Reviews

REVIEW | Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

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* I received this book from the author’s publicist for free in exchange for an honest review.*Gazelle in the Shadows

Description

In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth is a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University. With some travel and work already under her belt, she excels at her studies and is sent to Damascus to immerse herself in the language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always what they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and even murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police. – goodreads.com

 

What I Liked

One thing I first noticed about this book was the main character. Now this may sound like a really dumb statement given it is the main character, but bare with me. When you first meet the main character she is kinda annoying and just very short cited. She doesn’t really think too far into the future. I will say I really liked when she grew as a character. She started using her head and really started to evaluate what was truly important to her.

Another thing I liked was the fact that the author pulled from her own life experiences and mixed it with fiction. You can really tell in her writing that she was not just researching places and doing her homework. Her experiences really bleed through the pages and it makes the atmosphere more realistic. Sometimes you can just tell when someone just researches, the story isn’t bad, but it is just flat. This was not flat.

 

What I Didn’t Like

Like I said earlier the main character was really annoying. At times I found myself saying “What are you doing?!”, it was bad. For me it is really hard to tolerate. But, as you can see from the previous section this was address via character growth, thankfully. It was just a bit difficult to deal with at first.

Overall Thoughts

Overall I think this was an enjoyable read. There was suspense, adventure, and at times violence. Once again the character growth is great and you see her grow from a pretty much clueless individual into someone who really starts to value the things in her life.  I also liked that this was not a thriller once again set en Europe of North America. It was really enjoyable having another setting.  I think if the description intrigues you in anyway it is worth checking out.

4stars

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Author Links

Michelle Peach

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Book Information

Publication Date: April 20th 2018

List Price: $11.50

ISBN: 9780692112762

Pages: 316 pages

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TBR

December TBR | 2018

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Hello and welcome to my December TBR… the last TBR of the year. I cannot believe I am typing those words. But, here we are none the less. This month I am not focusing on numbers to meeting goals or anything like that. I just want to read some books I have been wanting to get to and I have been putting off because they are slow burners or larger in size. So I am excited for these end of the year reads.

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Lisey’s Story by Stephen King

Lisey's Story

This is the oldest book I have on my owned TBR. I am slowly trying to get through my backlist of books so I can get my TBR to only a few months behind instead of a year. I started reading this when I did the #Blogoween | Try A Chapter October 2018 and I really enjoyed the first chapter so I am looking forward to reading it this month.

Down There on a Visit by Christopher Isherwood

Down There on a Visit

I have wanted to read more Christopher Isherwood book for some time, but I have not given myself the chance. So I decided that I want to read not only this book. but the next book on the list as well. This book is like four stories in one and it is semi autographical because the author puts four characters that are meant to be him, but not quite.

A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood

A Meeting by the River

Like I said about the above book I have been wanting to read more of his works. So this one of a two brothers at odds. Once is living two lives and the other can’t seem to decide how he feels about the whole thing because he says two different thing. So I am curious to see how this family comes to terms or does not. Divider

What are you reading this month?

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Writing and More

Bullet Journal | December 2018

Recs

Last month I sadly did not get around to sharing my bullet journal, but I am excited to get to share this months with you. I am using some of my tried and true spreads as well as trying a few new ones as well.

This month I wanted simple layouts, apart from the bonus one below, and limit my colors to pale relaxing colors. I am not sure why, but I was really craving cool tones.

Here is my main introduction page into December. I thought it would be fun to do a warm fire place because during the month of December that is the only place I want to sit, right in front of it. I also wanted to put a few simple decorations. I never go all out with decoration in real life so why would I in my bullet journal?

This is my calendar page. This is where I write all the appointments, meetings, and due dates for various things. When I took this picture it was blank, it is already totally filled. It is funny how things come flying at you all at once. I loved the little lights so I added them to the side of the page. I didn’t color them in because I wanted the purple to be the star of this page. It is such a relaxing color.

