Friday, January 19, 2018

*Book Blogger Hop* 19 January 2018



We are on to a new week for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by the lovely folks over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This weeks questions is:
When reading a mass paperback book, many people fold the cover back, as if they were reading a magazine. Doing this will eventually create creases in the spine. How do you feel about this common bookish habit? (submitted by Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books)
While I'm not the type of person who typically folds the cover back on a mass market paperback, I AM a serial spine breaker, so it doesn't really bother me when I see people doing this, especially if the books belong to them which is more likely with mass market paperbacks to begin with. Honestly, you typically buy mass market paperbacks because they are lighter and easier to hold, and they are even easier to hold if you do it one handed by folding back the cover, so why would I begrudge someone that? And again, I'm a serial spine breaker, even on my autographed books, so I have no reason to cringe over this.

What about you? How do you feel when you see people doing this and destroying their spines? Also, do you think I'm a monster because I admit to spine breaking myself? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can see your answer too.*

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

*State of the ARC* December 2017


So I'm hooking up with AvalinahsBooks for this newish meme, State of the ARC. According to the lovely Evelina, this is a "fun way to share our ARC (advance reader copy) progress," but near as I can figure, it's just a way to self-shame for being greedy and getting behind on our ARC reading. I'm personally coming to the conclusion that I was born without a shame gene, so this may be an exercise in futility for me, but it's only a once a month post, so why not play along (also when I went on my graphics making spree, I created a header for it, so I've got to use it). 

To start with, I need to bloviate about what qualifies as an ARC for me. Obviously books on Netgalley count (this is scary all on it's own, you'll see for yourself in a minute just how scary). But sometimes I get "suckered" into reviewing non-Netgalley books too (or you know, I'm just so greedy because I want all of the books and the synopses sound good and I have no self-control), so those books should really get a place here too (probably even more than the Netgalley ARCs because they're usually physical copies). I will not be counting the ARCs that I win through Goodreads giveaways however, because I want to pretend that this list is still theoretically manageable. 

I'm onto month three of participating in the State of the ARC meme, and it's currently shaping up to be an exercise in futility for me. Last month (November because I'm super late getting this post built) I increased the number of ARCs needing my attention by three books, and that's kind of the wrong direction. And December shaped up to be pretty much a complete bust for me on pretty much all counts because of moving (it's amazing how much time moving eats up even when other people are packing up all your things). That doesn't mean I stayed off Netgalley though. No, I couldn't have done THAT.

So now after two months where I'm supposed to be whittling down my numbers, where do I stand?

Netgalley

All things considered, even though I added two new books to my Netgalley numbers, I'm still going to count that as a win, because it was only two books. That means I now have...

130 books

...to read. That breaks down to:

8 samples or excerpts.
11 children's or middle grade books.
6 books that I've already started or finished reading.
and 105 books that are just waiting for me to open them up in the first place. 

So my numbers are growing instead of shrinking like they're supposed to, which means that my feedback percentage is getting even worse, and it was already abysmal. I didn't even finish a Netgalley book in December, although I did make some progress on two of them. I actually thought that I'd left my Kindle Paperwhite on the airplane we took from Germany to Atlanta because of that progress (I used my Paperwhite during takeoff, but then switched to a book I had on my phone to read during the rest of the flight, put the Paperwhite in a different pocket of my carryon than before, and didn't remove it when we had to go back through security at the airport in Atlanta). I didn't lose the Paperwhite though, just had myself worried about it for a few hours on the car ride to my parents house.

Physical Books

I didn't see any change in my physical book ARCs again this past month. That means I still have...

6 children's books
and 5 not-children's chapter books

...to read. This is one category that may start to change more regularly now that I'm back in the states. At some point when I get things under control for myself, I'd really like to develop a relationship with at least one of the Big 6 publishers to get on an ARC list like a real proper blogger. But for now, there was no change because I did not get even the kid's books read and reviewed before the mover's packed up our house. I did find room for them in one of our kids suitcases however, so they will not be languishing in boxes until my husband finds us a house. I'm not guaranteeing that I'll be getting them read and reviewed with my children before then, but they at least have a chance. The chapter books are in boxes on a boat right now, so they won't see the light of day until we have a house of our own again. But I have so many books to read for review right now, that I'm honestly not too worried about that to begin with. 

So that's where I'm at. My numbers are just getting worse so far, potentially proving that I really don't possess a shame gene at all. At the same time, I started this meme while heading into a major life upheaval so it wasn't exactly ideal conditions in the first place. Maybe we should just wait and see how I'm doing in like June before we decide conclusively that I can't even shame myself into whittling down my Netgalley hole, okay? Great. 

So my goal for January, which is already halfway over, is to try to review at least one of the children's books, get the reviews written for the Netgalley books that I've finished but not yet reviewed, and read one of my 2018 release ARCs. It's definitely doable if I can just commit. And I'll let you know in a couple weeks how I did. - Katie 

Monday, January 15, 2018

*Top Ten Tuesday* Bookish Resolutions/Goals


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This weeks theme is bookish resolutions/goals. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this can of worms because there are so many ways I could take this to start with, and I already know I'll fail at all of them, which would almost make this an exercise in futility. But let's give this a whirl and see if I can come up with some bookish things that I'd like to do better at in the future.

I think my main bookish goal is to stop having 33 books started. This will require me to finish several of the books I have currently started that I just can't seem to find the time to get to because I keep getting enticed by new books. My self-control is seriously lacking where books are concerned. Some of them will necessarily have to wait a few months though, because they are physical books in boxes on their way across the Atlantic and I don't know when I'm going to have access to them again.

Another thing I'd like to do better in 2018 is writing reviews right after I finish reading the books. I've gotten really bad about that in the past several months and have something like twenty to thirty books needing reviews right now. That's just kind of unacceptable.

I'd love to develop some self-control where "read-nows" are concerned on Netgalley. I just have such a hard time resisting the lure of books that I don't have to receive approval to read.

And while I'm on the topic of Netgalley, I really need to get better at reading those books in a timely fashion. I will probably (maybe) be posting my December State of the ARC post later today and you can see just how bad I've been on Netgalley.

In 2018 I'm going to try to be more consistent about posting on Instagram. I got out of the habit in like July of last year, so I have a whole lot of books to share at this point. I'm also hoping to settle on a photo style, and with luck my new house will have a place I can designate as my IG photo spot (but it probably won't.)

This coming year I'd also like to do a better job of reading my Goodreads First Reads wins. I spend time bragging about getting the books, but hardly find the time to read them, and I have a whole slew of them that I was super excited about winning that I have yet to get to, but hopefully 2018 will be my year for that.

And finally, I'd like to do a better job of sticking to my reading lists. I have several I could choose from but I sort of consolidate it on my monthly Platypire Read-A-Thon post. If I could just stick to that list, I'd probably feel like I was being more productive with my reading time. But it's just so hard.

And as a bonus, I want to consistently write more reviews than Joood - Hooligan of Platypire Reviews does so that she will have to sing a song every month and I will not.

So what are some of your bookish resolutions or goals? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post below. I'm finally falling into my new normal, but I'm still playing catchup from the past few weeks so it may take a bit for me to check out your posts, but I will return comments soonish (eventually).*

*Platypire Read-A-Thon* January 2018

Photo Courtesy of Platypire Maribel
So it's January, which means I owe y'all an updated Platypire Read-A-Thon list. I'm already in the middle of the month, and I currently feel like I don't have that many books to add to the list, but I'm probably just lying to myself and things are going to get even more out of control than they already were. 

If you've been following my blog recently, you know that I've recently moved back to the states from living in Germany and my life is currently in limbo. At the moment my kids and I are living with my parents in Kansas while my husband hunts for a house for us and works in Colorado. With luck our separation will not last long, but there's really no telling how long the house-hunt will take. With that in mind, I don't know how well I will do keeping up with blogging stuff, but I'm hoping that my parents will be distracting enough (they haven't seen my kids in 4 years) that I will have some extra time to myself to work on getting caught up on blogging things that got behind while we were preparing for the move. Added bonus is that I don't have to cook all the meals because my parents will do some of that. It almost makes me feel like a kid again. 

