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text 2016-04-30 11:30
2016 Bookish Resolutions -- April Progress Report

2016 Bookish Resolutions Sign Up Post

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Because Reading and trips down imagination road


My 2016 Bookish Resolutions Summary post



So April was a good month for reading... maybe not so much for a lot of other stuff.



Blogging Goals

 - 1 - Participate in at least 50% of the Top Ten Tuesday meme (@ The Broke and the Bookish) topics for 2016--that's 26 of the TTT topics.  


Running Total:  7 Top Ten Tuesday posts written

  • January:  3 Top Ten Tuesday posts written
  • February:  2 Top Ten Tuesday posts written
  • March:  1 TTT posts written
  • April:  1 TTT posts written


4/12/2016:  Ten Books For Romance Lovers



 - 2 - Continue to post Monthly Reading Wrap-ups... with a slightly less overwhelmingly bulky form.




 - 3 - Create and try to maintain a blogging schedule.


  • January:  Lots of out-of-control, lots of colors.  See January update for more info.
  • February:  No pictures this time.  Just know that things are continuing to get more chaotic. 
  • March:  Still keeping up.  See March update for more info... though not much more info.
  • April:  I've been slacking.  That's all I can say really.  I'm scheduling stuff, but I lost track of some of my schedule.  Hopefully I'll pick back up next month.



 - Bonus Goal - Attempt participating in at least two other monthly/weekly bookish memes.   


-- Review of Size 14 Is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot


  • Cover Crush on Thursdays:

4/7/2016:  The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

4/21/2016:  RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

4/28/2016:  Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson



Reading Goals

See Also: 2016 Bookish Resolutions shelf


 - 1 - Finish reading 10 completed series that I have already started reading.


When I was counting series for this reading goal I completely forgot that I would be finishing The Raven Cycle.  I don't know if that would some sort of denial complex, because, to be honest, I still can't believe that the series is over and done with.  I might start feeling that emptiness pretty soon, I think.  But yes, I started reading The Raven Cycle in 2013, and then promptly picked up each and every book as soon as it was published following that very first in the series.

Secondly, another series that would count for this reading goal is the Heather Wells series. But being that I haven't been able to finish said series yet, I can't really count it for this month. Now, I DO plan on devouring the rest of the series next month since I found the second book much more enjoyable than the first. So I'll at least have something listed for the month of May.


Running Total:  4 completed series finished reading

  • January:  1 series finished
  • February:  1 series finished
  • March: 1 series finished
  • April:  1 series finished


(1) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater -- 4/28/2016

Already Read:  The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue

#4:  The Raven King -- 4/28/2016 -- review to come


Heather Wells by Meg Cabot -- In Progress

Already Read:  Size 12 Is Not Fat

#2:  Size 14 Is Not Fat Either -- 4/19/2016

#3:  Big Boned -- 4/23/2016 -- review to come

#4:  Size 12 and Ready to Rock -- To Read

#5:  The Bride Wore Size 12 -- To Read



 - 2 - Catch up with 5 ongoing series that I have already started reading.


Due to being a slacker, I didn't exactly get into any of these ongoing series I've already started reading.  I have a few in mind for completing this goal, but this goal will definitely take some time.


Running Total:  1 ongoing series caught up with

  • January:  0 series finished
  • February:  0 series finished
  • March: 1 series caught up
  • April:  0 series caught up



 - 3 - Read 5 completed series that are new to me.


It is only April, but this is my best month so far in completing series.  In the month of April I have managed to finish TWO completed series that are new to me.  HOWEVER, it is also entirely possible that one of these series is still ongoing... so I'm going to temporarily include it into this goal until I find out otherwise.


The Mann Family series is likely still ongoing, but as I have been unable to find any inkling of a third book aside from a short snippet at the end of the second book's paperback version, I'm not entirely sure I know what's going on.


