Friday, December 31, 2010

Out With A Bank Read-a-thon Day Two Results and Prediction for Day 3

Yesterday, I  managed to get a little more reading done.  

I finished Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae on Kindle for my iPad. I loved it and I have once again added a new series to my list of ones that I follow.  To see my review click here.

I read about four chapters of  As Easy As Falling Off The Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins. I'm really enjoying this book. I read or heard somewhere that it is a contender for the Newbery. From what I have read so far, I would not be unhappy if the committee selected it. 

Yesterday, Colorado finally got a real snow - several inches. And since I just got a new car on Tuesday (2011 Sangria Red Ford Escape with all wheel drive) I could have driven in the snow easily, but because it is a new car and I wasn't sure about everyone else's driving I didn't take my car out so I didn't get to listen to Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.  However, I did brave the roads this morning to shop for tonight's New Year's Eve party and got about an hours worth of listening in.  I like this book and I'm glad I'm already on hold for Crescendo.
As for You Killed Wesley Payne, well I didn't even open it. I'm enjoying it about as much as I enjoy giving blood (if you know me, you know I'm needle phobic). In fact I seem to get a headache whenever I read it. On day two, there was no change in my relationship with this book. However, this morning, I did manage to read two chapters.  I agreed to review this book, so I'm going to have to force myself to finish it. And then I'm going to find a teenager to read it and give me their opinion of it. My first instinct when I don't like a young adult book is to question if my feelings are because I'm an adult.  Since I do make recommendations to teens as well as elementary kids, I like to get their feedback as well.

Yesterday I also managed to read several chapters of the ARC of A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett. I'm really enjoying this book as well. I'm glad it's going to be a series.

As for day three of the Read-a-thon, other than the hour I got to listen to Hush, Hush. I don't think I'll get much more done. I'm too busy cooking for tonight.

How is your reading going?

Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae

Amazon Product Description
Cocoa butter soap, check. Lemon lip balm, check. A dead body?

That's just what Sophie Mae Reynolds finds in her workroom: the corpse of Walter Hanover, the neighborhood handyman. He died from drinking lye, something she has in good supply. But the police don't suspect Sophie Mae, a thirty-something widow who makes and sells beauty products. Instead they call it a suicide. But why would a man with lottery cash and a loving fiancée kill himself?

No one can stop the impulsive Sophie Mae from answering this riddle, not her sensible best friend Meghan or Detective Ambrose, who incites annoyance as well as stomach flutters. Sophie Mae's big mouth and sharp nose lead her to a peppermint-scented trail of arson, bigamy, and a shocking family secret that reveals a personal connection to Walter . . . and his killer.

This series had been on my radar for a while, but I had not had a chance to read it.  Over the holidays, I won a gift certificate from one of the blogs I follow and I used part of it to purchase this book for the Kindle App on my iPad. 

I’m hooked. I love mysteries set in a crafty setting.  Like many other such authors, McCrae offers recipes and tips.  But all of that is just icing on the cake.

McCrae has crafted an engaging and creative mystery, featuring a no non-nonsense, yet curious heroine.  Sophie Mae is a very likable character (though I must admit I’m very amazed at her ability to turn her soap making business into such a growing concern, early on.  Perhaps her struggle to get it up and running is part of the back-story.)  Sophie Mae’s housemate, Meghan and Meghan’s daughter provide a loving family unit for Sophie Mae. Detective Ambrose is an intriguing love interest. I look forward to learning more about him.

One of the things I like about the budding relationship between Sophie Mae and Ambrose is that  even though Ambrose is a no-nonsense detective who believes that detecting should be left up to the professionals, he recognizes early on that Sophie Mae is going to give into her curiosity.  He’s not obnoxious in his efforts to get her to stop sleuthing.   You get the impression, he just might have a budding respect for Sophie Mae’s ability to get answers.

When reading cozy mysteries, it’s important to suspend the disbelief that ordinary citizens could and would do the things that cozy amateur sleuths often do.  McCrae makes that easy for her readers.  Sophie Mae’s sleuthing just seems natural.

Lye in Wait is a quick, light read that keeps the reader engaged from page one. If you enjoy cozy mysteries you should add this series to your list of favorites.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Young Adult Reading Challenge

2011 YA Reading Challenge  Hosted by For The Love of YA

Here are the rules:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.  Create a post about the challenge and link your challenge post up in the linky below.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post.

2. There are four levels:

--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

--The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.

--The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.

--The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. The Challenge starts on January 1, 2011 and goes until December 31, 2011.

In 2010 I read 47 YA books, perhaps a few more since some books like The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan often show up on both juvenile and young adult lists.  So this year I’m going for The Mega Size YA Challenge:  I think I should be able to make it.  I probably have that many YA books on to read list already.

Here are a few I hope to read in 2011

1. Crescendo
2. Sapphique
3. Forever
4. Elixer
5. The Duff
6. The Dead Tossed Waves
7. The Cruel Ever After
8. The Dark and Hollow Places
9. Elphame’s Choice by
10.              The Iron King
11.              Extraordinary
12.              Low Red Moon
13.              Matched
14.              Pegasus
15.              The Replacement
16.              Torment
17.              The Blood of Cain
18.              Radiance
19.              Plain Kate
20.              Grace
21.              Sisters Red
22.              Warped
23.              Pathfinder
24.              Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Dead
25.               Plague: a Gone Novel
26.               Desires of the Dead

HHop over to For the Love of YA to sign up.

Out With A Bang Read-A-Thon - Day One Results

Yesterday, I did not get as much reading done as I would like (that seems to be the trend for this entire Holiday Break.)

I did finish Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst. Click here for my review.

I read several chapters of Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae.

and two chapters of As Easy As Falling Off The Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins and managed to spend roughly 20 minutes listening to Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.
As for You Killed Wesley Payne, well I didn't even open it. I'm enjoying it about as much as I enjoy giving blood (if you know me, you know I'm needle phobic). In fact I seem to get a headache whenever I read it.

Today, in between cleaning the house and finalizing my menu for our New Year's Eve party, I hope to read at least one chapter of this book as well as move further along in the other books and get a good start on the ARC of A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett. This one is my end of year treat to myself.

How is your reading going?

Holiday Break Reading Challenge Activity #14

Today’s task is to post your top ten reads from 2010.

I can’t ever do anything the simple way.  I couldn’t  pick just 10 (come on, so far in 2010 I’ve read 291 books – and I might finish a couple more before midnight tomorrow.)

So I compromised and picked my top ten favorites in Young Adult,  Picture Books, Juvenile Fiction, Mysteries and General Literature (though I think one of these might be considered non-fiction.)  Even with this compromise, my Young Adult list was still too long, but painful as it was, I did manage to trim it down to 10.  These are my picks – in no certain order.

Top Ten Young Adult Reads:
1.   Terrier by Tamora Pierce
2.   Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
3.   The Hate List by Jennifer Brown
4.   Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by  Jason Henderson
5.   Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
6.   Awakened by Ednah Walters
7.   Graceling by Kristen Cashore
8.   Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
9.   Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
10.                Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Top Ten Mysteries
1.   A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams
2.   Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay
3.   Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy
4.   Skein of the Crime by Maggie Sefton
5.   Murder at the PTA by Laura Alden
6.   Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett
7.   Organize Your Corpses by Mary Jane Maffini
8.   Sketch Me If You Can – Sharon Pape
9.   The Long Quiche Goodbye – Avery Aames
10.                Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop

Top Ten General Fiction
1.   The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2.   Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
3.   The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
4.   Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
5.   Sarah’s Key by Tatianna de Rosnay
6.   Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
7.   Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul
8.   The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel
9.   House Rules by Jody Piccoult
10.                Hannah’s List by Debbie MaComber

Top Ten Picture Books
1.   The Three Questions by John J. Muth
2.   It’s A Book by Lane Smith
3.   Librarian on the Roof by J. G. King
4.   The Hair of Zoe Feefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson
5.   Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Rosenthal
6.   Chalk by Bill Thomson
7.   The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
8.   All The Things I Love About You by LeUyen Pham
9.   Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer
10.                Art & Max by David Wiesner

Top Ten Juvenile Chapter Books
1.   Clementine: Friend of the Week by Sarah Pennypacker
2.   Emma Dilemma and the New Nanny by Patricia Hermes
3.   Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper
4.   Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty Birney
5.   The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
6.   The Bread Winner by Deborah Ellis
7.   Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Pierce
8.   Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
9.   When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
10.                Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Break Reading Challenge Activity #13

Today we are supposed to name the characters that if they existed in real life would be our best friend (or some sort of friend).

Here are mine:

Beka Cooper from the Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series (Terrier, Bloodhound and Mastiff)

Annie Darling from the Death on Demand series by Carolyn Hart
Sookie Stackhouse from the series by Charlaine Harris
Tricia Miles from the Booktown series by Lorna Barrett
Olivia Limoges from a Killer Plot by Ellery Adams

And I’ve always felt very maternal towards Harry Potter. If he were real, I would be like his surrogate mom.

What characters have you connected with?

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

 Amazon Product Description:

What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!

Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.

When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.

I liked the character of Lily a great deal. She does have some room to grow (provided of course there is a sequel), but she is after all on 16. However, sometimes her innocence is frustrating – she always seems to trust the wrong people.

It’s hard to believe so much takes place in the space of one weekend – there is so much going on – Lily’s Legacy Test, the battle, and hidden secrets.

Of course there is a love interest – two actually with an unexpected twist.  Tye – a were-tiger and Jake, a freshman at Princeton. 

Enchanted Ivy is a fast paced, engaging read – so engaging it leaves the reader wanting more.  While some of the secrets are revealed, there are others to be explored.

If you like fantasy, this is a must read. 

Out With A Bang Read-A-Thon Dec 29-Dec 31st

I usually have so many things going on I don't feel that I can sign up for the read-a-thons. Today is no different, but I'm going to give it a try anyway.

For more information click on  Out With A Bank Read-A-Thon

Here are the books I'm going to start with:

 Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst - I'm enjoying this one immensely.

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beadoin - this is for review and I'd like to have it finished in a timely fashion.

Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae - I'm reading an e-version of this book. It's a series I've wanted to read for some time.

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins - I heard this mentioned as a possible Newbery contender, so wanted to read it before they make the announcement in January.

What are you reading?

400 Miles in 2011 Fitness Challenge

I seem to be hooked on joining challenges. There is just something about a challenge that makes it easier to stick to your to do list.  Those of you who know me in person (and not just through this blog) know that I walk a great deal. I recently lost a great deal of weight and I'm obsessed with keeping it off.  Walking is the kind of exercise I enjoy - and it's hard to stick to it during the winter months when you live in frosty Colorado, but I'm trying.

The 400 Miles in 2011 Fitness Challenge seems just like the thing I need to keep me motivated.  On my to do list for 2011 is to hike up Pikes Peak in August. So a walking challenge should be just the thing to help with that training.

Here are all the details. 

The challenge will run from January 1st thru December 31st

It's never to late to join.

The purpose is to reach the equivalent of 400 miles (at least) during the year, not a set number of miles a day.

Every Friday morning starting 1/7 I'll put up a new post for everyone to add the link to their progress post. If you'd rather post an update every two weeks, that's fine too, but please visit a few participants every week and give them support.

What counts:
mile for mile-
walking/jogging/running outside or inside on a treadmill
biking inside or inside on a recumbent, spin or stationary bike
WATP Mile DVD's: 1mile walk, 2 mile walk etc.

15 min. equals 1 mile-
step aerobics
weight lifting
workout videos
exercise classes

Minutes and miles can roll over:
If you only walk for 3/4 mile, or exercise for 10 minutes, you can add those minutes/minutes to the next day.

Want to join me and get fit in 2011? We can do it!!  Hop over to 400 Miles in 2011 to sign up.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop

Goodreads Description

"Each year, for the past seventeen years, Otto Penzler, owner of the legendary Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has commissioned an original story by a leading mystery writer. The requirements were that it be a mystery/ crime/suspense story, that it be set during the Christmas season, and that at least some of the action must take place in The Mysterious Bookshop. These stories were then produced as pamphlets, 1,000 copies, and given to customers of the bookstore as a Christmas present.
Now, all of these stories have been collected in one volume—Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop. Some of the tales are humorous, others suspenseful, and still others mystifying. This charming one-of-a-kind collection is a perfect Christmas gift, appropriate for all ages and tastes.

Contributors include:
Charles Ardai Lisa Atkinson George Baxt Lawrence Block Mary Higgins Clark Thomas H. Cook Ron Goulart Jeremiah Healy Edward D. Hoch Rupert Holmes Andrew Klavan Michael Malone Ed McBain Anne Perry S. J. Rozan Jonathan Santlofer Donald E. Westlake"

This is one of my favorite reads this Christmas. I love mysteries and though I mostly read cozy mysteries, I truly enjoyed each and every story in this collection.  As I've said before I have a strong desire to visit New York so that I can visit The Mysterious Bookshop.

If you are not an avid mystery reader this is a good way to introduce yourself to an exciting genre.

Holiday Reading Challenge Activity #12

Today's task is to provide an update on our goals for the break.   

My goals for this holiday break were (in no certain order)
1. Organize the craft room - haven't even gone in there yet!
2. Get some organization to my book shelves - all my fiction books are now in order alpha by author starting with children's picture books - to chapter books to teen/young adult books and finally general fiction.  I still have to organize my non fiction. But my autographed and collectible books are in a special place and I filled one shelf with all the books I own but haven't read. I even filled three boxes of books to give to Goodwill.
3. Finish a few craft projects - finished two, but not the one that one I really wanted finish. Hopefully, I'll finish it before the end of the break.
4. Read, read, read! - I finished five books. And I blogged/reviewed about four of them.

How did you do with your goals?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Break Reading Challenge Activity #11

Today's activity requires you to create a sentence out of the books you have on your shelves. The main words for the sentence must come from the book titles, but you can add a small word or two in order to help it make sense if you need to. Just put your added words in [brackets]. You can use as many book titles as you want, but use at least 3.

Here's mine:

Dearest Beloved: I. O. U [a] Letter from Home, Love Ruby Lavender.

1. Dearest Beloved by T. Walter Herbert (this is an autographed copy written by one of my favorite professors from my undergrad days.
2. I. O. U by Nancy Pickard, another autographed book written by one of my favorite mystery authors. 
3. Letter from Home by Carolyn Hart is in my TBR stack.
4. Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles is another autographed copy by one of my favorite children's authors. And I've actually had the pleasure of meeting her twice.

If you want to see other entries in the challenge click here.