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.

IMG_20130810_152258

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.)

IMG_20130914_171957

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.

IMG_20131013_174346

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!

Advertisements

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!

IMG_20130606_200232

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.

IMG_20130608_135904

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.

IMG_20130615_155600

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!

IMG_20130629_134023

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!

The May Roundup!

20130512_115645May was a month of big accomplishments here in the Ryder household.  Staffer Todd (also known as my darling husband) received his Master’s degree in molecular and cell biology from Quinnipiac University (our undergraduate alma mater).  Not only did he earn that, but he defended his thesis which delved into how carbon dioxide affects cells (that’s the super simple explanation).  Todd’s graduation wasn’t the only one our family witnessed this month.  My sister-in-law Ellen also received her Master’s degree from Lehigh University in secondary education, specializing in math.  And thirdly my brother-in-law Jason completed his MD/Ph.D. program at NYU!  (So many smarties!)

IMG_20130520_181607Besides graduations, we also had a month filled with other fun trips and events.  As you may or may not know, I’m OBSESSED with the Fast and the Furious franchise.  After reading about an opportunity to see the newest installment, Fast and Furious 6, at an advance screening, I immediately signed up.  It was awesome, as well as free!  The following weekend, Todd and I traveled down to Staten Island to visit my Aunt Judy.  After many many days and weeks of cleaning and various workers coming to her basement to rebuild it after Hurricane Sandy, we were able to put on the finishing touches!  We helped install a few small items, as well as two in-ceiling speakers (I learned how to wield a drywall saw!)

20130525_153055Finally, we took a trip into the city to visit Todd’s aunt, uncle, and little cousin Sarah at the Natural History Museum!  We had a great time exploring all the exhibits with Sarah and checking out the new additions to the museum since our last visit a couple of years ago.  After this, we found a great little Mexican restaurant near the museum, and sat down for some dinner and margaritas (and lemonade for Sarah).  In all, it was a ton of fun and something we can’t wait to do more often as we don’t get to see Todd’s extended family too often.

On the reading front I read another 23 books, bringing my year-to-date total to 93.  It’s difficult to pick my favorite book of the month (since I read so many good ones), but if I had to pick I’d nominate The Secret of Ella and Micha and The Forever of Ella and Micha both written by Jessica Sorensen.

On the radar for June are some more new adult books I’ve been reading, as well as some historical fiction, paranormal, and action books.  June should be a diverse reviewing month!  Todd’s got a few fun things up his sleeve too, so keep an eye out!

So, there you have it, another exciting month behind the scenes here at Reflections.  What did you do during May?

As always, happy reading!

The April Roundup!

I can’t believe it!  At the end of April I had 70 books under my belt; this is the fastest reading pace I’ve done yet!  That’s 30 books ahead of schedule!  You can see a list of all the books I’ve read so far here.  With all of the reading I’ve done recently, you’d think I didn’t have enough time for anything else.  Well, that was not the case.  We had a month packed with all sorts of family/friend events that kept me running around!

Beautiful RuinsTo start the month off right, Todd, Jess, and I attended a book signing by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins.  What an amazing author!  Jess was full of energy and a great all around guy.  I was fortunate enough to get my book signed by him and chat with him afterwards.  Overall, it was yet another wonderful event put on by R.J. Julia.  If you haven’t been there yet, get to it!  The following weekend, we attended a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in our town put on by the local Knights of Columbus.  It is a huge beer and food festival, with tons of local and regional breweries on hand with plenty of samples and a ton of food too.  Delicious!

Next, it was on to watch the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team as they played in the national championship games!  We originally went to New Haven to get together with fellow alums to watch Quinnipiac take on St. Cloud in the Frozen Four semifinal game.  After winning that game, the Bobcats stayed in Pittsburgh to play Yale in the national championship.  We attended a game watch at a local bar and cheered on the Bobcats, but sadly they lost.  There’s always next year though!

IMG_20130509_085129Finally, I have to end this roundup on a slightly sad note.  Recently we had been noting that Sebastian (one of our two cats) had been coughing a lot.  Todd was able to take a day off of work and took him to the vet, where he had an x-ray (he had to be sedated as he can be slightly grumpy at times).  It turns out that he may have slight asthma, and the pills we got are doing the trick, so he is feeling much better!  Look at this cute face!

So on the reading front, the 27 books I read in April were primarily all new adult books.  This is seriously my new favorite genre.  I’ve already posted reviews on two of my favorites: Easy by Tammara Webber and Losing It by Cora Carmack.  AHH this genre is the bomb. I have many more recommendations for this genre, so keep an eye on my upcoming reviews.

Speaking of reviews, here is what’s on the schedule for the rest of May.  Sam’s going to be reviewing a new YA novel entitled The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Todd’s working on Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and A Year in Beer and Food by Emily Baime and Darin Michaels.  Christine will be reviewing Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering and I’m working on Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare, and The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen among others.  It promises to be a full month as always.

I hope your April was as fun-filled and bookish as ours was!

Until next time, happy reading!

The March Roundup!

Well folks, the first quarter of the year is over.  Wasn’t it just January 1st?  With the first quarter over I feel the need to evaluate where I am on my reading goal.  I need to read 10 books a month to stay on pace for the overall goal of 120 books read.  At the end of March my year-to-date total was 43 books, 13 books ahead of schedule!!  (The 24 books I finished reading in March went a long way in pushing me over the mark).  You can see a full listing of everything I’ve read so far with links to their reviews here.

Completed favors

Now that March is over I can tell you what really kept me so busy in February!  My mother turned sixty on March 20th and as such my family threw a surprise party for her at the beginning of March! (She’s too smart to have done it any closer to her actual birthday).  Anyway, her birthday falls on the first day of spring so we decided on a “spring” theme for the party.  I’m still shocked that my sister, aunts, and father were able to pull it off without her finding out.  Anyway, back to the planning!  As the crafty sister, I was placed in charge of the centerpieces, favors, and cake!  Working off the spring theme I bought different colored ceramic birds, Spanish moss, and cellophane bags to make birds in nests for each guest to take home.  I really need to pat myself on the back. They came out great and everyone loved them!  Also, sticking with the spring idea I got these awesome colored flower pots to put fresh flowers in for each of the tables.  Unfortunately, that wound up turning into a disaster because the pots were wider than I thought and the flowers were all over the place and ::sigh:: it was a mess.  I wound up having to stuff wet paper towels into the pots with the flowers to prop them up and keep them hydrated.  It was all worth it though just to see the shocked look on my mom’s face.

Surprised mom!

Surprised mom!

I don’t think anything can beat that face. Seriously.  Anyway, we kept busy the rest of the month with visits to my cousin’s house in upstate New York as well as a trip to the vet for Belle and Sebastian.  Our bowling league also finished up the last Thursday of the month and I can happily say I killed it this year!  I finished as the highest scoring female bowler in our league with a high score of 181 (WOO-HOO)!

On the reading front I read a wide variety of genres last month.  Time-traveling, historical fiction, mysteries, romances, graphic novels, and even a few paranormal ones! I definitely covered the entire spectrum this month, and I’m proud to say that I enjoyed every minute!  It’s not every month that I get to be this productive, and I’m happy that I was able to accomplish so many goals in such a short amount of time.   It’s difficult to come up with a top read of the month having read so many different genres, but if I was being forced to pick one I’d have to pick Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.  I quite simply cannot put her Outlander series down.  I have so many reviews forthcoming for all the great books I read in March. I have to say there are not many losers in the bunch.  It was hands down a month full of reading surprises!

