Friday, August 30, 2013

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

7061Title: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Date Read: August 15, 2013
Series: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1

Summary: Working in a mystery tradition that will cause genre aficionados to think of such classic sleuths as Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner or Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee, Alexander McCall Smith creates an African detective, Precious Ramotswe, who's their full-fledged heir.

It's the detective as folk hero, solving crimes through an innate, self-possessed wisdom that, combined with an understanding of human nature, invariably penetrates into the heart of a puzzle. If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective.

Once the clients start showing up on her doorstep, Precious enjoys a pleasingly successful series of cases. But the edge of the Kalahari is not St. Mary Mead, and the sign Precious orders, painted in brilliant colors, is anything but discreet. Pointing in the direction of the small building she had purchased to house her new business, it reads "THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY. FOR ALL CONFIDENTIAL MATTERS AND ENQUIRIES. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED FOR ALL PARTIES. UNDER PERSONAL MANAGEMENT."

The solutions she comes up with, whether in the case of the clinic doctor with two quite different personalities (depending on the day of the week), or the man who had joined a Christian sect and seemingly vanished, or the kidnapped boy whose bones may or may not be those in a witch doctor's magic kit, are all sensible, logical, and satisfying. Smith's gently ironic tone is full of good humor towards his lively, intelligent heroine and towards her fellow Africans, who live their lives with dignity and with cautious acceptance of the confusions to which the world submits them. Precious Ramotswe is a remarkable creation, and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency well deserves the praise it received from London's Times Literary Supplement. goodreads

Review: This is a very sweet, easy read. It's quick, about 152 nook pages (which could translate to anything in real book pages,) and the story moves along pretty rapidly. The best part of this book, and the only real reason it rated a 3, is Precious Ramotswe. Who couldn't love Mma. Ramotswe? She is a genuine, hard working, strong, female who stands up for what's right. I believe this is not the norm in Africa where they tend to be very traditional and it is something that Precious has to constantly stand up for. It's apparent from the beginning that Precious cares very much for the people around her. I love her relationship with her Daddy and it's clear what a big part in her life he played as well as the pride she puts into what she does which is a sort of homage to him. She also cares a lot about her clients and their well being. She puts them first when it comes to the world and whichever case she is working on which may be what lead to all of her rapid success.

This rapid success is one of the things that bothered me in the book though. Not the fact that she was successful, but the fact that she very quickly, and easily, solved all of the cases in this book. They were obviously not the focus of the novel but it just seemed too easy. I would have liked more adventure. With that being said, the cases did provide an interesting look into the various aspects of African culture which I found interesting. I know very little (if anything) about the African culture and geography and this book made me want to learn more about it.

There was so much suffering in Africa that it was tempting just to shrug your shoulders and walk away. But you can't do that, she thought. You just can't.

I also didn't like how the story ended. It had me wondering what the hold up the whole time was and why at the end she finally agreed (I'm avoiding spoilers if this doesn't make sense....) Overall, I loved Precious and her fiesty-ness but was not overly impressed with the writing and will probably not continue in the series.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

15 Day Book Bloger Challenge Day 9



Why do You Blog About Books?

I answered this question in the About section of my blog but let me summarize it here. I have loved books from before I can remember. Both my parents and my grandparents are avid readers and I guess I learned from them (somehow, I'm the only child in my family who likes to read though...) I love checking out of reality for a little while and getting swept up in a romance or taken to a magical place like Hogwarts. Reading is my number one past time and have a serious passion for books. That being the basis of my blog, I decided to start keeping better track of what I think and feel about books. I've been using goodreads for years but I never put much effort into reviewing. Then people would ask me for a book suggestion and I couuld tell them a book I love but not entirely explain what parts I loved about it. Bad reader! So this blog is a way for me to process what I have read, as well as track it. It also gives me another place to connect with people who love books as much as I do which I think is very cool. And that my friends, is what this little bloggy is all about!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Lightning Thief

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Date Read: August 18, 2013
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
 
Summary: Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. goodreads
 
Review: Before you read/judge this book, I think it is of the utmost importance that you consider the audience it is meant for. This is a children's book!!! It is meant to be read but teenagers and tweens. One of the reasons I picked this book up in the first place is because my clients are constantly toting it around and I figured if this book can get these kids' attention, it might be worth reading. Then I heard from adults and goodreads friends that it was good and worth reading, so I decided to give it a shot. I'll admit, it took me awhile to get used to the super conversational writing that was very simple. I found this type of writing gave me a hard time because I thought it was hard to follow at points. But once I reminded myself of the intended audience, I was able to settle in and enjoy.
 
