Archives for February 2016

Gina’s Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

After You (Me Before You, #2)

After You 
written by Jojo Moyes
published by Pamela Dorman Books, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I fell in love with this book. It’s the sequel to Me Before Youand I had high expectations. Jojo Moyes didn’t disappoint. I found myself wanting to devour every word whole. The characters in this book were like old friends–I felt every emotion with them. I cried and laughed. This book talks about loss in such a deep and accessible way that you can easily read four chapters without even knowing it. I stayed up past midnight almost every night reading and not wanting to stop.

everyfree5

Would I recommend it: Absolutely, but you should definitely read Me Before You first.

ginasig

About the book – from Goodreads: When one story ends, another begins. After You is the “Charming sequel to Me Before You” (People Magazine).

“We all lose what we love at some point, but in her poignant, funny way, Moyes reminds us that even if it’s not always happy, there is an ever after.” —Miami Herald

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

 

efchappy

Blue Apron Subscription: Lemon Glazed Catfish

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

blue apron
 

blue apron food blue apron greens 
The Blue Apron box includes ingredients and recipes for three different meals. The default delivery choice is weekly, but you can skip around if you don’t like the week’s choices or just want to take some time off. Each week you have to choose from 5 or 6 different recipes (and yes, there ARE vegetarian options), so you can pick the foods that sound tastiest to you.

blue apron feb recipes

The first recipe I tried was: Lemon Glazed Catfish with Collard Greens & um . . . whatever the recipe card says. =)

catfish

The recipe was simple and easy to follow, but don’t believe the time approximations unless you’re a master multi-tasker. Aside from cooking materials, the only ingredients you need are salt, pepper, and olive oil. Not too shabby! The instructions also wanted me to keep washing and reusing the same skillet . . . I guess it’s nice to know I could’ve made dinner with only one, but I opted to dirty more dishes and toss them all in the dishwasher at the end.

skillet 2 skillet

Check it out! My finished product looks almost mostly sort of like the one in the picture! AND it was DELICIOUS. I rock!

lemon catfish

 

If I made it again, I’d:

~ skip the sugary lemon glaze in favor of plain old lemon juice

~ either invest in a mesh strainer (that freaky grain stuff is SMALL), or replace the grain with couscous or orzo or something easier to find

~ dice the collard greens instead of cutting them into strips so they’d mix more easily with the grain

~ feed the baby before I tried to sit down for a nice, relaxing dinner with Husband

 

The best part: all that packaging is recyclable! Yay!

recycling

I can’t wait to try the next recipe! For now, though . . . instead of making a grocery list, I’m going to go read a book. On the couch. With a cup of tea. Thanks, Blue Apron!

 

melissasig

 

 

efchappy

 

 

Melissa’s Review: Googolplex by KG Johansson

Googolplex

Googolplex
written by K.G. Johansson
published by Affront Publishing, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did and I didn’t. It’s a really cool concept, but it gets a bit hard to think about. Perhaps my, um, college self would have stretched my mind a bit (if you know what I mean) before trying to read this, but my late 30-something mother-of-two self has, you know, stuff to do later. So. It’s sort of got an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind vibe going, which I liked. It’s also got Jack, whom I liked less and less the more I read. It’s got cool alien-type beings, which I liked, but it’s also got weird cat-people and DNA kissing, which I didn’t like. It’s a unique book that I think my younger self would have enjoyed, but it got just a bit too weird for my grown-up self.

 

GOLDEN LINES

“. . . he would have to search in the set of everything possible, in the totality of everything existing; in the universe, raised to the power of all its possibilities.”

“He couldn’t tell if he was happy.”

 

everyfree3

 

Would I recommend it: This would be a great book to take on a vacation to Alaska. Or Oregon. Colorado, maybe? Possibly Washington . . .

melissasig

About the book – from Goodreads: 
If you could have anything but the one thing you really wanted, what would you do?

Jack is part of a group of colonists traveling to the distant planet Shylock to build themselves a new home. But Jack has trouble letting go of his past and the world he left behind. He becomes obsessed with what could have been, and with the help of multis – mysterious beings from parallel universes – he begins his search for truth. However, in a world where even love seems impossible to define, what can he find?

