Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best and Worst of 2014

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have been following me this year.  This is my first year with a blog dedicated to books.  I think overall it went pretty well!!  I wanted to do so much more with this blog and I hope that in 2015, I am able to do it.

In the 8 months since my first post I have had nearly 800 views and I have gained a few followers.  Again, to you all I say thank you!!  My goal this year was to review every book that I read, and have a post about it.  Unfortunately, I did not do that.  I also wanted to add a few other fun blog posts, but alas that did not happen either.  Life, gets the way sometimes.  I'm very sad to say, that I did not meet my goal to read 70 books this year.  As I am writing this, I'm sitting with my iPod next to  me that has a book I need to finish on it and one on my nightstand that I'm determined to finish  before the ball drops.

So let's get to the good stuff.  The best and worst books that I read this year.  There is only one book that I gave a five star rating to and that was The Invention of Wings by Susan Monk Kidd.  The one book I have a one star rating to was Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead.  Most books received 3-4 stars.  All in all it was a pretty good year of pretty good books.   I had 36 books on my to read in 2014 list, but I only got around to 8 of those.  I did expand my reading for review list and that I am very proud of  because I really enjoy reviewing books.  I want to get better at it.  While I'm reading I have so many ideas I would like to put in my blog post, and then when I'm finally finished with the book, the thought is gone.

I already have a few books on my list for 2015 I'm going to start with The Demeter Code by Russell Brooks and The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones.  I'm already excited about these two!  I hope I'm able to make my goal for this year.  I'm going to try for 70 again, since I didn't make it this year!!  I hope to surpass it!

Happy Reading to all of my fellow reading friends!  I hope that 2015 finds you in good health and with plenty of good books to read!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review -- Walking Up A Slide by Daley James Francis

Walking Up a Slide: A Rom-Com for Anyone Who Has Ever Pined Over 'The One That Got Away'Walking Up a Slide: A Rom-Com for Anyone Who Has Ever Pined Over 'The One That Got Away' by Daley James Francis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was really excited when I saw this book.  I love romantic comedies and I had high hopes for this book.  I was a bit disappointed.

Jason is a batchelor and has been for a while.  He is a duty manager at the local hotel and is currently living with his two closest friends, Sean and Jim.  When Jason receives a wedding invitation in the mail from his ex-girlfriend, Lila Holmes, his world goes into a tailspin thinking about the one that got away.  His friends are on a quest to find him a plus one, while Jason is wallowing in the sorrow of knowing he would not be the one to marry Lila.

This book did not have very much romance in it and to me it wasn't really that funny.   I didn't find myself laughing out loud or really connecting with the characters at all.  On the positive side though, I didn't stop reading the book.  I did want to know what was going to happen next and how Jason was going to actually face his ex when the time came.  There were a ton of movie references in this book which really didn't add to the story.  I will read another book by this author, though.

**I was given a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.**

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review - Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made by Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant

Tryin' To Sleep In the Bed You MadeTryin' To Sleep In the Bed You Made by Virginia DeBerry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made is a story of three friends.  It traverses their lives from childhood to adults.  And we get to see all the fun, joy, and pain that goes along with it.

Pat, Gail, Marcus, and Freddie are inseparable.  They are classmates and best friends.  One day when Freddie finds a gun and decides to share it with the rest of the group, the most tragic thing happens.  This changes the lives of the other three forever.  Pat is taken from her mother and temporarily put into foster care until Gail and her family take her in.  Marcus, who was Freddie's brother feels he has to fulfill Freddie's life dreams instead of pursuing his own.

As they graduate high school and spread their wings to find new things, they are torn in different directions and their friendship is never the same.

I love reading books about friendship.  Friendship lost and found.  It makes me feel good on the inside and that is exactly how this book made me feel.  It made me laugh and it made me cry, but overall, it made me want to call all of my friends and rekindle what we once had.

The DeBerry/Grant team are great writers.  This is the second book I have read by them and I can't wait to read the next.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Review - The Dells by K.L. Barnes

The Dells (Moms Weekend Mysteries #1)The Dells by K.L. Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who doesn't love a weekend getaway with the girls?  8 friends from Arizona, spend one weekend a year together for a getaway.  They leave the husbands and kids and worries behind and enjoy their time, eating, drinking and being very merry.  But, this weekend is a little different.  When one of the ladies, meets a handsome stranger their weekend is about to take a turn for the worse.

This was a very enjoyable book to read.  The only drawback was that there were too many characters.  8 different women and I could probably only remember 2-3 names. This made for not very good character development.  It could probably take 1/4 of the book to describe these ladies in a way where you felt you knew them personally.   Add on their husbands(6) and the police force that helps them, and that's a lot of people to worry about.

The thing I did like about this story was about how resilient these women are. They let nothing or no one stand in their way of doing what they want and how they want.  No matter if it means interfering in a police investigation or dividing rooms for those who sleep and those who don't.

