Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA 2013: Ethics


Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots

Welcome once again, Armchair BEA’ers! I sure do hope that the week has been treating you as well as it has me!

I had trouble deciding whether or not I would focus on ethics or non-fiction. In the end I figured ethics would be a better route for me to take. Not necessarily because I don’t read or like non-fiction, because I do, it’s just that I haven’t read enough non-fiction lately to really feel comfortable discussing it.

So. Ethics.

Where to start? Let me start with a story.

Way back when (not that long ago, though), I was a freshman in college taking English 201. It wasn’t a hard class, but my teacher was a little on the tough side. We were assigned a research paper. I have no idea what my topic was but I remember very clearly spending a lot of time on it and being very proud of my work. I turned it in and was confident that it was an A or B caliber paper. Then I got an email from my instructor asking me to come to his office hours to discuss my paper. I was a little nervous because he didn’t give me any indication as to what was wrong, but I figured it couldn’t be too bad. Boy was I in complete and utter shock when he announced that my paper verged on total plagiarism and that he was up in the air as to whether or not he should bring it to the attention of the administration. I was horrified. All I could think of was that this man was going to completely ruin my college career in my second semester! For whatever reason, he took pity on me and let me go back and revise my paper and properly cite everything. Needless to say I over-cited everything after that day. Every single time I wrote a paper I would have footnotes that would be like three pages long! But I was definitely not wanting to have that experience ever again.

So what does that have to do with our discussion about ethics? Well, everything.

I don’t remember if it was last year or the year before, but I kept hearing a lot of buzz around some bloggers that there was a plagiarist amongst us. I never found out who the alleged culprit was, I never really cared all that much. But I know it was a she and she was bashed big time. If she still blogs I can’t imagine how she would have any readers left considering the word-of-mouth that got around.

So it’s very important that as bloggers we do not plagiarise! Most bloggers are okay with you branching off something that they’ve already done before, but you must, must, must either run it by them before you do it, or say something like “such-and-such blogger posted this here <insert the link to the original post> and it made me start to think about it and here’s my opinion”. It’s not hard to do. But it’s something that needs to be handled with care.

Here’s another example that I know of. My college had a chancellor who came in and did a lot of good things for our school. But it was also a lot of expensive changes that were met with some resistance. Everything was going good until come to find out that he had pretty much plagiarized his entire plan. The catch? He plagiarized himself! Yes, you read that right. He had implemented changes at the school he was chancellor at before our school. Then he came to our school and intended to do the same exact thing. But apparently he just took the report that he prepared at the first school and changed some names around and submitted it to our school. It was a slippery slope. It was all his original ideas, after all. But they were original ideas that he had implemented elsewhere and it just looked plain bad. I mean, could the guy not come up with something else? Or at least prepare a brand new report?

So as you can see from that example, plagiarism is not always cut and dry.

Personally I try to only glance at reviews for books that I know I am going to have to review for authors/publicists/blog tours, etc. I do this so that when I sit down to write my own review I know that there hasn’t been any outside influences. It’s all coming from my head. Sure I might still come up with some of the same praise or complaints, but it’s going to be worded in my own way.

But I think that the best advice I can give is something that I really lived by when I was in college: it’s always better to over-cite than under-cite.

Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA 2013: Giveaway


Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots

Good morning, friends!

I’ve really been enjoying Armchair BEA! I’ve “met” a lot of great bloggers that I never knew existed! So awesome! So today I am participating in the giveaway part of all this bookish goodness!

I have decided that I would give away 5 books. The way this will work is you will sign up through the Google form below. Your spot on the spreadsheet it generates will be your number that I will then use on to chose the winners. There will be a total of 4 winners for this giveaway … the person whose number comes up first on will be winner #1 and so on for the other 3 winners. Winner #1 will be given the first choice and will choose two books. Winners #2 and #3 will have their selection from the list with winner #4 getting the remaining book. I hope that makes sense … I’m not sure I worded that appropriately. If you have any  questions at all, do not hesitate to ask me.

So … what are the books you’re signing up for? Here goes:

Untold Damage A Case of Redemption The Last Victim Deadly Harvest 20130331-102247.jpg

Okay, so Untold Damage is an ARC that I have read once, A Case of Redemption is an ARC that I have read once, The Last Victim is brand new mass market paperback that I have an extra copy of, Deadly Harvest is an ARC that I have read once, Evidence of Life is a finished copy that I have read once. I have not read The Last Victim, but all of the others in this giveaway were highly enjoyable reads in my opinion.

Fine print: Open to US residents only. (Sorry to my international readers). Signups will close at 10pm central time on 6/1. The winners will be contacted by email for their selections shortly thereafter and will be announced on the blog 6/2 in my wrap-up post. As always, your contact information will be kept confidential and will be deleted as soon as the winners have responded with their choices.

Baby Book Addict

Happy birthday, Garrett!

Oh. My. Gosh.

How on earth is it that this perfect little boy has been in our lives for a year now? I find it so unbelievable!

And what a year it has been. There have been many tears. Lots of smiles. Sweet perfect giggles. Oh and the snores are pretty sweet as well! It has by far been the best year of my life.

Right now he’s a happy little dude. He crawls like a champ. Can walk with assistance, but chooses not to most of the time. He babbles to himself constantly. He can say “hi”  and “da” (his word for dog). He’s a picky eater 😦 But he loves apple juice and cheerios. He loves music and dances a lot! His new obsession is to take items out of one thing and putting them into something else (he puts everything in the waste can I keep in his room). Oh and he’s found the dog bowls, that’s been lots of fun!

As I said it’s been the best (and hardest) year of my life. I know it will only get better from here and I’m so looking forward to seeing him grow over the next year!


Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA 2013: Blogger development


Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots

Hello fellow Armchair BEA’ers! Today I will be discussing blogger development.

First I need to say that I’m not necessarily a “big” blogger … I don’t have a million followers. I don’t have book after book arriving in my mailbox (well, not review books anyway!). I don’t write posts that garner hundreds of comments.

But you know what, that’s all okay with me. I like how I have developed within the book blog world. I like the “spot” that I have carved out for myself.


When I started blogging in 2008 I had no idea where I really wanted to take things. But I saw how some of the “big” bloggers were doing things and I knew that I wanted to be just like them. Oh how my feelings have changed over the years as I have seen blogger after blogger burn out. Especially since I have been on the edge of burnout myself more than a time or two 🙂

For those of you who were blogging back in 2008, you may remember J.Kaye. Well she put out a note that she would pass along your info to her publisher contacts since she was stepping away from things. I took advantage of that, and she is how I got my foot in the door as far as cultivating relationships with publishers/publicists/authors.

So I guess you could really say that word of mouth is huge, huge, huge within our community. Without J.Kaye’s help it would have taken me a lot longer to really start getting on people’s radars.

Last year I took the plunge and bought my domain. Best. Decision. Ever. Seriously, if you have the funds I highly recommend doing this. I think all total it was like $32 (but that is a yearly fee). I took the easy route and stuck with, but I was able to become “” And I felt so much better, I felt like one of the “big” bloggers. Silly, I know. But I really enjoy it.

There are still a lot of things that I could be doing to develop myself more. I don’t have a blog Facebook page. I’m not as active as I should be … considering this is my first time participating in Armchair BEA, I’ve only done Bloggiesta once, I’ve never done the read-a-thon, oh and I definitely don’t comment nearly enough. I’m just now starting to come out of my shell more and converse with other bloggers on Twitter.

If you ever really want a good laugh at yourself, go back and look at a few of your first reviews and/or posts. I guarantee you will die of embarrassment. At least I do. Sometimes I really wish I could make some of the things I said go away (like the time I ripped an author for not liking his book … only to have him stop by and comment … oops!) You live and learn. You grow. You develop. It takes a lot of time to do so.

I always think of blogging as a side thing. There have been a lot of times when I have seriously considered hanging things up. Just giving it all up. Heck, no one in my real life other than my husband even knows that this blog even exists. It’s not something that I have ever shared with anyone else.  But then I realize that  I have some loyal readers that  take the time out of their day to post a comment on my blog – something that makes all of the work, hassle, time and effort completely 100% worth it.

Sometimes I wish I had done things differently. Since you can’t undo the past, all you can do is continue developing. And that’s what I’m working on right now. My loyal followers know that this blog has become more than just a book blog. I occasionally write personal posts. I like to share recipes with my readers. My life consists of more than just books and I want this blog to reflect that … which I hope it does.

Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA 2013: Introductions


Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots

Hello, hello! I’m super excited to participate in Armchair BEA this year! For whatever reason I have never participated in this and decided that this was the year to jump right in 🙂

So on this kick-off day we are supposed to post our introductions. Here are the five questions that I’m choosing to answer:

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
    • My name is Tara. I’m 27 years old. My husband and I have one son, Garrett, who will be celebrating his first (!) birthday this week on the 30th.
    • I have been blogging since January 1, 2008. Sometime in late 2007 I stumbled across some various reading groups on Yahoo. Through those I found the book blog world. I guess I just decided why not? My blog was born on 1/1/08 on Blogger. Sometime in December of 2008 I made the switch to WordPress.
  2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.
    • I am blogging from Paducah, Kentucky. We are originally from Harrisburg, Illinois, but have been living in Paducah (which is about 1 hour from “home”) since April of 2008 when my husband took a job with the city.
    • Paducah’s claim to fame is that we are the Quilt Capital of the World. No joke. Every April people swarm our area for a quilt show that is put on downtown. It’s a nightmare for those of us who live here, but it brings a lot of money to our town.
  3. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?
    • This is my first time participating in Armchair BEA!
    • My online presence is a lot like my real-life presence – I’m shy, quiet and I keep to myself a lot. In other words I don’t comment nearly as much as I should and I tend to not participate in events like these.
    • I figured it was time to participate in this. I remember seeing everyone’s posts last year and really regretted not joining in last year so I figured this year would be the year to hop in!
  4. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
  5. Name your favorite blog(s) and explain why they are your favorite(s).
    • In no particular order:
      • Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity  – Trish has managed to really break the book blog mold, she does so much more than just books and she does it so effortlessly it seems. I’m always anxious to see what she will post next!
      • Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty –  I’ve “known” Wendy through a Yahoo group for a while. She is a go-to for book reviews for me – I’m always finding new goodies from her blog! Highly recommend checking her blog out if you have the chance. Plus I’ve enjoyed watching her Mouse grow on Facebook and her blog 🙂
      • Sam at Booked on a Feeling – Sam has been a follower of mine for a few years now and I really always enjoy what she posts. She writes some good reviews, we read just about the same type of books and I really enjoy her blog.
      • Jackie at Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories – I’ve “known” Jackie for a few years now. I always enjoy having her stop by my blog and comment and I love to read her blog – even though I don’t comment nearly enough, I hope she knows I read regularly 🙂
      • Stacy at Stacy’s Books – I stumbled across Stacy a year or so ago and really enjoyed her Sunday’s with Gage series that she sadly retired this year (which is understandable – it had to be a ton of work! But what a wonderful record she has now!) She’s also got some great reviews and her weekly quizzes are always fun!!

RECIPE: Fra Diavolo Sauce with Pasta

Fra Diavolo Sauce with Pasta (8 servings)

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (16 ounce) package linguine pasta
  • 8 ounces small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 ounces bay scallops
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Add the shrimp and scallops. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the shrimp turn pink. Add shrimp and scallops to the tomato mixture, and stir in the parsley. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce just begins to bubble. Serve sauce over pasta.

Recipe Source:

Personal Review: So I failed to take a picture, and I do apologize for that – but you can always click on the source link and see the user photos on the site.

I felt like this recipe was very easy to make. Personally, I made it with whole wheat pasta and I probably added a ton more red pepper flakes than was in the recipe. I never measure stuff like that out.

I enjoyed this recipe and it was easy to put together – the sauce had to simmer for quite some time and probably could have simmered a little bit longer to really get the flavor to come out even more.

If you’re not a big seafood fan, I think this sauce would do well as a meatless entrée option.

AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.22 REVIEW – A Case of Redemption by Adam Mitzner

A Case of Redemption
by Adam Mitzner

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 317
Read: May 14-21, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 22
Format: Print
Source: FSB Associates for review

Blurb: Dan Sorenson was once a high-powered New York defense attorney … but that was before a horrifying accident killed the two people in his life who meant the most, plunging him into a downward spiral. As he approaches rock bottom, Dan is unexpectedly offered the opportunity of a lifetime: defend an up-and-coming rapper in a murder trial on the front page of every newspaper. Although his client swears he’s innocent of the brutal slaying of his pop star girlfriend, proving it will not be easy. Unsure that he’s ready to handle such a high-stakes case, Dan realizes that this chance to save a man he believes has been falsely accused of murder just may be his last and only hope to put his own life back on track and achieve redemption for his past sins. Bust as Dan delves deeper into the case, he learns that atonement comes at a very steep price.

Review: What a roller coaster ride! Just when I thought I had it all figured out Mr. Mitzner threw a huge curveball at me that I never saw coming!

I suppose I should start by talking about the characters. Let me just tell you right now, dear readers, that there will be one character that you will more than likely hate with all your being when you finish the last page. At least that’s how it was with me. Obviously so as not to spoil what happened, I won’t tell you which character it is, but I was very frustrated with the way things ended up. Of course the turn of events that happened really makes the story, but since I’m so big on characters and their development, I was a little more than upset by the betrayal.

The storyline felt fresh to me. I kept going back and forth trying to figure out if L.D. (the rapper on trial) was guilty or not. The writing was really good – I didn’t notice any grammatical errors and the dialogue flowed quite well.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book that I was more than ecstatic to look and find Mr. Mitzner’s first book, A Conflict of Interest, was sitting on my shelf! I’m definitely looking forward to reading his first book and his future books. I have a feeling that I have found another new favorite author! Highly excited about that one!

I would definitely recommend this book.

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #9


Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

A Case of Redemption

Today I’m featuring a review book that I am currently reading –A Case of Redemption by Adam Mitzner

“Where should I start?”

This is what my clients would say, back when I had clients. And they’d say it with the utmost sincerity, as if they truly didn’t know how to explain the circumstances that gave rise to their seeking out a criminal defense lawyer who charged a thousand bucks an hour.

It wasn’t that they didn’t know when the facts concerning the crime began, but they wanted to emphasize that there was a context, a preface to all that followed. By indicating they didn’t know where to start, they were telling me that something came before they crossed the line into criminal conduct, and that was important, too.

So, where should I start?

I’ve only got about 100 pages to go before I finish this book and I am really enjoying this one. Look for my review later this week.

AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Read in 2013, Review Book, S, TLC Book Tours

2013.21 REVIEW – Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley

Deadly Harvest
by Michael Stanley

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 469
Read: May 1-13, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 21
Format: Print
Source: TLC Book Tours

Deadly HarvestBlurb: A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge.

As the trail grows cold, Samantha – a new detective (and the only woman) with the Botswana police force – is reminded of a childhood friend who had gone missing, and she devotes herself to keeping the first case open. She suspects that the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African medicine usually derived from plants and sometimes animals. But recent evidence shows that human parts are being incorporated into certain potions to conjure up a supposedly more potent formula. Detective Kubu joins forces with Samantha to take the investigation to the next level.

Meanwhile, Witness is convinced that his daughter, too, was murdered for muti – for a potion to ensure an election victory for opposition leader Marumo. On the night of Marumo’s win, Witness waits outside the politician’s home and murders him before fleeing town. Now Kubu and Samantha have yet another murder investigation on their hands, and the search of Marumo’s home yields a sample of muti that confirms their worst fears: the formula includes traces of human DNA and remains.

Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer or killers – and those who would pay for their special, lethal muti.

Review: I don’t really know where to start with this review.So I guess I should start with the one thing that is weighing heavily on my mind about this book. As a mother, I was absolutely appalled that the police just ignored the fact that they had children going missing. They didn’t have enough workers to start a search … they would begin looking on Monday. SAY WHAT!?! I was absolutely disgusted by that. In the United States when a child goes missing it is a very big deal – as it should be. The whole idea that the police would start looking in a “few days” for a child who has gone missing was a little beyond comprehension in my opinion. I don’t know if that is how things are done in other countries, but I had a very big issue with it – it bothered me a lot.

I was definitely glad when Samantha entered the picture and started actually paying attention to the fact that young girls were going missing and no one was doing anything about it. It was a definitely relief for me that someone in the book cared! I think that’s probably part of the reason why I really liked her character. I can’t imagine trying to be a woman detective in Africa! I was glad that she had the backing of Kubu – he really stepped outside the comfort zone of most detectives to be of assistance to her. And Kubu, oh what a character he is! Smart and likeable, a great combination for sure! I think I saw my favorite side of him while we were getting insight into his personal life, between him and his wife adopting Nono and the visits to his parents’ house on Sunday, we really get to see a softer side to Kubu. I really enjoyed his character.

At the heart of this book is the idea of muti – a very special “potion” of sorts that will give power to those who use it. It’s made by witch doctors and while most witch doctors use animal parts in their muti, some of the very bad witch doctors actually use human parts. When you read the author’s note at the end of the book we are told that this actually does happen. Can you imagine that? I sure had trouble wrapping my head around the fact that this is something that actually happens in parts of the world – very scary!

I think that the character development in this book was really amazing. All the characters were fleshed out nicely. I enjoyed this book, a lot more than I had anticipated, actually. I felt as if it was a great story. I didn’t even know who the witch doctor was until it was revealed at the end – it wasn’t even anyone that I had on my radar! This is the fourth book in the Detective Kubu series, but it stands very well on its own. Personally I have never read a book set in Africa. Part of the reason I accepted this book for review was because of the setting alone. I knew it would be out of my comfort zone and I thoroughly enjoyed the setting.

Overall I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to read this book, and I definitely will be on the lookout for more Detective Kubu books! I would definitely recommend this book.

Connect with Michael Stanley:

Michael StanleyWebsite



**This review is posted in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours blog tour. I received a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.

tlc logoPlease be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, April 30th: The Year in Books
Wednesday, May 1st: Between the Covers
Thursday, May 2nd: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, May 6th: 50 Books Project
Tuesday, May 7th: Traveling With T
Thursday, May 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, May 13th: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, May 14th: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, May 15th: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, May 16th: My Bookish Ways
Monday, May 20th: Tales of a Book Addict

Miscellaneous Ramblings

I’ve been MIA …

… sorry about that. I know better than to neglect my blog for a week at a time, but it’s been crazy around here.

Warmer weather = more work for Tara, so I’ve been extremely busy. I’ve gone from working 1-2 days a week to 3-4. We’ve put Garrett on daycare lists 😦 This makes me sad but relieved at the same time. I’m ready to go back to work. We won’t be putting him in full-time, just 3 days a week. But I definitely need to get back to work ASAP. It’s getting so hard to work from home, I find myself behind on my work more and more. It’s just time. Ideally I want to work 4 days and have 1 day at home with Garrett. Winter time will be different because we usually aren’t busy in the winter (I work at a concrete company).

My computer is half-dead, so I have ordered a new one. It’s supposed to be delivered on Tuesday! I made the switch to Mac – I’m super excited but also scared to make the switch. I think I will love it. When I was in high school I was issued a Mac laptop for my journalism class (I was feature editor my senior year, editors all got to take home laptops) and I loved it. And I have an iPhone and an iPad that I use tons – but I have been holding off on making the switch from PC. But I’ve been so disappointed in this Dell I’ve had the last 3 years that I decided it was time to take the plunge … we shall see!

Nathan and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary on May 16th. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I guess we are getting old, lol.

Garrett’s birthday is in less than 2 weeks! What the heck?! Where on earth has the time gone? My baby is going to be 1! ONE YEAR OLD! I’m sad. But not anxious to have another one – much to the chagrin of my in-laws, lol. We will likely be a one child family. I was an only child and loved it. Besides, I’m not really all that anxious to go through the itty-bitty baby stuff again … or the sleepless nights 🙂

I’ll have a few things to post this coming week, I’ve got my review of Michael Stanley’s Deadly Harvest ready to go on 5/20. I would definitely recommend it. Also look for a new recipe next week 🙂

I’ve been reading, just very sporadically. I’m right in the middle of an ARC of Adam Mitzner’s A Case of Redemption. I’m really enjoying it, look for my review of that by the end of next week (maybe I will get to write it on my new laptop!!)

Hope everyone has a great weekend, we don’t have anything going on today. But tomorrow we are going to the in-laws and spend the day at their house.

I’ll try not to let it go a week before I post again!

Happy reading 🙂