READING CHALLENGES 2013

Signing Up For 2013 Challenges

Okay, so usually I post individually for the challenges I’m signing up for. This year, I’m just going to do one post.

I have found four challenges for 2013.

2013eclecticreader So I participated in the 2012 version of the Eclectic Reader Challenge – I failed at it, too. I decided to give it another go in 2013. The categories are different, so this ought to be fun.

Translated Fiction               Urban Fantasy               Humor
Historical Mystery               Dystopian                       Published in 2013
Romantic Suspense             Memoir
Made Into a Movie              LGBT
New Adult                             Action Adventure

So I’ll be honest here – there are a few I know I’m going to struggle with (Urban Fantasy/Dystopian/LGBT) but who knows – maybe I’ll make it.


Off the Shelf  Once again, this is another challenge that I participated in for 2012. And another one that I failed. The idea is to read books that have been on your shelves prior to 2013.

I’m choosing to sign up for Making a Dint – 30 books.

I have plenty of choices on my shelves, lol.


Sequel Challenge Okay – so how many times have I read the first book in a series, only to have not (for whatever reason) moved on to book #2? Too many to count. That’s why this challenge is so perfect for me 🙂

The goal – read as many books after the first in a series that you choose.

I think I want to read at least 5-7 sequels.


What's in a Name6 And the final one that I’m signing up for – What’s in a Name 6. I participated in this challenge when Annie was still hosting it but haven’t signed up the last couple of years. I decided to take the plunge again this year. Here’s the categories:

Up or Down (or equivalent)               Fire (or equivalent)
Something found in a kitchen           An Emotion
Party or Celebration                            Lost or Found (or equivalent)

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End of Year Wrap-Up

2012 Reading in Review

In 2012 I might not have read a lot of books, but I read some pretty darn good ones.

To briefly recap, I read 34 books in total.

I read 13,360 pages. That’s an average of 392.94 pages per book.

I read 5 e-books; the rest were print copies.

I read 14 review books.

The longest book I read was 579 pages – Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell.

The shortest book I read was 128 pages – Death by Bourbon by Abigail Keam.

Since I didn’t have a very large reading list to choose from, I only picked a Top 6 Favorite Reads this year. In alphabetical order:

  1. The Prophet by Ethan Cross
  2. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
  3. Betrayal by Gregg Olsen
  4. Rules of Prey by John Sandford
  5. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
  6. The Intercept by Dick Wolf

 

End of Year Wrap-Up, READING CHALLENGES 2012

Wrapping Up My 2012 Challenges

Wow … I still can’t believe that we are just a few short days from 2013! And I haven’t done anything in regards to my yearly reading statistics/favorites/new challenges/old challenges, etc. Ugh. There’s just not enough time in the day anymore. It never stops. Of course getting the flu earlier in the week did not help one bit. Honestly, I may just only do a Top 10 reads this year – no one really needs to know all the other junk I always include – plus I don’t have the time or energy to sit down and calculate it all up like I have in the past.

But tonight I’m just going to do a quick one post wrap up of the 3 challenges I participated in this year. Unfortunately, I only successfully completed one of those challenges. But that’s okay – I had a lot of fun either way.

Here goes:

First up is The Eclectic Reader Challenge. I actually completed 75% of this challenge, and to be completely honest with you, the four genres that I was unable to finish (Literary Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Classic) were the ones that I knew I would have trouble filling when I originally signed up. So I’m happy with how far I got.

GENRES:
Literary Fiction
Crime/Mystery Fiction – Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
Romantic Fiction – Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
Historical Fiction – Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews
Young Adult – Betrayal by Gregg Olsen
Fantasy
Science Fiction – DiSemblance by Shanae Branham
Non Fiction – Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Horror
Thriller /Suspense – The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
Classic
Your favourite genre – Crime/Mystery Fiction: Damage by John Lescroart


Next up is the Mystery & Suspense Challenge. Let me be completely honest here – this is the easiest challenge in the world for me. Mystery and Suspense books are my absolute favorites. It makes up the majority of my reading. So it would be almost impossible for me to not complete this challenge. I originally signed up for 12 books, but I ended up reading 24 – very happy 🙂

