Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beat the Heat Readathon July 29th - August 11th - Extended to August 18th!

Phantasmic Reads


I happened on this read-a-thon on Twitter today and couldn't resist, because I am a read-a-thon addict! Even though I don't think I get any more read than normal, it's an awesome way for an introvert social! So here we go with the Beat the Heat Read-a-thon!  Click the banner to be taken to the sign up page!  I will update here as soon as I figure out what I'm doing!

Finished!Finished!Finished!Finished!
Finished!Finished!


That will do it for me for the Beat the Heat Read-a-thon! I'm going to give myself a couple days to rest up for Bout of Books!

WWW Wednesdays 7/31/13



To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

* What are you currently reading?
* What did you recently finish reading?
* What do you think you’ll read next?

Then head on over to Should be Reading and leave a comment with a link to your post so others can see! 


I'm currently reading:


New this week:
Doctor Who: Demon Quest: Five Exclusive Audio Adventures
by Paul Magrs

A library audio edownload find, read by Tom Baker and Susan Jameson.


Still working on from previous weeks: 

Once Bitten Twice Shy (Jaz Parks #1) by Jennifer Rardin

I'm finally getting into this series, I've heard great things about it, and am sorrowful that the author has already passed away, much too young. Urban Fantasy, Jaz and her vampire boss work for the CIA, so far it's fun and sarcastic, Jaz is a firecracker and vampire Vayl is a great straight man for her.
An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) by Diana Gabaldon

My current audiobook, I took a break from these for a couple years, but decided to catch up during the Seriously Series Challenge this year. They are so huge, and I'm having a hard time getting invested in William, but still love the rest of the regulars!
Indexing by Seanan McGuire

This is the first Kindle serial that I have tried and we're up to episode 5 of 12, so this will be on my currently reading for awhile. This is the first thing I've read by her and I am enjoying it! Dark Fairy Tales, translated into real world, where the tales become "incursions" into real life as the narrative takes hold and tries to force the story along. An interesting idea.


I have recently finished:
The Secret Christmas Ciphers by Carolynn Carey

I participated in a Christmas in July read-a-thon this past week and this was my first read for it. It is a novella of 132 pages and was a quick and sweet historical romance.
When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke

Another Christmas in July Read-a-thon book. It's a cute story but I'm not sure I would suggest it for kids that don't already know, though I'm guessing that at this reading level, they probably already do. It honestly didn't do a lot for me, I'm not sure why. I did like it, but not as much as her other books that I've listened to, so maybe that's the difference. Maybe I just like being read to!


Probably up next:

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

I picked this up at the library, not my usual style, but the concept sounded interesting so I'll give it a try.


I can't wait to see what the rest of you have been up to! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Books, Brains ‘n Blood Read-a-Thon: August 2 – 6th

Books, Brains 'n Blood Read-a-Thon



I can't resist a read-a-thon, especially not one with such an appetizing title! My friends over at My Shelf Confessions are hosting the Books, Brains 'n Blood Read-a-thon as part of their Vamps Vs. Zombies month long event. The read-a-thon is just the first of many activities, giveaways, guest posts, challenges and a blog hop throughout the month, you definitely want to CHECK IT OUT!

I am typically firmly Team Vampire, I just don't get the zombie craze, but I'm going to try to read a book from each time for the read-a-thon.

For my Zombie read I have chosen Rachel Caine's Working Stiff (Revivalist #1). It doesn't look too zombie-ish but I'm going to ease into the genre! ;)



For my Vampire read I will finish off the Vampire Empire Trilogy with The Kingmakers by Clay and Susan Griffith.



I doubt I will finish both of them, but we'll see how far I get!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Read-a-thon Wrap Up x3



I had 3 read-a-thons this week, and though I'm not sure I read any more than normal, I always have fun seeing what others are up to!

1. HS = High Summer Read-a-thon hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading.
2. XMAS = 2nd annual Christmas in July Read-a-thon on Bookobssessed.
3. DID = Doin' It Dirty 3.0

And here are my accomplishments, meager though they are!

Finished for HS
Finished for HS and XMAS
Finished for HS and XMAS
Finished for DID, HS and XMAS
Currently Reading

Badlands National Park, South Dakota



My husband and I were fortunate to be able to take a road trip vacation this year through South Dakota and Wyoming. This is the first in a series of posts I want to do about the places we visited.

Badlands National Park was the first place that we went. Not knowing what to expect I was awed by the landscape, and couldn't help but wonder what travelers in earlier times, before the ability to share photographs, might have thought coming upon this with no warning. The area was established first as a monument in 1939 and redesignated as a national park in 1978. It is an interesting mixture of formations that came about through erosion, from buttes and pinnacles to spires.




Though desolate in appearance it actually is teeming with wildlife. There is a large praire dog colony around the edge of the northwest side of the park. We saw a few solitary buffalo in the distance, and got up close and almost personal with a bighorn sheep when it came up over the side to the top where we were standing. We just edged out of the way, and it continued on, I'm sure not as surprised as we were with the number of visitors that come to the park all the time. The area is also rich in fossils, some of the most important being those of early horses, allowing scientists to trace the evolutionary history from the 5-toed animals to the horses we are more familiar with today.




There is much human history in the area as well. The Ogalala Lakota of the Sioux Nation are co-managers of the area, and evidence of habitation stretches back into pre-historic times. In more recent times, the southern unit of the park was used as a bomb and gunnery range by the US Military.  This area has been returned to the Sioux, and while attempts were made to remove any unexploded munitions, I did see warnings in some media to be aware there may be more there and to alert rangers if they were found.  This area of the park is not as easily accessible as the main park, so we did not visit (we're not big hikers), but photos showed some very interesting formations there.



For more information on this area, see the official website for Badlands National Park and Wikipedia.  I also shared information from this Badlands book we picked up while there.  It is well worth a visit!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin

From Goodreads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin comes the ultimate novel of revolution, rock ’n’ roll, and apocalyptic murder—a stunning work of fiction that portrays not just the end of an era, but the end of the world as we know it.

Onetime underground journalist Sandy Blair has come a long way from his radical roots in the ’60s—until something unexpectedly draws him back: the bizarre and brutal murder of a rock promoter who made millions with a band called the Nazgûl. Now, as Sandy sets out to investigate the crime, he finds himself drawn back into his own past—a magical mystery tour of the pent-up passions of his generation. For a new messiah has resurrected the Nazgûl and the mad new rhythm may be more than anyone bargained for—a requiem of demonism, mind control, and death, whose apocalyptic tune only Sandy may be able to change in time . . . before everyone follows the beat.


Like many many others of you I am a fan of George R. R. Martin through his A Song of Ice and Fire series, beginning with A Game of Thrones. I discovered it almost 10 years ago, long before there was a show, and was drawn in. I knew he had written other books, I have a few on Mount TBR, but I had never seen The Armageddon Rag before.

I discovered it when I re-discovered my local library systems and the fact that I could check out an e-book from them without ever leaving my house. Not that I don't love browsing a library, I do, but just the fact that I could do it RIGHT THAT INSTANT when I found it was awesome, plus hey, it's an e-book so no fees, they just yank it from you when time's up!

So why am I featuring The Armageddon Rag? Well, first of all, I was curious to see what else GRRM had done and it's 30 years old. It only has 1,035 ratings on Goodreads unlike A Game of Thrones which has 468,650 ratings, so I thought chances were good that a lot of people like myself didn't even know it existed. I had one friend wonder how she had never heard of this one when I posted the link for friends to see on Facebook, and I said well, probably you had not heard of it because it might be older than you are! It may also have been out of print and re-issued because GRRM was doing so well later on. My final reason?  I like Rock Fiction and the cover was neat looking. ;)

Did I like it? Sure, it kept my attention, the story was solid though I didn't really connect with any of the characters.  But then one does not simply like A Game of Thrones either (insert picture of Sean Bean here).  In fact one is usually cursing that cruel GRRM by the end of it, even as you're reaching for the next book. There were a few spots where I was cursing him again in The Armageddon Rag, really man?  Did you really have to do that to him?!  So I guess there is one parallel between the two.  Otherwise, I honestly would never have known it was the same author, which isn't bad, it just shows what a broad range GRRM has written.


The book gives a huge nod to J.R.R.Tolkien, the band being named the Nazgul, the lead singer was nicknamed Hobbit and references are made to The Lord of the Rings in the songs and artwork of the band.  I'm of mixed feelings about that aspect, but in real life the work has been inspirational to many musicians from Led Zepplin to Enya so this feature of the story is not unrealistic.  By itself it is an interesting supernatural mystery in which the main character gets in touch with himself and what he really cared about by reconnecting with the friends of his past.  He becomes involved in a movement to bring the iconic Nazgul back to the limelight, narrowly averting a summoning of epic proportion by not allowing the history of the Nazgul's last fateful concert to repeat itself.

