All posts by cupcakesandmachetes

About cupcakesandmachetes

I read stuff, I bake stuff, I rant about stuff. Book in one hand, cupcake in the other, machete for a mind. I find myself endlessly entertaining. You might too. Or you might not, but you'd be lying to yourself.

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) -Book Review

51qojte2ixl

Published Date: February 5, 2013

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 334

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Humans have yet to scientifically study dragons. Yes, they do exist but little is known about them. There are various species and many have theorized about them and their habits but none have mounted an expedition to do the actual research.

Isabella has been obsessed with dragons since a young age, even narrowly escaping the wrath of one has never deterred her from her fascination. Trapped by her gender, the most her father hopes for her is that she’ll find a decent husband who will let her read books. (Holy fucking shit is that a depressing thought.) She is lucky enough to attract a husband who also likes dragons and has little interest in keeping a wife on a leash. (Pheeew!)

They befriend an earl who is putting together an expedition to study a breed of dragons called Vastryan rock wyrms. Again, luck is in Isabella’s corner and the earl likes feisty women and sees no difference in women’s intelligence compared to men. He also happens to be fond of Isabella’s husband, Jacob, and invites Jacob along on the journey. Clever girl that she is, Isabella convinces them to bring her along for her organizational and drawing skills.

Thus, begins their first adventure in studying dragons for science. It is fraught with peril, strange lands, bizarrely behaving dragons, and hostile villagers.

This is the first memoir written by Isabella years after she has proved herself a notorious scientist. People know the basics of her grand adventures but here, she gives a more detailed and honest account of how these things happened.

I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I was in the mood for dragons and feisty women and this definitely delivered. The artwork mixed throughout the novel was charming. If I had the second book on hand, I would have jumped right in.

tenor

Advertisements

Goodbye Summer – Recipes

I have the day off of work to go and see the one and only, Ozzy Osbourne in concert tonight. So I’m sitting on my wonderful patio having coffee with the dogs, which I’ve been able to do so little this summer due to the awful mugginess that plagued us most of the season, thinking that I am ready to say goodbye to summer. Autumn is my season (and it’s right around the corner!) and I’m ready to indulge it for everything it’s worth.

I haven’t done a lot of baking this year but there was a light lunch date with family in which I was asked to make some things to bring. What should I end the season with? Blueberries!

blueberrycheesecakedip

Blueberry Cheesecake dip recipe here.

 

blueberrybananamuffins
World’s best muffin/cupcake carrier.

Blueberry Banana muffin recipe here.

Both recipes really added to our little lunch date. Laid out alongside cookies, a fruit platter and cheese, meat, cracker platters, they were a perfect addition.

How are you saying goodbye to summer?

Educated: A Memoir – Book Review

91dfqa-kgql

Published Date: February 20, 2018

Publishing Co.: Random House

Pages: 334

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Raised in a small Mormon town, child to a mentally ill father, forced to work in a junkyard pulling scrap or making essential oils and homeopathy in the kitchen with her mother, Tara Westover never had an actual education. In fact, she didn’t even have a birth certificate for nine years or an actual birth date. Everyone had a different account of the day she was born and even when that date was.

Her life was preset before her. Help her parents make money and prepare for the End of Days, then one day become a wife and mother. Those were the foundations of a good Mormon believer according to her father.

As she grew, she began to realize that this was not the life she wanted. However, she felt guilty, almost blasphemous for feeling this way. First, she had to survive her family. An older brother who was extremely physically and mentally abusive. A father, who wanted to live off the grid, believed the government would come for them one day, and did not believe in the Medical Establishment. Meaning, serious injuries caused in the junkyard were treated by their mother with oils and homeopathy.

Tara grew bolder when a different older brother encouraged her to teach herself and pass the ACT so that she could escape the life laid out before her. A large portion of the story is about her education, learning about historical events she never knew had taken place, like the Holocaust. Her struggle to maintain her grades and earn grants to continue school and even placing into study abroad programs, learning about a world she never knew existed. All this while struggling with the drama and control of her family.

You could not have had a more polar opposite upbringing than my own. I was raised in an agnostic/atheist household with a strong stance on the importance of education. Therefore, it absolutely amazes me that this woman was not only able to survive a brutal childhood, but to go on and graduate from a school like Cambridge. She is only a year older than me and has accomplished so much more than I can imagine but I wouldn’t trade my childhood or my family for it.