Running Total:  1 new to me completed series read

  • January:  1 series finished
  • February:  0 series read
  • March: 0 series read
  • April:  2 series read


Mann Family by Kate Brady -- 4/17/2016

#1:  Where Angels Rest -- 4/6/2016

#2:  Where Evil Waits -- 4/17/2016


Lady Julia Grey by Deanna Raybourn -- 4/25/2016

#1:  Silent in the Grave -- 4/4/2016

#2:  Silent in the Sanctuary -- 4/11/2016

#3:  Silent on the Moor -- 4/16/2016

#4:  Dark Road to Darjeeling -- 4/21/2016

#5:  The Dark Enquiry -- 4/25/2016



 - 4 - Participate in at least one Read-a-thon in 2016 (Bout of Books, Dewey's 24 Hour, any personal or community improv/unofficial read-a-thon, etc.)


-- GOAL COMPLETED -- 1/10/2016 -- 


Running Total = 2

  • January:  Participated in Bout of Books Read-a-thon
  • February:  Did not Read-a-thon this month.
  • March:  Participated in 24 Hour Take Control TBR Pile
  • April:  I thought about participating in the Dewey's 24 Hour this month on 4/23, but seeing how badly I managed the last 24 hour thon in March, I decided not to press my luck.  It was a working weekend and I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to get anything read outside of a few minutes here and there. 



 - 5 - Pick up at least 10 new to me authors (books not pre-listed for my 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge).


Running Total:  10 new-to-me authors read  -- GOAL COMPLETED 4/29/2016

  • January:  3 new-to-me authors read
  • February:  3 new-to-me authors read
  • March:  3 new-to-me authors read
  • April:  1 new-to-me authors read


Author name // Book(s) Read

1.  Jayne Castle // Bridal Jitters -- 4/29/2016



 - 6 - Accomplish my 2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge goals.  Tackle those books already on my shelves pre-2016!


Running Total:  18 Mt. TBR books read

  • January:  6 books read
  • February:  5 books read
  • March:  4 books read
  • April:  3 books read


1.  Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn -- 4/4/2016

2.  Where Angels Rest by Kate Brady -- 4/6/2016

3.  Where Evil Waits by Kate Brady -- 4/17/2016


See also My 2016 Mount TBR Challenge summary post for complete listing.



Personal Goals


 - 1 - Clock at least 2 hours of cardio workout each month.


Running Total:  2.42 hours cardio

  • January:  0 hours cardio clocked
  • February:  2.42 hours cardio clocked
  • March:  0 hours cardio
  • April:  0 hours cardio


I had hoped that I would start doing SOME form of cardio. But every morning I tell myself I will go to the gym... and every morning I go straight home after my shift at work and then I crash or I piddle around.


I'm still crossing my fingers and still going to hold myself accountable for this goal. I'm just hoping I can do better soon.



 - 2 - Attempt to work out at least twice a week.  Failing that, attempt to work out at least 8 times a month (which will be met if I can get my lazy ass to work out at least twice a week).


Running Total:  3.5 times worked out

  • January:  0 times worked out
  • February:  1 time worked out
  • March:  2.5 times worked out
  • April:  2 times worked out


While I haven't been going to the gym, I HAVE been trying to make up for it with a little bit of Yoga and stretching and strength training in the mornings. I know that what I do right before going to sleep probably might not amount to too much, but it IS still something. And so I will count all the little semi-work outs that I do as 2 full work outs. Just because.



 - 3 - Learn 12 new recipes.  Actually make said recipes.  And take pictures.  For evidence. 


Yearly Total: 1 new recipe

  • January:  1 new recipe learned // Tomato Basil Soup
  • February: 0  new recipes
  • March:  0 new recipes
  • April:  0 new recipes


I have about three different recipes I want to try... but no motivation and also I need to get off my lazy ass.



 - Bonus Goal -  Be better at being sociable, in general.  






Previous Update Posts

2016 Bookish Resolutions -- January Progress Report

2016 Bookish Resolutions -- February Progress Report

2016 Bookish Resolutions -- March Progress Report




Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/04/2016-bookish-resolutions-april-progress.html
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review 2016-04-30 11:20
Thoughts: Size 14 Is Not Fat Either
Size 14 Is Not Fat Either - Meg Cabot

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either

by Meg Cabot

Book 2 of Heather Wells series



Confession: In spite of what I thought of Heather Wells in the first book of this series, I found myself loving her strange charm in this second book. While there were still a lot of things I found frustrating about her, I felt like the circumstances of the murder mystery in Size 14 really brought out the best of Heather Wells.

I definitely enjoyed Size 14 Is Not Fat Either and found Heather and the book itself a fun, entertaining read--something you don’t have to think about too hard either.

And I also confess, the murder mystery really DID manage to have me stumped. While I had a feeling that I knew there was something going on with certain characters (Kimberly, Coach Andrews, etc….), I wasn’t entirely certain what it was and my suspicions about the killer had been flaky at best--too many characters to lay suspicion on, really.

Official Blurb:

Former pop star Heather Wells has settled nicely into her new life as assistant dorm director at New York College—a career that does NOT require her to drape her size 12 body in embarrassingly skimpy outfits. She can even cope (sort of) with her rocker ex-boyfriend's upcoming nuptials, which the press has dubbed THE Celebrity Wedding of the Decade. But she's definitely having a hard time dealing with the situation in the dormitory kitchen—where a cheerleader has lost her head on the first day of the semester. (Actually, her head is accounted for—it's her torso that's AWOL.)

Surrounded by hysterical students—with her ex-con father on her doorstep and her ex-love bombarding her with unwanted phone calls—Heather welcomes the opportunity to play detective . . . again. If it gets her mind off her personal problems—and teams her up again with the gorgeous P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives—it's all good. But the murder trail is leading the average-sized amateur investigator into a shadowy world. And if she doesn't watch her step, Heather will soon be singing her swan song!

My Thoughts:
Much like the first book, this cozy mystery is actually not so much cozy mystery as it is chick lit about Heather Wells and how her life is going. Then again, it could also be said that the genres in this book were bouncing all over the place: chick lit, cozy mystery, contemporary romance, humorous something or other… etc. But whatever it was that this book ended up being, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The tacky, untactful jokes Heather makes are still kind of tacky, but she’s toned down her penchant for over dramatisation as compared to the first book. There was a lot less of her focusing on her size and her weight, and more of her just telling the facts as they are--which made the self-deprecating fat jokes a little bit more readily received by yours truly. After all, I make fat jokes about myself as well, and the ones in this book were quite aligned with how I usually joke around.

Jokes aside, Heather is quite charming and amusing to follow, especially in this second book wherein she spends a little bit of time at the beginning of the book trying her darndest not to interfere in the murder investigation. But to be totally honest, either she’s just way too curious for her own good, way too impatient to see things getting done, or the detectives in this book are just plain incompetent. It DID kind of feel like the cops weren’t really investigating the case of our decapitated student very seriously, and then whenever Heather offers some viable information she has come across, they treat her like she’s some sort of comedian.

I might be mistaken, but no matter that you don’t want your civilians investigating a murder on their own, if said civilian DOES come up with something suspicious or a clue that might help the investigation along, shouldn’t the cops at least look into it or treat the matter a bit more seriously? Just sayin’. This is what hotlines are for, isn’t it?

Anyway, the romance in this book is still a backseat event, and I’m kind of glad that Heather’s ex, Jordan, is getting hitched--maybe he’ll stop pestering her finally. Secondly, for a woman nearing her thirties, I still find it a little bit disconcerting that Heather still acts like a teenager most times--and that everyone else around her also treats her like a child and feel the need to get into her business and tell her how best to run her romantic life.

