Friday, January 29, 2016

Bookish Goals Status Update: January 2016

In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2016 Goals.

  • Read and review at least 45 books 
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
    2. First Family by David Baldacci
  • I am once again participating in the New To You Challenge hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  I'm going to aim for the "Dipping the Toes" level with 12 - 24 books that qualify. Any book over 80ish pages qualify as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic  - New series
  • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
    1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
    • Last year I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was the book that had been on my Goodreads TBR list the longest.  This year, I have 49 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  I plan on reading at least 3 of them.

    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read.

    • Attend a book convention
      • I'm registered for BEA in Chicago this May!!
    • I joined the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. My goal is to reach Mount Blanc level - Read 24 books in 2016 that I owned before January 1, 2016.  Ebooks that you own count, but you must own the book....No library books.
      1. First Family by David Baldacci
      • Achieve a Professional level in the 2016 Prequel and Sequel challenge with 76 - 100 points.  I finished last year with 82 points, so hopefully this year will be similar.  The sign up and description can be found at Novel Heartbeat. (Link Up Quarterly)
        1. First Family - King & Maxwell #4 - 2 points for a sequel 
                                                          Total Points = 2
      • Complete 2 half marathons during 2016
        1. I am registered for the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, OH at the end of April
      • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Pro status with 16 new releases read/reviewed during 2016.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages.

      Wednesday, January 27, 2016

      Review: First Family by David Baldacci

      First Family (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, #4)

      First Family is the fourth installment in the King and Maxwell series.  Sean King and Michelle Maxwell were both members of the secret service and now run their own private investigation firm.  This time around they are hired by the First Lady to help find her twelve-year-old niece, Willa, who was kidnapped from her home. On the surface it appears to be a plot against the president, who is well on his way to reelection.  

      Shortly into their investigation into Willa's disappearance, Michelle receives a phone call from one of her brothers.  Her mother passed away unexpectedly.  After a brief examination of the scene of death, Michelle begins to wonder if foul play may have been involved.  She calls Sean and they begin looking into her mother's case in addition to Willa's.

      The closer Sean and Michelle get to uncovering the truth, the more resistance they receive from the First Lady.  She says her number one priority is returning Willa to her family safely, but that doesn't appear to be her only motivation for hiring Sean.  The two have known each other for years and it becomes clear that she is banking on that friendship once again.

      I was extremely surprised by how this book ended.  In my opinion, Sean made the correct decision.  I don't want to spoil anything, so I will simply leave it at that.  I was also happy to see Michelle come to terms with her past.  She spend quite a bit of time in one of the previous books seeking counseling for an undisclosed reason.  We are finally clued into the events in her past that caused the emotional distress.  Now that everything has come to light, I believe she is well on her way to recovery.  The final scene also sets up a potential change in the status of Sean and Michelle's relationship.  I felt like this was a long time in coming, but the timing seemed to be perfect.  

      Saturday, January 23, 2016

      Stacking the Shelves: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

      Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, be it physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

      Tynga publishes her post each Saturday, so be sure to link up your posts and check out what books others have added to their shelves that week.

      From the Library

      Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

      This is going to be our Book Nerds Across America read along for February.


      Wednesday, January 13, 2016

      Waiting on Wednesday: America's First Daughter

      Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

      America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Lara Kamoie
      Release Date: March 1, 2016

      This isn't my typical YA selection, but I have read some historical fiction over the past couple of years and thought this sounded like an excellent read.  

      Goodreads Overview: 

      America's First DaughterIn a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

      From her earliest days, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. And it is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that she learns of her father’s liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.

      Patsy too has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé, William Short, a staunch abolitionist intent on a career in Europe. Heartbroken at having to decide between being William’s wife or a devoted daughter, she returns to Virginia with her father and marries a man of his choosing, raising eleven children of her own.

      Yet as family secrets come to light during her father's presidency, Patsy must again decide how much she will sacrifice to protect his reputation, in the process defining not just Jefferson’s political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

      Monday, January 11, 2016

      Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

      Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #1)

      I've read a couple of Sophie Kinsella's stand-alone novels and really enjoyed them.  For some reason I kept skipping over the Shopaholic books when selecting my next book...probably because I wasn't ready to start another series, but this book was absolutely adorable.

      Sophie's characters are always unique and a bit quirky and Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood is no exception.  She is a financial journalist in London, which is ironic given her own financial situation.  She can't control her spending and has gotten herself in well over her head.  Rather than confront the situation, she comes up with every excuse imaginable to avoid her creditors and continues shopping as a means of coping with her troubles.  

      Her father tells her she needs to either cut back her spending or make more money if she wants to solve her money problems.  She tries all sorts of schemes, but can’t seem to catch a break.  Just when she thinks it is hopeless, she comes across a HUGE story that puts her up against one of the biggest PR firms in London.  How will Becky stand up against the brilliant Luke Brandon, who is the owner of Brandon Communications?  You will definitely want to read and find out.

      I’m excited to read Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, which is the next book in the series.  I already have a copy, but I will probably save it until spring break.  I think this series would make an excellent travel/beach read.  It is highly entertaining, humorous, and doesn’t require too much attention to detail.  

      Saturday, January 9, 2016

      Stacking the Shelves: The Gift by James Patterson

      Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, be it physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

      Tynga publishes her post each Saturday, so be sure to link up your posts and check out what books others have added to their shelves that week.

      Books I traded for in our Little Free Library

      The Gift by James Petterson

      The Gift (Witch & Wizard, #2)I don't have the first book in the series, but I guess I will have to get it from the library.  I've enjoyed James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series and thought the With & Wizard series looked interesting.  The description "Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games" is what caught my attention.

      Wednesday, January 6, 2016

      Review: Die Once More by Amy Plum

      Jules fans are in for a treat with Amy's most recent novella.  This book is 3.5 in the Revenants series and provides a glimpse into the lives of all of our favorite revenants after that epic battle at the end of If I Should Die.

      Jules is living with a group of revenants in New York while he tries to sort out his feelings for Kate.  He knows there will never be anything between the two of them, but living in Paris with Kate and Vincent was more than he can handle at the moment.

      While living in New York, he meets a revenant named Ava, who has given him the cold shoulder ever since their first meeting.  He refers to her as "Frosty", which I found to be very amusing.  He can't figure out what he possibly could have done to deserve such treatment.  He literally just arrived.

      As Numa activity begins to escalate in New York it becomes evident that they will need to seek guidance from their Paris kindred.  Jules is reluctant to return, but he is pleasantly surprised by what he discovers about himself and Ava once he does.  The time away allowed him to fully appreciate the relationships he has with his Paris kindred.  That isn't something he will ever throw away, but he realizes it is time for a change and his life in New York is full of possibilities.

      I felt like this book was a necessity after the way Amy left Jules in such a depressed state in Die for Her and If I Should Die.  He was always such an upbeat character that it didn't seem fitting.  Die Once More shows how Jules turns the corner and will likely achieve the happiness he deserves.    

      Monday, January 4, 2016

      Review: The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer

      The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles, #1.5)

      The Queen's Army is a very short (18 page) story that is 1.5 in the Lunar Chronicles series.  If you read Cinder, you will remember them mentioning The Queen's Army in passing, but I anticipate it will have a much larger presence in Scarlet.  This book shows how the members of the army are selected, physically altered, and trained.

      Z is selected at the age of 12 and is taken from his family to begin training.  He is subjected to ruthless physical and mental challenges/abuse as part of the development process.  As he grows and matures he becomes one of the strongest members of his "pack"....yes, think werewolves.  One day, the queen arrives and wants to see two members from each pack demonstrate their skills.  Will Z be able to stand up to the test?

      Overall this was a great introduction and behind the scenes look at what the Queen has in store for Earth.  We have already witnessed her mental manipulation and this army will add the physical force she likely needs to take over Earth.  I really hope Cinder, Emperor Kai, and the rest of the characters we met in Cinder are able to conquer this ruthless dictator.

      I strongly advise reading this short story if you plan on continuing the Lunar Chronicles series.  There is a lot of background information that likely isn't presented in Scarlet.  It is a free download and should take less than 30 minutes of your time to complete.  The knowledge gained is well worth the investment of your time.

      Sunday, January 3, 2016

      Review: Until Midnight by Melissa Landers

      Until Midnight (Alienated, #1.5)

      Until Midnight is a short story that bridges the gap between Alienated and Invaded.  It was a free download from Barnes & Noble, so of course I had to pick it up.

      Cara and Aelyx spend their last day together on a transport ship before he has to return to Earth to repair human/alien relations.  The humans are still leery of the aliens after some of their crops mysteriously started dying and the aliens are more than resentful for the loss of one of their exchange students.  Aelyx has his work cut out for him if he is going to be able to return to Cara on L'eihr.

      To spice up this short story, it takes place just prior to Christmas.  To make it a special occasion for Cara, Aelyx researches ALL of the Christmas traditions and tries to recreate them on the ship.  Of course, resources are limited so he does the best he can.  I literally laughed out loud a few times during the Christmas festivities.  My husband's family is from Belgium/Germany, so I could appreciate some of the European traditions Aelyx discovered, but Cara was more than confused by a few of them.  She did appreciate his thoughtfulness and tries to come up with an equally meaningful gift for Aelyx.

      This was a very entertaining story and a great refresher since it has been a little while since I finished reading Alienated..  It was nice to return to the Alienated world and I can't wait to start reading Invaded.  I was equally excited to discover there will be a third book in this series.  United is scheduled to be released in August 2016 and will be the conclusion of this series.