Review: A Nameless Witch

Pin It A Nameless Witch A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Nameless Witch is not my typical kind of book. It's not that I don't read paranormal books (because I do) but I don't tend to read "funny" books. I enjoy a good laugh like anyone else but I have to admit that I am not the type who chuckles or chortles while reading. Most humorous books are lucky to get a smirk out of me despite my appreciation of their humor. Christopher Moore is a rare exception who manages to tickle my funny bone at times. And I think it is natural that this book get compared to Christopher Moore's style although the latter is by far superior, in my humble opinion.

I actually listened to this as an audiobook and have to admit that I didn't particularly like the narrator (Ann Marie Lee). That may have affected my overall opinion of the book more than it should have but it's not the only thing that didn't strike my fancy.

A Nameless Witch is the story of a "cursed" girl who is adopted by a witch and taught the witchly arts. When her master is killed, she goes on a quest of vengeance, aided by her duck and a troll. There are no real twists or riddles you want to solve in the book and it spells itself out rather plainly as you go.

A. Lee Martinez did have his funny moments in the tale but I think I'd consider them more amusing than uproarious. He used some clever ideas that went against what one would typically picture in a witch and I couldn't help but enjoy the contrast. The writing was passable as well. Not a feat of genius by any means but it fit well with the style of the book.

What threw it all off for me was the story which kind of fell flat and took a while to get where it was going. It was a short audiobook but felt much longer than it was. I admittedly considered putting it on my DNF shelf a few times. In the end, I was glad I completed the audiobook but wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone.

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Product Review: Keurig K55 Coffee Maker

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First off, let me be clear about something: I'm not a coffee drinker. You may say, "well then why the heck would you be reviewing a coffee maker, you ding-a-ling!?" Well, that's the beauty of this thing - it's not just for coffee.

Let me start off at the beginning. I occasionally get free stuff from websites like so that I'll review the products I try and bring the companies business.... blah blah blah. Well, I've never been much for lying to people in order to get free stuff so when I review these products I am brutally honest, whether or not I think it will ruin my chance of getting something else in the future. I don't know if my honesty has hurt so far but obviously someone still thought I deserved a Keurig....

Well, about a month ago +Influenster sent me a massive box filled with all kinds of +Keurig goodies including a Keurig K55 coffee brewer and a bunch of k-cups. The Keurig K55 goes for $119 from their website or $95 from Amazon. When they first contacted me telling me I'd be getting one of these, I was a bit surprised since I'm not a coffee drinker and I'm pretty sure I've never indicated that I was in any of the surveys I filled out. With that said, I knew very little about these products since I assumed that's really all they were for.

When I unboxed this baby, I discovered that with it came huge boxes of coffee k-cups, black tea (neither of which I drink), and a box of hot chocolate (yay!! Now we've got a winner). Admittedly, the type of hot chocolate that came with it would not have been my personal preference (Swiss Miss brand is like the red-headed step-child of hot chocolate - you only love it because it's always around). The box even included a nice stainless steel stand for the k-cups to sit next to the Keurig. Fancy-schmancy!

Well, after a quick text asking my good friend Gemma if she wanted to inherit the coffee and tea for her own Keurig, I began the setup process. All in all it took about 10 minutes to get it set up because the water filter takes a bit of time to soak and install. I wouldn't say this type of work qualifies me as a handy-man but it's the closest thing I've done to a house project in years so I'm counting it.

Once it was set up, my initial thoughts were: 1) this thing is pretty dang sexy on my counter-top, and 2) it sure takes up a lot of real estate in my smallish kitchen. The size is a bit deceiving too because the water tank only holds enough water for 3 cups or so (depending on the cup size you select) of whatever you are drinking. Each time you go to use the unit, you are given 3 options of cup sizes to fill - small, medium or large (6, 8 or 10 oz respectively). All of the mugs we have accommodate the big boy size so I don't see any reason you'd want to use the smaller cups as it just wastes product in the k-cups (I've tried all sizes and have noticed no difference between flavor concentrations at the different sizes). Once the cup is done brewing in about 30 seconds total (a quick surprise in my opinion), you have a very piping hot drink to enjoy.

Like I said, the non-coffee/tea options are very limited but there are a few Keurig k-cup choices of hot chocolate, tea and soup that you can try. The real winner with this Keurig though is that it include a reusable k-cup which essentially lets you brew whatever you want without purchasing k-cups. That means you can drop in some of your gourmet hot chocolate or that fancy coffee that it made from beans that grow in poop and enjoy to your heart's content!!

I've extremely happy with out Keurig so far. Even happier knowing that it was free. I'd give it a 4/5 rating.... only losing a star because of the lack of options for refills for non-coffee drinkers.

-cheap alternative to daily Starbucks
-quick and easy
-looks good on the counter-top


-lacks options for non-coffee drinkers
-k-cups are expensive (only when compared to other grocery store options)

Rating: 4/5 

If you want to get free stuff like this, you can sign up for Influenster at this link:

Review: Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry

Pin It Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Oh gosh I found this "poetry" dreadful! I don't follow the blog and was unfamiliar with Samantha Jayne's rhymes before getting a free copy of the book from Netgalley. This book really reads more like a children's book of rhymes but for the young adult. I didn't find it especially funny and there was nothing intelligent at all about it.

I don't consider myself a poetry snob by any means but this doesn't fit the bill for me. I could have done without it. Just potty jokes in the form of rhyme without a great hook.

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Review: The Cheese Handbook: Over 250 Varieties Described, with Recipes

Pin It The Cheese Handbook: Over 250 Varieties Described, with Recipes The Cheese Handbook: Over 250 Varieties Described, with Recipes by T.A. Layton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the first book I've read on the subject of cheese despite the fact that I am an addict. Certainly I'm a newb in the cheese aficionado community but I actively search out new and interesting morsels to indulge my palate. I approached this book with the desire to open my mind to the vast variety of fromage being lovingly crafted across our planet and possibly obtain a bit of history in the process.

This book attempts to hit those aspects of the cheese world plus offer many other tidbits of knowledge but it doesn't do any if it particularly well or in a very useful manner. This book is part history, part reference, part opinion/personal experience with cheese, and part cookbook. Unfortunately it is poorly written and extremely poorly organized. It has the feel of a textbook without the structure to support it.

The most useful part of the book is the section which lists cheese by their country of origin. This is the section I picked up the book for. Some of the info was helpful but not much. I expected some sort of consistency in the material but it really was a mess. Very rarely did the book offer insight into taste, texture or appearance of the many varieties while it often droned on about the inconsequential history of a handful of the author's favorite cheeses. Heck, even that would have been fine if he made the attempt to perform this service for all those he listed, but some cheeses filled multiple pages with poems, references to classic literature, etc while others got one line that often said something like "not a very good cheese."

This felt very much like a book the author simply wrote for himself to read rather than for others. There was a bit of knowledge that I gained which will prove useful in my cheese-quest but not much.

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How to be alone

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I'm a guy who loves a bit of poetry. When I mention this to people, I get the occassional jab about my lack of manliness (apparently back hair only grows where poetry doesn't) but I feel pretty confident that real men appreciate beauty in the written and spoken word. I remember when I was in Cleveland attending med school and a friend was catching a ride from me after class and noticed a copy of the book "Poems That Make Grown Men Cry" sitting on my front seat. This discovery led to being offered a tampon which I graciously declined since I have a stash in my car in case my wife should need one.

I don't mind being teased about my love for poetry. There are times when it strikes me right in the heart muscles and grabs me tight. I'm not too macho to admit that I my face peed a bit while reading Ben Jonson's 'On My First Sonne':

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.Seven years tho' wert lent to me, and I thee pay,Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.O, could I lose all father now! For whyWill man lament the state he should envy?To have so soon 'scap'd world's and flesh's rage,And if no other misery, yet age?Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say, "Here doth lieBen Jonson his best piece of poetry."For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,As what he loves may never like too much.

If that doesn't get you, then there is something wrong with you.

Well, as much as I love poetry, I have to admit that there is a lot of it that I just don't get. A small bundle of it speaks to me while the rest bounces around my mind like random words thrown together on a page. But when a poem speaks to me, it often REALLY speaks to me. Such is one I found on YouTube of all places.

Many people automatically assume that I'm a natural extrovert because I get chatty with people quickly. On the contrary, I am quite introverted and get a bit of anxiety when I'm in crowds. I just hide it better than some. I actually enjoy doing things alone. I go to movies alone. I walk around the mall alone. I often sit up late alone. I do like people too but there are times when I just want to be by myself. So, Andrea Dorfman's poem 'How To Be Alone' really got me. Check it out:

The Making of a Modern Roman Gladius Sword

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I think every boy (perhaps every girl, for all I know) has at some point fantasized about wielding a brutal sword and tearing something to shreds. I've begged my wife to let me buy a sword in the past and eventually gave up on my fantasy for the sake of staying married. However, this video may resurrect a source of marital contention.....

Review: Seveneves

Pin It Seveneves Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A friend told me that this is the best book he read last year and I can see that that sentiment is echoed by many other people (myself excluded). I have very little history with Neal Stephenson other than Snowcrash, which is one of the best sci-fi books I've read. I had heard that he tends to put a lot of research into creating his stories and that he is very thorough with details. I'll be honest that that alone should have warned me since I'm not big on minutia and much prefer character-driven books. I like my emotions to be tested and I enjoy loving some characters and hating others.

Seveneves is a massive book and equally grand in its scale. The time period it covers is possibly the largest of any book I've read and I found this idea to be quite exciting initially, expecting the get a glimpse of a fantastic world drastically different from the one left behind. Unfortunately, the parts I longed for were largely absent.

This is a book that I really wish would have been written by another author. I loved the basic idea and overall story but it was all of the filler that put me in a coma. The endless physics and description of parts of a space ship overtook the people who were there among them. I never really cared about any of the characters because it felt like everyone was devoid of feeling. I mean, how can you spend 500 pages describing the end of the world and not have your reader feel even a tiny bit of sadness, loss or heartbreak? I wanted this book to make me cry and then blow me away with a grand new world filled with wonder. It didn't do that and it's a bloody shame.

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