So on the left hand side is my Monthly Overview, this is where I write down all my planned posts. I am happy to say that I have some fun posts coming up this month that I am excited to share with you. Mainly my favorite and least favorite books of 2018. I cannot believe it is already time to reflect on the year.

On the right side of the page is my December TBR. It may be a bit of a sneak peak, but oh well.

This is the layout I am going to be giving a try. I kinda got inspiration from BooksandLala on Youtube for this. On the right side I am going to assign a book a color and track the days I have read it on the left hand side. If all goes to plan there should be a fun cool toned rainbow on the left hand side to show when I started, read, and finished a book using the colors and code on the right side. I am curious to see if I keep up with this or not. Only time will tell.

This is my typical tracking pages I put in my bullet journal every month. The right page is where I write the titles of the books I read and then color them in. On the right I color in a block for each chapter I read. At this time I only added the books on my TBR, more will be added because I never stick to my TBR.

I am not sure if I have shared this before, but this is the weekly spread I use. While I give a majority of the room to my weekdays. I don’t combine Saturday and Sunday because then I end up waiting to do everything on Sunday. As you can see I also have a few stickers. I track the moon cycles in my bullet journal because I always love being aware of the moon and its cycles. I always have since I was a little girl. I also have assigned days to clean, write, and do laundry which are indicated by sticks. I also do a weekly weigh in that I keep track of in my bullet journal as well.

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Bonus Layout

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I hoped you have enjoyed the sneak peak into my bullet journal this month. I really enjoyed how this month turned out. It is clean and calm, just what I need and wanted.

Do you use a bullet journal? What theme are you using this month?

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Wrap Up

Week in Review | November 18th-November 24th

a week in review

This week I did not do a ton of reading. I think the main reason was I spent a lot of time with my loved ones and I had a lot of fun. Am I bummed I didn’t finish a book? Yes. Would I change this week? No. Even though. I did not finish any books I really made some progress in some of the books I was reading and I started reading a new one. Also, I didn’t buy a book for myself this week as well. So that evened out nicely!

Also, I forgot to add my stats for the week. oops!

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A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

A Noise Downstairs

I am about a 82% through this book and I don’t know how I feel about it currently. I will be honest, I started to skip around and I don’t know why! I am thinking it is because I wanted to spend more time with my loved ones? Anyway, I am not skipping because the writing is bad or anything, in fact I am enjoying how the author switches from points of view and how the story has been strung together.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

I have continued on with my reread of the Harry Potter series and I am already 54% through this edition. I am so excited to meet some character all over again and see some of the details I had forgotten. I love how Lupin was introduced! Anyway, I am loving this book just as I always have!

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Posts from the Week

REVIEW | Caleb’s Window by John J. Siefring

Tag Time | My Bad Reading Habits

Let’s Talk | Book Breeze App Review

More Than Books | Stranger Things & Unboxing

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Reviews

REVIEW | Caleb’s Window by John J. Siefring

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* I received this book from the author for free in exchange for an honest review.*Caleb's Window

Description

Born in the village of Easkey, Ireland just before World War II, Cara Brannan dreams of becoming a nurse and starting a new life in America. Her mother, an Irish suffragette, encourages Cara to set goals and be fiercely independent. She moves to Dublin and begins nurses training at Saint John’s Hospital, forging friendships and encountering obstacles as a young single woman. Then she meets Aiden Whyte. Like-minded, Cara and Aiden join forces, marry, and journey to the States as newlyweds.

Welcoming their son Caleb into the world, Cara embraces motherhood. As a new mother and nurse in New York City, she struggles, facing class conflict, gender discrimination and career barriers, as well as loneliness. Cara endures because of her strength of character, compassion, and an irrepressible joy of life.

As Caleb comes of age, it’s his turn to carve out a place for himself during the late 1960s—a time of turbulence, protest, and incredible change. He finds New York to be a challenge but filled with opportunity.

