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2015 Challenge – French Bingo

french-bingo-2015-logo2Ok, so I totally admit it, I’m a sucker for reading challenges – because I find that they are normally a quick and easy way to make me broaden my reading horizons without going too too far out of my comfort zone (although sometimes I really do). And who knows – maybe I’ll find a new authors that I love. Anyways, while browsing/stalking some of the various blogs that I follow, I came across Words and Peace who is hosting a Reader’s version of Bingo with a French theme (she also hosted it last year – I think I signed up and then epically failed – as in didn’t read anything). So I thought what the heck.

The goal is simple – as with normal bingo – you need to make a straight of 5 books – either horizontally, vertically or on the diagonal. Each square on the card has a different twist on France and French books (writers from different time periods; different genres etc).

The card looks like this (if you click on the link, it should take you to the original challenge page):
french bingo

In order to complete a square – read a book that fits the requirements; post a review on your blog and then link back to the challenge – and voila!

I’m looking forward to checking this out – and hopefully getting a BINGO some time during the year.

Wish Me Luck…

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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2015 First Book of the Year

first book of the year

Picking the first book to start in the new year is always a fun venture. Do I re-read a favorite that I have indulged in many times? A new book by a favorite author? A new release? Do I tackle one of the books loitering on my to-read pile or buy something brand spanking new? Those were just a few thoughts going through my mind as I considered how to approach this momentous task – because honestly, that first book of the year sets you up for your year or reading – if you start with a mediocre book, is that how your year is going to be? or vice versa, if you have a mind-blowing awesome book, then you are on track for a great year!

When I started considering the book I was going to start on the 1st (because that is how I decided to approach the task), I really only knew one thing – that the book somehow needed to find into one of the reading challenges I was doing in 2015.

the winter guestAfter much thought and consider, tossing and turning, I decided that my first book of 2015 would be The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff. This will be my first stand-alone novel by this author, although, I did read and enjoy her contribution to an anthology in 2014.

The Winter Guest – Pam Jenoff
World War 2 Historical Fiction
Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. Though rugged, independent Helena and pretty, gentle Ruth couldn’t be more different, they are staunch allies in protecting their family from the threats the war brings closer to their doorstep with each passing day.

Then Helena discovers an American paratrooper stranded outside their small mountain village, wounded, but alive. Risking the safety of herself and her family, she hides Sam—a Jew—but Helena’s concern for the American grows into something much deeper. Defying the perils that render a future together all but impossible, Sam and Helena make plans for the family to flee. But Helena is forced to contend with the jealousy her choices have sparked in Ruth, culminating in a singular act of betrayal that endangers them all—and setting in motion a chain of events that will reverberate across continents and decades.

I’m looking forward to reading and starting off 2015 in style.

What was/is your first book of 2015?

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Happy New Year

blog happy new years

Wishing you a happy and fulfilling 2015

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

monday reading
I can’t believe that it is officially the last Monday of the year. I don’t know about you guys, but it seems like 2014 just flew by – I had a little great reading, lots of good reading and some disappointing reading. I discovered many new authors that I look forward to reading again and moved prior favorites from the auto-buy pile to the get from the library pile because they just don’t live up my expectations any more. As we enter the last 3 days of 2014, I have my normal multiple books in progress:

Listening:
light between oceansThe Light Between the Ocean – M.L. Stedman
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

I picked this audiobook up after seeing it mentioned in a GR group and because it showed up on the popular book club books list and since I’m not in any real life groups, I was curious to see what groups (be they face to face or virtual) find interesting/choose often. I’m about halfway through right now and enjoying the story. The narrator is new to me, but I’m enjoying him so far – having grown up in Australia, typical “Australia” accents in audiobooks but me, but his works. I’m interested to see how the book finishes up.

Reading:
waistcoats weaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry – Gail Carriger
Sophronia continues second year finishing school in style — with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown. She, best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and charming Lord Felix Mersey stow away on train to return classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspects what or who would be aboard the suspiciously empty train.