I love Greek gods and think they are very interesting so I really enjoyed the spin this series puts on it. Everyone cheers for Percy because he is a kid who has a long history of trouble making but you find that its not necessarily all of his fault. Percy has also been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia but the author does an awesome job of reframing this and I that was one of my favorite parts of the book. Overall, the book was enjoyable. I lost interest because it became redundant at points (he finds a monster, almost gets hurt, kills the monster, finds another etc.) but I would recommend this book to any kid who was hesitant to getting into reading.

Monday, August 26, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge Day 8


Write 15 Bullet Points of Things That Appeal to You on Blogs!


1. Sense of humor! I love a good sense of humor. Sarcasm? Give me more!
2. Pictures. I like the pretty things.
3. GIFs. I'm not very good at gif-ing (yes, I may have made that word up) but I admire people who do it really well.
4. Link ups! I love the blogging community and this is a cool way to discover blogs and have your blog discovered.
5. Memes. 10 Ten Tuesday and this blogger challenge are the only ones I'm currently participating in but I think they are great for prompts when you don't have any reviews.
6. Reviews! Imagine that. I like to read reviews of popular books to hear what real people think of them and not just the critics. But I also like to discover other books that bloggers recommend.
7. Suggestions of other bloggers. Once again, to expand my blog world.
8. I like to feel like the writer is talking to me. Whether that be a unique sense of humor or just a conversationalist way of talking, I'd rather have that than a dry review or post.
9. Bloggers who interact with their followers. I love comments and love replying but it drives me nuts when other people ignore their followers.
10. People who help other bloggers. I think it's awesome for bloggers to motivate each other and offer help on anything from writing to HTML.
11. Personal style. Everyone started a blog for a reason and I like to see that come through in the way they design their blog and topics they cover.
12. Colors! I love cool designs and unique aspects of blogs.
13. A list of past posts/reviews. It's nice to be able to jump to a review of a blogger you like and see what they thought of a certain book.
14. A rating system. Everything is subjective but at least I can compare a review for a 5 start to a review of a 3 star (or cupcake, if you will.)
15. Individualism. Be you! If you aren't genuine, that can come across very easy. Don't start a blog to be like others. You can look to them for inspiration but your own personality should be what shines through.

Overall, I'm pretty easy to please. I just want to be entertained and interested in what you have to say.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lethal

LethalTitle: Lethal
Author: Sandra Brown
Date Read: August 18, 2013
Pages: 472

Summary: When her four year old daughter informs her a sick man is in their yard, Honor Gillette rushes out to help him. But that "sick" man turns out to be Lee Coburn, the man accused of murdering seven people the night before. Dangerous, desperate, and armed, he promises Honor that she and her daughter won't be hurt as long as she does everything he asks. She has no choice but to accept him at his word.

But Honor soon discovers that even those close to her can't be trusted. Coburn claims that her beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn is there to retrieve it -- at any cost. From FBI offices in Washington, D.C., to a rundown shrimp boat in coastal Louisiana, Coburn and Honor run for their lives from the very people sworn to protect them, and unravel a web of corruption and depravity that threatens not only them, but the fabric of our society. goodreads


Review: Ok people, for the most part, I try to avoid spoilers on this blog but if I do that with this book, I literally have nothing to talk about. It was suspenseful and grabbed you from the first chapter. There were lots of twists that I didn't necessarily see coming. I really enjoyed how all of the side stories came together in the end. That's all I can say without spoiling, so for your reviewing pleasure, and mine...


SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
 
 
 
 
DO NOT READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING!!!
 
