Friday, March 31, 2017

What I'm Reading Right Now #10; Reviews, ARCs, and Fun with Formatting

The last week has been full of books! I did a readathon over the weekend, I did ARC's, I tore through A Court of Mist and Fury, and had book club meeting. Some of the books I finished were better than others, all of them had things I wasn't expecting. I finished three books, two of them counted for the RMSC, the 'Whole Deal' post for that can be found here.

Books I finished this week

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Naughty Professor by S.J. Bishop and Jeni Brown - This was an ARC I received from the authors for an honest review. S.J. Bishop is one of my favorite sports romance authors, I've loved all her books so far and I was really excited to read this one, even though it's not a sports romance. Adam is released from prison, he was convicted of financial crimes and took the fall for his friend Aiden, who he happens to look just like. Adam runs into Aiden and over drinks they decide to switch places. Aiden gets the freedom to travel and do charity work, and Adam gets to run Aiden's million dollar sports drink company, live in his Chicago penthouse and spend his money. When Adam (as Aiden) takes a lecturing position at a local college he meets Syrena and is instantly drawn to her. He doesn't find out till it's too late that she is his stepmothers estranged daughter. He keeps all his secrets from her, trying to shield her from the truth. But when Aiden's past come back to haunt him Adam's secrets come out.
This book had good parts and bad parts, so I'll start with the good.
The Good; I am a sucker for the whole 'oops, you're my stepbrother' storyline. I don't have a stepbrother, but I just love that particular trope. I also love the 'secret baby' trope. They're so much fun to read. The characters were well written. I particularly liked Adam, he was very well rounded, funny, sweet, and seemed like he was genuinely trying to do the right thing. I liked that it took place in Chicago, and not some fictional, unnamed city. Knowing where the location was made it that much easier for me to visualize the story. I was really into this story until about the 90% mark. Up until then it was a great, fun, easy read. Which brings me too the bad parts.
The Bad; This part has SPOILERS. If you don't want to know what happens don't read this part! Also if you are sensitive about miscarriage and/or infant loss this could contain triggers. I know some people hate trigger warnings but I think everyone deserves the right to decide weather they read about triggering subjects or not. So, the bad parts. Syrena has a miscarriage. A pretty violent one. I had an anxiety attack when I read it. I couldn't breathe, couldn't stop shaking, it was pretty bad for me, personally. If I'd known this book contained something along those lines I would not have read it. I would have stuck to S.J. Bishops normal sports romances and totally skipped this one. I actively avoid reading about miscarriages, even in fiction, because I know they have a bad effect on me.. Also, the woman Syrena's ex left her for dies in childbirth or shortly after along with her baby. I was able to over look that one since it's not described in any detail.
Also, the timeline of the story was not well defined at all. I had no idea how much time had passed between Syrena getting back together with Jamie and running into Adam at an awards show. Things really jumped around when Adam had his car accident. It seemed like the accident happened immediately when he left the awards show but then Syrena had to travel to get to where he was and could only skype with Jamie, which doesn't make sense if they were still in New York. I hate to admit this next bit but I hate Syrena's name. I don't like made up names, or 'unique' spellings of established names, and it really bothered me till about half way through the book. Every time I read it my eye would twitch a little until I got used too it.
It seems like a lot of bad, but really 90% of the book was excellent. It was just that last 10% that really got to me. I had a hard time coming up with a rating for this book. I settled on 3 stars, after much thought, because most of the story is excellent. Without the miscarriage part, which I really don't think it needed, there was enough drama going on without that, this would have easily been a 4.5-5 star romance.

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Last Play by Taylor Hart - This was such a sweet romance! When Roman Young, star QB for the Dallas Destroyers, has to go home to Utah to sell his uncle's Inn he meets Katie Winters. She's strong, and funny, and married. Roman fights his growing feelings for her but when he finds out her husband was killed a year ago he has to decide if he really wants to sell the Inn and be done with Wolfe Creek Utah or if he could have a future with Katie and her son Josh. This was definitely a slow burn romance. There were so many times I was reading, going 'kiss her, kiss HER, KISS HER ALREADY!' I liked Katie's character. She's so strong, and so broken, but her willingness to dedicate herself to the people she loves is amazing. The town of Wolfe Creek was full of interesting characters, and the snowed in town was the perfect setting. I did feel like the whole story was a little bit rushed though. I would have enjoyed more details about the town and the people, just as context for the story. The whole 'small town' thing makes me think of Moose County from the 'Cat Who...' books by Lillian Jackson Braun, and the details about the setting are one of the best things about those books. I was surprised that this was a clean romance book. There was no sex. It wasn't a bad thing, it didn't take away from the story at all, it just wasn't what I was expecting. I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - OMG. This book. Let me start by saying I loved the first book. I thought it was so amazing. But this book, this ending, totally blew the first book away. This does contain SPOILERS for the first book, so if you're planning on reading it skip it! Feyre, a mere human, has saved the Fey people of Prythian from the clutches of Amarantha. She spilled Fey blood and shredded her own soul in order to do it, but Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court, and all the Faeries are safe. Feyre struggles with her own guilt and depression over what she had to do, while Tamlin struggles with his need to keep Feyre safe. When Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court cashes in on the bargain he and Feyre forged Under the Mountain, she begins to see that there may be other options for her besides being a caged pet of the Spring Court. With war coming from Hybern, Feyre has to decide what's best for herself and the people of her land, human and Fey alike.
I cried so hard during this book. Feyre's journey to heal herself is beautiful, and painful, and so amazingly written. And the romance! Talk about a slow burn romance! This takes it to another level! I feel like I can't write too much with out giving away too many details, but this book is amazing! I know I'm using a ton of exclamation points but really, this book needs all the exclamation points!

