Friday, January 31, 2014

February 2014 Reading List

It's that time to set my reading goals for the month and I'm super excited because I successfully completed my January goals. Go me!

I read: 

The Color Purple
The Cutting Season
The Chaperone (Loved it!)

and Re-read: 

The Lies of Lock Lamora (Loved it, obviously.)

I wasn't super thrilled with the rest of my list. The Cutting Season was pretty good but the others were just not my favorite. If you haven't already, check out the reviews if you want to know more of  what I think. 

Now, on to the lovely month of February. The month of Valentine's day and loooooove. I thought about doing a theme for this month but quickly threw that out. I love love and all but didn't want to get burned out and become one of those Valentine's Day haters. They annoy me. Celebrate love! Buy a treat for your dog if you don't have a beau. I promise, your dog (or any other animal) will give you some love.

Or just buy a big ole box of chocolates for yourself. I'm sure you'd appreciate it.
I digress. Here's the list for this month! I was planning on only putting one "real book" on this list but I just have to read these two ASAP so I'm changing the rules. I'll probably do more than 5 ebooks in the future as well since I finished my January list about half way through the month but I wanted to make sure that wasn't just a fluke. Not all of the real books will necessarily be from my official goodreads TBR but the ebooks will be. Here goes:  

Real Books


After Wednesday's post, you know why this is at the top of my list. It will be my first time re-reading this book and I don't remember a lot about it (other than loving it) so I'm really looking forward to it!

Red Seas Under Red Skies 

Continuing the series in order to get to #3. Love Locke!


No idea where most of these came from but I know they sound familiar and ended up on my TBR somehow.


237209The Good Father

In the Woods


The Innocents

The Last Little Blue Envelope
This is the sequel to a random book I picked up years ago. I think I rated the first one 4/5 and was pleasantly surprised with it. Just want to see where the story goes. 


The Leftovers

Have you read any of these and what are you reading in February? 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Peaks and Valleys

I have some good news and some bad news with regards to my reading life. I tend to prefer the bad news first because then the worst part is over and there's only good left. So let's get to it. Last weekend, I headed over to my local Barnes and Noble to browse and do some purchasing. B&N being a favorite destination of mine, I was devastated to see zero books in the windows and this on the front door:

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? I was literally here two weeks ago and had no idea my favorite store was closing! I know they've been closing a lot of brick and mortars, but this is a great location right next to the huge mall and all of the shopping centers so I definitely didn't see this coming. Thankfully, there is another B&N in my city but it's wayyyyy across town which is just inconvenient. To say I'm depressed is an understatement. Tear.

After that blow, I didn't know how I was going to recover but when I got my mail yesterday, I found this beauty and my happiness has been restored (mostly.)

Isn't she beautiful?!? For Christmas I asked for the Outlander books so I could have them in the non-electronic version as well as the ebooks. I've read all of the books digitally at this point and it's one of my top three favorite series so I decided it was worth it to purchase the real books for my bookshelf and the big re-read I'll be doing this year. I have all of the others in paperbacks but I decided to get the 20th anniversary edition of Outlander and I could not be more pleased with this hardcover!

But it gets better. When my mom was shopping for Christmas, someone told her about a bookstore in Arizona that sells signed copies of the Outlander books (The Poisonned Pen and they sell signed copies of lots of books) and when she told me about it, I had to have one. So here it is!

Diana Gabaldon had her hot little hands on my copy of her book and signed that baby!!! I'm in love! I think this is actually the only signed copy of a book I own (nobody visits my town) and I'm super excited about it. I will now officially begin re-reading all of the books to prepare for the show coming out this spring and the next book hopefully coming out soon after that. 

While the loss of my favorite bookstore is sad, Diana mended my broken heart and I think I'll be ok in the long run. I really wish the loss of B&N meant there would be a better market for the small bookstores but there really aren't any around. There is a book depository right up the street from me, but they don't always have what I'm looking for so I'll keep my fingers crossed for some better options to pop up soon. But let's be honest, my book buying/reading will not stop because my neighborhood giant bookseller has disappeared. Might actually be good for my wallet...

Did you have any peaks or valleys this week?

