Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 2014 Challenge Update

We are nearing the halfway point of the year and better make sure everything is on track.  I was lucky enough to be able to ride the wave of motivation coming off Dewey's Readathon and then again take advantage of the Bout of Books Readathon.
So here we go:
Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge
Holy cow! I think I completed this challenge.  One of the books (Dependent) was a requested review but really seemed to suit this challenge so I am counting it.  I do still have at least one more I would like to read.
3. Dependent (not one of the official books but seems to fit)
Series Challenge
Definitely took advantage of that week long readathon to make progress here. I have now managed to complete 5 series (at least for now - Rose Harbor may have another book coming out in August) which means this Challenge is Complete! I will continue to read more series though I have at least 3 more I want to finish reading this year!
Series #1: Harry Potter - Book 1
Series #2: Secret of the Unicorn Queen - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6 - Series Complete!
Series #3: Rose Harbor - Book 1, Book 1.5, Book 2 - Complete for Now
Series #4: Firebrand - Book #1, Book #2, Book #3 - Series Complete!
Series #5: Gifted Series - Book #1, Book #2, Book #3 - Series Complete!
Series #6: Master of the Mountain - Book 1, Book 1.5, Book 2, Book 2.5, Book 3, Book 4 - Series Complete (for now, I am sure there will be more books but none are set to release this year).
Series #7: Dakota Series -  Book 1
Series #8: Vampire Warrior Kings Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 - Series Complete!
Series #9: Firelight Series - Book 1
Audio Book Challenge
Kind of started catching up again on this one, using the audiobooks to read while I craft is starting to take hold, but I need Munchkin to stay asleep so I don't get interrupted. I have a couple I plan to listen to this month. (note to self, figure out how to use Audible on phone so I can listen outside in the evenings).
4. We Bought a Zoo - in progress
Graphic Novel Challenge
I was ahead of the game last month so decided to lay low this month and only read one. I have a couple planned for this next month.
10. Relish
Mount TBR
Again I took advantage of the readathon and momentum to really push through some of these old books that I have had waiting. I need to finish at least 3 or 4 more this month to stay on my time frame.
3. Beauty
23. Hot as Hades
24.  Witch Song
25. War Horse
26. Show-Off
27. Track Record
28. Tithe
29. Life Lessons from a Ranch Horse
30. Ophelia
31. Dakota Born
32. My Liege of Dark Haven
33. Firelight
34. Perfect Match


Erotica Challenge
Only read a couple this month but I am ahead of schedule anyway.  I have at least 3 lined up for this next month and then another whole series downloaded for the summer so no worries about this challenge.
 After last months slow down it is really nice to see myself picking up the pace again this month. Thank goodness for readathons and those extra pushes to keep on reading! My Goodreads challenge is out of control, I have nearly reached my original goal of 156 at 146 books and we aren't even halfway through the year yet, so I have had to increase the challenge to 208. That new goal puts me at 60 books ahead of schedule.
How are your challenges going? Are you finding you are focusing on any one particular challenge first or just working on them all at once?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bedtime Story: The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss

Synopsis: "Subtitled "Dr. Seuss's Surprising Word Book," The Shape of Me and Other Stuff certainly lives up to its billing. In this delightful book, first published in 1973, kids are encouraged to ponder shapes they may never have considered before: "Just think about the shape of beans and flowers and mice and big machines!" Dr. Seuss's illustrations are in silhouette (for the purpose of accenting the outlines of figures), but are nonetheless up to par with his usual wacky, amusing style. Soaring well beyond the mundane arena of circles, triangles, and squares, here we are challenged to consider "the shape of camels … the shape of bees and the wonderful shapes of back door keys!" Kids will love the silly rhymes and funny pictures, and parents will appreciate this original take on the largely untapped world of shapes."

My Review: An interesting book that can be branched out in so many ways into Munchkin's daily life. We enjoyed reading the book while I held up other shapes to the lamp to create shadows. My main issue with the story is that some of the odd Dr. Seuss creatures aren't named all the time and Munchkin points to them and wants to know what they are and of course I can't exactly remember if they are from another book or what to call them.
My Rating: Munchkin seemed to enjoy this book though I am on a mad search to identify all the Dr. Seuss creatures.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

After Dark Review of Edge of the Enforcer by Cherise Sinclair

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
Synopsis: "Fleeing false murder charges, Lindsey lands in San Francisco. There she builds a satisfying life until, in the notorious Dark Haven BDSM club, she encounters deVries. Moth, meet flame.

A security specialist and occasional mercenary, deVries needs an adorable submissive like a knife to the gut. Hell, she’s not even a masochist. But here she is, all big brown eyes and sweet body and sassy mouth. Loyal. Tough-minded. Honest.

Or maybe not, considering her ID is forged. If she thinks to lie to him, she’ll learn better. He’s the Enforcer of Dark Haven—his discipline is absolute, his punishments harsh, and his heart untouched…until now."

My Review: Such an improvement on the previous book in the series. I enjoyed the depth of these characters and the added suspense to the story. Boy were the scenes between Lindsey and Zander hot, especially towards the end. I am also rather excited to read Dixon's story, he is turning out to be a great character and one I can't wait to get to know more. I admit I am kind of partial to these tough rugged bad boys as opposed to the composed and sophisticated guys.
My Rating: So much better than the previous book! I really enjoyed the extra thriller like element. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Summer Reading List

Now that the weather is finally getting warm and it seems to cause a yearning for a certain type of book. I am definitely wanting to read those fun summer and beach reads.  So I decided to share some of my reading plans over the summer with all of you. I am going to try to balance the books I want to read with those that I need to read for my challenges. I do tend to lean towards light romance with some comedy or light fantasy, occasionally I like to throw in something that will make me tear up.
So here are some of the books I plan to read this summer (hopefully outside some too):
In addition to all of these books I hope to also finish reading the Harry Potter Series by the end of summer and potentially an After Dark Series as well.
What books are you planning to read this summer? Do you seem to lean towards a particular style or genre when the weather gets warm?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review of Dependent by Brenda Corey Dunne

Synopsis: "When 45-year-old Ellen Michaels loses her husband to a tragic military accident, she is left in a world of gray. For 25 years her life has been dictated by the ubiquitous They—the military establishment that has included her like chattel with John’s worldly goods—his Dependents, Furniture, and Effects. They—who have stolen her hopes, her dreams and her innocence, and now in mere months will take away the roof over her head. Ellen is left with nothing to hold on to but memories and guilt and an awful secret that has held her in its grip since she was 19. John’s untimely death takes away her anchor, and now, without the military, there is no one to tell her where to go, what to do— no one to dictate who she is. Dependent deals with issues ever-present in today’s service families—early marriage, frequent long absences, the culture of rank, and posttraumatic stress, as well as harassment and abuse of power by higher-ranking officials. It presents a raw and realistic view of life for the lives of the invisible support behind the uniform."

My Review: This was such an emotionally difficult, yet beautiful book to read. I spent so much of the time reading this book in tears, angry or feeling like I was alone. Kudos to Dunne for allowing me to feel those emotions right along with Ellen. There is definitely a tribute to the support behind our military men and women, while all families might not suffer quite as much as Ellen did, there is still that struggle to put on the all is good voice so that the military members don't worry and can focus on the job at hand while away from home. While it was a struggle to follow Ellen through her loss, it was great to see her start to blossom with the support of her children and friends and find the strength she had all along but felt she had lost.
My Rating: Even with all the emotional turmoil this book caused me I can't help but love it.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Dependent was sent to me by the author's publicist for an honest review.
You can find out more about Brenda Corey Dunne and her work on her Goodreads Page.
Dependent has not yet been published but is set for release on July 29th, 2014.  You can preorder your print copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review of Not Until Tonight by Jessica Sankiewicz

Synopsis: "Haley has spent the last year going to the bar across the street from her apartment every day. It's the only thing that winds her down at the end of a long day at work. She gets to have a drink and talk to the gorgeous bartender, Skylar. Her little crush on him is starting to drive her crazy. She wants to take their friendship to the next level but she doesn't want to compromise what they already have.

When Skylar asks Haley to pretend to be his girlfriend for one night, she doesn't hesitate to say yes. This is her chance to finally experience what it could be like, even if it's just for one night. But pretending becomes difficult when their real feelings surface and the pull is too strong to resist. And neither one of them prepared for that.

At the end of the night, will they be willing to turn a fake relationship into a real one?"

My Review: You know what I love about NA books? The fact that they take place in a stage of life where there is so much hope and excitement about the future, when you are old enough to have fun but the stresses and worries of adult life have yet to drag you down. This is a perfect example of that feeling. This is a novella so it is a little short and the storyline moves along quickly but Jessica did a great job of building up enough of a back story to support it. I loved the setting, so many of us have had that bar where it felt like home, and we spent a good amount of time in. Honestly the story brought back a lot of fun and happy memories for me. The characters were interesting though at times the sub-characters (will most likely be featured in more novellas in the series) did outshine the main characters and that was the one draw back for me. That said this is definitely a great book to pick up and relive some of those fun, carefree and reckless times in your life.
My Rating: I enjoyed this book, especially that it was a quick read but I didn't feel like I missed something or that it was too rushed.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Not Until Tonight was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Jessica Sankiewicz and her work on her Goodreads Page or Blog.
Exciting news, Not Until Tonight was just released yesterday so hurry and obtain your own copy on Amazon!

Monday, May 26, 2014

What's for Dinner this Week? (8)

What's for Dinner This Week is a little insight into my life for you every Monday night. I carefully plan out meals for the week ahead of time and do my shopping over the weekend.  So I wanted to start sharing with you one of the recipes or dinners I am most looking forward to each week.
Yup I am definitely taking it easy again this week with simple recipes.  We are going to have a taco night this week (I use to have one with my friends every other week but since Munchkin came along this really went away), and I totally slack of with this and buy one of those box kits with the soft and hard shells, seasoning and sauce.  To make it a tiny bit healthier we use ground chicken or turkey.  I also decided to change things up at least for me (Hubby will definitely not eat it) with a great Cucumber Salsa recipe I of course found on pinterest (don't you just love pinterest?).
I haven't tried this recipe yet and will probably cut back on the jalapeno because I can't handle spicy at all. But I love cucumbers and cilantro (in fact maybe I will add extra cilantro instead of the jalapeno). Of course I will also be treating myself to a margarita or two!
Do you have a regular taco or specialty night? What do you do to change it up?

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber
Reflections of the Queen Snow White by David Meredith
My Liege of Dark Haven by Cherise Sinclair (After Dark)
Treasury for One Year Olds (Bedtime Story)
Relish by Lucy Knisley (Graphic Novel)
Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket (Mini Review)
How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini by Heather Horrocks (Mini Review)
Life Lessons from a Ranch Horse by Mark Rashid (Mini Review)
Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein (Mini Review)

Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Ophelia (DNF)
Down Came the Rain
Blueberries for Sal
Bedtime for Francis
Seduced by the King
Perfect Match
Taken by the Vampire King

Currently Reading:

Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff - PB - on page 35 of 272
Lest the Dew Rust Them by Michael Drakich - Kindle - 2%

 Books to be Read Soon:
Dakota Home by Debbie Macomber
Dakota Always by Debbie Macomber
Buffalo Valley by Debbie Macomber
Vanish by Sophie Jordan
Hidden by Sophie Jordan
Breathless by Sophie Jordan
Barefoot by Ruth Patterson
Dark Chatter by Andrew Branch (Requested Review)



Definitely have started slowing things down with the reading, though it doesn't look like it. I was lucky enough to get to take a mental health day from the office on a day when Hubby was working and Munchkin was at daycare and it was a rainy day, so I spent the day working on crafts and reading. I definitely still want to finish several more books before the end of the month but we will see how it goes.

I hope all of you in the US have been enjoying a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, but please remember the reason for this extra day off of work. Here are a few pictures myself and Hubby have taken over the years that have come to symbolize the day for us.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mini Reviews: Bad Beginnings, Life Lessons of a Ranch Horse, How To Stuff a Wild Zucchini and More

So with reading and reviewing so many books, I am running out of days in which to share them with you.  I am going to start posting Mini Reviews of books that I read through out the month but couldn't find the time to post on the last Sunday of each month.
Boring and a little unimaginative. One Paw and a Stump Wag
A little repetitive but touches of great inspiration. Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Did not finish this one! Can't even give it One Paw sorry!
Sadly did not finish this one either.  Again I can't give more than One Paw.