December Chit Chat

Monthly Chit Cat

December News

December saw me officially moved out of the old place and into the new. The move was a little wearing and there is still a bit of a mess everywhere (hidden, though!). We only had three weeks of school before getting out for the break, and the day after getting out my brother stationed in Hawaii came home for Christmas!

Baby and I jetted to the man’s to spend time in her “home.” The man has now upgraded “the vacation house” to “this is my home, Momma.” He was gone almost the entire month (Dec 6-28), and it was a week longer than last year. It is hard to drop him off at the airport each December, but so sweet when he comes home. While he was gone, I had to man the house. I think he had a lot of fun watching me on all the security cameras! “Don’t forget to close the garage door!” he yelled at me while I was bringing in groceries. 🙂

It was hard not seeing him for so long, and we missed him. I put up the Christmas tree before he left. The last day of school was the first day I was sick and it developed into a full-blown upper respiratory infection. As soon as I got meds, I started feeling SO much better.

 

December Reads

Average Rating: 3.16 stars
Pages Read: 889 pages
Favorite Book: Oklahoma Christmas Blues

 

December Posts

I was pretty relaxed in December and just kind of rode out the rest of the year. I didn’t want to focus on starting new features or creating something new, and December is the month for all things end-of-year.

For the First Time in 2016 – new authors I loved in 2016

The Dreaded Question – the holiday question I hate

My 2017 Challenges – keeping it simple

October/November Chit Chat – monthly wrap ups

Famous Last Words #19

Review – Doger

Review – Oklahoma Christmas Blues

Review – Between Heaven and Earth

 

Visitors & Search Terms

December has actually been a very popular month for me for the previous two years, but this year that wasn’t the case. I did return back from my hiatus at the beginning of the month, but when I started drafting this post on Dec 20 there were only 600 views for the month (2015: 2,000+; 2014: 1,300+). I saw year wrap-ups going up the second week in December, so I think people are just busier this year preparing. At least, I hope that’s why! 🙂

Search Terms

harry harry potter and the deathly hallows text to self – Seriously? You can’t think of ONE connection YOU have with this text? No brain cells to use? Get outta here!

books like the dead poets society – You have come to the right place, my friend!

banished love saga – SUCH a good series! Hope you like the reviews!

may dodd little wolf – Who? If May Dodd Little Wolf is missing, you’re not going to find her here.

verity wonders – Uhhh….those are two different books. Code Name Verity is one, and Wonder is the other. Were you in too much eggnog? 

 

Challenge Updates

These are my final updates for the year! EEEEK! This has given me the chance to look closely at my challenges and my goals to make decisions for next year. I’m keeping things really simple next year and saying goodbye to some of these year-long challenges.

January Reads

 

Feature Follow Friday ~ December 30, 2016

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Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.
Blurbs You Feel Are Wrong or Misleading
I’m so glad someone has asked this! I have often come across blurbs that are just strange. Last year I wrote a post about this topic, What is that JUNK in your synopsis?
 four-chambers
Four Chambers makes it out that Everett is some bad, horrible person. That there is something he is doing that is harmful to Andra. That’s not true. He is actually her friend – a very good friend. Good enough that he tries to save her from making a horrible mistake in college.
lumberjanes

Lumberjanes is an odd read. It is set during the summer, but there is nothing in the synopsis that really tells what the book is about. What I read in the book does not seem to chalk up to the synopsis written for it…perhaps because there is not a good way to write one?

puddly

Puddly the Penguin sounds like such a cute read. In reality, it is a diatribe. This is my review from a few years ago. One of the things I said was that the dialogue was “conversations being shoved down the reader’s throat constantly.” It was not a thoughtful, heartfelt children’s read with some lessons along the way. It was a constant barrage.

whitney

Whitney Wallace is the most boring, spoiled, conceited child there ever was. Nothing is interesting to her. Nothing about life is at all remotely of anything. She complains constantly about boring, boring, boring. What is with the warning? There was nothing remotely funny about this book, except the fact that Whitney’s family put up with her shit. I don’t think young readers would be interested in this book because they’d get too bored of Whitney’s complaining.

How do you feel about misleading blurbs? 

