book blog

Book Blog: American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World by Joe Berkowitz

Posted by on Oct 9, 2020 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

american cheese

American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World by Joe Berkowitz

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advance galley through NetGalley.

American Cheese is my kind of book. Author Joe Berkowitz had a near-religious experience with artisan cheese that awoke him to the diverse flavors and textures of the world’s cheese, resulting in a country and world-spanning odyssey to understand the joys of modern cheese and the industry as a whole. It’s enlightening. It’s laugh-out-loud funny throughout. Perhaps most of all, I felt as if I had connected with a friend who gets it.

I love cheese. I chronicle every cheese that I try and constantly seek out new experiences. It has become one of my prime (and most expensive) hobbies. I’ve had many of the cheeses he viscerally describes in this book, and discovered many more to add to my wish list (and yes, there is an actual wish list). Even more, he gets to experience and describe incredible things I never will, like volunteering at Murray’s Cheese in NYC, attending and eating his way through the Cheesemonger Invitational, hanging out with cheese influencers like Cheese Sex Death (one of my favorites online), traveling the California Cheese Trail (totally a goal of mine, though as a native Californian, I was appalled that the author didn’t know California made cheese), and attending world-class cheese events in France and Italy. Through his words, I was vicariously there, and left desperately craving the cheeses he describes.

Throughout everything, he is easy to relate to, modest, and hilarious. Some choice quotes include:

“I wanted to run outside doing full Kermit-arms and scream for everybody to try this cheese right now, which probably wouldn’t be the weirdest thing anyone overheard on Bleecker Street that day.”

“Cheese is literally heaven. It’s what happens after milk sheds this mortal coil and ascends to a higher plain of existence.”

Seriously, if you love cheese, get this book.

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Book Blog: Mary Quirk and the Secret of Umbrum Hall (Dark Lessons #1) by Anna St. Vincent

Posted by on Oct 2, 2020 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

mary quirk

Mary Quirk and the Secret of Umbrum Hall (Dark Lessons #1) by Anna St. Vincent

out now in paperback and ebook; available from B&N and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received a gratis galley of this book for review.

Mary Quirk and the Secret of Umbrum Hall starts off a new YA series in fun fashion. After reading several intense, dark adult books in a row, I had no idea how much I needed THIS book until I was already immersed–and that immersion happened within a few pages of the start. There was just something delightful about an entrance to a magical school found via a portal in a rural Oklahoma farmhouse. Plus, Mary is an easy character to relate to–a goth with family drama she’d rather forget about, and who really wants to get good grades and become better at her fire magic.

The whole cast is great, really. The book follows the familiar trope of the start of the school year with new classes and social dynamics, plus magical twists. One of the many eye-rolling things about Harry Potter (because such comparisons are unavoidable with any magic school novel now) is the whole instant-enemies thing. In Mary Quirk’s world, her schoolmates and teachers are quite nuanced. She is, too. She starts out the book with some very set biases but learns and matures. The magic in the book is fun, as is the gradual exploration of the school grounds. Umbrum Hall is hiding more than one secret, that’s for sure!

I look forward to reading more in this series. This is the cozy YA fantasy escape from reality that I need right now.

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StoryBundle includes 12 books (including mine) for $15!

Posted by on Jun 29, 2020 in Blog, book blog, others books, red dust collection | Comments Off on StoryBundle includes 12 books (including mine) for $15!

storybundle

 

Here’s how easy this is: pay at least $15. If you can, throw in a few more bucks to support authors. Get 12 ebooks, no DRM. Your summer reading is set! The theme is Crossing the Veil, so expect transferred souls, ghosts, and all kinds of supernatural goodness.

This deal won’t be available for long.

Click here to buy!

crossing the veil

 

#SFWAPro

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Book Blog: The Sign of the Dragon by Mary Soon Lee

Posted by on Jun 5, 2020 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: The Sign of the Dragon by Mary Soon Lee

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

The Sign of the Dragon by Mary Soon Lee
out now in ebook; Google Play, B&N, and Amazon

 

I love this book. It’s as close to perfect as a book can get, which is saying a lot, especially when I add that this is a novel-sized volume of fantasy poetry that truly reads like a novel.

