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Showing posts from 2015

Finishing up the Finished the Series Challenge

I finished 6 of the 8 series I wanted to finish this year.

The Lonely Lords by Grace BurrowsBuchanan by Julie Garwood Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate JacobsKell Sabin by Linda HowardEloisa's Fairy Tales by Eloisa JamesFBI/ US Attorney by Julie James

I didn't get the chance to pick up with the James Bond series by Ian Flemming and plan to read those in 2016.

I called it quits on the Belador series by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love. I didn't realize it was turning into such a long series and I just didn't think an extended series could keep my attention.

Calling it Quits - 2015 TBR Pile Challenge

The Results: I failed to read all 12 of my books. I did start and finish 6 books (linked below). I started and did not finish 3 books (crossed out below). I didn't get to 3 of the books on my list and will try to read those in 2016.  

I'm always upset by not finishing books, and this year was no different. I had really high hopes for the 3 DNFs and was upset that I just couldn't get into them. I will start a book and if it takes me more than a week to pick it up (but I keep starting new books) then I know I'm not going to get into the book and that's what happened with all three.  They'll stay on my TBR list on Goodreads, but the books themselves have already been passed on to others who may enjoy them. People of the Book by Geraldine BrooksWolf Hall by Hilary MantelThe Dead Beat by Marilyn JohnsonAmerican Wife by Curtis SittenfeldTruth about Mr. Darcy by Susan AdrianiThe Physician's Irish Lady by Susan MacateeAgainst the Tide by Elizabeth CamdenMaximilian St…

Book Review - Broken Resolutions by Olivia Dade

Broken Resolutions by Olivia Dade
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a sucker for any romance novel starring a librarian.

Things I liked:
1. That the hero, Jack, was a famous author.
2. The idea of a singles night at the library and the librarian, Penny, didn't understand why they were hosting such an event.
3. That is wasn't a story where Penny had to change to win Jack.

Things I didn't like:
1. That Jack brought up the stereotypical "library of the past" with the old lady librarian with a bun who shushes people.
2. The rushed feeling of the book, I would have liked a longer novel instead of a novella.
3. The location of their of nightly activities while in the library. That just didn't sit well with me.

I've already got book 2 waiting for me to read and review!

I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finishing the Series - FBI-US Attorney by Julie James

FBI/ US Attorney by Julie James (read book 5)
#1 Something About You
#2 A Lot Like Love
#3 About That Night
#4 Love Irresistibly

As found on the printable list of books by Julie James, she doesn't consider these a series but a set of stand alone books that take place in Chicago and all focus around the criminal justice system. They have connected characters but you don't have to read them all. I personally like to read connected books in order so I get the reference back to other books.

A 6th book came out this year and I read that one too!

Three things I liked about this series:

I liked that it was set in Chicago and not NYC or LA or another big coastal city.The characters were for the most part in their early to mid-30s (like me).This goes along with the last point, but all the characters were (for the most part) set in their career choices and in who they were as a person. There wasn't much if any the need to find who they were or explore something new. Three things I d…

Read Harder Challenge - A book published before 1850

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mysteries of Undolpho was published in 1794. The novel is the story of Emily, an orphan, who is sent to go live with her aunt. The aunt has her own ideas of suitors for Emily even though Emily has found her love. Then her aunt marries and the new husband wisks them both away from France for Italy.  There Emily finds herself under the control of Montoni who wants to stripe both aunt and niece of thier independence.  Confined to Undolpho, a medieval castle Montoni has inherited under suspecious means, Emily encounters stories of mysterious deaths, secret passageways, and strange music. She needs to find away to escape Undolpho and be reunited with her love.

3 Things I Disliked:

There was so much more included in the book than what was really needed. Random bits of poetry and stories that aren't part of the main plot. A lot of decription of scenery and places. Most of it seems really uncessary.The characters are over the…

Mini Thoughts About - The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray

The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking for something along the lines of a biography or at least something that wasn't like and encyclopedia. The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray is basically an encyclopedia of his life and works, with tidbits and quotes scattered around the pages.

As a fan of the man, I enjoyed flipping through the (electronic) pages and seeing references to co-stars, friends, and movies. A lot of the information can be found by doing a basic search, but it's nice to have it compiled in one place.

This is the perfect book for the die-hard Bill Murray fans.

I received an e-book copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Where's Karl? by Stacey Caldwell

Where's Karl?: A Fashion-Forward Parody by Stacey Caldwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a few things I like more than reading a basic book.

