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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reading update- January 2016

I feel like I've kinda fallen off the earth lately, sorry about that. I've gotten out of the habit of blogging at home, and in fact only recently got a laptop at home that hasn't been ruined by spyware and gaming.  But things at work changed at the beginning of January and are exponentially more busy and so free time just disappeared. This should even out soon, but  for now I'm pretty brain dead when I get home. I have still been reading a decent amount and thought I'd try for a monthly update.


Recently read:


Frisk Me by Lauren Layne.  I read Steal Me at the end of last year and absolutely loved it, so I splurged and bought Frisk Me at Christmas. This was not a mistake, and it was also quite good. It was perhaps a bit too similar to Kimberly Kincaid's All Wrapped Up in the rescue hero who doesn't want to be in the spotlight vs reporter aspect, but the romance was good and the attraction was real. I really love the Moretti family in Layne's series and am eager for the rest.


Nobody but You by Jill Shalvis.  It's Shalvis, of course I read it. It wasn't my favorite Shalvis, but I still enjoyed it. Review already written and scheduled for release day, March 29th.


The Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Aged by John Bingham.  I loved the first half of this short book about running. I could completely related to a lot of what he said about never being an athlete until he started running in his 40s. But then he takes this awful, depressing, realistic turn about how when you're running in your 40s and 50s you can't expect PRs and wins and that you're just going to slowly get worse and worse and injured more and more. I ended it mildly depressed and discouraged.


Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  I loved this so much. I wouldn't be surprised if this made the top of my 2016 list. LOVED.


Reckless by Kimberly Kincaid. Still reading this one.


New on my Kindle:


Luck is No Lady by Amy Sandas (NetGalley)


Playing Hard by Melanie Scott (NetGalley)


Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (NetGalley)


Flunking Sainthood by Jana Riess (Amazon)


Irresistibly Yours by Lauren Layne (Amazon)


Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Amazon)

What did you read this month that I need to read?  What did you add to your shelves that you can't wait to read?

Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Things I Need in My Wardrobe

Lately I've made a point to have an actual list of things I need in my wardrobe and to try not to shop too much off that mental list. Here's five things that I am on the lookout for..


1. A watch I can wear every day. Amazon won't let me post a picture, but I'll probably end up with this one by Nine West. Eventually I'll buy myself this one, perhaps for my birthday?

2. A couple pairs of great slacks, probably black and gray, but the color isn't important. This is too boring for me to shop for, let alone show you.

3. Olive boots. These would do.

4. Black loafers that can go with slacks or jeans. I used to have the perfect pair from Born, but years of constant wear finally killed them. These make me happy.


5. A couple dressier shirts. I have a ton of simple t-shirt type shirts that are fine for every day, but occasionally I do need to dress up more. This polka dot one is kind of fun.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Guys, this book. This. Book. I read it on a Monday evening when Mike was out of town, finishing up around 10pm. The next morning I got up for work at 5:30, as usual, and sat and re-read the last couple chapters. All week I fought the urge to re-read large portions, if not the entire book.  I literally can't remember the last book that made me feel this way. It was SO good. I'd like to just tell you all to go read it and leave it at that, but I won't.


Here's the summary, from Amazon:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.

Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story—wrapped in a geek romance—is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.

Ok, so this doesn't even begin to describe the plot. Simon is gay, and he has an online friend named Blue, who is also gay.  Simon and Blue go to the same school but because neither one is out, they don't know who the other is. In a horrifying turn of events one of their classmates, Martin, discovers Simon's email, and uses it to blackmail Simon into helping him date Abby, a friend of Simon's. Then there's a love triangle with Simon's best friends (Nick and Leah) and Abby, a high school musical, some sisters, and parents who are remarkably present for a YA novel.

Simon and Blue have this terrific email flirtation going on. They both are trying to figure out who the other is, while at the same time are worried that if they knew the magic would be lost. It is adorable and sweet with just the exact right level of teenage sexual flirting, it's never taken anywhere inappropriate, and actual real thoughts about sex, beyond flirting, are vague and clearly futuristic. This could be any two teens, girls and/or boys, falling in love for the first time. The emails are so perfectly written and the responses are so good. Throw into this the added stress of not being publicly out, and for Simon, the blackmail of being outed before he's ready and it's emotional on a level most of us don't have to think about.

Each chapter opens with a handful of email between Simon and Blue, and then the rest is the narrative of the story from Simon's perspective. He worries about all the things he's juggling, he thinks about Blue, he is furious at Martin, and when things start to unravel, he handles it all in a very realistic manner. He's a kid and it shows but he's also wrestling with some big things. The books has the absolutely perfect tone to convey everything that's going on, while still being a sweet story of two people anxiously falling in love. The ultimate resolution is adorable and perfect and my heart was squeeing in my chest both times I read it.

I recognize that some people will be put off by it being the love story of two boys. Honestly, I'm not sure what to say to those people. They will be missing a really, really terrific book. I highly recommend this one, and I can tell you now that it's likely to be at the top of my best of 2016 list (if I still made those lists) and moves right in my top ten of all time.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

2016: New Year, New Goals

I have so many goals this year that it's a bit ridiculous.  I'm intentionally setting goals as opposed to resolutions, because in my experience a resolution is pretty vague ("lose weight" or "exercise more") and I have found that I really need a hard goal, or a rule to make me succeed. For example, "You can have two sodas a week" works, while "drink less soda" always fails. Some people don't like to be told what to do like this, but I find that even if it's ME telling ME what to do, that it works.

So. My list. Most of these are running related, duh.

Running.


  • A Spring Half Marathon, A Summer Half Marathon, and a Fall Full Marathon. (eek!)
  • A consistent 10:15 pace.
  • ONE mile at 8:30.
  • Two runs a month with Mike. (Possibly the hardest thing on this list, because: kids.)
  • Continue my #runstreak through January, and potentially much longer. 
  • One run in the Badlands.
  • Strength training twice a week.

Reading.

  • Read 60 books. In 2015 I read 55.  I'd like to focus more and Facebook less.
  • Participate in the #26BooksWithBringingUpBurns Instagram Reading Challenge. I know, I don't do book challenges, but this one is on Instagram! I'm going to try.
  • Read at least 4 books about running.
  • Continue to not give a crap about if I'm reading enough books by men or books in translation or books that "smart" people read. I love what I read and will... actually, this is another goal..
  • Continue to ride my soapbox about romance novels. Seriously, there are smart, beautifully written romance novels, and crappy, horrid, cliche ones- just like in any other genre.

Home.

  • Re-texture and paint the hall bathroom.
  • Paint all the bedrooms and the dining room.
  • Buy: A breadbox, new kitchen towels, a tiny spoon rest, wall art for the kitchen, a futon for the playroom, a roku for the basement, bedding for the boys.

And, Finally.

What are your goals for 2016?  Are they mostly health related? Book related? 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Those books I never got around to reviewing in 2015

Like most of you, I hope, I have a stack of books (not a literal stack, they are e-books) that I've never gotten around to writing about. I'd like to get those out of my mind to start over fresh in 2016. These books really have nothing else in common...

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande.  This book was everything you've heard. It was heartbreaking and fascinating and really got to me. I've put off a review for weeks because I feel like I just can't do it justice. The book addresses life and death and elder care. It's not dry and boring and is mixed with personal stories of choice and what happens when we don't make a choice. It's about quality of life verses quantity of life. This book will stick with me for a very long time, and I highly recommend it to everyone (yes, EVERYone.)  For a better review I recommend Janssen's or Amy's.


You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day. I was first introduced to The Guild, and it's creator Felicia Day after reading Max Wirestone's The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss. I knew then that I'd need to read this memoir.  Day does something you rarely see in a(n interesting) memoir- she talks about her life without getting terribly personal, or criticising anyone else.  Starting with her life in Huntsville, Alabama, and ending with the creation of Geek and Sundry, this is interesting and funny from beginning to end. I don't read a ton of memoirs, and even fewer celebrity memoirs, but I enjoyed this one completely.


When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare. I read all of Dare's Spindle Cove series back to back last year and loved them, but for some reason put off reading the Castles Ever After Series, despite owning the first two. This is the third book in the series. I loved the idea behind it- painfully shy Maddie invents a suitor, who comes true and insists they marry. I loved both the hero and heroine, and all of the side characters. In hindsight, I don't know how believable it is, but it's a fun ride and definitely makes me want to read the others in the series.




Love Irresistibly, It Happened One Wedding, and Suddenly One Summer by Julie James. The name of this series is the FBI/ US Attorney series and that should give you the hint that these are books about smart, accomplished people.  I stayed up too late with all three of these, binge reading my way through. If you're hesitant about romance novels because you worry about insipid plot lines, these are a great choice. Hot, sexy, fun with people who know who and what they are. I'm very happy to have one more left, with another coming out next spring.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Some Kind of Wonderful by Sarah Morgan

Some Kind of Wonderful is book two in the Puffin Island series. I read the first book, First Time in Forever, this summer so of course I wanted to read this one too.


Here's the summary, from Amazon:

Her whole life, Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she'd found it when she married bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke. Now, the daredevil pilot is back on Puffin Island. The sparks between them are as powerful as ever, but can Brittany risk the life she's built for a second chance with Zach?

First of all, my copy from NetGalley did not include the Susan Mallery title, but the Sarah Morgan is a full length novel and not a novella tacked onto the end.

Alright, so what did I think of Brittany and Zach? Individually they are both fairly well done, tho I thought Brittany might have some tendencies toward being sheltered, despite her globe trotting career and history.  After her 10 day marriage to Zach as a teenager, Brittany runs away from Puffin Island to become an archaeologist. She travels the world and absolutely loves her job. She's more or less forced back to Puffin Island for the summer and has to spend the summer mostly idle. She finds work to occupy her time at a local camp, the same one that Zach first came to Puffin Island to attend as a teen. She seems pretty ok with stepping away from her career for the summer, despite not expressing any dislike of it prior to this.

Zach first came to the island as a troubled teen. He has a giant chip on his shoulder, for good reason, and the camp is more something he has to do than wants to do. He comes back home off and on over the years, and subconsciously considers it his home. He doesn't want to admit to his relationship with the camp director as his adopted family, and he doesn't want to admit how much the camp means to him. He wants to think of himself as this outsider, this troublemaker that the island can't trust. And, to some extent, this is true. The island doesn't trust him. I found this completely ridiculous that they would hold this crazy grudge for a decade.

So did the romance work for me?  It's not great. While I did ultimately believe they were right for each other, it felt really unbalanced. Brittany was almost a non-entity in the romance, as she tried incredibly hard to put no pressure on Zach at all. She didn't want to spook him or scare him, even as she realized she still loved him, and so she completely rolled over and let him call the shots. I didn't really like that. I wanted her to tell him what she wanted and needed and how she felt, and that really didn't happen. I suppose Morgan had reasons for writing it this way (reasons that she clearly explains within the novel, but that I didn't buy) but I wish she'd gone a different direction with it. I still enjoyed the book a good bit, and have to admit that I'm REALLY interested in the final book in the series, whenever it comes out.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

So this has been a tiring week. My kids still don't sleep and now I've sabotaged myself TWICE in one week with romance novels. The first was a Julie James title, and last night was My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis. (Er, last night as I'm writing this, but I'll be scheduling this post for the release date. Hopefully when you read this I won't be as tired. HAHAHA, riiiiiight.)


Here's the summary:
UNEXPECTED AND UNDENIABLE . . .

Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Rockies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.

As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.

Oh Hudson. I love you. I wish you were a bit less stubborn, but I love you.  When I read Aidan's story I thought that he was going to be the brother who always had to be in control of everything, but nope, turns out it's Hudson. (Meanwhile Gray, the older brother who you'd think would be the in control one can only think about getting it on with his wife, which frankly got a little old.) Hudson blames himself for everything that goes wrong, for reasons that are at time fairly unclear. He takes the blame for his twin disappearing after high school and believes he doesn't have the right to be happy until he gets Jacob back. This is ridiculous, and everyone but him knows it, but that's his main stumbling block in a happy relationship.

Meanwhile Bailey has really just starting living after spending much of her life too sick to dream and while she believes that Hudson is just one more check mark on her list of living life fully, she's quickly coming to realize that what she suggested is not what she wants. Bailey really has no reservations, once she figures herself out. While she's stubborn and it takes a bit for her to get over Hud's stubbornness, she always does. She's easy going and understanding and possibly makes things a bit too easy for Hudson.

The attraction is clearly there, and the intimate moments are well done. I love that Hudson firmly believes Bailey when she tells him she's ok, and doesn't ever treat her like a fragile flower who can't DO things just because she was sick before. The one thing that doesn't stop him at all is her health and her future health- she tells him she can handle it, that she's ok, and he accepts what she says without coddling her. Like I said, I stayed up WAY too late to finish this one up and read the entire book, start to finish, last night. This hasn't happened in a very, very long time.  I am so happy to have a great Shalvis series after the end of Lucky Harbor, and I'm enjoying this new cast of characters. I can not wait for Jacob's story, which turns out to be next (I really thought they'd save him for last, but it looks like we're going in age order of the siblings.)

My Kind of Wonderful comes out today.

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