Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top Ten Hyped Books I've Never Read

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Hyped Books I haven't read yet.  I'm sticking with books that were published at least a year ago so that I've had plenty of time to read it but just haven't for whatever reason.

1.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett - This is one of those books that when it first came out everyone told me I should read it.  Me being the contrary person I am have dug my heels in and refused to pick it up.  I'll probably read it eventually when the contrariness dies down.

2.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - So when I first heard of this book I didn't pick it up because the premise didn't grab me.  I've never been big on time travel.  But I've had some blogger friends make very strong cases for reading it which has me curious.  Right now it's the length of this one and the ridiculous quantity of books I have that are scaring me off.

3.  Girl with a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - I actually own a copy of this one and just based on the premise I did plan on reading it.  But then I started hearing some things about a few scenes in the book that has made me hesitant.

4.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I read Everything is Illuminated 6 or 7 years ago and it really really didn't work for me.  If it hadn't been for the fact a friend had loaned it to me I never would've finished it so I had no desire to read this one.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - This is one when I first heard about it I got the wrong idea about it.  I do want to read it but so many books so little time.  I'm thinking maybe audio?

6.  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - I remember when this one came out and it seemed like everyone was reading it.  It does sound good but just never made it to the top of my TBR.

7.  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - This is on my TBR pile but it just never made it to the top even though I know a lot of people loved it.  I fully believe one day I'll be completely caught up!

8.  Life of Pi by Yan Martel - This one just never grabbed me.  Oddly enough this is one my non-reader child willingly read and enjoyed.

9.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - I'm torn on this one.  I know a lot of people love it but then the people who don't love it really seem to dislike it.

10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Kids, cancer, guaranteed tears don't really appeal to me.  I briefly reconsidered after hearing some positive reviews but I probably won't be reading it.

So all of these books appeal to me for one reason or the other but they've never made it to the point where I actually read them.  Do you have any books like that?  Actually, I guess the better question is how many books do you have like that?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Summer Reading Book Tag

The awesome Brittany over at This is the Story of My (Reading) Life tagged me in the Summer Reading Book Tag and since we're at the height of summer here and not to the point where all the plants look exhausted from the heat today seemed like the perfect day to participate!  I'm stealing her graphics because they're awesome.

Lemonade: Pick a book that was bitter at first but got better:
Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I almost DNF'd this about 3 times during the first half but in the end I ended up enjoying it.  Still I'm a bit leery of any books involving puppets from now on.

Golden Sun: Pick a book that made you smile beyond compare
Return to Goneaway Lake by Elizabeth Enright.  It's a children's book about a family who buys an old abandoned house fully furnished and the fun the kids have exploring it.  Her previous book in the series is actually better but I love the whole premise on this one so much.  Caught Read Handed by Terrie Farley Moran which I just read (review on Wednesday) made me pretty happy too!
Tropical Flowers: A book set in a foreign country
At first I thought this one would be easy because I read so many books set in England but when I think about it I don't really consider that a foreign country even though it's across an ocean from me. So my pick is City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn takes place partly in Damascus and then involves a trek through the Middle East.

Tree Shade: A book where a mysterious or shady character was introduced
First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh is the first book in the Huxtable Quintet and the first book where we meet Constantine.  Up until the very end of the series we don't know if he's the best of heroes or the worst of villains.  Plus this is one of my favorite Balogh series (with the exception of the 2nd book which I didn't care for)
Beach Sand: A book that was grainy and the plot barely developed
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James.  I feel bad about not liking this one because I've seen it on several lists of mysteries that you must read.  But I didn't like it - at all.  The only reason I finished it was because it was P.D. James and it was really short.  But there was almost no character development and once I figured out the mystery I couldn't have cared less.

Green Grass: pick a character that is full of life, making you smile
Penelope Featherington from all of the Bridgerton books but especially Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn.  I love how funny and smart and nice she is.

Watermelon: A book with juicy characters
In terms of juicy = secrets I'm going with When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries.  Victor and Isa have some serious secrets!  Plus, I really liked this book.

Sun hat: A book that had a vast universe/setting
Hmmm... Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams?  Am I being too literal?

BBQ: A book in which the character was portrayed as a hunk
Pretty much any Lucky Harbor book by Jill Shalvis would count but my favorite guy in that world is probably Luke Hanover from It Had to Be You

I'm tagging:
Anyone who wants to do this one!  How can you pass up something that is that summery!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

This Week in Reading - July 5

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer - Socialite turned funeral home employee talks about all the madness she sees in funerals.  I'm thinking it will be fascinating, heartbreaking, and hilarious (NetGalley)

Threads of Evidence by Lea Waite - I loved the first one in this series and can't wait to see what happens with Angie and the Mainely Needlepointers.  Plus this one involves a crumbling Victorian mansion.  I LOVE crumbling Victorian mansions. (NetGalley)

Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier - I've been wanting to read this series for awhile and when I got an email with an invite to this title I thought why not.  I have no willpower and this one looked pretty good.  (NetGalley)

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen - The premise of this one sounds intriguing, I've been wanting to try this author, and I can love all things peach during the summer.  It jumped into my library bag before I could stop it! (Library)


Reading: Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

Listening: We returned the Yo Gabba Gabba CD to the library so I'm getting a break from Don't Bite Your Friend.  We're now just back to regular old radio!