There were a few grammatical errors in the book. A name not being capitalized and wrong usage of words(here instead of hear), but overall this book held my attention and I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  It would have been just as good or maybe better if the focus was on just 4 friends instead of 8, but still a book I will recommend to others.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review -- The Warrior by Ty Patterson

The WarriorThe Warrior by Ty Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Major Zebadiah(Zeb) Carter is an extraordinary person.  A member of the Special Forces, he is one guy you want to keep on your good side.  Not one for many social interactions, he always completes his missions to the best of his abilities(which are amazing).

When Zeb is sent to the Congo to complete a mission, he sees some things he shouldn't have seen.  When he reports these things back to his superiors, they tell him to leave it alone, but he can't.  He can't stand by and watch innocent women and children be raped and killed for sport.  So he decides that he will find the people who are responsible for this and punish them himself.

On his down time, he likes to check in on his sister.  On one such occasion, he meets Rory, her 7 year old next door neighbor, who is all but thrilled to have Zeb around.  With two busy parents and not too many friends, Zeb is great for Rory.  These two have an instant bond that no one would have expected.

When Zeb's mission and a story being written by Rory's dad, Connor, crossing paths, Rory gets to see Zeb in action.

For the most part this was a really great book.  I gave it three stars because there were parts that were confusing and I had to go back and read.  I felt as though the book could have gotten a little deeper into the character of Zeb.  We really don't know more about him than everyone else around him and I would have liked to know more.  There is a part at the end of the book, that helps you understand his stoicism a bit more, but knowing that at the beginning of the book may have made me enjoy this better.  It's a good book and I plan on reading the rest of the series.  The Reluctant Warrior is the next book in the series.  And The Warrior Code is coming out later this month.  You should get them all!!

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+Ty Patterson

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review -- Unlucky 13 by James Patterson

Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club, #13)Unlucky 13 by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Women's Murder Club really has their hands full this time.  Burger bombs, hijacked ships, and an old "friend" back for a visit, these ladies have their work cut out for them this time.

One thing I really like about James Patterson books is how quickly I can get through one.  With the short chapters and the excitement around every corner, there is never a dull moment.

My thoughts...look out for 14 in the coming year or so....there is some unfinished business that needs to be attended to.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review -- Missing by Jenni Boyd

MissingMissing by Jenni Boyd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blake Stanley needs a new housekeeper.  Terry Johnson isn't exactly what he expected when he picked her up from the airport.  Terry, along with her son Dale have come to help Blake and his son, Brad with the day to day operations around their home in the outback of Australia.  From the moment Blake first lays eyes on Terry, he can tell there is something different about her and her son Dale is unlike any other little boy he has ever met.  When Blake gets a frantic call from Dale while out on a muster, he hurries back to the homestead to find Terry lying on the ground in a pool of blood with Dale no where to be found.  What is this lady into and where is Dale?  Sent on a wild chase all throughout Australia, and finding out things about the past he should never know, Blake is determined to find out who Terry is and where Dale is.

Missing is a good book based in Australia.  With so many twists and turns, you are never sure where you are headed next.  This book keeps you on the edge of your seat and wondering what is going to happen next.  There are a few parts of the book that get confusing at times and I had to read over these a couple of times.  There are a lot of components to keep track of which adds to the confusion.  Overall, though, this is a book that is a good read.

**I was given this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.**

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Review - Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Labor DayLabor Day by Joyce Maynard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's Labor Day weekend and Henry needs new clothes for school.  His mother, Adele, rarely leaves the house anymore, since the divorce from Henry's father. They go to the local store and pick out a few things.  There they meet Frank, a recently escaped convict.  Frank has them take him to their home and stays with them through the long weekend until he can move on.

Henry and Adele aren't really sure what to do, but they do their best not to be too afraid so they can make it through.  When Frank turns out to be more than they bargained for, they are in for a lot of surprises.  This is a story about love.  Love lost, love shared and new love.  What happens when love is lost or gone forever.

Joyce Maynard has put together quite a great book.  Filled with different kinds of love without being a romance novel.  This book teaches you that you can never judge a book by its cover and that the world is full of surprises.

Henry is your typical teenage boy going through all of the strange changes that happens to a boy at 13.  His mother has been so shut off from the world since losing her father and a baby, that Henry often has to play the role of husband as well as son.  When Frank enters their lives, it's an interesting change for them both.  Adele seems to have come out of her depression and Henry has a relationship with a man, that he has been unable to get with his own father.

Together these three bake, dance, and try not to get caught during the long holiday weekend. This is a must read for anyone who is in love with love.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Review - The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson

The Opposite of MaybeThe Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rosie and Jonathan have been together for 15 years.  They never married or had kids even though everyone around them were.  They were content with their lives the way they were, or at least that is what Rosie thought.  One morning, when birth control goes out the window all because of a strange name on the caller ID, Rosie is about to find out exactly who and what it is she wants in life.

