Wednesday, December 31, 2014

First Book of the Year

The First Book of the Year is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The purpose is to choose what book you will be reading on January 1st. Here is what she says about it:

Every year I get excited about what will be that first book I will be chatting about going into the new year.  I make a big deal out of picking the book.  It is usually a book I have wanted to read for a while and for whatever reason, I just have not been able to make the time to read it.
This is the second year that I would love for you to join me in this tradition of picking the book that you will be reading into the new year.  It can be a coveted book that you have been waiting to read, a guilty pleasure book, a re-read of a favorite that you want to explore once again… whatever you want.
Our posts of what we are reading will go live on January 1st.  You do not need to be done with the book on January 1st, just reading it on January 1st and yes, you can start on the 31st and be reading into the New Year.

This year, I will be reading one of these books:

I still haven't decided which book I will read but I am leaning towards the Rhys Bowen book as I have been enjoying that mystery series. 

If you would like to participate, it is not too late to sign up! Just visit Book Journey and fill out the form. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I will be celebrating Christmas at my sister's house where I will get to see my cat niece Kitty (pictured above) and my dog nephew Raji. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect
By Graeme Simsion
Published: December 30, 2014

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again.
Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant.
Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.
As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most.
Graeme Simsion first introduced these unforgettable characters in The Rosie Project, which NPR called “sparkling entertainment along the lines of Where’d You Go Bernadette and When Harry Met Sally.” The San Francisco Chroniclesaid, “sometimes you just need a smart love story that will make anyone, man or woman, laugh out loud.” If you were swept away by the book that’s captivated a million readers worldwide, you will love The Rosie Effect.
My review:
I loved The Rosie Project so I was very happy to hear that there was a sequel and I jumped on the chance to request it for review. The Rosie Effect is not as funny as The Rosie Project but I loved it anyway. I appreciated that it looked at the challenges faced by newlyweds and Don and Rosie in particular as they adjust to being a married couple and then to the idea of becoming parents together. 

I didn't like Rosie as much in this book. I found her behavior towards Don to be frustrating. I think both Don and Rosie need to work on their communication habits. Don has difficulty reading emotional and social cues but Rosie doesn't. It is true that she has some baggage to deal with about her father but she should have cut Don some slack. 

There are some touching moments in this book and there were times when I laughed out loud. I think The Rosie Effect had a slightly darker tone but I liked that it was realistic in terms of the difficulties Don and Rosie have in married life and the transition to becoming parents. Overall I did like The Rosie Effect and I hope there will be a third book!

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (199)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I am currently on vacation for Christmas so I don't know how much time I will have for reading (so far only a few minutes a day) but I did write a review after weeks of nothing and I am hoping to write a couple more reviews of holiday books if I can.

We had our Christmas party at work on Friday. I won the Most Outrageous award for my ugly sweatshirt and my Wii bowling team won our first game but lost in the second round of the tournament. Here is a picture of my sweatshirt so you can see it in all its glory. It was a lot of fun to make but now I think I will donate it to Goodwill or a similar store. I know people like to snap these up for Ugly Sweater Christmas parties :)


On Saturday we had our family Christmas dinner (roast chicken and Sri Lankan food) and on Christmas day we will be going to my sister's house to join her in-laws for Christmas. I made a pumpkin pie cake from a recipe by Six Sisters' Stuff and it was so good (but not so healthy with two sticks of butter and a cup of pecans!). I might be making it again for Christmas day. You can get the recipe here. The only change I made was to use a 15 oz. can of pumpkin instead of the 16 oz. can listed in their recipe. 

Have a great Christmas!

Books read:

This was a fun book and I liked how everything tied in to the Twelve Days of Christmas. It would be a great mystery to read at this time of year and you don't have to read the other books first to know what is going on.

Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen

I liked this mystery until the culprit was revealed. It didn't quite make sense and I found that to be disappointing.

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

Currently reading:

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

This book revisits the characters from Garden Spells ten years after the events of that book. I like it so far but it hasn't grabbed my attention the way the first book did.

What I plan to read next:

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (198)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I meant to post this earlier but this is a picture of the homemade ornaments I made for our library's open house. The small teal one is actually a clear glass ornament filled with old nail polish and the pink and blue one is filled with acrylic paint.  The  other clear glass ornament is filled with vintage looking Christmas sheet music. I also put together paperclip angel ornaments. Those were fun and easy to do once I found a good step by step picture tutorial on Pinterest. 

I had planned to have some reviews written for this coming week but that didn't quite happen. Instead of spending my free time writing reviews, I have been getting ready for Christmas festivities by looking at cookie and toffee recipes on Pinterest. My goal is to successfully make saltine toffee a.k.a. "Christmas Crack" this year. One of my mom's former coworkers used to give it to her as a gift every year and she gave us the recipe but whenever we made it, the toffee part would get kind of soft and gooey instead of nice and crisp the way hers was. I have been doing some research to try to figure out why ours didn't turn out right and I am hopeful that this time we will succeed. If you've made it before do you have any pointers?

My other project is to make something to wear for the Ugly Christmas Sweater/Shirt contest at our staff Christmas breakfast this Friday. I think I finally have my idea figured out and I bought some nice and fairly cheap gaudy decorations at Wal-Mart today. It has been years since I've used a glue gun so wish me luck! We are also going to have a Wii Bowling tournament. Librarians know how to have fun :)

I am leaving on Friday to spend a week with my parents for Christmas and I may also stay with my sister the weekend after Christmas. If I can, I will post next Sunday but if not, have a Merry Christmas!

Books read:

Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen

I didn't like this one as much as the others in the series. It was a little bizarre and I was annoyed with Georgie for thinking that there were vampires in the castle. The mystery didn't make sense either.

Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen

I really liked this one and couldn't figure out who the killer was. I liked the setting and the humor especially when Georgie gets to make her horrid sister-in-law seethe with jealousy.

Currently reading:

I really wanted to read this book at Christmas and it is a good book for this time of year. I think people could enjoy it without having read previous books. I haven't figured out who the killer is yet but I have a potential suspect in mind. We'll see if I am right...

What I plan to read next:

Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (197)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Hard to believe it is December already and Christmas will be here soon. This month is just flying by! I usually love Christmas but for some reason this year I just don't feel like I am ready for it yet though I have been listening to Christmas music since before Thanksgiving. I did finally put up some decorations but no tree. I'm not that motivated yet :)

Books read in the past two weeks:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

I liked this sequel to The Rosie Project though I didn't find it as funny. I wouldn't mind reading a third book about Rosie and Don.

An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer

This was a saccharine family Christmas story about well-to-do people on Nantucket. The youngest daughter is about to get married and the perfectionist mother doesn't quite approve of her outdoorsy future son-in-law. 

What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander

I read this book because it was highly recommended by another blogger and I did find it a funny and enjoyable historical romance with some flaws.

A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen

This is the second book in the series and involves Georgie trying to entertain a Bavarian princess (and keep her out of trouble) and her stuffy chaperone while also trying to solve a murder. 

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

I had this book on my TBR pile for quite some time and I decided I just had to finish it before the year was over. I thought it was very good but some of the secondary characters were not well developed.

Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen

This book made me laugh out loud. I enjoyed the Scottish setting and the humor. I do think Georgie is still too naive for all her experience with murder investigations.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (reread)

I read this years ago when it first was published and I remember when I watched the movie that I thought the movie was very different from the book (I couldn't remember the book very well). Now having recently watched the movie again I would say that the movie is faithful to the book but it is more of a slapstick comedy in tone and the book goes for sarcasm. There are some other minor differences too but I like both stories and they are perfect to watch or read at this time of year.

Currently reading:

Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen

What I plan to read next:

Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015".

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

I can't wait to find out what happens in this final book but I have to admit that I am kind of getting tired of this series too. 

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

I am really excited about this book. At first I was disappointed that Winter would not be the next book but I think it will be cool to read Levana's backstory and get more insight into her character. The figure on the cover reminds me of the Witch King of Angmar (leader of the Nazghul) from The Fellowship of the Ring movie.

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

I have been waiting for a new Ally Carter book since United We Spy was released in 2013. I can't wait to see what she does with this new series.

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

I love Susanna Kearsley's books and this new one looks really good though I wish it was set in Scotland instead of Paris.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

This is going to be a long wait. I loved the Percy Jackson books and liked the Kane Chronicles books and I am looking forward to learning more about Norse mythology and see if any of the characters from the other series make a cameo in this one. According to the author there is a connection between Magnus and Annabeth Chase.

Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee

It has been a few years since the release of the most recent Mary Quinn mystery and this is supposed to be the final book. I may have to reread the other books while I am waiting.

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

With a cliffhanger ending to the first book, I am excited to see what happens next in The Winner's Crime. I wasn't sure about The Winner's Curse before I read it but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Invaded by Melissa Landers

I thought Alienated was fun but also had a good message. I don't know if Invaded will have the same lightheartedness with Cara and Aelyx separated and Cara experiencing life as an exchange student.  

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

I liked the first book and the gimmick of having the reader not know which character was the prince and which was the assassin. Hopefully this book will be just as good. 

I loved Lord's debut novel, Open Road Summer, and I think this book sounds just as promising.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year my family is celebrating on Saturday so I am having a quiet day at home today. I have some books to read and movies to watch and I plan to treat myself to a little pumpkin pie later. :)

It's been a stressful year but I have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for my loving family, friends, a job I enjoy and great people to work with, and most especially my mom's complete recovery from her illness this past February. I am also thankful for my readers. Thanks for continuing to read my blog even though I haven't been at my best this year.

I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (196)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

So I was surprised when I woke up this morning to find snow outside my window. We are supposed to get 3-5 inches. I'm not sure how much we already have. Ugh. I was really really hoping that we wouldn't see this much white stuff till December. Oh well. Looks like I lost the snow contest at work :)

I haven't been motivated to read lately. I've finished about a book a week which is slow for me. I was busy with stuff for work so maybe that will change this week. The library's first holiday open house was a big success. I had fun teaching little kids and adults how to fold napkins and make nail polish ornaments.  I hope to have some pictures to share next week. We are definitely going to do it again next year. 

Books reviewed:

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Books read:

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I liked this one but I didn't care for the strange dream segments in between chapters. It tied in with the story later on but I could have done without it because I found it confusing.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

I am glad I finally read this book. It takes awhile to get to the mystery so you have to be patient and enjoy getting to know Georgie and her friends.

Currently reading:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

So far I like The Rosie Effect but maybe not as much as The Rosie Project. I reserve final judgment till I've actually finished the book :)

What I might read next:

The White City by Alex Michod

This is the book I drew from my evening book group's book exchange. I think it sounds interesting. It is a historical mystery set at the 1893 World's Fair.  I haven't read The Devil in the White City yet so I won't be able to compare the two. 

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (reread)

I read this book years ago when it first came out and I have since watched the movie several times so I thought it might be fun to revisit the book and see how it compares to the film.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published: November 4, 2014

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

My review:

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes's teen novels. I loved her Raised by Wolves series but I am enjoying her new contemporary suspense novels even more. Killer Instinct is a sequel to The Naturals, a novel about teens with unusual gifts like being able to profile people, read emotions from facial expressions, or tell when someone is lying. 

In the first book, Cassie joins the Naturals program and the teens help to catch a serial killer with ties to the murder of Cassie's mom. In Killer Instinct, Cassie is dealing with the aftermath of that case and the emotional trauma. Now it looks like someone is copying the murders committed by Dean's dad, the serial killer Daniel Redding. The teens are supposed to stay behind the scenes but they end up involved as things escalate and murders occur on a college campus. 

Killer Instinct is a fast-paced and suspenseful book. The serial killer storyline is well done. A lot of times I can figure out who the bad guy is well before the protagonist does but that was not the case here. There are so many twists and turns that took me by surprise. 

Even though this is a thriller, there are also moments of character growth. Cassie is still reeling from loss and learning how to relate to the other teens in the program. She also has to work through her feelings regarding Michael and Dean and her complicated relationships with her roommate Sloane and prickly Lia. Cassie wants to help Dean without causing him further pain. The author does a good job of looking at what emotional turmoil is involved when you have experienced such darkness. Dean grew up as the son of a serial killer and that haunts him. Cassie is haunted by what happened to her mom and the killings in the previous book. Michael, Sloane and Lia also have their own dark issues to face. Cassie may be the main character but the other teen characters are also well developed. 

I think fans of suspense would love this series. If you haven't already read The Naturals, pick that one up first since there are spoilers in this book. This series is not as gory as suspense novels written for adults can be but there are some dark themes (serial killers, descriptions of crime scenes and victims, etc.) so keep that in mind.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher