Bout of Books

Bout of Books Wrap-Up

Well… Bout of Books is over! Whew. Let’s just briefly recap what my original goals were:

  • Read at least 100 pages each day.
    • Load my recently acquired e-galleys onto my Nook and start at least one of them.
    • Make some more progress on my current read, a 750+ page chunkster! (I’m on page 335)
  • Participate in at least 1 challenge.
  • Visit at least 5 new blogs each day. And comment :)

So … how did I do?


  • I didn’t make it to 100 pages each day … although I did on two days!
  • I did load, start and finish one of the above mentioned e-galleys.
  • I read 223 pages in the chunkster that I’m *still* reading.
  • I participated in Doing Dewey‘s challenge, introducing people to my favorite genre.
  • And I visited lots of new-to-me blogs, but only left comments on 8 of them.

Here’s my final totals:

  • Time spent reading: 7 hours 36 minutes
  • Pages read: 467
  • Books finished: 1

I’m very pleased with how things with for me this time around. I had participated in Bout of Books once before a while back, but stumbled along the way and never even came close to finishing. However, this time around I was very pleased with my progress. I could have done a lot better had I not had two work days from hell … you know those days that you just want to come home, crawl into bed and go to sleep. And that’s exactly what I did! But really, I have a 19 month old son who keeps me on my toes constantly. I worked two days. And I didn’t officially sign up until Tuesday. … I consider this week a success! 🙂

Not sure I will participate in the May Bout of Books simply because that week is our 7 year wedding anniversary, two weeks before Garrett’s 2nd birthday and one week before my  best friend’s bachelorette party. I will have a lot on my plate that week, so we shall see, but I’m seriously considering it.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, January 13, 2014

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

A good week this week as far as new books. Two physical ones came in through Paperbackswap and 3 e-books for review (I’m really excited about these!)

The physical books:

Club Dead We Need to Talk About Kevin

And the e-books:

Critical Damage

Liz Goldman, wife of San Francisco mayor Richard Goldman, wants former cop and recovering junky Mark Mallen to find her missing eighteen-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, Mallen’s blood brother Gato is searching for his sister, Lupe, a call girl. When Gato and Mallen’s search leads them to a pimp in hiding, Teddy Mac, they realize they have stumbled onto something big.

Digging into the seedy hiding places of San Francisco’s lowliest criminals, Mallen and Gato begin to suspect the worst as friends of the missing girls start showing up dead. Leaning hard on Teddy Mac’s family, Mallen and Gato stumble upon a videotape that shows some very bad things—things that could take down a powerful man and most of San Francisco with him.

Precious Thing

I know her inside out.  I know what she’s thinking, I know what she wants. So I can’t give up on her, she knows I never will.

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever.

They met in high school when Rachel was the shy, awkward new girl and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Instantly, they fell under one another’s spell and nothing would be the same again. Now in their late twenties Rachel has the television career, the apartment and the boyfriend, while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Yet despite everything, they remain inextricably bound. Then Rachel’s news editor assigns her to cover a police press conference, and she is shocked when she arrives to learn that the subject is Clara, reported missing. Is it abduction, suicide or something else altogether?

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there.  But only if you choose to see it…

Little Girl LostDuring a winter blizzard a small girl is found wandering half-naked at the edge of an ancient woodland. Her hands are covered in blood, but it is not her own. Unwilling or unable to speak, the only person she seems to trust is the young officer who rescued her, DS Lucy Black.

DS Black is baffled to find herself suddenly transferred from a high-profile case involving the kidnapping of a prominent businessman’s teenage daughter, to the newly formed Public Protection Unit. Meanwhile, she has her own problems—caring for her Alzheimer’s-stricken father; and avoiding conflict with her surly Assistant Chief Constable – who also happens to be her mother. As she struggles to identify the unclaimed child, Lucy begins to realize that this case and the kidnapping may be linked by events that occurred during the blackest days of the country’s recent history, events that also defined her own childhood.


RECIPE: Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna (6-8 servings)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic, drained
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut chicken into 1/2″ pieces.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, chili powder and cumin. Cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and hot pepper sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes.
  3. Combine ricotta cheese, chiles and 2 tablespoons cilantro in small bowl; mix until well blended.
  4. Spoon half of chicken mixture in bottom of 12×8″ baking dish. Top with 6 tortillas, ricotta cheese mixture, remaining tortillas, remaining chicken mixture, cheddar cheese and remaining cilantro. Bake 25 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe Source: 100 Best Chicken Recipes Cookbook (ISBN: 0-7853-8052-3)

Mexican Lasagna

Personal Review: This cookbook has been sitting on my shelf forever (I’m terrible about buying cookbooks at bargain prices and then never even cracking them open.) Anyway, Garrett got into all my cookbooks one day and while Nathan was helping me put them back in their bookcase this cookbook caught his attention. He started flipping through it and found this particular recipe and told me he wanted me to make it.

So I did.

And I’m torn about it. First of all, I liked it overall. But I have an issue with cilantro … I’m not a huge fan of it. I think it’s way too strong at times and like I said, I just am not a fan. Nathan, on the other hand, is obsessed with cilantro. I swear he would put it on everything in sight if he could. Now that being said, I made this before I got my new handy-dandy herb mill for Christmas and so I was just chopping the cilantro up and it was in big huge pieces (you can see them in the pictures). I think if I made this recipe again with the aid of my new kitchen tool the cilantro wouldn’t be as strong and I would like it a lot better.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this recipe. It really had a good taste. I didn’t use the hot pepper sauce, but I think I would add it next time I make this one (although I think I would add it to the ricotta cheese mixture, I felt as if it needed just a smidgen more taste other than just ricotta cheese).

If you make this recipe, I’d be curious as to your opinions. And if you have any suggestions on how to make this recipe even better, I’m dying to hear them as well. Because the recipe itself is a good start, but I think it needs some tweaking, but I don’t know where to begin with that.


Bout of Books

Bout of Books … I’m Joining In…

Bout of Books

…late, of course. But that’s okay, right? I mean the sign up link is still open 🙂

Anyways, I decided to join in because everyone (and I do mean everyone) is in on the party and I felt left out, lol.

I’ve done one Bout of Books before a while ago and didn’t even make it the whole week. But I’m going to do better this time. … Right? Sure! Ha!

Anyway what is Bout of Books?

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

And what are my goals? Well I’m going to keep them pretty low key.

  • Read at least 100 pages each day.
    • Load my recently acquired e-galleys onto my Nook and start at least one of them.
    • Make some more progress on my current read, a 750+ page chunkster! (I’m on page 335)
  • Participate in at least 1 challenge.
  • Visit at least 5 new blogs each day. And comment 🙂

Here’s where I’ll be keeping my progress:

Monday Jan. 6 

  • Time read: Approximately 45 minutes
  • Pages read: 38
  • Challenges: 0
  • New blogs visited: 0

Tuesday Jan. 7

Wednesday Jan. 8

  • Time read: 2 hours 36 minutes
  • Pages read: 153
  • Challenges:
    • Doing Dewey asked us to introduce someone to our favorite genre. Here is how I answered:
    • My favorite genre is mystery/thriller/suspense. So where would I suggest you start?

      Along Came a Spider by James Patterson (first in the Alex Cross series)
      The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
      The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
      The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen (first in the Rizzoli/Isles series)

      I know that I’ve probably raised some eyebrows by including James Patterson on this list, but in all honesty his early Alex Cross series books are by far the best (my personal fave in the series is “Violets are Blue”) The more recent installments are just “eh” for me, but those first 10 or so – awesome! Also the Rizzoli and Isles book series is nothing like the TV show, so be forewarned before going into the books. Jennifer McMahon is a new find for me, but I’ve enjoyed her so far. And “The Lincoln Lawyer” was really a great book; if you’ve seen the movie, it stayed relatively true to the book.

      I’m sure I could come up with some better selections, but those were just the first few that popped into my head.

  • New blogs visited: Doing Dewey / Unbound Books / Reading Until Proven Innocent /

Thursday Jan. 9

  • Time read: 37 minutes
  • Pages read: 38 pages
  • Challenges: 0
  • New blogs visited: 0

Friday Jan. 10 

  • Time read: 1 hour 41 minutes
  • Pages read: 81 pages
  • Challenges: 0
  • New blogs visited: 0

Saturday Jan. 11

  • Time read: 55 minutes
  • Pages read: 53 pages
  • Challenges: 0
  • New blogs visited: 0

Sunday Jan. 12

  • Time read:
  • Pages read:
  • Challenges:
  • New blogs visited:
First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #11


Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

The Hostage

Today I’m featuring a book from my shelf that I’m currently reading for the TBR Challenge. 

As an American, Jean-Paul Lorimer was always annoyed or embarrassed, or both, every time he arrived at Vienna’s international airport. The first thing one saw when entering the terminal was a Starbucks kiosk.

The arrogance of Americans to sell coffee in Vienna! With such a lurid red neon sign!

This is a humongous chunkster (750 pages) that I wanted to get off of my shelf and get it out of the way first, ha! I will admit that the above excerpt does not do justice for getting a feel of the book. Because of that I will also leave you with the blurb from the back of the book:

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…

I will say that I’m 300 pages into this book and enjoying it, but I don’t think it’s going to be a book that I can recommend to everyone. Can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading this week 🙂

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, January 6, 2014

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

My Christmas money was burning a hole in my pocket so what else would I do but go to the bookstore 🙂 They were even having a buy 2 get 1 free special! And the JFK book was 60% off the hardcover copy! I love sales 🙂 So here’s what I came home with:

Dark PlacesShadow of NightBlackberry WinterA Cruel and Shocking Act

And I requested this one off of Edelweiss. I’m so looking forward to it, but it’s probably a good thing it doesn’t release until April since it’s 800 pages and will probably take me that long to get it all read! Ha!

Natchez Burning

Growing up in the rural Southern hamlet of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned everything he knows about honor and duty from his father, Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community is accused of murdering Viola Turner, the beautiful nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father, even though Tom, stubbornly evoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to speak up in his own defense.

The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past-into the heart of a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the Double Eagles, a vicious KKK crew headed by one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. With the aid of a local friend and reporter privy to some of Natchez’s deadliest secrets, Penn follows a bloody trail that stretches back forty years, to a shocking truth that will forever alter his perception of both his father and himself.

With everything on the line, including his own life, Penn must decide how far he will go to protect those he loves . . . and judge whether justice is worth the cost.


Signing up for 2014 Challenges!

This year I’m only joining 3 challenges. I had browsed through the Novel Challenges blog many times and found quite a few that really intrigued me. However, I’m wanting to really focus on reading this year rather than trying to find books that fit categories. So I only decided on three; two of which I have participated in before and one new-to-me one.

So I’m officially signing up for:


This one is one of my favorites but I have yet to complete it. Maybe this year will be the year?! One can hope. Although I know that romantic comedy, alternate history, graphic novel and anthology are all going to give me problems… Here’s the categories:

    1. Award Winning
    2. True Crime (Non Fiction)
    3. Romantic Comedy
    4. Alternate History Fiction
    5. Graphic Novel
    6. Cosy Mystery Fiction
    7. Gothic Fiction
    8. War/Military Fiction
    9. Anthology
    10. Medical Thriller Fiction
    11. Travel (Non Fiction)
    12. Published in 2014


This one is new-to-me, even though it’s been around for a few years. I’ve always been a little intimidated because you have to make a list and stick to it. Those types of challenges always make me nervous, but I wanted to try that this year because there are a few books that I need to get off my shelves, it’s getting kind of ridiculous how many books have been there for years. The rules are simple, you pick 12 books (and 2 alternates) that have been on your shelves or your TBR “list” for at least 1 full year. That means no books published before 1/1/13. Easy enough for me, lol. I went through and picked out a few books that have been on my shelves for the longest as well as some new series books that I want to try out. Here’s my list (in no particular order):

  1. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl (which has been on my shelf since 2007, no joke)
  2. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  3. The Hostage by W.E.B. Griffin
  4. The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott
  5. New York Dead by Stuart Woods
  6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  7. Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  8. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  9. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
  10. Killing Floor by Lee Child
  11. The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry
  12. Bye Bye, Baby by Max Allan Collins


  1. Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell
  2. McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders


I was excited to see that someone took this one over after Beth Fish Reads announced she wanted to pass it along to someone else. I’ve participated in this one about 4 times since its inception with Annie and thoroughly enjoy it, even though I didn’t finish it in 2013, I have high hopes that I can finish it in 2014! Here’s the categories:

  • A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After)
  • A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh)
  • A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities)
  • A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.)
  • A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain)
End of Year Wrap-Up, Favorite Books

2013 Wrap Up: My top reads of the year

I find this list getting harder and harder to put together each and every year. Why? Because I read so much awesome stuff that I never know where to start. Ha, not really. It’s more because I just plain can’t decide, lol.

In the order that I read them this year (clicking on the cover will take you to my review):

The One I Left Behind This was my first read of 2013 and I knew the moment I finished it that it would undoubtedly make my top reads at the end of the year. It’s actually a book that I remember quite vividly – and that is saying a lot for me. I still highly recommend this book and I am giddy with excitement that I have an e-galley of Ms. McMahon’s 2014 release, The Winter People!



The Aviator's Wife I so fell in love with this book. It was just amazing. I can’t even begin to explain my feelings on this one. It’s another one that I knew once I finished it that it would be making this list (and I read it in January!). It’s just a beautifully written book and I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it.



The Boleyn King This was one of those impulse requests on Edelweiss. I don’t know why it initially interested me, but I know that I was intrigued throughout the entire book. And two words: That. Cliffhanger! AAH! I’m bummed because I managed to score an e-galley of the second book in the trilogy on NetGalley, but I let it expire before I could get to it … oh well, guess I’ll have to buy that one in the future so I can find out what happens next! Definitely a great historical fiction that I highly recommend!

If You Were Here This was my first time reading an Alafair Burke book (don’t ask me why) so I was uber-excited when I was approached by TLC Book Tours to be a part of the blog tour for this book. And what a fun roller coaster ride of a book it is! The characters are so well-developed you would have thought they were part of a long-running series. It has definitely made me excited to read more from Ms. Burke in my future!

Reconstructing Amelia The only thing I can say about this book … READ IT! It is so powerful and engaging. It’s just amazing. It was so real and thought-provoking. Every parent should read this book. Every teenager and pre-teen should read this book. And then discuss, discuss, discuss. There is so much to this book that needs to be talked about. Highly recommended.


The Widows of Braxton County When I was originally pitched this book I immediately jumped on it. I liked the idea of the family secrets theme that it promised. And what family secrets they were! Wow! The book switched back and forth between Kate in the present day and Hannah some 100 years before. On the same farm. Dealing with some very similar situations. If you like deep family secrets you will probably like this book. I know I enjoyed it a lot.


The Never List I saw this book somewhere online and knew I had to read it. I was just thrilled that my library had a copy with only 1 person ahead of me on the wait list. And let me tell you, it’s a story that will suck you in and spit you back out when you finish it. It would probably be a tough read for some people, but I never felt as if the author took any over-the-top gratuitous descriptions about what the characters went through. And the way that it was so similar to what happened in Cleveland this year … just creepy!


Dead Until Dark Why did I not start this series ages ago? What is wrong with me? Well at least I’ve started it and am looking forward to seeing what happens with Sookie. My review of this one was short and sweet because I assume everyone and their brother has already read this book. If not, I definitely recommend you giving it a shot. It’s a fun read that I really enjoyed.


The Edge of Normal I was sent an invitation to download this one on NetGalley. Boy was that the best random, unsolicited e-galley I’ve been sent in a long time! (Maybe ever?!) It’s such a dark book. And the characters, you will be so intrigued by them. I think that Ms. Norton can definitely carve a nice spot in the crime genre for herself if she so chooses. Highly recommended.



Living Dead in Dallas Surprised to see this one here? I was a little bit, too. But honestly, I think I enjoyed the second installment of the Sookie series even more than I did the first. It was a little darker and grittier than the first book. But oh so very intriguing. And it makes me kick myself for not having the 3rd book already on my shelf! Either way, as I stated in the blurb for the first Sookie book, I’m sure everyone has already read these books, but I’m new to the party and thoroughly enjoying them! Once again, give it a shot if you haven’t already!