Monday, February 29, 2016

February 2016 - Monthly Wrap-Up

February 2016

It is really hard for me to believe that the second month of 2016 is already coming to an end.  It has been a great month for me in terms of reading and blogging.  I thought I would sum up this month as I get ready for March!

Books Read 

Audiobooks Completed 

Blogger Thoughts
  • We are two months into the year and I have had at least one post on my blog every day so far.  It's not really a big thing but I am kind of proud of it anyway.
  • I only had one post connected with a blog tour this month and I do really like the change.  I am not against blog tours but I had been doing more than I could handle at times last year.  I am signed up for a couple of blog tours next month and I am actually feeling excited about it again.  
  • I am still making an effort to visit as many blogs as possible but unfortunately I feel like I have fallen way behind this month.  I promise that I am trying but life has just been very busy this month.
  • I feel like my ARC pile is really not getting any better.  I am reading but having a really hard time staying away from making new requests.  I hope to make some progress in March.
  • I have decided to try to go to as many author events in my area as I can fit into my schedule.  I went to see Victoria Aveyard & Sophie Jordan and Ruta Sepetys this month and had a lot of fun at both events.  

Outside of the Blog
  • The weather in my area has been crazy this month.  We have had some really warm days which I loved but I think it made the cold even worse when it came back.  My daughter was excited that she had a day off of school last week due to snow.  It wasn't really a bad snow but the timing of the storm came at the perfect time for a snow day to be called.
  • My daughter kept us crazy busy this month.  She was in the pit orchestra for the school musical which performed for 4 days this month plus late practices leading up to it.  She also just returned home from a trip to Chicago with her jazz ensemble.  We are on the countdown at our house until she will be old enough to get her license and drive herself to some of her activities.  Less than 6 months now.
  • I felt pretty sick for most of last week and even ended up taking a sick day from work.   I wasn't very active online for much of the time I was feeling bad which was a change for me.
  • The puppies are still keeping me on my toes.  Molly is 4 months old now and she is a little troublemaker at times.  Stella is 8 months old this week and is really starting to listen a lot better and is calming down a bit.  Cookie will be 11 years old in March and is tolerating the puppies pretty well on most days.

Up Next

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review - Calamity by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @randomhouse

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Reckoners #3
Delacorte Press
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Date Read: February 23, 2016
Source: Library

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.

David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back...

But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

The last book in the series.

My Review

This has been an amazing trilogy.  This is a set of books that I am certain I will read again at some point which is pretty high praise from me.  I always try to write spoiler free reviews but this review may have some spoilers for the earlier books in the series because I simply don't know how to avoid that.  Honestly, if you haven't read the prior books in this series you will want to stop read my review at this point and start reading Steelheart instead because it is really that good. This was my least favorite book in the trilogy but it was still an incredibly solid ending to the story.

At the start of this book, things aren't looking to great for David and the rest of the Reckoners.  The events that ended the previous book have left them at a bit of a disadvantage.  Prof is gone as is Tia which leaves David in charge of the group.  David is trying and he has a plan that he hopes can save Prof and change everything.  The need a few gadgets and during the groups quest to get their hands on a few they meet Knighthawk who ends up being a wonderful addition to the group.

The group that I have grown to know and love are all featured in this book.  David and Megan's romance was adorable.  David's use of metaphors is still something to behold and Megan has learned a lot about controlling her power.  Abraham may have been my favorite in this book.  He has always been a bit mysterious but I felt like we really got to know him a little bit in this book.  Cody didn't have the same charm for me in this book that he had in the first book in the series.  His stories that were fun at the beginning of the series have started to grow a bit stale for me at this point. Mizzy added humor at the right moments in the book but I actually think that Knighthawk's sense of humor was the most enjoyable.

This book has a lot of action and the setting was very interesting.  I am still trying to envision a city made of salt in constant change.  It sounds odd but it actually worked for me.  There was a lot of planning and coming up with ideas in this book for the Reckoners.  There was action but most of it seemed to be crammed into the last part of the book.  I would have liked to see a little more action spread out in the story.  The story took a few twists that I predicted and a few that I didn't.  All in all, I found it to be a nice ending to the series but not quite as good as I had hoped it would be.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for something a little different.  If the idea of a world where individuals with powers are not the heroes but the villains sounds even remotely interesting, I would suggest that you give Steelheart a try.  I have enjoyed everything that I have read by Brandon Sanderson up to this point but I still have some catching up to do.  I plan to read a lot more Sanderson in the future.

The Series

Book #1 - Steelheart - My Review
Book #1.5 - Mitosis - My Review
Book #2 - Firefight - My Review
Book #3 - Calamity
About the Author

Photo by Nazrilof
Brandon Sanderson is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Steelheart and Firefight, the first two books in the Reckoners series, and the internationally bestselling books in the Stormlight Archive and the Mistborn trilogy. He was also chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. His books have been published in more than twenty-five languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. He lives and writes in Utah. To learn more about Brandon and his books, visit him at and follow @BrandSanderson on Twitter.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves #9

I am really excited to participate in Stacking the Shelves, a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Looks like I went a little nuts this week!  I was feeling pretty bad for most of the week and even took one sick day from work.  I guess clicking on books made me feel better or something.  Oh well...I can't even explain it to myself.


Out of Frame by Megan Erickson
Until Tomorrow by Annie Kelly
The Winemakers by Jan Moran
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston

I did really good for most of the week and then added all of these book in a single day.  I had requested The Undoing a few days earlier but the rest of these were in the Read Now category.  I do okay with controlling myself most days but when I start adding it is like I can't stop myself.

First to Read

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke could I resist the opportunity to read these two awesome books?

Books Won

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt -won at Lekeisha the Booknerd's awesome blog
Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetta - won from Tasty Book Tours on Danielle's blog - Life with 2 Boys

I am so excited to win both of these books.  They both sound fabulous and I cannot wait to read them.  Thank you Lekeisha and Danielle!

Audible Books

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland
The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

I actually bought the kindle versions of these books along with the audible version.  I plan to listen to them so I will just list them here.  For both books it was cheaper to buy the kindle book and add the narration than to just buy the audiobook.  I paid $14.50 total for the zombie book which I have already listened to and only $4.49 for Jeaniene Frost's book.  $21 spent on 2 audiobooks (plus the accompanying kindle book) this week.  I have been thinking about a membership again but I think I am really better off to just add books as I go....and maybe listen to all the books I already have.

Kindle Freebies

On the Rocks by Sawyer Bennett
The Last Girl by Joe Hart (Kindle First pick)
Flawless by Jan Moran
The Color of Destiny by Julianne MacLean

I didn't grab too many freebies this week.  I couldn't pass up a free Sawyer Bennett book and I have picked up most of the Julianne MacLean series for free over the years.

Paid Books - Ebooks

Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis
Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis
Instant Temptation by Jill Shalvis
Black Horizon by James Grippando

These books were all on sale for $1.99.  I feel okay spending $8 on a total of 4 books by Jill Shalvis and James Grippando.

Paid Books - Print

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

There is an event coming up at my local library in a few weeks with 6 different Penguin Teen authors.  I am working on getting some of the books ready to go for the book signing.  I thought it would be a little less painful go buy the books a little at a time instead of loading up on all of them at the same time.  I can't wait to get this book signed!

I spent approximately $41 on my book habit this week.

What books do you add to your shelves this week? 
Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your own STS post!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Review - Gone Again by James Grippando @James_Grippando @HarperCollins

Gone Again by James Grippando
HarperCollins Publishers - Harper
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Date Read: February 25, 2016
Source: Edelweiss

In this electrifying and fast-paced tale of suspense from the bestselling author of the acclaimed Cash Landing, Cane & Abe, and Black Horizon, Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck takes on his first death-row client since The Pardon In a case as twisty as it is shocking

Sashi Burgette vanished three years ago on her way to school. The night after the teenager’s disappearance, ex-con Dylan Kyle was stopped for drunk driving. An article of Sashi’s clothing was found in his truck, and a police videotape of his drunken explanation under interrogation sealed his fate at trial. Now, just days from Kyle’s execution, Sashi’s mother visits Jack Swyteck, doing pro bono work at the Freedom Institute, and delivers shocking news: “Sashi called me.”

The police dismiss the call as a cruel hoax. The State Attorney refuses to consider the new evidence, insisting the case is closed. The governor has already signed the death warrant. An innocent man may be executed and time is running out—unless his lawyers can locate Sashi.

A man of principle who believes in justice, Jack jumps into the investigation. But the deeper he digs the more he discovers that nothing is what it appears to be. Not the victim. Not her alleged killer. And definitely not Sashi’s parents, whose grief ruptured their marriage, each openly blaming the other for what happened to their daughter.

As their gut-wrenching and hopelessly conflicting version of events unfolds in a Miami courtroom, it becomes clear there is something even more difficult to find than a long-missing girl . . .

The truth.

I absolutely loved this book!  I first stumbled upon this author about 10 years ago and have yet to be let down by one of his books.  I am pretty sure that there may be a book or two of his that I have missed along the way but I have read the bulk of his work.  The Jack Swyteck series is smartly written.  I love how much this character has developed over the course of the series.  I really like that each new book in the series can still be easily read as a stand alone so new readers can feel comfortable jumping in at any point.

Jack Swyteck is back at the Freedom Institute and working on a death row case.  He doesn't really plan to get involved in the cases there but he doesn't need a lot of convincing to jump into this particular case after a visit from the victim's mother.  Dylan Reeves is due to face execution very soon for the rape and murder of Sashi Burgette.  Sashi's body was never recovered and her mother is convinced that she is still alive.

Jack is soon leading the fight to win Dylan a little bit of time so that they can figure out what really happened. The quest to find out what actually happened to Sashi takes more than a few twists and turns as the story moves forward.  I was never quite sure who was being honest and who should be trusted.   I liked all of the courtroom scenes and the legal maneuvering that was part of the story.  Jack and the rest of the crew spend more than a few late nights trying to get everything done in time.

I enjoyed the writing style immensely.  The legal process was nicely balanced with the fact-finding detective work.  The inclusion of some less than trust worthy characters really kept me wondering what was going on.  I really had no idea where the book would end up or how it would get there.  I simply couldn't not put this one down and read the book from cover to cover in less than 24 hours.  The story really does pull you in right away and doesn't let go until the very end.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers.  James Grippando is an author that never disappoints and has created an incredibly intelligent and smart character in Jack Swyteck.  I can't wait to get my hands on the next book by this very talented author.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from HarperCollins Publishers - Harper via Edelweiss for the purpose of providing an honest review.

About the Author

Monica Hopkins photography
James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of suspense.This is his twenty-third novel. James Grippando was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and now serves as Counsel to Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in Coral Gables, Florida, with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max who has no idea that he’s a dog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
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