Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Group Review: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

Summary: In the concluding volume of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition in a Swedish hospital, a bullet in her head. But she's fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she'll stand trial for three murders. With the help of Mikael Blomkvist, she'll need to identify those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she'll seek revenge--against the man who tried to killer her and against the corrupt government institutions that nearly destroyed her life. ~powells.com  

Alice's Review:  This is going to be a mirror review.  Julie and I both had the same issue.  After reading The Girl Who Played with Fire, I was filled with anticipation for the final book in the series.  My mistake was waiting two years to read it.  By the time I picked it up, I had lost the love I felt for Lisbeth and Blomkvist.  I just wanted to know what happened in the end.  I didn't need to read it to find out. Someone just tell me.  Please.

All joking aside, I tried to read it.  I really did.  I couldn't get past Mr. Larsson's endless explanations of plots and characters and situations.  I threw this novel in my beach bag, figuring it would be a perfect novel to read on the side.  The only thing it succeeded in doing was putting me to sleep every time I picked it up.  I still don't know what happened and it's still in my beach bag even though it's December in New Jersey and I won't be going anywhere near a beach for at least 5 months.  I would like to finish it, see it through to the end but I know what won't happen for a while.  So in the beach bag is where it will stay.  And maybe one day, I'll actually finish it.  But I won't hold my breadth.

Alice's Final Take:  DNF

Julie's Review:  I tried, I really did but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't finish the book. It took way to long to get to the damn point of the novel. Too many characters, too many subplots, too much conspiracy. I mean I love conspiracy novels but this just took it to a whole new level. A ridiculous level.

I just wanted to know what happened to Lisbeth and if she exacted her revenge. I wanted to know that Blomkvist helped her and that they ended up on good terms. I think I can pretty much say yes to both of those without reading the rest of the novel.

I truly loved the first two books in this trilogy with The Girl Who Played with Fire being my favorite. Lisbeth Salander will go down in my books as a truly unique and interesting fictional character.

Julie's Final Take: DNF

Jenn's Review




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2013 Books in Review: Least Favorite Books

Not every book we read will be our favorite, it’s a fact.  Some of them are better than others.  Some of them start off great but end with a dud.  Some never quite grab us and we’re left turning page after page of a story with characters we don’t care about.  Those books are yawns.  Some books make us angry and not because that’s the emotion the author wished to emote.  No, we’re angry because we invested our time and it wasn’t worth it.  And there are a few things sadder than a book that is not worth reading. 

That being said, we’ve come across a few books that didn’t sing to us, and here for your reading pleasure are our least favorite books of 2013.

Alice:


Like the other girls, this is a tough one for me.  We all realize how difficult it is for an author to write a novel.  We know the heart and soul that goes into the words.  It’s someone’s baby, they birth an idea and put forth into the world a book for the enjoyment and criticism of others.  So it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I give you my list.

Poison Shy by Stacey Madden:  This novel is on my list because it was pretty unmemorable for me. I don't remember reading it at all and needed to read my review to refresh my memory.  Unmemorable should most definitely be on the criteria of Least Favorite Books.

The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls:  I had high hopes or this novel.  It was on my TBR list for a while, sadly it or more specifically Beth was a bit of a disappointment.  

All You Desire by Kirsten Miller:  I couldn’t wait to read the next book in the Eternal Ones series however, it definitely wasn’t as good as the first.

Jenn:  

As you may know, I haven't read a lot this year, but there are still a few books I could have left behind.  Surprisingly, James Patterson's Along Came a Spider is one of them and Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods (yes, I know, everyone loves that series, but it felt like a whole lot of plot exposition to me) is the other.

However, there one book that stands out as a true disappointment, and that would be The Heist by  Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.  It wasn't horrible (I wouldn't say don't read it), but I had such high expectations from that brilliant writer pairing and it didn't make the mark... I hope the series improves, because it's full of potential.

Anyone else feel this way, or did you love it?

Julie:

These are the two that just didn't resonate with me at all. I know that others loved them but that's the great thing about books, each readers brings a different view point and gets something different out of them.

Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois
The Affair of Others by Amy Grace Lloyd


So those are our not so favorite reads of 2013.  Feel free to let us know what books you could have done without this year... or if you disagree with us completely.

We look forward to many awesome reads in 2014 and wish you happy reading!   

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Jenn's 2013 Books in Review




It's that time of year where we share our favorite reads, but I have a confession to make... I haven't read a lot this year.  Well, at least not a lot for me... I'm usually a 60+ book a year reader, but this year...

My Goodreads Challenge Goal: 75 Books
Books Read: 31


Of course that doesn't count books I've re-read, but still... I haven't completed a single one of my reading challenges.  It's not that I don't have anything I want to read, my pile is growing daily.  

How is this possible?  This year I started working an extra hour a day, which doesn't sound like much, but it's huge.  My now six year old dances three times a week and does Tae Kwon Do twice a week.  You would think that would afford me some reading time while I wait for her, but I have been using it to catch up with friends, family, and errands.  The weekends, you ask?  My daughter is at an age where she wants to spend time with me and I take full advantage of that while I can.   So, while I'm a little disappointed that I didn't accomplish what I set out to, I'm okay with it.  

That being said, I still read some awesome books in  2013!

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare  -  This is the last of the Infernal Devices, and it was my favorite of all her Shadow Hunter books so far.  (Granted I haven't read the last two of the Mortal Instruments series, but everyone I know who has read those is agonizing over the wait for the last book, so I'm trying to spare myself that.)  The effect Clockwork Princess has on both series is mind blowing.  I can't wait to start the last chapters of the Shadow Hunter series.  If you haven't read Cassandra Clare, I highly recommend it!

Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter -  I picked up this series after hearing Ally Carter speak a few years back. She said it was inspired by the cult classic TV show, ALIAS and, if you know anything about our blog, you'll know that show is very near and dear to all of us.  While I enjoyed the first novel, it was a light casual read, but as the series progresses and the characters grow, the series became a fabulous must-read for me.  The last two books in the series were some of my favorite reads this year (Out of Sight, Out of Time, and United We Spy).  I was sad to see Gallagher Girls come to an end.  If you like spy-fare and strong women, this series is a must.

Heist Society series by Ally Carter - Yes, Ally Carter has become one of my favorite authors this year.  If possible, I like the Heist Society Series even better than the Gallagher Girls.  Ms. Carter writes an amazing con story and usually manages to take me in every time.  I adore her characters and the way the supporting cast all get character development and growth.   Uncommon Criminals and Perfect Scoundrels accounted for another two of my favorite reads of 2013.

Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maizel  - I have long been awaiting the second novel in the Vampire Queen series.  The first book, Infinite Days, is what made me fall in love with vampire stories again.  The sequel gets into the heart of Lenah's and Rhode's back story.  Rebecca Maizel is a master at constantly surprising the reader with the plot twists in her story line. I have no idea where this series is headed but I can't wait to find out.

The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner - If you love suspense and thrillers and you haven't tried Meg Gardiner, you don't know what you're missing:  smart, sassy women who solve terrifying crimes.  Meg Gardiner makes my list every year.  She has two series, but this is a stand alone novel and it doesn't disappoint. Honestly, I wouldn't be upset if Sarah Keller made a reappearance in another of her books.  

Wishcraft series by Heather Blake  - Whenever I need a book that I know I'm gonna love I turn to Heather Blake/Webber.  Whether it is her Lucy Valentine series, Wishcraft  (The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy was one of my best reads this year.) or Nina Quinn, I know it will out a smile on my face. She has a new Magic Potion series out this past fall and A Potion to Die For near the top of my teetering TBR pile.   

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde - This was the dark horse of my reads this year and I loved it.  It is witty and clever and chockfull of references to other literature.  The characters are flawed and twisted and nothing is ever quite what it seems.  Every time I see an orange VW bug now, I can't help but smile (see the cover).  I also have the next book of this series near the top of my TBR pile.


I think I will be more modest with my Goodreads challenge for next year... and maybe not sign up for any other reading challenges.  I look forward to diving into my TBR pile in 2014.  It promises to be a good one.



Jennifer's 2013 Reads

Beautiful Creatures
Magyk
Legacy of Lies & Don't Tell
Blue Bloods
Stolen Nights
Along Came a Spider
The Lost Prince
Uncommon Criminals
Out of Sight, Out of Time
The Lost Art of Mixing
The Alchemyst
Clockwork Princess
The Magician
Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story
The Good the Bad and the Witchy
Chosen at Nightfall
Saved at Sunrise
Trouble in Spades
The Sorceress
Beautiful Darkness


Jennifer's favorite books »
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Alice's 2013 Books in Review

This is the second year in a row I participated in reading challenges.  What is not surprising is that I failed miserably, as usual.  I didn’t even finish my measly goal of reading 44 books for 2013.  The other two challenges were the TBR and List Swap Challenge with Julie. 

My Goodreads Challenge Books: 44 Books
Books Read:  43 (Nooooo!  Just shy of my goal!)

Some of these are the best books I read, some are the books I loved the most or made me fall in love with an author again.  There are a lot of Chick-Lit books on my list.  2013 was the year of the feel good novel.  Not all the books are 5 star books.  There are a few 4 star novels that made me squirm with excitement thinking them and make me want to read them again.  So here goes…

My Favorite Novels:
The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman:  Oh, how I love you, Alice Hoffman, When I die, I want to come back as one of your characters.

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center:  A sexy farmhand and goats.  Come on, what more do you need?
 
He’s Gone by Deb Caletti:  Hands down the best novel I read this year.  I seriously need to go out and read all her novels.

Hot Shot by Julie Garwood:  Ms. Garwood captured her contemporary romance magic once again with this one.  Payton + Finn =  Dreamy

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell:  Loved, loved, LOVED this book.  Rose Baker was such a great character.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls:  So happy she captured the magic of The Glass Castle with this one.  Bean was one of my favorite characters of this year.

The Chris Farley Show by Tom Farley Jr.:  I feel in love with Chris Farley all over again.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:  This is novel I recommend to everyone.  So twisted, soooo good.

Honorable Mentions:
I’ll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde:  This novel brought back my love of Chick-Lit. It was full of  warm and fuzzy awesomeness.

The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch:  High five to Julie for adding this one to our List Swap Challenge.  I can’t believe it took me this long to read Allison Winn Scotch.  Great author, great novel.

Thanks for taking the time to read my 2013 favorites.  This is my first time participating in a year-end review post, so feedback is welcomed and appreciated.  Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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Julie's 2013 Books in Review




It's everyone's favorite time of the year! You know where everyone comes out with their favorite books of 2013 and I'm no different. I'm going to follow the same format at 2012 because it worked well for me. I would love to know your thoughts on my list.

My Goodreads Challenge Goal: 80 Books
Books Read: 86!!! (Through 12/26/2013)

2013 was yet another year where I had more than a handful of 5/5 books! So, here is the break down by category for my favorites (top 5 (or more) in each if applicable).

Contemporary Fiction:

The Promise of Stardust by Pricille Sibley
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Housseni
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon
Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfern

Historical Fiction:

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Scalafani
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (1/2014 Release)
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Historical Fiction & Contemporary Fiction:

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
Morning Glory by Sarah Jio

Mystery/Crime/Thriller/Suspense:

Farewell to Freedom by Sara Bladel
The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner
Help for the Haunted by John Searles
Six Years by Harlan Coben
The Doll by Taylor Stevens

Women's Fiction:

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Looking at Me by Beth Hoffman
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (1/2014 Release)
The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen
The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch

Chick Lit:

Chocolate for Two by Maria Murnane
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Young Adult:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Other Categories:

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarane (Memoir)
Brilliance by Marcus Sakey (Sci-fi/Speculative Fiction)

I am hoping that 2014 is as wonderful of a reading year as 2013! Happy Reading!





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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Children's Corner: When I Grow Up



Is that by Weird Al?  Why, yes, it is a children's book by Al Yankovic.  And it's super cute.  

This was a library find that became a permanent addition in our house.  Billy is excited about sharing what he is going to be when he grows up... but he has so many ideas how can he choose just one?  When the teacher presses him to select one career, he pushes back.  He's a kid, how can he choose yet?  He has a whole lifetime ahead of him ...maybe he can do it all!

I love it because it helps kids to see the possibilities of what's out there.  Kidlet's idea of what to be changes daily... from a princess-doctor-sword-fighter to a rock star.  And that's awesome.  I also love it because it reminds me of me as a child.  I was the kid in class who never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up... as a matter a fact I still don't.


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