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text 2017-01-31 12:35
January 2017 Wrap Up
Apprentice in Death - J.D. Robb
Wave - Sonali Deraniyagala
March: Book Two - Andrew Aydin,Nate Powell,John Robert Lewis
Lowcountry Bordello - Susan M. Boyer
Switched - HelenKay Dimon

Started the Romance Bingo and Pop Sugar Reading Challenges this month. Participated in Bout of Books cycle 18. Participated in #24in48 read-a--thon.

 

 

1. My Writing Professor by Nicolette Dane (Romance Bingo - New Adult square) - 1 star

2. My Friend the Bride by Nicolette Dane (Romance Bingo - Wedding Bells square) - 1 star

3. Sarah Sunshine (Montana Romances series) by Merry Farmer (Romance Bingo - TSTL square) - 1 star

4. A Bit of Bite by Cynthia Eden (Romance Bingo - Urban Fantasy square) - 3.5 stars

5. Heir to a Desert Legacy by Maisey Yates (Romance Bingo - Interracial couple square) - 1 star

6. Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (Diseases and Disasters Challenge) - 4 stars

7. Apprentice in Death by JD Robb (Pop Sugar Challenge) -  4 stars

8. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling - 3 stars

9. The Lady's Scandalous Night by Jeannie Lin (Romance Bingo - Insta Love) - 3 stars

10. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo - 2.5 stars

11. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan - 4 stars

12. Long Gone Girl (Romance Bingo - Second Chances square) by Amy Rose Bennett - 2.5 stars

13. Lowcountry Bordello (Liz Talbot #4) (Romance Bingo - Love is Murder square) by Susan M. Boyer - 4.5 stars

14. March Book 2 by John Lewis et al - 5 stars

15. Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (Romance Bingo - YA) - 3 stars

16. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan - 5 stars

17. Switched by HelenKay Dimon (Romance Bingo - Blown Away square) - 3.5 stars

18. Sweetheart in High Heels by Gemma Halliday (Romance Bingo - Headless Woman) - 2 stars

19. An Illicit Temptation by Jeannie Lin (Romance Bingo -Historical) - 3.5 stars

20. Double Love by Francine Pascal (Romance Bingo - Twins) - 1 star

21. A Sport of Baronets (Romance Bingo - Regency) - 3.5 stars

22. The Secret of Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain - 2.5 stars

 

 

Challenges Update:

GR/BL Reading Challenge: 22/150

Library Love Challenge: 10/36

Romance Bingo: 14/25

Pop Sugar Challenge: 8/50

 

Ratings Breakdown:

Avg Star Rating: 2.9 stars

Avg Non-Fiction Rating: 4.25

Avg Fiction Rating: 2.65

 

Final Thoughts:

I am enjoying the bingo and getting a lot of short books off my electronic TBR. The beginning of the month featured A LOT of 1 star books, mostly freebies from the NOOK store.

 

Pop Sugar challenge is kind of on the back burner for now. The fact I knocked out 8 out of the 50 prompts was more than I had hoped for (5 being the goal). Not as hard as I thought it would be, plus I am learning to like audiobooks!

 

Library Love challenge is going great; thinking I should have gone for the top level (50+ books), but may stay at the current level (36+ books) for now. I also got in 11 hours of volunteer time at the library, despite a constantly changing school schedule that saw my son out of school more than in school.

 

I picked my top five books to add to the post.

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-01-26 16:25
Review: Apprentice in Death (...In Death #43) by JD Robb
Apprentice in Death - J.D. Robb

Forty-three books into the series (not counting the novellas, which I have read all but two), and I am still here for the gang from NYC circa 2061. Over the last ten books, some have kicked my reading ass in a good way (hello, Treachery in Death!), some have enraged me (Brotherhood in Death!), and some were just piss poor and didn't deserve to be in such a great series (looking at you Thankless in Death!). This book falls solidly into the great group of reading.

So why not 5 stars? Because it is another serial killer story line which Lt. Eve Dallas figures out the identities of the killers half-way through the book and chases them throughout NYC. It has been done already, several times. I prefer the intimate killings, the murders that are singular but have a dozen suspects who may legitimately had a beef with the dead. Apprentice in Death is a little of both; some of the victims were specifically targeted, others were random - while a nice twist, it still is another serial killer story.

However, the writing is intense and the characters seem to have come back to their senses and normal traits that made them special (making Brotherhood in Death's bizarre turn in characterization a mirage that hopefully won't happen again). We get the entire Homicide squad on the case for this one, plus Commander Whitney makes several appearances. Somerset's history in and skill set from the Urban Wars plays a part in the murder case; Somerset's relationship to both Roarke and Eve plays into the emotional under story that makes this series so damn good. Also, anytime the Urban Wars come into play I am a happy reader. Nadine Furst is an asset again, as well as Dr. Mira. Roarke decides to take a few days off from buying up the world to play e-geek with Feeney and McNab. Peabody is once again one-liner expert and professional detective again, without mentioning her weight for once. The killers are given a deep back story that unfolds a little at time but always made sense and added to the story. There are moments that harken back to previous books; most notably, the re-opening of Madison Square Garden after the bombing by terrorists in the Cassandra plot. Those little hints of storytelling is one of the reasons I love this series, even with some warts.

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review 2017-01-26 16:20
Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
If I Was Your Girl - Meredith Russo

I saw the discussion on Twitter about how some reviewers found this book too happy or too idealistic. That discussion is why I picked up this book to read, so who says "negative reviews" (the reviewers gave it a 2.5-3 stars, which in my opinion is not negative, it is average) don't get readers to pick up a book? It worked on me, even though I knew about this YA contemporary book before the discussion took place.

I needed a YA romance for Romance Bingo and figured this story would fit the square after reading the jacket blurb. Yes and no....it is about a romance between a cishet boy and a trans girl, but the ending was not a definite HEA or HFN; it was very much left up to reader if the relationship would continue in the romantic way or if the couple would stay friends. So I am back to finding another YA romance from my library's shelves.

All the same, I am glad I read this book. Yes, it is highly idealistic and aspiring - however, I think that kind of representation is just as needed as the more realistic representation kind in diverse literature. The author even addresses this very aspect in her letter to readers in the back of the book. With that said, I (a cishet woman) learned a lot about how a trans person experiences life before, during, and after transition. I think this may be a good starter book for kids and teens to learn more about trans people. I grieved and cried over Andrew and the abuse he took, but I rooted for Amanda to live her truth - in my mind, they were two separate people.

The story itself was a typical YA contemporary that relied heavily on stereotypes (except those of trans people - they got a range of characterizations). If Amanda was cishet woman, this story would be completely mediocre high school stuff. Even with Amanda as a trans girl, this was still a simple story of stereotypes and gossip. And the stereotypes brought this story down for me. The worst of the stereotypes was embodied by the character Bee. I did love Chloe; she would make a great main character in another book (hopefully one with a lot less stereotypes). I felt at the end of the book that Amanda was going to be okay through her final semester of senior year and make a good life for herself. But most likely not with Grant.

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review 2017-01-26 16:10
Review: Antidote for Night by Marsha De La O
Antidote for Night (American Poets Continuum Series) - Marsha de la O

I picked up this book due to the Pop Sugar challenge prompt of reading a book from a genre you don't normally read - and for me, that genre is poetry, specifically modern poetry. This is a collection of poems centered on the people and landscapes that make up California. For the most part, I understood the imagery the author tried to create with her words; at times she got much too flowery for my taste, but overall she kept the wording in check. There was one poem that was written in a weird, unrecognizable way that screamed "trying to hard." My favorite poems were "Chinese Lantern", "Sanchez", the first verse of "Northridge Quake", "Anna Mae", and "Crossing Over". "Sanchez" was heartbreaking, but the story unfolded beautifully. I didn't see as much variety in the different aspects of California life; to me, the author just described Southern California over and over again, especially Los Angeles (the grittier, less Hollywood-ish part of LA). Still, I expanded my reading horizons and gave modern poetry a shot.

 

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review 2017-01-26 16:07
Review: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Dad is Fat - Jim Gaffigan

I knew of Jim Gaffigan from his stand up specials on Comedy Central, so when I was looking for a short audiobook to fill in a prompt from the Pop Sugar challenge, I went with a known name. Gaffigan reads his own book, and his delivery is just as good here as it is in his stand up. I don't think I would have liked this book as much if I had read it. It kept my attention even though I was playing video games (a time I reserve for listening to podcasts).

Gaffigan has such great observations about every day life in his stand up; with this book, he talks of those observations on parenting - and he has plenty of experience as a father of five kids under the age of 10 (at the time of the writing/publishing the book). He does do funny voices (just like in his stand up), although those voices help the listener define the jokes. He never pokes fun at his kids to get a laugh; a lot of the material here is Jim making fun of himself as a father. The part where he talks of birthday parties really stuck with me as a parent; the part where he talks about taking kids to Mass stuck with me as a kid who grew up Catholic.

For the first 45 minutes, I listened to this at the normal speed; the rest of the book I listened at 1.25 speed and it worked better for me. This was my first audiobook ever and it was a delightful experience thanks to Jim Gaffigan. I am definitely planning on reading Gaffigan's other book via audiobook sometime this year.

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