Monday, December 31, 2012

Month in Review: December 2012

Here are my reading stats for December!
  • Books read:  15
Books I read (reviewed ones have * and link to review; books not yet reviewed will be linked up once review is posted.)
  1. Fated* -- Carly Phillips (e-book novella)
  2. Baltimore Blues*-- Laura Lippman (e-book)
  3. Hot Six*-- Janet Evanovich (audio)
  4. Rococo* -- Adriana Trigiani
  5. Vets in Love* --Cathy Woodman
  6. Hidden Summit* -- Robyn Carr
  7. Buzz Off* --Hannah Reed
  8. The Christmas Cookie Club -- Ann Pearlman
  9. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty -- Joshilyn Jackson (audio)
  10. Dreams of Joy -- Lisa See
  11. Redwood Bend -- Robyn Carr
  12. Sunrise Point -- Robyn Carr
  13. My Kind of Christmas -- Robyn Carr
  14. The Diary -- Eileen Goudge
  15. Getting The Pretty Back -- Molly Ringwald 
Favorite Book of December:   
  • Rococo by Adriana Trigiani

2012 Challenge Update:
  •  100+ Reading Challenge -- Books Read: 127/100 - COMPLETED
  •  Support Your Local Library Challenge -- Books Read: 53/37 - COMPLETED
  •  Off the Shelf Reading Challenge -- Books Read: 28/30
  •  E-Book Reading Challenge -- Books Read: 21/20- COMPLETED
  •  Historical Fiction Reading Challenge -- Books read: 15/15 - COMPLETED
  •  First in a Series Challenge -- Series started: 6/6 + 10 - COMPLETED
  •  Finish the Series Challenge -- Series completed: 3/3 + 4 - COMPLETED
  •  Cruising Thru the Cozies Reading Challenge -- Books Read: 13/13+ - COMPLETED
  •  Audio Book Challenge -- Books Listened To: 29/25 - COMPLETED

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (12.31.12)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the first of the new year. The past few days I have been looking at all the reading challenges for 2013, picking and choosing which ones I will be doing. I will be posting those later this week. I will also be posting a list of my favorite books of 2012 as well as goals for the upcoming year.

I already have my first book of 2013 picked out and ready to read - The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak. I've had this book for a few weeks and cannot wait to start reading it.

Happy New Year to all...wishing everyone a safe, healthy and happy new year!!!

Books Completed last week:
  • Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr (mine)
  • Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr (mine)
  • My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr (mine) 
  • The Diary by Eileen Goudge
Reading Now: 
  • Getting the Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald (mine) 
  • Summer House by Nancy Thayer (library audio book) - ipod
  • The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak (mine)
  • Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (mine)
 Reviews Completed last week:
 Other posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
  • A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Dreams of Joy by Lisa See 
  • Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr
  • Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr
  • My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr
  • The Diary by Eileen Goudge
Contest information:  
  • No giveaways right now...more coming soon!
What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (27) 12.30.12

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews is starting a new meme to spotlight the books we receive each week.  Here's what I got: 
  For Review:

Lady of Ashes
by Christine Trent
I am so excited to read this...Christine Trent is one of my favorite authors. I have loved all her books and this one is the first in a new historical mystery series...look for my review to be posted in March with a giveaway!!!

The Forgotten Queen
by DL Bogdan
I haven't read anything about Margaret Tudor and was excited to get this. I read DL Bogdan's The Sumerton Women earlier this year and really enjoyed it.
Bella Summer Takes a Chance (ARC e-book)
by Michele Gorman
This looks like a cute story.
The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy
by David Nasaw
My obsession with all things Kennedy grows...I just couldn't resist buying this!

Under the Olive Tree (free e-book)
by Courtney Miller Santo

Looking forward to reading this one, too.

The Rose Garden (e-book)
by Susanna Kearsley

This was another bargain e-book this week that I just couldn't pass up...looking forward to reading it.