  1. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
  2. Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
  3. Damage by John Lescroart
  4. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
  5. Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Stuab
  6. The Immortals by J.T. Ellison
  7. The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
  8. Split Second by David Baldacci
  9. Stolen Prey by John Sandford
  10. The Pawn by Steven James
  11. Tick Tock by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
  12. The Wrong Man by David Ellis
  13. Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
  14. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  15. Sly Fox by Judge Jeanine Pirro
  16. Blowback by Brad Thor
  17. DiSemblance by Shanae Branham
  18. The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien
  19. Betrayal by Gregg Olsen
  20. Takedown by Brad Thor
  21. The Prophet by Ethan Cross
  22. Rules of Prey by John Sandford
  23. Father Night by Eric Van Lustbader
  24. The Intercept by Dick Wolf

And finally – Off the Shelf. *Sigh* I really am kind of disappointed with this one. I knew I was taking a big chance when I signed up for 30 books (having a baby definitely puts a damper on reading), but I was determined to clear off my shelves. Okay, so I managed 15 – that’s 50% of my goal. Not bad. But definitely not where I would have preferred to end the year.

  1. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
  2. Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
  3. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
  4. Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub
  5. The Immortals by J.T. Ellison
  6. Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler & Craig Dirgo
  7. The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
  8. Split Second by David Baldacci
  9. Under Cover of Daylight by James W. Hall
  10. The Pawn by Steven James
  11. Tick Tock by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
  12. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  13. Blowback by Brad Thor
  14. Takedown by Brad Thor
  15. Rules of Prey by John Sandford

So there you have it. There’s my quick wrap-up. I’ve already got my eye on some of the 2013 challenges. But I’m definitely going to try to control myself again this year. I hate setting myself up for disappointment. I’ve been considering not signing up for some of them, just trying to do them myself, without completely committing to them. But there are a couple out there that I am definitely signing up for – keep checking back for that info 🙂

5/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, Review Book

2012.33 REVIEW – Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

Low Pressure
by Sandra Brown

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 343
Rating: 5/5Low Pressure
Read: Dec. 13 – Dec. 18 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge
Yearly count: 33
Format: E-book
Source: NetGalley

Blurb: Bellamy Lyston was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed in a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy’s fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the day’s most devastating moments.

Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a sensational, bestselling novel based on Susan’s murder. Because the book was inspired by the tragic event that still pains her family, she published it under a pseudonym to protect them from unwanted publicity. But when an opportunistic reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers the book is based on fact, Bellamy’s identity is exposed along with the family scandal.

Moreover, Bellamy becomes the target of an unnamed assailant who either wants the truth about Susan’s murder to remain unknown or, even more threatening, is determined to get  vengeance for a man wrongfully accused and punished.

In order to identify her stalker, Bellamy must confront the ghosts of her past, including Dent Carter, Susan’s wayward and reckless boyfriend – and an original suspect in the murder case. Dent, with this and other stains on his past, is intent on clearing his name, and he needs Bellamy’s sealed memory to do it. But her safeguarded recollections – once unlocked – pose dangers that neither could foresee and puts both their lives in peril.

As Bellamy delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Susan’s slaying, she discovers disturbing elements of the crime which call into question the people she holds most dear. Haunted by partial memories, conflicted over her feelings for Dent, but determined to learn the truth, she won’t stop until she reveals Susan’s killer.

That is, unless Susan’s killer strikes her first…


Review: I loaded this book onto my Nook and started it on my airplane ride to Hawaii. I was immediately sucked in and I have to say that it was the perfect vacation book. I found it to be very fast paced and exciting. I could hardly stand to put it down because I kept wanting more and more of it!

I especially enjoyed how a tornado really played into the storyline. On Feb. 29, 2012, my hometown of Harrisburg, IL, was hit by an EF-4 tornado. Both of my grandparents and my parents were all in the path of this storm. And it was a killer storm too – I believe 7 people lost their lives. My family was lucky to walk away with their lives, but their homes and emotions were not as intact as their physical beings. Knowing what a storm like that can do to a person, I found it very intriguing how Bellamy’s fear of storms and her memory loss was tied to the tornado in the book.

