Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: High Five by Janet Evanovich

I haven't been able to get enough of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series! In September, I read the fifth one in the series, High Five. Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Her Uncle Fred has disappeared. A body turns up in a garbage bag. She’s got a nasty bookie following her around town. Grandma Mazur has her hands on the stun gun. Stephanie can’t keep a car for more than forty-eight hours. Two men are trying to get her into bed. She has nothing to wear to the Mafia wedding. And there’s an angry little man (don’t call him a dwarf!) who won’t leave her apartment.

Bail jumping in Trenton is down to small potatoes. Stephanie’s only open case is a small bond for a small violation, committed by a small person who raises Stephanie’s frustration level in big ways. So short of money and long on bills, Stephanie comes up with a plan-–diversify! Signing on as an intern with entrepreneurial Super Bounty Hunter Ranger, Stephanie ventures into Ranger’s mostly morally correct and marginally legal operations.

None of this makes vice cop Joe Morelli a happy man. The cop in him can’t help but wonder as to the source of Stephanie’s expensive new cars. And the rest of him, the man who’s been friend and lover to Stephanie, can’t help but wonder if there’s more to the partnership than meets the eye.

The internship is downgraded to second priority when Uncle Fred goes missing. Even though Grandma Mazur is sure he was abducted by aliens, Stephanie sets out to look for Fred. He’s a perfectly average senior citizen, and he’s disappeared without a trace while running errands. He’s left his ten-year-old Pontiac station wagon locked up nice and neat in the Grand Union parking lot, the cleaning is carefully arranged on the back seat, and his wife is at home, waiting for him to return with the bread and the milk and the olive loaf bologna. Locked in the top drawer of his desk are photos of a body, dismembered and stuffed into a garbage bag. And locked away in the computer files of a another average citizen are the clues that will lead Stephanie to Fred.

 The fourth novel in this series, Four to Score, was a little disappointing for me, but my faith in the series was reinstated with High Five. I was on the edge of my seat for at least half of this novel, and laughing the other half. The storyline and plot in High Five is very solid and exciting. I definitely recommend this book in the series!

Here's where I'm at with my page goals:
 High Five by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4/5          

Pages: 317           
Page Goal: 15,903/15,000 

Stay tuned--I'll be posting The Sunday Post vlog this upcoming Sunday, December 2nd! :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: The Wedding Girl by Madeline Wickham

I'm now officially done with fall travel season for work and ready to jump back into my life and routine! I slacked a lot this season, so I've got a lot to catch up on. Be prepared for several reviews within the next few weeks.

Way back in August (it feels like forever ago, doesn't it?!?) I was looking for a fun, flirty, breezy read. I've had Madeline Wickham's novel The Wedding Girl on my shelf for quite a while now, and finally decided to pick it up. Here's the novel's summary, courtesy of Goodreads:

When ‘I do’ gives you déjà vu it could be a problem. . .

At the age of eighteen, in that first golden Oxford summer, Milly was up for anything. Rupert and his American lover Allan were all part of her new, exciting life, and when Rupert suggested to her that she and Allan should get married, just so that Allan could stay in the country, Milly didn't hesitate.

Ten years later, Milly is a very different person. Engaged to Simon – who is wealthy, serious, and believes her to be perfect – she is facing the biggest and most elaborate wedding imaginable. Her mother has it planned to the finest detail. Milly’s dreadful secret is locked away so securely she has almost persuaded herself that it doesn't exist – until, with only four days to go, her past catches up with her.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the theme of life's changes. When we're young, we do things without always considering the impact it will have on us in the future. In this case, 18-year-old Milly married a stranger he could stay in the country to be with his partner. Obviously, when Milly tries to marry ten years later, she realizes she needs a divorce and must track down her estranged husband. What Milly goes through to track these former "friends" down was challenging and time-consuming--just days before the wedding. 

I recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys pondering past decisions and their influence on the present--or anyone looking for a fun, flirty, breezy read :)

Here's where this book put me:

The Wedding Girl by Madeline Wickham
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 327
2012 Reading Goal: 15,586/15,000

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book Review: Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

I should be ashamed to admit this, but I just recently got around to reading James Patterson's Along Came a Spider. For those of you who weren't aware, this is the first book of the Alex Cross series, which has been going on for the past twenty years. This novel, originally published in 1992, started the nation's love affair with our hero, Alex Cross.

Here's the Goodreads summary for Along Came a Spider:

A missing little girl named Maggie Rose . . . a family of three brutally murdered in the projects of Washington, D.C. . . . the thrill-killing of a beautiful elementary school teacher . . . a psychopathic serial kidnapper/murderer who is so terrifying that the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police cannot outsmart him - even after he's been captured.

Gary Soneji wants to commit the crime of the century. Alex Cross is the brilliant homicide detective pitted against him. Jezzie Flanagan is the first female supervisor of the Secret Service who completes one of the most unusual suspense triangles in any thriller you have ever read.

Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair--at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji is playing at the top of his game. The latest of the unspeakable crimes happens in Alex Cross's precinct. It happens under the noses of Jezzie Flanagan's men. Now Alex Cross must face the ultimate test: How do you outmaneuver a brilliant psychopath?

