Saturday, January 31, 2015

Killer Christmas by Harper Lin

eBook Novella
Yes, I know, it's been a little more than a month since Christmas has come and gone, but Killer Christmas by Harper Lin was one of the holiday reads that I didn't get around to reading last December.

Killer Christmas by Harper Lin is a 122 page novella that I download for free to my Kindle from Amazon. It's the first read in the Emma Wild Holiday Mystery Series.

The following is my unbiased review of Killer Christmas by Harper Lin.

I specifically chose to read Killer Christmas by Harper Lin for three main reasons:

1. Last year, I read Macaron Murder by Harper Lin and really enjoyed reading it, so wanted to try reading another novella by the same author.

2. I love reading cozy mystery novels/novellas and most holiday themed type of reads, so this was another reason for me to read this novella.

3. I was able to download Killer Christmas for free... Who doesn't like receiving free books?

The Pros for Killer Christmas are as follows:

1. Holiday themed cozy mystery novella.
2. A short quick read.
3. Recipes included at the end of the novella.
4. Plot twists and turns.
5. First novella in the series.

The Cons  for Killer Christmas are as follows:

1. I didn't like the cliffhanger ending... I don't like it when authors use cliffhangers as I feel like it is a blatant gimmick to get readers to buy the next book in the series. If an author's writing is any good, then a reader will readily buy the next book in the series in a heartbeat without having to use a cliffhanger at the end of a novel.

2. Okay, I get it when leading characters (aka amateur sleuths) in cozy mystery novels/novellas do some dumb things in order do accomplish their sleuthing... It's a pretty much a standard feature for leading characters in cozy mystery novels/novellas to find themselves in a pickle... However, I have an issue with the following two things from this novella:

A. When is it ever a good idea for a law enforcement officer to illegally enter a home without a warrant??

B. If the leading character has illegally entered the home of a homicide suspect and the law enforcement officer knows this and is there witnessing the fact that the leading character is in a homicide suspect's home illegally, then why is the leading character not arrested for breaking and entering?

3. Yes, there were a few plot twists and turns in Killer Christmas, which is great... But, the twists and turns weren't flushed out very well, in my opinion. It was pretty easy to figure out who the real killer was. I also thought the reason the killer did the killing was kind of on the weak side.

4. The leading character of Emma Wild talks about being heartbroken twice in her life. Yet she seems let her guard down and not have an issue with letting the first person who broke her heart back into her life so easily... I'm not saying she shouldn't have let the person back into her life, but she seemed do so rather easily after claiming to be pretty hurt by the person's actions in the first place. Not too realistic if you ask me. 

5. A few other annoyances in this novella were also irksome. But the above 4 items were the most annoying to me.

The following is a summary of Killer Christmas by Harper Lin from Amazon's website:
After breaking up with hunky movie star Nick Doyle, Grammy Award-winning singer Emma Wild returns to her hometown for Christmas to get away from it all. In Hartfield, a small town in Ontario, Canada, she gets caught up in a murder case after a fan's drink is poisoned at the Chocoholic Cafe, owned by Emma's sister Mirabelle.

Who is the killer and was the drink originally intended for Emma? To add to the chaos, Sterling Matthews is the detective on the case. He'd shattered her heart nine years ago and inspired all her hit singles, but now they must work together to find the murderer before the murderer finds Emma.
I'm giving  Killer Christmas by Harper Lin a rating of 3.5 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler

Paperback ARC Edition
I received an advanced reading copy of Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler for free through Goodreads First Reads. The following is my unbiased review for this novel.

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? is the first novel I've read by Liz Kessler. It's a children's book for those aged 8 to 12 years old.

I had big plans to read this novel on Saturday, January 24, 2015 for National Readathon Day... However, I was so excited to begin reading it that I ended up starting it earlier and had read 118 pages by the time National Readathon Day came around... Unfortunately, I didn't read all four hours on National Readathon Day. Life happens, right? I read maybe 60 to 70 minutes on Saturday, January 24th and got as far as page 209.

I ended up finishing Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler earlier this week and finally had time to write sit down and write my review. So, what exactly did I think of Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler? I really liked this novel. It's a really fun, fast readand is filled with great characters and good storyline. I liked all of the action this novel contained as it held and kept my interest throughout my reading experience. I think Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? makes an excellent read for kids. The only minor complaint I had was the ending of this novel... I felt that how the group of kids (aka superheroes) helped to save Max could have been done a little differently... But, a least it kept me guessing as to how they would save him.

The following is a summary of Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler from Goodreads:
Jessica Jenkins has always been a perfectly ordinary girl—until one day part of her arm vanishes in the middle of geography class! Jessica’s friends Izzy and Tom are determined to help her develop her newfound invisibility, though Jessica is more concerned with discovering where the ability came from. When it becomes apparent that there may be other kids developing strange powers of their own, Jessica marshals them into a slapdash band of "slightly superheroes." But when an unscrupulous adult discovers the origin of their powers and kidnaps one of the team, the rest must put their heads—and all of their skills—together to avert disaster.
I am giving Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler a rating of 8.5 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I've Been Nominated For The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Thank you, Laura from Blue Eye Books for the nomination! I really appreciation the nomination as a way to promote other blogs... So, with that in mind, I'm here to not only promote my own book blog, but to promote other book blogs as well!

Here are the rules for the The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you, and link back to their site.
2. Post the award's logo onto your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions you've been asked.
4. Nominate 10 other bloggers and ask them 10 questions.

So here goes... 

The following are my answers to the questions Laura at Blue Eye Books asked her nominees.

1. Have you ever thrown a book against a wall?

No, I've never thrown a book against the wall... I don't believe in harming books, only reading them!

2. What is your favorite reading spot like?

Currently, my favorite place to read is in a wing back chair in my living room... But during the summer months, it can be on our balcony sitting on a bistro chair or on a park bench... Or even at the beach while sitting on a beach chair. :-)

3. If you could have the opportunity to smack one character in the face, who would it be?

There isn't a character that I would want to smack in the face.

4. What is your favorite magazine?

Lol, I am so consumed with books that I can't even tell you the last time I even browsed through a magazine... Besides, I kinda of get all my latest information online these days instead of through magazines. So, I don't have a favorite magazine at the moment.

5. Favorite food?

Lol, I have to pick one food?!?! I have so many favorite foods I like that I can't imagine picking a single favorite. The crazy part is that right now I am eating a really limited diet due to some health issues... So, I'm having some major food cravings...

I love dark chocolate.
I love Sushi, although I am very picky about sushi quality.
Pumpkin Curry with Chicken
Pineapple Fried Rice
Vietnamese Pho
Organic Tea Jasmine Green Tea (hot, not iced and sweetened with stevia)
Italian food
Good pastries.... 
And more!

6. What is the best part of blogging?

There are quite a few things I enjoy about blogging. Some of the things I enjoy about blogging include:

1. Connecting with other readers and book bloggers.
2. Participating in read-a-thons, reading challenges, and book memes.
3. Being creative and trying to write blog posts that aren't always book reviews, but other book related topics such as author related news, libraries, etc.

7. What is the shortest book you've ever read (not counting picture books from when you were 5)?

Oy, this is a tough question to answer as I don't keep track of the length of the books I read... A novella would probably be the shortest book I've ever read that isn't a picture book from when I was five years old. I went through the mental list of the novellas I can recall reading and l think that The Forty Fathom Bank by Les Galloway is the shortest book I've ever read... It was also a really good read.

8. The longest book?

Again this is a tough question to answer for the same reason mentioned in the previous question... I'm guessing that reading one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander novels would be the longest book I've ever read... Gotta love the Outlander series!!

9. What is the spiciest food you've ever eaten? Anything terrible happen?

The spiciest food I've ever eaten is probably some sort of Thai dish like spicy fried rice or a spicy curry dish... Nothing extremely horrible happened. My mouth felt like it was on fire and my eyes and nose watered, but that's about all... I just made sure not to eat anything that spicy again. Thank goodness, restaurants can usually adjust the spiciness in Thai dishes.

10. What is your opinion on chocolate covered Nutella?

I've never tried chocolate covered Nutella... I think chocolate covered Nutella would be too sweet tasting to my taste buds.

My Nominees... Drumroll, please!

1. Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books
2. Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews
3. Diana @ Little Miss Drama Queen
4. Michelle @ Michelle's Minions
5. Christine @ Buckling Bookshelves
6. Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books
7. Cleo @ Cleopatra Loves Books
8. Vonnie @ Vonnie's Reading Corner
9. Loupe @ Hot Listens
10. Deb @ Readerbuzz
11. Casey @ Story Notions
12. Stacy @ Lazy Day Literature 

I know we were only suppose to pick 10 people, but I have a lot of book blogs that I like.

The Questions My Nominees:

1. What book series have you read or are currently reading that you would recommend to other readers? 
2. Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, which one would you highly recommend?
3. What are you reading (or listening to) now?
4. What's your favorite comfort food and/or beverage to enjoy while reading/listening to a book?
5. What do you most enjoy about blogging?
6. Which author would you most like to meet?
7. What's your least favorite genre to read?
8. Where would you go on your dream vacation?
9. Do you like novels with predictable and/or happy endings?
10. What's your favorite color?