Little by little, Bellamy’s memory came back to her. I quite enjoyed seeing how she pieced everything together – what was revealed to her by something very minute would bring back quite a chunk of her memory.

The who-dun-it part of the story, while intriguing, was not exactly surprising. About halfway through the book I began to suspect the person who did end up being the killer. Like I said, it wasn’t really all that big of a shocking twist, but it still came together quite well at the end.

This book would not be for the under 18 crowd. There was quite a bit of steamy encounters between Bellamy and Dent. Personally, it didn’t bother me, but it might not be for everyone.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I feel as if it’s another great book by Sandra Brown and one not to be missed! Highly recommended.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Cotton Malone, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2012, READING CHALLENGES 2012, SERIES

2012.32 REVIEW – The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry

The Charlemagne Pursuit
by Steve Berry

Copyright: 2009
Pages: 576
Rating: 4/5
Read: Nov. 29 – Dec. 13, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge; Off the Shelf Challenge
Yearly count: 32
Format: Paper book
Source: Personal Copy

The Charlemagne PursuitBlurb: As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told that his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic. But what he now learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.

Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are also determined to find out what became of their father, who died on the same submarine–and they know something Malone doesn’t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne’s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in “the language of heaven,” conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and his father’s ill-fated voyage are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters, he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father’s death and the distinct possibility of his own.


Review: I feel as if I’m failing my readers here, because unfortunately I did not take very good notes after finishing this book and have read two books since reading this one, so I apologize if my review isn’t as in-depth as it should be.

This is the fourth book in the Cotton Malone series. I think what I like the best about these books is the way that Mr. Berry seems to effortlessly weave history into his fiction without it begin dull. Add some gunfights and adventure to that history and you’ve got a roller coaster ride.

I will say that the only reason that I rated this book a 4 instead of a 5 was that it lagged a little bit here and there. I think part of the problem was that I enjoyed one of the storylines more than the other. And unfortunately I honestly preferred the secondary storyline – not the one that Cotton was really involved in. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good book all around – because it definitely was. I think my problem with it was that I really didn’t care for what the Charlemagne Pursuit ended up being. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I also didn’t like that Henrik and Cassiopeia weren’t in this book at all – they’ve been pretty important characters in the previous books and this one left them out completely. However, we do get to see more of Stephanie’s character in this installment, so that was nice to see.

I definitely would start at the beginning of this series, because this book would not read so great as a stand-alone. However, I did enjoy that we finally got to know a little bit about the enigma that was Cotton’s father. I found that to be very interesting.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and this series. It was a fun read – but at 576 pages it’s not a very quick read.

 

Life, Miscellaneous Ramblings

Needing a vacation from my vacation!

ALOHA!

Wowzers. I had one heck of a vacation. And I am absolutely exhausted!

We went to Hawaii. We did the 7 day Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of America cruise. It’s essentially a way to island hop without having to deal with the airport. It was nice – we sailed out of Honolulu and then went to Maui, Hilo, Kona and Kauai. We had a blast. We did way too many things and completely wore ourselves out.

I will write up a more detailed vacation post when I have time later on. I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that I am still here – just a little MIA at the time. Oh and I have to say that we attempted to do the sunrise at Maui based solely on Trish’s (Love Laughter Insanity) recommendation. You can read her write up about it here. Unfortunately, you will notice that I stated we “attempted” it. We had a big major fail. It was miserable. Cold. Rainy. A little sleet here and there. And yep, you guessed it – nothing but cloud cover. The sun came up and you could see absolutely NOTHING. Oh well. Oh, and Trish if you read this – we were actually one of those crazy bike riders on the way down 🙂 That was fun and made up for the disastrous sunrise.

However, I am excited to tell you that I have THREE reviews to write! Yep, that’s right – I finished THREE books on my vacation! Woo. Of course it takes a long time for us to get to Hawaii. We had to drive to St. Louis (3 hours from home) take a plane to Dallas (2 hours) and then flew nonstop from there to Honolulu (8.5 hours on the way out; 6.75 hours on the way home). Lots and lots of free time to read. But you will have to wait for one of the reviews, I’m not scheduled to post it until early January. I still have a lot of books to read – I have a couple more review books coming up that I must get to ASAP, but at least I got the two most pressing review books out of the way.

You have no idea how excited I am that I was able to sneak those three books in – it definitely made my yearly total look much better than I had originally thought it would be. If I finish one more book this year that will make #35 and I would be absolutely ecstatic!

The bad part about taking that vacation? Time change – it’s now 11:43pm here as I’m typing this and I am wide awake … because it’s only 7:43pm Hawaii time. Ugh. Which will not be pretty when Garrett decides to wake up tomorrow morning at 6:30am. Guess I’d better get to bed.

I hope to be writing some reviews and posts in the coming week. I need to start wrapping everything up for 2012. I still can’t believe it’s almost 2013! INSANE!

Random Book Discussions

Thinking About 2013

Wow … I can’t believe that I actually just typed “2013” into the title of this post! It seems unreal. It seems like just yesterday it was turning into 2012. It also doesn’t feel like I have a 6 month old son – but I do 🙂

It’s always this time of year when I start reflecting back on what I have accomplished in the current year and trying to figure out what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

So … as of today, I sit at 31 books read for the year. That’s not too shabby in my opinion. I mean, I did give birth in May. And honestly, I have actually read more books after Garrett was born than I did while I was waiting for him to arrive! Crazy, right? Not really when I think about it – I had a really bad case of pregnancy brain! I couldn’t concentrate on anything!

In 2012 I signed up for 3 reading challenges. Only one of them (Mystery & Suspense) I was able to successfully complete. The other two I made good progress, but I won’t be able to finish them completely. That’s okay though, I’m pleased as to where I am overall.

So what is it that I want to do with my reading next year? Well, I need to read off my shelves. I have been seriously contemplating putting my Bookmooch and Paperbackswap accounts on vacation for the first quarter of 2013. I have a gazillion books on my shelves simply because I cannot keep myself from requesting more books from those sites. I think what I will do is put my accounts on hold and only open them back up to send out books that I know are on other people’s wish lists. I need a serious break from bringing books into this house!

I have already seen quite a few reading challenges that I am really interested in signing up for next year. I need to control myself on that front as well. And I’ve taken on more than a few review books for next year as well. I’m going to have to reign myself in on those requests too so that I don’t get too overwhelmed on review books.

So what do I really want to accomplish? Well, obviously I really want to concentrate on books that I have on my shelves. I’d really like to concentrate on getting some of my series’ caught up. I only have a ton of series that I follow and I hate not being able to read the latest one because I’m so far behind in the series. If only I weren’t so addicted to book series, lol.

There have been many times in the past year that I have seriously considered hanging up the blog. January 1st, 2013 will see me into my 5th year of blogging. I don’t have near the time to commit to it anymore. I very rarely even turn my computer on, and it’s challenging to update with my iPad. I’m also not reading as much as I used to. I was posting anywhere between 1 and 3 book reviews a week. Now I’m lucky to finish 3 books in a month! I sometimes feel as if my blog is full of nothing but memes – and that’s not what I want for this blog, I want it to have meaning – not just posts to have a post up. The blogging community has changed so much lately – things are so competitive and petty. It’s like high school all over again – and trust me, I so do not want to go back there again. It’s just not the same as it was. Either that or I’m just starting to outgrow it. It probably also doesn’t help that for the past 4 years I have kept this blog a secret from everyone I know except my husband. No one else in my real life even knows I have this – I’ve always been to shy/embarrassed about it. It’s not something that I want to share with people I know in real life. And that upsets me, it makes me feel as if it might not be something I should really be doing. However, I worked hard to get the followers that I have and the contacts that I have with various publicists. I would almost hate to throw it all away, but really, my interest is dwindling quickly. I thought that when I bought my own domain name this year I would feel more energized and confident in my blog. And it helped – and actually, I’ve gotten a lot more interest in review requests since doing it – but, I’m still not where I really want to be with everything. I think where I’m going with this is that I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be keeping up with this blog. Sometimes I just want to take it all offline and keep a paper journal. I miss things like paper and pens. For a while I tinkered with the idea of keeping both, but I’m just not sure that I would have the time to do both of them.

I’m just so unsure as to where I really want to go with this blog. I know I will miss a lot of good people who I’ve met through this blog if I do indeed decide to close up shop. But my faithful readers know that I’m so fickle in two months time I might be back on the bandwagon and having a blast with it again, lol. Don’t delete me off your Google reader just yet 🙂

Either way – my ultimate goal in 2013 is to just have fun and read some good books.

How about you – what are your 2013 goals?

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Why I Had to Have a Different Nook….

Okay, so my long-term readers might remember that back in November 2010 I was the proud owner of a new Nook Color. I was thrilled to have one. My parents even let me have it a whole month before Christmas. I was ecstatic.

Then reality hit. The battery life sucked. (I am still convinced mine was defective since my mom’s battery life was a gazillion times better than mine … and we had purchased that extended warranty that “promised” a replacement Nook if something was wrong – LIARS! They did all these stupid updates, made me get on the phone with customer service, blah blah blah .. and essentially did absolutely nothing to fix the darned thing).

So it sat. Unused, practically. I think I could probably count on two hands how many e-books I read on the thing. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

In the back of my head, I was silently kicked myself in the butt because I knew when my parents bought it for me it wasn’t the one I really wanted. At the time I wanted a Kindle. But my mom is so anti-Amazon that she was determined I would not be getting a Kindle. We were having the Nooks and that was that. Okay, fine, but did I really need the $250 Color? No! And in fact, I told her I specifically wanted the e-ink version. That it would be much better to read on. That the Color was going to be like reading on a computer. Yeah, you can see how that worked out – I walked away with a brand new Nook Color.

And at first I was happy. But then I started having trouble with the battery life and by that point I was so frustrated that I never wanted to pick the thing back up. I did read on it here or there a few times. But nothing serious. Heck, I had to charge the thing every night if I used it even 45 minutes (see – it has to be defective!). I would take it to the gym ready to read only to find out that it was completely dead. FRUSTRATING!

Now it sits in my entertainment center collecting dust. Sad, but true.

My birthday rolled around in July. And I got some cash. I was determined I was going to buy that $69 Kindle. My husband talked me out of it – he claimed that I wouldn’t use it because the Nook sits unused. Then I decided that I wouldn’t be happy with the cheap version anyway, so I never purchased one. Christmas season started to hit and I started up again on how I wanted a Kindle. My husband actually went to Best Buy on Black Friday (later in the day, he didn’t fight the crazies at midnight) and purchased me a brand-new Kindle Fire. Came home with it. And then I had to tell him that it wasn’t the one I wanted. I wanted the Paperwhite. He took it back. And found that you couldn’t find the Paperwhite anywhere. And the website says it’s not available to ship until Dec. 21st. I wanted this thing to take on our upcoming trip to Hawaii … before Dec. 21st. So then he said, well what about a Nook?

I got on the website and started looking around and saw that they made a new Nook with Glowlight. I was immediately intrigued. I wanted one. But he made me go to the store and look at it before he agreed to buy it for me.

I walked away with a brand new Nook with Glowlight that day! And that night I bought my first e-book on it (Killing Kennedy) and was reading up a storm on it. As you can imagine, I think my husband is glad that I am actually using the one that he bought me 🙂

So will I stick with this one? I sure hope so. Will it end up in the entertainment center like the Color? I hope not.

Who knows. I’m so fickle you never know what I will decide. But I will say that I’ve bought 4 more e-books and downloaded one from Netgalley already, so I obviously have plans to use this one.

I just still can’t figure out why on earth I let my mother talk me into the Nook Color two years ago! I knew I wanted the e-ink version at the time. But now I have it and I hope I’m happy with it for the long term.