Sunday, March 31, 2013

Suddenly Sunday/TSS: Happy Easter W-I-R

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Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Review. The purpose of Suddenly Sunday is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week. If you would like to participate, just grab the button and link back to Svea's blog.

Well, this week has not been as productive from a reading standpoint as I would normally like. I've been working on one book, Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer, all week. All of my "free" hours have been consumed with getting some data entry done for work that needs to be done by tonight. I still have a ways to go, so I will be working several more hours today and I am extremely unhappy about missing church on Easter Sunday this morning. But I'm not going to vent about the work situation here, just get done what needs to be done...

This week on the blog, I started out by finishing up Bloggiesta, which was last weekend. You can view one of my mini-challenge round-ups and my Finish Line post, where I summarize how productive my weekend was!

On Monday I completed my very last mini-challenge for Bloggiesta with a Getting to Know You Post about Jen @ The Relentless Reader! She writes a new-to-me blog and I'm so glad I found her thanks to Bloggiesta!

For Teaser Tuesdays, I shared a teaser from Behold, Here's Poison. (Here's hoping that I'm not sharing a teaser from the same book this upcoming Tuesday, sheesh!)

On Wednesday, I actually posted a book review, lol. I gave 5 stars to My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade.

For Booking Through Thursday, we had an interesting prompt that garnered some discussion on my post: Do you think books should have content ratings like movies and video games?

On Friday, because I hadn't finished a book to review, I decided to write a post about my feed reader dilemma now that Google Reader is going away. Read why I changed my mind and chose Feedly over Bloglovin' (after having committed to Bloglovin' during Bloggiesta). There were also some great comments from other bloggers about Bloglovin', Feedly, and some other readers, so be sure to check it out if you still haven't made up your mind over a replacement for GR once it goes away!

And yesterday I shared another week of the March Bookish Photo Challenges. I don't think I'm planning to participate in more than one Photo challenge in April (I did three this month), but we will see if I can hold myself to that. Three kind of burned me out, though...

Well, that's it for now. Another great week on the blog, and with this post, I managed to have at least one post every day this month! (And no, I'm not planning on trying to keep that up for April, but we will see if it happens naturally, lol.)

And now I'm off to get my sweet girl dressed for church and let her find her Easter basket!

Happy Sunday, Happy Easter, and Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: Winding Up March Photo Challenges

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books.
As it turns out, this week wasn't much easier in terms of keeping up with the daily bookish photo challenges. I have put in a lot of hours for my job with more to go this weekend. But enough about that, time for some pictures!

From #BSMPhotoaDay...

March 24 - I’m NOT reading. Nor am I doing anything fun at the moment… Cleaning up the kitchen…

March 25 - Current scene. Ok I know this should be from a book but I feel more inclined to share the scene in front of my bugging out eyes… 110 pages of data entry that I’ve come back to after my trip last week. O.o (The pile grew to nearly 200 before I could make a dent, still working on it...)

March 26 - Freebie. I’m always looking for freebie ebooks… You never know when you’ll strike gold!

March 27 - Autograph you love. I have a few from Karen E. Hoover, but this is my favorite sentiment :-) love her wolf child saga books, too!!!

March 28 - Snack time. No snacks but some cinnamon candies while I work late… Stupid data entry.

March 29 - Favorite TV show… Love TBBT!!!

March 30 - Bookstore. Sorry this is a lousy pic but I have no time today… I shop mostly online anyway…

From #EstellaGram...

March 24 - Food. Baked spaghetti fresh out of the oven.

March 25 - Cozy. Fleece PJ’s and flip flop slippers.

March 26 - Reading nook…

March 27 - Reading music. How I wish I could play Chopin’s Polonaise in a flat major!

March 28 - Snuggle. Didn’t have a bookish picture in me today…

March 29 - Growing. My readership… I hit 100,000 page views yesterday!!

