Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: The Likeness by Tana French

The Likeness by Tana French
Detective Cassie Maddox, gets a call from her boyfriend to come out to a crime scene. The panic on his voice tells her this isn't going to be just any crime scene. Inside an old abandoned cottage, the remains of a young girl are found with a stab wound and a very familiar face. She could be her identical twin.

An unlikely undercover investigation into the murder of the girl, puts Cassie in a unique situation- Living the life of a the girl amongst many possible murderers. Who amongst her four housemates know that she can't possibly be still alive?

Another great story by Tana French. I was completely engrossed in the lives of Lexie Madison and her odd group of friends. It was a little hard to believe that such an investigation would actually be legal or done, but it did make for an entertaining read. Very interesting "sequel". Yes, Detective Maddox is back, but she is in a completely different place than in the previous book and it really is the state of her psyche after the events in In The Woods that are continued into The Likeness

Can't wait to get started on the next book which follows another character that was introduced in this one.

Source: purchased

Republic of Ireland


Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review- The Wizard of Oz: A Steampunk Adventure by S.D. Stewart

The Wizard of Oz: A Steampunk Adventure by S.D. Stewart

This book surprised me. I really liked it. I thought it was an imaginative reworking of the original story. I think I chose a good one for my first foray into the steampunk genre.

18 year old Dorothy Gale leaves Kansas to go in search of her father within the Autralis penal colony, or OZ. He was kidnapped by one of its inhabitants in want of Gale's weapon 10 years earlier by goons in New Kansas, Tazmania who also killed her mother and left her an orphan.  Within the Outcast Zone, Dorothy finds a "Scarecrow" and "Woodsman" automatons to help her, as well as a Lion and some Munch-kin. Her quest to get to the Wizard and find her father is not an easy one. There are many obstacles, murder attempts and plots to use her. 

It was a lot of fun to see how this story would end and find the parallels with the original story. Lots of fun. Can't wait for the next installment. This one ended with a bit of a cliffhanger.

Source: e-galley from author for review

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday (1/21/13)

Unenchanted: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale by Chanda Hahn
This month, Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Lori at Lori's Reading Corner. Go see what others received this past week and share what you got!

Happy Reading!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

E's Reads(3)

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams

I love this book! Probably more than the little girl, but what a great way to get her introduced to the classics and Austen. The illustrations alone are wonderful, their big eyes and beautiful colors. It is a simple counting book but has everything to get the story across: 2 Rich gentleman, 5 sisters, 10 10,000 pounds a year!!! 

Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home For Christmas by Holly Hobbie

Yes, we are still reading Christmas books. You shouldn't be surprised, we are also still reading Halloween books. :) This one is adorable. Again, it has beautiful illustrations and a sweet story of Puddle waiting for Toot to get home from Scotland on Christmas Eve. I also love that part of the story is told through postcards and emails.

Hello Dinosaurs, Little Scholastic

This is a cute hand puppet book with colorful dinosaurs. Fun, fun. Great way to learn colors. 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This has to be my favorite Book Group pick so far. What an amazing story. I loved so many things about it.

First, it is set in San Francisco. I love reading books that are set in places I lived in or visited. Second, the main character, Victoria Jones, is flawed but strong. Someone you want to cheer for then shake when not making the right choices. And third, Vanessa Diffenbaugh. She has written a novel that pulls at your heartstrings and draws you in with her characters, the story and the language of flowers.

Victoria has been a foster child all her life and at the age of 18 is released and left to try and make it on her own. Unable to find a job and pay for her room, Victoria finds solace in her plants and flowers that she grows in a hidden patch in a city park. Her love and understanding of flowers and their meanings- something she learned from Elizabeth, the closest she's ever had to a mother- is what saves her. It helps her get a job, find love and eventually find a family.

Jumping back and forth through Victoria's life, we get a glimpse of what makes her angry, scared to love and a "misanthrope". We learn how she lost her chance to be a part of a family with Elizabeth on her vineyard in Northern California and how she manages to find happiness and success. Her life is not easy and she has to fight her feelings to flee at all times. The choices she makes are not always the right ones or thought out, but they are what make her such a great character.

