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February Wrap-Up

Ahhh, February – the shortest month of the year and the one that a) either feels like it is going to last forever or b) just flies by – you never know. Its also the month where it can be 60+ degrees somedays and on others snowing and storming. I know I don’t regret the snow day we had last week from work, or the fact that I had several days where we had a delayed work start (which is solid because I can get my workout in earlier in the day rather than in the evening). February saw me read (or listen) to 30 books – which is on the lower side of my normal reading (of course it doesn’t help that I have like 10 different books in progress…lol).

New Authors Discovered
February definitely was a GREAT month for discovering new authors – Of the 30 books that I read, 9 were by new to me authors, and at least 4 of them have been added to my read more in the future pile. I already have several books by Fredrik Bachman checked out from the library and on the pile for March and waiting (impatiently) for the next book by Helen Hoang. The Kiss Quotient (Helen Huong) gets the award for the most unique but likeable characters; and Saving Meghan (D.J. Palmer) for the most unlikeable characters (and yet I found myself completely sucked in). I also forsee a binge read of the J.A. Jance series that I started (Joanna Brady series)

Series Continued
I continued to dig into the multitude of series that I have in progress this month. I binged on books 2 and 3 in Kristi Belcamino’s Gabriella Giovanni series and then bought the remaining books in the series so that I could finish reading it in March. I also read the next installment in Rosalind James’ Escape from New Zealand series (I totally fall into the delayed gratification for this series, by trying to ration the books that have been released). I finished up Lauren Dane’s Ink and Chrome Trilogy (although I’ll flat out admit that it wasn’t my favorite book in the series) and jumped back into Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles (the third book def. suffered from that transition in series weakness – or at least I think so). I also continued with the next book in Lucy Lennox’s Made Marian series. JD Robb gave a solid installment to the In Death series with Thankless in Death (I finished up the last chapter of that on the first of the month) Finally, after discovering him in January, I buddy listening to the remaining 2 books in the Reckoner’s series by Branden Sanderson (although technically I finished up the last bit of the third book on the first day of March).

Diversity Challenge
February saw me read a book that hit both a neurodiverse character and by an author that identifies as such – I think of the 30 books that I read this month, The Kiss Quotient was in my top 3 favorites for the month. I loved Stella as a character and the romance between her and Michael had the right amount of sexual tension building throughout. I laughed out loud in several places, in particular, her lesson plans that she made for her sexual experiences. In addition, to the Kiss Quotient, I also rediscovered my enjoyment of m/m romances (specifically this month ones by Mary Calmes) and I’m part-way finished with Halsey Street (Naima Coster) which showed up on my kindle screen one night and caught my eye. I should have it finished in the next couple of days.

Tackling the TBR
Of all my various reading goals, this month my goal of tackling Mt To-Be-Read/Mt To-Be-Listened was the most successful. Of the 30 books that I read, 9 had been on my TBR pile for longer than three years and another 3 for longer than a year. I already mentioned it, but Thankless in Death was probably my favorite lost on Mt TBL that I got to this month (even though I did technically finish it up in March, over 90% of it was listened to in February). I also started Maya Banks KGI series (the first book has been on Mt TBR since 2012 and for some reason and I don’t remember buying them all, but I own books 1-8…I think I might have a TINY problem…) I also had to laugh when I requested a book from the library (The Winter Over) to discover that I had actually bought back in January 2017 (and I have now created a shelf on Goodreads called – “totally forgot I bought that” for those random finds).

My Top 3 Reads for February:
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
Beartown – Fredrik Bachman
From Lukov With Love – Mariana Zapata

What About You? How was your February Reading? Did you discover any new must-recommend authors?

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2019 in Month in Review, Uncategorized

 

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2019 – First Book of the Year

Year 3. This is my third year of participating in First Book of the Year hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Although this is the first year when I haven’t really had my first book planned out and known in advance – which is why its January 1 and i’m just posting my first book of the year now. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to participate this year – but I was recently inspired by Robyn Covington to expand my reading list year by increasing the diversity of the books I read. And kicking off that challenge as my first book of the year seemed to be the way to go.

So drumroll please…my first book of 2019 is going to be…(and my dog – Marie – wanted to show you all her toy, Monkey…the poor thing has been beat up but she loves him)…and it wouldn’t be first book of the year without a new coffee mug

From the Goodreads description:
Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.

Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart — and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.

Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.

Here’s to many great books and memories in 2019!!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Nonfiction November Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

So this is my first year participating in Nonfiction November and i’ll be honest, I think its the first time I’ve ever heard it referenced on blogs – maybe I just wasn’t reading the right ones (because lets face it, nonfiction is not a topic that lots of people read and review exclusively). But now that I know about it, it will be making an appearance on my blog in future years. This year, Nonfiction November is being hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction). I’m already having a blast looking at all the different pictures of books that people are posting on Twitter, Instagram or in the Goodreads group – I have a feeling that Mt TBR is going to grow exponentially over the next month.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
So this part of the prompt was a non-brainer – but far my favorite non-fiction read from the past year is also one of the books that I have probably also recommended the most since I read it. But first, a bit of the backstory, whenever I go to the library (which is much more often that I care to admit some weeks…I’m basically on first name basis with all the staff there), I tend to do a quick look of all the new purchases the library has made in both fiction and nonfiction (and its not uncommon that at least one – or more – books get added to my check out pile). Anyways, in August, I did just that and a book called The Sun Does Shine caught my eye – first of all the cover was very bright which when compared to many other NF books that use blacks, greys and white as their predominant colors, this was an anomaly. But the second thing that caught my eye was the authors name, Anthony Ray Hinton…I couldn’t place it exactly, but I knew that I had heard or read it someone in the not so recent past. Anyways, I grabbed it to read and when I opened it up and saw the foreword, I knew why – the memoir was based on one of the cases that Bryan Stevenson discusses in his book, Just Mercy – which is probably my most recommended book in 2017.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
My nonfiction reading is always kind of diverse – mostly because a lot of the stuff I read is for different challenges on both Goodreads and other websites. A quick analysis of the 16 books I read in the past year were: Science/Math: 5 books; Biography/Memoirs: 7 Books (further broken down into Celebrity /Performers (1), Historical Persons/Groups (3); Current Persons/Groups (3); Travel/Adventure: 3 Books; Self-Help: 2 books and True Crime: 1. I guess if I had to pick, I would say that I’ve been more prone to picking up science/math type books recently (I’m counting psychology, math, economics all under this general umbrella).

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
See my comment above about my favorite book from the last year – as soon as I got done with reading my copy from the library – I walked in, handed it to the librarian and said “READ THIS” – thankfully, most of them listen to me (or at least I think they do) when I recommend books. He also turned around and recommended a similar book to me that is part of the One Maryland One Book project (which is one of the books I have on my pile for this month).

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Well, I could sarcastically say that I hope to reduce some of the nonfiction books on my pile – but we all know that isn’t going to be the case 🙂 So I hope to discover a wide variety of books on topics that I hadn’t considered before (even if I don’t get them read during the course of the month). Katie at Doing Dewey inspired me to try my own Dewey Decimal Challenge – so I’m slowing chugging away at that – I have definitely found my comfort zone – so trying to push out of that.

Bring on Nonfiction November!!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Team Sea to See…and they’re off

So this isn’t a typical post for me, but its something awesome that a friend of mine is doing (in fact, as this post was published they departed Oceanside California). Race Across America is an annual race where the crazy people, whoops, I mean cyclists, either individually or in teams, try to be the fastest person to cross the United States. It starts in Oceanside, CA and ends in Annapolis, MD. These teams cross over 3000 miles, 12 states and over 170,000ft of climbing (which just makes me cringe…I hate anything that makes me climb hills!). What makes this even more awesome is that my friend, Pamela (yeah, girl, i’m calling you out), is one of 4 pilots on a team that features all blind stokers (the folks that are in the back of a tandem bike). The team, Sea to See (isn’t that a great play on words) is aiming to change the narrative about what visually impaired folks can do.

I’m going to be tracking them through live updates (available HERE)

You can read more about Team Sea to See HERE and if you would like to donate to their mission, here is the link: DONATE HERE

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Movie Monday (2) – Annie

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

My choice for Movie Monday this week is an oldie but a goodie. Early last week, I was laying on the couch, flipping through the movie options on Netflix, Hulu and Starz, I saw that the original Annie had been added to the Starz line-up and I knew then that I had to watch it.

Annie is one of my all-time favorite movies – i’m pretty sure that the VHS of the movie I had growning up (yeah, i’m so old that I remember VHS) that I wore it out watching it so much, especially the different songs – I would fast-forward between the different songs and just watch them and sing horribly off-tune. There are likely going to be spoilers in this post, but since the movie came out over 3 decades ago, hopefully most people have seen it.