Otherwise, Size 14 was an entirely, very enjoyable book and I definitely plan on finishing the rest of the series.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge -- My TBR List - April Winner


See Also: First Impression @ 3 Chapters



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/04/thoughts-size-14-is-not-fat-either.html
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review 2016-04-29 15:01
Brief Thoughts: Bridal Jitters
Bridal Jitters (Harmony #0.5) - Jayne Castle

Bridal Jitters

by Jayne Castle

prequel novella, book 0.5 of Harmony series


**This series is also known as the Ghost Hunter series, and intersects at various points throughout with the Arcane Society series, written by Jayne Ann Krentz as Amanda Quick.   Jayne Castle is another of Jayne Ann Krentz's pseudonyms.


Virginia Burch, a psychic archeologist, can't believe her luck when she meets Sam Gage, a ghost hunter and owner of prime real estate in the Old Quarters of Cadence, above the Dead City.  He offers her his space to live and start up her business.  What follows is an even more intriguing proposal-to become his wife.  Strictly for professional reasons, of course.  Their marriage of convenience would lead to a very lucrative business partnership, Gage & Burch Consulting. Until something throws a wrench into the plan: the undeniable sensual energy that naturally exists between them-and a love so strong that it could wake the ghosts below.

Bridal Jitters is a pretty good introductory to Jayne Castle's Harmony series (also known as Ghost Hunters series).  It's a very straight forward telling, basing off of a romance with a "marriage-of-convenience" trope, which actually means something slightly different within the scope of the story's world.  Bridal Jitters doesn't dwell too much on world building or back history of the Harmony world, but we get a sense that it takes place sometime in the future and that psychic energy and psychic powers are very much a norm here, as are alien beings and something called UDEMs, unstable dissonant energy manifestations, that they also call ghosts.

I'm not entirely sure what the timeline of this world is, and DID have a little trouble figuring out what was going on in the very beginning, but afterwards, things started making sense. So in a way, I kind of liked the rapid-fire way in which everything was just introduced as if it were all normal, everyday occurrences.

First and foremost, though, I understand that this book was really a paranormal romance set to the background of a paranormal romantic suspense. Virginia and Sam were a nice couple, but nothing out of the ordinary as far as romances go.

But still, Bridal Jitters did very well setting the stage for the rest of the series and I'm quite interested in continuing on.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge -- New to Me Author #10

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/04/brief-thoughts-bridal-jitters.html
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review 2016-04-29 13:00
End of Series Review: Lady Julia Grey
Dark Road to Darjeeling - Deanna Raybourn
The Dark Enquiry - Deanna Raybourn

by Deanna Raybourn
Book #4: Dark Road to Darjeeling | Goodreads | Rating:  2.5 Stars
Book #5: The Dark Enquiry | Goodreads | Rating:  3.0 Stars

See Also Previous Reviews:

Overall Series Average Rating:  3.1 Stars

As much as there were a lot of things about this entire series that bugged me, a few things were quite evident to me upon finishing the last book in this series:


  • The books and the character and Lady Julia's world kind of grows on you.
    • They may all have their frustrating moments, and you might find that no matter how much you like a character he or she will also have a lot of annoying moments; but it rings true as a little family in real life, and that's kind of what I loved about Julia's world.
    • When Nicholas Brisbane wasn't being an arrogant jackass, he was actually pretty cool; specifically in the last book of this series.  The guy seems to have chilled out a bit.


  • The books are written very beautifully and have a charm to them that make you want to continue reading even though you may have reserves about the rest of the series.
    • The atmosphere of these books never ceased to set a great mood for me.
    • The descriptions were excellent.


  • Julia is an extremely charming narrator to follow throughout the five books, even if she has a penchant to act or speak before she thinks.




Dark Road to Darjeeling



After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia's eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband's family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband's death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.

I continued to contemplate whether or not to finish this series.  The romance exhausts me.  And even though the writing is beautiful and does exceptionally well to set a moody atmosphere, the story itself seemed a bit tedious and overwrought with soap opera-like drama. Anything and everything you could think of to happen in a story to bring about angst reared into the surface.


Even what happens to Jane in the end.

(spoiler show)

The characters exhaust me as well, and despite how much I have been loving Julia since the first book, I'm becoming consistently more frustrated with her, with her husband (whom I have yet to find a reason to like), and with their overall interaction and relationship with each other. I am becoming increasingly tired of everyone letting Brisbane's burdens and past, tragic childhood misfortunes justify his acting like an arrogant ass or keeping all of his secrets until he feels it necessary to confide in his wife--and usually not because he wants to confide in her, but because he's been found out.

On another side note, I did not think I would become so frustrated with Portia either, but she was simply becoming irritating throughout the book. And Plum had always been a bit melodramatic.

These books are readily readable and, to be honest, aside from the sudden flux of melodrama near the end, I was actually enjoying this book pretty well.  I may have said this before, but I found myself enjoying more the scenes wherein Julia is maneuvering on her own, or whenever she and Brisbane finally stop quarreling and at least try to work together.  Their banter is lovely when they're not trying to hide secrets from one another, or whenever Brisbane isn't being a complete asshat.




The Dark Enquiry



Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane's private enquiry business. Among the more unlikely clients: Julia's very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved--if eccentric--family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Spirit Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances--and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont's sake--and more--they'll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep….

As I'd already mentioned, the books kind of grow on you and you eventually stop letting the little quibbles and flaws bug you.  Nicholas Brisbane chills his intensity a lot in this last book and I find him much more agreeable than I have in any of the other books.  Unfortunately, with a more relaxed Brisbane, we somehow managed to acquire a much more reckless Lady Julia.

And to be honest, it hadn't really been until this last book that I actually started to understand the extent of Julia's recklessness when certain things happened to happen.  But that's a spoiler I'm not willing to divulge.


This last book was a rather more interesting and enjoyable one than the previous, which makes for a good ending note for the concluding book in the series... even if the series still kind of continues in the form of some short novellas following this book.  But that's another post for another time.

On a side note, a little tidbit from the beginning of The Dark Enquiry:

Not that I'm discounting Mademoiselle Hortense de Bellefleur's advice or wisdom, but I'm unnaturally jaded for reasons and her exclamation that "love conquers all" seems a bit too idealistic.  Nonetheless, her little rant to Julia made a lot of sense pertaining to Julia and Brisbane... while at the same time, it kind of provokes some thoughts of mild disagreement:


"Love is the only thing that lasts, Julia, the only thing that matters.  And both of you are trying to throw it away with both hands because you are proud and stubborn.  For all your differences, you are too much alike, the pair of you.  But you are lucky, so lucky and you are too blind to see it!  This man, this magnificent man, offers you love and you take it and say, 'Give me more, give me respect!'  And he does the same to you, saying to this beautiful woman, 'Your love is not enough, I want your obedience, as well!'  Why cannot love be enough for the both of you?  It is more than some of us have or will ever have again," she finished on a sob [...]

Take what you will from this quote, but there are certain parts of it that don't really settle well with me--a certain amount of double standard inequality that I can't quite pinpoint.  Of course, I might just be overly sensitive.  However, as I'd already stated, I can kind of see what the mademoiselle is trying to get at even if I don't a hundred percent agree.

Also, this kind of speech probably wouldn't fly very well in modern relationships--not that I'd know, being inexperienced and all, but I'm just sayin'.




Series Overall Thoughts:


I've probably already said all that I need to say about this series.  And I'm actually kind of surprised I still had anything to say at all.  After all, the structure of all five Lady Julia Grey books are almost exactly alike and almost felt tedious and dragged out at times.

It's just fortunate that the writing and Julia's charm kept me interested.

I almost didn't want to write another review, but I had some thoughts that I felt the need to share.

But as I'd stated before, and my reading BFF buddy concurs:  I've run out of things to say about the series.


2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Bookish Resolutions Challenge



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/04/end-of-series-review-lady-julia-grey.html
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review 2016-04-29 01:07
Review to Come: The Raven King
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) - Maggie Stiefvater

I'm actually not feeling entirely empty or Book Hangover-ish right now...


And yet...




I'm formulating a review and it might take a while to get there.



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