Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Fifteeth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Sunday, 20 September 2015

I'm back...Again

So new job...kicked. my. butt. the first month. Not that it is more difficult than my old job, but it is different and it has been majorly zapping my energy. I am enjoying it though. I have some great colleagues and the students...oh my the students. I keep expecting someone to jump out of a locker and yell PUNKED! Today several students stayed after class to discuss politics. They ask intelligent questions, they are prepared for class (mostly, the firsties need to be whipped into shape). They take notes. They are interested. It is a DREAM. It also demands a great deal of me as a teacher. I need to be very prepared for my classes.

I have been reading quite a bit while I haven't been blogging. I have read some great books, some middling books and some down right awful books. I will be blogging about the great books and leave the others to the side. I'll also continue posting some old reviews, plus next week we have an awesome event her in my city, the annual book fair. I haven't decided on which day(s) I'll be going but going I will

If you want to read some really good books Sarina Bowen's Coming In From the Cold (Gravity Book 1) is free for the Kindle right now. No excuse not to get it.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Cover Reveal: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

So excited to be able to show you all the cover for the latest Ivy Years book The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen. I fell in love with this series while reading The Understatement of the Year and I fell in love with Lianne in The Shameless Hour. She was hilarious and vulnerable and just someone I want to get to know better. I am so glad that this series keeps going. 

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks. 

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid. 

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel "DJ" Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. Something's haunting his dark eyes, and she needs to know more. 

DJ's genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans. 

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can't get close to Lianne, and he can't tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

The Fifteenth Hour will be out October 13th (luckily not a Friday, that would be creepy beyond belief)

Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Throw Back Thursday: Mina drömmars stad (Stockholm: City of My Dreams by Per Anders Fogelström

Mina_drommars_stad So school is the topic of the blog this week but this book isn't about school (although indirectly it is as education is a way out of poverty but...) as I say in the review this book was on my assigned reading list in high school and I loved it, which is why I thought I would high light it this week.

Mina drömmars stad (Stockholm: City of My Dreams (Stockholm Series Book 1) ) by Per Anders Fogelström

Publisher: Albert Bonniers Förlag

Synopsis: Fifteen year old Henning is walking into Stockholm. The city lies before him with all its possibilities. The city however doesn’t quite live up to its promises.
My Thoughts: If you read this blog regularly you probably know by this time that I don’t do to well with assigned reading. I tend to resent them. This was one of my exceptions. I was assigned this book the summer between my junior and senior year in high school and I am pretty sure I read it from cover to cover, and then went out and bought the rest of the books in the series. It is that good.
It has one of the most compelling opening chapters I have ever read. I read this in Swedish, but it is translated into English by Jennifer Brown Baverstam. Fogelström in the opening of the book makes the city into a character in its own right. He paints a picture of the city as both a protector and an enemy. These are the last few lines of the opening chapter (my translation):
The City waited. For the fifteen year old boy who had yet not seen any of its glory – and for everyone else who sought it out.
It existed in their dreams and invited all possibilities.
But a young boy neither could nor wanted to see that most were dark, that joy and the possibilities of life were much fewer than those of sorrow and death.
The boy dreamed. The City waited.
Isn’t it evocative and foreboding? The story of young Henning and his family also tells the story of the growth of Stockholm. This is the first book in a series of five books that follow the family from 186o until 1968. This first book covers the period from 1860 until 1880 and is very much the story of the horrors of the industrial revolution. How the poor were used. And how this impacts on the individual. Young Henning has no family and at first no friends. He also has no education and no contacts. This means that he ends up with the hardest jobs there are. However the book also shows the love and friendship that grows even in the at first bleak life of the rented bed and work in the harbour. Somehow it is incredibly beautiful. And the end makes me cry every time.
Although this is a work of historical fiction there is a certain amount of realism. Fogelström presents a well researched book where actual events are incorporated into the book. One of the things I appreciate about this series is that the characters are never given an important part in the historical events of the time. Rather we see them through their eyes, the eyes of the normal person. That makes the books more real to me. One criticism of sorts is that the main characters are incredibly good. It can get a bit grating at times but at the same time makes an important point of not giving into your circumstances.
Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Friday, 7 August 2015

