Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday Reads and Talking Characters

Here’s what I read the past week:

Book #58
Dates read: November 6-14
Title: “Undiscovered”
Year of publication: 2017
Author: Sara Humphreys
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Amoveo Rising #1
# of Pages: 353
Paper or plastic: Mass market paperback
How obtained: Free at RT17
Blurb from book: Centries ago, Zander Lorens was cursed to walk the earth stripped of his Dragon Clan powers. Every night, trapped in a recurring nightmare, Zander relives his darkest moment. He can hardly believe it when the dream changes and a beautiful young woman appears. Zander believes she’s the key to ending his torment. Finding her in the real world is one thing, but how will he convince her of who—and what—she really is?
    Rena McHale uses her unique sensitivity as a private investigator, touting herself as a “human divining rod” and finder of the lost. By day she struggles with sensory overload, and by night her sleep is haunted by a fiery dragon shifter. Nothing in her life makes sense, until the man from her dreams shows up at her door with a proposition…
My thoughts: Ahhh… Just the kind of book I’ve been craving, and to think it’s been sitting on my bookshelf. I got this book free at RT17. Sara conducted the exercise classes I attended each morning and gave away her books to anyone who wanted them. I’m glad I grabbed this one. I had so much fun reading it.

I finished this book late last night and almost forgot about my blog. Then again, if I hadn’t stayed up to finish it, I wouldn’t have had any books to report! Whew, dodged one there, huh?

I woke up the other morning with a character talking to me. This made me happy until I realized it was Sam, my vampire character, and not my ghost character. Good? Bad? I don’t know. So I’ve got a poll running on my Facebook page asking readers which book they would prefer I write: Bitten by Love #5 or Ghostly Encounters #3. If you have a preference, you can always go over there and vote. It’s pinned to the top of the page, so you’ll see it first. Or you can just say here in the comments. That would work, too.

So… Have you had snow yet? While it’s snowed here, I haven’t seen any yet (not looking forward to it, either). Forecasters are calling for a white Thanksgiving for a lot of the country. I don’t know if I like that so much. We’ll be driving to Columbus. Good thing we have AWD.

Happy Reading!

Stacy

Monday, November 13, 2017

We're Platinum, Baby!

Last night, Hubby and I completed the online check in for our December cruise. When we printed our boarding passes and stuff, there in big RED letters it said PRIORITY. And beside our names: Platinum.

Whoo hoo!!

That means we can avoid the long lines at embarkation and jump ahead of the crowd. That means we get free laundry during the cruise. That means we get invited to the free booze party on the ship!!!

We used to be invited to that party when we were Gold, but they changed that a couple of years ago and made it for Platinum and Diamond guests only.

For Carnival, it takes 75 cruising days to reach Platinum (which took us 12 cruises to do). 200 cruising days for Diamond. We may cruise more often now, but I won’t hold my breath for Diamond. Besides, Platinum gets us what we want: quick boarding on and off the ship and that booze party.

Now we’re all set for the next cruise. But I still have stuff to tell you about the last one. Specifically: tequila.

On our camel adventure in Cabo San Lucas, we were also treated to some tequila tasting. The tour guide didn’t explain how we should go about drinking the stuff, so I’m sure that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much. Especially mescal (that’s the stuff with the worm). It smelled like turpentine and burned going down. Ugh.

In Puerto Vallarta we toured two tequila “factories” and sampled lots more tequila there. They were very small and the tequila was only sold locally. If Hubby and I were regular drinkers (and wanted to mess with getting the booze back on the ship), we might have bought some, but instead we just enjoyed the samples.

It was in Puerto Vallarta where we learned HOW to drink tequila. You should inhale and exhale before chugging the shot, then inhale while you feel the burn going down. Goes a lot better this way than trying to sip the stuff, that’s for sure.

It takes seven years for the blue agave plant to reach the point where they can harvest it. They use the bulb (roots) to make tequila. They use the blue shoots (by making strips) for hats and belts. They said they don’t waste any of the plant.

Before distillation, the agave roots (called pineapples because that’s what they look like) need to be cooked. The first factory we visited cooked the agave in an oven. The second factory buried the agave in a pit and cooked it similar to how the Hawaiians cook pork for a luau. Once it’s cooked, then it’s mashed.

It takes about a week to make blanco (or silver) tequila from cooking to distillation (and it goes through distillation twice). This is the type without aging and the type I’m familiar with as it’s the one used most for mixed drinks (and it’s also the cheapest of the three).

Reposado is tequila that has aged in an oak barrel for about 3 months. It’s light brown in color and has a smoother flavor.

Anejo is tequila that has aged in the oak barrel for a year. It’s darker and similar to aged bourbon. This stuff burned going down.

Oh wait, they all burned. Well, all but the flavored ones.

The darker the tequila, the more expensive it is. That’s not because it takes longer to make, but because they lose product from it sitting in the barrel (through evaporation and absorption).

We tasted several flavored tequilas, too.