I am also ashamed to admit that this book...just didn't really do it for me. It lacks the excitement I've come to know and love in Patterson's novels. It doesn't examine Alex as a person as much as his modern day novels do. Also, I really didn't like Jezzie from the get-go. I even struggled with the case, because it wasn't all that exciting to me.

This book was made into a movie, too, in 2001. Morgan Freeman plays Alex Cross. This is definitely a movie I would like to watch!

Bottom line, this is a good read, but certainly not my favorite Alex Cross novel so far (actually, my favorite so far is Kiss the Girls).

This book did put me over my page goal for 2012, though! Here are my stats:
Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 449
2012 Reading Goal: 15,259/15,000

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Book Review: Play Dirty by Sandra Brown

Back in August, I read a stellar book by Sandra Brown (although, let's be honest--does she ever write anything that isn't stellar?!?!) I devoured it in one day, it was that good!

Here's a glimpse of what this novel is about, summary courtesy of Goodreads:

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.
Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of SunSouth Airlines, and his wife, Laura, are a golden couple. Successful and wealthy, they lived a charmed life before fate cruelly intervened and denied them the one thing they wanted most -- a child. It's said that money can't buy everything. But it can buy a disgraced football player fresh out of prison and out of prospects.
The job Griff agrees to do for the Speakmans demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion. An unsolved murder comes back to haunt him in the form of his nemesis, Stanley Rodarte, who has made Griff's destruction his life's mission. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman, from Rodarte's ruthlessness. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love.
Griff is now playing a high-stakes game, and at the final whistle, one player will be dead.
Play Dirty is Sandra Brown's wildest ride yet, with hairpin turns of plot all along the way. The clock is ticking down on a fallen football star, who lost everything because of the way he played the game. Now his future -- his life -- hinges on one last play.
This story line is certainly a unique one. I'd really like to give away some details, but I won't. What I will mention is that a certain unforeseen event occurs which puts Griff in danger of taking the blame. We as the readers follow as Griff runs from the law and solves the crime. It's a wonderful whirlwind of activity. Again, Sandra Brown knocks one out of the park.

For any of you who enjoy a good thriller, put this on your TBR list!

Here's my stats for this book:
Play Dirty by Sandra Brown
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 404
2012 Reading Goal: 14,810

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Couponing Queen!

I can't even begin to describe what I'm thankful for. To be honest, sometimes I don't realize just how thankful I am for life's blessings until I am forced to turn to them. I've talked on this blog a bit about couponing before. It's a fun activity, yes, but I'm so blessed to be able to coupon and have the stockpile I do.

Earlier this semester, I tried playing keep-up, but failed. Miserably. My work and grad school class consumed so much of my life that I had no extra time. Sometimes those two obligations would interfere with my sleep, and often Matt and I were unable to spend any time together. For eight weeks, we hardly saw each other at all. In this time, we were both too busy to go grocery shopping. We were too busy to clip coupons, scour sale ads, and make lists. We were just trying to stay above water.

I never realized before just how fortunate we are to have a 3 month supply of food and other household products around. If anything were to happen to either of us, we would be okay. That kind of insurance policy is why I started couponing in the first place--in addition to the desire to save money.

Anyway, my grad school class is over. I've been trying to catch up on everything in my life, including couponing. I know it doesn't sound like it should be a priority, especially with a stockpile like mine, but I realized the value of couponing when I was unable to do so. If not for couponing, Matt and I would have either only gotten take-out (unhealthy and expensive) or just not eaten much at all.

This was my second week back into "the swing of things," and I had a really great couponing haul I'd like to share with everyone.

This was my haul, which totaled $79.13.

Here's what I got:
5 boxes of General Mills cereal
Cottonelle TP
4 bags Hershey's chocolate chips
6 cans of Green Giant veggies
4 cans Dole Pineapple
2 loaves Sweetheart bread (not pictured)
1 Softsoap hand soap (this ended up being free after coupons)
2 bags Green Giant frozen veggies
2.08 lbs Serloin Steak
3.88 lbs pork loins
3.21 lbs stew meat
spaghetti squash

I saved 46% on this shopping trip, so I'm happy! I know these numbers are not what you see in Extreme Couponing, but this is a realistic shopping trip, not one staged for TV.

If you and your family would like to have an insurance policy or be able to feed yourselves through tough times, I recommend you research if couponing is the right path for you.

And now I'll stop bragging. Have a great day, everyone! :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Sunday Post (7)

Happy Sunday, readers!

Today is the first Sunday of November. I'm shocked at how quickly 2012 has gone by! But you know what the first Sunday of every month means...

As promised, I'm working to update my blog little by little. Sorry for putting this on the backburner for so long. I did film my 7th Sunday Post, though. So enjoy!

In case you missed any titles/authors, here's a list of the books I received this month:

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
On the Run by Iris Johansen*
Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
Kill Me if you Can by James Patterson
The 11th Hour by James Patterson

*this audiobook was part of a giveaway hosted by Kristen at Always with a Book. Check out her blog here!

Have a great Sunday, readers! :)