2010: Year In Review

2010 was a great year here at I'd So Rather Be Reading! 
Here's a summary of our 2010 milestones:

  • Blogs started in 2010: One.  On April 16 Natalie created I'd So Rather Be Reading.  It was all Natalie's idea: I agreed to write reviews and she agreed to do everything else!  We've had the best time meeting other bloggers, authors, and finding new books to love (and obsess over).  
  • Books Kelli read in 2010: 228 books.  See the entire list here.   
  • Books Natalie read in 2010: Who knows?  She doesn't keep track!  
  • Number of pregnancies: Two.  Natalie is 16 weeks pregnant with her third child and I am 26 weeks pregnant with my first (and probably only) child.
  • Number of epic "DREAMS SHATTERED" moments: Two (one for each of us).  Mockingjay left us both so depressed that we could not read for days.  We still cannot even say Mockingjay without talking about how disappointed we were with the dark, violent end to one of our favorite series.
  • Number of conversations about the Vampire Academy series: Unmeasurable.  We talked about these books almost every day.  We were so, so, so happy with Last Sacrifice that it almost made up for our MDD: Mockingjay Depressive Disorder.
  • Most unforgettable books we read in 2010: In no particular order, here are the books we read this year that we can't stop thinking about (most of these were published before 2010):
  • The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett
  • Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • Spirit Bound and Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
  • The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  • Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore
  • If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
  • Go Small or Go Home by Heather Wardell
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
  • A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett
  • Infinite Days by Rebecca Maziel
  • Plans for 2011: Just keep reading.  With both of us having babies this year, we know we won't be reading as much as we do now.  But, we plan to keep blogging as usual.  Just don't expect the same number of reviews that we are putting out now.  Please excuse us if we are slow to return comments and answer emails.  Actually, with both of us having difficult pregnancies, we're having that problem already!
Thank you to all of our followers, blogging friends, authors and publishers who have made this year unforgettable!  We appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to 2011!

Book Review: Hush Money (Talent Chronicles #1) by Susan Bischoff

Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear when they get noticed. Joss has spent years trying to hide. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss, who is best friends with her long-time crush, who is actually talking to her. Life just got more complicated.
Finding great reads on Barnes and Noble's NOOKbook deals page is like finding money in last season's purse.  I love it!  Hush Money is my latest hidden gem.

The people in Bischoff's world are just like us except for one thing: some people have Talents.  Talents are something people can do supernaturally that no one else can do.  Examples are superhuman strength, invisibility, mind control, and the ability to shoot fire from your eyes.  Reading back over that list, it's kind of Superman-ish.  Each person with a Talent only has one ability, and most keep their Talents a secret, because people with Talents are taken away by the government for the safety of everyone else.  How Talents came to exist is not explained (something I would have liked to know). 

The concept of Talents reminded me of Kristin Cashore's Graceling, but not so much that it kept me from enjoying the story.  The addition of the Talents is what makes this story so great.  The other elements of the story are common enough in YA: a loner main character, the new friend, the enemy/bully, and the love interest.  Bischoff handles these elements well and ties everything together to make a great story.  The story is written in the first person point-of-view of both Joss and Dylan.  The chapters alternated between the two main characters: something that can feel jumpy but was handled well.

I would recommend Hush Money to fans of YA and fans of dystopia.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this series.

Just One Gripe: 
The ending felt abrupt. 

The Best Thing About This Book: 
The originality.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery:  4/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 3/5
Total Score:  18/25

Book Review: Reaper (A Soul Screamers Novella) by Rachel Vincent

Tod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him--and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.

Suddenly Tod's future wasn't so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life... Death... or something Between....

I have not read the rest of the Soul Screamers series, except for book one and now both novellas, but I really enjoy the world Rachel Vincent has created.  I like her writing style and creativity.  Plus, the books are set in Texas.  I love reading books taking place in my home state.  

This was one of the shorter novellas I've read.  The ending felt a little abrupt and definitely left me wanting more.  While I've never been one to read about ghosts or dead people, the content of Reaper did not bother me.   

This book is a must-read for fans of the Soul Screamers series.  There are no spoilers, so if you want to give Reaper a try to see if you'd like the series as a whole, go for it.  Just don't expect a full length novel. 

Just One Gripe:
There seems to be some repetition: Vincent keeps telling us the same characteristics of the bean sidhes in each book.  I know that this is so readers who are new to the series don't get confused, but it gets old to keep reading the same thing over and over.

