Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Wrap Up

This month started on a high note with my listening to Roses by Leila Meacham, but the remainder of the month the reading was pretty mediocre with no real standouts, but I'm hopeful that next month will be a better reading month. 


Wow, I loved this book. It was a family saga and covered between 75-100+ years. I didn't expect to love it this much. It may become one of my favorites of the year. I look forward to reading or listening to the prequel, Somerset. I definitely recommend this book!  5 STARS!!!

The Most Wonderful Time

I received this as an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I only read the first 2 stories, Christmas Passed by Fern Michaels and a Glory Junction Christmas by Stacy Finz and really enjoyed them. Stacy Finz is one of my newer favorite authors and Fern Michaels I had never read although I have heard of her. The other 2 stories, I tried reading, but they just didn't appeal to me and when you have a huge TBR pile, why force yourself to read something you don't enjoy.  3 stars.

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen

An interesting book to listen to on a topic that one is hearing about more. Glad to hear the parents were so supportive and such advocates for their child and that although Jazz is only 15 or 16, I'm glad that she told her story and is able to help other youth and young adults who are feeling the same way, as well as their parents.. I'm glad I listened to this. 2 stars.

A Texas Hill Country Christmas (Christmas, #5)

This is the 5th book in a series that is put out each Christmas, I wait until the next holiday season and get it from my library. So, I know there will be 1 more after this one. A Texas Hill Country Christmas took me quite awhile to really get into. It wasn't until past the halfway point that I really started to enjoy it. The very end really redeemed the entire story, Hopefully, the next one in the series, A Colorado Christmas I enjoy more. I'll find out next year at this time! 3 stars.

The Christmas Town

This is the first book that I read by Donna VanLiere. The story itself was pretty much enjoyable, but several times, especially near the beginning, I found myself contemplating putting it away and not finishing it. The story is written in the third person present tense, which is extremely awkward to read. So many people have raved about this author and her Christmas stories that I felt I needed to keep with it. Although I liked most of the characters, the friendship and interaction between Gloria and Miriam really irritated me, mainly Miriam. I am not sure that I will read future books by Donna VanLiere or the previous 8 Christmas stories, I'll have to look into whether the other books are in the 3rd person present or not. as I did not enjoy that reading experience. Had it not been written in 3rd person present, I may have given the book 4 stars and I was seriously considering only 2 stars, but in the end I felt a 3-star rating was more fair since the story was a heartfelt one. I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

Riding High

Stacy Finz is one of favorite authors that I discovered in the past couple years. Her Nugget series takes place in Nugget, California in the Sierra Nevada. I love visiting the town of Nugget through the pages of her books and catching up with the residents of Nugget, although I have to admit that this particular book I was not quite as entranced by. I just did not enjoy the chemistry between Gia Treadwell and Flynn Barlow and some of the storyline seemed very predictable, I am excited to see that there will be another book in this series coming in April, though, before her new series starts in July in the nearby town of Glory Junction. Hopefully, she will have the occasional appearance or mention of one of the Nugget residents. Although I give this 3 stars, I feel it deserves more of a 2.75 or 2.5 stars.

A Mistletoe Welcome

A very short story and part of the Welcome Home series that I was invited by the author to download. It is a continuation of Val and Griffin's story, which was told in Welcoming the Bad Boy. I'm excited to read her new series coming out in April.

The Longest Ride

I'm not quite sure how to review this one. I haven't been reading (listening to audiobooks) Nicholas Sparks books long. Although I've seen a couple of the movie adaptations back in the 90s or early 2000s. This book seemed incredibly long, but it could have been that I had to listen to it over a greater than usual period of time than I usually do. I just wasn't that engaged with the story. It seemed very slow and mot that exciting. At times, I considered DNF'ing it, but I continued with it. The end was satisfying and saved the book from being rated 2 stars, just OK, but as a whole I wasn't impressed and am glad this wasn't my 1st Nicholas Sparks' book, as it probably would have also been my last.
3 stars (actually 2.5 stars)

I'm reading an ARC of Crowning Design by Leila Meacham, that I only have 20% more to read, but don't expect to get to tonight.  I'm also reading a library book that was available at my local library,
The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1), which I'm about 20% through.  I should get to some more tonight.  It's a middle grade book, but I am really enjoying it so far.  So hopefully, it will get me out of my reading slump.  Also, I am a little less than 10 minutes into an audiobook, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.  It is rather long at 16+ hours, so we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Books 2016

Every Christmas season, I try to read several holiday books to get into the holidays spirit.  This year I read 5 Christmas books.

