Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bookish Resolutions Challenge January Update

Bookish Resolution Challenge

This is hosted by Michelle at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life and Laura at Trips Down Imagination Road and you can sign up at this link
My resolutions:
1. Read at least 6 Classics this year.
2. Finish at least half of the challenges that I signed up for this year.
3. Finish at least 4 series this year, particularly ones where I have only the last book in the series left to read.
4. Try to blog more, like at least 10 posts a month.
5. Get healthy!

Thanks to Michelle and Laura for hosting!

Update: So far, I have made progress on one of my challenges, and have finished two books toward the RoadTrip Challenge. This is my tenth post for the month, so I am barely meeting that goal, but I did meet it. I have went almost the entire month without any soda, so I have made a good start on goal number 5. I have some ideas for Lent to help with goal 5, so I am hoping to meet it this year. No classics so far and I have only started one last of the series book, The Blood of Olympus. Hopefully I can get more in gear next month!

Grant and Twain by Mark Perry

So, this is my third read and the book for my third and last book club group this month. I have 3 monthly book clubs that I participate in for work. This is the one I am in charge of and they picked a history book for January. I love history and my first Masters degree is in American History.
Grant and Twain: The Story of an American Friendship
Random House

Perry did a great job making the book readable. This is definitely popular history at its finest. His style is great, but he did not compromise on sources to achieve this style. Perry basically wanted to show the influence Grant and Twain had on each other and he looked in particular detail about how Grant wrote his autobiography and for Twain, he focused mainly on Huckleberry Finn. He showed what influenced the men and how Twain helped Grant survive to finish his autobiography and how Grant helped Twain to finish Huckleberry Finn. Perry also included some wonderful quotes, particularly one by Hemingway in which he said Twain started contemporary American fiction and Grant wrote the best contemporary American nonfiction. Our whole group loved this read and almost every person who took a book, finished it. Overall this was a 5 cups of cocoa read and has helped me to want to read more nonfiction, particularly history this year.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Winter's Respite Read-A-Thon Signup

A Winter's Respite is hosted by Michelle @ The True Book Addict and Castle Macabre and starts January 26 and runs through February 1. You can sign up at this link. Hopefully I get into the reading spirit, since so far I have only completed my three book club books this month. It is time for some books that I have picked out!

Reading List:
Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Risked by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Faerie Tale Collection #1 by Jenni James
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
The Rosie Project by Grahame Simsion
Jinx's Fire by Sage Blackwood

February's Book Club Books (if I want to get a jump start):
Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement

Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Last Juror by John Grisham

This is another of my monthly book club reads and will also qualify as my Mississippi read.
The Last Juror

Willie Traynor applies for a newspaper job, never expecting to one day own the paper. When the long time owner, Spot, is declared bankrupt, Willie borrows money from his grandmother and becomes the owner of the Ford County Times and owns the paper for ten years. In the book, Willie talks about his ten years as owner and editor and of the friends he made, like Callie Ruffian, an African American woman with 7 children who have PhDs. He also discusses the most horrible crime he faced in Clanton, Mississippi, a brutal rape and murder of a young mother and the aftermath of this crime, which would haunt Willie and Clanton for many years.

This was my first John Grisham read and I did enjoy it. Willie was a young naive man who gains courage in his friendship with Callie and finally finds his voice in the paper. In the end he did mature some, mainly thanks to Callie, but the end is very bittersweet. There really was little happiness in the story and it is more a reflection of the 1970s and all the change that the decade brought. I would be interested in reading more of Grisham's novels and I give this one 4 cups of cocoa.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

This was my first finished read of the year and my first book club book. The story is set in Wisconsin from 1907-1908, with a brief part in St. Louis, Missouri. For the Reading Road Trip Challenge, this will be my book for Wisconsin. I loved this cover and it made me think of cold snowy Wisconsin and the setting had a big part to play in the story.
A Reliable Wife
Algonquin Books

Ralph Truitt puts an advertisement in many papers for a reliable wife and is answered by Catherine Land. Catherine claims to be a simple woman who is honest, but she secretly hides a shocking past. Ralph also has a sordid and secret past, which he will share with Catherine, because he has a job for her. Catherine comes to Wisconsin and she and Ralph have a rough time from the start. However, Ralph places his trust in Catherine, recruiting her to bring back his "son". Catherine has her own agenda revealed early in the story, she plans to poison Ralph and take off with his money for her and her lover. There is a greater twist to the story that leads to a shocking ending.

This was a bit like erotica for the 1900s. The main characters are obsessed with sex and enjoy it quite a bit. The story is very twisted with a big surprise about half way through, which I won't give away, but kind of disgusted me. The suspenseful parts were well written and Goolrick is very descriptive with the landscape and emotions of his characters. I did enjoy his writing, but not really the storyline. I wouldn't mind reading another one of his books, but not a book with a similar plot. For me it was a 3 cups of cocoa and that is mainly for his descriptive style. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bout of Books Wrapup

Bout of Books

Well, I did not participate any in the social side of this read-a-thon, which makes me sad. I have got to find time to actually blog and interact with people, because I miss it. I did finish A Reliable Wife and read 323 pages in it and another 70 pages in Grant and Twain and 40 pages in Blood of Olympus, so my reading is finally back on track. Thanks again to Amanda and Kelly for hosting!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Bookish Resolutions Challenge Signup

Bookish Resolution Challenge

This is hosted by Michelle at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life and Laura at Trips Down Imagination Road and you can sign up at this link
My resolutions:
1. Read at least 6 Classics this year.
2. Finish at least half of the challenges that I signed up for this year.
3. Finish at least 4 series this year, particularly ones where I have only the last book in the series left to read.
4. Try to blog more, like at least 10 posts a month.
5. Get healthy!

Thanks to Michelle and Laura for hosting!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bout of Books 12 Update Days 1-4

Bout of Books

Well, so far I have not managed any social interaction this week. Work is keeping me so busy and only one day have I managed to actually get home on time. I have been able to read a little. I read 26 pages of Grant and Twain, 49 pages of The Reliable Wife and I am on page 37 in Blood of Olympus. Hopefully, I can look at a few minichallenges today and this weekend and maybe comment on a few posts.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Challenges Signups Post

This is hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate and here is the signup link.
I only finished 3 books last year, but I am going to try for 6 books again this year. I know I want to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, but other than that I have not picked out the other classics yet.


This is hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat and Melissa at Writer Grrl Reads and here is the signup link. I am going to attempt the Newbie level, since most of the books I need to read are the last books in the series. I have a few ideas for this challenge, such as the last books in Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters series and the last book in The Heroes of Olympus.

The Daily Prophecy
This was hosted by Debz, but this year Mel is hosting it at The Daily Prophecy and the signup is here. This is my third time participating and I barely missed my level last year. I am trying for Magic Mirror which is 5 to 9 books.


This is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and the signup link is here. I am going to try for Silver level which is 5 books, but I have not picked out my books yet.

This is hosted by Adriana at She's Got Books on Her Mind and here is the signup link. I am trying for Hitchhiker, which is 10 to 20 books.

This is hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block and here is the signup link. I am trying for A Trip Down Memory Lane, which is 12 books. This is one of the few challenges  I actually completed, so I decided to up my number a bit.

I Love Library Books
Reading Challenge

This is hosted by Gina at Book Dragon's Lair and you can signup at this link. I am going to try for Young Adult, which is 24 books. Since I work at the library and go to my local library, I should be able to do this.


This is hosted by Julie at Smiling Shelves and this is the signup link. Another one of the few challenges I was able to complete. I am going to try for the L'Engle level again which is 15 to 29 points.

This is hosted by Liliana at Lili Lost in a Book and here is the signup link. I am going to try for Demigod level which is 1 to 5 books. I already have two books in mind, but I am not for sure how many other books I have that will fit the mythology theme.

This is hosted by Sandy at Somewhere Only We Know and Holly at Words Fueled by Love and the signup link is here. I am going to try for Level 1 1-5 books. I have several series ending books I need to finish!

This is hosted by Emily at Falling for YA and you can signup at this link. I am trying for Bronze Level (10 books) again, even though I did not complete this challenge last time. I have several eARCs I need to read and I did finish a few last time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Favorite Reads of 2014

Well, I slacked off blogging the last few months of 2014 and I have several books I never ended up reviewing, but I did manage to finish 60 books. This is not quite the 80 books I wanted to finish, but I had a lot of unexpected job issues that kept me from reading the way I wanted from August on.
My favorite book of the year ended up being my first completed book of the year, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I did manage to review this one and the review can be found here.
St. Martin's Press

This would also make the book my favorite YA read of the year. A close second to this would be two of my last reads of the year, Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight both by Sarah Maas. I have not reviewed either of these books yet, but may write some brief thoughts on them. If you haven't tried this series, I highly recommend it. Celaena sometimes makes you mad, but she is one of the best flawed characters I have ever read and Maas's world-building is beautiful and the plot is heartbreaking. I am trying not to get too attached to the characters, because the author does rip your heart out a few times in at least the first three books and I can see more heartbreak happening in the fourth book. I am glad I was given the third book to review in audio format, or I may not have picked up this series.

My favorite adult read of the year was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and my review can be found here. I love Rowell's writing and how likeable her characters are.

I also read more adult books this year than usual, mainly because in my new library role I attend three adult book clubs. I also got on a Debbie Macomber Christmas books kick. My second choice for adult books would be Emma by Jane Austen, another book I did not end up reviewing, but hope to write some brief thoughts about in the new year. I learned to love Emma only through the eyes of Mr. Knightly and I love how they brought out the best in each other and actually seemed to humanize each other.

For junior fiction, I would say the choice is harder. Due to reading and reviewing slumps, I did not finish a few series books in which I know the books would blow all other books out of the water (I am thinking Blood of Olympus here), so I will not have the usual suspect as the winner. I did enjoy Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, not yet reviewed, but I think it was slightly edged out by The Iron Trial reviewed here. I know it received a lot of criticism for comparisons to Harry Potter, but I loved it. I can't wait for the next one.
The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)

A close third would be the Newbery winner for 2014, Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, reviewed here. I love her books and this one had just the right humor and weight to make it very appealing to children and adults. This one is closely followed by Jinx's Fire by Sage Blackwood, reviewed here. This is another series which I really enjoy for both its humor and darkness.

For me, junior fiction seemed to dominate my reading and my favorites of the year. I think having less time and less energy made me drift to junior fiction and the younger end of YA. Hopefully in the new year I can find more time to read and get back into the habit of reviewing.

What topped your favorites list of 2014? I would love to see other people's lists and maybe find some new reads for 2015.