Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year with Challenges for 2015!

Thought I might try a couple of challenges this coming year...

Hot Listens/2015 Audiobook Challenge

From the website:
The Audiobook Challenge is back for 2015! Join The Book Nympho and Hot Listens for the 3rd year of great audio books. 
Audiobooks are great for those times you want to read but can’t for some reason like driving, doing chores, working out, or if you’re one of the lucky ones like me, listen to them at work. 
I hope all those new and old junkies can join us once again for The 2015 Audiobook Challenge. 
Listening is never been better, thanks to the popularity of Audiobooks just about everything is being published on audio…YAY! 
There has never been a better time for reading with our ears
I'm going to try for Stenographer since I did 10 this year and I'm shooting for at least 15:
Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15

For complete details and to sign up go HERE

I'm also going for this challenge:
Geeky Bloggers Book Blog

This one sounds good. The deets/signup at The Geeky Blogger's Book Blog!
From Felicia's blog:
• Runs January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015. You can join any time. 
• The goal is to read at least twelve (12) books from the library. Twelve should be easy, that’s one a month. While twelve is the minimum, there is no maximum limit. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. 
• Any format will work for this challenge (print, ebook or audio) as long as you checked it out from the library it counts.• Books can be any genre (fiction, nonfiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.). 
• Crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed, including re-reads. The goal is to support your local library and save money. 
• To join this challenge, grab the 2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads (so as long as you have a dedicated shelf and Felicia has created a Goodreads group), Shelfari (I’ve created a Shelfari group. You can join and post your progress within the group), or BookLikes, etc., for the 2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge. The point of linking up is to have a place where people can see what you’re reading.
I'm trying for thrifty reader which is 24 books. I think I can do more but I'm also trying to read more off my tbr. Plus, knowing me I will do more new review books than I intend. LOL

And finally...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Solsticechristmashanakwanza!

Were you good? Or like Denver the dog, saved Santa the trip?

Well, however you celebrate I hope you have a fun and happy holiday season!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Audiobook Review: I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper

Series: Half Moon Hollow #2.7
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
3 hrs. 43 min.
Publisher: Audible
Source: TBR pile (still free from Audible)
It's Christmas in Half-Moon Hollow and newly turned vampire Iris Scanlon-Calix wants to make Gigi's first visit home from college as normal and special as possible. It's taken months for Iris to work up the nerve to spend time around her baby sister after her vampire transition, so she enlists help from Jane Jameson and Company to keep her blood-thirst under control and assure Gigi's safety. 
Gigi, on the other hand, has problems of her own, including the demise of her relationship with high school sweetheart, Ben, and a looming job interview with Ophelia Lambert, the scariest potential employer in the Hollow. And then there's the small matter of the handsome, frustrating vampire who keeps appearing in Gigi's peripheral vision, then disappearing before she can talk to him. 
Can the Scanlon sisters negotiate romantic problems, vampire politics, and Christmas cookie disasters and enjoy a relatively normal holiday?
My thoughts:
I haven't read the Half Moon Hollow books yet, but I have read the Jane Jameson series. The Half Moon Hollow series is the offshoot of Jane Jameson so I knew most of the characters going into this audio. I do suggest you at least read/listen to the series in order since it was obvious things happened right before this book. However, since I knew almost everyone there I didn't feel lost at all.

What I loved about this audio and what I love about al Molly Harper books is her humor. LOVED seeing a newly turned vampire who cannot eat solid food try to make the perfect Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings for her sister, Gigi who is still human. The gatherings and the presents they gave each other was a hoot. There is also a hint of what is to come. That is where I was frustrated. Okay, this is a novella, but that tease was just mean! Yea, she got me and I'll have to either listen to them all or read this series. I'm hooked.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed my holiday time here with Gigi and Iris, but the tease was almost too much to take. :) I also enjoyed Amanda Ronconi's narration and will happily listen to them all if she is narrating them. I recommend it to those that love a humorous get together and want to laugh at an unconventional family.

PS... This one is still free at Audible!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tim Cratchit's Christmas Carol by Jim Piecuch

272 p.
Publisher: Pocket Star
Published: 11/3/14
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review

Tiny Tim is all grown up in this continuation of Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol, and this time, a certain ghost shows him the true meaning of Christmas cheer! 
In A Christmas Carol, evil Scrooge was shown the error of his ways by three helpful ghosts and vowed to become a better person. Bob Cratchit and his family benefited most from Scrooge’s change of tune—but what happened after the goose was given, and Scrooge resolved to turn over a new leaf? 
Tim Cratchit’s Christmas Carol shows us Tiny Tim as an adult. Having recovered from his childhood ailment, he began his career helping the poor but has since taken up practice as a doctor to London’s wealthy elite. Though Tim leads a very successful life, he comes home at night to an empty house. But this holiday season, he’s determined to fill his house with holiday cheer—and maybe even a wife.

When a single, determined young mother lands on Tim’s doorstep with her ailing son, Tim is faced with a choice: stay ensconced in his comfortable life and secure doctor’s practice, or take a leap of faith and reignite the fire lit under him by his mentor, Scrooge, that fateful Christmas so many years ago.
My thoughts:

Surprise! Yes, I did read a holiday book... during the holidays! LOL

A Christmas Carol and all it's incarnations (Scrooged! for one...) have always been my favorite holiday kind of read. I've always said that I love a book where the character grows and that book's main message is about growth. So, what happened after? How is Tiny Tim all grown up supposed to have an epiphany? I mean he wasn't a horrid boy and in this incarnation he isn't a horrid adult either. In fact he is a doctor and surgeon. His skills are renown as is his kindness. However, he has lost his way a little bit and fallen into practice with a doctor as mean as Scrooge was at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. So, Tim needs a little push, a small shove to correct his course in life. Scrooge is now likened to a guardian angel who helps, but it is the actions of Tim himself that sets things to right. Scrooge is only the one presenting opportunities not ultimatums.

I really enjoyed myself with this story. It was nice following Tim and how he felt responsible in returning the favor Scrooge presented to him. I also enjoyed his shy romance. We are also not without an adorable child to complete the scene. While this isn't the big epiphany we get with Scrooge, we still get some redemption for Tim as he finds his way back to himself and happiness. Besides, a big epiphany wasn't needed here.

I give this book 5 stars. If you are looking for a sweet read that completes a circle started with A Christmas Carol, then I suggest this book. It is a great holiday read.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Silverblind by Tina Connolly

Series: Ironskin #3
272 p.
Published 10/7/14
Publisher: Tor Books
The final book in this series will jump forward 18 years and feature Dorie, Jane's young charge from Ironskin. 
18 years later...
Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shapechanging fey powers--to disguise herself as a boy.
While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who's about to get steamed by a silvertail-- and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn't spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can't bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her. 
The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive?
I've enjoyed the other two books so I was thrilled to get the last book in the trilogy. In this book we are moved in time ahead to 18 years later and we follow Dorie the child we left in the other two books. She is full grown and trying to find her own way in this world. Wanting to become an explorer she finds herself in the midst of misogynist attitudes. She decides to use her fae powers to become a boy in order to get the job she seeks. While exploring she finds out more about the world and the misinformation which is used to the crown's benefit and to the decimation of several species. She tries to find a way to stop and help the fae and wyverns who desperately need her help.

I really liked the plot of this book but I cringed often with some of the decisions she made. I think even a "Seriously?!" or two escaped from my lips. I did enjoy the slow re-introduction of Dorie and Tam and while there is no solid romance at the end of the book, you do see the possibility of a relationship. I also enjoyed Dorie's other friends, Jack and Sadie. They complimented her character well.

In the end I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the environmental and women's rights issues tackled in this world. It gave Dorie a good fight to help her find herself. I recommend it to those that enjoy fae stories.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Shake Puppies by Carli Davidson

144 p.
Published: 10/28/14
Publisher: Harper Design
Source: From publisher for review
This highly anticipated follow-up to the bestselling book Shake features more than 130 photographs of adorable puppies. This brilliant, brightly colored collection truly captures the squishy cuteness of a puppy—its tousled fur, floppy ears, and endearing expression—in the moment when our tiny, wide-eyed companion is mid-shake. 
In addition to its vibrant photographs, Shake Puppies includes a message of support for animal rescue and creating an environment in which all dogs, young or old, can succeed in their new homes. Training tips are included to help dog owners achieve this goal. There is also a roster listing the names and ages of all the dogs featured, as well as a peek into Carli Davidson's studio.
My thoughts:

Hm.. my thoughts on this book? Seriously? I don't think I have a coherent thought in my brain with all the cuteness! Okay first... PUPPIES! Second... PUPPIES caught with such cute and humorous expressions while in mid shake. You cannot have a bad day with this book in your hands. Then I learn that the author also adopted a dog during the session. Not a puppy but an elderly dog needing a home. Carli Davidson is also a proponent of rescues. I also love that there is a small section on basic training. I feel that is one of the main reasons that dogs are sent to shelters because they don't know basic manners. It's not the dog's fault, but the human who failed to educate themselves and train their dogs.

I give this 5 puppy breaths! Need a smile? Get this book! It is adorable and like I said it would even make the grinch turn his frown upside down! :D

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Puppy's B-day!

Every year I have done something to celebrate my pup's b-day. Felicia of the Geeky Blogger Book Blog also helped me celebrate her own puppy's b-day. She is even has a facebook page to help animals (Friends Helping All Animals). Well, things got away from me and I just couldn't get something set up. I will donate something to a animal charity for my pup instead. This makes it a bit easier on me this year. I also hope that this season you don't forget the furry ones that share the world with us. You don't even have to do much to help out. For example, you can give when you holiday shop online. 

iGive is one way that I donate when I shop. You can chose your charity. Last year I chose
who are great people helping dogs who have never had a life out of a cage.

This year I decided to go with
I like the big puppers! :)

There are other ways to give as well. You could do the iGive AND Amazon Smile when you shop. Even ebay has their giving works entries. That is also a way to give the proceeds if you sell something to your favorite charity.

Also please add your favorite animal charity to the list below:

Remember helping does not always mean money. Sometimes it means just helping out a neighbor in need with walking the animal, finding a stray, donating items you don't need, taking a shelter dog for a walk. So many ways to help. You all have helped put a smile on my face in the past by telling me the ways you help. Thanks so much for that. :) I do reread them when I need a lift.

Okay, off my soapbox. My pup is demanding attention since he seems to think the WHOLE month is his birthday. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AimeKay Review: One Dirty Bowl by Christina Dymock

128 p.
Published: 6/10/14
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Source: From publisher for review

Quick desserts and even quicker clean up mean more time with your family and friends, and less time in the kitchen. With One Dirty Bowl, whip up show-stopping desserts like Hazelnut Puffs, Peanut Butter Truffle Bars, and White Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes,
Very Vanilla Brownies,Hazelnut Puffs, 3X Chocolate Cookies

From Christina Dymock, author of Young Chefs and The Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook, this cookbook will impress your guests and satisfy any craving. And these quick, tasty desserts only dirty one bowl, which means more time with your family and friends at the table.

Fast desserts, faster cleanup—grab a bowl and get ready to bake!Quick desserts and even quicker clean up mean more time with your family and friends, and less time in the kitchen. With One Dirty Bowl, whip up show-stopping desserts like Hazelnut Puffs, Peanut Butter Truffle Bars, and White Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes, Very Vanilla Brownies,Hazelnut Puffs, 3X Chocolate Cookies

From Christina Dymock, author of Young Chefs and The Hungry Family Slow Cooker Cookbook, this cookbook will impress your guests and satisfy any craving. And these quick, tasty desserts only dirty one bowl, which means more time with your family and friends at the table.

Fast desserts, faster cleanup—grab a bowl and get ready to bake!
AimeeKay's Thoughts:

I really love One Dirty Bowl.

The author meant to provide recipes that are simple to make and require the use of the minimum amount of utensils. Which is especially great for dessert makers on the go during this crazy holiday season. Plus a lot of the finished desserts, like the various cookies, can be put in inexpensive decorated containers and used as gifts.

The author succeeded in keeping the recipes simple. You don't need to be a 5 star chef to pull them off. Also the recipes only need the bowl they are mixed in and the pan they are cooked in. With everything else that needs to be cooked at this time of year this is a definite bonus. But because of their simplicity a lot of these desserts can be made as regular treats all throughout the year. Some do require some time to set, cook, and so on. Be sure to check the times on the recipes so you don't feel rushed.

The only thing that I didn't like is that there aren't pictures of each item. There are pictures of most of them, just not all. However this is usually the case with cookbooks, and there are a lot more pictures than there would be in your average cookbook. So it's not too much of an issue. However I like to know what the food I'm cooking is supposed to look like. So while I will eventually try all of the recipes in the book, I will put off trying the ones without pictures, unless it's something like cookies, which I'm relatively sure of what they look like.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5. I think it's a great dessert book to pick up if you like sweets but don't like a lot of work. Or if you are looking for a great present for the cook in your life. As a bonus, if you give it as a gift, then you have the opportunity to not only give a great gift, but also enjoy any desserts that the cook decides to make! (This is especially true if you happen to live with said cook!)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Series: His Fair Assassin #3
444 p.
Published: 11/4/14
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: From publisher for review
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. 
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

My thoughts:
I loved the second book so I came into this one expecting the same. It was different but it seems that the author went back to more of the political intrigue and that did slow down parts of the book a bit. I didn't mind that but I know that not everyone enjoyed that aspect in the first book.

I did find the plot twists in this story to be predictable. I guessed them very early on. This does not mean I didn't enjoy it, but I do think the intended impact was lessened. I also did like the romance early on but didn't like the twist in the end. I didn't hate it, but I was saddened to see it move away from the pagan culture. I liked the tension created in the world between the One God religion with the pagan one created by the author. I don't want to reveal more than that, but I think it was a plot point that was easy to see.

I think my favorite part of the stories was the connection the girls Ismae, Sybella and Annith all had with each other. I think that connection strengthened the girls and they all became more independent because of their friendship. I felt that connection was strengthened in this book.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the trilogy as a whole. I recommend the books to those that enjoy fantasy.

Friday, December 5, 2014

AimeeKay Review: Glorious Layered Desserts by Glory Albin

139 p.
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Published: 3/11/14
Source: from publisher for review
These desserts are not to be 'trifled' with! Dessert genius and popular blogger Glory Albin shows how to combine delicious essential recipes into layered masterpieces. You'll love the Summer Berry Trifle, Pumpkin Mousse Parfait, Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and each of the 60+ delicious recipes and ideas! In addition to her creative desserts, Glory also shares her unique tips and tricks, the best equipment and ingredients to use, and dozens of time-saving options. Whether you need a quick and easy recipe or an impressive dessert for a special occasion, Glorious Layered Desserts has the perfect treat for you!
AimeeKay's Thoughts:

I have to say there were things I loved about Glorious Layered Desserts, but there were also things that I didn't.

So let's start with the things I liked:

This book is a gorgeous hardback book. The pictures are also beautiful. Plus each recipe has its own picture, which I really loved since this isn't always the case with cookbooks. So you know what each desert is supposed to look like.

I also liked that the recipes gave you substitutions that you could use. For example you could swap out homemade fruit sauces for canned pie filling. While you can usually do this with most recipes, they don't always say so in other cookbooks. It's nice to know that you can without risking ruining a recipe.

Things that I wasn't so keen on:

Quite a few of the recipes require you to use other recipes from the book, such as the homemade fruit sauce. While you can substitute canned pie filling, if you want to follow the recipe exactly from the book it can be a pain to have to use two separate recipes for a dessert.

Also to make the recipes look as beautiful as they do in the pictures you need to make sure you have the special classes or jars that are used in the book. While the book does show you where you can find them it is one more thing you need to purchase if you don't already own them. Which can make these desserts into a real project or worse, if you're not prepared ahead of time.

Despite the things I didn't like about the book, the things I did like far outweighed them. As the holidays are soon to be upon us, I definitely plan on adding some of these beautiful desserts to the menu. Yes, they will require some extra work. Yes, I'll also have to purchase the glassware. But the gorgeous desserts will be worth it. I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Series: His Fair Assassin #2
385 p.
Published: 4/2/13
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Source: TBR pile
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons. 
But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...
My thoughts:
This is a slight departure from the first book. While it is in the same era, the author took greater license with the world and made a more intriguing book. While the first one was more mired in political intrigue, this one is much more action oriented.

We really get to know Sybella in this book and find out just how much she was damaged. However, while finally putting to question what was already in her heart to her head she starts to really see how the world works. She also starts to see her own world in a different light. Once she thought she was unforgivable but now her question is can she be forgiven? Not by others, but by herself.

I also loved Beast! He was gallant, fierce, and loyal. I also loved that he was described not as the unbelievably handsome knight riding on a white horse, but as a ugly, deadly but someone with a kind heart. He actually fit Sybella's insides to a T.

I give this book 5 stars. I really enjoyed my time here even more than the first book. This is a story I wouldn't mind reading again. I recommend it to those that enjoy dark fantasy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Audiobook Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels #2
9 hrs. 38 min.
Narrator: Renée Raudman
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: 1/26/09
Source: Library
Down in Atlanta, tempers—and temperatures—are about to flare...

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate is going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can't stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive.
My thoughts:
I had a much easier time in the world this time. While things aren't completely explained, I did feel like it flowed much better. A few new characters were introduced to the mix which became some great secondary characters I am looking forward to seeing more of as the series goes on. Loved Bran, Andrea and Aunt B. Yes, you can say I really enjoyed these characters.

The action was intense and Curran was still an arse. No romance yet, but you can see it brewing and some hints about it coming. Oh I don't want to give too much away, but I have a feeling that it is this book when the series really starts. I had fun with it and can't wait for the next installment. Renée Raudman does such a great job with such great emotional inflection. I will do the next one on audio because of her narration. I give this book 4 stars.