2015, the year I read everything and what 2016 looks like from here

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2015 is over!  I cannot believe it!  It’s been a really crazy year but I can’t believe that it’s almost gone.  This year saw so many things for me.

I started a new blog! (found here)  It’s about my weight loss journey, becoming a first time runner and other fun things I’ve learned about myself.

I planned and hosted the most successful adult program in my library’s history, a Sci-Fi & Fantasy Festival! (you can see photos here)

And I actually met and then surpassed my reading goal on Goodreads! (found here)

I went a little bit out of my comfort zone with  my reading last year and I’m glad I did.  For one thing, I actually read not one but four comic books!  I had never even bought a comic until the new Star Wars by Jason Aaron came out.  But now, I’ve not only bought most of the ones that are out, I’ve also bought some of the spin off series and actually read them!

I listened to five audiobooks and I’m surprised because I thought it was actually more.  As I’ve never listened to or read the Harry Potter series, I’ve been making my way through those and I found that book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was so far the most painful book for me to read.  I thought I had been reading it for months and months and months when in reality it had only been about six weeks.  But OMG so painful!  I had no idea my tolerance for adolescent angst was so low.

I finished six series, some I had been reading for awhile and some I picked up and read all in one sitting.

In all, I’ve finished 51 books last year!  That’s a record for me, for sure.  For 2016, I’ve set a goal of 65 books!  But more specifically than that, I plan to break it down and read a greater variety.  I know I want to listen to at least one audiobook a month, or twelve total for the year.  I want to read at least five graphic novels because that’s something that is hard for me to read.  For whatever reason, the graphic and text model is much harder and slower for me to read than just text.  And I plan to follow some of the many reading challenges that can be found online.  I haven’t picked out which ones I’m going to tackle yet but I AM looking forward to expanding my reading horizons.

Cheers, and happy reading!

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Blog Revamp

Going forward, I’m planning making this blog solely about books and library-related life.  Since I started my other blog, This Princess Wears Running Shoes, I’ve decided to make that one my primary life, cooking, and craft blog which leaves this one to the super fun topic of books!

Of course, I do expect some overlap in the posts between the two.  I plan to read more nonfiction this year, including health books and cookbooks.  But from here on out, all of my non-book, non-library-life posts will be found here.

Cheers, and happy reading!

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Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan

Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan

This was my first, and last, foray into the world of motorcycle club romances. While I’m not necessarily looking for writing that’s super literary in my romance novels, I want writing that is rich and complex. This was not. Simple sentences and simple thoughts that left much to be desired. The plot was dreadful, absolutely terrible. We follow the stories of Eva Fox, daughter of the Silver Demon’s president and Deuce West, the president of the Hell’s Horsemen. They meet when Eva is five (and Deuce is 23) and she decides from then on that Deuce West is the man for her and her reason for being on this earth.  For the next 25 years they carry on a covert affair, accidentally running into each other on several occasions and always ending up in bed.  When Eva is nearly 30, she and Deuce finally end up together and ride off into the sunset.

My thoughts:  I hated this book.  Actually, hate isn’t even a strong enough word for how much I didn’t like this book.  Everything about it felt wrong.  And the ONLY reason that I read it was for my book club.  Had I been reading it just because, I would never have finished it, or bothered with it in the first place. (Contemporary romance isn’t really my thing, I much prefer historicals).  There are so many problems with this book.  Like when they finally end up together, it should have been satisfying. Except it wasn’t. Because there’s no emotional connection between them. None at all. They’re not better people because of one another. They don’t love each other because of their minds or their values or morals. They are “in love” because they are hot!  And their relationship was seriously tedious.  They meet up, have sex, then have an epic fight and one of them storms off and that’s it for a few years then they meet up again and the whole cycle starts over.  And over.  And over.  For TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.  I said affair earlier because he’s married and has children with someone else for almost the entire novel. It’s not until almost the end that he leaves his wife for Eva. And in the 25 year period, Eva gets married too. And it’s not like Deuce deceives her about his relationship status. Eva totally knows he’s married and totally knows that he has children with his wife but that doesn’t stop her from pursuing him. Pretty much everyone in this book is married with multiple affairs going on. And none of those relationships are resolved until the end then suddenly everyone leaves his wife for his mistress. We wont even go into the whole “I’m five years old and I have found the love of my life” issue because there are no words.  I mean, when Eva and Deuce meet and she thinks he’s the hottest thing she’s ever seen and he’s now her reason to live?  I’m sorry, what now?!  You are FIVE YEARS OLD.  You don’t even know the meaning of those sentiments.

This book was really dark and terribly hard to read in some places. I even skimmed, which I rarely do, because it was brutal to the point of being unnecessary. I’ve read some books with domestic violence in them (White Trash Beautiful by Teresa Mumert comes to mind) and while I hated those parts I felt they were an essential part of the story line. Here, not so much. And not only that, they were terribly written.  It was like being hit with a hammer over and over again.  Domestic violence is terrible and it should never be taken lightly but there are ways of handling it in writing that don’t make it feel cheap and cheesy.  That’s almost how it felt here, like it was only put in to make the characters seem more desperate and make their actions easier to swallow.  The parts of the story that took place “at the club” (read: motorcycle hangout) were some of the worst written parts of the entire book.  They were disjointed, they didn’t make any sense, and aside from adding to the many love triangles, there didn’t seem to be any real point to them.

If I could go back and un-read this book, I totally would.  It was that bad.  I’m almost offended that I read it.  NO ONE should read this book…unless you’re using it as a guide on how not to let men treat you or what not to do with your lives.  Otherwise, pass over it.  I’m sure there are some really great motorcycle club romances out there in the world.  Unfortunately, I wont be reading any of them.

XOXO

PS–I’m back, again.  So much happened last year and I ended up pretty much not reading anything for months and months.  Instead, I bought a house!  (Yay!)  But I spent the last few weeks of the year reading and I’ve got great books to share.

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Review: My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got this book as an ARC from NetGalley. I was initially very excited about it. I love Paris and I love cooking and I love cookbooks. This book started out strong but got very annoying very quickly. I don’t speak French and I was incredibly frustrated by the inconsistent translations provided. Sometimes he would translate the French he was using. And sometimes he wouldn’t. And there was no rhyme or reason I could see to this inconsistency. I did really enjoy the anecdotes that accompanied each recipe. Overall it’s not a terrible book but just be prepared to not understand parts of it.

View all my reviews

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When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

I adore historical romances.  They are so much fun to read.  And Sabrina Jeffries’ When the Rogue Returns was no exception.

Isa and Victor Cale are young and in love.  She is an aspiring jewelry maker and he is a soldier returned home from military service working as a night guardsman.  One night, Isa’s sister and brother-in-law use Victor and Isa to steal the crown jewels.  Isa is whisked away from her home by her sister under the belief that Victor will soon be joining them.  Fast forward several months and Isa has found herself unexpectedly pregnant and Victor has still not come for her.  Isa is convinced that Victor has betrayed her and decides to run away from her sister and forge a new life for herself and her child.

10 years later, Victor finds himself unexpectedly face to face with the woman he loved and the woman who betrayed him.  He’s been hired by a wealthy duchess to look into her son’s relationship with Isa.  Victor has no idea what he’s getting into when he agrees to the task.  Uncovering the truth and dealing with ten years worth of hurt feelings is a  huge undertaking.  Will Victor and Isa make it through or will they lose each other, forever this time?

My thoughts:

I received this book as an ARC (advanced reader copy) from NetGalley.  I am so glad that I did!  I devoured this book in one afternoon.  This is the first book by Sabrina Jeffries that I’ve ever read but it certainly wont be the last.  She is the bomb.  Because this book was so good, I wont go too much into detail about the plot.  It was fun and unexpected.  It was also refreshing because it was not set in traditional-historical-fiction-England.  Instead, the majority of the book takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland.  One thing I really liked about this book was that the characters tackle their problems head on.  Once they find each other again, there’s no pussy-footing around the issues between them.  The chemistry between them is rich and undeniable.  There were plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing and I didn’t expect what happens at the end.  This is a truly delightful historical romance that will keep readers wanting more and more from this author.  I’m hoping I can plow through a few more ARCs that I have and then get back to one of my new favorite authors, Sabrina Jeffries. 

XOXO

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A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

kissatmidnight

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James is a delightful historical romance novel that is based loosely on the fairy tale of Cinderella.  Forced by her stepmother to live in the servant’s quarters and tend to the estate herself, Kate Daltry has no concept of what it means to be a “lady”.  Her father passed away before her debut and since then she has known nothing but hard physical labor.  Kate lives on her estate with her stepmother and younger sister Victoria, who is engaged to be married and, quite unfortunately, expecting a child.  Victoria is bitten by her dog and can therefore not travel to meet the local prince and ask for permission to marry.  Because she is pregnant, it’s imperative that she get married as quickly as possible.  So Kate grudgingly agrees to pretend to be her sister, meet the Prince, get permission and then pretend it never happened.  What Kate doesn’t bargain on is the Prince recognizing quickly that she’s not who she says she is.  Or the remarkable chemistry that flies between them.

Prince Gabriel is a man very much the reluctant hero.  He doesn’t want to live in a castle and care for his family members.  But his sense of obligation cannot be overcome and he finds himself abandoning the archaeological research he so loves to run an aging castle full of older and aging family members.  He finds himself betrothed to a very wealthy, very foreign princess.  When his nephew arrives on the eve of Gabriel’s engagement ball, to get approval for a marriage of his own, Gabriel can’t help but be intrigued by the woman who supposedly loves his nephew.  Gabriel quickly catches on that Kate is not who she says she is and soon a forbidden love blooms between them.  They both believe nothing will come of their love but they cannot resist each other.  Of course, after several trials and disappointments, the book does have a happy ending.

My thoughts:

Love.  LOVE this book.  I have always loved fairy tales and princesses and historical fiction and romance so a book (which is actually book one of a series, EEK!) that combines them all is fantastic.  I found Kate to be a refreshing heroine.  She wants to escape her life and make something of herself.  She knows she cannot life the way she wants if she stays where she is so she agrees to play her sister in exchange for a different kind of life.  And I adore Gabriel.  He’s tortured but not in an annoying way.  You can feel his goodness just seeping out of him and it’s really no wonder he and Kate hit it off the way they do.  When they finally succumb the the passion that’s been brewing between them, it’s extremely satisfying.  There’s nothing rushed or ruined.  BUT, it’s not the sex that’s the driving force behind the story, as is very common in romance novels.  More, it’s the story that drives the sex and so it’s the natural progression of their relationship.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who isn’t sure about reading a romance or a historical romance.  It’s got historical detail without being bogged down by it and because it’s a familiar rag-to-riches story I think people who aren’t sold on the genre will appreciate it.  Lastly, because the romantic action happens so late in the story, it’s a love story that’s fully developed and humorous rather than trashy.  A++ I cannot wait to start reading book 2, When Beauty Tamed the Beast.

XOXO

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Updates

Well there goes my resolution to blog once a week.  Sorry about that.  Life just got busy and we had lots of changes.  At the end of February, Hubby decided that he was officially done with the doctoral program at UA and withdrew from school.  However, almost immediately after withdrawing from that program, he was offered the full time technical services librarian job at the Gardendale Public Library.  I can’t tell you how grateful and pleased we are that he got that job.  It’s pretty much his dream job.  In between quitting the doctoral program and starting his new job (he had to wait nearly a month after accepting the position to actually start it), we took an impromptu trip to Disney World for the Flower and Garden show.  Because we bought into the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) and we can visit pretty much whenever we want.  What is the DVC?  It’s Disney’s timeshare program.  We now own a timeshare in Disney World.  It was a pretty crazy thing we did to buy it but the opportunity came and it was too good to pass up.  Also since my last post, I turned 27, got my first (and probably only) tattoo and adopted two precious kittens to give Panda some friends.  Throw in a lot of reading and well, its pretty easy to see how I let this blog slide.

One of the biggest changes that I’m making is….I started another blog!  I know, I realize I haven’t been the best at keeping this one up, but I’ve got a better feel for my new blog and I think it will work more smoothly.  I’ll still post here but it’s going to solely be book reviews and library-related topics.  But everything else will be posted on my new blog, Hot Coffee and Crafts.  I should have some book reviews ready shortly 🙂

XOXO

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