Watching:  I just started watching White Collar on Netflix and am enjoying it though I'm still in the first season. Not a huge amount of TV right now though J and I are watching the 2nd series of True Detective and wow are those people messed up!

Off the Blog:

Not much has been happening here lately.  The weather turned bad on us so it's been too cold and rainy to swim.  The Tornado and I have spent some days playing Super Mario and Lego Batman on the WiiU.  We're really bad at both but he's enjoying it so who cares!  I'm fighting a serious case of the lazies.  Maybe because of all the rain?

Emma has her move in date for her dorm next month and Paul got his senior pictures taken.  I'm still a little stunned we're at this point.  Eleanor came by for a little while on the 4th and J's brother and sister-in-law were here also.  So it was fun despite the gray and dreary weather.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Summer Book TAG
Tuesday: Top Ten Hyped Books I've Never Read
Wednesday: Caught Read Handed - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review
Thursday: Batter of Life and Death - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review
Friday: Linkups featuring my current book
Saturday: Good and Cheap - Cookbook Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Favorite Summer Foods

For the most part of summer food isn't really on my radar.  For starters I live in Alabama which means it's HOT and even better is that it's HUMID.  Seriously there are days where the air is so thick and heavy it feels like you can reach out and grab handfuls of it.  Then there's the whole fact that school is out.  For the older kids it's not a big deal as they're pretty self-sufficient but the Tornado earned his nickname so our days are BUSY.  So after a full day at the pool or hiking or entertaining an incredibly active 5 year old the last thing I want to think about is food and with hours of being hot and sticky eating isn't high up on my priority list either.

The only exception is July 4th when for some reason I suddenly look forward to planning a meal again.  This summer we'll be making some of my summer favorites and I thought I'd share.

Just to have about throughout the day we'll have:

Microwave Chex Mix - Because it's super easy and I'm pretty sure my husband and brother would mutiny if this wasn't around!

Also, Crack Dip.  I made this a month or two ago and it was SO good.  I've been wanting more ever since and what's the point of being in charge of the kitchen if you can't do what you want periodically?

For the main meal we're going to have Steak marinated with this marinade recipe.  We've never had this before but the title is Best Steak Marinade in Existence so it's worth a try!

We'll also be grilling corn and my sister-in-law is bringing Potato Salad and Baked beans because hers are the best.

I figure I'll do my old standby Roll recipe.  These are delicious and pretty easy for a yeast bread recipe.  I do half the recipe because the full recipe will feel about 20 people

For dessert I have a bunch of peaches from a nearby orchard so I'm going to try out this recipe for Peach cobbler served with vanilla ice cream.  And for the weirdos that don't like peach cobbler I'm going to make Rice Krispies Treats because I'm not sure there is anything better than homemade Rice Krispies treats!

So that's how we'll be celebrating today!  What are your plans?  And what are your favorite summer foods?

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Linkups: Caught Read Handed

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Question:
Do you lend your books out to friends and family?

My Answer:
I know it's awful but not really.  If it's a book I've finished and I think someone will like it I'll give them my copy if it's not something I want to keep but I don't like lending books I know I'll want back.  I do lend my husband or my kids books sometimes but that probably doesn't count as I live with them :)

This week's book is Caught Read Handed by and is a book for a blog tour that's coming up next weel.  I love cozy mysteries and I especially love those that have a bookish connection so I've been looking forward to this one.  I'm only about 60 pages in but right now I'm loving all the book references.  Plus, I would love Read 'Em and Eat to open up here!

The Beginning:
Bridgy Mayfield's aunt Ophelia tapped her extra-long, shocking pink fingernails impatiently on the countertop beside the cash register.

My Thoughts:
Ophelia sounds like a force to be reckoned with.  Between the impatience and the nails I have a feeling they probably want to get her out of the store as quickly as possible.

The 56:
I had to lay down some sort of rules so she wouldn't be confident that she could talk me into any crazy thing she wanted to do, which of course she could.

