2015 – A Year in Review

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Friends. I know it’s the end of February and that means I’m oh…almost two months late in posting my 2015 Year in Review blog entry. But better late than never right? Is there ever really a time when it’s too late to share book recommendations? (Answer: There is never a bad time to share book recommendations)

SO. 2015. I completed my goal of reading 140 books. In actuality I read 182 over the course of the year.

Now for the hard part of the post: my top ten reads of 2015!

  1. Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
  2. Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon
  3. When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
  4. The Billionaire Takes a Bride by Jessica Clare
  5. The Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
    •  Cut & Run
    • Sticks & Stones
    • Fish & Chips
    • Divide & Conquer
    • Armed & Dangerous
    • Stars & Stripes
    • Touch & Geaux
    • Ball & Chain
    • Crash & Burn
  6. Splintered Trilogy by A.G. Howard
    • Splintered
    • Unhinged
    • Ensnared
  7. The Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson
    • Lord of the Fading LAnds
    • Lady of Light and Shadow
    • King of Sword and Sky
    • Queen of Song and Souls
    • Crown of Crystal Flame
  8. Enslaved by Virginia Henley
  9. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn
  10. The Boleyn Trilogy by Laura Andersen
    • The Boleyn King
    • The Boleyn Deceit
    • The Boleyn Reckoning

And because 10 is just not enough, here are some more of my favorite reads of 2015, in no particular order:

  • Pride, Prejudice, & Secrets by C.P. Odom
  • Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost
  • The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
  • Wishing for a Highlander by Jessi Gage
  • Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai
  • Act Like It by Lucy Parker
  • It’s Only Love by Marie Force

2015 was a romance heavy reading year for me (whatever haters, I love love.) I’m trying to diversify myself a bit more in 2016. So far, so good. What did you read in 2015? Give me some of your recommendations!

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2014 – A Year in Review

fireworksHere we are again, at the end of another year! As today is the last day of 2014, it’s time for my annual “Year in Review” post.

As of the writing of this post I’ve finished reading 182 books. 13 of those books were ones I read with my 7 month-old niece, so for argument’s sake let’s say 169. My starting goal was to read 130 books, so I’m counting 2014’s reading challenge as a completed success! That means adding another ten books to next year’s challenge for a total of 140 books! (Here’s to hoping I make it!)

And now the difficult part…picking my top ten reads of 2014!

  1. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  2. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
  3. Laugh by Mary Ann Rivers
  4. Romancing the Duke/Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
  5. Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (Really, the entire Knitting in the City series)
  6. The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
  7. Cinder/Scarlet/Cress by Marissa Meyer
  8. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
  9. Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
  10. Murder at the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell

With the amount of books I read in a year, choosing a top 10 seems stupid. With that said, here are all my runners-up (in no particular order)!

Ok readers, I’m passing the torch to you. What did you read this year? Any books or authors that stand out? Share them below! Enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Eve! See you in 2015!

Living With a Book Addict: Where Do You Read?

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Our Deck!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, so hello there! For those of you whom I have not acquainted myself with yet, I’m Todd, Kim’s husband and chronicler of life with someone (cough) who is addicted to reading. Yes, it has its ups and downs, and I aim to tell you all about them (with a healthy side of humor) here. Today my aim is a little more physical, rather than emotional or intellectual: where do you read?

It seems an innocuous enough question on its face. “Well that’s easy,” you might say, “I always read on the couch” or “I always read in bed.” Sure, this is boring and vanilla, and I’m sure it’s perfectly true. But, when you come to think of it, you probably read in many more places than just at home on the couch. Planes, trains, car trips, and white water rafting all see their fair share of reading (okay so perhaps not the last one.) Point being, if reading is a big a part of your life (as it very well is with Kim,) physical location and comfort take a back seat to reading. I’ve seen her read cramped into impossible angles in the car, or with her Nook inches from her face in the darkness of our bedroom. I’ve seen her fall fast asleep with a book tented open on her face, or rolled over a few times myself in bed on a book that’s made its way under the comforter. I’ve even seen her read on the toilet and in the tub!

