Monthly Wrap Up

January 2014 Wrap-Up

I haven’t done a monthly wrap-up post in what feels like forever. But part of my personal resolutions for this blog was to keep myself on track by posting them again. It’s just a way for me to focus on my blog a little more than I have been in the last year or so. I have a new resolve to make this blog into something more stable and I’m determined to see it through!

I’m sure the format of these posts will change until I find one that I like best, so bear with me on that. But here’s what I’ve got for you this month..

Books read: 4

The Winter PeopleLittle Girl LostThe HostageSeparation of Power

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon (Review coming 2/11/14)
Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway (Review coming 2/18/14)
The Hostage by W.E.B. Griffin
Separation of Power by Vince Flynn

Pages read: 1760

Challenge Progress:

Eclectic Reader Challenge: 2/12
Official TBR Pile Challenge: 1/12
What’s in a Name Challenge: 1/6

Books received: 16 (see list here)

Purchased New: 4
Received from Paperbackswap: 2
E-Galleys: 4
Hard copy Review books: 2
From my Grandmother: 4

Memes posted: 8

Events Participated In: Bout of Books

I read a total of 7 hours and 36 minutes
I read 467 pages
I finished 1 book

Recipes shared: 2

Mexican Lasagna
Pizza Chicken Roll-Ups

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READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 1

2014tbrbutton

Knock, knock! I am *finally* doing my first check-in … barely sneaking it in at the end of the month! Whew! So when I made my list I knew which books I needed to knock off first. You know, while you still have that fresh, first-of-the-year, read-everything-in-sight feeling? Isn’t there just something lovely about the first of the year and the great prospects it brings with it? I sometimes wonder why we have to have the first of the year for that feeling, but I sure do. Anyway, off topic.

So in January I managed to finish my first (and likely most difficult just due to its sheer size) book for this challenge. I read W.E.B. Griffin’s The Hostage

The Hostage

This book had set on my shelf since early 2009. It did nothing but intimidate me every time I looked at it.

You see, military books are a little out of my comfort zone. Which is funny because I love a good war movie. And I won’t even tell you how often my TV is tuned to the Military Channel…

Add to the fact that this book is 750+ pages.

Yeah ….

So it sat. And sat. And sat some more. I knew it had to make this list if nothing else to get it off of my shelf without regrets, even if it was as a DNF. (I had made multiple book purges and for whatever reason, couldn’t bring myself to part with this one.)

I picked it up first because I knew I needed the first-of-the-year, read-everything-in-sight momentum to tackle it.

And my final thoughts?

Eh.

I was not impressed overall. It was 750+ pages. It took forever to read. And the worst part?! There was no conclusion!! Mr. Griffin wants me to pick up the next 750+ page book in the series to find out the conclusion to this book! I’ve decided to pass. I probably won’t pick back up with this series. But I will read Mr. Griffin again. I have another book of his from a different series on my shelf that I still want to read sometime (and it’s so not 750+ pages!)

I don’t know what my next read for this challenge will be. I have quite a few review books lined up that I have to get to first. My goal is to read 1 book per month for this challenge just so I’m not rushing to catch up in November 🙂

I hope everyone is having a great start to this challenge, I know I’m glad I got that book out of the way first. I feel like I’m off and running now!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Fiction, Mitch Rapp, RATING, Read in 2014, SERIES

2014.4 REVIEW – Separation of Power by Vince Flynn

Separation of Power
by Vince Flynn

Copyright: 2001
Pages: 436
Rating: 4/5
Read: Jan. 17 – 25, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 4
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

Blurb: Newly appointed CIA director, Dr. Irene Kennedy, is the target of an inside plot to destroy her and prematurely end the American President’s term. To make matters worse, Saddam Hussein is close to entering the nuclear arms race – something Israel has vowed to stop. With the haunting specter of World War III looming, the President calls on his secret weapon: top counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp. But with only two weeks to take out the nukes, Rapp is up against a ticking clock – and impossible odds.

From the deadly alleys of Baghdad to the corruption-riddled streets of Washington, D.C. Separation of Power is Vince Flynn at his shell-shocking best – filled with true-to-life insider detail and action that sizzles.


Review: This is the third book in the Mitch Rapp series (but I’m seeing some places call it the 5th because two books have been published in recent years that supposedly come before the first two in the series. Personally, I like to stick with the order they’re published, so this makes book #3).

Last year I read the first two books in the series and enjoyed both of them immensely. I am not entirely sure why it took me so long to go ahead and pick this one up, but I can honestly say that I was not the least bit disappointed. A word of caution though, this book relies heavily on the second book,  The Third Option. This book really picks up where that one left off and goes with that storyline a little bit. Now that’s not to say that you can’t read it as a standalone, I just have a feeling that it makes more sense if you know the whole backstory as to why Mitch goes astray in Italy.

That being said, this book was an exciting read. I don’t have much to complain about in regards to it. I suppose if I had to nit-pick something it would be that the really exciting action happens in probably the last 100 or so pages. But that’s not to say that the book is not enjoyable in any way, because I did not feel that way at all.

The writing is extremely good. The overall storyline is interesting. The character development was excellent. It made me want to pick up the next on in the series when I finished this one. And that’s how series books are supposed to be in my opinion.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what happens in future books now that Mitch has been “outed.” It definitely sets up for some interesting developments that I’m looking forward to discovering in the future!

My only true disappointment is that we lost Mr. Flynn last year. I was very upset when I heard of his death, but I’m even more upset now that I realize that there can only be so many more Mitch Rapp books (I honestly hope his estate doesn’t continue on like some prolific author’s have … I don’t like that at all).

A good solid read and another good installment to a series I highly recommend.

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #13

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Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

The Execution

Today I’m featuring a book that I’m reading for review. 

The explosive noise of the guns had set off a chain reaction, sheets of wet snow dropping from the limbs of the pine trees surrounding Jeremy Fisk. Even after the gunfire stopped, Fisk could hear limbs snapping, snow thudding to earth, a circular cataract expanding, fading away from him like ripples in a frigid pond.

And then the endless forest … went silent.

My God, thought Fisk. They’re all dead.

I was sent a copy of this book to review and I have to tell you … that intro definitely caught my eye! So far I’m only a couple of chapters in, but this book definitely has my attention for now!

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, January 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday has returned home to Mailbox Monday’s site this year.

Just two review books this week:

Fortunate Son Meet James Annesley, son of 18th Century Ireland. Though you may have never heard his name before, his story has already touched you in profound ways. Now, for the first time, novelist David Marlett brings that incredible story to life.

Stretching from the dirty streets of Ireland to the endless possibilities of Colonial America, from drama on the high seas with the Royal Navy to a life-and-death race across England and up the Scottish Highlands, from the prospect of a hangman’s noose to a fate decided in the halls of justice, Fortunate Son is a powerful, relentless epic. Here nobility, duels, love, courage, revenge, honor, and treachery among family, friends and ancient enemies abound. And at its center is the most momentous trial in Irish history – the trial of Annesley v. Anglesea from which our modern “attorney/client privilege” was forged, and our concept of a “jury of one’s peers” was put to the test.

Carefully researched, vividly evoked, and lovingly brought to the page, Fortunate Son is an unforgettable work of fiction based on fact, one that will resonate deep within you long after you finish it.

The ExecutionA number of bodies are discovered on the United States’ border with Mexico, each carved with a bizarre symbol: a hummingbird. Detective Cecilia Garza – dubbed the Ice Queen among her colleagues at the Mexican intelligence agency because she’s famous for never showing an ounce of weakness – arrives at the scene and recognizes the image immediately; it is the calling card of a killer called Chuparosa, a man both feared and celebrated for his cunning and brutality. Known to be incorruptible in a seemingly lawless land, Detective Garza has pursued this killer for years, yet knows little about him, except that he’s merciless and heading to New York City – along with the rest of the world.

It’s United Nations Week in Manhattan and Jeremy Fisk – an integral member of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, an antiterror unit modeled on the CIA – can’t let his grief over a devastating loss keep him from his duty to safeguard the city and the world’s most powerful leaders. Complicating matters is the startling news of a mass murder on the beach in nearby Rockaway – and the arrival of a beautiful and assertive Mexican detective determined to do things her way.

To have a chance at finding and stopping Chuparosa, these uneasy allies must meld their opposing investigative styles. They soon discover that there’s much more to this threat than meets the eye – and Fisk will have to learn the hard way that justice is not always blind.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.3 REVIEW – The Hostage by W.E.B. Griffin

The Hostage
by W.E.B. Griffin

Copyright: 2006
Pages: 750
Rating: 3/5
Read: Jan. 2 – 16, 2014
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge; TBR Pile Challenge
Yearly count: 3
Format: Print
Source: Personal copy

The HostageBlurb: An American diplomat’s wife is kidnapped in Argentina, and her husband murdered before her eyes. She is told her children will be next if she doesn’t tell the kidnappers where her brother is – a man who may know quite a bit about the burgeoning United Nations/Iraq oil-for-food scandal. There is an awful lot of money flying around, and an awful lot of hands are reaching up to grab it, and some of those hands don’t mind shedding as much blood as it takes – even if that blood comes from Charley Castillo…


Review: I have had this book on my shelf since early 2009. I knew it had to make my list for the TBR Challenge if nothing else to at least get it read or otherwise off my shelf as a DNF. I also picked it up first for that challenge because at 750 pages I knew I should get it out of the way immediately if possible.

This is the second in Presidential Agent series. I read the first one, By Order of the President, back in 2008. I knew going into it that I was going to have absolutely no recollection of the characters or storyline from that first book. That always makes me a little apprehensive, but in all honesty, it has no impact on this book. There are a few references to the first book, but for the most part this book reads quite well as a stand-alone.

Overall I was not incredibly impressed by this book. I honestly think that some serious editing could have occurred to cut the page number down to a more reasonable number without missing too much of the story. Looking over the notes I took as I read this book, around the 300 page mark I commented that there was a lot of unnecessary repetition. I feel very strongly that this is very much the case with this book. I would be going along reading only to get to the end of the chapter and Mr. Griffin would have the characters pretty much just sum up everything that just happened in the chapter. Very unnecessary in my opinion and only added to the page count.

The actual storyline was interesting at first, but as the book progressed things kept spiraling and more things were added to the story and I eventually started feeling a little bogged down. And the ending … or should I say, what ending? There are so many questions left hanging that I was a little disgusted. All this lead-up … all 700+ pages of it and no resolution? You mean you want me to read the next 700+ page book in this series to find out the conclusion to this book? No thank you, not at this time.

That pretty much sums up exactly what I felt about this book.

Overall I wouldn’t say it’s bad. It just wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea. Military-esque books are out of my comfort zone. Plus the length was a little bit of an issue for me. But if that’s your thing you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, January 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday has returned home to Mailbox Monday’s site this year.

One of these days I will learn to stay out of the bookstore!

Cemetery Girl The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Starter House

And one e-book for review:

The AccidentAs dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through explosive revelations about powerful people. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate day, these lives will collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril . .

Recipes

RECIPE: Pizza Chicken Roll-Ups

Pizza Chicken Roll-Ups (4 servings)

  • 4 chicken  breasts
  • 12 pepperoni slices
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz) pizza sauce

Directions

  1. Flatten chicken to 1/4″ thickness. Place three slices of pepperoni and one slice of cheese on each. Roll up tightly; secure with toothpicks. Place in a greased 11×7″ baking dish. Spoon pizza sauce over top.
  2. Cover and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Uncover; top with the remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. 

Recipe Source: Taste of Home

Pizza Chicken Roll Ups

Personal Review: Right before the arctic weather hit our little neck of the woods, I went onto Taste of Home’s website and printed out 4 new recipes to try (nothing like a little homemade food on cold wintry nights!) The first recipe I tried was a total bust and won’t be featured here. The second one was this one. 

It gave me the opportunity to put my handy dandy new meat tenderizer as well! I’ve made other roll-up recipes before and never had a tenderizer. So I was excited that I would be able to flatten the chicken breasts correctly! That said, I will admit that I failed to make them thin enough to roll them very easily. But you live and learn and now I know how to flatten those suckers properly, ha! 

Anyway, this recipe is incredibly easy (read: idiot-proof). It’s fast and simple. It tastes great. I will say that I used more than 3 pepperoni slices, opting to put 5 on each roll-up. I think in the future I will add even more pepperoni because I just love pepperoni. I also didn’t plan very well in advance and had absolutely nothing to serve with it. Next time I will try to have some garlic bread, noodles of some sort and a salad. 

Not much else to say about this recipe. It’s good and I highly recommend it. 

wkendcooking

Meme, Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday: Ripper by Isabel Allende

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine, is where we showcase upcoming books that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Today I’m spotlighting a book that I have seen mentioned here and there on blogs, but one that I am really interested in trying (eventually … my TBR wish-list is miles long!) It releases on January 28th.

Ripper
The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Though their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda’s father, she’s reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her—Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco’s elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

While her mom looks for the good in people, Amanda is fascinated by the dark side of human nature—as is her father, the SF PD’s deputy chief of homicide. Brilliant and introverted, the MIT-bound high school senior Amanda is a natural-born sleuth addicted to crime novels and to Ripper, the online mystery game she plays with her beloved grandfather and friends around the world.

When a string of strange murders occurs across the city, Amanda plunges into her own investigation, probing hints and deductions that elude the police department. But the case becomes all too personal when Indiana suddenly vanishes. Could her mother’s disappearance have something to do with the series of deaths? Now, with her mother’s life on the line, Amanda must solve the most complex mystery she’s ever faced before it’s too late.

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #12

20120807-073336.jpg

Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

Little Girl Lost

Today I’m featuring a book that I’m reading for review. 

There was definitely something moving between the trees. He’d been aware of it for a few moments now, a flitting movement he’d catch in the corner of his eye, weaving through the black tree trunks set vertical against the snow. At first he had dismissed it as the result of snow hypnosis from staring too long through the windscreen into the unrelenting down-draught of snowflakes.

I was sent the link to this book in Edelweiss from a publicist. It immediately caught my eye and I read most of it during Bout of Books. It’s really a good book. It releases in the US on February 18, so look for my review on or around that date!