Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Ethics & Non-Fiction

We get back into discussions on Friday with the heavy topic of ethics. Do you have recommendations to new bloggers to ensure credit is given to whom/where credit is due? Have you had an experience with plagiarism? How did you deal with it? What are the guidelines as bloggers that we must follow?

While I've never had first-hand experience with plagiarism (knock wood), I have lived through a couple of scandals where bloggers I know had their work stolen. It's heartbreaking, confusing, and mindboggling. Honestly, how hard is it to write your own review? Why would you steal someone else's work? If you read the book, why can't you share what you thought in your own words? Doesn't make sense to me.

I'm hesitant to even glance at reviews of a book on my TBR pile before I've completed my own, just in case I subconsciously use the same phrasing as anyone else. I know that my reviews aren't the best and that I need to work on editing and descriptions, but I know that the finished review is all me.

During the last big plagiarism scandal, I was proud of the book blogging community for their zero tolerance stance. Some people wanted to give the thief the benefit of the doubt because she was a nice person and popular, but the majority took a stand and refused to support her. It was a tough time for the community, but most stood up for what was right.

The only advice I can really give is to be honest. You might not have the best reviews out there, but if they are your honest reaction to a book, what more could you ask for?

We bridge the genre gap from fiction to all things non-fiction. Do you read non-fiction? Why or why not? Is there a specific type of non-fiction that you prefer to read (i.e., historical, true crime, memoirs, biographies, etc.)? What is the perfect book for a first-time non-fiction reader?

While I do read non-fiction from time to time, I have to admit that my first love will always be fiction. No matter how fascinating the story, I don't think that non-fiction can hold a candle to fiction. Mainly because non-fiction has to stick to the facts!

When I do read NF, it tends to be a biography of someone I find fascinating or a collection of essays that caught my eye. To be honest, I can't remember the last NF title I read, so guess it's been awhile.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA Day Two: Becoming a Better Blogger

Today was the Book Blogger's Conference in New York City. I've never been, but am looking forward to hearing all about it! Hopefully, things went better than they did last year. 

The purpose of the conference is to foster "blogger development"- and clearly, that development can go in a variety of directions! Today, Armchair BEA is inviting us to talk about our approach. Have you branched out into your community? Do you partner with other bloggers? Have you gone "pro" or tried generating some income through your blog? If you're a long-term blogger, how has your online personality developed over the years?

Tell us about things you've done to expand your blogging horizons, and the things you'd like to do but haven't managed (or figured out) yet. Come back here to link up your post, and then go see what other participants have to say. Let's foster our development as bloggers and learn from each other!

What have you done to get better as a blogger...and what do you want to do?

This is sort of an awkward discussion post for me, because I feel like I've been a bad, bad blogger lately. I burned out a little, lost my reading mojo, and have had several false starts back into the blogosphere. It's a slow climb out of the rut, but I think I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Or it could just be an oncoming train. :s

I don't really have an organized approach to blogging. I always tried to post a minimum of three times a week, and my goal is to get back to that. I don't have advertising on my blog, mainly because I don't like the way it looks (and doubt I'd make any money). Don't think that there's anything wrong with trying to make money, but it's not for me.

Have had a few guest posts, but my blog is a one-woman show. I admire people that are able to make partnerships work, but I'm afraid that it coordinating posts among different people would turn into too much work. And I'd hate to lose friendships by nagging about deadlines.

I'm trying to expand my reading horizons, so guess that counts for blogging as well. I have a list of blog tweaks/goals that I haven't touched in awhile, so need to get back on track with that.

Hoping that taking part in Armchair BEA will reignite some of my old passions and give me some new ideas. I'm also looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with, as well as meeting new bloggers!

Blog Tour: Lori Foster's Bare It All

Alexia's Books and Such

From New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster, comes the second book in her new Love Undercover series, Bare It All.

A cop’s craving to know more about the woman next door could prove fatal.

