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Sticky: Intro

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I have decided I have too many LJs. Thus I’ve combined most into one journal space. On here, you’ll read a little about a lot of sides of me -- kats_tale. I’m a cook, sports fan, reader, bureaucrat & lover of wit. I’ll probably talk about books the most on here, and cooking. So if you like book reviews and recipe reviews, this is the place for you!

I’m also cooking completely through every recipe in Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis, and since I’m nearing completed with that book, I’m also going to start cooking through Giada’s Family Dinners. I make plenty of other recipe, and will write about them here, but I have the below linked posts to specifically track my way through Giada’s books. The Table of Contents Posts to track what recipes I have cooked and what I have yet to cook:
Everyday Italian
Giada's Family Dinners

I have another journal for fandom related stuff, but I’m not going to link to it from here for RL reasons. There may be random allusions to Harry Potter, Star Wars or Star Trek though, because honestly, I’m a bit of a geek.

Striker

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2014 Book 32:

Michelle Betham.Striker. HarperImpulse. 2014. 639 pages.

Reason for Reading: I’m beyond obsessed with soccer.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my comments.

My thoughts: 2/5 stars

I didn't love this book, but that is not a reflection on if the story line is compelling or book well written - it's simply that I could not tell from the description of the book that this would contain many of my pet peeves in romance novels. I wanted to read it because of the football/soccer story line, which is always something I enjoy, and often makes me like romance novels that I generally wouldn’t like as much. And the bit of the book that was really football focused was fun to read.

But the rest -- well, (spoiler alert) if you like stories featuring a woman who is desired by every man around her after years of being either closed off or undesirable (or both), where all the characters cheat on each other with abandon and have quasi-abusive (emotionally here) relationships -- if you like those books, then this is a very interesting and fast moving read for you. That's just not my cup of tea. I can recognize that many people will enjoy this book, and it's just a matter of personal taste - it just wasn't mine.

Source/mode: arc, kindle, netgalley

The Last Great Game?

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2014 Book 35:

Gene Wojciechowski. The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball. Blue Rider Press. 2012. 320 pages.

Reason for Reading: Growing up I was obsessed with Bobby Hurley. I kinda still am.

My thoughts: 4/5 stars

I liked this book a lot. But I didn’t love it. It’s a pet peeve more than anything, but I have an issue with sports books that have grandiose titles where the book didn’t live up to the title, and sports books that think they’re only about sports reporting and not about theory. If you posit a theory in the title, then you need to prove it in the book. For me, that was the frustrating thing about this book.

First, let’s talk about what this book was, because it was an enjoyable read. This was a great examination of a piece of college basketball history. It is a detailed history of who everyone was that played key roles in the March 1992 Duke vs. Kentucky game, how they got there, and what their mindset was. It was great to read and remember some of these players, and coaches, and those that were mentioned in passing. I know it’s because it’s the time I fondly remember – but these players, this was my “golden era” – even those at the teams I didn’t like, or coaches – I loved this time in college basketball history and it was great to see it again. It also is a great examination of some of the main players on Duke and Kentucky and showed both the good and the bad about both teams, coaches and atmospherics.

Now, a bit more criticism about what this book wasn’t - this wasn’t a book of show rather than tell - there was a whole lot of tell going on here. And it wasn’t a book that really explained why this was the last great game or how it changed college basketball. And the shame about this -- why I’m bothering to write out my thoughts in detail is -- I think his title is right. I think both of those statements are true. There are glimpses in the book when you can see why it was a great game – but ultimately not enough real estate in the book it spent talking about the game itself, or showing that it was a great game. There’s so much time on how each of these kids got to those schools, what their training was like, what their mindset was, what happened for the 2 years prior (what happened after this game) – and so little on the game itself.

Memory could prove me wrong, because I haven’t watched the game recently, but what I remember is that regulation was a closely contested, well-coached, enjoyable, back and forth affair – the type which we see glimpses of still today (not often, but you can find one or two a year). And then overtime happened, and watching the game, you could see something that was mentioned in passing in the book – that the players were not hearing anything from off the court, that they weren’t thinking about anything but that game, and trying their hardest to win it. BUT - it also became fun. As opposed to our angst ridden, mistake filled overtimes we often see now - where the pressure on those kids is overwhelming, where they get over coached and run only set plays - in 1992, it became about only 10 very gifted players, playing their hearts out. They had been well coached and well trained, and now it was just about ok, let’s see what you got… can you stop this?. It was like watching an extremely competitive game of horse, with massive stakes.

