Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Bingo 2014

Host: Kristilyn [readinginwinter.com] and Anne [creativityscorner.com]

Link: Book Bingo 2014 Sign Up

Goal: Be amazing. Get any one BINGO or fill your whole board if you're an overachiever.

Time Frame: Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2014

I did this challenge last year and had a lot of fun keeping lists of the books I read for each category and crossing off squares. Kristilyn and Anne designed a new board for 2014 to keep things interesting. Check out the sign up page at the link above and join the Bingo fun! I'm aiming to fill the whole board this year.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The 2014 Big Book Challenge

Host: orianna at Walkabout

Link: The 2014 Big Book Challenge

My Goal: Read at least one 500+ page book that I've been putting off because of it's length.

Time Frame: Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2014

 I hate to make promises I can't keep but I'm going to try once again to read Anna Karenina this year. My copy has 838 pages.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

TBR Challenge 2014 {Romance}

Host: Wendy the Super Librarian

Link: 2014 TBR Reading Challenge Sign Up

Goal: Read one book every month that's been languishing on your TBR pile and share via review or commentary.

Time Frame: Once a month for 2014

Schedule and suggested monthly themes:
Jan 15     We Love Short Shorts!
Feb 19     Series Catch-Up
Mar 19    New-to-you-author
Apr 16    Contemporary romance
May 21   More Than One [author with more than one book on your TBR]
Jun 18     Romance Classics
Jul 18      Lovely RITA [past RITA winners or nominees]
Aug 20    Luscious Love Scenes
Sep 17     Recommended read
Oct 15     Paranormal or Romantic Suspense
Nov 19    Historical Romance
Dec 17     Holiday themes

Updated June 12, 2014
I'm not doing well at all keeping up with this challenge in any organized way. I have, however, read a few romances from my TBR shelves, though, and will list them here:

Wait For Me by Elisabeth Naughton [novella - rom suspense]  JAN
Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan [series catch up] FEB
Dark Lycan by Christine Feehan [series catch up]
Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James
His At Night by Sherry Thomas [new-to-me author] MAR
Libertine's Kiss by Judith James
Unveiled by Courtney Milan [more than one book on TBR]  MAY
Unlocked by Courtney Milan [more than one book on TBR]

What's In A Name? 2014

Host: Originally BethFishReads but now being hosted by Charlie who blogs at The Worm Hole.
Link: What's In a Name? 2014 Sign Up
Goal: Read one book per category below
Time Frame: Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2014

1. A reference to TIME
2. A position of ROYALTY
4. A FORENAME or names
5. A type or element of WEATHER

1. a + e 4Ever by Ilike Merey
5. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Best Reads of 2013

My most memorable reads of 2013 are based on the 98 books and stories I read in 2013 and does not represent books that were published in that year.

The Book(s) That Broke My Heart: 
I read more than my usual dose of heart wrenching books last year.. 
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini
The Fault in Our Stars by Johen Green

The Most Electric Shock Value: 
Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

The Fantastic Fantasy:
Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Surprise Little Gem:
One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry

Kicking Myself for Waiting So Long to Read:
The Guardians Series by Meljean Brook
still catching up...

Short But Oh So Sweet:
Wanderlust by Kitty French
It only has 3.76 stars on goodreads but I sure did love this sweet and sexy novella.

Most Sinful Guilty Pleasure:
50 Shades of Gray series by E.L. James
Yes, it has its flaws but don't we all?

The Book That Swept Me Away:
The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book Most NOT Worth The Hype:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Book That Challenged Me:
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Other books worth mentioning: 
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

What was your most memorable book(s) of 2013?

Last Year's Book Challenges + stuff

Is anyone still talking about the books they read last year? Yeah, I didn't think so. How was your year of reading in 2013? I did okay number wise, but you know, I'm a little disappointed with my year of reading in general.. I don't know exactly why, but it didn't feel like a stellar year. I think maybe I didn't read enough romance. Anyway, I'm just getting around to pulling together my book stats and reading challenge success and failures from last year now. Hoping it will inspire me for a fabulous year of books in 2014.