However, this summer has seen the rise of a new reading location: the deck. You see, we’ve never really had “an outside” as I like to say. Our old apartment in CT did not have a porch or patio, but our new apartment does have a deck. Although it’s only about 5 feet by 10 feet or so, it’s our own slice of the great outdoors. We’ve decked it out (pun definitely intended) with chairs, a small table, and a grill! Now that we have this space, Kim has taken no time in setting up a nice reading spot in a deck chair, complete with a giant umbrella overhead to block out the sun (before the umbrella, there was much sunburn to be had.) I’ve come home from work to find her out on the deck, oblivious to the world driving by below, fully immersed in a book.

So, that brings me back to my original point: where do you read? Is it a special place that you’ve cordoned off in your home, or is it anywhere you happen to have a book? Is it a special part of your daily routine, or do you catch a quick chapter here and there on the train ride home? Whatever the case may be, we can all agree that taking some time out to connect with a good book is invaluable. It’s whether or not you can get over that kink in your neck afterwards that’s the problem. So, let us know below about your favorite reading spot!

Where You Been!?

Hello dear blog friends! (If there are any of you still reading this.)

I owe you all a serious apology for the dismal amount of posting that has (not) been occurring on the blog. Since I’ve become a bookseller with a non-traditional work schedule I seem to be trying to spend as much time (as this odd schedule allows) as I can with my darling hubby, friends, and family. Having your working hours occur while everyone else is free leads to missing everyone. And the free time I have while everyone else is working? Well I’ve been spending it on my deck, reading.

So let me give you a quick synopsis of what I’ve been reading/doing, what you should be reading, and what you can expect from the blog going forward.

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Charlotte, Four hours old

First and foremost I have to share my news! On May 1st I finally became an aunt! My niece Charlotte is the darling of my world. I love her to pieces. And having story time with her every time I babysit? The highlight of my life. She is super alert and listens to all the stories I share with her. What are we reading? Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, LOADS of Dr. Seuss, Jane Austen primer books, and Bill Martin Jr’s Brown Bear & Friends series among other things. I like to believe that I’ll be solely responsible for turning her into a bookworm as she continues to grow.

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Charlotte, 10 Weeks Old

Speaking of growing – holy crap has she grown a lot in two months. The picture to the left is Charlotte at four hours old. The picture on the right was taken during story time this past Wednesday.

I barely got any reading done in May, but I can happily say that I ROCKED it out of the park in June. My YTD total (as of today) is 80 out of 130 reads for the year. I am way behind on writing reviews for all of you, but want to give you a quick synopsis of some of my recommendations.

In the “should read” column:

  1. LANDLINE BY RAINBOW ROWELL – holy crap read it read it read it read it read it. Staffer Sam and I are working on a joint review for this one. Let’s just say there was lots of texting back and forth about how fabulous this book was (as if it could ever have been bad.)
  2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – 3 out of the 4 books in the series have been published. They are fairy tales retold with a science fiction/fantasy flare. Book one, Cinder, is Cinderella. Book two, Scarlet, is Little Red Riding Hood. Book three, Cress, is Rapunzel. And book four, Winter, is about Snow White. The series is fantastic, especially for fans of fairy tales. Sam and I are working on a series spotlight post for the Chronicles, so keep an eye out.
  3. Summer Rain – An anthology featuring authors Ruthie Knox, Mary Ann Rivers, Charlotte Stein, Molly O’Keefe, and more! All of the proceeds for the book go to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). It’s filled with (mostly) fantastic contemporary romances.
  4. Murder at the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell – If you’re in the mood for a mystery, look no further! Maxwell’s got a brand new series that takes place during the Gilded Age, set at the beautiful Newport Mansions.  As a kid my family would vacation for a week each summer in Cape Cod. Halfway between my childhood home and the Cape were the Newport Mansions. Reading a mystery series that revolves around said mansions is brilliant!!!
  5. And on the historical fiction front, I highly recommend The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway! It’s a great time traveling story that weaves in an epic romance. Ridgway’s debut novel is proof she’ll be around in the literary world for a while.

