“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” ~ Mark Twain

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Bloggiesta 2015 Finish Line

Spring Bloggiesta 2015 | Alexia's Books and Such

Hard to believe that another Bloggiesta has come and gone already! Was able to get so much accomplished, and even learned a thing or two! Love Bloggiesta and already looking forward to the next one!

Let's see how I did:

Original Goals

  • Update book review index - done!
  • Crosspost book reviews to Amazon & Goodreads - done!
  • Catch up on emails - feel a little like Sisyphus with this one, as it kept growing no matter how many lists I unsubscribed from or how many emails I deleted! I need an Emailiesta!
  • Complete at least one mini-challenge - done!
  • Take part in at least one Twitter chat - done!
  • Create custom cover for my Pinterest review boards - a work in progress
  • Import Bloglovin' feed to Feedly - done! Was easier than expected
  • Finish removing dead links from old IMM posts - done!
  • Cheer on other Bloggiesta participants - commented on almost all participant's blogs, but some people didn't have their post up when I visited and I didn't keep track. Sorry if I missed anyone!
  • Pin at least 3 months worth of old reviews to Pinterest - done!
  • Have a minimum of 5 posts ready as back-ups - done!
  • Explore idea I have for a new meme to see if it's feasible - someone is already doing it, so back to the drawing board!
  • Write pending reviews - still have 2 pending

Added Goals

  • Research Tweetdeck vs Hootsuite and pick one - decided to take them both for a test drive! Leaning towards Hootsuite as I like being able to schedule posts in one place, but also like the real time tweets of Tweetdeck.
  • Add an About Me page to my second blog - pending
  • Back up both blogs - done!
  • Go through old drafts and either delete or update - found some half-written posts that I need to finish and publish, but also deleted a ton!
  • Research CommentLuv to see if I can easily add it to my blog - didn't get around to this one, so adding to my Goals Page
  • Find a Facebook Page Follow Me plug-in I like and add to blog - done!
  • Find social media icons I like and add to sidebar - done!
  • Check page loading speed and fix as needed - sometimes it loads fast, sometimes it loads slow, but can't figure out why...
  • Create Pinterest board for Bloggiesta challenges - done!
  • Add alt tags to photos in old posts - this is slow going as I have over 3 years worth of posts to update!
  • Update copyright to current year on both blogs - done!

Mini Challenges Completed

  • Twitter Chat Tutorial - Chats go by so fast that I always seem to fall behind, so can use all the help I can get!  
  • Trello Organizer - I'm pretty happy with the blog planner I'm currently using, but think this might help with scheduling all of my tasks. Combining this with the blog scheduler task in hopes of making my life easier!
  • Create a Blogging Schedule - Have started a rough blogging schedule using Trello and looking forward to creating to-do lists and daily tasks!
  • Organize Your Reader - I think I have too many folders, so going to try Estella's idea of daily folders (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc) to simplify things. Will keep my Authors, Favorites, and non-book blog folders but use the days of the week for everything else.
  • Simplify Blogging - I keep over-complicating things so really need to work on this one! 
  • Blast From the Past - Love looking at the old Bloggiesta challenges, as there's always something I can use. For Tif's challenge, I concentrated on the various ways to promote my blog via social media.

Not bad, if I do say so myself! I didn't complete everything on my list, but got an awful lot accomplished. Also found several more blogs to follow and made a few new friends along the way. I'm counting this one as a success!

Did you take part in Bloggiesta this past week? If so, how did you do? I had a blast visiting different blogs and seeing what everyone was up to! And I made all but one of the Twitter chats, which were fast-paced but fun! I really need to spend more time on Twitter, as I enjoyed myself.

Already looking forward to the next Bloggiesta! Hope you can join us!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Trial by Fire book review

Book Review:  Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | Alexia's Books and Such Title:  Trial by Fire
Author:  Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date:  June 14, 2011
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Source:  Review copy received at BEA 2011
Synopsis:
Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack - or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were. With threats - old and new - looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone. (Goodreads)

My Review:

Trial by Fire is the sequel to Raised by Wolves. In hindsight, I wish I'd read Raised by Wolves first because it might have explained how a 16 year old human girl became alpha to a pack of werewolves. 

