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!

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Emerald Green (Edelstein Trilogie #3) by Kerstin Gier

emkgSo I’ve been harping on all of you to start reading the beautifully covered Edelstein Trilogie for months now (seriously those covers are GORGEOUS.) I hope you listened to me, because here comes my spiel on book three, Emerald Green, just released in the US on October 30th!  (If you’re in need of recaps of Ruby Red, book one, and Sapphire Bluebook two, just click on the titles for direct links to my previous reviews.)

From Goodreads:

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.

She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate

As expected, Emerald Green wowed me page after page with its never-ending twists and turns.  The action, adventure, intrigue, danger, and romance that hooked me when I first began Ruby Red was definitely still present here.  Gwen’s narrative voice was just as funny as ever, but we also get a glimpse of the hidden depths to her personality.  She’s intelligent and good at problem solving.  She can think on her feet, as evidenced in several conflicts present in Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green.  I also enjoyed getting to know Gideon better.  He’s always been present, but on the outskirts of the story a bit.  He steps into his own in Emerald Green and proves that he isn’t just a pawn being moved by the Elders.  He definitely becomes a character worthy of your affection in this conclusion.

The only things that disappointed me were the translations and the ending.  The trilogy was originally written in German, then translated to English.  Unfortunately, some of Emerald Green reads as if this translation is incomplete, which in turn took me out of the story at parts.  Besides that, the ending seemed a bit unfinished.  You spend three books investing yourself in these characters, their lives, their tragedies and triumphs, only to end with what I felt was a weak ending.  I don’t mean that the book ended in a way I was unhappy with, but the characters’ stories aren’t really wrapped up.  The main conflict is concluded, but there is no final conclusion to the lives of all the other characters we’ve met along the way.  Despite this, I do believe that this conclusion to the Edelstein trilogy was a fitting end to a great story.  If you’ve followed Gier’s works thus far, you won’t be disappointed in how action packed the conclusion is.  If you’re new to the series, I highly suggest that you start with Ruby Red.  It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2013)
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN: 9780805092677

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!

Kim’s Review of Sapphire Blue (Edelstein Trilogie #2) by Kerstin Gier

sbAs you may remember from my review of Ruby Red, the first book in the Edelstein Trilogie (which can be found here), I can’t get enough of the covers on these books.  What’s more, not only are the covers stunning, but so is the writing.  Gier did a wonderful job at crafting a complex story that spans multiple time periods and included interesting characters.  The cliffhanger at the end of Ruby Red nearly did me in.  Luckily for me Sapphire Blue was already available to read, making my depression short lived.

Plot from Goodreads: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

When I started reading Sapphire Blue I didn’t think this series could get any more epic,  but upon finishing this book I think it totally blew Ruby Red out of the water!  Gideon and Gwen are thrust into a dual-sided battle of words as they try to decipher who is telling them the truth about the power the chronograph will unleash.  Sapphire Blue gives a little more depth into each side’s reasoning behind their belief in what the power is, but left just enough mystery to make reading Emerald Green a no-brainer.

As I suspected, Sapphire Blue delved deeper into Gwen’s mind and her ever growing/changing feelings for Gideon.  The lack of over-the-top intricacies on the “how-to” of time traveling allows the reader to be impressed with other elements Gier presents.  The comedy of Gier’s writing truly shines in this second installment, as Gwen is given a crash course in Georgian history.  Her study of the culture and customs is rife with humorous moments, most especially her dance lessons.  I didn’t think it could get any funnier, but then she’s actually transported back to 1782 and winds up getting drunk on punch.  I became so endeared to Gwen as she struggled to do her best while dealing with the turmoil of discovering that she was a time traveler and confusion over her feelings for Gideon.

In all, if you’re still on the fence about reading the Edelstein Trilogie, take it from me that both of the books have been a delight, and it is definitely worth your while to pick up a copy of both.  Just like Ruby RedSapphire Blue left me on the edge of my seat, and it looks like I’ll have to wait until October, when Emerald Green, the third book in the trilogy, will come out.  Until then, we’ll have to find a way to occupy ourselves and not think of this incredible cliffhanger!  So, if you haven’t already, go out and read this book!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my fifth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2012)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN: 9780805092660

Kim’s Review of Ruby Red (Edelstein Trilogie #1) by Kerstin Gier

rrFriends. I have a confession to make. I totally judged a book by its cover.  I saw the cover for Ruby Red and immediately HAD to have it.   Turns out it was a great judgement, because the book was AWESOME.  Ruby Red is the first book in Kerstin Gier’s Edelstein Trilogie, which was originally published in Germany.  

As the plot is a bit complex (time traveling!!), I’ll let Goodreads guide you through it:

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

I am honestly so surprised that I haven’t come across more people who have read this series.  This book hooked me from start to finish. It had time-traveling, secret societies, intrigue, visions of the dead, secret signet rings, mystery, sword fights and so much more.  There is an incredible amount of story packed into this book.  The time traveling element allowed for great variety of time periods to be visited, which helped set a fast pace.  Since Gwen was never prepared to be a time traveler, her quick lessons in how to time travel, as well as the history of The Guardians society (the secret society helping the time travelers), led to some great comedic moments.  There were times where I felt these moments felt stilted, which I think is mainly due to the translation (the books were originally published in German).  Other than that I think the translation is excellently done.  Gwen’s voice totally draws you in to the story and describes the woes of her life as a teenage time traveler perfectly.

Ruby Red definitely sets up what is sure to be a phenomenal trilogy.  I’m interested in seeing how Gwen and Gideon grow from here.  They’re both in their teens, yet thrust into extraordinary circumstances far beyond what 16 and 17 year-olds should have to deal with.  We’re not given too much depth with their characters, but I’d expect that to change as we travel through time with them in the second and third books.  I know that I keep talking about the future of the series and I’ll explain why.  Having already read book two, Sapphire Blue, I know it picks up quite literally after the last sentence of Ruby Red.  I think when Emerald Green (book three) comes out it’ll be more apparent that the story is one long story split up through three books.  The development of the characters will happen gradually throughout the three books since it’s one massive conflict that is trying to be resolved.  I’m usually not a fan of series’ written like this, but surprisingly the good outweighs the bad here.  Ruby Red was just too damn fun! Gwen and Gideon are, to put it simply, hilarious.

My goal before Emerald Green is released in October is to get the word out about this series.  It’s seriously one you don’t want to miss.  I hope that those of you who choose to read it out there decide to share it with your friends! This is a series that definitely needs to be shared more.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my fourth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

This is my second completed review for the Book to Movie Challenge

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2011)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 9780805092523

What Are You Reading This March?

March has turned out to be a stellar reading month.  11 books completed for the month so far with no signs of slowing down!  I’ve been on a major time travel kick this year, having already completed 7 time-traveling books this year.  My new time travel obsession is a trilogy called the Ruby Red trilogy (or the Edelstein Trilogie as it’s called in its native Germany). So far only two of the three books by Kerstin Gier have been released in the US, with the third (Emerald Green) due out in October.  I highly recommend you check this series out ASAP. SO GOOD. And the covers are beautiful to boot!

Anyway enough about my recent time travel obsession and on to what I’m reading!  I’m hoping to get through Philippa Gregory’s The Kingmaker’s Daughter, Elizabeth Hoyt’s Lord of Darkness, and a biography on Jane Austen by Paula Byrne entitled The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things. Now it’s your turn! Tell me what’s currently got you hooked in the comments section below!

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