Though I haven’t written posts for my blog, I’ve written some posts that appear elsewhere! Reading BFF Kelly from Reading With Analysis and I reviewed the first book in Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series, The Chocolate Thief. I also did some more reviews over at Austenprose  – the first was for a fabulous paranormal what-if version of Pride and Prejudice by KaraLynne Mackrory. In Haunting Mr. Darcy an accident places Elizabeth in a coma, with her ghost appearing (and haunting) Darcy in his  London home. He has to figure out how to join her mind and body together again. It really was a great book. You can read my review here. The other review was for a contemporary/new adult version of P&P entitled Pride’s Prejudice by Misty Dawn Pulsipher. There were a bunch of editing issues with the book that threw me off for a bit, but ultimately something about the story captured me. My review for that is here.

Keep an eye out for posts from me in the near future. I’m hoping that in the next two weeks I can get finish the plethora of reviews I’ve started. In closing, let me know what you’ve been reading. Have you read anything I mentioned above? What do you think I should be reading? I hope you have all been enjoying your summers and getting in lots of reading time.

As always, happy reading!

2013 – A Year In Review

fireworksIt’s totally cliché, but where the hell has this year gone? With today being the very last day of 2013 I figured I’d do a quick “Year in Review” post to talk about my progress with reading challenges and also to discuss my favorite books of the year!

Quick rundown on how I did with my reading challenges: I successfully read 120 books this year. In fact, as of the time of writing this post I am at 199 books for the year! (WOOT!) You can see all the books I’ve read with links to their reviews here. Now, a bit of bad news. I utterly failed (for the second year in a row) the audio book challenge. I didn’t listen to 1 audio book this year (read: pathetic.) I also didn’t do so great with the Book to Movie challenge either, with only 2 out of 12 read. Now, to the good news: I completed 78% of the Color Coded Challenge, or 7 out of 9 reads. I actually had a blast doing this challenge. You don’t realize how many books use colors in their titles until you do a challenge like this! Additionally, I unsurprisingly completed the Historical Fiction Challenge as well as the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary challenge with no trouble at all.

And now for the difficult part: Picking my favorite reads of 2013.

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  2. The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley (look for my review next week!!!)
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers/Making It Last by Ruthie Knox
  5. Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
  6. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
  7. Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander/Easy by Tammara Webber
  8. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  9. Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost
  10. The Secret of Ella and Micha/The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Having read almost 200 books this year, choosing 10 (really 12) of my favorites almost killed me. So, in the effort of easing my conscience I’m giving you some of my runners-up (in no particular order)!

  1. Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant
  2. The Edelstein Trilogie by Kersin Gier (Book one, two, & three)
  3. The Westfield Wolves/Regency Vampyre Series by Lydia Dare
  4. Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow
  5. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. Losing It by Cora Carmack
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  8. Bittersweet by Noelle Adams

This was hands down the hardest year yet to pick my favorite books. When you read almost 200 books in a year I guess that should be expected, no?

Ok, the burden is being passed to you. What did you love reading this year?!? Please let us know below. And finally, enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Day, hopefully with a great book. See you in 2014!

A Blogger Gives Thanks

182517_10100111850787163_688392459_nHappy Thanksgiving my fellow readers! With today being Thanksgiving I felt the most appropriate post would be one for giving thanks.  Instead of writing what I’m thankful for in my personal life (my husband, family, and friends) I figured I’d write what I’m thankful for as a blogger. I know I’ll probably leave off dozens of deserving people and for that I want to apologize in advance (I get forgetful when I get emotional!)

First and foremost I’m thankful for the amazing friendships I’ve cultivated since starting this blog.  This October was the third birthday of Reflections of a Book Addict! Over the course of those three years I’ve met hundreds upon hundreds of fellow bookworms that I’ve shared some pretty fantastic bookish conversations with. While all of the relationships have been important to me, some of them have seriously changed me as a person.

I am thankful first and foremost for Laurel Ann, blog master for Austenprose.  Laurel Ann and I became friends when I joined her Jane Austen Sequels group on Goodreads.  Many fantastic Jane Austen-related conversations later she asked me to join her blog as a writer and thus began my blogging career.  Over the past three years she has helped shape me into the writer I am today. I owe her more thanks than I’ll ever be able to share with her.

