Month in Review: January 2012

It was another busy month here at I'd So Rather Be Reading!  I've never done a month in review post before, but thought I'd make it a new tradition for 2012.

Reviews posted:
Other Fun Posts:
  • Natalie and I made some New Year's Resolutions for the blog.  Read our goals for 2012 here.

  • I vowed to read more books by Ken Follett, my all-time favorite author.  His books are not easy or fast reads, but they are so worth it!
Big Blog/Life-Changing News:
  • My last day of work was January 30.  As of 1/31, I will be a full-time stay-at-home mom!  I am so excited about staying home with my precious baby!
And that about wraps our January up!  Did you meet your reading/review goals for the month?  How was your January? 

Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.  
Release Date: June 1, 2010
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Library

This was one of the weirdest books I have ever read.  And that is saying a lot.  I believe  that The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is considered magical realism.  I've never read magical realism before but thought that the premise sounded interesting.  And, so, when I saw a copy in my local library, I snatched it up, excited to try something new and different.  The excitement soon fizzled for me, due to a slow plot, heavy writing and an unbelievable twist at the end that just ruined the book for me.


I never do this but I have to tell you what ruined this book for me.  I can accept the fact that Rose has a special gift.  She can taste the emotions in food.  Okay.  I get it.  But, not only can she tell what kind of mood the person who prepared her food is in, she can also tell where the food is from (including how the animals were fed and treated and if the food is organic or not).  These are two very different things and I thought Bender should have focused on one or the other.

So, keeping that in mind, I thought that this book would focus on Rose's gift and be a nice, unique, fun read.  It was not.  Rose's family is so depressing, I felt depressed the entire time I was reading.  Until I got to the end of the book, then I got mad.  Rose's brother has been disappearing for hours or days at a time.  No one knows where he is going or what is happening.  Rose goes to his apartment to find him and he is stuck in his chair.  Do you know WHY he is stuck?  Because his legs have morphed into the chair legs.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Rose's brother TURNS INTO FURNITURE.  AT WILL.  I had to read the section several times because I could not believe what I was reading!!  His favorite piece of furniture to turn into is a chair belonging to a folding card table set.  The book ends with Joseph as the chair, and Rose keeps the chair, knowing that her brother is inside it.


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was not for me.  Others will disagree, and I urge you to try it for yourself.  As for me, I don't think I'm going to be going for much more "magical realism."

Tickets, Tickets... Get Your Tickets! (Buy Hunger Games Movie Tickets in Advance)

Got Tickets?

Cinemark will begin selling tickets for The Hunger Games Wednesday, February 22nd @ 6am! The movie is set to release March 23, 2012

Taylor Swift is featured on the soundtrack for the movie with her song Safe & Sound. Do you like it, because I sure do?!

Now you know I will host a THG party and I am on the lookout for ideas (Hint: Pinterest). Now there are LOADS of crafty people and I have a reputation to uphold :) I found this video of a lady busting out Mockingjays out of fondant! The bar has been raised my friends... the bar has been raised...

And finally here is the trailer to get your Arena Fever flowing!

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor!

To Buy or Not to Buy

Do you expect more out of books you've bought?  By that, I mean, do you hold them to a higher standard because you have a personal (monetary) investment in them?  

I've found that I hold purchased books to a higher standard than review requests or library books.  And it's really not fair of me, but because I've spent part of my precious book budget on a book, I expect it to be a great one, one I want to read again and again. 

So when a book that I've bought is just "okay," I tend to get upset.  And so, so disappointed.  I then vow to only buy books that have over 4 star ratings on Goodreads and by tried-and-true authors.  But, even then, that method fails me.  A recent example is Janet Evanovich's Explosive Eighteen.  I spent about $14 on the eBook, and it was not worth that at all.  It was more like a $2.99 book for me.  I vowed never to buy another Evanovich book, and will wait it out on the library waiting list, no matter how many months it may be.  

Does this sort of thing happen to you?  Do you expect more out of books you've bought?