March 30 - Yellow. Laura’s duck and her kitchen… Not bookish but an easy pic to share…

And there you have it! Off to link up, but sadly I don't think I'm going to get to make the rounds to see other people's pics today. Work calls during any free moments I have today, boo!!!!!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Tale of 2 Feed Readers: Feedly vs. Bloglovin'

For those of you who kept up with me during Bloggiesta, you may recall that I was one of many people trying to find my replacement for Google Reader. I actually kind of hated GR, so I can't say I am too sorry to see it go. The two feed reader names I saw bandied about the most were Feedly and Bloglovin'. By the time Bloggiesta was over, I had committed to Bloglovin', rather than Feedly, though I also knew I needed more time to investigate both readers to be 100% sure. So perhaps "committed" is a strong word to use there, haha.

After finally having some time intermittently throughout the week to take a closer look at both readers, guess what -- I've changed my mind and plan to go with Feedly! Both readers allow you to easily import your Google Reader feeds, so in that respect you're in luck either way. Now I'm going to tell you what ultimately led me to choose Feedly after initially warming up to Bloglovin'. Don't worry, I'm not going to go into the nitty-gritty how-to's (at least, I'll try not to bog things down), more just sharing my impressions and preferences...

The first reader I logged into was Feedly and this was the first screen shot I saw after importing my feeds, and I was immediately turned off (you can click on the image to view the full size):

The navigation wasn't clear -- I could see you could change the layout, mark articles as read, and refresh the feeds (top right under the green bar), but where the heck was everything else? Well, there was a little pop-out menu that you can find at the top left, see those three bars? It expands out when you hover the cursor over it. That's where you can see your category labels, do your sorting, and take care of other maintenance. But I will get into more of that later... This opening screen just made my eyes glaze over and really turned me off of Feedly so I went right over to Bloglovin'.

Now, if you have a blog, you should go ahead and register it on Bloglovin' even if you don't plan on using the reader itself. In fact, you will probably find, as I did, that you already have a few people subscribing to your blog through Bloglovin', so why not go ahead and claim it? It was an easy process to do, so it's worth the little bit of time you'll have to spend to claim it and perhaps put a button in your sidebar to make it easy for others to subscribe to your blog, like this one:

Follow on Bloglovin

They have plenty of different button styles available (I happen to like bigger buttons so they are more visible), so it's up to you and what works with your preferences! So, anyway, here's what you first see when viewing the reader on Bloglovin':

Pretty!! There's a navigation bar on the left that lets you see your category folders for your blogs, there are images and snippets from the blog posts in the main feeder, and you can adjust your settings using the drop-down menu in the top right by your name and picture. It was just more aesthetically pleasing -- you know what they say about the importance of first impressions! I was sold at this point and had pretty much hung Feedly out to dry. I even went to the effort of re-categorizing my blogs (a simple drag and drop, but time consuming if you have a lot of blogs to move). This is something I had been needing to do in Google Reader, but never bothered because I had basically been avoiding reader for months (bad, I know).

At that point, I said 'I do' to Bloglovin', patted myself on the back, and thought I had solved my blog reader problem. Now it was time to get the apps for my iDevices -- I have both an iPhone 4S and an iPad... This is where my relationship with Bloglovin' began to get rocky (man, this relationship didn't even last as long as Kim Kardashian's marriage!)... The app just didn't DO much. Navigating blogs was a little tedious and it just wasn't a particularly savvy interface. Of course, at the time, I was playing with it on my phone and I thought that maybe I would be better off on my iPad. That's when I discovered the kicker... The app isn't optimized for the iPad. Um, hello?? How can you have an app for reading and NOT have it optimized for a tablet?? Time for a trial separation from Bloglovin' and in the meantime I've already begrudgingly turned to Feedly for support...

I can't say that my commitment to Feedly came easily. I had to drag myself there kicking and screaming, and even now I'm not totally in love with the interface on website, and I do a lot of my blog reading on my laptop. However, I do also like to use my iPad for reading and here Feedly was the clear winner -- their app is optimized for both the iPhone and the iPad. Not to mention that the user interface is just a little slicker than Bloglovin's. Feedly has clearly put more effort into their mobile app, which I know is important to a lot of you out there.

EDITED TO ADD: I just discovered on my desktop monitor that if you can expand the browser wide enough, the menu actually shows up in full on the left! I also completely forgot to share the image of the Feedly website once I realized how I could tweak the appearance so my eyes would no longer glaze over. (Thanks to Ali, whose comment below reminded me of this.) You can also see how the left navigation menu now shows up. I currently have this set on "magazine" view, though I also like "cards", which Ali mentioned in her comment -- it reminds me a bit of Pinterest and the way pins show up on the main page...