We are going to have so much to discuss with this book. I can't wait to get together with my friends in San Francisco and talk about this one.

Source: purchased

Happy Reading!
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday (1/16/13)

New dining room lamp!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

E's Reads (2)

I am a little late with this post. I had forgot all about it until I saw these books piled up in E's room. I almost put them away before I remembered they were there for a reason. Some classics and some new favorites (of the little girl's).

Caillou: Happy Halloween by Chouette

This books is really cute and A favorite of the little girl. She loves Caillou. This book takes an episode and puts it on pages. Bright colorful pages, cute story and the voice is the same as the show. Not a bad holiday book. Of course, it is way past Halloween and I would be happy if this one didn't get picked for awhile.

Caillou: Spend The Day With Me by Chouette

This book is a touch and feel book with no real story. It has nice illustrations, though and the little girl has enjoyed touching and feeling all the different textures. The sticky jam is her favorite. I prefer the books with a story.

Where is Baby's Belly Button by Karen Katz

This book is adorable. Cute babies, flaps to open and position words and body parts. It is interactive, engaging, educational for a toddler and another favorite of the little girl. It has seen a lot of use and has lost a few flaps but she still loves to look for baby's hands, feet and belly button.

Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

I love this book and so does the little girl. She has so much fun following the gorilla through the zoo as he lets all the animals out so they can go sleep in the Joe, the Zookeeper's house. As a teacher, I appreciate the little teaching points throughout. The matching colors of the keys to the cages, number of animals. The little girl loves looking for the moon and balloon on all the pages. Her favorite page: The Zookeeper's wife's big eyes of surprise.

Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle

This isn't one of my favorite Carle books, but the little girl does enjoy looking at all the different cats. I do like the illustrations. I mean, it's Eric Carle. They are always amazing.

I will be reviewing the books we read for Becca from Lost in Books' KidLit Challenge. I will be trying to read and review 80-100 books this year (Master Level).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley

The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley

After a devastating loss, Grania Ryan returns to her childhood home in Ireland, leaving her boyfriend back in New York confused about why he has been left. A young girl, Aurora Lisle, wandering the cliffs one early morning ends up being Grania's unexpected answer to finding happiness again.

How the Ryan and Lisle families are connected is an interesting tale that Grania's mother grudgingly reveals to help explain why she wishes her to be weary of the Lisle family. This part of the story takes the reader back to Ireland and London during WWI and the years following. There is an interesting parallel between the story of Mary and Grania. 

This was quite an entertaining read. It was the perfect read for me during the holidays. There is a little of everything- romance, family drama and even a little of the paranormal. I did get a little frustrated with Grania's stubbornness at times with her refusal to speak her adoring boyfriend back at home. Although, he also made me mad with his choices. I know, I am being very vague and making no sense. Just read it. Then you will understand.

Source: Atria Books, publisher
Happy Reading!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What's in a Name Challenge

Okay, One more Challenge. I guess this is one problem of actually finding a little time to read some blogs; I find more Challenges to do! I couldn't pass this one up, though. I have seen it over the years but never participated. Thought it was time to give it a try.
Here are the specifics:
Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
  1. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs
  1. A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
  1. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire
  1. A book with an emotion in the title: Baltimore Blues, Say You're Sorry, Dreams of Joy
  1. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: The Book of Lost Fragrances, The World We Found, A Discovery of Witches
The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.
Fun, right? 
Want to join? Visit Beth Fish Reads, who is hosting the challenge this year and sign up!

Happy Reading!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wordless Wednesday (1/9/13)

Handel's Messiah
San Francisco Symphony/Chorus
Davies Symphony Hall
December 13, 2012

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Monday, January 7, 2013

European Reading Challenge 2013

One more challenge for 2013. I participated in this one last year and really enjoyed reading books from throughout Europe. Think I will try to read books from different countries, though. 
I will be going for the the Five Star (Deluxe Entourage) again. 5 books from 5 different countries.


Anybody else want to join in the challenge? Go visit Rose City Reader and sign up!

