Tag Archive | Goodreads First To Read

REVIEW: Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott

No Tidy Up Tuesday today. I’ve been slacking. I have done little things here and there, like putting books on a shelf that were piled in front of it, but nothing worth blogging about. Hopefully soon I’ll find the motivation to dive into a bigger tidying project and really work to get this done!

I have been getting editing done on my teen vampire/witch novel (tentatively titled Blood & Magic) and hope to be done with the third draft soon. This is a story that began in my head back in 2008, was first drafted during NaNoWriMo in 2013, and has been somewhat neglected ever since. 🙁 This project is my baby though, and I intend to give it my all before I release her to the world.

I did finish a fabulous book last night though. This is one of the ARC’s I won from Goodreads First To Read and I’m absolutely stoked to share it with you all. So, read on!

I’m not crazy about the cover, but it’s appropriate.

Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott
Series: Popcorn Shop Mystery #1
Read: March 3-7, 2016
Format: Print Book ARC (Goodreads First To Read)
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery

I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads First To Read and Penguin Random House, Berkley Prime Crime.

I loved this book from page one.

“The caramel sauce was almost three hundred and fifty degrees when the screaming started.

I wasn’t proud that my first instinct was to ignore it. The screaming that is, not the sauce.” (Page 1)

I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a cozy mystery before, but if they’re all like this book, sign me up!

Rebecca Anderson is home again. After her rebellious teen years after her parents death, she ran away to California to attend a culinary arts school. There she met the infamous Antoine, fell in love, and got married. Eleven years later she’s divorced and, with the help of her beloved mentor Coco, has started her own gourmet popcorn shop, called POPS, on main street in her small town. Things are looking up for Rebecca, until Coco is found dead in her shop, Cocoa’s Coco, next door to POPS. Rebecca and Coco had plans to start a joint business venture together.

The cast of characters in this book is great. There’s Rebecca of course, who always seems to find her way into trouble. Dan, Rebecca’s best friend since forever and the town sheriff, who also happens to be married to Rebecca’s sister Haley. There’s Jessica, Coco’s niece, who has hated Rebecca since forever. We can’t forget Allen, the skeevy mayor who has his sights set on owning Coco’s storefront property. There’s Annie, another store owner on main street and close friend of Rebecca’s. Plus Jasper and Tom, a couple of panhandlers. Garrett is new to town, he’s Dan’s college friend and a lawyer. And Sprocket, Rebecca’s dog, who is practically human in his mannerisms.

Page 262

Page 262

I love character driven stories, and this was absolutely a character driven story. Every character was brought to life and had flaws and quirks that made them real. I want to live in this small town! I figured out who did it early on, though there were some red herrings thrown in. Even though I knew who did it and was waiting for the big reveal, I enjoyed every second of this story.

My only complaint is that at times the writing was overly simplistic, and I feel there should have been more commas used, but once I got over that and into the story I had a really hard time putting it down. Just one more chapter would turn into three more chapters. Before I knew it, my midnight bedtime had turned into 2 am.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Will I read the next book in the series? Most likely!

REVIEW: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
Read: February 11 – 19, 2016
Format: ARC Print Books (Goodreads Win
My Book Rating:  3.5 Stars
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Chic-Lit

I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads First to Win. This in no way affects my review or feelings toward the book.

Keep Me Posted is a book that’s hard for me to review. I don’t really read Women’s Fiction, so I’m really not the target audience. I’ll get to more on why it’s hard for me to review in a bit.

The basic premise is two sisters, Cassie in NYC and Sid in Singapore, who decide to start writing each other letters and mailing them to one another, in order to reconnect the old fashion way. All is good and well, until the letters become public on the Internet and the sisters become pseudo-celebrities on the Net.

So, as I said before, this is a hard one for me to review. I don’t read Women’s Fiction, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I will start by saying that I loved the letters. I honestly didn’t know if I would, but I really enjoyed reading the letters each sister wrote to the other. The story is told from Cassie’s POV, but even reading Sid’s letters, I felt like I knew her. I think that’s not always easy to do, so well done Ms. Beazley!

On the other hand, I didn’t really like Cassie. She’s the protagonist of our story, but she was very hard for me to like. Which is kind of funny, because I see a lot of myself in her as well. Cassie is in her mid-30’s, married to a wonderful man, and in the last year or so she’s given up her career in order to stay home and raise her twin boys. She pokes fun at crunchy mommy bloggers (I only know these terms because I myself had my last baby 4 years ago and was immersed in much the same world as Cassie.) I laughed and agreed with a lot of what she had to say about those kinds of parents. I shared a lot of the same habits and feelings as her (she’s a social media addict, as am I. She has an incredibly well-liked big sister and has always been in her shadow, as do I. She constantly questions whether she should have even had kids and feels like an utter failure, to which I think all moms can relate!)