It’s such a weird life and way of believing that at times I thought this story was something set before I was born but no, these people are out there today, doing these same things they’ve been doing since before I was born. It’s so bizarre to think about.

I liked the author’s honesty about how hard and how long it took to detach herself from the toxic portion of her family, even if it wasn’t fully her choice.

If you’re looking for an inspirational read, you’ve found it right here.

The Court of Broken Knives (Empire of Dust #1) – Book Review

51zyycvyoyl-_sx321_bo1204203200_

Published Date: June 27, 2017

Publishing Co.: Orbit

Pages: 512

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

giphy

I’m probably going to over simplify the fuck out of this as I’m having a hard time deciding how to review it.

The plot line is pretty straight forward. Sellswords are hired to kill the Emperor. They either succeed or they fail. (I’m not going to ruin any twists.) After which, they create a new plan to make lots of money next. There is betrayal and an epic battle.

When you step away from the plot, the characters are fairly complex. It’s hard to get to know them because no one is safe in this story. Many times they die just when you’re starting to figure them out. Marith, the main character, has secrets upon secrets. He’s a prince disguised as a mercenary, running away from his past. His past being the most intriguing thing about him. I struggled through the first 27% but when Marith started losing control, things got better.

The writing style can be off putting at first, very repetitive, but you do adjust and eventually it just flows.

There was an inconclusive ending, which I found to be the most disappointing part of the novel. I don’t expect to have all the answers to a series at the end of the first book, but I felt I was left with nothing and no cliffhanger to keep me wondering what happens next. (Look at me, complaining about a lack of cliffhangers. I must not be feeling well.)

Overall, I found it to be a pretty solid read.

Three Things Tag!

Judas Priest, I have not felt like blogging lately. I sat down to do this last night and promptly decided, fuck that. My reading has been slow and I’ve had a damn hard time finding the supplies for my new hobby I’m trying to take up and it’s all making me incredibly grouchy.

Anywho, enough grouchin’. Onto this fun tag that Ignited Moth shared.

3 READ ONCE & LOVED AUTHORS:

patty_briggs_4_sm

Patricia Briggs. This lady writes one of my favorite urban fantasies. The Mercy Thompson series. She also has a few other epic fantasy novels that I’m slowly working on. When I started the Mercy series, I read everything that had been released back to back, which something I never do with series.

3312940

R.S. Belcher. I feel like this author is not very well known and he so very deserves to be. When I read The Six-Gun Tarot – Book Review, it knocked me on my ass. 

200062432

Debut author Sarah Gailey really struck a chord with me when I read American Hippo. I just cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. (Although, I so very hope it is in the American Hippo world!)

3 TITLES I’VE WATCHED BUT HAVEN’T READ:

 

3 CHARACTERS YOU LOVE:

Prince Jorg Ancrath from the Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence. He’s the extreme anti-hero. The very best anti-hero I’ve read thus far.

Maude Stapleton from the Golgotha series by R.S. Belcher. She belongs to a secret order of female bad asses.

Darrow from the Red Rising series. He’s such a conflicted character. He makes a lot of mistakes but he learns from them. Great character growth.

3 BINGED SERIES:

lesbooks_zps6c776c00

picmonkey-collage

grisha-trilogy

I don’t binge read series often, there is usually something in between every book but these three series are probably the closest I’ve come.

3 UNPOPULAR BOOKISH OPINIONS

  1. I’m going to steal Ignited Moth’s answer here. I’ve never understood people’s problems with prologues. To me, it’s just another chapter, on with the story!
  2. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. I understand the reasoning, I really do. I’ve read some great books with horrible cover art BUT I still judged it hard before I read it.
  3. Erotica sucks.

3 CURRENT FAVORITE BOOKS COVERS:

3 GOALS FOR THE YEAR

Ooof, that took a turn to un-book related territory.

One, save enough money for our vacation in December to really enjoy ourselves and not have to worry about the bank account.

Two, get my hands on some pallets so I can start this damn woodworking project I’ve been dying to get into.

Three, start planning my goals for next year. It’s right around the corner!

