Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon: April 2015 Master Post




It's read-a-thon day!!  I am going to try to get some reading done today but I know I won't get anywhere near the 24 hour mark.  I will post a few updates here throughout the day but I will mostly be on twitter.  You can follow me throughout the day at @so_many_books.

I wanted to put a picture of my stack in this post but I'm working on my husband's computer (because mine blew up about a month ago) and his computer hates blogger (I think because he uses an ancient browser).  You can see the picture of my stack on twitter, if you are so inclined.  The books I plan to work on today are:

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

While I'd love to make it pretty far on the first two books, I will probably focus on The Agincourt Bride because it's an ebook that I can read on my phone.  I find it's a lot easier to get reading into my day when I can read on my phone.

I will also do plenty of reading with Julia today and we have a trip to the library planned. I will also be watching Outlander (!!) tonight so regardless of how much I read, it will be a bookish day.


Opening Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  I'm in eastern Kansas.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I'm so excited to read Mean Streak.  My online book club has raved about it.3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I have to go to the store today so I'm not sure yet.4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I'm a mom to a rambunctious, non-sleeping almost 2 year old.  I live with my husband, daughter and crazy dog.  I work in higher education which is an adventure and a half. AND I love to read.  5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  I haven't tried to participate since last April and it didn't go well.  I'm just going to try to get in as much reading as possible without stressing about it.


Final Update:  

Okay, I'm a day late updating this but overall I think I did pretty good over the course of the read-a-thon.  I got almost through Little Town on the Prairie (I finished it about a half hour after the read-a-thon ended) and I made good headway into The Agincourt Bride.  All in all, I read about 400 pages which is way better than I normally would do on an average Saturday.  I had a blast following everyone on twitter; I think I will definitely do that again in October.  It's almost impossible for me to get on the computer when Julia's awake so I felt I actually got to participate some.
   
I'm still sad that I can't do a read-a-thon the way I did pre-Julia but I had a blast participating as much as I could.  I can't wait until October!!



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Where I've Been




I know I've been pretty MIA lately and I'm so sorry about that.  I am still reading but my life has gone from crazy to completely ridiculous this year.  2015 has been ROUGH.  My daughter, in all of her toddler wisdom, has decided that sleep is completely unnecessary so we've been battling that.  No one ever tells that you toddlers have serious sleep issues too (I actually miss the newborn sleep issues, they're 10,000 times easier to deal with).  It got so bad we had to hire a sleep consultant!  It's slowly getting better but still far from where I want to be. 


In addition, my job and workplace has been like working in the looney bin; I've been swamped and there has been an excessive amount of workplace drama going on.  Some days it seems like we should have our own show, like 'The Office' because it's so bizarre here.

Sorry for all the whining, to my main point:  between work and home right now, blogging has kind of fallen to the wayside.  We've implemented changes to my daughter's sleep schedule that have made it impossible for me to have very much free time at home (my house is a mess, I can't exercise, etc.)  I'm hoping to adjust to this new normal soon but in the interim, please forgive me for not blogging very much.  I'm not ready to give up the blog yet but it's going to be a month or two before things get back to some version of 'normal'.

I will be attempting (hahaha) to participate in Dewey's Read - A - Thon this weekend so you can check on my progress (or lack thereof) on twitter (@so_many_books).  I foresee that most of my reading will be comprised of board books but I'm going to try to get some other reading in.  

Thank you so much for bearing with me during this time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: "Inspector of the Dead" by David Morrell

Synopsis:  David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.

The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

My Thoughts:   Inspector of the Dead is a fantastic sequel to Murder as a Fine Art.  David Morrell has out done himself again.  I felt like this book was a double whammy combining an awesome mystery with a look at Queen Victoria and her reign.  I will definitely be reading more about Victoria in the near future.

Thomas De Quincey is back in all his eccentric glory in this book.  However, I do think that several of the side characters from the last book, became more prominent in this book.  Mr. Morrell did a great job of letting the reader see more of the other characters while not stealing De Quincey's limelight.  I especially enjoyed getting to know Emily more in this book and seeing her strength and intelligence highlighted.

I must say that Mr. Morrell comes up with some awesome villains and does an amazing job of hiding them in plain sight.  I never saw it coming!  And despite how perfectly evil he was, I kind of felt sorry for him.  As the reader finds out all of the awful things that led to the villain becoming a murderer, it's hard not to sympathize with his plight.  I really struggled with wanting to hate him while also feeling guilty that the system failed him so miserably.

Morrell's descriptions of Victorian London are once again wonderful.  I also thought that he did an excellent job of putting a ton of information about Queen Victoria and the political climate into the story in such a way that it flowed nicely with the murder mystery.  Overall, this is a great book and I'm really hoping that Mr. Morrell writes another De Quincey book soon! 4 stars.

About the Author: 


David Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master away from the International Thriller Writers. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel. The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


I received this book from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review and Giveaway: "To Catch a Falling Star" by Anna Belfrage





Synopsis:  To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Some gifts are double-edged swords …

For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.

Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours.

While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.