Even thinking about the overtime has me grinning – not just because I was cheering for the team who ultimately won, but because you could see how much fun all the players on both teams were having. Yeah, you think it’s impressive you just made a driving jumper dragging two players with you, well, here’s our little guy who is going to bank one in over your tallest player. It was a great game because it was the type of game that everyone who has played any sport hopes to have – a game where all your training, hard work, everything that every coach has ever said to you, all comes together, and it becomes sheer unbridled fun until the final horn sounds. There wasn’t the recrimination you see on players faces so much these days, there was appreciation on both sides for what the other team was doing. Every person on both those teams wanted that win badly, had heart, played with passion, and deserved to win that game.

Back to the book. Let’s just talk about how that March 1992 Duke vs. Kentucky game was handled. When we finally saw it, and got done with the play by play action, then we were left with a few pages of narration about how the sports reporters and writers all were in awe of that game and didn’t want to go to sleep after watching it (why?). The book didn’t promise this, but if you’re going to go that far to show that – to talk about the writers reactions to the game, then I really wanted a narrative about how sports reporting is no longer was able to convey the magnitude of a game like this. This game deserved Grantland Rice; it deserved a 1920s-style sports reporter who was essentially going to convert the game into a massive metaphor about the salvation of your soul. Every article that I’ve seen about this game was inadequate, because there are no longer the tools for a writer in the modern-day press to tell that story. What the book does say is that the articles were written with headlines changed from “Kentucky wins” to “Kentucky loses” - in other states “Duke wins.” And ultimately that was the problem with the reporting – sports reporting by this point was only about the winner or the loser. (It’s not much better now, except we have the twitter too.) The story the next day wasn’t about the story of the game anymore; it was only about the final score. And by that measure this game was exciting (won in the last 2.1 seconds!) but the game was so much more than that, and, even as a fan of one of the two teams in the game, what’s a shame about this game is that either team had to lose. We no longer could tell that story. We couldn’t tell the story of what it felt like to watch that game, complete with religious or historical metaphors (Greece and Rome met on a battlefield…), we were left with there was a winner, and a loser.

My last point, I’ll be brief, is that no where does this book touch on the theory that this game changed college basketball. I think there is an argument there, college basketball certainly has changed, and I don’t think you could see a game like this again, but why? And what does it have to do with this game? That’s not addressed. If it’s going to be in the title like that, it needs to be in the book.

When I write this much about a book, it means I really like it – even if I wanted it to be more.
Source/mode: own, hardcover

Being Sloane Jacobs

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2014 Book 6:

Lauren Morrill. Being Sloane Jacobs. Delacorte. 2014. 352 pages.

Reason for Reading: I would have likely been attracted to this book anyway as a sports-romance YA book, but in trying to build my own excitement for the winter Olympics, this seemed like a must-read.

My thoughts: 4/5 stars

This is the type of book that reminds me why I still read YA novels! It's a cute sports romance novel crossed with a bit of the Parent Trap. It makes a perfect combination.

Sloane Emily Jacobs is a figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals, and has a bit of a family scandal distracting her. She runs (literally) into Sloane Devon Jacobs, an ice hockey player from Philly, whose own family drama is interfering with her love of the game. Both are attending summer camps for their respective sports, and when they decide to switch, both uncover more about themselves than they expected.

Sure it was cheesy and predictable, but entirely enjoyable.

Source/mode: library, borrowed, hardcover

Reading Outside the Box Challenge

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One last challenge because I’m trying to diversify my reading this year… so, reading outside the box!

 Reading Outside the Box Challenge hosted at ….Musings of a Book Lover

Reading Outside the Box Challenge hosted by ….Musings of a Book Lover: Sign up post here.

I’ll use this space to record what books I do read for this, and a link to any reviews of the books that I post. I’ll also use a symbol on my 2014 reading tracker.

The aim is to read a book that fits each of the categories below (descriptions in italics). I’ll list the books I read after each description of the category.



Read for this Challenge:

  • Classics are the new blackread a classic novel
  • It’s a serial thingyou’ve read the first in a series (or even three of them), it’s time to read another! - Kiera Cass. The One (The Selection #3).
  • Lost in translationtime to read a book that was first written in another language and then translated.
  • It’s about time!read a book that has been sitting on your shelf for at least two years! (and haven’t read it yet!) - Y.S. Lee. The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2).
  • By the numbersread a book with a Number in the title - Gayle Forman. Just One Day (Just One Day #1).
  • Weird Science!read a book that features some form of science – and maybe discover an untapped passion.
  • I just love a good Dueta book written by more than one author. - Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line.
  • New Guy in Townread a Debut book written by a new author.
  • Almost Humanread a book from the perspective of an animal – or an alien – or a robot! (at least feature an ‘almost human’)
  • Chunkster-time!read a book that is longer 500 pages. (Time to dust off War and Peace)
  • Random Rescuego to a used book store and RANDOMLY pick a book! (could even be from a grab-bag)
  • Under-Aged Writerread a book by an author who is not yet 21.
  • Time for exerciseread a book that is set in or around a sport or exercise activity (like yoga or baseball). This can be fiction or nonfiction! - Toni Aleo. Blue Lines (Assassins #4). (comments on the series here)
  • Make-Believe - This category is just for YOU! (and anyone who wants to try it!) Here is your chance to let others know what would get you outside of your Comfort Zone!