Looking forward to April, I can tell you I’m part of a few blog tours for new releases from Michelle Diener (author of In A Treacherous Courtand M.J. Rose (author of  The Book of Lost Fragrances). Todd’s currently reading Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and How To Plant A Body by Terri Ann Armstrong. Adam’s working on his review of Game of the Gods by E.J Dabel, the second book in Dabel’s Pantheons series. Sam’s review for Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason is going to be posted on the blog in the next few days.  Once that’s posted she’s moving on to Firebrand by Gillian Philip and The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Jess is reading a biography about Sylvia Plath entitled Mad Girl’s Love Song.  Charlie’s working on an interview with Paul Cornell, author of London Falling and writer for Doctor Who!  And Christine is reading Under the Same Stars by Tim Lott and Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering.  The staff is doing a fantastic job at keeping this blog well-rounded and full of book selections for all genres and all readers.  My thanks and praise goes out to them!

Well folks, that’s March in a nutshell.

Until next time, happy reading!

The February Roundup!

February proved to be a month for catching up.  When January ended I was two books behind the pace I needed to meet my goal of 120 books for the year.  As of the end of February, I’m completely back on pace! Woo-hoo!! (I read 12 books in February, bringing my total to 19 for the year.)  Two things directly contributed to my ability to get back on pace:  1.) An INTENSE blizzard that wound up dumping 40″ of snow onto my town, making it the hardest hit in the tri-state area. 2.) The weeks I spent sick with a sinus infection and possible case of bronchitis.  Together, these two things equated out to a ton of time spent in the house and reading.

20130210_133339The blizzard was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed.  Todd’s car (a VW Passat) was completely covered in snow, so much so that we couldn’t even see it! It was super difficult to dig out.  Regular plow trucks were no match for the record-breaking amount of snow we had and kept blowing transmissions due to the weight and amount of snow they had to push.  Commercial construction trucks and the National Guard had to come in and help plow streets enough for emergency vehicles to pass through.  Plows couldn’t get to the apartment building that Todd and I live in for almost three days.  Thankfully we didn’t lose power and had enough heat, books, and snacks to keep us occupied.  It’s been almost three weeks since the storm hit and we still have MOUNDS of snow everywhere. We’ll be lucky if it’s melted by April.

On the book front, February was a month filled with releases I was eagerly awaiting.  I was able to read the final book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, Sever, as well as Sarah MacLean’s newest addition to her Scoundrel’s series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.  Add to these Marie Force’s newest Gansett Island book, Waiting For Love, Rachel Van Dyken’s The Wolf’s Pursuit,  Nancy Kelley’s Loving Miss Darcyand Maya Banks’ Rush, and you can tell I did a lot of “new” reading.

Speaking of “new” reading… if you remember, last month I did a joint review of Beth Revis’ final book in the Across the Universe trilogy, Shades of Earth, with Sam.  Well, I found out that Beth was coming to Connecticut (WAHOO) with something called the “Breathless Reads” tour.  Penguin (her publisher) organized the tour for her and several other YA authors to come out to indie bookstores all across the US and speak about their books.  Luckily the bookstore that they came to in CT was R.J. Julia (my favorite)!  Todd and I jumped at the chance to attend and man are we happy we did.  Not only were we able to see Beth (and get our books signed), but we were able to listen to four other YA authors (Fiona Paul, Morgan Rhodes, Elizabeth Richards, and Jessica Spotswood) and get introduced to some new books we’re excited to tell you about.  Todd wrote more about the event here, as it was the first one he’d attended where he knew one of the authors.

Looking forward to March, I have lots of books to read (I’m asking myself why I’m even writing that sentence as it’s the story of my life each month.)  I’m hoping to get caught up on reviews over the next two weeks.  I have some GREAT reads to tell you about that you’ll hopefully find as interesting as I did!  Todd’s reading Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens, Adam’s reading Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel, Sam’s reading Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason, and Christine’s reading A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan.  So, lots of new and unique stuff coming at you from across the genre spectrum.

Until next time….happy reading!

The January Roundup!