Monday, January 27, 2014

South of Broad

6135237 Title: South of Broad
Author: Pat Conroy
Read: December 27, 2013

Summary: Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds. goodreads

Review: Oh, this book and Pat Conroy officially have my heart. I've heard of Conroy for years but never read one of his books. I've also lived in SC for about 12 years and am what they lovely southerners refer to as a "transplant." Despite that, even I, a second generation Yankee, can feel the pull of Charleston. And not the touristy, "let's look at the pretty houses on the Battery" pull, but the resident of South Carolina, weekend trips to the real Charleston, summers on the beach pull. It's easy to fall in love with this city and South of Broad is like a love letter to the Holy City.

Where do I begin?!? The characters were phenomenal! They were well rounded and from every walk of life and I could picture meeting them in high school as well as how they got to where they are now. Their personalities and upbringings mimic real residents of SC who I've grown up with and it makes me connect to this story even more. (Sidenote: is this for everyone or just people in SC? I'm biased and need a baseline.) Who wouldn't love Leo and fall under Sheba's spell. Who didn't want Trevor for a best friend and Niles on the police force? It all just seemed genuine and to me, that's the makings of a good book!

The story line has something for everyone. It addresses everything from the AIDs epidemic to race to natural disasters. There is substance abuse (many types of abuse), mental illness, and culture gaps. There is action, love, and heartbreak. And through it all, loyalty. Unfathomable loyalty.

I know I'm gushing at this point but how can I not? I dare you to read this book and not be swept away to Charleston or San Francisco with these characters. I dare you to have your heart not break right along with the characters throughout these 20 years of life. I dare you not to have this book make you think deeper about real issues that still exist today, 30-50 years later. Read this book. I dare you.

I'm amazed that I'm one of the few who feel this way on goodreads. Interesting...
I'm amazed that I'm one of the few who feel this way on goodreads. Interesting...

Friday, January 24, 2014

White Oleander

32234 Title: White Oleander
Author: Janet Fitch
Read: December 21, 2013

Summary: When Astrid's mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet, murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life, Astrid becomes one of the thousands of foster children in Los Angeles. As she navigates this new reality, Astrid finds strength in her unshakable certainty of her own worth and her unfettered sense of the absurd. goodreads

Review: This book is heart wrenching. Following Astrid through the series of foster homes and the people she has to deal with is tough to do and really makes you feel for her when you think about the fact that she had to actually experience these things from a young age. That being said, all of these crazy women who foster her help her to discover who she is and have an impact on the person she has become which is beautiful in it's own way.

Even though the story focuses mostly on Astrid's relationships with her foster families, the real focus is on Astrid and Ingrid's (her mother) relationship. From the start, I despised Ingrid for who she was as a mother and a person. She was selfish and did things her own way, regardless of the consequences, because she was an unique, artistic, individual. Frankly, she gives unique, artistic, individuals a bad name. Throughout the book it is clear the impact the person she was had on Astrid, both good and bad.

In the beginning of the book, it seems as though Astrid feels guilty for just existing and burdening her mother with the responsibility of taking care of her. She is constantly taking the blame for anything that goes wrong and internalizes all of the issues. At that point in her life, Astrid could never imagine blaming her mother for the things that were going wrong (which of course were a direct result of Ingrid's actions.) As the story progresses and Ingrid goes to jail, Astrid is forced into numerous foster homes which give her new perspectives of the world. It is obvious that Astrid was lacking in the mother department and while these homes are wretched most of the time, they also expose Astrid to other ways of living and thinking which is ultimately, for her benefit. They give her someone to compare Ingrid to and sometimes, Ingrid actually comes out on top. Not to give credit to Ingrid but some of the moms were just so horrible that they made her look good.

Astrid's view of her mother also begins to change as she grows up. She begins to see the evil Ingrid is capable of and her numerous faults. I believe this enlightenment happens with every daughter and mother to some extent. Not that girls start to see their mothers as evil, but they start to see their parents as human beings rather than untouchable super heroes. They realize there are flaws and mistakes that they had missed when growing up and this realization can be hard for any child. It was very hard for Astrid. Especially when she had so many "mothers" to compare Ingrid to. In the end, Ingrid found a way to redeem herself to an extent which made me not hate her as much but it didn't change all of the damage she did to Astrid. Through this journey, Astrid starts to see reality and the ugly truth. She goes from being naive to a little jaded but she is a survivor and finds ways to make all of her experiences work for her rather than hinder her.

