Friday, December 31, 2010

December - a month to remember

Well I end the year on a low book count, but December was full of fun nights with family and friends! I will start 2011 as my first full year of blogging and I am beyond excited to see what this year holds!

Books completed:

1. A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted
2. Unless it Moves the Human Heart by Roger Rosenblatt (to be reviewed in Jan. 2011)
3. Three Weddings and a Bar Mitvah by Melody Carlson
4. Little Princes by Conor Grennan (to be reviewed in Jan. 2011)
5. All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins
6. Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? by Perry Romanski (to be reviewed in Feb. 2011)
7. I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
8. Everything I Was by Corinne Demas (to be reviewed in April 2011)
9. Just Don't Call Me Ma'am by Anna Mitchael
10. The Frugalista Files by Natalie McNeal (to be reviewed in Jan. 2011)
11. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer (to be reviewed in Jan. 2011)

12. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood (to be reviewed in Jan. 2011)

Total pages read: 3,214

End of Year Happenings:

**A holiday work party, a girls night in, and a visit to the National tree - all in three days. December was jam packed with fun times with family and friends.

**A lull in reading at the beginning of the month, but with a few days at home finishing up shopping and wrapping, I was able to make some time for some quality reading!

**A nook under the Christmas tree has given me some renewed sense of saving money by perusing my over 3,000 ebooks at the library and getting through the NetGalley lists!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Just Don't Call Me Ma'am by Anna Mitchael

Goodreads: Anna Mitchael is like a lot of women you know. In fact, she may even be a lot like you. In her fast-moving world, she might be called on as a friend, coworker, daughter, girlfriend, confidante, brat, cynic or domestic-goddess-in-training. She's willing to juggle pretty much anything that gets thrown her way, but the one label she simply won't embrace is ma'am.

Like so many bright-eyed college graduates before her, Mitchael begins her twenties armed with the conviction that the world is hers for the taking. And she discovers that it is, mostly - only no one told her just how often she'd have to pick herself up off the floor along the way.

Kritters Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book. A great memoir with some humor and truth, mixed with great stories of a single gal taking on her late 20s. I loved how each chapter was named by something she would rather be called other than ma'am - so within each chapter was one story or more that made the point as to why she could be called the other name.

This book reminded me of Jennifer Lancaster's type of humorous memoirs - although if snarky comedy isn't your thing, you would enjoy Anna Mitchael much better. She included humor, but she avoided being the snarky, snippy humor that Lancaster is known for. I enjoy reading books where the main character is the same age as I am and enduring the same work experiences or life experiences that I have or am currently in.

I think that this book would appeal to an audience, although that audience may be selective due to the age of the "character." I would pass this along to my female readers who are fans of memoirs, especially with the author being in her late 20s.
Rating:absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 248

GR Oct-Dec Challenge - Fall for Books

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out with a Bang Challenge

A challenge hosted by The Bookish Type and Book-Savvy to finish out 2010 with the last few reads on the pile.

With the last few days off, I have had my own read a thon, but I head back to work tomorrow (29th). I will be participating as much as I can while also catching up on work things. I will have Friday off to read, read and read.

I am not sure what I will be reading, but I will be keeping my nose in a book as much as I can!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

Goodreads: "I, Emma Freke, am not a freak. Or maybe I am. I just don't know."

What's in a name? I, Emma Freke is a charming search-for-identity story about Emma - the only "normal" member of her quirky family. Her flighty, New Age mom seems to barely have time for a daughter, especially one who annoyingly spoils her mom's youthful facade. Emma's well-meaning grandpa is clueless. And her only friends are the local librarian and a precocious 10-year old adopted by the two ladies next door.

Smart, shy, and nearly six feet tall, Emma struggles to fit in at school, so she jumps at the opportunity to "home school" until that too turns into another of mom's half-baked ideas.

The real crisis comes when she gets an invitation to The Freke Family Reunion, and her fellow Frekes aren't at all what she expects. While Emma desperately tries to find her niche, she discovers that perhaps it's better to be her own "freak" than someone else's Freke.