However, I hard a hard time connecting with her because of how she’d throw around money like it was going out of style, and this is probably my own hang up from not being in the same income bracket as this character. $3,900 on a new summer wardrobe — which, I get how it is after having a baby and having no clothes that fit — but that seems excessive to me. Or a spur of the moment trip to Singapore to see her sister, there’s a few thousand more. But what kills me is when her husband makes a comment to the extent of, “I guess we’re eating rice and noodles for a while,” and then she throws around more money! Again, I’m in a different income bracket as this character, and I have a hard time relating to someone who doesn’t seem to understand the value of a dollar, but other readers may not take issue with that at all.

The first half of the book felt like a lot of filler to me as well. Some parts were funny, but there were a lot of tangents that didn’t move the plot forward, info dumping at times. When I reached the end, I think a lot of it could have been left out. Maybe this is how Chic Lit is, I don’t know, like I said, I don’t usually read it.

Chapter fifteen though? That’s when things got real. Cassie discovers that the blog where she’d backed up all of the letters between her sister and herself, has suddenly gone live. She was sure she set the privacy settings to PRIVATE, and yet, there’s her blog, out for the world to see… gone viral. Now she has to deal with the aftermath, all of her and her sisters private thoughts out in the world. Confessions about her in-laws, her husband, and her friends. She has to tell her sister what happened, and her husband, and she confessed to some terrible things in those letters that her husband can’t just brush aside. I really felt for her there and in the end I was rooting for her.

I think my favorite character of the whole book, however, was Uncle Sal, Cassie’s husbands uncle. Cassie and her sister-in-law are convinced he’s in the mafia, and he’s just a delight to read.

Ultimately, I think my biggest hang up with this book was that it often wasn’t told in chronological order, the tangents I mentioned before. That and Cassie’s throwing around money like it’s going out of style. But, the ending was beautiful and full of heart, which ultimately saved me from regretting having read this book.

Would I recommend Keep Me Posted? Yes. But not to everyone. Those who like Women’s Fiction and more literary works might enjoy this, or even those with young children who can commiserate with Cassie and her feelings. Those who stick mostly with genre-based fiction probably wouldn’t enjoy this as much.

NOTE: After writing this review and sitting on it for a while, it occured to me what I think my problem with this book was. It read more like a memoir instead of fiction. 

REVIEW: Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Read: January 13-16 2016

Format: Hardcover

My Book Rating: 5/5 Stars



I was incredibly lucky to have received a copy of Spark Joy from Goodreads First To Read Program.

Warning: This is going to be a long review, because this is a book I am passionate about.

~ This book is magic for those who are ready to say goodbye to the mess. ~

Let me tell you something, this book came into my life for a reason. I don’t belong on hoarders, but given more time and a little less motivation to keep tidy, I could. My clutter is all over, and I didn’t know how to get started and keep the momentum going. There’s a reason Marie Kondo’s first book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The KonMari Method is life changing. At least for me.

NOTE: This book contains little illustrations to better understand some of the folding and organizing techniques, but there are no actual photographs. There are not a lot of illustrations, but they certainly add a nice bit of charm to the book and were helpful for me.

P. 38 – “We can only transform our lives if we sincerely want to.”

In full disclosure, I did not read the first book. I’m not sure if I would have read this book had I not won a free copy, but boy am I glad I did. (And upon finishing this book, I went out and bought the first!) Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo (aka KonMari) and her Japanese art of tidying. If not, it’s okay. I’ll explain.

In a nutshell – this is a book for people who know they need to declutter their homes and lives, but are not really sure how or where to begin. (Raises hand.) That’s me.

First of all, she starts off telling you that you should really read her first book prior to reading Spark Joy. I’m a rebel. I didn’t. I think if you’re already at that point where you know you need to make changes to the way you live and tidy, then you can go ahead in good conscience and keep reading. She then goes on to tell you to imagine what your ideal lifestyle and home would look like, and encourages you to find images for inspiration. (Pinterest anyone?) This will help inspire you to keep going. (I skipped this step, I should really do it soon!)

It’s quite obvious that tidying is a spiritual thing for KonMari as much as it is a practical thing. When dealing with your clutter you’re supposed to ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” It sounds so incredibly cheesy, but it’s an affirmation that works, even for someone non-spiritual. She even talks about things that don’t spark joy but you know you need, and how to find the joy in them. (Like tools for repairs around the home, unless you’re a tool aficionado, you probably don’t feel joy when you see your tools. But when you’ve got a loose screw, I guarantee you’ll feel joy once you have your screwdriver in hand and that screw is no longer loose.)

She also touches on the difference between cleaning and tidying. I’ve always used them interchangeably, but there really is a difference. You pull out your Mr. Clean or vinegar spray to clean, but you put things where they belong when you tidy.

There’s a section, on page 31, called ‘The Clutter Photo Shock Treatment.’ This is actually something I do myself. I take photos before I start tidying and I post them to Facebook. Essentially, I hang my dirty laundry for the world to see. I own my clutter and my shame. After I post my “after photo”, (which isn’t often enough…) the words of affirmation from my friends and family are motivating to do more.

P. 37  – “People who see themselves as bad at tidying have simply never known the right way to do it and therefore have never experienced what it’s like to have a tidy house.”

But, the clutter keeps piling up because I don’t get rid of stuff. And let’s talk about stuff. Do we really need all the stuff we have in our lives? KonMari says no and I agree. But it’s hard to let go. What I love about this book is that it tells you it’s okay to let go. I know, it sounds stupid, why should I take the advice of a book when I already know it’s okay to let stuff go, I just won’t? For me, I think it’s because I’m reading someone else’s words. Someone else is telling me, “Hey, do you really need those photos from your 10th grade Snow Daze dance? When was the last time you looked at them? Do you even talk to those people anymore?” And, honestly, the answer is no. I don’t need to keep them. Especially since I long ago scanned them into the computer and put them in a Facebook album. There’s absolutely no need for me to hang onto the physical prints anymore. It’s been over 15 years. Letting them go is like a weight off my shoulders.

Organizing by category is key and probably one of the reasons I’ve failed so often in my own tidying sprees in the past. “Remember to store things of a similar nature to each other. Storing should go very smoothly if you repeat this step each time.” This means, keep your clothes together (obviously. Exception being things like Winter jackets, those would go in your entry closet with other things belonging in the ‘outerwear category.’) Other examples might be to keep all of your electronics together (perhaps keep your digital camera in your desk drawer to near your computer.) You might have a hobby area of storage. There’s no wrong way to categorize, as long as it makes sense and works for you.

Perhaps KonMari is best known for her clothing storage – essentially, storing your clothing folded upright. Search YouTube for “KonMari Method Folding” and you’ll see exactly what she means. It’s amazing how much more you can fit when you fold this way. It wasn’t until I organized my drawers and could see all of my graphic tees laid out, that I realized how much joy they bring. (It was also at that point when I realized I own an absolutely ridiculous number of socks!) When I see my Hogwarts tee in line with my Green M&M and Transformers tees, I just feel happy. Previously they were hanging in my closet where I had to dig and dig to find them. No more!

The ONE thing I don’t necessarily agree with KonMari on is books. As a lover of books, it’s hard for me to part with my favorites. On page 125 she says, “We read books because we seek the experience of reading. Once read, a book has already been ‘experienced.’” While this is true, it doesn’t mean the book needs to go. My Harry Potter books will forever stay on my shelf because they bring me joy, (I like diving back into the world of Hogwarts), along with my Meg Cabot Mediator and 1-800-Missing books and my Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books by Richelle Mead. However, you may find that you’ve outgrown some of your books and have no desire to read them again, and seeing them on your shelf does not bring you joy. They’re just wasting precious real estate. So, I do agree on giving your book collection a ‘Joy Check’, but don’t just ditch them because KonMari says to. Just be choosy.

Before I even finished the book, I started my journey. My clothes are reorganized; I was able to remove a dresser from my over cluttered bedroom (houses built in the 50’s were not built for the lifestyles of people today!) I still have to actually physically remove some of the items from my home, but it’s done – for myself, my husband, and both my young children. I’ve also started step 2, which is the books and papers. When you realize it’s 2016 and you’ve got a car insurance statement from 2006 for a vehicle that want kaput in 2007, you know you’re overdue on shredding and need to reassess which papers to keep and which to ditch.

One more thing to add, I think some people believe KonMari wants you to ditch absolutely everything and live a minimalist lifestyle. To an extent, that’s true, she encourages you to downsize and get rid of what you don’t need and what no longer brings you joy. However, she has little stories peppered in the book, including a few about clients who absolutely love an item, but it really doesn’t have a purpose, so they’re willing to say goodbye. However, she stops them and asks, does it bring you joy? And if the answer is yes, she helps them find a way to display it in their home. My ceramic dragon and faerie figurines bring me joy, I’m not going to let them go just because they don’t serve a practical purpose. Their purpose is to bring me joy when I look at them. So, don’t come into this book expecting to be told to ditch everything you own, because that’s not the case.