Friday, July 31, 2015

#FitReaders Weekly Check In (7)



Hey everyone!  Tonight I'm feeling pretty good about my fitness goals because I actually lost weight (only a pound but still).  I've been at the same weight for the month of July so it was nice to see the numbers go down.  Last week was so bad with regards to eating.  There were a ton of work luncheons and family obligations and I think I ate out at least once a day (if not twice) almost every day.  Needless to say, I was not surprised that my weight didn't go down.  I've lost approximately 8 lbs and am hoping to keep on losing; my goal is 4 more pounds by the middle of September.



I have stuck with working out five days a week which I'm super proud of.  Both last week and this  I ran for 40 minutes three times a week and did Level 3 of the 30 Day Shred twice per week.  I HATE Level 3!  It's hard but not in a good way; the moves are incredibly complex and sometimes I think I need a professional showing me proper form for the moves.  I'll do it for one more week and then I'm going to try out Jillian's Ripped in 30 DVD.  I don't love Jillian Michaels but she has good workouts that aren't super long (I don't have the time for an hour long video).

With regard to reading, this week I've finished An Immortal Descent by Kari Edgren, Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts and The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau.  I'm currently reading The End of Tsarist Russia by Dominic Lieven.

How are things going with your fitness goals?  Have a great weekend!

Review: "Who Do You Love" by Jennifer Weiner



From Goodreads: Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to the emergency room and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again.

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they've been running toward each other all along.

My Thoughts: I thought this book was absolutely adorable!  I have always enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's books and this one is no exception. The characters were great and the romance was really sweet.  It was a perfect summer read!

Rachel and Andy randomly meet when they are 8 years old and don't see each other again for years.  They almost seem like magnets, they can be separated but they innately want to come back together.  Their relationship is complicated by race and upbringing and while they loved each other deeply, their relationship tended to be tumultuous..  I really enjoyed these two characters anad watching them grow and mature throughout the book. Rachel was kind of spoiled brat in the beginning and she became such a strong, caring woman.  Andy also became better over the years; less angry and more open.  Even though Andy made some royally bad decisions, I still liked him as a character and kind of felt bad for him.  There were also a lot of great side characters in this book too.  Mr. Sills was my favorite.  He was the voice of reason and the one constant in Andy's life.  Without his mentorship, Andy would never have been able to make it as far as he did.

I did find the ending of this book to be a little abrupt and almost too perfect but as a whole, I really loved this book.  I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for fun and romance.  4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Engelman & Co and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts (11)

Happy Wednesday y'all!  I'm linking up with Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts over at Bookishly Boisterous today.




1.) I have purchased so many ebooks this month.  It's kind of ridiculous.  I get completely sucked into the Kindle Daily Deals and all of the $1.99 ebooks at Amazon and Barnes and Noble plus I really needed some retail therapy this month.  I finally added up how much I spent and it came to around $27; I was shocked because $1.99 here and there doesn't seem like much.  I guess I will be slowing down on that next month.  

2.) I have no more shelf space at home and no room for more bookshelves.  Our local library has been having book sales more often and the Dollar Tree has actually had some good books recently so I have added a lot to my shelves in recent months.  I just cannot pass up cheap books!  I'm going to make a concerted effort this fall to read books I own so that I can start purging my collection.  We are hoping to buy a house next year and I want to wittle down my books a bit before we move.

3.) I'm suffering some serious work burn out lately.  It's terrible timing because things are going to get wild and crazy once school starts.

4.) I'm enrolled in a course for the fall just for personal enrichment and now I have to decide if I actually want to go through with it.  Writing papers and enforced reading doesn't sound super fun to me right now.

5.) Julia and I are doing parent/child swimming 'lessons' right now and it's amazing to me how much she loves being in the pool.  She is a true water baby.  It's adorable how excited she gets.  I'm a little nervous about how she will react when they are over (Saturday is the last one).  Things could get ugly.