But without further ado, here is where I'm at on my read-a-thon for January currently. 

R - Read
C - Currently Reading
T - To Be Read
NR - Needs Reviewed

Read
R - Jasmine of Draga by Emma Dean (November) (Review to come)
R - Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson (Oct.) (Review to come)

Reviewed
*Titles link to reviews*
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (December)
How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis (August)

Needs Reviewed

NR - Mary Ting Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Alexandrea Weis Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Bicycle Thieves by Mary di Michele (March)
NR - Alexandrea Weis Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Mary Ting Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Damned by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor (July)
NR - ISAN by Mary Ting (2016)
ISAN by Mary Ting (October) (This was a re-read, but it should still count for my numbers)
NR - The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff (July)*
NR - The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor (June)*
NR - Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray (July)*
NR - Son by Lois Lowry (May)*
NR - The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (June)
NR - Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (June)
NR - Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives (July)
NR - Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (July)
NR - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2015)*
NR - It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington (Oct.)
NR - Crown of Draga by Emma Dean (September)
NR - A Very Mer-Merry Christmas by Ginna Moran (October)
NR - Jinxed by Thommy Hutson (September)
NR - Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (October)
NR - The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams (June)*
NR - Artemis by Andy Weir (August)
NR - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2016)*
NR - Love's Embrace by Mary Reason Theriot (October)
NR - Back Blast by Mark Greaney (2016)*
NR - Charlie Foxtrot by Jillian Ashe
NR - Precious Bones by Irina Shapiro
NR - Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
NR - I Know I Am, but What Are You? by Samantha Bee
NR - You Can't Spell America Without Me by Alec Baldwin & Kurt Anderson (December)
NR - Between This One and the Next by Ginna Moran (December)
NR - Living Ghost by Ginna Moran (November)
NR - Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett (December)
NR - Give Me Your Answer True by Suanne Laqueur (2015)*
NR - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (December)
NR - The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois (December)
NR - You Can't Hide by Dan Poblocki (December)

Currently Reading

C - The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (2015)*
C - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2016)*
C - Sweetwater: The Kihn by Rivi Jacks (2015)*
C - The Voyage by Tammie Painter (2015)*
C - Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder (2015)*
C - The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop (2015)*
C - Troll by Ashley C. Harris (2015)*
C - The Sanctum of Souls by R.K. Pavia (2015)*
C - The Travelers by Chris Pavone (2015)*
C - Back of Beyond by Neeny Boucher (2016)*
C - The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (2016)*
C - Letter's From Paris by Juliette Blackwell (2016)*
C - An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur (2016)*
C - River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper (Jan)*
C - The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Jan)*
C - My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni (Feb)*
C - Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Feb)*
C - Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years by Blanche Wiesen Cook (Feb)*
C - What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (April)*
C - The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (May)*
C - Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem (Sept.)
C - Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid (Sept.)
C - The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (September)
C - The Christmas Tree Guy by Rainy Stone (November)
C - The Gift by Cecelia Ahern (December)
C - Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (August)
C - Every Dog Has His Day by Jen McKinlay (November)
C - The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez (January '18)
C - Ginna Moran Proofread (January) (Not yet listed on Goodreads)

To Be Read

T - The Devil's Prayer by Luke Gracias (Feb)
T - Courage to Soar by Simone Biles (March)
T - In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett (March)
T - The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse (April) 
T - The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (April)
T - Betwixters: Once Upon a Time by Laura C. Cantu (June)
T - Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (July)
T - Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale (July)
T - Zoonauts by Richard Mueller (July)
T - Cooking for Ghosts: The Secret Spice Cafe by Patricia V. Davis (July)
T - The Scary Train Ride by Marlene Bischoff (July)
T - Skyward Bound: Hot-Air Ballooning by Alese & Morton Pechter (July)
T - Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home by Jody A. Dean, Ph.D. (July)
T - Gerome Sticks His Neck Out by L.S.V. Baker (July)
T - The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle by Stuart Samuel (GR) (July)
T - The Fable of the Snake Named Slim by Doug Snelson (August)
T - How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas (August)
T - Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice & Christopher Rice (August)
T - Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (August)
T - Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (August)
T - A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones (August)
T - The Border by Steve Schafer (August)
T - Berserker by Emily Laybourne (August)
T - Nemesis by Anna Banks (August)
T - The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus (August)
T - Sneak Peek: The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick (September)
T - Sneak Peek: Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown (September)
T - Lords of the Underworld Sampler by Gena Showalter (September)
T - The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (September)
T - Sneak Peek: Nadiyah's British Food Adventure by Nadiyah Hussain (September)
T - How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry (September) 
T - A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas (September)
T - Sneak Peek: The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Oct.)
T - Sneak Peek: Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card (Oct.)
T - Sneak Peek: Origin by Dan Brown (Oct.)
T - A Darker Sea by James L. Haley (Oct.)
T - CS Wilde Proofread (November)
T - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (December)
T - A Christmas Hope by Joseph Pittman (December)
T - Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews (December)
T - All I Want for Christmas by Jenny Hale (December)
T - Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Marina Adair (December)
T - Christmas at the Vicarage by Rebecca Boxall (December)
T - A Festival of Murder by Tricia Hendricks (December)
T - The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller (January '18)
T - Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown (January '18)
T - Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney (January '18)
T - Boys Keep Swinging by Jake Shears (January '18)
T - The 53rd Card by Virginia Weiss (January '18)
T - Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (January '18)
T - The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March (January '18)
T - How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (January '18)
T - The Italian Party by Christina Lynch (January '18)
T - Indecent by Corinne Sullivan (January '18)
T - The Lightning Stenography Device by M.F. Sullivan (January '18)
T - Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini (January '18)
T - A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (January '18)
T - The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (January '18)
T - A False Report by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong (January '18)


So I was right that I was lying to myself about how many new books I would be adding to my list, especially since a couple were added to the currently reading that I left off of the December results because I hadn't started reading them at the end of December. Several of my new books don't go live until late February or later though, and a few of them are double-dips where I won copies on Goodreads but was also able to get copies as read-nows on Netgalley (that provides slightly more incentive for me to read them in a timely fashion). I'm sure I'll barely read a fraction of the new books from my list this month, but we shall see just how poorly I do.

How many books do you think I can read by the end of the month? - Katie


*Platypire Read-A-Thon* December Results

Photo courtesy of Platypire Maribel
December has been over for a while now and I'm a little bit behind on getting my end/beginning of the month posts built and shared, but in my defense, I was in the process of moving across the Atlantic at the end of December/beginning of January, so I kind of had more important things on my mind than blog stuff. And as much as I want to be a responsible blogger who posts regularly and on time, when push comes to shove, the blog takes a backseat to my real life responsibilities. 

So this should be a quick update because I reviewed exactly zero books in December (I got some read, but none reviewed, so the segment of this that will be changing the most is the "Needs Reviewed" section. But without further ado, here is how I ended 2017.  