I loved this book and the writing was lyrical and poetic at times. The bond between a mother and her daughter can be beautiful and deep but also very confusing and complicated and this story shows that in many different ways. I would definitely recommend!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Dinner

15797938Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Read: January 12, 2014

Summary: Over one meal, two families struggle with the hardest decision of their lives. On an Amsterdam summer evening, two couples are united by their sons, aged 15, their horrific joint deed. Behind banal polite discourse in a restaurant, knives are sharpened, friendship disintegrates. How far will adults go to protect those they love? goodreads

Review: This book was not what I was expecting. I didn't have an idea of what the "horrific joint deed" was but I thought the story would focus more on that rather than the narrator's (Paul) extreme disdain for everything. I felt like the whole book was just him bitching about his brother, his brother's kids, his old job, mental illness, hoity toity restaurants, the weather. Any and everything. We get it Paul, you're a miserable person. He was my first problem with this book.

Next, let's talk about that "horrific joint deed" shall we? I'm not going to spoil it but I was surprisingly disgusted by this part of the book. I say surprisingly because I have read the gruesomest (word? probably not) of the gruesome and have not even thought twice about it. But for some reason, the details of what these kids did really disgusted me and permanently changed my view of them. Not coming back from that one!

This book has been compared to Jillian Flynn's Gone Girl which is probably the most perplexing part of this whole book. How? I don't get it and I don't see it. I thought Gone Girl was well done and while it had it's dark moments, they made sense and added to the story. None of that was going on here. I don't get it. Can someone explain this to me?

The only reason I didn't give this book a 1/5 is because the moral of the story was legit. Every parent's worst fear is that their child will do something that they can't come back from. It's scary to think of the consequences teenagers can get for doing stupid things and not thinking about their actions but at the same time, we can't let behaviors like that go unpunished. I understood the difficulty these two sets of parents had in choosing how to handle this situation and while I don't necessarily agree with their tactics (it's not all about you, Serge), I think it is hard to judge them unless you have been in their shoes.

Overall, the book was a disappointment. It went off on tangents that I didn't enjoy and most of the characters are despicable. But hey, if that's your thing, read this book!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Color of Magic

601238Title: The Color of Magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Read: January 14, 2014
Series: Discworld #1

Summary: On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious buy inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet... goodreads

Review: How did this get on my TBR list? I have no idea! That seems to be the case with most of my TBR list but I rarely question myself until it is too late and I've started the book. Since we all know I don't believe in DNF, I have regretted the lack of parameters on my TBR list a time or two. This is one of those times.

Don't get me wrong. This book is ridiculous. And delightfully ridiculous at times. The sense of humor is what some people refer to as "British humor" and there are very clever plays on words and character developments but it just wasn't for me. I was bored! The story basically follows two characters through a magical world and all of the stupid things they do to get them into trouble. Funny at times? Yes. Completely ridiculous? Yes. Worth MY time? No. I emphasize MY time because I think this book would be very enjoyable for some people but it just wasn't for me. I prefer my humor sarcastic, snarky, and witty. This was not that. From what I understand, I'm in the minority here and there are a ton of other books in the series that are just as delightfully ridiculous as this one if that's what you're into. While I can appreciate this type of writing, I am not interested in reading any more of it. Nope. Not for me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Atlantis Code

*Sorry for the technical difficulties around here lately. It seems posts keep appearing and disappearing when they shouldn't. I think blogger hates me. But at least you got a sneak peek for what's to come :)

Title: The Atlantis Code
Author: Charles Brokaw
Read: January 11, 2014
Series: Thomas Lourds #1

Summary: A thrill-seeking Harvard linguistics professor and an ultrasecret branch of the Catholic Church go head-to-head in a race to uncover the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis. The ruins of the technologically-advanced, eerily-enigmatic ancient civilization promise their discoverer fame, fortune, and power… but hold earth-shattering secrets about the origin of man.

While world-famous linguist and archaeologist, Thomas Lourds, is shooting a film that dramatizes his flamboyant life and scientific achievements, satellites spot impossibly ancient ruins along the Spanish coast.  Lourds knows exactly what it means: the Lost Continent of Atlantis has been found.  The race is on, and Lourds' challengers will do anything to get there first.

