Fiber Fool

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2014 Reading So Far

Filed under: Books — Kristi at 3:43 pm on Friday, February 7, 2014

First of all, thank you to those who have expressed your support. Things are not looking quite as dire now as when I posted on Wednesday, though no conclusions will be had until probably next Friday or perhaps the following Monday. I’m not comfortable getting into any specifics until more is known. But please know your support and positive thoughts and prayers are of great comfort and are truly appreciated!

First Batch of 2014 Reading

I blew away my record for books read in a year last year - 123! Almost double what my initial challenge of 64 was. This year I decided on 104 - 2 books per week. I’m well ahead right now, but you never know when that pace might change. So far I’ve finished 16 books. That’s way too many to go over in a blog post so I’m just listing them below with a rough idea of genre and a link to my reviews on Goodreads.

  • Paradise Falls by Ruth Ryan Langan - 4 stars, contemporary holiday romance
  • The Fireside Inn by Lily Everett - 3 stars (ARC novella), contemporary romance
  • Only Mine by Susan Mallery - 3.5 stars, contemporary small town romance, book 4 of the Fool’s Gold series
  • Maiden Rock by Mary Logue - 3 stars, contemporary soft procedural mystery, 6th in the Claire Watkins series
  • Spiraling by Rachel Cross - 3.5 stars (ARC), contemporary sports romance
  • Heather Ross Prints by Heather Ross - 3 stars - non-fiction crafting/sewing
  • Live by Mary Ann Rivers - 4 stars (ARC), contemporary romance, 1st in the Burnside series
  • Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin - 4 stars - non fiction cookbook/food preservation
  • A Function of Murder by Ada Madison - 3 stars, cozy mystery, 3rd in the Sophie Knowles series
  • Be Mine Forever by Marina Adair - 3.5 stars (ARC), contemporary romance, 4th in the St. Helena’s Vineyard series (though I hadn’t read any of the prior books and it was just fine)
  • Slice of Heaven by Sheryl Woods - 3.5 stars, contemporary small town romance, 2nd in the Sweet Magnolias series
  • Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman - 4 stars (ARC, available June 2014) - non-fiction cookbook
  • Fault Line by Sarah Andrews - 4 stars, cozy mystery, takes place just before the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics so the timing while accidental was nice, 7th in the Em Hansen series
  • Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson - 4 stars, contemporary mystery, first in the Baker Street series
  • Haunted by Heather Graham - 4 stars, contemporary paranormal romantic suspense, first in the Harrison Investigations series
  • Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson - 3 stars, contemporary western procedural mystery, 4th in the Walt Longmire series

As you can imagine I’m liking escapist reads right now. Nothing too heavy in topic. But I would love some recommendations as my several year stint of cozies has grown a bit tiresome and I am mostly just revisiting a select set of series I’m well invested in. The past 12-18 month stint of small town romances is getting quite stale too (really, you climb into bed without protection and then are surprised when you are pregnant at the end of the book? *sigh*). So I’m open for suggestions! What has been your most favorite read in the past year?

Weeks 12-14 Reads: Lots of Escape Reading

Filed under: Books — Kristi at 11:15 am on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In my blogging break I obviously fell way behind on my book reviews. So I’ll be catching up a bit over the next week or so. As always, you can stay on top of my reading most by connecting to me on Goodreads. I’m also on LibraryThing and Shelfari, though I only update those in spits and spurts (mostly due to the lack of a phone app for those). My Shelfari is kind of nuts because I catalog my Kindle books there and pick up a lot of the freebies for loaning out so I don’t really recommend that one.

Has anyone tried the new social book site that popped up when Amazon acquired Goodreads, Booklikes.com? I’ve heard a few recommendations, but am loath to add another site to the list. Have you joined?

Only Flesh and Bones by Sarah AndrewsOnly Flesh and Bones by Sarah Andrews - 4 stars. Once I hit my stride in Only Flesh and Bones it was hard for me to stop. I wanted to see what Em was going to uncover next and how she was going to get herself in trouble - something she never fails to disappoint us with. There were elements of this book I found somewhat rare for the genre - the crime was around a year old and the focus of the investigation was a dead woman. The only way we got to know her was through journals. It was an enjoyable change of pace, but didn’t stray too far from what I expected.

I very much enjoyed this read and will do my best to not let so much time lapse before I dive into book 5! See full review here.

