Saturday, June 30, 2012

Highlights: June 2012

I seriously cannot believe June is gone already! Seriously, where did time go?!?!?

This month I read the following:

June 2012
7th Heaven by James Patterson
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 353           Page Goal: 9,697/15,000
Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 270           Page Goal: 9,967/15,000
The 8th Confession by James Patterson
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 342           Page Goal: 10,309/15,000
Dart by Phil Rustad
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 295           Page Goal: 10,604/15,000
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 373           Page Goal: 10,977/15,000
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 337           Page Goal: 11,314/15,000
Body Count by P.D. Martin
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 393           Page Goal: 11,707/15,000
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 546           Page Goal: 12,243/15,000
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 400           Page Goal: 12,643/15,000

These nine books total 2,946 pages; the most I've read in one month so far this year.

To be honest, I'm so surprised I read this much throughout June! June is never a big month for me to be reading, but somehow it was this year! I felt like the majority of these books were super, super amazing, so they were done in no time!

My favorite book this month is a tie between The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Seriously, if you have not yet read them, get to your local bookstore or download them to your e-reader now! :)

I really only have four assignments left and an exam. Ideally, I would be working ahead...yet my motivation seems to have run away recently. My class is over July 26th, which is good because August in higher ed is the month from hell. It'll be nice to be able to focus on work for a month before classes start again.

I haven't done a lot of crafts lately, as I've obviously spent all my time reading. However, I did cut out fabric for a pattern this past weekend. Hopefully I'll get to sewing on it soon!

June was a slower month for travel. The only trip I made was to the Capital city, Bismarck, for a pre-marriage seminar for the Church. It was nice to have some time at home to relax. June's travel plans are crazy, though! I will be going to B-town (hometown) to do some wedding planning around the 4th. The next weekend, I'll be in Wisconsin with Matt's family. The weekend after that, I visit Cleveland for a work conference. I get back from that on a Sunday, and on Monday at 6:30 I leave for Chicago for another work conference. Crazy, huh? I feel like I'm getting to see the entire midwest in one summer...

Wedding planning is underway! We're working on our website, and have ordered Save the Dates. Woo hoo!

Ugh, I'm not really looking forward to the busy month of July, but I'll make the best of it, as it's fast approaching!

One of our engagement photos, as taken by Photos by Crystal
If you're in the area, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! :)

So, readers, what were your June 2012 highlights?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

I promise I did not mean to read quite so much this month. This kind of just...happened. I'm not complaining, but it's certainly unexpected. For example, the other night, I went to wash some fabric. I planned to cut the pattern for a beautiful dress. However, my plans were ruined when I found the washer in use. (I share an apartment with 3 other people, so this happens from time to time). So, I decided to sit down and read "just for a little bit" until the other person was done with the washer.


Read "just for a little bit"? This was simply not possible after one chapter in Heather Gudenkauf's These Things Hidden. You'll understand; here's the Goodreads summary:

These Things HiddenWhen teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn--shy, quiet Brynn--who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.
After just two hours reading, I was almost halfway through and completely hooked. This story, much like Gudenkauf's other novel, is told from several points of view. In this case, the readers experience the perceptions of Allison, her sister Brynn, Claire (a local bookstore manager) and Charm (you have to read the novel to discover her role). Chapter after chapter, the horrible past of Allison and her sister Brynn spill out of the pages. The secret held between these sisters and another family in the community is too much for them to bear, especially when the past comes back to haunt them. 

I finished this novel in under 6 hours and was so entranced by it, I pre-ordered Heather Gudenkauf's One Breath Away, in stores June 26th. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes an enticing, exciting read.

Here's where this book has gotten me so far this year:
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 5/5
Pages: 337
2012 Reading Goal: 11,314/15,000 (75%!)

Seriously, readers, pick up one of her books. They're incredible! I can't wait to curl up with my Kindle and read One Breath Away. SO. EXCITED! Gudenkauf is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

You know those books that you read that rocked your world? And how you just want to run around to all of your bookish friends telling them how awesome these books are? And how you look like a nerdish maniac doing so?

I'm going to be that nerdish maniac in these next two posts, because I just read AMAZING books and feel it is my obligation to tell the world about them.

