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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Book Haul 5/30/2015

My Book Haul 5/30/2015l | Alexia's Books and Such

In need of a new way to showcase titles, I decided that My Book Haul seems like a good fit. I like giving books a little special attention as sometimes it can be awhile before I'm able to review them. Sad to say, but some get put on the shelf and gather a little dust before I'm able to give them the love they deserve. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information.

For Review:

Since I've already read The Stolen, the first book in this series, I was offered the opportunity of reviewing book two. While book one wasn't my favorite read, this one features one of my favorite characters and I was curious to read his story. Hope it lives up to it's promise!


Friday, May 29, 2015

Armchair BEA Day 3: Character Chatter & Blogging 101

Armchair BEA Day 3: Character Chatter & Blogging 101

Armchair BEA is an online conference that runs in conjunction with Book Expo America in New York City. There are a large number of people around the world that are not able to join in the literary celebrations in the Big Apple, so Armchair BEA brings the celebration to you by allowing networking among other book bloggers, authors, and publishers as well as special coverage of the event, all from the comfort of your very own armchair. For more information, be sure to check out the FAQ page! (website)

Character Chatter


It's time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now's your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who's your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?

Picking my favorite characters is tough, because there are so many to love! 

A strong female character who can take care of herself while taking down her enemies is one of my favorites. Gin Blanco of The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep fits this description nicely, as she's a top-notch assassin who also loves to cook. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Armchair BEA Day 2 - Social Media

Armchair BEA 2015 - Social Media

Armchair BEA is an online conference that runs in conjunction with Book Expo America in New York City. There are a large number of people around the world that are not able to join in the literary celebrations in the Big Apple, so Armchair BEA brings the celebration to you by allowing networking among other book bloggers, authors, and publishers as well as special coverage of the event, all from the comfort of your very own armchair. For more information, be sure to check out the FAQ page! (website)

Today's Topic: Social Media

How do you use social media to expand your blogging/writing horizons? Social Media is all about networking and connections, and utilizing today's technology to the fullest.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Armchair BEA 2015 - Introductions

Armchair BEA 2015 - Introductions

Very sad that I'm not able to attend Book Expo America (BEA) this year. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I'm still recovering from a knee replacement and all the walking involved would probably kill me. Literally. 

My husband dared me to walk around the block to prove I could go (I'm stubborn and kept insisting I could make it). I was practically crawling to make it back to the house, so I doubt I'd even make it from the ferry to the front door of the Javits Center. I really hate it when he's right, but Armchair BEA is the next best thing! 

The Details:

Armchair BEA is an online conference that runs in conjunction with Book Expo America in New York City. There are a large number of people around the world that are not able to join in the literary celebrations in the Big Apple, so Armchair BEA brings the celebration to you by allowing networking among other book bloggers, authors, and publishers as well as special coverage of the event, all from the comfort of your very own armchair. For more information, be sure to check out the FAQ page! (website)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Arivaca book review

Arivaca: Guardians of the Light | Alexia's Books and Such Title:  Arivaca: Guardians of the Light
Author:  John Poulsen
Release Date:  December 13, 2014
Publisher:  Folded Corners
Source:  ebook provided from the publisher via NetGalley

Jesse Ballard’s life is filled with misfortune. His parents are dead, he’s been convicted of a crime, and a dark secret torments his soul. But when he’s incarcerated on a ranch for troubled teens he discovers his troubles have just begun. A Supreme Power has literally hijacked his life, bringing him to the ranch to make him the guardian of a powerful relic that was hidden away 2600 years ago when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed.

Given superhuman powers, Jesse is suddenly thrust into a strange and perilous world of supernal treasures, killers and demons - battling the dark forces who desperately seek the sacred artifact. Thinking he’s on a one man mission, Jesse is shocked to learn that Cedar Lane, a girl who seriously despises him, may have spiritual gifts essential for keeping the relic safe. Without her help, he’s in jeopardy of losing not just the relic, but his life.

As Jesse unravels this secretive and dangerous world he learns the ups and downs of young love, and both the reward and peril of following his divine call. (Goodreads)

My Review:

Even after reading the synopsis, I was still surprised that the sacred artifact that Jesse was destined to protect was a Christian relic. For some reason, even the mention of Solomon's Temple didn't clue me in. 

This made me hesitate to continue reading as I've bad luck with religious stories in the past. The author usually starts preaching at the reader and that's a major turnoff for me. 

Fortunately, this story wasn't preachy at all and the Christian artifact could easily have been Mayan or alien or anything really. Crisis averted! Phew!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Book Haul 5/23/15

My Book Haul

In need of a new way to showcase titles, I decided that My Book Haul seems like a good fit. I like giving books a little special attention as sometimes it can be awhile before I'm able to review them. Sad to say, but some get put on the shelf and gather a little dust before I'm able to give them the love they deserve. I've included links to Goodreads if you want more information.

For Review:

Neither one of these books are my usual type of read so not sure why I was sent them. Surprise books in the mail are always nice, but think I might pass these along to someone who would appreciate them more.

Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

I’m the fat Puerto Rican-Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.



Friday, May 22, 2015

Finally have a dragon of my very own!

I will love him and hug him and pet him and call him George!

So excited that I finally snagged one of Julie Kagawa's gorgeous dragons!

Finally have a dragon of my very own!
She has an Etsy shop that she stocks with handmade dragons periodically, but they usually sell out in minutes. I've lost count of how many times I've had a dragon in my cart, but lost it to someone who checked out quicker than I did.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Three Slices book review

Three Slices, a collection of stories where the cheese stands alone!Title:  Three Slices
Author:  Kevin Hearne, Delilah Dawson, Chuck Wendig
Release Date:  May 5, 2015
Source:  My personal library
Synopsis: Three Slices presents three novellas by modern fantasy writers.

My Review:

Leave it to Kevin Hearne to not only write a story about tyromancy, but to find two other partners in crime for the most enjoyable collection around! I'd never heard of divining the future using cheese before, but it sounds weirdly fascinating! Messy, but fascinating! Wish I could come up with a clever quip about cutting the cheese, but drawing a blank. Bummer.

A Prelude to War by Kevin Hearne

After an old friend is murdered in retaliation for his mercenary strikes against the oldest vampires in the world, Atticus O'Sullivan must solicit the aid of another old friend in Ethiopia if he's going to have a chance of finishing a war he never wanted. Meanwhile, Granuaile MacTiernan starts a private war of her own against Loki, the lord of lies, and if it brings Ragnarok early--so be it.

There are really two stories in this one, one with Atticus and one with Granuaile. I prefer them to have adventures together, but understand that they'll probably go off on their own every now and again.

Atticus and Oberon travel to Ethiopia to visit an old acquaintance so that she can read his future. My first introduction to reading the future using cheese instead of entrails or tea leaves. Weird! Meanwhile, Granuaile has a run-in with the crazy god Loki. Luckily, our girl can hold her own!

A nice short story to hold us over until the next Iron Druid adventure, but I agree with the author that this wouldn't be a good introduction to the series.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Bookmark Monday - Aloha!


Bookmark Monday - Aloha!
Since I collect bookmarks, thought it would be fun to join the Guiltless Reader for her Bookmark Monday posts!

Several years ago, I picked this wooden bookmark up during a family vacation to Hawaii. I don't usually buy bookmarks as souvenirs, but this one was so unique that I just had to have it!

Unique wooden bookmark from my Hawaiian vacation

This is the only wooden bookmark I've ever seen, and I love the cutout turtle!

Love the cutout turtle & flowers on this wooden bookmark from Hawaii!

You can't really tell in this picture, but it says "Hawaii" at the bottom.
One of my favorite bookmarks, as it's both unique and reminds me of a wonderful vacation!






Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Sunday Post 5/17/15


The Sunday Post 5/17/15 | Alexia's Books and Such
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

On the Blog:

I took part in the Blog Ahead Mini Challenge hosted by Anna at Herding Cats and Burning Soup. Only completed 10 scheduled posts out of my goal of 14, but that's not bad for me. I really want that extra cushion to help keep me from scrambling the night before a post is due, so going to keep working on it. You can check out my wrap up post if you like.

My birthday was on the 8th and I had a lovely time! My husband bought me two awesome t-shirts, which I absolutely love! And a chocolate cake. You can never go wrong with chocolate cake! I had a quick giveaway to share the birthday love, so congrats to winner Jenni!

Anyone going to BEA? I can't make it this year (sorry Tammy!) so plan on participating in Armchair BEA. Please take lots of pictures if you're going to BEA and post often so I can live vicariously through you!

Current Read:

Three Slices by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson, and Chuck Wendig

On the TBR Pile:

  • Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland
  • Talon by Julie Kagawa
  • Anni Moon by Melanie Abed
  • Arivica by John Poulsen
  • Kissing Ted Callahan by Amy Spalding

Upcoming Reviews:

  • Alive by Scott Sigler
  • I Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff
  • Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep

Around the Blogosphere:

  • Found an interesting explanation for the contents of a book at Anatomy of a Book. A good resource for writers and readers alike! 
  • A Guide to Epic Book Hoarding over at It Starts at Midnight was a fun read, complete with quiz! To no ones surprise, I am an epic book hoarder! 
  • Did you know that May 14th was Dylan Thomas Day? I didn't! While I've never read his work, I do love the Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light quote.

So how has the first half of May been for you? So happy that the warm weather seems to be here to stay! Now if it would just stop raining, I'd be a happy camper! (full disclosure - I hate camping)


And now, for your viewing pleasure, my dog
Waffles sunning herself on the porch:

gratuitous dog picture

Friday, May 15, 2015

Blog Ahead Mini Challenge Wrap-Up


BLOG AHEAD Mini Challenge | Alexia's Books and Such
Anna at Herding Cats & Burning Soup hosted a Blog Ahead mini challenge to help us create a blogging cushion of at least 14 scheduled posts. 

The Details:

To create a 2 week blogging buffer by increasing your total number of scheduled blog posts by 14.

Example:
If you start the challenge with 20 scheduled posts...
you finish the challenge with 34 scheduled posts.

The posts can be weekly memes like Waiting on Wednesday, book reviews, guest posts, discussion topics, etc. They don't have to be book related.

My Results:

I started with zero scheduled posts, so had to come up with 14 posts for the challenge on top of my usual 3 posts a week. I found that I'm good with post ideas, but the execution was a little more challenging for me. Here's what I wound up with:
  • Reviews (2)
  • Memes (4)
  • Discussion Posts (1)
  • Other (3)
Sad to say that I didn't do as well as I'd hoped. I did schedule some posts for my second blog, but wanted to get at least 14 done for this one. Some is better than none, but I'm still going to work on it as I really want that cushion!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bloggers Ed - First Impressions

Bloggers Ed - First Impressions

Because I like to learn new things, I decided to work on improving my blog and blogging skills. I joined a few Facebook groups and added some "blogging pros" to my Feedly account. One thing led to another and suddenly I'm following several marketing blogs and have signed up for a bunch of newsletters. I have a tendency to go overboard sometimes.... *shrugs*

After trying a few free blogging ecourses, I soon discovered that most of the information was just regurgitated general knowledge:  write good content, leave comments on other blogs, post consistently, blah, blah, blah.

Thinking that a paid class might have more relevant material, I went in search of an affordable blogging teacher. Whoa! Major sticker shock and I can't believe how much people are charging! 

I'm sorry, but for $497 someone better show up at my house every day for a month and sit right next to me while they explain what's what. And they better bring drinks and snacks. And give me a shoulder rub. I mean, seriously? $497?

Call me crazy, but I'm not willing to pluck down $79-$500 on an ecourse sight unseen! I finally found someone who offered some decent free material, so decided to sign up for her classes. Sad to say that so far, I'm not impressed.