First up.. Last Year's Reading Challenges:

I actually had a lot of fun with these and plan on repeating all of them in 2014.

100 Books in a Year 2013:
I read 98 books which includes 11 re-reads.
My goodreads challenge goal was to read 101 books and only made it to 87 I guess because you can't count re-reads there. And then they delete your challenge if you don't make it which stinks because now I can't browse the books I read through that widget anymore. Darn it.

My list of Books Read in 2013

Big Book Challenge 2013

I read four 500+ page books:
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley [527 pages]
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami [611 pages]
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness [579 pages]
Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness [584 pages]

TBR Challenge 2013 [romance]
I missed December but read a book from my TBR pile for all the other months and kept to the suggested theme, too. I missed a few reviews, but am pretty happy about getting to all those books.

(NR = No Review)
Jan 16    Surrender At Dawn by Laura Griffin
Feb 20   The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Mar 20   The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Apr 17   Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson
May 15  Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie (NR)
Jun 19    First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Jul 17     Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale 1992
Aug 21  Dirty by Megan Hart (NR)
Sep 18   At Home in Stoney Creek by Linda Lael Miller
Oct 16   Beg For Mercy by Jami Alden (NR)
Nov 20  50 Shades of Gray by E.L. James (NR)
Dec 18  ----

What's In A Name 6 Reading Challenge
The categories were tough for me this time around but I managed to get it done.

1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in title
2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in title
3. A book with a party or celebration in title
4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in title
5. A book with an emotion in title
6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in title

1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
2. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
3. Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs
4. The Rose of Fire by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
5. A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
6. The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2013
I read two of Murakami's books:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Sputnik Sweetheart

Murakami is a great writer and story teller but I'm think not quite my thing. I am willing to read another of his books, though.. thinking of Norwegian Wood in 2014.

In Death Series perpetual Reading Challenge
My own challenge and I'm failing miserably. I read only one In Death book in 2013, which was Promises In Death back in March. I barely even remember what it was about. In theory I'd like to continue with this series, but I just haven't found the desire to. I think Kindred in Death is next on my list.. is it a good one? Someone motivate me to pick it up! HELP!

Book Bingo 2013
I almost filled the whole board.. I just needed two re-reads! I WAS SO CLOSE! And let me tell you I was very tempted to spend my New Year's Eve re-reading two novellas or something just to fill that Bingo board, but there was celebrating to be done so I let it slide. Here's by Book Bingo 2013 Scorecard:

Finally, the numbers:

I read 98 books total, 11 of which were rereads.

SO CLOSE TO MY GOAL OF 101 BOOKS! Did you know that goodreads basically deletes your book challenge data if you fail to meet your goal? What a bummer.. I'd rather it be there and show my failed numbers than be gone completely. I worked hard for those 87 books! (re-reads not counted). Anyway, more numbers...

  where did the books come from? 
42 were library books
53 were from my shelves
3 were online shorts

  what kind of books did I hold in my hand?
21 were ebooks or online fiction
77 were paper books

  what kind of books did I read? 
54 novels/books
13 novellas
28 graphic novels
3 online shorts

 what percentage of male or female authors did I read?
20 male authors 31.25%
44 female authors 68.75%

 what were the genre of books I read?
9 nonfiction
89 fiction
  more specifically .. 
44 romance
   17 paranormal
   11 contemporary
   10 historical
     5 romantic suspense
     1 magical realism sort of (The Winter Sea)
28 graphic novels
9 general fiction
5 urban fantasy
2 young adult
2 fantasy
1 crime fiction

  how many books did I read each month?
Jan 6
Feb 5
Mar 9
Apr 12
May 10
Jun 8
Jul 5
Aug 11
Sep 12
Oct 7
Nov 6
Dec 7

Are you still with me? So what did I learn from these numbers? The one thing that stands out the most to me is that I read A LOT of graphic novels and I have no problem with that but I think they contribute to my feeling of not reading enough BOOKS. Also, and probably most indicative of my reading blahs, is that I ONLY read 44 romances in 2013!? That's only 45% of the books I read! Not good...

