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text 2016-11-02 12:37
November reading plans
The Other Einstein: A Novel - Marie Benedict
Bats - William W. Johnstone
The Spy - Paulo Coelho
Don't Fear the Reaper - Michelle Muto

In the aftermath of Halloween Bingo, I have a few Netgalley books to catch up.


I'm close to the end of The Other Einstein and just halfway through Bats, but haven't started the other two yet.


I also acquired 62 new samples over these past two months, mostly from other people's Bingo choices! Starting last night, I'm reading two a day (possibly not all the way through) to clear those by the end of November, then I'll tackle the old backlog again.


I've also acquired loads of new free books, but my reading, outside of the above, is going back to my random patterns. I'll read what I feel like reading and try not to lose control at Netgalley. They've had some better stuff recently so a few choices could creep in.


Quite a few books I wanted to read before are still waiting their turn.


Meanwhile, two buddy reads of interest are happening in November. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart and Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. Having got through half a dozen Classics during Bingo, Don Quixote is top of my mental list of Classics so how could I resist? Mary Stewart's Merlin series is an old favourite so I sort of have to, don't I? It's been a while anyway.


So, half a dozen intended reads and 60 samples should keep me busy, but allow time to do some of the things I've been neglecting to give myself more reading time. Like commenting on posts! I also have a couple of courses at FutureLearn I'm falling behind on, so time to catch up.


Time to catch up with myself, phew!

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text 2015-11-30 22:28
November 2015 Reading Wrap Up
Capturing the Silken Thief - Jeannie Lin
Sound Off!: American Military Women Speak Out - Carl J. Schneider,Dorothy Schneider
American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic - John Temple

 I totally blew up my reading list after suffering from romance genre burn out. My average rating for this month is 2.7, which seems to be the range I have been in since my slump back in July. I did read some decent and some good non-fiction which helped me progressed on my reading challenge while romance took a back seat. The average rating for my non-fiction reading: 3.875, so romance is bringing my average down. I discovered the hype (which seems to have died down) surrounding Jeannie Lin's work is well-earned. I look forward to reading more from her in 2016.


Just 6 more books left and I will have met my reading challenge of 125 books. I am hoping December is as productive as November was.


Best Book: American Pain by John Temple

Worst Book: The Real Mr. Right (Jersey Boys #1/Harlequin Special Edition) by Karen Templeton


1. The Taming of Mei Lin (Harlequine Undone! series) by Jeannie Lin 3 stars

2. Capturing the Silken Thief (Harlequin Undone! series) by Jeannie Lin 4 stars

3. Marcus Wilding: Duke of Pleasure by Carole Mortimer DNF

4. The Glassblower by Laurie Alice Eakes 2.5 stars

5. Sound Off: American Military Women Speak Out (Revised Edition) by Dorothy and Carl J. Schneider 4 stars

6. Undaunted: The Real Story of America's Servicewomen in Today's Military by Tanya Biank 3.5 stars

7. The Real Mr. Right (Jersey Boys series #1/Harlequin Special Edition) by Karen Templeton 0 stars

8. Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon 3 stars

9. American Pain by John Temple 5 stars

10. Once Upon a Thanksgiving (Harlequin Love Inspired Historical series) by Linda Ford and Winnie Griggs 2 stars

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review 2015-11-29 21:50
Sickening Sweet Stories
Once Upon a Thanksgiving: Season of BountyHome for Thanksgiving - Winnie Griggs,Linda Ford

This was a 2-in-1 book by two of Harlequin's favorite (and prolific) inspirational authors. I had never read anything by Linda Ford before reading her story "Season of Bounty". I had previously read one book by Winnie Griggs, a full length book that was third in a trilogy. I had really enjoyed that book so much that when I saw she was a contributor to this anthology, I had to pick it up, plus the bonus perk of trying Ms. Ford's writing.


It took me six days of forced reading to get through this 195 pages; partly due to my family's on-going illness(es) and partly because the stories were so sweet they gave me a tooth ache.


Season of Bounty by Linda Ford

I would give this story one star. Katherine was a Christian Mary Sue to the point I thought she should have entered the nunnery rather than fall instantly in love with Buck. Buck and Rosie seem much more realistically drawn and had a more complex backstory. Katherine was also the type of Christian to pray for what she wanted or expected should happen - there was not a lot of prayers of gratitude. Yet the story moved fast  - so fast that any an all obstacles in Katherine's and Buck's way were resolved in a way that was unbelievable. Overall, shallow characters and idealized Christian life made the story a slog to get through. 1 star.


Home for Thanksgiving by Winnie Griggs

This story was meatier, with both the Ruby and Griff having backstories that mattered to the present story and to their characters. The author pulled no punches on the emotional front. Also the one side character (other than the cat) was Inez and she was fully engaging in the story. Ruby had more prayers of gratitude and a whole lot less of prayers of want. The religious aspect was handled with a deft hand. But the story was too short to be rushed through to HEA without proper courting, which left me unsatisfied. 2 stars.


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text 2015-11-20 17:17
Weekend Reading
American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic - John Temple
Devoted in Death - J.D. Robb
Plenty of Time When We Get Home( Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War)[PLENTY OF TIME WHEN WE GET HOM][Hardcover] - KaylaWilliams

Another Friday, another 27 lives lost to terrorism (Mali hotel hostage situation). Thanksgiving is now less than a week away and I don't have the energy to plan a damn thing about it. And on those notes, here is my weekend reading:


1. Finishing American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic by John Temple. (Library Loan via Over Drive app)


           Freaking eye-opening, heart breaking, and page turning. Probably going to be a 4-5 star read.


2. Start Devoted in Death (...In Death #41) by J.D. Robb.


          Lt Dallas takes on a future Bonnie and Clyde "love story." (Library Loan)


3. Plenty of Time When We Get Home (Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War) by Kayla Williams. (Library Loan)


         Kayla and her husband met in Iraq, but didn't start their relationship until they were back in the US and he was undergoing treatment for PTSD and shrapnel in his brain/skull. This is Williams' follow up to her OIF memoir I Love My Rifle More Than You, which I hope to get via ILL from the library by the end of the year.


Happy reading and stay safe everyone.



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review 2015-11-16 17:39
Wanted to Like This More
Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield - Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

This book is about the US Army's Cultural Support Teams, women who go out with Rangers and Green Berets on raids to get vital intel from Afghan women and children. Due to Afghan culture, men and women/children don't mix and the Afghani women were too afraid of the American servicemen and wouldn't give up any information. Plus, the servicemen involving themselves in any way with Afghani women was a black mark against the NATO forces within the communities they were trying to protect from the Taliban. CSTs were used as "enablers" to work with Afghani women to get that information and develop social ties with the community. Simply put, Afgani women would only work with American women.


However, to work with the Rangers and Green Berets, the women chosen had to be able to withstand the brutal nature (physically, mentally, and emotionally) of those nighttime raids and all that those raids encompass. The book begins with the first ever selection and class of CST wannabes. That part of the book takes up almost half the book; the other half is about their first four months in Afghanistan. The selection and training of these women was intense; however, there was the most women-shaming in this part of the book. The women-shaming came from the author a little and a lot from the women profiled. These women were even shaming other women in the Army/other military branches. One women went so far as to be disgusted at God for making her a girl instead of a boy and keeping her from joining the Rangers officially. Anything feminine was deemed unworthy.


The women shaming kept me from connecting with any of these women. I was more invested in how the program came about, how the teams would work, and some of the people working as enablers but not a CST member (such as Nadia and Jimmie, Afghani-Americans working with the Rangers as interpreters). Also, during the selection, the book profiled other women in the CST class but damn if I could keep any of them straight in my head. Not a whole lot of distinction between the women apart from the main Lt, other than the one who was raped during a previous deployment and was still fighting some demons from the trauma. I only remembered her because the author repeated how she was a rape survivor when she got to Afghanistan.


And if I read about their love of CrossFit workouts one more time, I would need to start a drinking game. Seriously, it felt like an advertisement in every chapter for CrossFit. The physical aspect of training and working as a CST member took over the mental or emotional side of that training/work and again made anything feminine (such as mental or emotional skills) as secondary or not as worthy as ruck marching for 20 miles. These women actually didn't seem as sharp mentally as would be necessary - maybe more time should have been spent on identifying IEDs/bomb sites and a little less on running miles.


The second part of the book, the four months in Afghanistan, was gripping stuff yet I wish more detail was paid to this area of the book. All I got was more CrossFit workouts and the occasional stories of certain raids. The last part of the book, about four very short chapters, dealt with the death of the first CST member (Ashley, hence the title) and the bazillion memorials, services, her funeral - just endless stories of how her little town in Ohio and the military brass celebrated her. Dare I say it, but it was such OVER KILL! It was more about the town/military putting on a recruitment show than about any other CST member or their work back in Afghanistan. Lots of back patting all around.  Piss poor editing and writing to just leave the stories of the other CST members and what they did after their deployment was over to the horrible epilogue which didn't mention the women post-deployment.


I think this was an important story to tell, especially as these women (and the classes/CSTs that followed them) opened up the debate about women and combat. I think the writer didn't have the chops to tell that story. I am glad I read this book, I feel more informed about the NATO war in Afghanistan. I don't know if I can recommend this book unless you are into military non-fiction or women's history/studies. I am being generous with 3 stars.





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