 
 
 
 
ARE YOU STILL HERE? THIS IS WHERE THE SPOILERS ARE...
 
 
OK. I warned you the best I could. If you are still reading, you obviously want to know what I think of Coburn and The Bookkeeper. Luckily, we got rid of all of those people who haven't read the book so we can gossip freely. Let me start with, holy moly Coburn!!! If you don't think he is all that is man, I don't know who you are comparing him to. Of course, there is that whole "he kills people" thing, but he only kills people like Dexter kills people. Meaning he only kills bad guys which makes it ok. Right? No? Does it make it better if he does it to protect his country and people he loves? Still a murderer? Then let's agree to disagree and move on.
 
I knew from the beginning Coburn didn't kill those people in the warehouse but I was surprised to find out the twins did. That is until we learned more about them and then it was totally believable. From the very beginning I was set on figuring out who the Bookkeeper was and my first guess was Stan. Hey, Coburn initially thought this as well so give me some credit! Glad to find out that Emily's grandfather is not a psychopath though.
 
Side note: I tweeted something to this extent while reading

 
 
Then I fan-girled for a while when I saw this.
 
 
 
The only reason this book got 4 instead of 5 cupcakes was because I was pissed when I found out who the Bookkeeper was. Janice?!? Are you kidding me? I thought when Tom caught her on her phone she would be the leak that was in the department but I definitely didn't peg her for the criminal mastermind. I should have paid attention to the fact that the Bookkeeper was never referred to as  a "him" but I was blinded by Coburn. So, Janice. This woman, who stays at home all day with her disabled son? First of all, no chance someone that murderous and evil would stay around to take care of a child she admitted she didn't even love. The Bookkeeper is obviously incapable of empathy or any normal human feelings so that did not fit. It cost the book a cupcake.
 
The epilogue wrapped everything up in a nice little bow. Granted, I would have loved to have seen Honor and Emily run through the airport into Coburn's arms, but I can imagine they did which didn't give the author a chance to tell me that they never showed up. I know they did. It's Coburn.
 
I'm sorry about the spoilers but my review just wouldn't do the book justice without them. Can you forgive Coburn for killing people (like those horrible twins) or is he a murderer in your book forever and unforgivable? (If you answer is the latter, you might not be interested in this blog...)
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Update # 4

Yesterday, I got a lot of good reading time in. I'm getting towards the end of Summer and the City and am looking forward to starting The Fault in Our Stars over the weekend. Unfortunately, I think today will be my last official update. I leave after work for vacation/wedding preparations and will not be posting BoB updates unless my phone cooperates. I'll try to update via twitter so your best bet is to follow me over there.

I've loved participating in BoB this time around and can't wait until the next one. I love finding new blogs and doing reading challenges so this was really fun for me. To all of my new followers, welcome! Let me know if you stop by so I can visit your blog as well :) Happy reading my friends!

Number of pages I read today: 200
Total number of pages so far: 525
Total amount of time I read today: 3 hours
Total amount of time I've read so far: 8.5 hours
Books I'm reading: Summer and the City
Books I've read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), The Lightning Thief (finished last night)
Challenges: Bookish Bucket List and TBR Pile
Social hours: Too busy dancing...
 
And don't worry, even though I'll be in serious vacay/prep mode, I haven't forgotten about this blog. I've got a handful of reviews and book blogger challenges lined up for your reading pleasure. Have a good weekend y'all!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Update #3

UPDATE FOR WEDNESDAY 8/21/13


I have to admit, today's progress was a little less than I expected. I had high hopes of coming home, getting some good reading in, and participating in the social hour. Well, two out of three ain't bad. I came home and eventually got some good reading in but it required staying up an hour past my bedtime. All intentions to participate in the social hour were demolished when I started practicing dance moves with my fiance in our living room.

We looked a little like this.
 
There was some of this.
And this.
But mostly this.

We were practicing our dance moves for our big day and time just got away from us. Sorry guys, as much as I would have loved to participate in social hour, this was where I belonged. And it will hopefully keep us from looking like this at the wedding.

Dubya's got moves I don't want

Number of pages I read today: 100
Total number of pages so far: 325
Total amount of time I read today: 2 hours
Total amount of time I've read so far: 5.5 hours
Books I'm reading: Summer In the City
Books I've read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), The Lightning Thief (finished last night)
Challenges: Bookish Bucket List and TBR Pile
Social hours: Too busy dancing...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bout of Books Update #2 and Challenge

I'm loving Bout of Books Read-a-thon! I haven't gotten to read as much as I like but I'm pretty close to my goals. I'm also loving the twitter interactions and challenges. Today's challenge is hosted by Musings of a Bookshop Girl and all I have to do is answer these questions!

1. Which 5 books are at the top of your TBR pile at this moment?

28900901.I have been waiting on the next book in this series for yearsssssss! I'm still waiting and it is #1 on my TBR list (mostly because I've been waiting for years...)









118700852.Thre is so much hype regarding this book and I've only heard good things. I finally broke down and bought a hardback copy and it's the next book I'm going to read.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
161607973.  J.K. Rowling's newest book. I'm interested in seeing a different side of Jo from Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Doctor Sleep4.  Stephen King's new book comes out at the end of September and I'm a huge King fan so I can't wait. Plus, it's the sequel to The Shining! Fangirling a little over here...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 119255145.  I have heard so much about this book and I can't wait to read it. Plus, I believe it's set around WWII which is one of my favorite time periods to read about!         2. If I gave you a wad of cash and sent you into a bookshop right now, which 5 books would you buy to add to the stack?
So this may be cheating, but I'd buy The Outlander series (and I'd expand it to 1-7). This is my favorite series but I've read all of the books on e-book. I would like to own them all one day and until I read them again, I'm not going to let myself buy them. That wad of cash would give me a good excuse!

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Dragonfly in Amber (Outland...Voyager (Outlander, #3)Drums of Autumn (Outlander,...The Fiery Cross (Outlander,...A Breath of Snow and Ashes ...An Echo in the Bone (Outlan...
 
UPDATE FOR TUESDAY 8/20
 
 
Number of pages I read today: 100
Total number of pages so far: 225
Total amount of time I read today: 2 hours
Total amount of time I've read so far: 3.5 hours
Books I'm reading: The Lightning Thief
Books I've read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Challenges: Bookish Bucket List by Sarah Says Read and TBR Pile (the one above)
Social hours: Looking forward Wednesday's which I may or may not have thought was Tuesday night...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bout of Books Re-Title It Challenge

Today's challenge is hosted by Music Plus Books.

All you have to do is rename the book you're currently reading or more if you'd like. If you've haven't started a book, you can judge it by the cover.



I'm currently reading The Lightning Thief. I'm only about 100 pages in but if I were to re-title it, I would name it:

The Half-Blood Hero

Nice ring to it, right? Also, a small nod to my main man Harry Potter. Do you have any other title suggestions for our friend, Percy Jackson's, first adventure? 

If you want to participate in this challenge, head over to Music Plus Books and link up!

Bout of Books Update Day 1



 What's Bout of Books read-a-thon you ask?
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Or you can check out my sign up post here.

* For some weird reason, blogger is not uploading any of my photos so check out the button over there ----> to see the pic I would have entered previously.


Day 1 was relatively successful. I got in a solid hour of reading and around 80 pages at lunch which helped me finish Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (review to follow). Last night was super hectic but I finally settled down to start The Lightning Thief around 8. I may or may not have fallen asleep on the couch by 830 which puts me about a half hour and 80 pages short of my original goal. I knew this was a possibility but I'll try to catch up throughout the week. I'm going to let myself be a little flexible though because work is chaotic and it feels like wedding preparations will never end. I'll squeeze in time when I can!

UPDATE FOR  MON 8/20

Number of pages I read today: 125
Total amount of time I read today: 1.5 Hours
Books I'm reading: The Lightning Thief
Books I've read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Challenges: Bookish Bucket List by Sarah Says Read
Social hours: Missed yesterday's, shoot!

Top Ten Tuesday (3)


Top Ten Things That Make Your Life as a Blogger/Reader Easier

Linking up with The Broke and The Bookish for TTT


1. Goodreads: Where would I be as a reader without goodreads?!?! This is a great place to socialize about books but also discover new books to read. It's also a great place to keep track of everything that you have read so you don't have any unintentional re-reads. I can not praise goodreads more!

2. Other bloggers: I wouldn't even know where to begin or what kind of things to include on a blog if it wasn't for other people leading the way and letting me see how it's done.

3. Blogger: While sometimes I want to throw my computer against the wall because it won't do what I want, blogger makes it semi-easier to do this whole blog thing. It's a love/hate relationship.

4. My library: Thank goodness I live near a great, huge library. Not only do they have endless amounts of real books (i.e. non- ebook books), but they have a great ebook collection as well.

5. TUEBL: I know this can be shameful but this is a great website to try out an author that you are interested in that your library doesn't have (or the waiting list is 2 millions years long.)

6. Calibre: Since a lot of the books I read/own are ebooks, this program simplifies everything and keeps it in one place. I can load all of my books into and delete them off of my nook which frees up space (not that I have any problem with space and I think I have 300+ on my nook now) but doesn't delete them for good. Also keeps track of shelves and ratings and all kinds of other stuff. Download it!

7. Nook: I know I don't shut up about this little tablet but seriously, lifesaver. It is always in my purse and full of books I can't wait to read which allows me to sneak in a lot more reading time at random moments. It's also handy to have when you read those 1,000+ page books that are just a pain in the ass to lug around. Just don't forget to charge it :)

8. Family: My family is full of readers so they understand what it's like to prefer to read over any other activity sometimes and they don't judge me too harshly for it. Sometimes they are also good for a recommendation or two.

9. Writing prompts: Such as TTT! Sometimes I'm sure I can be redundant (Hello nook and harry potter) and the writing prompts allow me to add some diversity to my blog when I run out of ideas or only have reviews to post.

10. Followers: I LOVE hearing from readers of my blog. I'm not famous enough to have haters yet (I think that's when you've really made it) so I enjoy reading all of the comments. It lets me know that someone else actually stops by this blog of mine and gives me a chance to talk bookie things which is my favorite! It also helps keep me motivated to keep posting! Thanks followers!

Any tips for making my blogging/reading life easier? I can always use help!

Monday, August 19, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge Day 7


Talk About Your Blogging Quirks

Hmmm, blogging quirks... I don't know if this qualifies, but one of the things I do that probably quirks people is that I'm extremely honest. I'm writing these reviews to help me remember my feelings about each book and process them with myself. I'm not writing to make authors or books look good when they don't deserve it. That being said, I try not to be brutally honest. I will always look for a positive in the book but if I rate it a 1/5, it is probably hard to do.

I also tend to keep my personal life off of this book blog for the most. Here and there I will drop tidbits about myself but not a lot. I had a personal blog at one point and didn't enjoy constantly writing about me, myself, and I. Don't get me wrong, I can do that until the cows come home but I'd prefer to cover other topics. With a book blog, I can discuss books and how they relate to me, myself, and I. See the difference?

I know those are lame quirks but I can't think of any better ones. I guess I ask random questions at the end of my blog which could be weird. In my head, the questions are to prompt comments but they may just be annoying... for example, do you have any blogging quirks or would you like to point out any that you have noticed with me? ;)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Night Circus

 
Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Date Read: August 12, 2013

Pages: 516

Summary: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.goodreads


Review: The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is FANTASTICAL! If nothing else, this books creates a world of fantasy and charm and magic that is just awe inspiring. The attention to detail and the writing was phenomenal. For example:

When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Stretched across the top of the gates, hidden in curls of iron, more firefly-like lights flicker to life. They pop as they brighten, some accompanied by a shower of glowing white sparks and a bit of smoke. They people nearest the gates take a few steps back....

Le Cirque des Reves

Some in the crowd smile knowingly, while others frown and look questionably at their neighbors. A child near you tugs on the mother's sleeve, begging to know what it says.

"The Circus of Dream," comes the reply. The girl smiles delightedly.