What did you get this week?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Buzz Off by Hannah Reed

Buzz Off by Hannah Reed
September 2010
Format: Paperback, 336 pages

First line: If I hadn't been drinking champagne at noon on Friday, I would have been over at the honey house with Manny Chapman, my beekeeping mentor and owner of Queen Bee Honey, and possibly, just possibly, I might have saved him from what must have been a very painful death.

From the back cover: When beekeeper Story Fischer is on the case, you can run - but you can't hive...

It's September - National Honey Month - in Moraine, Wisconsin, and things are looking up for Story Fischer. Her messy divorce is final, the honey from her beekeeping business has been harvested, and the market she owns is thriving. Life seems pretty sweet...until Manny, her mentor in the honey business, is found stung to death in his apiary.

Story is still trying to explain to the panicked locals that her honeybees had nothing to do with Manny's death, when another body is found floating in the Oconomowoc River. This time the evidence points to Story's ex. Sure, he's a womanizer and a buzzkill - but a murderer? Desperate to save her bees and her business (and, okay, her ex), it's up to Story to find a way out of a very sticky situation.

My thoughts: This is the first book in Hannah Reed's Queen Bee Mystery series and it was a fun, quick read. Falling into the cozy mystery genre, it's centered around a beekeeper and gave lots of interesting facts and tidbits about bees and honey.

Story is the owner of a small market and an apprentice to master beekeeper, Manny. When he is found apparently stung to death, Story finds herself not only trying to get to the bottom of things, but also defending the honeybees she loves. Story is definitely my kind of gal - using "bullet points" to educate the town as to why it couldn't have been honeybees that stung Manny. She uses bullet points quite frequently - something that I find myself using whenever possible (just not in my reviews!).

This seems like a good start to what looks to be a fun series. We get to know Story a little bit, and we meet some of her family members and friends. I loved the small-town feel you get as you the story progresses, including the gossip mill - all reminiscent of growing up in a small-town and living in one now. I am looking forward to reading more of this series.

(I got this book from a friend.)

Books in this series:
  1. Buzz Off
  2. Mind Your Won Beeswax
  3. Plan Bee
  4. Beeline to Trouble

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
December 2011
Format: Paperback, 347 pages

First line: Brie Valenzuela finished her large latte and looked into the empty cup.

From the back cover: Sometimes romance is hiding in plain sight...

When Connor Danson becomes an unwitting witness to a violent crime, he is forced to leave Sacramento and keep a low profile until the trial is over. He arrives in the tiny mountain town of Virgin River with a chip on his shoulder and an ache in his heart.

Leslie Petruso didn't want to leave her hometown either. But she can't stand another minute of listening to her ex-husband tell everyone that his new wife and impending fatherhood are the best things that ever happened to him. Virgin River may not be home, but it's a place where she can be anonymous.

Neither Connor nor Leslie is remotely interested in starting a new relationship...until they meet one another. Even they can't deny they have a lot in common - broken hearts notwithstanding. And in Virgin River, no one can stay hidden away from life and love for very long...

My thoughts: This is the 17th book in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series and as I've said before, I am really enjoying this series. How Robyn Carr is able to keep creating new trials for new characters is beyond me. I've read books 3-17 this year alone and I haven't once felt that it was the same old story being repeated with new faces. Yes, they are all romances and yes, the guy does get the girl, but it's their backgrounds and who they are that make the difference.

Connor has come to Virgin River under a false identity while he waits to testify in a murder trial. He is the only witness to the crime and his hardware store was torched in an attempt to intimidate him. He decides to work for Haggarty Construction while in town. Leslie has also come to Virgin River to get away from something - her ex-husband. I loved the little twist Robyn Carr put in this relationship - rather than a nasty ex, Leslie's is too friendly.. She worked for Haggarty at a different branch and ends up in the same office as Connor, working for Paul, an old family friend. 

Right from their first meeting, there are sparks between Leslie and Connor, but both are very careful not to get involved...they have enough on their plates without adding anything more to it and neither is looking for any type of long-term commitment. But, as they begin talking and spending time together, they realize that their feelings are stronger than their intentions of staying unattached. Unfortunately, things aren't that easy for them - Connor has secrets and Leslie abhors secrets of any kind. Will they be able to overcome their past to make a future?