R - Read
C - Currently Reading
T - To Be Read
NR - Needs Reviewed

Read

Reviewed
*Titles link to reviews*

Needs Reviewed

NR - Mary Ting Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Alexandrea Weis Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Bicycle Thieves by Mary di Michele (March)
NR - Alexandrea Weis Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Mary Ting Proofread (Not yet listed on Goodreads)
NR - Damned by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor (July)
NR - ISAN by Mary Ting (2016)
ISAN by Mary Ting (October) (This was a re-read, but it should still count for my numbers)
NR - The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff (July)*
NR - The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor (June)*
NR - Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray (July)*
NR - Son by Lois Lowry (May)*
NR - The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (June)
NR - Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (June)
NR - Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives (July)
NR - Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (July)
NR - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2015)*
NR - It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington (Oct.)
NR - Crown of Draga by Emma Dean (September)
NR - A Very Mer-Merry Christmas by Ginna Moran (October)
NR - Jinxed by Thommy Hutson (September)
NR - Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (October)
NR - The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams (June)*
NR - Artemis by Andy Weir (August)
NR - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2016)*
NR - Love's Embrace by Mary Reason Theriot (October)
NR - Back Blast by Mark Greaney (2016)*
NR - Charlie Foxtrot by Jillian Ashe
NR - Precious Bones by Irina Shapiro
NR - Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
NR - I Know I Am, but What Are You? by Samantha Bee
NR - You Can't Spell America Without Me by Alec Baldwin & Kurt Anderson (December)
NR - How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis (August)
NR - Between This One and the Next by Ginna Moran (December)
NR - Living Ghost by Ginna Moran (November)
NR - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (December)
NR - Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett (December)
NR - Give Me Your Answer True by Suanne Laqueur (2015)*
NR - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (December)
NR - The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois (December)
NR - You Can't Hide by Dan Poblocki (December)

Currently Reading

C - The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (2015)*
C - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2016)*
C - Sweetwater: The Kihn by Rivi Jacks (2015)*
C - The Voyage by Tammie Painter (2015)*
C - Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder (2015)*
C - The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop (2015)*
C - Troll by Ashley C. Harris (2015)*
C - The Sanctum of Souls by R.K. Pavia (2015)*
C - The Travelers by Chris Pavone (2015)*
C - Back of Beyond by Neeny Boucher (2016)*
C - The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (2016)*
C - Letter's From Paris by Juliette Blackwell (2016)*
C - An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur (2016)*
C - River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper (Jan)*
C - The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Jan)*
C - My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni (Feb)*
C - Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Feb)*
C - Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years by Blanche Wiesen Cook (Feb)*
C - What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (April)*
C - The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (May)*
C - Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem (Sept.)
C - Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid (Sept.)
C - The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (September)
C - The Christmas Tree Guy by Rainy Stone (November)
C - The Gift by Cecelia Ahern (December)

To Be Read

T - The Devil's Prayer by Luke Gracias (Feb)
T - Courage to Soar by Simone Biles (March)
T - In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett (March)
T - The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse (April) 
T - The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (April)
T - Betwixters: Once Upon a Time by Laura C. Cantu (June)
T - Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (July)
T - Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale (July)
T - Zoonauts by Richard Mueller (July)
T - Cooking for Ghosts: The Secret Spice Cafe by Patricia V. Davis (July)
T - The Scary Train Ride by Marlene Bischoff (July)
T - Skyward Bound: Hot-Air Ballooning by Alese & Morton Pechter (July)
T - Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home by Jody A. Dean, Ph.D. (July)
T - Gerome Sticks His Neck Out by L.S.V. Baker (July)
T - The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle by Stuart Samuel (GR) (July)
T - The Fable of the Snake Named Slim by Doug Snelson (August)
T - How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas (August)
T - Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (August)
T - Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice & Christopher Rice (August)
T - Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (August)
T - Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (August)
T - A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones (August)
T - The Border by Steve Schafer (August)
T - Berserker by Emily Laybourne (August)
T - Nemesis by Anna Banks (August)
T - The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus (August)
T - Sneak Peek: The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick (September)
T - Sneak Peek: Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown (September)
T - Lords of the Underworld Sampler by Gena Showalter (September)
T - The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (September)
T - Sneak Peek: Nadiyah's British Food Adventure by Nadiyah Hussain (September)
T - How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry (September) 
T - A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas (September)
T - Sneak Peek: The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Oct.)
T - Sneak Peek: Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card (Oct.)
T - Sneak Peek: Origin by Dan Brown (Oct.)
T - Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson (Oct.)
T - A Darker Sea by James L. Haley (Oct.)
T - Jasmine of Draga by Emma Dean (November)
T - CS Wilde Proofread (November)
T - Every Dog Has His Day by Jen McKinlay (November)
T - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (December)
T - A Christmas Hope by Joseph Pittman (December)
T - Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews (December)
T - All I Want for Christmas by Jenny Hale
T - Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Marina Adair
T - Christmas at the Vicarage by Rebecca Boxall
T - A Festival of Murder by Tricia Hendricks


I managed to read nine books in December while in the process of preparing for movers, then cleaning up the whole house after the movers took all my stuff, and baking for my husband's work holiday party and dealing with my kids being extra clingy after the movers left. I didn't end up doing well on my own 12 Books of Christmas reading challenge (I read five books and reviewed 3), but it just wasn't a great year for that for me with everything going on. And like I said at the beginning of this post, I didn't review a single book in December, so I have a lot of reviews to make up now. I'm hoping that January will be a much better month for me review wise, but it at least couldn't be any worse. 

What books did you read in December? - Katie


Sunday, January 14, 2018

*Review* How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis


Genre: Chick-Lit
Published: August 15, 2017
Pages: 370



A dare between friends leads to startling revelations and simmering tensions in the latest novel from the author of Wedding Girl.

Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world's most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is.

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again.

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn't seem so lonely--until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date?

Readers Guide and Recipes Included


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. I'm pretty sure I guaranteed my copy because I was really excited by the blurb. It didn't quite live up to my expectations though. 

This book has a whole lot of talk about fancy foods, and at first, the descriptions and rundowns of all the foods included in meals had my mouthwatering. By the middle of the book, those same descriptions and rundowns were becoming tedious. It almost started to feel hoity toity to me and made it harder for me to relate to Eloise. At that point, I got that she was a chef who made fancy dishes and was more interested in her relationships with her friends from high school and her new man, Shawn, but the food lists took me out of those parts of the story. 

There were a few twists in the story that took me a minute to catch, but I mostly caught them before they were revealed (which always makes me feel smart). One of those twists was kind of a big deal and led to me disliking one of Eloise's friends even more than I already did. The friend already seemed like a toxic person for her life, and that situation just really sealed that deal in my mind. 

Overall I give How to Change a Life 3.046738486 stars. If you're a real foodie, you'll probably enjoy this book more than I did, but it was still a mostly enjoyable book without being a foodie. - Katie 



Stacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels, including Inappropriate Men, Sleeping Over, Room for Improvement, The Spinster Sisters, Good Enough to Eat, Off the Menu, Out to Lunch, Recipe for Disaster, Wedding Girl and the upcoming How to Change a Life being released August 15, 2017. Her first cookbook, Big Delicious Life is out now in a digital edition. She is also a contributing author to the anthologies Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, and Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly. Her non fiction cooking pieces can be read at ExtraCrispy.com and Bake From Scratch Magazine.

*Review* Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Genre: YA Romance
Published: September 10, 2013
Pages: 481



From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & ParkA coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and the minute I was finished listening to it the first time, I wanted to listen to it again. I didn't because I have several other audiobooks in my library to listen to, but I really wanted to because it was that good. 

So Cath is basically me...No really. My name is Katherine (which her's would have been if she wasn't a twin although spelled differently), and the college she's attending sounds a lot like the college I attended (although I went to a private school not a major state university). She is more of a city girl than I am, but that was really a very small facet of her personality as it pertains to the story. And like Cath, I'm a major Harry Potter fan (and let's face it, Simon Snow is pretty similar to Harry Potter). What I'm saying is that I really related to Cath and it took pretty much zero effort to step into her shoes, and that might be part of why I wanted to listen to the story again immediately, because the ending of her story was more what I'd wanted for my life at her age, but I didn't get there. 

As far as the audiobook goes, I felt the narrator was perfect for Cath's voice. The accent was neutral to my ears (as it should be for a midwestern girl), and while the opposite gender voices weren't spectacular, they also didn't seem like caricatures. The Simon Snow and fanfic sections of the book were narrated by a man with a British accent and it worked well to set those segments apart from the main story. I would definitely recommend this as an audiobook if you enjoy them. 

Overall I give Fangirl 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 



Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK, FANGIRL and CARRY ON). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love.

When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things.

She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.