Sunday, August 31, 2014

Daughters of the Dragon

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Daughters of the Dragon is written by William Andrews and is historically based around the women who were forced by the Japanese to be “comfort women” or ianfu during World War II.

A girl named Anna is a Korean who was adopted by an American family as a baby. When her American mother dies of cancer she finds that she is at an impasse in life and decides to travel to South Korea in an attempt to locate her birth mother to learn more about her past. She finds much more than she could have ever imagined.

I must commend Mr. Andrews on his ability to capture this story through the eyes of a woman. Included within Daughters of the Dragon are many heart wrenching and difficult to read passages are included in this book, and William was very careful and intimate with small details that he showed careful attention to.

This historical fiction story of a story told to Anna holds much fact from Korea’s history. I admittedly learned many details about the history, which hold true with the true accounts of what happened during this time. To date the Japanese have not formally apologized for the atrocities that were conducted against these women that have still never been fully acknowledged by either the Korean or Japanese governments. To date the remaining ianfu still march outside of the Japanese embassy weekly even though many of them are now in their 80s and 90s.

So many aspects of this book pulled at my heart, and I could feel myself there within these pages. There were some painful aspects to read of accounts that NEED to be told and NEED to be heard. There were times when I found tears in my eyes for the way that life had to be survived at a day at a time.

After surviving the horrors of being a “comfort woman”, Ja-hee found herself in an increasingly communistic North Korea, and after fleeing found that she was fighting to always try to escape the embarrassment and dishonor that she felt from what had been down to herself.

This book is an easy 5/5 stars, with its passion swept across the pages; passion for love, honor, survival, strength, independence, and for self-growth. This book spoke to my very soul and makes my heart ache for the pain my world sister had to endure during their time as comfort women and the hardships they encountered if they managed to make it out of their alive. EVERYONE should read this story and pass it on. This is one of those novels that I hope may reach other forums to reach further audiences. Hopefully we can see it portrayed accurately in a move theater one day soon as this story needs to be heard.

For more information go to http://www.comfort-women.org

Friday, August 29, 2014

Steak Au Poivre with Disaronno

It had been far too long since I had made a delicious rendition of Steak Au Poivre, so it was time to pull this bad boy out of storage.  I was definitely not left disappointed. 

Ingredients:
Seasoning (I used Alpine Touch, Mediterranean Basil,  Spicy Montreal Steak, and Garlic Powder)
3 Steaks (Cut of steak depends on your preference)
Unsalted Butter 3 Tbsp
2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
6 Package Mushrooms Sliced
2/3 Cup (3 fl oz) Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tsp Tarragon

Directions:
In a Large Frying pan over med-high heat melt 2 Tbsp butter.  While the butter is melting season the steak on both side with the seasoning of your choice.  Add the steaks to the pan to cook.  Turning once for a total of 6-8 minutes for medium rare and longer if you like your steak done more.  Transfer the steaks to a plate and store in the microwave to keep warm. 
Add the remaining 1 Tbsp butter to the pan and melt over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and garlic, saute' until softened (about a minute).  Stir in the amaretto, cream and tarragon.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer until slightly thickened.  Simmer for about 1-5 minutes.  Turn the heat off and return the steaks to the pan to soak into the sauce.  Serve by spooning sauce over the steak onto the plate.  Enjoy!

Cook the steaks and you can also make garlic mashed potatoes at the same time
Saute' the garlic and mushrooms
Serve & Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Alexxxa

 *I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review

Alexxxa is written by D. T. Dyllin and features a woman named Alexa James.  As the name easily slides off the tongue it is easy to believe that it is the name of a porn star.
Alexa James is a porn star that has been in the industry for many years and is taking a break as she is starting to feel burnt out from the one thing that she loves and feels most fulfilled by.  Finishing her last shot before taking her vacation she encounter David Jonez, a man who wants to follow her with his crew to do a documentary inside of the Porn Industry.

While on vacation Alexa finds herself questioning everything she knows about herself and her life, as she contemplates her future.  Alexa's character displays many stereotypical "porn star" attributes, in her self confidence and insecurity, yes she is so much more than that.