Peach was awesome. If we drank (or cooked) more often, we’d have bought some of this. Was told this was a good tequila to marinate pork in. I can believe it.

Café chocolate was very tasty (think Kahlua).

Almond was smooth and sweet, but not a flavor I was fond of.

Mandarin orange was very sweet.

Vanilla crème was good (although a bit on the thick side—it contains milk). Mix it with Café chocolate and it tasted like butterscotch. Add mandarin and you have a chocolate cherry cordial. Strange, but true!

You’d think with all that tasting we would have left the factories drunk. But I’d be surprised if what we consumed came to a total of two shots. Their cups were very tiny and they didn’t fill them half-way.

Overall, I was surprised at how many tequila types there are and how much I liked them. Hubby still prefers his Bacardi.

Our next cruise doesn’t have anything quite as interesting as tequila tasting or camel riding, but I’m sure we’ll have fun anyway.

So… Did I bore you with my tequila talk? Have you ever tried it? I’d never had it straight before, but I could see drinking a shot if I were looking for something to help me sleep (or get me warm). It is my preference in mixed drinks (I like tequila sunrises). And if I ever come across peach tequila in the store I might just buy some. You know, for cooking. Haha!

Happy Monday!

Stacy

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pictures from My Trip

Would you believe I actually downloaded the pictures from my phone to my laptop? Amazing, huh? I have my cousin to thank for that, though. She’d been texting me for pictures of my family and I couldn’t ignore her. She can be very persistent!

Let me start out saying that I think that vacation was the most relaxing I’ve had in a long time. We didn’t schedule a lot of stuff to do, which really made a difference. We could just do whatever whenever. I loved it!

So...pictures. You wanted pictures, right? Well, here you go! Remember, you can click on the picture to make it larger. Oh, and be on the lookout for a video of our camel adventure!


This was taken at the aquarium in La Jolla, CA.

I took this while Hubby drove on the bridge to Coronado
Island. It's quite a long and sweeping bridge, as you can see it
ahead. The island is just off San Diego, located in the bay.

Here's a picture of the bridge from the island.

Loved this windmill (or wind art?). I missed getting
the girl's head, but you can see her "hair" trailing behind.
By the way, the tires spun in the wind.

A picture of San Diego, taken from Coronado Island.

I love the WTF Forecast app on my phone.
I believe it got hotter than 91 that day, though.

This is Goleta Beach. My parents' house is less than 5 miles from here. I was
kind of sad to see the condition. Those rocks didn't exist before. But I guess
a huge storm came through and tore up the beach. The rocks were used to
keep the deterioration down. Still, there's no way to get down to the beach
without crawling over the rocks (although you probably wouldn't want to
at high tide, like it was when I took this picture).

Beautiful day at Goleta Beach (which really isn't a beach anymore--boo hoo).

Palm Trees!

This is Long Beach harbor, taken from our ship. The Queen Mary is peeking
over there on the left side of the picture.

Cabo San Lucas. You can tell it's a port when you see Senor Frogs!
They're all over the Caribbean, too.

What a face, huh?

Hubby and me on our camel, Mayor. I couldn't remember our guide's
name (bad me). He led us around the beach. Mayor was a slow poke, though.
He never wanted to stay with the rest of the group!

Above is a short video (about 2 minutes) of our camel adventure taken by the tour via a drone. There isn't any sound, but the picture is pretty awesome. And that beach!! Yeah, I'm a sucker for a pretty beach. If you watch this, just know that Hubby and I are always way in the back away from the rest of the group.


FYI - a camel's lips are very soft.

Lots of cacti.

Gotta show a picture of Hubby and me.

On Halloween night, I was told I could get a scary cheesecake
for dessert. I thought it was more cute than scary. :)

Puerto Vallarta.

Chocolate DOES grow on trees!

The blue agave plant, which is used to make tequila.

Behind Hubby is a tequila factory. Honest. It's that small. Their tequila,
while very good, cannot be bought in the stores. Only locally. They just
don't have the capacity to distribute any further.

Another shot of Puerto Vallarta (taken from the ship).

Yes, even Walmart and Sam's have invaded Mexico!

Pretty sunset. Going down to Mexico, our room faced east. Going back home,
we got to enjoy the sunset from our room.

What cruise can be complete without a drink?
I ordered a Sex on the Beach. It was pretty tasty.

I woke up early on the day we were to leave the ship.
So glad I did. The moon was GORGEOUS!


I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Maybe on Monday I'll tell you more about the tequila we tasted.


Happy Friday!

Stacy


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday Reads and Surgery Update

I had planned on posting this last Wednesday, but my access to the internet was brief and, plus, I forgot. Haha! Here’s what I read the past two weeks:

Book #55

Dates read: October 22-26
Title: “The Magic Root”
Year of publication: 2017
Author: T.S. Hottle
Genre: Sci-Fi Space Opera
Series: The Compact Universe #1
# of Pages: 65
Paper or plastic: Nook
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from Goodreads: Kai is the governor of Essenar, a prison planet that's also a rainy, acidic hell. Along comes an alien with a plant that could solve all his problems. He calls it a "potato." When the potato fails, the alien and a general Kai doesn't like offer a more drastic solution to his problems: But is this alien trying to start a war? And why?
My thoughts: I love sci-fi, but not necessarily in book form (I have a hard time picturing strange things, but love seeing them on the screen!). However, because I was curious what my friend wrote, and since this was a novella, I felt it would be okay to give sci-fi another try. Yeah, I think I just need to stay away from this genre (it got a little too confusing for me). But if you enjoy space opera sci-fi, give this one a try. You’ll probably get it more than I did (oh, and he has lots more books out there, too!).


Book #56

Dates read: October 26 – November 3
Title: “Mortal Sin”
Year of publication: 2014
Author: Allison Brennan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Seven Deadly Sins #3
# of Pages: 426
Paper or plastic: Nook
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from Goodreads: Four months ago, a black magic coven summoned the Seven Deadly Sins from hell then quickly lost control. Former witch Moira O’Donnell and her lover, ex-seminarian Rafe Cooper, captured two of the demons, but the remaining five Sins disappeared. Now, whoever gets near the demons becomes infected with an insidious urge to act out on their deadliest sin—with horrific results.
    Moira will do anything to find and imprison the remaining demons. Unfortunately, there’s no rulebook to follow, only her gut instincts … and they’re telling her something is very wrong in Santa Louisa, the small California town where the demons were first released. Fights are breaking out day and night, friends are turning on friends, and the jails are full. She wants to stay and help Sheriff Skye McPherson find the cause of the violence, but when a demon hunter goes missing while pursuing one of the Seven, Moira’s the only one who can find him.
    While Moira is tracking one demon in Canada, Rafe and Skye battle another in Santa Louisa. With every victory comes many more defeats, and Moira quickly realizes that someone—or something—doesn’t want her to return to Santa Louisa. The body count rises, demonic hot spots pop up throughout the world, and the people closest to Moira are in the most danger. When one of their own succumbs to one of the Sins, Moira fears they’re too late … and the end of the world is already here.
My thoughts: I was happy to see another book in this series, because I wasn’t sure Allison would finish it (her publisher wasn’t interested, so she had to self-pub this one). I got confused a little (probably because it had been too long since I read the last one--so yeah, you'd want to read these books in order), but I still enjoyed the story because I really liked all the characters. It did end on a small cliff-hanger (grrr), which kind of surprised me because I didn’t think there’d be any more books in this series. So maybe there will! I do enjoy the series.


Book #57

Dates read: November 4
Title: “Love Voodoo”
Year of publication: 2016
Author: Alyssa Breck
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: N/A
# of Pages: 52
Paper or plastic: Nook
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from Goodreads: After a chance tarot card reading in a New Orleans voodoo shop, vampire Luca is intrigued by Collette, an alluring woman with an uncanny intuition. Getting intimately involved with a human is the last thing Luca has in mind, but Collette wins his trust and their friendship grows into something deeper. When Luca’s clan learns that he has asked Collette to perform a spell to bind his psychotic sire, a deadly chain of events unravels that will change their lives.
My thoughts: I was looking for a paranormal romance and the blurb drew me in. It was just what I wanted. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was a novella when I bought it (B&N really should show “pages” for their Nook books), so when I started reading it, figured it probably wasn’t what I was in the mood for. It’s a very well written book, so that made me happy. Still…it just felt rushed, probably because I was looking for something deeper. It’s a very sexy book, though, and I did like the characters. If you’re looking for a new paranormal author, this is a good book to try out.

Surgery went much better on Monday than the first one did (lighter anesthesia), but started way later than I expected. Got there at 11:30, but didn’t get wheeled into surgery until after 5. I was released by 8:30, though, and very hungry (since my last meal was 24 hours earlier). I’m sore today, but not as bad as last time (only one cut vs. the two I had last time). I don’t see my oncologist until the 27th, so I won’t have any more news to share until after then. Thanks for all your well-wishes. It’s much appreciated.

Happy Reading!

Stacy

Monday, November 6, 2017

From Fun to Ouch

Had a wonderful time on our vacation. Still trying to get all organized and I have yet to download the pictures from my phone because I’m lazy like that (or maybe just have too much to do and keep forgetting?). And today I go back to surgery to have the rest of the whatever-it-is removed from my breast. That happens this afternoon.

Hopefully, it’ll be quick and I’ll recover just as fast. And hopefully I won’t hurt as much as last time.

I’m hoping a lot.

I originally planned to tell you what I learned about tequila during our tour in Puerto Vallarta, but I still need to go over what I wrote so maybe I’ll post it on Friday. And maybe I’ll have pictures to go with it.

Maybe.

I’m so decisive today…not!

So… do you find that your mind is still on vacation when you return from one? And it’s not like I actually work, you know? Ugh.

Have a great Monday!


Stacy