukon wilderness, contemporary

First line/s:  "I wake under one hundred and forty pounds of dog."

My comments:  Another excellent episode in the Rockton series.  This one was spent mostly in the woods, with very little participation of the Rockton residents.  However, we get lots more insight into both settler villages and the hostiles.  This one involves finding the parents of a baby found hidden under the snow in the arms of a dead hostile.  So Casey and Eric troupe from settlement-to-settlement and back-and-forth through the woods many times to figure out what is going on.  It was a really mesmerizing story.

Goodreads synopsis:  In #1 New York Times bestseller Kelley Armstrong's latest thriller, the hidden town of Rockton is about to face a challenge none of them saw coming: a baby.   
         Every season in Rockton seems to bring a new challenge. At least that's what Detective Casey Duncan has felt since she decided to call this place home. Between all the secretive residents, the sometimes-hostile settlers outside, and the surrounding wilderness, there's always something to worry about.
          While on a much needed camping vacation with her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, Casey hears a baby crying in the woods. The sound leads them to a tragic scene: a woman buried under the snow, murdered, a baby still alive in her arms.
          A town that doesn’t let anyone in under the age of eighteen, Rockton must take care of its youngest resident yet while solving another murder and finding out where the baby came from - and whether she's better off where she is.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

TV Show - Unorthodox

Just finished watching Season 1
Premiered:  Today!!! March 26, 2020
Seasons:  This is brand new, and may only be this one season
Number of Episodes: 4 long episodes, watched in one sittinga
Length of Episode:  about an hour?
IMBd:  7.9/10
RT Critic's Consensus:  none yet
RT Audience Score:  note yet
cag:  5

Characters:  Esty, 19 year-old protagonist; Yanky, her hustband; Moishe, Yanky's cousin, who leads the twosome to Berlin to bring Esty home.
    NOTE:  Israeli actor Amit Rahav is someone to watch!

My comments:  I loved every minute of this series.  I LOVE the way it seamlessly goes from the present in Berlin and back to the roots of the story in Brooklyn a year or so previously.  The actors were superb and believable, you're rooting for all of them all the way.  Apparently the Brooklyn part is based on Deborah Feldman's memoir, but the Berlin part was totally rewritten.

Netflix Official Site
NY Times Review and summary


Storyline from IMBd:  Story of a young ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman who flees her arranged marriage and religious community to start a new life abroad.

57. Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid

#7 Knitting in the City
Listened on Audible Escape
narrated by Angela Dawe and Stephen Dexter
Unabridged audio (16:24)
2018 Cipher-Naught
506 pgs.
Finished 3/26/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.15 - 11,893 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting:  Chicago for 50%, then move to Boston

First line/s:  " 'What did you just say?' My sharp question earned me a sharp look from Ms. Opal. She eyed me from across the room."

My comments:  The most interesting thing about this book was the Boston accent used by the male protagonist, Dan.  Talk about over the top!  The story begins in Chicago and moves to Boston about halfway through.  It appears to be that this is book number seven in a series, and you can tell that most of the characters have been well flushed out previously.  There are a lot of characters in this friend-group, a few too many, actually, though I know they're included to satisfy people who have read the first six books.  For the most part, this is a standalone.  The hardest to comprehend is the difference between the inner insecure feelings of the two protagonists and what they showed outwardly.  They didn't coincide at all, just didn't work.  Super mixed feelings because I did enjoy the story, though it was excruciatingly draw out with very bad guys and very good guys and not much in between.  The epilogue takes place 15 years in the future, where the extended group of friends are still meeting together, only now the all have oodles of kids.  Hard to rate this one

Goodreads synopsis:  There are three things you need to know about Kat Tanner (aka Kathleen Tyson. . . and yes, she is *that* Kathleen Tyson): 1) She’s determined to make good decisions, 2) She must get married ASAP, and 3) She knows how to knit.
          Being a billionaire heiress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Determined to live a quiet life, Kat Tanner changed her identity years ago and eschewed her family’s legacy. But now, Kat’s silver spoon past has finally caught up with her, and so have her youthful mistakes.
          To avoid imminent disaster, she must marry immediately; it is essential that the person she chooses have no romantic feelings for her whatsoever and be completely trustworthy. Fortunately, she knows exactly who to ask. Dan O’Malley checks all the boxes: single, romantically indifferent to her, completely trustworthy. Sure, she might have a wee little crush on Dan the Security Man, but with clear rules, expectations, and a legally binding contract, Kat is certain she can make it through this debacle with her sanity—and heart—all in one piece.
          Except, what happens when Dan O’Malley isn’t as indifferent—or as trustworthy—as she thought?
★★★★★ Goodreads Choice Award Semi-Finalist for Best Romance ★★★★★

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus Quarantine Day 9

Spring has sprung...not only because the spring equinox has come and gone, but because trees are budding, daffodils are blooming, and even the grass is turning green!