Christmas in Eternity Springs

Christmas in Eternity Springs
by Emily March

This year I started my holiday reading earlier than I usually do; at the end of September, but that was due to me having signed up to participate in a blog tour for Christmas in Eternity Springs, whose Eternity Springs series is a favorite.  This was one of two of my favorite holiday books this year.  Definitely a 5 star read for me.

Welcome Home for Christmas by Annie Rains
Welcome Home for Christmas
by Annie Rains

This was my other favorite holiday book this year, another 5-star read.  This author was new to me this year and I believe this was also her debut series and I have to say that I loved it.  She is starting a new series, I think in the early spring and can't wait to see where she takes it.

The Most Wonderful Time
The Most Wonderful Time
By Fern Michaels, Stacy Finz, Sarah Title, Shirlee McCoy

I only read the first 2 stories, the one by Fern Michaels and the one by Stacy Finz.  The other 2 I didn't care for, so I didn't finish them.

A Texas Hill Country Christmas (Christmas, #5)

This series has a Christmas book come out every year, I've been reading one each Christmas for the past several years.  I usually enjoy them very much, there's a good mix of adventure and romance, but this year I was just not crazy about the one that I read. 

The Christmas Town

This was the last Christmas story that I read this year.  I don't think I'll be reading anymore until next year. I had heard of this author for several years; she writes a Christmas story every year.  The story itself was enjoyable, but what was not enjoyable was that it was written in 3rd person present tense, which makes for very awkward reading.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Want to Finally Read in 2017

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Ginger Reads Lainey and is hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes, see the Goodreads group for topics!

This week's topic is Books You Want to Finally Read in 2017
These are those books you meant to read in 2016 or 2015 or 2014 and never got around to. Those books that have been sitting on your TBR for a while, and you really want to get to. These aren’t upcoming 2017 releases; these are older books that need your love too!”- Goodreads 

This was actually last's weeks topic, but I got confused and thought it was the following week's topic and what really is this week's topic I thought was for last week and I was not interested in the other topic so I never realized my mistake until the other day, when I went to work on this week's topic.  So, I will just be making this week's post what should have been last week's.

Do Not Forsake Me (Outlaw Hearts, #2)

This is a definite read during the first half of 2017.  Rosanne Bittner has been a favorite author since the 90s.  I had re-read Outlaw Hearts earlier this year since it had been over 15 years since I read it the first time.and 20 years after she wrote Outlaw Hearts, she decided to write a sequel and has since followed it up with 2 more books in the series.  Therefore, I need to start reading the rest of this series as soon as possible.

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)
I finally started this series earlier this year and read the second book, Hollow City in October.  I'm thinking March would be a good time to read this last book.

Breathe: A Novel of Colorado (The Homeward Trilogy, #1)

Of all the unread books on my Kindle, this is the one I have had on it for the longest time, since July of 2011.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

This has been on my library TBR for quite some time.  I really want to get to this in 2017.  I try to read one or two books about Fundamentalist Mormons  each year and although I have several on my TBR on my Kindle at home.  I'd like to get this one off my list.

In the Land of the Long White Cloud

I really would like to read this book in 2017 also.  It has been on my TBR for close to 4 years or more, I think.  It takes place in New Zealand and I don't think I read anything set there.  I know so little about that part of the world.  It is a pretty long book at 666 pages, so maybe the next time Sam at Thoughts on Tomes has her Tome Topple readathon.  She just had one in November, so it'll probably be at least 6 months away or so.

What are your top 5 books that you want to finally read in 2017

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme/original feature created at The Broke and The Bookish this weeks list are Ten New-To-Me Authors you read for the 1st Time in 2016.  For more information check it out here.

These are in no particular order, other than the order I read them this year.

Ransom Riggs

I was a late comer to these books and decided in the spring of this year to finally pick up Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  I really was unsure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised I enjoyed the book and went on to read Hollow City this fall.  I'll tackle the final book in the series, Library of Souls in the spring again.  Hopefully, he will come out with a new book soon!

Annie Rains

I discovered this author through NetGalley and have read the Welcome Home series, she put out this year.  She is starting a new romance series next year and I look forward to it.

Harlan Coben

I had been hearing about him for several years, but never read any of his books. Finally, I decided to listen to one of his books on audio through the Overdrive app from my library, Caught.  I really liked it, but think that next time, I'll read it rather than listen so I won\'t miss any of the details to the story.

Martha Hall Kelly

Ms. Kelly wrote her debut novel, Lilac Girls and it is up for the 2016 Goodreads award for Debut Author and I definitely think she stands a good chance of winning.  It revolves around 3 women during WWII, the only female doctor at Ravensbroucke concentration camp, a young woman interned at Ravensbroucke, and an American debutante involved in the war effort at home.

Kristin Hannah

I've been meaning to read Kristin Hannah and even have had her Firefly Lane on my Kindle for the past few years, but this year I listened to the audiobook, Home Front.  I now need to move Firefly Lane up in my TBR.

Heather Burch

I got her book One Lavender Ribbon, a couple years ago as part of Amazon's Kindle First program where a few books that will be released the following month is made available early on Kindle format, but I kept putting the book off until later.  But earlier this year, I finally read it and just loved it.  I have just noticed, a new book by Heather Burch was available on NetGalley as an ARC and was able to get it.  Since it will come out in January, I hope to get to it by then or at least before the end of the  month.

Nicholas Sparks

Surprisingly, I don't think I ever read any of his books until this year and quite recently at that.  I saw a couple of his books that became movies, but never read them.  I listened to The Best of Me on audio at the end of August and really enjoyed it.  I definitely plan to pick up others.

Shelley Shepard Gray

Ms. Gray is a Christian author and writes Amish mystery/romances.  Although I do not mind Christian fiction at all, I am always a bit leery, because I like them more on the lighter side than in the ones where it seems as if the author is preaching to you through the characters.  These books did not have that feel and although the story took place in an Amish community, one did not feel the story was preachy.  I would consider reading or listening to more by Shelley Shepard Gray in the future.

Lee Childs

I've been hearing about the Jack Reacher novels for years and they just never highly appealed to me.  But since they are making it into a movie, my interest kind of was piqued; although I cannot really see Tom Cruise as a convincing Jack Reacher.  Isn't Jack Reacher suppose to be well over 6 feet, while Tom Cruise is about 5 foot 5 or 6?  The first book, Killing Floor while very long, at over 500 pages also kept my interest and I have put the next book on reserve.

Leila Meacham

I very recently listened to her book, Roses on audio and loved it.  I look forward to reading the prequel, Somerset and have an ARC of Crowning Design which is being released.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

November Wrap Up

A very good month for books.  I finished reading 4 books and listening to 7,

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

I listened to this book on audio. I had tried to listen to this book several months ago, but sent it back to the library, but I decided to give it another try. Although, I wouldn't say I thoroughly enjoyed, I did listen to it in its entirety this time and I will try the next book in the series. This series may though be a bit too juvenile for me to read as a 40-something. I'll be giving this on Goodreads only 2 stars since for me it really was only slightly better than OK, but personally, I'd rate it 2.25 or even 2.5 stars.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

I had this on reserve at my library's e-book website for several months. I had expected that I would thoroughly enjoy it and waited anxiously for it. Unfortunately, I was not as enthralled by it as I hoped to be and actually was not enthralled at all. As more and more reviews were done on it, many people complained about the lack of character development, since primarily each chapter focused on only a few select characters and a particular generation, with the chapters alternating sides of a family tree, one in Ghana and the other although originally from Ghana, the other side of the family tree were taken away to America as slaves. Some of the chapters were better than others, but the lack of character development due to the brevity of time we spent with each generation of characters was a detriment to the book as a whole, at least for me. I did enjoy how the final chapter completed the story. The book did take me longer to read than usual. It has been difficult to decide on a rating for this book, but on Goodreads, after much consideration, I give it 3 stars, but on a personal level, I would give it 2.5 stars or even 2.75 stars.