Wined and Died by Cricket McRaeWined and Died by Cricket McRae - 3 stars. If you enjoy crafty cozies like Monica Ferris’ Needlecraft series or perhaps Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series, but have an eclectic taste in crafting interests I think this series is worth reading. This craft-centric cozy mystery series took a little while to grow on me. I think it took a couple of books to really connect to the characters. Unlike many crafty cozies, this series highlights a wide variety of crafts instead of just one. There are always a handful of tips and recipes for DIY bath and beauty products in each of the books but deep down, she loves learning and exploring DIYing of all types.

In the end, the plot did not strike me as terribly complex, though I did not fully settle on the culprit until very near the reveal. I enjoyed the book and seeing Sophie Mae and Barr’s married relationship form and the growing pains of her business. The sprinkling of brewing information was interesting to me as we have done a bit of it ourselves and I think that actually helped carry the story a bit. Ultimately, I think my prior connection with the characters and the crafting elements carried this book for me more than the mystery element. I still look forward to see what Sophie Mae is going to dip her fingers into next! See full review here.

Soulless by Gail CarrigerSoulless by Gail Carriger - 4.5 stars. Take a Victorian era London where werewolves, vampires and other supernatural beings are free to roam as desired as long as they are registered and add zeppelins, glassicles and other interesting inventions. Then throw in a mid-twenties woman with no soul, literally, who is scientifically minded and not prone to the typical niceties of the era and is surrounded by superficial half sisters and a mother similar to the Bennett girls of Pride and Prejudice who are unaware of her soulless state and there is little to not love. Pit this woman against a government official who also happens to be a recently adopted pack leader of the area werewolves and sparks will start flying.

Gail Carriger has built a wonderful alternate London, weaving supernatural and steampunk elements into a rich world for her Parasol Protectorate series. Her characters I found equally rich and well developed. Of course, I most loved Alexia with her poor social etiquette and inquisitive mind that tends to get her into trouble. Her head butting with Lord Maccon, a werewolf pack leader and government worker, only added to her charm and made me fall equally in love with him as well.

So often while reading this first book of the series I was chuckling out loud and caught by my husband that he immediately started reading the book once I was finished! It is very rare for me to do more than crack a smile when reading - chuckling or outright laughing is nearly unheard of. If that isn’t a mark of a great read for me, I don’t know what is.

I normally try to space out books by an author, but I don’t think I’ll be able to put off the next in the series for long. I’m dying to learn what other trouble Alexia and Lord Maccon can get wrapped up in!

A Taste of Trouble by Gina GordonA Taste of Trouble by Gina Gordon - 3.5 stars.
A Taste of Trouble by Gina Gordon was a fun weekend popcorn read. It had everything I expect in a fun romantic read - a heart damaged heroine, a great group of pushy friends (on both sides), a reforming ladies man, and plenty of conflict romantically and otherwise. I enjoyed getting to know Liv and Jake and their respective friends. While definitely supporting characters, Liv’s friends especially stole my heart, but Jake’s friends did as well. The plot and pacing and the quality of writing was good.

The best part was once the characters gave in to the electricity sparking between them. Although, isn’t that true of most contemporary romance novels? The scenes were steamy, and sticky, without being pornographic. But Gordon took her time in getting them to bed which I appreciate.

If you enjoy steamy contemporary romances with the support of great friends to knock some sense into the main characters ala Bridget Jones Diary and the like you will likely enjoy A Taste of Trouble by Gina Gordon.

I received an electronic ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Creed's Honor by Linda Lael MillerCreed’s Honor by Linda Lael Miller - 3 stars. This second Creed Cowboys book was more or less what I’ve come to expect from Miller. A hunky cowboy meets a great woman; both have internal and external struggles to overcome before romance can be forged.

It wasn’t my favorite contemporary western romance. In fact, it was a bit flat compared to the first book of the series, but I enjoyed it and will continue reading this series for the time being.

Weeks 10 & 11 Reads: Rural Mysteries, a Cookbook, & a Question

Filed under: Books — Kristi at 12:42 pm on Thursday, March 21, 2013

Well, perhaps I was done with food earlier in the week because I had a bug. Well, I think it is still lingering a bit. I’m starting to feel a tad more human again though plan to stay pretty low key through the weekend I think. I’m looking forward to tonight’s Warehouse 13 marathon on the SyFy channel so we can get caught up on Season 4 before the rest of the season starts airing at the end of April. That should keep me occupied without expending too much energy.

That brings me to my question I guess :-) I’m a tad picky about my science fiction. I don’t care for dystopian things so I don’t think series like The Hunger Games are for me. On TV I’ve really enjoyed Eureka, Warehouse 13, and Lost Girl. Warehouse 13 is probably at the top of that list. Oh, and more steampunk than sci-fi I’ve loved The Murdoch Mysteries out of Canada as well. What books would you recommend along those sorts of lines?