The moral of this story? READ MORE ROMANCE IN 2014!

What do you think?

If you had to recommend ONE ROMANCE NOVEL that you read in 2013, which would it be? Okay you can tell me more than one if you want to..

Hope your 2014 reading is off to a great start! Let's not talk about mine.. January 18 and I've only read one book. A graphic novel. Not a good start...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Hello friends and Happy New Year!

I'm so happy to see all the comments yesterday after being away from blogging for two whole months. I will reply to comments tomorrow, but I just wanted to share my #onelittleword for 2014 with you. I''ve decided on the word refresh. It will be my guiding word for the year, motivating and inspiring me to bring some much needed energy back into my diet, exercise regime, my home and even in a few personal relationships. Oh yeah.. and into my blogging too. ;)

Made by me using the Rhonna Designs App
Available in the AppStore.
Also available for Android

Have you thought about your word for 2014? 

Wishing you all a super happy and healthy New Year to you and your loved ones.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Life According to the Books I Read in 2013

Well hello dear blogging friends.


It's been way too long since my last post. While I may have lost my blogging mojo in the last several months, I haven't forgotten all of you sweet friends and I have been missing you all and thinking of you often. I'm looking forward to some new blogging energy in 2014!

It's that time of year again! I first spotted this meme on Angie's blog [http://angie-ville.com] several years ago and have made it an annual end of the year tradition on my blog ever since. I love this book meme--it's a fun, creative way to reminisce all the books you read throughout the year.

What's even more fun?

Having your friends do the meme, too!

To play along, use only titles of books that you read this year (2013) and complete the prompts below.

Try not to repeat any book titles. Think creatively and have fun!

Once you've posted your Life According to the Books You Read in 2013, grab the link to your blog post and come back here to add you name and link to the Simply Linked list below. I can't wait to see what you come up with and spread the word! It's so much fun reading everyone's responses.

Also, Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your loved ones.

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My Life According to the Books I Read in 2013:

Describe yourself: 
 The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson

How do you feel:
 Spellbound by Nora Roberts

Describe where you currently live: 
 Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
 Paradise by Meljean Brook

Your favorite form of transportation: 
 The Last Unicorn [graphic novel] adaptation by Peter S. Beagle

Your best friend is: 
 Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson
(my husband)

You and your friends are: 
 Working Out by Marie Harte

What's the weather like: 
  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsely

What is life to you: 
  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Favorite time of day: 
 Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare

Your fear: 
 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

What is the best advice you have to give: 
  Wanderlust by Kitty French

Thought for the day:
 It Happened Under the Mistletoe by Valerie Bowman

How I would like to die: 
 At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

My soul's present condition: 
 One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry

My family is:* 
 To Die For by Linda Howard

*this last prompt idea is from Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories http://momssmallvictories.com/ Thank you, Tanya!

Can't get enough of reading these lists? Check out past years:
My Life According to the Books I Read in 2012
My Life According to the Books I Read in 2011
My Life According to the Books I Read in 2010
My Life According to the Books I Read in 2009

If you have any suggestions for prompts to add to next year's meme, please leave it in the comments below!

Happy New Year and here's to some more great reads in 2014! xxx

This is my first time using Simply Linked widget... hope it's friendly.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Boo !

Well the cobwebs building up around here on this blog are certainly apropos for Halloween, don't you think? This has been a pretty pathetic year of blogging for me.. so sorry about that.

October has been another whirlwind of a month for me.. lots of things going on. Mostly good or at least productive things going on.. a few not so good things, but everyone is healthy, hanging in there and doing their best so that's a plus.