Swedish author KG Johansson was born in the fifties, grew up with rock music and became a musician. Today he plays and writes full-time – science fiction and young adult novels, film scripts, opera libretti and music books – and is one of the foremost authors of speculative fiction in Scandinavia.

 

efchappy

Julie’s Review: Baggage by S.G. Redling (giveaway)

Baggage

Baggage 
written by S.G. Redling
Expected publication: Thomas & Mercer, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iTunes (audiobook)Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Yes. It is a suspenseful novel that kept me intrigued. Twenty-six-year-old Anna Ray is trying to escape her demons at a new job in a new state, but it seems that trouble is following her. A colleague is murdered, and Anna is unwittingly drawn into the police investigation. Anna is forced to face her demons head-on, and once again question who she can trust.

everyfree4

Would I recommend it: Yes, Baggage is a well-written page-turner, and if you enjoy psychological thrillers, this is a book for you!

juliesig

About the book – from Goodreads: Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17. First, there was the childhood trauma she’s never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date.

A year later and a thousand miles away, Anna tries to find solace in the fresh start of a new job in a new place. She takes comfort in her outspoken cousin Jeannie, the confidant and best friend who’s there whenever she needs help. On the day of the dreaded anniversary, Anna and Jeannie hit the town, planning to ease the pain with an alcohol-induced stupor and then sleep.…

When Anna awakes the next morning, she thinks she can put one more February 17 behind her, but fate is about to intervene in the form of two gruesome murders with eerie similarities to her violent past. This time, however, she won’t be an abandoned daughter or a grieving widow. This time, she’ll be a suspect.

S.G. Redling_(c) Toril Lavender_300dpiAbout the author: A fifteen-year veteran of morning radio, an avid traveler, and a so-so gardener, S.G. Redling currently lives in her beloved West Virginia.  She is the author of several novels including: Ourselves, Flowertown, Damocles, Redemption Key, The Widow File, and Braid.

Find Ms. Redling here: web, Twitter, Goodreads

giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

efchappy

Boost It Tuesday! – February 9, 2016

boost-it-TuesdayEFC

Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free ChanceCandace’s Book Blog, & If These Books Could Talk for  Boost It Tuesday!

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

Here are some tips for Boosting. A big thanks to Kate at If These Books Could Talk for the image!

Boost It Poster

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Kate, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the If These Books Could Talk Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

If you would like to host the giveaway on your Facebook page one week, please fill out the form below. Be sure to notice the rules. If you have hosted in the past and would like to do so again, please let me know!

Click Here to Sign Up to Host the Giveaway

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!


 if these books could talk
 

efchappy

Spotlight: Journey to Death by Leigh Russell (giveaway)

Journey to DeathJourney to Death
written by Leigh Russell
published by Thomas & Mercer,  2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Lucy Hall arrives in the Seychelles determined to leave her worries behind. The tropical paradise looks sun-soaked and picture-perfect—but as Lucy soon discovers, appearances can be very deceptive. A deadly secret lurks in the island’s history, buried deep but not forgotten. And it is about to come to light.

As black clouds begin to gather over what promised to be a relaxing family break, Lucy realises that her father stands in the eye of the coming storm. A shadow from his past is threatening to destroy all that he holds dear—including the lives of his loved ones.

A dark truth is about to explode into their lives, and that truth is going to hit them right between the eyes.

 

Leigh RussellAbout the author: Leigh Russell is the author of the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson crime series. She studied at the University of Kent, gaining a master’s degree in English. She has a Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties from the British Dyslexia Association, and a Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. For many years she taught English at secondary school, specialising in supporting pupils with specific learning difficulties. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in north-west London. In addition to writing, she guest-lectures for the Society of Authors, universities and colleges, and runs regular creative writing courses for the prestigious Writers Lab in the UK and Greece. She also runs the manuscript assessment service for the CWA.