 David has had a crush on Alexa since high school and has found the perfect opportunity to get close to her by using his film documentary.  Half of him hopes to rid her from his system, and the other half still remains completely infatuated with her.

Dyllin did an amazing job portraying many different aspects of the porn industry with realism and by writing a romance novel that was not your average every day read.  Although this book is erotica with some hot and heavy moments, the story had true substance and was able to leave the cheesy porno music behind.

Alexxxa is written in such a way that you will find yourself rooting for and caring for Alexa as she is trying to do what makes her happy in life and learning how to be the best version of herself.  There are many sensitive issues within this book, and Dyllin does a superb job of speaking up for the rights of women in the porn industry on multiple occasions.

I love the way that Alexxxa is written from the vastly different perspectives of Alexa and David as the story is told.  It gives a wonderful representation of the entirety of what is going on with a wider angle of view.  Dyllin's characters are easy to connect with and described in a way that you can see them come to life before your eyes.

Alexxxa receives a deserving 5/5 stars.  It was a fun and entertaining read.  It had it's hot moments, and also took a realistic approach on the feelings in love, even if some of it felt rushed.  In way the rushing was fitting given the character of Alexa who approaches issues in an all or nothing fashion.  The book did leave me with one major question in regards to Alexa's ex, but otherwise I felt that it had suitable closure.  This book is great for anyone into romance, feminism, erotica, fiction, woman empowering, porn, etc.  If you are shy about adult themes or porn, don't let it shy you away from a story worth the read; that is just one piece of the puzzle.

About the Author:

D.T. Dyllin is a Bestselling Romance Author who writes in both New Adult and Adult genres. She is a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and also her local chapter, the MCRW (Music City Romance Writers).

 D.T. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Black & Gold for life, baby!) She now lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two spoiled GSDs.

Purchase Information:

Title: AleXXXa
Author: D.T. Dyllin
Series: Standalone
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tik Tok Press
Cover artist: Lindsay Tiry
Release Date: July 20, 2014




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sangria Mix

My mother had sent me a Sangria pre-mix that she had come across since she knew of my love fro Sangria.  So I decided to give it a shot, and I have to admit that it did turn out very delicious.  Almost dangerous as it went down like juice. 

Ingredients: (makes about 7 or 8 large glasses)
1 packet Sangria Mix (I used one from Gourmet Village)
2 Cups Portmanteau (I used 2010 from Christoval Vineyards)
2 Cups Estate Vermentino (I used 2012  from the local Christoval Vineyards)
1 Cup Brandy (I used E&J)
1/2 Cup Amaretto Liquor (I used Disaronno)
2 Cups Orange Juice (not from concentrate is best I used Simply Orange)
4  Pineapple Rounds (Cored & Sliced)
6 Strawberries (Sliced)
1 Apple (Cored & Sliced)
10 Slices of Honey Dewlicious
10-15 Green Grapes (Seedless)

Directions:
Add all ingredients except fruit to a pitcher.  Stir thoroughly.  Add in the fruit and stir again.  Allow fruit to sit in sangria for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Serve & Enjoy!  (Feel free to eat the fruit and add to your glass)

Put all of the liquid ingredients into a pitcher and stir
Add the fruit and stir again
Serve & Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Forgotten Ones

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Forgotten Ones is written by Laura Howard and is book one in the Danaan Trilogy. This book is based around a woman named Allison O’Malley who has just finished college and is planning to attend grad school. She lived with her grandparents and her schizophrenic mother. Allison knows nothing of her father except that his name is Liam and that her mother met him while visiting Ireland.

Laura has definitely chosen a subject matter that is near and dear to my heart with the subject of the Tuatha de Danaan and their amazing lore. The Danaan are the Celtic Fairies that were most prominent before Christianity took over. From the glimpses that were to be had in this novel I am intrigued by her interpretation of them.

Although The Forgotten Ones is supposed to be written about college age kids, everyone lives with their parents and seems to almost be more like high school kids on Summer break with the feel that you get for them. The story is entertaining and a quick read. I did enjoy the characters, but I didn’t really feel a connection to them. Instead of being a fully integrated part of the story, I felt more like I was on the outside looking in.