I hate to cook.  The majority of my cooking in recent years has been to heat things up.  Yesterday I baked a meatloaf and butternut squash.  Leftovers, AND a clean kitchen are the perks.  My tiny kitchen is so cluttered, I'm trying to figure out where to put everything.

I did go out this morning, to pick up an order at Walmart.  They were out of all the different meats I tried to order (hamburger, pork chops, bacon, and chicken).  They're still entirely out of toilet paper, but I still have four full rolls.  Not sure what I'll do when they run out.  I'll be imaginative, I'm sure, about both situations ... no meat ... no TP.

Laura made me a couple of face masks, and when delivering them yesterday (visiting for a few minutes on my front "patio," keeping a safe six feet apart) picked up my bag of garbage to add to hers.  We have to pay for special garbage bags here, and I don't want to go to any of the supermarkets to purchase them.  This worked out great, and I'm so grateful.  The only problem with wearing face masks is that my glasses get all steamed up.  I'll have to figure that one out!

I'm working on crumb quilting at my sewing addicting!  I think I'll make a batch of potholders out of them, get a jump start on Christmas presents for colleagues and family?  Sounds good!  I'm also adding flowers to my EPPed Christmas table runner AND picking up the crocheting I'm dong for the yarn bombing at the library in the fall.  I'm working on the brown boards of Noah's Ark using yarn from the 40's that feels like I'm crocheting with twine.

I planted a letterbox the other day, one I'd made for a postal.  I'm making a list of easy, drive-bys withing 75 miles of home so that I can get out on days that are sunny and warm without having to be around people.  I'm going to use the 13 plastic grocery bags I just got from Walmart as a "glove" (like when you're picking up dog poop) when I'm pumping gas or opening a door to a public place - like the eye doctor's when I have to return.

Very, very sad news is that my sister's best friend, Joanne, is on life support with the coronavirus.  She has a transplanted lung.  It seems so much more real when someone you know is hit than just reading the statistics.  Lots of positive energy going out to my sister and Joanne's family.

Today is March 22nd. It's always been a special day.  I was hoping my grandson, Brendan, would be born on the 22nd, but his birthday was yesterday, the 21st. (He turned 15!!)  Close!   Today is my grandmother's birthday.  It is my best friend, Fran's, birthday.  It is another very close friend, Susan's, birthday.  Susan died last August of a brain hemorrhage. Gram was born in 1903, 117 years ago!  And I facetimed with Fran for awhile this morning.  MADE MY DAY!  It'll always be a special day for me,

I'm anticipating this self-isolation/quarantine to go on for a couple of months.  The governor of Pennsylvania has been incredibly proactive, so I'm guessing the library will be closed indefinitely, not just for the two weeks that was originally anticipated.

What a world.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

56. Indentured Bride by Yamila Abraham

read on my iPhone: free AudibleEscape
narrated by Desiree Dunn
Unabridged audio (1:32)
54 pgs.
Steamy SciFi/Alien Romance
Finished 3/21/2020
Goodreads rating: .3.41 - 199 ratings
My rating: 2

First line/s:  Tabitha cut the ridge of a saccus nut with her laser and then waited for her vision to stop blurring.  She separated the shell as carefully as she could with her trembling fingers.  Then she tried to nudge free the malleable core.  This is when things started going dark.  She closed her eyes and rocked gently in her seat.  If she tired to keep working she'd rupture the core.  She had to wait until the room stopped spinning.

My comments:  My favorites to choose of these free AudioEscape books are the books about aliens, I'm not sure why...and they're all pretty darn BAD.  I keep choosing to read them though.  This one was really just a short story, or perhaps a novella?  An hour and a half long, with the first hour introducing the characters, the setting, what's happened to earth, and a little about its alien invaders.  The protagonist is a slave who works 18 hours a day and also used as a medical guinea pig who has now been given the chance to become a concubine.  The last 20 to 25 minutes of the story is the steamy part, and the story would've been halfway decent without this in-depth explanation.  What really cracks me up is how many of these other galaxy aliens are physically constructed in the same ways as humans.  Maybe that's part of the reason I like Ice Planet Barbarians so much, there are at least a few outward dissimilarities that make it a little more believable.  I read this because it was short and alien-related.

Goodreads synopsis:  Cruel alien masters have oppressed Tabitha for the last ten years. An Alliance observer discovers that she’s been experimented on and pulls her from the slave colony. She’s going to be granted the privilege of becoming an indentured bride.
          Tabitha doesn’t see her new assignment as a privilege. Her duties seem pretty clear cut, and she knows what Hax-Rah aliens are like. The last thing she wants is to be stranded on a moon with one.
          Hex-Lord Jaxil took an isolated mission for a reason, and he never asked for a bride.
          A riveting and scintillating sci-fi romance novella by the author of Bride of the Keil Warriors!

Friday, March 20, 2020

55. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

listened to audio borrowed from Bosler Library
narrated by Dan Bittner and Emily Shaffer
Unabridged audio (10:08)
2020 Wednesday Books
368 pgs.
YA CRF Rom-Com
Finished  3/20/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.07 - 7339 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting:  Contemporary NYC

First line/s:  "To be fair, when the alarm goes off, there's barely even any smoke rising out of the oven."