Whoever controls the Lost Continent will control the world. goodreads

Review: First off, I hate the name Lourds for the main character. It sounds like a ridiculous last name (coming from a girl with 9 letters in her maiden name) and even dumber first name (which is how it's used throughout the book.) Does this have anything to do with the story or my enjoyment of the book? No. But it irked me and I'm voicing my irkedness. Moving on.

This book just didn't do it for me. I love conspiracy theories and really enjoyed the premise of Da Vinci Code so I was hoping for something like that with this. I think Atlantis is such a cool idea and I want it to exist but the concept of this whole story just didn't seem conceivable to me. Not to say that I believe in the Da Vinci Code's premise, but it was at least believable and could be backed up by certain facts. This just felt to fantastical which made it hard to connect with.

I also didn't connect with any of the characters. I didn't feel like they were developed very well. Natasha was a bad ass all the way through but it seemed like she had a death wish at times. I definitely did not get the attraction to Lourds and thought the sex scene/relationships were extremely awkward. Leslie had potential at the beginning of the book but then she just became jealous and whiny. Not helpful. I thought Gary was pretty cool and added something to the journey rather than took away from it.

I'm sure there are better books on Atlantis out there, and I for one would like to read them, but this is not one I would recommend.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Art of Racing in the Rain

3153910Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Read: January 5, 2014

Summary: Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human only a dog could tell it. goodreads

Review: Dog people. I'm one of them. If you're not, I don't recommend this book. You won't understand the ultimate hope every dog person has that their dog has a personality of his own, that they understand every word you say, and that they know whats going on around them. I know my dog has a personality because I see it every day. He's stubborn but lovable and just wants someone to throw his rope and rub his belly. He's simple but loyal and very entertaining at times. I know this makes me a dog person. Some people may think I'm crazy (I'll admit I have my moments) but my life is better because my dog is in it. If you are one of those people who thinks this is crazy, stop reading now. Come back for the next non-dog related review though!

Welcome, dog people! Now I will warn you, this is a tear jerker. I was crying within the first chapter and you can assume the reason why. I knew this outcome was likely in this book and while it broke my heart, I love hearing about other people's relationships with their dogs and I thought this book would be interesting anyway. I was right!

This story is told through the eyes of Enzo rather than his "owner" which makes it unique from other dog stories. Enzo's main goal is to be a human in his next life and he believes that he is as close to one as a dog can get. He sees things that most people would overlook and he is aware of subtle cues that can affect everything. He is very loyal to Denny and this story follows Enzo and Denny's life through a series of car racing metaphors. This aspect of the book was very well done and prefaced a lot of the big moments in their lives. Enzo would refer to a technique used in racing that would be helpful for a person to use in real life when crises arise. If you're anything like me, you couldn't care less about racing, but this aspect of the book is not overwhelming and doesn't distract from the relationships and overall plot. This is a story that looks at human nature through a dog's eyes and it is very well done. I would recommend it to even the sanest of the "dog people."

And just for fun, here is a picture of my dog, Bowman

Who wouldn't love this guy? Wonder what he's thinking...

Monday, January 13, 2014


12381269Title: Deadlocked
Author: Charlaine Harris
Read: December 16, 2013
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #12

Summary: A young girl has died at a vampire party - and it looks as though her lover, Eric, might be responsible. Eric swears he didn't do it, the police don't believe him, and even Sookie isn't so sure. Nor is she inclined to take his word for it, not having caught him enjoying the victim's blood minutes before she was killed.

But something strange is going on. Why had Sookie been asked to come to the fateful party a few minutes early - just to catch Eric in the act? And why had the victim spiked her own blood before approaching Eric? Was it simply because she wanted to be irresistible, or was it something more sinister?

Sookie will have to find out ... but it's the worst moment to investigate, as her Fae family are having troubles of their own and Sookie is, inevitably, drawn in. And there is one last complication. The cluviel dor her grandmother left her. It will grant her one wish, which could fulfil Sookie's heart's desire. The only problem is, she still doesn't know what - or who - her heart truly desires ... goodreads

Review: Ok. I'm so over this series. I just feel like Charlaine Harris has dropped the ball. The only reason I'm reading still is because I'm already 12 in and I think there is only one more. I'm at the point though, where I don't care what happens. I still think Sookie is an interesting character/person and I really like the premise of the series but if Charlaine's heart isn't in it anymore, she should just quit. The last few books have felt like filler to get to the end. I'm ready for the end! Just bring it on already and wrap it all up! I'm also getting annoyed with how Sookie can't seem to stay out of trouble. I know some of the premise of the books is that trouble finds her but you would think by now the poor girl would have wised up. Sadly, that's not the case.

