AnnAlysis: The House We Grew Up In

the house we grew up inFrom Goodreads:
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in — and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

My Thoughts:
The House We Grew Up In is one of the SheReads.org Books of Fall. Instead of choosing one monthly book, they have changed it up a bit, now choosing a few books that you can pick from and read through each season. While a couple of the other choices may have been more up my alley, the reason I love being part of this online book club is expanding my horizons. I normally opt for crime and thriller books, so when I can read a little more women’s literature, I am always on board. Oh and this one is set in England, so I narrated the whole thing in a British accent, which is always a plus.

This book, wow! It follows the Bird family, past and present. While Meg is the main character in the book, all of the family members play a lead role at some point or another, sharing the story from their perspective. And boy do they have a story to tell!

The Bird family is seemingly all put together, but “seems” is the key word. One Easter, the holiday of all holidays in the household, tragedy takes a toll, and it’s a toll they struggle with their entire lives. As I read this book, my heart broke, several times over. Even if you haven’t suffered the tragedy that the Bird family did, Jewell puts you right in the middle of it and tugs on your heartstrings like they’ve never been tugged on before. And if the tragedy wasn’t enough, the dysfunction of this family pulls at you even more. It’s sad and tragic and raw. And it will make you want to call your family and thank them.

This book really touches on a lot of family dynamics. From secrets, to tragedy, to relationships, to death, to lies, and mental illness. And it’s all in one family.

Jewell knocked this one out of the park. I give The House We Grew Up In 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
SheReads.org
Released: August 2014
Author Website

Keeping Bloggy Organized

Dear bloggers, How do you keep all of your books and blogging organized?

Me, I’m super OCD. I have lists upon lists, calendars, websites. I do it all and probably spend too much time organizing and not enough time reading and blogging.

Goodreads:
For the past few years, I’ve kept track of what books I’ve read on Goodreads.com. I like that I can go back and see how long it took me to read a book, and exactly when I read it, if by some chance I have missed a review. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, it slips through the cracks.

Blog Posts:
I have a couple of calendars…yes, multiple ones. I have a May Designs Calendar that my cousin got me that I hand write in. I was really good at keeping up with this until my vacation in June, then it kind of fell by the wayside. Now it is used for work schedule and blog posts only. I also keep track of these on my phone calendar/Gmail calendar. I have them linked so I can add them online or on my phone when I need to.

Books to Read:
If you use Netgalley you know that you only have so long with a book. The way I use Netgalley, I’ll go through every week or so and find books that I want to read. I’ll request them and wait. I’ll go through my approval list and see when books are being archived. Unless it’s something I absolutely have to read immediately, I wait until it is about to be archived and I download it. Then I keep a list of when I have to have those books read. I just keep a list of this on the “Notes” section of my phone. I like a combo of paper and technology notes. But I love handwriting things.

I’ve always been a planner girl. It started in 6th grade when one of my teachers bought the whole class planners. I absolutely loved it and kept some form of one through high school and college and even into adult life. However, my interest and time and them comes and goes. When I start them, I am on top of it. I write down everything, color code my work activities, blogging and working out. Then, after a few months, I leave it at home a day, or go on vacation and get behind and have a hard time getting back into it. Sometimes I buy a notebook and make my own planner, other times I get an already-made one.

My dad has a planner that he uses for his work calendar. I’m not the only one in my family who likes a hard copy. He recently went on vacation and brought me home this:

lilly pulitzer 1

Yay! My very first Lilly Pulitzer. I’ve had my eye on one of these beauties for years, but never splurged on one. If you’ve ever wanted one of these, now is the time to get it. It runs August 2014-December 2015. I did a little research for my cousin, who is also a planner buddy, and you can get this one on Amazon for $17. It’s an awesome price for all it has in it!

What does it have you ask?
*Pocket folder
*Sticker sheet
*2015-2016 side-by-side 24-month small calendar
*August 2014-December 2015 month by month calendar
*Dates to celebrate
*Reasons for a party and Party Planner Notes pages
*Zodiac signs page
*Notes section
*Calendar section – this has a month calendar at the beginning, following my a weekly calendar

2015 calendar

And this is less than an inch thick!

It was hard to not dive in immediately and start transferring things over from my other hand-written calendar and from my digital calendar, but I wanted to make sure that I was using it just right.

I decided to make a whole section just for blogging. I’m using the monthly calendars in the front as blogging calendars. I’ll use it to keep track of when I’m posting (and as I’ve noticed so far, the lack thereof. I need to post more – Sorry) and the To-Do section for each month to let me know when I need to read books by.

blog calendar 1

blog calendar 2

It’s the small things, right? Hopefully with physically seeing my posts on the calendar, and having a full month in front of me, I’ll be able to see when I need to sit down and do some work.