My Thoughts:
The speaker sounds like she's dealing with some strong personalities! She sounds a bit resigned though good-humoredly so.  I'm about 10 pages past this point and the mystery is just starting to get ramped up.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happily Ali After - Review

Happily Ali After and Other Fairly True Tales by Ali Wentworth

Rating:3.5 Stars 
Source: Edelweiss

Description:  The actress, comedian, media darling, and New York Times bestselling author picks up where she left off in Ali in Wonderland, dissecting modern life - and this time, on a mission of self-improvement - in a series of laugh-out-loud comic vignettes.
Moved my a particularly inspirational tweet one day, Ali Wentworth resolves to live by the pithy maxims she discovers in her feeds.  What begins as a sort of self-help project quickly turns into something far grander - and increasingly funnier - as the tweets she once viewed with irony become filled with increasing metaphysical importance.  And thus begins her "Unhappiness Project." (from Goodreads)

Genre: Memoir/Humor

Why I Picked This Book: I'm a sucker for a good gimmick and this sounded funny.  Then I saw her on The Chew and she was hilarious so I couldn't resist.

My Impression:  I'm a bit picky when it comes to humorous books.  I loved Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling.  I liked Tina Fey, Jim Gaffigan and the David Sedaris I listened too.  But Chelsea Handler's book didn't really work for me.   If it feels like the story is going to far to be outrageous or to shock I normally lose interest pretty fast.  So I wasn't sure where Wentworth would fall for me.  I liked the premise of the book and I liked the interview I'd seen with her but still you never know.
I was drawn in pretty quickly.  Wentworth has a quick chatty style and she is definitely missing a filter in the best possible way.  She's outspoken, opinionated and gossip-y but not mean-spirited which is nice.
The idea of her and her husband George Stephanopoulus together is a pretty funny image because she talks about wearing ratty yoga pants all the time and the most casual I think I've ever seen him is when he rolled up the sleeves of a button down and loosened his tie in a documentary about the Clinton campaign.  I think it was 2AM at the time.
I liked the basic premise.  For the first section of the book she takes an inspirational quotes and proceeds to discuss it.  The meaning, what it reminds her of in her past, or what she wants to do in that general direction.  It's funny and keeps the book from feeling like it's meandering around too much.  After that there essays on marriage and parenting.  She talks about regular life which I always find funnier than anything else.
The essays are light and while we do get to know her and her family a little better through each one they're not really connected.  She did hit a few wrong notes with me - occasionally she went on to long or if I read to much of the book in one sitting it would feel a little repetitive.  However, in small doses it was funny and entertaining - perfect for a beach read or for traveling or a time when you just need a pick me up but don't want to get caught up in a long story.  I think it would be absolutely fantastic in audio - especially if Ali herself read it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:   Yes, though I'm not running out immediately to pick up her other book.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, especially if you're planning on travelling or spending some time poolside this summer.

Challenges Met?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

That Chesapeake Summer - Review

That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart
Rating:4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship.  But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie.  Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth - which may be in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay.  Cutting her most recent book tour short, Jamie books a room at the Inn at Sinclair's Point, just outside St. Dennis.
The death of Daniel Sinclair's father forced him to take over the family inn, and his wife's death left him a single parent of two children, so there's little room for anything else in his life.  His lovely new guest is intriguing though, and he's curious about the secret she's clearly hiding.  But in the end, Jamie and Dan could discover the greatest truth of all that the search for one thing just might lead to the find of a lifetime - if you keep your heart open (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance/Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: Despite some ups and downs this is a series I always enjoy so I couldn't pass up this most recent one.  Plus, I've always been a little intrigued by Daniel.

My Impression:  In this latest entry in the Chesapeake Diaries series we finally get the story of Dan, the last and most mysterious Sinclair sibling.  Dan's been in the background of a number of the books and while we get to know a little bit about him in those stories we never get to see how he's feeling or what he's thinking.  I really liked seeing his interaction with his mother and his struggles to figure out how to parent his now teenage daughter.  His great sense of responsibility for things that weren't always his responsibility were evident which made him sympathetic at times. He did come off as angry and distrustful which he had reason to be but it made me a bit unsure of him being really ready to move on and into a happy and functional relationship.

Jamie's quest is very sympathetic and I really liked that her main purpose is just to try her best and she acknowledges that she doesn't really have a plan.  In many ways I don't think even Jamie knew what she was really looking for and that really worked because even when she didn't act in the most logical way it still worked.  I did get frustrated with Jamie not telling anyone the truth.  I could see not wanting to come to town brazenly announcing what she was looking for but as time went on and she and Grace became friends I didn't understand why she didn't tell her the truth especially with Grace dropping hints that she knew.

But the end - the end was lovely.  I loved how Jamie and Dan figured out what they wanted and I loved Grace's involvement.  The book deals with a fairly serious issue and I really liked the way Stewart handled it.  No one was vilified or trivialized and everyone involved was very considerate about the other's feelings.   I really enjoyed this latest entry into the Chesapeake Diaries series and I'm glad that I've skipped a few of the earlier books in the series because now I can get visit St. Dennis a time or two while I wait for the next book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  In fact I'm glad I've got a couple of earlier books in the series to keep me company until the next one comes out.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, especially if you're looking for a lighter read that has a more serious edge and a great sense of community.

Challenges Met?  Reading Roadtrip (Maryland)