Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Middy's Book Review! Armada and the Royal We


Another solid effort from Cline- just like Ready Player One, he does not disappoint. The way that Cline seamlessly sews in pop culture references into his stories has quickly pushed him near the top of my favorite authors. Now, is it better than Ready Player One? No, but that book is amazing, so you can only try to compare. Armada is a mix of Destiny, Iron Eagle, Star Wars, a smidge of Top Gun, and sprinkled with Independence Day (WELCOME TO URRF). To go into detail would be giving too much of the story away, so I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Basically, earth is about to be absolutely destroyed by aliens inhabiting Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. Each sci-fi game, book, movie, you name it, had subliminal messages in them to train the population to be prepared for an alien invasion. Ever since Star Wars came out, the US has been subliminally and secretly preparing the public for an alien attack. They have also been training everyone (well, video gamers) to be the best of the best of the best (with honors) through video games. Turns out, they have all been battle simulators against aliens. Destiny, Halo, Resident Evil, Wow, all have been a part..

I REALLY enjoyed this book. It was a fast read as well, but I think that was partly because I was super into it and wanted to keep going. The way it plays out works really well, with the majority of the story happening within 2 days. It definitely keeps you hooked until the end. I can't recommend Ernest Cline enough, so I'll just keep reading as long as he keeps writing. Maybe I'll run into him in Austin one day! That would be too cool, and I would totes buy him a beer. If you're a fan of books with pop culture references, check this out. Now, for readers that won't touch SF with a 10ft pole, this book isn't as sci-fi oriented as it appears, so you're safe! I mean, 2 of the characters smoke pot on the dark side of the moon listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. BECAUSE WHY WOULDN'T YOU.

It's URRF, but whatevs.

Middy's rating: 7 out of 10

p.s. I will not apologize for the Independence Day/M.I.B references. #noregerts #willsmith #formerkingofjuly4thboxoffice

The Royal We

Since I love the Royal Family (well, most of them. LOOKING AT YOU, CHARLES AND CAMILLA.), but especially William and Kate, I was really looking forward for this title to show up in my hold box at the lieberry. The, when I realized it was written by the girls who write the blog, 'Go Fug Yourself,' I was super stoked. No seriously, I had people at my house at 4 am to watch the Royal Wedding and I bought that bitch on dvd the same day. Once again, #noregerts.

American Bex (a twin) shows up at Oxford from the Midwest and somehow manages to become part of Nicolas' (the future king) inner circle. She has no motive to do so, it literally just happens. The next is a whirlwind of the highs and lows of royal society, and the evils of the never-ending paparazzi. We see a couple fall in love, break up, attempt to move on, and the pick up the pieces and start over. The supporting characters are also great, even with all of their faults, because some of them have SEVERAL. They do contribute to the story, so it’s not like they’re just thrown in there for funsies.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I thought I would. While I found myself flying through the pages, it WOULDN'T END. There were a few times where I felt certain parts were just thrown in as a diversion or filler. It reminded me of Order of the Phoenix- great, but super long and full of filler. Now, do I think the book would've been better shortened or split into 2 books? No, because it would take away from the story. I also think because I know the Will and Kate story so well, I found myself making comparisons, but not being judgmental. Cox and Morgan created their own world that doesn't seem like fan-fiction or any crap. There are obviously some real-life comparisons for some of the characters, but each of them stand on their own. If you're a fan of the Royal family, you should totally ready this.

I would totes pay to see that shit.

Middy's rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!! Fate's Betrayal

Desire and despise. Two insanely contradicting emotions that the dark haired, well-built, irrefutably handsome musician Riley evokes in simple but attractive, fashion savvy, Austinite Brooke. Initially unequivocally turned-off by the brash but striking Riley she develops a fascination for his seductive charms as Riley reels Brooke into a world of ravenous love she never knew existed. What they create together is oh-so-much more than beautiful music. It's a roller coaster ride of awe-inspiring and heartbreaking emotion, passion, hidden secrets and an ending that will leave you utterly breathless. The way they become eternally bound sets the heart afire when fate unleashes the ultimate betrayal.



Beth Ann is a wife, mother, blogger and book lover from Texas. Her passion is writing stories that draw a reader into a world where they can become the characters and experience a gamut of emotions. When she's not writing, she love's to be home with my family and two yellow labs. In addition she's a sucker for super sappy romance movies, loves trying out Texas wines, is an avid hot tea drinker and enjoys checking items off of her ever-growing bucket list.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Ransom Canyon Review

I’ve read my fair share of Harlequin books, but my all-time favorite is Pregnesia by Carla Cassidy. Yeah. That’s right. I said Pregnesia. It had plot, character development some serious suspense, it had URRYTHANG, y’all. Mind you, it was part of the HQN Intrigue line, not a separate, longer novel like Ransom Canyon. When I read the synopsis of the book, I immediately thought of my mom. This particular sub-genre is a favorite of hers, so I was looking forward to telling her about the book. After reading Ransom Canyon, I’m most likely going to tell her to check it out, but I will also give her some sort of disclaimer- get ready to feel unfulfilled.

The cover to Ransom is very appealing; it reflects the serenity of small town/ranch life. This is what initially drew me to the book. Four “families” (a term that I wouldn’t necessarily use to describe them) converge in Cross Roads, a tiny town in north Texas. I did like that each character had their own chapters to tell their part of the story. However some characters’ chapters were only a few pages long, so it made it feel as though it was either an afterthought, or just shoved in there to add little to the story. The inconsistency of the length of the chapters threw me off as a reader to the point where it was almost distracting.

I have to say that the only character that I really actually liked was Sheriff Brigman. He was a mere sub character, but was the only one who didn’t seem like a filler character. Staten, Quinn, Yancy, and Laura were fairly annoying with Staten being the least- and they are main characters! Yancy’s character was sadly underused. I didn’t really care for his character (his criminal past didn’t bother me), because he just blended in with the town so much that you forgot he was part of the story (I know that was his intention, but it seemed as though the author would forget about him as well, then add him in as an afterthought). To me, there was no character development. Well, minimal at best. All of the emotionally damaging sub stories left me rolling my eyes. They were extremely predictable and almost not really needed.

With all that being said, Ransom Canyon was not for me. However, I still have this inkling to read the prequel and the sequel to find out if there is more to each character. I would also recommend this to other customers that I know would enjoy this kind of story.

Middy’s Rating: 5 out of 10.

Disclaimer: I have been generously given materials for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A half-assed apology and a whole-assed suggestion.

I promise that I'm not neglecting the blog, it's just that I was on a week-long vacation, padded with an extra day thanks to the holiday. That was 9 days (7, actually, if you count 1 day of shorts/ 1 day of capris [denim]) of wearing yoga pants. IT WAS THE GREATEST THING EVER, Y'ALL. I even wore yoga capris to the Motley Crue concert. I had to wear a maxi skirt to work Tuesday (my first day back) to ease the transition back to actual work wear. I REALLY need to find a job that involves me wearing yoga pants alllllll day. Seriously. How awesome would that be?!?! But I digress...

Every. damn. time.

I have been thinking about re-reading the Harry Potter series for quite a while now. I've only read Deathly Hallows once and it was the night/day of the release. I think it would be interesting to go back as an adult visit the world. I'm a huge Potterhead. I even knitted my own scarf! When the last book came out, I was filled with many emotions. Happiness, excitement, sadness, and a sprinkle of melancholy. Same thing when the last movie's credits rolled. The series was such a huge part of my teens and early twenties, that it felt as though a chapter was closing. Maybe bigger than that. Like a Part 5 or something. Midnight releases, fan fiction, movie marathons, and a pilgrimage that I will never forget: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando. I was in absolute heaven there. I took plenty of pictures while I was there, but they're on another computer, so I'll have to dig those up and show y'all.

Made back in 2011. My hands were KILLING me.

With all that said, I am inviting everyone to join me on my journey to re-visit Hogwarts and the characters we loved to much and still hold dear. I'll make it super easy. We'll start on October 1st and read one book a month, as to give everyone time to get through them with no rush. I'll set up everything on my facebook page- that way it will be easier for everyone to communicate. I'll put up a few discussions throughout each book so that we can chat and post all kinds of Potter stuffs. Anything and everything will be welcome, including links to sites, clothing, your own discussions (if mine suck) etc. I'm super excited about this, and I hope everyone will join me!!


Okay just one more:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOOO!!!! Schooled for Murder

Author: Cindy Muir
Genre: Mystery (cozy)
# of Pages: 200
Pub Date: July 11, 2014
Publisher:  Black Rose Writing

Laurel Franks is a dedicated mom, volunteer extraordinaire and active on the PTA Board. She is also, however, a enthusiastic Jimmy Buffet fan and wanna-be Trop Rock singer. Laurel finds out through the local grapevine that the despicable local School Superintendent has been murdered and the sheriff’s office seems to be unusually mum about the investigation.

With her best friend and sidekick Sherry Sharp, Laurel decides to hone her investigative skills and search out suspect possibilities she comes up with in her volunteer and community world. Her husband, obsolete in the thought processes of a modern woman, wants her to devote her time and energy to her volunteer work and family only, but Laurel is spurred on with her investigation.

Laurel and Sherry traverse the Hill Country north of San Antonio, Texas and meet some wacky characters, many of whom seem to have a motive for rubbing out the School Superintendent. Fueled by Trop Rock music and inspired by Jimmy Buffett lyrics, Laurel finally solves the crime, but at the near cost of her own life.

I’m one of those who has always loved music. My earliest performance memory was at age four at church and by age 8, I was studying piano. The choral and solo road continued and I wound up with two music degrees from Baylor University. I’m a former elementary music teacher and directed church children’s choirs for 32 years.
Somewhere along the way, I expanded my musical horizons and was listening to

Jimmy Buffett by the early 90s. When I attended my first concert back in 1991, I was hooked. After several years of Buffett concerts, reading his books and learning about him, I finally joined the San Antonio Parrot Head Club. It was through the club that I began to learn about Trop Rock and the singers/ songwriters who make the music.
A couple of years ago, I started writing a column about Parrot Heads and Trop Rock for a now-defunct magazine. And I truly became hooked on meeting and interviewing the musicians. One of my favorite parts of going to MOTM, Pardi Gras, or other Trop Rock music events is to forge new musical relationships. I also began to weave a story about an amateur sleuth who also dreams of being a Trop Rock singer. After years of writing and re-writing, "Schooled For Murder" is my first cozy mystery novel. Black Rose Writing was extremely gracious to take the chance of being the book's publisher.
I have a beautiful daughter, Lauren Bates, who lives in Dallas and is an artist. And I’m newly married to wonderful Don Muir, whom I’ve known for years through the San Antonio Parrot Head Club. Jerry Diaz was gracious to let us be married on the stage erected for the Pardi Gras Street Party and after the ceremony, a second line jazz band paraded us up to the top of the Tropical Isle, where we had cake for whomever joined us.
I’m also caretaker for the “Jimmy Buffett Museum of Port Aransas, TX,” which is my second home. Come see me if you’re ever on that part of the Gulf Coast. We’ll share a cold libation and listen to… what else? Trop Rock!


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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Middy's Book Reviews: The Blender Girl- Smoothies

Hey y'all! I said that I would start doing my own brand of book reviews, right? I love me some smoothies. There is no denying that business. So when I had the opportunity to review Tess Masters' The Blender Girl: Smoothies, I jumped. I will be honest when I say that I have not been aquainted with Master's Bender Girl blog. I just know that I love a good smoothie, and I felt that she could get me there.

I enjoyed this book- especialy the organization and the fluidity. Masters first breaks down tips and strategies for the best smoothie possible, which includes these how-to's: choose premium produce, freeze your fruit, savor with salt, and push the probiotics. She then breaks down categories in which choose from: detox, energizing, protein (which will forever be BROtein in my mind) rich, and immunity. She is very thorough in her explanations, and also gives sound reason to back them.

Now to the best part- the recipies!! There are 100 listed in this book, and she breaks it down into flavor categories: Light and Fruity, Clean and Green, an Exotic Side, and Dessert. I will say that I dabbled in the Light and Fruity and Dessert sections. I'm not calling myself chicken (okay I totally am), but I still haven't come around to adding all the "extra stuff" to the smoothie (any kind of leafy green, seeds, etc). I know I will one day, but I just like my smoothies fruity with some peanut butter or chocolate powder thrown in to make it snazzy. The recipies in this book are very simplistic (as a smoothie recipie should be) and easy to follow. There are a few that I know that I will never make, but there are still a few that I have tabbed that I will definitely try in the future. My favorites so far are: Pink Cooler, Pineapple Kiwi Cavalcade (minus the basil), and the Strawberry Kiwi Candy. I totally forgot to take pictures (are you really surprised?!), but when I get going again, I'll try my best to remember!

Finally, she breaks it down once again in the final chapter, "the smoothie pantry." Here she talks about essential ingredients; including liquids, greens, spices, herbs, and superfoods. Each ingredient has a small blurb about how to purchase, prep, store, and pair. It's a solid breakdown and makes sense of why you're putting hemp and chia seeds with your kale in your strawberry mango smoothie.