My comments:  Definitely cute, and pretty sweet, too.  In more ways than one - the baking of desserts is a big part of the storyline, lol.  Told in two voices, that of Jack and of Pepper and the rivalry between their parents businesses on Twitter.  Jack and Pepper are doing all the Twitter postingsJack for his family deli on the lower eastside and Pepper for her family's now-international burger chain from where she lives on the upper eastside, although she still pines for Nashville where she lived until 8th grade.  Amid swim team, college prep and applications, a secret app that Jack created which is the current hit of their posh private school, and the fierce competition between their parents' businesses, there's never a dull moment in the story, which I greatly enjoyed.

Goodreads synopsis:  A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.
          Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
          Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
          All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
          As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Hexie & Crumb Quilted Potholders

I'm having fun making crumb blocks today, and decided to make them into potholders.  I was watching a few YouTube videos of different ways that people attempt  crumb quilting, when I came across these two ideas.  Love, love, love the idea of turning a hexie flower into a potholder!!!  My next project...
Thank you Laughing Duck, for both these ideas!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

54. The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

listened to audio on Audible Escape
narrated by Tavia Gilbert (A little over zealous)
Unabridged audio (10:10)
2019 Disney Hyperion
400 pgs.
Finished  3/19/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.00 - 1752 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  contemporary coastal Lyric, Maine

First line/s:  "Fun fact: My great-great-great grandmother was the lone survivor of a shipwreck."

My comments:  This book has an excellent storyline and a great cast of characters.  However I found it particularly depressing throughout.  Definitely for older YAs.  S-foot tall Violet, promiscuous since the age of 12, is spending her 16th summer in Maine with her uncle in the home where her mother grew up.  Her brother is spending the summer in a rehabilitation facility in Vermont after a suicide attempt.  Though only 16, Violet has had male and female lovers, dabbled in drugs and alcohol, and been suspended from school already.  She's a mess. The narrator put a little too much feeling into her narration in many parts of the book, making many of those parts difficult to listen to because her emphasis was a lot different than mine would have been if I was reading the book instead of listening.  Boy, she was really into it!

Goodreads synopsis:  The Larkin family isn't just lucky—they persevere. At least that's what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn't drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.
          But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can't stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.
          Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family's missing piece - the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.
          She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

53. Pleasure in the Stars by Olivia Myers

listened to audio via Audible Escape
narrated by D Rampling (horrid!!!)
Unabridged audio (1:35)
2015 Soft Kiss books
95 pgs.
Adult SciFi Erotica
Finished 3/19/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.24 - 34 ratings
My rating: 1

First line/s:  "Natalie looked at her work friends, Jackie and Moona, and sighed as she gratefully let her suitcase bounce heavily onto the hotel bed."

My comments:  Probably one of the worst narrators I've ever heard in my life, she absolutely ruined the story - the little bit of the story there was.  Blech!  Whenever she spoke as a female she did it in a squeaky high-pitched falsetto voice, and her male voice was unbelievable horrible as well  Whoever hired her needs to find another occupation!

Goodreads synopsis:  An alien race known for pleasure, would she dare.
          Natalie’s work friends have to drag her along to the planet New Saigon’s Pleasure Love Festival, a ten-day party where races from all planets indulge in love, sex, and pleasure. But the lights, the scents, the sounds—everything is too much for Natalie.
          Concerned that she isn’t having as much fun and relaxing as much as she ought to, her well-meaning friends hire a Katarian escort to give Natalie all the fun they think she’s been missing out on. Can Natalie relax enough to enjoy herself with a Katarian who promises nothing but pleasure…and what happens if he’s offering her more than one night?

Monday, March 16, 2020

52. 1001 Dark Nights: Hidden Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan

Listened to audio through Audible Escape
narrated by Gregory Salinas, okay but not great
Unabridged audio (2:57)
2016 Evil Eye Concepts
124 pgs.
Adult Steamy Romance
Finished 3/16/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.25 - 1519 ratings
My rating: Crappy!  1

My comments: I wasn't even going to review this because I hated it so much, but I want to remind myself to never read this author again.  It's sort of like a blah blah blah blah blah blah, the same sort of stupid stuff over and over and over again.  The premise is great - a woman, recovering from breast cancer and double mastectomies and a man scarred badly from an explosion in the Middle East where everyone died except for him and he carries more internal scars than external scars.  However, it's handled in such an unbelievable manner that it made me cringe.  Maybe it's just the mood I'm in, in the middle of this pandemic, but my eyes are rolling, rolling, rolling.....