As is typical of the Virgin River books, we also get to see some familiar faces. Bree is involved in this book as the contact between Connor and the DA. Jack and Preacher also make appearances, as do Dan Brady and Cheryl - two characters we haven't seen much of lately. There are also some other new characters that are introduced that give you sense that they will be involved in later books...and I am excited to see who's story is next!

(I got this book from PaperbackSwap.)

Books in this series:
  1. Virgin River                                   11.1   Sheltering Hearts
  2. Shelter Mountain                         12.  Midnight Confessions
  3. Whispering Rock                          13.  Promise Canyon
  4. A Virgin River Christmas          14.  Wild Man Creek
  5. Second Chance Pass                    15.  Harvest Moon
  6. Temptation Ridge                        16.  Bring Me Home for Christmas
  7. Paradise Valley                             17.  Hidden Summit      
  8. Under the Christmas Tree        18.  Redwood Bend
  9. Forbidden Falls                            19.  Sunrise Point
  10. Angel's Peak                                   20.  My Kind of Christmas 
  11. Moonlight Road 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Rococo by Adriana Trigiani

Rococo by Adriana Trigiani
Ballantine Books
April 2006
Format: Paperback, 320 pages

First line: I want you to imagine my house.

From the back cover: Bartolomeo di Crespi is the acclaimed interior decorator - not to mention the most eligible bachelor - in Our Lady of Fatima (OLOF), New Jersey. From the dazzling shores of the Garden State to the legendary fabric houses of New York City, from the prickly purveyors of fine art in London to the Mediterranean coast of Italy, Bartolomeo is on a mission to bring talent, sophistication, and his aesthetic vision to his hometown. So when the renovation of the local church is scheduled, he assumes there is only one man to oversee the job.

Recruiting an artist and a stained-glass artisan to help with the project - two handsome men who create romantic mayhem among Bartolomeo's sister, his erstwhile fiancee, and all the other lovelorn ladies of OLOF - Bartolomeo struggles to create art while remaining the steadfast linchpin of the volatile di Crespi clan. Together, Bartolomeo and his team will do more than blow the dust off the old Fatima frescoes - they will turn the town upside down, challenge the faithful, and restore hope where there once was none.

My thoughts: Oh, how I love Adriana Trigiani's books!!! Between her descriptive writing and amazing characters, I fall in love a little more with each book and Rococo was certainly no exception.

This is definitely a character-driven story and is told from Bartolomeo's point of view - "B" to friends and family. B is an interior decorator and has always wanted to renovate Our Lady Of Fatima, the church he has attended all his life. He finally gets the opportunity and in the process he learns a lot about himself, life, and family expectations.

Family is an important part of B's life and as the oldest male in his Italian-Catholic family, he takes his role seriously. He looks out for his nephews, takes care of his sister, and watches out for his cousin Christina. All the interactions that B has in the book with his sister, Toot, are hysterical. She is constantly using the wrong word and even though B corrects her all the time, she doesn't flinch - she just keeps on going with whatever it was she was saying. I also loved the recipes that were included throughout the book. Each one was strategically placed after being mentioned in the story and knowing how important food is to the Italians, it's almost as if these recipes are characters themselves.

B goes back and forth from Jersey to NYC and then over to Italy in hopes for inspiration in redesigning the church. Each place he visits was almost like being there with him - that's how vivid Adriana Trigiani is in her writing. I don't know much about interior decorating, but I could certainly appreciate all the designs he came up with, not only for the church, but for his other clients. Oh how I wish I could find someone like B to come decorate my 1913 craftsman style house!

This is the first book I've read by Adriana Trigiani that features a male character as the lead and I think she nailed it. I've now read just about everything by this author - I still have Queen of the Big Time to read and am hoping to get to that soon.  She has done some great stand-alones and some great series...I can't wait to see what she does next!

Do you have an author that you just love - you've read all their books and enjoyed them all? If so, please share!!!

(I got this book from PaperbackSwap.)

Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (12.24.12)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

It was a busy week with last minute Christmas errands and holiday baking. For the holidays my husband and I travel to Long Island for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with his family and then we head to Delaware on Christmas day for my family's holiday gathering. It will be a busy few days, but I am looking forward to all the family time! Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!!!

I'm still working on finishing up two reading challenges. In order to complete them, I need to read 7 books - I'm still fairly optimistic that I can get these all read in a week...luckily I can read in the car! I will definitely be taking advantage of all down-time to read.

Books Completed last week:
  • The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman (mine)
  • A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (library audio book)
  • Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (mine)
Reading Now: 
  • Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr (mine) 
  • Summer House by Nancy Thayer (library audio book) - ipod
  • The Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn (mine)
  • Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (mine)
  • Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr (mine)
 Reviews Completed last week:
 Other posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
  • Buzz Off by Hannah Reed 
  • The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
  • A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Contest information:  
  • No giveaways right now...more coming soon!
What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (26) 12.23.12

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews is starting a new meme to spotlight the books we receive each week.  Here's what I got: 
  For Review:

The Fate of Mercy Alban
by Wendy Webb
This just peaked my curiosity...haven't read anything by Wendy Webb before, so I hope I like it!

The Kommandant's Girl
by Pam Jenoff
I'm doing a tour in 2013 for Pam Jenoff's newest book and decided I wanted to read the 2 earlier books first.

The Diplomat's Wife
by Pam Jenoff

Looking forward to reading this one, too.

The Winter Sea (e-book)
by Susanna Kearsley

I haven't read anything by Susanna Kearsley, but have heard great things about her books. This one was on sale this week, so I decided to give it a try.

Her Highness, The Traitor (e-book)
by Susan Higganbotham
I have a few other books by Susan Higganbotham on my Nook just waiting to be read, but saw that this one was also on sale this week, so I got it. Hope to get to her books soon!

What did you get this week?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fall Into Reading 2012: Wrap Up Post

Another challenge has come to a close. As you can see from my list, I finished reading all the books I had listed - this is the first time I was able to get to all the books on my list!!!! I was also able to read an additional 10 books  during this time that were not on my original list. That puts my total number of books read from September 22 to December 21 to 35 books!!!

Here's my original list and all have been read:
  1. Zoo by James Patterson
  2. Bella Fortuna by Rosanna Chiofalo
  3. Sleep No More by Iris Johansen
  4. The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
  5. Merry Christmas Alex Cross by James Patterson
  6. NYPD Red by James Patterson
  7. Postcards from the Dead by Laura Childs
  8. Better than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts
  9. Run the Risk by Lori Foster
  10. Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
  11. The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini
  12. Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani
  13. Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
  14. Rococo by Adriana Trigiani
  15. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
  16. Once Upon a Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg
  17. Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
  18. High Five by Janet Evanovich
  19. Midnight Kiss by Robyn Carr, Jean Brashear, Victoria Dahl
  20. Promise Canyon by Robyn Carr
  21. Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
  22. Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr
  23. Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
  24. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
  25. Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
 Additional books read not on original list:
  1. Fool for Love by Beth Ciotta
  2. Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts
  3. The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy O'Brien
  4. The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again by Nancy Thayer
  5. Stake & Eggs by Laura Childs
  6. Fated by Carly Phillips
  7. Vets in Love by Cathy Woodman
  8. Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
  9. Buzz Off by Hannah Reed
  10. The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

Thank you to Katrina over at Callapidder Days for hosting this challenge!!! I got a lot of books read that have been sitting on my bookshelves, in addition to all the review books I had to read. This definitely helped me get books read for the other challenges I am participating in. I'm not sure if I will complete all of them this year, but I definitely made good headway in them through this challenge.

I read a lot of great books this time around and it's hard to pick one favorite, but some of the top books were: Bella Fortuna and the Adriana Trigiani books.

What about you? Did you participate in the challenge and if so, how did you do?

Review: Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
Harper Collins Publisher
October 2009
Format: e-book, 384 pages

First line: On the last night of August, Tess Monaghan went to the drugstore and bought a composition book-one with a black and-white marble cover.