Find Ms. Russell here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

efchappy

 

DNF: The Blue Line by Ingrid Betancourt

The Blue LineThe Blue Line
written by Ingrid Betancourt
published by Penguin Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange f
or an honest review.

Where I stopped reading: page 70 of 360

Why I stopped reading: I just could not get into this book. It had too much information about Argentina’s Dirty War. I know that is the time period for this story, but I expected it to be more about Julia’s gift of visions and the later interventions than about the details of the political unrest. I wanted the magical realism, the love story, the visions.

chrissysig
What others have rated this book: According to Goodreads, the average rating for The Blue Line is 3.74 stars. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book 4 stars. There were 5 3-star reviews on Amazon. At Barnes & Noble, the majority of the reviews were ? stars. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you won’t.

About the book – from Goodreads: From the extraordinary Colombian French politician and activist Ingrid Betancourt, a stunning debut novel about freedom and fate

Set against the backdrop of Argentina’s Dirty War and infused with magical realism, The Blue Line is a breathtaking story of love and betrayal by one of the world’s most renowned writers and activists. Ingrid Betancourt, author of  the New York Timesbestselling memoir Even Silence Has an End, draws on history and personal experience in this deeply felt portrait of a woman coming of age as her country falls deeper and deeper into chaos.

Buenos Aires, the 1970s. Julia inherits from her grandmother a gift, precious and burdensome. Sometimes visions appear before her eyes, mysterious and terrible apparitions from the future, seen from the perspective of others. From the age of five, Julia must intervene to prevent horrific events. In fact, as her grandmother tells her, it is her duty to do so—otherwise she will lose her gift.

At fifteen, Julia falls in love with Theo, a handsome revolutionary four years her senior. Their lives are turned upside down when Juan Perón, the former president and military dictator, returns to Argentina. Confronted by the realities of military dictatorship, Julia and Theo become Montoneros sympathizers. Julia and Theo are radical idealists, equally fascinated by Jesus Christ and Che Guevara. Captured by death squadrons, they somehow manage to escape. . . .

In this remarkable novel, Betancourt, an activist who spent more than six years held hostage by the FARC in the depths of Colombian jungle, returns to many of the themes of Even Silence Has an End. The Blue Line is a story centered on the consequences of oppression, collective subservience, and individual courage, and, most of all, the notion that belief in the future of humanity is an act of faith most beautiful and deserving.

 

efchappy

January 2016 Subscription Boxes

Hi, Everyone!

Here are our subscriptions from the month of January, and a few things from December:

 

Muse Monthly

Jan 2016 MuseMonthly

Lit-Cube

 

 

2016 Star Wars Lit-Cube (1)

This was a special edition box, theme Star Wars. I love the T-shirt and the Rey Funko Pop. It’s an awesome box!

2016 Star Wars Lit-Cube (2)
Jan 2016 Lit-Cube (2)

Jan 2016 Lit-Cube (3)Jan 2016 Lit-Cube (1)

The Bookworm Box

Jan 2016 Bookworm

This is the January box.

Dec 2015 Bookworm

This is the December box. Delivery was delayed so it arrived in January!

Uppercase

Jan 2016 Uppercase (2)

Jan 2016 Uppercase (1)  Jan 2016 Uppercase (3)

Owl Crate

Jan 2016 OwlCrate (2)

I love the Ron Weasley Funko Pop!

Jan 2016 OwlCrate (1)

Book Riot YA Quarterly

I won't be renewing this subscription. It's on the pricey side, and sadly, I don't think it's worth the cost.

I won’t be renewing this subscription. It’s on the pricey side. This was a good box. I like the Where the Wild Things Are socks and the coloring notecards. I’m looking forward to reading both books as well.

Jamberry StyleBox

This is the Feminine StyleBox.

This is the Feminine StyleBox.

BirchBox

 Jan 2016 Birchbox

KiwiCrate

Jan 2016 Kiwi Crate

January Kiwi Crate

Jan 2016 Koala crate

January Koala Crate

Dec 2015 Koala Crate

This was the December Koala Crate. My daughter had a blast being a polar bear and playing catch with her paws and snowballs!

 

What do you think of month’s boxes?