One is a book that engages you past your initial reading. Something that will keep you coming back time again either to reread or to find something new.  This book promises to keep you entertained through multiple 'readings'. I sat down and read the book and managed to find Karl at each stop on the journey. There is a list in the back of the book of other things to find and I only glanced at it and tried to find a few. I will be going back because - Nina Garcia fighting a pirate - eluded me and now I must find that scene!

The second thing I like more than reading a basic book is fashion. I, personally, may not have the best fashion sense, but I have my own style. I love watching fashion shows and red carpets to see what everyone is wearing. I also love to see pictures from the fashion weeks and the outlandish things they send down…

Mini-Review: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were two things about this book that I liked. They were also the two things I disliked about this book.

1. The majority of the book takes place over the course of like 12 hours. It was both enough and not enough time spent with these characters trying to figure out anything. You are just sucked along with the story.

2. I didn't know how everything was going to end up, were Claire and Adian staying together or breaking up before they both leave for college.

I received an ebook copy for an honest review from Netgalley. 

Daily Themes: August 28, 2915

Tell this story "It turned out there was nothing behind her sunglasses."
            Jacob and Marissa stood side by side in the long corridor.
            “We need to talk.” She didn’t respond. “Look at me.” She turned to face him. “I need to see your eyes when I say this.”  No response. Jacob took her glasses off and stumbled back. It turned out there was nothing behind her sunglasses.

Daily Theme: August 27, 2015

Dialogue "What I lack for in common sense, I make up for in sarcasm."
            Marissa knew they were all waiting for her. They had listed all of her failures and she had sat quietly by while they showed how useless she was to their organization.
“What I lack for in common sense, I make up for in sarcasm. So I’m not a failure at everything.”

“Marissa!” Jacob’s voice hissed.

Daily Themes: August 26, 2015

Dialogue "This is the 5th door he's knocked on."
“What is he doing?” “No idea.” Marissa took a step away from Jacob. “This is the 5th door he’s knocked on. No one answers then he moves down the hall to the next door. I don’t know what or who he’s looking for, he just keeps knocking.” The old man knocked on door number six.

Daily Themes: August 25, 2015

Tell this story
You wake up in a hole with a one mile crater around you and you are the only person for miles. 
“What is it like?”
“Close your eyes and imagine what it’s like to be totally alone.”
“Now picture you wake up in a hole with a one mile crater around you and you are the only person for miles.”
“How do you feel?”
“Isolated, unsure, confused…” His voice trailed off with his realization.

Book Review: Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love going back to Willow Lake, it really represents somewhere I wouldn't mind living if I was to ever leave my crazy suburban life.

I really like that we got to see some past characters, but it wasn't forced on us to make the story fit into previous books in the series. It's a small town and you can expect for the lives of people to overlap so Faith's friendships all made sense. That said, I wish there was a family tree so I could be clear on how this branch of the Bellamy family connects to the other Bellamys we've met over the series.

I enjoyed Faith and Mason's story. I like that it wasn't the typical they get together, face some hurdles, then happy ending.  There were hurdles to them even getting together and even more to face after they finally realize they belong together. It made the novel compelling and kept me hooked (but really anything set in Willow Lake has me hooked).

As much as…

Daily Themes: August 24, 2015

"See, this is why I told you to never leave the ship. I didn't want you to see that." 

            Marissa knew she was dreaming. There were flashes of her life, but not the life she remembered, but another life she lived with Jacob.
"See, this is why I told you to never leave the ship. I didn't want you to see that."

Marissa stared at the body at Jacob’s feet and ran from him.

Daily Themes: August 23, 2015

Tell this story
His mind was filled with thoughts of french fries and revenge. 

Jacob was furious when he came out of the dream. Marissa was supposed to be safe, yet something went wrong and now she was in danger. Someone was going to pay for this mistake. His mind was filled with thoughts of french fries and revenge. Food and then track down who thought to hurt her.

Daily Themes: August 22, 2015

"Here, hold my dignity. I've got some sketchy stuff to do." 

Marissa sat in the dark cave watching Jacob sleep.
“Have you no dignity.” She remembered asking him once.
He laughed and held up his hand with his signet ring. "Here, hold my dignity. I've got some sketchy stuff to do."
She had worn that ring for years around a chain on her neck. Hadn’t she?

Daily Themes: August 21, 2015

Tell this story
"If you're reading this, you've been in a coma for almost 20 years now. We're trying a new technique. We don't know where this message will end up in your dream, but we hope we're getting through. Please wake up. We miss you." 

Digging through her bag Marissa found a note she didn’t remember packing.

"If you're reading this, you've been in a coma for almost 20 years now. We're trying a new technique. We don't know where this message will end up in your dream, but we hope we're getting through. Please wake up. We miss you." 

*Note, I feel really weird about leaving this one like this since I only wrote 12 words. So when I do my re-write of this project in September I'll be rewriting the whole of this letter.

Daily Themes: August 20, 2015

"Throwing up when you're scared isn't really a super power."
Marissa sat curled in a ball, what little she had in her stomach was no longer there. “Guess this is my super power.”             “Throwing up when you’re scared isn’t really a super power.”             “It’s an inside joke between me and an old friend.”             He looked down at her, “Maybe you’ll tell me about it sometime.”

Daily Themes: August 19, 2015

"My fish!"
"Forget the fish, we have to leave. Now."
"But... my fish!"

            Jacob just finished cooking when they heard the sounds coming towards them.  Before she could move he was gathering their bags, dousing the fire, and pulling her into the woods.             “My fish!” Marissa pulled free to grab the meal.             “Forget the fish, we have to leave. Now.
            “But…my fish!” She was tired of eating beef.

Daily Themes: August 18, 2015

Tell this story
"Come with me," he said, knowing the answer would be no.
After a moment, however, she said, "Come with me instead."

Marissa had opened the door to the tunnels when she heard something. Turning she saw her guard walking quickly towards her.             “Come with me,” he said, knowing the answer would be no.
            After a moment, however, she said, “Come with me instead.” She held out her hand. He hesitated briefly, took it and they ran.

Book Review: Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reb Riley

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing by Reba Riley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I think most people (at least in my circle) can claim a bit of post-traumatic church syndrome (PTCS). I wasn't brought up in the same manner as Reba Riley, but in my own way I started to question the church I was raised in and the beliefs I had followed since I was young. Unlike the author, my PTCS wasn't as severe and I have found my way back under my own terms.  And that I feel is the core of this book.

Reba goes on a 30 by 30 journey.  She wanted to experience or better understand 30 religions by her 30th birthday. This journey impacts her life in more than just a religious aspect. She is battling health issues and her past religious experiences in what feels sometimes like a minute by minute battle to complete this journey.  Her journey takes her to an online chapel, a synagogue, mosque, and a number of other places of worship.  She spends time with Cathol…

Daily Themes: August 17, 2015

Dialogue "You're one of them now," she whispered softly.
The door opened the the old man was dragged inside. The guards dropped him on the floor and left without looking at Marissa.  She leaned over him and could already tell there was in a change in him.  The mischievous light in his eyes was gone. “You’re one of them now,” she whispered softly, sadly.

Daily Themes: August 16, 2015

Dialogue "I think not." Marissa watched as the brothers ran home. “Time to lock this door.” The old man pulled an old brass key from a pocket, closed the door and locked it. The door disappeared. “So you’re what, a guardian of the tunnels?” “Time to unlock your door now.” He mumbled.
“I think not.” An ethereal voice answered.

Daily Themes: August 15, 2015

Tell this story
We'd been bred for working, not dreaming. We were supposed to be simple creatures. But we weren't.
“My people were made to be workers, not dreamers. We were supposed to be simple creatures, content to work our days away producing for our masters. But we weren’t. Some of us were dreamers and we created the tunnels. There are few dreamers left, the tunnels are no longer safe.”
“And yet you travel them?”

Daily Themes - August 14, 2015

"Turns out separate planets wasn't far enough." 

Marissa woke to warm sun on her face, the smell of coffee, and hushed voices. She smiled thinking about the journey that brought her to this place. The smile vanished when she heard the faint moos from outside.
“Turns out separate planets wasn’t far enough.” She groaned and covered her face with the pillow.

Daily Themes - August 13, 2015

"That's it for this week! Thank you to our studio audience, and to everyone else, join us next time on Superpowers You Really Don't Want!"
“That’s it for this week! Thank you to our studio audience, and to everyone else, join us next time on Superpowers You Really Don’t Want!” “What in the world was that?” “It’s my favorite show.” “They don’t like it.” Marissa looked over at the sleeping brothers.
“Children don’t know what good shows are any more.”

Daily Themes - August 12, 2015

"My cooking is so awesome, even the smoke alarm cheers me on." 
The old man was moving around the kitchen with great flourish. “I haven’t cooked for people in so long. Don’t worry you’re going to love it.  My cooking is so awesome, even the smoke alarm cheers me on.” He laughed greatly as he stirred a big pot.
Marissa and the brothers exchanged a worried glance.

Book Review: Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cara Nicoletti loves food, you could say it's in her blood. She comes from a family of butchers and is herself a butcher and a baker. As much as she loves food, Cara also loves books.  She's been an avid reader since childhood. As she reads, she finds that in books as in life a lot of things happen around food.  This book takes a look back at some of her favorite books and the food found between the pages.  Each book is paired with Cara's version of food based on or inspired by the book.

The books/recipes are broken up into three sections: Childhood, Adolescence and College Years, Adulthood. Since it is currently August and I participate in Austen in August (run by Roof Beam Reader) I'm going to focus on the two Jane Austen novels that appear in this book.

Pride & Prejudice White Garlic Soup
As any reader of the novel knows and as Nicoletti points out, there is a l…

Daily Themes - August 11, 2015

"Time's up, honey."
Marissa woke to find yet another dark figure leaning over her.  This one was old and he was pointing a knife to her.
“How did you get down here?”
She stared at him blankly.
“Answer me!” he growled.
“I, uh, um...”
“Time’s up, honey.” Before he could harm her with the knife they heard voices.

Daily Themes - August 10, 2015

Tell this story
An abandoned shack turns out to be a door to another universe as a band of local hooligans is about to find out.
The boys approached the shack. They had been planning for weeks how they were going to come out here and see if the stories were true.  The stories said the shack wasn’t just any abandoned place, there was something going on here.  Opening the door they were surprised to see a hallway, not a room.

Daily Themes - August 9, 2015

Tell this story
It was a tight-knit community so everyone knew one another. Except for the man in the lighthouse, who kept to himself...
It was a tight-knit community so everyone knew one another. Except for the man in the lighthouse, who kept to himself and never left the building as far as they were concerned. In truth, he used the underground tunnels frequently to move around town. While they were curious about him, he knew everything about them.

Daily Themes - August 8, 2015

Tell this story
It has never been mapped - there's all kinds of unknown that awaits you!
The guard lead Marissa to a large steel door.  
“These tunnels haven’t been used in years. Remember don’t surface before sunrise.”
He handed Marissa a knapsack with supplies and a flashlight.  Flipping on the light, she stepped through the door. “Are you sure you can’t come with me?”
With no answer, he shut the door.

Daily Themes - August 7, 2015

Tell this story
Write about a unique relationship between an immortal and a time traveler.
“I want her gone and not just out of this compound.”
“She’s a government official, you can’t kill her. We have to follow the plan.”

The (delusional) leader looked at his companion and knew the man from his future was correct. He came back for a reason, a reason that would ensured his long life.

Book Review - You're Never Weird on the Internet

You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Felicia Day and I loved this book. This was a great journey story of how she got to where she currently sits as the Queen of the Internet.
I can’t remember how I started watching The Guild, but I know I instantly loved it, it was so true to different levels of my reality. I wasn’t a hardcore gamer, but the relationships you form online and how that becomes more of your real life than your real life, spoke true to me.  I loved learning how the characters were based on people Felicia met in her exploration around the Internet.  Knowing that the show was semi-autobiographical just makes it even more awesome.
She’s done what most of us dream of doing, turning our passion into our profession. She’s doing what she loves most and in the process making stuff that we can all enjoy.

If you are a familiar at all with her work and would like to know more about her this is a must read!

I received an ebook copy for an …

Daily Themes - August 6, 2015

"Don't say a word. They're listening." 

Marissa woke with a hand pressed over her mouth and someone breathing next to her ear, “I have to get you out of here. We have to move fast. Don’t say a word. They’re listening.” Her guard removed his hand and stood back. Truth or trap? It didn’t matter she wanted away from the cows.

Daily Themes - August 5, 2015

Dialogue "Put her in the back room with the rest of the products."
"Put her in the back room with the rest of the products." The delusional leader demanded.
“Did he just call me a cow?”
The Chief Authority Supervisor paid neither any mind and continued. “You will be under supervision until the morning at which time you will be escorted off our property. You are hereby dismissed.”

Daily Themes - August 4, 2015

Tell this story
Create a positive review from a critic about a story you have yet to create.

Congratulations Marissa, you have single handedly broken a key political alliance due to your own selfish beliefs. We congratulate you on how fast you managed to accomplish this feat.  Only two hours into a simple overnight stay and you managed to cause trouble. That is quite a feat and you should be proud of yourself.

Daily Themes - August 3, 2015

Dialogue "Why aren't you worshiping me, mortal?" "Not interested, thanks."
Marissa sat with the other overnight guests for dinner and was the only one not following everyone else.  When it came to different customs of different compounds, she normally didn’t participate. She struggled enough with her own home situation.
"Why aren't you worshiping me, mortal?" said the compound’s delusional leader.

