Tag Archives: ebook

Book Review: The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown



From Goodreads:
Everything is calm in Cadillac, Texas until Aunt Agnes declares war on Violet Prescott, the president of the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society, just in time for the annual jubilee. But after the festivities—and the hostilities—are over, it’s four friends who are left standing, proving once again that friendship is forever.

This book drew me in right away with its whimsical cover and southern flair title. The Texas locale was just right for these sassy ladies.

The story centers around Marty and her sister Cathy who are both part of The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society along with a hilarious cast of characters. At first the book was a little overwhelming. We enter the story during a Society meeting and I really had to pay attention to who’s who and what the relationships are, which was more like work than fun. But, once I got the gist of how the characters relate, the story was enjoyable. What really stands out in this novel is not the main characters but the minor ones who add spice and laughter to the story. Aunt Agnes is priceless!

This book is chock full of scrapbooking, good southern food and a huge helping of southern sass. Of course, all is not well in this little Texas town where everybody knows your name and friendship and family ties run deep. Cat fights abound, there’s some spicy sex with exes and all shenanigans are done with the politeness only well-bred southern families can conjure.

A fun book that really takes friendships to heart.

This book was provided for review by Netgalley.

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Book Review: The Dinner by Herman Koch



From Goodreads:
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

It’s very hard to write this review without giving away the best thing about this short novel; the shock factor. It starts out as a simple story about the hassle of dining with another couple. It’s told by Paul, a regular guy with a regular family. The beginning premise of a simple dinner date and general dinner banter is relatable and somewhat humorous. Over the course of the dinner things start to get tense. There are glimpses of an underlying problem, fractures in the normalcy the characters are trying to convey. Paul isn’t the regular guy we thought he was.

Then, BAM! Dessert hits the table and it all turns south. The evening plummets downhill with such a surprising, horrific and tragic turn. As a parent of teenage boys I found the second half of the story disturbing. This, at least, kept me turning the pages. I’m not sure whose actions were more disturbing, the boys or their parents. I was most disturbed by Paul’s wife. Her acceptance of the circumstances and eagerness to take it into her own hands is, dare I say it, monstrous.

This is definitely a book you have to work to get through. The first half is drawn out and too much time is spent on descriptions of restaurant staff and food or lack there of. The second half, I thought was too vague. There wasn’t enough background on the couple’s sons to understand, if that’s possible, their behavior. I also felt that the ending was too abrupt.

This is a great book for discussion though. It opens up questions regarding how far parents are willing to go to protect their children, consequences, punishments and what out duty is to our own family and others.

Although a tad tedious in parts, the twist in this book makes it a story worth reading.

This book was provided for review by Netgalley.

View this book on Goodreads.
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All Hail the Return of Robert Langdon

Titans and other giants are imprisoned in Hell...

Today, Dan Brown announced his long-awaited new novel, Inferno, which will be published on May 14th. If you recall, back in May, I posted a link to an article which mentioned that Mr. Brown was hard at work on the then unnamed book.

Inferno will center around Dante’s Inferno and will again feature one of my most beloved characters of all time, Robert Langdon.

You can read the official press release on Dan Brown’s website. It’s also available for preorder on Amazon.com or iBooks.

Let the count down begin!

A Year of Reading Recap – 2012


What would the New Year be without a look back at the old one? Here’s a recap of my year of reading 2012.

I’ve had the opportunity to read so many wonderful books this year. I surpassed my reading goal of 75 and reached an all time high of 117. 1Q84 was the longest book I read, 945 pages. I think that made the all-time high also. I gave mostly 3 and 4 stars with only 14 making the 5 star distinction, which makes me think I’m a bit too picky and hard to please. I had two books that were so terrible I couldn’t finish them and I’m still cursing about wasting my time on them.

I read more memoirs this year than ever. People are truly interesting and in some cases their stories are stranger than fiction. I cried more this year than ever too. Some of the stories were just so heartbreaking. I’m pretty sure I blubbered through more of The Art of Racing in the Rain than I’m willing to fess up to. Dogs dying in books seemed to be a common theme this year. I seriously cannot take anymore of that!

I had a zombie run and it was a great one. Zombies are the new vampires. Super cool! If I were giving an award for best cover it would go to My Life as a White Trash Zombie. As Steven Martin said in Father of the Bride, “Bitchin!” That cover earns the Bitchin award. (if there were such a thing) Patrick Ness is my favorite author of 2012. Reading his book has inspired both my children and me.

Historical fiction is still my favorite genre. Mixing fiction in with a history lesson makes learning fun even at my age.

Out of the 117 books I’ve read this year, here’s my top 10 favorites:

1. Wilderness: A Novel by Lance Weller
2. Chaos Walking: A Trilogy by Patrick Ness
3. The Wild Girl by Jim Fergus
4. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
5. Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo
6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
7. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
9. The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court by by Michelle Moran
10. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

My goals for 2013 are much the same. I’m upping my reading goal to 100. I think I can manage it without feeling too pressured. I’m going to do my best not to purchase books this year. I have probably 75 on my bookshelf waiting to be read and they deserve my love and attention. “Try” is the main word here.