While I'm no expert, my understanding is that a female alpha is a rarity so a human female alpha would be unheard of! And that her pack is almost all teenagers and children? Have to admit that I had a hard time getting past that.

Bryn herself is an interesting character. In many ways, she's a typical teenager with a short temper who makes rash decisions. Then she reminds herself that she's alpha, but not your typical alpha. Yeah Bryn, we got that the first 100 times you mentioned it....

When Lucas shows up on her porch half dead and asking for her help, Bryn doesn't return him to his pack immediately and puts her own pack in danger. While I understand her wanting to help the boy, it goes against everything I know about packs and alphas to be so cavalier about their safety.

There's the threat from another pack whose alpha hates Bryn and wants her females, plus the threat from a new, unknown enemy that added an interesting twist to the mix. I found myself more interested in the new enemy than the other pack and think that could have been a storyline all its own!

This was an interesting story with well-paced action, good characters, and a decent plot. Aside from a few quibbles on my part (alpha of a werewolf pack who still has to attend high school?), I really enjoyed this story. I would recommend reading the series in order though, as I felt I was missing something more than once.

Have you read this series? Should I go back and read Raised by Wolves to fill in the blanks or just go to book 3, Taken by Storm? Is book 3 even worth reading? Inquiring minds want to know!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge

2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge

One of my goals this year is to write more discussion posts. When I saw that Carmel at Rabid Reads had recently joined the Book Blogger Discussion Challenge, I thought that would be the perfect motivation to keep me on track!

Hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at MidnightI'm excited to get started!

Some Details:

  • The 2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2015.

  • Sign-ups will remain open until December 31st, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Central. (So, you can sign up all year long! Come join us!)

  • You DO NOT have to have a book blog to join this challenge. If you don’t have a book blog, you may link up to discussions that you’ve started on Goodreads groups.

  • Every month, we’ll update this 2015 Book Blog Challenge Page with the links to that month’s Challenge linky – so you’ll always know where to find the latest link-up!

  • Share it! The more people we get to participate in this, the more awesome discussions we can all be a part of and the more fun it will be! So, invite your friends to join us!

  • This challenge is to help get us discussing books and book blogging, so talk about whatever you want as long as it’s relevant to book blogging. Discussions can be book related or book blogging related (or generally blogging related – no discussions about things that are completely off-topic like travel or fashion, etc). Discussions can also be about you personally if it’s a get-to-know-you type post.

  • There will also be monthly giveaways, so make sure you check in each month!

  • Use the hashtag #LetsDiscuss2015 to share your progress and connect with other participants on Twitter.

    Levels:

    1-12     Discussion Dabbler
    13-24   Creative Conversationalist
    25-36   Chatty Kathy
    37-48   Terrifically Talkative
    49+      Gift of the Gab

    Since I'm just dipping my toe into the discussion pool, think I'll stick with the Discussion Dabbler level. While I have a history of failing challenges, I'm going to look at this as more of a motivational tool. I like that even if I only do one post, I've met my goal!

    Now I need to come up with some topics! What would you like to discuss?

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    Crewell book review

    Book Review:  Crewel by Gennifer Albin | Alexia's Books and Such Title:  Crewel
    Author:  Gennifer Albin
    Release Date:  October 16, 2012
    Publisher:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
    Source:  ARC received at BEA
    Synopsis:  Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

    Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

    Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

    Because tonight, they’ll come for her. (Goodreads)

    My Review:

    Crewel is the first book in a trilogy, but I'm not sure that I want to read the rest.

    Adelice, the main character, struck me as selfish, unlikable, and unsympathetic. I know that we're supposed to feel sorry for all she's been through, but so much of it was her own fault that I couldn't muster up much sympathy.

    Trained for years by her parents to hide her ability and told that she needs to fail the testing session for her own safety, Adelice "slips" on the final testing day. To make matters worse, she lies to her parents when she gets home and lets them believe the ruse worked. 

    I got the impression that her parents had a plan in place in case the ruse didn't work, but things turned out terribly because Adelice wanted to pretend that everything would be okay. How incredibly selfish and immature!

    Almost every bad thing that happens to Adelice is her own fault. Maybe not entirely, but at least partially. And yet she won't take responsibility for any of it, which annoyed me even more!

    Yes Adelice is incredibly gifted, but too many people give her warning after warning and risk their own safety, which left me at a loss. Why would so many people try to help her when she wasn't very nice? And why wouldn't she listen?