This story was really very interesting.  Jonathan doesn't seem like the kind of guy that any woman would want to date.  He is all about himself and doesn't really seem to notice or care what is going on around him.  He used to be an artist until he wasn't anymore and then he started to collect teacups.  When he gets the opportunity to be a part of a museum for the precious teacups, he jumps at the chance.  Rosie isn't quite as eager as he is and he promises marriage as a way to get her on board.

Rosie has a lot going on in her life, but then Jonathan shows his true colors just days before the wedding and it makes quite an impact.  Finally, Rosie decides to do something that is going to be best for herself instead of going along with what Jonathan wants.   In making this decision to stay and take care of her grandmother and settle things, she discovers something amazing about her life.

Too many women in this world put their lives on hold to do what is best for the family.  Following their military spouse all around the world, giving up a career for children, leaving behind family to pursue a dream.  If we don't we are labeled as unsupportive and when we do we are also given grief about leaving our own wishes and desires to support someone else.  You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Rosie learns a lot about her life through this book and is a testament to others about doing what is best for yourself.  
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review -- Mother's Day Out by Karen MacInerney

Mother's Day OutMother's Day Out by Karen MacInerney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**I received this book as a part of Goodreads Giveaways**

Margie Peterson is your typical stay at home mom.  As if carpool lines, PTA fundraisers, and school newsletters weren't enough to keep her busy, she decides to take a part-time job to help with the family finances.  The job she took is not one that is typical of a stay home mom, but it's one that is sending her on quite an adventure.  She gets the opportunity to work for a private investigator.  The job is simple, but could be dangerous at times.  Her first case goes off without a hitch(almost).  The second, on the other hand, get really complicated really fast when she finds a dead body in the bathroom of a gay bar!

Margie Peterson is the mom we all hope that we could be.  She's strong, fearless, and is able to think quickly on her feet.  All great characteristics of a private investigator, but it tends to also get her in trouble from time to time.

This book had me laughing out loud, and sitting on the edge of my seat.  There is a twist around every corner and mystery that you have to get to the bottom of.  I enjoyed this book, but only gave it three stars because even though it had me on the edge of my seat, it took a while for me to get there.  It took me nearly a month to read this book.  Some because my life has gotten busy and there is hardly any time to read. But books that are hard to put down find a time to get read.

I do recommend this book for mystery/thriller/chick-lit.  And I will read more from this author and this series.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review - Steel Justice by Jenni Boyd

Steel JusticeSteel Justice by Jenni Boyd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michelle is a very adventurous girl.  She gets is from her father, Max Steel.  When Michelle is invited on the yacht of her father's enemy, Malcolm Microbe, her sense of adventure gets the best of her.  She seems something she shouldn't have, and the next thing you know, she and her best friend are missing.

Jasmine Bronson is an investigative reporter in Eden Cove, she fights hard to get the story she wants.  Taking on a new job and trying to prove herself, she comes across something that forces her to join up with Max Steel to find Michelle.

Steel Justice was a great book.  I will admit that about 1/3 of the way through, I got a little bored and wondered when the adventure was going to come back.  At 50% through the end, it was hard to put it down. At the beginning you are introduced to a lot of different characters that make you wonder how all of these people play a part in the disappearance of one girl. So many things going on in this picturesque town in Australia.  You're not sure if you want to visit, or steer clear.  There are different parts of this story that all come together at the end.  You have to stick around for the finale.  It's a great story and I look forward to reading more books by this author.
**I received this book for free from the author in exchange for my review.**

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review--Home by Brenda Kearns

HomeHome by Brenda Kearns
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Home is a YA novel.  This story was short and sweet.

Allie is 14 years old and she is about to enter her 17th foster home. Her only goal is to get back to her mother.  She, along with her younger twin siblings, Luke and Madeline just want to stay together at home.  Allie tries every trick in her foster care book to get them home as soon as possible.  At first, her tricks work, but she will soon learn that home may not be all that it's cracked up to be.

This was a really short book and a quick read.  I think I finished the whole thing in about 3 hours.  This is a great book for any young person who is struggling in foster care.  No matter how hard or difficult things are back at home, that is where kids in foster care prefer to be.  Not all foster homes are as great as the one Allie has just landed in, but she has gotten pretty lucky this time.

I encourage all young people to read this book.

**I received this book from Story Cartel in exchange for my review.**

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review--The Target by David Baldacci

The Target (Will Robie, #3)The Target by David Baldacci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Will Robie and Jessica Reel have been called upon again to defend their country. And, as usual this is going to be a difficult mission.  This is a little different though because they have to go back through training before being deployed.  Why?  Well, the DCI, Evan Turner, wants them to prove their loyalties to the country.  He is still having a little trouble trusting them after their last mission.