I'm sorry this is not a very in depth review but there wasn't much happening in this book. I've gotten to the point where I don't care what happens to Sookie and I don't care which vampire she ends up with. Ideally, I think she needs Sam but no one asks me. Despite my negative feels about this book, you can bet your ass I'm reading the last one. Did I mention I also own all 12? That means I'll also be purchasing the last one. I"m a freak.

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 2014 Reading List

In light of my recent goals that I have set for myself, I'm going to start setting monthly reading lists (aka goals!) to help keep me on track. I'm thinking I'll pre-set 5 a month to keep me reading books that are relevant, on my TBR list, or part of a series I want to finish. I will do one "real" book and four ebooks for now. Keep in mind, I do what I want so the structure might change in future months but I'm going to strive and read my 5 books each month (plus whatever else catches my fancy). May also keep me on track for conquering the TBR as well as my annual 100. First up, is January! And yes, I'm fully aware we are well into the month of January but like with my goals, I'm just a wee bit late. After my small blogging sabbatical it took me a while to line up future posts and ideas. Give me a break!

Real book

The Lies of Locke Lamora
I've already started this one and read it before. Loving every second of it!


1148613056159 The Chaperone
No idea where this one came from but I'll try it. 

The Color Purple
Yes, I know. I haven't read this one yet either. Soon to be remedied!

60123813623785The Color (or Colour) of Magic
Disc World #1
Not sure why this is on TBR but I think I remember someone mentioning that it is for Harry Potter fans, which I obviously am. 

The Cutting Season
Southern. History. Plantation. Mystery. Right up my alley!

15797938 The Dinner
Heard good things about this one, looking forward to it.

Have you read any of these? What are your January goals?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Goals for 2014

*UPDATE: Since I'm way behind on reading all of my favorite blogs I missed the TTT regarding goals for this year. I'm going to go ahead and link up after the fact. Head over to The Broke and The Bookish and join me!

I recently mentioned that I'm not big on resolutions but I am big on goals, so I thought I'd get all official and set some! No, it does not matter that it is 8 days into the new year. I'm just fashionably late. Without further ado:

1. Read 100 books. 
I accomplished this one in 2012 and just assumed I'd do it again in 2013. Turns out, that was not the case. I think I was about ten short but I think it's totally doable this year so I'm officially making it my goal again. 

2. Read at least one "real" book a month. 
We're talking about dead tree books here people and I need to read more. I rely on my Nook almost constantly because I have hundreds of books on it and take it with me everywhere I go. Unfortunately, this means my books shelves (or lack there of, see goal #3) are constantly growing with unread books. I'm not sure how I determine ebook vs real book when it comes to reading. I never buy ebooks, so if I'm going to purchase one, it's one I've read before (and will read again), it's part of a series I already own books in (I'm OCD about it. Leave me alone.), or it's a hyped up book that I'm pretty sure I will enjoy. Other than that, I mostly rely on library and ebooks. Not to say a random puchase doens't happen now and again but I try to have it happen less frequently.

3. Get my bookshelves in order. 
Growing up I had a book shelf in my room stocked with books. It's currently stacked at least two deep with books that I've accumulated over the years. Now that I'm older, I've left most of those books in my parents house but still seem to have collected a lot that I want to read in the future. I don't actually have many books that I have read in my current house. I have some classics that I have displayed throughout the living room for decoration but there are still not very many. Hence, the reason for goal #2. Now, back to this goal. My great-grandfather built this beautiful bookcase that is currently living in my parents garage. I've called dibs, for obvious reason,s and it is all mine as soon as I can coordinate my husband with his truck to drive up there and get it. This turns out to be much harder than it seems because his truck bed is always full, or we have the dog which moves anything in the back seat to the bed, or no one else is around to haul the thing to the truck with us. Either way, it is mine and I'm going to get my hot little hands on it ASAP so stacks like these stop popping up around my house...

4. Get my TBR list down to 200.
On one hand, this may be easy. I'm trying to be more "relevant" in my reading and reviews so that will remove a lot of books off this list. On the other hand, when I realize I'll still have 200 left (plus the large number I will add this year) it's still overwhelming. Whatever. I need to make a dent and I'm looking forward to doing so.