What I've Been Listening To: When I'm 64

So I recently read Kiss Me and Thrill Me both by Susan Mallery, and Eddie and Gladys made me think of "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which makes me think of Beatles "When I'm 64" so I had to listen to it.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Throw Back Thursday: Re-Review The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

kite-runner We were discussing The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns in one of my book groups last week so I thought it was fitting to post this review for my Throw Back Thursday. The further out from reading the book I get the less likely I am to recommend it. I still think it has value but  I don't think it would be top of my list of books I think people should read.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Category: Fiction/ Audio

Synopsis: From Amazon.com

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

My Thoughts: I have been meaning to read this book for ages and I finally bought it when my mentor told me that my first years were reading it for Swedish. I am glad I listened to it.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. I loved what it had to say about Afghanistan and the west's culpability in what happened. I loved how it described why the Afghanistan as we know it happened. I loved the descriptions of how it was. I also loved the insight into the feelings of those who flee their home country and why they love it.

I am not sure I liked Amir. I understand why he did what he did. I understand why he felt the way he did towards Hassan. I can also understand the actions of the grown-ups but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel revulsion. I guess that is what I should feel. Seeing the dark side of humanity can also be good because otherwise how can we recognise it when we see it? But that doesn’t stop the nauseous feeling I got when I heard the scene in the alley walking to the bus one morning. It stayed with me. It has haunted me.

I suppose this is a book that will stay with me. Not necessarily one that I will go back and read again but one that will stay in my brain informing the way I think and feel. I think this book has changed me in ways I had not predicted when I started listening to it. I suppose this makes it a book of value.

Audio: I liked the fact that the author narrated the story. Hearing the Afghan names pronounced properly was a treat. However, I did at times have a problem following with all the names as they were not familiar to me (my own ignorance). I found that the author was able to bring the characters alive. I could almost smell the smells he described and see the sights. I do so wish that the country wasn’t ravaged by war.

Overall this is a book that I would recommend to others. I think it is an important read.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen

I stepped into a foyer and looked around with surprise. I had expected something like Buckingham Palace—walls lined with royal portraits, antiques and statues everywhere. But this was more like an ordinary home, slightly outmoded and with a lingering smell of furniture polish and damp. I gave a sigh of disappointment, mingled with a small sigh of relief. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about knocking over priceless objects every time I turned around, the way I did at Buckingham Palace. It was also rather cold in that foyer, with a draft swirling about my legs.. Not too welcoming a first impression for a visiting princess, I thought. But perhaps they were not planning to turn on any form of heat until she arrived.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I wondered if the queen would have supplied servants of if Princess Marina was bringing her own and they weren’t here yet. I realized that I should have asked to be taken to Major Beauchamp-Chough, not have gone straight to the apartment. Protocol probably demanded that he escort me to my quarters. But it was a long, wet walk back to the front of the building. There was an archway at the end of the entry hall leading to a passageway beyond. As I looked toward it I saw a woman walk across it. She was moving swiftly, almost gliding and making no sound.
“Hello,” I called. “Wait a minute, please.”
When she didn’t stop I ran after her, and found myself standing in a long dark corridor that was completely empty. Where had she gone? There were no side hallways and she would not have had time to open and close a door. That’s when I realized she was wearing a long white dress and her hair had been piled upon her head in little curls. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

From Rhys Bowen's facebook page 

Malice at the Palace (The Royal Spyness Series Book 9) is due out today August 4th

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Monday, 3 August 2015

Book Review: Focus on Me by Megan Erickson

Focus on Me

Author: Megan Erickson

Publisher: InterMix

Genre: Romance, m/m

Synopsis: Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option… from Megan Erickson

Thoughts: There will be spoilers in this review. I highly recommend the book but make sure you have a good supply of tissues handy, you are going to need them. Stop reading now if you do not want spoilers. (Don't worry I don't think it is a MAJOR spoiler, you'll get the spoiler fairly early on if you pay attention).

This book comes with a four kleenex box warning (five Kleenex box warnings are for character death). I could not put it down, despite the tears running down my face. I had to find out what happened. Although I knew, because of the genre that things would be okay, I still had no idea how things were going to get there. Part of the reason this book hit me so hard is because it is a very personal subject. Riley suffers from depression, a very serious depression and this is something I have dealt with myself. For me the Kleenex were needed because I could see myself in Riley. I really felt the pain that Riley felt. The not feeling. The numbness and wishing that you could feel. Ericksson perfectly captured those feelings and that hit me very hard.

As deeply as I felt Riley's feelings, Riley isn't actually the narrator of most of the story and that is another stroke of genius from Erickson. Most of the story is told by Colin and therefore it also becomes a story of what depression does to those who love a person with depression. This perspective is less familiar to me but again the book really captures the feelings that others have told me about. When I was getting better from my depression my mom asked me if there was anything she and my dad could have done differently. I told her no. They loved me and that was enough. But I could see (and I can understand) that this didn't feel like enough. And this is the feeling I get from Colin as well. Intellectually he knows what he has done is enough but it still does not FEEL like enough.

Although I have already mentioned the narrative structure of this novel I want to talk about it some more since it was one of my favourite aspects of the book. The book opens with an e-mail from one man to another (if you have read Trust the Focus you will recognize the writer). That is the only time we are given this persons "voice". The rest of the story is told by Colin as the story unfolds and through e-mails from Riley. We never get to see the replies to Riley's e-mails, although they refer to answers to previous messages. The e-mail sections are much shorter than Colin's sections and this means that the story unfolds quite slowly, and you find things out pretty much at the same pace as Colin. You sort of have to guess at the coming conflict. For me this lent a certain mystery to the story that I really enjoyed.

Overall, although this was a though book to read it is a book I highly recommend.

 Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Plan With Me August: Day 1 How I choose my planner

Some of the parts of me are tightly connected other parts are more lose and free flowing. I am an English teacher who likes to read. I am sure you are all shocked. In the four years I have been a teacher I have discovered that one thing teachers like is stationary. Let a bunch of teachers lose in a stationary store and it will be expensive. An extension of this is a love of organization. Now not all teachers will be organized (I will have nightmares about my friend C's desk for years to come, but that's okay my desk gives her nightmares). One of the ways in which my love for organizing comes out is thru my love for planners. I recently saw a planner challenge over on Pintrest (the actual challenge is on Instagram) and I thought I would take part. I'll be posting pictures over there every day but I will write some longer posts here on some of the days.

So today is all about how you choose your planner. Now I've tried many different ways over the years from simple pocket calendars to bullet journals to the big Kikki-K planner I have now. I've done paper planners and electronic planners. Finding the right planner is HARD. And, add to that your planner needs change. That small pocket planner with squirrels I had in 8th grade isn't going to cut it for the slightly scattered teacher, so you have to re-evaluate. 

One thing that has been consistent for me (and a big reason why I abandoned the bullet journal) is a need to see a week at a time. Less or more leaves me feeling stressed. A week is Goldilocks perfect for me. 

My first few years as a teacher I got A5 calendars for teachers that we bought through work and these worked okay for keeping track of what was happening. The had a week per spread. And usually some good information. But something was missing. I realized I wanted to add in pages. I wanted to be able to keep my notes from meetings and my absence sheets with me (I'll talk more about my teacher planner in a later post). I was also tired of carting around all these extra pages that I never use. Enter a Filofax. I had a personal size one in high school and liked it but wanted something bigger. I ended up going for the Filofax Metropol Organiser in red. I thought I wanted the notepad at the back and the business card holders. I wasn't super happy with the colour but a girl can't have everything. The A5 had a horizontal calendar that suited me as it gave me more space to write on each day than my previous vertical calendars had. I kept a short note of what I was planning on teaching for each class, using different colours for each class. I ended up not using the note pad since the top page curled but despite that we were moving along nicely.

Dark Cherry
Then a friend of mine pictured her Kikki-K calendar on Instagram. I had such organizer envy. And it only grew when I checked out the web page. I was in Organization heaven. I swear I had palpitations. I wanted the Large Planner in Mint. But it was sold out so I ended up getting the Black Cherry one instead. And boy am I glad. The colour suits my beloved Kate Spade handbag perfectly and it just suits me. At first I kept my Filofax pages but I didn't like how they stuck out over the tabs so in the end I ended up getting the Kikki-K pages. And I love them. Right now I am happy with the planner. I can add the pages I need, especially since the planner comes with stickers that you can replace the already printed labels. It is a good size for my handbag and my life. Right now it is perfect for me.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Throw Back Thursday Review Re-Post: My Ántonia by Willa Cather

my antoniaI read this book back in 2009 and really enjoyed it. If it wasn't packed away in a box (man do I hate moving) I might have picked it up again now that I've seen my old review. I am in the mood for a well written book. I will say that the attitude that I found sad then I find even sadder now considering all that is going on in the world in general and in Sweden in particular. 

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Category: Fiction

Synopsis: A story of young women on the American frontier (Nebraska). The story focuses primarily on the title character Ántonia and the rather hard life she end up leading as an immigrant woman in the American west. We also get to see the life of several other pioneer women and the choices they have made.

My Thoughts: I loved this book. It was well written. It had me gripped.
I loved that it portrayed the many different aspects of pioneer life. The hypocrisies, the joys and a the sorrows. I also liked that it was told from the perspective of a man who knew these women. It gave an impression of the women that I had not expected. One can tell that the author is female but I find it interesting that she uses a male to tell her story. I wonder if a man at the time would have seen and commented on the things that the narrator commented on?

I liked that the story followed several different women and showed them as independent characters, capable of taking care of themselves. The girls are all strong and learn to use their strengths to help themselves but also each other, despite what society around them might think.

One aspect that I found very relevant both for the time when the story was written and set and for today was the hypocrisies surrounding men and women and their roles. At the same time as the girls were capable of hard work and industry was admired a girl who worked at a “mans job” was seen as somehow less of a woman. She was looked down upon and talked about. I still find these attitudes today. The women themselves were doing it to survive and to help their families survive something that was required but they were seen as less than the women who lived in town.

Another significant aspect of which I had not thought about was the attitude of the Americans towards the newly arrived immigrants. The immigrants worked hard and were motivated but were often seen as having looser morals and differing attitudes. Lets be honest and say that this attitude still prevails in many societies today (my own included). It is an attitude I find sad.

 Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Curve Ball

Teaser from Sloan Johnson's web page

 I read the first book in this series Wild Pitch and really enjoyed it. Curve Ball is out July 29 and I'll be trying to read it in the car as I am moving south (don't worry my dad will be driving, the trying is due to motion sickness).

Monday, 27 July 2015

Book Review: HIM by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy


Authors: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Genre: M/M Romance

Synopsis: They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?
Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.
Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.
Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questionscan one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.
Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.
From Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

My Thoughts: Happiness. If anyone asked me to describe HIM with one word that would be it. I finished reading it at 2am and let out a satisfied, happy sigh and dried my eyes and fell asleep happy. Jamie and Wes made me happy. Even when I wanted to whack them over the head because they were being very boy they made me happy. They were real.