As the person responsible for taking down a brutal human trafficker, Alice Appleton fears retaliation at every turn. No one knows about her past, which is exactly how she prefers it…until the sexy cop next door comes knocking.

Detective Reese Bareden thinks he knows what makes women tick, but his ever-elusive neighbor keeps him guessing like no other. Is his goal to unmask Alice’s secrets? Or protect her from a dangerous new threat? One thing is certain: their chemistry is a time bomb waiting to explode. And with no one to trust but each other, Reese and Alice are soon drawn into a deadly maze of corruption, intrigue and desire - and into the line of fire….

Alexia's Books and Such
This is the second book in Lori's Love Undercover series and, mostly because of the characters, I actually liked it better than book one (Run The Risk).

Reese is one of those tough guys that Lori is so good at creating, but naturally he has a heart of gold. I really loved that he rescued an abandoned dog and that the dog helps him in his pursuit of neighbor Alice. Who can resist a man who rescues a dog? And what a sweet dog!

Alice was a little annoying at first because she seemed too timid. I don't mind shy people as I'm shy myself, but Alice seemed like a little mouse at first and those type of women have a tendency to annoy me. But as we got to know her and her background, I grew to admire her inner strength. She had been through a really hard time and lived to tell about it. Her past situation was a little odd to me, but the bottom line is that Alice was a survivor.

One of the things that I like about Lori's books is that you're more or less assured a HEA ending. You know that no matter what, good triumphs over evil and the hunk gets the girl. I don't read much romance anymore, but still enjoy Lori's work.

Have you read any of Lori's books? What do you think? If you've read this one, please let me know what you thought about Alice. She isn't your typical romantic heroine, but she did eventually grow on me.

*Blog tour arranged by BookTrib, all opinions are my own*

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Deadly Sting

Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me - Gin Blanco, aka the Spider - it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Trouble seems to follow Gin Blanco wherever she goes, whether a simple shopping trip or the latest social event of the season. But she can handle it because, let's face it, she's the Spider!

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I love, love, love this series! Gin is an incredibly talented assassin, but she's not a superhero. While I love kick-ass heroines, I get really tired of them turning into Superwoman, able to take on bad guys with one hand tied behind their backs. If you're in a fight with a dozen bad guys, you should at least have some bruises to show for it! Gin does get hurt during fights, and she knows she's not indestructible. I like that in a heroine!

Gin practically has a target on her back ever since her identity as the Spider was revealed and has to be prepared for anything, but she rarely goes looking for fights. I really like that she hasn't lost her humanity and doesn't take what she does for a living lightly. She still has nightmares about her previous victims and I admire her for that. Who would want a super-assassin without a conscience?

From the simple heist during Gin's shopping trip with foster brother Finn, to the daring robbery during the gala, the plot never lets up! It's well paced and, most importantly, believable. Wish that the other characters had more to do in this one, but due to circumstances beyond her control, Gin is basically on her own.

This is the eighth book in the series, and I highly recommend it for all urban fantasy fans! Or anyone who enjoys a good read, as Gin is awesome! I don't think you need to read them all in order to enjoy this one. While knowing their history adds to the story (especially when it comes to Owen), I think the author explains enough of the backstory to make sense.

Did you read this one? What did you think? And wasn't the ending awesome!?

*eBook from my personal library*

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: The Time of My Life

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Lucy Silchester has received an appointment card. Actually, she's been invited along a few times to this appointment, but she keeps brushing the gold embossed envelope under the shag pile carpet... But Lucy is about to find out that this is one appointment that she can't miss. And she can't escape it either. Her Life is about to catch up with her in the most surreal of ways. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books where the synopsis grabbed my attention and demanded to be read, as it sounded so unique and original! I've read Cecelia Ahern before and I think she's a very talented writer, but I really should stop reading the Shelf Awareness newsletter since I have little to no willpower when it comes to awesome reads.

We meet Lucy as she's ignoring the third request for an appointment with her life. Apparently, some people receive requests from their Life to get together and sort things out. Can you imagine? I don't know if I'd want to sit down for a meeting with my life, as I'd be afraid she might not approve of my book habit. The horror! 

Have to admit that Lucy did not make a good first impression, as she's a liar. I don't mind if the main character lies, but I don't want them to lie to me. And her Life seemed a bit of a mess too, complete with disheveled suit and bad breath. But the more I got to know them, the more they both grew on me.

Since Lucy keeps ignoring her life, he takes the drastic step of moving in with her and becomes her constant companion. Things get a little awkward with her family and friends, not to mention at work, as he doesn't like it when Lucy lies. For every lie she tells, he reveals a Truth. Great cure for lying!

Ahern makes it seem totally believable that your Life could take the form of a person and meet with you. If your life if a mess, then they are a mess. As life gets better, they get better. This manifestation of life was oddly fascinating!

After a bumpy start, I enjoyed this story and liked getting to know Lucy and her Life! Looking forward to seeing what Ahern comes up with next, as she's a very talented, creative writer!

ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Book Haul (19)

My Book Haul (19)

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 a link to Goodreads if you want more information.

For Review:

Some books are just irresistible for me, and this is one of them! As soon as I read the synopsis, it reached out and grabbed me by the collar, insisting I request it immediately! Well, when a book goes to the trouble of reaching through a computer screen to demand you read it, how can you say no? ;)

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Lucy Silchester has received an appointment card. Actually, she's been invited along a few times to this appointment, but she keeps brushing the gold embossed envelope under the shag pile carpet. She's taken her eye off the ball and has busied herself with work (a job she doesn't love), helping out friends, fixing her car, feeding her cat, seeing her family and devoting her time to their life dramas. But Lucy is about to find out that this is one appointment that she can't miss. And she can't escape it either. Her Life is about to catch up with her in the most surreal of ways. (Goodreads)

What did you receive this week?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Birthday happiness!

Yesterday was my birthday and we had a great time celebrating!

DH gave me a really nice card with a bag of Twizzlers, my favorite! Inside the card was a handmade coupon, redeemable for a cat. I love cats but he's not a fan, so this was really sweet of him!

Received a gorgeous bouquet of daisies from my parents. My favorite flower!

Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Another favorite! This was dinner. Well, DH made us a salad first, but cake for the main course and Twizzlers for dessert! Yea birthdays! 

DH always manages to find awesome gifts for me! I'm a t-shirts and jeans girl, so love my new shirt! Too many books? There's no such thing. The man knows me well! And check out my new clock! Time to read! 

Had a wonderful day and received lots of birthday wishes from all over the world. Love my blogging buddies and Facebook friends! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb

Book Review: Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb
Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb

On Manhattan's Upper East Side a woman lies dead at the bottom of the stairs, stripped of all her valuables. Most cops might call it a mugging gone wrong, but Lieutenant Eve Dallas knows better. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

The Eve Dallas books are like comfort food for me, as I can rely on them to provide a good read with no unexpected surprises. I know that there will be an interesting case for Dallas to solve, that her handsome hubby Roarke will help, Peabody will provide some comic relief, and that Dallas and Roarke will have hot sex (but nothing too graphic). To borrow Martha Stewart's catchphrase - It's a good thing.

This story is no different. There's an interesting case involving the murder of a woman who by all accounts had no enemies. Set up to look like a mugging, there are a few small details that the killer missed. Dallas misses nothing. You know she's going to solve the case, but it's always interesting watching her work.

I also enjoyed the side story, where Dallas has to attend the movie premier based on her solving a previous case. Eve does not like going to fancy shindigs, but it's a necessary part of life and I get a kick out of watching her squirm. Especially when it comes to her fear of Trina, the hair/makeup guru!

Gave this one a 4 out of 5, as it was an easy read and I really enjoyed it. J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, is a very talented writer who can create great characters that actually evolve instead of staying in a rut. I love this series!

eBook from my personal library