All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.

Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

My Thoughts: I can't believe the series is over!  As sad I am that it has come to an end, I cannot think of a better way to end the series.  We get to see Alex and Matthew grow old together with their grown children and friends and I kind of felt like they got a 'happily ever after'.  I will miss them but Ms. Belfrage gave us the perfect ending to their story.

Have  I mentioned that I love these books? Because I do...so much.  I thought it was perfect that Matthew got to return to Scotland; I don't think he would have ever been truly happy in America if he hadn't been able to go back and realize where his true home was.  Even though leaving wasn't his choice, I think it was important for him to see that, in the end, it was the right choice. 

Speaking of Matthew, I liked that he and Luke came to terms with each other (kind of).  Luke is still a rat bastard (excuse the language, I'm only speaking the truth) but he and Matthew at least could function in each others presence in this book.  Even though I hate Luke, I didn't hate him as much in this book as I did in the past; I felt like I could finally see where he was coming from, even though I still don't agree with his bad behavior.

This book was mostly Alex and Matthew's story but I loved that we got to see Isaac again.  I've been wondering about him for several books.  His storyline wasn't what I expected at all but I'm glad that he made an appearance for the last book.   We also got to see Father Carlos again which was fun for me since he's one of my favorite side characters. 

One of the things I love most about these books, is how well Ms. Belfrage is able to evoke emotion from the reader and make the reader truly care about the characters. There was a scene where Alex visited a loved ones' grave and the way the scene was set just broke my heart and left me in tears.  I couldn't help but feel for Alex and all of the losses she endured.

Okay, I think I've babbled on long enough about this book.  Needless to say, I loved it and while I'm sad to say goodbye, I'm excited to see what Ms. Belfrage has in store for us in the future.  4 stars.


About the Author:
I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Enter to win a copy of To Catch a Falling Star!

(Giveaway is open internationally)



I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.







Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: "Inside the O'Briens" by Lisa Genova




From Goodreads:  Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.


My Thoughts:  All I can say is 'WOW.'  I had no idea what to expect from this book but it was seriously one of the best books I've read this year.  It was beautifully written; it was heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time.  I spent a lot of the book in tears and had to put it down a few times because I was so overwhelmed by the emotions it evoked.

The story, at its heart, is about an average family dealing with a devastating disease.  While we get to know some characters more than others, they are all well-developed, strong and interesting.  Joe was such an inspirational character; to watch him receive a death sentence and just keep going and trying was really moving.  He had moments where he wanted to give up but overall, he really tried not to let the disease beat him and  he was so brave.  I also loved that he started walking around in t-shirts with information about Huntington's on it. 

I had never heard of Huntington's Disease before reading this book.  Despite knowing nothing about it, it seems to me that Ms. Genova must have done an extensive amount of research when writing this book.  There was so much information about the disease in the book.  I personally think she did a good job of incorporating this information into the story so it never felt unnecessary.

I didn't love the ending because it was kind of open-ended but I think it fit the story (I'm kind of selfish about endings, I want to know everything before it's over!).  I think as a whole this is a fantastic book that I will be recommending to everyone I know.  I now feel the need to read everything Ms. Genova has written because I loved this one so much! 4.5 stars.

I received this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Paperback Release! of "All Fall Down" by Jennifer Weiner

Hello friends!  I just wanted to let you know that All Fall Down  by Jennifer Weiner is being released in paperback on April 7!  I absolutely loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone.  You can read my review here.


You can pre-order it here!

Praise for All Fall Down 
 
"Compulsively readable. Weiner's skill is in the specifics. There's no doubt she knows how to deliver a certain kind of story, and well." – New York Times Book Review

“All Fall Down is Weiner’s best book yet.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

“A witty, realistic criticism on the modern age… One of Weiner’s best works.” – Boston Herald

“Jennifer Weiner's books should be labeled a controlled substance… You will read one more chapter, and oh, come on, what would one more hurt? I deserve this pill, er, page. And you are gone.” – USAToday

"Weiner is an acute and witty observer of social norms… Reading one of her contemporary novels of manners is like biting into an apple. The experience is full of flavor, crisp, and refreshingly tart."
– The Baltimore Sun

"An absolutely heartbreaking read. Great for book clubs.” – Library Journal (starred review)

"Weiner, who is a master at creating realistic characters, is at her best here." – Booklist, (starred review)

About All Fall Down

Allison Weiss’s husband has been sleeping in the guest bedroom. Her five-year old daughter’s meltdowns can only be stopped with promises that she can watch The Bachelor. Her father’s early Alzheimer’s has him thinking that Allison is still in college, while her once-distant mother cannot stop calling for help. Her big suburban house sits unfurnished, and the stress from her dream job is unbearable. This is Allison’s happy ending. . . .

When she happens upon a magazine quiz about addiction, she wonders if her use of prescription drugs is becoming an issue. Is it such a bad thing to pop a Percocet at the end of a hard day or a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class?

With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, Jennifer Weiner turns one woman’s slide into addiction and her struggle to find her way back up into an unforgettable tale of empowerment and redemption.
 