Goodreads synopsis:  The Montgomery Ink series continues with the long-awaited romance between the cafĂ© owner next door and the tattoo artist who's loved her from afar.
          Hailey Monroe knows the world isn't always fair, but she's picked herself up from the ashes once before and if she needs to, she'll do it again. It's been years since she first spotted the tattoo artist with a scowl that made her heart skip a beat, but now she's finally gained the courage to approach him. Only it won't be about what their future could bring, but how to finish healing the scars from her past.
          Sloane Gordon lived through the worst kinds of hell yet the temptation next door sends him to another level. He's kept his distance because he knows what kind of man he is versus what kind of man Hailey needs. When she comes to him with a proposition that sends his mind whirling and his soul shattering, he'll do everything in his power to protect the woman he cares for and the secrets he's been forced to keep.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Picture Book - Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls' Guide to Disney Animation by Mindy Johnson

Illustrated by Lorelay Rove
2019 Disney Enterprises
HC $18.99
78 pgs.
J 791.4334 Johnson
Goodreads rating:  4.150 - 106 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: solid pink

My comments:  I totally enjoyed reading through this book, and learned so much!  I'm not a huge Disney fan, but all the information about the women associated through the years of Disney history is just wonderful. 
     I particularly enjoyed learning about Kae Sumner, who was 6' 3" tall, and because she drew for the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was written up in Life magazine.  She became popular, with many people of height contacting her, and she began a club for tall people called the Tip Toppers.  So cool!
     I was looking at this book because I wanted more information about Mary Blair, who I was researching.  So glad I found this book, since Bosler doesn't have it and I had to borrow it from Coy/Shippensburg.

Lillian & Edna, the two Mrs. Disneys (Walt and his brother Roy
Dorothy Ann Blank - founder of the Story Development Department, starting with Snow White
Nelbert Chouinard - Chouinard Institute teachers taught original animators at Disney
Marge Champion -

Goodreads:  Based on the critically acclaimed Disney Editions title, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation, this nonfiction picture book is a fun and inspiring look at a few of the amazing women who have worked at Disney Animation over the years—from sculptors to inkers to painters to story artists, all with unique personalities and accomplishments, such as becoming a world record-holding pilot or creating an international club for tall people!

Kae Sumner: Six Foot Three Disney Artist and Founder of International Tall Person's Clubs

While reading through Disney Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girl's Guide to Disney Animation by Mindy Johnson and illustrated by Lorelay Rove, I learned about Kae Sumner.  How interesting!
Born in 1916, she was always the tallest in her classes, topping out at 6' 3".  Her artwork was so good that when she took her portfolio to Disney's Hyperion Studio during the depression, she was haired to work in the Ink & Paint Department.  And it's noted that they even made a special desk that was a bit taller so that she could easily work beside the other artists.

"Kae's talents shined and when the newspapers heard about her artistry on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, she became famous as 'the giant girl who painted Walt's seven little men.' "

She didn't let her height dwarf her (that's said with tongue in cheek), she was contacted by so many other tall people that she started a club and called it the TIP TOPPERS.  The story was featured in a Life magazine article, and Kae went on to found the International Tall Person's clubs, some of which are still around today.

Born in 1916, she died in 1996.

Have you seen Tall Girl, the movie? It's on Netflix, looking forward to seeing it.

Tall Clubs International
Tall Clubs International Foundation includes a short biography on Kae Sumner Einfeldt

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

51. The Substitution Order by Martin Clark

listened to audio - Chirp
narrated by David Aaron Baker
Unabridged audio (13:22)
2016 Knopf Publishing
352 pgs.
Adult mystery/legal thriller
Finished 3/11/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 1051 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:   contemporary suburban Virginia

First line/s:  "For years I was an excellent lawyer, as honest and effective as you would ever want, and I'm a decent enough person, and despite my mistakes, which -- I concede -- were hellacious, I deserve better than this misery."

My comments:  Talk about clever!  This mesmerizing story was so well crafted that I couldn't put it down.  A remarkably likable protagonist weaves his way through nail-biting trauma to come out just fine on the other side.  I don't usually like legal thrillers as much as I like police procedurals, but as long as I could recall the cast of characters I was totally entrenched in the story.  It was really good.  And I was really sad when it ended.  Id love to know what becomes of Kevin Moore now.

Goodreads synopsis:  From Martin Clark--praised by Entertainment Weekly as "our best legal-thriller writer"--comes a wickedly clever, tenderhearted, and intricately plotted novel about a hard-luck lawyer's refusal to concede defeat, even as fate, the court system, and a gang of untouchable con artists conspire against him.
          Kevin Moore, once a high-flying Virginia attorney, hits rock bottom after an inexplicably tumultuous summer leaves him disbarred and separated from his wife. Short on cash and looking for work, he lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at SUBstitution, the world's saddest sandwich shop. His closest confidants: a rambunctious rescue puppy and the twenty-year-old computer whiz manning the restaurant counter beside him. He's determined to set his life right again, but the troubles keep coming. And when a bizarre, mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening "invitation" to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison.
          A remarkable tour of the law's tricks and hidden trapdoors, The Substitution Order is both wise and ingenious, a wildly entertaining novel that will keep you guessing--and rooting for its tenacious hero--until the very last page.