My biggest issue with Feedly is that it is very difficult to move blogs to different categories if you have to move a large number. (ie. when you are first setting up your account. After that, it's not so cumbersome.) I tweeted about my frustration and I will say that the @Feedly account saw it (even though I hadn't tagged them) and actually responded! Their response didn't really help my problem, and they acknowledged that, but it was nice that they took the time to respond -- and unsolicited, at that. It was another blogger who clued me in that Feedly and Google Reader are tied together (until GR's ultimate demise) and that you can make changes in GR that will transfer over to Feedly (thanks, Ti!) So, by now it should be obvious that I was ready to divorce Bloglovin' if I was willing to go back to GR and move blogs around to new categories. That's exactly what I did, though! I did find that I had to log out and log back into Feedly to see my changes, just in case any of you try the same thing and don't see your changes when you go back to Feedly.

And so for now, I have committed to Feedly...

In the end, Feedly is just much more robust than Bloglovin', particularly when looking at apps for mobile devices. I think that Feedly's website could use some work as some functions just aren't that intuitive, but I have noticed just in the last week they have made some tweaks to how the site works. It would be nice if they would offer some "follow this blog" options like buttons, etc., similarly to how you can claim your blog and promote it on Bloglovin'. I'm sure that both readers will improve over time, especially as more people become reliant on them for their daily blog reading. So for now, it's up to you as to what you prefer and how much you are looking to get from your blog reader...

I'm curious, who out there has committed to a new blog reader? What have your impressions been? Is there another reader you prefer besides these two? Feel free to leave a comment and add to the discussion!!

*Be sure to check out the comments that have already been added, as they bring up other excellent points that I forgot to address in this post! Thanks to all who are adding to the discussion!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Booking Through Thursday: Should Books Have Content Ratings?

Today's prompt: Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate knds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?

Interesting question! As much as I read and feel that I have a grasp on what kind of content I will find in a book, even I am sometimes surprised, so some kind of ratings system would be worthwhile. I can definitely see where it would be helpful if you want to make sure your child isn't reading something that isn't appropriate for their age. I think it would have to be a system that specified the type of content, such as V for violence, S for sex, etc. I don't think you can always define something by an age range, though that might not hurt, either. Even some books classified as YA should probably be considered mature YA. So many books fall into many different categories and may have a lot of subject matter going on, so I think you'd have to be able to provide some specificity as to the adult/mature content in question. I think it would be something worthwhile to consider, but how to go about doing it is a whole different ballgame!

Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb. Be sure to visit today's post and check out other people's responses or link up your own!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

REVIEW: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance
Release Date:
Format: eBook (Nook)
Source: Purchased from
Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance, takes a leave of absence from her job as a social worker, and the two of them set off.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man her grandmother has hired to renovate the house. From the first moment she meets Matt, Kate can't help but be attracted to him--he's got a combination of good looks and charisma that draw and tug at her. But she knows there's zero chance of a romance between them. Matt's in love with his dead wife, and even if he weren't, Kate realizes that she's way too ordinary for him. For Matt Jarreau is no ordinary guy. Kate discovers that he was once a great NHL hockey player who left the sport when his wife--an honest-to-goodness former Miss America--was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matt's been hiding from people, from God, and from his past ever since. Yet Kate is absolutely determined to befriend him, to try to reach him, to help him in some small way.

No, Kate's not looking for love. She knows better than that by now. But when the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?


So this is another ebook freebie I have had for awhile and hadn't really thought much about reading. Then I happened to use the cover for one of my daily photos on Instagram (the prompt was "heart") and received a comment from someone who LOVED the book. I thought, why not just go ahead and try it out? I'm usually more interested in historical fiction -- the overwhelming majority of Christian fiction that I read is historical -- and I have to be in the right mood for contemporary fiction (don't ask me what exactly that mood is, I just know I have to be in it).

Oh my goodness, I cannot get over how much I loved this book. I'm not usually into emotionally wrenching stories -- probably because they frequently have sad endings and I'm sorry, but I hate reading sad books. I just can't do it. But this book has a happy ending (sorry, I suppose that was a spoiler) and even though I had tears in my eyes at many points, the story was just SO emotionally raw, intense and gripping, I could not put it down. I finally had to give up on finishing in one night because I just couldn't keep my eyes open (it was after 1:00am and I had nearly half the book left) but I picked it up and finished the remainder first thing the following morning.

One of the aspects I liked was that the story felt so real -- between the characters, the storyline, and Becky Wade's crisp, no-nonsense, yet detailed writing style, this book just worked on all levels for me. And I have to admit I did enjoy reading Christian fiction that was set in the present day for a change. The story definitely had a different feel, probably in that it was more relatable due to the time period. And while I couldn't personally relate to some of the more tragic aspects of the story, there were many poignant moments that did resonate. Bottom line, I thought this was a fantastic debut for Wade and I can't wait to read more of her books!

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Read this book...

~ If you like clean romances that fall in the Christian Fiction genre
~ If you like contemporary fiction/romance
~ Enjoy emotionally impactful stories (that have happy endings)

My Stubborn Heart

**This is my seventh book towards the #TakeControl March 2013 TBR Challenge.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: Behold, Here's Poison

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! (If you're on Goodreads, I've included a button to add the book to your list just below the teaser!)


I have been having a difficult time actually finding time to do any reading in the last few days. I am hoping to change that soon. Today's teaser is from one of Georgette Heyer's mysteries. She didn't write as many of these as she did her Regency Historical Romances, but her signature witty banter and quirky characters are still there!

"Oh dear, how very confusing it all is! If I'd ever dreamed it would all be so difficult and unpleasant I should have been the last person in the world to have wanted Gregory to die."
~page 14 (Nook) of Behold, Here's Poison 
by Georgette Heyer

Behold, Here's Poison (Inspector Hannasyde, #2)

Monday, March 25, 2013

#Bloggiesta: Getting To Know...
The Relentless Reader!

I came across so many new-to-me book blogs during Bloggiesta, it's almost embarrassing. Oh, who am I kidding, it IS embarrassing! I suppose I did fall of the face of the book-blogging earth for awhile and many, many new blogs cropped up, but I even came across some that have been around longer than my blog! Guess it just goes to show what a big world it is out there, and that it is ever-growing!

Today, for the Bloggiesta Getting To Know You mini-challenge, hosted by Suey @ It's All About Books, I am featuring:

In addition to her fantastic book blog, you can find her on...

Twitter: @JenHartling

Jen hails from Wisconsin and has been reviewing several different genres on her blog since June 2012, including Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Historical Fiction, Nonfiction, and Autobiography/Biography. Since I have been trying to branch out and read some things outside my comfort zone and noticed that she blogged about a lot of those genres, I knew I had to start following her blog! It also doesn't hurt that her blog is very eye-catching; just look at that grab button up there! I hope you will all go pay her a visit and add her to your blog reading lists!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

#Bloggiesta: Finish Line

Wow, what a whirlwind weekend this was! I accomplished even more than I originally set out to, though I admit I fell behind with reading and scheduling a couple of posts, haha! There just aren't enough hours in the day, are there? I hope everyone's Bloggiesta was successful -- I know mine was. I surprised myself with everything I managed to accomplish!

Here's the condensed version of my original to-do list:

(1) Find a new feed reader to replace Google Reader. - I did, and it's Bloglovin'. (For now. I still need more time to play with it.)

(2) Finish sidebar buttons for labels and clean up miscellaneous labels. - Done!

(3) Add at least 20 grab buttons to my blogroll page. - Done! I think the final tally was just over two dozen, not to mention all the links I added to the alphabetical list!

(4) Participate in as many mini-challenges as possible. - I completed 5! Well, technically my last one will be complete tomorrow when the post goes live... These are the challenges I completed:
     - Feed Readers
     - Through a Visitor's Eyes
     - Declutter Your Sidebar
     - Jump Start Your Traffic With StumbleUpon
     - Getting to Know You (my post goes live tomorrow!)

(5) Update my Review Archive. - Done! I lucked out because I had forgotten that I did this at the beginning of last month, haha!

(6) Visit all blogs participating and follow new-to-me blogs across all the social networks available. - Done... I think. There were so many and I did my best to keep up with you all!!

Here are some additional tasks I worked on that didn't make my original list:

(1) I updated my sharing buttons for my posts via Share This so that they are where I actually want them to appear in the post. I also added several options. This proved to be MUCH more tedious than I thought it would be because I couldn't just use the widget provided -- I had to use the code for a general website. Now that I know that, if I ever have to fix them, it should be easy!

(2) I backed up my blog! I can't remember the last time I did this -- pretty sure it was before I converted to the new Blogger interface *hangs head in shame*. I also backed it up to Wordpress for the time being. I thought that I had done that before, but there was nothing there. Hopefully it sticks this time!

(3) Finally, I added a subscribe by email option. I may continue to play with this. Right now, it uses my Feedburner feed, but I am thinking about switching to something else. (Besides, didn't I hear at one time Feedburner was going away??)

So there you have it! There are still lots of little things I need to continue doing or improve upon, but this weekend went a long way towards achieving some important goals!

#Bloggiesta: Sunday Mini-Challenge Round-up

Today, referring to this as a "round-up" may be a bit of an exaggeration, as I am only going to be sharing a couple of mini-challenges, one of which I will actually be finalizing tomorrow, but I'll go ahead and mention it today. Anyway, here is the continuation of yesterday's Mini-Challenge Round-up Post:

Fourth Mini Challenge: Jump Start Your Traffic with StumbleUpon

I had signed up with StumbleUpon awhile back and then never did much with it. I am going to try to make a conscious effort to change that. April over at Good Books & Good Wine has an interesting post about the traffic she has been able to generate by using StumbleUpon and I think it is well worth the effort. I've made it easy to stumble my posts by adding a button via Share This, so if any of you feel so inclined, I'd love for you to stumble a post you would recommend to others. I'm trying to do the same on other blogs as I visit them.

Fifth Mini Challenge: Getting To Know You

Tomorrow I will be sharing a little "Getting To Know You" post about one of the book bloggers I have discovered while visiting Bloggiesta posts. It amazes me how HUGE this community has gotten since I first started blogging about books over four years ago. It's fun to meet new people to chat about books with, isn't it?!

So, that's it for me as far as the mini-challenges go... Feel free to visit my Bloggiesta To-Do list to see how I'm doing on my own personal goals!

Suddenly Sunday / TSS: Week-In-Review

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Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Review. The purpose of Suddenly Sunday is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week. If you would like to participate, just grab the button and link back to Svea's blog.

This week has been busy on all fronts for me -- except for the home front, I suppose -- since I was out of town Monday through Thursday for a trade show in Orlando. I actually found more time for reading than I expected, though not all books will be reviewed here. (I don't typically review general romance books on this blog, and I did read a couple on the plane trips and at the hotel. However, I am writing brief reviews on Goodreads for those two particular books.) Somehow, I managed to keep up with all three of my daily photo challenges that I'm participating in this month, despite everything that was going on. And once again, I had a post every day last week! My goal is to finish out the month with a post every day and then hopefully I won't keep pressuring myself to meet that same goal every month, haha. Anyway, here is my round-up in case you missed anything this week!

This week I again posted three reviews on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:

~ Mystery Mondays: After The Funeral by Agatha Christie (4 stars, Mystery)
~ The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (5 stars, YA Paranormal)
~ Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer (5 stars, Christian Historical Fiction)

My Teaser Tuesday post shared a couple of sentences from The Scorpio Races, as well.

This week's Booking Through Thursday prompt was about our first read of Spring. I plan to have the review up in time tomorrow for another Mystery Mondays post.

And for Saturday Snapshot yesterday, I shared all of the photos I have been taking for #BSMPhotoaday and #EstellaGram.

Of course, on Friday night, I discovered that this weekend is Bloggiesta! I love this weekend that is devoted to blog improvement and meeting new-to-me bloggers. So this weekend, I am doubling up on blog posts each day -- something I don't usually do -- but I want to devote some time to Bloggiesta. Yesterday I posted a mini-challenge round-up of three challenges that I either participated in directly or simply want to promote. This afternoon, I'll have my second mini-challenge round-up posted. You know, normally I feel like it's overkill to have more than one post per day on my blog, but it really was necessary to make an exception in order to participate in Bloggiesta this weekend. What about you? Do any bloggers out there post more than once a day on a regular basis? Do you think it matters?

In general reading news, I'm still keeping a nice steady pace to meet my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge goal of 100 books. I've already read 38 books, which is 16 ahead of schedule -- I have managed to gain about two books since February!

Additionally, I have now read nine books towards the #TakeControl March 2013 TBR Challenge hosted by Kimba, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I'm hoping to finish March having read and reviewed 12 books for the challenge, so that means I'll need to read and review three more books this week... I have to confess that Bloggiesta may keep me from reaching that goal, but we will see. I haven't even started the newest book I currently claim (via Goodreads) to be reading, Behold, Here's Poison, by Georgette Heyer.

Hope everyone enjoys what is left of the weekend -- why do they always go by so quickly?! Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

#Bloggiesta: Saturday Mini-Challenge Round-up

Rather than write up individual posts for the mini-challenges I am opting to participate in for Bloggiesta, I thought I'd do one round-up post today and another tomorrow. That way I won't be cluttering your Readers and driving myself nuts typing up multiple posts! :-D

So, here we go!

First Mini-Challenge: Feed Readers

So, um, I didn't even realize that Google Reader was going away later this year until I saw the news on the #Bloggiesta Twitter Chat last night. I can't say I'm particularly sad. I never really cared for it that much and I think it has actually hampered my reading of other blogs. Well, over at The Picky Girl, she has provided an awesome summary of some great replacement options. For now, I am starting out with Feedly, which caught my eye out of all of her descriptions of the pros and cons. I've got the app installed on my computer and iPhone and plan to explore it more as the weekend goes on. I like that it is powered by Google Reader, so hopefully I won't miss out on any of the blogs I currently keep up with!

Second Mini-Challenge: Through a Visitor's Eyes

One really helpful Mini-Challenge is being hosted at On a Book Bender, where we are challenged to navigate our blog and have others navigate it to make sure it is as user-friendly as possible. The biggest change I made as a result of going through that post was allowing anyone, including anonymous users, to comment, as opposed to just registered users. I am not nuts about having to do that, but because I couldn't seem to comment easily when I wasn't signed into Google+, I wondered if other people may be having problems, as well. Hopefully I won't have spam problems as a result... Otherwise, it seemed navigating my blog was pretty easy -- I invite you all to give it a try and see if you have any suggestions of improvements I can make!

Third Mini-Challenge: Declutter your Sidebar

Over at Debz Bookshelf, she discusses the importance of cleaning up your sidebar(s). I actually did this several weeks ago in what I suppose was my own personal Bloggiesta! The first thing I did was move my blogroll and grab buttons to their own page in my navbar. Then I got everything organized a bit more logically -- primarily social networking and things about me on the left (except for my blog archive), and then blog navigation and bookish related items on the right. I created buttons to link to genre and character labels, and I think I want to do the same for reviews by year this weekend. I am sure that ultimately more could be cleaned up, but for now I'm pretty happy with how the sidebars are looking. Feel free to offer any insights and suggestions you might have -- I am always looking for new ideas!

Tomorrow I should have another post with a round-up of two or three mini-challenges. I do love Bloggiesta -- it makes for a fun weekend!

Saturday Snapshot: March Challenges Continued

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books.
This week was a bit of a challenge in terms of keeping up with my daily photo challenges. I was in Orlando for a trade show Monday through Thursday, but somehow I managed to keep up with everything!

This week, I'll start with #EstellaGram pictures...

March 17 - Slump. Biggest slump I’ve ever had, back in late 2010 - mid 2012… I still read some, of course, but wasn’t blogging.

March 18 - Heart. A book in my digital TBR pile…

March 19 - Readalong. I don’t really do those so this was the closest I could come to one…

March 20 - Events. The haul from the event I attended on the 10th…

March 21 - Inspiration… In the form of inspirational fiction. It’s the best I could do at the airport

March 22 - Library. Here’s our local branch. Embarrassed to admit I haven’t been in awhile.

March 23 - eReader or eBooks. So, I own a Nook GlowLight and an iPad, on which I use the Kindle app. I have loads and loads of eBooks thanks to freebies and deals...

And now for #BSMPhotoaday...

March 17 - Happy St. Patty’s Day… It may be hard to tell, but her shirt says Glam Rock. And note there is a book in the picture, so this is still bookish! ;-)

March 18 - Lucky. Down in Florida with the palm trees and nice temps, sounds lucky to me, despite the work part ;-) And yeah, I guess this one's not so bookish.

March 19 - Green book cover… Another from my digital TBR…

March 20 - Favorite book to movie.

March 21 - Facebook. My Official page, come by and visit!

March 22 - Twitter. Follow me at !

March 23 - Pinterest. Follow me at! I pin about a lot more than books (though I haven't been super active lately).

Happy Saturday! I look forward to seeing other pictures from those of you participating in Saturday Snapshot!

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's #Bloggiesta!

And to think I nearly missed it, yet again! Good thing I hopped on Twitter tonight and saw the tweets. Admittedly, there isn't a TON that I want to do to my blog right now because I did spend a lot of time a few weeks ago cleaning up my sidebars and moving my Blogroll to a page that links from the navbar on my blog. But in the spirit of blog improvement and Bloggiesta, here's a brief to-do list that I want to try to accomplish over the weekend...

(1) Find a new feed reader since I just learned that Google Reader is going away. (Feedly is the first one that I will be investigating.) FYI - after a couple of minutes playing with both Feedly and Bloglovin', it was a no-brainer for me to choose Bloglovin'. I still need to work with it some more, but I infinitely prefer this interface vs. Feedly. I was able to import my Google Reader blogs (it was a piece of cake!) and now I'm going to work on tweaking all of my settings. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

(2) Finish the buttons for my sidebar for books read in 2009, 2010, and so on, rather than having those years in the miscellaneous labels list. I also need to re-do the one for the two thriller categories I currently have and combine them into just Suspense/Thriller. Should be relatively easy!

(3) Add at least 20 more grab buttons and blogs to my blog roll (10 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday). I know there are a lot of you out there with buttons that I don't yet have, so I will find you!

(4) Visit as many of the Bloggiesta Mini Challenges as possible and participate! It's always great to learn tips from other successful bloggers! The last challenge I needed to complete is done... My "Getting To Know You" post is scheduled for tomorrow, since I've been Bloggiesta-ing so much I haven't read the book I intended to review for Mystery Mondays, haha!

(5) Update my Review (Alpha by Author) Archive.

(6) Visit all the blogs participating in Bloggiesta and follow all the new book blogs I come across via various social networking links offered (Facebook pages, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, etc.)  Done! Whew! :-)

There you have it. Perhaps it is not an overly ambitious list, but it is probably all I feel comfortable committing to this weekend at the last minute, haha! Happy Bloggiesta!!!!

REVIEW: Short-Straw Bride
by Karen Witemeyer

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 2012, Bethany House
Format: eBook (Nook)
Source: Purchased from
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?


I've had this ebook for a few months -- I had downloaded it as a freebie, I believe -- and only just now got around to reading it, prompted by several glowing reviews I had read. I'm so glad I did -- it was such a fun read, nothing too over the top and far from preachy. But, yes, this is a work of  Christian fiction and while those overtones are there, I did not think they were oppressive or offensive. And we already established a few reviews back that I do love my cowboy romances!

The characters in this story are enjoyable to read about. The Archers are a rather quirky bunch -- after all, confining yourself to your own and and never leaving does tend to make you a bit reclusive and, well, different. Meredith is spunky and just the type of female heroine I enjoy reading about. Certainly, she and Travis have their share of misunderstandings, but in general I wasn't too annoyed by them, I think because they weren't as cliched as they tend to be in Christian Fiction, and even romances, in general.

It is amusing and occasionally frustrating to watch Meredith and Travis's relationship develop, but Witemeyer expertly weaves the story, giving you just a little taste of what is eventually to come and leaving you wanting. That's why I had to keep turning the pages to see how it all played out. I felt thoroughly invested in the outcome of the story, and that's always a sign of a great read for me. I'm looking forward to reading other books by Witemeyer soon!

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Read this book...

- If you enjoy Christian Historical romances that are clean reads
- If you like your Historical Fiction with a Western frontier setting

Short-Straw Bride

*This is my sixth book towards the #TakeControl March 2013 TBR Challenge.