6.) I try to keep track of the types of books I read (ebook, library, book I own, etc.) throughout the year.  I was surprised to see that I have read almost as many library books so far this year as I did the entire year last year.  I'm kind of surprised to see that I didn't read that many library books in 2013 and 2014 because I thought I used the library a lot.  I guess I check out a lot of books that I don't actually finish.  I didn't start tracking until 2012 but I went back through my 2011 list and it looks as though at least half (if not more) of the books I read were library books and I think I'm headed back in that direction this year.

7.) I'm kind of a nerd and I love musicals.  Like LOVE them.  I've been really bored with my Pandora stations lately and have been listening to different versions of my favorite songs from musicals.  I discovered Julian Ovenden who I am now obsessed with.  His voice is fantastic plus he's pretty cute; he's also a regular on Downton Abbey so he's basically perfect.

That's all I have for this week.  Sorry for the word vomit! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review and Giveaway: "The Lady Bornekova" by Sara R. Turnquist






Synopsis:   The red-headed Karin is strong-willed and determined, something she inherited from her father. She tries to keep her true nature a secret to avoid being deemed a traitor by those loyal to the king. Karin and her father butt heads over her duty to her family and the Czech Crown. She is then sequestered to the Royal Viscount’s hunting lodge.


Not aware of everything that is happening, she becomes the target of an individual with murderous intent. Her heart soon becomes entangled though her father intends to wed her to another. The turmoil inside Karin deepens and reflects the turmoil of her homeland, on the brink of the Hussite Wars.




My Thoughts:  The Lady Bornekova is a delightfully entertaining read.  It has a great plot, interesting characters and the just the right touch of romance as well as a unique historical backdrop.  I had never heard of the Hussite Wars prior to this book and after finishing it, had to resort to Google and Wikipedia to learn more.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book set in a country you don't normally see in historical fiction and set in an era that is new to me.  It's so refreshing (and exciting) to read such a good story that is so 'out of the box' in comparison to other works of historical fiction.

Lady Karin Bornekova is the main character of the novel and she was such an intelligent and likable character.  In a time when women weren't allowed to have opinions, she had strong convictions that were outside the mainstream and she was willing to sacrifice everything for those convictions.  I definitely admired her strength and tenacity as she stood up to her father and other people in her life who tried to prevent her thinking and believing the way that she did.

The story had a bit of a mystery to it and while I could easily see who the perpetrator was, I still enjoyed the strange occurrences that seemed to plague Karin.  Even when everything was revealed, I was still a bit shocked by the cause and impetus for all that she had to endure.  Also, there was, what in my mind seemed like, a cliffhanger ending to this story.  It seemed to me like the author might have more to say about Karin's life during the Hussite Wars and I'm very hopeful that she does.  3 stars.

I received a copy of this book from HFBVT in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Sara resides with her family in Middle TN. Though she has enjoyed her career as a Zoo Educator, Sara's great love of the written word has always drawn her to write. An avid reader, she has been, for many years, what she terms a “closet writer”. Her travels and love of history have served to inspire her to write Historical Fiction. Sara has made several trips overseas to the Czech Republic for short stints in the summer over several years. Her time among the Czech people and the landscapes of the country inspired her and greatly influenced her work on her debut novel, The Lady Bornekova, set in the Czech town of Hradec Kralove.


 Giveaway:
To enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below.
Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Lady Bornekova GLEAM ENTRY FORM 

o

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mailbox Monday (49)

It's time for another Mailbox Monday post! 

Once again I could not resist the cheap ebooks that Amazon and Barnes and Noble were promoting this week.  I really need to stop!  I already have more than I can read.  I also was able to spend a little time browsing at the library and I came home with a nice stack of books.  These days, I hardly ever get to spend time at the library by myself for more than a minute or two so it was wonderful to have time to just wander and see what I could find.


Purchased (for kindle):




 Purchased (for nook):



From the Library:






What books did you get this week?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Blast and Giveaway: "Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva" by Eliza Redgold

02_Naked A Novel of Lady Godiva_CoverNAKED: A NOVEL OF LADY GODIVA
by ELIZA REDGOLD

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 320

Genre: Historical Fiction

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We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don't know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva's ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for 'peeping Tom') and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva's tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.


