Author Archives: Dee

About Dee

I'm one of those people that no matter how many books I have, I can't turn down a sale or a trip to the bookstore. There are no limits to what I'll read and I hope you enjoy my reviews.

It’s Monday – What Are You Reading? (17 Oct)


It’s Monday – What are you reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Blink and you miss it, because in case you didn’t know, we’re now half-way through October…and as someone posted recently on facebook (in true Will Ferrell in Elf style), it’ll be Christmas in 10 weeks…yikes! This week marks a new milestone for me – I’m starting a new job after being on military orders for the last year (as a weekend warrior, I had the option of taking various forms of military orders and had a great year doing that) but its time to go back to the real world (oh and I forgot the joy of having to figure out what I’m going to wear and now having a uniform to default too…

I’m slowly but surely plugging away on my yearly reading challenge (hosted by Goodreads) – I got a bit behind when I had a reading slump a few months ago, but i’m chipping away a book at time (and trying to not fall into the tendency to read a bunch of shorties to make up the difference). My reading goals right now are simple – try to knock down the amount of books on my currently reading list (I think at one stage it was at 20+…books that I had started and gotten distracted reading and just never removed); and try to read the various books that i’ve borrowed via Kindle Unlimited that have been sitting for a while unread.

Currently Reading:

I have my typical multiple books going at once – what can I say? I’m looking forward to starting Surfacing, which is a memoir by Siri Lindley – who the triathlon for many of world’s top athletes including Mirinda Carfare (i totally have a girl crush on Rinny). I dug into my Kindle archives with Texas Hold Him (Lisa Cooke) which I bought back in 2009. The other 4 books are from my Kindle Unlimited subscription – 2 are series that I found and continuing (the Trudi Jay Magic Carnival series and Alison Kent’s Hope Springs series) and then 2 first in series (although I’m kind of cheating because I read book 2 by Crystal Bowling already).

Currently Listening:

On the currently listening pile, I am almost done with the first book in the Department Q series (The Keeper of Lost Causes) – the reveal of who the key suspect is has just occurred and I have about 3 hours left. I’m alternating The Keeper of Lost Causes with Lothaire (Kresley Cole) – although my ipod touch decided to hate me and I lost where I was in the book when I had to reset the app…but it should be fairly easy to figure out again. I’m also listening to The September Society by Charles Finch (which is kind of confusing because the main character is Charles Lenox…)

Anyways that is my meandering What Am I reading this middle week of October…

What about you – what are you reading?

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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in It's Monday! What are you reading?


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Review – Ashley’s War – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

ashleys-warAshley’s War
Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created Cultural Support Teams, a pilot program to put women on the battlefield alongside Green Berets and Army Rangers on sensitive missions in Afghanistan. The idea was that women could access places and people that had remained out of reach, and could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in a conservative, traditional country could not. Though officially banned from combat, female soldiers could be “attached” to different teams, and for the first time, women throughout the Army heard the call to try out for this special ops program.

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of discussion about the opening of combat roles in the military to women. Discussions about should women be allowed in these traditional male roles? can they carry the same weight? various services have conducted different studies to see how women perform in these training pipelines – but few people know that women have been in combat roles for several years – serving alongside men in the special operations, including Army Delta forces. In fact, while I had heard of these women in passing, I knew next to nothing about these ground breaking women, so when I came across Ashley’s War in the library, it seemed like a good choice for something to read.

ashleyAt its heart, Ashley’s War is a fairly simple read, but the depth of emotion held within resulted in me crying and nearly crying several times throughout. Its a story of sisterhood; or pushing yourself beyond what you believe capable; or providing evidence that women do have a place in direct combat roles. What started out as a “social experiment” as many anti-women in combat folks like to say, soon emerged as a way for the US to tackle the empty cavern that was the female half of population in the villages, soldier’s often ended up in their pursuit of Taliban. The women of the Combat Support Teams (or CST’s) aided in identifying members of Taliban hiding in the general population because they were able to talk to female members of the population, who previously were not included in interrogations. There wasn’t anything special about these women – they were daughters, wives, and sisters; Academy graduates and ROTC, regular Army and National Guard – but each of them were special in their own way. Each of them were trail blazers for the women in the military today and the into the future.

memorial1-jpegBy the end of the book I was a blubbering mess – even though going into it, I knew what was going to happen to the title solider (thank you huge spoilers in the description!). But reading how she died and how the unit that she was supporting did their best to save her and the others that were injured in the IED detonation; the reading of the recollections of the other members of the CST who had trained with Ashley when they realized she had been killed…I think I’m almost glad that I was reading this book and not listening to the audiobook like I had originally intended.