Picture Book - Hey Grandude! by Paul McCartney

Illustrated by Kathryn Durst
2019, Random House
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.71 - 486 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers: Light blue with white 1/2-inch grid lines

1st line/s:  "Lucy and Tom and Em and Bob were spending a weedend with the grandad."

My comments:  Magic can really happen, especially when it comes to traveling from one place to another!  I love the premise of this book...a magic compass that whisks the family from one interesting place in the world  to another as well as spending quality time with a grandparent.  Shame on you, all you naysayers, for giving negative reviews just because a celebrity wrote it.  Spoilsports!

Goodreads:  From Paul McCartney—an action-packed picture-book adventure celebrating the fun that grandparents and grandkids can get up to.
          See the compass needle spin, let the magic fun begin!
          Meet Grandude—a super-cool grandfather who is an intrepid explorer with some amazing tricks up his sleeve. Grandude is a one-of-a-kind adventurer! With his magic compass, he whisks his four grandkids off on whirlwind adventures, taking them all around the globe. Join them as they ride flying fish, dodge stampedes, and escape avalanches! Brought to life with gloriously colorful illustrations from talented artist Kathryn Durst, it’s the perfect bedtime story for little explorers

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Learning More About Art and Artists

Blair, Mary
Disney artist
Kahlo, Frida

Sumner, Kae
Disney Artist (6' 3")

The Art of Mary Blair

Born in 1911, Mary Blair was first and foremost an artist for Walt Disney. She began working for Walt Disney Studios in 1940. Her designs and artwork for Peter Pan, Cinderella, and  Alice in Wonderland are unforgettable. She illustrated several Little Golden Books and many advertisements. She also designed the Small World exhibit in the mid-1960s!  She died in 1978.

Website:  Magic of Mary Blair

Books by and about Mary Blair, plan to find and read:

Monday, March 9, 2020

50. Cathian by Laurann Dohner

Vorge Crew Series
listened to Audio on Audible Escape
narrated by Callie Dalton
Unabridged audio (3:19)
2018 self published
138 pg. novella
SciFi Romance
Finished 3/9/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.96 - 2288 ratings
My rating:'t really rate

First line/s:  "Nara gripped the cage bars and glared at Derrick."

My comments:  Intergalactic match-ups, always fun.  Outwardly, the people of Cathian's race's only differ is in size, they're quite a bit larger.  It's their reproductive systems that are different - males go into heat every three years and this is the only time they can reproduce.  And, of course, they MUST have a female during that time.  That's what this book is about, how Cathian obtains Nara and what happens thereafter.  Where do people come up with these ideas/  Triple X-rated.

Goodreads synopsis:  *** Notice - This book was previously published as a short story called ‘Captain of Nara’s Heart’ in Something Wicked This Way Comes, Volume 1
. It has been updated and expanded into novella length.
          When Nara Barns and her tiny crew find themselves with a choice between jail or the sex-slave auction block, it’s an easy choice. Especially when they plan to escape their buyers as soon as possible, anyway. Even better, Nara’s buyer wants her for just six days, long enough to get him through his heat until women from his planet can come to his aid.
          Six days and then freedom? Sign her up.
          However, Nara’s completely unprepared for the impact Captain Cathian Vellar has on her body. To survive his heat, the Tryleskian must feed—and Nara is his favorite meal. Her body can barely withstand the rapture. Soon, her heart is just as engaged. But enduring the pinnacle of Cathian’s heat he could kill Nara, and he refuses to risk her life.

49. Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

listened to Audio - free from Audio Escape
narrated by Kristin Condon
Unabridged audio (8:44)
340 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 3/9/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.05 - 8715 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  Contemporary Minneapolis, MN

First line/s:  " ' The babies are going to starve,' Helena said."

My comments:  I found these two main characters to be incredibly well developed, which was only enhanced by a wonderful narration.  A good, though predictable, story with just a bit of heat.  This is the second I've read by this author and I've enjoyed both very much.  Looking forward to more.
     Here's a good quote from another GoodReads member:   "Heart Shaped Hack is a refreshing and beautiful read, it doesn't employ any of the New Adult Express tropes, has genuinely likeable, if not loveable lead characters, witty banter and good writing."

Goodreads synopsis:  When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.
          Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.
          But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

48. Unexpectedly Mated by Milly Taiden

listened to audio/Audible Escape
narrated by Lauren Sweet
Unabridged audio (4:17)
2014 Latin Goddess Press
216 pgs.
Adult Steamy Romance
Finished 3/7/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.05 - 2639 ratings
My rating: 1.5

First line/s:  "For crying out loud!  Nicole Acosta tugged the earpiece out and glared at it."

My comments: Shoot, I didn't write a review immediately after reading this.  I do remember it's about a pack of wolves that shape shift, so I guess you'd consider them werewolves, right?  This is number three in the series of "Sassy mates."  I remember that for the most part I liked it, it was one of those triple X-rated with a story.  There's a large family that's sort of hard to keep track of all the outlying siblings, wolves, and non wolves.  You can tell that other books of some of the characters have come before, and you're expected to know them.  Oh well.  I won't be reading any others in this series.....

Goodreads synopsis:  After years of lusting over Jake Wolfe, Nicole finally got a taste of the dirty-talking bad boy. During the scenting ceremony, he showed her how explosive things can be between them. But Nicole doesn’t do love. She doesn’t even know what love is. So how can she know if a relationship with Jake would be the right path to take?
          Jake Wolfe wants Nic more than his next breath. She’s curvy, mouthy and so hot his blood boils just thinking of her. But Nic’s been keeping him at a distance. And Jake is tired of her games. One fateful trip to Sin City and all bets are off.
          After a fun night of drinking, Nic wakes up married to Jake and with a second shifter wanting her for himself. She'll have to finally face the feelings she has or shut them out forever. Their newly formed bond will either allow her to open her heart to love or leave Jake without a mate to call his own.
          Warning: If you don't like sex of any kind, this is probably not the book for you. There's graphic language (yes, he tells her how he likes it), sassy humor (come on, it's a Milly Taiden story) and women that won't allow a man to browbeat them into doing what they say (unless they're naked). This book is intended for adults that have no problems with dirty sex, humor and action. If that's you, enjoy!

Friday, March 6, 2020

47. From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

listened to audio on Libby through Bosler Library
narrated by Bahni Turpin
Unabridged audio (6:10)
2020 Katherine Tegen Books
304 pgs.
Middle Grade CRF
Finished 3/6/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.35 - 554 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Boston/Somerville/Cambridge, Massachusetts

First line/s:  "The day I turned twelve, I was certain it'd be my favorite birthday yet, but then I got the letter."

My comments:   Ms. Marks has written a book with a wonderful 12-year-old voice, real and believable, with faults and fears, ambitions and beliefs.  Becoming acquainted with her imprisoned father for the first time and following clues to help the Innocence Project get him out of jail was the biggest premise of the book.  She also loved to bake, creating a new recipe for Fruit Loop cupcakes as she interned in a local bakery for the summer.  The setting of Boston/Somerville/Cambridge with an emphasis on Davis Square was detailed and fun for this suburban Boston native.  She wasn't perfect, and that made her all the more real.  I didn't like that the mother had completely given up the father as a murderer, even though he protested he'd never done anything wrong.  Then she blocked her daughter from any access to him.  This was harsh and a bit unbelievable.  Put the book down a a point for me.  However, what a great story for kids!  I wasn't super crazy about the narrator, although her reading ability was right on.  Highly recommended.

Goodreads synopsis:  Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
          A crime he says he never committed.
          Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.
          But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

46. Stepbrother Inked by Violet Blaze

listened to audio/Audible Escape
narrated by Angelise Rosewood
Unabridged audio (9:42)
2015 Sarian Royal
346 pgs.
Adult Steamy Romance/CRF
Finished 3/6/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.82 - 2005 ratings
My rating:  2.5

First line/s:  "I set the box down on the counter and eyed Flor's ass as he bent over and set a second, much smaller box on the floor with little care or consideration as to what was inside."

My comments: Although billed as a steamy romance, a lot of the story is about what would happen if two kids raised as siblings but not related by blood fall for each other.  There was definitely a lot of steam - they guy in this was your stereotypical 21 year old bad boy tattoo artist ... who loves cats and his mom ... The gal is an 18 year old who  sometimes acts much younger.  Of course there are the mandatory best friends, I really dislike it when they put too much emphasis on those relationships in these books.  Made me think a lot about different  family situations.

Goodreads synopsis:  Forbidden love shouldn't feel so good.
          It also shouldn't hurt so much.
          How could the one person I can't have be the only person I truly need?
          Florian Harper Riley has my heart and he doesn't even know it. I used to think that was okay, that I'd get over him, but no matter how hard I try, I can't purge his sharp green gaze from my thoughts.
          He's a tattoo artist, the love of my life, the man of my dreams.
          But he's also my stepbrother.
          Fate can be wicked cruel.
          *This is a 98,000 word, full length stand-alone novel from debut author Violet Blaze (and it's hot!)*

Thursday, March 5, 2020

45. Dulci's Legacy by Margaret Pinard

read on my iPhone/purchased Kindle book
2014 Taste Life Twice Publishing
192 pgs.
YA Time Travel, mostly CRF, with a tiny bit of HF
Finished 3/5/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.88 - 8 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting:  Current & 1777 Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada

First line/s:  "God, I hope this place is better than junior high, Dulci Oyselle thought as she passed through the tall double doors into Glace Cove High School."

