Dec 172014

If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that I read a lot. Each year you can sign up for a “challenge” to read a certain number of books. In 2012 my goal was to read 77 books and I surpassed that with 109 books total. In 2013 the goal was 100 and I read 119. I decided to challenge myself this year and made my goal for 2014 125 books. As of this week I’ve reached that goal and went over it with a few books! I haven’t decided yet what my 2015 book goal will be. Definitely more than this year, I know that….

I found that having a Kindle made it SO much easier to read more books. Not only did I not have to drive to the library or wait for books to be available, I also got free books on Amazon. Amazon offers a ton of free kindle books, plus if you are an Amazon Prime member you get 1 free book a month. My library also offers eBooks. Sometimes you do have to wait a few weeks or more for the book to be available (which I find weird considering it’s all digital).

This might be the last book post for 2014! Are you looking for a good book to get you through the yucky winter? Never fear! I have recommendations. :) Here are a few good ones I’ve read lately:

1. Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane

What a fantastic series, glad I found it. The writing is crisp and clean, the stories move quickly and I love all the characters. This is the second book in the series and it’s even better than the first. This particular story was extremely dark and there were some pretty terrifying moments.

2. Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson

This is Book 3 in the series. A departure from the other books in the series. The cowboy is taken out of the wilderness in Wyoming and is solving a murder mystery in Philly. Despite being different from the other books, the beloved characters were still involved and the story was great. Walt is a fish out of water in Philly but it works. The story was great, loved the change of scenery and I was sad the book was over.


3. A Dark and Twisted Tide by SJ Bolton

Another great Lacey Flint book. This one was super fascinating. It took a topic I didn’t know much about and spun an interesting and twisted tale. The twist in the finale was so fascinating! I don’t want to give too much away. I recommend this book!

4. Personal by Lee Child

The newest Jack Reacher book! And it is a great one! If you don’t know about the Jack Reacher books, I really recommend them. It’s a series I try to turn everyone on to because I love the books so much. I started the series like 10 years ago and zipped through as many as I could. A few years ago they finally made it into a movie and while I was disappointed they cast Tom Cruise in the role (I had always pictured Vincent D’onofrio as Reacher) the movie was actually pretty good. So if you’re looking for a new series to start, pick this one (another favorite is the Elvis Cole series).

This book was really good and I read it quickly, maybe 2 days total to finish it. The chapters are short and it reads fast. The books COULD be stand alone books but it would probably be better to read them in order. The ending of this book was shocking!


5. The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson

Book #5 in the Longmire series. Another good book from the series. I accidentally read it out of order, but never noticed. The main story was done in the TV series, so if you’ve seen the show you know the ending. Despite that, it was still a good story and it WAS a little different than the tv episode.

6. American Goulash by Stephanie Yuhas

I was given an advance copy of this book from a friend who helped get it published. It’s a short story, only about 160 pages, but it’s a pretty tight, concise book for being so short. It’s a memoir about a Hungarian-American girl growing up in the 80’s with a mentally ill mother and grandmother in New Jersey. Despite the topic being somewhat dark, it was a really light book. It was charming and hilarious in a lot of places. There were a few chapters that I felt could have been cut out, but overall I enjoyed the book. She writes her mother well and I could really picture all of it. The chapter where she got her first period and had no idea what was going on and her mother gave her “The Talk” was hilarious–“You get pregnant I fuck you up”. There were bittersweet moments in the book that I think everyone can find they relate to. Recommend it!

7.  The Witch With No Name (The Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison

The last of the series…Sad! I discovered the first book about 10 years ago. I remember I took it with me on a camping trip and spent most of the time devouring it. The series was pretty good, there were some books and some plot twists here and there that fell flat for me but for the most part the series kept it’s integrity and kept me reading. I loved the main characters and thankfully this series never got horrible like the Anita Blake series did (man I wish the author hadn’t ruined THAT series!).

So how was the final book? Not great. I included it in this post because I really did love most of the series and if you are looking for a new series to read, check it out. Despite that, the last book of the series was kind of a mess. The story was hard to follow, the writing was all over the place and many of the characters didn’t seem true to their character throughout the books. That was disappointing.

8. Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson

Book #4 in the Longmire series. (See above, I read this book out of order.) Another good book in the series. This one had two stories going at the same time–one took place during Walt’s time in Vietnam. Both stories converge at the end and wrap up nicely. That’s what I love about this author–the stories always work well and aren’t convoluted.

9. Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

Book 4 in the series. It sucked you in immediately. The writing was fast paced and actually quite hilarious despite the somber topic. The writing always impresses me. Several of his books have been made into movies. I could have sworn that I remembered this one so I checked my Netflix and yep, I’d seen the movie many years ago and apparently I only rated it 2 stars…The book is so good, though. Maybe I need to watch the movie again now that I’ve read the book? It’s apparently been long enough since I saw the movie that I didn’t remember the major plot points OR the whodunit. So that was good.

The book is great and I was happy that there were new awesome characters and they also brought back some of the old favorites (like Bubba). The story was dark and twisted and there were so many layers to it. The whole book had me hooked start to finish.

10. Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane

Book 5 in the series. How did I not discover this author sooner?? His books are amazing. So incredibly powerful and well written. It’s a different story than the other 4 in the PI series. Patrick wasn’t technically “hired” as a detective to solve the whodunit but thank goodness he insinuated himself. The layers of this story are just amazing as they unfold. The story and characters involved in this compelling book are twisted and shocking and kept me on the edge of my seat. I think I read the book in two days.

Hope you enjoy some of these recommendations! Happy reading!

Nov 042014

Okay, maybe not really beach reading but I did read some of these books on my honeymoon!

I also read the second Harry Potter book at the beach. I read the first one when the movie first came out and disliked it. It was too childish. I gave up on the series, never saw any of the other movies and then last winter Michael and I decided to have a Harry Potter marathon and I found myself really enjoying the films. I started to think, maybe I should give it another try. So many people had loved the series (but they also loved Twilight, which I hated…). I decided to try again. I was told the books got better and more adult as the series went on. I really, really liked the second book. It was a fast read. I think I read it in two beach days in Maui. The writing was still juvenile, obviously, but not as bad as the first one. I will be continuing with the series!


As you can see in the above photo my Kindle is underneath that brave bird that decided to try and eat my lunch (he failed). I have to say, taking my Kindle to Hawaii was fantastic! This was the first real vacation where I’d used it and it’s SO much better than lugging a suitcase full of books (last time we were in Hawaii I was working through the Game of Thrones series and had several of the books with me–that was heavy and a pain in the butt).

Now for a few other recommendations:

1. Remains of Innocence by JA Jance

What a great book! I’ve been a fan of the Joanna Brady series for years and this is the newest installment and one of the best ones yet. The book was gripping and I couldn’t put it down. There were actually two story lines through it and they eventually converged. I also liked the main character of the secondary story, Liza, and hope they figure out a way to work her into other books.

2. Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

This book read like a memoir and reading through the interview with the author at the back of the book it was based on her own life and struggles with alcoholism so it kind of was…just turned into fiction. Because of that it often read like a memoir and that left me feeling a little disjointed with the character’s voice vs. the author’s voice. It felt like it was at battle at times.

Why I didn’t LOVE the book — the actual alcoholism part wasn’t really discussed much. There were a few chapters, a few paragraphs here and there where she described the alcoholism and what happened but I never felt like it was enough. Like she didn’t hit ROCK BOTTOM…There were glimpses of rock bottom but not much detail. I feel like the author could have developed this part of the story more instead of focusing so much on her relationship with the kid. The very long dialogues and interactions with the 5 year old kid felt a little boring to me. I wanted to read more about the fall and then the rise back up. Despite those minor annoyances, it was a pretty good book and I liked the author’s writing style and character development.

3. The Cold Dish: A Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson

Loved it! Started reading the series after watching the TV show (which I also loved). Kind of wish I’d read the books first because some of the characters are not the same as the TV show and that made it a little confusing. Good story, great writing. Looking forward to the rest of the books.

4. O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather

I read this for my book club and really, really enjoyed it. I might not have picked it up on my own but I’m glad we chose this book. It was short and easy to read. I loved the characters and the stories inner-twining. For such a short book the character and plot development was magnificent!

5. Ancient Enemy by Mark Lukens

What a great book!! It was definitely not what I was expecting. I bought it because I’ve been fascinated with the Anasazi lore forever and this was a new and interesting (and very believable) twist on the old theories…with some horror added to it! Great read!


4. Death Without Company: A Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson

Another great Longmire mystery! Loving this series!

5. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

This book was perfect — from beginning to end, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was brilliant. The twist that reveals itself fairly early on in the book is amazing. Seriously, just so cool and it made the “traditional” survival book so unique. I LOVED this book and cannot recommend it enough.

This is a zombie book but it’s SO different from all the rest that are flooding the market these days. It’s an interesting twist and I love who is telling the story.

6. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea what it was going to be about really and as the story unfolded I was surprised by the big “event” and the ending left me feeling sad for the main characters but I still liked the story. It’s interesting reading a story like this from that time period. It tackled some really big issues–feminism, lesbianism, birth control, women’s right to vote, the list goes on and on.


As always, here is my GoodReads profile. Friend me and we can share book reads!