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I'm back from a wonderful holiday vacation to Cancun, Mexico, and ready to write my year in review post 🙂 Here is how the year broke down book wise:

I read a total of 94 books in 2014, well over my goodreads goal of 75. Breaking it down by month we have the following:

January..........5 books

February..........6 books

March.............9 books

April............6 books

May............7 books

June...........9 books

July...........9 books

August.........5 books

September...........8 books

October...........8 books

November..........11 books

December..........11 books

As I would have expected, June and July were higher months, since I spend a lot of the summer at our beach house reading by the pool/ocean. November was high thanks to the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon I participated in, and I read 4 books during the week on was on vacation in December!

The three longest books I read were The Goldfinch (771 pages), Hello From the Gillespies (624), and All the Light We Cannot See (531 pages). Total pages read in 2014............31,406!

Here are my 5 star books for the year 2014:






Let It Snow

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train LetItSnowand sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today's bestselling authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle - bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

My review.........3 stars

It's been a while since the holiday read-a-thon, and I still have a few holiday stories I'd like to get to this year, this being one of them. I liked this book, but didn't love it. The first story, by Maureen Johnson, was adorable, and I would have given that one 4 or 4.5 stars as a stand-alone book. The other two were somewhat "meh" for me. They weren't awful, and they were a quick read, but nothing outstanding about either. I did really like the fact that the book, composed of 3 different stories by 3 authors, does take place over the same time period, and the characters do interact at various points in each story. That was a clever writing surprise.

This would be a fun, fast read that could be consumed during the Christmas festivities, when your attention may not be at it's best (with all the distractions of the season). However, if you have not read My True Love Gave to Me, that would be my pick for a seasonal short story collection.




If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.


My review...........4 stars


I can't believe it.......I really liked this book!! I'd heard so many good reviews about this one, and was reluctant to try it for two reasons. It deals with time travel, which ranks right up there with my hatred of aliens, zombies, spirits and ghosts. And it's written by an author whose previous book (The Interestings) I did not like. I decided since it was a rather short book, and it was in the young adult category, that it would be a quick read, even if not my cup of tea. No one was more surprised than me that I couldn't put it down! The characters were so well written, and the plot was so compelling, I had to see what was going to happen!


The title is in reference to the book that the Special Topics in English class is studying, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I had read this book way back either in high school, or shortly thereafter, and considered whether I should re-read it before starting this. It's really not necessary, there are a few references to the book, but nothing that would require you to even have read that book previous to reading this one.


If it weren't for the fact that there was the issue with time travel (which had to be included or there would have been no story!), this would have been a 5 star for me! Pick this one up if you want a book that you will fly through in one or two sittings!



Saving Grace

Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime SavingGraceassistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.  To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.  With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

Powerful and riveting, Jane Green's Saving Grace will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back. 

My review...........4 stars       

I really enjoyed this one. It was an interesting story, the text flowed well, there were characters you loved and disliked. I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen at the end. Essentially all the qualities I like in my books.

I did have a few issues that kept me from the 5 star ranking. I was annoyed several times in the book with Grace. I really just wanted her to stand up for herself and not be so wishy-washy. She was a professional woman, and while I know there are plenty of them who stay in bad marriages, that didn't mean I had to like it. I can't really say more about this without revealing spoilers (which I never want to do). There are also recipes at the end of most chapters which I found annoying. I would have been fine with them at the end of the book, but I thought they were out of place (even though they were briefly mentioned within the chapter) and distracting.

I received an advance copy of this to review. This novel will be released on Dec. 30th, 2014. Overall a good read, I would recommend it. If you like your female characters to have a lot of backbone though, this may not work for you.



Welcome to my new series about my visual issues with books. From time to time, I'll be delving into the fact that book covers really are the first thing to draw me in.  Will I read books with what (to me) is a so-so or ugly cover? Of course I will, but only if it's been recommended, or it's an author I already know I have liked in the past. When I walk into a bookstore, I'm going to be drawn to certain book covers, and will then pick up the book to see what it is about. I don't have time to read every synopsis on every book, so if you are a new (to me) author, I'm probably going to pass you by with a boring/ugly cover. Honestly, I might even buy a pretty book for my shelf that I don't even end up reading, because it's just SO appealing! Somehow I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way (although maybe not to my degree of craziness!).

Today's post is about the new Sophie Kinsella book Shopaholic to the Stars. I am a fan of this series, and have most of the others on my shelf, so I was excited to pick this one up.

Until I saw it..............








Yuck! First of all, it doesn't even come close to matching any of the other books. It's just plain boring, and I hate yellow! Why did I not know before it's release that this was the cover? I happen to follow Sophie on twitter, and this was not the cover she had been showing. Where was that cover? Once I did a bit of research (see, I told you I was a bit obsessed with covers), I realized that she lives in the UK.

THIS is the UK cover:








There was just no way I was going to have this cover out there, and have to settle for the ugly yellow one on my shelf! I bought the UK version from a seller on amazon (paid as much for the paperback as I would have for the US hardcover), had to wait several weeks for it to get here, but it was worth it........this one is so cute 🙂

Stay tuned in the coming weeks, I will be featuring other books that I have been drawn to because of their covers! Anyone else have a love affair with book covers?


The Evolution of Alice


THIS HAUNTING, EMOTIONALLY RESONANT STORY delivers us into the world of Alice, a single mother raising her three young daughters on the rez where she grew up. Alice has never had an easy life, but has managed to get by with the support of her best friend, Gideon, and her family. When an unthinkable loss occurs, Alice is forced onto a different path, one that will challenge her belief in TheEvolutionOfAliceherself and the world she thought she knew. The Evolution of Alice is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community. Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, this is a novel where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters.


My review...........3 stars


This was a well written story dealing with loss, and how it is dealt with. I was happy to read a book about Native Americans, and would have liked even more details about life on a reservation, and the treatment of those in the rez community. It is touched on briefly a few times, but I thought there could have been more. Alice and her best friend Gideon are both very well written. Gideon's grandfather and Alice's ex-husband were good additions to the story, but there were some other side characters that I didn't feel were needed. They got in the way of my totally enjoying it.


This is not a happy story, there are many depressing and sad parts, but the love Alice has for her children shines through beautifully! If you like stories with great characterization, and the resiliency of people through tough times, this would be a great book for you. Thanks to netgalley for giving me a copy of this for review.



A Second Bite at the Apple


Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it--though she does that too--but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs--until she's left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers' market.
Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn't going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp--along with her relationship and her reputation.


My  review.............4 stars


This one was a fun read, especially after my last two books (which I was not overly enthusiastic about). We start out at a network morning show, then move into farmers markets, then delve into writing food blogs. Throw in some family dynamics involving an upcoming wedding for her sister, a new love interest with a questionable past, and a big break destined to create all kinds of havoc for all kinds of people. I was laughing out loud several times (most notable was the scene at the Kennedy Center fountain), and then shaking my head knowing things were not going to go well. It had a great mix of characters, and the main characters were well written. Even though I was annoyed with some of them at times, it was written so that you understood why they did what they did. I didn't dislike any of the characters, they stayed true to themselves.


I thought the ending was a bit rushed, but other than that, I really enjoyed this one. It also gets kudos for the cute cover (I'm such a sucker for a cute cover)! I received an advance copy of this book through netgalley, but the release day is today. Go ahead and pick this one up. It's a light read, and even has recipes at the end!



Leaving Time


For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the LeavingTimepages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.


My review.........1 star


This is the most difficult review I've done since starting my blog. There are some in the blogging world who don't review books that they did not like (rather than leave a bad review), and I thought about whether I should do that with this book. Then I went to Goodreads to see if anyone out there felt the same way I did (since the reviews I'd read for this were all glowing)? Well there were people who felt as I did, and the interesting part was that all of us have read several books by Picoult, and loved them. Nineteen Minutes is one of my top 5 books of all time, and My Sister's Keeper and Harvesting the Heart are also favorites. I decided to forge ahead, because I feel that as long as a review is not malicious, everyone's opinion will be worth it to someone when choosing to read a book.


So exactly what was my problem with this book? I was about halfway through, when I remember thinking "I'm halfway through this book, and NOTHING has happened"! There is a lot of information about elephants in the book, and while I like elephants and find them interesting, there was way too much about them.......frankly, it got boring to me. Maybe I need to stay away from the animal books by Picoult (I remember skipping all the wolf parts in a previous book because I got sick of reading about them). Almost all of Jodi's books have some sort of moral dilemma for the reader (which I love), but I'm not sure what it was supposed to be in this one. Doesn't everyone agree that we shouldn't mistreat elephants (if that was even what it was)?  I also knew I was in trouble when I realized there was a psychic involved. Let me state (again), I am not a fan of ghosts, spirits, angels, aliens, zombies, etc. I very rarely stop reading a book (especially one I plunked down money on), but I might have on this one, but there was this HUGE buzz about the twist at the end. Everyone was going crazy on social media, so I trudged on. The ending (which I'm not going to give away), was the most batsh*t crazy thing I've ever read, and not crazy in a good way! People were saying that the ending had them crying! The only thing I wanted to cry about was that I wasted my time with this one.


This is where I tell you that I am one of a few who did not like this book. And if you are a fan of Jodi Picoult you will like it. Well I am a fan, but this one I just did not like. I will look forward to the next novel, but I may do my research next time before just buying it because of the author. And isn't that what we all should be doing anyway? Lesson learned 🙂



Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel

Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.

MrMiracleAfter trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.

Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.

Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.

My review...........2 stars

This is the last of my holiday reviews (from the holiday read-a-thon), although that doesn't mean that I won't pick up another book in December from my stash 🙂

This one was my least favorite of all that I read. First of all, let it be said that I don't like books about anything other than real people (no ghosts, angels, aliens, zombies, etc.). Obviously that was going to be a problem with this book. I decided to try it out because I read some good reviews for it, and thought maybe it would change my mind about these kinds of books. Didn't happen. I thought the whole angel thing was silly, I hated the woman who tries to seduce him, the whole plot with Addie and Erich seemed really contrived, plus there was no character development to even make me like them!

I think this is my last book I'll be reading by this author. I tried one a few months ago (Love Letters), and didn't like that one either (and I don't think it had any I'm no literary snob, but her writing is just too simplistic for me. I don't know how to describe it any better than that. It never really draws me in.

I probably should have given this only 1 star, but it got 2 because it is a holiday themed book (and I'm a sucker for them), and the cover was pretty 🙂


The Little Christmas Kitchen

Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food. But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.
TheLittleChristmasKitchenNow, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London… and her Dad.

But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

My review............4 stars

This was a book I picked up from netgalley, to read/review while participating in the holiday read-a-thon. What a wonderful surprise this turned out to be! When the book starts off, you have these two sisters (who are both a bit whiny and self centered), but as it evolves, you get totally pulled into their stories and struggles. It kept me totally engaged, and even though I knew it was probably going to have a happy ending, I wanted to see how it got there. It was a nice spin to have a Christmas book where part of it is set in a warm climate, you usually get the snow/cold scenario for most holiday books.

Now let's talk about the food! There is a huge emphasis on Greek food (the mum is the owner of a Greek restaurant). Oh my goodness, you will want to run to your nearest Greek restaurant, the descriptions of the food are heavenly!

I think the only thing that bothered me about the book was how the father ended up in this dive of a bar in London? I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but I was kind of shaking my head at why the author threw this in, when (to me) it didn't fit at all with something he would do.

I've never read anything by this author. I believe she is a UK author, but she has another Christmas book out (The Parisian Christmas Bake Off) that I'm definitely planning to pick up before next holiday season.