Monday, December 26, 2011

Page Goals, Christmas Goodies, and 2012

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukkah! For Christmas this year, Matt couldn't get much time off work so we stayed curled up in our little North Dakota apartment and celebrated with just the two of us, which was really nice. Next year, we're hoping to get more time off to spend the holidays with family.

Christmas was wonderful, though. bookish news, Matt's parents bought us a Kindle Fire! We're so excited to use it! Matt doesn't read, so he'll likely only use it while traveling. I haven't officially surrendered to the idea of ebooks, but this is my chance to test it out.

Here's what I've downloaded so far:
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (I never did read this when it was consistently on the Bestseller's list)
Life From Scratch by Melissa Ford
Single in the City by Michelle Gorman (gifted to me by author for review)
Inconvenient Love by Elizabeth Lashaun
Colin Preston Rocked and Rolled by Bert Murray

None of these books were more than $.99 To be honest, it makes me nervous that I've purchased three of these books in just 2 days. My bookshelf already has too many unread novels on it (159, to be exact). I can't afford to continue with this book hording! Why can't I read faster?!?!?

I also got two autographed books from Matt, both of which I'm really looking forward to reading:
Dart is Phil Rustad's first book and is set in Minneapolis, but travels throughout. His second, Alamo North Dakota, takes place in said town. Alamo is located just 40 miles away from where I'm at, so the author did a book signing at our local bookstore. I'm looking forward to reading these two thriller/suspense novels!

Alright, that covers Christmas goodies. Now for Page Goals:

I was inspired by an incredible boss several years ago to set a New Year's goal for the number of pages to read. What a great idea! I used to create goals based on the number of books, but I'd find myself discriminating against books based on how many pages they had. Anyway, for 2011 I chose (with your help, readers!) a page goal of 12,500. And I surpassed it last week, with the completion of Sandra Brown's White Hot. In 2011, I have completed 13,052 pages, surpassing my goal by 552 pages. Yay!

This page count came from 38 books.
Here's a summary of all my books by month completed:

January 2011 (1,973 pages)
Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen
Who Moved my Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Into the Wild by John Krakauer
One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
Sam's Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson
Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman & Maren Mack
5th Horseman by James Patterson

February 2011 (no books)

March 2011 (532 pages)
House Rules by Jodi Picoult

April 2011 (891 pages)
When the Wind Blows by James Patterson
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson

May 2011 (959 pages)
Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

June 2011 (718 pages)
1984 by George Orwell
The Killing Hands by P.D. Martin

July 2011 (1,810 pages)
The Brick Layer by Noah Boyd
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
What Looks like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

August 2011 (1,490 pages)
Seeing me Naked by Liza Palmer
The 6th Target by James Patterson
The Last Juror by John Grisham
Exposed by Ashley Weis

September 2011 (1,058 pages)
Indelible by Karin Slaughter
Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston
Commandant of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess
The Shack by William Paul Young

October 2011 (1,998 pages)
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
An Emergency in Slow Motion by William Todd Schultz
The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman
Demons in the Age of Light by Whitney Robinson
Cujo by Stephen King
Envy by Sandra Brown

November 2011 (no books)

December 2011 (1,622 pages)
I'd Know you Anywhere by Laura Lippman
Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
White Hot by Sandra Brown

For my 2012 page goal, I let you, my readers, vote for one of the following three options:

Seven votes were cast and the winner is...drumroll...15,000 pages won by one vote! I will begin working toward that goal starting at Midnight on January 1st.

Speaking of next year... (is this getting too long? I promise this next section is shorter)

I'm sure you've all noticed that I've been getting more and more books for review. Here's my TBR stack of said books:
I'm so eager to get to all of these novels (including the sticky note squished in between Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Proof of Heaven, which reminds me to read Single in the City on my Kindle) and am confident there will be more on the way throughout the year. I thought about taking a picture of my overflowing bookshelves as well, but it's way too messy and might scare some of you. I'm hoping to get lots and lots of reading done next year, perhaps beyond my 15,000 page goal if I can. I'll need to average 1,250 pages a month in order to reach the 15,000 page goal.

However; I start on my Master's degree on January 9th. I will be attending school online part-time and continuing to work full-time. I'm hoping to squish in as much time as possible to continue all of my hobbies (including reading), but please, be patient with me. It may very well end up being a situation where I only read on my "breaks" from college. :/

I appreciate all of you who have continued to support me in my blogging and book reviews. I wish everyone a happy New Year and will post again soon!

Book Review: White Hot by Sandra Brown

I've surpassed my page goal for 2011! So far, I've completed 13,052 pages this year. Woot woot!

Here's the book that helped me to exceed my goal by so much: Sandra Brown's White Hot.

Goodreads Summary:
"When she hears that her younger brother Danny has committed suicide, Sayre Lynch relents from her vow never to return to Destiny, the small Louisiana town in which she grew up. She plans to leave immediately after the funeral, but instead soon finds herself drawn into the web cast by Huff Hoyle, her controlling and tyrannical father, the man who owns the town's sole industry, an iron foundry, and in effect runs the lives of everyone who lives there." "As she feared, Sayre learns that nothing has changed. Her father and older brother, Chris, are as devious as ever, and now they have a new partner-in-crime, a canny and disarming lawyer named Beck Merchant, who appears to be their equal in corruption." "Soon, Sayre is thrown in closer contact with Beck and becomes convinced that something more sinister is at play than her father's usual need to dominate people and events. As she sets out to learn just what did happen to Danny, she comes to realize that there are many secrets in Destiny - secrets that hide decades of pain and anger, and that threaten at any moment to erupt and destroy not only her father and brother, but perhaps Sayre herself." "Underneath the rigid control that the Hoyles exert over the town, trouble is brewing. Old hatreds foster plans for revenge, past crimes resurface, and a maverick deputy sheriff determines that Danny Hoyle's death was not suicide, but murder." As tensions mount, threatening to ignite a powder keg of long-held hostility, Sayre finds herself inextricably drawn into a struggle with striking laborers, her unscrupulous father, and her own emotions over the love/hate relationship that is growing with Beck, a man apparently with his own agenda, and mysteries of his own.

As with any of Sandra Brown's novels, I was hooked. It did take me a little longer to develop a personal attachment to the characters, but I think much of that is because we readers are set up to like the main character, Sayre, despise her family, and have mixed feelings about the family's lawyer, who Sayre is crushing on. It was a fast-paced read, and I didn't predict the ending whatsoever. If you're into a good, quick thriller, this would be a great read for you!

And my stats...

White Hot by Sandra Brown
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 579
2011 Reading Goal: 13,052/12,500

I'll do another post soon (hopefully tonight) revealing my Christmas goodies and books to come! :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

It's been a very long time since I've been able to curl up all afternoon for some uninterrupted reading time. It happened today. There's a book I started on October 17th. I just now finished it. It's pretty rare that I'm working through a book for more than two weeks, so two months is just shocking.

The book, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, has been on bestseller lists for years. I'm not exaggerating, either: go to a Barnes & Noble and you'll always find it either on the "bestseller" table or the "recommended reading" table. Ever since it was published in 2003, I've been waltzing up, reading the back cover, muttering "someday", putting it back, and walking off. I picked up this copy of it at the local bookstore's going-out-of-business sale back in August (click here for the post).

When you read this Goodreads summary, you'll understand why I was so eager to dive in:

Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.  

As mentioned, I started this novel back in October. It was really slow. Chapters are usually around 20 pages long. By the time I would get to the end of the chapter, I felt as though I had accomplished such a challenging feat that I would just put the novel down. Normally, at this slow of a pace, i would have vetoed this novel and started on the next somewhere around page 100. The way this novel is written is very challenging. The whole novel is letters from Eva to her estranged husband, Franklin. There's no interaction or excitement. Eva is simply telling a story. The lack of engagement with the reader makes this an extremely challenging novel. I'm not sure what kept me reading, but I'm certainly glad I continued. It's the last 100 pages of this 400 page book where it really starts to get interesting. I did not predict the twists and turns until right up when they were happening. The suspense literally had my heart racing. Amazing!

Although I am rating this with 3/5 stars due to the completely torturous boredom of the reader for three-quarters of the book, I highly recommend everyone pick this novel up--soon!

Here are my numbers:

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 400
2011 Reading Goal: 12,473/12,500 (really?!?!? 27 pages short?!?!? really?!?!)

I'm so close to meeting my reading goal for 2011! At the bottom of my blog is a poll for my 2012 reading goal. Be sure to cast your vote by December 24th!

Happy reading and Happy Holidays! :)

Book Review: Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

For those of you who don't know, Wally Lamb is my favorite author. I try not to choose favorites, but if I had to put one author above all others, it's Wally Lamb. Would you believe, then, that his book Wishin' and Hopin' was published in 2009 and I've just now gotten around to reading it?

I'm ashamed.

Here's the storyline, courtesy of Goodreads:

LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.
Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina's word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone's business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from QuÉbec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.
From the Funicello family's bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin' and Hopin' is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been—and how far we've come.

For those of you who love a good Christmas story--and even those of you who appreciate them from time to time, this is a must-read. It's an extremely quick read, at only 273 pages, and entertaining the whole time. I would criticize that much of it sounds as though it's straight out of A Christmas Story (movie), but I imagine most young boys in the 1960s had similar holiday experiences.

Perfect holiday read! Especially one week before Christmas! :)

My stats:

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 273
2011 Reading Goal: 12,073/12,500 (almost there!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Giant Audiobook Review

Hello my lovely readers!

In a time span of 12 weeks, I managed to travel 9,902 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. It was a fun, beautiful traveling season for me. The roads were great and the people I met were wonderful. However, I spent a lot of time behind the wheel of a car, which can get boring. How to I entertain myself? Well, for starters, I like to rock out to my iPod and sing a little too loud, and probably off-key too. But with how many hours I'm behind a wheel, I'd have no voice if that's all I did. Additionally, I listen to audiobooks.

Last year for the traveling season, I got a subscription to Audible. Audiobooks are pricey, but I found that Audible is pretty reasonable at $14.95 per month, which gets you one audiobook. Not bad. Anyway, I listened to A LOT of hours of audiobooks, and thought you all might be interested. I'll do mini-reviews of all 7 audiobooks listened to in my 12-week span.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

This has been a bestseller and even made Oprah's Book Club. The unabridged audiobook is over 24 hours long, so there were times I had to interrupt it with some upbeat music. Here's a summary of Freedom, courtesy of Goodreads:

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family. Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul-the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter-environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man-she was doing her small part to build a better world. But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz-outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival-still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?  In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

The status of this book intrigued me more than the description, to be honest. While listening, I found that I really didn't like any of the characters. Yes, they were all flawed in their own way, but I don't believe that deep down, any of them was a genuinely good person. There were many twists and turns in the plot, but I believe ultimately everyone got what they deserved. The novel dragged (as a book it runs over 500 pages) and told a contemporary tale I did not find to be revolutionary, by any means.

My rating for this was a 2/5. If I had been reading the 500+ pages, it would have taken me months to get through because it was so slow-moving. Franzen, no promises I'll be reading any of your other "indelible and deeply moving" contemporary works of art.

A Darkness More than Night  by Michael Connelly

I've never read Michael Connelly before, but have had his works suggested to me numerous times. This 12+ hour audiobook was on sale, so I thought this would be the perfect time to see if Connelly is as good as everyone says he is.

Here's the Goodreads description:

Independent elements from several earlier books come seamlessly together in Michael Connelly's ingenious, compelling novel, A Darkness More than Night. This one features both Terry McCaleb, last seen in the Edgar-nominated Blood Work, and Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch, the haunted hero of several of Connelly's finest novels. The lives of these two damaged, all-too-human figures intersect in a typically extravagant story that is at once a murder mystery, a legal thriller, and a psychological drama of considerable subtlety and power.
The novel begins when McCaleb, an FBI profiler forced into retirement following a successful heart transplant, agrees to lend his expertise to a particularly baffling murder investigation. The victim is Edward Gunn, an alcoholic lowlife with a violent past. He was once arrested -- by Harry Bosch -- for the murder of a Los Angeles prostitute but managed, despite Harry's best efforts, to avoid prosecution. McCaleb's analysis of the crime scene reveals a number of anomalies: an unexplained head wound, a phrase ("Beware, beware, God sees") written in medieval Latin, the replica of an owl placed in the vicinity of the corpse. Following his instincts, McCaleb locates mirror images of these arcane clues in a number of paintings by Harry's namesake, the 15th-century Dutch master, Hieronymous Bosch.
Harry, meanwhile, is serving as chief investigator and star witness in the sensational murder trial of a world-famous Hollywood director and has no idea that he's just become the primary suspect in an unrelated investigation. As the trial progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Harry's testimony is critically important and that any attempt to destroy his credibility will undermine the case against a vicious, well-connected killer.
Eventually, Harry learns about McCaleb's suspicions and forces a confrontation. McCaleb takes a second look at the accumulated evidence and begins to discern the outlines of a very different scenario. As new revelations come gradually into view, the disparate elements of the novel coalesce, and the narrative moves with increasing urgency toward a violent, thoroughly satisfying conclusion. 

As aforementioned, I haven't read a Connelly novel, so maybe this wasn't a good one to start with. It references previous situations the main characters have been in, and is the 7th book in a series starring Harry Bosch. But overall? It was a snooze. I often found myself dreading pressing "play" on my iPod because I was worried I'd fall asleep at the wheel. Connelly is not for me, that's for sure. I gave the book a 2/5, but am impressed I even made it through.

Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs

I'm hooked on the tv show Bones. It's got the perfect mixture of science, attractive actors, sexual tension, and comedy to be a great show. So when I found out the show was based on a book, I knew I had to get my hands on Kathy Reichs' novels. Yes, I recognize there are differences between the book and the novel, but I'm interested in understanding the basis of everything I love in the show. This book is #10 in the Temperance Brennan series. Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Temperance Brennan, like her creator Kathy Reichs, is a brilliant, sexy forensic anthropologist, called on to solve the toughest cases. But for Tempe, the discovery of a young girl's skeleton in Acadia, Canada, is more than just another assignment. Evangeline, Tempe's childhood best friend, was also from Acadia. Named for the character in the Longfellow poem, Evangeline was the most exotic person in Tempe's eight-year old world. When Evangeline disappeared, Tempe was warned not to search for her, that the girl was "dangerous."
Thirty years later, flooded with memories, Tempe cannot help wondering if this skeleton could be the friend she lost so many years ago. Meanwhile, Tempe's beau, Ryan, investigates a series of cold cases. Two girls dead. Three missing. Could the New Brunswick skeleton be part of the pattern? As Tempe draws on the latest advances in forensic anthropology to penetrate the past, Ryan hunts down a serial predator.

Although this audiobook is ten and a half hours long, time flew by when I was listening to it. Temperance Brennan is as likeable of a character on paper as she is made to be in the tv show. The mystery and excitement throughout the novel kept me wanting more. I'll definitely be picking up another Kathy Reichs novel--hopefully soon! I rated this book 4/5.

Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

I'd seen reviews for Domestic Violets all over the place, and instantly knew from reading the description that I needed to get my hands on a copy. Immediately.

Here's a summary, courtesy of Goodreads:

Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.
The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.
Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way. 

What. A. Masterpiece!  This is Matthew Norman's first novel and I was so impressed with it! The 11-hour audiobook had me lingering in my car, desperate to know what was next. It was the perfect blend of comedy, tragedy, and reality. This is one of the best contemporary fiction novels I've read all year. If you're looking for an engaging read with realistic characters, pick this up now! I'll definitely continue to read Norman's novels, should he continue writing them. I rated this book 5/5.

 Deadly Defiance by William Manchee

Unlike the rest of these audiobooks, I received a copy of Deadly Defiance free through the Goodreads First Reads program, in exchange for an honest review. I'd never heard of William Manchee before, nor his main character Stan Turner. This is the tenth book in a series of Stan Turner mysteries.

Here's a summary of the novel, courtesy of Goodreads:

A young mother complains to Stan that she’s been abandoned by her husband, left penniless, and deeply in debt. Maureen Thompson is livid with her husband and suggest she’d be better off if he were dead, so she could collect on his sizeable life insurance policy. Stan cautions her not to think in those terms and, before she leaves, promises to develop a strategy for effectively dealing with her seemingly unsurmountable problems. Several weeks later Maureen calls Stan from the City Jail where she’s been arrested for the alleged murder of her husband. Since Paula is between murder cases, Stan assigns the case to her. She is elated with the assignment until she finds out Rodney Thompson isn’t her first husband to fall victim to a seven-inch ice pick.

While Paula is busy trying to prove Maureen Thompson isn’t the Ice Pick Killer, Stan and Jodie try to help an illegal Hispanic woman obtain redress for the murder of her husband at the hands of a sweatshop owner with ties to a Mexican drug cartel. It’s a dangerous case so Stan and Jodie team up with the Dallas Police and the FBI to attempt to bring the abusive employer to justice. But just when they think they have Icaro Melendez on the ropes he strikes back with a vengeance making Stan and Jodie wish they’d never taken on the case. But there is no going back now, so they press on, praying they’ll survive a final confrontation with the ruthless cartel.

I was impressed with this 10+ hour audiobook by a lesser-known author. The novel was intriguing, fast-paced, and left the reader excited to continue. There's a nice combination of the legal side of the story and the detective side. If you're a fan of John Grisham, but looking for something a little more exciting and quick to read, I definitely recommend Manchee's novel. I'll be picking up another one of his novels in the near future, that's for sure! I rated this book 4/5.

Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

I was introduced to Jodi Picoult in 2005, when her novel My Sister's Keeper was flying off the shelves at the Target where I worked. I had to know what all the fuss was about. In 2006 I picked up The Pact. I then understood why Picoult was so famous. She's definitely got talent. Since then, I've made it a personal mission to get through all of her books to date. I've read most of her books, but this is one I hadn't even heard of. First published in 1993 (yes, when I was only 5 years old), this has been one of Picoult's lesser-known novels.

Here's the Goodreads summary:
Jodi Picoult earned rave notices for her debut novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale. Now this gifted young writer turns her considerable literary talents to the story of a young woman overcome by the demands of having a family. Written with astonishing clarity and evocative detail, convincing in its depiction of emotional pain, love, and vulnerability, Harvesting the Heart recalls the writing of Alice Hoffman and Sue Miller. Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters and explores issues and emotions readers can relate to.

In spite of this being one of Picoult's first novels, this is a contender with the modern-day excellence Picoult is cranking out. I think what makes this novel, as with most of Picoult's novels, is the relate-ability of the main character. Admittedly, I do not have a lot in common with her on the surface: my mother never abandoned me, and we have a very close relationship. I have not run thousands of miles away from my problems, in search for a new life. I do not have a child or any of the emotional concerns that come with motherhood. Yet, somehow, I felt a connection to Paige. I understand why she felt the need to run, her guilt, and her concerns about motherhood. This is yet another one of Picoult's books I recommend to everyone. I gave this 18-hour audiobook a 4/5.

Match Me if you Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

To be honest, I have no idea how this audiobook got on my iPod. It's not on my Purchased list on Audible; it isn't in my Goodreads FirstReads "won" list; and I certainly didn't buy it! I don't recall borrowing it from the library, either. In spite of this, I listed to the 11-hour audiobook by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, of whom I've never heard before.

Here's the description from Goodreads:

You met star quarterback Kevin Tucker in This Heart of Mine. Now get ready to meet his shark of an agent, Heath Champion, and Annabelle Granger, the girl least likely to succeed.
Annabelle's endured dead-end jobs, a broken engagement ... even her hair's a mess! But that's going to change now that she's taken over her late grandmother's matchmaking business. All Annabelle has to do is land the Windy City's hottest bachelor as her client, and she'll be the most sought-after matchmaker in town.
Why does the wealthy, driven, and gorgeous sports agent Heath Champion need a matchmaker, especially a red-haired screw-up like Annabelle Granger? True, she's entertaining, and she does have a certain quirky appeal. But Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of success—the perfect wife. And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right?
Soon everyone in Chicago has a stake in the outcome, and a very big question: When the determined matchmaker promised she'd do anything to keep her star client happy...did she mean anything? If Annabelle isn't careful, she just might find herself going heart-to-heart with the toughest negotiator in town.

I found this quirky novel to be extremely cliche, yet cute. There's really no surprises in the novel if you've read any chick-lit at all. The main character is a cliche, right down to her messy, unmanageable red hair. Her client, who she falls in love with, is her exact opposite: a put-together, serious workaholic. There wasn't a twist I hadn't predicted. And yet? I enjoyed this novel. If you like cliche chick-lit novels, this is a good one. I rated this 3/5.

Whew. Are you glad this humongous review is over with?!?! Although these 100+ hours of audiobooks definitely kept me entertained throughout my fall travels, I'm excited to be back home and able to curl up with real paperback books.

I hope you're all curled up on the couch with your favorite paperback and coffee. Have a great Saturday, everyone! :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I would rather...

I know I disappeared for about a month. And I'm sorry, readers.

I've been in one of those moods where I'd rather do anything but what I normally do. Does that make sense?

Christmas Mojitos? Yes, please!
Instead of doing:
  • reading
  • couponing
  • blogging
  • cleaning
  • organizing
  • reading others' blogs
  • sewing
  • crocheting
  • cooking
  • unpacking from work travels
  • preparing for Christmas
  • laundry
I only feel like doing:
  • spending time with family and Matt
  • drinking wine or cocoa
  • preparing for Grad school (Yes, I got in!)
  • watching movies I haven't seen in ages
  • getting a full night's rest
It's a strange funk I'm in. I'm sorry to be depriving you all of reading my blog in the meantime. I'll snap out of it, hopefully soon. My apartment will get pretty disgusting if I don't.

I just wanted to let you all know that I am alive and well, just in a funk. I hope all my American readers had a great Thanksgiving and everyone is enjoying their preparation for the holidays :)