Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Highlights: January 2013

 I cannot believe we're already beginning the second month of 2013. Where has time gone?!?!
Official wedding countdown: 66 days! :)

This month I read the following:
January 2013: (2,886 pages)
The 9th Judgement by James Patterson
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 355           Page Goal: 355/21,500
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 302           Page Goal: 657/21,500
Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 502           Page Goal: 1,159/21,500
Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 336           Page Goal: 1,495/21,500
Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 420           Page Goal: 1,915/21,500
The Personal Shopper by Carmen Reid
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 432           Page Goal: 2,347/21,500
Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 320           Page Goal: 2,667/21,500
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 219           Page Goal: 2,886/21,500

I'm definitely taking strides toward meeting my page goal, but this is by far the heftiest page goal I've set. I am nervous that I may fall behind and not catch up, but we'll have to see what this year brings!

I also want to warn you, readers, that I'm probably going to be behind on reviews for a while. I may not get caught up until after the wedding. Let me know if there's a particular book you'd like to see reviewed sooner than my deadline of "whenever," though, and I'd be happy to post that review! :)
I'm currently enrolled in a Management Information Systems (MIS) course and am really loving it! While I'm not big on computers, I am interested in how different software and data programs can assist us in our daily tasks. I'm also obsessed with social media, which now influences many facets of MIS.

Considering how cold it's been, I should probably be making scarves and blankets; but alas, all my crafts right now are centerpieces and other wedding DIY projects...

I'll be seeing more travel this winter than last. I've already taken one trip to my hometown, but have 3 more planned before the wedding. I'll also be spending four days in my state's Capital in February, and five days in our nation's Capital in March.

I found a planner. I went with a filofax. Seriously? Amazing :)
I'll try to upload a picture of it soon.

Plans for the wedding are coming together, but still keeping me plenty busy. Between work, working out, volunteer work organizations, and school, I'm having to squeeze wedding planning in where I can. It should go ok though :)

This was our delicious New Year's Day dinner...Surf 'n Turf! Yum!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: The Murderers' Club by P.D. Martin

Last review from 2012, I promise! Thanks, guys, for bearing with me as I try to catch up on my reviews!

The last book I read in December 2012 was The Murderers' Club by P.D. Martin. Here's the summary, courtesy of Goodreads:
FBI profiler Sophie Anderson hates her uncontrollable ability to experience the minds of killers. But these sickening flashes of murder yield invaluable clues, and so Sophie watches.

Six months ago, a case nearly cost Sophie her life. So when a detective friend asks her to visit Arizona, she welcomes the break. But her vacation ends abruptly when bodies are found at a university and she gets pulled into the case. The horrifying methodology—deliberate body positioning, a distinctive red heart scrawled on each victim—indicates to Sophie that a new serial killer has claimed the area. Oddly, though, certain signature elements differ between killings. Fortunately, the FBI database has a record of many of the signatures—but each belongs to a different serial killer.

As the bodies continue to appear, Sophie must hone her terrifying skills and suffer the horrors in her head in order to stop this killer.
This book is the second in P.D. Martin's Sophie Anderson series about an FBI profiler who is able to see things through the eyes of killers. I know the title is lame not very eye-catching, but the content and plot make up for it! The Murderer's Club is about a group of wealthy killers who have a private chat room and videos of victims. Together, they plot who will die, who will kill them, and the rest watch. There were exciting twists along the way that kept me wanting more. I'm super excited to read the third book in this series, Fan Mail, which I've already got waiting for me on my bookshelf!

I recommend this book for anyone who loves a good thriller. Even though this is the second in the series, it could be read as a stand-alone novel.

This book polished off my 2012 reading:
The Murderers' Club by P.D. Martin
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 427
2012 Reading Goal: 19,804/15,000

Books in this series:

  1. Body Count
  2. The Murderers' Club
  3. Fan Mail
  4. The Killing Hands
  5. Kiss of Death
  6. Coming Home
Questions for my Readers:
  1. Are you behind on any of your reviews? Do you have a schedule for when you post your book reviews?
  2. Did you set a reading goal for 2013? What is it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline

Hello, readers!

I hope your new year is off to a great start! Mine has been going well, but I'm definitely still catching up on 2012, so please bear with me.

One book I read in December was Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline. Here's the summary, courtesy of Goodreads:
Cate Fante is strong and sexy and wears designer suits like overpriced armor. She's just become a judge but leads a dark double life that she hides from everyone.

Her cover is blown when a high-profile case in her courtroom takes a stunning turn. Overnight the tabloids tell her secret, her boyfriend dumps her, and her new career hangs in tatters. But Cate's troubles are only beginning. An enemy no one anticipated sends her running for her life, and she'll have to fight her way back to the truth . . . or die trying.

I think I've admitted already that I don't find Lisa Scottoline to be a great author. I've read a few of her books now and am just not a big fan. People magazine calls this novel "a breathless thriller," but I did not find that to be the case. The main character in this novel is developed very well, as are the other characters. It's the story line that I felt really dragged, and wasn't all that exciting to begin with. I felt like there were some attempts at climatic moments, but when they came, they just didn't do it for me.

It wasn't horrible, but it's probably not one at the top of my recommendation list, either.

Going back to 2012 stats...:
Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 410
2012 Reading Goal: 19,377/15,000

Questions for my readers:
  1. Have you read any Lisa Scottoline? What are your thoughts?
  2. If you had to choose importance in a novel, which would you pick: character development or plot?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rambles of a Coffee Addict

I know I should be posting book reviews right now because I'm so far behind on them, but I'm not sure I'm up for it today.

At the beginning of each semester, I work to find balance and a schedule that works for me. Unfortunately, because my courses are in 8-week chunks, I get flipped around halfway through each semester and have to find something else that will work. I'm really good about starting off each semester with my class deadlines listed on my calendar, frequent visits to the gym (stress management!), and even a menu plan for each week. My new semester starts tomorrow, so I know I need to start getting these things in order again, but somehow, this semester is different.

I feel overwhelmed by everything this semester, and I'm not sure why. It could be the wedding coming up 3 months from today; I'm definitely far behind on planning for it. It could be that I can't find a perfect planner for my life right now. Or, it could simply be that I had a 3-week break from classes and am nervous about throwing them back into the mix.

You guys likely know that I am a list person. It's actually really sad--if I don't have something on a list, it doesn't get done. This includes my to-do list at work (deadlines written after the project in RED ink so I know what my priorities are), my grocery shopping list, my menu list (I never know what to make if I haven't planned it out in advance!), coursework list, my blog list, and my "master list". My "master list" is a list of projects at home I'd like to complete. I keep it in a beautiful Martha Stewart by Avery notebook. The pages somehow seem bigger than most, so I fold each page "hot-dog style" right down the middle and make crazy long lists. Then I get anxiety.

I am also a planner person. A big-time planner person. I feel like so much of my identity is wrapped up in my planner. At work, I use an Outlook calendar, which is awesome for organizing my meetings. I've got it color-coded, so I also include my appointments, reminders of when class assignments are due, and reminders of deadlines for upcoming projects. This Outlook calendar syncs with my work iPad really well, and I carry my work iPad with me virtually everywhere. But somehow, I feel like I'm really missing something. I don't know if maybe it's time to go back to a paper planner? I've been looking to buy one lately but can't find the one. Trust me, it's better to make do without a planner than to have one that isn't functioning well for you.

The planner that will be perfect for me just doesn't seem to exist right now. I'm not fully sure what I want in a planner, but I know that I haven't found one I like yet. I'm thinking I should probably make my own and see how it goes. At least then, I'd know if it works well, and be able to make changes if it doesn't.


In other news, The Biggest Loser premiers tonight! I don't really watch much TV, but The Biggest Loser: Couples (the one that's on in the winter, not fall) is my weekly indulgence. I'm super ADD when it comes to watching TV, so I find myself always doing something while watching: clipping coupons, surfing the web, folding laundry, etc. My favorite thing to do during The Biggest Loser is my menu planning and packing my lunches for the week. I always feel responsible to pack/plan healthy when the show is on, so that motivation carries over throughout the week. There is a 4-hour season premier this year: two hours tonight, and two hours tomorrow night. I'm excited because I know I'll get a lot crossed off my to-do list while watching the show!


Thanks for bearing with me. I believe this is titled appropriately, since it's really just one big ramble and I've had 6 cups of coffee already.

Questions for my readers:
  1. Do you use a planner? If so, which one, and what do you like about it?
  2. What do you look for in a planner?
  3. How do you organize all your lists?
  4. Are you a multi-tasker when it comes to watching TV shows?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Resolutions, Goals, and Bookish News

Happy New Year, Readers!

2012 was an excellent year for me; I started Grad school, wedding planning, and continued my blog and career. 2013 should be even better, since I'll be marrying the love of my life and *hopefully* graduating with my Masters of Science in Management degree! I hope 2013 looks as bright for all of you as it does for me!
Engagement Photo by Photos by Crystal
In bookish news, I surprised myself by surpassing my page goal of 15,000 pages. I read 19,804 pages, which consisted of 58 books! I also had a few audiobooks scattered in there as well. Here's my list of what I've read (and reviewed, for those that I reviewed on the blog):

January 2012 (2,716 pages)
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 355           Page Goal: 355/15,000
Single in the City by Michele Gorman
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 352           Page Goal: 707/15,000
State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 640           Page Goal: 1,347/15,000
Scent of Double Deception by Jeannie Faulkner Barber & Ann Alan
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 259           Page Goal: 1,606/15,000
Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 336           Page Goal: 1,942/15,000
Miss Minimalist by Francine Jay
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 98             Page Goal: 2,040/15,000
Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 360           Page Goal: 2,400/15,000
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 316           Page Goal: 2,716/15,000

February 2012 (1,326 pages)
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 262           Page Goal: 2,978/15,000
Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 496           Page Goal: 3,474/15,000
Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 256           Page Goal: 3,730/15,000
Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 355           Page Goal: 4,042/15,000

March 2012 (1,598 pages)
Life from Scratch by Melissa Ford
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 266           Page Goal: 4,308/15,000
The Love of Her Life by Harriet Evans
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 427           Page Goal: 4,735/15,000
Sail by James Patterson
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 414           Page Goal: 5,149/15,000
The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 240           Page Goal: 5,389/15,000
Colin Preston Rocked and Rolled by Bert Murray
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 251           Page Goal: 5,640/15,000

April 2012  (2,828 pages)
Walking with Grandfather by Joseph M. Marshall III
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 115           Page Goal: 5,755/15,000
Split Second by David Baldacci
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 484           Page Goal: 6,239/15,000
Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 269           Page Goal: 6,508/15,000
The Quickie by James Patterson
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 347           Page Goal: 6,855/15,000
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 326           Page Goal: 7,181/15,000
Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 321           Page Goal: 7,502/15,000
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 167           Page Goal: 7,669/15,000
Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 375           Page Goal: 8,044/15,000
Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 424           Page Goal: 8,468/15,000

May 2012 (876 pages)
The Modern Girl's Guide to Life by Jane Buckingham
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 362           Page Goal: 8,830/15,000
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 514           Page Goal: 9,344/15,000

June 2012 (2,946 pages)
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

July 2012 (1,186 pages)
Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 313           Page Goal: 12,956/15,000
Blaze by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 340           Page Goal: 13,296/15,000
A Girl Named Summer by Julie Garwood
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 176           Page Goal: 13,472/15,000
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 288           Page Goal: 13,760/15,000
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 382           Page Goal: 14,142/15,000

August 2012 (1,444 pages)
Are you there, Vodka? It's me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 264           Page Goal: 14,406/15,000
Play Dirty by Sandra Brown
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 404           Page Goal: 14,810/15,000
Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 449           Page Goal: 15,259/15,000
The Wedding Girl by Madeline Wickham
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 327           Page Goal: 15,586/15,000

September 2012 (1,004 pages)
High Five by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 317           Page Goal: 15,903/15,000
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 311           Page Goal: 16,214/15,000
Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 376           Page Goal: 16,590/15,000

October 2012 (464 pages)
The Fiction Class by Susan Breen
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 296           Page Goal: 16,886/15,000
My Freshman Year by Rebeckah Nathan
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 168           Page Goal: 17,054/15,000

November 2012 (1,710 pages)
Left to Die by Lisa Jackson
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 496           Page Goal: 17,550/15,000
Chosen to Die by Lisa Jackson
Rating: 5/5          Pages: 460           Page Goal: 18,010/15,000
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
Rating: 2/5          Pages: 448           Page Goal: 18,458/15,000
The Search by John Battelle
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 306           Page Goal: 18,764/15,000

December 2012 (1,040 pages)
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatshki Houston & James D. Houston
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 203           Page Goal: 18,967/15,000
Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline
Rating: 3/5          Pages: 410           Page Goal: 19,377/15,000
The Murderers' Club by P.D. Martin
Rating: 4/5          Pages: 427           Page Goal: 19,804/15,000

Audiobooks 2012
You've Been Warned by James Patterson
Sing you Home by Jodi Picoult
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Guilty Wives by James Patterson
Calico Joe by John Grisham
Faith by Jennifer Haigh
It by Stephen King
Come Home by Lisa Scottoline
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

I never would have thought I would read so much while juggling everything on my plate, but I somehow managed! I did get behind on reviews, though, so I will be posting book reviews in the earlier part of 2013 from 2012 still. Sorry about that, friends!

2013's page goal will be.....
21,500 pages
I'm concerned that with all the busyness 2013 will bring, I may not make it, but it's definitely a goal worth trying for.

Out of sheer nerdiness, I love looking at trends, particularly in my reading habits. So, I created a chart of my past 3 years of reading and how many pages I read each month. Super nerdy, right? Well, for those of you other nerds, here is my chart:
Page Goal Progress by month, 2010-2012
I'm sure you all know by now that I manage all my books on Goodreads. I have a shelf, "tbr-bookshelf" which contains books/e-books/audiobooks that I own and have yet to read. Last year at this time, that shelf had 159 unread books. This year, it has 186 unread books. That's horrible! So, one of my other new year resolutions, in addition to the page goal, is to get my TBR pile under 150 unread books. It doesn't sound like it should be that horrible, but this year I read/listened to 67 books. That means I would have to only receive about 30 books, or only two books per month. Horrible, right?!?!? But, it needs to be done--this TBR pile needs to shrink.

Well, this is a little longer of a post than I was expecting, so thanks for sticking with me. 

Questions for my readers:
  1. Will you be setting a page goal New Years Resolution? Or a book goal? Or both?
  2. What are some other New Years Resolutions you have?
  3. For the brave--do YOU know how many books are in your TBR pile?!?!? (warning--don't share this number with the hubby; he'll prevent you from buying more!)
  4. This chart of page goal progress: nerdy, or neat?   

Happy New Year, readers!!!