Book Review: Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That's terrifying. With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

Release Date: November 24, 2011
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

I simply love Heather Wardell's work and just sigh in contentment every time I finish one of her books.  Her writing is so fresh, so emotional without being heavy, that I live in a state of excited anticipation waiting for her next release.

Blank Slate Kate was no different from my other favorite Wardell reads---I started reading and was immediately drawn in to the story, and found myself unable to put the book down.  To read an entire book in one or two sittings as a working mother of a 9-month old is a true accomplishment, something that almost never happens for me anymore.  Even books I love, series books I have been looking forward to for months (or longer), take me days to read now.  But not Heather Wardell's books.  There is just something about her writing that makes me unable to stop reading once I've started.  I've just got to know what's going to happen next.

Kate wakes up one morning having no idea of where she is, or even what year it is.  She feels 17 but quickly realizes her body is much older.  She soon learns that she is actually 32, but has no memory of the last 15 years of her life.  Kate is taken in by Jake, who seems to be such an all-around good person---at first.  Enter in a husband who Kate doesn't know, a domineering mother-in-law, and a thriving business that she remembers nothing about, and Kate has her work cut out for her.  I loved living the journey to self-discovery with Kate.  

I really thought I knew how this book was going to end, but I was wrong.  I was so wrong, and I love being surprised like that!  Heather took the book in a direction I was not expecting at all.  It was an unexpected ending and I enjoyed it more than the ending I had prepared myself for.  I loved the character development and the love story.  I love Heather's writing and pacing, which kept the book moving quickly.  I would recommend Blank Slate Kate to just about anyone.  Fans of chick lit will especially love it!

If you're new to Heather Wardell, her first book, Life, Love and a Polar Bear Tatoo (which was an excellent read) is available for free on her website.  Another great read, Seven Exes are Eight Too Many, is available for free on Amazon until January 27.  Free books!  Wait---I mean, GOOD free books!  Don't pass these up!!   

I love Ken Follett

Today, I started thinking.  This was prompted by me reading a book that I didn't really like, but I felt obligated to finish.  Finishing a book I'm not in love with always triggers a lot of resentment for me...and this time was no different.  All I could think as I was trying to get through this book, which was not bad, it just wasn't my taste, was: "why am I reading things I don't love when I could be reading Ken Follett?"  And, why am I?  I really can't say.  If you don't know who Ken Follett is, you're missing out.  He is a superb novelist and writes excellent historical fiction.  His books are bestsellers the world over.   

The only reason I can think of is that Ken Follett books are not easy reads.  They are not fast reads and don't provide instant gratification (like I've gotten used to, reading as much YA as I do).  Ken Follett books, are, however, very satisfying reads.  They make me think---something that I've tended to avoid since I had my baby nine months ago.  But, I am finally starting to feel clear-headed again, and I think I can manage a 'thinking' book.  So, I've decided to put my YA on hold for a while and delve into a Ken Follett masterpiece.  I have yet to read one of his books that I haven't loved.  Now I just need to decide which book to start with.  So stay tuned for some upcoming Ken Follett reviews!

Book Review: Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella

Having just sped through the Shopaholic series (and loving it the whole way), I thought I'd do a series review.  After reading and reviewing book one, I read the rest of the books too quickly to stop and review each one along the way.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic #1)
Click here for the summary.
I previously reviewed Confessions of a Shopaholic on I'd So Rather Be Reading.  Read my review here.

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic #2)
Click here for the summary.
I liked this book just as much as book one.  The plot kept me interested, and the humor kept me laughing the entire time.  I did think that the title gives the ending to the book away, though, since Becky's decision to go to Manhattan does not occur until the end of the story.  I loved seeing Becky and Luke in love.

Shopaholic Ties the Knot (Shopaholic #3)
Click here for the summary.
This was my least favorite book of the series.  I hated Becky's indecision regarding the wedding.  I found her to be greedy and selfish for most of the book, and wished the conflict resolution had resulted in her growing up, instead of just finding a loophole to get her way.  I wanted to see some character growth in this book, but did not.  I wish she would have focused more on she and Luke's relationship instead of the glitz and glamour of the wedding(s). 

