Monday, December 31, 2012

New web address!

Hello, readers!  I hope you are all resting up for a fabulous New Year's Eve.  Just wanted to let you know that I now have a new home space on the interwebs:

My darling husband was nice enough to include my new domain name as a Christmas gift.  :) 
(Now, to think about a redesign to go along with it...hmmmm)

Never fear, my old address will forward you there, so no need to change your reader settings or favorites lists!

Have a wonderful New Year's, y'all...see you in 2013!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: The Intercept by Dick Wolf

Title: The Intercept
Author: Dick Wolf
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Source: ARC received from the publisher for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads :

Days before the July Fourth holiday and the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, an incident aboard a commercial jet over the Atlantic Ocean reminds everyone that vigilance is not a task to be taken lightly. But for iconoclastic New York Police detective Jeremy Fisk, it may also be a signal that there is much more to this case than the easy answer: that this is just the work of another lone terrorist.

Fisk—from the department’s Intelligence Division, a well-funded anti-terror unit modeled upon the CIA—suspects that the event might also be a warning sign that another, potentially more extraordinary scheme has been set in motion. Fluent in Arabic and the ways of his opponents, Fisk is a rule breaker who follows his gut—even if it means defying those above him in the department’s food chain. So when a passenger from the same plane, a Saudi Arabian national, disappears into the crowds of Manhattan, it’s up to Fisk and his partner Krina Gersten to find him before the celebrations begin.

Watching each new lead fizzle, chasing shadows to dead ends, Fisk and Gersten quickly realize that their opponents are smarter and more agile than any they have ever faced. Extremely clever and seemingly invisible, they are able to exploit any security weakness and anticipate Fisk’s every move. And time is running out.

My Review:

If you have watched TV at all in the last 20 years, the name Dick Wolf probably rings a bell.  He's the creator of TV's Law & Order series (DUN DUN).  When I heard he had written a book, I was intrigued.  I figured if he wrote in a manner similar to the dramatic style of his TV shows, the book had the potential to be awesome.  Or, he could end up being an egotistical Hollywood-type who thinks he can write fiction, but is dead wrong.

So, first things first: I'm happy to report that Dick Wolf CAN write fiction.  Really fantastic fiction, in fact.  The prose is tight, the characters click, and the suspense had me awake and reading way later than my life with a 1-year-old should allow.

Let's talk about the writing for a moment.  Wolf is (unsurprisingly) a New York City connossieur, and it shows in the details of this novel.  The ins and outs of the NYPD's structure is explained well, including bits of information about the Intelligence Division that it seems only an insider would know.  It was interesting to see how this department works--and also how its investigative techniques, though advanced, are not foolproof.  The cultural makeup of the five boroughs is illustrated in a way that makes a non-New Yorker feel like they have an intimate understanding of the city.  New York City is the main location for a lot of novels, but that doesn't always translate into a dynamic and immersive setting the way it does here.  These details added a lot to the believability of the storyline.

While we're talking about details, I think it's important to note that Wolf took some liberties with the timeline used in this novel.  He has one crucial scene in the beginning that involves bin Laden's assassination (in May 2011), and the rest of the novel takes place around July 4th weekend in that same year.  However, the dates for the year are wrong (July 4th is on a Sunday in the novel, it was actually a Monday in 2011), and he has the World Trade Center dedication happening that weekend (as far as I know, the dedication hasn't happened yet since the building is going to be finished in 2013).  This threw me off at first, but since the terrorist acts in the novel are purely fictional, in hindsight I can see why he wanted to fictionalize the timing as well.

Our protagonist in this novel is Jeremy Fisk.  I am often leery of series that continually focus on one character, because I think they sometimes center too much on that particular person and not enough on the action of the story.  That is not the case in The Intercept.  Fisk's background is explained just enough so that he feels like a well-rounded character, but not so much that it seems the entire book revolves around him.  By the end, I cared enough about him that I wanted to read the next installment in his series (get on that, Wolf), but I didn't lose focus on the plot as a whole.  I think this is a tricky balance for an author to maintain.  I also loved Fisk's relationship with his colleague/girlfriend, Krina Gersten.  Their dynamic was punchy and fun, but with a bit of a soft center.  It is so easy for romance in a thriller to seem silly or misplaced (hi, every Dan Brown novel) but I didn't get that sense here at all.

Last but not least, let's talk about the most important thing--the action!  What is a thriller novel without action?  The plot has a ton of twists, but doesn't feel overdone or too complex.  It will leave you guessing without causing confusion in a ton of important details.  That said, there was one twist (a somewhat major one) that I found rather predictable, which was a bit disappointing.  My guess is that anyone else reading the book will probably figure it out as well, since the character it involves is focused upon way more than they should be.  I was afraid this obvious plot turn would detract from the end of the novel, but fortunately, it didn't.  Even when you figure out who the bad guy/girl is, there are still so many questions and further change-ups that you stay engaged right through to the end.

In case you haven't guessed, my doubts about Dick Wolf as an author have been dashed.  If you are a fan of crime thrillers, read this NOW.  It's an amazing literary debut, and I will be checking out the next Jeremy Fisk novel for sure.


Are you a Law and Order fan?  Are you planning to check out Dick Wolf's new novel as a result?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Small Fry Saturday #12: Jingle All The Way by Tom Shay-Zapien

It's time for installment #12 of Small Fry Saturdays!  This is where I do a weekly showcase of books that my Small Fry is currently reading.  Feel free to do a SFS post on your blog (with the graphic above) or leave a comment below about your favorite kiddie reads.

