Monday, March 27, 2017

graze review

     I now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a post of a different sort than what I usually pen: a product review. It's not book related, but it's almost as good. It's food related.

     I had heard of graze through a commercial on TV, and since you can get a sample box for free, I wondered, "why not?" I love free food. I am the free sample queen. I know when the most free samples are at the mall, and I'm pretty sure by this point the free sample man at the Japanese food kiosk knows my face. I see him a lot.

     ANYWAY....graze is a company that claims to send healthy, delicious snack food right to your door. Each box (with 8 containers of single-serving snacks) are $13.99. Personally, I find this a bit expensive, since I think the serving size is pretty small (it comes to about $1.74 per snack package) but then I remember how much money I spend at the vending machine and the cafe at school and it doesn't seem quite so bad. And then I wince at how many of my dollars go to junk food. EITHER WAY IT'S BAD :/

my graze box

     As far as graze goes, you don't exactly have control over what they send; they have a large selection of snacks that you can rate as "Love It," "Like It," "Try It," and "Trash It." The level of love/like you choose makes a difference of how often they send you that flavor, while if you rate something as "trash it," you won't ever get sent that flavor at all. You can rate things before you try them, too, so from the start they have a better understanding of what you'd like. (For instance, I trashed anything that had raisins in it because raisins are gross.) They also have a lot of options for people with allergies, too, and you can select an all-sweet box, an all-savory, and a few other varieties.

For my sample box, I got four flavors:

Cranberry & Hazelnut toasts with Cocoa Dip
Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie
Sesame Garlic Crunch
Sweet Memphis BBQ

     I was a little sad that I didn't get any of their granola bars (which, being a British company, they call flapjacks) but overall I was pleased with the choices they sent me.



     The Cranberry & Hazelnut toasts were pretty good, although I was disappointed at how few were in the box! The chocolate dipping sauce was also pretty tasty, and since it had been in a warm mailbox, I didn't even have to heat it up. (Depending on what snack you get, though, that could definitely be a bad thing.)



     Frankly, I was disappointed with the Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie. Taking a handful of the mix and eating it at once it was actually all right, but each individual item didn't taste particularly good. (especially the vanilla fudge, which was rather odd)



     I was surprised by how much I like the savory selections, since I thought I'd be more drawn to the sweet. Sweet Memphis barbecue was kind of addicting, and I clicked "love" on that one after I tried it.


     The Sesame Garlic crunch was a bite more bland, and had more of that "healthy," whole-wheat taste. But even so I ate it up, and I think it grew on me after awhile- I'd definitely want to get some again.

     Even though I'm pretty sure each snack package is supposed to be one serving, I ate all four in one sitting (granted, I shared with my family, but the high majority of the food was gobbled up by yours truly). I definitely would say a serving is really more like two packages than one. Not so much the trail mix, but there were only four or five tiny hazelnut toasts! (can you tell I'm sad over this?) Overall, though, it is a nice surprise to find in the mail, and personally I think a lot of the fun is wondering what kind of treat you'll get next....I'm just still not quite sure the price is worth it.

     Now, I'm off to find more free food....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Book Sacrifice Tag

     I saw this tag a little while ago and thought it was a really interesting idea...but I was busy and wasn't sure I wanted to tackle an entire post flambĂ©ing my most-hated novels because, let's face it, people get vicious when books they love are under attack. Did I really want to be open to a deluge of hate in the comment section? (By the way...I am not against book-burning on principle. There are terrible books that deserve a flaming death of judgment and punishment. Rotten stories are not somehow sacred just because someone typed them up on a piece of paper.) Anyway, then Suzannah did it and she seemed to survive the experience, so I stole the tag from her.

#1: An Over-Hyped Book

Situation: You are in a bookstore when the zombies attack.  Over the loudspeakers you hear the military announce that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness.  What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies?


Wuthering Heights

     I'm not sure if this book is over-hyped, exactly (the phrase makes me think more of a million-dollar book franchise that's become a household name and spawned a series of badly acted but high budget movies) but it's definitely well-known in the classic novel arena. It's well loved by many, which I find difficult to understand, and held up by some as the perfect stormy romance with the epitome of the tortured hero, which I find even harder to grasp. (In the novel's defense, I don't think that's the meaning of the book at all). I tried to appreciate it and the story it had to tell because sometimes books use unlikable characters and bad situations in a way that works, but I hated nearly every moment of this reading experience. Steam was perpetually coming out of my ears and fists were occasionally clenched. If there was a way to reach through the pages and commit literary murder, I would have strangled Heathcliff before we'd gotten 1/4 of the way through.The only thing that made this book bearable was that it was told from a story-within-a-story format, so I imagined that I was being told a horror story on a cold and dreary night, with wind howling in the distance.

*SPOILER* And also I cheered when Heathcliff died *END OF SPOILER*


#2: A Sequel

Situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour and you're probably the type who melts when you get wet.  What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?