My comments: This book was written and suggested to me by one of my "friends" on Litsy, which is pretty cool.  It's about time traveling, but in just short fits and spurts, and Dulci has to piece all that she's seen together with similar time traveling that her best friend's brother has had for the last four years, making him close to crazy.  I guess you might call them visions instead of time traveling, or a combination of the the two.  A bit of a different premise, though I wish the 1777 story had been a little bit more compelling.  Why would a Sottish immigrant adopt a 10-year-old Micmac girls?  How would something like that come about?  That was just a little bit fanciful for me, or at least I can't seem to understand how something like that would happen, especially so many years ago.  The contemporary part of the story was interesting ... I particularly appreciated being given information about Celtic drumming and rural Canada.  And I learned a bit about the French and Indian Wars, which I don't know a whole lot about.

Goodreads synopsis:  Dulci Oyselle is a modern 13-year-old girl in Cape Breton, who thinks high school is going to be her big new challenge, but then starts seeing visions of things happening that no one else does.
          Snowy hills appear in the music classroom. Dangerous men square off for a fight below her bedroom window. What is she seeing? And why are these visions appearing now?
          It might have to do with the new boy in town, who is really interested in her, despite her shy awkwardness. Or it could have something to do with her best friend's family; Mehron's brother is a recluse with some unexplained mental illness that has suddenly turned violent.
          Dulci will need to figure out what she's seeing, and why. To do so, she'll need to have faith in herself, a strength she's never needed before. Encouraged by her friends and inspired by one particular vision, she just might be able to pierce the mystery.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

44. Assigned a Mate by Grace Goodwin

#1 Interstellar Brides
listened to Audio/ Audio Escape
narrated by B.J. Pottsworth and Audrey Conway
Unabridged audio (4:43)
2016 Stormy Night Publications
156 pgs.
Adult SciFi Steamy Romance
Finished 3/4/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.79 - 1979 ratings
My rating: I forgot to write this down.... 2.5?

First line/s:  "My mind was fuzzy, as if I was just waking up or had too much alcohol in my system."

My comments:  I found it interesting that other than being a little bit taller and larger, all the aliens on Trion are exactly the same as Earth humans.  Hmmmmmm.  Steam factor four our of four and that pretty much says it all.  Shame on me, I listened to the whole thing.

Goodreads synopsis:  When a potential threat against her life forces Eva Daily to seek shelter on another world, she has only one option available to her. She must offer herself to the Interstellar Bride Program. After a deeply humiliating assessment of her suitability, Eva will be assigned a mate and transported to his world to become his bride.
          Upon arriving on the desert planet Trion, Eva soon learns that things are quite different than she is used to on Earth. Her assigned mate, the powerful, handsome High Councilor Tark, makes it clear that she will be expected to submit to him completely, and she quickly discovers that disobedience will earn her a painful, embarrassing spanking on her bare bottom.
          An intimate examination from her new mate leaves Eva blushing crimson, but to her surprise Tark’s mastery of her body arouses her beyond anything she could have ever imagined. Soon enough she finds herself naked, bound, and unable to resist the urge to beg for more as his skillful lovemaking brings her to one shattering climax after another.
         It doesn’t take long, however, for Eva to realize that there is much more to Tark than just a dominant brute who will not hesitate to take his misbehaving wife over his knee and redden her bare bottom thoroughly. But just as her passion for him begins to blossom into love, events back on Earth threaten to tear her away from him forever. Can Eva find a way to remain at Tark’s side and in his bed, or will she be left with nothing but memories of the man who has claimed both her body and her heart?
          Publisher’s Note: Assigned a Mate is an erotic romance novel that includes spankings, sexual scenes, medical play, anal play, elements of BDSM, and more. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.
          (How embarrassing....I can't believe I'm actually posting this on my blog!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

43. Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

#1 Cyrus Haven
listened on Libby/Bosler Library
narrated by Joe Jameson
Unabridged audio (11:49
2019 Scribner
353 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 3/3/2020
Goodreads rating:
My rating:  4.5
Setting: contemporary UK

First line/s:  " 'Which one is she?' I ask, leaning closer to the observation window."

My comments: This was a pretty interesting story, or actually two stories in one.  Cyrus Haven is a youngish psychologist working with the police on the murder of a 15-year-old ice skater at the same time that he is called in to interview/examine an 18-year-old who is living locked up in a type of state home for troubled youth.  Most of the book is told from Cyrus's point of view, but every now and then there's a chapter that is first person titled "angel face" that is Evie's voice.  Evie's story is by far the most interesting, but there's a nice surprising twist in the murder story that keeps you on the edge throughout the book.  In June of July there'll be a second book detailing more of Evie's backstory.  I really like this protagonist and look forward to more.

Goodreads synopsis:  A girl is found hiding in a secret room in a house being renovated after a terrible crime. For weeks she has survived by sneaking out at night, stealing food for herself and two dogs that are kept in the garden. The nurses at the hospital where she is taken call her “Angel Face” because she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen, or somewhere in between. She doesn’t appear on any missing person’s file, or match the DNA of any murder victim.
          Six years later, still unidentified, the same girl is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac, when she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult. Psychologist Cyrus Haven is sent to interview Evie and decide if she’s ready to go free, but Evie Cormac is unlike he’s anyone he’s ever met. She’s damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift, or a curse, that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with—the ability to tell when someone is lying. Soon he is embroiled in her unique and dangerous world, his life in utmost peril.

