Monday, May 31, 2021

58. Turn the Paige by Roseanne Beck

#1 Love Hurts
listened on Chirp
narrated by Stephanie Dillard
Unabridged audio (6:58)
284 pgs.
Adult RomCom
Finished 5/31/2021
Goodreads rating: 3.88 - 79 ratings
My rating: 1

First line/s:  "Hunched over the steering wheel, I peer out my windshield."

My comments: Holy stereotype, what a load of garbage!  Add in a dead grandmother who talks to her dead granddaughter all the time, a protagonist who supposedly adored said grandmother but shows no grief at all at her passing, a doctor who, when confronted with a medical emergency doesn't do any doctoring but takes you to the ER .... I could go on and on.  I think what really accentuated my dislike for the book was the narrator.  Right from the first phrase I knew I was going to have  trouble with her.  Talk about over acting!  Over stressing, over emphasizing, and placing too much emphasis on most consonants were just part of my problem with her  Yuck.

Goodreads synopsis:  Paige has everything she thinks she wants.
Nick might be the one thing she really needs.
Sometimes the best dreams are the ones you didn't know you had.
          Dr. Paige Ellis has worked hard to make her dreams come true. But somewhere along the way, she lost something important--herself.
         Luckily, her dead grandmother is still looking out for her.
         When Paige returns home to fulfill her Nana's last request, she comes face-to-face with an annoying blast from her past. Not only does Nick Collins know just which buttons to push to make Paige crazy, but he also might be the one thing Paige has convinced herself she doesn't need.
          Can Nana and Nick persuade an overachieving workaholic that love might be the best medicine after all?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

57. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

listened on Libby, borrowed from Library
narrated by Eleanor Bennett
Unabridged audio (9:10)
304 pgs.
YA Mystery/Fantasy/Horror
Finished 5/30/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.18 - 6517 ratings
My rating: 2 and 4 = 3
Setting:  Contemporary Edinburgh, London....

First line/s: "I was ten years old the first time I realized I was strange."

My comments: What a very odd story - creepy and disturbing.  Lots of horrible odors and ghastly sites described so that you almost gag yourself as you listen.  It was fascinating as well as unenjoyable.  I'd love to find out what happens in book two, but I don't think I can take it!  Very, very difficult to rate this book, as I liked it and I hated it....

Goodreads synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.
          Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.
          As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.
          The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

56. The Diamond Bearer's Destiny by Lorena Angell

#4 Unaltered
read on Kindle
286 pgs.
YA Paranormal Fantasy
Finished 5/25/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.15 - 207 ratings
My rating: 3.5

First line/s: "I don't know if I want to be a Diamond Bearer anymore."

My comments: This installment wraps up many of the problems seen in the first three books.  A lot of time is spent revealing Chris's past and his relationship with his father to Calli.  Calli takes on new responsibilities as she switches places with Meitha, adding invisibility and light control to her powers.  Chris defeats his father, and that ends the government's interference with the powers under control of General Harding.  A new generation of diamond bearers is born.  The series could definitely end right here, there don't seem to be any unanswered questions, only possibilities and directions where things might possibly go.

Goodreads synopsis:  The Diamond Bearers' Destiny, book four of The Unaltered. Calli learns about Chris's motives and tries to understand his dilemmas. Given no choice, the two of them travel with a mysterious companion back to General Harding's facility in an effort to dismantle the programs that are exterminating people with powers and wiping Diamond Bearers from the face of the earth.
          General Harding figures out what lies at the heart of Agent Alpha's research project. Harding is determined to complete the studies and become an all-powerful Diamond Bearer--once Chris deceives Calli and delivers her to him so he can destroy her and take the diamond from her heart.
          What General Harding fails to understand is this: Calli's diamond will not make him the most powerful individual on the face of the earth. Most powerful of all are the agents of nature who work for Crimson--the creator of the Sanguine Diamond. Upsetting the balance of nature is the last thing General Harding should do.
          Follow Calli, Chris, Brand, and Crimson as they battle Deus Ex, undead Healers, and the notorious General Harding, in an effort to balance nature and save lives.