Jingle All The Way by Tom Shay-Zapien

For my last Christmas-related children's book of the year, I'm reviewing a book that Small Fry received as a gift from my mother-in-law this week!

Jingle All The Way is actually an "interactive story buddies" book, which means it comes with a stuffed Jingle the dog.  You turn Jingle on before you start reading, and then when you read key sentences in the book (highlighted in red), the stuffed Jingle will bark/sing/whine/etc with the story.  It's a cute concept!

The book itself is heartwarming.  Jingle roams the streets, but particularly loves hanging out with the children at the local elementary school.  On Christmas Eve night, he is looking for a home to stay in, but can't find one.  He accidentally curls up to sleep in Santa's sack, and Santa delivers him to a little boy's house on Christmas morning.  (Let me hear it: "Awwwwwww.")  The story is great, and Jingle is just so darn adorable (the illustrations of him are almost better than the actual stuffed dog!).

As for the "interactive" part, that is a little less awesome.  You can have literally NO background noise going on when you read, or else Jingle won't play along.  Case in point: the first time my husband tried reading it, the dishwasher was running in the next room, and he couldn't get Jingle to react when he read (or, shouted) any of the prompting lines.  I can only get it to work if I'm sitting in complete silence.  (Just picture me sitting in my living room, screaming repeatedly at a stuffed dog: "And Jingle was a good boy!...AND JINGLE WAS A GOOD BOY!  GAHHHH!")  So the interactive-ness is a neat idea, but definitely not ideal (especially when reading to a busy/noisy toddler).

Even so, I'm glad Small Fry gets to enjoy this book, and he loves squeezing his fluffy Jingle...even if the dog is a little bit hard of hearing.

What new books did your Small Fries receive from Santa this week?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Extravaganza!

I don't normally take part in the "stack your shelf" or "mailbox Monday" posts, because sharing book hauls isn't my usual cup of tea.  But thanks to some lovely gift cards this Christmas, I raided Amazon and Barnes and Noble this week, and I had to share the spoils!

Generally, when I use gift cards, I try very hard to stick with bargain-priced and marked-down books, because I figure I can always borrow the full-price hardcovers from the library (or wait until they go on sale).  I'm not impatient enough with book releases to spend the $$ on new arrivals.  So I'm fairly proud of the amount of books I was able to get with just two $50 gift cards!

First up, my Amazon haul for my Kindle:

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
Don't Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Amazon doesn't let you search by price (BOOOOO), so I never do as well there as I do at B+N.

Here's my B+N haul (shipping this week!):

Fragile by Lisa Unger
William Shakespeare: Complete Plays
Dracula by Bram Stoker (with a very cool cover design)
The Inferno by Dante
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Crashers by Dana Haynes
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
The Brightest Star In The Sky by Marian Keyes
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
Promises to Keep by Jane Green

I also received one book as a gift from my husband: July 7th by Jill McCorkle. 

July 7th is my son's birthday, so my husband snagged me a copy when he found it online!

What are your book shopping strategies?  Did you receive any good reads this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday (11)

Welcome back, wordy friends!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words, all from The Uninvited by Liz Jensen. All definitions from

1. mesmeric. "The mesmeric second hand of his watch has a role to play here." 

1. produced by mesmerism; hypnotic.
2. compelling; fascinating.

(I recognized the root in mesmerizing, but had never seen the word in this form.)

2. cochineal. "They'll raid shops for tins, dig for bugs, mill about in their cochineal uniforms until they get discarded or fall apart and they are stinking and dressed in rags and eating insects.

a red dye prepared from the dried bodies of the females of the cochineal insect.

(The uniforms in the novel are bright red.)

3. cagouled. "I glance up: a bulky cagouled figure is standing on the broad concrete walkway above us
. "
from "cagoule", noun
a lightweight usually knee-length type of anorak.

(Apparently this word is French in origin.)

What are your new words this week?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, y'all!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful, merry, joyous, bookish-gift-filled Christmas!  Thank you all for being such awesome and thoughtful readers of my blog.  I have truly enjoyed every minute thus far, and I can't wait for all that there is to come.

Now then, back to gorging myself on cookies and Reese's peanut butter Christmas trees!!
Thanks, Hermoine.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from  Goodreads :

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

My Review:

I am late to the Matched party.  But with book 3 in this trilogy (Reached) getting so much hype, I HAD to see what all the fussin' was about.

Let's start with the good stuff.  Matched draws you in at the beginning.  I love seeing what kinds of crazy dystopian worlds YA authors can come up with, and the Society in this novel gave me a lot to ponder.  In the Society, everything you do (down to the calories you consume and the dreams you have) is monitored by Officials.  Citizens are only taught information that they must know (so if you're a doctor, you wouldn't ever be taught something a carpenter knows, and vice versa).  And their lives are strictly regulated in order to ensure production of high-quality offspring.  So enters the Matching ceremony, where 17-year-old Cassia finds out who the Society has decided she will marry.  You don't have a ton of information about the Society at the beginning of the novel, so this immediately left me wanting to read more.

Another thumbs-up goes to the romance in this book.  I often find teenage love triangles high on the eye-roll scale (Twi-hards, DO NOT even get me started), but Cassia/Xander/Ky had a great dynamic.  I love how the Society created so much doubt in the relationship between Cassia and Ky--they were constantly left to wonder if what they were feeling was true, or just pushed upon them by their environment.  Kind of a cool spin on the whole thing.