Books I'm currently reading;

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Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson - I starting to question if I should keep reading this series. It's really taking me forever to get into this one. Granted, I haven't given it much time in the last week, but the other books I'm reading aren't taking this long to get involved in. The first book took a long time to get into also but I felt like it really paid off at the end. I'm going to try and keep going with this one for one more week and then we'll see how I feel about it.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - I didn't give much time to this one in the last week either. I don't know how much I'll get to read it this coming week but I'm going to keep going.

Some Practical Magic by Laurie Carroll-Kuna - I was given a free copy of this one for review. I'm about a quarter of the way through it and it's really good so far! I love books about witches, especially in a modern setting, and that exactly what this one is. I also have the sequel, That Old Black Magic, so I'm excited to read that one too.

What's up next;

That Old Black Magic by Laurie Carroll-Kuna (Free copy for review)
Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg (ARC)
Anaconda by Lauren Landish
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Coming Soon on the Blog;

Reading Habits Post #2; Coffee Shops - I had meant for this post to go up last week but with the Book Club post needing to go up I had to push it back.
Still working on the 'Books I Want to Re-read' post, there are a lot more of them than I originally thought.
March Wrap-Up post is coming early next week! I going to be a long one!

Wow! This post turned out a lot longer than I thought it would. I'm playing with some formatting things on this post, since I'm still learning what all the buttons do so if something doesn't look right let me know!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Club Pick for April

I can't believe it's time for the April book club pick already! March went by so fast and there were so many books! But there will be more about that in the March Wrap-Up post at the beginning of next week.

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Our book club pick for March was L's pick, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. We ranged all across the board on this one, some of us loved it, some were kind of meh, and some hated it. Usually we have pretty good conversations about books when we don't all agree, so it was a fun night. We talked a lot about the similarities between our current society and the society in the book, the voluntary decline of books, and why books evoke so much emotion from those who love them. 
We also asked the question 'If you had to memorize one book to preserve for the future, which book would you pick?' A lot of people picked a book from The Bible, but my answer was, of course, The Other Boleyn Girl. 

For April our pick comes from S, who's last pick, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, was a huge hit. Everybody loved it! I think her next pick is going to be a great one too. The pick is...
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I don't know a whole lot about this book, just that it's an HBO special and Reese Witherspoon is in it. I've seen it all over Pinterest in the last year or so along with the rest of Liane Moriarty's books. Judging by the cover, it should be amazing! Also, the fact that all the libraries in my area have 10+ copies of this book, and ALL OF THEM are checked out, and have a huge waiting list, means it's probably pretty good. I'm going to see if I can pick up a copy at Target but if they don't have it I'll be ordering it this week, even though I promised I wouldn't buy any more books until after the move. It's for book club, so I have to get it. Right?

Monday, March 27, 2017

6 Podcasts I Love

I may have mentioned this before, but I LOVE podcasts! I listen to them while I clean, fold laundry, cook dinner, basically anytime I'd have music on, I've got a podcast playing. I have a few favorites, not all of them are bookish podcasts, but they have helped me with cleaning routines, decluttering my house, being more mindful, and simplifying my life so I have time to do the things I love.

Here they are, in no particular order!

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1. A Slob Comes Clean -  I started listening to this one a little over a year ago, when I was really trying to get my cleaning routine down. I didn't really know where to start, and being a homemaker does not come naturally to me. I had a hard time getting motivated to clean so I started listening to this podcast while I did my dishes, and I've learned so much! I highly recommend starting with episode #1, as she gives her own 'Slob Story' in the first few episodes. I still listen to this podcast on a regular basis and I love being able to go back and listen to episodes on certain subjects when I'm struggling with something. If you're naturally clean and organized this probably isn't the podcast for you, but it's been a great help to me!

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2. The Mindful Kind - I stumbled across this podcast by accident one day while I was looking for something new to listen to while cleaning. I've been surprised at how much it has helped me to deal with my anxiety and keep mindfulness as a priority as I go through my day. The host, Rachel Kable, is Australian and I love listening to her talk. Her voice is soothing and just calms me down every time I turn it on. When I first found it I didn't think there was much to talk about with mindfulness, that it could be worth a weekly podcast, but it really is worth it. Mindfulness is something everyone can benefit from and I think everyone should check out this podcast.

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3.  The Simple Show - This podcast covers variety of subjects, travel, books, decluttering, slow living. The host, Tsh, is awesome! She's traveled the world with her family and has made simple living and doing whats right for her family her top priority. She's got some amazing co-hosts, always has excellent guests, and I can always scroll through the episode list and find something that applies to my life and what I need on any given day. She even has an episode on Gilmore Girls!

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4. What Should I Read Next - This is a the purely bookish podcast from the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. Anne, the host and writer of Modern Mrs. Darcy, covers everything reading, from reviews and recommendations, to ways to track your reading (which is a newer episode, and one of my favorites because, in case you haven't noticed, I LOVE tracking my reading). I love the blog as a whole, because she covers life, not just books. The blog is about books, but she throws in recipes, or a make-up post every now and then. There's posts about moving, about personality types, organizing, and life goals. It is a blog about the life of a reader, the whole life, not just the book parts.

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5. Simple Life Together - The is another podcast about simplicity. It's a husband and wife who host it
and they are so much fun to listen too! They are so funny and just listening to their banter back and forth and their conversations makes me smile. They haven't posted new episodes in over a year but there is a lot of great inspiration and tips on simplifying in the 70 or so episodes that they do have.

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6. Literary Disco -  This is like a podcast/bookclub. They are so funny and have great book selections. They don't post episodes very consistently, depending on the hosts work schedules and things there can be some big gaps, but there are over 100 episodes so there's plenty to catch up on. Plus, Rider Strong, Sean from
Boy Meets World, is one of the hosts so that's pretty awesome!

Those are my 6 favorite podcasts! I'm actually listening to The Simple Show while I type this and I've got an episode of The Mindful Kind to listen too while I clean up the playroom! I'm having a hard time with my anxiety today so listening to these is helping me find my calm as best I can. I'm always looking or new podcasts so if anyone out there has some suggestions let me know!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Holy Cow It's A Readathon Weekend!

Two posts in one day? I know I'm going a bit over board but this has special circumstances! I just got my first books for review from! They are not new books, but if I want to get new books to review in the future it's probably a good idea for me take this seriously.

I have one issue with this whole review thing right now. I'm currently reading six books. SIX. So this weekend, I'm going to read as much as possible. I might even ask my mom to come babysit on Sunday so I can read all afternoon. My goal is to finish at least three books by Monday morning. I might have to temporarily DNF list one or two books so I can get to the review books in a timely manner. Which I'm okay with since it is only temporary and I'm not very far in to any of the books I'm reading right now.

I'll update this post (hopefully) multiple times this weekend and share my progress. This is where I'm at as of 2 pm on friday 3/24;

Outlander - pg 7
Deadhouse Gates - pg 58
A Court of Mist and Fury - pg 8
Naughty Professor - 14%
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me - 3%
Last Play - 21%

Update #1- 10 PM 3/24

Outlander - pg 7
Deadhouse Gates - pg 58
A Court of Mist and Fury - pg 26
Naughty Professor - 55%
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me - 3%
Last Play - 21%

I spent the afternoon playing in the backyard with The Toddler, I didn't get as much reading done as I could have. Really, though, she's more important than anything and it was the first warm day this spring. So I'm staying up a bit to read.

Update #2 - 3:30 PM 3/25

Outlander - pg 7
Deadhouse Gates - pg 58
A Court of Mist and Fury - pg 39
Naughty Professor - FINISHED
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me - 3%
Last Play - 21%

I finished Naughty Professor around midnight last night. It was...not what I thought it was going to be. Full review coming next week sometime. So far most of today has been spent at Home Depot, but I'm home now and The Toddler is about to take a nap, which equals reading time!

Update #3 - 12 AM 3/26

Outlander - pg 7
Deadhouse Gates - pg 58
A Court of Mist and Fury - pg 53
Naughty Professor - FINISHED
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me - 3%
Last Play - FINISHED

I didn't get as much reading in on Saturday as I would have liked. I have finished two books so far this weekend and the goal was three so I'm doing good there, however with the rest of the books I'm really at the beginning of all of them. I think Outlander is going to land on the DNF list for now. I'm debating between ACoMaF and Wall of Winnepeg to tackle next.

Update #4 - 11 PM 3/26

Outlander - pg 7
Deadhouse Gates - pg 58
A Court of Mist and Fury - pg 160
Naughty Professor - FINISHED
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me - 3%
Last Play - FINISHED

So I didn't get as much reading done this weekend as I thought I would. I only finished two books, but I made a lot of progress with A Court of Mist and Fury. I'm hoping to hit page 200 before I go to bed tonight.

What I'm Reading Right Now

This week was not as great as last week, for reading. Well, for anything really. I've been having a really hard time with my anxiety this week and not done as much reading as I could have. It's so easy to get wrapped up in Youtube, or Pinterest, and not have to think, when I'm having anxiety problems. However, I have to admit, the anxiety is for a good reason.

Our house sold! Someone actually wants it! I was so shocked when we got the email that there was an offer. So now I get to have anxiety over all these inspections and paperwork and all the boring, stressful, crap that comes with selling a house and buying another one. Luckily we already knew what house we wanted to buy, we were just hoping it wouldn't sell before we could make an offer, and it didn't! We had our inspection of the new house on Wednesday and the buyers are having an inspection on our current house on Tuesday. The inspection on the new house went really well, we thought there may have been some electrical issues but it turned out to be nothing, so now I just have to stress about the inspection coming up on Tuesday and hope our buyers don't find something they don't like and decide to back out. In reality there's not much they could find but my anxiety likes to tell me the opposite.

As far as reading this week, I find myself, once again, in the middle of way too many books. Or rather, the beginning of way too many books. I seem to have started a new book every day this week and made zero progress with any of them. So next week is about finishing all these books I've started, and hopefully I'll have time for that with packing and things going on. One of the books that I did manage to finish counts for the RMSC which brings me up to 7 out of 25. The updated 'Whole Deal' post can be found here.

This week's finished books;

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - This was the book club pick for March. I read it in 9th grade, but it was so long ago and I paid so little attention since it was an assigned book. that I remember almost nothing from the first time I read it. With everything going on in the world today, it was an unsettling read. However, I think that unsettling reads are the ones we need to read the most sometimes. I also saw where this book may have influenced a few other books that I've loved, and I never saw the connection before. The two that stand out the most are A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.
A Series of Unfortunate Events had VFD (Volunteer Fire Department) and the schism between those who start the fires and those who put the fires out (Count Olaf starts fires and the Baudelaire parents put them out, until Olaf killed them anyway). In Fahrenheit 451, the firemen start fires, burning books and sometimes people, there is a bit of talk about whether it's true that firemen used to put out the fires instead of start them and my brain went straight to Count Olaf and VFD.  In the Uglies series, the main character is Talley, someone who, much like Guy Montag, buys into the popular beliefs in their respective worlds and comes to realize that there is a whole other world, a whole other truth, outside of everything they know and makes the choice to abandon everything in order to seek that truth.
Overall, I thought it was a very relevant book, I liked that it made me think about what I was doing, or not doing, and the consequences that inaction might have in the world. 3 out of 5 stars.

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Bury the Hatchet by Catherine Gayle - I really liked this book! Hunter is by far my favorite book boyfriend this year, so far. It was well written, and well edited (which can be a problem with romance), and the characters were great. I loved the dynamic between Tallie and her mother and Lance, it was the perfect source of tension and I ended up really liking Tallie. I thought at first that she'd be boring but she had some sass in her and she was a great match for Hunter. I just downloaded another book by this author, from a different series, but still a hockey romance. The hockey aspect was the part that surprised me the most. I don't watch hockey even though it's easily the most popular pro sport where I live. I'm a football girl. I've got Packers jerseys. and hats, and PJ pants, and pillow cases, and a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Clay Matthews. But the hockey aspect of this book didn't bother me. I thought that it would really take away from the story for me, since I don't know much about hockey but it really didn't. It was so character driven that the sport that, essentially, brought Tallie and Hunter together wasn't a big factor. 4 out of 5 stars.

Books I'm currently reading;

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson - Yes, still.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Because reading one huge book at a time isn't enough.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - Because the third book is coming out in May and I preordered it so I want to be ready to dig in when it gets delivered. I loved the first one and read it in less than two days.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata - Football romance because there's nothing football related until the draft at the end of April and I miss football.

Last Play by Taylor Hart - See description above.

Naughty Professor by S.J. Bishop & Jeni Brown - This is an ARC from one of my favorite romance authors. I've done ARC's for her before and they've always been good. This one is a little different. It was co-written with another author and it's not a sports romance, which is usually what she writes. However, I will say that I was totally hooked after the first chapter so I'm thinking it's going to be just as amazing as her other books.

What's up next;
There is a book club meeting on the 28th so, whatever the book club pick is
Throne of Glass
American Street
The Perfect Girl
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Upcoming on the blog;
Reading Habits Post #2; Coffee Shops! Because I love to read in coffee shops. I guess I'm basic like that.
Books I Want to Reread, because if it's good once is never enough.
Book club pick for April! This is C's month to pick, post should be up middle of next week!

Last thing; this is Clay Matthews, who I mentioned in the Bury the Hatchet review. Just in case you need some eye candy today.
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Books I'm Loving for The Toddler

The Toddler and I read a lot of books together. If she likes a book she wants to read it six, seven, eight times in a row. After reading a book eight times in a row, four times a day, for a week I get a little tired of the books we have. For the last couple of weeks we've been making trips to the library on Saturdays so I can have new books to read to The Toddler on a regular basis without spending a ton of money.

So far it's worked out great! I usually pick a 'theme' for the week and we pick books based around that theme, Last week it was bears. The Toddler loves pretending to be a bear and roaring at me from her closet while I fold laundry. Of course, I pretend to be terrified of the 'bear' and she giggles like mad. So anyway, we got some bear books. One of them was the funniest children's book I have ever read. I burst out laughing, I think it scared The Toddler a little.

The book was Big Smelly Bear by Britta Teckentrup. It's about a bear who never takes a bath, so if you have a little one who hates the tub this might be a good pick. Big Smelly Bear wakes up one day with an itch that won't go away, he runs into Big Fluffy Bear and the most realistic argument ensues. I won't spoil if Big Smelly Bear actually takes a bath or not, but it's definitely worth checking out.

The second book was Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix. This one wasn't really on theme with the whole bear thing, but it was such a unique book that I went ahead and picked it up anyway. This book goes through the four seasons and uses basic shapes and colors mixed with die-cuts to create the pictures in the book.
Gif is from I'm not talented enough to make gif's yet. 
Both of these books were ones I didn't mind reading over and over. In fact I might have to pick up both of them from Amazon, since we both liked them so much.

As I find really stand-out kids books in the future I might go ahead and share them here on the blog. I know I'm always on the lookout for good kid's book recommendations and I'm sure other moms are too.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Reading Habits Post #1: My Usual Reading Routine

I say 'usual reading routine' but I mean that very loosely. Sometimes the whole routine just can't happen. Sometimes it's just reading a few pages while I stand in the kitchen waiting for water to boil or the oven timer to go off so I can take out dinner. So I guess this is more like my 'ideal reading routine'.
This is what I do when I get an hour or so to dedicate to reading. Usually that's at night after everyone else is in bed, sometimes nap times but that's usually
when I clean. Or scroll through Pinterest. Some of these habits are good and some are not so good. I'm going to do this as a series so I can work on changing the bad habits into good ones, and hopefully being more intentional with my reading time in order to get the most out of it.

Step 1- Boil water. Of course this step only applies if I'm making coffee or tea. When I know I've got a bit of time to sit down and read I'll fill the kettle and get it on the stove first.

Step 2-Comfy clothes. I prefer pj pants, but leggings or yoga pants work too. No bra. I can't really relax with a bra on. Over-sized t-shirt, usually The Husbands.

Step 3: Prepare the beverage. Back in the kitchen, I get out my mug and select a tea flavor or prep the french press. Measure proper amount of tea leaves into the tea ball and usually by then the water is boiling. Pour water, insert tea ball, or put the lid on the french press for coffee, Steep/brew for proper amount of time, usually 3-4 minutes.

Step 4: While hot beverage of choice is brewing, select the snack(s). I usually go for fruit (frozen fruit is the best) or cookies. Honestly, fruit is the healthier choice, but if there are cookies in the house, I'm eating cookies.

Step 5: Sit and read. I have an armchair in the living/play room that is supposed to be my 'reading chair' but  it doesn't have an ottoman for my feet, and all the warm blankies are in the family room, so I usually end up reading on the couch. I leave the TV off, but my computer is usually close by. I read for a bit, look at Facebook a bit, read some more, check out Pinterest for a bit. You get the idea...

So, habits I want to change;
1. Computer use while reading. This is a bad one, since it's really easy to get sucked into Youtube, or Pinterest and waste all my reading time.
2. Snacks. Snacking by itself is not a problem, I want to make better snack choices. Less cookies, more fruit.
3. Cleaning before reading. This mostly applies to my 'middle of the day' reading during nap time. I tend to put off dishes and things in order to read, then I'm rushing to get things done at the end of the day, and cleaning from Monday spills over too Tuesday and then I've got double the work to do and before I know it I'm totally overwhelmed with my house and The Husband is eating dinner off one of The Toddlers plastic pink plates because all the others are dirty.

It doesn't seem like a lot of things to change, but this is stuff that I, personally, struggle with. I hate cleaning, and I love food and the internet so I've got my work cut out for me. I look at all of this as a way of becoming more mindful and fully enjoy something (reading) that I already know I love.

What I'm Reading Right Now

I feel pretty awesome about the last week. I finished three books and they all counted for the RMSC! Which puts me up too six books read out of the goal of 25! The updated 'Whole Deal' post about the RMSC can be found here.
However my TBR pile is ever growing. In addition too the books I picked up in my last 'What I'm Reading' post I got a few more at the used bookstore. And then I ordered a few (seven) books from thriftbooks, And then I went to the other used bookstore. So, altogether I've added eleven books in the last week. None of them count for the RMSC (this year) but I'm probably going to read, at least a few of them, this year.
Look at me, thinking ahead! Already planning for the RMSC next year! Although, in all honesty, I probably have enough books to keep me doing RMSC's for the next four years, without buying anything. But not buying books isn't really an option.

Here are the books I FINISHED in the last week;
The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley- I really liked this one. It got 4 out of 5 stars. Read my full review here.

Bookish by Olivia Long- This book was...not great. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't as good as it could have been either. 2.5 stars out of 5. You can read my review on Goodreads here.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - 5 stars. I can't believe I didn't read this till now. I saw the movie when it first came out on DVD, so I knew, more or less, what happened, but as always, the book was better. I do think that I would have enjoyed it a hundred times more if I'd read it in high school, but I did love it, even as an adult.

Here are the books I'm currently reading;
Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson - Still working on this one. I'm going slow and taking my time, because there are a hundred new characters in this one. It picks up right where Gardens of the Moon left off time-wise, but geographically it starts on a whole other continent with a whole bunch of new info and characters and once again you are plunged into this world with little to no info about whats actually happening. Which I'm fine with. I actually like it that way, its like learning a new language by immersion. Like, just drop me off in Brazil and let me figure it out. Not really. But kind of.

Bury the Hatchet by Catherine Gayle - Sports romance! Usually I read football romances. I'm not much into hockey, but this story sounded really good so I'm giving it a try. I really like it so far. The main characters are great, Tallie has so much to figure out, like she's just floating and shes really got to get it together. And Hunter. OMG Hunter. Talk about a book boyfriend. He's got it together and everything is getting turned upside down. This is the first in a series so I might have to try the rest of the series. Maybe. I have not had good experiences with romance series.

What's up next*;
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
Craving Her Curves by Nora Stone
*These are books I may or may not read, or at least start, in the next week. Having a list helps me not have to stare at my shelves/Kindle for an hour trying to decide what to read.

What's up next on the blog;
I've got so many posts backed up that I might keep doing three posts a week instead of two. I don't think two is enough. Next week I'm starting a series on my reading habits. The good ones, the bad ones, and everything in between.
I'm also doing a post about kids books! The Toddler loves to read and we've gotten some really great books from the library recently and I wanted to share.
A couple of reviews might get thrown in there too, we'll see how many books I finish!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review of The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley

Image and blurb from 
The year is 1517. Dismas is a relic hunter: one who procures “authentic” religious relics for wealthy and influential clients. His two most important patrons are Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony and soon-to-be Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz. While Frederick is drawn to the recent writing of Martin Luther, Albrecht pursues the financial and political benefits of religion and seeks to buy a cardinalship through the selling of indulgences. When Albrecht’s ambitions increase his demands for grander and more marketable relics, Dismas and his artist friend Dürer conspire to manufacture a shroud to sell to the unsuspecting noble. Unfortunately Dürer’s reckless pride exposes Albrecht’s newly acquired shroud as a fake, so Albrecht puts Dismas and Dürer in the custody of four loutish mercenaries and sends them all to steal Christ’s burial cloth (the Shroud of Chambéry), Europe’s most celebrated relic.

On their journey to Savoy where the Shroud will be displayed, they battle a lustful count and are joined by a beautiful female apothecary. It is only when they reach their destination that they realize they are not alone in their intentions to acquire a relic of dubious legitimacy. Filled with fascinating details about art, religion, politics and science; Vatican intrigue; and Buckley’s signature wit, The Relic Master is a delightfully rich and intelligent comic adventure.

I've read a lot of historical fiction over the years. It's one of my favorite genres, but rarely is historical fiction funny. This book was funny. There was one particular reference to 'man-jam' that made me actually set down the book so I could belly laugh without loosing my page. I loved the fast pace and the short chapters, it made the whole thing go by very quickly. Most of the characters were very well written and by the end of the book I cared as much about them as they did each other. Even the German mercenaries who had been sent with Dismas and were relatively flat characters, were very endearing by the end of the book, as their loyalty and friendship to each other, and eventually to Dismas and the others, really showed who they were. 
What I loved the most was the time that The Relic Master was set at. It's set in 1517-19. I could tell you all about what was happening in England at that time. Henry VIII was preparing for the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the summit where the entire English court would go the France and meet with Francois 1 near Calais in 1520, he was still happily married to Catherine of Aragon and his affair with Betsy Blount was just ending since she was pregnant with his son in early 1519. But for all I know about England in that time period, my knowledge of the rest of Europe, and the world for that matter, is almost nothing. So to get to see a view point of the rest of Europe during that time was very interesting for me. The fact that there wasn't even a mention of England was pretty cool for me because it put those events into perspective. The whole of Europe was not focused on the royal court of England, which is easy to loose sight of when that's all you read about. 

As far as things I didn't like; I bought into Dismas being desperate and all that as for making the shroud in the first place, but once he was in Savoy and they had a plan in place, it seemed like there was an easier way to do what they were trying to do. I kept wondering why they didn't just tell Albrecht they'd switched the shrouds and leave the Chambery shroud where it was since Dismas was so sure it was fake anyway. The plan itself was a problem for me too. It was never really a clearly defined plan. They bought the fabric in Basel, but then never talk about a plan again, and when to get to Savoy it's never really talked about either. I felt like the reader was left to figure it out through conjecture, and while that works sometimes here I felt like I was just left out and standing on the edge with no idea what was going on. Thankfully this book was entertaining enough that it didn't matter much and I didn't really think about it much until I was done reading.  
I also thought, that with the back drop of Luther and the religious climate in the book one of the main characters would go through some kind of religious awakening and decide to follow Luther on his reform, but that never happened. Luther was discussed often and Durer seemed to side with him as far as the church went but no ones attitude or religious beliefs were affected by the events in the book. Dismas went on being skeptical, Durer quietly supported reform and kept being a good catholic, and Magda's  beliefs were never mentioned. 

The things I liked far outweighed the issues I found with this book. Also it gets extra credit for using the word 'man-jam' which I'm still laughing about. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, has a good sense of humor, and doesn't mind a bit of rough language and religious jokes. If you liked Lamb by Christopher Moore, you will probably like The Relic Master. 

Rating; 4 saints jaw bones out of 5

Monday, March 13, 2017

How to Purge Books and Not Regret It Later

In the first post I wrote about how I purged (sold/donated) more than half my book collection, and later came to regret it immensely. Since then I've acquired a lot of books, and I've also let go of some books.

Why would I let go of more books if I regretted the first round?

Because I decided to only have books I loved in my library. I mean really, really, loved. I didn't want to fill up my house with books I wasn't going to read, or read once and decided I didn't care for but kept simply because it was a book. I realized that what I missed wasn't the contents of the books I'd gotten rid of. It was the comforting feel of being surrounded by books, it was the smell of books, and the look of all the different spines next to each other on the shelves. I did miss some of the books. Sometimes I go to look for a book and think 'why in the hell did I ever let that go? what was wrong with me?' I know what was wrong, I was so deep in depression that I was willing to do anything to get out of it, and I did. I purged my whole house, not just the books, and the only things I've regretted letting go of are the the books and a vegetable peeler that got thrown out on accident when I was dumping kitchen drawers into bags and sending them to Goodwill.

The point being, I had to learn the right way, for me, to let go of the books. So this is the process that I use to cull my book collection in order to keep the books I love, and not regret it later.

Things you will need:
1. A box to put the books that will be leaving.
2. Method of catloging books
3. Music or a podcast
3. Dust rag/swiffer

Step 1: Gather all your books. Yes, all of them. I take a laundry basket and go through the house and pick up the books from all the rooms at once. I don't know how they seem to migrate all over the house, but they do. This step is important if this is the first time you've attempted to purge your books, since it's hard to decide what to keep if you don't know exactly what you have to begin with. I don't try to shelve all the books at this point, just kind of pile them up by genre.

Step 2: Catalog new books. I use the Library Thing app for this. I can just scan the book and its added to my library, and I know instantly if the book is a duplicate. I used to buy a lot of duplicates, not so much any more.

Step 3: Unless you have multiple copies on purpose, put the duplicates in the donate box.

Step 4; Look at each shelf. There are some decluttering methods that say you should hold each item and think about if brings you joy, or ask yourself 10 questions about the item, but that takes too long. And if you love books like I do, they all bring you joy. Pick out any books you didn't enjoy or don't intend to read/finish/ever pick up again. Ask yourself why am I keeping this? If you can't find a good answer, put it in the donate box. Even if it was a gift, even if you spent money on it, even if you're not entirely sure you want to let go of it at this point. Put it in the box.

Step 5: Shelve the books that were scattered all over the house. This is where some more purging might have to happen. I currently have two bookshelves. I don't have room for more bookshelves, two is it. So if all my books don't fit on those shelves, I either have to reorganize to get them to fit or be a little more hardcore with the purging. In all honesty, I usually reorganize and find more room. I'm not going to get rid of books I love because the shelves don't look like Martha Stewart organized them, but if you're on the fence about a book this is a good way to help make that decision.

Step 6: Once you've put all the books you don't remember why you're keeping in the box, dust the shelves quickly and pick up the box.

Step 7; Put the box somewhere that you can't see it constantly. In the back of a closet, in the garage, in the trunk of your car, it doesn't matter where you put it, just so long as the books will remain dry and bug free, and it's not somewhere you can't see all the time. I keep mine in the garage. Leave the box there for a couple of weeks. If you don't miss the books then it's okay for them to go. If you find yourself looking for a specific book each time you look at your bookshelves, then go get it out of the box. Clearly, you are not ready to let go of that book yet. If you find a book that you think might need to go in the box, go put it there. I usually leave mine for closer to a month, and there are very few books I've retrieved from the donate box.

Most decluttering methods encourage you to get rid of the items the same day, and for most things that is a good idea, but for books it's a little different. For me it is, anyway. This way you can be sure you're only sending off books that you truly are ready to let go of, and make room for more books you love.

I've also found that although I may not be ready to get rid of a certain book in June, for example, by November I've found books that I love a ton more and I'm ready to let go of that book I was on the fence about. Which is why it's a good idea to do this periodically. I try to go through my books every 3 months or every time I get a big book haul (birthdays, Christmas, a random Tuesday at the bookstore).

The most important thing to remember is that unless you are having to downsize very quickly for some reason, you don't have to be ruthless with donating or selling your books. Be gentle and cultivate your library in a way that works for you, in your own time. As I've gone through this process over that last year or so it's become easier to realize which books I love, and really add to my life and reading habits, and which ones I really don't feel the need to keep around. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a book collection. It takes time to build it and it will take time to refine it to a well loved, well read, well stocked library.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Club Pick for March 2017 and the Buzzfeed Quiz I Took

image from
Last months book club pick was Detroit; An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. The discussion around it was great. Everyone agreed that it was good but unsettling in it's honesty about the city and the darker side of where we live. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes dark, gritty stories.

This month was L's turn to pick and she chose a book I haven't read since 9th grade! It's a short month for us since the next meeting is on March 28th so the book is only 150 pages. It's Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I don't remember a whole lot from the first time I read it so I'm going into this one feeling like a new reader. I know its a dystopian novel and there's a quote about burning books and then burning people, but that's about it. I've always liked books in the dystopian genre, Brave New World being one of my favorite books of all time, so I think I'll probably love it.

On to the next topic-Buzzfeed! I am a sucker for Buzzfeed quizzes. I was scrolling through Facebook last night, when I should have been reading, and came across a tattoo test that reveals which book you should read next. The quiz can be found here. The result I got was The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I happen to have gotten for Christmas two years ago and never read.
I wasn't intending to read this next. I have two Sarah J, Maas books I'm dying to get too and I told myself I'd focus on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series once I finished The Relic Master, but since the quiz told me too, I guess The Perks of Being a Wallflower just got bumped up the list. It's a slim book so I'm thinking it will be a pretty fast read. The copy I have is the movie cover, but it is one of the few movie covers that doesn't bother me. Probably because I loved the movie.

So, here is my reading 'plan' ( I use the term 'plan' very loosely and reserve the right to change it at any point.) for the next couple of weeks.
-Finish The Relic Master
-Read The Perks of Being a Wallflower
-Read Fahrenheit 451
-Make progress with Deadhouse Gates
-Start A Court of Mist and Fury
-Read a couple of fun romances in there somewhere

Most of those books are short. Romances are generally pretty short. I think I can handle that plan but I suppose only time will tell.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What I'm Reading Right Now, A Mini Review of Mary Boleyn, and How to Recharge an Introvert

This last week was full of cold, wintry, weather and showings of our house. As such I didn't get a whole lot of reading time. I did get kicked out of my house so strangers could be paraded through it and forced to spend a lot of time with people, people who I don't normally mind, but as an introvert it was very very draining. So here are the books I didn't have time to finish, and the one that I did.

Mary Boleyn; The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir - Finished!
This one is a library book, so though I'm not able to count it for the RMSC it's been on my TBR list for a long time. Like since it came out, and I'm so glad I finally read it. I've written about my love of The Other Boleyn Girl many times before, and I was surprised to see it mentioned in this book! Of course Ms. Weir was pointing out where the book differed from what Mary's life and character were actually like, and explaining how historical fiction like The Other Boleyn Girl had helped to build the myth of Mary Boleyn into something she probably wasn't, but still...

I loved getting to see what Mary was actually like through her letters and read her family's view of her decisions and what her life was actually like, which is very different from the story in The Other Boleyn Girl. There was only one point that I disagreed with, not even really disagreed, I just thought the author used a very modern train of thought in her interpretation of Mary's thoughts about being separated from her daughter. Other than that I found it very well argued, and loved the book as a whole.

Rating; 5 brightly colored Tudor Roses

The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley  and Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson- Still reading
I didn't have a ton of time to devote to reading this week so I didn't make any progress with either of these. I'm thinking I'm going to focus on The Relic Master and get through it so I can read more of the Malazan series without being distracted.

So the last week has worn out my 'dealing with people' reserves. Sunday I was going to hibernate, but I knew that if I was going to do that I would need to do it completely alone, and that was not going to happen. The Husband already had plans for the day so I'd have The Toddler. I would also have the car, and since we only have one that's a pretty big deal! So I did something that very rarely happens; I went out. Just me and The Toddler. And to be honest I love getting to spend time doing things with her outside the house. We spend so much of our time cooped up here, with no car and nothing but a liquor store within walking distance. Going out with her was refreshing. We went to the bookstore! And we had lunch! And we went to the library! So it was a whole day of me, and my baby, and books. I couldn't have asked for anything better than that. I didn't talk to anyone but The Toddler, and cashiers. I didn't have to sit and listen to anyone explain how labor unions started in the industrial revolution, I didn't have to pretend shopping for crap I don't want or need for hours on end is fun, I just got to relax. Going out doesn't always to the trick, and I'm still not looking forward to the showings tomorrow, when I have to vacate my house again, but this week it was exactly what I needed. And I got new books!

Yes, it's the show cover of Outlander. It was cheaper than the normal
cover and I gave in. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Wrap-up


It's March! I wanted to start doing a wrap-up post at the end of every month, just to recap what books I read in the last month, progress on the RMSC, and reading habits/issues that I'm noticing. 

So February. It wasn't my most prolific reading month. I read three books, only one of those counted for the RMSC. 
1. The Yellow Wallpaper (Gilman)
2. Detroit; An American Autopsy (LeDuff)
3. Gardens of the Moon (Erikson) -This one counted for the RMSC

As far as the RMSC goes...
I've read 3 books out of the goal of 25, which puts me one book behind. As of now I need to read 2.2 books a month in order to finish on time. Realistically, if I can finish two books a month and get aout half way through a third book I should be okay. 

I ran out of my favorite black tea about a week ago and then I ran out of my morning coffee three days ago. Lack of hot beverage has thrown me off and a shopping trip may be in order. I've been going to Biggby Coffee a couple of nights a week to get in some dedicated reading time and I've really enjoyed that, I call it my Mom-cation (mom+vacation). Also, I need a better bookmark. The Toddler loves to steal my bookmarks, so I'm always losing my place and can never find one when I need one.

Goals for March-
-Read 2 and a half books for the RMSC
-Buy some coffee and tea
-Buy a toddler-proof bookmark

That's it for February! Hopefully March brings a ton of good books and lots of reading time and coffee!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


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