Caleb’s Window will quietly move into your heart and mind, remaining long after you turn the final page.–goodreads.com

What I Liked

The first thing I really noticed about the this book was the characters. His characters are so strong and really drive the narrative. First we have Cara who is strong, brave, and just a very great character. She really is is stubborn when it comes to what she wants and I admire that about her. Later on we meet Caleb and he too is a very definitive character. I really wanted to have even more time exploring his story.

The authors writing was done very well. Not only was the plot great, but it for flowed very nicely. I really liked how the story was character driven, but not forced for the sake of growth. The plot felt genuine and like the characters would actually do the things that they did.

I also really liked that this story was not just about Cara or Caleb, but it was generational and a lot of world events were covered and discussed. I thought that really added to the story since you get to see the affect choices had later on down the road.

What I Didn’t Like

The one real fault I had with this book was the last section of the book just seemed to go a tad bit to quickly. While, it was not so fast that the story was lost, but it was just so fast. I wanted more time and to explore the story a bit.

Overall Thoughts

Overall I have to say that this was a wonderfully written book. The author really has talent when it comes to writing. The story was filled with emotion and I found myself drawn to the characters. This book is a great book if you are looking for a generational story dealing with some major historical events such as WWII.

4stars

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Author Links

John J. Siefring

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Book Information

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: February 12th 2018

List Price: $10.99

ISBN: 9781984032195

Pages: 274 pages

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Tags

Tag Time | My Bad Reading Habits

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Bonus post! I was tagged today by  the wonderful Whitney over at Whit Reads Lit. and I needed to do it today. It is such a fun idea for a tag. Anyway, Whitney is a lovely person and you should check out her blog. She is always writing something fun to read.

Like Whit said in her post, “If you enjoy reading, you likely have some reading habits that you are embarrassed by or ashamed of”. So here we are, reading about my bad reading habits that I don’t always share with everyone, but I often do.

Bad Habit #1: Rarely finishing series

I am horrible when it comes to series, I love the idea of them. Spending so much time with characters and a world you love. The bad part for me comes when I put off reading the next one because I feel guilty about not reading the other books I already own instead of going out to buy the next book in the series. It has gotten so bad that I actively look for stand alones, if I find out a book I a part of a series, even if it sounds amazing, I won’t pick it up. So I think I kind of miss out.

Bad Habit #2: Impulse buying an authors books if I find them on discount and I enjoyed one of their books.

When it comes to finding new favorite authors, I get really excited. So excited if I read a single book by an author and love it, I will then be on the lookout to buy EVERYTHING they have written at a discount shop or on bookoutlet. I won’t even be interested in the description, but in the past few months I have gotten better with this.

Bad Habit #3:I don’t always stick to my buy 5, read 1

While I have been buying a lot less books this year with my buy 5, read 1 challenge. I do end up not following it from time to time. This could be because I go to a book sale or a friend invites me to go shopping with them. I am not going to say no to hanging out with friends and books. Perfect combination.

Bad Habit #4: Sometimes if I don’t like a book after 5 pages I will DNF it without giving it a “good” chance.

I am very brutal when it comes to DNFing. If I am bored early in the book I put it down for good. While I have never regretted doing this. I do wonder from time to time if I missed out. But, then I remember that the writing style annoyed me or the characters already annoyed me only that far in and chances are it would have continued.

Bad Habit #5: I feel like I could read more broadly than I do.

At times I feel like I read the same type of book too often, so I would love to read more outside of the circle I currently do, or at least type.

Bad Habit #6: If I am bored I will skip sections in a book.

I will admit it, I will skip sections of books from time to time. It could be because I don’t care about that event or I don’t like the characters so I want nothing to do with them. Do I miss things from time to time? Yes. Do I care? No, not really.

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I Tag

Misty 

Jill 

Harker 

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What bad reading habit do you have?

