Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: "The Drawing of the Three" by Stephen King

From Goodreads:  After his confrontation with the man in black at the end of The Gunslinger, Roland awakes to find three doors on the beach of Mid-World's Western Sea—each leading to New York City but at three different moments in time. Through these doors, Roland must "draw" three figures crucial to his quest for the Dark Tower. In 1987, he finds Eddie Dean, The Prisoner, a heroin addict. In 1964, he meets Odetta Holmes, the Lady of Shadows, a young African-American heiress who lost her lower legs in a subway accident and gained a second personality that rages within her. And in 1977, he encounters Jack mort, Death, a pusher responsible for cruelties beyond imagining. Has Roland found new companions to form the ka-tet of his quest? Or has he unleashed something else entirely?

My Thoughts:  I can't believe I put off reading this for so long!  I read The Gunslinger about a year ago and then bought The Drawing of the Three soon after.  I wasn't a huge fan of The Gunslinger so it, obviously, took me a long time to pick up the next book in the Dark Tower series.  Needless to say, I was surprised to find how quickly I got sucked into this book.  It's definitely weird and I swear Stephen King had to have been high when he wrote it, but the story is really good.  There is a lot more action in this book than in the first and you don't have to spend the entire story inside Roland's head.  The new characters introduced, Eddie and Odetta/Detta, are incredibly well-developed and really interesting.  Okay, Odetta/Detta is scary as hell but still a fascinating character.  Eddie was also a great character who definitely redeemed himself in my eyes; he seemed like a punk in the beginning but as I learned more about him, I came to like him.  It was also neat to see how all the new characters in this story intertwined with each other and with characters in the first Dark Tower book.   I do have to say that, once again, Stephen King created a truly evil character in Jack Mort.  That dude was messed up!  I don't know how King thinks up these terrible human beings but he is so good at it.

If you have read the first book in the Dark Tower series and aren't sure if you want to continue, I highly recommend reading this book.  I enjoyed it way more than The Gunslinger and am really glad I read it.  Now on to the third book!  4 stars.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (1)

Stacking the Shelves is a new feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It's a great way to showcase the books you picked up during the week.

Hello Everybody!  I hope you are all having a great weekend.  I went kind of crazy at the library this week and wound up bringing home 7 books!  I really should be reading the books I own but I just couldn't help myself.

Here is what I got:

Did you get any fun books this week?  Leave a link in the comments so I can check out what you got!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: "The Lost Crown" by Sarah Miller

From Goodreads:  Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.

But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.

As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.

At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

My Thoughts:  Seriously, I loved this book.  I was very skeptical as I usually am pretty disappointed in historical fiction works that take on the last Russian royal family.  I figured would I hate this book too but I picked it up anyway.  Holy cow!  If you read any work of historical fiction on Nicholas, Alexandra and their children, read this book. 

The Lost Crown is basically the story of the fall of the Russian Empire told from the perspectives of Tsar Nicholas' four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.  This is a very unique way of telling the story and I thought the author did a great job of bringing the girls to life.  Each daughter has her own voice and provides a unique look at the events occurring between 1914-1918.  I especially liked those of Olga and Anastasia.  Olga would have been in her late teens/early twenties during this time and the author made her into a very perceptive young woman who could see why there was such turmoil, where her parents had made mistakes and could see what lay ahead for the family.  The author admits that she elaborated on these scenes but I still thought it made for a very interesting take on the story.  I enjoyed Anastasia's scenes because the author made her into a perfectly sweet, smart and funny character.  Towards the end of the book, there is one scene where she is thinking about how she wants to be more than just another grand duchess and how she doesn't want history to forget her.  The whole monologue simply broke my heart.  History definitely hasn't forgotten her, I just wish it wasn't for such a tragic reason. 

This is certainly a sad book (I was a little teary eyed at the end) but it also is about the resilience of these four girls and their love for one another.  If you are a fan of historical fiction or simply interested in all things Russian, I can not recommend this book enough.  4 1/2 stars.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton

From Goodreads:  Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.”

This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.

