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text 2016-03-01 03:42
24 Hour Take Control TBR Pile Read-a-thon

hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer

This read-a-thon is in conjunction with the March Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge. However anyone can join. All you need is a pile of books, an ereader or audiobooks released before March 1, 2016. The idea of this thon is to read only books from your TBR pile for 24 hours. You can choose to read during the daylight hours or you can get jacked up on Caffeine and go the distance. The idea is to have fun, reduce your TBR pile and make new friends.


I'm feeling another read-a-thon and I've also been considering the connected reading challenge that goes with it... though maybe for next year.  This time around, I'll just try my hand at the 24 hour thon, though I know I won't actually be able to read for all 24 hours.  I'm working the weekend of March 12th, and my brother will be coming into town as well, so at most I will probably only be able to finish one book.


  • Thus, that is my goal:  Finish 1 book 


I'm being realistic here.  At most, I'll either finish a book I already started reading, or start a book and maybe finish reading it within the day.  Although, with a read-a-thon lurking in the background of my IRL activities, I'll at least consciously reach for pre-March 1, 2016 release books, and I will at least think about reading instead of piddling around.


I may or may not post updates throughout the day and if I do, they might be in 8 or 12 hour intervals.


Read-a-thon Hopefuls

(even if I only manage to read one of these)

by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave

Silent in the Sanctuary



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text 2016-02-29 13:00
2016 Bookish Resolutions -- February Progress Report

2016 Bookish Resolutions

hosted by

Because Reading and trips down imagination road


My 2016 Bookish Resolutions Summary post



I suppose February could have been better.  I tried keeping up with my goals, but sometimes, you either get lazy... or you get lazy.  I didn't feel as productive this month as I felt last month, but then again, I still feel quite accomplished.


At least I DID knock one series off my TBR--the Death Sworn duology.  Now if I can start whittling my TBR down a little more... and get to cracking on those personal goals.



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.  


  • January:  3 Top Ten Tuesdays written
  • February:  2 TTTs written // Running Total: 5 TTTs

2/9/2016:  Valentine's Theme -- Top Ten OTPs

2/23/2016:  Ten Books Outiside My Comfort Zone



 - 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. 


Well, okay, maybe one picture.  But that's it.  This was before February got more chaotic.  


The rest of February looks more like a rainbow of colors trying to squash into one little tiny box.




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


I guess I've technically, successfully completed my bonus blogging goal of participating in at least two other monthly/weekly bookish memes aside from the Top Ten Tuesday.  Of course, I'm going to hold out a little longer before I call it a complete.  As a motivator for myself, I'm going to require that I continue participating in these two memes for another five months before I call this a completed goal.


I feel accomplished now.  In five months, I'll feel utterly impressed with myself if I can keep up.


-- Review of The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap


  • Cover Crush on Thursdays:

2/18/2016:  The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

2/25/2016:  Nevernight by Jay Kristoff



Reading Goals

See Also: 2016 Bookish Resolutions shelf


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


I started reading a Haruhi Suzumiya book this month, but I got side-tracked by other books.  On the other hand, I hadn't expected to finish a completed series at all until my library hold pinged for Death Marked and I thought: "What the heck!" and went ahead and picked it up and started reading.  There may or may not be a review for this book, but it wasn't the best thing in the world.  Of course, I am now one series closer to finishing up everything I'm already reading... except that I DID start a whole new series this month as well.


There is no give.  Because my reading list for March clearly indicates that, even as I am finishing yet another series... I'm also beginning two more.  Or three, depending on how the reading goes.


  • January:  1 series finished
  • February: 1 series finished // Running Total: 2 series finished


Death Sworn by Leah Cypess -- 2/23/2016

Already Read:  Death Sworn

#2:  Death Marked -- 2/23/2016



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


I am still in the midst of catching up with Cindy Gerard's One-Eyed Jacks series.  I thought that I would immediately go out and buy Taking Fire at its publication date, but things are going on IRL and so I may not get around to going to the physical bookstore until later this week.  But, as it stands, I will have Taking Fire read before March comes to an end and fulfill at least one series in this goal.


  • January:  0 series finished
  • February: 0 series caught up // Running Total: 0 series caught up


One-Eyed Jacks by Cindy Gerard -- Completed date

Already Read:  Killing Time, The Way Home

#3: Running Blind -- 2/7/2016

#4: Taking Fire -- To be read



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


Per my Reading Assignment challenge, I actually started one new series this month, but as it is an ongoing series, it can't go under this goal anyway.  I've also read another book, also of an ongoing series, but I started that series last month... again, another book that doesn't fit under any of the goals.  The only series I managed to finish was from a series I started a couple years ago--see above.


So... nothing new for this goal for February, sadly. 