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about what our Combat Support Teams did in Afghanistan; and anyone who wants to see what the role of women in combat can truly be.

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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Book Review, Review


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Review – How Bad Do You Want It? – Matt Fitzgerald

how-bad-do-you-want-itHow Bad Do You Want It?
Author: Matt Fitzgerald
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

The greatest athletic performances spring from the mind, not the body. Elite athletes have known this for decades and now science is learning why it s true. In his fascinating new book “How Bad Do You Want It?,” coach Matt Fitzgerald examines more than a dozen pivotal races to discover the surprising ways elite athletes strengthen their mental toughness.

Fitzgerald puts you into the pulse-pounding action of more than a dozen epic races from running, cycling, triathlon, XTERRA, and rowing with thrilling race reports and revealing post-race interviews with the elites. Their own words reinforce what the research has found: strong mental fitness lets us approach our true physical limits, giving us an edge over physically stronger competitors. Each chapter explores the how and why of an elite athlete s transformative moment, revealing powerful new psychobiological principles you can practice to flex your own mental fitness.

The new psychobiological model of endurance performance shows that the most important question in endurance sports is: how bad do you want it? Fitzgerald s fascinating book will forever change how you answer this question and show you how to master the psychology of mind over muscle. These lessons will help you push back your limits and uncover your full potential.

“How Bad Do You Want It?” reveals new psychobiological findings including: Mental toughness determines how close you can get to your physical limit. Bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more. Champions have learned how to give more of what they have. The only way to improve performance is by altering how you perceive effort. Choking under pressure is a form of self-consciousness. Your attitude in daily life is the same one you bring to sports. There’s no such thing as going as fast as you can only going faster than before. The fastest racecourse is the one with the loudest spectators. Faith in your training is as important as the training itself.

At the end of August, I completed in an Half Iron event in Maine (a half iron consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run). While talking to my coach the night before, we were talking game plan and goals and my response was, I’d love to PR (personal record) – my fastest time was 7:12 in 2013 in North Carolina, my other times had all been in the 7:30 range). I had a solid swim and my bike was within 10 minutes of my goal (I wanted to get 3:30 and ended up with 3:39) and so knew going into my run that there was a chance if my run went as planned, that I might PR…and then at mile 8 (of 13 on the run)…when I realized how close it truely was…my brain started playing tricking on me and I nearly sabotaged myself with my finish. in case you are wondering, I did PR by a grand 40 seconds! But after that race, I knew I needed to focus not only on the physical aspect of my training, but also the mental. So when I realized I had a review copy of How Bad Do You Want It? to read, I figured now was a good time to dig in.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Matt Fitzgerald – I’ve already skimmed through his book about race weight, and he has a whole host of other books out there about various aspects of triathlon and marathon training. The publisher (Velo Press) is also known for their books focusing on different aspects of athletic performance (I previously reviewed their book on Strength Training for Triathletes and have used several of the workouts included in it). In How Bad Do You Want It – Fitzgerald uses a series of stories about elite athletes and different pressures that they had faced in their careers while competing. From coping with the pressure to be successful to adapting strategies to do with physical limitations, to overcoming from behind (or being the underdog). Each chapter in the book starts with a story of an athlete and then the author talks about current research that is available that talks about that particular coping mechanism. There is a bibliography at the end of the book so you can research further into the research if you are intrigued but it wasn’t written in a way that was overly scientific. For me, the biggest take away was to have fun because if you don’t, then the stress of training and trying to improve will start to eat you up and you will fail.

I gave How Bad Do You Want It? 4 stars and its a great book for understanding some of the psychology that goes into endurance training. I know I’ll be looking for more books by Matt Fitzgerald in the future.


Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Book Review, Review


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Roadtrip! IM Louisville or Bust!


It seems like just yesterday when I signed up to compete in Ironman Louisville, to be held this Sunday in Kentucky (in actuality its been just under a year…but time seriously fly when you are having fun…err, I mean training). And if swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 and running 26.2 (yes, a marathon) isn’t enough – I’m driving to and from Louisville from Maryland (which is about 11hours…traffic dependant)…

So what better way to kick off a 4 day roadtrip with a “What am I listening to on this roadtrip?” post.

Notionally, if traffic works in my favor and there are no delays (aside from stopping for required coffee and snackage)…the trip should take me about 10 hours – but there is one thing I have learnt in my roadtrips over the years – always add at least 2 additional hours for detours/getting lost (which is pretty frequent in my world) and general shenanigans…anyways – I’m prepping with over 20 hours of audiobooks to listen to, in addition to having my kindle fully charged for sitdown food stops (I love finding those random diners while traveling).

My listening pile for the trip looks something like this:


I’m about 2/3 of the way done with A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch…I have a few thoughts on the who done it, so it will be interesting to see when the big reveal happens. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen has been loitering on my to-be-listened pile for a while and its a group read for an ongoing challenge that i’m doing – so perfect timing to get it off the pile. When I finish those up, I’m planning to go back to Chicago in the mid-1980’s with PI V.I. Warshawski in Sara Praetsky’s Bitter Medicine. And finally, if I finish the previous 3 mentioned (which would mean that I likely hit some serious traffic somewhere, I have Lothaire by Kresley Cole and narrated by one of my favorites Robert Petkoff qued up.

So what do you guys think? What are your favorite roadtrip books? (if you have any)

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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in General


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Audiobook Review – Girl in the Blue Coat – Monica Hesse

girl-in-the-blue-coatGirl in the Blue Coat
Author: Monica Hesse
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Natalia Payne
Run Time: 9hrs, 42min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person: a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

It’s always hard to try and capture thoughts for books that engage you so emotionally that you are just left wondering what happened? For me Girl in the Blue Coat did just that – as soon as I started listening to the fabulous audiobook narrated by Natalia Payne I was sucked in. Historical fiction set during in Amsterdam in 1943, a time period where the Jewish population were required to wear the yellow star of identification and where significant portions of the Jewish population were starting to be forcibly rounded up and sent to various concentration camps. Hanneke is one of those members of the Jewish population, trying to maintain some normalcy of a life with all the restrictions being placed on them, and attempting to stick it to the Nazi’s by buying and selling goods on the blackmarket. All of that changed when she was asked to help locate a Jewish teenager who was being hidden by one of her customers and who had seemingly disappeared into thin air. What follows is a mystery of who is the girl in the blue coat and where did she go?

But this wasn’t just a story of the girl in the blue coat – it was a story of bravery, resistance, growing up in the face of adversity, betrayal of friends and so much more. I’ll admit that Hanneke drove me kind of nuts at times – for a 19 year old, especially one who had been doing some of the work that she had been doing seemed remarkably naive at times – especially when faced with working with the resistance. Her behavior at times reminded me kind of a spoiled brat – taking risks with no care for others, especially when she was Jewish in a community where Jews were being rounded up daily and sent to concentration camps – it just seemed like at times she was almost asking to be caught. It was the interplay between Hanneke and the other characters – Bas/Elspeth/Mirjam/Amalia that really added depth to the story. I really what to know what happens in the future with Hanneke and Elspeth’s relationship as well as Bas and Hanneke.

Natalia Payne was a new narrator to me but i can’t wait to listen to more books narrated by her in the future. I have to admit that I don’t really know how a dutch accent should sound to be able to judge her on accuracy, but it seemed pretty close to what i’ve heard in other historical fiction/movies set in the same time period. She was able to instill the right amount of fear into me during certain portions of the book, as well as making me cry in other portions. There were definately a few times where I almost needed to pull over because I wanted to cry. I want to thank Hachette Audio for allowing me the opportunity to listen to this book and as an added bonus for the audiobook listeners, there is an interview at the end with Monica Hesse (the author); the narrator and one of the Hachette producers who was responsible for bringing this book into both print and audio. I’m excited to see what more Monica Hesse writes about in the future. A solid 4 stars for both the story itself and the narration.

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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review


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Review – The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel – Jennifer McQuiston

the-perks-of-loving-a-scoundrelThe Perks of Loving a Scoundrel
Author: Jennifer McQuiston
Series: #3 in the Seduction Diaries series

Review Copy Provided by HarperCollins Publishing

Every girl dreams of a hero . . .
No one loves books more than Miss Mary Channing. Perhaps that’s why she’s reached the ripe old age of six-and-twenty without ever being kissed. Her future may be as bland as milk toast, but Mary is content to simply dream about the heroes and adventures she reads about in her books. That way she won’t end up with a villain instead.
But sometimes only a scoundrel will do.
When she unexpectedly finds herself in the arms of Geoffrey Westmore, London’s most notorious scoundrel, it feels a bit like a plot from one of her favorite novels. Suddenly, Mary understands why even the smartest heroines can fall prey to a handsome face. And Westmore is more handsome than most. But far worse than the damage to her reputation, the moment’s indiscretion uncovers an assassination plot that reaches to the highest levels of society and threatens the course of the entire country.
When a tight-laced miss and a scoundrel of epic proportions put their minds together, nothing can stand in their way. But unless they put their hearts together as well, a happy ending is anything but assured.