The first one I read has been on my bookshelf for a little under a year now. Based on its description, I figured I would like it, but did not realize I would love it as much as I did. The novel is The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf. Here's the Goodreads summary:

The Weight of SilenceIt happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night. Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor. Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.
It sound great, right? It is. The novel is told from several points of view:  Calli, Calli's mother, Deputy Sheriff Louis (who once had a "thing" with Calli's mother), Calli's brother, and Martin Gregory, who is the father of Calli's best friend Petra. The first half of the book is really the back story: what is happening, and what relationships these people have with each other. Memories are spotted throughout. Then, just as that gets a little old, some other events come up and the novel picks up it's pace. The next thing you know, it's done, and you're salivating for more. The plot was addicting and unique. The whole novel you're wondering what is going on and who is responsible. SO. GOOD. It's a little Jodi Picoult-esque, so if you enjoy her writing, give this one a chance. Even if you don't, I'd encourage you to give this one a chance.

Here's where I'm at after this book (which was super fast-paced, BTW):
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 5/5
Pages: 373
2012 Reading Goal: 10,977/15,000

Happy Monday, readers!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review: Dart by Phil Rustad

Hello again, readers!

Just playing catch-up on my reviews! You all remember my autographed Christmas goodies? Six months later, I'm just now getting around to them...which is more than I can say for the rest of my book collection...

Dart: A Dan Neumann MysteryAnyway, I began reading Dart by Phil Rustad. Here's the Goodreads summary:

Nearing the end of a successful career, Minneapolis homicide detective Dan Neumann was looking forward to retirement and a relaxing summer riding his Harley, woodworking, and writing another textbook on ballistics. But Neumann's leisure plans go up in smoke when law enforcement calls on his expertise to investigate a murder involving a weapon so sophisticated, so lethal, it's never been seen before. Realizing he is up against intelligence and formidable skills equal to his own, Dan pursues the Shooter around the country, determined to crack his last case. Always one step behind the killer, Dan follows an ever-bloodier trail from Alaska to Arizona, murder to murder, enlisting the help of a particularly interesting deputy sheriff along the way. The chase leads to the shores of Lake Superior, whisper-close to the murderer. But is it close enough? And where is the "real justice"?

Rustad is a self-published author who has a strong passion for guns, which is very apparent in this work. I felt as though the talk of guns and ammunition often was more detailed than anything else in the novel. It was a reasonably quick read, but I will admit I had a hard time picking it up after having put it down for a bit. The character development is lacking, but the plot is extremely exciting and fast-paced. For a first, self-published novel, it isn't so bad. I believe I'll be continuing the Dan Neumann mystery series.

Here's where I sit after this novel:
Dart by Phil Rustad
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 295
2012 Reading Goal: 10,604/15,000

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend, readers! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: The 8th Confession by James Patterson

Hi readers!

I apologize for my long absence. Lately I've felt like I'm on a treadmill in life--I'm running and running and really not going anywhere. Hopefully I'll be able to get caught up within the next few weeks, particularly on book reviews.

Somehow, I've found enough time to read, in spite of my busyness. I haven't figured out just how, but I think it has something to do with the bags and bags of coffee grounds I've gone through within the past month or so...

The 8th Confession
After reading James Patterson's 7th Heaven, I was so excited to continue the Women's Murder Club series. So, I picked up the next book in the series, The 8th Confession. Here's the Goodreads summary:

Someone is killing the richest people in the city - and the Women's Murder Club will pay a high price for hunting him. At the party of the year, San Francisco's most glamorous couple is targeted by a killer - and it's the perfect murder. While Detective Lindsay Boxer investigates the high-profile killings, a saintly street preacher is brutally executed. Reporter Cindy Thomas inquires into this neglected case and discovers the victim may have had very dark secrets.

As the search for two criminals tests the limits of the Women's Murder Club, Lindsay sees sparks fly between Cindy and Lindsay's partner, Detective Rich Conklin. The Club now faces its toughest challenge: Will love destroy all that the four friends have built?

As with all of Patterson's books, this was an extremely quick-moving novel. It captured me from the get-go and didn't let go until the end. With that said, there was some element missing. I wasn't as excited by the story line as I was in 7th Heaven. The choice of weapon, while intriguing, wasn't executed in the story line as I would have liked. To summarize, this one was just "okay," but not near the caliber I've come to expect from Patterson. In fact, this is the first of this series that I am not giving a 4/5 rating to. *sigh* Here's to hoping the 9th one will resume the excitement.