Overall, I feel that I will be reaching for this book many times in the future. I do feel inspired to explore other smoothie outlets and branch out. Now, I won't get too crazy, but I may start adding avocado to my smoothies sooner than I'm willing to admit!

Middy's rating: 7 out of 10 (still looking for a rating object thingy. Y Y'ALL NO COMMENT?!?)

I received this book from for this review.

Monday, September 14, 2015

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOOO!!!!! Dark Places

by Reavis Wortham

At the tail end of 1967, the Parker family once again finds it impossible to hide from a world spinning out of control. Fourteen-year-old Top still can't fit in with their Center Springs, Texas, community or forget recent, vicious crimes. His near-twin cousin Pepper, desperate to escape her own demons, rashly joins the Flower Children flocking to California―just as two businessmen are kidnapped and murdered in the Red River bottoms on the same night a deadly hit and run kills a farmer. Constable Ned Parker wonders if these crimes are connected, but he goes after Pepper, leaving the investigation in the hands of Sheriff Cody Parker. Parker hires Deputy Anna Sloan, an investigator with an eye toward detail as everyone is eyeing her. Yet it is instinct that propels her after killers through a world nearly forgotten, the hunt’s backdrop one of continuous rain, gloomy skies, and floods. When she’s ambushed, the investigation accelerates into gunfire, chases, and hair-raising suspense. What of Pepper? Out on Route 66, the Mother Road to California, a man named Crow isn't what he seems. Lies, deceptions, and a band of outlaw motorcyclists proves to the Parkers that no matter where you turn, no matter what you do, the world is full of such darkness that even grandmothers are capable of unspeakable deeds.



As a boy, award-winning writer Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for his fictional Center Springs. Reavis Z. Wortham’s critically acclaimed debut novel, The Rock Hole, was listed in a Starred Review by Kirkus Reviews as one of their “Top Mysteries of 2011.” Burrows, the second novel in this critically acclaimed series received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal listed it as One of Nine Historical Mysteries for the Summer of 2012. Vengeance is Mine, Book 4, was listed by True West magazine as one of their Top 5 Modern Westerns of 2015. A retired educator of 35 years, Reavis and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!!! Mysteries of Love and Grief

Reflections on a Plainswoman's Life
Sandra Scofield

Frieda Harms was born into a farming family in Indian Territory in 1906. Widowed at thirty and left with three children in the midst of the Great Depression, she worked as a farmer, a railroad cook, a mill worker, and a nurse in four states. She died in 1983.
Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.

Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.

BUY LINKS: AMAZON ~ Texas Tech Press ~ B&N


Throughout her depiction of her own family, Scofield kept me surprised—a moment of generosity when I didn't expect it or of anger when I didn't expect that. Mysteries remain as they must, but I trusted the insights as well as the mysteries. I thought it was a very beautiful book, smart and sharp.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club

Largely ungoverned by chronology, Scofield’s journey of discovery unfolds organically, true to the way memory works. Seeking to know her grandmother, she honors the lives and artistic bent of many women marginalized by gender and poverty in the early to mid-twentieth century. This is a unique and necessary work.
Lorraine M. López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories and The Darling

A native Texan, Sandra Scofield divides her time between Missoula, Montana, and Portland, Oregon. 

She has written seven novels, a memoir, and a craft book for writers. An excerpt from Mysteries of Love and Grief won first place in Narrative magazine’s 2014 Spring Story Contest. She is an avid landscape painter.

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P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!! Hail of Fire

Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours



Randy Fritz

Hail of Fire: A Man and His Family Face Natural Disaster is an intimate account of the third worst wildfire in modern U.S. history, and the most destructive in the history of Texas. It is a memoir of what happened to Randy Fritz, an artist turned politician turned public policy leader, and his family during and after the Bastrop County Complex fire in September 2011. Combining a searing account of the fire as it grew to apocalyptic strength with universal themes of loss and grief, Fritz gives a first-person account of the emotional turmoil that comes with rebuilding one’s life after a calamitous event.

The wildfire itself was traumatic to those who witnessed it and suffered its immediate aftermath. But the most significant impact came in the months and years following, as families grieved, struggling to adapt to a new world and accept the destruction of an iconic forest of internationally acclaimed great natural beauty—the Lost Pines. Neighbors once close worried for each other, while others discovered new friendships that transcended the boundaries of race, class, and family lineage. Fritz struggled as his wife and daughter tried to make sense of their losses. He never imagined the impact this disaster would have on them individually and as a family, as well as the visceral toll he would pay in the journey to make sense of it all.