    Even when Adelice is punished and we're told how awful the punishment was, it didn't seem to matter to her. I know I'd have a quick attitude adjustment after being left in a dark, dank dungeon for days on end, but not Adelice! Are we supposed to admire her spunk? I just thought she was reckless and foolish.

    That sounds really harsh and like I didn't enjoy the book at all, which isn't the case. I loved the idea of the Spinsters, weaving time and material like the Fates of old! I wish we had spent more time with the other Spinsters and learned more about the process.

    The world that the author has created sounds fascinating too! The Powers That Be have absolute control over their citizens, dictating every detail of their lives, from how many children you can have to when you die. Terrifying! 

    And despite the power the Spinsters have, women are definitely second-class citizens in this society. Not allowed to travel and kept in traditional female occupations, they have very few rights. I would have liked to explore this world in more detail!

    The ending left me a little torn. The big finale seemed like just another reckless action by Adelice and left me liking her even less, but I sort of want to read the next book to see what happens. I think I'll wait and maybe time will soften my feelings for Adelice.

    Have you read this series? Is it worth finishing? Am I being too harsh on Adelice? I'd love to know your thoughts!


    Thursday, March 19, 2015

    Spring Bloggiesta 2015

    Spring Bloggiesta 2015 | Alexia's Books and Such

    It's time for another Bloggiesta, this time for an entire week! I missed the last festival, so am really looking forward to completing some goals and learning a few new tricks.

    What is Bloggiesta?

    Bloggiesta is a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Our awesome mascot Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) is ready to break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two! It’s nothing short of an awesome fiesta! (website)


    My Goals:

    • Update book review index
    • Crosspost book reviews to Amazon & Goodreads
    • Catch up on emails
    • Complete at least one mini-challenge
    • Take part in at least one Twitter chat
    • Create custom cover for my Pinterest review boards
    • Import Bloglovin' feed to Feedly
    • Finish removing dead links from old IMM posts
    • Cheer on other Bloggiesta participants
    • Pin at least 3 months worth of old reviews to Pinterest
    • Have a minimum of 5 posts ready as back-ups
    • Explore idea I have for a new meme to see if it's feasible
    • Write pending reviews

    I usually wind up adding to my list of goals during Bloggiesta, so assuming this week won't be any different. Since it's a full week this time, I'm counting on getting quite a bit accomplished! Are you participating in Bloggiesta? Want more info? Check out the official Bloggiesta page for more details and to sign up! Hope to see you there!


    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    Uncle John's Weird, Weird World

    Uncle John's Weird, Weird World
    Uncle John's Weird, Weird World

    Review copy received from Media Masters Publicity

    It’s finally here - the book that Uncle John’s fans have been asking for: a full-color, illustrated edition featuring the most entertaining articles from the world’s bestselling bathroom trivia series! 

    Hundreds of eye-popping photographs add a new dimension to Uncle John’s unique blend of trivia, humor, origin stories, history, science, and oddities. (Goodreads)

    My Review:

    Uncle John's Weird, Weird World:  Who, What, Where, When, and Wow! is one of those books that you read in small doses so it won't be overwhelming. So many unique, interesting, and yes, weird items in this book!

    One of the things that I like about the Uncle John books is that you can pick them up, open to any page, and find something interesting to read! What's different about this book is that it's illustrated. Who knew that pictures would make this series even better?

    I wouldn't recommend actually taking it into the bathroom with you because, well, that's weird. But it would be great to read in the living room or before bed! This coffee table book would make a great gift, as there's literally something for everyone inside its pages!




    Monday, March 16, 2015

    Buzz Books 2015: Young Adult Spring book review

    Buzz Books 2015:  Young Adult Spring book review Title:  Buzz Books 2015:  Young Adult Spring
    Author:  various
    Release Date:  January 23, 2015
    Publisher:  Publishers Lunch
    Source:  NetGalley

    Synopsis:
    This second edition of Buzz Books: Young Adult Spring provides substantial pre-publication excerpts from 26 forthcoming young adult and middle grade books. Now everyone can share the same access to the newest YA voices the publishing industry is broadcasting for the spring/summer season.

