Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Books & Crafts #8 ~ #BookBlogger #CraftCircle



Welcome to Books & Crafts, a craft circle composed of book bloggers, a sporadic meme where we share our other creative pursuits aside from reading and blogging. Everyone is welcome to join, just add yout tag/label links below and you're good to go!


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This month, I'm once again sharing a way to present a gift card. If you'd like more specific information on the "how to", just let me know. I like these little gift card envelopes a lot!





I made gift card-sized envelopes using the envelope maker from Stampin' Up (I can't recall the proper name) and then adhered the envelope to three mattes of varying sizes (using coordinating papers). I embellished the actual envelope with punches which also serve to seal the envelope.

The materials used are paper, envelope maker, punches, stamps, and adhesive. These are pretty easy to make and like I said, I really like them!





Do you craft too? Wanna get in on the fun? Just add your link below. And don't forget to check out the other hosts' crafts! :D
(If the linky doesn't appear correctly or doesn't work, head over to Talk Supe and link up there.)


#SeasonedRomance Sale ~ It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love

99 Cent Sale ~ December 7-9

I confess I'm rather fond of seasoned romances. You know, those love stories with protagonists who are a little bit older. There's something to be said for reading books with characters closer to my age, with similar experiences. If you love seasoned romances OR are interested in giving one a try, there's no better time than now. These 24 romances are on sale for only 99 cents each. But hurry because the sale runs only from the 7th through the 9th.

Need a suggestion? Karen Booth's Bring Me Back is a favorite of mine. :) Click on the link above or the graphic below for all the book sale links.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#ShelfLove Discussion ~ Year-End Wrap-up

Bookworm Brandee

As part of the #ShelfLove Challenge, we have monthly discussion topics. December's topic is The Year-End Wrap-up.  


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#ShelfLove 2016 Wrap-up

Highs:

  • So far, I've read 69 books which is 12 more than last year. Of those books, 24 were physical books which were moved from my TBR shelves to my Read shelves. I read enough physical books this year to require a major shift on my Read shelves. Score!
  • I co-hosted with the ladies at Chapter Break and Second Run Reviews - my first time to do such a thing. :)
Lows:
  • I still added books to my shelves and did so faster than I can read them. In my defense, many, if not most, were free as I acquired them at book events like BEA or one-clicked.
  • I feel like I failed as a co-host. I didn't visit as much as I'd have liked and I didn't participate enough on social media. Also, I had technical glitches with graphics and link-ups because I'm just not as technically savvy as my cohorts. ;)
Will I do it again?
Absolutely! I love the #ShelfLove Challenge. It gives me a goal as well as a sense of accomplishment to know I'm reading books I already own - most of which I've owned for awhile. ;) As for hosting, I supposed I'd be up for trying again if the ladies would have me.


What about y'all? What bookish item(s) are you most thankful for?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Audio Review ~ Sweet Nothing ~ Jamie McGuire & Teresa Mummert

Sweet NothingSweet Nothing by Jamie McGuire & Teresa Mummert
Narrated by: Carly Robins and Nelson Hobbs
Release Date: April 5, 2016 (audio)
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Tantor Audio sent me a complimentary copy
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
It is enough to break any man: watching what could have been my future slip away before it was ever in my grasp. The possibility of losing someone I loved, before she was even mine, is something I never would have imagined. Certainly nothing I'd ever wish on anyone. I go to her every day and wait. Wait for the impossible, for a sign, for her to look at me...hoping that sinners are granted miracles, too. Just one glimpse of him was all it took. In the next lane, at a stop light, was the man I would fall in love with and marry. People talk about the kind of lover that takes time, love you fall into. We were more like a crash and burn, and when our lives intertwined I would never be the same. He was the man I would cherish the rest of my life, who would father my children. In an instant our life together began, and in an instant it would end. The late night; the excuses; the lies. And in the blink of an eye, it was like we never were. Contains mature themes.




This review is really hard to write without giving anything away, so my vagueness is intentional. I have to admit that while I liked the story, at about 2/3 in, I was thinking this would be a 3-star read. Then things kinda got turned on their head. And in the end, I felt that the way things wrapped up - reminiscent of a favorite movie - earned the story a few points.

Can one moment really change your life? Can its impact be so profound as to change your perspective - change the way you look at and live your life? That's what Avery and Josh consider after a life-changing event.

Avery, an ER nurse, is steady, hard-working, always playing it safe. Even in her love life, she doesn't risk anything so that there's never anything to lose. Josh, an EMT, is a player with a penchant for nurses. He plays the field always letting the ladies know where they stand. He doesn't get emotionally involved because he knows he can't be there for anyone in that way.

But one moment with Avery changes everything.

I enjoyed how McGuire and Mummert alternated POVs to convey the story. Getting to know Josh and Avery as they got to know each other was fun. Their banter was playful and seeing Josh and Avery invest emotionally in each other ended up being beautiful. When things started going bad, I got frustrated. I felt like Avery was irrational a lot of times as well as too harsh. Of course, Josh wasn't making the best choices either and that was frustrating as well. I couldn't believe, or at least I didn't want to, that they'd throw it all away - all they'd built together. It was maddening.

The ending was completely unexpected but I quite liked it. It eased some of the tension I'd been feeling towards Avery and Josh and moved Sweet Nothing from a just okay read to a good one.

The narrators were excellent. Carly Robins and Nelson Hobbs were new-to-me narrators and they embodied Josh and Avery. They kept the pace of the story even as well as conveyed all the emotion and turmoil being experienced.

Overall, Sweet Nothing was a good listen. I liked the twist thrown in that took Josh and Avery's story up a notch.



Friday, December 2, 2016

#TravelingtotheTerminus Review ~ The Undead Pool ~ Kim Harrison


The Undead Pool (The Hollows, #12)The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison
The Hollows #12
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased Hardcover
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove, #TravelingtoTerminus
Goodreads

Synopsis
Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering.

Rachel must stop the occurrences before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and it becomes all-out supernatural war. However, the only way to do so is through the ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils.



The Hollows is one of my favorite urban fantasy series so I can't believe I've consistently stayed behind in it. I love the characters and their development - evolution - over the course of the series. I enjoy the action and mystery in each installment. And I admire Harrison's take on social issues such as discrimination. The Undead Pool was quite a ride and I'm happy, and maybe a little sad, that there's only one book left in the series!

In The Undead Pool, Rachel, Trent, and the gang have to figure out why the master vampires are sleeping and therefore are letting the living vampires run amok. They also have to determine the what kind of magic is being used and who all is involved. On top of that, Trent and Rachel are trying to determine what, if anything, is between them. And the elves are putting a lot of pressure on Trent to do what they want. Should Rachel and Trent follow their hearts or do what's expected of them?

It was all very exciting. Every moment! The way Rachel can bring everyone together - even if she worries about their safety - is special. There were moments where I ooh'd, teared up, gasped. It was fantastic.

I want to mention that I had listened to the last two installments and although I adore Marguerite Gavin's narration, I feel like I had some holes - can't remember all the details. So I was thrilled to go back to reading this one. I'm a slow reader when it comes to Harrison but I savor every page. 

I'm arguing with myself over continuing on to the last book. I think I've decided to read something else but I *will* be read the final installment by year's end.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016 Bookish Resolutions Challenge Update ~ November

BookishResolution Challenge 2016

Laura @Trips Down Imagination Road and Michelle @Because Reading are once again hosting the Bookish Resolutions Challenge in 2016. I participated in this challenge last year and it was a good way to keep me motivated in certain areas, so I decided to do it again this year.

My Goals for 2016
  • Blogging Goals
    • Keep up with commenting back weekly
    • Link up my challenge posts bi-weekly
    • Learn some HTML to change up format of posts
  • Reading Goals
    • Raise my Netgalley rating to 50%
    • Read books my kids *need* me to read
      • Alice in Wonderland
      • Death with Interruptions 
      • Everything is Illuminated
      • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      • Listening for Luka
      • School of Good and Evil
      • The Things They Carried
      • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
      • Wonderstruck
  • Personal Goals
    • Stick to my daily schedule


Progress made in September

Blogging Goals
  • I sucked at blogging goals in November. But I knew that was going to be the case. THANK GOODNESS I'd done blog ahead so I had posts scheduled. That's been a relief. And commenting? What commenting?!? But NaNoWriMo ends today (psst...I hit the 50000 word goal! My novel isn't quite done but I'm a winner nonetheless!) I'll be catching up with comments over the next few days!
Reading Goals
  • My rating is still at 22%!! Ugh! I did post a review and I have another I need to get posted but... Maybe I can get it up a couple of percentage points by the end of December???
  • I didn't get any of my Kids' Recs List read in November. I've managed to get ONE request per kid read this year.
Personal Goals
  • My personal goals centered on NaNoWriMo this month. And seeing as I hit the word goal, I'm calling it a win all the way around. :D In December, I'll get back to exercising and keeping a better schedule. I need sleep, y'all! I kept some late hours and then got up early...I'm feeling it. I was slow at reading over the last month. Thank goodness for audiobooks - I listen when I'm traveling back and forth between dropping off and picking up kids, at the store, cleaning...  

How'd y'all do?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Audio Review ~ According to Hoyle ~ Abigail Roux

According To Hoyle
According to Hoyle by Abigail Roux
Narrated byMason Lloyd
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Genre: Adult, Historical M/M Romance
Source: Tantor Audio sent me a complimentary copy
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2016NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
US Marshals Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington - longtime friends and colleagues - are escorting two prisoners to New Orleans for trial when they discover there's more than outlawry to the infamous shootist Dusty Rose and the enigmatic man known as Cage. As the two prisoners form an unlikely partnership, the marshals can't help but look closer at their own.

When forces beyond the marshals' control converge on the paddle wheeler they've hired to take them downriver, they must choose between two dangers: playing by the rules at any cost or trusting the very men they are meant to bring to justice.



"According to Hoyle" - in accord with the highest authority; in accord with a strict set of rules.

I admit I had to look up this phrase. I'd never heard it before and I appreciated how Roux incorporated it into this story. It was brilliant, really. Especially when you think about whether or not life is black and white or shades of gray.

According to Hoyle is historical - a western really - set in the west following the Civil War. Our four main characters are 2 Marshals and the 2 prisoners their charged with getting to trial. Along the way, Wash and Flynn have to decide whether living "According to Hoyle" makes sense or whether, in fact, there are some things in life that don't necessarily fit within the strict confines of law or societal norms.

Highlights

  • Western setting - we see Denver, Lincoln, Junction City, St. Louis, all as the marshals transport their prisoners to trial in Louisiana. Roux captured the west, its dust, its cool plains nights, beautifully.
  • Well-developed characters that evolve as the story moves along. In each one of them we see they are more than meets the eye and the circumstances they find themselves in cause them to question some things as well as proves each one to be selfless with those they care about. Not only is the law questioned - whether there are shade of gray and if all things defined as punishable on a surface level really are when examined closely, but feelings, dare I say love, are questioned, examined, wondered at outside the bounds of what society considers acceptable.
  • The suspense/mystery. In true western fashion, there is a hold up of sorts. There were guns and bandanas and dynamite. It was all very exciting and kept me guessing.
  • The narrator. Mason Lloyd was absolutely perfect! His gruff voice and range was spot on for a western. He kept the voices distinct, the pacing even, and the suspense tight. Truly, I think he enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
I'll definitely be reading (or listening) to more Roux!




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Post #17 - #NaNoWriMo & Update

Sunday Post

As y'all probably all know, the Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba @Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share my news from the week whether it be book, blog, or just life news. Since I read so many of your Sunday Posts and I wanted to add something new in 2016, I've decided to join in the fun!


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Well, it's the end of November. 2016 is rapidly coming to a close and I can't believe how quickly this year seems to have gone by! Like it has somewhere else to be! I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate, and if you don't, I hope your week went smoothly. Hubs, Berk and Jax had the whole week off and Sky came home on Wednesday night for the short break. We enjoyed having everyone home and our nephew came down (he lives a little over an hour north of us) for Thanksgiving day. This week is only semi-normal as I'm heading to Texas while James and the kids go to Phoenix for a drum corps audition camp. I suppose the remainder of the year will run similarly so it's as "normal" as it's going to get.

It's been over a month since I posted and there's lots to catch up on. Primarily I've spent this month participating in NaNoWriMo. As of this posting, I'm at 44106 words with most of 4 days left to complete my novel. Easily doable and I'll be reaching my personal goal of completing my novel in 2016! Woohoo! 

As for reading, I've listened to more than I've actually read lately. Currently, I'm listening to Spin by CD Reiss and Hunting Season by Shelly Laurenston. And I'm reading With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent, which has been sitting on my shelf, signed, since May of 2013 when I first met Rachel. I've let it languish because I hated to say goodbye to these characters but I'm enjoying the book. :) I finished up my #OctobeRecFest strong with 14 recs. I read some great books and I'm grateful to YOU for adding so many wonderful books to my TBR list. ;) I'm working at #TravelingtotheTerminus but haven't read too many so far - only 6. Again, NaNoWriMo is my priority so I don't have as much time for reading. 

I sincerely apologize for not getting by to visit everyone with any regularity. I thought I could do it with a schedule but when the creative juices are flowing, you have to go with it. So writing has taken precedence over most things. I'll be back in December. AND I'm having a holiday raffle for y'all.


Tell me about y'all's week. Was it a good one? Here's to hoping December flies in with holiday cheer and great reads!! :D


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Bookworm BrandeeBlogger ShameNew Release Challenge 2016 - (un)Conventional Bookviews2016HWLogoButtonBlog Ahead 2016-Oct

Challenge Updates
I'm continuing to plug away at some of my challenges. Here's how I'm doing by the numbers:

#ShelfLove - 67
Blogger Shame - 11 
New Release - 52
Goodreads - 137
#2016HW - 8 (I've given up on this challenge!)







I've been working at a list of series that I need to catch up on... y'all, I'm up to 122!! Traveling to the Terminus may be an ongoing project in 2017. ;) I've read 6 books so far towards my challenge.

How are y'all doing with your challenges?