You can pick your level for this challenge, but what the heck – I’m going to go for the No Box can Contain Me!: I did ALL 14! level!

What’s in a Name Challenge

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I enjoyed doing a few challenges last year, so I’m going to try to do a few more this year. I like the idea of this one – books titles being the qualifying feature. Fun.

What’s in a Name Challenge hosted at The Worm Hole

What’s in a Name Challenge hosted by The Worm Hole: Sign up post here.

I’ll use this space to record what books I do read for this, and a link to any reviews of the books that I post. I’ll also use a symbol on my 2014 reading tracker.

The aim is to read a book that fits each of the categories below (examples in parenthesis and italics). I’ll list the books I read after.

Read for this Challenge:

  • A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After) -- Gayle Forman. Just One Day (Just One Day #1).
  • A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh) -- Susan Elia MacNeal. Princess Elizabeth's Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery #2).
  • A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities) -- Kiera Cass. The One (The Selection #3).
  • A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D. ) -- Lauren Morrill. Being Sloane Jacobs.
  • A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain)

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2013 Books 100, 102, 103 & 2014 Books 2 & 3:

Toni Aleo. Taking Shots (Assassins #1). New York: Loveswept. 2011. 545 pages.
Toni Aleo. Trying to Score (Assassins #2). New York: Loveswept. 2012. 576 pages.
Toni Aleo. Empty Net (Assassins #3). New York: Loveswept. 2012. 451 pages.
Toni Aleo. Falling for the Backup (Assassins #3.5). Loveswept. 2013. 112 pages.
Toni Aleo. Blue Lines (Assassins #4). Loveswept. 2013. 384 pages.

Reason for Reading: This series kept getting recommended to me whenever I would finish a sports related romance. Plus, I love hockey.

My thoughts: overall - 4/5 stars , although each book varied from 2/5 – 4/5.


I enjoyed this series and will continue to read it when new books are published. The men of the Nashville Assassins hockey team are *hot* and their ladies are enjoyable characters who each are flawed but not in an overdone or unbelievable way. My favorite of this series was the first one, Taking Shots, in which I found the whole storyline believable and enjoyable – it was a good, classic love story.

Each of the others were a bit more nuanced for me and I didn’t love them in quite the way I had Taking Shots. Both Trying to Score and Blue Lines use a kid in the main romantic storyline, which I never really like much. Empty Net has the male hockey player that I like the most of all the guys, but I found the complicating “other” guy to be incredibly disturbing, especially since we had already seen him and disliked him in Trying to Score, the fact that the female character was still around him at all for the next book was incredibly disappointing and I never really believed that relationship at all.

Falling for the Backup was more of a short story and was cute. My only problem with it was geographical – the book partially took place in Buffalo and several statements were quite inaccurate and verging on the impossible (i.e. having interviews with the Rangers and Sabres all over before lunch is unlikely to have happened without starting at 5am and use of a private jet – NYC and Buffalo are nowhere near each other). It also ends with the cheesiest line ever, which I’m trying to purge from my memory.

All that said, I liked the hockey bits and the world that’s created for these stories – and by and large I liked all the women, and hockey players, even if I didn’t really like the other supporting characters. And I certainly approve of a well developed hockey romance novel! I can’t wait to read more.

Source/mode: own, kindle

2014 Nonfiction Reading Challenge

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I like doing a nonfiction challenge because I enjoy nonfiction, but don’t pick up enough nonfiction books without a bit of encouragement.

Nonfiction Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2014 hosted by The Introverted Reader Sign up post here.

I’ll use this space to record what books I do read for this, and a link to any reviews of the books that I post. I’ll also use a symbol on my 2014 reading tracker.

The aim is to read at any non-fiction book(s), adult or young adult. I’m going to aim for the Explorer level --Read 6-10 nonfiction books.

Read for this Challenge:

  1. *Mark Leibovich. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital. Blue Rider Press. 2013. 400 pages.
  2. *Gene Wojciechowski. The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball. Blue Rider Press. 2012. 320 pages. (review)
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2014 British Books Challenge

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Time for my sign up posts for 2014 challenges. Since I read so many British authors in 2013, I’m going to see if I do the same in 2014. This one I might not make as much progress as I think I will, but we’ll see.

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British Books Challenge hosted by Feeling Fictional (Sign up post here.)

I’m not one for listing what books I’m intending on reading, so I’ll just use this space to record what books I do read for this, and a link to any reviews of the books that I post. I’ll also use a symbol on my 2014 reading tracker.

The aim is to read at least 12 books by British Authors (which works out to one a month). I don’t know that I’ll manage that many, but we’ll see how I do!

Read for this Challenge:

  1. ^Michelle Betham. Striker (Striker Trilogy #1). HarperImpulse. 2014. 639 pages
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Books Read 2014

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And since I just posted my final books read list for 2013, that means I need a placeholder for 2014 so I can update my sidebar. So here we go, below will be a running list of all books I read, in their entirety, in 2014.

Read in 2014:

  1. Jennifer E. Smith. This Is What Happy Looks Like. Headline. 2013. 416 pages.
  2. Toni Aleo. Falling for the Backup (Assassins #3.5). Loveswept. 2013. 112 pages.
  3. `Toni Aleo. Blue Lines (Assassins #4). Loveswept. 2013. 384 pages. (comments on the series)
  4. Gail Carriger. Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2013. 307 pages.
  5. +Susan Elia MacNeal. Princess Elizabeth's Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery #2). Bantam. 2012. 352 pages.
  6. +Lauren Morrill. Being Sloane Jacobs. Delacorte. 2014. 352 pages. (comments)
  7. +`Gayle Forman. Just One Day (Just One Day #1). Dutton Books. 2013. 400 pages.
  8. Gayle Forman. Just One Year (Just One Day #2). Dutton Books. 2013. 336 pages.
  9. Tasha Alexander. A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily #2). William Morrow. 2007. 308 pages.
  10. Kristan Higgins. The Best Man (Blue Heron #1). Harlequin HQN. 2013. 426 pages.
  11. Elizabeth Eulberg. Prom and Prejudice. Point. 2011. 231 pages.
  12. *Mark Leibovich. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital. Blue Rider Press. 2013. 400 pages.
  13. Y.S. Lee. The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2). Candlewick Press. 2010. 337 pages.
  14. Shannon Hale. Austenland (Austenland #1). Bloomsbury USA. 2007. 197 pages. (re-read)
  15. Toni Aleo. Taking Shots (Assassins #1). Loveswept. 2011. 545 pages. (re-read)
  16. Kiera Cass. The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard (The Selection 0.5, 2.5). HarperTeen. 2014. 227 pages.
  17. Kate Morton. The Forgotten Garden. Washington Square Press. 2008. 549 pages.
  18. Bonnie Hearn Hill. Aries Rising (Star Crossed #1). Running Press Kids. 2010. 285 pages.
  19. Bonnie Hearn Hill. Taurus Eyes (Star Crossed #2). Running Press Kids. 2010. 288 pages.
  20. Bernard Beckett. Genesis. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2005. 150 pages.
  21. Susane Colasanti. So Much Closer. Viking Juvenile. 2011. 241 pages.
  22. Mara Purnhagen. Tagged. Harlequin Teen. 2010. 201 pages.
  23. Susane Colasanti. All I Need. Viking Juvenile. 2013. 240 pages.
  24. `Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1). Vintage. 2014. 324 pages.
  25. Chris Grabenstein. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Random House. 2013. 304 pages.
  26. Amy Kathleen Ryan. Zen and Xander Undone. HMH Books. 2010. 224 pages.
  27. Leslie Margolis. Girl's Best Friend (A Maggie Brooklyn Mystery #1). Bloomsbury USA. 2010. 272 pages.
  28. Kristan Higgins. The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2). Harlequin. 2013. 441 pages.
  29. `+Kiera Cass. The One (The Selection #3). HarperTeen. 2014. 217 pages.
  30. Gayle Forman. Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5). Viking. 2014. 40 pages.
  31. Toni Aleo. Breaking Away (Assassins #5). Kindle online. 2014. 354 pages.
  32. ^Michelle Betham. Striker (Striker Trilogy #1). HarperImpulse. 2014. 639 pages (comments)
  33. Kristan Higgins. Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3). Harlequin HQN. 2014. 464 pages.
  34. Christy Raedeke. The Daykeeper's Grimoire (Prophecy of Days #1). Flux. 2010. 352 pages.
  35. *Gene Wojciechowski. The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball. Blue Rider Press. 2012. 320 pages. (review)
  36. ~Cynthia Kadohata. A Million Shades of Gray. Atheneum Books. 2010. 216 pages.


Symbol Key
~ = counts for Around the World in 80 Books Reading Challenge.
^ = counts for British Books Challenge.
* = counts for Nonfiction Reading Challenge.
+ = counts for What's in a Name Challenge.
` = counts for Outside the Box Challenge.