    My Review:

    The Buzz Books are a great way to sample new authors that you might not have discovered otherwise! I really love these samplers and am so glad that they decided to keep the Young Adult version, which is one of my favorite genres! 

    While I read every sample, these are the stories that caught my eye and made me want more: 

    Some of these surprised me, as they're not my usual type of read. But that's the joy of samplers, as I probably wouldn't have picked them up on my own but the writing drew me in!

    Have you had a chance to read this sampler yet? What new YA titles are you most looking forward to reading?


    Saturday, March 14, 2015

    6 Books I Want to Reread (once I get my Time Turner)

    lolcats.com
    Before I discovered the book blogging world, I used to reread books all the time. Of course, back then I didn't have towering TBR piles all over the house and it was much harder to find new authors. 

    While I'm more than happy to have so many fascinating new books to read, part of me misses the simple pleasure of rereading an old favorite. One of these days, I'm going to set aside the guilt and sit down with an old friend for a nice reread. These 6 books are at the top of my list:


    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
    Neverwhere was a book I actually used to reread every year, usually during my birthday month for some reason. It's been years since I've read it though, so it's number one on my list!


    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
    Outlander is a book that has everything and I really enjoyed it, but haven't reread it yet so I'm curious if I'll enjoy it as much during a reread?


    Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux

    Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux
    This is actually my second copy of Summerhouse that I got used because I had given my copy away. I love the idea of going back in time for a do-over, but I could never decide which part of my life to revisit. Still trying to decide, so maybe a reread would help?


    Harry Potter by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter by JK Rowling
    Harry Potter was such a good book that I'd love to revisit the entire series! I remember that the middle books in the series were too long and slow, but loved the beginning and end!


    Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

    Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    I gave away my copy of The Handmaid's Tale, so need to pick up another one. This one really got to me and think it's good enough for a reread or two!


    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    My copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy is well-loved and has been through a lot! I think I picked it up during college, and still quote lines from the book! Definitely want to reread this one!


    How about you? Do you manage to find time to reread books? If so, what are some of your favorites?


    Friday, March 13, 2015

    Winner of Vanishing Girls!

    Contest winner


    Congratulations to the winner of Vanishing Girls!


    Melissa (Books and Things)!


    I've sent name an email confirmation and am just waiting for her response.

    Thanks to everyone who entered!



    Thursday, March 12, 2015

    Excerpt - Spy, Interrupted: The Waiting Wife

    Excerpt -  Spy, Interrupted:  The Waiting Wife from Alexia's Books and Such
    Excerpt from 
    By T. Dasu

    Stephen couldn’t reconcile the girl in front of him with the picture his boss had painted. George must have been crazy. Did he seriously expect this girl to go to hostile, remote places in Pakistan? It would be madness to send her out to hobnob with spies, informants, and jihadis. She could barely walk in the sun.

    “She can help us,” George had said. “She speaks Hindi, Gujarati, and Urdu. She works for BigSearch, Inc., and as a part of her job travels to remote villages - particularly in Gujarat and Rajasthan, near the Indo-Pak border. They’re popular points of entry for terrorists, second only to the Kashmir border. And nobody would suspect her! Her boss swears by her smarts. She is exactly what we need.”

    She might be sharp, but she was not their type at all. Deceit and distrust were prerequisites of the life of an undercover CIA agent. She hadn’t shown either of those traits.

    He pushed his plate away and settled back on the beach blanket, his hands under his head for support. George had said to find out if she had met Tariq Rehman, the Pakistani writer. Rehman was traveling quite a bit lately. He had been spotted by electronic eyes at crowded venues all over the world - at airports, sporting events and music festivals - within hours of sightings of suspected terrorists at those very locations. And now Rehman and Sid seemed to have become best buddies. They talked several times a day. George wanted to know about what.

    “I’m going to take a nap,” Stephen said.

    Really? Nina was taken aback. What kind of date was this?

    “It’s too hot right now. We have another hour before it cools down.” He glanced at his watch. “We can see the lighthouse and head out to the open sea for the sunset after that. There are newspapers and magazines in the gym bag if you’d like to read.”

    He saw the look on her face and laughed. “Trust me. You won’t last until sunset without a nap. I highly recommend one.” With that he covered his face with a newspaper and fell asleep almost instantly.

