Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: Bloodspell

Title: Bloodspell
Author: Amalie Howard
Publishing Date: 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Kisses
Book Disclosure: I received this book for free at the RT Convention 2016.

Bloodspell is the first book in the Cruentus Curse series.  Victoria Warrick has experienced some very strange happenings within her own body around the time of her seventeenth birthday.  On her birthday, she receives a music box from her late Grandmother, that help to provide answers as to why these strange experiences have been happening to her.  She comes from a long line of witches, as she happens to be a direct descendent from one of the most powerful.  Victoria moves to a new school and meets Christian Devereux.  There is something unusual about him that Victoria can't help but be drawn to. But because of Victoria's power, other supernatural beings are after her and she is in danger.

I really struggled with this book.  It took me over a week to read it and it just couldn't hold my attention.  I think some of it was because of the plot.  It just felt all over the map, with the world building.  Establishing the witch and vampire lore for this storyline took up some space and it just wasn't all that interesting.  It was also hard to like the main characters.  Victoria is not a warm and fuzzy heroine.  She is darn right prickly and standoffish.  It was hard to feel empathy for her and the same with Christian.  Then some of the adversary characters felt like comic book bad guys.  Also, I felt the romance with Christian and Victoria was not very believable.  First, Christian and Victoria had such a difference between their ages, that it was hard to believe that a romance would be possible.  Also, they spent quite a bit of the book pushing each other away.  And then the piece de resistance, when Victoria is in grave danger he realizes his true feelings. 

The saving grace for this book would be the action packed ending.  The last quarter of the book, boy do things really pick up and I enjoyed the battle at the end.  But other than that, there wasn't much that I would recommend.  I most likely won't be continuing on with the other books in this series.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week 2 2017: Travel Screws up my Routines!

This week sort of kicked my butt.  After returning home from Savannah on Sunday last week, I didn't have much time to get things in order before I was traveling again. 

My week started out fine on Monday, with me heading into the office for a meeting.  I was out of there by noon, so that I could take my daughter and I to the dentist.  I managed to get in a run that night before dinner.  But then things got a little crazy. 

I had to rise super early on Tuesday morning in order to catch a flight to New Orleans for a meeting that day.  That means the alarm went off at 3:25 am!! Ugh!  I knew this was going to be a long day.  And it was. I had hoped to get a yoga routine in and that did not happen.

A couple good things, though.  One, on my way to New Orleans, the flight had TVs on the back of each seat and they had free movies you could watch.  I watched Bad Moms and I thought it was hilarious.  I was laughing out loud while watching it and the gentleman sitting next to me would lean over to see what I was laughing at.  I am sure I was annoying him.  If you want a funny, girly/friendship movie, watch it.  I'm telling you, it had me in stitches. 

Two, I got to eat at Deanie's that night.  I have been to New Orleans before and eaten at Deanie's.  It's very well known and been around forever.  It was on Man vs Food, I think, or one of those travel channel shows.  If you ever get the chance you have to try Deanie's.  They are known for their barbeque shrimp dish, where the shrimp have their heads on and they are swimming in this delicious barbeque sauce.  It's really messy, so I didn't get it this time and instead ordered the crawfish etouffee and it was delicious!! 

Wednesday is was back up at the crack of dawn to head back home.  I didn't make it back home until the evening.  I was supposed to run and all I wanted to do was relax on the couch.  So that's what I did.

Thursday I had to head back to the work office for a training.  I did manage to get in yoga that night.  We had a new teacher and I liked her routine.  It was different from what I was used to doing and it felt great. 

Friday was a work from home day.  I finally managed to catch up on my emails and take care of some things that were burning out of control.  I also managed to get a run in at the end of the day before we headed out to eat and darn it if I didn't order chicken wings.  Once again, I did not do very good this week, diet wise. 

Saturday I spent the evening with a couple of girlfriends catching up over dinner and drinks.  It was nice to catch up with them as it had been a month since I had seen them last.

Today I managed to get in a yoga workout and a run.  As far as my reading goes, I wasn't able to get much read this week.  I am reading Bloodspell by Amalie Howard.  I have to confess that it isn't holding my attention.  It has taken me over a week to get halfway through it.  I am debating whether or not to continue.  I have book club next Thursday and need to start that book.  Ugh! 

How was your week?  Are you keeping to your resolutions or struggling like me?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Week 1 2017: New Year's Resolutions

I have a confession to make.  I am one of those people who love to make new year resolutions.  Yep.  I am very goal oriented... have been pretty much my whole life and I like to plan every thing out.  I am sure for those who have spent any amount of time with me, have probably figured this out.  Therefore, every year, when the first of the new year roles around, I am ready to set some goals and embrace a new me. 

Right now, I am calling her Jilly 2.0.  She is going to be the skinnier, healthier, better blogging, more informed version of Jill 1.0.  Its going to be great!  Fantastic!  Terrific!

What do I have in store for 2017?

1.  Loose some damn weight!! 

Well, I have already begun a running for weight loss program.  Basically, it is an app that you can download for free.  You choose your fitness level and it will map out an 8-week running program for you.  I chose beginner and each week I run 3 days.  If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen my updates.

I also am taking a yoga class at my gym twice a week.  The stretching does a body good and they usually throw in some core/stomach exercises.  Now my diet is a whole other issue.  I need to cut back on the wine and fried foods.  Every time I eat out, I somehow seem to zero in on the fattiest, most caloric dish on the menu.  This will be my biggest challenge!!

2.  Post regularly to my blog!!

I managed to make a blogging comeback in 2016.  I started out strong, but the posts quickly seemed to taper off.  Yikes!! That is not a good track record.  I have decided that I need to post at least once a week.  My goal will be to at least write one post on Sunday.  Maybe it will be a recap of the week or a book review.  I am going to try real hard to stay consistent with my blogging.

3.  Read 75 books!!

I have decided to challenge myself to read a little bit more than I did last year.  I managed 60 books last year and I am hoping to move that up to 75 for this year.  That means I need to read about 6 books a month.  So far I have read 1 book for this year.  Can I get the pacing right?!?

On reflecting back on the week.  I started out strong.  I managed to get in two runs and two yoga workouts at the beginning of the week.  But then I had to leave for a work conference in Savannah, Georgia on Thursday.  Things took a serious nose dive when faced with many yummy seafood dishes and glasses of wine.  Good news is that I managed to write this post!  You have to take your victories where you can get them, LOL!

I hope you all have had a great start to your 2017.  How have you fared with your resolutions?

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Year in Review & Best and Worst Reads of 2016

Hi all!  Now that the holidays are over I am back to wrap up the year that was 2016 and my reading statistics.  I love statistics so I am going to recap the books I read last year.  First, lets start with the grand total... I read a grand total of 70 books!!  Whoot, whoot!!  My goal was to read 60 and I am pleased to report I was able to meet that and more!  Now lets break it down even further. 

By Genre
Contemporary: 28
Fantasy: 1
Historical: 12
Historical Paranormal: 1
Mystery: 7
Paranormal: 3
Romantic Suspense: 7
Urban Fantasy: 4
Young Adult: 7

Clearly, I tend to lean towards contemporary romance.  However, I am surprised by how low are my Urban Fantasy/Paranormal numbers.

By Rating
5 Stars: 6
4 Stars: 43
3 Stars: 17
2 Stars: 2
1 Star: 2

This does not surprise me.  I am pretty stingy with my 5 star ratings.  I only give 5 stars if the book is damn near perfect and I would consider reading it again.  Most of the books fall under the 4 star range, because they entertained me and I enjoyed them.

By How I Obtained the Book
Bought: 11
Library: 15
RT Book Convention: 44

Yes!! My goal was to try and whittle down my TBR pile that I have obtained over the years from attending the RT book convention.  I am very happy to see that the majority of the books I read, were the ones I received at RT.  Not to mention that I only bought 11 books.  I feel that this is a SERIOUS VICTORY!!

Best Book I Read

Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Loved this one.  Takes place in a circus of all places and had me in absolute stiches.  LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!  You can read my review here.

Worst Book I Read

Rainfall by Melissa Delport

I read this for book club and was seriously disappointed.  I feel that it was advertised as a romance and a romance it was not.  Beware.... No HEA.  Now you can understand why I was very unhappy with the outcome! I will also mention, the writing was hard to read.  My impression would be that English was not the author's first language, or that maybe they were not American.  There were subtle language nuances that felt strange.   Really though, my big beef was the ending, so I can't go into details without giving spoilers.

How did you all do?  Did you meet your reading goals for 2016?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: One with You

Title: One with You
Author: Sylvia Day
Publishing Date: 2016
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I purchased this book at the RT Convention 2016.

Note***  If you haven't read the other books in this series, DO NOT start with this one!!!

One with You is the 5th book in Sylvia Day's Crossfire series.  It is the final installment of the sweeping saga between Gideon and Eva.  I originally thought this series would be a trilogy.  Imagine my surprise after the reading the third book and everything was not wrapped up!  Gideon and Eva's relationship can best be described as intense.  Everything about them is amped up to the maximum levels.  In this book, we finally see them learn how to deal with that intensity without wrecking themselves emotionally.  After their marriage, they have some damage to control as they inform their families and the public.  Plus, how will their marriage survive when they are unable to give in to the other in regard to certain issues?

I am on the fence with this one.  I really am.  It is very hard for me to give this book a rating.  On the one hand I enjoyed seeing Eva and Gideon work through their issues and learn to compromise without loosing a piece of themselves.  I liked that they became a team to face adversity when the world threw it at them.  There are some very tender moments between Eva and Gideon.  There is enough change and maturity in them to see that they are willing to do what's necessary to make their marriage work.  I can believe in their happy ever after.

On the other hand, there were a few problems I had with the book.  I felt like there were a few plot lines that were not wrapped up by the end of the book, and it was a long book, almost 500 pages.  I felt that the whole issue with Gideon and his mother was left open ended, as was the storyline with his childhood therapist.  Then due to spoilers I won't go into details but something very tragic happens to one of Eva's family close to the end of the story.  What!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  This was just crazy to me and there is so much happening with that, but it is totally swept under the rug.  Ugh! I can't really say more than this, but if you want to vent, just comment or email me. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Interview: Sophia Henry, author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Hello everyone!  I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my good friend and author, Sophia Henry.  I have invited her to my blog today to share with you a little bit about her recently published romance book Unsportsmanlike Conduct, which is the 4th book in her Pilots Hockey series. 
I would classify Sophia’s books as New Adult.  I’ve read the first two books in her Pilots Hockey series and enjoyed them.  They are not overly hockey-centric.  The characters are young and the stories focus on their growth and development as they emerge into adulthood.  Henry’s books are written in first person usually from the heroine’s point of view, but in Unsportsmanlike Conduct she also writes from the Hero’s point of view.  Her books lean towards sweet, not steamy romance.
As a side note, can I just say that the book covers for this series are seriously yummy!
Finally, we are getting Pasha’s book and I for one am so excited.  Since the first book Delayed Penalty, I have been looking forward to this!!  Finally, Pasha gets his story!

Sophia, tell us about Unsportsmanlike Conduct!  What inspired you to write this story?

The song “I Lived” by One Republic and Bryan Warnecke, the teen with cystic fibrosis (CF) who is featured in the video for the song. The first time I heard “I Lived” I fell in love with the lyrics and the message behind it. Then I saw the video. Around that same the time, I’d been thinking about how I could write a diverse heroine—in my own way. Bryan inspired me to write a strong heroine with CF who has the courage and drive to live life to the fullest.

Yes, about your characters, tell us a little more about Kristen and Pasha!

Kristen Katsaros is an upbeat, fun-loving, free-spirit with cystic fibrosis.  She has just graduated from college and works as an event coordinator for Motor City Bar Management, a company that owns a group of bars in Detroit.  Pavel (Pasha) Gribov is a hot Russian hockey player hiding a painful past behind his cocky demeanor.   They meet when Kristen runs into Pasha on the running track on a cruise. *Literally* run into each other when Kristen turns quickly to avoid the guy her parents are trying to set her up with.  Together they’re snarky, sweet, sexy and fun. :)

What was the biggest challenge in writing Unsportsmanlike Conduct?

The hardest part was writing a heroine with cystic fibrosis and doing her justice. All the people fighting for their lives every day deserve a kick a$$ representation of how strong and amazing they are, so I didn’t want to get it wrong. It was very important to me to show how Kristen LIVES. I don’t have CF, so I don’t know what living with it is like. I did a lot (A LOT) of research and I spoke with people who have it. I wanted to write a strong, normal, amazing person who has to work hard to stay healthy.

Can you give us a little sneak peak of Pasha and Kristen from the book?

Yes!  This is one of my favorite scenes because it’s so unexpected—for the readers and the characters! :) While Kristen and Pasha are dancing, they share details about their individual backgrounds, which gives them common ground and allows for them to get closer in a very subtle way. Here’s a snippet:

As I put weight on my back foot, rocking away from one particular creepy dude, someone caught my hand and tugged me forward into his hard chest. What kind of guy had the audacity to grab me when I obviously hadn’t been giving off those vibes?

To brace myself, I pressed my palms against a soft black button-down shirt. Pasha stood in front of me with an adorably arrogant smirk on his face. Instead of speaking, he held his arms up in a formal dance position. I took his hands and he immediately led me in a succession of smooth salsa steps.

It wasn’t intricate choreography that only two dancers who had practiced together would know, just a series of basic Latin dance steps. He led and I followed. But nobody else on the dance floor knew that. To them it probably looked like a scripted routine straight out of a musical.

And damn! Pasha could move.


This is awesome!!  If I wasn’t chomping at the bit to rush out and get the book before, I sure am now.  Thank you so much for stopping by Sophia!!  Where can readers go to find your book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct?

My books can be found at Amazon, iBooks, BN, Kobo, Google Play, and BAM When someone buys a Sophia Henry book, they are automatically supporting a charity. I donate the first $500 of the royalties from each book before I take a penny for myself. I’m proud to say that my generous readers have already allowed me to make the donations for the first three books. I also plan on doing a yearly contribution based on book sales each year.

The charity I selected for Unsportsmanlike Conduct is the CysticFibrosis Foundation. To learn more about the organizations I chose for each book, please visit my website.

***Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I truly appreciate it! ~ Sophia xx***

Monday, November 14, 2016

Movie Review: Dr. Strange

My daughter and I went to go see the latest Marvel movie, Dr. Strange this weekend.  Before I get into the review, I want to share with you a funny conversation at the concession stand.  I ordered a drink and popcorn and I could upgrade to a souvenir cup for $0.50 more.  No brainer, sure.  Let's do it.  But then the attendant drops a bomb on me.  Do I want the Dr. Strange cup or the Star Wars Rogue One cup?  Annabelle and I both immediately and turned to look at the other not having a clue which to choose.  Tough choice, right?!?!  We ended up with the Dr. Strange cup because we were informed that they would probably still have the Rogue One cup around for a while.  I'm thinking we will get it next time.

Before they showed the movie, of course we were inundated with previews.  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 trailer played.  OMG!!  Looks awesome.  There was a clip of baby Groot, not the tiny baby Groot from the end of the first movie, more like adolescent Groot.  Incredibly cute, though!  It comes out next summer and we can't wait.  If you can't tell, my family and I love the Marvel universe.

So onto Dr. Strange... If you aren't familiar with the storyline, Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is a cocky neurosurgeon.  The best really.  But tragedy strikes and he is in a bad accident which injures him so severely that he can no longer perform operations.  He goes in search of a cure where he finds himself immersed in a world of sorcery.

My daughter loves Benedict Cumberbatch (OMG, I love this name.  It's so fun to say!!)  She has watched him in Sherlock and other entertainments - says he has a very soothing voice.  I haven't ever seen him in anything.  At first, you don't really like Dr. Strange.  He is pretty much an arrogant jerk face.  But eventually he hits rock bottom and realizes he has to change.  He is sort of thrown into this world of sorcery and magic.  His way of dealing with the bad guys becomes comedic because he is not a fighter, but much more cerebral.  It makes for very unusual and entertaining fight scenes.   

I wondered if the movie was able to live up to her expectations.  When I asked her if she liked the movie, her response was, " I bloody loved it!"  Her favorite thing about the move was the Cloak of Levitation.  It reminded us of the rug in Aladdin.  For me, the Cloak stole the show, but Annabelle said she wished there would have been more with the Cloak in the movie.  Either way, we both loved the Cloak. 

Final verdict: Another great addition to the Marvel Universe.  Highly enjoyable!

NOTE**  Stay all the way until the very end of the credits.  There are two extra scenes, one in the middle of the credits and one all the way at the end.