However, despite these plusses, I struggled with the novel.  Let me be more clear: it was kind of dulls-ville.  "It's DYSTOPIAN!," you proclaim.  "How can it be boring?"  Ooooh, but it is, my friends.  Trust.

My first issue with Matched is that it is not an original concept.  It only took me a few chapters to realize that I was basically reading Divergent again, but with different characters and goals. The Society, with its strict rules and classification system, runs very similarly to Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago in Divergent.  The characters realize that they want to rebel against this society for one reason or another.  Their family members harbor secrets that complicate the situation. There is a love story involving a boy with a mysterious past.  Etcetera.  It all felt very repetitive.

That is not an entirely fair thing to say, because Matched was actually released before Divergent, but the fact remains that anyone reading both series is going to see the overlap in theme, setting, etc.  (If I read Divergent second, I'd be telling you that that one didn't have an original concept either.)  I've heard similar comments about the Delirium series, which also generally gets high ratings, so maybe it's just a YA dystopian thing and I have to get over it.  But as someone who reads this genre once in a while (rather than all the time), it irked me.

Also, Cassia.  Ugh, Cassia.  She seriously underwhelmed me as a protagonist.  She just didn't have any FEELINGS for such a large part of the book.  I felt like the first 200 pages involved all these crazy revelations being thrown at her, and she blandly took them in without any forceful emotional reaction.  There was finally one scene where she gets in an argument with her brother, and responds to him with "acid" in her tone, and I was like, "YES!  ANGER!  LET IT RIDE, GIRLFRIEND!!  FEEL THAT RAGE!!"  I wanted more volatility from her.  Tears, screams, throwing things.  By the end, I would have taken an eye twitch.  Really, anything.

That "flat" feeling unfortunately ran all the way through the novel, even through the conclusion.  I was hoping that the end would sucker-punch me with a huge cliffhanger,  There are questions at the end, but absolutely nothing that makes me want to jump out of my seat and go buy Crossed rightthissecond.

Overall?  Matched left me scratching my head about all the hype around it.  If the romance angle is what draws you to YA fiction, then this could work for you.  But if you want anything that falls into the "gut-wrenching" or "emotionally-charged" categories, I'd say: look elsewhere. 

Will I read Crossed and Reached?  Eh...maybe.  Part of me feels like I should (stopping after part one of a trilogy feels like only finishing a third of a novel to me...and I hate to DNF).  And maybe things will pick up in those installments?  But I won't be scrambling for them anytime soon.

If you liked Matched, what sold you on it?  And if you haven't read it yet, have you read any other YA dystopians that you'd recommend?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Small Fry Saturday #11: Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star by Petr Horacek

It's time for installment #11 of Small Fry Saturdays!  This is where I do a weekly showcase of books that my Small Fry is currently reading.  Feel free to do a SFS post on your blog (with the graphic above) or leave a comment below about your favorite kiddie reads.

Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star by Petr Horacek

I am having so much fun discovering these Christmas books with Small Fry at our library!

Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star is an adorable story about (you guessed it) Suzy the goose, who is decorating the Christmas tree with all of her other animal friends.  However, they soon realize that they are missing a star for the tree.  Suzy sets out to get the best and brightest star she can find!  And when she has difficulty, her animal friends help her out so that they can create the perfect tree that they envisioned.

I love that this book teaches kids about being determined and bold--but also about how to accept help when you need it.  Two awesome messages, on top of some Christmas cheer.  It's beautifully illustrated as well.  And what is my thing with geese in kid's books this year?  I guess Duck and Goose infiltrated my brain.

What Christmas books are you enjoying this holiday season?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

Title: Sad Desk Salad
Author: Jessica Grose
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Source: copy received from Mandy at The Well-Read Wife for Mandy's Blogger Book Club

Plot Summary from  Goodreads :

As a writer for Chick Habit, an increasingly popular women's website, Alex Lyons gets paid to be a bitch. She's churning out several posts a day, and she saves her juiciest ones for blog prime time, when working women eat their sad desk salads in their offices. Alex tells herself she's fulfilling her dream of being a professional writer; so what if it means being glued to her couch and her laptop from six a.m. to six p.m., scouring the web in search of the next big celebrity scandal? Since Chick Habit's parent company keeps close tabs on page views, Alex knows her job is always at risk.

So when an anonymous tipster sends her the year's most salacious story—a politico's squeaky-clean Ivy League daughter caught in a very R-rated activity—it's a no-brainer. But is Alex really willing to ruin the girl's life by igniting the next Internet feeding frenzy? And what she doesn't yet realize is how this big scoop is about to send her own life spiraling out of control.

My Review:

First, two things about this cover/title.  ONE: the title always reminds me of the Fruit Salad song by The Wiggles.  ("Fruit salad...yummy yummy.")  Yeah, tag that under #momproblems.  TWO: the cover makes me hungry for salad.  I may or may not be eating a salad (at my desk) while I write this review.  I really love salad.

Well, now that we got that out of the way.

Sad Desk Salad is one of the more fun books I've read in 2012.  I place it in the chick lit genre, but it's got a healthy dose of wit and sarcasm that keeps it off the "fluffy" end of the spectrum.  Plus, I think any blogger, cubicle monkey, or woman-who-is-20something-or-was-once will relate in some way to Alex.  She's fun-loving, clever, and has big hopes and dreams, but she's also self-conscious and has a tendency to get in her own way (don't we all, sometimes?).

At the core of this novel are Alex's struggles to balance her Internet life with her real life.  As a blogger, she is steeped in Internet culture all day long--and as a result, her human relationships suffer.  Nowadays, I think that's the case for lots of us (even if we don't work online).  Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in the latest Facebook drama, and not pay enough attention to the people around our own kitchen tables.  I really loved watching Alex contemplate this part of her story.