I loved all of the books that I’ve read and listened to by this author – she is, IMHO, a good introduction to Steampunk (especially if you like a bit of a paranormal twist with Vampires/Werewolves). I listened to her Parasol Protectorate series and have been reading this series as its been released and can’t wait to see what Sophronia get’s up to in this newest book.

death cacheDeath Cache – Tiffinie Helmer
Loving her is murder…

She shouldn’t have played…

Gallery owner Tern Maiski has always had a way with men, but the one she gave her heart to disappeared without a word. Now he’s competing alongside her and four others in a high-tech treasure hunt, and her pride isn’t the only thing on the line. So is her life.

He doesn’t play by the rules…

Geophysicist Gage Fallon’s relationship with Tern has been cataclysmic from the beginning. He cared too much, too fast and their passion threatened to consume him. Now he’s back on firmer ground and competing in a game that will risk more than his heart.

Once their group is dropped off in a remote area near the Arctic Circle, it quickly becomes clear that instead of hunting for treasure, they’re the ones being hunted. And the killer is dead serious about caching them in.

Ms Helmer is an author that I see recommended quite often on Amazon for someone with a unique voice in contemporary romance today and based on the one book I’ve read by her, I have to agree. I love the Alaska setting and you can tell that the author does significant research into the topic she is writing about. I’m only a couple of chapters into this book right now, but already intrigued with the whole adventure Caching thing (I have some friends who are super into it and i’m intrigued to maybe try it in the New Year).

LTSSLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War – Karen Abbott
Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

I probably never would have picked this book up if I hadn’t seen the negative review for it in the Washington Post and subsequent discussions on the authors portrayal of events that occurred during the Civil War. So when I saw it on the new release shelf at the library I had to grab it. I’m about half-way through right now, but like the authors writing style and while there is a lot of detail, it is also a quick read (likely due to the typeset used). I’m trying to take my time reading it to absorb all the details.

stftStrength Training for Triathletes: The Complete Program to Build Triathlon Power, Speed, and Muscular Endurance – Patrick S. Hagerman
“Strength Training for Triathletes” offers a comprehensive strength training program for triathlon that will help triathletes build power, speed, and muscular endurance for faster racing over any race distance.

Certified USA Triathlon coach and NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year Patrick Hagerman, EdD, reveals a focused, triathlon-specific strength training program that will enable triathletes to push harder during training and on the race course when the effort is hardest. Triathletes who master this progressive strength training program will also become more resistant to injury, meaning fewer missed workouts.

“Strength Training for Triathletes” features 75 of the most effective strength training exercises for triathlon swimming, cycling, and running plus core strength and general conditioning. Full-color photographs illustrate each simple exercise, which are grouped so athletes can focus on their own individual performance limiters. Hagerman simplifies the science underlying strength training, offering easy-to-follow guidelines on resistance and reps that will make triathletes stronger through every phase of the season.

This is a review book from the publisher that I am currently reading. In 2014, I completed my first Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 run) and looking forward to doing another one in 2015. But I know that I need to factor in some strength training into my training program. So far, this book has done a good job in breaking down how to develop a training plan based on goals and I am about to get to the actual information about various exercises. While I have the kindle version to read, my one complaint is that tables haven’t come across well (formatting has been removed), so I see myself buying the print version in the future.

YfRYoga for Runners – Christine Felstead
As a runner, you strike the ground 1,000 times per mile, with a force of two to three times your body weight. You can feel that impact in the muscles, ligaments, and bone structures throughout your body. Thankfully, “Yoga for Runners” addresses both the physical and mental demands of the sport. Whether you are new to yoga or have practiced for years, “Yoga for Runners” provides you with the most effective poses–88 poses in all. Each pose is described in detail to ensure correct execution, maximizing the physical benefit and decreasing the risk of injury.

You’ll learn how simple yoga techniques can be incorporated into your existing running workouts and routines to eliminate chronic aches and pains. Discover how each pose can be sequenced to address a specific need, such as strengthen and lengthen the hamstrings, strengthen and increase mobility of the hip joint, eliminate lower-back and upper-body discomfort, speed the recovery process after a practice run or a race, maintain a strong core, or just restore and rejuvenate to prepare for an upcoming event. These sequences target all troublesome muscle regions. Anatomical illustrations and descriptions explain why these poses and sequences decrease your risk of acute or chronic injury as well as why they are beneficial to your training regimen.