"Not interested, thanks." Marissa smiled.

Daily Themes - August 2, 2015

Tell this story The wail of the siren signaled the five minute warning for curfew, and everyone scrambled to not be caught outside.

The wail of the siren signaled the five minute warning for curfew, and everyone scrambled to not be caught outside. Marissa cursed. That damn cow conversation had lasted too long. She packed up her work and went out to talk to someone about a room for the night. Awful curfew. Stupid job. Damn freakin’ cows.

Daily Themes - August 1, 2015

Dialogue "Our main source of energy is currently cows."
“Our main source of energy is currently cows.”
“Cows?” Marissa’s focus snapped back into the conversation.
“Yes, cows.” The man adjusted in his seat, ready to tell her how and why cows were their energy source.

She liked her job, for the most part, but these onsite compound visits we’re starting to push her limit.

Finish the Series Challenge - Buchanan

Buchanan by Julie Garwood (I've read book 1, and books 7-12)
#2 Mercy
#3 Killjoy
#4 Murder List
#5 Slow Burn
#6 Shadow Dance

I hate starting series in the middle, but somehow my OCD in book reading didn't really kick in with this series.  While the books are interconnect each book can pretty much stand on its own.  You get enough background when needed.

I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about these books was the outdated tech talk. The best were the discussions of cell phones having cameras in them and how unique that was at the time. In each case, it was thankful that one of the characters have one of these phones in order to take a picture of something important to the investigation.

The first book in the series was written 2000 and in the last 15 years so much has changed that these books seem so wildly outdated. Still they have great characters and I like the slight suspense.

Daily Themes-July 3, 2015

"Well, that was one way of doing it." 

The group approached the bridge. It did not look sturdy at all, but it was either attempt to cross it or spend precious time trekking across the expanse of the cavern to the far bridge and then walking back to the passageway that was right across the way.  The opted to cross over the bridge. Well, it was more Donna decided for the group.  She was tired, dirty and getting more annoyed the longer this mission took to complete. Hitching her back up on her back she cautiously took a step onto the bridge. It held. She took another step and another and as her confidence grew she sped up her progress.  She was moving too fast and quickly saw that her next step was out into midair. She fell. Thankfully the fall wasn't too bad, the bridge hadn't been that high. After a brief mental check she sat up and looked back up at the group. Sitting up she thought about displaying a vulgar sign to show the guys what she thought of them as they…

Book Talk and Signing with Nalini Singh

Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books interviews Nalini last night at the East Brunswick Barnes and Nobel's store.

They talked mostly about the Psy/Changling series. Some things she shared: We'll get pup/cubs in the next book.The next book will probably be a big family style books with all the characters we've met over the last 13 books.Amara won't be getting her own book, but we will see her growth as a background character.Nakita probably won't be getting a book, her story is too complex, but we'll see it unfold during this next arc. Then she did a book signing. I hate having my picture taken so I just like to take a picture of the author signing my book.

Take Your Poet to Work Day - Sara Teasdale

Tomorrow (7/15) is Take Your Poet to Work Day. I'm bring Sara Teasdale with me to work on Wednesday.

Book Review: How to get Dressed by Alison Freer

How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book was very informative but not very practical for me or other everyday women. Things like finding a good tailor, most of the ones in my area are connected to dry cleaners or are way out of my price range.  However, the guide on what to get altered and what not to get altered is useful and I know I'll refer to the list in the future.

I probably will never use the vintage shopping guide, but the chapter that debunks the fashion rules was great. I always worry if I can pull off wearing black and blue or brown and black. How about mixing metals or patterns? Freer says they are dumb and gives tips to help pull the look off. A lot of times it's a personal choice and being honest about what works for your body type.

I wish there had been more about how to dress different body types. I felt as if this book was directed towar…

Book Review: As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew by Jen Chaney

On July 19th, Clueless will turn 20. Over the weekend, I finished reading As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew by Jen Chaney

Acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney shares an oral history of the cult classic film Clueless in the ultimate written resource about one of the most influential, revered, and enduring movies of the 1990s—in celebration of its twentieth anniversary. Will we ever get tired of watching Cher navigate Beverly Hills high school and discover true love in the movie Clueless? As if! Written by Amy Heckerling and starring Alicia Silverstone, Clueless is an enduring comedy classic that remains one of the most streamed movies on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes even twenty years after its release. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is an everlasting pop culture staple.

In the first book of its kind, Jen Chaney has compiled an oral history of the making of this iconic film using recollections and insights collec…