Book Blogger Hop #1

book-blogger-hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. Each week poses a book-related question. The hop starts on Friday and ends on Thursday. The purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers.


Your New Year’s Resolution is to read a classic novel that you have never read before. What book will it be?    (submitted by Billy)

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I had to read a fair share of classics throughout high school and college, but even with a minor in English (requiring extensive American and British literature courses), I still have not made that much of a dent in the BBC’s Top 100 Challenge.

If I were to make such a New Year’s Resolution, I would select Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Somehow this one escaped my required reading. I recall my long-time friend and roommate throughout most of college adoring Little Women, but that didn’t influence me enough to read it.

 

Beyond the Books

beyondthebooks

Beyond the Books is a weekly meme hosted by Karen @ KissinBlueKaren. Each week features a new topic (mostly non-bookish). This meme is a fun, social weekly post.


This Week’s Topic:

How did you do on your goals for 2016? What are you blogging goals for 2017?

 

My goals for 2016 were beyond what I think were reasonable. I try to overstretch myself and say I’ll somehow make up for it at some point in the year, and then life happens. Last year I selected 7 year-long challenges, including my Goodreads Challenge. I finished the year out by only meeting one of them: my Goodreads Challenge. I did less than 1/10 of my NetGalley Challenge, and about 2/5 on Backlist Books, Shelf Love, and TBR Challenges…which are all pretty much the same.

I failed. Hard. Core. 

No doubt. As the year wound down, I seriously thought about the challenges available and what I really want to accomplish and focus on for my reading. I decided to cut several challenges and try some new things.

For 2017, I am only focusing on four challenges (plus Goodreads, which at this point is a given). And they are…

audiobook-challenge-2017 shelf_love_2017_250x250 ng-ew-sign-up-post-square alphabet-soup

Goodreads: 52 Books

Alphabet Soup: 26 Books (A-Z titles)

Audiobook: 5-10 Books

NetGalley : 50 Books

Shelf Love: 51+ Books

I am also looking to participate in a new weekly meme feature. I had picked out this one, Beyond the Books, only to discover that Karen is discontinuing it! 😦 So…I’m still looking for something similar to this.

Famous Last Words #20

Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words is a new monthly feature here in Land of 1000 Wonders. I wanted to find a new way to share some fabulous quotations from reads old and new. The inspiration for this feature came from the character Pudge in John Green’s Looking for Alaska.


harry-potter-and-the-prisoner-of-azkaban

 

Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are about to start their third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be, and Harry can’t wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn’t if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?)

But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. Harry’s hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed after an escaped mass murder is on the loose, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard Azkaban and have now been called in to guard the school. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban?

WWW Wednesdays (December 28)

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This is a weekly meme hosted hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. To join in answer the following three questions and hop over to Sam’s and leave your link.


What are you currently reading? 

33123358I’m going to be starting in on Wesley Banks’ next book, Faith in Every Footstep. I was asked to join his January tour because I reviewed his first book in the series, Hope in Every Raindrop.

On the eve of one of mankind’s toughest races, accompanied by thirteen of America’s rarest dog breed, rookie musher Kyle Walker only has one thought in mind: win. Discovered in the lowlands of South Carolina, the Carolina grays have traveled over five thousand miles to face off in the 2003 Yukon Quest. But one dog stands above the rest—King.

When an unexpected storm strikes, Kyle Walker and the reigning champion are forced to turn back. Stranded at the checkpoint, Kyle and his dogs find solace in a young veterinarian with auburn hair and keen green eyes—Jenna Maynor.

In this storm another race is forming, one of an Inuit man racing to save his family. Presented with the choice to help, but at the risk of his and his dogs’ lives, Kyle Walker ventures into the unknown in search of a mom and two young daughters.

The Yukon Quest was founded on the premise that a dog driver and his team should be a self-sufficient unit capable of challenging varied terrain and severe weather. But these conditions may prove to be too much, even for Kyle and King.

 


 What did you just finish reading?

I feel like last week I was a little back to normal! I wish I could keep this up all the time, but all this reading was accomplished with my first week of Christmas break.