Allison’s mother Beth was schizophrenic, but it seemed more like a clinical approach than the connection I wanted to feel from a situation that had affected Allison her entire life and that she was preparing to take on for the rest of her life in the care for her mother.

The only relationship that seemed to truly take on any emotion was the one between Allison and Ethan. Although this relationship felt like it was between much younger characters, it felt real and heartfelt. You could actually feel Allison’s real hesitation to pursue anything with Ethan, and also the warring of her yearning to try. The only thing that seemed the most unrealistic was his almost instant change to a gentleman from a player.

With all that being said I give this book a 4/5 stars. Regardless of any errors, it was still enjoyable to read. It was a great light read, and I would definitely like to read more in the trilogy. It felt like the book was really just getting started in on the action at the end of the book. If you are into fiction, fantasy, Celtic Lore, romance, new adult, etc, then you would enjoy this book.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Mountain Place of Knowledge


I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Mountain Place of Knowledge is written by Marshall Chamberlain and is the first in the Ancestor Series. The book revolves around a location in Caracol Ruins of Belize. An ancient Mayan priestess penned a journal that has been found and is being translated, but the words found on the pages describe things that cannot be in the real world.

The Mountain Place of Knowledge is unlike any book that I have ever read before. I am not sure what depths of Marshall’s soul that this book was written from, but it is almost as if he was channeling another entity. This book spoke to me on so many levels. I am not even sure how to fully describe this book. I think it was put out there for the depth of a certain kind of reader. Even if that is not you, this book will not disappoint.

The actual mountain foretold in the title is one that is supposed to possess healing powers if the Mayan journal is to be believed. However it may also hold the key to great powers of destruction. Once the UN representatives get inside, what they find is beyond anything that they could have imagined.

Marshall has written this story to give the fully encompassed view of all that is going on. The beginning of the book does take a short while to get used to the change in view points, but it hooks you in from the beginning. Once the ball really gets rolling, it doesn’t stop until the very last page that left me wanting more. There are quite a few players in this book, but let’s suffice it to say that there are representatives from the UN, and Belize museum, Chinese intelligence and everything in between.

As the main view point tends to me from the UN representatives I definitely felt more connected to them and was rooting for them. Of course the crazy Chinese capabilities always get so frustrating in the race against time. There is definitely a lot of suspense throughout the story and the ending is extremely action packed with updates by the minute. This book does a good job of both providing closure and leaving the door open for the next book. I was definitely hoping there would be another visit to the mountain to see what else was in there.

Overall I give this book 5/5 stars. It was written very well and definitely came from unique ideas and a unique perspective on history and the world around us. If you are into sci-fi, techno thrillers, military, fiction, historical fiction, action, suspense, thriller, etc., then his book is definitely for you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

July 2014 Playlist

Here is a playlist of the 30 songs that impacted me throughout the 31 days of July!  Enjoy




1. Your Guardian Angel-The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: This is such a beautiful song, I always want to stop and listen whenever I hear it.

2. Defy You-The Offspring: I don’t think I can ever mention enough times how much I love The Offspring!  This is one of their greats.

3. Penguin-Christina Perri: I love penguins, I love Christina and this is a cute song, now I want to write a song about Lobsters….

4. Togther-The XX: The Great Gatsby seriously had one of the greatest soundtracks of all, I love this song.

5. More Than Love- Amerie feat Fabolous:  Songs like this could go either way with the ending that they chose for the video.

6. Come Close-Mary J. Blige: This will always be one of my favorite Common songs, and Mary J. looks likes she hasn’t aged a day.

7. You-Mya: Great song, would be nice….

8. Selling the Drama-Live: Because teenage years, that’s why 

9. God Bless the U.S.A.-Lee Greenwood: This song makes me cry every time I hear it.  You can’t have the 4th of July without this song.  I will always think about being at the Linvingston 4th of July Rodeo watching the fireworks.  

10. 1979-Smashing Pumpkins: Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness…. Need I say more?

11. You’ll Be In My Heart-Phil Collins: Liam was really into Tarzan in July, and the stupid movie made me cry multiple times every time we watched it….  Such amazing lyrics and what they represent.

12. Beautiful-Snoop Dogg feat Pharrell and Charlie Wilson:  This song will always and forever remind me of Tech School and Graham's Central Station......