Thank you so much for reading this post... If I've nominated you for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, I look forward to reading your answers. Take care and happy reading!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday --- Ten Books I'd Love to Read If I Had A Book Club

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

If I had a book club, I select the following ten books to read and discuss (mind you I haven't read any of them yet... These books are all currently in my 'to be read' pile)!

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Riven Rock by T. C. Boyle
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Room by Emma Donoghue
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Which books would you select for your book club?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Quotes From Books That Describe Friendship!!

I reading meaningful quotes! I came across an article on Buzzfeed titled 15 Book Quotes That Perfectly Describe Friendship by Alex Alvarez. I enjoyed reading these quotes about friendship... I hope you do too!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2014 Audiobook Blog Hop

Welcome to the Best of 2014 Audiobook Blog Hop hosted by Hot Listens, The Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog and The Book Nympho

I had a blast participating in the 2014 Audiobook Challenge this year, so I am very excited to be sharing with other listeners/readers my favorite audiobooks of 2014! I listened to a total of 48 audiobooks in 2014, so my only major challenge is to try and decide which FIVE audiobooks were my favorite listens for the year!!

I chose the following five audiobooks as my favorite audiobooks for 2014... These were my favorite audiobooks because I loved not only how well each of the books was written and laid out, but also the excellent audio production and fabulous the narrators did reading each book. 

1. The Soloist by Steve Lopez
2. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
3. The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss
4. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert.
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I found it interesting that I chose 3 nonfiction books and 2 novels as my favorites!!

The book bloggers hosting the 2014 Audiobook Blog Hop are hosting a giveaway... If you're interested in joining, then checkout their giveaway as follows:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, which audiobooks became your favorites in 2014?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Finds #68

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

I now have three free books to add to my 'to be read' pile this week.

The first two are brand new books that I won through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program and arrived this week in the mail!! The title of the novels are as follows: Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler and Lost and Found in Prague by Kelly Jones.

Plus, I picked up a free used paperback novel at a local coffeehouse that has shelves of books in which you can swap used books. So, I swapped out one of my books for a free copy of Blow Out by Catherine Coulter.

Which books have you added this week to your reading pile or wishlist?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

National Read-A-Thon Day!!

I'm a member of Goodreads and learned earlier this week through the Goodreads website that Saturday, January 24, 2015 is National Readathon Day! 

The following is a blurb about National Readathon Day from the Goodreads website:
Celebrate National Readathon Day with Goodreads and the National Book Foundation this winter! 
National Readathon Day is a nationwide marathon reading session on Saturday, January 24th from noon-4 PM (in respective time zones), and a fundraiser for The National Book Foundation’s literacy programs.
You can get involved by joining readers across the country on Saturday, January 24th and reading a book in your home, at a library, at a school, or at “reading party” events, created so the community can come together to share their love of books!
I'm planning to read from noon to 4pm. I plan to spend time reading the following novel Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler. 

So, please join me in reading a book from noon to 4pm in your time zone. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday --- Authors I'd Like to Meet at a Book Signing/Speaking Engagement.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Today is a 'Freebie', which means I get to choose the top ten topic I want to focus on for today's blog post. There are several authors whose books I've enjoyed reading over the years and many of these books gave me a new perspective, insight and information on how to view the world. The following list are the authors that I would most like to meet in person.

1. Lissa Rankin MD --- I read Lissa Rankin's nonfiction book Mind Over Medicine and loved this book! I follow her on Facebook and am inspired by her passion for what she does. I would so love to meet Dr. Rankin in person at a speaking engagement or lecture she is giving.

2. Margaret Atwood --- I'm a longtime fan of Atwood's works. She's a fabulous writer and I would love to meet this amazing woman in person some day!

3. Diana Gabaldon --- I first discovered Gabaldon's novels from my maternal grandmother, who is also an Outlander Fan. I've read several of her novels and have even listened to podcasts she's done. It would be fun to meet her in person.

4. Jerry Spinelli --- Okay, I was first introduced to Jerry Spinelli's novels by a former college professor... I read Stargirl and was instantly hooked on Jerry Spinelli's writing and have read several more books since then.

5. Geraldine Brooks --- I've also been a longtime fan of Geraldine Brooks's novels. She's a fabulous writer and would love to meet this amazing writer in person some day!

6. Tamar Myers --- I've almost read the entire Den of Antiquity Mystery Series, so would love to meet the author behind this cozy mystery series. I find the novels in this series have quite a bit of humor in them, so one assumes the author is quite witty herself in real life as well...There are also some other questions I'd love to ask Ms. Myers regarding the Den of Antiquity Mystery Series!!

7. Amy Stewart *** --- I read both Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs. I loved reading both of these nonfiction books!! They are filled with so many interesting facts about plants and bugs that I never knew before. Who knew that reading about plants and bugs could be so much fun?