Okay kids, this is where  you tag yourself to have a little fun and spread the tag love.

Something Red (Something Red #1) – Book Review

15015028

Published Date: June 18, 2013

Publishing Co.: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Pages: 336

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

DNF @ page 93.

Since it’s such a short book, I really thought I could push through and write a full review. However, it was just so bland and generic fantasy (people traveling through the wild with something evil lurking about) that I had no interest in what happened. In fact, if the monster would have just hurried up and ate everyone and we were thrown to a different set of characters (ones who were much more interesting), I may have continued.

The best part of the section of the book that I read was the monk sanctuary where the characters stayed for a few days. Warrior monks, providing sanctuary for travelers in a dangerous forest would have been a better premise for the novel as well.

It still gets two stars because there is talent here and I can see how other people might enjoy it. For myself however, I had zero desire to sit down and read it. In fact, I had to force myself to get to page 93 and while I’m annoyed at myself because I could easily finish it, I just don’t want to waste anymore of my own time. I have better books waiting.

Book Struggles

What was the last book you struggled reading and why?

My reading has been slow as it is. Summer fun and all that but, the most recent book I picked up I’m having a very hard time getting into.

15015028

Historical fiction fantasy is usually my jam. But thus far, the characters aren’t all that interesting but the world building is okay. I’m 45 pages in and not ready to throw in the towel but it’s not exactly screaming my name from across the room to get me to pick it up. At the very least, I’m going to force myself to trudge on while at lunch at work and if in another 50 or so pages I’m still not sucked in, I may finally give up.

The Queen of Swords (Golgotha #3) – Book Review

91erdv12bsyl

Published Date: June 27, 2017

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 368

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My reviews of books one and two: The Six-Gun Tarot – Book Review & The Shotgun Arcana – Book Review.

To our brave captain,” he said and tipped the bottle toward Anne, who took it and drank. “She who pisses on gods and kings with equal contempt. Bravo!”

Third helpings of a seven layer cake. I’m fat on amazing writing at this point. I have no intentions to stop eating.

This is a full dive into Maude Stapleton’s background and the origins of the Daughters of Lilith and I couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling tale. This is feminine power and wily women at it’s best.

Constance, Maude’s daughter, has been kidnapped by the Daughters of Lilith to be used as a sacrifice to prevent a great evil from escaping onto Earth. That evil has been working shenanigans for years in the shadows, tricking the Daughters into believing that this is the only option. But when Maude is your mother, she’ll use every nasty trick in the book and risk her own life to save her only child.

Maude was raised by Anne Bonny, the pirate queen. Anne was her many great-grandmother and a Daughter of Lilith. Maude trained with her on the beaches of Charleston since she was a child. Anne instilled in her a great sense of right and wrong and the training to back up any decisions Maude might make to bring justice forth.

The story flips back and forth between the present of Maude and Constance’s situation and the origins of the pirate queen in the 1700s and how she became such a force of a woman. Anne was a rebel, a thief and a leader. I won’t call her fearless as she definitely had moments of fear, but, she spit in the face of anything worth fearing and charged ahead. Stubborn and resilient, with a burning hatred of slavery. A pioneer of human rights. If the entire story had only been about Anne, I wouldn’t have even missed Maude. But, that’s unfair to Maude as she’s a great character as well.

While I missed Golgotha, the adventure was so fun and interesting that I wasn’t all that disappointed to not see my favorite paranormal frontier town. (A few characters from there did make short appearances.) Instead, for much of this book we’re in the depths of Africa, treasure hunting and chasing ancient evils. Finding the origins of the Daughters and the dark truths that lie in a city of monsters in the middle of the Sahara. A solid third installment in one of my all time favorite series.

Blessed by the Book Gods

Besides spoiling myself very recently with a purchase of books, a few days after, I also received notification that I had won my second ever Goodreads giveaway. (My first win recorded in I’m a Winner Dad!.) The book arrived much faster this time and I opened the package yesterday while enjoying a day off in the middle of the week.

This was after mentioning in a friend’s post that I’d only ever won once while I had entered more than I could count. So the lesson here friends is, complain and perhaps you shall receive!

Both times were with books that I have been very excited to read by new authors. So maybe if I only enter giveaways for debut authors, I’ll keep this streak going.

CityofBrass