Secondly, my friendship with Kelly, blog master of Reading With Analysis, has changed my life both personally and professionally.  It all started when WordPress recommended Kelly follow my blog.  (Thanks WP ::smooches:: ) Kelly would leave awesome comments on my blog posts, which led to us friending each other on Goodreads.  Once we saw each other’s book activity and realized we were reading all of the same books (as well as having all of the same thoughts on said books) we began reading them together.  Our text read-a-longs are probably the thing I look forward to most each month.  Kelly challenges me with every book we read, making me think more critically and look for the deeper meanings in these works.  This past October I finally got to meet her IRL. A weekend together cemented what I already knew, that we were long-lost sisters.  Our conversations don’t always consist of books.  We talk life, love, and family.  And even in those conversations I know I’ve found a life-long friend.

Third, author Nancy Kelley.  Nancy helped make one of my dreams come true this fall when she entrusted the copyediting of her third book, Against His Will, to me! I’ve long wanted to become a copyeditor and needed someone to have enough faith in me and my work to get me into the game.  Over the course of September I read, re-read, triple-read (you get the picture) her work, doing my best to make it shine its absolute brightest.  Nancy’s trust and confidence has opened doors for me that I never thought would be open and for that I will be eternally grateful.  At a time in my life where I couldn’t control the change that was happening all around me, Nancy gave me back the reigns.

Fourth, AUTHORS. Specifically: Mary Ann Rivers, Mary Lydon Simonsen, Shannon Winslow, Susan Mason-Milks, Ruthie Knox, Tessa Dare, Tiffany Reisz, Serena Bell, Karen Witemeyer, Abigail Reynolds, Cora Carmack, Tammara Webber, Rachel Van Dyken, Tasha Alexander, Beth Revis, Marilyn Brant, Lucinda Riley, Beatriz Williams, and Jane Odiwe (just to name a few.)  These authors have each taken the time to share my reviews, discuss books with me, and just be generally awesome people.  I’ve shared emails with several of them while they underwent chemo treatments, lost a parent, watched their child get married, or had difficulty with their new book.  The relationships go far beyond just a blogger and author.  I’m proud to call them friends.

Fifth, Tasha, Col, and the rest of the #hitchfest crew!  About two years ago Tasha (aka @heidenkind on Twitter) started tweeting using #hitchfest in her tweets.  Having studied Hitchcock in college (I did my senior thesis on his comedic films) I guessed that she was watching a Hitchcock film. I came to find out that there were several people all across the country watching with her and sharing their thoughts via Twitter.  Luckily this fantastic group of people allowed me to join them in their weekly group watches.  When we ran out of Hitch films to watch we quickly got a schedule together of all old films we wanted to watch together (we’re quite a sarcastic bunch of people, so add alcohol and old movies to that and it’s quite a combination of hilarity.)  Through this group I became quite attached to Tasha, Col, and Jess, all fellow Hitch/old film fans that I found much in common with.  Again, I found this group and its stellar members at a time in my life that I really needed like-minded friends.  This past October, during the same trip I met Kelly, I got to meet Tasha and Col.  I had some pretty deep conversations with them over the course of our weekend in Vegas.  These women have become truly amazing friends to me, helping me deal with job/family drama, moving stress, etc.  Their friendships are priceless to me.  I’m already looking forward to our trip to NOLA together next year.

Sixth: The blog readers and blog staff.  Where would a blog be without its readers or its staff of writers??  You guys inspire me daily to keep writing, to keep reading, and to keep posting.  There have been times where I feel so down about life and think “I need to put up a post today.”  That statement to myself goes a long way in helping dig me out of my funk. Knowing I have to focus on writing that review or that post takes me outside of my own head and lets me think big picture.  And my staff?  A truly phenomenal group of people who make my day when their post and pitch emails come through.  I love that Reflections offers all of them an outlet to be creative and expressive.

And last, but certainly not least, my partner in crime, my husband Todd. Three years ago my husband stood behind me and pushed me to start this blog.  He knew I wanted a forum to be able to discuss books with other readers and share the books I was raving about.  You see, I don’t have many friends IRL that consider themselves readers.  I was constantly raving about all of these books I was reading and I’m pretty sure he got tired of listening to me extoll these books daily.  He convinced me that I had a voice strong enough to be heard and trusted and that my writing (which I thought was atrocious) would improve with a little work.  He was right.  Without his push (and Laurel Ann’s) Reflections of a Book Addict may have continued to just be a pipedream in my head.  He has been completely supportive of my wish to do freelance copyediting and has been there for every amazing project that has come my way due to this blog.  Every kind email, Twitter remark, or blog comment that makes me happy I share with him.  He never tires of seeing the joy that the blog and the people I’ve met through the blog bring me.

And that folks is what A Blogger Gives Thanks For. Share in the comments below some of the things you’re thankful for this holiday season! Happy reading, and a very happy Thanksgiving to you all.

The August, September, AND October Roundup!

Can someone explain to me how today is the beginning of November?  And how I’ve missed posting my last three roundups? So much has happened since August.

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Wine Festival

First and foremost, we moved! Todd got a new job in our home state of New Jersey, so off we went.  Much (if not all) of September (and part of August) was spent packing up our life in Connecticut.  It’s true what they say: you don’t realize how much you have until you need to move it all.  He’s loving his new job.  As hard as the move was on me (I lived in Connecticut from ages 17-27) that simple fact has made the entire thing worthwhile.  I’ve been lucky enough to continue consulting for the company I was working for in CT, and I’ve also begun freelance copyediting!  (The first book I copyedited, Against His Will by Nancy Kelley, is now available and I highly suggest you go buy a copy.)

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My cousin and I at my cousin’s wedding! (I’m in love with our dresses)

Anyway, as packing began so did the goodbyes.  Much of our time pre-October was spent with friends.  There was the Connecticut shoreline wine festival, a trip to Mystic, CT, birthday parties, bridal showers, casino trips, weddings, concerts….you name it we did it.  We went big, then went home.  November 1st marks the end of our first month back in NJ and I have to say…it still feels odd being back.  We’re slowly but surely learning about our new town and getting into our new routines.

Since moving I’ve had a plethora of energy that’s allowed me to get back into the swing of cooking.  Homemade pots of sauce, roasted butternut squash, chive risotto cakes, chicken picatta, meatballs from scratch….you name it, I’ve been making it. (Todd’s in heaven in case you were wondering.)  I’ve always loved cooking, so having the energy and desire to do it again? Major plus.

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Kelly, Me, Tasha, and Col at the Chandelier Bar in The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas

So on to October. Probably the biggest event of my year happened last month.  I finally got to meet three of my very best blogging friends on our trip to Vegas!!! Kelly of Reading With Analysis; Tasha of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, & Books; and Colleen of Col Reads all joined me for 3 fabulous days in Las Vegas.  Several months ago I emailed the girls and told them I wanted to “go west” and meet them.  Our trip to Vegas came at the perfect time.  I was stressing over the move (which had happened the week prior), all the unpacking, etc, when I was able to just pack a suitcase and talk books with three of the most intelligent women I know.  We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel (across from Planet Hollywood/next to the Bellagio) which boasts a three-story chandelier bar.  Seriously….you are IN a chandelier.  It was the most extravagant thing I’ve ever seen in my life, which also made it one of the most awesome.  We hadn’t even been together a full 24 hours before we started making plans for our next trip.  NOLA 2014….get ready.  Besides the amazing conversations, we ate incredible food, drank smoking drinks, and people watched!

You’re probably now saying to yourself, “Shut up, Kim! Tell us about what you read!”  Closing out October my total for the year was up to 169 books (20 in August, 10 in September, & 10 in October.)  I’m shockingly still ahead of pace to complete 200 books for the year.  My top reads over the last three months?

  1. Blackmoore
  2. Born of Persuasion
  3. Ride With Me
  4. Emerald Green (No review on this one yet. I only finished reading it yesterday!)

Start looking for our “best of 2013” lists towards the end of next month, as well as the beginning of our 2014 challenge posts.  There may even be a post about a challenge that Reflections of a Book Addict will be hosting!

I hope that you’ve all had a wonderful past three months and are looking forward to calm and stress-free Thanksgivings!  Share what you’ve been doing (and reading!) in the comments below.

As always, happy reading!

The July Roundup

IMG_20130701_112652Friends! More than half of the year is over. WHOAMG.

July started off wonderfully.  You see, Todd’s eight year-old cousin Sarah came to stay with us for 5 days.  I love that kid so much and getting her to ourselves for 5 days was truly wonderful.  Even though the weather was a bit shoddy while she stayed with us, we were still able to take her strawberry picking, to the movies to see Monsters University, and spent a fabulous day doing a Where’s Waldo search throughout the town of Madison, CT.  The highlight of the trip to Madison? When I bought Sarah to R.J Julia and watched her eyes light up while picking out books (is there anything better?)

IMG_20130704_195128Following Sarah’s visit, Todd and I took a trip down to Long Island for a fourth of July BBQ at my college roommate Ashley’s house.  Fun in the sun, hanging in the pool, and a plethora of rum buckets led to one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a while.

IMG_20130706_232519Trips to NJ filled up the next two weeks for Todd and I.  The first trip was to help my parents with little projects around their house (mulching, cleaning out gutters.)  While we were there we were able to connect with all our NJ/NY friends.  It just so happened to be my best friend Ozzie’s birthday that weekend, so being there to celebrate with him was definitely a plus.  Getting together with Todd and my college roommates Marc and Kate was fantastic too.  Unfortunately we don’t get together as often as we’d like, but when we do watch out.

Throw in some more family visits, graduation parties, and a funeral and you have the jist of the NJ/NY visits.  The rest of the month was spent keeping busy with various outings, including a trip with staffers Sam and Jess to R.J Julia to hear author Mary Simses speak about her debut novel The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe.  

IMG_20130726_231630The definite high point of the month though? My trip to Nashville!!! My cousin Meghan is getting married in September, so for her bachelorette party she chose to go to Nashville, TN.  I’m not a fan of country music at all, so the idea of spending a weekend in the home of country music wasn’t that appealing.  However, time spent with family always wins out.  I have to tell all of you….if you get the chance to go to Nashville – take it.  What a fun city.  There is live music EVERYWHERE. ALL THE TIME.  Even if you don’t like country music, the city is an awesome time.  Besides the amazing music, the food is exquisite.  I had chicken & waffles for the first time ever, and let me tell you….I want to eat it every day.  I highly recommend checking out The Southern and Boundr’y while there.  My sister and I also checked out The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.  Elvis’s solid gold piano was there.  And his tricked out Cadillac with solid gold accessories (yeah, I guess he had a thing for gold.)  Anyway, if you couldn’t already tell, I highly recommend hitting up Nashville.  And hell, I’ll go with you while rocking my new cowboy boots!

On the reading front July wasn’t a stellar success.  I only read 11 books, bringing my total reads for the year up to 129.  So yes, I completed my initial reading challenge, but boo for only reading 11 books.  My new reading goal for the year is 200 books (GAH!)  My top read of the month was The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers. You can read my review here and then check out a guest post by Rivers here.  Seriously do yourself a favor – go spend the $.99 on the novella and be prepared to be WOWED.

Alright readers, what’d you do in July? Share it in the comments below!

The June Roundup

June, June, June.  It is unarguably the busiest month of my year, every year.  Amidst a plethora of special events I somehow managed to  finish 25 books last month, bringing me two short of my year-long goal of reading 120 books.  I think I got so much reading done because of all the traveling we did!

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Beatriz Williams with Jess and I

We started the month off with a trip to my favorite bookstore (all together now….R.J. Julia!) to see the incandescent Beatriz Williams, author of Overseas and A Hundred Summers.   What a pleasant presentation we were treated to! Williams’ newest book, A Hundred Summers, takes place in Rhode Island during the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.  Seeing the before and after photos of the destruction caused by the storm was truly astounding.  Knowing how powerful Hurricane Sandy was this past fall, I was amazed that I could still be shocked at the extent of the damage attributed to water and wind.  Williams has some of the photos of the storm she shared with us posted on her website here.  I highly recommend checking them out.

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My delicious grilled artichoke and crème fraîche dipping sauce

Next up on the docket was a trip into NYC with my good friend Jen to see fellow staff blogger Adam!  Our adventure into the city took us to Eataly, where I promptly died from food pleasure.  Seriously, if you haven’t heard of Eataly please click the link above.  It’s an Italian foodie’s heaven.  After eating a ton of food we went for a walk through the city and wound up down on the High Line, a mile long park that was the site of the old New York Central Railroad that delivered goods to factories on the west side of NYC.  There were great views of the Hudson, as well as food vendors and plenty of benches to sit and take in the scenery.  We also threw in a trip to the Strand (my 2nd most favorite bookstore ever) where I picked up the entire Matched trilogy by Ally Condie.  (Staffer Sam’s review of the first book in the trilogy, Matched, sold me and I’ve been anxious to begin it ever since.)  Todd was also excited that we finally bought the second book in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park series.

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Todd and I on the bus for the wedding!

The next few weeks of the month flew by with a wedding for our good friends Greg and Ashley (CONGRATS GUYS!), our five-year college graduation, and our long-awaited Relay for Life event.  The wedding in Massachusetts was a ton of fun.  The bride’s aunt has a huge piece of property that they tented for the wedding.  Instead of a bar there was a boat filled with ice and drinks (SO awesome). They had all sorts of lawn games which created some great competition between the guests.  Not only was it a beautiful wedding, but it was so much fun seeing friends that we don’t see so often.  The wedding was a mini-reunion in itself and only increased my excitement for our college reunion the weekend following.

Unfortunately the time we were able to spend at reunion got cut short when our bathroom ceiling became a waterfall.  Apparently the tub in the apartment above us had a clogged pipe, as well as a rusted connection somewhere that led to our bathroom becoming a tropical rain forest.  5+ hours after the plumber arrived and figured out where the leak was coming from, we were left with a massive hole in our ceiling.  Needing to leave the hole open to make sure the leak was completely taken care, we were left with a cardboard covering across our ceiling.  Over the next two weeks the hole was patched, sanded, and repainted.  In the five years we’ve been in our building this is the first major problem we’ve ever had, so I can’t say I’m really upset about it.  Our maintenance staff was great and left me with nothing to do!

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Todd making liquid nitrogen ice cream!

The last weekend of the month held the event that I look forward to all year-long, Relay for Life.  I wrote a fairly extensive post about Relay last year and why the event means so much to me.  This year, the event meant more than ever.  My aunt, who was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2005, began receiving chemotherapy treatments this May.  I hope for a cure for cancer every year, but this year that hope for a cure is larger than ever.  The event as a total raised over $104,000 so far.  With our fiscal year closing August 31st we still have almost two more months to raise money.  I personally was able to raise just under $2,200 this year!  My team raised just under $3,300.  I couldn’t be happier with the efforts put forth by my team and the teams that make up the rest of the relay.  Todd got in on the day-of event fun this year and made liquid nitrogen ice cream for the kids.  To put it simply liquid nitrogen instantly freezes anything it touches.  So basically you mix cream, half & half, sugar, and chocolate syrup together, add in the liquid nitrogen, and viola! you have ice cream!  The event went over really well and it helped cool the kids down on a super hot day.

On the bookish front I mentioned before that I finished 25 books.  That consisted of books from the following genres: crime, romance, new adult, historical fiction, young adult, erotica, and paranormal.  I really ran the gauntlet last month.  My top read of the month was definitely Making it Last by Ruthie Knox.  I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced.  When it popped up on Netgalley (as available to request) I did a massive SQUEEEEEEE and promptly requested it.  The wait for approval consisted of some of the darkest days of my life (this is of course an extreme over-exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying.)  I also discovered two series this month that while not new, are new to me.  Of course, I became obsessed and read all the books in both.  The first is Lydia Dare’s Regency Vampyre Trilogy and the second series is Marie Force’s Fatal series. Damn friends, I was HOOKED.  I’m going to start a “series spotlight” that will discuss all the new series I’ve been finding lately, and eventually I hope to get you guys as into them as I am.

Until next month…..happy reading!