Synopsis from B&N:  In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz’s death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer’s notoriety—and his taste for illicit midday trysts—make the case front-page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did. A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town—from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill—now unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the guy the cops like for the killing: cuckolded fiancé Darryl “Rock” Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess’ own name could end up on that ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.

My thoughts: This is the first book in Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series, a series that I am once again getting a late start on. There are already 11 books out in this series and I enjoyed the first one enough that I am intrigued to see how the series progresses.

In Baltimore Blues, we meet Tess Monaghan and we find out how she ends up working as a private investigator. As a journalist who's been laid off, she takes up odd jobs. One of those jobs involves "spying" on her rowing buddy Rock's fiancee Ava. This one job leads to some unexpected consequences for all involved. Then her buddy is accused of murder and feeling partly responsible for the accusation, Tess tries to figure out what really happened. 

We meet a lot of characters in this book, some that I believe might be part of the series (Rock, Aunt Kitty, Crow, Whitney)  and some that we will probably never see again. Tess is a witty and sassy reporter-turned-detective that you either love or hate and I happened to find her interesting enough to want to read more about to see how well she really does working as a PI. There are many twists and turns throughout this book along with many comical scenes. It's a good balance of suspense and humor that moves the story along.

Have you ever started reading a series and stopped after a book or two because something was off for you?

(I purchased this e-book.)

Books in this series:
  1. Baltimore Blues                7.  The Last Place
  2. Charm City                          8.  By a Spider's Thread
  3. Butcher's Hill                      9.  No Good Deeds
  4. In Big Trouble                   10.  Another Thing to Fall
  5. The Sugar House              11.  The Girl in the Green Raincoat
  6. In a Strange City


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Vets in Love by Cathy Woodman

Vets in Love by Cathy Woodman
December 2012
Format: Paperback, 400 pages

First line: It's just before nine on Monday morning, and the rush has already begun.

From the back cover: Love is in the air in Talyton St. George, Devon's most romantic town.

Glamorous GP Nicci (aka the galloping doctor) and Matt, the very handsome equine vet, have caught each other's eye. On paper it looks like a match made in heaven.

There are problems, however: Matt's jealous ex-girlfriend being one of them. But the main trouble is Nicci's determination to qualify for the Badminton Horse Trials. Because although Matt treats horses for a living, a tragedy in his past makes him terrified every time Nicci competes.

So when Nicci has a terrible accident, a devastated Matt gives her an ultimatum: it's either him or the riding. Nicci can't believe he means it. But can she risk putting him to rest?

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Cathy Woodman and I found it to be a cute, quick read. Apparently she has a few other books about the vets in Talyton St. George and after enjoying this one, I will definitely be looking into them.

Vets in Love is a love story about Nicci and Matt. They meet when Matt shows up in Nicci's office after hurting his shoulder. Right away there's attraction, but of course things don't go smoothly for them. First, he's her patient and that's not allowed. At the same time, Nicci's ex shows up and not wanting to let him think she's alone, she leads him to believe that Matt is her boyfriend. That's Matt's cue that it's not just him that feels something, so they decide to see where things will go. Then, Matt's ex-girlfriend makes it known that things aren't quite as over as he has led Nicci to believe. Can Nicci and Matt make their way through all the obstacles that seem to be standing in their way?

While this was a bit predictable at times, I did enjoy the love story. There are some other story lines that round out the book, including one involving Nicci's estranged sister. Having two sisters myself, I can appreciate that they do not always get along, however I did have a problem with Nicci not standing up to her sister. Every time they started to get into things, Cheska always seems to say something that has Nicci backing down. In my opinion, what Cheska needed was a swift kick in the behind...but that's just me!

I enjoyed my first taste of Cathy Woodman, with the British sayings and all, and am looking forward to trying out her other books. Have you read anything by her?

Thanks to Sarah at Random House Group Ltd, in the UK for sending me this book for review.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Giveaway Winner: The Winter Palace




winner of 
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak selected the winners. 
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway and thanks for sharing your favorite historical fiction novel - I have lots of titles I will be adding to my tbr list!
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