Monday, May 24, 2021

55. The Diamond of Freedom by Lorena Angell

#3 Unaltered
Read on Kindle
264 pgs.
YA Paranormal Fantasy
Finished 5/24/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.08 - 554 ratings
My rating: 3.5/4

First line/s: "He stands by the river, his black leather duster setting him apart."

My comments: Lots happens in this one, and although it's left at a cliffhanger, it's a different kind of cliffhanger than in book two.  In that one, Chris and Calli are off to Miami and we know it.  In this book, there is a definite ending with uncertainty of what will happen next.  Is Chris a traitor?  What's going on between him and Deus Ex?  You had to think harder to follow everything  that happened in this book, what the obsidian was doing and how it changed the powers.  Also, following the "repeating" and trying to understand how it worked was a bit confusing.  It's fascinating to consider how minds can think up this stuff.  So here's the ultimate spoiler:  the books ends with Calli in Maine with her parents, Chris has taken of with Deus Ex as her supposed hostage, Jonas and Cali have joined the ranks of the diamond bearers although Calli still has a fragment of Jonas's diamond in her own heart.  Crazy

Goodreads synopsis:  The Diamond of Freedom, book three in The Unaltered, melds together history, geology, metaphysics, science, and fantasy in this non-stop nail biter. Calli and Chris race against the clock to identify the power-neutralizing stone that prevents Calli from healing her life-threatening injuries. She must also learn how to counter its effects before she can fight against the rogue Diamond Bearer named Freedom to save the boy she loves and the world of her friends.
          In the epic battle between extreme cosmic-power holders, weaknesses are exploited and lifetime relationships shattered to gain the upper-hand. Sometimes having no special abilities is what makes someone the most powerful. General Harding, Chris's father, has made it his life's mission to eradicate all people with powers. Believing the lies fed to him, and misusing his status with the U.S. government, General Harding nears completion of a weapon designed to destroy cosmic-energy individuals.
          Calli meets Brand Safferson's half-sister, self-named Deus Ex, and proclaimed mercenary. Her repeating abilities are necessary to rescue Brand from General Harding's compound, but the risks of recruiting her to abandon Freedom's side and join Maetha's may be deadly.
          Maetha provides proof that she's figured out how to heal the DNA of an altered human, creating an Unaltered individual.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

54. A Diamond in My Heart by Lorena Angell

#2 Unaltered
YA Paranormal Fantasy
Finished 5/23/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.08 - 553 ratings
My rating: 3.5

First line/s: "I used to scoff at magical powers and abilities, used to have this amazing focused direction in life and didn't allow my time to be wasted on silly conspiracy theories or gossip."

My comments: This one did not end in the happy, upbeat way that number one ended.  It ends on a cliffhanger.  Calli and Chris are reunited, but it's sort of a bland reuniting.  The vain quarterback, Brand, has become a major character, a very likable one, and a great addition to the cast of characters.  Definitely bad guys versus good guys.  Not as good as book one in the series, but good enough to go for number three.

Goodreads synopsis:  A fantasy, paranormal, mystery thrill-ride. At age sixteen, Calli Courtnae learned that superhuman abilities and powers existed in her ordinary world, yet had remained hidden for thousands of years. She became one of them through the course of events controlled by Maetha the Immortal and is now faced with trying to live in her ordinary world while secretly possessing extraordinary powers. Her task is complicated by the emergence of an unknown power in one of Calli’s classmates which requires her to befriend the boy in an effort to help him use his powers for good and not just for his own self-gratification.
          Calli is able to read minds, view the future, heal, and locate other Diamond Bearers she didn't know existed and in doing so she'll learn of traitors who've sided with the US government and who threaten her new world and the lives of those she loves. She'll question her own loyalties and friendships, and ultimately be faced with the inevitable—the reuniting of the diamond shards.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

53. A Diamond in My Pocket by Lorena Angell

#1 Unaltered
read on Kindle
286 pgs.
YA Paranormal Fantasy
Finished 5/22/2021
Goodreads rating: 3.84 - 1783 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary northern Ohio/Montana/and elsewhere...

First line/s: "I don't understand what's happening to me.  Something strange and inexplicable is going on inside my body, and there isn't anyone I can tell about it.  I wouldn't know where to start."

My comments: A story that flew right by in memorable pleasure.  First realistic, then somewhat dystopian, then into full-fledge fantasy mode, it was fun to accompany Calli on her adventure.  A fairly sensible girl, she went with the flow without thinking about things to deeply - and that's what made this book fun.  There was the "perfect" hot guy, the absolute horrible jerk, and the mean girls/s.  Nothing disappointed, and the end came together quite satisfactorily so that if you decide not to go on to  book two it would be a perfectly satisfying ending  However, I can't wait to go on....

Goodreads synopsis:  J.K. Rowling meets Stephen King in this fresh, thrilling take on superpowers.                 Currently being optioned for film.
          After breaking the 100m world record, sixteen-year-old Calli is whisked away to a secret facility where she's placed with other teens who possess superhuman speed. She soon finds herself in a deadly situation involving other superpowers, a mystical diamond, and a centuries-old clan vying for world domination. Calli will have to rely on her quick wit and gut instinct to navigate her new world which includes secretly carrying a power-infusing diamond, all the while steering clear of the young man who mistakenly believes she's his soulmate.
          Book one of The Unaltered series introduces a secret universe existing within our own. In this world, cosmic energy grants superhuman abilities, and people of like ability band together in clans for both safety and community. Flesh-ripping demons prowl at night, drawn to the cosmic energy. Governments spy on clans, clans spy on governments, and trusting the wrong person may carry a terrible price.

Friday, May 21, 2021

52. Call Me Crazy by Melanie Harlow

Kindle Unlimited
320 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 5/21/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.34 - 6848 ratings
My rating: 4 (Well, just check out the guy on the cover, lol....)

First line/s: "There comes a day in a man's life when he enters a room with hope in his heart and a ring in his pocket, fully prepared to get down on one knee."

My comments: A delightful love story following "the outline" of most romance novels, but I loved it anyway.  Fake marriage that turns into real love with the added "bonus" (if you want to call it that) of trying to get her pregnant at the same time that he ensures being the recipient of his father's contracting business.  Lots of Italian family and busybody/caring friends.  Nothing new, just a fun read.

Goodreads synopsis:  It was the perfect plan.
          I needed a wife—temporarily—in order to inherit the family business.
          And she needed a favor—the kind that takes nine months to deliver.
          We had it all worked out, from the no-touching policy on our wedding night (her rule) to the no-falling-in-love decree (mine). She’d marry me, I’d give her the means to have the baby she’d always wanted, and one year later we’d amicably part ways with no hassle, no demands, and certainly no regrets.
          After all, Bianca DeRossi and I are experts at infuriating one another—we’ve been doing it since we were kids. Trouble is, she grew up gorgeous and feisty, and she still knows exactly how to get under my skin.
          And that wedding night? Well, it doesn’t exactly go down hands-free.
          Then she moves in with me, and I really start to lose my mind. From her sexy little pout to her wicked sense of humor to those meatball sandwiches she makes just because she knows they’re my favorite . . . I find myself wanting to break every rule we put in place.
          Our story was never supposed to end with happily ever after.
          But call me crazy, I just might be in love with my wife.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

51. Sleep Tight by Anne Frasier

read on Kindle 
400 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 5/20/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.10 - 4486 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting:  Contemporary Minneapolis

First line/s: "He hovered over the unmoving girl, deftly drawing a thick black line on her eyelid, curving it up at the corner."