So, how do you keep track of all of your blogging?

AnnAlysis: The Butcher

the butcherFrom Goodreads
A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.

My Thoughts:
This summary does a good job of summarizing this book without giving away the meat. Anything else that I would share would be a spoiler. I don’t want to do that because this is a great book with a great mystery. It doesn’t take long for that mystery to come out, but when it does, it kind of leaves with you a sense of anxiety. You know something is going to go down, but if and when it the kicker.

While the story here is very strong, the characters really drive it. Matt, while successful, isn’t very likable. He’s got a temper, and is very self indulged, doesn’t really give people the time of day they need or deserve. Then you have Chief, Matt’s grandpa. He’s as close to a local legend as you can get. People love him. They know him by name. Now that he is aging, it’s not that he’s giving up on life, but what does he have to lose? That’s kind of his outlook in this book. And then there’s Sam. I really liked Sam’s character. She writes true-crime books and it’s something she got involved with because she thinks the Butcher killed her mom. She doesn’t have proof, it doesn’t really work out in the timeline, but she knows it. I love her passion, although the truth in this case may not be one that will leave you with a sense of closure.

If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller that will take you on several twists and turns through Seattle, I highly suggest this book. I love that you are face to face with the killer within 30 pages and then the rest is left up to fate.

I give The Butcher 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: July 2014
Author Website

AnnAlysis: Russian Hill

russian hillFrom Goodreads:
In the first book of the thrilling Chasing Chinatown trilogy, a killer is loose in San Francisco, and he’s collecting body parts. 

SFPD has no witnesses and no suspects, but FBI Agent Abby Kane believes a dead hiker found ten miles north of the city is the key to solving those crimes.

The detective involved with the case thinks Abby might be chasing a ghost down a rabbit hole, but the more Abby digs, the more she begins to think the killer is playing a game and there’s an audience cheering him on.

My Thoughts
This summary does not do this book justice. Yes it was thrilling and Abby did take part in a game, but it was sooo much more.

This story is told through a couple of different perspectives. You have the perspective of the game players, logging on and getting their clues, then fulfilling their tasks. Then you have Abby trying to put all of the pieces together and then getting pulled into the game herself.

This book is action packed from the first to the last page and even gives us a little hint at what’s coming up in the next book of the series. It is very intense and hard to put down once you get started. While you know that what the game players are doing is wrong, it’s a very intriguing story line and, as scary as it sounds, is something that could potentially happen in real life thanks to the world wide web. There’s so much out there that we don’t know about. Kind of creepy, to be perfectly honest.

I give Russian Hill 5 out of 5 bookmarks and will definitely keep my eye out for the other books in this series.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: October 2013
Author Website 

 

AnnAlysis: All Fall Down

all fall downFrom Goodreads
Allison Weiss got her happy ending: a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician’s office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder: Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class, or if your husband ignores you? She tells herself that the pills help her make it through her days; but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

My Thoughts:
Jennifer Weiner is one of those authors that if you run across her books and have a chance to read them, you must do it. You’d be silly not to. I ran across this one on NetGalley and immediately added it to my TBR.

This one especially intrigued me due to the involvement of drug addiction. It’s such an epidemic, especially in the area where I live and work. In some way, shape, or form, everyone I know has had the pill problem on their doorstep, whether it b personal, a friend, or a family. In a small town, you’re bound to know someone.

I’ve read a couple of Weiner books and form everything I’m seeing from readers, this is quite a bit darker than most of Weiner’s books. It still has the wit that she is known for, but she really dives into the issue.

I actually really loved how Weiner portrayed Allison’s character. I felt like she really got down to the root of the Allison’s problem and really helped me understand where it came from. The possibility that her childhood, her marriage, and even motherhood played a role. Not to mention her work as a blogger and the success she was gaining from it. It’s all kind of like a train wreck. You can’t quit watching her descent into addiction.

I also thought it was very interesting reading about Allison’s reasoning for not believing she had a problem. My friend WriteMeg hit the nail on the head with her review of this book. This book really makes you sit back and think about our personal addictions. They may not be nearly as destructive as Allison’s but we all have them. Reading, running, Netflix… not necessarily dangerous, but all can get in the way of life. Throw in a little time on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and where did the day go? As Meg said, “We all have our coping mechanisms, our ways of tuning out the stresses of the day to finally find some measure of peace.”

I give All Fall Down 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: June 2014
Author Website

Also by this author:
Then Came You