I've finished the first class and can't say that I really learned anything new. Each class has between 10-21 lessons, so I'm hoping that the next class will be better.

Anyone have a good recommendation for where to find blogging tips? So far, I've learned more from Parajunkees Blogging 101 posts than any of the know-it-alls online who claim to be experts.






Monday, May 11, 2015

Birthday Giveaway Winner

Birthday Giveaway Winner
Waffles says congratulations!

Congratulations to the winner of my 
Birthday Giveaway!


Jenni!


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

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes!



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day
to all the mamas out there
(human & furry)

Here's my furbaby, Waffles:

My furbaby Waffles! What a good girl!

Friday, May 8, 2015

It's My Birthday!

It's My Birthday!

Today's my birthday
Oh yes it is!
Today's my birthday
Gee whiz!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Since it's my birthday today, thought I'd share the love and have a flash giveaway for all of my readers! I love you guys, and really appreciate you sticking with me throughout the years! Not going to advertise it all over the web because I just want to share it with you, my tribe.

lolcats cake
While I won't share my cake, I will share the celebration!


Enter to win a $10 book 
of your choice 
from the Book Depository!

 Contest ends May 10, 2015 
at 11:59PM EST  

Must be a follower to win





*Contest ends May 10, 2015 at 11:59PM EST  
*Must be 18 or over to win
*By entering, you confirm the Book Depository ships to your address
*Prize valued at $10 US
*Winner will be chosen via random.org, notified via email, and have 72 hours to respond


No need to mention how old I am...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review of Rescue Me by Catherine Mann

Book Review of Rescue Me by Catherine Mann | Alexia's Books and Such Title:  Rescue Me
Author:  Catherine Mann
Release Date:  February 3, 2015
Publisher:  Berkley
Source:  My personal copy

Detective AJ Parker left undercover work in Atlanta to join a small-town Tennessee police force, hoping for an easier workload and the solitude of his cabin. But the scars left by AJ’s previous work are more difficult to escape than he thought…

Mary Hannah Gallo works with the Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue to train therapy dogs for traumatized patients. It isn’t easy, but her life is under control - until she meets the broodingly sensual AJ, who rattles her composure all the way to her toes.

After an assignment confiscating dogs from a backyard breeder reveals a dangerous drug operation, AJ must work with sexy perfectionist Mary Hannah to train an abused rescue dog - a dog now named Holly. While Holly proves to these two very different people that opposites can, in fact, attract, she also knows more than a few explosive secrets that could heal - or divide - the entire town. (Goodreads)


My Review:

Rescue Me is a nice, light romance whose main attraction for me was the rescue dog, Holly. Glad that I saw Anna's review over at Herding Cats and Burning Soup or I never would have found this book on my own!

Holly, the rescued boxer, broke my heart. Used as a breeding dog by a meth dealer, Holly never knew love or affection of any kind until she was rescued. Despite a very tough life, she somehow managed to keep things together long enough to find her chance.

Loved her sense of humor! Despite being terrified and overwhelmed by the shelter environment, Holly observes that she never dreamed she would one day wind up in a Sarah McLachlan commercial. My kind of girl!

Had a harder time warming up to the two humans that rescue Holly. Mary Hannah has very good reasons for being so straitlaced and proper, but I couldn't muster up much sympathy for her. And while AJ was a little more approachable, neither one resonated with me for some reason.

But Holly? I fell for Holly and I fell hard!

Every chapter started with a little quote or observation from Holly, which was a nice touch. Who knew a dog could be hooked on game shows? Loved the a-ha moment when AJ realizes that Holly likes to watch TV and that her favorite show seemed to be Jeopardy. Too funny!

One of the things I didn't care for was the multiple narrators. I don't usually mind more than one voice, but felt that there were too many POVs in this one. I think that limiting it to Holly, Mary Hannah, and AJ might have worked better. It was never confusing, but there were just too many people narrating in my opinion.

There was also a little too much information about animal rescues and the importance of service animals. While it was interesting, some of it felt a little too much like a lecture and interrupted the flow of the story for me. Maybe that could have been included in an afterword or appendix instead?

This was a fast read for me, and to be honest I found myself plowing through most of the book to get to the next Holly chapter. Almost wish this had been Holly's story instead, but that would have been a totally different type of book.

Overall, I did enjoy this one. It was a fast read with a touch of romance, an interesting storyline, a fascinating look into the world of animal rescues, and an adorable boxer named Holly!






Monday, May 4, 2015

April 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. According to Goodreads, I've read 5 books this month. Better than last month, but not where I want to be yet.
  1. Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge
  2. Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep
  3. I Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff
  4. Buzz Books 2015:  Spring/Summer sampler
  5. Alive by Scott Sigler

April Reviews:

  1. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
  2. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  3. Carniepunk anthology
  4. Black and White by Kessler & Kittredge
  5. Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep
  6. Buzz Books 2015: Spring/Summer sampler
  7. She's the Boss by Lisa Lim

Blog Goals

One of my goals has been to update my old labels. Did you know that you can update posts in bulk? I didn't, and was so excited when I found out how! Saves so much time and you don't have to go through each post one by one. Genius!

On the posts page in Blogger, select all the posts that need a new label by checking the box next to the post title. Click the label button (next to the publish button) and choose the label you want to use and voila, all your posts are updated with the new label! Love this feature!


Around the Blogosphere

Found several fun posts around the blogosphere that I thought you might enjoy:

Ten Things You Should Regularly Tell Writers is a fun list of what every writer would love to hear!

Candace had an interesting post about contests. Geared towards authors, I think her tips would be helpful to everyone. Check it out at Let's Talk About Giveaways

Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction wrote a great post about using affiliate links:  Do You Use Affiliate Links?  I need to remember to do this next time I need something from Amazon!

Are you brave enough to find out how long it will take to finish your TBR pile with the TBR Calculator? I'm not!

Jenni had a fun post about her 40 Before 40 Bucket List! Makes me want to pull out my old bucket list and revise it!

Overall

Did my first Sunday Post in April! I might start doing one around the middle of the month as I don't think I'd have enough material for weekly posts.

Also did a few discussion posts dealing with blogger envy, reading "meh" books, and my favorite painting. Curious if anyone has any ideas for future discussion posts?

Still working on my blogging skills and signed up for a blogging course online, plus joined a few blogging groups on Facebook. I've more or less given up on Tsu and decided to focus on my Facebook page instead. Thinking about scheduling some tweets since I'm not very good with Twitter. Any Twitter parties you'd recommend?

Let's see, what else? I finally signed up for MailChimp and got rid of FeedBurner, so my emails should be easier to read now! And May is my 6th blogoversary! Need to come up with something special to celebrate (especially since I totally forgot my 5th!).

Here's to a great May!

Friday, May 1, 2015

BLOG AHEAD Mini Challenge


BLOG AHEAD Mini Challenge | Alexia's Books and Such
Anna at Herding Cats & Burning Soup is hosting a Blog Ahead mini challenge! Hoping that this will be the motivation I need to get some posts written and scheduled!

The Details:

To create a 2 week blogging buffer by increasing your total number of scheduled blog posts by 14.

Example:
If you start the challenge with 20 scheduled posts...
you finish the challenge with 34 scheduled posts.

The posts can be weekly memes like Waiting on Wednesday, book reviews, guest posts, discussion topics, etc. They don't have to be book related.

Eligibility:

Everyone is eligible to join! New bloggers to seasoned professionals. Book bloggers, DIY bloggers, beauty bloggers, etc. Come one, come all!

It's okay if you don't hit 14 extra scheduled posts in 2 weeks because even if you only finish 1-2, that's still great!

My Goals:

I have a several reviews that I need to write, but could use some ideas for other types of posts. Anything you'd like to see in a discussion post? Any non-review type of post you'd like to see? Anyone want to do a guest post for me? I'd appreciate any and all suggestions, as I'm having trouble coming up with 14 ideas! 


Want more info? Head on over the Herding Cats & Burning Soup for all the details!


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