The Best Thing About This Book:
I like Tod as a character so I enjoyed learning more about his life before he became a Reaper.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 3/5
Total Score:  18/25


Book Review: Crave (Fallen Angels #2) by JR Ward

The second volume in J.R. Ward's Fallen Angels paranormal romance series pits a worldly wise covert ops soldier against an assassin, a demon, and his own conscience. Isaac Rothe has a bad boy past, but he knows that he's fallen mightily for his luscious public defender. Who knew that a battle for a soul could be so alluring?

I enjoyed Covet, the first book in JR Ward's Fallen Angels series, but it was no Black Dagger Brotherhood for me.  Of course, I think it's hard to give Ward's other books a fair chance because I inevitably go into her books expecting them to be just as good as the BDB.  While I do like the angels in this book, they just don't compare to those rugged vampire brothers...

I enjoyed Crave more than Covet because I knew what to expect: a meet cute, an update on Jim and his angel sidekicks Eddie and Adrian, and a struggle between the two main characters to overcome circumstances preventing them from getting together.  There were some nice surprises to this book, especially the question of whose soul was being sought after by both sides in the war. 

This series is turning out to be just as dark as the Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  While I can skim past some of the heavier fighting scenes and not be affected, more sensitive readers might be offended by the subject matter.  The Fallen Angles series is about the battle between Heaven and Hell for the souls of the world.  Shape-shifting demons and trips to hell for demonic torture sessions are par for the course in this series. 

Crave was the perfect read to tide me over while I'm waiting for the next BDB book.  While I did enjoy this book, I was able to put it down from day to day (unlike the BDB). 

Just One Gripe:
The "Wardisms" bogged the writing down for me.  Phrases like "went Nike across the desert" and "after he hi-how-are-you'd him" got too repetitive. 

The Best Thing About This Book:
The surprise at the end.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  17/25

Book Review: Bright Young Things (Bright Young Things #1) by Anna Godbersen

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties. 

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star… 

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will. 

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets. 

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age. 

I've been looking forward to this book ever since I read The Luxe series and heard that Anna Godbersen was coming out with a new historical fiction series.  I just didn't think I could love Bright Young Things as much as I loved The Luxe, but I did.  Godbersen has the ability to immerse her readers in the historical world so completely that I felt like I was right there with her characters.

Cordelia and Letty are best friends in small-town Ohio.  The book starts on Cordelia's wedding day: she has been caught "going too far" with her boyfriend and her domineering aunt forces her to get married.  Cordelia and Letty escape to New York to follow their respective dreams of finding family and fame. 

Like The Luxe, Godbersen excells with description and imagery in Bright Young Things. I felt like I was living in the roaring twenties alongside with Cordelia, Letty, and Astrid.  The pace moves quickly, alternating between Cordelia's, Letty's, and Astrid's stories.  The friends have entirely different experiences in New York and I enjoyed the different roles the three girls played.

The plot moved quickly and the book never got slow for me.  I had a very, very difficult time putting this book down.  If you've never read Anna Godbersen, I would recommend giving her books a try.  They are all excellent!

Just One Gripe: 
The fight between Cordelia and Letty and the consequences of their disagreement happened so fast.  I could not believe how quickly they gave up on their years of friendship.

The Best Thing About This Book: 
The strong, independent females.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Setting/Imagery: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  23/25

A Christmas Tradition

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is reading short stories and poems each night before bed with my family. I decided to share two of my favorites. The first is the short story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, I have loved this story for as long as I can remember and I get excited each year when I get to read it! The second is a sweet little story, Teach the Children. I was given this story when I started having babies and instantly loved it! 

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining there unto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Teach the Children
Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened...I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.

He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. "What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone.

Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement. "TEACH THE CHILDREN!" I was puzzled; what did he mean?

He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before the mantle. "Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven."

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise."

He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. "Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."

Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. "Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection."

He then pulled from his bag and ornament of HIMSELF. "Teach the children that I, Santa Claus symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December."

He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. "Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him."

Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "Teach the children that God so loved the world that he gave..." "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds' crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper."

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men."

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. "Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return."

Santa looked back and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God."

*I use a little tree and the kids add the symbols as we read about them.*

Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy these fun stories as much as I do :)

On the 12th Day of Christmas

One the Twelfth day of Christmas I'd So Rather Be Reading gave to Missie our "Fictional MEN Never Let You Down" Tee! 

Merry Christmas to ALL and to ALL a GOOD NIGHT!