Guys, my life was so boring this past January.  I have no idea why I was only able to finish seven books.  The only big thing that really happened to me was transferring jobs.  I moved from my company’s accounting department to their sales and operations department.  It’s a happy transfer for me, as I’ve been with my current company for five years.  I’m looking forward to all the new challenges my new position will hold!  On top of training for my new position I’ve been training the person taking over my finance responsibilities.  All this coupled with putting away Christmas decorations, our bowling league starting, and just organizing life for the new year has left me fairly tired at night.

IMG_20130126_151407I will share with you quickly that Todd and I went to NYC last month to meet up with our college roommates Kate and Marc, as well as staff blogger Adam.  We did a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Munch’s pastel version of The Scream.  It was absolutely extraordinary to finally be able to see Starry Night in person.  It’s been my favorite painting for as long as I can remember, yet it’s taken me this long to see it (crazy, I know).

As for my reading pace, I’m two books behind where I should be for the year.  I’m confident I’ll be able to pick up the pace in February.  My top reads of January are a tie between Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Shades of Earth by Beth Revis.

Looking ahead, I’m working on reviews of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, Dragonfly in Amber (the second book in the Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon, and some joint reviews with my buddy Kelly from Reading With Analysis.  Todd’s working on Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens and Breaking Barriers by Peter Altschul.  Jess has a review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn posting next week and Sam’s working on a review of The Bracelet by Roberta Gately.  We’re keeping busy and reading lots of books to share with you.

Let us know how your January shaped up!

The November Round Up!

IMG_20121107_164009

First snow of the season!

11 months down, 1 to go! 177 books down, 23 to go to meet my third reading goal of 200 books for the year!  I have to tell you that I’m shocked at how fast this year has gone.  This past month our days were filled either being with/helping family or beginning to prepare for the holidays. (We also got hit with our first snowstorm!)

As many of you are already aware, Hurricane Sandy came rip-roaring through NY, NJ, and CT earlier in November.  The amount of damage and destruction left behind was absolutely shocking.  Mother nature’s power is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  I’ve got family in NY and NJ so it was interesting to see and hear the stories of how the same storm hit all of us yet did different things to our states.  Being where we are in CT, Todd and I were fortunate to have minimal damage.  Downed power lines and trees scattered our town, but that was the extent of our damage.  Closer to the shoreline there was a ton of flooding, fires, weeks without power, etc.  My parents in NJ lost their power for several hours but were lucky to get it back so quickly. My sister and brother-in-law live in Manhattan and had no power for 5 days.  They and their menagerie of animals wound up going to my parent’s house to stay so that they could have access to heat and water.  My aunt on Staten Island unfortunately fared the worst.  Her home was evacuated at the beginning of the storm, and upon her return found water in her basement up to the ceiling. The several feet of water took a few days to drain and that’s when we got to work.  We began tearing her basement apart, bringing up all the furniture, appliances, and other odds and ends that were down there as it all needed to be trashed.  We then proceeded to gut the entire basement literally down to the studs.  Framing, molding, heating baseboards, dry wall, etc.  It all came down.  At this point construction workers were able to come back in and begin working, beginning with putting up the drywall for all the new walls.  My aunt has a new ceiling, new framing for closets, and has picked out new appliances and cabinets.  Cable, internet, and power have all been restored as well.  Thankfully things are looking up for her personally, but the island is still an absolute mess.  I urge all of you to participate in any clothing, supply, or food drives taking place near you for Sandy victims.  There are still homes with no power, people with no food, and construction going on everywhere.  The cars that were flooded and totaled by the insurance companies are still being towed away.  It’s truly a very sad sight and any and all help is truly appreciated.

IMG_20121122_183354

Thanksgiving with my in-laws!

Not all of November was a downer, though. Todd and I spent Thanksgiving with both of our families where lots of good food was consumed.  My mother-in-law makes this fantastic jello dish that comes from a recipe from her grandmother.  It has celery and apples in it and a great sauce on the side (it truly is fabulous!)  My grandmother makes my other favorite Thanksgiving dish, rice and sausage stuffing.  She throws in craisins and it is just a heavenly dish!  There is almost never any left (of either dish) once Thanksgiving dinner is over.  I think in 2013 I’ll have to fight for these dishes to get made more often, and not just at Thanksgiving.