As far as the plot goes, I am happy to report that this is a chick lit novel that I did NOT find predictable.  In the midst of dealing with the aforementioned story about the Ivy League daughter, Alex is also trying to figure out who started a hate blog about her and her fellow bloggers.  While there were a few small hints about the culprit throughout the novel, it certainly wasn't enough to make me feel like I knew the answer well before the end.  I find that the element of surprise is often lost in this genre, but not so in Sad Desk Salad.

There is a bit of romance in the book (Alex is juggling her work responsibilities with her relationship with Peter, her live-in boyfriend), which provides a nice balance to the work-related drama.  But it's not overdone or cutesy in the mode of romance in many other women's fiction novels.  Alex is simply trying to find a way to make her work and home life comfortably co-exist--something that I think a lot of 25-year-olds struggle with early in their careers.

Another plus: this novel is very "current".  A lot of the dialogue goes on via text, email, and IM.  References to pop culture abound (Kardashians, Real Housewives, etc).  Grose even updated her novel to include the newest anchor of the Today Show, Savannah Guthrie, in one important scene (though I did see one slip where Ann Curry's name was listed when it should have been Savvy G's--oh snap!).  While I do think this could work against the book in the long run (readers 10 years from now are not going to remember David After Dentist on YouTube...I can guarantee it), for a here-and-now read it provides tons of entertainment.

I have one caveat about this book.  And it is this: at several points in the novel, the University of Connecticut is named as U Conn.  As a Husky alum, I squirmed in my seat every freaking time I read it, because there is most definitely no space there.  UConn, people.  It's UConn.  You heard it here at the Well-Read Redhead first.

Aren't you glad I got that out of my system?  If that's my biggest complaint about this book, you better pick it up and read it, like yesterday.  I'm a little sad that I already wrote my Best Books of 2012 post, because this one was pretty darn good.  Honorable mention!

Mucho thanks to Mandy over at The Well-Read Wife for providing my copy of the book.  We will be discussing Sad Desk Salad for Mandy's Blogger Book Club.  Grab a copy and join us!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday (10)

Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words from some of my recent reads. All definitions from

1. widdershins. "As if surprised by his rage, the widdershins pressure on the doorknob eased again." (from Dreamcatcher by Stephen King)

1. in the direction contrary to the apparent course of the sun; anticlockwise.
2. in a direction contrary to the usual; in the wrong direction.

(Apparently this is primarily a Scottish word.)

2. eidetic. "Barry is an eating machine.  And his memory, on this subject, at least, is eidetic. " (from Dreamcatcher by Stephen King)

of, pertaining to, or constituting visual imagery vividly experienced and readily reproducible with great accuracy and in great detail.

(Can I just say how hard it is to identify new words when you are listening to an audiobook?  This word does not look like it sounds, at least to me. ahy-det-ik)

3. surcease. "Eagerly I wished the morrow, vainly I had sought to borrow from my books  surcease  of sorrow
. " (from Feed by Mira Grant)
1. to cease from some action; desist.
2. to come to an end.

(They used this as a passcode in the book--I think it's from a Poe poem?)

What are your new words this week?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

Title: The Uninvited
Author: Liz Jensen
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review

Plot Summary from  Goodreads :

A seven-year-old girl puts a nail gun to her grandmother's neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious? As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry.  Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger's Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioral patterns and an outsider's fascination with group dynamics. Nothing obvious connects Hesketh's Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behavior of his beloved stepson, Freddy. But when Hesketh's Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career, and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father. Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.

My Review:

I requested this ARC from NetGalley because the description instantly grabbed me.  Hello, that first line?  Terrifying.  I think we can all agree that the idea of child-as-villain is extremely creepy (think The Omen, The Grudge, The Ring...gah).  What would make an otherwise innocent seven-year-old do something so random and horrific?  Do I need to clear all the sharp objects out of my house?  I had to find out.

The beginning of the book only served to heighten this intrigue.  It starts off by describing the event above, with the girl killing her grandmother.  Then it jumps to Hesketh Lock, our protagonist, who is investigating corporate sabotage cases in Taiwan.  The disconnect is huge between these two subjects, but it left me glued to the book until I could find out the relation between them.

Let's talk for a minute about Hesketh.  What a distinctive choice of narrator!  It took me a little while to get used to his manner of speaking.  Living with Asperger's, Hesketh has a very "materialistic" view of the world.  He sees and focuses on physical things, rather than the complicated thoughts or emotions behind them.  This means he often describes things rather abruptly (maybe even callously), but this is a result of his disorder, rather than a conscious choice in thinking.  (Also, this leads to some unintentionally humorous quotes:
"Is she beautiful?  Most of my male colleagues think so, emphatically.  They also claim to like her 'as a person.'")

Jensen did a great job fleshing out his character, and this alone adds so much to the story.  Plus, Hesketh's materialistic POV puts him in a unique position to deal with the pandemic of child violence without letting extreme emotion get in the way.  As becomes evident in the novel, almost no one else connected with the story is able to do that.  And for good darn reason--hello, a bunch of possessed third graders are killing their families!  It's freaking disturbing!!

So, how does it all wrap up?  No spoilers here, but I thought the ending walked some fine lines.  A fine line between being thoughtful or preachy.  A fine line between being abrupt or perfectly placed.  I took a few days to let it sink in, and I've decided that overall, Jensen walked those tightropes well and gave the book a solid finish.  She obviously had a message that she was trying to convey at the end, and she managed to do it without taking away from the hard-hitting impact of the rest of the plot. Timing-wise, I do think it was a tad abrupt--the novel suddenly jumps forward several weeks, and then wraps up in a few pages, which is a tough leap after a story that was otherwise so evenly paced.  But the content was good, and it wrapped things up while also leaving you with a lot of questions to ponder.

I've seen several people place this in the "horror" genre on Goodreads, but I think "dystopian" is far more appropriate.  Yes, there are some terrifying events in this book, but they are more thought-provoking than horrific, much of the time.  If you can handle some violent scenes, this is an absorbing read that's worth the creep-factor.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Are You Reading? (3)

Happy Monday, reader friends!  We just had our first (of 3) Christmases this weekend, as we traveled to my in-laws for some holiday celebrating.  As a result, I did not get a ton of reading done, but I DID get Amazon and B+N gift cards, so BOO-YAH!  Christmas reading win.

'Twas kind of a crazy weekend though as well, because Small Fry got sick with croup, and we spent all of Friday night in the ER as a result.  (Luckily, it has subsided and he's doing much better now.)  We came home from the in-laws a day early, and spent yesterday recouping and watching the Giants play disgustingly.*

Christmas #2 is this weekend in Connecticut with my family, and Christmas #3 is the actual Christmas day, at home, just the three of us.  Ahhhhh.  I can't wait to just relax with my boys in front of the tree for a few days.  It's nice seeing our families, but all those car rides get exhausting.

(Says the girl who used to jump in the car and drive from NY to Florida at the drop of a hat...oh how the mighty have fallen.)

Anywho, right now I am currently reading:

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose
I am reading this as part of Mandy's Blogger Book Club at The Well-Read Wife.  Mandy bought 20 copies of the book and sent them out to some fellow bloggers so we could discuss and enjoy together.  How cool is that?  
She also has awesome taste in blog names.  Obviously.  
Oh, but the book!  I have only a few pages left, love it so far, and I'm looking forward to posting a full review for you later this week.  Stay tuned.

And I'm listening to:
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
I love me some Stephen King.  That said, I think maybe this was the wrong one to pick for an audiobook.  It's really long (20 CDs) and while the story started strong, I'm feeling kind of stuck halfway through it.  While reading, I can usually push through slower/longer novels fairly well, but on audio, it involves me having to rewind way too many times because my brain wandered.  Anyway, I hope it picks up and gets better soon.

What will I read next? 
Probably either The Intercept by Dick Wolf (yes, of Law and Order fame! I have an ARC for review), or Matched by Ally Condie (which I know, I'm about the last person on that bandwagon).

What are YOU reading today?
*There was also a really horrible thing that happened on Friday (you've seen it in the news), and no, I didn't post about it. I'm keeping it mostly off the blog, because it hits a little too close to home for me (I grew up in CT and have several friends that knew the victims). But suffice to say those families are in my prayers.  I am hugging Small Fry a little tighter these days.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Deja Vu Review (5)

The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read in my pre-blogging days.  This week's topic is classics!  Here are two of my faves.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

When I was in high school, I found it really difficult to enjoy books that we were assigned to read for class.  (Sorry, Mr. Henderson and Mrs. Roth. Truth.)  Because we didn't just enjoy them--we analyzed and interpreted the crap out of them, sometimes until I wanted to tear my hair out.  It took a lot of the fun out of the whole reading thing.

So it should tell you something that when I read this book in high school, I loved it.  And then I re-read it 8 years later, and I loved it even more.  Catherine and Heathcliff = the most angrily passionate romance ever.  Their whole relationship is so crazy to me, it's like a train wreck that I can't look away from.  Plus, the writing style is great because the story is told by Lockwood and Nelly Dean, two characters who, while very familiar with Catherine, Heathcliff, and the other characters, are a bit distanced from the actual events that they are describing.  This leads to a lot of narrative bias, and as a reader you will be left wondering what the "true" story is at times.  I'm a sucker for unique uses of POV.

Oops, here I go--analyzing the crap out of this book.  I guess I must have learned something in school, eh?

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This is a "newer" classic (published in the 1940's), but a classic nonetheless.  If there was ever a book that earned placement in the "coming of age" genre, this is it.  Young Francie Nolan is one of my favorite narrators of all time.  She is growing up poor in Brooklyn around the turn of the century, and while this would probably leave many kids feeling downtrodden or apathetic, Francie is smart, quick, and displays more than a little boldness as she tells the story of her difficult upbringing.  The story unfolds beautifully and the relationships between Francie and the rest of her family are fascinating.  I will definitely be giving this a re-read one day.

Bonus: it contains one of my favorite book-related quotes!:
"Francie thought that all the books in the world were in that library and she had a plan about reading all the books in the world."

What are your favorite classics?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Small Fry Saturday #10: Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert, by Marla Frazee

It's time for installment #10 of Small Fry Saturdays!  This is where I do a weekly showcase of books that my Small Fry is currently reading.  Feel free to do a SFS post on your blog (with the graphic above) or leave a comment below about your favorite kiddie reads.

Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert, by Marla Frazee

Another fun Christmas book for you this morning!  This was another one that Small Fry and I unearthed at the library recently.  Let me tell you, the kid's Christmas books section at the library is cutthroat these days--everything is on 7-day loan, and parents are pushing each other out of the way to nab the best ones.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but it's pretty cray-cray.

Anyways, this book is awesome for kids and adults alike.  It teaches kids about the painstaking work Santa does to research all the best toys, and keep tabs on all the kiddos, so that he can give everyone the very best presents possible (including himself!).  Small fries will love hearing the story, but adults will get a chuckle too, as the illustrations have all sorts of hilarious little details.  (Ex: Santa sitting at his desk surrounded by sticky notes...hello, that is my entire life at work ON THE DAILY.)

The drawings in the book are seemingly simple, but hold more detail the longer you look them over.  And I love how the author used a lot white space on the page, allowing the words to flow over and around the illustrations in a playful way.  Overall, this is a fun, spirited Christmas book that will make kids excited to see what Santa chose for them this year!

What Christmas books are you enjoying this holiday season?

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2012

I know there's still technically 2-ish weeks of the year left, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I've waited long enough to announce my...
Now you still have 10 days to buy them before Christmas!  WINNING!

It is always so hard for me to look back on a year's worth of reading, and narrow it down to just a few favorites.  I start with a list of eleventy billion great books, and I swear that I will never be able to cut any of them from the list.  After many tears, I get it down to maybe 20, then 15, and finally 10.  And I did it.  I DID IT FOR YOU.  You're welcome, world.

So without further ado!

I will start with the two books that were, far and away, the best things I read this year.  FAR. AND. AWAY.  I cannot choose between the two.  They were:

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

These two books blew my mind, for entirely different reasons.  Gone Girl is probably the best psychological thriller I've read in the history of ever.  The Night Circus has some of the most outstanding writing and detail work I've seen, along with a romance that draws in even the most mush-resistant reader (ME).  Unfortunately for you, I read The Night Circus before I started blogging, but you can read my gushing review of Gone Girl here.

After those two, here are the other 8 that made the cut, in no particular order.  (I included links to my reviews for any that I read after starting the blog.)

3. Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Chick-lit with wry, deadpan humor?  Yes.  More of this please.  Perfect for the late 20s/early 30s set.

4. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Finally got around to reading this masterpiece.  Worth every page.  Furthered my already-existing King love.

5. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Deeply heartbreaking, but the writing is beautiful.

6. Gold by Chris Cleave

Phenomenal character development, unpredictable twists, and the Olympics!  TRIFECTA!

7. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

A frightening premise (child abduction) told from a unique perspective.  Richmond does a great job exploring the relationships between her characters.

8. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

(Kind of) dystopian, (kind of) romance, (definitely) raises tons of sociological/cultural questions.  Great twist at the end.  I'm dying to see the movie now.

9. The Light of Amsterdam by David Park

I know, I didn't pick this as my best book of November, and the book that did get picked isn't on this list.  What can I say?  It's books, not a math equation.  A month later, this book is sticking in my mind longer than most.  The setting and the characters are just so well done.

10. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

My one non-fiction pick of the year.  Jenny Lawson is hilarious, and so is her book.  She makes me want to taunt my husband with a yardful of metal chickens.

That's all she wrote, 2012!

What were your favorites this year?  What should I add to my MUST READ list for 2013?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday (9)

Happy 12/12/12!  Fun date!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words from some of my recent reads. All definitions from

1. miscegenation. "In 1960, the year that my parents were married, miscegenation still described a felony in over half the states in the Union." (from Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama)

1. marriage or cohabitation between a man and woman of different races, especially, in the US, between a black and a white person.
2. interbreeding between members of different races.
3. the mixing or mixture of races by interbreeding.

(Never knew there was a formal term for this.)

2. concupiscent. "Call the roller of big cigars, / The muscular one, and bid him whip / In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. " (Wallace Stevens, as quoted in 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King)

1. lustful or sensual.
2. eagerly desirous.

(OK, this is a weird poem.)

3. pastiche. "...because unlike most of those around him he could claim to have actually seen him play and not just the jaded pastiche of his final years when his legs had gone.." (from The Light of Amsterdam by David Park)
1. a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources.
2. an incongruous combination of materials, forms, motifs, etc, taken from different sources; hodgepodge.

(Every time I use a word from this novel, I am impressed with Park's use of language!)

What are your new words this week?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: Bluff by Lenore Skomal

Title: Bluff
Author: Lenore Skomal
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: September 3, 2012
Source: e-galley provided by Novel Publicity Blog Tours for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

"To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.”

Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions threaten to reveal everyone's deceptions, even her own. Bluff offers a sensitive look at essential questions such as the value of human life, the consciousness of those in a coma and the morality of terminating life support. At the core is the story of a tragically misunderstood woman who finds peace, acceptance, understanding and even love on her deathbed.

My Review:

OK readers, if you read the descriptor information above, and remember this post I did about self-published novels, you know this review is a BIG DEALIO for me.  I generally do not accept self-published novels for review, but when I saw this one available through a Novel Publicity tour, the description was just too darn good to pass up.  I had to break my own rule for a hot minute and give it a shot.

Overall, I'd say that I'm glad that I did.  This is not (I repeat, NOT) the type of poorly-edited, full-of-plot-holes self-published work that I have (unfortunately) had too much experience with in the past.  This book is absorbing, provocative, and is sure to linger in your mind for days after you finish the last page.

Bluff had many pros and cons for me, but the biggest pro is that the plot is full of intriguing and (in some cases) controversial issues.  Sexuality, drug use, infidelity, termination of life support--these topics are all woven into a novel that already has a large and diverse cast of characters.  I was never bored, or at a "slow point" in the book, because there isn't one.  The hits just kept coming.

The book is told from a wide variety of perspectives.  At the center of the novel is Jude, who fell (jumped? was pushed?) off a bluff near her house.  She ends up badly injured, in a coma...and oh yeah, five months pregnant.  You do get Jude's perspective for some of the novel--she seems to have what I can most closely equate to "locked-in syndrome", wherein her body is unresponsive, but mentally she is alert and aware of what happens around her.  

At the same time, in between chapters told from her perspective, you also get the POV of nearly every other character in the book: Frances, her best friend.  April, her estranged sister.  Paul, her lawyer.  Mary Shannon, her nurse.  And many others.  One of the great things about this wide variety of characters is that it made me feel like I was putting a puzzle together, trying to figure out Jude's true nature.  Is she the snarky but caring individual that Frances portrays?  Or is she cold-hearted and withdrawn, as April seems to think?  My impression of her was constantly evolving, which served to heighten the mystery surrounding the central questions of the novel: how did Jude fall off the bluff?  And who is the father of Jude's baby?

However, these two pros (the many controversial issues, and the big cast of characters) also worked against themselves and became cons at various points in the novel.  In terms of the many issues, I often felt like this book was having a bit of an identity crisis--it couldn't decide what its true central purpose was.  A good example is the problem concerning Jude's life support.  In the beginning of the novel, this seemed like it was going to be a hotly-debated topic among the characters as the plot moved along.  However, by the end, the potential controversy fell a bit flat, and wasn't debated much at all.  It left me wondering why this was introduced so strongly to begin with.  It seemed to me that, at times, the author got a bit ambitious with the scope of the novel, and would have done better saving some of these issues for a separate book.

The same goes for the cast of characters.  I appreciate books that tell me the story from multiple POVs, but this one was overkill at times.  I counted 13 different POVs before I stopped keeping track. This was great at times (see above: putting together the puzzle!), but at other times, it was just frustrating.  I felt like I wanted these characters to be more deeply developed, but they were each given such little time to explain themselves, that I was sometimes confused.  For example, Mary Shannon starts out hating (like, really hating) Jude, but midway through the novel she suddenly has a change of heart and considers them to be "friends".  This was explained very abruptly, and left me wishing that this emotional transition had been explained further.  Plus, some of the perspectives just didn't seem necessary (Officer Murphy, Dr. Jefferies...).  The important details in those characters' stories could have been told from an already-existing perspective.  So again, I got the sense that the book was a little overzealous in this department.

Overall though, I'm sticking with my original statement: this is a captivating novel that is worth a read.  It is not light reading--some of the topics/events are dark, violent, and/or sexual in nature.  (Violence involving women and children is involved--just a warning for those that may be sensitive to that.)  And I do wish that it was a bit more directed at times.  But if you don't mind the tenebrous and multi-focused mood of the novel, I can promise that this one will leave you in suspense more than once.

Want to win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Bluff?

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Bluff tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I've posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.
About the author: Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She is an award-winning author with the single goal of resonating with others. Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, her catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, 18 books published, a daily blog and weekly newspaper column, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues of the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence. She has won many Society of Professional Journalist awards, the Whidbey Island Writer's Conference honorable mention for best fiction, Writer's Digest 73rd Annual Fiction Contest, New York Public Library's Best Books for Teens 2003, and most recently, the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor for “Burnt Toast.,” her first anthology of her award winning humor columns. From journalism, to literary fiction, to humor and biography, her writing is consistent, if not in genre, then in message. Connect with Lenore on her website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.
Get Bluff on Amazon.
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Blackout by Mira Grant

Title: Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy #3)
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads :

The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.

The year was 2039. The world didn't end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. They uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this:

Things can always get worse.

Blackout is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that began in the Hugo-nominated Feed and the sequel, Deadline.

My Review:

I have already said so much about this trilogy in my other two reviews (HERE and HERE).  If you don't want the trilogy spoiled for you, you should probably start with the other two books first!  Otherwise, do read on.

First and foremost--this was an excellent conclusion to a truly action-packed trilogy.  This third installment does not have a single dull moment.  **Spoilers**   Now that Georgia is back, the book alternates between her POV and Shaun's POV.  This alone made me never want to put the book down, because each Georgia chapter would end on a cliffhanger, followed by a Shaun chapter ending on a cliffhanger, and on and on.  Until their stories intersect in the middle of the novel, you're constantly bouncing back and forth between them, which I loved.  Just like the other two books, this one gets an A+ for action, and the zombie stuff is suspenseful without being gory or overdone.

Also, the world building continues to shine.  The author obviously knows her stuff about virology, and incorporates it into the novel in a way that is easy for the lay-reader to understand.  This adds SO much to the trilogy in terms of believability.

I only had a few small complaints, and one of them will not be new to you (given my review of Deadline ).  I really...really...REALLY do not like Shaun as a narrator.  He constantly reminds us that he's so crazy, he's on the brink of insanity, he's going to punch someone in the face, yada yada gets very old, very fast.  Having Georgia back as a second narrator was helpful though, because I only had to listen to him half of the time.

The other issues were focused more on writing style.  I would love to count how many times the characters "wince" or "grimace" in this novel.  Nobody winces or grimaces that much in real life, even if they are being pursued by the undead.  And this book (along with Deadline) spends significant amounts of time reviewing things that happened in the previous books.  I don't understand why authors do this, especially in trilogies.  Who is jumping in at book #3 without reading book #1??  All that review stuff is just space filler for everyone who read the other two books.

But just like with Deadline, those complaints just don't matter as much as the good stuff.  The action and suspense is awesome, and I developed a love for a lot of the side characters as well.  I felt invested in all of them.  There are some great twists (weird, but great), and the ending is satisfying without being all tied up with a bow.  If you want an addicting trilogy with some smarts, Newsflesh is definitely for you!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Small Fry Saturday #9: Merry Christmas, Ollie! by Olivier Dunrea

It's time for installment #9 of Small Fry Saturdays!  This is where I do a weekly showcase of books that my Small Fry is currently reading.  Feel free to do a SFS post on your blog (with the graphic above) or leave a comment below about your favorite kiddie reads.

Merry Christmas, Ollie! by Olivier Dunrea

For the rest of this month, I will be highlighting CHRISTMAS BOOKS!!  Small Fry and I went to the local library last week, and took out a few holiday books to help us celebrate the season.  I tried to grab books that I hadn't seen before, because Small Fry loves new reading material, and I like to branch out beyond the more popular kid's books.

Merry Christmas, Ollie! is an adorable book about Ollie the gosling.  Ollie and his 4 gosling friends (Gossie, Gertie, BooBoo, and Peedie) are anxiously waiting for Christmas, and the arrival of Father Christmas Goose.  But Ollie is especially impatient!  While the other goslings hang their stockings and wait quietly, Ollie stomps around, because he wants Christmas NOW!  The other goslings try to help him stay patient as they wait for the big day to arrive.

This book captures the impatience that little kids feel when they know Christmas (and Santa) are just around the corner!  It's a short book, so a good one for your smallest small fries.  And the illustrations are what got me the most--remember how much I adored Duck and Goose?  The goslings in this book remind me of them, with their adorable big beaks and winter hats.  Love it.  I didn't realize it when we took it out, but this book is part of the Gossie & Friends series, also by Dunrea.  I will be checking them out for sure!

What Christmas books are you enjoying this holiday season?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Title: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures In The Culinary Underbelly
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: May 2000
Source: Personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads:

A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine.

My Review:

Remember yesterday, when I mentioned that I signed up for the Foodies Read 2013 challenge?  I love food books.  Especially food memoirs.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  I am a self-proclaimed foodie (if you can be a terrible cook and still call yourself that...hey, I appreciate other people's cooking).  I will try anything and everything you set on my plate.  Plus, some of my favorite memories revolve around food (dinner in the Escoffier Room at the CIA?  Tapas at Cal Pep in Barcelona? Poutine in Montreal? The list goes on).  Before I go into a salivating tangent (too late?), let's suffice to say that I love reading about food.

In honor of that, I am reviewing the first food memoir I ever read (back in 2010)--Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.  If you love food, AND you have a crude sense of humor (check, and check) you will enjoy this book.

In this memoir, Bourdain tells the story of how he entered the world of food service.  He chronicles his time at the Culinary Institute of America, and his early years of finding work as a chef after graduation.  He covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of his experiences.  I know that some people who are not fans of his TV shows (No Reservations, The Layover, etc) think that Bourdain is a self-centered, egotistic arse--but this book paints a very different picture.  He covers his successes, and his (major) faults, along the way to becoming the "celebrity chef" that he is now (even though he will probably personally hunt me down and beat me for referring to him as such).

The section of the book about his time at the CIA is easily my favorite.  I am mildly obsessed with the place--my stepfather went there in the 80's, and I grew up hearing his stories, so hearing tales from other Hyde Park veterans has always been of interest to me.  (Aside: if you're interested, check out Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef--awesome info about the full CIA curriculum!)  CIA training is no joke, and reveals much of how Bourdain honed the skills he retains today.  Plus, he obviously peppers the narrative with his various hijinks during his education there, which makes it all the better.

Be prepared to hear about the food industry in all of its dysfunctional glory.  Sex, drugs, uncleanliness, name it.  But at the same time, Bourdain tells stories of his important "epiphanies" over the years--the things that made him love food and want to know how to work well with it.  This passion is much of what's kept him going in such a crazy, work-you-to-the-bone industry for so many years.

The thing I love best about this book is that you can hear Bourdain's voice loud and clear through the writing.  He is sarcastic, obscene, and irreverent, just as you hear him on TV.  He had me laughing out loud, often because I could hear him speaking the words to me in my head.

This book probably isn't for everyone--if you're not interested in the inner workings of the food industry, there are parts that may bore you.  And if you aren't into crude humor, definitely choose a different memoir!  But otherwise, check this one out--it's funny, informative, raunchy, and very much reflective of the Anthony Bourdain you see on TV.

When you're done, check out his other memoirs--A Cook's Tour and Medium Raw especially.  Medium Raw was published more recently, and you can hear how much more seasoned he's become when you compare the two narratives.

What are your favorite food memoirs?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Challenges!

OK y'all, I signed up for 4 more 2013 reading challenges.  Everybody, STOP POSTING AWESOME CHALLENGES.  I can't stop signing up for them.

I'm really done now though.  I already told you about the Monthly Keyword Challenge, and now I also am declaring:

Around The World in 12 Books Challenge, hosted by Giraffe Days
This is going to be SO FUN.  I love to travel, and doing it through books is fun too!

Mount TBR Challenge, hosted by My Reader's Block

I've signed up to read Mont Blanc (at least 24 books from my TBR pile).

Foodies Read Challenge, hosted by Foodies Read
I've signed up for Pastry Chef level (4-8 food-related books).

Audiobook Challenge, hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner

I've signed up for Flirting (listening to at least 6 audiobooks).

No more challenges, Kelly.  NO MORE.

(But look at them all...aren't they pretty...)

You can keep track of my progress next year on my 2013 Challenges page.
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