The central character is King Xau, a fourth son never intended to be king. He never wanted to be king. Xau is a good human being, and that is one of the intense joys of this book. Even though it often deals honestly, graphically, with war and depravity, the verses are embodied with an overall positive message that good things happen when people strive to do good. We take that in through various viewpoints–Xau’s, and those of dozens around him, from commoners in awe of a brief meeting to his avowed enemies to his beloved guards to the palace cat.

As a poetry book, it is entirely accessible. The verses flow, and emotions with them. This is a book that will make you FEEL. I can’t even say how many verses brought tears to my eyes, and I had to fight sobs at the end.

I had read the first 60 poems in Mary Soon Lee’s previous book Crowned (which I provided a blurb for), plus individual poems in a smattering of other publications. The Sign of the Dragon added 200 never-before-published poems to Xau’s tale.

If you don’t normally read poetry books, please, read this one. If you do read poetry, you’ll be blown away at the beauty and flow of this novel told in verse. I already know this will be one of my favorites for the year. A favorite book, period.

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Book Blog: Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole

Posted by on Mar 13, 2020 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

 

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

In Sixteenth Watch, Myke Cole has created a compelling, action-packed work of military sci-fi where United States settlers face off against Chinese interests on the moon–and the United States Navy and Coast Guard likewise face off, escalating an already hot situation into one that could go nuclear.

I trust Cole to get the military aspects right; I know the guy, and he knows his stuff. As a former Navy wife, I have some familiarity with the subject matter myself. The rivalry he writes about within the ranks here is absolutely plausible, on earth and the moon, and ratchets up the tension to a major degree. This is one of those books that is almost impossible to put down. You NEED to find out what happens next.

This isn’t a thriller full of vapid action, though. At its heart are incredible, vivid characters that I came to care about. The protagonist is Jane Oliver, a Coast Guard veteran of decades who loses her sailor husband during an initial lunar flare-up between the US and China. Instead of taking a quiet retirement, she is invited back to the moon for a rather unusual challenge: to prepare an elite squad of Coasties for a reality game show that the Marines have dominated for years. This has not only impacted recruitment efforts on Earth, but also gives the Navy more power in the struggle for military dominance on the moon. Navy commanders are too keen on war, to Jane’s thinking; the Coast Guard, carrying out a role on the moon similar to what they do on the ocean, is largely about deescalating tension and saving lives. It’s awesome to see the Coast Guard be in the spotlight in a space setting because the role that they play (even without a literal coast to guard) makes absolute sense.

The reality show angle adds to the originality of the book, and again, I know Cole knows what he’s talking about, as he is a reality show veteran himself. The stakes around the show feel realistic in this near-future setting, but hanging over everything is that threat of war with China.

This is a darn good book, and I hope it’s the first in the series because I’d love to read more about these characters and this world.

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Book Blog: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Posted by on Feb 21, 2020 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

dark lord clementine

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

I received a gratis copy of the ebook for award consideration.

The Dark Lord Clementine is an incredibly witty, fun middle grade frolic in a fresh new fantasy world. I would have adored this book as a kid and enjoyed it as an adult too–and had to fight the urge to giggle aloud more than once as I read in a waiting room.

Clementine is the only child of the Dark Lord Elithor. She’s been raised in isolation, instructed in the importance of villainy as she helps to manage their silent farm with nightmares and flaming chickens. When her father comes down with a dreadful curse, Clementine does her best to manage the estate, but as loneliness and desperation sets in, she is determined to take on the witch who cursed her father… and instead falls in with some people who might, possibly be her first friends.

What I loved about this book was that it’s delightfully amusing and that the moral lesson of the book is always kept fun, never preachy. Clementine–and her dad–can’t be TOO evil, after all. The end of the book is packed with surprises, too. Really, it’s a fantastic read start to finish. How can I not love a book that has a spell-book-turned-into-a-chicken?

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