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Life, DIYs, & Cooking

More Than Books | Stranger Things & Unboxing

More Than Books

So here I come to you with another More than Books post where I am sharing more things I like outside the bookish community. I don’t know if you know, but I love binge watching TV shows and one I want to binge watch is Stranger Things. Well, I am also a big fan of TriwizardLetter over on etsy. Every other month they have a new letter that has a small print, stickers, and a bookmark with a theme. This month was Stranger Things! I took it as a sign, ordered Octobers letter and decided to watch an episode. Here are my thoughts on the show and what I got in my letter!

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Triwizard Letter

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My Thoughts on Stranger Things

The first thing I noticed was the cinematic look of the show. I really liked how they played with lighting and the overall way they shot the show. The angles and what they show and don’t show on screen was great. I also noticed that they really nailed the color scheme and overall look of the decade this took place in. They didn’t just place a few objects and the costumes had a few key things. They sets had details, the outfits were great and the hair styles were on point.

The second thing I noticed was the great acting, not just for kids actors, but over all true talent. I can see why many people really enjoy this show because you can have the best plot and script in the world, but if the acting is bad it will ruin it.

I love the storyline they went for, secret government project gone wrong. A great mixture of the horror I love and the science fiction.  I have always love watching horror and I think this was a great example of a horror that was not too over the top with gore which is the case with a lot of horror these days.

I will say after watching the first episode I will be continuing with the series and I am very expected that there are 2 seasons for me to binge watch in the near future.

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Have you watched Stranger Things? Did you enjoy it or dislike it?

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Lets Talk · Reviews

Let’s Talk | Book Breeze App Review

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So a few weeks ago you will notice that I started using the app the bookish app Book Breeze created by Zendo Mobile. As far as I am aware this app is only available on the App Store, hopefully this will change in the future. This app is a reading tracker that focuses on collecting data regarding your reading speed, how many hours you spend reading, and how many pages you read. Now the version I am going to be talking about is the paid version of the app. While the free version has everything BUT the speed data and the ability to read more than one book. So a lot of the things I talk about will still be relevant to those using the free version.

Image result for book breeze

What I Liked

So, Book Breeze has a lot going for it as a reading tracker. It is easy to snap a picture of the book you are reading and manually add author, title, and numbers of pages. It also allows you to add a book even if you are in the middle by adding what page you are on. This process is straight forward and you don’t need to add any other information to get to using the app.

Starting a new reading session is easy, you go right to your books pages and click on the cover of the book you want to continue, then click “continue reading”. As soon as you start reading it will start the stopwatch of sorts and record you time until you click stop or pause. I love the fast that you can pause your reading instead of needed to hit stop every time you need to get up real fast for one reason or another. Another great thing is that if you forget to start your session you can add a session by adding the numbers of pages you read and how long you were reading at any point. Sometimes I still forget, but it is easy to fix with the way they set this up.

The last thing I thing they do wonderful is having a straight forward and interface that is not overwhelming. It is easy to navigate and new users I feel will be pros fairly quickly. The graphs and data that is shown is not complex and are very usable then it comes to actually looking at the data. Some apps I have come across make things more complicated then they need to be, Book Breeze does it right.

What I Didn’t Like

You cannot DNF a book without loosing all the data for the book or is stays on your current list forever. I am someone who often DNFs books because I don’t like to force myself to read something I am not enjoying. One thing I think they need to add to this app is either the ability to DNF a book or add a tab to the book category that would remove the book from Current, but allow you to keep pages read data.

Another thing I do not like is the fact that under stats you can only see 2 weeks, 1 month, 1 year, and 10 years. While we do have This week under the reading tab, if you do not take a screen shot to write down what you read this past week on Saturday night you will now have to do some math to figure out what you read in a single week. While it is not a lot of hard work, it is something that I think could be improved upon.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I think this is a wonderful app and if you are on the market to find an app to track your reading habits or get more insight into your reading pattern it is worth giving a shot. While it does have its faults in my eyes, I am still going to use the app and hopefully they will make some great updates in the future.