Then the iron gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition. They swing outwards, inviting the crowd inside.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

Seriously! Tell me you did not get the chills reading that!? That's before the first chapter even begins! The writing continues in this fashion and the amount of detail is astounding. Usually, I can get overwhelmed with extreme details but the author was describing something so unique and interesting (and so thoroughly) that I could picture it in my head and even imagine the whiffs of caramel in the air. So, we can agree, the writing was very well done.

Where I begin to lose my love for this story is the actual love story! The two main characters don't even have a significant interaction until around page 200. Granted, the story built up their pasts and how they are essentially destined for each other but there was no real build up to their relationship. The only thing that redeemed this love story for me was towards the very end when the previous competitor explained their relationship with their challenger. That seemed to present the idea that they were destined for one another and it was more significant than a normal relationship.

"I chose [Marco] too well." The man in the grey suit leans into the table, as though he might whisper his words conspiratorially, but the tenor of his voice does not change. "That was the mistake, you realize. They were too well matched. Too taken with each other to be competitive. And now they can never be separated. Pity."


I still wish there was more of a love story and the lack thereof made this book move very, very slowly for me. Despite the level of writing, I found myself not being very interested in what happened next. I enjoyed the ending but felt it took a long time to get there.

On a different note, I wish I would have paid more attention to the time frames at the beginning of each chapter. This book jumps around a lot and I could follow it for the most part but if I read it again, I would pay attention to the specific months and dates. I just got bored and skimmed over them which I think hindered part of my experience.

So, what can you take away from this review? The writing is awesome and creates a whole world inside your head that makes you sad because the night circus does not actually exist, even though it feels as though it does. The love story is lacking. Dates are important. Capiche?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-thon Goals



Goals are good! They help us accomplish things but I also think they help me keep track of stuff I need to do and be conscious of. In order to get the most out of the upcoming BoB readathon, I'm going to set some loose goals. And let me emphasize LOOSE here. There is no telling what the week of the 19th will have in store for me, but I know the weekend (24-26) I'm traveling to Upstate NY in order to prepare for my wedding on September 1. Now, that could either provide a lot of free, relaxing, reading time before the wedding ORRRR it will be chaotic and I won't get a page in. Who knows! Keeping that in mind, I may adjust as needed. Here goes:

Time Devoted to Reading:

I would like to read at least an hour a day during the week and squeeze in at least 2 on the weekend. Some days this will be easier than others but I think this is my average for a normal week (M-F) and then low balling for the wedding prep weekend.

My Goals:

This year, I'm keeping track of how many pages I read (my fiance has always wondered what this number was and I thought it would be cool to find out). I've set a year long goal of reading 30,000 pages. How did I get to this number? I have no idea and there's a good chance I overshoot it (I'm already at 20,500 +) but it was just a starting point.

With that in mind, I would like to read at least 100 pages a day during the week and aim for 200 on the weekend.

I would also like to participate in a handful of the challenges and social hours but I'm going to set my goal to at least 3 challenges and one social hour.

Books to Read:

Since I love challenges, I'm actually already participating in one on goodreads. This is my second time doing this particular challenge and I won the last one! Winning meant I got to choose a task for the next challenge so that was very cool. This time around though, I'm near the top but definitely not in first place (or 2nd, or 3rd etc.) I think this is mainly due to the fact that I didn't connect with a lot of the tasks but I also tend to make the books I read fit a certain task rather than the other way around. At some point, I realized I was not making much progress on this challenge so I started choosing books that are on my TBR list or already on my nook and plugging them in for the tasks. I've made some headway with this strategy but I think the readathon is a great place to finish off the remaining ones that I've already picked out since the challenge ends September 1. If you are interested in the full list of tasks or more info on the challenge, go here.


 
 








 
Will I read all of these books? No! Absolutely not. But it's a good way for me to remember which ones are left and keep me on track to my goal of finishing this challenge. I'll update to let you know which I'm reading when the actual readathon starts. Which brings me to:
 

Updates:

Throughout the week of the 19th I'm going to post daily (or try really, really hard to...) updates to let you know the progress I've made on my goals as well as any challenges or social hours I've participated in. They will look something like this:
 
Number of pages I read today:
Total amount of time I read today:
Books I'm reading:
Books I've read:
Challenges:
Social hours:
 
Remember, all of this info is mostly to keep me accountable to myself but if you are participating in BoB or just following along with me, I would love to hear from you! I think this is a great way to start some conversations about books and book related things so feel free to comment at any time.