Happy Reading!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Mailbox Monday (1/7/2013)

The beginning of the year and month means books coming in. Some bought in sales and others sent to me for reviews throughout the year. I am hoping I don't get too many to keep up, but so far this looks about right.  

The Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay purchased on discount at Barbes and Noble.
The Thieves of Legendby Richard Doetsch from publisher, Atria Books.
The Wizard of Oz: A Steampunk Adventureby SD Stewart from author
The Holder's Dominionby Genese Davis from publicist, Jocelyn of Kelly & Hall Publicity 

This month, Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Lori at Lori's Reading Corner. Go see what others got this past week and share what you got!

Happy Reading!
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Review: 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

Temperance Brennan wakes in pain and in a dark tomb. She has been left for dead and can't remember anything about how she found herself in this situation. While trying to break free and awaken her memories, we get to begin the story from the beginning...

Brennan is being threatened, her work questioned and four bodies of elderly women to examine and determine how they died. With the help of Ryan and an old childhood friend, Brennan searches for answers. And we discover how she came to buried alive and by whom.

Aww, much more to what I expect of a Reichs' book. Good mystery, good science, interesting plot and many possible bad guys. I couldn't put it down.

Source: BookMooch

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FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

E's Reads

Here are the little girl's books for the week. Great books. ABC and color books are her favorites as of late. ;) We had fun reading them this week despite illness. We are all finally starting to get over a stomach bug that invaded our home. So, books on the couch all weekend were just what we needed.
I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables by Lorena Siminovich
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Miss Spider's ABC Book by David Kirk

Happy Reading!


FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Saturday Snapshot (1-5-13)

Water tower
Kingsburg, CA

It is designed to look like an antique Swedish coffee pot. 

Find more Saturday Snapshots at At Home With Books.

Review: We Bury the Landscape by Kristine Ong Muslim

We Bury the Landscape is a collection of ekphrastic poems and short stories, meaning they are written in response to another piece of art. In this case, they reference pieces of art by Joan Miro and Salvador Dali and many others.

Kristine Ong Muslim is somehow able to give a voice to the people and objects in the paintings she references. They feel real, come alive and touch you. This is the type of poetry I enjoy. It gives voice to something that doesn't have one. It is more free-flow prose than structured stanzas. It is so much more accessible to those, like me, who have a hard time with poetry.

I only wish I had had the paintings readily available to look at while reading. I did go online and pull some up. Will probably go back and find more and retread the stories to see how they relate and how they don't.

Very cool read. I am so glad I finally opened this up and lost myself within it for awhile.

Source: Sent by author for review


FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Story Time with the Little Girl

One of my goals for this year is to read more than just the usual books E chooses every night. So, in the morning we will have story-time and read a new book from her library of my choosing. Fun, huh?

I thought so. And I thought I would share the books we read with all of you and maybe help you find some new books for your kid's libraries. I will most likely do this post weekly instead of daily to save you from a bombardment of posts, but to get it started, here is today's choice:

I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables by Lorena Siminovich

These were a birthday gift from a good friend who happens to be a dietician. E loves fruit and veggies and so loved these colorful, touchy-feely books.

Any ideas for a cute title for these posts? I am so not creative when it comes to titles. ;)

If you would like to follow daily. Follow me on Instagram. I will be posting a pic daily there. ;)


Goals for 2013

I like making goals for myself at the beginning of the year. Here is my list from last year:

2011 Goals:
1. Turn the TV off while LO is awake. I fear it has been on a bit too much. We do go outside a lot for walks in Golden Gate Park and trips to the playground. Most recently-bike rides! Less TV is always a good thing.
2. More Mommy time. I am a stay at home mom, so I am with the little girl all day, every day. I have tried getting some time for myself- I started a book group with friends, but it is not much. Once a month, and when the hubby is out of town for work I either miss or have to take E with me. Am thinking pedicures, yoga class, etc.
3. Lose some weight! This has an ongoing struggle. I am more active these days than I have been in awhile, which is good. But my eating habits haven't changed much, which is not so good. I have a Weight Watchers online account that I haven't been using the past couple months. I need to start that up again. As far as being active- daily walks, sometimes walk/run Couch to 5k training- I have a 5K next Sunday, bike rides. 
4. Cooking. One thing that would help with #3 would be to eat at home more. We eat out a lot and I know cooking some low cal, healthier meals at home would do some wonders. I have never been a fan of cooking, so this one will be hard.
5. Reading. I need to put down the iPad games, turn off the TV and read more. I have missed my nightly reading and have in the past couple weeks started to go to bed an hour earlier so I can read before turning off the lights. Need to continue this.
6. Blogging. I want to find more time to get online regularly to post and to read the blogs I have missed reading the past 1+ year. I am also excited to have some books lined up for reviews. It's been awhile since I felt that I had time to accept some.

I was more successful with some more than others.  1)TV is still an issue sometimes. Despite play and outside time everyday, the TV does still get turned on a bit too much. 2) More Mommy time was successful. Book group has continued, I take a ceramics class one night a week, and I even managed to leave Emma overnight a few times this year with her grandparents so we could get some much needed mom (and dad) time. 3) Have been working on this more since we moved. I take some Stroller Strides classes at least three times a week and have started to see some results. 4) This was put on hold when we moved. We just got a stove top that works. So, now the cooking begins! 5) Definitely got some more reading done in 2012 than 2011, but not to my previous numbers. 6) This one was a fail. Miss visiting blogs.

So, looking at this list, I see some that I need to continue working on and some I can take off my goals for 2013. 

Goals for 2013

1. Turn the electronics off. Limit daily TV time, iPad and iPhone play for the LO and for me. 

2. Reading. Turning those listed above off will increase the books I read each day. Within this goal, I have a few little ones: Make a dent in my TBR Pile, and read 1 new book to the little girl each day.

3. Stay Active. 20 min a day is doable. I already go to Stroller Strides at least 3 times a week. I am also training (kind of) for a 5K in February. My goal for the 5K is to beat last years time of 45min. Hoping to cut off 15 min, but not so sure I can do that.

4. Blogging. Once again, I was not as present here as I would like. Time to visit more blogs and post more!
Do you have any goals for the New Year?

Happy Reading!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Happy New Year!

For more Wordless Wednesday visit:

Happy New Year!

2012 went out with friends and a bottle of Dom Perignon in a warm SF apartment and Lady Gaga playing in the background. It was a nice, intimate party of 15 and the perfect way to ring in the New Year. 

Before getting started on my challenges, reviews and readings of 2013, I thought I would take a look back at 2012. My GoodReads Reading Challenge goal was for 25 books read. I ended the year with 33! My goal for 2013 is 50. Slowly working my way back up to normal reading.

Here is the list of all the books I read this past year and links to reviews for some.

1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (review)
2. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson =
3. Blood Orchids by Toby Neal + (review

4. The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes (review)
5. A Will to Murder by Hilary Thomson + (review)


6. The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose* (review)
7. Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain (review)
8. The Day the World Ends: Poems by Ethan Coen + (review)

9. Merciful Law by Darby Rae + (review)
10. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley * (review)
11. Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis + (review)
12. A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight (review)

13. The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner+ (review)
14. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James =
15. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James =
16. Fifty Shades Freed by EL James =

17. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review)
18. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes* (review)
19. Friday Mornings at Nine by Marilyn Brant^ (review)

20. Light From A Distant Star by Mary McGarry Morris + (review)
21. Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler + (review)

22. The Island House by Posie Graeme-Evans + (review)
23. Lip Service by M.J. Rose + (review)
24. The Stand by Stephen King (review)
25. Ninepins by Rosy Thornton + (review)

26. Heat Wave by Richard Castle (review)
27. Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler + (review)
28. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson 

26. Heat Wave by Richard Castle (review)

27. Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler + (review)
28. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson 
29. Abdication by Juliet Nicolson + (review)

30. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
31. The Listeners by Harrison Demchick *(review)
32. The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley+
33. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

^ LT Early Reviewers Program
# GoodReads First Reads Program
~ Giveaway Win
+ publisher/author sent for review (not ARC)
= Mooched/Borrowed

Happy Reading!
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.