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Do you use a reading tracker, if so which one do you use?

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I paid for this app on my own, this post is not sponsored in anyway.

Wrap Up

Weeks in Review | November 11th-November 17th

a week in review

Wow, another week has passed, I can hardly believe it. I feel like since November has started the year is going faster and faster. This week I was only able to finish one book, but I made good progress in my buddy read and I did end up DNFing another book. Not because it was a bad book, but because I didn’t really feel like reading it currently. So I don’t want to mention it because I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it. Without further wait, here are my stats and reading wrap up from the pervious week.

Pages Read: 426 pages

Time Read: 4 hours

Reading Speed: 93 pages and hour

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The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

I absolutely loved this book! When I first started reading this book, I did find it enjoyable, but I did not expect it to be a 5 star read for me. While it was interesting the first few parts of the book were missing that spark that Practical Magic had. The by part 3 I was really dedicated to this book. I teared up, I felt for this family greatly. Then the ending came and I saw what Alice Hoffman did and I gasped “WHAT!?” when I realized who these characters were and answered so many questions that I had when I read Practical Magic is a wonderful show and not tell kind of manner. If you loved Practical Magic I highly recommend reading this, it does the story justice in my eyes. If you never read Practical Magic, you can start with this novel if you want a wonderful witch and magic filled read.

5stars

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A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

A Noise Downstairs

I finally am caught up with this buddy read. So far I am on the fence as to what I think about it, but I am excited to see what happens next. The cliffhanger that I felt off on makes me want to read ahead, but I am going to control myself for the time being.

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Books Added

The Witch Elm by Tana French

The Witch Elm

I have been hearing an awful or about Tana French and more specifically about The Witch Elm. I don’t know if it was because of all the witch talk around Halloween or just that it is a great book, but either way it caught my interest. Funnily enough I went to a few bookstores to find this book, so I am far from the only one interested in it.

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are. “-goodreads.com 

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Posts from the Week

Let’s Talk | TBR Jar Experiment

TAG | The Literary Dinner Part

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What was the last book you read?

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Tags

TAG | The Literary Dinner Party

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I was tagged by the wonder Whit over at Whit Reads Lit, you should all check her blog out and her other social media accounts, she is so kind and sweet and talks about some pretty awesome books. Anyway, when she tagged me in this I was so happy because it is such a fun tag and asks some pretty fun questions about a literary dinner party.Divider

1: One Character Who Can Cook/Likes to Cook

Sally from Practical Magic, she is always cooking good food for her family even at a young age so she has to be a pro by now.

2: One Character Who Has Money to Fund the Party

Feyre from the Court of Thorns and Roses, I mean she is a High Lady so she has to have some series resources.

3: One Character Who Might Cause a Scene

Weylyn Grey from Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang, I mean he lived with wolves and odd occurrences always seem to follow them.

4: One Character Who is Funny/Amusing

Fred/George Weasley from the Harry Potter series… they are one character because you cannot separate them!

5: One Character Who is Super Social/Popular

I honestly cannot think of a single character/person for this, fiction or nonfiction.

6: One Villain

Bellatrix Lestrange, once again from the Harry Potter series, because I feel like she may be a more controllable villain? Also, she is an aristocrat and probably knows a lot about dinner parties.

7: One Couple – Doesn’t Have to Be Romantic

I am going to go non-fiction here and pick Teddy Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. I would love you have them both at a tea party. Such interesting human beings.

8: One Hero/Heroine

Bilbo Baggins, from The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series, because he is the best adventurer and hero! He would have loads to talk about.

9: One Under-appreciated Character

Raven from the DC comic book universe. I say she is underappreciated because I feel like they could throw her into more than teen titans. Although, lately she was given her own comic book, so many I am wrong here?

10: One Character of Your Own Choosing

May from Little Women, because she is such a nurturing and lovably strict character I think she would be able to keep everyone in line.

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