Hail of Fire is an unflinching story of how a man and his tight-knit family found grace after losing everything. Fritz’s hard-won insights provide inspiration to anyone on the search for what truly matters, particularly those who have undergone an unexpected and life-changing event and those who love and care for them.

Price: $24.95
Pages: 256
Size: 6 x 9
Published: Jun 2015
ISBN: 9781595342591

Price: $24.95
Published: Jun 2015
ISBN: 9781595342607


Praise for HAIL OF FIRE

“If you've ever loved a tree—or a person—do yourself a favor: read this book, because at its core love in all its splendor and sadness is what it’s about.” — Jan Jarboe Russell, author of The Train To Crystal City

“The power of the book is in the recovery.... [Fritz] finds “mindfulness and acceptance” and the strength to make a fresh start in a place with haunted memories.”  Kirkus Reviews
“Randy Fritz has written a mesmerizing account of the Bastrop fire, the worst in Texas history and one of the worst ever nationally. The heart of Hail of Fire is how an everyday citizen survives the angst and awfulness of a natural disaster. Highly recommended!” — Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

“A roller coaster ride.... brutally honest, intimate and affecting.”  Austin American-Statesman

“In this painstakingly written story of ruin and renewal, Fritz eloquently reflects on how the events of the Bastrop fire of September 2011 and their aftermath transformed him, his family and the lives of their closest friends and neighbors.”  San Antonio Express-News

“As Fritz and his family deal with shock, instability, and the stress involved in trying to move forward, their perseverance and strength, and that of those around them, demonstrate that life definitely can rise from the ashes.” — Booklist

“Though the title of his memoir of the 2011 Bastrop wildfire might suggest that readers will be placed right in the middle of one of the worst conflagrations in Texas history, this Lost Pines resident is more interested in what followed: the displacement of his family after the loss of their house, and the fraught debate over whether to rebuild or walk away from their longtime home.”  Texas Monthly

“Every time a fire destroys a family’s home, the media shows up right away to cover the disaster and report what’s happened. But not very often does the media ever tell you what happens after the fire because most victims don’t have the emotional strength to speak out while the smoke is still in the air. This story is told through the eyes of Randy Fritz who experienced the third worst wildfire in modern U.S. history. He tells the story of grief, loss and how his family rebuilt their lives after the calamitous event.” — San Francisco Book Review

Fritz is at his best when he recounts the impact the fire had on his own psyche, with raw reflections on the difficult time he had coping and how his depression became difficult for his family. Foreword Reviews

My business was urgent. But I stopped at an overlook several hundred feet above the highway. I needed to know if I was about to drive into the fire’s maw.

The last time I was here—early afternoon the previous day—cars and pickups were parked at cockeyed angles. The conversations I joined or overheard over the wind’s moan were a mixture of resignation and threadbare hope. Nobody knew for sure what was happening on the ground, but there were a lot of theories.

I was certain some of my overlook companions were already wiped out, like my friends at the motel, or about to be. Others would be fine by the time it was all over. I couldn’t imagine how the lucky, including me, would fight back their guilt, or the unlucky their anger and bitterness.

From our vantage point, the fire took on two forms. The main one was a vast and heaving cloud of smoke towering many thousands of feet above us. It filled our entire western and southern visual horizon. While it was mainly white, there were dark streaks and blotches in it and lighter spots where the blue sky behind it was almost visible.

The other form was a yellow curtain of flame hanging and writhing over the ground. Within it, sharp bursts of light appeared and almost immediately vanished. Each one was like a tweet from the fire informing us that another home had been claimed and the secure future of another family forfeited.

While we were a small community of collective ignorance, there was one thing we knew: this fire was vastly more dangerous and destructive than the one two and a half years earlier that took three helicopters, two airplanes, and twenty-two fire departments to contain.

That one worried us. This one terrified us.

That one threatened dozens of families. This one was a predator of hundreds, if not thousands.

That one surrendered in a week. This one looked like it might never give up until its gluttony expired for lack of food.

Labor Day 2011 was the first day of a new era in Bastrop County, one in which its most prominent and beloved feature—the Lost Pines—would be ugly and desolate for many years. For those of us in middle age or beyond, our deaths would precede the rejuvenation of the forest into the bounty of life it was when we built our homes and started our families.


Randy Fritz is the former chief operating officer of the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state’s public and mental health agency. He helped coordinate the state’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and led the team that implemented the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Texas. Fritz lives in Bastrop, Texas, with his wife, Holly, and their youngest daughter, Miranda.

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