  • January:  1 series finished
  • February: 0 series read // Running Total: 1 series read



 - 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 --

  • January:  Participated in Bout of Books Read-a-thon // Total = 1
  • February:  There really weren't any read-a-thons I was interested in participating in.  Maybe next time.



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


  • January:  3 new-to-me authors read
  • February: 3 new-to-me authors // Running Total: 6 new-to-me authors


Author name // Book(s) Read

1.  Lynn Raye Harris // Hot Pursuit -- 2/4/2016 -- review to come

2.  Donna Kauffman // Where There's Smoke...* -- 2/14/2016

3.  Kate Angell // The Gingerbread Man*  -- 2/16/2016


*novellas are part of The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap anthology



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


  • January:  6 Mt. TBR books read
  • February: 5 books read // Running Total: 11 books read


1.  Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris -- 2/4/2016

2.  Running Blind by Cindy Gerard -- 2/7/2016

3.  Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin -- 2/12/2016

4.  The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap anthology -- 2/22/2016

5.  The Green-Eyed Doll by Jerrie Alexander -- 2/25/2016


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.


  • January:  0 hours cardio clocked
  • February: 2.42 hours cardio // Running Total: 2.42 hours cardio


Due to lots of reasons--namely insurance and workplace health wellness rewards and stuff and the fact that my brother is getting married in a little over a year--I was able to finally get off my lazy butt and start getting some things done.


This still isn't the most ideal work out plan I'd had in mind, and I didn't do as well as I had pre-planned before the year started, but it's still a start.  While it looks like I met my 2 hour cardio goal, the majority of it was just a lot of walking.  And while walking is still good for you and I still consider it an exercise, part of cardio in some ways, it wasn't what I'd been planning for.


Looks like we'll work on this goal a bit more next month.



 - 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).


  • January:  0 times worked out
  • February: 1 time worked out // Running Total: 1 time worked out


All of my walking didn't actually happen in any official work out capacities.  So, again, not exactly the ideal planned goal-meeting I'd been hoping for.



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


Recipes did not happen this month.  Lots of cooking happened this month, but nothing I didn't already know how to make.  Boo...


  • January:  1 new recipe learned // Tomato Basil Soup
  • February: 0  new recipes // Running Total: 1 new recipe



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


I commented on people's blogs.  I hung out with my best friend once.  I had a mini-weekend vacation with my family...  That's pretty much it.  I'm resigned to the hermit life, really...





Previous Update Posts

2016 Bookish Resolutions -- January Progress Report





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review 2016-02-27 13:00
Thoughts: The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap
The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap by Kauffman, Donna, Angell, Kate, Kincaid, Kimberly (2014) Mass Market Paperback - Donna, Angell, Kate, Kincaid, Kimberly Kauffman

Average Rating for this anthology: 3.5 Stars


My TBR List -- February Winner!


See Other My TBR List Reviews @ Because Reading


First of all, thanks to everyone who voted in my very first My TBR List. I'd been looking forward to reading The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap even if it wasn't the book I had personally put a vote in for. Nonetheless, despite it being two months past Christmastime, it still doesn't hurt to read a holiday-themed romance collection--especially one that has to do with cookies!

Even though I was less enamoured with Kate Angell's The Gingerbread Man, it was still entertaining to a point. And so, overall, I DID enjoy this anthology a lot and am ecstatic that I discovered one new author I'd be interested in pursuing: Donna Kauffman's Where There's Smoke... was immensely enjoyable.

Now onto the stories:

The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap collection features three best friends during the holiday times and their respective love stories. We first meet them during a community center cookie charity auction and the three of them talk about their holiday plans and whatnot.

• Where There's Smoke... by Donna Kauffman -- 4.0 Stars
Very enjoyable and fun! I'm glad to have found another new author to enjoy.

Clara is an accident-prone, bumbling news journalist with ambitious goals of writing human drama stories about the people of her town around Pine Mountain. Having just been "dumped" by a man she'd thought she'd been starting a romantic relationship with, this particular incident is witnessed by her boss--because Clara is currently the writer for the relationship columns at the paper, of course, this very public display in which she is "dumped" is not good for business.

However, pleading with her boss to give her a second chance, she lands an opportunity writing several features for a cookie baking column... the only problem is, Clara doesn't know the first thing about baking. In fact, any kind of incident involving the kitchen tends to lead to getting the fire department on speed dial for damage control before she burns down her house. Fortunately for her, an old best friend has just set foot back into her life and he just happens to be a fire fighter.

Where There's Smoke... was enjoyable the whole time through, making use great use of a dorky girl and her old college best friend as a great romantic synopsis. And while I'm typically not much for the "bumbling idiot girl = cuteness" device, Clara actually came off quite endearing. But probably because she wasn't entirely helpless in a kitchen given the right amount of schooling and help.

Will Mason isn't entirely unique as a main romance male character, but given his back history, he's given more personality--and that is what I loved about this couple. Despite being a muscular, sexy-as-sin fire fighter in the present, Will is described as having been cute, but adorkably lanky, having not quite grown into his own skin yet when he and Clara first met years prior to this story.

The relationship presented between the two was cute and sweet, and given that they were both best friends first before a brief separation and now a heart-warming reunion, I really, honestly DID enjoy watching them fall in love.

• The Gingerbread Man by Kate Angell -- 2.5 Stars
Potential that just missed the mark.

Abby has a secret side business that no one but her best friends know about--she makes and sells erotic-themed baked goods on the internet. For now, she mostly does business with women wanting party favors for bachelorette parties and the like. But Abby is determined to bring her secret business into the public. During the community center cookie charity auction, she has entered her anatomically correct gingerbread men as part of the cookie swap.

Somehow, the little tin of erotic cookies ends up in the hands of a passing stranger who is merely looking for directions to Philadelphia. And because of these cookies, our handsome stranger, Landon, gets distracted while driving in the stormy, snowy weather and ends up in a ditch. This is where Abby finds him on her way home and being that the snow storm was only going to bet worse as the night went on, she makes the decision to bring him back to her home until the roads are clear and safe again.

To be honest, this story had a lot of potential, what with a romance taking place where a couple is stranded in a fairly isolated cabin, buried in winter weather and snow. On top of that, there are anatomically correct gingerbread men to contend with. I was looking for something fun and quirky and cute.

Instead, while the story wasn't really all that bad, it was also kind of boring. The writing style was also awkward--sometimes a little too wordy, and sometimes a little too dramatic. And, of course, both Abby and Landon were the stock-standard romance novel hero and heroine as well--perfect for each other, perfect as individuals... just absolutely flawless people who end up having great sex and falling in love for no reason other than because the author dictates.

Nonetheless, this was enjoyable in it's own way. Just not my favorite of the three stories.

• Sugar and Spice by Kimberly Kincaid -- 4.0 Stars
Cute, inspirational, humorous, and everything I typically expect from Kimberly Kincaid!

Lily is married to her baking and has time for nothing else. Her cooking process is just as meticulous as her ideals in life--straight-laced, unwavering, planned and strategic to a T. While she has her own cake business, her tiny kitchen is just not big enough if she wants to expand her clientele and so she knows that her next step is a storefront with a larger kitchen. Participating in the Pine Mountain Resort Christmas cookie baking contest seems just the means to get where she needs to go, with a monetary reward enough to start up a decent sized bakery.

But Lily finds herself going head-to-head against a charming, suave, and sexy chef with ambitions of his own--to leave his current position and make a name for himself, good enough to become the next chef of an upscale restaurant in the city. Pete's cooking style is professional and skilled, but at the same time, grand and risky and too spontaneous for Lily to handle. When the two of them meet in the kitchen, it's quite the showdown, even as a simmering attraction begins to build.

Kimberly Kincaid has a writing style I enjoy--relaxed, humorous, fun. So even if I haven't entirely enjoyed all of her works, I still pay attention to anything with her name on it. Sugar and Spice certainly did not disappoint, with a short, to-the-point love story with a cute build-up, great characters, and a lovely Happily Ever After™. Lily and Pete clashed with each other so badly, both in personality and as chefs that it was extremely entertaining and fun to read, proving the whole opposites attract theory in some form.

Perhaps because this was a tried-and-true romance formula written well with likable characters. Perhaps because I wasn't expecting more from this story (or this entire anthology) than sweet little love stories. I ended up immensely enjoying this little story of a couple falling in love through competition.

In a word: It was fun!

Final Thoughts:
Short and sweet little romance anthologies are always lovely, and being a hopeless romantic for fictional romances, I don't turn them down. The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, though actually a holiday-themed collection, still makes for an enjoyable read during the February Valentine season.

Sometimes these little gems just hit the right spot, because they're exactly what you're looking for, and don't usually pretend to be anything more.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge - New-to-me Author #5 & #6
-- February My TBR List meme
Mount TBR Challenge




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review 2016-02-27 03:21
Thoughts: The Green-Eyed Doll
The Green-Eyed Doll - Jerrie Alexander

The Green-Eyed Doll -- Jerrie Alexander



This book was a little hard to get into at the beginning, mainly because the writing style and narration felt stilted and awkward to me. There was even a whole lot of cheese and drama that felt felt fairly unnatural. The characters were typical, category romance standard types with a broody male with alpha tendencies and a speshul Mary Sue who doesn't know how beautiful she is--the kicker, I honestly buy the reasons why she's so under-confident and squeamish around people, because it ties in with her past and it works.

It still doesn't make her any less of a Mary Sue type, though.

The story's premise was a sure thing from the start and had me crossing my fingers with the hope that things would get better if it didn't get worse, despite the almost too flowery prose in the beginning and the awkward dialogue.

If I go by the fact that I stayed up waaay past my bedtime to finish the last half of the book, then I'd have to say that things DID, indeed, turn out better as the story progressed. Either I got used to the writing style or it got better or something. But no matter what it was, the story's events and the progression was enough to keep me hooked as the second half of the book somehow became an entertaining, page-turning experience.

I definitely enjoyed.

The Story in Brief:
In a small town in Texas, a woman has gone missing only to turn up dead, on display, naked, with her hair tied up, her eyes glued open, and a red ribbon tied around her neck. When another woman disappears, Sheriff Matt Ballard is worried that they might have a serial in their midst. His suspicions are confirmed when the second woman also turns up dead in the same fashion as the first.

Meanwhile, Catherine McCoy is a new stranger in town, passing through and trying to run away from her old life. She has her secrets that she would just as soon keep from anyone and everyone, especially from the town's handsome sheriff. But an immediate attraction sparks and Catherine finds herself unable to move on as readily as she would have thought.

And all this while, it seems that the killer may have set his sights on Catherine.

My Thoughts:
There's really not much left to state about this book, honestly. Like I'd already said, the beginning was really hard to get into, but I'm not sure if it was because it was just set-up, or if the author was just trying to get footing in the story. The second half of the book was really not so bad and kept me reading.

Unfortunately, I can't say that there was much that jumped out at me as being outstanding. Maybe that Catherine was a strong enough women to take care of herself, rather than the typical damsel in distress of standard category romances. She had her TSTL moments, but those I can forgive if only because I can kind of see why she makes certain decisions and thinks in certain ways. It doesn't mean I like it, but I can see why she does what she does.

Despite the last half of the book being easier to read and a hooking page-turner, I actually have more quibbles about this book than positives to talk about--and they are mainly from the first half.

For instance, the romance is so insta that it hurts. It's instalust, which is common in romance novels. But then there's the instantaneous trust that Catherine presents to Matt, despite the fact that he's got at least two hits against him: Catherine had just gotten out of an abusive relationship where law enforcement failed her and caused a tragedy. Matt, being a man and being the town sheriff, would be the last person Catherine would so readily put her trust in. So it just seemed a little too "the author decrees it" kind of romance.

And then the love is also insta as well. I mean, don't get me wrong, nobody declares their love right away, but there's no escaping my notice that the "meant to be" vibes were rolling off this couple in spades. It was just a matter of voicing the ILYs at a good moment in the book.

Another thing that bothered me was the fact that NO ONE made mention of the connections between the victims. Sure, Matt told Catherine to be extra careful because of her green eyes, but never once was this connecting element brought up in any part of the investigation: that the killer was picking off women with red hair and green eyes.

Then again, there was one particular victim I'm not really certain about, but the progression of the story lead me to believe that the serial was targeting red haired women with green eyes. But this was NEVER mentioned at all, not even in the big media tangent in the book--something that media would definitely sensationalize.

Final Thoughts
Anyway, this book wasn't entirely memorable, so even if there had been a lot of quibbles, I'm not sure I can list all of them, so we'll leave it at that.

Again, I DID end up enjoying the book despite some flaws here and there, but difficulty of getting into the book in the beginning was definitely not advantageous for The Green-Eyed Doll.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

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text 2016-02-25 13:00
Cover Crush: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

 Because no matter the book's summary blurb, author, or marketing, there's no doubt that many of us are drawn in by a pretty cover.  And the great ones are hard not to notice.  I'm admittedly not immune to wonderfully crafted book covers and have fallen prey to them time and time again.


Cover Crush is a feature originally thought up by Erin at Flashlight Commentary.  Every Thursday, she publishes a post featuring a book jacket/book cover that she really likes with a short commentary about it.  I discovered this weekly feature via It's a Mad Mad World here at Booklikes and decided to join in the fun!





The official cover reveal for Nevernight happened a while back sometime in January, and while I was going through my book cover jpegs, I realized I'd never saved the official Nevernight book cover to my files.  I DID remember that I was all "Ooh" and "Ahh" about it when I saw it for the first time.


It's sleek, it's eerie, and it's kind of cool.  And I just love the title's font and typeface!  And according to the link I've included above, the typography was done by one of the bloggers over at Cuddlebuggery, Meg Morley.  That is pretty damn awesome!


The covers for Kristoff's Lotus War trilogy were quite eye-catching as they are, but I have to admit that this one drew my attention, pretty much right away.


Nevernight will be published on August 9th, according to Amazon and some other booksellers.


That.  Is a LONG-ASS wait.


Then again, I still need to finish reading The Lotus War trilogy...



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