ADVANCE PRAISE


"Redgold's variation on this enticing legend is often lyrical and offers a satisfying blend of history, lore, and romance." (Booklist)

"Breathes new life into the story of the woman who would stop at nothing to protect her land and people." (Romantic Times)

"NAKED delivers far more than the famous ride of Lady Godiva. It's a beautifully woven story of love, loyalty, and the determination of a young woman trying to protect her people and their way of life, no matter the price. Godiva is a wonderfully strong woman in an age of dangerous men, and in NAKED, she certainly meets her match!" (Amalia Carosella, author of HELEN OF SPARTA)

"A wonderful, romantic retelling of the Lady Godiva legend. There is the colorful Anglo-Saxon backdrop, warriors, battles, peacemaking, desire, revenge and love - everything a fan of medieval romance could desire - plus a strong-willed heroin. Written with a lyrical lilt to her prose, Redgold adds realism to the myth and love to the lusty tale, allowing readers a glimpse into what might have been." (RT Book Reviews)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Eliza Redgold_Author


ELIZA REDGOLD is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.

For more information visit Eliza Redgold's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+.

BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE


Tuesday, July 14
Boom Baby Reviews
Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, July 15
Genre Queen
The Maiden's Court
What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 16
Bibliophilia, Please
The Reader's Hollow
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, July 17
100 Pages a Day
The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, July 18
Just One More Chapter

Monday, July 20
To Read, or Not to Read
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 21
A Literary Vacation
Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, July 22
Unabridged Chick

Thursday, July 23
So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, July 24
The Reading Queen

Saturday, July 25
Book Nerd

Sunday, July 26
Passages to the Past

Monday, July 27
Bibliotica
The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, July 28
A Chick Who Reads

GIVEAWAY


To enter to win a copy of Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva & a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva Book Blast


03_Naked_Book Blast Banner_FINAL

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: "Bone Box" by Jay Armberg




Synopsis:  On a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea in Turkey, an international team of archeologists discovers a stone box that first-century Jews used to rebury their dead. The box’s Aramaic inscription: Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Sophia Altay, the beautiful French-Turkish archeologist who heads the team, tries to keep the discovery secret until she can authenticate the ossuary. She knows that people will kill to obtain the relics—and to suppress the box’s other contents, documents that could alter Western history.


Joseph Travers, an American sent to Turkey to evaluate the archeological dig, soon finds himself pulled into the web of betrayal, reprisal, and violence. In his journey through Istanbul’s mosques and palaces, the archeological sites around ancient Ephesus, and, ultimately, the strange and mystical terrain of Cappadocia, he comes to understand the epochal meaning of the bone box.



My Thoughts:  Bone Box is a great thriller with a unique historical twist.  I had no idea what to expect when I started this book.  While the story was slow to start, once things got moving I was hooked.  The story contains a wide array of characters; some interesting and others strange but all playing an integral role in a story with more twists and turns than I ever could have expected.

I was completely intrigued by the idea of archaeologists finding the bones of Jesus as well as new writings by him and his followers.  It was fascinating to think of how the world would react if such things did exist and I think the author did a great job of portraying the pandemonium that might ensue.  I also loved the descriptions of the archaeological digs and the caves at Cappadocia.  I'm not familiar with a lot of the history of Turkey so I really liked learning more about it. 

As I said above, I really liked all of the twists and turns of the story but at times I was a little confused by what was going on.  The story was busy and there were a ton of characters and a lot going on.  I usually could figure things out but there were a few times I had to go back and re-read things to get a better grasp on what was happening.  I also felt like the ending left me with a lot of unanswered questions.

Overall, I found Bone Box to be an enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend it!  3 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Book Junkie Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:


Jay Amberg is the author of eleven books. He received a BA from Georgetown University and a PhD from Northwestern University. He has taught high school and college students since 1972. 

His latest book, Bone Box, is now available from Amika Press. Amberg has also published Cycle, America’s Fool, Whale Song, and compiled 52 Poems for Men. Cycle, a novel giving unique voice to the world’s environmental crisis, is the winner of a 2013 Independent Publisher Living Now Book Award.

Prior to Amika Press, Amberg published thriller novels Doubloon (Forge), Blackbird Singing (Forge) and Deep Gold (Warner Books).

Among his books on teaching are School Smarts and The Study Skills Handbook, published by Good Year. Amberg wrote The Creative Writing Handbook (Good Year) with Mark Henry Larson and Verbal Review and Workbook for the SAT (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) with Robert S Boone.


 Check out more stops on the tour here!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mailbox Monday (48)

Welcome to Mailbox Monday!  I  went a little crazy with inexpensive Nook and Kindle books.  I just cannot pass up a good deal on ebooks!  Now if only I had enough time to read all of them!

Purchased (for Kindle):



Purchased (for Nook):



What books did you get this week?

Friday, July 17, 2015

#FitReaders Weekly Check In (6)



Hey y'all!  This is my first #FitReaders checkin in months but I'm glad to be back!  I had a really good week.  I jogged on the treadmill 3 days for 40 minutes and then did the 30 Day Shred Level 2 on the other 2 days.  I've actually done really well at consistently working out five days a week for the past two months or so.

My eating this week was spot on.  Even when we had pizza at work yesterday, I still managed to stay within my allotted MyFitnessPal calories.  I had a terrible week last week so I'm really trying to get back on track.  I know next week will be tough (there are a lot of food related events next week) but I will do the best I can.

I got on the scale this morning and while I was sad that I hadn't lost any weight, I didn't gain either which is good considering how many bad eating days I had last week.  I'm still at 7 pounds lost but I really want to lose 5 more so that I can get back to my fighting weight.  

My goals for next week are to keep up the good work in regards to exercise and to make the best food choices I can.  I'm hoping to move up to Level 3 of the 30 Day Shred so we'll see how that goes.

With regards to reading, I finished The Distant Hours by Kate Morton this week and am currently reading Who Do You Love? by Jennifer Weiner and Academically Adrift by Richard Arum.
I hope you all have a great weekend!  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mini Reviews (11)




This is an older Susanna Kearsley book that was recently re-released.  It has both historical and mystery aspects to the story and was a pretty fun read.  Some of the twists were obvious but I still found it to be an enjoyable and engaging story.  I loved the author's description of the workings of a play as well as her descriptions of Venice.  She truly brought the city to life.  Celia, the main character, was young but well-developed and I enjoyed watching her grow as a character throughout the story.  3 1/2 stars.




This book was so odd.  I really loved it in the beginning, the story was super creepy and I could not wait to see what would happen next.  However, it eventually seemed to take a strange turn and the completely diverged from the original story.  This new 'turn' was still interesting and kind of creepy so I kept reading....but the end?! The end killed it for me.  I hated the ending and I still cannot believe that was how the author wrapped things up. YUCK.  I'm giving it 3 stars because the first 2/3 of the book were really good.


 
I like Sarah Pekkanen's books and was really drawn to this book because the subject (shootings involving police officers) was so timely.  I thought Pekkanen did an excellent job of showing how such an event might affect a police officer and his family and it made for a compelling read.  However, with the exception of Lucy, I did not like any of the characters.  The whole lot of them were dysfunctional to begin with (and not in a relatable way) and the shootings just made them more so.  I felt really bad for the kids in the story because all of the adults were such a mess.  I was also hoping for a happier ending after all the drama of the story and was sorely disappointed when there wasn't one.  3 stars.


Friday, July 10, 2015

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

Sorry for so many non-bookish posts but I have to talk about my sweet Julia's birthday.  She turned two on June 28!!! I can't believe she's two already!  Julia loves the movie Frozen so her birthday party was Frozen themed.


I made her Anna and Elsa cakes and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.  I don't love Elsa (I had lots of problems with her) but I think Anna turned out pretty good!







I also ordered some really cool Frozen themed cookies from a local bakery.  They turned out great!!






