03 May 2016

Today's Read and Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo: Book One by Rick Riordan

Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick RiordanImagine you are an all-powerful Greek god. You fly across the sky in your chariot, warming the earth with the sun. You drink wine, you play music, and you are immortal. Now think how you would feel if you were suddenly a regular human, stripped of your godliness. Poor Apollo is about to find out--firsthand.

After all I had done for Percy Jackson, I expected delight upon my arrival. A tearful welcome, a few burnt offerings, and a small festival in my honor would not have been inappropriate.

Instead, the young man swung open the apartment door and said, “Why?”
The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion, 2016, pp. 27-28)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times, New York City, Camp Half-Blood, and beyond
  • Circumstances: Apollo, god of the sun, renown musician and archer, guardian of the Oracle at Delphi, is on the outs with his father, Zeus. As punishment, Apollo is transformed into a teenage boy, without any godly powers. If he has any hope of surviving and getting back in his father's good graces, he'll need a little help from his friends, especially from Percy Jackson.
  • Genre & audience: middle grade fantasy with deep roots in mythology.
  • Characters: Apollo, the god turned boy; Percy Jackson, a demi-god and son of Poseidon; Meg McCaffrey, a demi-god who befriends Apollow but who also needs help; familiar characters from the Percy Jackson universe and new people, gods, and creatures
  • Thoughts: There are no ARCs (at least not for me), so I don't know much about the book. But if the excerpt is anything to go on, The Trials of Apollo promises to be full of Riordan magic.
  • If you need more: You can download a very fun activity kit; follow Rick Riordan on Twitter; and search your social media sites for #TrialsofApollo (the official hashtag). 

The Giveaway

Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo by Rick RiordanTo celebrate today's publication of The Trials of Apollo, Disney-Hyperion is releasing five special editions, each with a unique extra, available only at specific retailers (see the scan; click to enlarge). The special inserts are a letter from Apollo to Zeus, an illustrated map, a bumper sticker; a bookmark, and a poster. Each is available only at the indicated store.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion I can offer one of my readers (with a USA mailing address) a copy of one of these special editions. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via a random number generator on May 16. Once the winner has been confirmed and his or her address has been passed along to the publisher, I'll delete all personal information from my computer. Which exclusive edition the winner will receive is a surprise! Good luck!

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02 May 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: How I Spend My Time

Life suddenly got crazy -- but all for fun reasons. Mid-April to Mid-May is full of birthdays, a lace workshop, a visit with my mom, and then, of course BookExpo America, which is in Chicago this year.

Regardless, I'm managing to read and listen to books, to watch a little television, to do some yard work, and to take my (almost) daily walks. What I'm having trouble with is finding the time to attend to my blog properly. Sooooo, posts will be a bit light until after BEA. I'll have my weekly photograph and Weekend Cooking and at least one giveaway (tomorrow). I'll see what else I can muster up in the meantime.

What I'm listening to: I've listened to and reviewed three books for AudioFile magazine and one just for myself. Sweetbitter is a novel that takes places in a Manhattan restaurant and is A-MAZE-ING. I'll be reviewing it here for a Weekend Cooking post later in May. Breaking Wild is a combination mystery and outdoor adventure that features two strong women -- one who is lost in the Colorado mountains and one who is a park ranger trying to find her. I love Lian Hearn and am sooooo happy she has new series. All four books in this fantasy / historical fiction series will be out this year. And I finally have Raven King on my phone. I'm listening every second I have. Oh so good.

What I'm watching: My top two current television shows right now are Outlander and Game of Thrones. I'm addicted to both. Yes, yes, neither follows the books exactly (well, GoT has now moved beyond the books), but I don't care! Do all the actors look like I expected the characters to look like? Not necessarily. Do I care? Only a tiny bit. I'm thrilled that these two book series have been brought to life. We're also currently streaming The Good Wife (we're still on season 1) and catching up with the last season of Justified. We have Better Call Saul on our list but I'm not sure season 2 will be available for streaming so, we'll likely drop it.

What I did this weekend: I make bobbin lace, and this past weekend I finished a piece that I've been working on for a long time. I was trying to figure out how many hours it took to complete this motif, but I don't really remember. Maybe 150? Maybe more. This is a Dutch bobbin lace called Withof, which has many modern elements and uses very fine thread. Anyway, click the image to enlarge it, if you're curious. I'm not sure what I'm going to make next. I may pick a fairly traditional lace (more similar to what you think of as wedding or lingerie lace) or I may make another motif in the same type of lace I just finished. I need to look through some pattern books and see what calls to me. By the way: Making lace is prime audiobook listening time!

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30 April 2016

Weekend Cooking: 3 Culinary Mysteries for May

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

It's been a long while since I wrote about culinary cozy mysteries. Each of the three I feature today will be released next week from Berkley Prime Crime and include recipes that were mentioned in the story. These kinds of light mysteries feature likeable characters and sometimes a little romance, making them perfect for the beach, for an afternoon on the porch with a cup of tea, or for a rainy day by the fireplace.

Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen BridgeKathleen Bridge's newest entry in her Hamptons Home & Garden mystery series is Hearse and Gardens. Our protagonist was once a Manhattan interior designer, but Meg Barrett left the city for the peace and quiet of the Hamptons. She loves the area, but her days are anything but slow. Not only does she have to sort out legal issues before she can buy a beachfront cottage but she discovers a literal skeleton in the closet in a Montauk estate. This mystery takes us into the pop art world, where a Warhol painting, family feuds, and high society all play a role. Reviewers mention that Meg is a smart, capable character and that it's easy to connect to her predicaments. First paragraph:
"You have been served." Four words you never want to hear.
Recipes include Cajun shrimp, and the book also contains a guide to shopping for and using vintage items.

Berry the Hatchet by Peg CochranBerry the Hatchet is the third entry in Peg Cochran's Cranberry Cove mystery series, set in Michigan. Monica Albertson left Chicago to help her brother, Jeff, on his cranberry farm located on the shores of Lake Michigan. In an effort to boost the local the economy, the town decides to hold a late-winter festival. But before the first day is over, someone has died, and the prime suspects are Monica's mother and stepmother. Can Monica and Jeff find the real killer before their family is torn apart? One of the fun things about cozy mysteries is the setting, and reviewers have commented on how much they liked getting to know the small lakeside town and Monica's friends and customers. First paragraph:
Cranberry Cove was in an uproar.
Among the several recipes are cranberry balsamic pork chops and cranberry salsa.

Irish Stewed by Kylie LoganIf you want to get in at the beginning of a series, try Irish Stewed by Kylie Logan, which is the opening book in her Ethnic Eats mysteries. Our hero is Laurel Inwood, a personal chef to a Hollywood bigwig. Well, make that ex-chef. She's now living in a small town in Ohio working in her aunt Sophie's diner. Determined to keep up her culinary standards, Laurel decides to add ethnic dishes to the daily specials. It was a good plan until someone is found dead at their restaurant table. Good food, a cute guy, and delicious clues make this book a lovely way to spend the afternoon. First lines:
"I can explain. . . . It's like this, you see, Laurel."
There is only one recipe at the back of the book, and it's, of course, for Irish stew.

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28 April 2016

Review: Maestra by L. S. Hilton

Review: Maestra by L. S. HiltonShort take: L. S. Hilton's Maestra is a sexy, twisty thriller set in the art world of the UK and Europe.

What's it all about: Judith Rashleigh has worked hard to perfect the way she appears to the posh Londoners she hopes to befriend. She's lost her cockney accent and has distanced herself from her pedestrian background. Although she hasn't risen very high in her job at one of the major art houses, she's training herself for the day she'll be asked to meet with a wealthy client.

Meanwhile, she picks up extra cash and thrills working in the city's champagne bars, where she isn't necessarily required to do more than drink with the men, but, well, you know, sometimes the romp and/or the money is too good to pass up.

When her carefully constructed existence begins to crumble, Judith agrees to accompany a wealthy, married patron to the French Riviera. After witnessing an accidental death, Judith seizes on the opportunity hiding beneath the tragedy, determined that nothing at all will stop her from having the life she knows she deserves.

Thoughts: The publishers have compared Maestra to The Talented Mr. Ripley, and I can understand why. Judith is incredibly resourceful, with an uncanny ability to read people and do whatever is called for in any given situation, from setting up house in the correct Paris arrondissement to skipping town without a trace when circumstances become complicated.

Although the buying and selling of art plays a central role in the novel, Hilton oddly skimps a bit on the details in this realm. She does not, however, gloss over Judith's sex life, so be prepared for some hot and kinky scenes.

I enjoy books I can't figure out, and Maestra fooled me more than once. As I said, Judith is a clever woman, and like a good chess player, she is always looking several moves ahead.

Recommendations: L. S. Hilton's Maestra has earned starred reviews and a lot of buzz. While I wasn't quite as taken with the novel as were others, I am still recommending the book. It was an engrossing read that kept me guessing. And though I wish I had learned more about the business side of art collecting, I did learn a lot about after-hours sex clubs. Judith is a no-holds-barred kind of character, and I liked getting to know her -- at least on paper. The epilogue makes it clear there will be more Judith Rashleigh books to follow, and I'm looking forward to her new adventures. Rest assured, though, Maestra doesn't end on cliff hanger. Note: If you're thrown off by graphic sex, you'll want to give this a pass.

Audiobook: The unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 10 hr, 20 min) was very nicely read by Emilia Fox, who had to meet several challenges in Maestra. She handled the variety of European and British accents beautifully and read through the sex scenes with aplomb. She built up the tension without tipping the listener off to what was coming up next and conveyed Judith's full range of emotions without veering into the overdramatic. A recommended audiobook.

Published by Putnam, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780399184260
Source: Review: ebook & audiobook (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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27 April 2016

Wordless Wednesday 391

Lichen, 2016

Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2016. All rights reserved.



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