I just finished a really cute NetGalley galley (lol) called Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham. The book is about the newly single Emma, whose boring beige
So yesterday was the holiday/Christmas cookie exchange at work. I got home late and needed to make 4 dozen cookies cheaply, and quickly. After browsing online, I found this amazing recipe for these Chocolate Chip Christmas Cake Cookies. All I needed to buy was 2 boxes of white cake mix, a bag of chocolate chips, and some red/green sprinkles. Everything else I already had at home. Simple! So here is the recipe:
1 box white cake mix
2 large egg whites
2 Tbs flour
1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. red, white, green sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the cake mix, egg whites, flour and oil, mixing well. Add in the ¾ cup of chocolate chips.
3. Roll the cookie dough into 1-2″ size balls and place 2-3″ a part on your baking sheets.
4. Gently press down on the cookie dough balls and place a few extra chocolate chips and sprinkles on top. Place in the oven and bake 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake.
Let me tell you, these cookies were an absolute hit at work! The ladies took them home to their husbands and came back to say their guys loved them! Plus the women have been devouring them like crazy too of course. They are just so yummy. And softer and quicker to make and bake than normal chocolate chip cookies. Trust me on this, my friends….you gotta try these!!
Current watch: “The Santa Clause”
All righty, I’m a little bit torn about this book. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I feel like that always throws my rating off a little bit. Was it the book I did/didn’t like or was did the reader throw my bias a bit? I actually thought the reader was pretty good on this book. She has a dramatic voice without being over the top or whiney or overdone or anything like that. I thought she was right where she needed to be. So great job to the narrator, in my opinion.
It is important to go into this book with an open mind. Just read the synopsis and go with it–don’t assume this or that, just let the story unfold. I’ve read several of the other reviews on this book and trust me, readers who expect one thing or the other only set themselves up for disappointment and this book truly is unique.
What Kali Wallace has done with Shallow Graves–in my opinion, at least–is create a unique kind of story. I don’t think I have read a book quite like this, where the main character wakes up dead and not remembering why. The mystery is who killed her, what type of creature she is, what other creatures actually live in the world, who is friend and who is foe, and how is she supposed to move on from here. There are several creep factor moments and then the book has its lulls…but overall, I was pretty entranced with the book so I recommend as a good fall/Autumn book!
Book soundtrack: “Graveyard” by The Devil Makes Three
For several months now, I’ve been seeking a good YA mystery/thriller. As I read more of them, it just seems that contemporary YA authors just fall into cliches and I dislike them and drive me farther and farther away. Not this one, though. My hope has been renewed! Thank you, Karen McManus! And this is a debut novel! Bravo!!
All righty, so as indicated by the above, that alone is a recommendation from me. One of Us Is Lying basically begins with murder in detention (dun dun DUN!!). The four survivors alternate narration as they navigate the media storm of their classmate’s death. The ‘victim’ was the school gossip mill via his own app, but also–as we find out–very interested in online chats about other school shootings and acts of violence. We learn about the four survivors’ secrets as they become closer to each other and how they ultimately unravel the truth and the lies behind what the bigger plan really was for detention that day.
Here is my brief opinion of the cliches I mentioned earlier that I usually see in YA horror and/or thriller and/or mystery: way too much high school drama i.e. the he said/she said heartbreak gossip OMG LOL ETC. BS. I can’t handle all of that. Or at least too much of that. I understand that I am reading the YA genre so I expect some of it. Fine. <u>One of Us Is Lying</u> has some, but does it with grace and gets the heck past it. There are way bigger issues to worry about. Like a MURDER. Lawyers to be hired. Press and media. Parents. Still trying to keep life in line and get into college. This was realistic to me. Yes, there were still petty high schoolers being jerks, but these kids (“the murder club,” they were taunted by the other kids in school) just banded together and got through it together and the story moved on. I loved that about this book. THANK YOU!!! Miracle!
Other big perks: I guessed at the killer, but I didn’t KNOW. Plus, I was too engrossed with the characters to really care about the story line. Sorry but, I hardly even cared about the story line. I cared about the characters’ lives and what would happen to them, LOL. There were maybe a couple draggy parts (not much though) and I marked it down to 4 rather than 5. The book wasn’t perfect. However, the end redeemed it. I loved the ending. We get our happy ending. Loved that. I can’t deny it….I absolutely LOVED it because (without spoiling anything)….yeah….dude is my GUY!!!! That’s my trope right there! ❤
So if you have not yet, check this book out. +19 weeks at the top of the NYT bestseller list and a 4.06 rating on Goodreads…this book is killin’ it (no pun intended).
Book soundtrack: “Bad to the Bone” by ZZ top
Hey everyone! So fall is upon us here in the Midwest and with the changing seasons, I tend to change genres a bit because I’m a mood reader. Hot, sunny weather means I want to read positive, love-vibes. Its contemporary romance weather to me typically. Cooler, autumn weather typically means cozy mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, etc. Winter for me is fantasy, fantasy, fantasy. And spring? Paranormal. I don’t know why I feel this way about these genres and the seasons….that’s just how it is! All that being said, here’s my first cozy of the season! Its an ARC from Netgalley that just released on 8/29/17!
Assaulted Caramel was a pretty good cozy mystery about Bailey King, who has taken a break from her job as assistant chocolatier at a world famous New York chocolate shop to take care of her ailing Amish grandfather. Her quick trip turns into a long haul when a dead body turns up in her grandparents’ own small chocolate shop and Bailey becomes the prime suspect.
So this book was actually very well written for a cozy, in my opinion. It was the first in series and it had just the right amount of balance between main character mystery, grandparent ailment problems, New York promotion drama, best friend fun, potential man romance for later down the road, small town sheriff conflict, etc. All of the cliches you expect in your mystery lite and just the right amount. I didn’t find the characters annoying….and the one character had a pet potbelly pig! Cute!! 🙂 I loved it! Overall, it wasn’t a groundbreaking read, but I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t really in LOVE with it, but I did like it!
How do you choose what genre and/or book to read next?
Book soundtrack: Mercury & Lightning by John Mark McMillan
Hi everyone! To make up for my missed #TagTuesday last week, my weekly tag falls on a Saturday for this week. I was tagged by Dora, more formally known in our blogging family as Dorka at Berries and Books for the tag for the week, which is Reader Problems, and if some of these don’t just rub you the wrong way, then you are broken! Here goes:
1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next? I am a mood reader so it depends on what kind of mood I am in. I think that my mood depends a lot on the weather and the season, so if it is summer and it is sunny, I’ll probably choose a contemporary romance. If its fall and its dreary, I’ll probably pick suspense or horror. Winter I tend to choose more fantasy/dystopian. etc. One other thing that determines what I read next is any other ARC/galley deadlines. If I told a publisher I would read something and have a review up by a publication, then I’ll make sure that I have that done. If I’m doing a tour and I need to get a book read and do my photos and a review, then I will have to prioritize reading that book.
2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed? If I made it halfway, I will likely finish. Less than halfway, probably not. Unless its an 800-page book, but I don’t read long tomes very often and honestly that is part of the reason. Another consideration is, again, if I am committed by a publisher. If I have to finish it to write a review, then I will. If not, I probably will. But usually, I try to give a book the benefit of the doubt because usually, endings are the best parts.
3. The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how? The holiday season can either be the biggest help or hurt to TBR lists. Personally, I get a small break from work around the holidays so I like to think positive and hope that I will reach my goal. If not, it really isn’t the end of the world. I will just adjust my goal for next year.
4. The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope? I. HATE. THIS. But really, what else is there to do except wait until you can collect the copies you need. Trade away for what you want, order them online. If you really love them so much, that’s just what you have to do.
5. Every one and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings? There has to be someone else out there who feels the same way. I know there are hundreds and thousands of people who love”Queen Maas” for example but I’m still in the dark about her books. I know I’m in the vast minority on that. I feel so lonely in this…but I have met a couple of people who either dislike (GASP!) or have not yet read her books. Again, very few…but they do exist. So while I FEEL alone, I am not alone. You just have to search and wait until you find those few and far between who are like you. The book community is shockingly huge once you really get into it.
6. You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal? Oh, I’ll cry over a book in public. Not purposely, but if I have to, I will. I have. The pain is real.
7. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?!?!? Yeah, this has happened to me. I’ve tried to find the synopsis on Goodreads. I’ve tried Wikipedia. I’ve tried just going on in the sequel. A good author will recap everything for you and you should be fine and things will come back to you. But a really good book will be worth the reread. However, rereads are time consuming so its rather a tossup, in my opinion.
8. You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask? Sorry, but I just put my foot down and say no. Maybe I’ll escort them to use my B&N discount or take them to the library but no, not taking my babies…I mean, books.
9. Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump? Knock on wood, but I really don’t get this problem.
10. There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy? The one that I truly intend to read next. When I have a coupon. Usually. Hopefully.
11. After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them? Ohhhh, you got me. Probably a really long time. Ohhh, the pain!!! I’m so sorry bank account!! But my shelves look beautiful!!
Moving forward, I tag:
Linda @ Linda’s Little Library
Sarah @ Book Hooked Nook
Cassandra @ Cassie Winters
Stephanie @ Phannie the Ginger Worm
Its #SundayFunday and I hope it is treating you all well! I have a “to do” list about a mile long because I start a new job tomorrow! My world is about to be flipped upside down because I am going from basically unemployed to full-time in a snap! YIKES!!! Yes, I am terrified but at the same time I am so excited. This will be my first full-time job and I feel so blessed to have found something in my field and close to my house.
Ok, that’s enough of the personal mumbo jumbo, that’s not why you’re all here. On to the bookish! I was just nominated for the ominous-sounding but truly fun *Mystery Blogger Award* by Maggie @ The Caramel Files. Here’s the scoop:
- Put the award logo on your blog
- List the rules
- Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
- Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well
- Tell your readers three things about yourself
- Nominate 10-20 people
- Notify your nominees
- Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, specifying one weird/funny question
- Share a link to your best post(s)
- Since I mentioned “my field” and what-not, I’ll elaborate a little and then get back to books. My first degree is a Bachelor’s in Music, and I have been teaching voice and piano lessons part-time for the part 6 years since I graduated. I recently went back to school and got another degree (Associate’s) in Health Information so I now can work full time in a hospital with medical records and still teach part time on the side.
- I am a trained classical singer, meaning that I sing opera. Of course, I can also sing (or teach) pretty much any genre out there, but I do love the challenge, beauty, and complexity of opera.
- While I love wearing beautiful gowns and putting on stage make-up to sing, I also love camping, canoeing, and being outside in general. I spent every summer growing up at a camp and then I worked there for many years and its my home away from home. My music friends in college never understood this about me.
My Favorite Post So Far: The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag …It got a great reaction from readers and it was one of the most fun tags I have done! Plus there were just so many great books I/we got to talk about in general so that’s always awesome.
- Is there a book or story you feel parallels your life? If yes, tell us all about it! This is perfect timing for this question because I just finished the best book for this: So you know how I mentioned earlier that I enjoy that weird mix of fancy opera and down-and-dirty outdoors? Yep, this book has it. Now I’m not saying that you have to be into both of those things to enjoy this book. Its not a book for opera-lovers. It is contemporary-YA and it is a powerful read, it also just happens to have those other two elements in it and I love it for that all the more, and that is what parallels my life. A lot of the other details in the story do not (in fact, pretty much none of the story line has anything to do with my life, lol).
- What title would you choose for your autobiography and why? Hmm. Life Songs – Pretty open-ended. I’m not very creative when it comes to writing, which is why I read books and not write them.
- What are the last three books you chose to DNF?
- What was your favorite book as a child and why? I don’t think I had any one favorite book as a child. My grandmother ran a “Books on Parade” branch out of her basement so I had access to kids books all the time and we were constantly reading everything that circulated. I remember reading Goldilocks, Clifford, Goodnight Moon, later as I grew up Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter.
- Is there a genre you absolutely refuse to read? If yes, why? I don’t read Harlequin Romances or high fantasy. To me the romances are just too cheesy and get boring and high fantasies are just too ‘out there’ for me to wrap my head around. Too many places and names for me to remember and pronounce and wrap my head around and my brain gets overloaded.
Questions for my Nominees:
- How many books have you read so far this year? What is your goal for the rest of the year?
- If you could spend a day with any bookish character, who would it be and why?
- Piggybacking off of Q2, what would you want to do in your day with chosen bookish character (where would you go, what would you see…could be real or a setting in their book, etc.)?
- If you could do one as a full time job, which would you choose: reading books or writing books?
- What is your most and least favorite book you have read this year?
- Ramsha at Thebooknookae
- Rachel at Rachel’s Random Reads
- Jemma at Jemma’s Simple Life
- Megan at Megan Goodier
- Steph at Nourish ME
- Briana & Krista at Pages Unbound
- Chrissie at Returning to Reading
Listening to: “Golden Lion” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I LOVED this book. I know that not everyone who reads it will love it in the way that I did, mainly because this book hit my two main teenage/college hobbies: camping and singing. Not only that but Ingrid’s journey and trials were told through her experiences in these activities, making her connections with the outdoors and with her life in music even stronger. If you’re thinking about reading this book, let me give you a little bit of a synopsis:
Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined is told from Ingrid’s point of view, but through two different timelines: one as she is growing up with her opera star-gone wrong mother, and one in the present on a month long wilderness survival-turned disaster trek she wasn’t quite expecting. Growing up, Ingrid and her mother lived a wonderful life, with Margot-Sophia Lalange performing in the spotlight of the great opera houses until she does exactly what she knows not to do–she over sings and does not take care of her voice thus resulting in vocal nodes and the end of her career. Ingrid’s mother becomes bitter regarding music and theater, and the glamorous life ends. Ingrid struggles to fit in at school and she grows up taking care of her mother. Eventually, a role in the school play and (of course) a boy will change many things for both Ingrid and her mother.
5-star ratings are very difficult to earn from me, but I’m feeling generous today and I will round up a 4.6 rating on this one to a 5 for a few reasons. First of all, the wilderness survival camp is one for at-risk teens and while Ingrid didn’t feel that she wasn’t “at-risk” so she didn’t need to be there, she still toughened up and took it like a champ. I think that a lot of her thought processes were exactly like mine would have been (I won’t really give more information than that because it’s part of the humor and charm [lol…sass?] of Ingrid). Second, the way that passion for music and performing on stage is described. How you get up on stage and more or less don’t always know if you did well or not. Or Margo-Sophia’s phrases like “You did well last night but today you must be better. Always better.” In some ways she often comes across as self-centered but her career and that state of mind was her entire life. It was her state of mind for years. It was hard to see her discourage Ingrid from pursuing music but she was completely horrified for her. The one thing I did NOT like was how Ingrid treated Isaac after the show and the incident with the other girl. I didn’t think that blaming him so strongly was fair at all and I hated that. I thought that was the big chink in the book for me. And the end, of course, is a cryfest and my biggest weakness in books. It could have been more played up but I think it was just the right amount considering the characters so I say it was very well done. Overall, wonderful book. It is one that I highly recommend.
–I was given a copy of this book by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review–
Book soundtrack: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
This book has me left with mixed emotions! No, scratch that. This book has left me an emotional wreck! Let me first say that I am a big fan of thrillers and there aren’t too many in the YA genre so when one releases, I am ON IT! I dove into First We Were IV with a fiery fury. Pranks, secrets, a murder mystery…all the yes!!
Here comes the actual synopsis: Izzy (often called “Icky” by the popular kids in school), Viv, Graham, and Harry are best friends. They only have each other and are often pushed around by their peers, some rivalries even stemming back as far as elementary school. NO MORE, they decide. So this, coupled with the fact that the four best friends will soon be parting ways for college, leads them to form the Order of IV, a “secret society” of the four friends created for pranks, fun, and forever memories. All they wanted was to be included in parties and to keep in touch. Of course that’s not how it ends. Of course it escalates….and I’ll let you read all of that for yourself.
So in my opinion, the beginning is interesting, and the ending rocked me to my core. The middle 300 pages were filled with 95% eye-rolling drama and 5% interesting plot. For me, the murder mystery with Jane Doe was so disconnected from the central characters….I just didn’t understand why Izzy cared so much to begin with. Maybe if the incident occurred a week ago, or if it was her cousin she was seeking justice for, or if she really had PTSD. I’m not trying to be cold or like I don’t care about missing persons cases but really, there was no real reason why Izzy cared. I don’t get it! Harry had a reason to want to pursue crimes against his father, yet they didn’t pursue those. I get that. But Izzy was selfish. This was hugely unsettling (and mildly boring and even confusing) to me.
While I didn’t like this, it was also an ironic point in the book. Live in the moment. Just be with your friends and loved ones. When friends are so loved and so close like this group is, there shouldn’t be competition of who loves who more; of who was friends first, or of which memories are better or stronger. Just make the most of everything. Bullies and adults will do what they will but you have each other and that is the strongest thing and that is better than anything than they will ever know (haven’t you seen Harry Potter? lol – just kidding). So that’s what I felt was a theme, who knows if that was an actual intent of the author.
MAJOR SPOILER IN WHITE – WARNING – DON’T HIGHLIGHT UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK – FINAL NOTE: HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH ALL OF THAT? NO WAY! WHAT?!
Soundtrack: “Your Song” by Elton John
(NOTE: This review contains no spoilers.) Oh, Colleen Hoover. You know how to tug on some heartstrings. This book is titled “Confess” because there literally are confessions throughout the book that are based on real-life confessions gathered by the author herself. Some are happy, while some are the stuff of nightmares.
Confess begins with 15 year-old Auburn saying goodbye to her dying boyfriend, Adam. We really don’t get many details of their past or even their present, other than that they are very much in love and they are being torn apart in his last few days. Five years later, Auburn has her life together, but yet not. On her way home one day, she stumbles across a “help
wanted desperately needed immediately” sign and the artist posting the sign, Owen, has troubles of his own. She ends up working for him anyway ($200 for 2 hours of work at his gallery showing) and they go our for a drink afterward and the rest of the book is history.
In this book, I actually really liked Auburn and found her to be a very realistic female character. I felt that she acted towards both Owen and Trey (the jealous, jerky competition cop in the book) in a reasonable and responsible way. She was never only thinking of herself. Often we sacrifice ourselves for those we love, and she did not only that, but she ultimately was smart about it and came out on top. Thankfully she had a good roommate, a good boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s father got his head out of his ass and all came out for the best.
As for Owen, he was a little less realistic to me. Don’t get me wrong–I loved him. If a man this sweet and this caring and this amazing(ly hot) exists, I’ll take him! But he was mushy gushy from the first second and that was his “confession” (and his secret…which he never, throughout the entire book, told Auburn….stalker much?). So that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. No, he never hurt her. No, he never did anything against her will, but he called it “fate” and left it at that. But its one-sided fate. Does that count? I don’t know, its still messed up to me. Part of it is so sweet. Seriously, that ending! A punch to the gut!! BUT AUBURN WILL NEVER KNOW!!!! That is so not fair, in my opinion. I hate that. I think its sweet. So, yes, I’m a little frustrated.
So basically, if you want to know what Owen’s confession is, you’ll have to read the book for yourself because this review contains NO SPOILERS. And with that, my friends, I leave you. =]
Listening to: “No Stopping You” by Brett Eldredge