I’m probably a bit late jumping on the Jennifer McQuiston train because I know lots of my friends have been reading her for years and i’ve only read one in the past, but after reading (ok, cramming) The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel, I may have to make it a mission to catch up on her backlist. I mean, who can’t fall in love with an author who opens a book with drunken shenanigans and a wallflower observing certain drunken behavior occurring outside her window (don’t worry, I won’t tell you too much😉 ) From then on, I knew i was going to be in for a fun ride and McQuiston didn’t let me down.

Having not read the previous books in the Seduction Diaries series, I’m curious to see how this one compared to the others. I liked how McQuiston managed to mix mystery and sleuthing with the romance between Geoffrey and Mary. Honestly, in general, Mary made me laugh – she was a wallflower who while notionally quiet and perfect, really seemed to want to break out of the mold of how society dictates women should behave. you could tell from early on in the book, that she was just bursting to find out who she was and how Geoffrey helped her figure that out (without placating her). there were definately a few moments where she was floating ideas by Geoffrey about the mystery and he just treated her like he valued her opinion and wasn’t just listening to her, for the sake of just listening…

While The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel is the 3rd book in the Seduction Diaries series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone (although I know there are many people out there who get eye twitches if they read books out of order🙂 ) If you want a historical romance with a rake falls in love with a wallflower storyline, that has witty banter and solid writing, the The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel may be the book for you.

jennifer-mcquistonAbout the Author:
A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal.

Connect with Jennifer McQuiston
Website –
Twitter –
Facebook –

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To be entered into a giveaway, click on the following link: Rafflecopter Giveaway

Purchasing Links:
HarperCollins Publishing
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Posted by on October 3, 2016 in Book Review, Review


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Audiobook Review – Underground in Berlin – Marie Jalowicz Simon

underground-in-berlinUnderground in Berlin
Author: Marie Jalowicz Simon
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Ellen Archer
Run Time: 11hrs 47min
Narrator Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewish community, and vanished into the city.

In the years that followed, Marie lived under an assumed identity, forced to accept shelter wherever she found it. Always on the run, never certain whom she could trust, Marie moved between almost twenty different safe-houses, living with foreign workers, staunch communists, and even committed Nazis. Only her quick-witted determination and the most hair-raising strokes of luck allowed her to survive.

I’m a little bit belated in posting this audiobook review (like 6 months late)…but it was a book that made me think about the lengths people go to avoid getting caught. When most of us think about Jewish people who managed to survive the Holocaust, we think of Anne Frank and her family who lived in the Attic until they were turned in; or people like Corrie Ten Boom who helped hide people in a crawl space – but there were others that managed to survive by just staying a step ahead of the Germans – Marie Jalowicz was one of those people.

What made her story remarkable (at least to me) was how unremarkable it really was – it wasn’t sit on the edge of the chair thrilling, but more of a roller coaster ride – sometimes gentle and lulling and other times ricocheting you around the track…mostly wondering if she could actually manage to avoid the Nazi’s for 4(ish) years until the war ended…obviously since she wrote a book about her experiences she did (does that count as a spoiler?) So much of the story seemed just ehhh, she went here and stayed on a couch and had to keep really quiet so she wasn’t discovered during the day and the moved to another location and did the same thing. I think that the story being remarkedly unremarkable is why I only gave it 3.5 stars – I enjoyed portions of the story but the internal me wanted a bit more excitment (isn’t that kind of pathetic?)

Its kind of weird – I could have sworn that i’d listened to something narrated by Ellen Archer before, but looking through my audiobook files – I can’t find anything by her (which means, i’m either going nuts, or simply didn’t log it)…anyways, one of the good things about listening to non-fiction/biographies is that narrators don’t need to deviate too much from a normal reading voice (differentiating characters etc) – so it was a solid listen with no frills – a story that was relatively simple, with a relatively simple narration style – i could easily get used to something like that.

Overall, I gave Underground in Berlin 3.5 stars and the narration 4 stars. Its a solid autobiography that while not exciting is insightful into how people survived persecution during World War 2.

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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review


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