My comments: A mesmerizing mystery that I tried to read here and there whenever I could.  Giving glimpses into the minds of several of the characters, it was interesting to be able to put pieces together so that although you knew what was happening by whom, you were there for the ride.  Anne Frasier is quickly become one of my favorite mystery writers.

He's looking for the perfect woman. Someone who won't disappoint him, like so many have before. Someone who'll love him ... someone who won't have to die for her mistakes.
FBI agent Mary Cantrell has been called to Minneapolis to hunt down a killer. Her reluctant return home is shaking her to the core, reviving dreadful memories. Years ago, her best friend was murdered. Now the man convicted of the crime, Gavin Hitchcock, is free--and Mary's own sister, Gillian, a local cop, has befriended him.
As each clue to the new killings leads them closer to Hitchcock, Mary and Gillian put their differences aside and set themselves up as the perfect target--and the perfect trap. Unless Mary's own past has blinded her to an unimaginable truth ... and will plunge them into a waking nightmare....

Monday, May 17, 2021

San Francisco - May 17, 2021

Drove over the MY bridge ... foggy but seeable.  The sun did peek out once in awhile today.
My CHAUFFEUR for the day...or should I say the WEEK?
First Stop:  St. Mary's Cathedral
Very modern, built in 1971
Sat in silence for awhile
Fillmore West
Six concerts a a week were staged here during 1967's "Summer of Love."
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin ...
We drove by Portsmouth Square (kid's playground on top, parking garage beneath), Washington Square (across from Saints Peter and Paul Church in the heart of North Beach), Alta Plaza Park (huge green park where Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal filmed What's Up Doc)
Alta Plaza Park:
Many famous building, but only got shots of a couple:
Bank of American Building
TransAmerica Building
I was interested in many of the Catholic churches because Dede and I talked about the different parishes.  She went to school at St. Cecelia's.  As we drove around, we got shots of some pretty churches:

St. Dominic's Church
Built in 1928 in the Gothic style
Western Addition section of San Francisco
Saints Peter and Paul Church
Original church build in 1884, burned to the ground in the 1906 fire and earthquake
Present church completed in 1924 (took 11 years)
Twin spires are 191 ft. high, an area landmark
Washington Square, North Beach section of San Francisco
St. Patrick's Church
Built in 1872 as parish church for Irish immigrants, nicknamed "the most Irish church in America."
Church is now mostly Filipino and Mass is conducted in Tagalog.
Mission Dolores Basilica
The basilica was dedicated in 1791 and is the church for the mission.
The mission, founded in 1776, is beside the basilica.  The mission is the oldest building in San Francisco.
First street in San Francisco
Grant Avenue between Clay and Washington in Chinatown
It's had three names:  Calle de Fundacion, then Dupont Street, then Grant Avenue after President Grant,
South Park
Located beside the Bay Bridge in South Beach
Very cool oval park with play area, originally surrounded by mansions and fashioned after a London Park where only the residents had keys to enter.  Then the area fell to hard times (factories, warehouses, skid row) when the Bay Bridge was built.  Now revived as restaurant, cafe, and shopping area.  The abandoned warehouses have been recreated into lofts and offices.
We had lunch in South Park.
Liberty Street, Noe Valley
Nice neighborhoods
One of the two steepest roads in San Francisco
22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg in Noe Valley
Grade 31.5%
We drove DOWN it to Dede's dismay.
It's so steep, you can't walk up or down on a sidewalk, so steps were built on each side in place of one.
Posh Neighborhoods
All of a sudden, we were in posh neighborhoods... West Portal, Forest Hill, and Saint Francis Woods.  Such a difference from the rest of the city!
This house even has an elevator!
Golden Gate Park
We were able to drive through some of this very large park, and it was green and groomed and gorgeous.  However, our destination was the Dutch Windmill and tulip garden at the western end of the park, and the roads are closed to cars.  We did get to see the windmill from the road.
One other thing of note that I was clueless about.  Apparently, large cities like New York and San Francisco have built "shanties" for outdoor dining in the parallel parking spaces in front of restaurants!  Some are decorated, some are painted, some are more open than others....wish I'd taken more photos.  They're everywhere!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

California Trip - May, 2021

Tuesday 5/11
Flew from BWI to OAK
                dinner at home - steak and grilled asparagus
Wednesday 5/12 Headed north on 101 to Humboldt County and the Avenue of the Giants
        On to Eureka and Arcata, night at Hampton Inn
            Knit, Eureka - Dede bought wool yarn for matching She & ME slippers!
                 lunch at Avenue Cafe in Miranda at the very start of the Avenue of the Giants
                 dinner at La Fiesta Grill in Arcata (yum! taco salad for me, enchilada for Dede)
Thursday 5/13 Arcata to Redding across 299 - wow -  then 5 to Corning (OLIVES!) 99 to Chico, home via 5/505/80/37 
    Sew Simple, Redding - nice shop with small rooms for babies, Christmas, kitchen
    The Sewing Room - Park Marina Drive, Redding (no photo, large shop with crafters items along perimeter)
     The Quilt Basket, Corning (great old building outside, not much fabric but notions and machines inside)
     Honey Run Quilters, Chico - huge store with lots of machines, quilt shop in back corner, but fabric                 and ideas everywhere.  Clothing patterns and ideas, too.
                     lunch at From the Hearth (similar to Panera) in Redding, 
                     dinner at home, grilled sausages and Quinoa salad
Friday 5/14 Accidental Quilt Shop Hop
        Cloth Carousel, Vacaville (found free cowlette/dog coat pattern)
        Fabric Garden, Sacramento (very nice shop, Dede bought Mondo bag pattern)
        Swifty Stitches, Carmichael (bought Laura's 4th July fabric, women sewing in the back)
        Runs with Scissors, Citrus Heights (Dede taught customer how to sew the "kites" strip quilt she just finished.
                lunch at West Coast Sour Dough (outside) in Sacramento
                dinner at home, grilled sausages and salad
Saturday, 5/15 Novato to oompa loompa state park 
        through Greenbrae, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Woodacre, West Marin (Olema, Pt. Reyes Station, Inverness Park, Inverness, Marshall)
        Samuel P. Taylor State Park - Redwood groves and grassy hills, nice campground
        Tomales State Park - has beach and picnicking down a half mile road)     
                lunch at Boca Pizzeria, Novato - chicken flatbread wrap with hummus, tomatoes, yummy dressing)
                dinner at home - Grilled salmon, grilled asparagus, sliced brown tomatoes  
Sunday, 5/16
        Over the Golden Gate Bridge - a little bit of good old SF fog - to San Bruno Mountain - up to the foggy summit where there were no other cars, because Steve had the secret entry code.  Windy.  Super windy.  If there were no fog, we would have looked down onto several huge cemeteries on one side and the city of San Francisco on the other.
    Daly City - the song "Little Boxes, on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky" was written about Daly City
    Through Pacifica to Moss Beach. 
        Late Lunch at Moss Beach Distillery with Dede's cousin Terry, at window with incredible view.  Seafood Platter: fried cod, fried calamari, fried "prawns" with crispy fries and yummy coleslaw....and a Bloody Mary!
            Dessert at Tuttimelon in Novato, Pineapple Whip Sorbet. Blissful day!
Monday, 5/17/2021
     Drove into San Francisco for the day, eating lunch at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, just beside the Bay Bridge in South Beach.  
     I've posted the photos on a separate blog post here.
Took some photos of Dede's flowers and lemons as well as California poppies and other cool flowers on the side of the roadway.
Tuesday, 5/18/2021
Homeward bound.  Left Oakland at 9:20 am, arriving in Baltimore at 8:10 pm.  By the time I got my bag and reached the car it was almost 10 pm.  I'm so glad that I had reserved a night at the BWI Garden Hilton, which was around 3 miles from the parking garage!
What a wonderful week!