To recap my reading in November, I completed another 10 books.  My favorite of the ten was a historical fiction novel called In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener.  That novel has quickly restarted my love of reading about the Tudor period of British history all over again.  I’ve found myself gearing up to read a good amount of historical fiction novels in December.

Looking forward, December will be a lot of catching up for me.  I’m working on getting all the reviews I have to finish by year-end up, along with what challenges I’ll be participating in for 2013!  Todd’s working on his review of Targets of Deception and has some author interviews in store! Adam’s working on a review of the film Lincoln and a review of the historical fiction novel Tragedy and Triumph (he’s excited about December since both of his review items relate to the Civil War!)  Sam’s in the process of reading an illustrated sci-fi/fantasy novel Elfhunter, and Charlie has film reviews of The Hobbit and Lincoln coming as well.

It looks like we’re going to have a busy and productive month!  Until next time, happy reading!

The October Round Up!

I can’t believe it’s time to write yet another round up post.  October wasn’t super packed with stuff, so I got a lot of good reading time in.  The highlight of the month though was definitely heading to my favorite bookstore, R.J. Julia, and seeing Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis discuss their newest book Invisible Murder.  The book is the second in their Nina Borg chronicles, the first being The Boy in the Suitcase (which I reviewed here).  Hearing them discuss the research that went into the book, their travels through Hungary, and the tragic stories of what life is like in Hungary for gypsies was harrowing.  I’m excited that I have some background on the real life instances that parts of the book are based on.  It’ll only add that much more to my reading of it.

Me and two of my best friends Kate & Ashley!

We also participated in our second read-a-thon of the year!  Todd and I made it through an hour longer than our first read-a-thon and completed more books as well. We considered it a success and are already looking forward to the next one in the spring.

Besides the read-a-thon our month was spent celebrating our birthdays and Halloween!  Our birthday celebration consisted of Todd, me, and 12 of our friends hitting up downtown New Haven for pizza and beers.  Following dinner we took the group saki bombing!  Those unfamiliar with the term – you take a glass and fill it about halfway with beer (preferably Japanese beer) and then balance a shot of hot saki on top.  You bang the table, let the shot drop in the beer, and then chug down the rest. (Sounds gross but is actually really delicious!)  It was a fabulous celebration and I can’t wait till next year!

Our Halloween party was as always a ton of fun.  Todd’s home-brewed pumpkin beer was a huge smash. (Such a smash all 5 gallons was drunk in one night!)  Everyone went all out on their costumes this year! (Todd and I were newsies) I’m already anticipating how we’re all going to top ourselves next year.

October was a fantastic reading month!  I met my second reading goal of the year of 160 books and have decided to up the goal to 200 books by year-end.  As of today I’m at 176, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can make it through 24 more before year-end.  I completed 19 books in October with my favorite being The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley (my review is here).  Great great great book.  I really hope y’all will add it to your to-read piles.

The staff has been diligently working on getting through a whole slew of books this month. Adam’s been reading the historical fiction novel Deal With The Devil Part II and recently posted his review for it.  His next review is for a young adult mythology book, Pantheons.  Todd’s been reading a new thriller novel Targets of Deception and the fiction novel Believe Like A Child.  Christine’s been reading a short story/poetry anthology called Everblossom.  Jess is reading the memoir Taking Flak, while Charlie’s been working on a review of the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I do also want to inform all of you about the addition of another staff blogger for the Reflections team, Sam!  Sam’s been working on a young adult dystopian thriller, The Tube Riders.  You can find out more about Sam and her reading tastes on The Staff page!

Let us know what you read last month and what books we should be adding to our to-read piles! As always, happy reading!