Thankful

I almost didn’t post this.  I mean, everyone seems to be sharing their long list of thanks and, well, Sand Between the Pages is dedicated to bringing you honest book reviews.  Do you really want to read my ‘what I’m thankful for’ list?  You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I needed to share my thankful list.  This site has become so much more to me than just a book review site.

2014 has been a crazy year.  A life changing year as I graduated in August, adjusted to life without school, tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and eventually became a homeowner.  Not to mention the craziness that is NaNoWriMo in November.  But as I sit here, exhausted, waiting for our trip this afternoon, I cant help but to feel thankful.  Now, I feel thankful everyday, but Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it has me thinking about all the things that have gotten me through this last year.  These items have pulled me through the hard times and kept me smiling all year long.  They deserve mentioning.  So without further ado, here is my list!

Mike

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My husband puts up with a lot from me.  He survived the grad school years, embraces my lack luster cooking, and turns his head to my sometimes obsessive book buying.  He shares my love for adventurous hobbies and I couldn’t imagine having a better man by my side each day.

Faith

I usually refuse to discuss faith, or politics, on this site because it is my personal belief.  But, I do have a personal relationship with the Lord and there are days were only prayer gets me through.  There isn’t any better gift than that.

Family

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My family is my support system.  They are quirky, fun, somewhat crazy, and do their best to be supportive.  They love me no matter what.  And this includes my best friends.  They are there daily to answer frantic texts, share laughs, and down coffee.  I am lucky to be surrounded by such a caring group!

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Writing

I took my first creative writing class last spring.  It was a graduate level class which was crazy for little untrained me to take.  But I have never regreted my decision to jump in with both feet.  I learned so much, developed confidence in my writing, and finished that class with an A.  I was more proud of that A than my actual degree.  I have continued to write and it has become one of my favorite hobbies.

My Old Men

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This one surprised me because the last month has been tough at work.  I will have to move on and find a job with actual career opportunities eventually but I am happy to see all the old men daily until then.  I couldn’t have made it through the last year without all the extra grandpa hugs and hours of stories that leave me clutching my gut and laughing until I cried.  How many people can say they love the people they work with?

Reading and You

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This blog has enabled me to start reading for fun again.  I am now excited to pick up a new book; I giggle with each plot twist.  And I can not wait to share my readings with you!  Your comments and likes are always appreciated and I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be a part of such a wonderful blog community.  I just want to give you all a big hug!

It has been a long, tough, and yet wonderful year.  The thankful list continues: coffee, the beach, my amazing NaNo group, Florida, our new home…and just so much more!  But these five things have helped me overcome the hard times during the year and that is definitely something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Lindsay

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Murder on a Bad Hair Day

Murder on a Bad Hair Day

by Anne George

Murder on a Bad Hair Day (Southern Sisters Mystery, #2)

It’s hard to believe practical, petite ex-schoolteacher Patricia Anne and amiable, ample-bodied, and outrageous Mary Alice are sisters, yet sibling rivalry has survived decades of good-natured disagreement about everything from husbands to hair color. No sooner do the Southern sisters discover a common interest in some local art, when they’re arguing the artistic merits of some well-coiffured heads at a gallery opening. A few hours later, one of those pretty ladies ends up dead — with not a hair out of place. The other shows up on Patricia Anne’s doorstep dazed, disheveled, and telling a wild tale of a narrow escape from some deadly cuts. Now the sisters are once again combing for clues to catch a killer with a bizarre style in art — and murder.

I read Murder on a Bad Hair Day last March, unaware that it is set during the Christmas holidays.  I decided to read it despite the setting and the age of the main characters.  Patricia Anne and Mary Alice are twin sisters in their early sixties.  Now, I have nothing against anyone of retirement age, but I do tend to pick stories where the leads are in their late twenties and early thirties.  It is just easier for me to connect with them.  Well, I am glad that I kept reading, or, listening because I had the book on CD.  It was a nice cozy mystery that kept me guessing until the end.

I recommend this novel just for the relationship between Patricia Anne and Mary Alice.  The sisters are mischievous and competitive; constantly armed with verbal fodder for their bantering conversations.  I also enjoyed how real and sweet Patricia Anne and Fred’s marriage read.  And I was intrigued by the role of local folk art in the mystery.  George’s imagery was perfect and I can still picture one of the main art pieces.

I wasn’t a fan of any of the secondary characters.  I couldn’t make myself trust any of them.  George nailed it if it was her goal to keep readers constantly guessing!  And of course, the mystery could have been tied together a tad smoother, but that is a common issue in cozy mysteries.  Definitely do not let that deter you from reading it!

Murder on a Bad Hair Day goes perfectly with a crackling fire and cup of hot chocolate.  Let the holiday themed reading commence and sit back for some fun with these southern sisters!  Have you read any of Anne George’s novels?

Lindsay

Holiday Reading

The holidays have always been dominated by what I call ‘fun reading.’  This is due to being in college for pretty much the last ten years.  The majority of my years were normally spent reading tedious research texts, so the end of the fall semester always meant I could read WHATEVER I WANT!

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This is my first year out of school and I am still just as excited about my holiday reading!  And yes, just like in October, I tend to stick to certain themes during November and December.  So without further ado…here is what you have to look forward to in the coming weeks!!

1. Rex Stout – Nero Wolfe Mysteries

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Timothy Hutton and Maury Chaykin as Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe in the A&E series.

I have been a Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin fan since the A&E A Nero Wolfe Mystery series debuted back in 2000.  I was heartbroken when it ended after only a few seasons but it got me hooked on the books.  Be prepared to hear all about  the eccentric investigative genius and his cheeky right-hand man, Archie Goodwin.  You’ll also hear about the show because my mom, my husband, and I binge watch the entire series every December 😀

2. Sue Henry – Jessie Arnold Mysteries

I only started reading these stories when I moved to Florida.  The holidays were fast approaching and it was a warm winter year.  I needed a book that invoked images of a cold, white Christmas and I stumbled on Sue Henry’s books at the local library.  The stories follow professional dog-sled racer, Jessie Arnold, as she reluctantly solves mysteries in Alaska.  I just couldn’t put them down as I was spent away in the Alaskan wilderness.  I usually revisit my favorites every year!

So that’s what you have to look forward to, plus many more!  What are your favorite holiday reads?  Please share; I love to hear about the books you love.

Lindsay

Holiday Blues?

 

It’s that time of year again…the holidays!

This is my first year in quite a long time that I can celebrate the holidays without also dealing with finals and term papers.  So, I was kinda surprised when I was hit with the holiday blues a few weeks ago.  It all started when I took down the Halloween decorations.  The house just didn’t feel as festive without my awesome bat window.

Life just happened.  I haven’t been reading as much because of NaNoWriMo and I’m super behind on NaNoWriMo because of life.  There is still so much stuff on my plate this month and I have no idea how I managed to handle it all, plus school, in the past.  I was just feeling down and this time of year is supposed to be happy and festive darn it!!!

So I have been working to change my perspective and get back that holiday cheer.  I’ve been writing on my novel almost daily.  I’ve started reading short, fun novels.  I even started listening to my Christmas music and watching Hallmark Christmas movies (I NEVER do this before Thanksgiving).  And I have decided to make a list of the things that make me the happiest during the holidays.

1. Family – One of the best things about the holidays is that we get to spend time with our family.  Some we rarely get to see during the rest of the year so its a treat for all of us.

2. Gift Giving – I LOVE picking out the perfect gifts for people.  So much so that I usually have my list for everyone done by October.

3. Church – The true reason of the season.

4. Decorations –  Christmas lights are definitely my favorite but I do adore our little Charlie Brown tree.

5. Christmas movies – Yes, this does include the cheesy Hallmark ones.  I always try to watch the classics too and my all time favorites are Muppet Christmas Carol and Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas.  Thank you Jim Henson!

6. Hot chocolate – I actually drink this year around but it just seems extra special this time of year.  The same goes with all holiday food in general.

7. Christmas music – because Nat King Cole, Elvis, and N’SYNC.  Need I say more?

8. Nero Wolfe marathons – You’ll hear more about this after Thanksgiving.

9. Holiday reading –  Nero Wolfe, Christmas cozy-mysteries, and all the Jessie Arnold Mysteries that make me wish I wasn’t such a wimp when it comes to snow.  Reviews to come!!

All these wonderful things kind of make the holiday blues seem silly.  These few things make my season bright.  So here is to kicking the holiday blues and focusing on the best parts of the holidays!  What do you love about the holidays?  Please let me know!

Lindsay

Wanderlust

Wanderlust

by Ann Aguirre

Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax, #2)

Sirantha Jax doesn’t take chances… she jumps at them…

Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled—which means that Jax is out of a job.

She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…

My novel for NaNoWriMo is science fiction so I have been reading the genre for ‘research’ :D.  Wanderlust is the second book in Aguirre’s Jax series.  The first is Grimspace so definitely feel free to check my review before diving head first in to this one.  Wanderlust picks up where the last left off.  Jax is still her crazy, unpredictable self, but she is now broke and agrees to act as an ambassador to help bring some sort of order to a galaxy that is quickly descending in to chaos.

This book was tough to read because it kept me on the edge of my seat.  I’ll just let you know that it takes the entire novel to get to Jax’s final destination where she is to act as an ambassador.  In the mean time she must deal with genetic refugees, man eating aliens, a massive clan war, traitorous family members, and being kidnaped.  All while coming to terms with her relationship with March.  And, once again, Aguirre provides readers with realistic relationships between people crammed in a space ship for an extended period of time.

Wanderlust left me feeling happy, anxious, sad, and down right pissed at the characters.  I kept talking to the book while reading:  ‘man up Jax!’ or ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME MARCH!?’  Oh the frustration!  But what more could you want from a genre piece?!  It hit every emotion and still kept me from putting it down.

Yes some of the personalities are exaggerated.  Yes you may think ‘SERIOUSLY!?’ as something else happens to our favorite cracked jumper.  But Wanderlust will take you on an awesome action packed trip across the stars!  Let me know what you think of the Jax series.

Lindsay

TV Show to Book Suggestions

Quick mid-NaNoWriMo post!

I love to read.  I also love TV shows and, more often than not, I am left wanting more at the end of a season/series.  This usually results in spending multiple days searching for a book similar to my favorite TV shows.

So you can image how excited I was when I came across this MTV article.  I had a feeling that many of you may be interested in these suggestions so I decided to share!  Cinder is the only book on the list that I have read (and I definitely recommend it) but please let me know if you have read any of the others.

Enjoy your fall TV lineup and happy reading!

Lindsay

Midnight Blue-Light Special

Midnight Blue-Light Special

by Seanan McGuire

Midnight Blue-Light Special (InCryptid, #2)

Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: “monster.”

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity–and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn’t quite work out that way…

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city’s readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there’s no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity’s apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ–assuming there’s anyone left standing when all is said and done. It’s a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit…and carnage.

I just realized my last three posts were not book reviews.  Definitely not ok!  So I decided to pick this gem out of my already read list to share this fine Friday!  I read Midnight Blue-Light Special during the last spring semester after finishing the first novel in the series Discount Armageddon.   This story starts off where the first ended and it was the perfect book for me to read in the middle of a stressful semester.  Now on to the review.

The reasons I enjoyed Midnight Blue-Light Special:

Verity Price – One of my all-time favorite female characters.  She is the perfect mix of smart, stubborn, and sassy.  The type of head strong heroine I find myself connecting to because she comes across as real despite her crazy talents and unique life.  Verity is charming, even when stumbling in her relationship or confronting aggressive monsters.  It never fails, I always get a goofy grin at her snarky comments and instantly forgive her when she makes a stupid mistake.  Verity is the reason I keep coming back to this series.

The Cryptids – McGuire has done a fantastic job of providing a unique cast of characters.  Midnight Blue-Light Special takes the characters from Discount Armageddon and delves deeper into each of their personalites and species-dictated quirks.  Sarah Zellaby, Verity’s adopted cousin and a good hearted psychic monster, becomes Verity’s right-hand girl in the fight against the Covenant of St. George.

Aeslin Mice – Yes the Aeslin Mice are Cryptids but they deserve their own bullet point darn it!  Pick these books up just so you can read about the Aeslin Mice!  There is no way I can describe their awesomeness in just a few short sentences.

Midnight Blue-Light Special does have a few frustrating qualities.  I wish McGuire had done more to flesh out all the characters.  The fast pace of the book left many of the supporting characters feeling two-dimensional and this included Dominic.  I needed more from the love interest.  I also had a difficult time with the switch from Verity’s to Sarah’s POV in the middle of the book.  I understand why McGuire did it but it really messed with the pace of the story.  It was still a good read.

Is Midnight Blue-Light Special realistic?  Nope.  Some of the scenes, such as the naked ceiling beam walk, are beyond fantastic.  But, for me, the over the top moments are the best aspects of the story!  Has anyone else read Midnight Blue-Light Special?  What do you think?

Lindsay

 

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Space Diner

October was a month full of book reviews.

I’m sad to say that November will not be the same.

Do not fret!  This is not because I am giving up on reviews.  It is because I am participating in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, this November.  Many of you have heard of NaNoWriMo but for those of you who haven’t, writers, both published and unpublished, gather together in front of their computer screens and attempt to produce a 50,000 word novel in just one month.  It’s frantic, fun, and pushes writers to develop a daily writing habit and leave their editing until the first draft is finished.

Most of my free time will be spent writing, but you can still expect a weekly post from me!  The synopsis of my novel, Space Diner, is as follows.

Space Diner

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2340: Technological advancement has destroyed the ecosystem of Earth to where life can no longer be sustained.  The O’Brian Family, technological tycoons, have the means to save humanity.  The remaining humans crowd O’Brian space ships on the journey to the Colony Cluster, a small system of planets that are their only hope for survival.

2440: It has been 5 years since the violent overturn of the O’Brian Empire has left the Colony Cluster in a state of anarchy.  Humanity is floundering once again and a man known only as The Boss is using the chaos to expand his empire.  His thugs are instructed to use any force necessary to take control of the entire Cluster.

Audra Wright, once a decorated fighter pilot, does her best to steer clear of the political battles plaguing her world and survives by taking transport side jobs, delivering to the various planets in the Cluster.  Her ship is in need of a tune-up after months of missions and she plans to spend her short layover consuming as much fried food as possible.  That is until she is offered a job that she can’t resist.  Now Audra must deliver a package that could stop The Boss.

Private Recovery Agent, Jake Tracy, has been tasked with recovering Audra’s package before she can deliver it to the last remaining O’Brian.  He is following her trail, hitting each space diner in search of his French-fry loving target.

Audra is stuck racing through the stars with a surly teenager and a smart-mouthed dog on a reluctant journey to restore balance to the Colony Cluster.  A journey that will require eluding hooker assassins, swamp creatures, and the frustratingly suave Jake Tracey.

Tell me what you think!  Is anyone else participating?  If so, my user name is flygirl3; add me as your buddy!  Happy writing and reading!

Lindsay