I finished three books this past week and they were of course all Christmas reads. Oklahoma Christmas Blues was a sweet romance with an unexpected element. I will say that Adventurous Proposal has nothing to do with advent, despite what the title may lead to believe. It also has graphic language and scenes. It definitely borders that line of NA/erotica, but the friends in the story are fabulous and help make things work. Mistletoe at Moonglow is a heartwarming Christmas read about Mist, who just might be magical.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Christmas reads are over! Unlike last year, I didn’t get to all of them. I even found a few more to add to my list for next year. One thing I realized is that next year I need to start reading this sooner (aka the first of November).


 How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share the link to your WWW Wednesday post OR leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog. Happy Reading! 🙂

Tuesday Teaser & Intro: Oklahoma Christmas Blues

first-chapter-first-paragraph

I started reading this new Christmas read I discovered while toodling around on my Kindle. While it wasn’t one I had planned on reading for this Christmas, the cover drew my eye, which of course led to reading!

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Synopsis ~ Oklahoma Christmas Blues by Maggie Shayne

Darryl is on a quest for peace. His chance at fatherhood was taken from him long ago, and an IED in Iraq ensured he’d never get another.  He doesn’t expect to fall head over heels.

In Big Falls, the McIntyre brothers hire him to keep an eye on their beautiful cousin Sophie in case her criminal ex shows up. Her life was blown apart by a drug-dealing ex who cost her her job and nearly her medical license. She comes to Big Falls because she has nowhere else to go. And the minute she gets there, things start to get better

Is it because of that letter to Santa her Aunt Vidalia convinced her to write?

Within days she meets a beautiful man with a deeply wounded soul. And oddly, she finds herself giving him the same advice the town Santa gave to her—try believing again, and if it’s too much to believe, then just try hoping.

Love, magic, and miracles ensue. Because this is Big Falls, Oklahoma. Miracles are an everyday occurrence around here. Especially at Christmastime.

 

Chapter 1

The Long Branch Saloon didn’t open for another hour, but how could anyone resist Santa Claus peering through the window, tapping on the glass?

Sophia wiped her hands on a bar towel and went to let him in, and he beamed a smile at her. His dimples were very real, and so, she thought, was his snowy white beard. “Chilly out here today,” he said. “I brought my lunch, but I’m craving a hot cocoa to go with it.”


Teaser

“The players were easy to spot, because they busted out their biggest, shiniest belt buckles and ten-gallon hats and wore western shirts with way too much embroidery on the shoulders. Their jeans were too new and their boots too shiny.” (p. 36)

Would you keep reading? 

 

tuesdayTeaser Tuesday is hosted by The PurpleBooker. Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you’re reading. No spoilers, please! List the author and book title too. Link up HERE.

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To participate, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon. Link up HERE.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists. For the list of past topics and future schedule, click here.


Best Books Of 2016

I always equally love and dread this post. I love being able to share my favorite reads, but I hate having to choose! It is hard to do.

What were your best books of the year? 

Merry Mondays #5

merry-mondays-blogmeme-christmas-bookblogger

Merry Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Lillian @ Mom With a Reading Problem during the month of December to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season. Each week a different topic centered around the holidays will be discussed. This is my first year participating, and I’m trying to catch up on my missed Mondays.


Monday, December 26

Today’s Topic: End of 2016 – How did you do?

Time to check up on those New Year’s resolutions.

 

I failed. Hard core. I only met one of my year-long challenges. Next year I am keeping things simple.

Review: Oklahoma Christmas Blues

ABOUT THE BOOK

32948312Title: Oklahoma Christmas Blues
Author: Maggie Shayne
Publisher: Thunderfoot Publishing Inc.
Release Date: November 2016
Length: 176 pages
Series?: The McIntyre Men .5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Darryl is on a quest for peace. His chance at fatherhood was taken from him long ago, and an IED in Iraq ensured he’d never get another. In Big Falls, the McIntyre brothers hire him to keep an eye on their beautiful cousin Sophie in case her criminal ex shows up. He doesn’t expect to fall head over heels.

Sophie McIntyre’s life was blown apart by a drug dealing ex who cost her her job and nearly her medical license. She comes to Big Falls because she has nowhere else to go. And the minute she gets there, things start to get better.