Here's where this book has put me for the year:

The 8th Confession by James Patterson
Rating: 3/5

Pages: 342
2012 Reading Goal: 10,309/15,000 (69% of the way done already. Woot woot!)

Has anyone else read this series? Did anyone else find the 8th novel to be lacking?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: 7th Heaven by James Patterson

Hi everyone!

Hope you're all having a great week! I'm still working to get caught up on my blog, schoolwork, and work. *sigh* One step at a time, right? I feel like my to-do lists are growing exponentially but my time and motivation are shrinking.

You probably can't tell, either, because this isn't a vlog, but I'm green. With envy. No, seriously. Many of the bloggers I follow went to the BEA conference in New York and they're coming back with tens (some are coming back with 100+) books. I want some! Then I look at my bookshelf and realize I currently have 170 books in my possession that I have yet to read. I feel like a child again--I don't want the books I have, I want to play with someone else's!

Aside from my envy, I'm taking these reviews bit by bit to get caught up. And trying not to read too much. Unfortunately, that's all I'm actually motivated to do.

I recently finished another book in the Women's Murder Club series: 7th Heaven. Here's the summary, courtesy of Goodreads:

The Women's Murder Club faces not one-but two-terrifying cases that may tear it apart. The teenage son of California's ex-governor has mysteriously vanished-and the pressure on Detective Lindsay Boxer to find him is overwhelming. When she finally does get a lead, it's devastating. At the same time, Lindsay and her partner, Rich Conklin, must investigate mysterious fires that are destroying some of San Francisco's most beautiful homes-and leaving their owners dead in the debris. But when Lindsay enlists her friends in the Women's Murder Club to help uncover the arsonist, the blazes suddenly rage much too close to home . . . and the detective's life may go up in flames.

 I'm not a huge series person, but Patterson has me hooked. This novel in particular was extremely juicy. The suspects and victims were intriguing, the drama in Lindsay's life is exciting, and the murders were original. I couldn't put this book down, and devoured it in one morning. For those of you who have started the series, this definitely gives you something to look forward to.

Here are my stats:
7th Heaven by James Patterson
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 353
2012 Reading Goal: 9,697/15,000

Patterson just recently released the 11th novel in the Women's Murder Club series. I'm almost caught up on the series, and hope to be by the release of the 12th one.

Happy Thursday, readers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Hello readers!

So, you all know that I have this book. It's no secret. And that I've read it. I was originally not going to review it, as it didn't receive super high marks from me and isn't exactly a genre I normally review. However, I've received a significant amount of feedback from friends, coworkers, and readers that they would love to hear my review, so here it is...

The book, of course, is EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey. Here's the Goodreads description:

When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

As many of you know, this erotic romance came about as Twilight fanfiction...which leaves me, as a non-Twilight fan, wondering What the hell happens in Twilight that a BDSM erotic romance is a spin-off?!?!?! Aside from that weird connection for me, this is my review:

There's definitely a buzz about this work. Is it warranted? Women from all over the nation are dying to get their hands on a novel about a young romance involving punishment and torture of a young woman for the sheer pleasure of both parties. Needless to say, this isn't my type of novel. I think what most women are finding is that this doesn't fall into their regular genre. For some of them, it excites them--maybe they've never read an erotic romance or Harlequin before and are deeply intrigued. Some of them, instead, are finding they hated it and this isn't their genre.

I don't believe the author is too in-depth with her descriptions, so it isn't an awfully scary erotic romance if you're looking to start reading the genre. However, some of the events are beyond unrealistic, both in the bedroom and out. James does a fabulous job, though, with creating her characters, and that's where the interest from most readers lies. Her character development is wonderful, albeit a little YA-inspired. Bottom line? Would I recommend it? Yeah, if it's something you've been dying to read. I will be continuing the trilogy (I'm terrible about needing to finish something I start), but do not find it necessary to pay full price again for the rest of the books.

Here's my stats for this novel:
Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 514
2012 Reading Goal: 9,344/15,000

Happy Tuesday, readers!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: The Modern Girl's Guide to Life by Jane Buckingham

Hello readers!