On the 11th Day of Christmas

One the Eleventh day of Christmas I'd So Rather Be Reading gave to Mrs. DeRaps a Smart Chicks Kick It signed poster! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Remember there will be a winner announced for only one last day

Our gift tomorrow is our Fictional MEN Never Let You Down Tee!

Guest Post: Anastasia Hopcus (Shadow Hills)

The neatest thing about blogging, besides making friends with so many other like-minded readers, has been interacting with authors.  I still get butterflies in my stomach when I get an email from an author---it's just so exciting!  Today we have Anastasia Hopcus on the blog to tell us what makes a great review.  
What makes a book review great?

I think most authors would have to admit that they enjoy rave reviews. But whether it's a rave or a pan or somewhere in between, for me the most important thing is that the review is specific and expresses an opinion---while remaining neutral enough to give readers an accurate depiction of the book. One way I find new books is by reading reviews of a book I already love. If a reviewer loves the same qualities that I enjoyed in the book, then I know I can rely on them for future recommendations.

One of my favorite books from 2010 was Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready.  I’d read so many good reviews of it on Goodreads, and it seemed to have all things I look for in a book. For instance:  A. likable potential love interests; B. a main character who can take care of herself;  C. a unique supernatural element. (And though it isn’t a necessity, the music-centric side plot was a big draw too.) Not surprisingly, these all came together to create a book that I loved.

There are several other elements that are nice to see covered in a review.  1. What is the tone? Is it a book that will lift me up after a bad week or should I save it for a rainy day when I need a good emotional read? 2. What is the POV? I prefer a book that is in first-person, but I also enjoy third person as long as it’s not too removed feeling. 3. What is the pace? Is it an involved and complex ‘long weekend’ type of story or is it a ‘stay up until 3 am to figure out the mystery’ book?  And the final thing I like to learn is: What other books does it compare to?

This point probably deserves more explanation.   I’m not talking about the ‘don’t read this, it’s is too much like Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights, or Twilight’ sort of statement.  What I like to see is whether the book has the same appeal as another.  For instance, a statement like this is helpful to me:  "This book’s fast pace and strong romance with a sweet guy make it a perfect read for fans of The Body Finder."

Even a bad review can be enticing---if written in an impartial way. I can form my own opinion from something like: ‘I didn’t enjoy the bland ‘other world’ or the formulaic hero’s quest set-up. But I can see how the witty sidekicks and the action-packed chase scenes might appeal to a reader who is looking for a quick, fun read and doesn’t mind a certain lack of originality.’ It’s not a glowing recommendation, but it might make the potential reader think, ‘I could enjoy this because humor’s more important to me than world building.’

Obviously, different things matter more to different people; but, if you can give someone an idea of how they would feel about a book, then you’ve written a very good review indeed. Even if it isn’t a rave.

What great points!  I think I'm going to start adding some elements to my reviews now...thank you Anastasia!  We look forward to your next book and are very honored to have you here at I'd So Rather Be Reading!

On the 10th Day of Christmas

One the Tenth day of Christmas I'd So Rather Be Reading gave to Tabithia The Wish List *signed* by Gabi Stevens! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Remember there will be a winner announced for the next 2 days

Our gift tomorrow is Smart Chicks Kick It signed poster!

On the 9th Day of Christmas

One the Ninth day of Christmas I'd So Rather Be Reading gave to Linda 
Sapphique (ARC) by Catherine Fisher

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Remember there will be a winner announced for the next 3 days

Our gift tomorrow is The Wish List (signed) by Gaby Stevens

Book Review: Don't Blink by James Patterson

New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons - the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels accidentally captures a key piece of evidence that lands him in the middle of an all-out war between Italian and Russian mafia forces.

I've tried several times to read James Patterson's work and the only books of his that I've really enjoyed were his romances Sam's Letters to Jennifer and Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas.  Both of those books were great and remind me of Nicholas Sparks' writing in a good way.  

Patterson's thrillers have very short, almost choppy sentences and extremely short chapters which make for fast-paced but ultimately unsatisfying novels.  Don't Blink took me about three hours to finish, and I'm glad I got this one from the library, because if I would have paid for it I probably would have been upset. 
It's not that the story was bad, because it wasn't, I've just read so many thrillers now that they all feel the same.  I cut my adult-fiction teeth on thrillers (David Baldacci, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Jeffrey Archer, Brad Meltzer, John Lescroart and the like) that I guess I'm kind of burned out on them.  The plots all feel the same to me: intrepid reporter/journalist/lawyer/doctor who discovers a cover-up behind a death or major event and works to expose the guilty parties.  The intrepid main character usually finds love along the way and gets a career boost from working for justice.  

If you like James Patterson, you'll like Don't Blink.  If you're wanting something more, like me, look elsewhere----why don't you try Ken Follett?  He writes unique thrillers with intricate plots.

Just One Gripe: 
See above about the story feeling recycled.

The Best Thing About This Book: 
I guess the fact that it's easy to lose yourself in one of Patterson's books because they move so fast.  

Appropriate for a younger audience: 
Probably not.

Characters: 2/5
Plot: 2/5
Setting/Imagery: 2/5
Originality: 2/5
Ending: 3/5

Total Score:  11/25


ON the 8th Day of Christmas

One the Eighth day of Christmas I'd So Rather Be Reading gave to Barb a reindeer pin! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Remember there will be a winner announced for the next 4 days

Our gift tomorrow is Sapphique (ARC) by Catherine Fisher!

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

This blogfest is hosted by Melissa @ Through the Looking Glass and Jen @ Unedited.  Click the links to their blogs to sign up. 

The rules for the blogfest are: 
1.  Post on your blog December 20th.
2.  Share pictures of your Christmas decorations.
3.  Share pictures and recipes of your favorite holiday treats.
4.  Share pictures and recipes of your favorite holiday drink.
My 9' tree
5.  Visit other bloggers and spread the holiday cheer!

Well, here goes our Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest post!

My tree is my pride and joy at Christmas time.  I spend two days putting it up, usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, while my husband is deer hunting.  Every year I buy a few new ornaments, except for this year, because my tree was already so full!  
I love to put on Christmas music and decorate my tree.  The hard part is getting my cat to leave the ornaments alone! 

A close-up of my ornaments
One of my favorite things to do is bake.  I love all things chocolate, and I love sharing my goodies with my friends and family.  I don't drink, so I'm sharing two of my favorite holiday treat recipes.  Here are two of my most-requested items:

Chocolate-Covered Ritz Sandwiches
 As requested, here are the recipes (they are actually quite easy):

Chocolate-Covered Ritz Sandwiches:
Ritz crackers
Smooth peanut butter
White chocolate wafers
Milk chocolate wafers (I find the wafers in the produce section near the strawberries or in the baking section) 
Lay out Ritz crackers salt-side down on wax paper.  Spread crackers with peanut butter.  Top with more Ritz, salt-side up to make a sandwich.  Repeat until you have desired amount of sandwiches.  Heat chocolate wafers according to package directions.  (I usually have to thin the chocolate with vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon at a time, according to the package directions).  Dip sandwiches in chocolate, going halfway up the sandwich.  Shake to remove excess chocolate and lay on wax paper to dry.  Repeat for all sandwiches, using white and milk chocolate.  Let dry for at least one hour and store in covered container at room temperature.  The combination of salty and sweet is quite addictive---be careful!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries:
Fresh strawberries
Milk chocolate wafers
White chocolate wafers
Brush strawberries with produce brush.  Do not wash strawberries!  Lay strawberries out on wax paper after brushing them.
Heat chocolate according to package directions.  Make sure it is thin enough to drip off of a spoon.  Dip strawberries one at a time, holding them by the leaves, in chocolate, about 2/3 of the way up the strawberry.  Lay on wax paper to dry.  Repeat for all strawberries.  Once the initial coating of chocolate has dried, you can add a drizzle of the contrasting chocolate flavor.  Drizzle chocolate with a fork (chocolate must be thin) over strawberries.  Let dry for one hour on wax paper.  Store in a single layer in a tightly covered container at room temperature.  Do not refrigerate.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season filled with love and laughter.  Merry Christmas!

Book to Movie News: I Am Number Four & Beastly

Is this Alex Pettyfer's year or what?!

I Am Number Four (Book Review)
Kelli wasn't crazy about this one but I think it is more for the sci-fi lover,like me! 

Beastly (Book Review)
I just bought this one and can't wait to get started! We are HUGE Beauty and the Beast fans at our house and I usually love a modern twist to classics.  I am not a huge Vanessa Hudgens fan but who knows maybe she will surprise us.

I am really loving Alex Pettyfer! I still really want him for the role of Jace in the movie adaptation of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones.

So MANY books and such little time!... and add the movies to the mix OH MY!