So here I am on Halloween night and have no trick-or-treating costumes or stories to share with you because Anna didn't dress up this year and Maria is away at school. I do know she dressed up as a flapper for a Halloween party tonight and she did text me a photo that she also posted on instagram, but it's not the same as seeing her in her costume in person and taking my own photo. Then to top it off, we got ZERO trick-or-treaters at our door today! So sad...

Despite the lack of child involvement, though, I do have a few fun and festive Halloween photos to share.

This is a sunset photo that I took from the Home Depot parking lot a few weeks ago.

This is that same photo all dressed up for Halloween! I edited it right on my iphone using a really fabulous photo editing app called Rhonna Designs. I was lucky and bought it while it was offered for free but I think it's 99 cents now. Still a bargain if you're into this sort of thing.

Home Depot Sunset

Home Depot Haunted Sunset

I may have eaten a piece or two of Halloween candy before Halloween..

From where I stand at the welcome mat to our home..

Always a favorite time of year for black cats.

A house in my neighborhood with spook-tacular Halloween decorations. Even better up close in person and even spookier at night with creepy-scary music and sound effects. Yikes.

Trick-or-treat! I'm ready for the monsters to come!

There's something in the attic!!! (From the spooky house in town after dark.. )

I hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

Do you have kids who dress up? If so, what were they? 

... still can't believe October is over already and 2014 is only two months away! Now THAT'S frightening!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

REVIEW: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish is a food-themed memoir that reveals a young woman's love of good food through fond memories. Lucy Knisley grew up in both New York City and rural Hudson Valley, New York with a chef mother and gourmet-loving father who both exposed her to a wide variety of luxurious foods from babyhood through young adulthood. In this graphic novel, Lucy explores her relationship with and love of food through a series of vignettes and anecdotes from various stages of her life and several international trips as well, all of which instilled in her strong connections between food, places, and people. Her stories are honest and open, often laced with humor and sentimentality to which readers can relate well such as a grandmother's famous pickle and a mother's perfect chocolate chip cookie. Although Lucy clearly developed a gourmet palate like that of her parents, she still has a fondness for processed junk food every now and then, something that I think helps dilute the level of privilege that runs through this novel.

A few months ago I read Knisley's earlier work, French Milk, another food-themed graphic memoir that chronicled the author's month long visit to Paris with her mother, which I found to be a boring and pretentious recount of what should have been a trip of a lifetime for a college-aged girl yet instead was a whiny recollection of a trip of complaining and examples of how to be an ungrateful brat and treat your mother poorly. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that Lucy has matured a bit since she wrote French Milk and it shows in Relish. Each chapter of Relish visits a different place, phase and food experience of Lucy's life and each ends with a delightfully illustrated recipe (probably my favorite part of the book). As Knisley reflects on some striking food memories, she shares them with a fond affection for her family and friends connected to those experiences. I would have liked to see Knisley share more about other people's connections to foods, especially relating to her international travels. I was disappointed that Knisley never attempted to learn about or connect with any local people and their culture during her trips. Or if she did do those things on her travels, she doesn't share them in her book, which is a shame because I think those experiences would be a huge asset to her books.

In the future, I'd like to see Knisley develop a more heightened awareness of the world around her and write with a little less self absorption. I realize Relish is a memoir and therefore focused on the individual, but I still think a well written memoir includes some attention to the rest of the world and Kinsley's writing could be stellar if she wrote with a bit more substance and depth overall.

In the meantime, Relish is a quick, fun graphic memoir to read. The drawings are well done and I found the human expressions are accurately expressed as well as charming. Again, the recipes at the end of each chapter are great and a special touch to this food-based book. I also have to admit I particularly enjoyed reading the chapters in which Lucy was living in the Hudson Valley since I'm familiar with that area and have visited it regularly over the years.. both downtown Rhinebeck and Grieg Farm as a very close friend of mine lives in that same area.

GRADE: 3.5+ out of 5 stars. Maybe 4 stars. I really did enjoy it. :)

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Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun!