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

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

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Cover Reveal: HIM by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Sooooo very excited about this book I can't even begin to describe it. I've read all of Sarina's books and reviewed them, and I've read several of Elle's books (still waiting to be reviewed). And I just know that this will be so awesome! It is due out on July 28th (and that is the only bad thing for me personally as I will be in the middle of the final stuff for my move, more on that later).

Pre-order it here:

Barnes & Noble



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