Friday, April 29, 2016

Bookish Goals Status Update: April 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
    3. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    4. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues Book 1)
    5. I Survived Hurricane Katrina (I Survived #3)
    6. I Survived the Joplin Tornado (I Survived #12)
    7. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer 
    8. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
    9. One False Note by Gordon Korman (39 Clues #2)
    10. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3)
    11. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins
  • 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
    2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - New author and New Series
    3. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan - New series
    4. I Survived Hurricane Katrina - New author and New Series
    5. One False Note by Gordon Korman - New author
    6. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis - New author
  • 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.
      1. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
    • 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
      2. Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (39 Clues #1)
      3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
      4. One False Note by Gordon Korman (39 Clues #2)
      5. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Cleus #3)
      • 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 
        2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - Lunar Chronicles #2 - 2 points for a sequel
        3. The Girl Who Played with Fire - Millennium series #2 - 2 points sequel
        4. One False Note by Gordon Korman (39 Clues #2) - 2 points sequel
        5. The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3) - 2 points sequel
                                                          Total Points = 10
      • Complete 2 half marathons during 2016
        1. I ran in the Glass City Half Marathon on April 24th and finished in 2:17:25
        2. I'm registered by the Emerald City Quarter Marathon August 28th
        3. I'm registered for the Columbus Half Marathon October 16th
      • 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.

      Thursday, April 28, 2016

      Review: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3)

      The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues, #3)

      The third book in the 39 Clues series brings a few of the participants together to work as a "team." 

       Amy and Dan were warned at the start of the contest not to trust ANYONE, but they don't really see another option.  Nellie, their au pair/nanny, just departed Venice on a flight to Japan while they remain stranded at the Venice airport.  Without Nellie, they are forced to accept help from their Uncle Alistair, who has betrayed them on at least two occasions.  He graciously allows them to travel with him on his private plane, but he really just needs their help to determine the next destination in the race.  

      While in Japan, we learn about Hideyoshi, who is the first son on the Tomas side of the family.  He was a great warrior and tried to conquer most of Asia.  In an unusual turn of events, the Kabras appear with Nellie and join the alliance between Amy, Dan, and Alistair.  They all have a piece of the puzzle necessary to find Hideyoshi's treasure and hopefully their next clue, which they discover could be in Korea.  They travel to Alistair's home in Korea to continue their investigation.  

      Ian begins to soften and Amy believes they are developing a real friendship.  This eventually backfires and the kids are left wondering why they trusted any of their relatives in the first place.  Fortunately, they didn't share ALL of the information they had leading to the next clue and even gave the Kabras some misinformation.  

      If they can just get out of the trap the Kabras left them in, they may still be in the race.  

      There wasn't much interaction with the other relatives in the contest this time around.  Amy and Dan did encounter the Holts early on in the book, but we didn't see them after that.  Jonah Wizard didn't make an appearance at all and we left Irina Spasky in the dust somewhere on the way to Japan.  We will see if any of them show up in the fourth book, which appears to be taking us to Egypt.  

      I didn't think this book was quite as good as the first two in the series, but it is still holding my son's attention, so we will continue on.  He loves the Hawaii Five-O television series, so he was intrigued by the fact that the Yakuza were mentioned in the book.  They are the 'bad guys" that are often referenced in Five-O, so there was a tie in that he could understand.  He was also intrigued by the swords and possible treasure that could be found along the way. 

      Monday, April 25, 2016

      Marathon Monday: Glass City Half Marathon


      I have been extremely fortunate with the weather for my half marathons.  The end of April in Toledo, Ohio can be hit or miss, but it was sunny and mid 40's to low 50's for the duration of my third half marathon.  Having grown up in the area, I enjoyed running past my high school and through the neighborhood where I once lived.  I had some family there for support at mile 8, which is always uplifting for the last half.

      I wasn't expecting a PR for this race since I didn't train as hard as I should have.  I was shooting for under 2 and a half hours and finished in 2:17:25 with what had to be a 2+ minute stop to wait in line for the restroom around mile 8.  I stopped my watch while I was waiting and my actual "run time" was just over 2 hours and 15 minutes.  

      Here is the detail from the official results: 

      Glass City Marathon - HALF MARATHON
      RUNNER
      3333
       
      JACQUELINE SMITH
      POWELL, OH
      Female / 40
      Placed 127th in FEMALES 40-44
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Division
      127
      Gender
      861
      Overall
      1789

      FINISH Time
      FINISH Net2:17:25
      FINISH Gun2:20:47

      LocationNet TimeClock TimePacePace Between
      START00:00
      4.4MI47:2750:4910:51 /mi
      9:07 /mi
      6.7MI1:09:571:13:1910:13 /mi
      10:45 /mi
      FINISH2:17:252:20:4710:28 /mi












      Above is a picture of me before the start of the race in front of University Hall at the University of Toledo.

      My husband biked around the course and caught me at the start, mile 8, and the finish.




      I'm registered for the Emerald City Quarter Marathon at the end of August and the Columbus Half Marathon this October.  I plan on trying for a PR this fall and would like to have my first sub two hour half marathon.  That may be a stretch, but if you....


      Wednesday, April 20, 2016

      Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Star by Rick Yancey


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

      The Last Star by Rick Yancey
      Release Date: May 24, 2016

      I read The 5th Wave in preparation for the release of the movie, but I'm waiting to get the Blue-ray from the library.  We have a home theater, so it takes something EPIC like the latest Star Wars film to get me to pay movie theater prices to watch a film.  

      I hope the rest of the series is as good as The 5th Wave!!

      Goodreads Overview: 

      The Last Star (The 5th Wave, #3)We’re here, then we’re gone, and that was true before they came. That’s always been true. The Others didn’t invent death; they just perfected it. Gave death a face to put back in our face, because they knew that was the only way to crush us. It won’t end on any continent or ocean, no mountain or plain, jungle or desert. It will end where it began, where it had been from the beginning, on the battlefield of the last beating human heart.

      Master storyteller Rick Yancey invokes triumph, loss, and unrelenting action as the fate of the planet is decided in the conclusion to this epic series.

      Tuesday, April 19, 2016

      Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Laugh

      Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten List on something bookish.  Click on the link above if you wish to participate.

      Top 5 Books That Will Make You Laugh

      After reviewing all of the books on my Goodreads read shelf it became quite apparent that I don't read very many comedies or humorous books in general.  These are the only books that really stood out to me as books that made me laugh.

      Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

      Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, #1)

      I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

      I've Got Your Number

      Alienated by Melissa Landers

      Alienated (Alienated, #1)

      The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

      One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)

      The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

      The Art of Racing in the Rain

      Saturday, April 16, 2016

      Stacking the Shelves: Twain's End by Lynn Cullen


      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 Hosts of the COYER Challenge

      I have to thank the hosts of the COYER Challenge for sending me this ARC.  I really enjoyed Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen and look forward to reading more of her historical fiction.


      Wednesday, April 13, 2016

      Waiting on Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


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

      Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
      Release Date: July 31, 2016

      I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in September 2015.  I'm sure this is on just about everyone's TBR list already, but after visiting the Harry Potter park at Universal studios a few weeks ago, I am really excited to see what happens next in the lives of our favorite wizards.

      Goodreads Overview:

      Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
      Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016 

      It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

      While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.


      Tuesday, April 12, 2016

      Top Ten Tuesday: Books Every YA Fan Should Read

      Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten List on something bookish.  Click on the link above if you wish to participate.

      Top 10 Books Every YA Fan Should Read

      The Lunar Chronicles Series by Marissa Meyer
      I just finished reading Scarlet (the second book in the series) and hear that Cress is even better.

      Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

      Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
      I just finished reading this series last September and look forward to rereading it with my son over the next few years once he is in middle school

      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

      Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
      How can you not love Etienne St. Clair

      Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

      The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

      The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

      Heist Society Series by Ally Carter
      I love all of Ally's books (Gallagher Girls and Embassy Row series included), but I REALLY wish she would write more Heist Society books.

      Heist Society (Heist Society Series #1)

      Sarah Dessen
      I haven't read a book of hers that I haven't enjoyed so far.

      The Truth About Forever Lock and Key This Lullaby

      Slammed by Colleen Hoover

      Slammed (Slammed, #1)

      Easy by Tammara Webber

      Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1)

      The Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin

      The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)

      First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

      First Comes Love (First Comes Love, #1)

      Monday, April 11, 2016

      Review: One False Note (39 Clues) by Gordon Korman

      One False Note (The 39 Clues, #2)

      One False Note picks up where the previous book left off.  Amy and Dan are now looking for the second clue in the quest to win the Cahill fortune.  If you are not familiar with the series, it is historical fiction geared towards 4th - 6th graders.  I have a 5th grade son that really enjoys non-fiction such as the Who Is and Who Was books.  He also really enjoyed the Magic Tree House books when he was younger.  This has been a great series for him to transition into some longer chapter books that contain more fictional elements.

      Throughout this book we learn about Mozart and his sister Nannerl, who was apparently as talented as Mozart if not more so.  She may have even written and published several pieces under her brother's name.  It was believed to be improper for women to be in the spotlight back in the mid-late 1700's, so Mozart received all of the recognition.

      Amy and Dan continue to stay one step ahead of their relatives when they travel to Mozart’s home in Venice, Italy in search of their next clue.  I love how these books allow young readers to learn about historic cities in a fun and entertaining way.  I don't believe my son had even heard of Venice before reading this book.  Now he has had the opportunity to learn about how the city consists of over a hundred islands and the significance of the canal system as their major form of transportation.  Of course, the Cahills make very good use of the canal system as they try to dodge their adversaries.

      My son gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and he has already started the next book in the series.  For someone who isn’t a big reader this is a very good sign.  

      Sunday, April 10, 2016

      Creativity Corner: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford


      My 11 year-old son, Preston, is very crafty and enjoys all forms of art.  I decided to start this Creativity Corner feature as a way for us to look back on our projects while sharing ideas with others.

      This week I completed my second page in Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.


      Preston is working on a page in his new Sea Life adult coloring book and should have a completed project next week.

      Friday, April 8, 2016

      Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

      The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)

      The Girl who Played with Fire is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which introduced us to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  Blomkvist is a journalist who uncovered a huge corporate scandal as well as a dark secret within the Vanger family.  Lisbeth is a "researcher" Blomkvist hired to assist him with his investigation.  She is actually a hacker with a photographic memory and a genius level IQ, but she has a very troubled past.

      This installment starts out innocently enough with Mikael and his magazine, Millennium, getting ready to publish another ground breaking piece involving sex trafficking in Eastern Europe and Sweden.  They are collaborating with a journalist, Dag Svensson, and his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, who is completing her thesis on the subject.  They plan on publishing an entire issue of the magazine devoted to the topic as well as Dag's book, which will expose several prominent figures in the community.

      The publication is put on hold when it is discovered that Mia and Dag have been murdered.  Lisbeth is considered the prime suspect because her fingerprints are on the murder weapon, but Blomkvist insists the murders must be related to what the couple had been working on.  The murderer has to be one of the individuals they were getting ready to expose in Dag's book, but the police and media are dead set on finding and convicting Salander.

      The remainder of the book is a brilliantly woven investigation into the murders of Mia and Dag, which simultaneously digs deep into Salander's past.  We discover why she was considered incompetent as a minor, institutionalized and ultimately placed in the custody of a legal guardian.  It should have been clear to anyone who met Salander that she is far from incompetent, but she does struggle with aggressive behavior and lacks social skills.

      Salander communicates with Blomkvist throughout the book via messages delivered to his hard drive.  She hacks into his system and he responds with a corresponding word document left in a folder on his desktop.  Together they put together the pieces Mia and Dag had been missing, why they were murdered, and who was responsible.

      I never would have guessed who was behind "all the evil" as Lisbeth so accurately described it.  Once the individual is identified, it becomes clear the danger Salander and Blomkvist are in and what must be done if either of them plan on coming out of this alive.

      I was completely shocked by the way Larsson chose to end this novel.  There is a third book in the series, which I assume will tie up loose ends, but we are left hanging in the balance.  I though for sure there would be an epilogue or something to explain what happens after the final scene, but that was not the case.  I guess I will need to read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest sooner than I was originally planning.

      This is an extremely well written murder mystery.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and would highly recommend it to adult readers.  The subject matter is NOT suitable for children.  There is a considerable amount of adult language and content that I would probably classify as NC-17 if this were a movie.


      Tuesday, April 5, 2016

      Hemingway House - Key West



      Over spring break we visited Ernest Hemingway's home in Key West.  (Above is a picture of me walking in the gate towards the house.)  To be honest, I don't think I have read any of his work since I was in high school and I didn't know that much about his personal life prior to my visit.  We took the guided tour and acquired a wealth of information about both his personal and professional life.

      Below is a picture of one of his typewriters.  I'm sure this is the first time my 11 year old has seen an old school typewriter such as this.


      The pictures below were taken inside of Hemingway's studio.  Many of his most famous works were written in this very room.


      Below is a picture of my son with one of the many cats that live on the property.  Hemingway kept a large number of cats on the property and the later generations are still residents of his home.  Many of them are well known for having 6 toes, which was supposedly a sign of good.


      The tour was well worth the money and I am now very interested in reading some more of his books.  The only one I can remember reading was For Whom the Bell Tolls, but there are several others that I am now adding to my TBR list.  If you have any Hemingway favorites, I would love some recommendations.