Shopaholic and Sister (Shopaholic #4)
Click here for the summary.
I fell back in love with the series reading Shopaholic and Sister.  I loved seeing Becky and Luke so relaxed on their honeymoon (especially Luke).  It was great to see Luke out of his usual, stress-filled work life.  I enjoyed seeing the relaxed side of him.  And the humor was in full force in this installment, especially with Becky dealing with all of her honeymoon purchases.  As usual, she comes up with an ingenious way to get herself out of trouble.  I also really liked the introduction of Jessica and Becky's attempts to bond with her.  I loved the part where Becky follows Jessica on the hike, and the discovery of Jessica's secret obsession.  I think that Shopaholic and Sister was my favorite book of the series.

Shopaholic and Baby (Shopaholic #5)
I am waiting for this book from the library.  I was so in love with the series, though, that I read book six first---something I would never usually do---but made an exception because I like this series so much! 

Mini Shopaholic (Shopaholic #6)
Click here for the summary.
Having missed Becky's pregnancy and Minnie's early years, I didn't have too much trouble catching up to Minnie as a toddler.  Unsurprisingly, Minnie is truly Becky's "mini-me" and is a seasoned shopper at two years old.  The plot of this book centers on Minnie's shopping and stubbornness and a surprise birthday party Becky is planning for Luke.  Especially funny parts include Becky and her mom's discovery of the "dollar store" and Minnie's intervention with a popular nanny.  My favorite part of the book was Becky's treatment of Luke's mother and how she starts to forgive her and include her in their lives.  I really enjoyed Mini Shopaholic, but I think I would have liked it even more if I had read book five first.

Have you read the Shopaholic series?  What did you think of it?

Book Review: Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. 

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Release Date: September 30, 2010
Age Group: Adult
Source: Library

Having enjoyed Soulless despite some tedious and spotty world-building, I was really excited to read Changeless.  I love Alexia for her pragmatism and levelheadedness and was looking forward to her next adventure.  I was also excited to read about she and Conall as a married couple.  Neither of them are very "lovey-dovey" but they do have a sweet relationship and usually treat each other with love and respect.  I say usually, because at the end of the book Conall behaves quite unlike himself and I really hated him for the way he treated Alexia.

One of my favorite things about this series are the secondary characters.  They are so well written and full of, well, character.  Madame Lefoux and Lord Akeldama are my favorites, although Ivy and Tunstell are close seconds.  Alexia's family is also well-developed and I enjoy her interactions with them.

One major warning is the cliffhanger at the end of Changeless.  I would recommend having Blameless (book three) on hand before starting Changeless.  Believe me, you're going to want to jump right into it after the events of Changeless.  Overall, I think that this is a great series, especially for fans of historical fiction, steampunk, or fantasy.


Book Review: Fateful by Claudia Gray

In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

Featuring the opulent backdrop of the Titanic,
Fateful’s publication is poised to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the ship’s doomed maiden voyage. It is sure to be a hit among Titanic buffs and fans of paranormal romance alike.

Release Date: September 13, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Library

All I know about the sinking of the Titanic, I learned from the movie Titanic (which I watched quite often as a teen).  I know no historically accurate facts about the Titanic--therefore all I have to compare the events in Fateful to is Titanic the movie.  Which seemed to be all I needed, as Fateful is very similar to James Cameron's Titanic.  Some of the similarities are: a privileged young woman forced to marry someone to increase her family's wealth, a lost item of value, a man in a position of power who abuses his power, and doomed romances.

Despite these similarities, Fateful is not a bad book.  It just was not one of my favorites.  I felt like the story moved slowly and was hard to get into.  I felt for Tess but was not truly invested in her story.  I was expecting something on the same level of Gray's Evernight series, and was disappointed in Fateful.  But what bothered me the most, by far, was the ending.  It was so fanciful and fantastical.  It just seemed contrived.  I'm all for happily ever afters, but not at the cost of the plot's integrity.

What I did like about Fateful was the development of the love story and the way Gray writes emotion.  I especially liked the doomed romance between Ned and Irene.  I thought the development of the secondary characters was excellent and they really made the book for me.

I had too many problems with Fateful to give it a whole-hearted recommendation, but would recommend it to fans of YA.  Just don't expect it to be too different from the Titanic story we all know and love.

Book Review: The Death Cure (The Maze Runner, #3) by James Dashner

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

Release Date: October 11, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Source: Library
Other Books in the Series:  The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials

I love dystopia and James Dashner's The Maze Runner trilogy is a great example of what I love best about the genre.  It is fast-paced, full of action and plot twists.  It also has an ironic element which adds a lot to the story.  The emotion is somewhat lacking, which I find to be a common problem with male narrative YA; however, it does not lessen my enjoyment of the story in this series.

With all that said, The Death Cure lacked the intensity of the first two books in the series.  Some of the events, especially the fighting, felt recycled.  There was just too much fighting and death for me.  Thomas made some dumb decisions, like how he finally got the chance to get his memories back but refused.  Didn't he complain for two whole books about his lack of memories?  I thought he would have jumped at the chance.

There were a lot of poignant moments, especially surrounding the Cranks, most notably Newt.  The ending of Newt and Thomas' friendship made me cry.  I felt so bad for Newt!

What I liked best about The Death Cure was the ironic ending.  It made me smile.  I thought it was neat the way Dashner handled the ending, leaving things up to your own interpretation.  Usually I hate that sort of thing but I kind of liked that Thomas never really does know the truth about what is going on.

Overall, I would recommend The Maze Runner trilogy.  It was a great dystopian adventure, even if I did find the last book to be not quite as good as the first two.

Book Review: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest.

But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. In the past, Eron has broken rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her. . . .

Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?

Release Date:  July 13, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Source: Library

I thought Sleepless sounded like a fresh new take on paranormal YA.  But it fell flat for me.  I thought the book was slow, so, so slow.  The characters were not realistic or believable.  I didn't really like anyone.  Eron was okay, just okay.  I hated just about every other character.  I thought the romance was creepy and stalker-ish.  The book as a whole was entirely forgettable and I can't even remember the ending (less than two weeks after I read it!).    

2012 New Years Resolutions

Can you believe it is 2012! The year has flown by and we have had another fantastic year of books and blogging. 

Year in Review for 2011:
  • 108 Book Reviews (You know it was all Kelli). See list here.
  • A dozen Discussions and Book-to-Movie buzz. We love chatting with everyone and read, smile and sometimes giggle at all comments and emails.
  • Still continue our in depth conversations about our fictional characters lives... we just can't let go sometimes.
  • The highlight of our year was having our babies :) Kelli had her sweet baby girl in March and I had my handsome #3 in June... AND we are still here! We kept trudging through and planned out our posts and blog schedule for our "Maternity Blog Leave"... Kelli's husband occasionally asks "So how is your second job going?"
Plans for 2012
We are keeping it simple (if that is even possible).
  1. Visit 3 blogs a day.
  2. Continue reading schedule of two books a week.
  3. Write reviews as soon as I finish the book... huh.

  1. Visit 3 blogs a week (Hey, I have 3 kids)
  2. Write 1 post a week... you never know what you will get
  3. Designate every Tuesday night as "Mommy's Reading Night" with a Do Not Disturb sign on my door, phone off the hook and all my children in bed by 8 pm (without the use of medication... JK :)
  4. Always have an audio book in the car and a back-up audio for those long trips.
  5. Give the blog a pretty face lift. A little botox here and there... a new header and button are first up on my list of Bloggy To-Do's.

We hope all of you begin this New Year refreshed and ready for another great adventure! And to all you authors, GET WRITING! We are waiting :)