I’m going to give a State Challenge a go and will be book blogging my way through the US. I hope you’ll join me along the way! Every book is an adventure and it’s so much more fun when you’re along!

I wish each of you a New Year filled with joy, happiness and many, many great books!

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Sony Readers Book Club – Some Reading Fun Through the Winter Months

Looking for another way to incorporate reading through those long winter months?

Sony Reader Store has started a book club featuring author chats and discussions via Facebook and Twitter. Four books, four months. Their offering the first title, Daughter of Smoke and Bone for a discounted price. Sony also just released a new app for iPhone/iPad which includes a free exclusive short story by Kim Harrison.


Humble Bundle e-Book Bundle – a Cool Way to Do Good

Check out this DRM free lot of books which can be purchased by donation to help authors and charities. I love this idea!

You pay what you want, divide your donation however you want and get highly rated books that are DRM free and come in multiple formats.


Can a Book Be Too Beautiful for Digital?

I had a small eye surgery yesterday which has left my left eye swelled shut so this will be my only post for a few days. 😦 Reading and writing can become pretty difficult with just 1 eye! Thank goodness for dictation! Here goes….

I read an article on NPR earlier in the week that brings up the subject of digital versus paper versions of books. (click here to read the article) The article centers around Gillian Cross’ children’s version of Homer’s The Odyssey. It’s a beautifully illustrated book.


I read digital, paper and audible books and love each type. I try to pick the media that will allow me to enjoy the book to the fullest. I prefer larger books and biographies to be audible (read my post about audible books here), some books digital where I can highlight and write notes, but I always cherish my paper books the most.

I love when the cover is like leather or the pages are torn and worn like an old journal. I love cover art! (click here to see my post on covers) One of my favorite books to hold was The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern. It has a beautiful cover and those worn pages I love.


I agree with the NPR article. Some books are just too beautiful to miss in paper.

Which book do you consider too beautiful for digital?

Matched by Ally Condie is Today’s Kindle Daily Deal 7/15/12


If you haven’t read it yet, you can pick up Matched by Ally Condie for just $2.99 today on the Kindle Daily Deal here: Matched

It’s a lot like The Giver by Lois Lowry written in the style of today’s popular YA.

Book Review: The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier: Simple, Scrumptious, SatisfyingThe Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier: Simple, Scrumptious, Satisfying by Ree Drummond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: I am reviewing the iBooks version of this cookbook.

If you want simple recipes with easy to find ingredients in an easy to follow format, than this cookbook is sure to get you rattling those pots and pans!

The design of Ree’s cookbook is country flower perfect. She scatters pictures of her kids and pets (all of which are adorable) throughout the cookbook and she adds some nice touches that really give you a glimpse of her great personality. One of my favorites is her cooking playlist.

The iBooks version flows nicely with the swiping working well for both pages and instructions. I loved the added bonus of video on a few recipes. However, it would have been nice to have a few more. It also seemed like the ones that were chosen were the easier ones. It would have been more helpful for the videos to be of the more difficult ventures. I like the swipes and pictures for each instruction. I do wish they would have included just a list too. After you’ve made the recipe the first time, you don’t really need to swipe through them one by one.

I love that each recipe includes variation ideas. Each time you make it you can come up with a different combination. Each recipe I have tried so far has been easy and delicious. Some of them I modified slightly to suit my family’s taste.

One think I love about iBooks is that I can highlight all the titles of the recipes I want to use for the week. Then I can go to the My Notes section and see the list at anytime. It works great for ingredients too. No flipping through pages. Everything in one place. Love it!

View all my reviews

Great App for Readers: OverDrive Media Console

Great App for Readers: OverDrive Media Console

OverDrive is an app for idevices that allows you to borrow ebooks from your local library. In order to use the app you’ll need to signup for an Adobe ID, as the app reads Adobe EPUB. Books are also available in Kindle editions.

Setting up the app is easy. Add your local library from which you plan on borrowing books. Once added, select the library. The app will open Safari and you’ll be able to view all the books your chosen library has available for download. You will then need to log in with your library card number.

You can search, browse and add book to a wish list. When viewing available titles, you’ll be able to see how many copies the library has and how many are available. If a title it already checked out, you’ll be able to request to be put on a waiting list and the book listing will show how many people are currently on the wait list. When the title becomes available, you receive an email notification that the title is ready for you to download. I was surprised to find many new, popular titles available.

Once you download your title it shows up on your OverDrive Bookshelf. Reading in the OverDrive app is very simple and strait forward. It’s no iBooks or Kindle app though. It contains a good dictionary and bookmarking pages is similar to other apps.

You won’t find many tools in this reading app. There’s no highlighter or way to take notes. Customizing the reading experience is very limited. You can control the brightness andthe default view is white which can be changed to Sepia or black for night reading. There are only two choices for font size and the font can not be changed.

Returning a book is as easy as swiping to delete. You have up to 14 days to return the title.

All in all, a very basic app with a very strait forward reading experience. A great way to enjoy newer, popular titles for free without the hassle of actually going to the library.

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