Book Reviews, Food

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Rating: ★★★

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

So many people absolutely adored this novel and were super excited for the next installment…Muse of Nightmares. I wanted to love this book just as much as everyone else, however, I didn’t. The pacing was slow and there wasn’t as much action as I would’ve hoped. I’m hoping Muse of Nightmares will have more action and maybe some stronger characters. The novel just left me feeling “meh”. 

This was like a movie where the only good scenes were the ones they show in the trailer (please don’t hurt me).

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“No”, he said, smiling. “I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And…” His voice grew bashful. Only in a dream could he be so bold and speak such words. “I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”

However, since there was so much hype for Muse of Nightmares, I, of course, had to purchase the LitJoy Exclusive Dreams & Nightmares Crate. You can see my unboxing here.

Food

Satay Chicken Stir-Fry

20181009_181003Recipe: Satay Chicken Stir-Fry
Vendor: HelloFresh
Calories: 640

Time: 40 min
Rating: ★★★★★

So, one of my favorite things is peanut sauce. I was introduced to it in the Soy-Marinated Steak meal from HelloFresh about a year ago. Honestly, I can’t get enough! Rice, broccoli, and chicken with the sweet and mouth-watering peanut sauce poured over is going to get me every time. I can’t think of a more flavorful and delicious combination. It will be picked every time it is an option.

Food

Gouda Pork Burgers

20181008_204100Recipe: Gouda Pork Burgers
Vendor: HelloFresh
Calories: 1,070

Time: 30 min
Rating: ★★★★★

In the picture on the website, I thought the caramelized onions were pieces of pulled pork (don’t ask). So, initially, I was a little disappointed in seeing that it was ground pork. But, wow! Not being a big burger person at all, this was delicious! I think this was the first thick burger I’ve ever finished. Big chunks of meat I don’t normally care for. The burger was plump and flavorful, the sauce was tart and creamy, the Gouda added a little smokiness, the onions added a sweetness, and the crust of the bun soaked up all of the juices. Honestly, I would not change a thing about it and I will definitely be making it again!

Food

Chorizo and Beef Chili Dinner

20181003_213230Recipe: Chorizo and Beef Chili Dinner
Vendor: HelloFresh
Calories: 950

Time: 35 min
Rating: ★★★★

I let my boyfriend attempt this one on his own (haha)! He is a big improviser, so I was a little worried how things may turn out. The little rebel cooked everything at the same time instead of in stages (“I don’t get why they make you do so many steps”). It was so delicious, though! I’ve never had chorizo before in my life and was worried because it is like sausage and I’m not the biggest fan of sausage, but it was like the Mexican version of pepperoni! And guess what! That picture is his plating (my burrito was a hot mess).

My one complaint is that HelloFresh folded the burrito shells, and in doing that, tore them, so trying to make the burrito ended up in a disaster (sad).

Book Reviews, Food

The Wicked King (Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black

The Wicked King

Title: The Wicked King (Folk of the Air, #2)
Author: Holly Black
Rating: ★★★★

The Cruel Prince: ★★★★
The Wicked King: ★★★★

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

This was not a boring, fluffer second book!

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I love Jude! Although, I think she gives people the benefit of the doubt WAY too often. She is a realistic heroine and what is nice is that she does have flaws. Always looking to do the best for the ones she loves, she is selfless and clever in her actions. 

Dang, Cardan! Oh how much he grew in this novel. I’m destined to love him as a character knowing all of his flaws and treachery. Playing into the foolish king role, he took everyone for a spin. 

Like before, Taryn and Locke are annoying. Vivi, too (she is so immature).

I remember what it was to hate him with the whole of my heart, but I’ve remembered too late.

Everyone is really surprised by the ending, but I wasn’t. I’m not sure if that is good or bad. Human nature of the characters point directly to that, so I wasn’t really surprised by the action. I was, however, completely surprised by one of the betrayals. This is why you can’t trust anyone. 

Does anyone else get emotionally drained from all of the lies, deceit, and betrayals in this series?! Why can’t anything good just happen?! haha

This is how I imagine Holly Black being to everyone who read The Wicked King (queue Wicked Witch laugh):

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The Wicked King gives readers the debauchery and treachery similar to that of George R.R. Martin’s works. The character development is phenomenal. I am pleasantly surprised by this second novel not being a fluffer and actually having a plot line. The last third of the book is sure to give readers a ride and leave them wanting more.

What more destruction can Holly Black cause readers next?!

Food

Sesame Beef Tacos

20180927_202221Recipe: Gouda Pork Burgers
Vendor: HelloFresh
Calories: 720

Time: 20 min
Rating: ★★★

The flavoring used for the beef was savory and sweet, however, I would advise you not to add the sriracha as it spoiled the previous flavoring. But, when in doubt, add hoisin sauce (not included with the recipe). Hoisin sauce is my best friend. My boyfriend and I literally add it to every dish we cook. It is so sweet and succulent that I just can’t get enough! Honestly, our version was probably better than the recipe would’ve been.

As for the pickled radishes and cucumbers…they were a hit! They added a little crunch to the tacos that had my taste buds screaming for me. And, especially for me, I can’t eat a lot of meat…just not a big fan. The pickled veggies made it easy for me to load my taco up with meat! 

The cooling sour cream, tart pickled veggies, and sweet and savory meat were a great combination that I would definitely try again!

Food

Garden Quesadillas

20180926_200024Recipe: Garden Quesadillas
Vendor: HelloFresh
Calories: 620

Time: 30 min
Rating: ★★★★

You know why salad is always one of the first items you encounter? Because it is a filler. And, that’s kind of what I thought about this dish. I’m all about a good salad, however, when the main course has a lot of the same ingredients, just feels like not a lot of thought went into the side dish. However, the main event, the veggie quesadillas, exceeded my expectations with flavor and there was enough cheese for even me! I would definitely try the quesadilla portion of this dish again. The vegetables were crisp yet soft, the cheese was savory, and the combination perfect. Besides from being distracted cleaning and accidentally overcooking the tortillas, I thought the quesadillas were a success!