I connected the most with Jamie for two different reasons, one he is generally a rule follower. He wants to do his best and he generally prefers to do this by the book. However, he is A LOT more laid back than me. There are also some choices that Jamie has to make that I really connected with but I think writing about that would spoil to much of the book so I won't tell you what his choices are.  So, although Jamie is more like my brother in being laid back, there were aspects of his journey that I really connected with and enjoyed.

Although I connected more with Jamie, Wes was also a really good character. He had a naughty streak that appealed to me even though I am a rule follower. I sometimes wish I was more like Wes. I also felt very sorry for him at times. He was a bit to much in his head and his asshole of a dad...well it made me want to take care of him. Also how can you not like someone who likes purple Skittles, they are the best. 

There is sex in it. And it is HAWT let me tell you. There is skinny dipping and naked boys. And...drool :D

HIM didn't just make me happy because the characters made me happy but it also made me happy because it was HILARIOUS at times. The kind of funny that makes you laugh out loud even on public transportation. For example, as someone who spends her days with teenagers this tickled my funny bone:

They're headstrong and irrational. They listen to what I say, and then they go do the opposite.
They're teenagers. And after ten minutes of play I'm basically beating my head against the plexi, praying for my own death.
"Pat," I beg. "Please tell me I wasn't like this." 
"You weren't," he says with a shake of his head. "You were three times worse." Then that traitor has the balls to exit the building, leaving me in charge of thirty sweating hormone-crazed teenage hockey punks.

I do want to tell Wes though that he hasn't really suffered until you add girls to that mix, but he is having a difficult enough time, snicker.

As funny as this book is there is also some angst. I mean it is hard to write a book in the romance genre and not have any angst. Add to it that the main characters are in their twenties and still trying to find their way in life (hey, I'm in my thirties and still trying to figure things out so...) and the angst ramps up some. However, this book has a zero Kleenex box rating and only gets a one and a half smack up the head rating. So a fairly low angst level her. Mostly it is a cozy, funny book that I would recommend as a feel good book.

I recieved HIM as an ARC, the love however is completely genuine. The book is due out July 28th. Ordering links in this post

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Teaser Tuesday: HIM

HIM is due out on July 28th and it is going to be AWESOME

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Friday, 17 July 2015

Review Re-Post: Running for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield

Okay so I am still not a runner. Although some (former) colleagues and I have started a running group. I still want to be a runner. I am going to give it a go again once I move. If anyone has a good idea how I should prevent shinsplints I will love you forever.

Running for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield
The miracle isn't that I finished.
The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
John Bingham's Credo (pg 102)
Category: Non-fiction

Synopsis:You don’t have to run fast or competitively to reap the rewards that running has to offer. What you do need is the courage to start. That is the "Penguin mantra" that has enabled John Bingham—through his best-selling book No Need for Speed, his popular monthly column for Runner’s World magazine, and his many appearances at major running events throughout the year—to inspire thousands of men and women to take up the sport for fitness and the sheer enjoyment that running brings them.

By teaming up with coach Jenny Hadfield, his wife and coauthor on Marathoning for Mortals, Bingham lays out strategies that will help readers to safely and effortlessly integrate runs into their busy schedules. In this book, backed by Runner’s World, the authority of America’s leading running magazine, the authors provide tips for getting started, sticking to a routine, eating for energy, hydration, and training for speed and endurance (from Amazon.com).

My thoughts: I have much love for this book. I am fairly new to running (and I really need to get out there again it's been ages) and I found this book incredibly helpful and inspiring. It takes you through why you should run. How you should run. When you should run. In fun easy chapters. It gives several different training programs as well as advice on warm-ups and strength training. It also gives some of the best weight loss advice out there:

Eat less. Move more. pg 157

This book is a great introduction for those who are considering taking up running as part of their fitness routine but I think it also has a lot to offer seasoned runners who might need some reminders. It is also a funny book. John and Jenny look at themselves and running with a great deal of self-deprecating humour. They make it very clear that they did not start out as world class olympians but as normal people who "couldn't run to the end of the block without crying". This type of self-insight is so very helpful to me as I move on in my journey of becoming a runner. I am now looking forward to reading their other book: Marathoning for Mortals. Not that I will be running a marathon any time soon but they are that inspiring.

I really cannot recommend this book more highly to anyone who is a runner or wants to become one!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Book Review: Kiss Me by Susan Mallery

Kiss Me 

Author: Susan Mallery

Publisher: Harlequin

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery creates the small-town destination for romance in charming Fool's Gold, California—where a loner cowboy finds the one woman who can capture his heart
After Phoebe Kitzke's kind heart gets her suspended from her job in LA, she swears off doing favors—until her best friend begs for help on the family ranch in Fool's Gold. Unfortunately, sexy cowboy Zane Nicholson isn't exactly thrilled by the city girl's arrival.
Thanks to his brother's latest scheme, Zane has been roped into taking tourists on a cattle drive. What Phoebe knows about ranching wouldn't fill his hat, but her laughter is so captivating that even his animals fall for her. One slip of his legendary control leads to a passionate kiss that convinces him she's exactly the kind of woman a single-minded loner needs to avoid.
In his arms, Phoebe discovers she's a country girl at heart. Yet no matter how much the small town feels like home, she can't stay unless Zane loves her, too…but is this cowboy interested in forever? From Publisher

My Thoughts: I've been reading the Fool's Gold (FG) series for quite some time now and I always enjoy them. They aren't great literature but they are a nice, well written comfort read much like a well made cup of tea or coffee (from Brew-HaHa, of course). And this book is a solid addition to the series. 

It introduces quite a few new characters. We had met Zane in some of the previous books (when he turned some of our previous heroines into their giggling 14 year old selves) but the heroine and her best friend are new to the reader. At first this actually annoyed me. I've gotten used to the group of friends that have been the heroines of the last few books. I liked that they popped in and out of each others lives. But then I realised that it was kinda nice to get to know some new people as well. Both Zane and Phoebe are likeable characters. Although I do think Phoebe is a bit to much like Larissa in that she helps first and thinks second. But that might just be because I am an anal planner who likes my contingency plans to have contingency plans (please note the plural s on all plans).

Of the well known characters the biggest place is given (to my great joy) Eddie and Gladys. I have loved these old ladies since I first met them in All Summer Long (not their first book but the first book in the series I read). What I really liked about them in Kiss Me was that, although we have gotten to know them as the irreverent older ladies who promote less clothes on men, in this book they showed their more care taking side. Gladys' story was beautiful. 

Apart from the added depth to Eddie and Gladys we get in this story my favourite part was that it didn't follow the usual story line of the series. I will admit that it was really getting on my nerves how very similar the stories were. I mean I know that stories have a predictable arc (I teach English for Pete's sake, I can draw the arc in my SLEEP) but the climax does NOT have to be "hero and heroine has a big fight/misunderstanding one of them stomps off to have a sulk then comes to their senses and goes back groveling usually with a big proposal" which is was FG had become stuck in. I won't reveal what the climax is or how the tension is resolved but I will say it isn't the above.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Teaser Tuesday: After the Storm by Linda Castillo


I started reading Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder series in the summer of 2012 with Gone Missing (which I got in a sale) and then back tracked and read the earlier books, and I've read all the subsequent books and I am really excited about this book which is out today!

 Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Monday, 13 July 2015

Soccer Memories

Image Credit
While packing boxes for my move I came across two pictures. One is of my first soccer team (we look like a bunch of bumble bees) and one of my last soccer team (age span is about five years because we couldn't get enough girls to play). With those pictures firmly in mind, and the many recent news stories about the FIFA Women's World Cup I have been thinking about female soccer players a great deal lately.