Now, we wait for the 19th when the readathon and serious book reading will commence!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-thon!


 Ok people, I am really excited about this upcoming read-a-thon!!! I first heard about Bout of Books from Charleen over at Cheap Thrills. At first, I was like oh cool, a read-a-thon. Might be fun. I like to read and I like accomplishing reading goals. But then I went over to Bout of Books and the more I read, the more I loved! This read-a-thon is hosted by two book bloggers (Amanda and Kelly, see below) and it epitomizes what book blogs and challenges are to me! The rules are simple and the competition is basically with yourself. You can use it as motivation to read more or just accomplish some reading goals you've been meaning to set for a while. The whole vibe is very laid back and it's apparent the goal is to just enjoy reading and all that it gives to us. I love that!

I've recently stumbled across some blogs that just rub me the wrong way. They are all about "beating" other people and following strict rules. If you don't follow said rules, you get a strike! So many strikes, you get BANNED! Dun dun dunnnnnn. WTF? That is not what reading is about and it completely turned me off of the idea until I found BoB. I'm so glad there is a group of readers out there who just want to motivate each other and uplift other bloggers. Plus, I think it will be a great way to network so I won't be so lame in the bloggy world (as evidenced by this and this.)

One of the coolest features of this event is that there will be social hours where you can connect and meet other book bloggers. Hence the newly created Beauty and the Book twitter account! You can find me @beautybookblog or just hit that button over there on the side.

I'm so excited to take some time to enjoy the book blogging community as well as achieve some personal reading goals. So why don't you grab a BoB button and read along with me? I will be posting my goals in the next few days as well as updates during the week of the 19th. Feel free to follow along and join! Here's to reading and the positive side of book blogging. Cheers!


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I've joined Twitter!


See the brand new button over there?---> Join me on twitter!


Did you do it? 


If yes, high five! If no, high five to the face!

Just kidding.

*There is actually a reason for this development and it will be revealed early next week. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 9, 2013

15 Day Book Bloger Challenge Day 6


 
Describe How You Shop for Books
 
I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but I totally do! If I haven't heard of the book, the only way I will buy it is if the cover catches my eye on the shelf. Other than that, I have to rely on recommendations from friends, bloggers, and goodreads. Since I'm not really big on buying books these days (lack of dollas...) if I'm going to buy one, it has to be one that has come highly recommended or is on my to-read shelf. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I get tricked into deals by B&N where I buy a random book to get another one "free" (see here) but if that's the case, then the cover is what caught me! I also really enjoy buying used classics. The older the better. I will get these from our local book dispensary and they are almost always classics I have read and loved. I'm currently on the look out for a used copy of Atlas Shrugged. I like the character of older books better and that is one that I would like to own! Alas, I don't buy a lot of books at the moment because I tend to read ebooks and absolutely refuse to buy an ebook. I love them but would not waste money on something I can't at least admire on my shelves!!! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fools Rush In

The lame guy on the cover does no justice to DJ!
Title: Fools Rush In

Author: Janice Thompson

Date Read: August 7, 2013

Nook pages: 278

Series: Weddings by Bella #1

Summary: Bella Rossi may be nearing thirty, but her life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding planning business, Bella is determined not to let them down. She quickly books a "Boot Scoot'n" wedding that would make any Texan proud. There's only one catch - she's a country music numbskull because her family only listens to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Where will she find a DJ on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his Keith Urban?
When a misunderstanding leads her to the DJ (and man) of her dreams, things start falling into place. But with a family like hers, nothing is guaranteed. Can the perfect Texan wedding survive a pizza-making uncle with mob ties, an aunt who is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and a massive delivery of 80 cowboy boots? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding? goodreads

Review: My favorite part of this book were the characters! I loved the Neeleys and thought both Bubba and DJ were dreamy. That may be because I have a soft spot for southern men but I also think it is a nod to the author's character development. Granted, it was all very stereptypical but it made the characters believable.  I could imagine meeting the Neeleys in my town and them fitting in perfectly while the Rossis made me think of many traditional, big, Italian families I know. I also think the author did a good job of keeping these families loyal to their traditions and upbringings but open to other people's way of life as well. I'm not sure if that part is realistic but it made for a nice setting.