My Thoughts:  Hmmmm, I don’t really know what to say about this book.  I had to do a little bit of online research to see if I figure out what Edith Wharton’s point was when she wrote this book because I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a critique or not.  Evidently, it’s not supposed to be a critique but a description of the customs of the time.  Despite that fact, I kind of read it as though it were a critique because living in that era seems like it wouldn't have been much fun.  I didn’t dislike the book but I did struggle with it.  It was very enlightening to see the behavior of New York high society in the late 19th century; honestly I don’t think I would have survived a minute with that bunch.  There were so many rules for everything that it just seemed so stifling.  And if the characters are anything like people really were back then, YIKES. 

I didn’t like most of the characters in this book though I didn’t hate all of them.  They weren’t bad characters but they seemed so shallow.  Maybe that’s part of the representation of the times; that people weren’t supposed to be deep, they were just supposed to go to parties and follow all of the social rules.  I don’t know.  It’s hard to read something like this and feel sympathy for the characters when you are looking at them from 21st century eyes.  I did like May and I did feel bad for her, she really got the short end of the stick in the story.  I was kind of angry with Newland for marrying her when he didn’t want to and after she had given him an out.  But Newland was kind of ridiculous like that.  Everything he did was based on what he thought society expected him to do and it got him nowhere.  Yes, he was able to remain as respectable pillar of society but was he truly happy?  I don’t think so.  Countess Olenska also got to remain semi-respectable but didn’t get her way in the end either.  I couldn’t help feel a tiny bit bad for her considering her situation with her husband but she seemed so flighty and I never really warmed to her. 

I did like that towards the end you get see how society started to change and evolve and how things that weren’t acceptable in Newland’s day, were more accepted when his children were adults.   It was nice to see things become a little less strict in regards to behavior that was, and was not socially acceptable.  Overall, this wasn’t a bad book.  I am really glad I read it but I am still kind of perplexed by the whole story.  3 stars.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters In Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic:  Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters in Books

1.) Claire and Jamie from Outlander- I don't know how anyone can read the Outlander books and not come away adoring Claire and Jamie.
2.) Tatiana and Alexander from The Bronze Horseman-Tania and Shura are much like Claire and Jamie, I can't help loving them.
3.) Kira Argounova from We the Living-I think Kira is a fantastic character; I may not have always agreed with her actions but she did what she had to do no matter what other people thought.  She also stood up for her beliefs when it was definitely not the time or place to be doing so.
4.) Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451-I loved watching Montag's transformation from a book burner to book enthusiast; seeing him realize that what he had been doing was wrong and then taking a stand against it was awesome.
5.) Katniss from The Hunger Games-Katniss is a total BAMF, so of course she is one of my favorite characters.
6.) Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles-Oh Lestat, you were my first vampire crush.  You are still the coolest literary vampire I know. 
7.) Prince Andrei Bolkonskii from War and Peace-Prince Andrei wasn't even one of the main characters in this book but for some reason, I really liked him.  I think it was the fact that he was a mix of strong and fragile that sucked me in.
8.) Elphaba from Wicked
9.) Big Jim Rennie from Under the Dome- I don't like Big Jim because he was such a nice, admirable character.  I like him because he was the ultimate bad guy.  Stephen King made me hate him so much that I had restrain myself from throwing that giant book at the wall. 
10.) Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium trilogy-Another BAMF, a little rough around the edges but still very likeable.

That's my list!  Are any of these on your list?  Leave me a link so I can check out who your favorite characters are.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Half Marathon Completed!

I did it!  I can't believe it but I managed to complete a Half Marathon and I didn't do too bad.  2:04:20 was my chip time and 2:05:28 was my gun time which averages out at 9.5 ish minutes per mile (I was so glad to get across the finish line that I didn't pay that close attention).  My goal was to stay under 2:10 so I am pretty okay with how I did.  I wish I could have done better but I really hit a wall between mile 11 and 12 and was just ready to be done. 

I was so nervous before the race; I was worried I was going to get there and throw up because I was nervous.  It was chilly morning and a lot windier than I expected but I was glad that I still wore shorts and a t-shirt because there were spots where it was pretty warm.  The wind sucked (!) especially on the last big hill we were running and on the last mile.  I hate running into the wind.  Otherwise the course wasn't bad and I have run most of it at various times since I have lived here.  Oh and my feet!  I know I have mentioned problems with my feet and shoes but it wasn't so bad today.  They hurt a little but they hurt more last week on my 12 miler than they did today.  I was so pleased!

I did learn two things that I will keep in mind for next time.  One:  I am going to carry a water bottle while training so come race day I don't have to stop at the water stations.  The first two stops, I spilled gatorade all over myself and tried to drink while running and wound up coughing and sputtering.  I also think I drank way more than I needed to.  While training, I drank enough but not too much and during the race I wound up giving myself a stomachache which was a big part of my slowing down in the last two miles.  The second thing I learned is that I will bring headphones and an ipod for the race.  I think it really would have motivated me more and frankly, I started to get bored at some points.  I don't normally run with music because I run at like 4:30/5:00 in the morning when it's still dark.  I don't like not being able to hear what's going on around me but if I do a half marathon again, I will definitely have music.

Overall, I am so glad I did it!  I almost gave up several times during my training but it's nice to be able to say that I finished.  I was exhausted and sore afterwards but it was worth it.  I won't be doing another half this year but who knows what next year will bring! 

This is probably the only picture of me running.  The one hubs took when I was about to cross the Finish line only shows my head.  I am to the right of the police officer in purple.  The hubs was on the way to get me a post-race doughnut (or two) when he snapped this picture.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord

From Goodreads:  First published in 1955, A Night to Remember remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic's fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut-lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain.

Available for the first time in trade paperback and with a new introduction for the 50th anniversary edition by Nathaniel Phil-brick, author of In the Heart of the Sea and Sea of Glory, Walter Lord's classic minute-by-minute re-creation is as vivid now as it was upon first publication fifty years ago. From the initial distress flares to the struggles of those left adrift for hours in freezing waters, this semicentennial edition brings that moonlit night in 1912 to life for a new generation of readers.

My Thoughts:   I remember learning about the Titanic in 2nd grade and thinking that it was an incredibly interesting event in history. When the movie came along it just reinforced my interest in the topic. Yes, I was one of those crazy teenagers who saw the movie multiple times in the theatre but I also watched an excessive amount of documentaries and read whatever I could get my hands on about the disaster. Somehow I missed A Night to Remember. It was really neat to read something that was written when there were still a lot of survivors still alive and were able to participate in the writing of the book. I am much more interested in the human aspect of the Titanic story than the more technical side so I really enjoyed how much information the book provided about individuals experiences on the ship.

I did find it intriguing that the author said that the people on the ship weren’t surprised that life boats were filled according to class. His argument was that because that was they society worked, people just accepted the first class got to go first, etc. Really? I find it hard to believe that when you know the ship is sinking and you may very well die, you would be like ‘oh yeah, it’s so logical that I should have to wait because I’m in 3rd class.’  I just am not so sure about that; I feel like whenever I am reading, or watching a documentary, about the Titanic, you can almost smell the fear.  I can't imagine people in that situation being calm and just waiting for their class' turn to get a boat. 

A Night to Remember didn't provide any new insight into the Titanic tragedy but it was still compelling and heart-breaking.  It makes me so angry to think about how many deaths could have been prevented.  There are so many 'if onlys' and 'what ifs' when it comes to the Titanic and even though this is a fascinating historical event, I kind of wish the people involved had made better choices so that today no one would even remember there was a big ship called Titanic.

If you are interested in Titanic at all, I highly recommend this book.  4 stars.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: "The Flower Reader" by Elizabeth Loupas

Synopsis:  In the sweeping new novel from the author of The Second Duchess, dangerous secrets lead a passionate young woman into a maze of murder and conspiracy as Mary, Queen of Scots, comes home to reign in a treacherously divided Scotland….

With her dying breath, Mary of Guise entrusts a silver casket to Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, who possesses the ancient gift of floromancy. Inside the casket, and meant only for the young Mary, Queen of Scots, are papers the old queen has painstakingly collected—the darkest secrets of every Scottish lord and explosive private prophecies prepared by Nostradamus. Rinette risks her life to keep the casket safe, but she makes a fatal mistake: she shows it to her beloved young husband. On the very day the young queen comes home, Rinette’s husband is brutally assassinated.

Devastated, Rinette demands justice from the queen before she will surrender the casket. Amid glittering masques and opulent weddings, courtly intrigues and Highland rebellions, the queen’s agents and Rinette herself search for the shadowy assassin. They are surrounded by ruthless men from all over Europe who will do anything to force Rinette to give up the casket—threatening her life, stripping her of her beloved castle by the sea, forcing her to marry a man she hates, and driving her from the man she has reluctantly grown to love. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust—and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.

My Thoughts:  I really needed this book!  I have read a couple of duds lately and it was so nice to read a book that completely sucked me in.  And what a gorgeous cover!  I always get nervous when covers are really pretty because sometimes the story isn't as great as the cover but that is not the case with this book.  From the first few pages, I fell in love with the main character, Rinette.  She was feisty and strong-willed and more than capable of fending for herself in an era where that wasn't the norm.  It was also nice to see her mature throughout the novel, there were times where she acted childish but the circumstances she had to deal with helped her grow throughout the story.

It was really nice to read a 'Tudor' novel that centered around Mary, Queen of Scots, instead of the usual Tudor suspects.  I don't know that much about Mary Stuart's life but I thought she made for a very intriguing character in this story.  I didn't really like her as a character:  she was impetuous and fickle but still a well-written character and I am sure the reader is meant to like her.  I also loved that the story was set in Scotland (I will go there someday!).  The descriptions of the castles and the overall setting were beautifully written and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the flowers.  When looking at other characters in the story, she saw flowers that represented their personality.  The fact the author did enough research to pair up her characters with real flowers was neat. 

I would definitely say that this book had some aspects of a romance novel but I hate to identify it has such.  There was definitely a romantic side to this novel but it wasn't overpowering to the rest of the story which I really appreciated.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  It's definitely a book that made me completely lose track of time.  4 stars.

Check out other reviews, guest posts and giveaways here!
Follow on Twitter at #FlowerReaderVirtualTour
Check out the author:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic:  Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers

I still consider myself to be very new at blogging. My blog is almost a year old but I feel like I still have a ton to learn.  I can't wait to see what everyone's tips and here a few that I have learned along the way.

1.) Participate in Memes- This was something I did from the very beginning and it really helped me find cool blogs that I could watch and learn from.

2.) Blogging takes a lot of time- Yes, reading takes time but writing reviews, following other blogs, participating in memes, and updating your blog takes a TON of time.  I wish I had as much time to devote to my blog as I would like. 

3.) Schedule posts- It took me a long time to use this functionality.  When you have some free time, write up some posts that you can schedule for a week or a month.  I feel a lot less stressed about my blog when I know I have things scheduled for a few days.

4.) Netgalley is your friend-Take advantage of netgalley.  It is a great place to start getting review copies of books.

5.) Participate in Challenges, Readalongs, etc-These are really fun ways to get to know other bloggers and usually these help to take a chunk out of your TBR pile.

6.) Followers aren't everything- I appreciate my followers so much but it took me a while to figure out that the number of followers you have isn't the most important part of your blog.  Don't whore your blog out just so that number is super high.  I definitely think that when it comes to followers, quality is more important than quantity.  I may not have a lot of followers but the ones I have are AWESOME!

7.) It's supposed to be fun!- I really enjoy blogging but right now I have kind of been on a break (life has gotten in the way) and haven't been blogging as much.  When it stops being fun, take a break and come back to it.

That's all I have this week.  What tips do you have?  Leave me a link in the comments so I can stop by!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: "Lover Reborn" by J.R. Ward

From Goodreads:  Ever since the death of his shellan, Tohrment is a heartbroken shadow of the vampire leader he once was. Brought back to the Brotherhood by a self-serving fallen angel, he fights again with ruthless vengeance- and is unprepared for a new tragedy. Seeing his beloved in dreams—trapped in a cold, desolate netherworld—he turns to the angel to save his former mate, only to despair at the path he himself must take to set her free. As war with the lessers rages, and a new clan of vampires vies for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between an unforgettable past, and a future that he doesn’t know he can live with… but can’t seem to turn away from.