We had about 10-15 kids under the age of five so I had to come up with some fun activities for them.  We had a water table and some other outside toys and I made 'snow' and homemade sidewalk paint.  They were a HUGE hit.  The kids had such a blast.  The snow was messy to make but the kids loved it!  I don't have any pictures that I can post but here is a link to the recipe I used.  I wasn't a huge fan of the sidewalk paint (it took a lot to actually be visible) but the kids loved it.  I made this recipe and it was super easy.  I was so worried that I would have a bunch of bored toddlers to contend with but they were happy as clams and Julia had the time of her life.

We got Julia an American Girl Bitty Baby for her birthday and a little doll furniture set that I picked up at Black Friday.  Note to self: don't try to set up complicated children's toys at 9:00 pm after hosting a birthday party.  My brain was shot and it took way longer than necessary.

 This is what it looked like when we started.  The hubs had to finally come in and help me out because I was just making a mess.


This is the end result.  She loved it!  And the Bitty Baby is such a cute little doll.  I'm so happy we got it for her.  I was lucky to read something online that said that Bitty Baby fits into preemie size clothing so the doll already has a huge wardrobe courtesy of the Wal-Mart clearance racks.

Anyway enough babbling, I'm so glad to only have one little one because planning her birthday party was exhausting!  I don't think I could do it more than once a year!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Reread of the Little House books Part 2








In the Fall, I posted about taking a Laura Ingalls Wilder course and rereading some of her books.  At that time, the class covered the first four books in the Little House series.  This Spring, I took the second half of the Laura Ingalls Wilder class and we read the last five books in the series.  These books show a more mature Laura and the reader gets to see her get her first job, get married and have a child.  I really enjoyed rereading all of them but there were a few that stood out more than others.

Little Town on the Prairie has always been one of my favorites in the series and it still is.  I love the descriptions of life in DeSmet and the creation of Mary's college clothes.  It's such a light-hearted read after the seriousness of The Long Winter and for once Pa and Ma aren't pinching pennies and struggling to make ends meet.  I kind of feel like These Happy Golden Years and Little Town on the Prairie could be one long book because they are very similar.  We really get to see Almanzo in These Happy Golden Years and I never get tired of reading about how he drove so far top the Brewster School in his sleigh to bring Laura home on the weekends.

Reading The Long Winter as an adult was such an eye-opening experience.  When I was reading these as a child, I knew times were tough during that winter but as an adult I could see that they were freezing and starving to death.  I remember thinking how ingenious it was that they ground wheat in the coffee grinder but as an adult I could see the desperation in that act.  It's still one of the best books in the series (in my mind) but it was so different to read it as an adult.

The First Four Years is the only book in the series that I haven't read a bunch of times.  I believe this is only my second time reading it and it's definitely my least favorite of the series.  I know it wasn't finished and that it was found among Wilder's papers and just published as is but I just don't love it.  It's very depressing and less idealistic than any of the previous books and I'm not sure that it paints Almanzo in the best light.  Reading this book kind of felt like watching a train wreck; there was just one disaster after the other and so many bad financial decisions made by Almanzo (bless his heart).  As an adult, I just wanted to shake him and tell him to think before he acts. 

Despite the fact that I did not enjoy The First Four Years, overall I had a great time re-reading these books.  I look forward to reading them with Julia when she's older.












Monday, July 6, 2015

New Release: "An Immortal Descent" by Kari Edgren

02_An Immortal DescentPublication Date: July 6, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press
eBook; ASIN: B00XCYM8XS

Series: Goddess Born, Book Three
Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Romance

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As a goddess-born healer, Selah Kilbrid wants nothing to do with the goddess of death and disease, nor any of her human progeny. But when the two people she loves most disappear—her dearest friend Nora Goodwin and her betrothed Lord Henry Fitzalan—Selah has no choice but to leave London in pursuit of Death’s most powerful daughter.

Accompanied by a ragtag group of travelers, Selah follows a treacherous path across the Irish Sea to the long-forgotten prison of a witch who once nearly destroyed Ireland. Selah would face any danger to protect those she loves, but what if it means unleashing a greater evil on the human world? Could she risk the lives of many to save a few, or are some sacrifices too great?

An Immortal Descent Available at


Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

About the Author03_Kari Edgren


Kari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist. Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there’s a paranormal twist. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.

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

Sign up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.

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