Monday, March 2, 2020

42. Sacrificed to the Dragon by Jessie Donovan

#1 Stonefire Dragons
Listened to Audible on Chirp
narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies
Unabridged audio (6:29)
2014 Mythical Lake Press
258 pgs.
Adult Fantasy Steamy Romance
Finished 3/2/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.89 - 7062 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting:  United Kingdom

First line/s: "Melanie Hall sat in the reception area of the Manchester Dragon Affairs Office, tapping her finger against her arm, and wishing they'd hurry the hell up."

My comments:  (The interesting concept here is that a dragon lives INSIDE the shifter, not that the dragon and the person are one in the same.)  The narrator changed voices a lot, depending on the person he was speaking for, but he made Tristan's dragon sound like an imbecile.  Very offputting.  You got to know the two protagonists' characteristics pretty well, but all the others were pretty flat.  I woldn've also liked a bit more description of the setting.  Yes, there were steamy parts, but there was a lot otf talking, thinking, discussion about the same things over and over again.  It did seem to go on and on, there were absolutely no surprises, and everything seemed....well, flat.  Even the actufaal shape shifting couldn've used a lot more description.  Oh well, I did not expect much.

Goodreads synopsis:  In exchange for a vial of dragon’s blood to save her brother’s life, Melanie Hall offers herself up as a sacrifice to one of the British dragon-shifter clans. Being a sacrifice means signing a contract to live with the dragon-shifters for six months to try to conceive a child. Her assigned dragonman, however, is anything but easy. He’s tall, broody, and alpha to the core. There’s only one problem—he hates humans.
          Due to human dragon hunters killing his mother, Tristan MacLeod despises humans. Unfortunately, his clan is in desperate need of offspring to repopulate their numbers and it’s his turn to service a human female. Despite his plans to have sex with her and walk away, his inner dragon has other ideas. The curvy human female tempts his inner beast like no other.          
NOTE: This is the entire first story arc of the Stonefire Dragons, complete with a HEA and no cliffhangers.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

41. Rabid by Paul Doiron

#8.5 Mike Bowditch
listened using Audible
narrated by Henry Leyva
Unabridged audio (1:16)
2018 Minotaur Books
50 pgs.
Adult HF
Finished 3/1/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.08 - 282 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: now with story within story taking place in the 1908s.

First line/s: "It was one of those warm June evenings when you can feel the earth pivoting from spring to summer."

My comments: The short novellas by Paul Doiron in the Mike Bowditch series seem to be stories from the past that Charlie Stevens tells.  This one is from the 80s and is his and his wife, Aura's, retelling of confrontations with a Vietnam vet and his Vietnamese wife.  It was interesting, and a bit thought-provoking.

Goodreads synopsis:  In this original short story in the Mike Bowditch mystery series, Mike is drawn into the story of a gruesome case from his mentor Charley Steven’s past.
          Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch accompanies his old friend and mentor, retired bush pilot Charley Stevens, as he pays a visit to a mysterious woman, the widow of a Vietnam vet, living in isolation in the Maine wilderness. Many years earlier, she had called Charley, then a young game warden himself, for help. She claimed that her badly bleeding husband had been attacked by a rabid bat. But in the succeeding days, despite her husband's increasingly erratic and aggressive behavior, his wife resisted Charley's attempts to help, arousing his suspicions that more was going on than met the eye. Was the husband the victim of rabies, or was he suffering from post traumatic stress disorder? The situation finally erupted into horrific violence, leaving everyone involved deeply scarred. In the devastating finale to RABID, Charley reveals to Mike how he uncovered the awful truth about what actually happened in their home so many years before.

40. Ark by Veronica Roth

listened on Audible - borrowed from Amazon Prime Reading
narrated by Evan Rachel Wood
Unabridged audio (1:22)
20019 Amazon Original
39 pgs.
Finished 3/1/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.52 - 6138 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:  Earth, just before an asteroid destroys it

First line/s: "Samantha's hands were still red from the cold, the skin over her knuckles taut and dry."

My comments: A short story has to follow certain criteria - in a small amount of time and space and words you have to give enough information so that your reader can follow your thinking.  I listened to this one twice.  In many ways I've got to say that it's a forgettable story.  It just needs a little more...or a little less....

Goodreads synopsis:  On the eve of Earth’s destruction, a young scientist discovers something too precious to lose, in a story of cataclysm and hope by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent trilogy.
          It’s only two weeks before an asteroid turns home to dust. Though most of Earth has already been evacuated, it’s Samantha’s job to catalog plant samples for the survivors’ unknowable journey beyond.
          Preparing to stay behind and watch the world end, she makes a final human connection.
          As certain doom hurtles nearer, the unexpected and beautiful potential for the future begins to flower.
          Veronica Roth’s Ark is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.