The Search (The Secrets of Crittenden County #2)

This is the second book in a trilogy which centers on a mystery in a New Order Amish community of who killed one of the young men. of the community. I read the first book a couple months ago and the second book continues where the first book left off without really reminding us anything that happened in the previous book. Although\, I have read books where nearly half of the new book is a summary of the previous book and those are just too repetitive, but I would have liked a bit of a summary, just a page or so even dispersed through out the story. At first, I was confused about some of the stories that were going on in the book, although after awhile I did get back into the stories and enjoyed the book. I usually like taking sometime between books in a series, but after feeling like even a couple months between book 1 and book 2 was too long, I am going to listen to book 3 later next week. 3 stars for this book, since I did not enjoy it to the same degree that I did the first book, Missing.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

I've been trying to get into fantasy, but I finally after listening to over 60%, I had to just DNF it. It was just too confusing and strange. I could not stand the writing, much too descriptive and I just could not follow the story. I was intrigued by the fact that the narrator was Bronson Pinchot, who I remember as Balki in Perfect Strangers in the 80s; as a narrator, he was fine, quite good in fact. It was the story itself that turned me off.

Found by Shelley Shepard Gray

I enjoyed the first book in the series very much, the second book was not as good as the first, but this the 3rd book in the series, was another very enjoyable and engaging story. 4 stars

Welcome Home for Christmas by Annie Rains

I absolutely loved this book. Annie Rains is my favorite newly-discovered author of 2016. The stories are always good, the characters likeable, and the chemistry between the 2 main characters red-hot! Definitely a 5-star book for me! I can't wait for her new series next year; although I will miss this series. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars

All in the Family Doctor Included by Vladimir Tsesis

I was not quite sure what to expect from this one before I listened to this. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though; it was full of various stories over the years when he was a practicing pediatrician. First in Russia and later in the Chicago area. I enjoyed the fact that much of his stories took place in the Chicagoland area. The book is narrated by the author himself and although he is not the best narrator, there was a certain charm to the fact that he narrated it himself.  4 stars.

Irena's Children by Tilar Mazzeo
What an extremely brave woman. I'm having difficulty deciding if I should give this 4 or 5 stars. It's definitely a 4.5 in my eyes. This was an extremely well-done biography of Irena Sendler and the saving of thousands of Jewish children and babies from the Warsaw Ghetto. I had not realized how bad things were in Poland, which is where my paternal ancestors came from; although they came to America in the early 20th century.

All Dogs Go to Kevin by Jessica Vogelsang

3.5 stars for this one. This is one of the better books about dogs that I read (listened to) Jessica Vogelsang is a veterinarian and in this book she talks about her life mainly with 3 dogs she had during her life and her choice to become a veterinarian.

Fifty Nifty Facts about Dogs

Very cute pictures of dogs accompanied by 50 fact about them. There's only 50 of them, so it is a short 50 pages though. I received a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.  3 stars,

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)

Originally, I started reading this a couple months ago and sent it back to the library. Found the writing too simplistic. I was going to retry it in audio and requested the book on Overdrive both in audio and as an e-book, both with a long waiting list. The e-book came available first, so I tried reading it again. At first the I didn't care for the writing, but I kept reading and it grew on me. I plan on reading the next book sometime next year.  3 stars.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea

I listened to this book yesterday and although, it is a good story of a young woman who defected from North Korea, I find the book The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Storyby Hyoenseo Lee much better. One can't judge too severely, as pretty much any story told by someone who defected from North Korea is personally their own, but I feel the other book is told better and was just more engaging as a whole. What this family went through is harrowing as is any story of people escaping from North Korea. I find EunSun and in fact her entire family very brave and wish them the best.  4 stars

All in all, this was a very well-rounded month. I had at least book in each rating, except for one-star and that happens rarely that I give a book one star, because I usually quit reading the book if it is that bad.  If I quit reading a book I then do not rate it, since I did not read it from beginning to end.  My favorite book was Welcome Home for Christmas, but Irena's Children was a close second