My Thoughts:  I have been waiting for Tohr's book since the beginning of the series (I know I have said this many times).  I really liked him as a character from day one and after the tragedy that befell him, I wanted to know more.  He seemed like such a sincere character; he cared so much for his friend, Darius, his wife and his adopted son.  Unfortunately, I didn't quite love this book.  It was nice to see a happy ending for Tohr and to see him recover from his mourning but I also thought he was kind of an ass in this book.  I understand that he was grieving but at times I just didn't like him and he didn't seem like the same character that I had originally liked so much. 

I did enjoy seeing more of Xhex and John Matthew's relationship and I am curious to see how things will go with Layla and Qhuinn after some big developments towards the end of the story.  I also liked that No'One finally got some peace and could forgive herself for what happened to her in the past.  Overall, this wasn't a bad addition to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, it just wasn't as epic as I was expecting it to be.  3 stars.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (47)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I only received one book this week which is fine with me.  I have been reading so slow this month, I just haven't had the time to devote to it but April is always crazy for me. 

From NetGalley:


What was in your mailbox this week?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Friday! (29)

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What is one book that you would be nervous to see a movie adaption of because you think the movie could never live up to the book?

I have heard rumblings about movies being made of Outlander and The Bronze Horseman. I absolutely loved these books but I don't think I could handle either as a movie.  I can't think of a single actor/actress who could do any of the characters justice nor do I think it possible for a moviemaker to show the kinds of emotions that were portrayed in the book.  If a movie was made of either of these books, I would probably see it but I have a feeling I would be disappointed.  That being said when I heard they were making a movie of The Hunger Games I was really on the fence about it and look how awesome that movie turned out.  So I guess it really depend on how true to the story the movie stays and how good the actors are.

What book do you have reservations about being made into a movie?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Busy busy!

I know I have been gone for a few days (and probably will be for a few more) so I just wanted to give you a heads up.  Work has been insane and I have barely had time to breath so I am behind on reading and reviews.  I hope to have something up in by the end of the week.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

In My Mailbox (46)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This week I had three holds come in at the library.  I can't wait to dive into these books.

Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward  I can't wait to read this!!
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller Historical fiction about the Romanovs, I think yes!
A Night to Remember by Walter Lord I couldn't resist this one with the anniversary coming up.

I hope everyone has a happy Easter!!  What books did you get this week?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Review: "Spell Bound" by Rachel Hawkins

From Goodreads:  Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late
My Thoughts:  This book was a littly sassy!  The dialogue was sarcastic and fun and there were some great lines.  I definitely found myelf giggling a little at the sarcasm. 

This book picks up pretty much where Demonglass left off and all kinds of surprises are revealed in the first few chapters.  There is a lot of background provided on Sophie's mom and dad which explained a lot of things from the previous books.  For the most part the story was fun and it was pretty quick read.  I liked that we got to see more of Ghost Elodie and I actually started to like her in this book.  She had one or two seriously bitchy moments but otherwise she kind of grew on me. The one thing I didn't love was the Cal/Archer/Sophie love triangle, it took Sophie the whole book to figure out who she wanted and she makeout with both of them to figure it all out.  It just got old really quickly and I kept wanting to yell at her to make a decision.

The ending made sure to tie up all of the loose ends but jeez, it was so sad.  I kind of wished she hadn't ended things the way she did (I'm thinking of one specific BIG aspect of the end).  It made everything work out just a little too easily and it bothered me because it seemed so unrealistic.  I know this is fiction, paranormal, etc. but life doesn't really work the way things did in this book.  Overall, this was a decent book and it was good to see how everything turned out for Sophie.  3 stars.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: "The Scottish Prisoner" by Diana Gabaldon

From Goodreads:  London, 1760. For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war in the remote Lake District, life could be worse: He’s not cutting sugar cane in the West Indies, and he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own. But Jamie Fraser’s quiet existence is coming apart at the seams, interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of Tobias Quinn, an erstwhile comrade from the Rising.

Like many of the Jacobites who aren’t dead or in prison, Quinn still lives and breathes for the Cause. His latest plan involves an ancient relic that will rally the Irish. Jamie is having none of it—he’s sworn off politics, fighting, and war. Until Lord John Grey shows up with a summons that will take him away from everything he loves—again.

Lord John Grey—aristocrat, soldier, and occasional spy—finds himself in possession of a packet of explosive documents that exposes a damning case of corruption against a British officer. But they also hint at a more insidious danger. Time is of the essence as the investigation leads to Ireland, with a baffling message left in “Erse,” the tongue favored by Scottish Highlanders. Lord John, who oversaw Jacobite prisoners when he was governor of Ardsmiur prison, thinks Jamie may be able to translate—but will he agree to do it?

Soon Lord John and Jamie are unwilling companions on the road to Ireland, a country whose dark castles hold dreadful secrets, and whose bogs hide the bones of the dead. A captivating return to the world Diana Gabaldon created in her Outlander and Lord John series, The Scottish Prisoner is another masterpiece of epic history, wicked deceit, and scores that can only be settled in blood.

My Thoughts:  Oh Jamie Fraser, I have missed you so.  I'll be honest and say that while I have read three of the Lord John books, I don't particularly love them.  Lord John Grey will never be one of my most favorite characters in the Outlander books.  But they are easy to read and they give me my Outlander fix while I wait for Written in My Own Heart's Blood (hurry please!).  In this book, you get to see more of Jamie than in the other Lord John books and it was cool to see what he had been up to during that period between Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager.  It was also interesting to see Jamie's feelings about the Jacobite cause and his reluctance to participate in that lost cause again.  I also loved reading his thoughts about Claire, his unborn child and William....I must admit I got a little gaga during these parts.  The story itself wasn't great and at times seemed kind of disjointed and cobbled together.  There were a lot of characters and each had their own agenda and it was difficult to understand how each person's agenda meshed with the story.  It was nice to see Jamie again but this book was just okay.  3 stars.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Running Shoe Odyssey

Oh my goodness....I am so sick of thinking about running shoes.  I have been having problems with my feet from running lately (after 6-8 miles, the balls of my feet start to feel not so hot) and decided to buy new running shoes a few weeks back.   They were supposed to be top of the line and they were really expensive so I figured they would be okay.  I ran 3 miles in them and then 6 miles, noticing that they didn't have enough arch support but my feet didn't hurt any more or less than normal.  Then I tried 10 miles in the fancy shoes....holy mother, what a mistake!  I was almost in tears throughout the whole run and halfway through I almost had to call the hubs to come get me.  I made the full 10 miles but went back to my old shoes and luckily was able to return the sucky fancy shoes.

I rested my feet a few days thinking 'hey, maybe I'm overtraining' and then went back to my oldies.  The old shoes were fine but my feet still hurt some on my 10 mile run on Saturday (towards mile 7/8).  On Sunday, the hubs and I saw a running store while we were downtown and he talked me into getting measured and fitted for running shoes.  I bought a pair I liked that were super comfy and tried them out this morning.  Mistake #2.  I was supposed to run 5-6 miles this morning and I made it 3.  The balls of my feet were KILLING me!  There was no way I could make my full run without seriously messing my feet.  So these shoes are going back and I may exchange them for something else (the running store only gives store credit instead of refunds) and/or I may just wear my old running shoes for the rest of my training.  I have 2 1/2 weeks left until the race and at this point, I will be lucky if I just make it across the finish line.  For a while I thought I was going to be able to make a good time but now I'm not so sure.  I am extremely frustrated with the whole situation and angry that my feet are betraying me.  The shoe issues have made me want to give up training but I have come so far and am definitely a way better runner than I was when I started in December/January that I don't want to give up.  I think I am just going to have to accept that my feet will hurt some during the race and I need to suck it up and deal.

Rant over.  Anyone else have issues with shoes?  Or I am just super special?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: "City of Fallen Angels" by Cassandra Clare

From Goodreads:  The Mortal War is over, and Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most important of all—Clary can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. His mother just found out he’s a vampire and now he’s homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse wrecking his life. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. At the same time he’s dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other.

When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

My Thoughts:  Hmmm, I almost kind of wish this series would have ended with the third book.  I thought this was a good story and it was nice to see all of the characters again but it just seemed almost unnecessary.  We get to see some of the effects of the events of the last book in the story and some people mentioned in other books showed up in this one.  I thought the addition of Kyle was a good one and hopefully we'll see more of him in the next book.  It was kind of nice to add a fresh new character to the mix.  I also liked that Simon moved to the forefront of the story; he seems like such an underrated character so it was good to see more of him.  All that being said, the Jace and Clary angst is really starting to bug me.  I am really tired of the whole thing; they just need to be together and be done with it. Why does it have to be so dramatic?!  The climax of the story was interesting to say the least (definitely not what I was expecting) and OF COURSE there was a cliffhanger ending.  City of Lost Souls ought to be pretty interesting what with all the freaky stuff that happened at the end of this book.  Overall, this wasn't a bad book but I think I am ready for the story to be over.  I don't like when I stop caring about the characters in a series.  3 stars.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Last night was insane!! KU beat Ohio State to make it to the NCAA title game and town erupted!  We live pretty close to the heart of town so the hubs and I put on our walking shoes and headed downtown to celebrate.

This is the view behind us as we headed up the road. About 7 blocks were closed off so people had to head in on foot.

There was a sea of people and it took a lot of pushing to get through but this is what the main drag looked like for several blocks.  People were dancing in the street, playing drums, waving flags, hollering, etc.  It was really cool!

Another picture of people in the streets.  The atmosphere was completely electric and there were a ton of drunk people downtown. 

If we manage to win the National title town will be even crazier than last night!

March Wrap Up

Oh March, I can't believe you are over!  March was kind of a weird month at work and at home but I still managed to read 15 books, 4 of which are books I own.  I plan to focus more on reading books I own in April (hopefully I can get more than 4 in!) and I am pretty proud to be able to say that I haven't bought a book since January.  I also am making good progress on all of the challenges I am participating in so I am pretty happy about that.

I hit a few bumps in my half marathon training in March but ended the month on a high note.  I was having major issues with my feet and thought I should buy some new shoes.  After spending a bunch of money on new shoes, they just made matters worse.  After an extrememly painful 10 mile run last Saturday, I was worried I wasn't going to make it to race day.  I took a few days off, modified my route and went back to my old shoes.  Today I had an awesome 10 mile run averaging a 9.2 minutes per mile (I know it's not that fast but for me it's crazy good).  The race is 3 weeks away and I am feeling more confident about it.

This month I have felt really sick of blogging.  I really do love it but it takes a lot of time to keep up with everything.  I am going to keep going with it but I am going to modify how I do it because it has felt more like a chore lately.  I am going to cut back on my participation in memes; I love the ones I participate in but I don't always want to or have the time for it.  There are few I have always done but I think I will only participate if I have time or the topic is one I am excited about.  I also am really going to try to read slower and write reviews as I finish a book, not a week later.  I feel like I have been pumping out a bunch of crap reviews because I am short on time or I just didn't have a lot of thoughts on the book. 

Anyway, March is over and I am looking forward to April.  It is looking like it will be a busy month but I am hoping it will be better than March.

Books read in March:
1.) The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
2.) Sister Queens by Julia Fox
3.) Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward
4.) Archive 17 by Sam Eastland
5.) You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
6.) The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
7.) City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
8.) Macbeth by William Shakespeare
9.) Trafficked by Kim Purcell
10.) Think! by Michael LeGault
11.) The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
12.) Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower
13.) City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
14.) The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
15.) Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Progress on Challenges:

Back to the Classics Challenge-3/9 books read
TBR Pile Challenge-3/10 books read
Support your Local Library Challenge-11/24 books read
Historical Fiction Challenge-11/20 books read
Eastern Europe Challenge-1/4 books read

How was your March?  Did you make good progress on your reading/personal goals?
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