5. Make some moves on various series I'm in the middle of. 
I think this will constitute some re-reads which I'm actually kind of excited about. I know I've talked about my series hoarding before (I just don't want them to end!!!) but a few great books have been released in the past year that are installments in series I've began. The problem tends to be my horrible memory. I rarely remember all of the details in the first books of the series so I want to re-read some of my favorites before the new ones come out. The series/books I'm focusing on the most are: 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)10964-Good ole' Harry Potter:
I re-read the first 6 last year and never got around to the 7th for some reason, so I'm going to finish out my last book in this series (for this go around at least.)

-Outlander: This may be one of my all time favorite series. I've never re-read any of them and was just gifted the first 4, so I'm going to work my way through all ones I've read (only up to five because I'm hoarding like a crazy person) then follow up with at least #6 if not #7 as well.
13496A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

- All Soul's Trilogy: I read A Discovery of Witches in 2012 and surprisingly fell in love with it. The second one came out last year so I'm hoping to read both.

-A Song of Fire and Ice: I read the first three in this series over the last two years and I think it's time for the next one. I don't think I will re-read the first three before the fourth though.

12745513511351-The Gentleman Bastards: To be honest, this series is the real reason I'll be re-reading any books this year (usually not my thing). Scott Lynch goes what feels like decades between his fabulous books. I don't think my memory will do the series justice in preparation for the third one without a re-read. I've already started Lies and am overwhelmed with pleasure! Plus it doesn't hurt the hubby gifted me all three in hardback (one of which had to be bought from a library.) Love it!

-Inn Boonsboro Trilogy:
And last but not least, I'm going to read the final book in this series. This is one of my favorite romance series (and one that I share with my mom) so it will be sad to say goodbye to the Montgomery brothers (for now), but I think it's time. Sigh.

Any goals for you? Want to join me in some of mine?!? It'll be super fun and I'll update you as I go!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gone With the Wind

18405Title: Gone With the Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
Read: December 31, 2013

Summary: Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell's epic love story is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and its people forever changed. At the heart of all this chaos is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett 'O' Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler. goodreads

Review: OH THE FEELS!!! How did I make it until now without reading this book?!?! I loved it! It has quickly made it's way to the top of my favorite books list and I enjoyed every second of the 1,000+ pages.

Where do I begin? Well, since shes the main character and the person everyone loves to hate, let's start with my girl Scarlett O'Hara. I have a confession. I loved Scarlett. Okay, okay, I know she was wretched most of the time. And pretty much a horrible friend, wife, mother, and all around person. But the girl was a spitfire and I liked that!

I liked her because she wanted to buck the traditions of meek, quiet women in the South even though it was for selfish reasons and now equality. She's all around a selfish person but while accomplishing her own goals, her success trickles down to positively affect those around her. Granted, sometimes she makes things harder for others, but the Wilkes would not have survived the war if it wasn't for Scarlett. Yes, she's a hard person to love and cheer for at times but she is a phenomenal character!

Next, good ol' Rhett Butler. One word, swoon. I fell in love with this man from the start. I loved how he pursued Scarlett and valued her for her mind and her individuality. He was the rebel of the 1800s but I can't be the only one who's heart he grabbed from the beginning. I loved his relationship with Bonnie and my heart broke for him at the end of the book. I didn't see any of that coming and was expecting more of a happy ending.

And in the end, I saw this story as a tragedy. It's about ill timed love affairs and how things can fall apart with one false move. Scarlett lost a lot throughout this book but she always stood strong and came out on the other side. Knowing that, I think it was easier to accept the ending of this book and know that Scarlett is nothing if not a survivor.

It turns out I'm a sucker for southern novels. I loved reading about the history of the civil war and what life was like before, during, and after. A lot of the beliefs and ways of life still ring true today in the south and it was interesting to be able to see where a lot of them stem from. As a transplant in the south, I never knew why people had these certain ways of thinking but after reading about the things they went through in the civil war, a lot more makes sense. Some of it is still certifiably crazy, (the north won and the war is over guys...) but I can empathize with them a little better.