Despite being a soccer player for many years I have seen very few soccer games in a stadium live, and even if I see thousands of them during the rest of my life I will never forget my first one. My first (and so far only) live, in the stadium World Cup game was in 1995. June 8th 1995. When I was one of 1 500 who saw China beat Australia. Yeah you read that right, unlike the World Cup 20 years later the audience for this game was 1 500 not 50 000. It was a grey, cold June day and my team mates, coaches and I sat on a wind swept arena that will never see a World Cup game again, but 20 years ago it was considered a perfectly acceptable arena for a world cup game. Although things have gotten better for women's soccer players in the intervening years the pay gap is still ASTRONOMICAL. And, although I heard a fairly good explanation for this tweet

I think we can all agree that it was just a tad offensive.

But, that isn't actually what this story is about. The story I wanted to tell is about The Matildas/Female Soccerroos and that cold June day. Because after the game my team mates and I got to experience something that for me will always be the height of good manners and grace.
2009 Matildas since I couldn't find a picture of the 1995 team

The Australian ladies invited us into their locker room and signed our programs. They took time to encourage us in our playing. In working hard and training.

It is because of those ladies I occasionally think I should take up soccer again (usually I try playing with kids around the same time, go in for it all to much and re-injure my groin which was the main reason for quitting and remember that I am no longer 14). They did this after LOSING a game. Most of us know how we feel after having LOST a game. Can you imagine being gracious and encouraging after a loss? I can tell you I am usually pretty grumpy after losing. And I don't lose World Cup games.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Friday, 10 July 2015

Review Re-Post: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

 When Terry Pratchett passed away earlier this year I was so sad. He was a big part of my teen years and I dip into his books every so often now too. He always made me laugh. When news of DEATH coming to get him reached me, I reached for Reaper Man. But rather than post a review of it I thought I would go back and give you my review from my old blog. So posted previously on Notes from the North on October 30th 2009:

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Category: Fantasy, Satire

Synopsis: Death is given time and goes off to use it. Chaos ensues because without death life cannot move on and in classic Discworld manner life hangs around.

My Thoughts: I think I read my first Discworld novel about ten years ago and it was instant love, and the character I fell the most in love with was Death. Death has always been a bit different from how death should be, sure he has a hood, carries a scythe and is a bit of a skelington (95) but he also has a contemplative side and he does have family.

When the auditors decide that Death has become a personality contrary to regulations they give him time. And in typical Death manner he goes off to use it. He becomes farm hand Bill Door. Deaths absence as, well...Death, leads to problems for the other Discworld inhabitants, amongst them the Wizards at the Unseen University (or UU one of the few reasons I considered going to Uppsala University was the acronym UU). The Wizards are, erm...special people. Very set in their ways as befits proper Wizards and when one of their own fails to move on they set about solving the problem. However, when Wizards solve problems this tends to create other problems.

Pratchett has a way of seeing society in a way that you yourself could not but when he writes it down you go "oh yeah, of course". One of these incidences comes at the beginning of the book when the Wizards are throwing Windle Poons a death party. It reminded me strongly of the leaving parties that pop up occasionally at work, where everyone pretends to like the person and hope them well but secretly just want to get on with their own lives. The forced jollyness is always palpable.

As with any Pratchett book it is hard to explain what happens without giving away the whole story but I will say that I haven't laughed this much over a book in absolutely ages. And that the description of Mrs Cake (a medium, verging on small)

The Chief Priest moved a little closer.
'I think I could be strong enough to master and defeat just a little snare,' he said. 'I haven't felt like this since Mrs Cake was one of my flock.'
'Mrs Cake? What's a Mrs Cake?'
'You have...ghastly Things from the Dungeon Dimensions and thins, yes? Terrible hazards of your ungodly profession?' said the Chief Priest.
'We have someone called Mrs Cake.'
Ridcully gave him an enquiring look.
'Don't ask,' said the priest, shuddering. 'Just be grateful you'll never have to find out.' (pg79)

strongly reminds me of this

I think that the Chief Priest would take Death please.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission