Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 2014 Challenge Update

August is done and now I am facing my busiest time of the year and time is running out on getting my challenges done. So lets just recap what I have accomplished this year and what I have to go.
So here we go:
Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge
This challenge is complete however I do have one more book I would like to read for this challenge, maybe in the fall.
3. Dependent (not one of the official books but seems to fit)
Series Challenge
Still plugging away at this challenge even with the completion.  I am determined to finish at least two more series, and one of them will be Harry Potter!
Series #1: Harry Potter - Book 1, Book 2,
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, Book 3 - Complete
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, Book 2, Book 3
Series #8: Vampire Warrior Kings Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 - Series Complete!
Series #9: Firelight Series - Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 3.5 - Series Complete
Series #10: Woods Family Series - Book 1 (read previously), Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book .5 - Series Complete
Audio Book Challenge
Wow I have really taken off with this challenge. Only 1 book to go and I will have conquered this challenge!
8. Stay
9. Rider
Graphic Novel Challenge
I have really been pacing myself and limiting myself to only 2 a month but I think with only three left I am just going to complete this challenge this month!
10. Relish
Mount TBR
It is really slow going with this challenge, it doesn't help that most of the books I have for this challenge are print and time is limited for them. That said I only have 16 more to go and 4 months to read them in, so it shouldn't be too bad to squeeze them all in.
3. Beauty

Erotica Challenge
Another Challenge Completed!! Woohoo! I even signed up for this one a little late and completed and surpassed my goal (and will probably continue to do so).
 23. Beg
August is over and in my book so is summer. Time to start thinking about the coming of the holidays and busy season. August has already shown a little bit of a slow down in my reading and it probably only get worse from here, but the good news is I have completed 3 of my 8 challenges and will most likely complete 2 more this month (I think I need to pay a little bit of attention to my own equine challenge, I haven't checked that one recently).  I am in high hopes that this will be the year I complete all my challenges plus win a Nanowrimo. 
My Goodreads book count stands at 234 of my final goal of 260, I like the odds of completing that challenge with flying colors as well!
How are your challenges going? Have you started completing challenges? Are you starting to plan next year's challenges yet (because I am)?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bedtime Story: Little Granny Quarterback by Bill Martin Jr.

Synopsis: "Despite her aches and pains, an elderly woman who was once a star quarterback dreams of being able to atone for the one big game that she lost."

My Review: Both Munchkin and I really enjoyed this book. Being a football family, as soon as I discovered this book I had to have it. I am definitely not disappointed. Munchkin was thoroughly engrossed in the story throughout the whole thing. It had great messages about keeping your dreams alive and that sports aren't just for boys. The only downfall for me is that it ended way to quickly, I would have loved more!
My Rating: A perfect book for our house and heading into football season! Wish it was longer. We give it a rating of Four Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

After Dark Review of Hard to Hold On To by Laura Kaye

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: "Edward "Easy" Cantrell knows better than most the pain of not being able to save those he loves--which is why he is not going to let Jenna Dean out of his sight. He may have just met her, but Jenna's the first person to make him feel alive since that devastating day in the desert more than a year ago.

Jenna has never met anyone like Easy. She can't describe how he makes her feel--and not just because he saved her life. No, the stirrings inside her reach far beyond gratitude.

As the pair are thrust together while chaos reigns around them, they both know one thing: the things in life most worth having are the hardest to hold on to."

My Review: I had to take a few days after finishing this one to write a review because I was rather emotional at the conclusion. I really loved the complicated emotions between Easy and Jenna, it was almost like she had a hero complex but it developed into genuine reciprocated emotions. The full depth of the story is slow to reveal, even for a shorter novella, which was great, you were able to get to know the characters and storyline and become fully invested in the outcome as more things were revealed. The underlying story of Easy's character really made an impact and the author's note at the end sent my emotions over the edge, I had thought I knew a little of our veteran's suffering and have tried to support and donate to their causes but I had no idea of the full struggle and impact. I was brought to tears and really appreciated Kaye for bringing this issue to light in a main stream book, not only that but to donate all sales for the first two weeks is a true commitment to our soldiers.
My Rating: the steam in this one was a little tamer than the rest of the series but you don't miss it one bit because there are bigger things going on in this novella.  This is definitely a Four Paw and Stump Wag book!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of Love Letters by Debbie Macomber

My Review: "In this enchanting novel set at Cedar Cove’s cozy Rose Harbor Inn, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber celebrates the power of love—and a well-timed love letter—to inspire hope and mend a broken heart.

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.

Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.

For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love."

My Review: Ack! How dare you end the book like this!! I don't know if I will be able to stand the wait for the next book hahaha! So as you can imagine this next book in the Rose Harbor series grabbed me as much as the first one did and I am in emotional turmoil. Love Letters had a lot of ups and downs and emotionally gripping characters and storylines. Sometimes Macomber's writing can get a little flat for me, especially some of the earlier works, but this one kept my interest, I wanted to keep turning the pages. Though it ended with a big shocker and rather abruptly, I think it was the perfect length. Now I am just going to have to distract myself until the next book comes out.
My Rating: I enjoyed this installment in the series but the conclusion is killing me! I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Audio Review of Stay by Allie Larkin

Synopsis: "Something Borrowed meets Must Love Dogs in this big- hearted debut about friendship, love, and a German Shepherd named Joe.

Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van's standing behind her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man Van's ever loved. Before, Van's mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy tale ending will ever come true.

After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. The pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, and Van is at the end of her rope... until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.

Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together, they work to mend the pieces of Van's shattered heart. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Joe's vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted, proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.

Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay is an unforgettable debut that illuminates the boundlessness of love and marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice."

My Review: I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this one, I listened to the audio version. The narrator really slipped in and out of a hard core NY accent so that threw me off. Also the first almost three hours were nothing but the main character bitching. It took quite a while to get to the part about the dog, which is the whole reason I downloaded this one. It then bounced back and forth with all the negativity and was a real downer. The one really standout thing in the book was two of the sub-characters, Agnes and Louis, both of those characters were so rich and unique I would have liked so much more of them.
My Rating: This was a little bit of eh book for me. I enjoyed parts of it but was really thrown off by all the negativity.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What's for Dinner? (19)

What's for Dinner 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.
Well it was Munchkin's 2nd Birthday party this last weekend and it was Sesame Street themed.  I didn't want to over extend with a complicated menu so had a pasta salad for Mr. Noodles, ordered cheese pizzas since it is Elmo's favorite and had cookies for Cookie Monster.  One thing I did go a little crazy over was the fruit and veggie platters. I saw an idea on Pinterest and ran away with it.
Here is the Berry Grover
And the Pepper Murray
I was very pleased with how they turned out and everyone was also pretty impressed. So I think that used up my creativity and food prep work for the week! That was a lot of chopping!
If you have food that looks like someone or something let me see it!

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

A Wizard Named Nell by Jackie French Koller
The Stork Reality by Malena Lott
Beg by CD Reiss (After Dark)
Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden (Bedtime Story)
Aphrodite: Goddess of Love by George O'Connor (Graphic Novel)

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

Love Letters
Just Going to the Dentist
Hard to Hold on To
123 Sesame Street
Currently Reading:

Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff - PB - on page 35 of 272
Cabin Fever by Diana Hunter - PB - on page 89 of 272
Buffalo Valley By Debbie Macomber - Kindle - 6%
My Heart to Yours by Michelle Zarrin - PB - on page 15 of
Rider by Jim Bernheimer - Audio - 56%
Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens - PB - on page 32 of 425

 Books to be Read Soon:

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss (Mount TBR)
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Mount TBR)
Behind You by Carly M. Duncan (Requested Review)

Interesting Tidbits from the Web:



It was a very busy week again last week but I was able to get some reading squeezed in and it helped that I found a few new books that really wouldn't let me put them down. Most of my week was occupied with cleaning and Munchkin's Birthday Party prep.  Well, that and prepping for my Fantasy Football draft yesterday. Now that all the chaos is over and most of the after party clean up is done I can settle back into some reading.

Here are a couple pictures of our now 2 year old!
And because he didn't eat enough sugar, he stole Daddy's coffee!