8. Sherman Alexie --- I've only read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie, but it is really well written and gave me a whole new perspective on the Native American experience from the point of view of a teenage male.

9. Robin LaFevers --- I've been reading the His Fair Assassin Trilogy and am really enjoying it immensely. I only have Mortal Heart left to read in this trilogy. 

10. Garth Stein *** --- The Art of Racing in the Rain became my favorite read for 2013. This novel is really well written and had me in tears while reading certain scenes. One of the leading characters is a dog... I love dogs, so this novel really touched my soul. My oldest dog, Roxy, past away last November and I'm once again reminded of The Art of Racing in the Rain. If you've read this novel, you'll know what I mean.

*** Exciting news, I actually was able to briefly meet Garth Stein at an author event/book signing event at a local, indie bookstore on Friday, March 6, 2015 at Town Center Books in Pleasanton, California!  Check out my blog post regarding this fun author/book signing event.

I was also able to briefly meet Amy Stewart at the Bay Area Book Festival on Sunday, June 7 2015!! Check out my review of time spend at the Bay Area Book Festival.

I was able to meet Sherman Alexie @ The Bay Area Book Festival in June 2016.

Which authors would you like to meet in person?

Monday, January 19, 2015

National Steinbeck Center

Me at the Entrance of the National Steinbeck Center
I've wanted to visit the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California ever since I read John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden in 2008. After reading East of Eden, it became one of my favorite novels of all time.

This year, I decided to make visiting the National Steinbeck Center one of my book related New Year's Resolutions now that my hubby and I live in Northern California.

So, Sunday, January 18, 2015 was the day we made visiting the National Steinbeck Center a reality. It was fun to finally visit the National Steinbeck Center at last as I've been wanting to visit there for so long and am such a fan of John Steinbeck's writing!

I liked that even though we visited the National Steinbeck Center on a holiday weekend, it wasn't very crowded!! I enjoyed the layout of the National Steinbeck Center a lot. The items on display in the exhibit hall were really well thought out and put together... Everything had a nice flow to it and I felt wrapped up in each display. I liked that we not only learned more about John Steinbeck's life, but more about his novels... Video clips are shown throughout the Steinbeck exhibit and different props are on display that are relevant to each topic. 

John Steinbeck was born at this Victorian home that has been turned into a restaurant.
After visiting the National Steinbeck Center, we decided to visit the Victorian home where John Steinbeck was born and resided as a young boy. 

John Steinbeck's birthplace is a beautiful home that has been turned into a restaurant called the Steinbeck House Restaurant... It is also located in Salinas, California and is four blocks away from the National Steinbeck Center. 

Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to eat at the restaurant as it was already closed for the afternoon. It would have been fun to eat there.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Finds #67

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

I won a free book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program and it arrived this week in the mail!!

So, now I have the following paperback in my 'to be read' pile:

The Burnt Tattoo Murders: an Inspector Megs Caroleton Case by Linda C. Smith 

Which book(s) did you add to your reading pile or wishlist this week??

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rain Gods by James Lee Burke

Abridged Audio Version
Yesterday, I finished listening to the abridged audio version of Rain Gods by James Lee Burke and narrated by actor, Will Patton. Approximate playing time is 6 hours, 49 minutes.

This is the first experience I can recall having with anything written by author James Lee Burke... I thought the writing was tight and really well done, even if Rain Gods show cased a lot of violence. Overall, I really enjoyed the story line and characters very much. I also felt like the abridgment for this audio version was seamless as I didn't notice any major gaps in the story as it unfolded. My favorite characters were Hackberry Holland and Pam Tibbs.

Will Patton did an excellent job of narrating Rain Gods. I've said it before and I'll say it again, a good narrator and well done audio production can make or break ones listening experience. In this case, I enjoyed listening to the narrator and thought the audio production was well done.

The following is the publisher's summary that I discovered on Audible's website:

When Hackberry Holland became sheriff of a tiny Texas town near the Mexican border, he'd hoped to leave certain things behind: his checkered reputation, his haunted dreams, and his obsessive memories of the good life with his late wife, Rie. But the discovery of the bodies of nine illegal aliens, machine-gunned to death and buried in a shallow grave behind a church, soon makes it clear that he won't escape so easily.
As Hack and Deputy Sheriff Pam Tibbs attempt to untangle the threads of this complex and grisly case, a damaged young Iraq veteran, Pete Flores, and his girlfriend, Vikki Gaddis, are running for their lives, hoping to outwit the bloodthirsty criminals who want to kill Pete for his involvement in the murders. The only trouble is, Pete doesn't know who he's running from: drunk and terrified, he fled the scene of the crime when the shooting began. And there's a long list of people who want Pete and Vikki dead: crime boss Hugo Cistranos, who hired Pete for the operation; Nick Dolan, a strip club owner and small-time gangster with revenge on his mind; and a mysterious God-fearing serial-killer-for-hire known as Preacher Jack Collins, with enigmatic motives of his own.
With the FBI, Immigration, and Customs Enforcement, plus a host of cold-blooded killers on Pete and Vikki's trail, it's up to Sheriff Holland to find them first and figure out who's behind the mass murder before anyone else ends up dead.
I'm giving Rain Gods by James Lee Burke a rating of 9 stars out of 10 stars. This is my 6th read/listen of 2015.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hour Game by David Baldacci

Abridged Audiobook
I recently finished listening to the abridged audio version of Hour Game by David Baldacci and read by Ron McLarty. Approximate playing time for this audiobook is six hour, three minutes. Hour Game marks my fifth read/listen for 2015.

All I can say is, W-O-W, this book is riveting and fast paced. I was hooked from the start of this novel and couldn't wait to see where this novel took me next. I enjoyed both the story and the characters... With all the activity in this novel, it was difficult to try and deduce who the killer was and what their motive was for the killings while I listened to this novel. I enjoyed all the plot twists this novel had to offer. If you love thrillers, you may enjoy reading or listening to this one. I also wanted to add that Ron McLarty did an excellent job narrating this novel!

The following is the publisher's summary, which I found on Audible:
A woman is found murdered in the woods with a very special watch on her wrist, and what seemed a simple case soon escalates into a nightmare. The criminal methods of some of the most infamous killers of all time are being replicated by a new predator who stalks and strikes victims with a cunning brilliance. No one can understand the murderer's motives or who the next victim will be. 
Drawn into this violent affair are two Secret Service agents turned private investigators, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. Both have been hired to prove a man's innocence in a domestic burglary involving an aristocratic, if dysfunctional, family. Soon, stunning secrets will lead the partners into the middle of a frantic search for a killer unlike any they've confronted before. 
As the Hour Game barrels forward, Sean and Michelle face a macabre puzzle and uncover one horrifying revelation after another. Nearing the truth, they will find that their own lives are in danger. And then they're hit with the biggest surprise of all. When you play the Hour Game, you have to play to win. But time is running out...for all of them. 
In Hour Game, best-selling master storyteller David Baldacci has created his most mind-blowing and satisfying thriller yet.

I'm giving Hour Game by David Baldacci rating of 8 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day Seven Wrap-Up Post!!

The seventh day of Bout of Books 12.0 has come to a close and this day also marks the close of Bout of Books 12.0. I can'y believe the past week is over with and that we'll have to wait until May to get our next Bout of Books fix.

Today, I listened to more of the audio version of Hour Game by David Baldacci. I am now 40% into this novel. It's a riveting thriller and am enjoying it immensely. I look forward to finishing this novel in the upcoming week.

DuringBout of Books 12.0, I finished reading two books I had begun reading during the first week of January. I also started and completed two additional reads this past week... So, I have finished reading a total of 4 books during the Bout of Books 12.0 Read-A-Thon. Additionally, I began reading another book this week titled Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen and also began listening to the abridged audio version of Hour Game by David Baldacci.

Book titles I read this week for Bout of Books 12.0 are as follows:

The Seance by Lois Lowery Nixon
Mr. August by Jan Romes
Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult
Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver

Above links will take you to my reviews of each book title mentioned. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day Six Wrap-Up Post!!

Day six of Bout of Books 12.0 has come and gone! Today I was pretty busy doing a lot of errands and things I needed to accomplish. So, I didn't complete as much reading as I would have liked to today. 

The good news is that I did start a new audiobook today and finished the first of five compact discs. I'm listening to the abridged version of Hour Game by David Baldacci and think it's really good so far!! I look forward to seeing how this novel turns out.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day Five Wrap-Up Post!!

On the fifth day of Bout of Books 12.0, I did a combination of both listening and reading today. I finished listening to Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver this morning. Then this afternoon I read a short story by Jodi Picoult titled Where There's Smoke

In all, I spent approximately ninety minutes to two hours reading/listening today and then proceeded to post reviews of both reads that I finished.

So far, I'm making better progress this week than I thought I would with my reading goals!

Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult

eBook Short Story
Last year, I read a novella titled Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult and loved it! I found Ms. Picoult's writing to be amazing... So, with that in mind, I couldn't wait to read something else written by Jodi Picoult.

So, when I discovered a short story titled Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult was available for free on Amazon's website, I went ahead and downloaded this short to my Kindle. Where There's Smoke marks my fourth read for 2015. The following is my unbiased review of Jodi Picoult's short story Where There's Smoke.

My first thought is that I liked reading Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult, but I didn't enjoy reading it as much as I did Larger Than Life. I like the leading character of Serenity and her psychic abilities, but felt the author could have made a better transition from Serenity's childhood psychic abilities to her present day success as a psychic medium with her own successful television show to Serenity's downfall a bit smoother.

The following is a book description of Where There's Smoke from Amazon's website as follows:
Bestselling author Jodi Picoult is a masterful storyteller, who “writes with a fine touch, a sharp eye for detail, and a firm grasp of the delicacy and complexity of human relationships” (The Boston Globe). Now, in this original short story, available exclusively as an eBook, Picoult introduces Serenity Jones, one of the fascinating characters from her eagerly awaited new novel, Leaving Time. 
Even as a child, Serenity Jones knew she possessed unusual psychic gifts. Now, decades later, she’s an acclaimed medium and host of her own widely viewed TV show, where she delivers messages to the living from loved ones who have passed. Lately, though, her efforts to boost ratings and garner fame have compromised her clairvoyant instincts. When Serenity books a young war widow to appear as a guest, the episode quickly unravels, stirring up a troubling controversy. And as she tries to undo the damage—to both her reputation and her show—Serenity finds that pride comes at a high price.
I'm giving Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver

Abridged Audiobook
I listened to the abridged audio version of Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver and read by Jefferson Mays. Playing time for this audiobook is 5 hours, 40 minutes.

This is my third book of 2015!! I am now one step closer to reaching my goal of reading and/or listening to 100 books during 2015. 

So, what did I think of Garden of Beasts? I enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought the abridgment of this novel was seamless and that Jefferson Mays did a good job of narrating Garden of Beasts.

The story and plot development of Garden of Beasts were filled with many interesting plot twist and suspense, which kept me entertained and riveted throughout my listening experience. I also enjoyed many of the characters presented throughout this novel that kept this novel intriguing too.

The following is a summary of Garden of Beasts, which I found on Amazon.
In the most ingenious and provocative thriller yet from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, a conscience-plagued mobster turned government hitman struggles to find his moral compass amid rampant treachery and betrayal in 1936 Berlin.
Paul Schumann, a German American living in New York City in 1936, is a mobster hitman known as much for his brilliant tactics as for taking only "righteous" assignments. But then Paul gets caught. And the arresting officer offers him a stark choice: prison or covert government service. Paul is asked to pose as a journalist covering the summer Olympics taking place in Berlin. He's to hunt down and kill Reinhard Ernst -- the ruthless architect of Hitler's clandestine rearmament. If successful, Paul will be pardoned and given the financial means to go legit; if he refuses the job, his fate will be Sing Sing and the electric chair.
Paul travels to Germany, takes a room in a boardinghouse near the Tiergarten -- the huge park in central Berlin but also, literally, the "Garden of Beasts" -- and begins his hunt. In classic Deaver fashion, the next forty-eight hours are a feverish cat-and-mouse chase, as Paul stalks Ernst through Berlin while a dogged Berlin police officer and the entire Third Reich apparatus search frantically for the American. 
Garden of Beasts is packed with fascinating period detail and features a cast of perfectly realized locals, Olympic athletes and senior Nazi officials -- some real, some fictional. With hairpin plot twists, the reigning "master of ticking-bomb suspense" (People) plumbs the nerve-jangling paranoia of prewar Berlin and steers the story to a breathtaking and wholly unpredictable ending.
I'm giving Garden of Beasts a rating of 8 stars out of 10 stars. Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day Four Wrap-Up Post!!

Day four of Bout of Books 12 has come and gone!! I took a different route today and decided to begin listening to an audiobook instead of continuing to read Nature Girl, the novel I began reading yesterday... I didn't feel much like reading much today. So, listening to an audiobook was right up my alley, as I could knit while listening to the audiobook along with other tasks.

I started listening to the abridged audio version of Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver earlier today and am about 90% finished with this novel. It's a really good historical thriller thus far and am loving all the plot twists and turns.

How was you day of reading today??

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day Three Wrap-Up Post!!

Day 3 of Bout of Books 12 is over and done with... Today, I didn't participate in the challenge, instead I chose to focus on writing reviews for the two books I finished reading yesterday.

After much deliberation, I also selected a new book to began reading. I decided to begin reading Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen as it's been on my bookshelf now for seven years waiting to be read by yours truly!! I loved reading Hiaasen's Skinny Dip twice, so am sure this one will be just as good. I've only read the first two chapters of Nature Girl, which makes 27 total pages read.

Mr. August by Jan Romes

eBook Novella
Mr. August by Jan Romes is my second read for 2015!! Mr. August is a novella approximately 105 pages in length. I downloaded this eBook to my Kindle from Amazon for free and I am giving my unbiased review of Mr. August as follows below.

I personally enjoyed reading Mr. August because the writing and plot were well executed, which made for a quick read... Yes, this novella is predictable, but it's engaging! I loved the characters in Mr. August, even if they did stupid things occasionally or made wrong assumptions.

How the storyline unfolds in Mr. August from chapter to chapter kept me wanting to know what happened next... I ended up finishing this novella in just a few hours of reading bliss! I like when reading is fun as it makes reading a book less like a chore to get through.

Here's a book Summary for Mr. August I found on Amazon:
Fashion designer Libby Griffin has had the week from hell--terminated from her job and heart-wrenching news from the doctor. Hoping for time alone to regroup, Libby rents a cabin on Grand Lake St. Mary's for five months. Right away she meets the most irritating man on the planet, who also happens to be drop-dead delicious.

Recently divorced author Maxwell August has a book due, and his muse has gone into hiding. With a chip on his shoulder, his writing in stuck-mode, he heads to the lake only to encounter a monumental distraction with blonde hair and hazel eyes.
Will these two right-brainers allow the off-the-charts attraction brewing between them to grow? Or deny it to focus on the things they think are more important and miss a chance at forever?
I'm giving Mr. August by Jan Romes a rating of 8 stars out of 10 stars. Until my next post, happy reading!

The Seance by Joan Lowery Nixon

The Seance by Joan Lowery Nixon is my first novel read in 2015!! The Seance is a young adult mystery novel and is the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. Joan Lowery Nixon is a new to me author and I've learned that as an author, Ms. Lowery is a four time Edgar Award Winner.

As far as The Seance is concerned, I chose to read it because I like mystery novels as well as well-written young adult novels... The Seance has also received good ratings online and the storyline sounded intriguing to me... The really basic storyline involves a group of teenage girls, who decide to attend a seance put on by a classmate. Things turn deadly when one girl goes missing during the seance and is later found murdered. Additionally, the teenage girl who hosted the seance also goes missing later in the novel and is found murdered as well. 

Initially, I thought The Seance started off on the slow side and almost decided to give up on reading it. It didn't pick up the pace until around page fifty, when all the action finally began taking place. After page fifty, The Seance kept my attention for the most part with some additional lulls here and there. 

I pretty much figured out who did the murders and why about two-thirds of the way into The Seance, which sort of bummed me out to have figured it out that early onward..

I liked the all the characters in The Seance for the most and thought they were well developed enough. My favorite character was Lauren, the leading character in The Seance, followed by that of her Aunt Mel. The plot was also good, especially the last few chapters when the murderer is revealed to the reader.

My favorite quote from The Seance is the following one: "We stared at each other across the table like two hypnotized chickens at a carny show." Just the imagery of this sentence and it being an unexpected image had me letting out a burst of laughter.

I'm giving The Seance an overall rating 7 stars out of 10 stars. I enjoyed reading Lois Lowery Nixon's writing well enough to add another one of her titles to my ever growing reading wishlist.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day Two Wrap-Up Post!!

The end of day two of Bout of Books 12 has come and gone! I had a much better day of reading today than yesterday. I finished the last 30 pages of The Seance by Joan Lowery Nixon, which was a good young adult mystery novel. I also finished reading the remaining 77% of Mr. August, an ebook by Jan Romes, which was also a good read.

I also enjoyed participating in the Top 10 Recommendations Challenge hosted by Trees of Reverie.

How was your day of reading during day two of Bout of Books 12?

Bout of Books 12 Challenge --- Top 10 Recommendations

Thank you Trees of Reverie for hosting a challenge for Day 2 of the Bout of Books 12.0 Read-A-Thon!! Today's challenge is titled Top Ten Recommends.

The Challenge: You’ve just started to work at a bookstore (or library) - what are your top ten go-to book recommendations? 
You may select any TEN BOOKS of your choice. These books can be from a specific genre, or you may like to choose a few books from various genres.
Make a list of the TEN BOOKS that you’ve selected. Make sure to include the title and author of each book.

The following ten books are my picks for young adults or middle school readers!

Firegirl by Tony Abbott 
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Witness by Karen Hesse
White Lilacs by Carolyn Meyer
Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Which books would you recommend?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bout of Books 12 --- Day One Wrap-Up Post!!

I actually didn't accomplish much reading today, which is unfortunate! I had high hopes of reading the last 43 pages of a novel I started on January 1, 2015. But alas, I only read thirteen pages total for the day and it was this evening at 9:30pm... I am so tired from today's activities to continue forward with any reading at this time. Thank goodness there is always tomorrow to play catch up!!

I did do one of the challenges earlier today, which was fun! I completed the New Year’s Resolution Challenge. How did your first day of Bout of Books go today??

Bout of Books 12.0: New Year’s Resolution Challenge

Chaiann at The Book That... is hosting a mini challenge today on the first day of the Bout of Books 12.0 Read-A-Thon!!

This challenge is all about New Year's Resolutions. I want to make sure to keep my bookish related resolutions in 2015, so I'm up to completing this mini challenge!! The rules for this challenge are as follows:

New Year’s Resolutions:
Whether you have made reading resolutions or want to use general life resolutions you have made over the New Year holiday, pick books with titles that relate to each of your resolutions. You can post as many or as few as you would like.

Below are the book titles I selected for the New Year's Resolutions challenge:

Instant Temptation by Jill Shalvis: 

I have a massive 'to be read' pile... I'm sure this is an issue for many avid readers. My goal is to keep my 'to be read' pile from growing any larger than it already currently is by NOT buying any more books for myself during 2015. Instead, I want to focus on reading the books I already have on my bookshelves. I just need to be strong and not succumb to the temptation to buy more books this year!!

Room by Emma Donoghue: 

This novel represents my desire to incorporate reading more new to me authors in 2015. I have plenty of books on my shelves by authors that I have yet to read. So, now I need to make room to read more new to me authors in 2015.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle: 

1. This novel's title is a reminder to make/carve out time to reach my goal of reading and/or listening to 100 books in 2015. 

2. This title also reminds me to make time to participate in the read-a-thons and reading challenges I've signed up for during the year and find more along the way to participate in in the months to come.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner: 

This book's title represents several of my bookish related resolutions in 2015! 

1. Visit as many new to me indie bookstores around the San Francisco Bay and San Francisco's East Bay area as I can and blog about my experience visiting these indie bookstores. I enjoy promoting indie bookstores.

2. Visit the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California.

3. Visit the San Francisco Center For the Book

4. Attend as many local author signings and other literary events in the San Francisco Bay Area as I time and interest permits. I love attending author signings and literary events.

So as a recap, four book titles from my bookshelves represent eight of my bookish related resolutions for 2015. This is pretty awesome if you ask me.

If you participated in this challenge, leave me a link to your blog post. I'd like to read which books represented your 2015 New Year's Resolutions.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Things Audiobook Lovers Understand!!

I love listening to audiobooks and have become quite addicted to listening to them during the last two to three years. 

Last year alone, I listened to a total of 48 audiobooks. This is the most audiobooks I've listened to in any given calendar year. I'm hoping to listen to a lot of audiobooks this year as well.

I came across an article on Bustle's website titled 21 Things Only Audiobook Lovers Understand by Caitlin White. In the article, White writes:
It’s hard to convince those hard-copy book traditionalists to move to e-books, never mind audiobooks. But as every audiobook lover knows, once you try it, you wonder how you ever had the time to sit and read a print book with your busy life. Suddenly, you’re “reading” absolutely everywhere you go, knocking chores off your list, and multi-tasking like a gosh darn pro.

Yes, listening to audiobooks are not only great to listen to while commuting, while exercising as well as many other tasks too. 

I loved many of the gifs in this article!! And yes, as an audiobook listener, I can relate to several of the things mentioned in the above article. Until my next post, happy listening!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

Six Essential Cocktail Books

Looking for a new cocktail books to add to your collection in 2015? Then checkout an article I came across on the LA Times website titled Read before you drink! Six essential cocktail books by Jenn Harris. In her article, Harris wrote the following:
If you're looking to reorganize your cookbook collection in the new year, don't forget about the cocktails. Here's a look at six cocktail books -- some old, some new -- to add to your collection.
Click on the above link to read the full article and see which six cocktail books are the most essential ones to add to your personal collection! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday Finds #66

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

Last weekend, my hubby and I visited Santa Cruz, California... While we were in Santa Cruz we visited an indie bookstore that sold used, new and collectible books as well as records and compact discs. I love eclectic, indie bookstores!!

Anyway, while I was there I picked up a used copy of Stitch'N Bitch by Debbie Stoller. Stitch'N Bitch is a knitting book that I've read wonderful things about as a resource for knitters. I began knitting last year and am a complete newbie to the world of knitting. I am frequently on the look out for knitting resources, whether it be free knitting patterns online, watching YouTube Video Knitting Tutorials, knitting classes, knitting circles, books and so on... So, I'm looking forward to using this book in 2015 to help me become a better knitter and advance my knitting skills.

I've also added the following knitting book to my reading wishlist as it looks like another wonderful knitting resource: 

The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting by Nancy Queen

I also picked up the following eBooks earlier this week from Amazon:

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney
A Brush With the Moon by Raquel Lyon

Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult
Welcome to Sugartown by Carmen Jenner

Which books have you added to your reading pile or reading wishlist?