Meanwhile, in North Korea Yie Chung-Cha is preparing for a mission of her own.  Raised in a labor camp in Yodok she made the way out by killing her own family and performing for the Supreme Leader.  She is preparing a retaliation move on the United States for a foiled plot.

Another great book by David Baldacci.  He has me on the edge of my seat again.  Wanting to know what is going to happen next.  I have listened to the other books in this series and was a little disappointed when the gunshots and explosions didn't jump off the page.  The audio versions of the Robie books have actual gunshots and explosions that will have you ducking for cover.

This installment of Robie series, gets deeper into Jessia Reel's past, has appearances by Super Agent Vance, and Julie Getty.  This story was like an unusual roller coaster ride.  It takes you up gets you all excited and then the excitement dies down all to be drawn back up again.  I hope there is going to be more from Robie and Reel, because they always keep me on the edge.  The excitement is contagious and I can't wait for the next book.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review--Elixir by Ted Galdi

ElixirElixir by Ted Galdi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is 5+2? How about 5x2? Those are easy right? What about 456328x22? Not so easy without a pen and paper or a calculator. For Sean Malone, these answers come to him very easily. At age 11 he was a Jeopardy champion. Now at age 14 he's a sophomore at Southern California Technical University and working on a project that no one has been able to figure out. The problem of the traveling salesman. When Sean does solve the problem, not only is his professor impressed. So are the head of the NSA, Secretary of Defense and the FBI. Sean didn't know that by solving this simple problem he also found a way into everything.

This debut novel from Ted Galdi is an exciting look into the mind of geniuses. Sometimes being the smartest one in the room isn't always the greatest thing. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I couldn't wait to pick it up everyday and find out what was going to happen next. There are a few thrilling moments in the book where you are on the edge of your seat. You are always rooting for Sean though throughout it's entirety. This book spans Sean's life from age 14 on with glimpses into his life before. You meet his friends and family and he becomes someone you want to know. Are there people like Sean in the world today who can come up with fascinating ideas that can change the world?

I'm afraid if I speak on this book too much I will give away the whole thing. All I can say is that you have to pick it up and give it a try for yourself.

**I was given this book by the author for free in exchange for my honest review.**

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review--Ruby by Cynthia Bond

RubyRuby by Cynthia Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruby Bell lives in the town of Liberty in East Texas. She was one of the most beautiful women in the town.   Liberty is the town she grew up in and ran away from in search of her mother in New York City.  When news of the death of her best friend reaches her, she decides to return to Liberty, but the things that await her there are very dark and menacing.
Ephram Jennings lost both his mother and father at a young age and was raised by his sister Celia.  Celia takes great care of Ephram and together they attend church every Sunday and are a pillar in the community.
Ephram has known Ruby Bell since they were small children, although his interaction with her has been very limited.  When she returns to Liberty Ephram would like to change that.  But Ruby Bell is no longer the same woman who returned to Liberty.  Frequently she can be found huggin the chinaberry tree on the edge of the woods near her home(Bell Land), she is often naked, or barely dressed and once even urinated in the middle of the street.  Everyone in Liberty knows that Ruby Bell is a harlot and a Jezebel.  Ephram refuses to believe that this is true and makes it his mission to prove this to the entire town.

Religion plays a big part in this book which really spoke to me.  We as Christians are taught to love one another and treat each other the way Jesus treated the world, with kindness and compassion.  It always gets to me how tolerance and love become an issue when trying to help those who are different. Ruby is plagued by demons in this book and the town shuns and rapes her for this. They call her crazy and when Ephram goes to her to help her be the woman HE knows she can be, he is looked down upon by the entire town and especially by his sister Celia.  Ephram wants to understand the demons in Ruby and he never judges her for her "crazy" ways, but tries to comprehend what she is going through.

This story really touched my heart.  We all need to do what we can for each other especially in the African American community.  We tend to shun away from each other instead of embracing one another.  I loved the way that Ephram went to Ruby despite what the rest of the town thought.  How he stood by her side no matter what.  This book could teach us all a lesson.

**I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.**

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Reading at the Beach!!

It has always been my dream to sit back in a lounge chair on the beach and enjoy a good book.  And this summer this dream came true, sort of.

 While my kids are old enough for me not to keep an eye on them every second, I do have to keep one on them every other second.  I will say that over the course of 5 days I was able to read 100 pages in this book.  But having to watch kids do tricks or be brave enough to walk into the ocean, took my attention away a lot more.

So now that I am home from vacation and my dreams are thwarted for yet another year, what have I learned?  One day I will be able to peacefully lounge in that beach chair and read uninterrupted for at least one whole hour.  Today the joy of seeing my kids play in the ocean and be brave enough to do it without holding my hand is much better than any book I will read in any lounge chair on any beach!!

Happy reading my friends!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I WON! I WON! I Think....

So the other day, I took my kids to the library to play in the Discovery Room that they have and to pick out a few(30) new books for the next couple of weeks.  So while the kids were playing, I was out browsing the new releases.  The librarian approached me and told me about an Adult Summer Reading Drawing that they were having.  I just had to enter my name and email address and I would be entered to win some books.  I glanced at the titles only briefly and decided that it didn't really matter what the titles were.  First of all, chances are I'm not going to win, and secondly FREE BOOKS!! Does it really matter what the titles were.

A couple of days later, I got an email from the librarian letting me know that I had won the drawing.  I was so excited.  I like winning free books!! Then I remembered I'm excited, but I really don't know what I'm excited about.  I asked her if she could let me know the titles that were a part of the drawing.  I wasn't going to be able to pick them up until after the 4th of July holiday since the library was closed for the whole weekend.  So, these are the titles that were included in the drawing:

Les Brown, Live Your Dreams -- published 1992
Russell Simmons, Def Poetry Jam on Broadway -- published 2003
Nene Leakes, Never Make the Same Mistake Twice --published 2009
Eric Jerome Dickey, Between Lovers -- published 2001
Sharon Mitchell, Near Perfect --published 2001
Barry Lee Pearson, Jook Right On -- published 2005
Angie Daniels, Trouble Loves Company -- published 2007

Now, while I am grateful for the win, I would hope that for a summer reading drawing:

1. The books would be summer related  OR
2. The books would be on a summer reading list  OR
3. The books would be current or recent 

I will enjoy my books that is for sure, but I'm not rushing to go and pick them up!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review--The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Husband's Secret focuses on three main characters.  Cecelia Fitzpatrick, married to John-Paul with three beautiful daughters.  Tess O'Leary who owns a business with her husband, Will and cousin, Felicity and has a son, Liam. And Rachel Crowley, who is still mourning the death of her daughter nearly 30 years after the fact.  How do these women's lives intersect, well....Cecelia finds a letter from her husband, not to be opened until his death...she opens it anyway.  Tess finds out that her husband and cousin(yes her business partners) have fallen in love with each other.  So she takes her son and heads to Sydney and enrolls him in the school which, Rachel Crowley is the secretary and Cecelia is the mother all other mothers love and hate.

The news Cecelia finds in the letter, the thoughts Rachel has about her daughters killer, and the actions Tess take after leaving her husband would make for one exciting story.

I'm afraid this story feel short of the exciting mark.  When I first picked it up and started reading, I was dying to find out what was in the letter, but I would have to wait for that.  Once the secret was out, I wanted to know what was going to happen next, with everyone's story.  But the excitement wasn't there.  This wasn't a book, that I had to hurry to get back to, which was very disappointing.  I couldn't abandon the book, though because I had to know.

Would Rachel find her daughter's killer? Would Cecelia be able to live with her husband's secret? Would Tess and Will be able to work through their marriage?  But getting those answers was not page turning and gripping.

I gave the book three stars because the whole premise behind the book was good, I enjoyed the story as a whole, but there was too much in between the good parts. Don't tell me about a secret letter at the beginning of the story and take three days to tell me what was in's not fair.  And what was happening in those three days was not exciting enough to make me wait.  The moments just before the opening were the most thrilling.

Don't know if I will read more from Ms. Moriarty or not.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Reading!!


It's three days into the official start of summer.  My inbox has been filled with the books that I have to read this summer.  So I've taken what they have given me and made my own list of books I hope to get the chance to read(probably not all this summer though).

Here is what is on my list:

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

China Dolls by Lisa See

In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne -when they were first married and deeply in love-has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he's still the man she once loved.

Skillfully balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, debut novelist Courtney Maum has created the perfect portrait of an imperfect family-and a heartfelt exploration of marriage, love, and fidelity.

 Lay It On My Heart by Angela Pneuman

This piercing, sly debut novel tells the story of one unforgettable month in a Kentucky girl's thirteenth year. Charmaine Peake's prophet father has been committed to a psychiatric institution. Her mother, forced to rent out their house and move them down to a trailer on the river, won't stop telling Charmaine things she doesn't want to hear-from marital details and middle-aged doubts to uncomfortable preoccupations with Charmaine's changing body. A sanctimonious missionary kid has taken over her real bedroom, where Charmaine discovers his stash of strange and questionable photos. She is being tested at every turn: Where will her choices take her? And her faith? She tries to pray ceaselessly as her father taught, but with so much upheaval, even God seems to have changed.


The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee by Marja Mills

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the novel’s celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation—and a great friendship.

In 2004, with the Lees’ blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees’ inner circle of friends.

Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story—and the South—right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family.

The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Mills’s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle.

Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Lees’ life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

  A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
  Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). 
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
  Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.  

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault—was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever-and so she comes up with the only plan that she can. 

What is on YOUR summer reading list?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review--The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

Liesel Meminger is 9 years old and it is 1939.  Her mother is taking her and her brother to live with another family where they will be safe.  Unfortunately, the brother doesn't make it.  Liesel takes only two things with her to her new home; the memory of her brother and her first stolen book, The Gravediggers Handbook.

When Liesel arrives on Himmel street in Molching, Germany, she is greeted by Rosa and Hans Hubermann.  They welcome her into their home and she immediately is to call them Mama and Papa.  Even though Liesel is illiterate, Hans works with her every night when she is awakened with nightmares of her brothers death.  They retreat to the basement to do their reading.

For 5 years, Liesel lives on Himmel street during one of the most treacherous times in Germany.  She makes friends and enemies along the way and steals 5 more books.

First I would like to thank Victoria Doughertyfor recommending this book to me.  I have always been a fan of historical fiction and this book did not disappoint in any way, shape or form.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  I could see myself on Himmel Street with Liesel.  I could see what she could see and I could feel the torment she went through.  I thank God every time I finish a book like this because I live in a place and a time where these things aren't a constant worry for me.  I don't have to have my possessions packed and ready to go when I raid sirens going off.  I don't even hear raid sirens.  This is a book everyone needs to read if they haven't.

Another thing I found very interesting in this book was that it was narrated by death.  If that's not enough to make you want to read this...One of my favorite passages in the book is this "Here is a small fact...You are going to die."  Simple but true.  One day we all will die.  I hope and pray it is not in the way that the multitudes of people died in this book, but I know that one day it will happen.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What's Goin' on??

Currently I am reading some exciting books and am looking forward to reading so many more this summer.  Currently I'm reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak .   This book is soooo good.  There are not enough hours in the day for me to read this book.  I'm about half way through and look forward to the times that I have time to read.  I am currently listening to Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter on the iPod.  This is the second book of hers that I am reading.  The Book Thief is a book pal read I'm doing.  I had a Goodreads friend pick this book for me.  Blindsighted is the group read for the group A Good Thriller on Goodreads.  Karin will be doing a Q&A specifically for this book on July 1st in that group.   This is what I'm looking forward to reading this month...

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty 

Watch Me Die by Erica Spindler

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

I hope to get them all done by the end of the month.  So many books, so little time.  What are you reading this month?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review--Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

Thanks for the MemoriesThanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Justin Hancock is a guest lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  He is also a curator for a museum in London which is his new home.  Recently divorced and uprooted from Chicago to be closer to his daughter who is studying ballet.

Joyce wakes up in the hospital to discover that she has just lost her baby and she now knows a lot of things she didn't know before.  Especially Latin and about European architecture.  How could she just know these things?

Then when Joyce leaves the hospital and as Justin is leaving Dublin to return to London, a chance encounter.  When they see each other there is an instant connection.  One that neither of them can explain, but both of them feel.  When they 'run' into each other throughout London and Dublin, but never get the chance to officially meet the connection is stronger.  But what is it that is drawing these two closer together?

Thanks for the Memories reminds me a lot of the movie Return to Me with Minnie Driver.  Joyce has somehow 'inherited' all of Justin's memories, thoughts, and intelligence, from one simple act of kindness.  Can you imagine waking up in the hospital one day and suddenly you are fluent in another language that just a few days earlier you wouldn't even know existed.  Seeing people you have never met, but feeling as if you are old friends.

This was a cute story that makes you think about the connections people can have without ever realizing it.  This book made me laugh out loud a few times and it definitely made me think about what goes into our bodies at the hospital.  This is a great chick-lit book.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review--Forever Layla by Melissa Turner Lee

Forever LaylaForever Layla by Melissa Turner Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I received this book from Story Cartel, in exchange for an honest review.**

David Foster is 17 years old, a few days away from being 18, on the road as a sound guy for his best friend, Michael's Band, and his life is about to change forever.
Layla is 24.  She's in town from California and when she see David for the first time, like this, she's not quite sure what to do.
How does Layla know so much about David?  Did his friends put her up to this as a prank for his birthday? But Layla knows things he would never tell Michael.  So as David gets to know Layla better and as she gets to know the David she already knows in a whole other way, they form a bond that is not so easily broken.

Forever Layla is a story of love, happiness, trust, and science all wrapped up in one.  David is living in 1994 and Layla shows up in his life from 2014.  David is the kind of man every girl dreams of meeting, but Layla is afraid to mess up his life what she already knows.  How can she make a life with him without giving away too much about who she is and how and why is now in his life.

This is a very well written book and it was very difficult to put down.