I definitely recommend it to those who are interested in all of GRRM's work, but not if you are specifically looking for something to get you through to the next book of A Song of Ice and Fire, it's just a completely different type of story.

It is available on Amazon right now, so possibly also at other places.  See GRRM's website for more information on the author and his work.



Friday, July 26, 2013

Random Reads: The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

From Goodreads:

Imagine a world where words are so precious they are only etched in gold, and only the privileged are allowed to learn how to read. Muirwood Abbey is one of the few places where learners are taught to read and engrave, and thirteen year-old Lia wants nothing more than to learn both of these skills - yet she is a wretched, an orphan, and doomed to remain in the Aldermaston's kitchen, forbidden to read and subject to his authority. Her future is destined for preparing recipes in a privileged household until, unexpectedly, a mysterious knight-maston abandons the wounded squire Colvin at the Aldermaston's kitchen in the middle of the night. Soon after, Sheriff Almaguer comes hunting for Colvin, and Lia is thrust into the greatest adventure of her life as she and the squire are forced into a partnership that brings her closer to her dream - and Colvin closer to his fear of dying on the battlefield.

The Wretched of Muirwood is the first book of the Muirwood Trilogy.


I was fortunate to be able to pick up The entire Muirwood trilogy as Kindle Freebies, they are currently at their regular price of $2.99 each. I moved The Wretched of Muirwood up in the TBR pile because a friend had just gotten done reading the trilogy and really enjoyed them. Since I trust her judgement, I decided to give it a try!

What I found was an enjoyable medieval setting fantasy, with characters I was interested in, and a little bit of mystery to keep me wondering. I can't imagine not only not knowing how to read, but not being allowed to know how to read, because of being an orphan. It becomes clear very quickly that Lia is special, with abilities that normal Wretched do not have, and she definitely marches to her own drummer. There is plenty of action and a little magic, somewhat explained but still mysterious, and Lia's adventure matures her quickly as she takes on responsibilities that a girl her age just shouldn't have to worry about, but there is no one else and so she takes charge. Lia and Colvin don't really care for each other at first, but come to be very close, facing their fears together.

The Wretched of Muirwood is well written, good character development and description of setting and events, with a solid and interesting storyline. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy, as well as the other work I see that is available. For more information on the author visit his website jeff-wheeler.com.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WWW Wednesdays 7/24/13



To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

* What are you currently reading?
* What did you recently finish reading?
* What do you think you’ll read next?

Then head on over to Should be Reading and leave a comment with a link to your post so others can see! 


I'm currently reading:

Once Bitten Twice Shy (Jaz Parks #1) by Jennifer Rardin -- I'm finally getting into this series, I've heard great things about it, and am sorrowful that the author has already passed away, much too young. Urban Fantasy, Jaz and her vampire boss work for the CIA, so far it's fun and sarcastic, Jaz is a firecracker and vampire Vayl is a great straight man for her.
An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) by Diana Gabaldon -- My current audiobook, I took a break from these for a couple years, but decided to catch up during the Seriously Series Challenge this year. They are so huge, and I'm having a hard time getting invested in William, but still love the rest of the regulars!
Indexing by Seanan McGuire -- This is the first Kindle serial that I have tried and we're up to episode 5 of 12, so this will be on my currently reading for awhile. This is the first thing I've read by her and I am enjoying it! Dark Fairy Tales, translated into real world, where the tales become "incursions" into real life as the narrative takes hold and tries to force the story along. An interesting idea.


I have recently finished:

Stranger (The Blades of the Rose #4) by Zoe Archer -- This is the finale of the Blades of the Rose series where everything gets wrapped up neat and tidy. Legends come to life, Catullus Graves finally gets the girl, good triumphs and fun is had by all! There were a few cheesy bits, but overall this whole series was enjoyable and I was very glad that Catullus was the feature at the last.
Rogue Squadron (Star Wars X-Wing #1) by Michael Stackpole - I have recently discovered my local library's ability to lend e-books so I tried it out with a Star Wars novel!  I was in the mood and they had it.  It took me awhile to finish this one, it was heavy on the flying/fighting description which is kind of boring to me, but exactly what you would expect from this storyline, so I'm not complaining!  I did enjoy it and will likely read some more of them in the future.
The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin -- Another library find, and when I saw that it was an older one by this author I couldn't resist seeing how it compared to the Game of Thrones series.  When I say older, I'm talking 30 years ago that it was published!  I had a friend comment on how surprised she was that she had missed it, and I replied that was probably because it was older than she was! ;)  The Armageddon Rag is very unlike Game of Thrones.  There is a tad of the supernatural, but otherwise it is more of a clasdic rock pop culture mystery/thriller featuring a fictional band.  I enjoyed it for the music angle, but if you're looking for GoT, you probably won't be interested.


Probably up next:

When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke -- I have a Christmas in July Read-a-thon coming up in my Bookobssessed group and this seemed perfect. I've really enjoyed Funke's other books that I've read so I'm looking forward to this one!  That reindeer face is super cute!
The Twelve Quickies of Christmas Vol. 1 An anthology -- There's also a Naughty Read-a-thon going on this coming Friday so I'm combining interests and reading a naughty Christmas book!  This cover is much sexier than my real copy that has the scary mannequin type people on it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mini-Bloggiesta Wrap-Up



And so my first Bloggiesta comes to a close, and while I didn't get my whole list done, I do feel that I made progress and got some good ideas to work on.

What I finished:


  • Decide on and post a new giveaway done!
  • Set up High Summer/Doin' It Dirty and Christmas in July Read-a-thons Starting Line post done!
  • Change layout? I like the 2 sidebars, but maybe they're too busy, so what do I really not need, or can move a separate page? (advice welcome!) done! But thoughts still very welcome!  I switched to one wider sidebar and got rid of a lot of elements that I realized were only for me, not visitors.  We'll see how I feel without them (like follower widgets, maybe they really are good? or no?  Thoughts?)
  • Find a manageable weekly meme (used to do WWW Wednesdays and Teaser Tuesdays, maybe I'll pick that back up, suggestions for easy to maintain memes welcome!)  sort of done, I was given several ideas to look at, and the ones I used to do are still going, so I may pick those back up, but I haven't made any real decisions yet, and ideas are still very welcome!
  • Visit other Bloggiesta participants. done! Returned visits from everyone nice enough to visit me, which is probably all I will get done this time because I am slow, and visiting and commenting is definitely something I need to work on!



  • Still to do or new ideas:

  • Post a new Random Read review.
  • Think about a Random Read giveaway - since they may no longer be freebies, but I enjoyed them, they might be good candidates for affordable giveaways!
  • Review labels on past posts and make them more useful.
  • Decide on a Meme to do.
  • Read through all the chellenges for more ideas and advice.
  • Start on Vacation Series Posts.  I had a couple comments from people interested to come back and see this, so while I didn't get it done this weekend, I think it's worthwhile and will try to do them in the near future!

    • Badlands
    • The Mammoth Site
    • Mount Rushmore
    • Devils Tower
    • Yellowstone 
    • Grand Tetons
    I really enjoyed my first Bloggiesta and hope to be able to join in the future.  It got me interested in blogging again and I'd kind of lost that for awhile.  Thanks everyone who hosted and dropped by to comment!

    Sunday, July 21, 2013

    Three Read-a-thons and One Post

    I am lucky enough (or crazy enough) to have 3 different read-a-thons to play in this week!



    1. First up we have the High Summer Read-a-thon hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading.  This one lasts from Monday July 22nd through Sunday July 28th. Our Twitter hashtag is #HSreadathon


    2. During this time I'm also taking part in our 2nd annual Christmas in July Read-a-thon on Bookobssessed.  That will go from July 25th-28th.  We'll read some Christmas-y books and try to forget it's 100 degrees outside! :P



    3. On Friday July 26th from noon to midnight is Doin' It Dirty 3.0, where we'll get our naughty on and read erotica for 12 hours! Well, Kelly and Amanda probably will, I might get more like 2 hours in, but just knowing that they are, and probably getting more fuel for some Great Literary Adventure Reviews is enough for me! The Twitter hashtag for this one is #DoinItDirty.

    Here are the books I'm going to work on, but as we know, that can always change!

    Finished!
    Currently reading!
    Currently reading!
    Finished!

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