My favorite part of this book overall continues to be the characters. Mitchell did a great job of the characterizations and I really connected with them. You cheered for them and wanted what's best for them even if they were crazy and selfish (looking at you, Scarlett.) I didn't want the book to end but now I'll have the pleasure of watching the movie for comparisons. I'm sure it won't hold a candle to the book but I'd love to see how this story comes to life in film.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

Title: The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
Author: Gary Chapman
Read: January 1, 2014

Summary: Marriage should be based on love, right? But does it seem as though you and your spouse are speaking two different languages? New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.

By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with specific, simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction. A newly designed love languages assessment will help you understand and strengthen your relationship. You can build a lasting, loving marriage together. amazon

Review: Here's a little light reading/self-help book. Why did I pick this book up? There's actually a couple reasons. First of all, I'm pretty sure my mom recommended it to me a long time ago and it made it to the TBR shelf. Second of all, I have a degree in Marriage and Family counseling so this is right up my professional development alley (nerd alert.) And finally, I'm a newlywed and I figured it may not hurt to start early on collecting marital advice. The good thing about taking marriage advice from a book is that I can throw it against a wall if I hate it (which I didn't) and that is very different from how I'm allowed to react when a great aunt gives marriage advice. Books are much more preferable because I can choose when I want the advice and can avoid the presumptuous relatives dishing it out during the holidays. Not that this has ever happened to me...

The basic premise of this book is that everyone speaks their own love language (words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, acts of service, or physical touch.) The problem comes when you and your spouse speak different languages because neither person will understand how to communicate their love in the way that will be best received by their significant other. This book explains the different languages and helps you to understand which one you are as well as which one your spouse is. Once you know their language, you can start expressing love that way rather than the way you prefer to be loved. If the person doesn't understand that you are expressing love to them (because they don't speak the language) they are not going to receive the love. So you simply have to adjust your behavior to show love in a new way. Understand? This book simplifies everything and makes it seem like this is the solution to everything. And for all I know, it is! I'm not having marriage problems at the moment and I believe my husband and my "love tanks" are full, but in the future I will probably resort to some of these ideas during the hard times.

As a therapist, a lot of this makes sense to me and I have preached parts of it to my clients before. Communication is a skill that has to be learned and it is no different for expressing love. That being said, I also know how hard it is to change behavior and these ideas will only work if you actually use them. I would recommend this book to just about anybody who wants to make a difference in their relationship. It's a super quick, easy read with lots of examples and the author does a good job of explaining things in a way most people can understand. There are a lot of bible quotes so if you are turned off by religion I would probably not pick this up but they are not overwhelming by any means and are easy to skim over if you aren't religious.

Have you or anyone you've known ever read this book? Do you believe in this stuff? What's your love language?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it is already 2014 and the holidays are over! I'm officially back from my short sabbatical and will resume regular posting. I had a fabulous time on my honeymoon. We spent a week in Jamaica and I'm already ready to go back. 

We also got to spend some great quality time with family over Christmas and Santa was very good us. I got some great new books that I will be reviewing over the next couple of months so you can all look forward to those good times. Then the hubby surprised me with a brand new Nook HD. 

Did I need a new Nook? Absolutely not. But it's lovely and I already have it loaded with hundreds of books. One of the coolest things about this Nook is that it hooks up to my computer and calibre wirelessly. How convenient! Love it. 

In other news, now that it's the new year, it's time for resolutions!!! Right? Maybe not. I'm not a big resolutionist. If I want to make a change, I tend to do it when I want to throughout the year, not wait until the January first. That being said, I do get a weird pleasure of setting reading goals. This past year, I set the goal of reading 30,00 pages and 75 books. I definitely hit both of my goals but when I did, I realized I actually had the goal of reading 100 books. I hit 100 last year and was planning on repeating this year but I only read about 90. I counted pages for the first time this year and was surprised to know how many pages I actually read. Pretty cool! 

For 2014, I'm going to stop counting pages and just focus on books again. Those are easy to track because goodreads keep track of them for me. I'm also going to continue to participate in the quarterly book challenges that I'm already in (I'm planning a post to explain this more soon). But what I would like to do differently this year is to incorporate the blog and start monthly goals of books to read. There's really no rhyme or reason to what I read next which can lead to a huge TBR list and I would like to manage it better which I think these goals will help with. I will also include at least one dead tree book in each monthly goal so I can start making a bigger impact on my real bookshelves. All of these goals will be expanded upon throughout the year and I'll post to keep you updated but this is the plan for now. 

Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2014?