Kritters Thoughts: A cute little MG read that I absolutely enjoyed. From reading about her very unusual home life to taking a trip to meet the entire extended family, this book was a great little read.

Often, I don't read MG just because I don't think of myself as a great audience for it. But more often than not, I realize that I can still appreciate and remember the clicks in high school and the outsiders. Although, my family life was on the opposite spectrum of how Emma Freke grew up, it was great to read how one girl is completely affected by the ways of her mother and grandfather. When she visits with her extended family on her father's side, I loved how the flip got switched and she fit in and felt a part of a clan.

As far as what sometimes turns me off to YA - is the characters. At times I can relate, but sometimes I just find the characters to be too whiny or not really depicted as the age that they are really. SO if I haven't thoroughly confused you with my random thoughts - I loved these characters, believable and great to read.

A book that I would pass on to both my older and younger readers for very different reasons. Both groups would enjoy this cute little read at any time of the year.

Rating: perfect beach read

Pages: 240

GR Oct - Dec Challenge - Pronouns

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Monday, What are you Reading (2)

Welp - I have read a ton since the last time I posted due to some holiday time.

I will be enjoying two more days - Monday and Tuesday, home from the office to clean up Christmas and enjoy the new Nook (more on that later!).

From Bookjourney, here is It's Monday! What are you Reading:

Reading on my Nook - The Frugalista Files by Natalie McNeal

Listening to in the Car - Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

Old School Paper Reading - none at the moment

So, I am trying out a new format for What are you Reading, any thoughts on the best way to format to stay organized and continue participating in the meme?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Our "family" of 3 is spending this Christmas, waking up in our house and exchanging presents under our own tree for the first time! My experiment with gingerbread waffles will occur - if a success you will definitely hear about it!

Then it will be off to my parents house to spend the rest of the day - opening presents, eating, playing with gifts and possibly eating some more!

A picture of us at the National Christmas Tree, a new tradition. We are only on year 2!

I hope you and your family have a great holiday season!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Our first christmas tree together!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins


One Happily-Ever-After Rocking Chair…

and no sign of any forthcoming babies to rock in ol' Georgebury, Vermont. For Callie Grey, turning thirty means coming to grips with the fact that her boss (and five-week fling) is way overdue in his marriage proposal. And way off track because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company's new Miss Perfect. If that isn't bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a three-oh birthday bash in the family funeral home.

Bad goes to worse when she stirs up a crazy relationship with the town's not so warm and fuzzy veterinarian, Ian McFarland, in order to flag Mark's attention. So Ian is more comfortable with animals…. So he's formal, orderly and just a bit tense. The ever-friendly, fun-loving and spontaneous Callie decides it's time for Ian to get a personality makeover. But dang, if he doesn't shock the heck out of her, she might actually fall for Vermont's unlikeliest eligible bachelor….

Kritters Thoughts: A quick little light read. I loved it. It was definitely on the cute side - made you go AWWWW. But for something light and enjoyable - it hit the spot! This was my first Kristan Higgins book and I will definitely make time for more of her reads when I am in the mood for something cute.

A story about a young woman who hasn't quite found her place yet. She is a people pleaser and doesn't quite now how to please herself, which I believe is vital before anyone can properly please others. Her family is quirky and interesting which provided for some entertainment. This book is far from a "smart" read and not anywhere near the deep end. There were a few times where Callie made some decisions that I thought dragged the story out longer than it should, but I would say in general I liked this one.

Unfortunately, I would only pass this book on to my lady friends. I don't think the men would enjoy this read at all. Too light and cute!

Rating:definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Pages: 318

GR Oct-Dec Challenge - Quantifiers

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (1)

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It's Monday! What are you Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

So I am ending 2010 by starting to be a part of a new meme. Now I have to warn everyone, this may not occur every week, but definitely every so often. Who knows you could see it pop up every week.

I had a great weekend finishing Little Princes by Conor Grennan, this review will appear after the new year.

I am currently in the middle of All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins.
I have no clue what is next on deck!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (19)

Here is what arrived over the last week!

A happy Saturday morning when THE envelope arrived with my big winnings from Chick Loves Lit! I did a very big happy dance!

I know The Story Siren isn't doing IMM, but I just couldn't resist sharing my fun packages from this past week!

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (audio) - Thanks Metroreader!
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern - Thanks Shelf Awareness

Envelope winnings from Chick Loves Lit:
Choker by Elizabeth Woods
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Perfection by Julie Metz
Wildthorn by Jane England
Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman

What arrived in your mailbox?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2011 Challenges

With the new year comes new challenges - reading challenges that is! I don't want to overwhelm my first FULL year of blogging with too many challenges to keep track of. Seeing as I didn't complete one from 2010.

2011 Where are you Reading Challenge

One challenge I will partake in is 2011 Where are you Reading Challenge by Sheila at BookJourney.

I have set up a google map and will be putting dots where each of the books I complete in 2011 took place. You can see the google map here or you can click the button I have added on my right sidebar!

Goodreads Red Dress Ink Challenges

I will be continuing my participation in the quarterly Red Dress Ink Challenges in the Red Dress Ink Fan group on Goodreads.

Off the Shelf Challenge

An easy task to keep track of and I think to accomplish in a year - I am signing up to encourage myself to read off my overflowing shelves instead of acquiring new ones in 2011. I am going to sign myself up for a higher level, so hopefully with a goal I will work hard to achieve it!

So I will be On a Roll - choose 50 books to read. I haven't done my choosing, I think I will hope that they will fly off the shelf for me!

Head over to Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges to join this challenge for 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Dad, me and JP on the field at the Redskins game!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Three Weddings and a Bar Mitvah by Melody Carlson

Goodreads: In the final installment of the 86 Bloomberg Place series, Melody Carlson follows the girls in a crazed competition of bridesmaids, wedding locations and showers.

Newly engaged Lelani has returned from Maui to Bloomberg Place and is trying to book her wedding date. Unfortunately, there are scheduling conflicts for that same weekend. For starters, Megan and Marcus have a family wedding commitment. Anna and Edmond have promised to attend is younger stepbrother's Bar Mitvah and, to everyone's surprise, Kendall just accepted her "Maui Man's" proposal of marriage and also wants to be wed on that first weekend in June. Wedding madness ensues at 86 Bloomberg Place, yet at the same time friendships are being forged that will last a lifetime.

Kritters Thoughts: The last of a series, this book was read to complete the stories of four girls that I had been following for some time. I read the rest of the series before this blog was even a thought on my radar.

A cute and sweet Christian fiction and chick lit read, I enjoyed following these four ladies through all their ups and downs. Although there were definitely some cheesy moments, this book had heart and actually a little bit of drama. I enjoyed that life wasn't all happy sunshines and there was some parental drama, future in law drama and of course boy drama!

As for who I would pass this book along to - most of my women readers would love this little novel, but I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning of the series and enjoy each read.
Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Pages: 320

GR Oct - Dec Challenge - Quantifiers

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox (18)

These are the books that arrived over the past two weeks! I am waiting on a very fun package from a great contest I won!!

Falling Home by Karen White - thanks Book Chick!

PBS and Bookmooch:
Temporary Insanity by Leslie Carroll

Dan Knight's Journey by Edward Smith

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted

Goodreads: Lizbet and Cassie are sisters and, though they've always wanted different things, best friends as well. But that's about to change.

Cassie is skinny, clever, charismatic, successful - every not-so-perfect girl's worst nightmare. The one defect in her quality-controlled life may be her marriage.

Lizbet is plumper, plainer, dreamier. She's desperate to make her name as a journalist, but is stuck writing embarrassing articles on sex for a men's magazine. Her one achievement is her relationship with Tim, who thinks she's amusing and smart - even when she asks ditzy questions.

Confronted by challenges that they never asked for, enticed by new loves, and forced apart by mistakes not their own, will Cassie and Lizbet ever figure out how to get back to the simple goodness of their sisterhood, even as their lives take them on a collision course of heartache and new beginnings?

Kritters Thoughts: Ehhh. An alright read, nothing great but not horrible. It wasn't the Brit in the book that made it less than desirable, it was the vast amount of drama. I felt as though every chapter ended with some kind of dramatic event that was more intense than it should have been. I got whiplash from everything that happened.

I don't think I will be passing this along to anyone I know. By the end of the book, I don't think anything else could have occurred to these sisters. You name it, they had it happen to them. It was just a little too much for this book. I think a few things could have been cut and the story could have still been complete.

Rating: not such a good read

Pages: 368

GR Oct - Dec Challenge - Homophones

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Sunset Park by Paul Aster

Goodreads: Sunset Park follows the hopes and fears of a cast of unforgettable characters brought together by the mysterious Miles Heller during the dark months of the 2008 economic collapse.

An enigmatic young man employed as a trash-out worker in southern Florida obsessively photographing thousands of abandoned objects left behind by the evicted families.

A group of young people squatting in an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The Hospital for Broken Things, which specializes in repairing the artifacts of a vanished world.

William Wyler's 1946 classic The Best Years of Our Lives.

A celebrated actress preparing to return to Broadway.

An independent publisher desperately trying to save his business and his marriage.

These are just some of the elements Auster magically weaves together in this immensely moving novel about contemporary America and its ghosts.Sunset Park is a surprising departure that confirms Paul Auster as one of our greatest living writers.

Kritters Thoughts: A very interesting read. There are some aspects of it that I liked, but there were definitely some things I wasn't a fan of. The story itself was great. It was a departure from my normal read, but a story worth the read.

One thing I did not like at all was his lack of using quotation marks. Now I know this may sound petty, but I had the hardest time when conversations flowing figuring out who was doing the talking. You never know what you are missing, until you trying reading a book without them - it was rough.

The ending - without spoiling the book, I did not enjoy. It was one of those books that cuts off to soon and could have gone on for just a bit longer. I got attached to the main character - Miles Heller and I wanted to see him through the struggles that he has to face in the book.

As to who I would recommend this book to - definitely my adult readers, there is some sexual language that at times was a little harsh.

Rating:definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Pages: 320

GR Oct - Dec Challenge - Title Relay

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Google Analytics

OK blog friends. I have spent crazy amount of hours trying to figure out google analytics and am having the hardest time pasting my code into my blog template.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Goodreads: Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng— City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love—and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Kritters Thoughts: What a great read. I had to sit for a day and start another book to completely digest what I had just consumed. Just knowing that it was based on a real couple made me read this book with even more depth.

A book based on a couple who are missionaries in China - a world very different from America. After many many years in China they return to the US and feel as though they are aliens in their homeland because both them and their "home" has changed drastically.

I had this book hit so close to home because my maternal grandparents were missionaries in Pakistan. In fact, my mom was born over there while they were in the field. While I read this book, I kept imagining what hardships they endured and what different traditions they adopted while doing the work they loved. This job completely affects the whole family, including extended, who may not get to see their loved ones due to the cost of visits and inability to return with ease.

I am passing this book specifically onto my mom because she will definitely enjoy reading a story of missionaries and maybe see a glimpse of what her parents did. As far as others, I think this is a great story for those who like to read a bit of history with some heartfelt stories intertwined.

Rating:definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Pages: 304

GR Oct - Dec Challenge - Title Relay

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful for November

Books consumed:

1. Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner
2. Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
4. Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl
5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
6. My Life as a Doormat by Rene Gutteridge
7. Letters to Ethan by Tom McQueen
8. The Long Road Home by Mary Alice Monroe
9. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
10. Sunset Park by Paul Auster

The Highlight Reel:

** 6 months of blogging completed, excited to finish out a whole year!

** reviewed some ARCs that were out of my comfort zone and LOVED it!

** celebrated a great Thanksgiving with a lot of family in town, yummo

** received my Book Blogger Holiday Swap gift and sent mine off!
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