One Month Down!

I didn’t think I was ready for the first month of 2016 to be over, but am perfectly fine with the fact after a few days of reflection.This year is going much better than the last! I may not be reading a ton but I am reading more. I’m slowly accomplishing my writing goals (please read about them here) and I’m doing my best to enjoy my hobbies!

I decided to set a few simple reading and cultural goals for myself to keep this forward momentum going! Here are the three I’m going with:

Actual Book Challenge:

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The Challenge: The Re-Read Challenge

Hosts: Belle of the Literati

The Goal: The reader chooses their own re-read goal.

Official hashtag: #ReRead2016

My Goal: 12 books

Why: I wrote a post about the joy of rereading and I want an official reason to revisit some of my favs.

So Far:

  1. Milo Talon

My Personal Challenges:

1. Challenge: Read more books released in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

My Goal: 12 books

Why: I tend to read older books from the library despite having an office overflowing with my TBR pile. This is to push me to work on that pile and read new releases.

2. Challenge: Watch more movies in the theater.

My Goal: 12 movies

Why: My family are big movie goers but I’ve stopped going over the last few years due to the expense and Mike and I having such different tastes! No more! I want to see more movies in the theater!

So Far:

  1. The Revenant
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So these are my personal challenges! What  reading challenges are you doing this year?

Lindsay

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

by Dana Stabenow

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Shocked by a series of brutal, unexplainable murders, Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell embarks on a desperate journey into the heart of the Alaskan Bush country — in search of the terrible, earth-shattering truth…

Nothing Gold Can Stay is my first novel by Dana Stabenow and I enjoyed it. This is another audio book I picked up from the library and it seemed like the perfect winter mystery for my current reading mood. Stabenow didn’t let me down!

Wy’s kick butt flying is the best part of Nothing Gold Can Stay! She obviously did her research because Stabenow nailed the aerial descriptions. It was great reading about good flying and I always appreciate the adventures of a fellow kick butt female pilot!! 😜

Other than that, I enjoyed Stabenow’s format style. I liked that readers get the backstory for each character and I enjoyed how different each individual was. I liked reading about Tim adjusting to his knew home, Wy’s struggle to maintain order in her life, and Liam’s dogged determination to fix everything. Moses was definitely one of my favorite characters and Prince was the least. Stabenow’s descriptive language left me feeling as if I had know these people all my life. I felt bad for them, I cheered for them, and I hoped the best for them. That alone makes it an enjoyable read; the flying kept me smiling the whole time!

I like the mystery and the way it was handled but I must warn you that abuse is a primary topic in Nothing Gold Can Stay. This includes child abuse, marital abuse, and sexual abuse. Stabenow is focused on the positive recovery aspects of abuse but you should know that it’s there before picking up this novel. 

My only complaint is there was just too much sex for my taste. And yes I can hear all you romance readers gasp in shock at that statement. I understand the Stabenow utilized the interactions for character develop but every character had sex, or their sex life discussed, at some point in the book. It was just constant and actually took away from the mystery a couple of times. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay is the third book in the Liam Campbell series (I’m kinda ashamed I started in the middle) and I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading the rest of them! Anyone else a fan of Dana Stabenow?

Lindsay

Ice Dogs

Ice Dogs

by Terry Lynn Johnson

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Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival, and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods, is entirely up to her.

Author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

I found Ice Dogs for my Nook during this time last year when I was actively following the Yukon Quest dog sled race. I never got around to reading it for some odd reason, and decided that now was a great time to pick it up with the 2016 race starting in less than two weeks.

Ice Dogs is a Middle Grade/Young Adult novel about two teenagers and their struggle to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. Victoria Secord is out on a run with her dogs when she comes across a boy laying across the trail and bleeding from a head wound. Chris, new to Alaska, has wrecked his snowmobile and its up to Vicky and her dog team to get him home. But nothing seems to go right for the two. Chris leads them in the wrong direction and a brutal storm forces them to spend the night out in the wild. And then one night leads to another and another; soon the teenagers are desperately struggling to survive the winter wilderness.

I read Ice Dogs in one sitting. Johnson does a wonderful job pulling readers in with detailed descriptions of the beautiful and deadly terrain and I loved how she showed the joy of running a dog sled. She points out how dog sled racing is a passion and that despite the dangers, is something Victoria Secord will always have to do. Johnson spends plenty of time introducing us to the dogs and includes a variety of personality traits, much like I would expect to find on an actual team. She also makes the drive and passion for the sport easy to understand for those of us who have never raced through the snow behind a team of happy dogs.

I even enjoyed how she handled the two teenagers. There is no insta-love between them, which is quite realistic as the two are left starving throughout most of the novel. But that doesn’t mean there is a lack of chemistry because there is, of course, attraction and plenty of awkwardness between Vicky and Chris. A number of reviewers have complained about the awkward interaction between the characters but I think Johnson did a spot on job describing how a 14 year old and 15 year old would handle having to share the same sleeping bag not to mention the struggle to survive.

With that said, I felt like some of their personality traits were a tad too convenient. Chris knowing how to sew being the main item. I get that he likes to create things but there needed to be more back story for that detail. The same goes with Victoria coming to the realization that she’s been too hard on her mother after the death of her father. The novel should have been at least 50 pages longer to give the author more time to hash out Victoria’s personal growth. And I’m happy that Victoria came around in the end (definitely not a spoiler because it’s pretty obvious) because I wasn’t up to reading the book with her being the spoiled rotten brat that she is for the first third of the novel.

Ice Dogs is a short novel and would probably be considered Middle Grade, but I think it’s perfect for readers of Young Adult in need of a break from the insta-love, dystopian, vampire fantasy stuff flooding the markets. And it was the perfect way to spend a lazy Friday night! Has anyone else checked out Ice Dogs?

Lindsay

Hello Old Friend…

We have so many favorites. We have favorite TV shows, favorite movies, and favorite shoes. We have favorite classic cars, favorite candles, favorite food, and favorite people. And of course we have favorite books!

You know the books I speak of! The novels that you find yourself randomly thinking about on a quiet day. Books with worn edges because you’ve read them over and over. Battered paperbacks and hardbacks with a prestigious spot on that first book shelf. Yep, I’m pretty sure all readers have a few favorite books. And I’m sure it’s pretty obvious to all of you that I read a variety of genres. Luckily, I tend to have a favorite book in each that I come back to on a regular basis, and you can check out the full list on my Favorites Page.

January always finds me knee deep in a stack of books about wintery survival, but for some reason I have been thinking about all my go-to novels this year. Typically, I reread my favorite survival stories, Last of the Breed and Julie of the Wolves, during this month, but last week I was on a western kick. So, I reread and shared Milo Talon. This wasn’t a big difference since most westerns involve a good bit of surviving. But last night I was hit with the urge to reread my favorite fantasy series, The Green Rider books by Kristen Britain, as well as my sci-fi fav, Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles! I am going blame these sudden urges on watching MTV’s Shannara Chronicles and getting the last book in the Lunar Chronicles, Winter, for Christmas.

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But what keeps us coming back to these books? You can only experience the excitement of the first read once, so that’s not it. Sure we reread books we find well written and enjoyable, but its more than that. Otherwise we would find ourselves rereading all the time because I think that most of the books I review are well written and enjoyable. So, I asked Facebook and the general consensus is rereading a favorite book is like meeting up with old friends.

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We connect with the characters! We are invested, involved, and excited about their stories. We discover some small detail we miss previously each time we pick the book back up. And each time we remember how we felt the first time we followed the character into space, the first time we battled through a Siberian winter with them, and the first time we watched them use magic to save a kingdom. All those reasons are why we keep coming back to our favorites.

Sure, my shelves are over flowing with books that need to be read. But sometimes its ok to say “hello old friend,” and pull that battered book down for a needed reunion curled up on the couch.

What books are your favorites? Do you plan to spend your weekend rereading?

Lindsay

The Titan’s Curse

The Titan’s Curse

By Rick Riordan

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)

IT’S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

The Titan’s Curse is the third novel of Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I’d say this is my favorite novel but then I read book four; this series gets better and better with each book! 

The Titan’s Curse involves some of our favorite characters from the last two books and introduces a number of new demigods to root for. Readers will meet Thalia, the daughter of Zeus, Zoe Nightshade, Artemis’ right hand woman, and mysterious siblings, Bianca and Nico. 

The story follows Percy and crew on a quest to save Annabeth, who is a captive of Luke and the army of Chronos. We get to see a different side of Percy, as he struggles to work with stubborn Thalia and deals with his fear of losing Annabeth. The Titan’s Curse brings us characters who are slowly maturing as they age and Riordan is amazing at providing these characters with realistic strengths and flaws. His character development is the main reason I keep reading these stories! Plus, readers get to meet Artemis, Apollo, and Annabeth’s dad!

I don’t have any complaints with The Titan’s Curse, but I will add that I did not like Thalia. I found her to be way too hot-headed for my taste and it made her arguments with Percy seem petty. But don’t let that stop you from reading because I did love her in the end!

Who else loves the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series?

Lindsay

Milo Talon

Milo Talon

by Louis L’amour

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Milo Talon knew the territory and the good men from the bad. He had ridden the Outlaw Trail and could find out things others couldn’t. That was why a rich man named Jefferson Henry hired Milo to hunt down a missing girl. But from the moment Milo began his search, he knew something wasn’t right. Three people had already died, an innocent woman was on the run, and a once sleepy town was getting crowded with hired guns. Suddenly, Milo Talon realized that there were still things he had to learn—about the woman he was trying to find, the man who had hired him, and the murderer who wanted him dead. But most of all, Milo had a few things to learn about himself. And he would have to work fast, because one mistake could cost him his life.…

Last week I had the sudden need to read Milo Talon. So, I picked up my worn paperback and dove in to the story of my favorite western character.

I love Milo Talon! Im a fan of his blunt personality and desire to do the right thing by good people. He’s just a good guy with a sharp whit and smart mouth who stands up for his friends. What’s not to like?! I also enjoy the supporting cast of characters L’amour provides our reluctant hero: the pretty girl in need of help, the kind ex-trail cook, and the mysterious horse wranglers. But Milo Talon is more than just a simple cowboy story. L’amour, the king of the western, weaves a complex mystery that starts with the search for a missing girl and cumulates with Milo and Molly running for their lives from parties greedy for railroad money. The mystery and the characters keep me coming back to this novel time and time again, and I need for it to be made into a movie. Now!

I do have to say that some readers are not going to appreciate the development of Milo and Molly’s relationship. There are no sappy details and it can read a tad unrealistic and abrupt. I love it, but I understand it’s not for most. Also, L’amour’s writing style is not the most showing. The language is blunt and straight forward, but I still feel like I’m right in the middle of the action while reading.

READ IT! Milo Talon is my all time favorite western and I want to hear what you think. I promise the ending is well worth it!

Lindsay

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice

by Julie Garwood

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Fresh from her incredible smash-hit historical romance Shadow Music, New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood returns to contemporary romantic suspense with this wonderfully sexy, exhilarating blockbuster. Filled with sizzling passion and breathless adventure, Fire and Ice features a feisty heroine whom Garwood’s devoted readers already know and love from her hugely popular novel Murder List.

Sophie Rose, a tough and determined newspaper reporter, is the daughter of Bobby Rose, a suave, charming, and handsome gentleman who also happens to be a notorious big-time thief sought by every law-enforcement agency in the country. When the major Chicago daily where she works insists she write an exposé about her roguish father, Sophie refuses, quits her job, and goes to work at a small newspaper. Far from her one-time high-powered crime beat, she now covers local personalities such as the quirky winner of several area 5K runs whose trademark is goofy red socks.

Those red socks with Sophie’s business card neatly tucked inside are practically all that’s found after runner William Harrington is killed near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, seemingly the victim of a brutal death by polar bear. The Alaska cops want to know why Harrington carried Sophie’s card. With an unerring nose for a good story, she heads north. What Sophie doesn’t realize is that on her journey from Chicago to Prudhoe Bay, danger follows in her wake. After one attempt on her life, she’s been assigned brash but sexy Jack MacAlister as a bodyguard by the cautious FBI. Amid great peril and deadly intrigue in the unforgiving Alaskan terrain, she and Jack form an uneasy alliance sparked with sensual attraction. But they will soon be fighting more than their growing passion for each other. Powerful forces will stop at nothing to prevent the exposure of the sinister conspiracy Sophie and Jack are about to uncover.

This will be my last winter romance thriller for a while. Nothing wrong with the story; I’m just tired of certain genre traits. And because of this I’m starting off with a negative point. I don’t like to do it but this one point was holding me back from sharing this review.

Fire and Ice is a well developed novel with an intriguing complex plot, but I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I wasn’t listening to the audio book. It’s because of how the main character, Sophie Rose, was handled. I really like Sophie despite not sharing her love for designer items. I like her spunk and her stubbornness. Garwood spends the entire novel insisting Sophie Rose can take care of herself. Sophie has a sharp tongue and is a gifted writer. She trusts few people so she falls in love slowly while remaining a firecracker in the bed. Sophie demands to have her own gun when being attacked in the Alaskan wilderness. She even punches a guy who slaps her. Sophie is an awesome woman, and yet; she still constantly comes off as a damsel in distress. Time after time she is rescued by Jack. I would have liked Sophie to fight back. I just wish she had tried to pull the trigger or threw a couple more punches. Nope, she still had to be saved by the rugged man which is a prominent romance staple. This is why I’m taking a step back from the genre.

Now that my mini rant is over….I feel I should point out that I’m just being picky so on to the positive points. Fire and Ice includes a number of interesting storylines that will please mystery readers. First: there is the mystery of what happened to William Harrington. This takes our two leads, and readers, from the Chicago to the wilderness of Alaska in search of answers. Second: the Alpha Project…and that is all I will say about that one. You need to read it for the rest of that intriguing mystery. Third: the fate of Kelly’s Root Beer! This keeps the story grounded and provides a humorous background for all the drama and violence. All three mysteries are well developed and written in a way that leaves you yearning for answers.

I definitely recommend Fire and Ice for readers looking for a complex romantic mystery. Sophie and Jack were both fun characters to watch fall head over heels with each other. And the supporting characters are all well developed, allowing readers to feel like they are tagging along with Sophie on her adventures.

Has anyone else read Fire and Ice? Any Julie Garwood fans out there?

Lindsay

What to Expect: January

January

Happy 2016 fellow readers!

Those who read my other site, LBoitnott, will know that 2015 was just an ok year for me. Now, I’m not being ungrateful or whiny, because 2015 had a few wonderful moments, but, certain events left me with less time than desired for my passions. I had precious little time and energy for reading and providing reviews. Proof is in the numbers!

May – December 2014: 57 books reviewed

January – December 2015: 47 books reviewed

Ideally, the numbers should have been reversed. I still begin 2016 with 104 books and short stories reviewed on Sand Between the Pages! I started this site in May 2014 because I desperately needed to escape the stress of grad school and regain my love for reading. Sand Between the Pages has helped me do just that, and so much more. It has pushed me to read more, enhanced my writing and editing skills, and introduced me to so many wonderful people!

I do have goals for the coming year and feel free to read about them here. Just know that I plan to once again embrace my passion for reading and reviews in 2016. So many books and so little time! I can’t wait to share them all!

It is finally starting to feel like winter in Florida, so you can look forward to some wintery thrillers and mysteries this month. We all know how much I love my arctic survival stories! (though I have no idea why. I am such a wheeny when it comes to real snow) Plus, you may hear a bit about the upcoming Alaskan dog sled races 😛

Happy 2016 everyone! And happy reading friends!

Lindsay