13. Next to You-Chris Brown feat Justin Bieber: Even those this video is pretty dumb(which is why I opted for the lyrics version instead), I do still love the message of this song.

14. Ironic (Acoustic)-Alanis Morissette: In case the original wasn't awesome enough, this acoustic version is for when you want the same message in a slower tone :) You can never go wrong with Alanis.

15. Over the Love-Florence and the Machine: How can you not love a FATM song?  This song is so beautiful, and I always love her lyrics, and it comes off of the amazing Great Gatsby soundtrack.  

16. Don't You Wanna Stay-Jason Aldean feat Kelly Clarkson: Yeah yeah I know country music, but I can recognize a great song with great lyrics regardless of genre. 

17. Rosie's Lullaby-Norah Jones: I was blessed to be able to see Norah in concert, and that girl is talented.  This is such a beautiful song.

18. Soldier of Love-Sade: Sade is the queen of music, and I too am a soldier of love.

19. I Miss You-Blink-182: Blink reminds me of growing up and I always loved this song.

20. Let It Be-Blackmill feat Veela: Blackmill never disappoints, they always have entrancing songs.  Love this one!  "Let it come, and let it be"

21. Derezzed (Glitch Mob Remix)-Daft Punk: Because this song is straight awesomeness, and shows the art of musical prowess.

22. Can You Handle It-Usher: This song is just hot, and slow and I love it.

23. Fat Bottomed Girls-Queen: Before Sir Mix-A-Lot there was Queen...  Even if Freddie Mercury was picturing something else in the front.....  It's still a classic :)

24. Falling Slowly-Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova: "I don't know you, but I want you all the more for it Words fall through me, always fool me, and I can't react.  Games that never amount to more than their meant will play themselves out"  Such power in those lyrics.  I have to stop everything and listen when these two amazing musicians get together.  If you have never been blessed with the opportunity of watching Once, you need to make your life better by doing so.  That movie never gets old for me.

25. Open Your Eyes-Snow Patrol: I seriously cannot get enough of this song.  I could listen to it on repeat for days.  I always have to crank it up and sing along.  This song just speaks to me in so many ways! 

26. Lost-Michael Buble': Michael has been gone from my playlists for far too long with how much I love him!  This is another one of his great songs. 

27. Cookie Jar-Gym Class Heroes feat The Dream: This song is so hilarious and brilliantly put together.  I just love Gym Class Heroes and Travie McCoy :) 

28. Spectrum of the Sky-Break of Reality: Just a beautiful instrumental song.

29. Stay With Me-Sam Smith: I love this song Sam can seriously sing, it's definitely heartfelt and heart breaking.  I think we have all had that relationship that was doomed from the start but had some sort of crazy chemistry that you wanted to keep fighting for it anyway. 

30. Turn Your Lights Down Low-Bob Marley & Lauren Hill: I will always love this song, such a great (post mortem) collaboration.

31. End it On This-No Doubt:  Seemed like such a fitting song to wrap up the playlist from the songs I had to choose from throughout the month :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rogue Hunter: Inquest

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rogue Hunter: Inquest is a book written by Kevis Hendrickson. It is the first in the Rogue Hunter series and centers around a galactic bounty hunter named Zyra Zanr.

Rogue Hunter is a Sci-Fi novel that starts out with a news bulletin that states that the wanted killer Boris Skringler has been captured in New Venus. The bounty hunter Zyra Zanr went to retrieve him and was also captured, who is now believed to be dead.

It took me about 4% of the book to figure out what was going on… and then I couldn’t put the book down. I lost sleep I got so into the story. It is not just any book that can possess a reader in the way that Rogue Hunter:Inquest had with me. I loved about 85=90% of the story. But when the galactic battle began, I felt like the visualization and character connection was all of a sudden missing. There were all these names of ships, but not a good idea of the size or capability of them. Also the new players on the scene in the battle had little descriptors that stood out, except for their eyes.

Overall, the flow of this book was exquisite. I loved that Kevis was not afraid to push the envelope and that Zanr was not choosy in the sex of her heart’s desire. There was not a lot of background in the beginning, but flashbacks filled the reader in on what brought Zanr to the present predicament. It was easy to connect with Zanr and root for her. The ending was one of those “please don’t let it be true…” sort of endings that left me wanting more from this series.

I give this book a 4.5/5 stars. If it wasn’t for the jumble of the battle I would give it a 5/5 either way for site review purposes, it deserves to be rounded up to a 5. For a book that I cannot put down in my busy lifestyle that is saying a lot about the story telling ability of the author. I highly recommend this book as an entertaining read. It is most suitable for people who enjoy sci-fi, romance, intrigue, betrayal, suspense, unsavory characters, fiction, woman-empowering, etc.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Beef Minestrone Soup-One Pot Recipe

For my birthday my mother got me a bunch of mini cookbooks.  One of them was full of one-pot recipes, so of course I had to find one and completely jack with the ingredients.  Here is the result of that fun, it turned out quite delicious. :)

Ingredients:
1 lb Hamburger
Seasoning (Basil, Oregano, Alpine Touch, Crushed Red Pepper)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
1 Carrot (Peeled & Sliced)
1 Zucchini (Peeled & Sliced)
2 Celery Ribs (Chopped)
10-12 Grape Tomatoes (Diced) *substitute a can of diced tomatoes if needed
3 Large Tomatoes (Crushed) *substitute can of crushed tomatoes if needed
5 Mushrooms (Chopped)
1/2 Can of Black Olives (Sliced)
2 1/2 Cup Beef Broth
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Cups Bowtie Pasta
Shredded Cheese to taste

Directions:
Add the hamburger to a pot and cook on medium.  Once browned add the oil, garlic, carrot, zucchini and celery.  Cook for about 4 minutes.  Add in remaining ingredients except for the cheese and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes until pasta is al dente.  Stir occasionally and serve when done.  Stir in the cheese and top with basil and enjoy!

Brown the hamburger in the bottom of the pot
Add the oil, garlic, carrots, zucchini and celery
Add in the remaining ingredients and mix together
Mix in the shredded cheese and enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fire Country

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Fire Country is Book 1 in the Country Saga and written by the talent David Estes.  Fire Country is a book based around a girl named Siena who lives in Fire Country, which is essentially a desert type terrain that stays hot for the majority of the year.

This book was truly phenomenal.  David has created a unique world, realistic characters, a new governing body and even a fitting language for the setting.  Fire Country is a breath of fresh air after all of the unfinished products I seem to have read recently.  There was amazing flow, I didn't have to worry about constant interruptions with typos and grammar issues, and it was easy to get lost in this world as I was rooting for Siena and wanting her to rise above her social status and find a way to find true happiness in life. 

Fire Country happens in a somewhat post apocalyptic world where the population is much less than it was and the life expectancy is much lower with the average person dying at age 30.  As someone who turned 30 this year, I found this crazy to think about that this could be my last year.  Due to these circumstances, the fire people have rules enacted that involve girls turning 16 to become bearers for the tribe.  Once a quarter every girl at the age of 16 must attend a "call" ceremony.  This means that she will be paired with a randomly selected man over the age of 18 to become his "bearer" and to bear his children.  Once having a child she will be expected to bear another child ever three years after, until the household is full.  A normal full household has 3 "bearers" and nine children.  Siena is a "scrawny" girl prone to daydreams and has no interest in becoming a bearer, and not having any choice in who her call will be.  Unfortunately for her, her father is in high-level leadership in the tribe.  Through her slight rebellions she comes to discover unimaginable secrets, and just when you think the scandal of the tribe is enough for the book, there is a new and crazy turn of events. 

David has made such a brilliant story with Fire Country and each character comes to life from Siena to her family and friends and even the ancillary characters.  Even when in a depression I couldn't help but chuckle at Siena's dry and witty humor and her sometimes conversations with Perry.  Siena shows the world that even a skinny young girl can stand up against what she feels is wrong and find herself in the process.

I give this book 5/5 stars, and cannot wait to read book two in the saga.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys getting lost in a story.  Within these pages you will find intrigue, hope, rebellion, betrayal, love, independence and growth.  This book is more than fiction, it is entertainment at its finest.  Don't wait to pick this one up.