Sunday, December 04, 2016

The "Getting Real" Reading Challenge - 12/5/16 until 12/31/16

So I've joined a number of reading challenges this year, and per the norm I'm no where near finished with them. With this in mind, as we close in on the end of the year, I've decided to throw myself a reading challenge in which I gather all of those books together into a list, count the pages and prioritize them into what's realistic to finish and what isn't, hence the "getting real" of the title. Realistically I will probably only read between 30-50 pages a day between now and the end of the year, because it's busy, and I'm trying to be realistic and relieve the pressure of meeting the challenge goals.

27 days x 30 pages per day is 810, x 50 pages is 1,350 pages. This is a sobering thought because that is so much less than the books I have left to read. I need to focus on what I can realistically finish, and I don't want to feel like I'm pressured with all the other tasks of the season looming.  For me reading is my enjoyment and relaxation, so taking that activity on as a challenge at the beginning of the year is fun and exciting, at the end of the year, not so much, and it turns into a big old albatross of unfinished-ness around my neck!

Right away this tells me I need to let some reads go, so goodbye Black Dagger Brotherhood's The King, The Shadows and The Beast, because I want to enjoy these not force myself to read them quickly, and they are all quite hefty in the page count!  Also goodbye to Carolyn Crane's Associates #3 and #4, at least until next year, I promise we'll meet again boys! And the .5 of the Something Strange and Deadly series.  I've left in all 4 of my Award Winning Sci-Fi books because it's probably bad form to not make it through the challenge you're hosting, or at least I should try!

After cutting the above, that still leaves me with 2,260 pages to read by 12/31.  So you see why I needed a reality check?  I may have already cut more pages than I have left, and it still means I have to read about 84 pages a day to accomplish what's listed below.  It's not out of the question and it's still a challenge.  Let's see how I do!

ChallengeTitlePagesStatus
Reading Assignment Challenge464
New Release Challenge320
Finishing the Series Challenge400In progress: pg 229
Finished 12/6/16
Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy218
Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy271
Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy288Currently Reading
Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy528

Saturday, November 26, 2016

COYER Blackout Reading Challenge - December 17th, 2016 - March 3rd, 2017



It's just about time for Winter COYER (Clean Out Your E-Reads)! Our lovely hostesses have been kind of lax on us the last few rounds, so they are cracking down on us this time! the rules are very strict, only e-books and audiobooks (unless/until you fill your generator) that you received for less than $1 (or less than $5 for audios only). That's okay though, because I have A TON of those, and hopefully this will motivate to me work on some of them! To see the complete rules and sign up, check out the #COYER Blackout Sign-Ups .

Join us, the storm begins December 17th and doesn't let up until March 3rd!

Watch this space!  I'll set up a page where I list possibilities and track my generator fuel!

Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

From Goodreads:

EASY BAKE COVEN

Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy's cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben's name and find the real killer.


I wanted to like this more than I did. I did enjoy it, but I wasn't wowed. It doesn't stand out for me amongst the other magical food cozies out there. Mungo is cute, and the "book club" ladies are a fun diverse group, but some of the characters are also annoying, like Steve, who really needed to be put in his place. She asked him how many times to stop calling her Katie-Girl, but he arrogantly kept at it, yet she was still attracted to him? That really turned me off of his character.

The cover is adorable (of course they worked in a cat, who at least does make an appearance in the story, one of my pet peeves when they don't) and the mystery itself was fine.  I did give it a 4/5 in the end, the last third got more interesting with the spell working, and the writing is good, I just didn't really bond with any of the characters strongly.  I would probably read more in the series, but not necessarily seek them out.  It was a pretty easy read for a stressful couple of weeks so it could also have been my mood that kept me a little aloof from it. But I really didn't like Steve, someone needs to knock him down a peg. ;)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

November 2016 TBR List Winner - Brownies and Broomsticks by Baily Cates



 And the winner is...


From Goodreads:

Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy's cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben's name and find the real killer..

This looks like just the right kind of light and fun read I need right now, I'm really looking forward to it! And brownies, bring it on!


5 votes2 votes1 vote

Saturday, November 05, 2016

My TBR List - November 2016 - Food



Welcome to my November 2016 edition of My To Be Read List, hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading. This is a monthly meme where we offer up 3 choices from our TBR pile for our readers to pick from to help us make the super hard decision of "what do I read next?" a little easier and to whittle away at the ever growing TBR Mountain! 

Theme: Food! Feel free to leave me a comment and tell me which you chose and why.

The poll will stay open through Friday 11/11 , and I'll update this post with the winning book on Saturday 11/12, then post a review on the last Saturday of the month, 11/26.

If you think this sounds fun and would like to join (the more the merrier, because we love voting!) please head on over to Because Reading where Michelle lays out the rules for us!

And the choices are...




From Goodreads:

Never let them see you sweat-that's White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras's motto, which is pretty hard to honor in the most important kitchen in the world. She's hell-bent on earning her dream job, Executive Chef. There's just one thing: her nemesis is vying for it, too. Well, that and the fact that an elusive assassin wants to see her fry.


From Goodreads:

Granny was famous for her award-winning apple pies-and notorious for murdering her husband Jacob at their homestead in Julian, California. The only trouble is, Granny was framed, then murdered. For more than one hundred years, Granny's spirit has been searching for someone to help her see that justice is served—and she hits pay dirt when she pops in to a séance attended by her great-great-great-granddaughter, modern-day divorced mom Emma Whitecastle. Together, Emma and Granny Apples solve mysteries of the past—starting with Granny's own unjust murder rap in the final days of the California Gold Rush.
From Goodreads:

Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy's cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben's name and find the real killer..


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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by Antoinette May

From Goodreads:

The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to write while she and Percy face ostracism, constant debt, and the heartbreaking deaths of three children. Ultimately, she achieves great acclaim for Frankenstein, but at what cost?


Frankenstein is so much more than a monster story, as anyone who has read it, or watched the play or movies, knows. This is a novelization of Mary Shelley's life, in which we can see the seeds of the now famous story planted early in her life.  It started as a contest between friends, another fairly well known fact, but I was interested to learn more about this woman, who created such a terrible and complex monster, and the doctor who brought him to life, just to see if he could, ending in the complete destruction of his own existence.  What kind of life did Mary have to have inspired such a story?

I got much more than I was expecting.  Mary seemed to be constantly get used and taken advantage of in her father's and husband's seeking of an intellectual and eccentric lives.  It seems that she put up with so much, for love of those who in my opinion didn't reciprocate in kind.  So many hardships and difficulties, I know I would have packed it in and gone back home early on, but Mary never did, and finally in the end, was able to be her own woman, despite all the men (and women) in her life that tried to use her or push her to the side for their own ideas to take precedence, though often accused of being selfish herself.  She did make some bad choices, but was also not the only one involved in those, so I personally don't feel the blame rests solely, or even mostly on her for any of them.

I was deeply drawn in to the story of her life, and decided to make a whole month of Frankenstein, reading the actual novel on Serial Reader (an app than delivers classics to your device in small bits each day) and then seeing the encore presentation of Benedict Cumberbatch playing the creature in the National Theater live production last week.  Cumberbatch was amazing, as expected, and was really able to bring to life this creature who awakens with the body of a man, but with no idea how to use it, and no concept of society except the fear and hatred he encounters early on, as much as he would like to be gentle and loved. 

While most consider Frankenstein to be a horror story, it was one of, if not the, first science fiction novels every written.  This was an interesting look at the life of a highly intelligent woman in a time where that was just not accepted, and I often wondered what else could possibly go wrong for her!  I gave it a 4/5 and would definitely recommend it to those interested in Frankenstein's creation and historical fiction.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin


From Goodreads:

A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction.

In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town's Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress.

King Henry II is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," an early version of the medical examiner.

The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a "mistress" of the art of death. Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king.

In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king's tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia's investigation takes her into Cambridge's shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again . .

Mistress of the Art of Death was chosen as my TBR List read for October. I was interested in the historical and forensics aspects of this story, I was not expecting wry humor and to be drawn to the characters the way I was.  While the crimes being investigated are too terrible to think on for long, the personalities of Adelia and her companions, and the new friends she makes invested me in their lives and the outcome.  Even Henry II, in the story for very little, quickly gained a place in my affections. 

They are an unlikely trio, the atheist woman, Jew and Moor who are sent to investigate this crime.  Right away before they ever even make it to town, Adelia's secret of being a female doctor is out to some, but they try to maintain a fiction that Mansur is the doctor, which he attempts to play to the hilt. Adelia herself comes to care for the people more than she would have expected, even some of those she suspects of being a potential criminal. 

Sadly this author has already left us, but I do have several more of the series to look forward to.  Her storytelling style was easy to get involved in, and was not at all dry or tedious which can sometimes happen in a historical, even to those of us who like them!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon - October 22, 2016



It's time for another Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon and I couldn't be more excited! I really look forward to these, I love read-a-thons of all kinds, but Dewey's is just extra special.  There are so many people taking part together, it was really one of my very first experiences with online read-a-thons and it opened up a whole new community to me. Reading was no longer a solitary activity, it was now a game, a race, a party, a celebration of books! I've lost count of how many Dewey's I've taken part in. If you're interested in learning more, there's the Dewey's Website which talks about how this Read-a-thon got started, and it is where you sign up, and there is Facebook Group and a Goodreads Group. I will probably update my blog, but also post on the Facebook group as that is the easiest for me to do from my phone.

I hope you decide to join us!  Here is my stack of possibilities, which is always subject to change!




Updates:

7 am on a fine Saturday and all is well!  I'm starting off with Blameless and also a Doctor Who 50th anniversary short story: The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman. I just loved the box edition where each story cover is the Doctor's signature outfit!  See you in awhile!



7 pm - halfway through! I have gotten halfway through Blameless, finished The Ripple Effect, and also The Rat Queens, which was a lot of fun!  Thinking about some dinner now, and getting back into Blameless, which is also a lot of fun!  Maybe pizza... or BBQ... but leaning towards pizza! 393 total pages so far 8 hours and 45 minutes of attempting to read, which makes my average per hour 44 pages, yay for graphic novels and short stories! lol!

10:30 pm - less than 100 pages to go in Blameless, I can do this!  Time for some cake!

Finished:




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