Being under the weather meant I got to do a fair bit of reading this week. Although much of it has been scattered over several books so I don’t have many books to actually review. Just the ones that weren’t quite done last Thursday - Death without Company by Craig Johnson, Cardwell Ranch Trespasser by B.J. Daniels which just released on Tuesday, and True Food by Andrew Weil.

Cardwell Ranch Trespasser by B.J. DanielsTrespasser on Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels - 3 stars. This is the third Cardwell Ranch book I’ve read, having read the first two books of the series. I did not find jumping ahead to be terribly detrimental, though I do suspect this title might have been a tad richer if I hadn’t skipped a couple books.

As I’ve come to expect from Daniels, there is a good bit of danger and suspense taking place. Though I found the situation here to anger me. I think I sympathized with Hilde too much and wanted to slap Dana and Hud upside the head for being so dense most of the time. While my frustration with Dana and Hud spurred me to keep reading because I wanted to see them wake up and see Dee Anna for what she really was, it also took something away from my enjoyment of reading the story. The romance element was not quite strong enough to draw my attention away from the stupidity being displayed.

All in all I’m not sad to have read the book. It was a fine read. I’ve just read better books and definitely better ones by Daniels.

I received an electronic ARC of this book from NetGalley.

Death Without Company by Craig JohnsonDeath without Company (Walt Longmire #2) by Craig Johnson - 4 stars. An older woman dies in an assisted living facility. An equally old, retired sheriff insists it is murder despite little to no evidence of foul play. Turns out it may be and it may be tied to a 50+ year old murder that had been undiscovered until now. Complicate that with a reduced workforce, a Wyoming winter, two different and distinct ethnicities, and you get a really interesting procedural mystery plot. Add in well drawn characters who are unique with distinctive voices and you have a fabulous read.

This second book takes place only weeks after the first book which kind of surprised me. While it may be a tad crazy to think of yet another murder in such a short time span in rural America, I kind of enjoyed the proximity to the previous book (Johnson did kind of poke fun at such a thing in the dialogue as well). It allowed some of the unresolved issues brought up to be carried into this one which lent a bit more depth to the series I think.

This is only my second Walt Longmire book that I’ve read. I’m a bit of stickler for reading series in order. I was in some ways quite surprised to be as drawn into this book as I was the first. I’m not a die hard procedural fan so it takes a really well done one to keep me reading. Keep me reading it did. I’m definitely looking forward to jumping into the next title before too long.

True Food by Andrew Weil True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure by Andrew Weil et. al. - 3 stars. This cookbook was not what I was expecting. Firstly, I had thought recipes would be organized by season given the subtitle. While non-traditional, I enjoy cookbooks that are focused on real food and sustainable eating to be organized that way. It makes it easier to meal plan for in-season cooking. I was also surprised by the large number of the recipes that called for really specialized ingredients. Some may be available in specialty grocery stores in middle America, but I’m pretty certain many of them I would have to mail order. To me, mail ordered ingredients are not a sustainable ingredient. There were also many more meat dishes than I had expected. Since we are a mixed household I tend to prefer mostly vegetarian cookbooks and then just add meat as a side for additional protein.

I tried only one recipe that I could easily get the ingredients for, the raw kale salad. It was okay, but not something I would crave. I also kicked it up a bit with some nutritional yeast which did help. I did find that it was indeed better the next day.

That said, I did not see this cookbook as one we need in our collection.

I’m about three quarters of the way through Sara Andrews’ Flesh and Bones and can’t wait to finish that. Then on the Kindle I’m a nearly 2/3 through Cricket McRae’s Wined and Died. I also got an early birthday present from DH this week. He snuck a cookbook into a textbook order, Super Natural Every Day by 101cookbooks.com’s Heidi Swanson. I had checked it out from the library shortly after it was released and it has been on my wish list ever since. I spent the morning flipping through it once again and it may bring back my food mojo once my digestive system is straightened out. I love her first cookbook, even if much of it is more involved than I can handle on a normal day. I think that is what appeals to me about this second book - it really is much more “every day” friendly.

Okay, your turn! What are you reading these days?

Week 9 Reads: A Solid Small Town Romance Series Debut & More

Filed under: Books — Kristi at 10:37 am on Thursday, March 7, 2013

Well, this week was much more productive in terms of reading. I finished the two in-progress books and thanks to having a long day Saturday all to myself I finished a third. Two of the three were ARCs from NetGalley and both titles released this week. I enjoyed all three titles. This weekend is looking like one for lots of reading again - a good accumulation of snow is forecasted for Friday night so I’ve secured groceries for the weekend (lentil tacos, soba and broth bowls with mushrooms and greens, pancakes and frittata etc.) and we are ready to hibernate!

I realize that last week’s reading post should have included my wrap up of February’s plan and what lies ahead for March, but I think no one is particularly interested in that other than myself - if you feel differently let me know! In short, I think the planning kind of works. It gives me a smaller group of things to choose from when moving on to the next read which makes me move on quicker instead of pondering. I wasn’t as successful at sticking to the listed books in February as January, partly due to holds on titles at the library and partly due to non-fiction interests that unexpectedly drew me in a different direction than I had anticipated. For now I’ll continue planning in the same way, but I’ll just keep it in Evernote.

How has your reading been going lately? Anything that I should be sure to not miss? Speaking of not to miss books - have you read any of the viral books of the last few years and were they worth it? I’m thinking of say The Hunger Games trilogy etc.

The Second Chance Cafe (Hope Springs #1) by Alison KentThe Second Chance Cafe (Hope Springs #1) by Alison Kent - 4 stars. I really enjoyed this contemporary romance/chick-lit read by Alison Kent. Overall the plot was mostly believable and I enjoyed the evolution of sharing that took place between Ten and Kaylie as well as that between Kaylie and Lena. The supporting characters were nicely fleshed out and I look forward to learning more about them as the series progresses. I would have enjoyed getting a bit broader view of Hope Springs as I feel settings are almost a character in and of themselves. Nevertheless, I believe I am hooked on Kent’s Hope Springs series and look forward to reading the next installment when it is released.

If you enjoy Robin Carr’s Virgin River series or Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series you will likely enjoy this Hope Springs series debut.

I received an advanced copy of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Teaberry Strangler (The Tea Shop Mysteries #11) by Laura ChildsThe Teaberry Strangler (A Tea Shop Mystery #11) by Laura Childs - 3.5 stars. My first thought about this book is that it was exactly what I expected. Now, some may see that as a negative. For me, it is the same comfort of digging into your favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s. You get what you are seeking.

I found The Teaberry Strangler to provide me with a nice murder mystery sans too much gore with plenty of suspects with plenty of possible motives. I got to visit once again with Theo and her gang of employees and business neighbors which is always a delight. Sprinkled in amongst the story were vivid descriptions of teas and their supporting foods. There was also plenty of danger and action to amp up the suspense every now and again. Best of all, I wasn’t able to solve it concretely in my mind until just before the answer was revealed.

While it was what I’ve come to expect from the Tea Shop series by Childs, there wasn’t anything overly unique or different about it. I gave it 3.5 stars which for me equates to above average and definitely worth reading.

Cowboy for Keeps (Mustang Valley #4) by Cathy McDavidCowboy for Keeps (Mustang Valley #4) by Cathy McDavid - 3.5 stars. If you’re looking for a romance plot with plenty of complications this is it! Conner Durham is six months into his job hunt as a systems analyst, training mustangs and renting out his home to try make the mortgage payments after having sold off his other possessions. Dallas Sorrenson is an up and coming photographer with a bit of emotional baggage from her blended family adolescence. To make matters worse, Dallas’ ex-fiance, Richard, was Conner’s best friend and took over managing his employees when their company downsized. The icing on the cake? Dallas is pregnant with Richard’s baby! The situation has tension and doubts on both sides written all over it.

I enjoyed reading this book. I may have enjoyed it a tad more if I couldn’t relate to Conner’s job situation quite so easily. With the countless complications in a relationship between Conner and Dallas I was expecting things to feel really contrived and forced, but McDavid pulled it off. Each of the hindrances seemed real and plausible even in the context of the others - no easy feat I would imagine.

This is the fourth book in the Mustang Valley series. I have not read any of the previous titles, though I can take a stab at which of the supporting characters are likely featured in them. I did not feel like I missed anything by jumping ahead to this title. Odds are good that I’ll revisit the earlier titles in this series, though I have seen other reviews that name this one as the best of the series so far.

I received an advanced copy of this title from NetGalley for an honest review.

Week 6-8 Reads: Light On The Reading

Filed under: Books — Kristi at 11:42 am on Thursday, February 28, 2013

As I figured would happen eventually, the reading slowed drastically. I haven’t updated you on my reads since February 7th - week 5! Here it is week 8 and in those three weeks I only have 4 books to mention. That makes me a bit sad, but I’m still ahead on my goal to read 62 books as these 4 are numbers 15-18 for 2013. Granted a handful of those are shorter works so really I hope my count is closer to 80 to account for the novellas and short non-fiction reads I sprinkle in here and there.

Given that I’m covering several weeks I’m going to start with the most recent and better reads.

Cowboy's Texas Rescue by Beth CornelisonA Cowboy’s Texas Rescue (Black Ops #3) by Beth Cornelison - 4 stars - WorldCat. A carjacking at a gas station by an escaped felon is foiled by an empty gas tank, freaky snow storm and a black ops man on leave to visit his father’s death bed. But it doesn’t come to an end easily. Chelsea Harris, the original victim finds herself in the trunk of her car listening to Jake Connelly fight it out with the felon, Brady, who had killed two officers during his initial escape. Eventually half-naked Chelsea ends up in the trunk with a concussed and now weaponless Jake who breaks them out. They head on foot to the nearest farmhouse, but the snow storm has taken out phone and power, leaving them with no way to contact the authorities.

This is the third and final book in the Black Ops Rescue series. I have not read the previous two titles and did not feel that I was lost because of that. While it is kind of hard to believe that all of the things that go wrong to amp up the suspense could take place in the same event, I enjoyed the book. The suspense was high and the attraction obvious. The suspense part of the equation was a bit stronger than the romance I’d say, but I appreciate that the book wasn’t highly political like many romantic suspense books I’ve read in the past. Do be aware that despite the title, this isn’t really a strongly cowboy/western book.

It is quite likely I’ll go back and read the other two titles in this series eventually.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth PetersThe Curse of the Pharaohs (Amelia Peabody #2) by Elizabeth Peters - 4 stars - WorldCat. After several seasons away from active digs in Egypt, Peabody and her husband find themselves off to complete the dig of a colleague who suddenly passed. Peabody is convinced the death is suspicious and of course starts to dig not only into sand, but into the lives of those at the site trying to uncover what is really behind “the curse” the locals are going on about.

So far, both Amelia Peabody books I’ve read have been real slow starts for me. I don’t know if it is when I’m reading them or if that is just how they are written. It takes me a fair bit of time to get wrapped up in the book. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the beginnings. Despite the slow starts I adore Peter’s writing style and I almost always learn a couple new vocabulary words too (many Egyptology related of course). I’m very much looking forward to the next read in this series.

Lost Memories (Honky Tonk Hearts) by Sherri ThomasLost Memories (Honky Tonk Hearts) by Sherri Thomas - 3 stars - Amazon. Darcy Brooks awakes in a hospital with amnesia and few clues of her prior life. It appears she had only just recently moved to town and no one has reported her missing. With no job history it was tough finding work, but once she finally gets hired on at a dude ranch she finds she loves the work — and her boss. But the sparks between Darcy and Nick cause frequent mistakes that have her afraid for her future.

The amnesia angle is nothing new and I didn’t find anything particularly unique about Darcy and Nick’s story. It was somewhat enjoyable, mostly due to the comedy of errors that seems to pop up whenever Nick is near Darcy.

For a quick, escapist fluff read it was fun, if not horribly unique.

Done with Menstrual Cramps by T.C. HaleDone with Menstrual Cramps by T.C. Hale - 3 stars - Amazon. I’m not certain how I feel about this book. On the surface, the theories presented appear to make a fair amount of sense, though many things in science did until they were disproved. But the humor with which the “facts” are presented kind erodes my sense of credibility. Add in that the author is a male comedian who has never experienced menstrual cramps, is not a health professional, and there is not a bibliography or any citations so one can do some further research into these theories and you can color me skeptical.

The author presents a series of self-tests one should go through to diagnose how the body system is out of balance. These tests can then be backed up with symptoms you may be experiencing beyond the menstrual cramps. Then methodologies to bring your body back into balance are presented. These include diet changes and likely supplements of various types. The tests do require some special equipment, some of which is relatively low cost and others which are not so affordable. I will confess to having not gone through the self-tests because my budget is severely tight at the moment and I cannot squeeze out the money to buy a blood pressure cuff or glucometer and test strips. So, my thoughts on the book are formed purely from the reading.

If at some point I am able to run the tests and follow through on what appears to be the right methodology I’ll update this review with my experience.

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That’s it! That’s all I’ve read in the past three weeks. Well, I’m nearly 1/2 done with another NetGalley read and about a 1/4 of the way through a cozy mystery I checked out from the library. I also sort of read a cookbook in one afternoon and am debating if it is worth giving it more of my time or not. I’m not certain to count it as “read” or not yet. I also likely have a fair bit of non-fiction reading in my future for some freelancing projects that may be coming my way.

And a good chunk of this afternoon may be dedicated to knitting and reading. We’ll have to see.

How about you? Have you had any exceptional reads these past few weeks? Or any interesting non-fiction titles to mention?

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