I loved the two extremely different cultures that were described in this book. You wouldn't think that "off the boat" Italians and deep rooted Southerners would come together but somehow, in this novel, they manage to. Simpatico! I found the initial clash of cultures to be very funny and create a lot of comedic scenes. One of my favorites was when Rosa met Bubba for the first time which resulted in an overbearing Italian trying to communicate with a overly polite Southerner. It was awkward to say the least but very well done and believable. The author also did a good job of identifying food as the main staple of each culture which gave them a place to connect.

That being said, I had a few issues with this book. Namely, Bella. Initially, I connected with her and understood her dedication to her culture, her religion, and her family and respected her for that. But as the novel progressed, she started to irk me. First of all, how is it possible that she was raised in Texas (11-30 or so, that qualifies as raised) and has not adopted a single Texan tradition. It's called assimilation and it's unavoidable. Just look at her parents' generation! They were able to find their place in America after coming from Italy and still maintain their traditions. With Bella, it was as if she wasn't interested in learning a new culture and scoffed at it for 20 years until she met her first dreamy cowboy (and how is that possible, Texas is full of dreamy cowboys?!?) She also was very insecure which can be endearing to a point but she just became obnoxious.

One other character that I didn't connect with was Sophia. She just popped in and out of the story at weird times and don't even get me started on her joke of a story line (I won't spoil it) that she just "dropped" at the end of the story. That was a little bit of a cop out and would probably have been better not being mentioned at all.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first half of the book but the end became a little redundant and predictable which made it hard for me to enjoy. I will most likely not be continuing the series but this was a quick easy read even if it lost it's power in the end. I LOVED sister Twila's beauty secrets at the end though. Cute idea!

 
*I should note, this is a Christian novel. If you are at all turned off by strong religious views, I would avoid this book because it became very preachy towards the end.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Chum

Title: Chum

Author: Jeff Somers

Date Read: August 1, 2013

ARC Book

Summary: Mary and Bickerman are the center of their circle of friends--but these friends are strangers as well as family to them. In the course of year, under the influence of a stressful wedding and a whole lot of alcohol, relationships and nerves are twisted and broken as the dynamics of the cozy-seeming group shift. Secrets are kept, emotions withheld, and it doesn't look like it's going to end well for anyone.

Told always in first person, but not the same person, and unfolding in double-helix chronology that provides a "Rashomon"-like narration, "Chum" is the story of love, liquor, and death. goodreads


Review: I liked this book before I started to really know the characters. Initially, I felt I could relate to some of them and the story took me back to drunken college days and some fond memories but that is about where my relating stopped. As the story went on, I began to relate the whole novel to a night of boozing. In the beginning, you have a few drinks and start to feel the buzz which leads to good times and lots of socializing. You are having fun and making friends, albeit superficial. As the drinks increase, so does the excitement and poor decision making. But as the night progresses and the alcohol wears off, your true feelings and personality come to light (be that good or bad) and things aren't as entertaining. By the end of the book, when all of the true colors of the characters were revealed, it made me think of the morning after a night of debauchery (or motherf***ery, as in the story) when the alcohol has worn off and the hangover remains. Not a good feeling. I was disgusted by the majority of the characters, with the exception of maybe Kelly, and surprised at how weak their connections and loyalties to each other were. I think this book does a good job of showing how friendships can progress and regress based on certain events and the harsh reality that comes with seeing who a person actually is, rather than who you initially imagined.

As far as formatting goes, I liked the idea of different narrators who allowed us to see their unique perspectives on each event but for me, it got a little confusing. It took a page or two to figure out exactly who was narrating and the constant switching back and forth on the timeline caused me to have to stop and figure out where we were.