After just a few weeks of following “Yoga for Runners,” you will feel stronger, more balanced, more in tune with your breathing, and more aware of your posture and technique. Your entire running experience–endurance, strength, breathing, and mental sharpness–will be more productive, positive, and enjoyable.

As with strength training, I know that I also need to building some Yoga/flexibility training into my workout plan – while this book is focused specifically on how Yoga can help runner’s, a lot of the issues also apply to cycling and I can see how I would be able to adjust recommendations to encompass cycling issues/imbalances. I borrowed this book from the library, but I can see myself buying it for reference in the future.

How about you – what are you reading on this last Monday of 2014?

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Merry Christmas

book christmas tree

Wishing Everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May 2015 find you filled with the joy of family and friends, and many books to read.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Christmas Eve Tradition

I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up getting a chance to post this or not, because I was waiting for some pictures to show up in my email/facebook (from the little sister/blister). But since they did, I can write this post and wish everyone a Merry Christmas Eve!

When I look back at my childhood/family traditions, there are a few that stick in my memory – spending time with the relatives, long car trips in the middle of summer (since Christmas in Australia is usually hot as hades). But there is one specific one that I look back on that occurred every Christmas Eve while growing up – my mom bring down her copy of Davey and the First Christmas and reading it to us. It is just a simple pop-up book – but one steeped in memories.

Davey and the First Christmas tells the birth of Christ through the eyes of a little boy who lived at the Inn where Mary and Joseph stopped that night. But Davey wasn’t special in any way – he was just a boy, a boy who continually got in the way, with his Donkey, Tim. The book is written as a poem, and its a quick read but I loved reading it every year.

davy 1DAVEY AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
Beth Vardon

Let’s pretend there was a boy, and Davey was his name,
Whose family lived in Bethlehem when Christmas time first came.
Davey had a special pet–a donkey small and gray,
And what the two of them did best was getting in the way!

Davey named the donkey Tim. He never rode him though.
Either Tim was built too high or Davey was too low!
Davey’s father had an inn where people came to stay;
And lots and lots and lots of them were coming there one day.

His father was as busy as six or seven bees!
So Davey said, “I want to help, can’t I do something, please?
Tim would like to help you, too.
Find a job for us to do!”

“Listen, son,” his father said; “Last week you broke three jugs.
You scared my two best customers with your pet lightening bugs!
You tracked in mud on my clean floor; you tripped and dropped the bread.
And though I loved the fish you caught–why leave them on my bed?

I’ve put up with your helpfulness as long as I am able.
So do me one big favor now, get out–and clean the stable!”

Davey sadly went and stood beside the stable door
It hardly seemed that anyone could clean that dirty floor.
He and Tim both felt so bad they started in to cry–
But then (thought Davey), “Yes, we can! Well, anyhow–let’s try.

davy 2First, let’s chase those chickens out. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
So, Tim began to flap his ears while Davey shouted, “Shooooo!”
The chickens clucked and flew and ducked, they fluttered wild and scary,
Until their feather filled the air, like snow in January

Yes, Davey chased those chickens out, He and Tim together.
But now he had to get a sack and pick up every feather!

You should have seen how hard they worked! They stacked up all the wheat,

They straightened up the harnesses until they were nice and neat.
They fought with spiders bravely till they chased out every bug.
And since we must admit the truth–they broke another jug!

The very biggest job of all was stacking up the hay.
Davey climbed up to the loft and put it all away.
Look, Tim, You see how high it is? I’ll make just one more trip.”
Then clear up by the stable roof his feet began to slip!

Down came the hay and Davey, too. The stable looked so queer˜
All you could see was piles of hay–one sandal, and one ear!
Slowly they came out on top, and Davey didn’t whine,
Though hay stuck out all over him just like a porcupine!

davy 3He put the hay all back again and stacked it up with care–
But left one armload down below to fill the manger there.

So Davey’s work was done at last, and when it all looked neat
He picked some flowers to trim the barn, and some for Tim to eat.
“I hope it’s clean enough,” he thought. “At least I did my best.”
And feeling very, very tired, he curled up for a rest.

Who woke up Davey from his sleep? Just guess them if you can.
Mary was the woman’s name; Joseph was the man,

Mary said, “Oh Joseph, look! This is a lovely place!”
Then, seeing Davey there, she said, with shining face,
Your father’s inn had no more rooms; tonight we’re staying here.
So tell me now, are you the boy who cleaned the stable, dear?
And did your donkey help you work? We want to thank him, too.”
Though Davey was still half-asleep, his heart was glad clear through.

So, that is how a little boy two thousand years ago,
Stayed on to hear the angels sing, and see the Star aglow.

As soon as Baby Jesus came to use the manger bed;
Then Davey’s sack of feathers made a pillow for his head.
No one told Davey anymore that he was in the way.
His work had helped get ready for the world’s first Christmas Day!

(Just So Blog)

What Day Before Christmas Traditions exist in your family?

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – It’s a Wonderful Fireman – Jennifer Bernard

it's a wonderful firemanIt’s a Wonderful Fireman
Author: Jennifer Bernard
Series: #6.5 in The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description (Goodreads):
Hard-edged fireman Dean Mulligan has never been a big fan of Christmas. Twinkly lights and sparkly tinsel can’t brighten the memories of too many years spent in ramshackle foster homes. Although he’s established himself as one of the top firefighters at San Gabriel Station 1, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for someone like gorgeous Lizzie.

Lizzie Breen is used to fighting—from her alpha male brothers, who try to smother her in the name of safety, to the life-threatening childhood illness she overcame. She knows what she and Mulligan feel for each other is a lot more than a fling, but she can’t get him to see that. The only gift Lizzie wants to give him this season is her love, but he’s not willing to accept it.

When Mulligan is trapped in the burning wreckage of a holiday store, a Christmas angel arrives to open his eyes. But is it too late? This Christmas, it’ll take an angel, a determined woman in love, and the entire Bachelor Firemen crew to make him believe … it is indeed a wonderful life.

Review:
I’ll admit that my reading of this series has been spotty as much as I am a sucker for fireman (and cop) romances. I’ve read the first book, the prequel and now the Christmas one (but never fear, the rest of the books are loitering on Mt TBR and will hopefully get tackled in the new year). So I didn’t have the background with the characters that many of the readers/reviewers had. I vaguely remember Dean from the previous books as being a bit of a stoic kind of guy – but honestly that is a character trait that I like. I will admit that I don’t really recall Lizzy, but since it was obvious from the writing, I’m guessing she was introduced in one of the books I haven’t read yet.

This was almost the perfect Christmas read. I love reading novella’s at this time of year, because they are normally short and sweet, hit the sweet spot, without (normally) being too sickly sweet (which I’m totally not a fan of) and It’s a Wonderful Fireman delivered. Told predominantly though flash-backs (which are often a hard way to tell a story), I could see Dean and Lizzie’s relationship develop (and I’m a sucker for friends2lovers stories). I really enjoyed seeing how their story developed and the fact that it took place over a longer period of time than a typical romance. While It’s A Wonderful Fireman was short (only about 140ish pgs), it felt like a complete story with a beginning/middle/ending – that to me is quite often missing in novella’s.

After reading Dean and Lizzie’s story, I’m looking forward to going back and reading the other books in the series, so I can “get to know” them a bit more and then maybe i’ll re-read their story, just for the heck of it ;) It’s A Wonderful Fireman is a solid 3.5 star read – rounding up to 4 on Goodreads and other places. I’d recommend for people who like Christmas novella’s, fireman romances and friends2lover romances.

Purchase Links:
Amazon – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)
Barnes & Noble – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)
Kobo – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)

_DPP0190Visit Jennifer on the Web:
Website
Facebook
Send Mail
Jennifer’s Twitter

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Blog Hop, Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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