September 30, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Movie

Visually pleasing. Very true to the book. Does not suffer from the middle-child syndrome. May the odds be ever in your favor and watch it. Available on DVD, On-Demand and digital cable TV.

Title: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Woody Harrison (Haymitch), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), Liam Hemsworth (Gale), Lenny Kravitz (Cinna)
Release Date: November 2013
Time: 146 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

September 28, 2014

Series Sunday: Recommendations?

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

I am looking for new series to jump on the bandwagon and start reading. Please share your recommendations of what I should read next. Thanks in advance, bookhearts.


September 27, 2014

August & September eMags

I am Living La Vida NOOK with these August & September eMags:

Ebony ~ Cut The Stress Over Their Mess + Your Ultimate Money Guide

Ebony ~ The Sexy Stars of GET ON UP! + Financial Boot Camp

Essence ~ Jill: Her Brand New Bangin' Body & Style Evolution

Essence ~ Michelle Obama: Her Secrets to Raising Smart Kids

Entertainment Weekly ~ The WALKING DEAD Exclusive 

Entertainment Weekly ~ Fall Movie Preview: Scoop on 88 New Films + GONE GIRL

O: The Oprah Magazine ~ The Best Books of Summer


September 26, 2014

First Lines Friday - Primetime Fall TV Edition

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s) or watch(es).*
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"And stop acting like a little bitch baby."

~ How To Get Away With Murder by the executive producers of Scandal and Grey's Anatomy starring Viola Davis


"Oh, my stars. Is that how you cope with this insufferable humidity?"

The Blacklist starring James Spader and Megan Boone

*Fall TV is so awesome that I had to share the first lines of a couple shows I'm watching this season. Check out the trailers above.

September 24, 2014

Postcards from Cookie

"I, on the other hand, continue to dig into holes she's filled with cement, hauling out the proverbial jackhammer when necessary." ~ p. 129

I heart memoirs. Real people tell their life story and experiences without shame and with a sense of pride. It is the author's truth; the writer's "side of the story" based on his/her memory. The subject could be love, loss, survival or comedic. In the case of Postcards from Cookie, it is a memoir of motherhood, miracles and mail.

Journalist Caroline Clarke is not an unhappy adult adoptee. Her purpose for visiting adoption agency, Spence-Chapin Family Services, is to obtain her medical history. What she gets is a detailed report of her birth mother and family. As Caroline reads through the report, something clicks. Her biological family sounds familiar. Not because the Coles are a prominent family and known for musical greatness (aunt Natalie Cole and grandfather Nat King Cole), but because she personally knows them!

Investigating details from the adoption agency report and contacting a college friend starts Caroline's journey to connect with her birth mother, nicknamed Cookie. A life-changing relationship begins and grows with phone calls, e-mails and so many postcards that Caroline has to empty drawers to store them all.

Postcards from Cookie is an extraordinary true story of discovery and the appreciation for written communication. Not every adopted person wants to seek their birth parents. Simple curiosity wasn't Caroline's intention. However, I was filled with warm feelings as I read and saw their mother-daughter relationship develop through correspondence. It wasn't always roses and smiles. They had disagreements like any family, which made me root for them more. Caroline is a passionate advocate for adoption. I recommend this memoir.

Title: Postcards from Cookie: A Memoir of Motherhood, Miracles, and a Whole Lot of Mail
Author: Caroline Clarke
Published: April 2014
Pages: 307
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


September 23, 2014


"If I got to know people I might not feel so impartial when I'm enforcing the rules." ~ pg. 3

When Lincoln O'Neill applied to be an "internet security officer," he thought it would be protecting the company from hackers and building firewalls. Instead it is working until one a.m. reading other people's e-mail and reporting whenever someone forwards a dirty joke. Lincoln knows two employees in particular, Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, are violating company policy by sending endless e-mails back and forth discussing their personal lives but their messages are entertaining. Before long, Lincoln is falling for Beth. But how can he introduce himself? "Hi, I'm the IT guy that reads your e-mail and I think I love you."

"He was never going to send them a warning. Ergo. Therefore. Thus...He technically, ethically, had no reason to keep reading their e-mail." ~ pg. 38

Is it obvi that I am on a quest to read all books by Rainbow Rowell? One of her earlier released books Attachments seemed like a quick read so I started it on a rainy summer day. The format of Attachments was engaging in the beginning. We read Beth and Jennifer's messages in e-mail format like Lincoln does. At the same time, the book follows Lincoln's daily life at home and work. Normally I would have finished this book in one day. Not this one. I almost enforced my 50-page rule. It seems impossible to drag a story line in a book under 200 pages, but Attachments did.

This is my third Rainbow Rowell novel and I have decided her endings leave much to the imagination. Almost incomplete endings like a chapter is missing. I actually checked the physical copy of Attachments to make sure my eBook wasn't missing pages at the end. Alas, it was not. It is disappointing because this story line had potential to be great. Lame build-up, lame ending.

Title: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: April 2011 
Pages: 187
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥


September 21, 2014

Series Sunday: L is for Lawless

(Kinsey Millhone Alphabet #12)

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"He thought I couldn't even hold up a seven-pound shotgun. I was insulted. Stereotyping the old." ~ pg. 288

My Series Sunday pick is L is for Lawless, the 12th book in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton. Kinsey is asked to find out why the military has no record of a deceased World War II vet named Johnny Lee. Should be an easy investigation, right? Until his apartment is burglarized, an old friend is beaten up, a pregnant woman with a duffle bag is on the run and a vengeful psychopath pops up. Kinsey is following leads across the country to solve a decades-old mystery that apparently someone would prefer left unsolved.

San Francisco Examiner called this novel one of Kinsey Millhone's "wildest adventures yet." I have to disagree. If I wasn't so invested in this series, I would have stopped reading early on. The mystery of an already deceased person simply did not grab my interest.

Le sigh. I have the same gripe with the meaningless lengthy descriptions. I understand the author chooses to give background info on the main character for readers who start a series in the middle; however, this is the 12th installment. We don't need pages upon pages of background info on Kinsey. Let's just assume readers know who she is.

Nevertheless, I will continue reading the Kinsey Millhone alphabet mystery series.

Title: L is for Lawless
Author: Sue Grafton
Published: September 1995
Pages: 343
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥


September 19, 2014

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Unsent message found on Amy's computer in the hospital: You want the whole story, but you don't realize—it's impossible to tell the whole story."

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

September 17, 2014


"I say that I've met a lot of people who are driven by obsessive jealousy, and not because they think their husband or wife is committing adultery, but because they would like to be the center of attention all the time, and they're not." ~ pg. 201

Paulo Coelho is one of the most influential writers of our time. Two of his bestsellers The Alchemist and Manuscript Found in Accra are what I call life-changing reads. Both are filled with gems that stick with me. When I saw a new release from international bestseller, I immediately pre-ordered a copy of Adultery. There is a reason his novels are translated into 80 languages and sold in more than 170 countries. And I was about to witness once again, why.

"Love always wants results, although, everyone insists, no, that the act of loving justifies itself." ~ pg. 215

The story is narrated by Linda; she is a mother of two children, married to a successful husband and is an accomplished journalist. Only in her thirties, she lives a privileged life that some people envy. All it took was one interview, one specific comment, by a famous writer to make her question everything. Behind the facade, Linda realized she is tired of having the "happy, perfect life." Her life is one big routine. No risks taken. No spontaneous days. No passion. Until she reignites a passionate relationship with a politician and begins living out fantasies in an affair. What is done in the dark always comes to light. Sure Linda's actions make her feel better now but are the deep emotions worth threatening the rest of her life?

"Dear Depression, please keep your distance." ~ pg. 29

Soon as my copy of Adultery was available, I settled in with a chilled drink, new bookmark and notepad. One thing is guaranteed when I read a Coelho novel: I will learn a lesson(s) that can be applied to my everyday life. Reading this novel raised several questions:
  • How do I balance life's routine with the desire for something new?
  • Are illnesses (such as depression) the result of repressed emotions?
  • Is it better to live a happy life or a passionate life?
  • Is passion strictly for the young?
  • Should adultery be a deal-breaker?
  • Is the most important lesson learning to love?

Do I recommend Adultery? Yes, especially for book clubs and readers' groups. Like the author says, adultery is an experience many people have had. Adultery is not the kind of novel you read and keep to yourself. It is meant to be discussed and generate thoughts. If my book review is not convincing enough, please watch the video below of author Paulo Coelho discussing new novel Adultery.

Title: Adultery
Author: Paulo Coelho
Published: August 2014
Pages: 257
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


September 16, 2014

Lit Tidbits

  • According to a learning at home study, children ages 2-10 read an average of 40 minutes per day.
  • In children's book The Scarecrow's Wedding, the scarecrow smokes cigars. O_O Should smoking be banned in children's books? I vote yes.
  • Barnes & Noble now offers same day delivery!
  • College students' usage of textbooks has declined slightly since digital textbooks and online study guides are offered.
  • When do writers know it is time to quit their day job and work full-time as an author? When is it time to let it go?
  • Random House plans to release a new book series based on the Disney movie Frozen. It will pick up where the movie left off. This is a sure buy for the tots in your life.


September 14, 2014

Series Sunday: Strong Heat

(Strong Family #6)

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

My Series Sunday pick is Strong Heat, the sixth (final) book in the Strong Family series by Niobia Bryant. Every family has a love story and this is the sexy book where it all began and will end. I don't read books of a series out of order, but my bestie recommended I try this author so I figured why not start at the roots.

Lisha Rockman is a 25-year-old assistant physical therapist who wants a good man that respects her and family values. Most of the men in Holtsville, South Carolina want one thing—sex. Twenty-six-year-old cattle rancher Kael Strong is still nursing the wounds from his last relationship and is hesitant to get involved with the irresistible Lisha. But their attraction is hard to ignore. This is the love story that sets the stage for future generations of the Strong family.

"The heat. The chemistry." ~ pg. 18

Strong Heat is my introduction to author Niobia Bryant. She is a very descriptive author making it easy to visualize the characters and setting while reading. Long lashes. High cheekbones. Handsome features. Strong jaws. Caramel complexions. How could I not picture the main characters in my head with descriptions such as these? Chapters alternate from present day to way back in the day with Lisha preparing for a date, spraying her pulse points with Charlie perfume. Yes, Charlie! It continues with how Lisha met Kael, how the couple fell in love, and how 40 years later they are still very much happily married.

"Passion is the fire that burns from a heart in love." ~ pg. 71

The generational black love story and small populated town reminds me of series by Beverly Jenkins and Maureen Smith. Even though I started backward and spoiled myself on the love lives of the younger generations, I enjoyed little tidbits of the other characters within this awww-worthy story of fiery passion. Thanks to Niobia Bryant for considering readers who may be new to the series (reading the last book first) by highlighting the romance of the Strong Family siblings in the Interludes. Her writing in Strong Heat set a strong enough impression that I am interested in reading the series from the beginning.

Title: Strong Heat
Author: Niobia Bryant
Published: December 2013
Pages: 224
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


September 12, 2014

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"I don't mean to bitch, but in the future I intend to hesitate before I do a favor for the friend of a friend."

~ L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton


September 10, 2014


"Possibilities: Persistent hallucination. Really long dream. Schizophrenic episode. Unprovoked Somewhere in Time scenario. Am already dead? Like on Lost?" ~ pg. 94

Georgie McCool (real not stage name) is at the peak of her TV writing career. Unfortunately her marriage is in trouble and has been for a while. So it causes further disconnect when Georgie gets the big break of her career and decides to stay behind in California while her husband and two girls spend Christmas in Omaha. Sure the family vacation has been scheduled for weeks, but Georgie cannot pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. Neal has always played the role of understanding husband but Georgie wonders if this was the last straw.

With the help of a magical phone, Georgie communicates with Neal from the past (Christmas 1998) before they were married. Perhaps this is her chance to fix their marriage before it even starts.

Immediately after I finished reading Eleanor & Park, I downloaded Rainbow Rowell's other book Attachments and her new release Landline. I figured if her new release is half as good as Eleanor & Park, then it would be worth my time. Let's discuss the book cover and title first. Who still has a landline?! Seriously. If you were to see this book cover on a bookshelf, wouldn't it grab your attention? It certainly grabbed my interest enough to give it priority in my TBR pile. Surely there is a good story behind this pale yellow antique rotary phone.

"Magic fucking phone." ~ pg. 104

The New York Times calls it a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones. I have to disagree. I didn't find it funny; although, it was a good take on love and why couples decide to get married. It is a look at the past and present state of a relationship. I finished the book in two sittings eager to figure out this magic phone situation and hoping for a positive outcome for Georgie and Neal.

While I didn't enjoy Landline as much as Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell did not disappoint. The lady knows relationships and tells a romance story damn well! I am not a fan of supernatural fiction, but the time travel via landline was a very good element to this story. The author again managed to leave me with lingering thoughts days after the story's end. Landline is a recommended quick summer read and poses a question that will generate discussion in book clubs: if you could travel into the past and fix a mistake, would you?

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: July 2014
Pages: 248
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


September 9, 2014

One & Only

"I should have been thinking about God. Or the meaning of life. Or simply grieving the fact that my best friend was now motherless and my own mother without her best friend." ~ pg. 3

Let me gush over the cover first. It is in one of my favorite colors—a beautiful teal with white large cursive colors and a huge star. The bestselling author's name stands out in yellow letters. Emily Giffin is one of the few authors that I will read any and every release from. The eBook was ready to read on my NOOK on the release date back in May, but once I saw the cover, I had to read it in hardcover. This novel has the perfect cover for reading poolside.

The Chicago Sun-Times call Emily Giffin a "modern-day Jane Austen." No disagreement here. Something Borrowed and Something Blue are in my best list of chick lit books. I was stuck in a rut and unable to read for quite a while. Usually I would dive in reading a new novel the day it is released. However, I waited damn near three months to read Emily Giffin's seventh novel One & Only. I needed the right mindset and beach setting to fully enjoy the story.

One & Only is a story about finding your passion, following your heart, best-friendship, loyalty and forgiveness. What I didn't expect was a sports theme. Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football. To say football is Shea's passion is an understatement. An unexpected death along with encouragement from Coach Carr, makes Shea question every aspect of her sheltered life from her mediocre boyfriend to her unfulfilling job. She is forced to confront desires, fears and feelings.

"The things that make football like life—and life like a game of football." ~ pg. 413

One of the reasons I love Emily Giffin's novels is because she has a knack for making readers like characters we should hate. I always root for the so-called wrong person or be in favor of the wrong relationship. However, Shea was an exception. This time I couldn't bring myself to be in favor of Shea's romantic choice. It was bothersome and weird. Definitely my least favorite novel of Giffin's. I finished reading with very mixed feelings about it.

I think of One & Only as the "one and only" novel of Emily Giffin's that doesn't compare to the rest.

Title: One & Only
Author: Emily Giffin
Published: May 2014
Pages: 416
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥♥


September 7, 2014

Series Sunday: Unlucky 13

(Women's Murder Club #13)

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"...a split-second hesitation could prove fatal." ~ pg. 155

My Series Sunday pick is Unlucky 13, the 13th book in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson. San Francisco detective Lindsay Boxer is adjusting to her lovely life of being a new mother with an attentive husband, manageable job and best friends. But her world is threatened when a killer from her past resurfaces. Also someone is planting chemical bombs inside burgers that explode when digested. Lindsay must find the mad scientist(s) who is responsible for the belly bombs before there are more murders.

Mackie Morales once posed as a summer intern with the SFPD and cozied up to Richie, all the while committing murders on the side with her dangerous boyfriend Randolph Fish. She was presumed dead but a photo proves Mackie is very much alive and back for revenge.

Crime reporter Cindy seems to be the only one concerned about Mackie's return. She hails caution to the wind, foolishly throws her pen to the side and tries to find the dangerous woman before Mackie finds them.

Meanwhile, Yuki's honeymoon with Brady has a rough start. She can beat the best of criminals in the courtroom but it is scary when she becomes the victim.

With so many events taking place in this 13th installment of the WMC series, the fourth member of the WMC, Claire, was barely mentioned. I would have preferred she was on vacation than the few cameos she made.

Unlucky 13 was distributed evenly between Yuki's disaster honeymoon, the search for Mackie and the belly bomber. However, one of the story lines seems unfinished while the other two were wrapped up abruptly. There is so much going on that the story does not flow. Where was the suspense? Where was the character development? (Lindsay's new motherhood doesn't count because it is not convincing enough.) What happened to the group of four ladies that pooled resources to work together and solve crimes? The dynamic is gone.

Patterson, this is not "the most thrilling" WMC book yet. Try again.

Title: Unlucky 13
Author: James Patterson
Published: May 2014
Pages: 384
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥


September 5, 2014

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Every morning, when I open my eyes to the so-called 'new day,' I feel like closing them again, staying in bed, and not getting up. But I can't do that."

~ Adultery by Paulo Coelho


September 2, 2014

Accidents of Marriage

"Love isn't an excuse for anything but treating someone well." ~ pg. 139

How do you know when a marriage is too broken to fix? Maddy fell in love with Ben years ago. Now she is struggling to balance her career and raise three children while keeping her marriage in tact. The smallest thing can make Ben lash out in rage. For the sake of their children, she walks around on eggshells to keep peace in the home. Until one day, Ben's temper causes a car accident leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

"Each morning she spun the wheel on the Ben chart, hoping the arrow would hit happy husband, or at least neutral guy." ~ pg. 13

Accidents of Marriage is told from the point of view of Maddy, Ben and their 14-year-old daughter Emma. I normally do not care for novels told from multiple points of view but it was necessary in this book to show how emotional abuse, traumatic injury and recovery affects an entire family. The novel has three sections: Before, Asleep, and After.

Although I got a sense of Maddy's fearful yet strong character from the first paragraph, it took a few chapters for me to get into the story. When I finally did, I steadily read to see how the accident and its effect unfolded. Randy Susan Meyers' writing is descriptive and detailed. Not many people discuss the darker side of marriage. Rage is real. Thanks to author Randy Susan Meyers for raising domestic abuse awareness in fiction form.

Accidents of Marriage releases today! Add this book to your reading lists. In fact, recommend it to others. If my review is not convincing enough, watch the book trailer below.

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: Accidents of Marriage
Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Published: September 2014
Pages: 310
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥♥

September 1, 2014

2014 Bookish Challenges Update

2014 Reading Challenge
My goal is to read 70 books in 2014. I have read 62 books so far (89% to goal). You can continue to monitor my progress by the tracker in the lower right column of this blog.
My goal is to read 17,000+ pages in 2014. I have reached this goal and read 18,133 pages so far.

My Little Pocketbooks
My goal is to read 7-12 books by or about a person of color in 2014. I have reached this goal and read 18 books by or about a person of color.

My goal is to read 6 books from my TBR pile. I have read 5 books so far.
1. A book that has been on my Goodreads "to-read" shelf the longest. ✓
2. A book that is on my physical bookcase(s). ✓
3. A book I got for free.
4. A book recommended by a friend. ✓
5. A book that was a best seller. ✓
6. A book from a series. ✓

My goal is to continue reading books in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series. I have only read one more book (K) in the series so far.

View all of Literary Marie's Memes and Reading Challenges here.


Bye, Blogging Break