    Nina shook her head. What was the point of going all the way there to take a nap like a couple of toddlers? She fished for the New York Times in the gym bag. It was surprisingly heavy when she tried to push it away. What did he have in it, a nuclear reactor? She threw the pillow on it and leaned against it to read.

    ***
    When Stephen woke up, the day was cooler, the sun less fierce and much lower in the sky. Nina had fallen asleep despite scoffing at his advice. He rolled over on his belly to take a closer look at her. She wore no makeup. Her skin was the color of molten honey with a faint blush from the heat and wine. Large eyelids lay closed under long, arching brows. It was a tranquil, contented face; her lips curved with the hint of a smile even in sleep.

    He remained like that for a few minutes with his face barely inches away from hers. A faint perfume rose and ebbed with her breathing. He had a wicked impulse to kiss her. But his inherent decency prevailed, and he rolled away and sat up. His eyes were instantly drawn to her feet. Earlier he had watched surreptitiously while she’d removed her shoes and her feet emerged, soft and brown, with glorious metallic-peach nails - a welcome surprise given how severe the rest of her outfit was.
    “Nina,” he said loudly. “Wake up.”

    She woke with a start. Stephen was squatting on his heels next to her. She sat up and straightened herself. It was embarrassing beyond words, not to mention shocking, that she had fallen asleep within feet of him.

    “There’s a restroom in the lighthouse if you’d like to freshen up.” He broke into a wide grin and discomposed her even more. She looked away quickly. He was different when he smiled - younger and not so hard edged, almost charming.

    They climbed the rough-hewn rock steps to the lighthouse. It wasn’t very tall. Inside, a spiral staircase led to the top, where a makeshift viewing platform encircled the lighthouse.

    The view was breathtaking. To the left the bay stretched out to the town they had left behind earlier that morning. In front of them and to the right, the open sea shimmered. The sun had acquired an orange glow as it made its slow descent in the west. Seabirds rode invisible air currents and glided past their heads.

    Stephen looked at the boats that plied the ocean below and began to whistle an old rowing song his grandfather had taught him. Could it be that he was actually happy? When was the last time that had happened? More than twenty years ago, when his grandfather was still alive, and his parents, although alienated and distrustful, still lived under the same roof.

    “Look.” He grabbed Nina’s arm. “Dolphins!” He took a pair of compact binoculars from his pocket, unfolded them, and gave them to her.

    “Where? Where?”

    He turned her impatiently by the shoulders to point her in the right direction. The dolphins must have just had a good meal. They were lively and playful. They circled, jumped, and rolled, solo and in pairs.

    Nina forgot her fear and leaned precariously over the rail with the binoculars. “Oh my God, they’re beautiful!”

    They shared the binoculars and took turns watching the dolphins. They didn’t notice how low the sun had sunk in the meantime.

    “We should leave,” Stephen said abruptly.

    They raced down the stairs, packed their things, and boarded the boat. It chugged along slowly into the open water, where they could get a clear view of the sun’s disappearing into the fiery ocean.
    Stephen killed the motor. The boat rocked gently with the waves. They were bathed in the glow of the sun and the sea. It was a spectacular show - the water swallowed the orange orb bit by bit until there was only a ghostly, crepuscular light left in the sky.

    Stephen turned the boat around and headed back to town. Lights came on one by one along the shore, and dusk gave way to a star-filled sky. Neither he nor Nina uttered a word.

    He returned the boat to the marina, and they walked home in continued silence, completely contented. When they got to Stephen’s dock, Nina stretched out her hand.

    “Thank you. I had an absolutely fantastic time.”

    He took her hand but, instead of shaking it, leaned forward on an impulse and kissed her - a soft, long kiss on the lips. She was startled. There had been no hint or warning.

    “I should go,” she said quietly.

    “Of course.” He released her and buried his hands deep in his pockets.

    The moon shone down on her as she walked back to the Alis’ place with her head bowed. When she got to the door, she turned around to see if he was still there. He was.


    Excerpted from the book SPY, INTERRUPTED: THE WAITING WIFE by T. Dasu. Copyright © 2015 by T. Dasu. Reprinted with permission of IndiaWrites Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.


    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Book Review: The Spider by Jennifer Estep

    Book Review: The Spider by Jennifer Estep
    Title:  The Spider
    Author:  Jennifer Estep
    Source:  NetGalley

    For the first time, the full origin story of Gin Blanco's transformation into the fearsome assassin known as the Spider - book ten in the red-hot Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. 

    In a prequel tale, Gin Blanco goes through her paces on the way to become the most feared assassin in the Ashland. Her mentor, Fletcher Lane, is not going to go easy on her - if she’s going to become a fearsome killer, she has to learn to use her elemental Stone and Ice powers alongside old-fashioned human street smarts. (book blurb)

    My Review:

    Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, is one of my favorite fictional characters! She's not your typical assassin, but she's very, very good at her job. This book gives us a nice look back at how Gin became who she is today.

    Young Gin is a little arrogant and has a little too much faith in her skills, so she takes on a job she probably shouldn't have touched. Her mentor Fletcher has an odd feeling about the job, but lets Gin make up her own mind.

    It's a little strange to see Gin so young and naive because I'm used to her always being in control, but at the same time, it's nice. When you're young, you make mistakes. That's how you learn, even if you're learning how to be an assassin.

    Really enjoyed seeing Gin in this light and was sad to see her get hurt, both physically and emotionally. But you know what they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And boy does Gin become strong!

    Another great read and a nice addition to the Elemental Assassin series! An interesting plot, lots of action, and most of our favorite characters show up! But while it was fun to take a look back, I can't wait to see what the future holds for Gin and company!

    Previous reviews:

    Heart of Venom (#9)
    By a Thread (#6)
    Spider's Revenge (#5)
    Spider's Bite (#1)



    Monday, March 9, 2015

    Review: Personal by Lee Child

    Review:  Personal by Lee ChildTitle:  Personal
    Author:  Lee Child

    eBook provided by NetGalley. 

    Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he's a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president.. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him. 

    This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child's number-one bestselling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris - and then to London. The stakes have never been higher - because this time, it's personal. (Goodreads)

    My Review:

    This story is a little different from Reacher's usual adventures as he doesn't stumble across an injustice that needs to be remedied, but is asked to investigate an assassination attempt in Paris. Asked by an army general. You'd think that the army would have their own investigators and not need to call in a retired MP? Weird, even with the author's explanation.

    So off Reacher goes to Europe. But rather than flying solo like usual, this time he has a partner. An odd choice of a partner, as she seems too green to be let out on her own. Weirder and weirder.

    While I usually like it when a character ventures out of their comfort zone and stretches their wings, I think that I prefer the usual Reacher formula of wandering, stumble across injustice, kick some ass, move on. It's not a rut, it's a winning formula!

    While not a bad story, it's definitely not my favorite Reacher book. I still love the character and am always looking forward to the next installment, but I sincerely hope that we get the "old" Reacher back for the next one!


    Saturday, March 7, 2015

    Bloglovin' is driving me mad!

    angry wet cat @lolcats

    While checking my Bloglovin' feed a few days ago, I noticed that one of my favorite blogs wasn't showing up. Since I know that she usually posts several times a day, I went to her blog directly to see if anything was wrong. Everything seemed fine on her end, but for some reason her posts weren't showing up in my feed. Weird, but figured it was some kind of glitch that would sort itself out.

    The next day, my feed went kablooey! I could see posts when I first logged in, but when I tried to check one of my groups or an individual feed, nothing showed up. Nada. A blank screen. The feed was no more...

    Since it still didn't work even after clearing my cache, deleting cookies, logging out of my account, then rebooting, I shot off an email explaining the problem and asking for help. When I didn't receive an answer within five minutes, I sent them a Tweet asking what was wrong. What can I say, I'm impatient.

    Received an email response within the hour, which surprised me as I'd heard that their customer service wasn't all that great. Basically a form letter, thanking me for letting them know and that they seemed to be having some technical issues, but were working on it. At least they were aware of the problem. But my feed was still inaccessible, so I hit up Facebook for suggestions.

    Found out that I'm not the only one with a Bloglovin' account that's gone kablooey, some for a lot longer than my 24 hour nightmare (so I'm dramatic and impatient...sue me). Most people recommended switching to Feedly, but I was holding out hope that Bloglovin' would get their act together.

    After playing around a bit, I discovered that if I clicked on a group or individual blog, then hit refresh, I could see the posts. Huzzah! 

    Huzzah!

    Unfortunately, this grew old quickly as it was taking much too long to read & visit blogs. So impatient me gave up and went to bed, hoping that things would get better overnight (like Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day).

    Much to my surprise....things did get better overnight! When I checked my feed Friday afternoon, it worked! But now I'm all paranoid and still thinking about switching to Feedly. I remember trying out Feedly when Google Reader rode off into the sunset and not caring for it, but I can't remember why. If nothing else, at least I'll have a backup in case Bloglovin' goes wonky again.

    Anyone else have a wonky Bloglovin' feed? Are you toughing it out or have you already left for greener pastures? If you've left, is Feedly my best option? And is it just me or does anyone else think of Little Shop of Horrors when talking about Feedly? Feedly...feed me? Just me? Anyone?

    Feed Me!

    Friday, March 6, 2015

    Captive book review

    Captive book reviewCaptive by Aimee Carter

    **eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley**

    For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

    But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

    As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in - but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price? (Goodreads)


    My Review:

    Captive is the sequel to Pawn, book two in The Blackcoat Rebellion series. While I liked the first book better, this is still a good read!

    Kitty is an amazing character! Raised in a group home and thrust into a dangerous situation, she refuses to passively sit back and let others dictate her life. While she has limited choices, she does her best with what she has. Is she the best and brightest? No. But she's smart and resourceful, and that makes a difference.

    Once Kitty was sent to Elsewhere, the plot really picked up! What a fascinating place! Made me think of a Russian gulag, or what I imagine a Russian gulag would be like. It's a jail, but one where no one gets out alive.

    Everyone has an assigned job, lives in bunkhouses, eats horrible food, and is provided with only the basic necessities in order to survive. What an incredibly bleak existence.

    Kitty's assigned job, once I understood what was happening, is absolutely horrifying. What's even more horrifying is that no one thinks it's horrifying. How they can be so matter-of-fact about doing something so heinous is just another example of how terrible life in Elsewhere is!

    There are a couple of coincidences in this story that I didn't buy into, but understood that they were necessary in order to move the plot where the author wanted. I just wish they could have been handled in a better way. Still a good story, but not as believable as I'd like. I know it's fiction, but I still like my fiction to be at least possible in real life, know what I mean?

    There's a big ending with lots of action and a surprise twist, so I'm curious to see what the author does next!






    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    Vanishing Girls Giveaway!

    Vanishing Girls
    Title:  Vanishing Girls
    Author:  Lauren Oliver
    Release Date:  March 10, 2015
    Publisher:  HarperCollins

    Synopsis:
    New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

    Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. 

    When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

    In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other. (Goodreads)

    About the Author:

    Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers and so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in front of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between “chortling” and “chuckling,” is normal. She has always been an avid reader.

    She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature. After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked briefly as the world’s worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York. Her major career contributions during this time were flouting the corporate dress code at every possible turn and repeatedly breaking the printer. Before I Fall is her first published novel.

    She is deeply grateful for the chance to continue writing, as she has never been particularly good at anything else. (author bio)

    Giveaway:


    Enter to win a copy of Lauren Oliver's fascinating new novel, Vanishing Girls!

     US shipping addresses only
    Contest ends March 11, 2015 at 11:59PM EST  



     US shipping addresses only
    Contest ends March 11, 2015 at 11:59PM EST  
    Must be 18 or over to win
    Winner will be notified via email and have 72 hours to respond


    Monday, March 2, 2015

    February Wrap Up

    Monthly wrap up
    Monthly wrap up posts seemed to help keep me on track last year, so going to try them again this year.

    Books read

    Didn't make my reading goal last year, so lowered it from 100 to 75 books. In order to meet my Goodreads goal, I need to read 6.25 books per month. I read 3 books:
    1. Stolen by Bishop O'Connell
    2. Death by Roses by Vivian Probst
    3. Obsession In Death by JD Robb
    Better than last month, but still not reaching my monthly reading goal. Need to really ramp things up in order to meet my yearly goal, even with cutting it down!

    Blog Goals

    Updated my blog so that all images have a Pin It pin. Found an easy tutorial online at Code It Pretty. It only took a minute or two, and now I have an easy way to pin images from my blog.

    I also added a Related Posts widget to the end of my posts. Found mine on EngageYa, and it was pretty simple to install. I didn't like that LinkWithin just showed random posts, so hope that this one is more selective!

    Have been working on removing dead links from old posts. Who knew there were so many? This is going to take awhile, but I did make decent progress! Also making sure that all of my old reviews have a picture of the bookcover. Seems to be random as some do and some don't.

    Am using my online time more often than not, so avoiding the internet timesuck that usually gets me in trouble. Also making good use of my online blog planner and it's helping me keep on track. Still using my Google calendar to schedule reviews, but using the planner for everything else.

    Another goal was to start writing discussion posts, and I actually did! I surprised myself by not only writing one, but two:  one about what you look for before following a new blog and one about whether or not to update old reviews. It was easier than I expected, and I even have a couple of ideas for new posts!


    Commenting

    Did pretty well with commenting and tried to make it a point to visit everyone who was nice enough to leave a comment on one of my posts. Some people didn't have a blogger profile and didn't leave a link, but I managed to eventually visit most who stopped by. 

    Overall

    While another slow month reading-wise, I think I'm finally getting back into the swing of things blog-wise. I'm trying to keep all of my social media sites updated on a daily basis, but Pinterest is the one I have the most fun with. Love finding and pinning new things!

    Still having trouble with my leg, seven months after my knee replacement surgery. My doctor keeps telling me to be patient, but that's not my strong suit. While I am better off than I was before surgery, I still have a long way to go.

    Haven't noticed any impact on my posts based on the time they go live, so thinking about going back to scheduling them for 8am EST. Although one of my Facebook groups talked about this and most of the bloggers said they scheduled their posts for midnight. Does it matter to you when a post goes live? If so, do you prefer morning, noon, or night?

    Disappointed with Tsu and I'm not spending as much time on it as I did when I first joined. While I've been interacting with more people than I do on my Facebook page, people seem to stay on Tsu and don't click through to my blog. I've checked several different trackers and haven't seen any visits from Tsu at all. Will give it another month then shift my focus to something else if necessary, because my blog has to come first.

    March should be a fun month! I'm taking part in a TBR challenge, so reading nothing but books from my TBR piles. I'm excited because it's been awhile since I've been able to read what I want! Can't wait to see which titles call to me the loudest!

    How was your February? Were you able to get everything done that you wanted to accomplish? Have any fun plans for March? If you're doing a TBR challenge, have any tips on how to choose your next read?


    Sunday, March 1, 2015

    March 2015 Take Control Of Your TBR Pile Challenge

    March 2015 Take Control Of Your TBR Pile Challenge

    Since my TBR piles are getting out of control, I couldn't resist signing up for this one month Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge! During the month of March, I'm going to concentrate on reading some of the books from my TBR stacks and dust off a few sadly neglected titles. Knowing that I had signed up for this challenge, I didn't make any new review commitments for March.

    Rules:

    • Link-up! This is open to everyone. If you do not have a blog, then link your Facebook or Goodreads account.
    • Make a Goals/updates/Results post (can be combined) On Goodreads, create a folder for Take Control and share your intentions on your wall.
    • Begins March 1st, 2015 and ends March 31, 2015 at midnight.
    • Read/listen to books from your TBR pile .
    • ALL books must have been published before March 2015.
    • Post a review to Goodreads, your blog or Facebook, then link it to the Rafflecopter for an entry. (mini review)
    • You can combine events, challenges, etc.
    • No novellas for this one peeps
    • The rafflecopter will only allow you to enter up to two books daily, so update as soon as you finish a book.
    • Earn an extra entry for adding Take Control Button to your blog, or facebook (with link-back)
    • Use hashtag #TakeControlTBR
    • Twitter Party and read-a-thon will be announced to help you reach your goals.
    • Rafflecopter will close on April 2, 2015 at midnight and a winner will be chosen within 72 hours. Open internationally as long as Book Depository/Amazon/ Barnes and Noble ship to you. Prize: New 2015 release valued at up to $20.00. 

    Goals:

    It's been awhile since I've read a book without a deadline, so I'm not going to choose my books in advance. I'll either let my mood dictate what to read or, if I'm feeling reckless, will let random.org pick a title for me!

    I want to read at least eight books for the month, hopefully more because I'm already behind with my yearly reading goal.

    Wish me luck!


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