I know I'm really far behind on reviews, so please bear with me as I attempt to get caught up. Early in May, I read The Modern Girl's Guide to Life by Jane Buckingham. Here is the Goodreads summary:

With information on entertaining, etiquette, housekeeping, basic home repair, decorating, sex, and beauty, this indispensable book has everything today's young woman should know-but may not! The Modern Girl's Guide to Life is a collection of all the helpful tips and secrets that get passed on from generation to generation, but many of us have somehow missed. It's full of practical, definitive advice on the basics -- the day-to-day necessities like finding a bra that fits, balancing a checkbook, making a decent cup of coffee, and hemming a pair of pants. Modern Girl guru Jane Buckingham includes loads of savvy counsel to help us feel more refined, in charge, and together as we navigate the rocky terrain that is twenty-first-century womanhood.

This was a fun, quick read. Some things covered were new to me, where others seemed like flat-out common sense. My largest criticism is that it isn't really written for a "normal" young adult. For example: the recipes she gives readers have weird French words I've never even heard of. It's unlikely my local grocer would carry them, nor would I even know where to look. I also felt many of the products boosted were not within the realistic budget of a young adult.

With that said, I do believe Jane Buckingham has a good novel for young adults here as a "how-to" guide...if nothing else, what they should be looking forward to in their late twenties. I would recommend this perhaps as a graduation gift to someone graduating high school or college.

Here's my review information:
The Modern Girl's Guide to Life by Jane Buckingham
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 362
2012 Reading Goal: 8,468/15,000  

Stay tuned for the rest of my book reviews, which I'll be posting within the next few weeks :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Giveaway: 50 Shades of Grey WINNER

We have a winner...

Lauren G.

Congratulations, Lauren, on winning 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James! I'll pass that book along to you as soon as possible.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I'll try to plan for another giveaway sometime between now and my bloggiversary in October.

Thanks for your entries!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA: The Future of Book Blogging

Good morning, readers!

Today is my final Armchair BEA post. The topic is "The Future of Book Blogging," where I share my thoughts on what makes or breaks a good book blog. The thing is, though, that I don't believe there's one exact formula that works well for everyone. Instead, I'll share with you what I enjoy seeing on book blogs:
  • An "About Me" section. Even if it's short. I like to know that I can relate to the blogger, whether it's crafts we have in common, or the types of books we like to read. When bloggers don't have this section, I rarely opt to follow them. I enjoy knowing a little bit about each person I follow. It humanizes their blog for me, and makes it easier for me to comment and feel like it's a friendship (in the blogosphere)
  • A list of books read. We all know that I'm not big on YA. I don't follow too many blogs that are solely YA, or more than 40% YA. I use these lists to determine if I want to follow this person--do we have similar tastes in books? Do we like the same authors? Do I trust their recommendations and believe I would appreciate the book as much as they did?
  • A rating system. Sometimes, I'm too busy to get through the entire review. So, as a lazy person, I look at their rating. I trust that the bloggers I follow have similar tastes to myself (discovered mostly through the list of books read). Therefore, I believe my rating would likely be plus or minus a point. If someone I'm following rates a book "one star", I likely won't pick it up, based on their explanation. I really do rely on these ratings, and love when people have then, and at least a paragraph as to why the book deserves that rating.
  • Non-book posts from time to time. I've found I really appreciate these in some of my fellow bloggers because, again, it humanizes them. I get to know their likes and dislikes, or about their family. Sometimes people will do a non-book post once a week. Other times once a month. Either way, it's a treat. So those of you doing it, please keep it up.

It's not to say that if book blogs don't have these, I don't follow them. I'll be honest with you, there's a handful of YA blogs I follow just because I like the personality of the blogger. Also, it's kind of nice to know a little bit about what's going on in the YA world. Frankly, most of the blogs I follow are because I feel some kind of connection with the blogger based on what I've read of them.

Well, that wraps up my first week of Armchair BEA. I hope you enjoyed it! Leave your comments below so I can swing by your posts as well! Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog

Hello again, readers!

Today's Armchair BEA theme is "Beyond the Blog". It can be about anything; writing, other hobbies, the works. Just something maybe beyond what we typically blog about. This is the most challenging post for me, because I use my blog as a reflection of my passions. If I want to talk about crafts, I do; if I want to talk about baking, I do; if I want to talk about wine, I write a post somewhere around my 3rd glass (kidding!). But ultimately, this blog was created to discuss my interests; most of which revolve around books and coffee.

So, you already know about all the crafts I do. And you already know about my mad Puppy Chow making skills. I don't feel like there's much more I can talk about...

...except journaling.

I suppose this is one minor detail I've kept from you all. This blog is somewhat of a journal for me, yet, but I still have my beautiful pink Italian leatherette journal I keep in my desk drawer. So, today, I wanted to just tell a story about my journaling experience and how, ultimately, it lead me to this.

When I was young, I, like every other girl in the 3rd grade, was obsessed with Lisa Frank. Remember her products? Bright colors, lots of pinks and purples? And outrageous prices to boot. My journal looked something like this one. I'm not 100% sure on that, though, because I've left it at my parent's house. All I remember is that it had penguins and a little lock to keep my secrets safe.

I journaled about one to two times a week, roughly. I talked about school, boys, my cats, and whatever else I did in my day-to-day life. Looking back, it's a lame journal. But seeing through the eyes of yourself as a child is pretty priceless.

In middle school, I started going through a little bit of a darker time in my life. Nothing too terrible, I was just in the "trying to find myself" stage. Ultimately, I spent hours and hours with my journal every night. There were so many emotions and thoughts I needed to get on paper and I could never write fast enough to do so. Journaling really got me through all my struggles. Some of those journals still exist today, and I've kept them to reflect on my life. I also hope to someday allow my kids to see them and recognize everyone goes through rough patches. The best part about these journals? I wrote them in gel pens. Oh, yes, I'm definitely a child raised in the 90s...

High school was extremely busy for me, so I didn't journal much. I was out of my weird little stage and didn't feel the need to commit as many thoughts to paper. In my earlier high school years, I did online diary entries. Eventually, MySpace came along, so I wrote my thoughts as blogs (...ah, the beginning...). Before I closed out my MySpace account, I actually copied all of those blogs to a Word document so I could always look back at them. But whenever I was struggling, my physical journal came through for me. After high school, I bought a new journal to college, to start fresh. I wrote so much my freshman year, as I struggled with the typical college issues of roommate disagreements and academic stress. Throughout my four years of college, I was able to use my journals to ground me again. I'd also look back through old journals to see how much I'd overcome--it would give me confidence to get through one more thing.

And today, I still journal from time to time. Not on this blog, of course. Personal thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. I probably only write an entry every 2-3 months. Ultimately, I know my journal has been there for me throughout the years, and will continue to be there for me. I love reflecting back on my journal entries, too, to see how far I've come and how far I have to go.

Are journals totally outdated? Does anyone else keep one, just to have it handy?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Networking

Hello again, readers!

This is my third post for Armchair BEA, which continues throughout the week. Today's topic is "Networking". We're supposed to discuss partnerships within the community, book clubs, etc.

I will admit I do not have a local book partnership. To be honest, I've only visited our local bookstore twice before, simply because I have so many of my own books. Likewise with the library. I love and respect libraries, but it seems silly to pick up books from the city library when I have a small library of unread books in my own home!

While I do not belong to any formal book club, my friends frequently approach me looking for book recommendations. I love discussing these novels with them, particularly after they have read the novel. I also network with my mom and her coworkers a fair amount through books. They will read a book, pass it on to her, who will pass it on to me, and I'll give it back upon completion. It's crazy to think that one book will go through so many hands. I frequently visit with my mom about books, as we pass them back and forth like crazy!

Partnership with bookstores and book clubs can be quite the challenge when one travels as much as I do. For that reason, I have sustained from doing so, but I fully intent to join at some point in my life. It's very likely I'll be joining a book club on Goodreads within the next year or so...

Have a happy Wednesday, and I hope to read about your networks as well! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA: Giveaway Day!

Happy Tuesday, readers!

It's that time again...

Time for a giveaway!

This week's giveaway is in honor of Armchair BEA. I will be giving away a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Because I'm funding this out of my own pocket, I'm only able to ship to addresses in the USA. Sorry, my international friends!
  • You must be a follower of Leah's Literature and Coffee. To follow, please click "follow" on the Google Friend Connect icon on my page.
  • This giveaway will close at 11:59 Central Time on Friday, June 8th.

Thanks for your interest; Good Luck!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: Introductions First!

Welcome, visitors, to my blog!

This is the first post to kick-start Armchair BEA. I'm excited!!!

The topic for this post is an introduction. On Armchair BEA's website, they have listed 10 questions for book bloggers like myself to look at as an interview. Fortunately, we are only asked to choose 5 of those questions to answer, then hop around to other sites participating in Armchair BEA.

Here are the questions (with answers) I chose:

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
    • I'm Leah (I think that's obvious from my blog's title). I work at a college in North Dakota and LOVE my job. I began blogging in October 2010. My job requires me to travel frequently, so I found myself feeling the need for an outlet of some kind. I lived alone at the time, so I would travel, work, and be at home alone. Blogging allowed me an outlet to not only share my passion with others, but also to give me a sense of responsibility and personal satisfaction.
  • What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?
    • Something I have started on my blog and am LOVING is my "highlights" feature. At the end of every month, I recap what I did during the past month--which books I read, if I did any crafts, travel, etc. I also look at what the future has for me on the horizon.
  • If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
    • Hands-down, it would be John Steinbeck. How was he able to capture the inspiration and so eloquently put it into words? He has been my literary hero for ages.
  • What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?
    • That's a tie between Stephen King's house and Shakespeare's house. Either way, I would hope for their talent to rub off on me. 
  • What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?
    • I love that it's so connected. I just recently joined Twitter, too, and am now seeing this literary world I never knew existed.
      As far as the future, I would love to see more non-YA bloggers like myself. Sometimes I feel a little alone, as though I'm the only adult who doesn't have 60% or more of their blog dedicated to YA novels. It would be nice for me to be able to follow more blogs without the YA focus.

Well, readers, that's what I've got for today's theme. Tune in tomorrow for the opening of my giveaway for Fifty Shades of Grey. The giveaway will close on Friday, June 8th.

Happy reading! :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oprah's Book Club is Back!

I have some extremely exciting news to share with everyone:

I'm pretty excited about it, to say the least. I should explain by sharing something you, my readers, likely don't know about me...

I have a bucket list, like most people. Number 18 on that bucket list is to read all of Oprah's Book Club novels. I've put a decent dent in the pile, but am nowhere near completion.

Another confession is that I simply adore Oprah. I grew up watching her with my mom. My mom was once even on her show. I got an autographed picture. Awwww...

I'm not big on celebrities. Typically, I could care less what they're doing. But Oprah? She's been my biggest celebrity inspiration. Sure, I haven't agreed with her 100% all the time, but I appreciate and respect what she stands for and how she lives her life. She's selfless, caring, a role model, and an inspiration.

Anyway, in honor of the return of the book club (which really just adds to my bucket list goal), I'm going to list below what books I have read on her list:

The ones listed in black, I have not yet read.
 Those listed in pink, I have on my bookshelf but have not read
  Those with the strikethrough, I have read.

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton (own, have not read)
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Deep End of the Ocean by by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Songs in Ordinary Time by Marry McGarry Morris
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
Paradise by Toni Morrison

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Jewel by Bret Lott

House of Sand and Fog by by Andre Dubus III
Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell
Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Sula by Toni Morrison
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A Light in August by William Faulkner

Night by Elie Wiesel

The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

 As you can see, there are currently (before the new list comes about) 70 books on Oprah's Book Club List. I have read 15 of them, so a mere 21%. I definitely plan to join in on Oprah's Book Club 2.0 (that's the title of her new one). I may be a few months behind in the readings, but I'll get them done.

Most of these books I've read have really revolutionized my life. For example, my top 2 favorite books of all time are on here: The Poisonwood Bible and She's Come Undone. There are a few I didn't care for too much, but for the most part, Oprah and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to books.

I'm excited to, again, have a list of books I will likely rate 4-5 stars and enjoy a lot.

I hope you all are having a great Sunday and are as excited by this news as me!

The Sunday Post #2

Good morning and happy Sunday, readers!

I know it's hard to believe, but it's been a month since my last Sunday Post meme. I've included my video below:

In other bookish news, I will be participating in Armchair BEA this week, so be sure to check back all throughout the week for the fun features! That includes my giveaway of Fifty Shades of Grey. The giveaway will be posted Tuesday!

So, what good books did you get this month?!?!!?