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    Little Women and Me

    So maybe this book shouldn't count on a number of levels because it's not a sequel, exactly, and I also haven't exactly read it (or at least, the whole thing- I picked it up in the library and ended up skimming it until the end). Basically it's about a girl named Emily  who gets an assignment to write about one thing she would change in a classic novel. She picks Little Women, and somehow gets magically transported into the novel where she tries to prevent Beth from dying and make sure Jo ends up with Laurie.

     Yes, I understand there are people who think Laurie and Jo should have ended up together. I do not count among the number. I could write an essay on why the two of them are completely wrong for each other, why Jo made the right decision, and why Professor Bhaer is actually awesome, but I'll save it for another time. I assumed from the beginning that Emily would come to realize that Lousia May Alcott knew what she was doing when she ended the book the way she did. BUT NO. After her experience wrecking havoc throughout 1860s Concord, Emily comes back to our world and writes her paper and explains why she thinks the two of them should end up together and gets a bad grade because, SURPRISE Jo and Laurie *do* end up together because she "fixed" the book while she was in it or something. ??? I'm sorry, the book wasn't broken in the first place. UGH I GET ENRAGED JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

#3: A Classic

Situation: You're in English class and your professor won't stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature". Personally you think the classic is garbage and you decide to express your opinion by hurling the book at his head.  What classic is that?

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The Call of the Wild

     I slugged through this one either in late middle school or early high school, and I don't remember much of it because I may have been half asleep from boredom. I've heard a lot of Christians don't like Jack London because of his worldview. Is this true? I don't know. I was more turned off due to the fact it was about a dog.

#4: A Least Favorite Book

Situation: You're hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to to turn the whole world into a frozen wasteland.  Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book.  Which book would you not regret tossing into the fire?

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Longbourn

     I am especially bitter about this one because the first couple of chapters are actually well-written and they tricked me into thinking the book was going to be good.

     It wasn't.

     Supposedly Pride and Prejudice told from the servants point of view, this had the potential of being a really great book. Unfortunately, the original novel's characters were shown in a constantly negative light, it's littered with crude references and a postmodern view of history, and WHY DO YOU HATE ON MY FAV CHARACTERS, JO BAKER? WHY? I was so disgusted with this one that I didn't even finish it.

#5: A Series

Situation: There's a flooded stream you have to cross on your quest and you can't get your feet wet. Which series (oh yeah, btw, you brought your whole bookshelf and also probably the local library with you) will you use as stepping stones?

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The Austen Project (mainly Sense and Sensibility)

     I didn't know how to answer this question, because generally if a book is bad, why would I read the rest of the series? There are definitely duds in the many series that I've read, but not enough to chuck out the whole lot of them. And I've read plenty of mediocre series that were insipid but not maddening enough to really fit on here.

     And then I remembered.

     The Austen Project is a series of Austen re-writes by different authors, setting Jane Austen's novels in the present day. A little iffy in concept, I admit, but I was willing to give it a chance. So I read Sense and Sensibility. Nope-ety nope nope nope. From its strange adherence to plot points that didn't work in the modern day and disregard of the moral core of the original, to its unlikable characters and in-your-face inclusion of technology, it was a disaster. I haven' read the other subsequent books in the series, but just from their blurbs and the reviews I've read, I don't think they are any better. The Pride and Prejudice rewrite, Eligible, looks particularly appalling. In our world, apparently modern = steeped in sin. If you believe in ghosts, don't. Because if they truly existed, then Jane Austen would have risen from her grave by now and hit all of these authors with her reticule. Or maybe stabbed them with her pen.

Conclusion

     I answered each question on this tag as it came, but now looking over it, there is a definite pattern. If you learn anything from this post, let it be that you should not attempt to "fix" beloved classic literature. IT'S A BAD IDEA. DON'T DO IT.

     That's all.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Cover Reveal!


It's time! I'm very pleased with the way this cover turned out, and I hope you will be, too!

here

it

is:





She never wanted to leave the tower. He never wanted to rule the country.

Nella has lived quietly in her tower in the woods for over a decade. After dangerous accusations drove her and her grandmother away from their village, they escaped deep into the forest where no one would try to harm them. Now, after her grandmother's death, Nella is alone, and she is determined to stay that way. She has no patience for a world she deems judgmental and ignorant.

Or so she tells herself. In reality, her paralyzing fear prevents her from stepping foot outside of the tower.

Prince Benedict Allesandro is an adventurer- a rescuer who prides himself on saving the weak and unfortunate. When he hears rumors of a beautiful damsel trapped in a tower, he rushes to her rescue...only to find a woman who most definitely does not wish to be saved.

But when war breaks out, this reckless prince and reclusive maiden are faced with overcoming their deepest fears in order to determine not only their own fate, but that of their entire country.

Coming April 2, 2017

Add this book on Goodreads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Pinterest Storyboard Party

     Elisabeth Grace Foley is holding a Pinterest Storyboard Party, and as I am constantly making Pinterest storyboards for my novels (it's one of the first things I do in planning stages) I couldn't help but join in. Unfortunately for the party, almost all of my Pinterest boards for my unfinished novels are kept secret until a month or so before their release, so these are for the novels that have already been published.


     With Blossoms Gold's mood was inspired by Renaissance paintings, brocade fabrics, gardens and flowers, damp catacombs, Shakespeare's plays (specifically Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice), a random de'Medici documentary I watched for research, and the costumes of Ever After.
 

     I loved making this board for For Elise. Its contemporary setting, dash of 1940s nostalgia, and setting of a Victorian mansion meant it was a fun board to put together.


     The Wulver's Rose remains one of my favorite storyboards-partly because I love the gloomy mists of the Scottish landscape. You might also notice a few elements that didn't quite make it into the final book. One day, depending on publishing rights, I'd love to re-add some of those scenes to the novella and expand it unto a full length novel. Of course, I don't have much hope of that happening (even if I did have the opportunity, I have too many other things to work on) but it's a nice thought. :)

     I hope you enjoyed these! If you'd like, you can join the party too! Find more about it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sweet Remembrance Cover Reveal


     Today I'm pleased to show you the cover for my fellow Once author's standalone edition of her story Sweet Remembrance. Emily's story is both beautiful and tragic and, fair warning, may make you cry!



Sweet Remembrance: The Little Match Girl Retelling

In the despair of the Warsaw Ghetto, a young Jewish woman fights the Nazis with the only thing she has left—her memories.

Add on Goodreads
Purchase the eBook

About the Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. She's the author of It Took a War, Resist, Sweet Remembrance, and co-author of Ain't We Got Fun. You can learn more about Emily and her books at www.authoremilyannputzke.com

Giveaway Winners!

Hello friends! The winners of the Kindle copies of For Elise are:

Emily Ann Putzke
Liv
Brooke Elizabeth Smoke


Congrats! I've emailed you all, so you should be hearing from me shortly.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The I Love Austen Week Tag



*gasp* Hayden posts twice in one day! Will wonders never cease? This is what happens when a blog party is going on, I suppose ;)

1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one? 


     A book. My first experience was reading Pride and Prejudice when I was 12. I only picked it up because it was supposed to be an important classic book, even though at the time I didn't know anyone who had read it or even liked Jane Austen. Because of that, I came into the book blindly with no expectations or even a clear picture of what the book was about. Therefore, it was one of the best reading experiences I've ever had.

2.  What is your favorite Austen book? 

     Emma, followed by Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

3.  Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best? 

Image result for elinor dashwood 2008

     Hmmm. I think my favorite heroine is Elinor Dashwood although, ironically, Sense and Sensibility is probably my least favorite Austen book. (I do like the story, and love the movie adaptations, but the novel itself has always been a harder one for me to get through). Elinor is certainly the Austen heroine I relate to the most, and I admire her strength of character.

4.  Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best? 

     Mr. Knightley, of course. He's just so good, with an uncommon amount of common sense. But he's not perfect or boring, and I love his sarcastic comments and sense of humor.

5.  Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work? 

     Well, I have favorite versions of each story. Well, mostly. The film adaptations for Sense and Sensibility and Emma are practically a tie, and I haven't seen the newer version of Persuasion recently enough to make a call on it. But I definitely like the newer BBC version of Mansfield Park, for all its faults, because it is just so much better than that travesty that is the 90s version. I've only seen one version of Northanger Abbey which had wonderful casting if some odd and out-of-place directing choices, and I actually enjoyed Love and Friendship, despite all the hate it's gotten.

     BUT I'm sure the real question is which P&P adaptation I prefer, and it's definitely the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle one. (I'm not quite a hater of the 2005 one, but some aspects of it do make me grit my teeth)

Image result for pride and prejudice 1995

6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.) 

     Actually, yes. I used to think of Pride and Prejudice as the be-all, end-all, most perfect of Austen's works; however, I've been so overexposed to it over the years I've lost my taste for it a bit. I had to read it several times, and then I was in a theatrical production of it so I know the story far, far too well. The story is still great and amazing, but I just have needed to take a break from it for a while.

7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  (Feel free to share photos if you want.)

     I have some very pretty Jane Austen notebooks, but sadly few Austen-themed items besides the books and some of the movies.

8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her? 

     How much are your characters based on the people that you know? Which of your heroines do you relate to the most?

9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?

     Well, there's not really a Mansfield Park adaptation I'm satisfied with, so I'd choose that one.

Image result for eleanor tomlinson death comes to pemberleyImage result for tom hiddleston jane austen regrets

Fanny Price- I was throwing around the idea of Eleanor Tomlinson, only to find that that's who Natalie chose, too! :D I also thought of Kimberly Nixon, who played Sophy in Cranford, as an option as well.

Edmund Bertram- Tom Hiddleston (just because if anyone could make me *truly* like Edmund...wouldn't it be him?)

Henry Crawford- maybe James McAvoy? If only because his role in Becoming Jane seemed a little Henry Crawford-ish to me at times.

Mary Crawford- Michelle Dockery. Don't tell me she wouldn't be perfect for this one.

10.  Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” -Northanger Abbey

“A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” -Pride and Prejudice (I quoted this just yesterday, because my mother and sister do this ALL THE TIME)

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” -Pride and Prejudice

“The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, 'Men never know when things are dirty or not;' and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, 'Women will have their little nonsense and needless cares.” -Emma

Don't forget to check out more Austen-themed goodness on Hamlette's blog here!
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