I love Annie because its a story where the underlying theme is hope and dreams – themes that seem so often to be missing from our daily lives – Annie dreams and hopes that her parents will come and rescue her from the orphanage; when Mr Warbucks assistant (Grace) shows up at the orphanage, Annie hopes that she will be picked; even after Mr Warbucks wants to adopt her, she hopes that he will help her find her parents (culminating in her trip to the White House and the iconic song, Tomorrow). And in the movie climax – she hopes that she will be rescued after she is kidnapped….and those are just the key events during the movie.

There are so many actors who starred in Annie who are still appearing in Hollywood movies today – names like Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters. And yet others, like Aileen Quinn who played Annie – has had limited screen time since it was released (only 7 mentions of actress in IMDB). It kind of makes want me want to use Annie as a start place to binge watch the filmologies of some of these actors.

Not long after I watched Annie in my teen years – i read the book that it was based on – it was a fairly good adaptation from the book – there are some scenes that are more fleshed out (as you would expect – most of which have to do with Annie’s time at the orphanage). so I definitely recommend reading it, if you get the change.

Tell me – have you ever seen Annie? If yes, what is your favorite song from the movie? If not, tell me what movies you have watched this week?

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Movie Monday, Uncategorized

 

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First Line Fridays – 11 May 2018

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books

I never thought I would be sooo glad to sleep in my own bed! I got home Monday night after nearly three weeks on the road, including being busy on all the weekends – so my plan for Saturday and Sunday is to resemble a sloth as much as possible.
(normally i would insert a witty picture of couch sloth here…but i couldn’t find one I liked!). Anyways, on to my reading for this weekend – when I got home Monday night I had a package from St Martin’s Press which wouldn’t you know it, had an ARC for BA Paris’ new book in it. I honestly can’t remember if i signed up to receive it or if it was a gift from previously reviewing for them – either way, i’m not going to argue! Without further ado, here is my First Line Friday!

“We were on our way back from skiing in Megeve. I decided to stop in Paris on the way up as a surprise for Layla, because she had never been there before.”

Bring Me Back – B.A. Paris

From Goodreads:
A young British couple are driving through France on vacation when they stop at a service station. He runs in to use the restroom, she stays in the car. When he returns, her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work one day and finds his new fiancee sitting on their sofa turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about, because his wife-to-be is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their relationship becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Why FLF?
I just finished listening to The Breakdown by this author a month or so ago and she kept me on the literal edge of my seat during the entire 13hrs of the audiobook – which I didn’t think was possible. While I had an inkling of how I thought it would turn out, i was so far off base…so i’m hoping that Bring Me Back will keep me equally as much engaged and anticipatory!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in First Line Fridays, Uncategorized

 

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Audiobook Review – The Duchess Deal – Tessa Dare

The Duchess Deal
Author: Tessa Dare
Series: #1 in the Girl Meets Duke series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Run Time: 7hrs 56min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.
His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

Review:
Tessa Dare is one of those authors that I feel like I should more of because I have enjoyed the few of her books that I’ve read and yet, I tend to pass her other when looking at various historical romances…i’m honestly not sure why…that being said, because of this, I was happy when the first book in her new series was nominated for an Audie in the romance category. I happened to start the Duchess Deal on my 6hr trek to Ohio (which I do once a month) – so I was able to fully invest myself in the story for almost the entirety of my trip and i’m glad that I did – because the audiobook that made that drive pretty much fly by. I found myself laughing hard quite often and when I did stop for gas and snackage – hurrying through the story, so I could keep listening. I’ll admit that there wasn’t anything overly special about the story line – but it just hit the spot for what I was currently looking for – some angst, a marriage of convenience, as well as a Beauty and the Beast type storyline and the requisite Happily Ever After. I’m a simple girl, what can I say? 🙂

This is the first time that I’ve listened to Mary Jane Wells, but I had to say that I overall enjoyed the experience. Her feminine voices were all distinct to me and i could easily identify who was talking; although I will say that her masculine ones weren’t as distinct – but thankfully, the majority of the book was told from a female POV. Taking a look at her other available audiobooks, it looks like she has found her niche in historical romance (I saw many authors that I have read in the past and I would likely pick up an audiobook narrated by her, in order to continue reading those authors). Her narration pacing was solid and the narration was neither too quiet or too loud (I didn’t have to adjust the volume on my radio while listening).

Overall, I gave the writing 3.5 stars and the narration 4 stars – but I am definitely interesting in trying the later books in the series when they are released in audio.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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