Is it because of that letter to Santa her Aunt Vidalia convinced her to write? Within days she meets a beautiful man with a deeply wounded soul. And oddly, she finds herself giving him the same advice the town Santa gave to her—try believing again, and if it’s too much to believe, then just try hoping.

Love, magic, and miracles ensue. Because this is Big Falls, Oklahoma. Miracles are an everyday occurrence around here. Especially at Christmastime.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Sophie returns home to Big Falls, Oklahoma with her tail between her legs, licking her wounds from her prestigious medical life in New York. She’s not sure if she’ll survive the reach of her ex. Returning to tend bar at her uncle’s saloon, he three cousins anticipate her return and hire Secret Service man and PI Darryl Champlain.

While Sophie has a few run-ins with Santa around town, it’s her other run-ins with a much younger man Darryl is concerned about.

The Players

Sophie – a young doctor from a prestigious NY hospital; returning home from the shambles of her life

Darryl – former Secret Service agent and veteran; currently working as a PI hired by the McIntyres to watch out for Sophie

Jason, Joey and Rob – Sophie’s cousins that run the bar and hire Darryl; they verge on the edge of butting into Sophie’s life

Uncle Bobby Joe and Aunt Vidalia – Sophie’s uncle and his second wife; they now have a large and extended family in the area; both own their own businesses in Big Falls and Christmas and carols are on the menu

The Quote

When the dance ended, she lifted her head and looked into his eyes and wondered what he was seeing in hers. “Let’s get some food now, before you faint or something.”

“I’m close, I gotta tell you. It might already be too late.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Santa! There is a man who is known in the community as Santa, and Sophie firmly believes in the spirit and magic of Christmas – and yes, even still in Santa. Aunt Vidalia believes in writing a letter to Santa each year for the more memorable wants in life.
  • The McIntyre men. Jason, Joey and Rob are Sophie’s overprotective, meddling, sweet, and kind cousins. They don’t pry, but they do protect. And after Sophie’s mad dash from New York after her ex nearly busted down her door, they aren’t taking any chances. They each have their distinctive personalities that are just brushed upon in this installment.
  • Sophie’s Situation. It’s an understandable – and sadly, often recurring – situation. Running back home from an ex, and in this case a possibly dangerous one. Sophie was nearly brought up on criminal charges and on the verge of losing her medical license due to her ex, and she has come home to little town Big Falls to stay with her uncle Bobby Joe and aunt Vidalia.
  • Darryl. He is an interesting mix of a character and actually feels more like the main character to me. There is a lot of history to his character, this one-time CMA songwriter. He has something eating away at him that he has never gotten over, and he has a thing against all things Christmas. Naturally, the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Big Falls. His life’s work is to assess and monitor situations and to protect, and that is what has brought him to Big Falls…unbeknownst to Sophie.
  • The Hoodie Kid. Ever since arriving in town, Sophie and Darryl keep encountering this young kid in a blue hoodie around town. Big Falls doesn’t have homeless people…does it? Every time the kid is around, so is Sophie. Darryl is convinced it is someone sent by Sophie’s ex to exact revenge, but Sophie’s soft heart and nature lead her to keep extending a hand to the kid.
  • Sweet Romance. Neither Darryl nor Sophie came to Big Falls looking or expecting anything. In face, just the opposite. They both want no complications, but they are both craving the same thing: love. It’s not instant, it’s not rushed. It’s slow and brewing and hesitant. Just the right kind of romance for the holidays.

The Take-Away

I liked everything about this book. The premise of Sophie’s return, and what she returns to, and what comes of that due to Darryl’s presence.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Buy or borrow. Either way, it’s a good holiday read!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

17064Maggie lives in the teeny, tiny town of Taylor, NY, a place where there are more cattle than people. When she looks out her window she sees rolling, green, thickly forested hills, wildflower laden meadows and wide open blue, blue skies. A road barely paved.

Following the loss of her mother to pancreatic cancer, an empty nest once filled with five daughters, and the dissolution of her marriage, her century-old farmhouse burned to the ground with her two beloved dogs. Since then she has rebuilt her beloved home, named Serenity.

The once empty farmhouse is now flooded with English Mastiffs, an English Bulldog, and three cats, along with Maggie’s fiancé, Lance.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads