Slay it with Flowers by Kate Collins

I picked this up at a local book drive to raise money for our Relay for Life team. The title sounded funny and it seemed like it would be a quick, amusing read. I was correct in that it was a quick read. The writing was simple and the dialogue fairly witty. There is an extremely amusing cast of characters. Very unique and down to earth characters that the author, I would guess, based on people she knew. I particularly found the mother highly amusing. My favorite character though was probably Marco, the main characters love-interest, local PI, and owner of the bar next door.

The main character was a grown up, quirky, and accident prone Nancy Drew. She apparently has a penchant for sticking her nose into local murders and ending up in trouble. The same in this book. It was an easy murder and story line to unravel. I pretty much knew who the killer was halfway through, just not a couple little details. There were several coincidences that were a little far-fetched, a little too handy to have occurred. I personally wouldn’t read it again or probably another book by her. I found it a little too simple and boring, even with the humor. However, for anyone interested in an easy, amusing reading and likes murder mysteries, this would be a great book. It would also be good for high-school level students I think. There as no grotesque or gory murder scenes and no sex scenes which was a nice change.

My rating:

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Versatile Blogger Nomination

A huge thank you to Leanne at All Write-y Then for her nomination of me for the versatile blogger award! Be sure to visit her blog at: http://allwritethen.blogspot.com/ I have seen these nominations pop up on other bloggers sites, but I never thought I would be nominated. I appreciate it very much. I started blogging in January and was surprised by the 35 followers I have, let alone being nominated. I hope to keep up my work and help to expand reading. I love reading and I hope others can share that love or begin to love reading as I do. I only hope my reviews will help others discover new books and inspire reading.

THE RULES
  1. Nominate 15 other relatively new-ish bloggers
  2. Let them know that you have nominated them
  3. Post ten random facts about yourself
  4. Be sure to thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award image to the post
Bloggers I Nominate:
  1. Inspired By A Book – https://inspiredbyabook.wordpress.com/
  2. Vamos a Leer- https://teachinglatinamericathroughliterature.wordpress.com/
  3. Ann Morgan: A Year of Reading the World – http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/
  4. Becky: Blogs of a Bookaholic – https://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/
  5. Kindles and Wine – http://kindlesandwine.com/
  6. Robert Bruce:101 Books – http://101books.net/
  7. Angela: Books and Opinions – http://booksandopinions.com/
  8. Joseph Quinton: A Quill and Vellum – https://aquillandvellum.wordpress.com/
  9. Trisha Ann: The Bookgasm – https://thebookgasm.wordpress.com/
  10. Jenny Floyd: Mrs. Jenny Reads – https://mrsjennyreads.wordpress.com/
  11. Nicole: My Book Filled Life – https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/my-book-filled-life-12223385
  12. Alyssa Susanna: The Eater of Books! – https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/eater-books-6326405
  13. Book Obsessed Blog – https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/book-obsessed-blogweeblycom-12174705
  14. Passionate Book Lover – https://passionatebklvr.wordpress.com/
  15. Books, Books, & More Books – http://booksbooksmorebooks.blogspot.com/

Ten Random Facts About Me

  1. I am a Spanish teacher in a public school.
  2. My husband and I have actually never lived together yet aside from a couple of months, which is hopefully ended as soon as he finishes his Masters in May!
  3. I have an additional certification to teach art.
  4. This is my only blog that I have actually been able to remember to post regularly. (My blogging usually fizzles out in a week and I end up deleting the blog LOL)
  5. I have one little sister who lives in Virginia.
  6. I LOVE to travel.
  7. I keep a fish tank full of glass fish on my desk at school.
  8. I run my church’s Facebook page.
  9. I am working on my Masters in Education.
  10. I don’t carry a purse very often, mostly just my wallet or a backpack…but almost always with a book!

versatile blogger

When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

As you’ve probably noticed, I am expanding my reading (somewhat successfully so far), but this probably wouldn’t have been on the list of things you’d think I’d pick up…because it wasn’t. I wanted to complete one of my book challenge tasks of reading a book a friend recommended to me. A friend of mine that I roomed with for a few months over the summer with my husband recommended this book to me. She absolutely loves James Patterson. I’m not entirely sure I liked this book. Actually, pretty sure I didn’t. I did give it a decent rating thought because the story line was strong and original, the story developed well, and the writing (vocabulary, grammar, dialogue, etc.) was good quality.

I’ll give a brief overview because mentioning more than a sentence or two will start to give away too much. An FBI agent on mandated vacation arrives in Colorado (not where he is supposed to go, but actually avoid) to follow up and investigate, quietly, a case he has been pulled off of. Additional murders arise in relation to the case. He meets a local veterinarian who discovered a surprising girl in the woods. A girl with wings for arms and horrifying story. Together, they work to save the girl and bring an end to his case.

This book is not for the overly empathetic or easily frightened. The story line is extremely well developed and thought out and it does build in a good way. However, the events are hard to take if you have never read a book like this before. I am not into human experimentation, but as you may have guessed, that is a topic in the book. Also, the fact that there were children killed I had a hard time with. You do become very attached to the characters. That is good writing on the authors part. I also liked how he bounced between the three characters, even though the veterinarian was chosen as the first person perspective. I liked being able to see what the characters were seeing and feeling and was able to connect with them on an emotional level. You wanted to see everyone succeed and get well and happy, but that was simply not possible and you (the reader) absorbed the horror and grief the characters felt. That is probably why I wasn’t a big fan. There was not a lot of happiness through the book, and therefore it was somewhat depressing to read.

I would recommend it to anyone who likes thriller stories or is a James Patterson fan. Also, any one interested in psychology or crime novels might be interested in this as well.

There is a sequel to the book called The Lake House. I do not plan on reading it, but I did look up a summary to see what happens to the characters in this book. I was happy how it turns out at the end of the second book, but I am not drawn enough to read it.

My rating:

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Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

I absolutely loved this book. Like the original Sevenwaters trilogy that she wrote, Juliet Marillier has developed a completely complex, original, and captivating story line. You are pulled into her world with such ease. You can see, hear, and get the feel of the environment in a way that only a master story teller can do. You feel for every character, cheer for their triumphs, and cry for their losses. The story unfolds and you find yourself wanting to read ahead to make sure it all turns out well in the end, no matter the trials in between – and such trials! Oh the difficulties and obstacles!

The story follows a young woman fleeing from her abusive home and landing in a strange, conflicted place. Her influence starts to stir small but mighty changes in the castle, bringing hope, light, and love where only darkness prevailed. Throughout the story your emotions are caught and heartstrings pulled with the strong emotions expressed by Caitrin and the other prominent characters of the story. It is a story of love and loss, the power hope, the incredible strength of courage and faith, and the utter despair of revenge. Acceptance of differences is also a prime theme throughout the story, which I found to be a wonderful aspect because you do not see it enough. Not just the overcoming of physical difficulties, but of each others natures. I do not want to spoil anything, so I will not delve into that particular topic further, but trust me it is fantastically done and also in a way that is not blatantly pointed out. There is a love story woven in as well, but it is definitely not the main focus. It is subtle, but also powerful, shifting in and out of the story with amazing ease.

I cannot say enough about this book. It is one I will return to over and over, the story so strong and memorable. For anyone getting into sci-fi & fantasy, this is an extraordinary book by an amazing author. Even if you are not normally a fantasy reader, but want a really in-depth, complex, and fascinating story line, this is a great book to reach for. I would recommend it to anyone.

My rating:

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Whispers in the Dark (KGI #4) by Maya Banks

This was probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve actually read this book. It is phenomenal. I have read most of the KGI series, but this was the first one I picked up and what initially got me interested in the series. It remains my favorite of the entire series so far.

The premise is Nathan is being held captive by a group of terrorists and through her telepathy Shea helps him to escape and get a message to his brothers to rescue him. However, Shea and her sister Grace are being hunted for their gifts of healing and telepathy. Shea reaches out to Nathan and the story unfolds. There are a few twists and a lot of family drama, but it is a rather original story line. The author touches on stories and events in previous books, but doesn’t do anything more. It is a complete read-alone story, which I love in a series. I absolutely love the female characters in this series of books. They are all strong, independent, vibrant women who are also vulnerable, caring, and sometimes insecure survivors. Shea is no exception. She goes out of her way to protect everyone she loves not caring about the personal cost. Also, the men in this series all adore their women. Nathan is completely smitten with Shea from the first time he hears her. As a result, their love story does not particularly grow throughout the story as much as it continues from beginning to end, simply being strained and strengthened by the events. The family dynamics in the book are very interesting as well. The morph and change over the series, but you catch a snapshot of each period of growth as new women are welcomed in and how the bonds of family form. Also, you meet several prominent characters that have their own book later on, and this story sets up for the next book that follows Shea’s sister Grace.

I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone interested in paranormal (specifically magical) romance or romantic suspense. There is not so much paranormal in it that a reader who does not normally read sci-fi would be put off by. Also, anyone who loves strong male characters, particularly military, would like this book. The same for people who like strong female characters, particularly women who have overcome extreme conditions. All-in-all it is a fantastic read.

My rating:

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Reading the World

I came across an article this morning about a woman who had read a book from every independent nation in the world, 196 countries in total. This fascinated me. Ann Morgan wanted to find out what she was missing by not reading authors who wrote in English or were not from an English speaking country. Now I am a absolutely fascinated by culture. I have traveled and learned language and studied culture all through my college years, where I became absorbed by Spanish culture and heritage. So I was very curious to see her list and what she found. I discovered her blog: http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/ Getting English translations of the books, was a difficult task. She talks about the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who (on their own!) did research, recommended books, and found copies of translations for her. She even had unpublished translation manuscripts sent to her by authors! This is so cool to me! She talked about how the reading of books from around the world and living through the characters in a different helped to change her world view and open her eyes to things she had never seen, thought, or imagined.

I am going to “press” her list into my blog and hopefully start to add books from her list into my reading. As m followers read before, I am working on becoming “well-read” and I think reading books from different cultures and by writers not in my language, race, or culture would go a long way to helping that. Oh, here’s the article! (http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130715-reading-the-world-in-365-days)

Here’s the list of books: http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/thelist/

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I remember glancing over this book in high school. It was quick, easy, and I didn’t really remember all that much about it. I kept getting it mixed up with Moby Dick. So when I started to read the classics this past year, I made sure to put it on my “To-Read” list. It is a very easy book to read, and also quite short. It is easily readable in a day. Also, it won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 1953.  I looked that up – Pulitzer Prizes are awarded for excellence in a work of fiction by an American author. Even though it is set in Cuba, Ernest Hemingway was still American, and was therefore granted this prestigious honor.

At first it seems like a simple enough story – an old man and his greatest catch. But there is a certain reflective quality of self-awareness in the fisherman. It is hard for mean to determine all of the hidden implications and meanings that were instilled in this work so long ago, but I think I picked up on the main ones. The battle of man versus nature and the cost of pride. Self-awareness and the knowledge of experience. Love in its different forms. I found them all in this short and simple work. It is a book that can resound with just about anyone and have different meanings for each person. I have heard that it can be related to the life of Jesus. That is a comparison I would love to read. I also thought this was a very easy read, given the language and phrasing. I thought it was very authentic making certain phrases and such that sounded just like an old Cuban trying to speak English. His comparisons of the great DiMaggio and his bone spurs I found particularly endearing for some reason. I loved how the boy took care of the old man and the illusions they allowed each other on how life was faring. To see such strength of character and spirit in the humble old man was the strongest aspect of the story in my opinion. It makes you look at those around and wonder what really goes on in their minds even though they may look to be the poorest and weakest of us all.

My rating:

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Self-Pity, a favorite poem

I do not read poetry very often, rarely actually. This poem I actually did not come across reading anyway. I heard it in the movie G.I. Jane. Now, if you have ever seen the movie, you know the poem I mean. It is very simple, clean, and straight to the point. I like that about it.

Self-Pity

I – never saw a wild thing

sorry for itself.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough

without ever having felt sorry for itself.

– D.H. Lawrence

What is your favorite poem?

Bunny and the Bear (Furry United Coaliltion #1) by Eve Langlais

So I read this book for my “guilty pleasure” challenge on my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. It also had a benefit of being short, which was nice since I haven’t had a lot of time on my hands lately.

I loved the main characters in this story. I though Miranda was hilarious and sassy and Chase completely relate-able as the strong, silent type of guy with a heart of gold. The premise was based on Miranda being a protection agent for the Furry United Coalition, falling for the subject she was assigned to protect, the quiet Chase. Someone has been abducting shifter males in their prime, and it was Miranda’s job to ensure that Chase wasn’t taken. I don’t want to write any spoilers, so I’ll give generalizations of my thoughts. There wasn’t a lot of depth to the back story or anything particular outside of the main characters, but given such a short book that is understandable. Enough information was given to move the story along, keep it interesting, and not distract from the emotional bonding of the two main characters. The fight scenes I found surprisingly lacking. There was supposed to be a lot of danger and fierce battle, but it didn’t read like that. You would read the fight scene and kind of shrug it off, then the characters would have terrible wounds, and I was thinking “Wow, lots of damage for no real fight”. As expected for a short, shapeshifter romance, there is a lot of explicit sex scenes, but they don’t go over the top like some do. Overall, not a bad break-time book or a simple afternoon read. It did set up for further books to conclude the main story line, which was nice as well.

My rating:

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Dorchester Terrace (Charlotte and Thomas Pitt #27) by Anne Perry

This is another Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novel I read as an audiobook. So far, I have only had Devina Porter do the narrations, but this time it was Michael Page. It was difficult to adjust at first, but he made the book more serious and gravelly which was a nice addition to this story.

The story intertwines with the adjustments happening in the lives of the Pitts, the Radleys, and Victor Narroway. Victory Narroway is a character I had not run into so far (I’ve been reading the books out of order), but he is a very interesting and complex character. The premise of the story is the attempt to thwart the assassination of a visiting dignitary and easing the fears of an elderly spy who is terrified of revealing secrets that are better left silent. You meet an strong set of characters that are very well developed – I particularly like how Adrianna Blantyre was portrayed. I am not sure why, but I particularly liked her. Lady Vespasia makes a strong appearance in this book as well, which always makes the story more intriguing – she is such a strong and unique character. However, she does not play as much of a flashy role as she sometimes does. She is a very important influence in this book, just much subtler than usual. Also, Charlotte is not as much a part of the story line as I would like. I love her character, but she did not play as much of role as she usually does. She is, however, woven in and out of the story beautifully and I hope that she regains her strong partner position once Pitt settles into his new role.

Anne Perry again does a fantastic job of creating a complex, changing, and surprising story line where twists and turns abound. This is so far the most political book that I have read so far, but this is understandable as it is the first book in which Thomas Pitt takes over as head of Special Branch. The story was political in that it focused on political motives of the vast majority of characters. I am not very strong in unwinding politics or seeing how all of the strings connect, but the author does a fantastic job of not losing you without giving too much away. What I was most impressed by was the emotional impact of the book. So far it is the most emotionally wrenching and pulling that I have seen so far in her work. You feel so much for Thomas and the other members of the story. From the fear, passion, arrogance, insecurity, moral dilemmas, and avarice, you are pulled in every direction by the characters and their desires. The end was as good as the turmoil within the rest of the book. Again, there are aspects of the book that I wish will be concluded in later books, but I can not go into those aspects without spoiling some of the best twists in the book! It is definitely worth the read. Just be prepared to really think and puzzle out events if you are trying to guess the murderers before Pitt!

My rating:

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