I loved the story of David and Layla.  I was rooting for them to be together Forever as the title suggests.  Their love was intense and amazing.  To have a love like that with someone that you are willing to give up so much of yourself in order to make them happy and make their dreams come true.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reading a Recipe

Besides reading literary works, I also enjoy a good cookbook.  I especially enjoy cookbooks with recipes to prepare in my slow cooker.  Tonight I'm trying something new and roasting a chicken in my crockpot. Has anyone ever done that?  I found a few different recipes online, as my cookbooks didn't have a recipe for this.
When you find a new recipe do you follow it directly?  Mostly I follow a recipe to the letter the first time I am preparing it.  I want to make sure whatever it is, it's going to taste as good as it looks in pictures.  Some things, like the chicken I'm roasting, I use my own spices that I enjoy on that type of food.  I'm trying to live a salt free life, which is not as difficult as a wheat free life, so I rarely use salt unless a new recipe calls for it.  A lot of items that you have to bake call for salt.  I wonder why that is?

Here is a picture of my collection of cookbooks.  Until I've had them out like this, I didn't realize that I had such an affinity to Southern Living.

What is your favorite recipe?  Share it with me in the comments, if it's not a family secret!!

My Cookbooks

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review--Playmates by Jess C Scott

Playmates (Wilde Twins, #1)Playmates by Jess C. Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.**

Tania and Trevor Wilde are twins.  They live in a small lake town with their parents.  Every night their parents have "wine time" where they hurl bottles and insults at each other.  Tania and Trevor spend "wine time" in their room wishing they could be anywhere else and making a plan to get away.  The Wilde family is the definition of a dysfunctional family.  Mom is abusive towards Tania and Trevor feels helpless to stop it.  Then she invites strange men into the home while dad is away working.  The next day, though, she will have bible study with some of her friends.  Dad, is not exempt from the dysfunction.  He is a professor at the local community college and brings home co-eds to the basement.

Tania frequently thinks about death and often coaxes Trevor to the dark side.  She doesn't have many friends so she counts on her brother to fill that void.  Then an unfortunate incident takes place and makes them both a lot darker.

Playmates, is a psychological thriller about killer kids.  While this book did not have me on the edge of my seat, it held and captured my attention.  I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  I look forward to the next titles in the Wilde series.  Bedmates and Soulmates.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Review--Better Than I Know Myself by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant

Better Than I Know MyselfBetter Than I Know Myself by Virginia DeBerry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did you ever have a friend who was more like family? For Regina Foster, Jewel Prescott, and Carmen Webb this is exactly true. Better Than I Know Myself starts in the late 70's when the girls are seniors in high school and making the decision on where to go to college. Three different girls from three very different backgrounds.  Jewel, a former child star. Regina, the daughter of two college educated parents and little sister to older brothers who had all attended and graduated from college. And Carmen whose parents had left her at a young age.

The story progresses through their meeting in New York at Barnard and continues through their graduation. Regina and Jewel were already roommates when they met Carmen at the university library.  They all got stuck in an elevator together and as they say, "The rest is history." They lived together through the early 80's as they grew into women and started to become independent.
The book covers twenty years of friendship and sisterhood and all the trials and tribulations that entails.

This book made me laugh out loud and brought a tear or two to my eyes.  It also made me want to get together with my closest girlfriends.  This is a book that you have to read until the end.

I listened to this book through the iPod and Overdrive.  The audio was read by Lisa Renee Pitts.

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Review--Afterburn and Aftershock by Sylvia Day

Afterburn and Aftershock (Afterburn & Aftershock, #1-2)Afterburn and Aftershock by Sylvia Day
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read the Afterburn and Aftershock together.  I'm a big fan of Sylvia Day and this quick read was not a disappointment.

Gianna Rossi and Jackson Rutledge have history.  But after two years of hearing nothing from Jackson, Gianna is ready to move on.  Back from Las Vegas, in New York, close to her family, she is looking for a job.  She finds one that is just perfect for her.  After being on the job for a while, she gets a big assignment.  Working this assignment gets her back in touch with Jackson, Jax as she calls him.

Will they be able to pick up where they left off?  Does Gianna want to pick up where they left off?  Will they still have the passion for one another that they once did?  And what will her family and her boss think about her being with this powerful man, who destroyed her life before?

Another juicy tale from Sylvia Day.  These two stories are a part of Cosmo's Red-Hot Reads and they didn't disappoint.  I enjoy a good steamy read.  It helps me after I have read something I didn't enjoy or something that was challenging to unwind for the next thing.

The thing that really gets me about these types of books though is that they feature an extremely handsome and wealthy man and a woman they are smitten with at first sight.  then he has her move in with him and has his security detail following her around all the time.  When is the female millionaire going to fall in love with the guy who delivers her packages everyday or makes her espresso?  Then she finds out he really is the rich one and owns the coffee shop and countless others all over the world.  Or he's the president of the delivery company who likes working alongside his employees.  Is there a book out there like that already?  If so, please give me the title.

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+Sylvia Day

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This Week's Reading

So this week, my reading is quite interesting.  NOT!!!  I'm studying.  It's been a long time since I have done that and I'm not used to doing it with three kids and a husband.  I'm used to setting up my day and being able to read a few pages and take a few notes.  It's not working like that today!

The thing that makes it really bad is that it's only 160 pages that I have to go through.  The reading is a little interesting learning about different kinds of websites and how to evaluate them.  I'm trying to get a job that I can do from home, and normally I would be done with this by now.  This week though, it's just not getting through.  I don't know if it was the holiday or the numerous distractions, but I'm only on page 20.  I have one week to finish reading the study guide and take the exam.  Hopefully I will get this all done soon.

Wish me luck!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review--The Heart's Melody by Chava Epstein

This is the author's photo from the book cover on my Kindle

The Heart's Melody (Black & White Edition)The Heart's Melody by Chava Epstein
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.
Noa and Amar meet each other in, "Mutual Advice", a support group for those who have relationship issues.  Amar and Noa end up doing sessions together and these sessions lead to a romantic relationship.  An relationship that is forbidden from the start as Noa is Jewish and Amar is Muslim.

Chava Epstein writes a romantic story filled with passion.  The reason why I didn't give this story more than two stars was because it just didn't make me feel the passion.  I'm not sure if some of the story got lost in translation, or if the format I was reading it in, distracted from the deeper meaning, but it was a task for me to finish this book.  Throughout telling the love story of Noa and Amar, there are also love letters and paintings and other stories that Noa is writing to tell about her love for Amar.  All of these side stories made me lose interest in the rest of what was going on.

On the other hand, I LOVED the artwork that accompanied each chapter in the book.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

How Do You Get Through a Tough Title?

I really enjoy reading new books and getting ARC and galley copies of books to review.  But what do you do when the book just seems impossible to get through.  I am reading one now and even though I am enjoying the story, the outline and some parts of it are just difficult to get through.  I want to give the book an honest review, and I want to finish it.  There have been very few books that I have started that I have not been able to finish.  I do not want to put this book in that category, because I want to know what is going to happen in the end.  So, how do you make it through the end of a book you want to know the ending to, but find it difficult to get through the story?  Do you move on to something else and come back to it later?  Do you just abandon it and review just what you have read.  I only have a couple more days before I have to submit my review, so giving up is not an option at this point.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review--Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A girl named Boy, a girl named Snow and a girl named Bird.  Three unique names for three unique individuals.  It's 1953 and Boy is living in New York, the daughter of a rat catcher.  She has never known her mother.  Boy "was a girl with a white-blonde pigtail hanging down over one shoulder..." When life with her father got to be too much, she packed her stuff and moved to the farthest place she could get on the bus, Flax Hill, CT.

Quickly, Boy made friends and met a man, Arturo Whitman.  Arturo has a daughter named Snow, who the whole town adored.  Shortly after Arturo and Boy are married, she becomes pregnant.  When she gives birth to her daughter, Bird, the Whitman family secrets soon come to light.

There is an underlying theme in this book with mirrors.  The women claim that they do not "see" themselves in them.  Is it because they are ghosts? Or is it that their family secrets run so deep that they find it hard to see themselves as they really are?

This book reminded me of books I had to read for school.  I enjoyed the storyline as a whole, but reading it, I felt as though there were questions I was supposed to be searching the answers for instead of just enjoying the book.  There are so many secrets throughout the entire book with the biggest secret coming at the end.  Told in three sections by Boy, Bird, and then Boy again, this is very interesting story about race in the north in the 50's and 60's.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying to Keep Up!!

There are so many great books out there.  From recommendations from friends, family, and Goodreads to the books selected as a Group Read, plus all of the book that are already on my personal book list.  I have 3135 on that list(I started keeping it before there was a Goodreads or Leafmarks).  Out of that 3135 I have read only 231. I'm sure I have read more books than that, but that is what I have on record.  I started this list back in 2003 so anything previously read will not be on there, unless I added it after the fact.

I enjoy reading tremendously.  I want to read just about anything and everything I can.  I like Best Sellers and Indie books.  I like discovering something new.  I wish I could read faster and that I had more time to read, but with 3 kids, time is limited.  Im trying to get through at least 2 books a week.  One that I read and one that I listen to, although this week, I haven't even touched the iPod.  Right now I'm reading Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.
 I started on May 9th, and am about halfway through.  Definitely not going to finish this one in a week.

I took a quiz on about What's Your Reading Personality?  It said I was an Exacting Reader..
"The expression 'so many books, so little time!' sums up your life.  You love books, but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like-so you're very particular about the books you choose."  Yes, and thank you!!  I hope this summer when there isn't as much running around to do with kids in school, I will have a little more time to get some reading done.

You can take the quick on BookBrowse  yourself by clicking here.