About Jennifer Weiner 

Jennifer Weiner grew up in Connecticut and graduated with a degree in English literature from Princeton University. This #1 New York Times bestselling author is one of the most celebrated writers today. Over 1.8 million copies of her iconic debut Good in Bed have sold in the U.S. to date, and it’s now in its astounding 58th printing. Her books have spent over five years on the New York Times bestseller list with over 11 million copies in print in 36 countries.

Weiner is the author of the novels Good in Bed (2001); In Her Shoes (2002), which was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine; Little Earthquakes (2004); Goodnight Nobody (2005); the short story collection The Guy Not Taken (2006); Certain Girls (2008); Best Friends Forever (2009); Fly Away Home (2010); Then Came You (2011); and most recently, The Next Best Thing (2012), and All Fall Down (2014). She is currently completing her next novel, to be published this summer 2015.

Jennifer has appeared on numerous national television programs, including The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CBS Sunday Morning, and The Rachael Ray Show, and has been published in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Seventeen, Redbook, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping. All of her essays are featured on her website, at www.jenniferweiner.com, where she started her blog in 2002.

With 107,000 followers on Twitter, Weiner appeared on Time magazine's list of "140 Best Twitter Feeds.” The magazine hailed her "must-read" live “Bachelor” tweets, noting that "rarely has there been such an ideal pairing of material and writer." Forbes magazine ranked her second on their list of “25 Working Moms to Follow on Twitter”: “Bestselling novelist Weiner writes guilty pleasure beach reads, fights for her fellow female authors and still makes time for reality TV commentary. Tune in for hilarious shards of brilliance.” Jennifer can also be found on Facebook, and, in real life, Philadelphia, where she lives with her family.          

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Blast: "Teresa of the New World" by Sharman Russell

02_Teresa of the New World CoverPublication Date: March 3, 2015
Yucca Publishing/Skyhorse Publishing
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
ISBN: 978-1631580420

Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy

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From the bestselling author of An Obsession with Butterflies comes a magical story of America in the time of the conquistadors.

In 1528, the real-life conquistador Cabeza de Vaca shipwrecked in the New World where he lived for eight years as a slave, trader, and shaman. In this lyrical weaving of history and myth, the adventurer takes his young daughter Teresa from her home in Texas to walk westward into the setting sun, their travels accompanied by miracles--visions and prophecies. But when Teresa reaches the outposts of New Spain, life is not what her father had promised.

As a kitchen servant in the household of a Spanish official, Teresa grows up estranged from the magic she knew as a child, when she could speak to the earth and listen to animals. When a new epidemic of measles devastates the area, the sixteen-year-old sets off on her own journey, befriending a Mayan were-jaguar who cannot control his shape-shifting and a warhorse abandoned by his Spanish owner. Now Teresa moves through a land stalked by Plague: smallpox as well as measles, typhus, and scarlet fever.

Soon it becomes clear that Teresa and her friends are being manipulated and driven by forces they do not understand. To save herself and others, Teresa will find herself listening again to the earth, sinking underground, swimming through limestone and fossil, opening to the power of root and stone. As she searches for her place in the New World, she will travel farther and deeper than she had ever imagined.

Rich in historical detail and scope, Teresa of the New World takes you into the dreamscape of the sixteenth-century American Southwest.

Praise for Teresa of the New World


“Wow! The magical elements were a total thrill-ride, and what a satisfying ending. After finishing it I had that wonderful sensation I get from a great read—the mysterious feeling of having been somewhere, of dreams having risen up and carried me along on a wild journey.” - Sarah Johnson, Editor

Praise for Sharman Russell


Russell has written twelve previous books with numerous starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist. The San Francisco Chronicle has said “Russell’s writing is luminous” and Kirkus Reviews wrote, “A deep reverence for nature shines throughout Russell’s rich, enjoyable text.” The Seattle Times described her An Obsession with Butterflies as a “masterpiece of story-telling” and the San Diego Union Tribune called it “A singular work of art, with its smooth, ethereal prose and series after cascading series of astonishing lore.” The New York Times and Discover Magazine both described her book on hunger as “elegant.”

Buy Teresa of the New World


Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Skyhorse Publishing

About the Author03B_Author Sharman Russell


Sharman Apt Russell has lived in Southwestern deserts almost all her life and continues to be refreshed and amazed by the magic and beauty of this landscape. She has published over a dozen books translated into a dozen languages, including fiction and nonfiction. She teaches graduate writing classes at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico and Antioch University in Los Angeles, California and has thrice served as the PEN West judge for their annual children’s literature award. Her own awards include a Rockefeller Fellowship, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Henry Joseph Jackson Award.

For more information visit Sharman Russell's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Teresa of the New World Book Blast Schedule


Monday, March 23
100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, March 24
Passages to the Past

Saturday, March 28
Broken Teepee

Monday, March 30
Unshelfish

Tuesday, March 31
Griperang's Bookmarks

Friday, April 3
A Bookish Girl
CelticLady's Reviews

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