Do you subscribe to any boxes? If so, which ones? I did include my referral links, so if you’re interested, please feel free to use them! I know I would appreciate it.

chrissysig

 

efchappy

 

Story Time with Sara (actually, with Melissa): Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

storytime

Go, Dog. Go!Go, Dog. Go!
written by P. D. Eastman
published by Random House Books for Young Readers, 1961

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: My son adores this book, and I’ve, therefore, read it about ninety zillion times, so my review might be a *bit* jaded.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Hey, all! I thought I’d try my hand at one of Sara’s famous kid book reviews, so I chose a book I love to hate: Go, Dog. Go!

It’s not that the book is stupid, exactly. I mean, I get that it’s cool for kids to be able to read books on their own when they’re first learning. I’m cool with instilling a sense of independence and accomplishment and all that, but seriously. How am I supposed to convey the magic and wonder of the world of literature to my kids when random colored dogs keep insulting each others’ headgear? Is this really the best we can do for our children? A dog party? A tiny bird directing traffic? Ping pong in a tree? And were orange and yellow somehow DIFFERENT in 1961, or am I just supposed to cringe every time my son gets to the part about what color the sun is?

. . . ok, actually. That stuff I just said sort of DOES sound magical and wonderful. Darnit.

I need more coffee.

everyfree4

 

Would I recommend it: Begrudgingly. melissasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Reading goes to the dogs in this timeless Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss. From big dogs and little dogs to red, green, and blue dogs, dogs going up and dogs going fast . . . who knew dogs were so busy? And laughter will ensue at the repeated question “Do you like my hat?” Like P. D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother? Go, Dog. Go! has been a go-to favorite for over fifty years, leaving audiences of all breeds wagging their tails with delight.

Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

“The canine cartoons make an elementary text funny and coherent and still one of the best around.”–School Library Journal. 

 

efchappy

Chrissy’s Review: My Wicked Half-Sister by E.M. Tippetts

My Wicked Half-SisterMy Wicked Half-Sister (Someone Else’s Fairytale, #4)
written by E.M. Tippetts
published by E.M. Tippetts, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really did enjoy this book. It was a great addition to the Someone Else’s Fairytale series. (You can find my reviews here: Someone Else’s Fairytale,  Nobody’s Damsel, Break It Up, and A Safe Space.)

My Wicked Half-Sister brings us more Chloe and Jason. They are such a wonderful couple. I love their friendship and chemistry, and their love for one another is apparent. I really enjoyed getting to know Chloe’s sister, Beth. She is a force to be reckoned with. I didn’t find her wicked, but she was persistent. This story moved fast but took place during a  small window of time. I was surprised by Chloe’s mother. I guess I never noticed her being that way in the previous books. I did enjoy her ending in this book (even though I thought she had a very different role in this story). I hope her opportunity works out. Of course, I’m excited for Chloe and Jason. And I can’t wait for the next book!!!

everyfree4

Would I recommend it: Yes, but read the rest of the series first.

chrissysig

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Chloe didn’t set out to be famous, but her marriage to Hollywood A-lister, Jason Vanderholt, made her a celebrity by association. Jealous and nosy fans heckle her in public and the tabloids portray her as cold, arrogant, and unworthy of her husband. As bad as that is, it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

Her brother, Chris, is being paroled from prison, where he has been serving time for shooting and nearly killing Chloe when she was a child. This is not a situation that she wants splashed all over the headlines, especially because this could incite her brother to try to finish the job.

When Chloe gets word of a string of crimes that might be tied to her brother, she finds she has yet another enemy: their father, Dr. Winters. He refuses to cooperate with Chloe’s security team and even gives the police a hard time when they try to investigate.

The one ally Chloe has in her own family is her half-sister, Beth, a public prosecutor intent on bringing Chris to justice. Her approach is so aggressive that everyone from Chloe’s security specialist to the police detective insists that she is doing more harm than good. Beth assures Chloe that her way is the only way that will work, which leaves Chloe to decide whether to trust the experts, or the sister she barely knows. The wrong choice puts her very life in danger.

 

 

efchappy