Friday, October 28, 2011

TGIF #14 - Spooktacular Reads

Friday, October 28, 2011 with 11 comments

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

Spooktacular Reads: Which books do you consider festive Halloween reads? Which stories have chilled you to the bone?

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)Hmmm...I don't read many ghost stories or scary stories period these days, but I read Anna Dressed in Blood earlier this year, and it actually, really, honestly gave me nightmares.  I don't think I've ever read a ghost story that truly gave me the chills...until Anna that is.  In real life, I totally believe in ghosts and the supernatural.  But when it comes to reading, it takes a lot to convince me a ghost is really scary.  So, I was very surprised when I read Anna...and I've been recommending it to everyone ever since, including you.  Check out my review if you don't believe me.

The Haunting of Cabin 13But before discovering Anna, I used to read Goosebumps and The Haunting of Cabin 13.  Yes, these are meant for a younger reader, but I loved them way back when, and I still get a kick out of them now. 

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)I'm not much for haunted houses and such these's more about trick-or-treating with the kiddo and carving pumpkins now.  But I still love a good scary story.  Too bad they're so hard to come by, at least for me.  Got any you'd like to recommend?  I'm talking give-you-nightmares, sleep-with-the-lights-on, what-was-that-noise kind of scary.  Yeah, got any of those?

I do, however, have The Name of the Star up next on my TBR pile.  I've heard great things and can't wait to start it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Crave by Melissa Darnell

Thursday, October 27, 2011 with 2 comments
CraveTitle:  Crave
Author:  Melissa Darnell
Series:  The Clann
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Publication Date:  October 25, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Savannah Colbert has never known why she's so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It's as if he's a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she's destined to fail.

For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can't stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

Alas, a book with not one but two paranormal elements I just can’t seem to get enough of. I’ll admit it. I was hooked on this book. There’s just something about witches and vampires that does that to me, no matter how much I fight it. But when a book is well-written and has great main AND secondary characters to boot, well, why fight it? And the best part? It’s set in TEXAS!!!
Savannah and Tristan’s stories, though told from alternating points of view, seem destined to remain intertwined, no matter how much they or their families try to stop it. Savannah is the scourge of the earth as far as The Clann is concerned, and Sav’s family is happy to remain ostracized if it means keeping Savannah safe from The Clann and others who would seek to harm her. But nothing is ever that simple.

Savannah is going through some serious changes, and people are starting to react differently to her. Boys suddenly seem entranced when in her presence, Tristan included. But Tristan’s feelings stem from something else. However, he made a promise to The Clann and his family, so he keeps his distance. And, naturally, soccer-playing hottie Greg swoops in and sweeps Savannah off her feet.

Tristan is the hawt boy we’re supposed to lust after, and he doesn’t disappoint. But I like that his character had some depth to him, as well. And although Savannah is naïve and pretty much resigns herself to being everyone’s doormat, she still surprised me by dating Greg. She gave him a shot, even though her heart really belonged to Tristan. How very un-Bella of her to take a chance at happiness with a normal, nice guy instead of waiting for Tristan to return her feelings. But promises be damned! What kind of story would this be if the star-crossed lovers didn’t stoke the embers of their burning love and risk both their lives in the process?

Awesome story? Check. Fabulous characters? Check. Forbidden romance? Check. Yep…this book has the makings for a great series, and it will leave you CRAVE-ing more. See what I did there? :D

I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley.

Every Other DayTitle:  Every Other Day
Author:  Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series:  n/a (yet!)
Publisher:  EgmontUSA
Publication Date:  December 27, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.

And then every day in between . . .she's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.

I hadn’t read anything else by this author prior to reading Every Other Day, but I’ve been told that her Raised by Wolves series is definitely one to pick up. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book and will be adding all of her other works to my TBR list momentarily.

This story was far from predictable, and that’s one of the best compliments I can give a novel. I consider myself a pretty perceptive reader, and it’s usually pretty difficult to catch me off guard. But this story succeeds where many others have failed. The entire time I was reading, I kept wondering what was going to happen next, and I kept finding myself surprised.

The characters in this story were a lot of fun, too. Some of them are absolute mysteries and others ground the story and make it relatable. Kali is the protagonist you yearn for. She’s not whiny and pathetic and waiting for things to happen. In fact, she’s the complete opposite. Kali is in your face, taking charge and kicking butt…crazy, scary demon butt, but that’s even better, right? And then there’s Bethany, the cheerleader that Kali risks her own life for. She proves to be more than meets the eye, as well. But I can’t forget to mention Zev. He’s the biggest mystery of them all, and for most of the book, he’s just this detached voice in Kali’s head.

Every Other Day was everything I expected and more. It kept me entertained, and I found myself reading far past my bedtime just to see where Kali’s story would take me. There was no insane cliffhanger at the end, which I really appreciate, but the author left the story open-ended, so I’m very much hoping there will be a follow-up to this amazing story.

I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: If I Die by Rachel Vincent

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 with 1 comment
If I Die (Soul Screamers, #5)Title:  If I Die
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Series:  Soul Screamers
Publisher:  Harlequin
Publication Date:  September 27, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

The entire school's talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee's no ordinary high-school junior. She's a banshee—she screams when someone dies.

But the next scream might be for Kaylee.

Yeah—it's a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee's going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend's needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren't quite human, either.

But Kaylee's borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life.


Hands down, this is my favorite book in the series. (So far.) Sometimes, I'm amazed at how an author can continue a storyline for more than a few books, but Rachel Vincent handles this fifth book with grace and ingenuity. The characters and the way she writes leave me hoping this series NEVER ends.

If the synopsis is to be believed, Kaylee's going to die. But rather than dwell on this, what does Kaylee do? Why, she makes it her mission to save the girls at school from the incubus who has secured himself a position as a new teacher at her school, of course. Kaylee isn't going to take this death-thing lying down, after all.

However, Kaylee doesn't always make the wisest decisions. She's got a bucket list, and Nash is on it. Things between Kaylee and Nash still haven't returned to the way they were before they encountered the demon breath in My Soul to Keep, but they're getting closer. Maybe too close? Insert one dead brother and one pi$$ed off, obsessed mara, and you've got yourself a catastrophe in the making.

I'm #TeamTod. I've said this before, I know. But his character really shines in this book. So much so that even if you didn't really like him before, you'll probably end up loving him when you've finished reading If I Die. Whereas Nash is focused on Kaylee's final days, Tod is struggling to find a way to save her. By the end of the book, I was kind of over Nash, especially after that last confrontation and knowing how easily he uses his addiction as a crutch.

Rachel Vincent has created an intensely unique world with her bean sidhes (banshees), reapers, maras, demons and let us not for get the incubi. Even more astounding is the mythology behind this world and how it makes her characters so distinctive to her story. This author's writing is fabulous, and I look forward to reading her other series (plural) very soon!

Friday, October 21, 2011

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

Book Blogs That Make You Smile: Pick 5 book blogs you visit often & think others should, too.

Yay, this week's question is easy peasy!  Well, narrowing it down to just five isn't because there are a lot of blogs I frequent.  But here are my favorites:

1.  A Belle's Tales - Michele is my book soulmate.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who reads all the same books AND actually agrees with me on them.  Her blog is newish, but we've been friends for awhile, having discovered our mutual love of Four and all things Divergent earlier this year on Twitter.  Chele is a super-sweet Southern gal, and her blog could use some love.  I promise she'll love you right back.  :D

2.  Alice Marvels - This is the blog that started it all for me.  I used to just walk into the bookstore and hope something struck my fancy.  And then I saw a FB ad for this book blog, and my world was forever changed.  I blame Alice for my ridiculous TBR pile.  And for introducing me to so many great books and authors.

3.  The Mimosa Stimulus - Jenny's reviews are always spot-on.  She's always respectful and intelligent in her reviews, and I usually find that they make me anticipate reading a novel even more.  I'm not the biggest fan of contemporary novels, but her appraisal of these books has caused me to fall for the writing style of an author or two.

4.  Gone With the Words - Jess is a fellow audiobook lover.  Also, she has an awesome blog, and she reads the BEST books.  She's also great at interacting with her readership.  Jess's reviews are funny and entertaining, and she freely admits that her love of reading was re-ignited by Twilight.

5.  Cari's Book Blog - Cari's blog is not one of my favorites just because I won a boat-load of ARCs from her recently, thought that part is true.  Cari is a fellow Texas gal like myself, and she's been super friendly from the get-go.  Her blog is gorgeous and makes me jealous every time I see it, which is pretty much daily.  :0)  Oh, yeah...and she provides GREAT reviews.  And if you didn't pick up on it earlier, she has the most AWESOME giveaways!

I <3 all these ladies and their blogs from the very bottom of my lil blogger ♥.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Audiobook Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Friday, October 14, 2011 with 1 comment
BeastlyTitle:  Beastly
Author:  Alex Flinn
Series:  n/a
Publisher:  Brilliance Audio
Publication Date:  June 30, 2010
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she urn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

This story was cute and fun and over pretty quickly. I like retellings, but I never connected with this one. I love the original story, and I love watching Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast with my daughter, but this adaptation left me wanting.

I didn’t like Kyle, even after he became a better version of himself. And Lindy was just one big cliché. I didn’t watch the movie based on this book, but even so, I found it difficult not to project the actors onto the characters. That’s no one’s fault but my own, I know, but it still had an influence on my opinion of this book, sadly.

I believe we all probably know this story pretty well, so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything for anyone here. The story is supposed to take place over the span of two years, in which Kyle must break the spell the witch has cast upon him, but there obviously wasn’t enough material there to cover that time span because here’s what goes down: the spell is cast, Kyle removes himself from society for awhile, then abducts Lindy who leaves before the curse is broken to take care of her father, she’s gone for months and months in which nothing happens, and then she and Kyle are reunited by fate. I hate when I see this in a novel. I don’t like it in movies either, really. And maybe it can’t always be helped, but I think there’s probably a better way to relate the passing of time than “six weeks later…” or “one year after…” or similar transitional phrasing. If you’re going to tell me that a lengthy amount of time has elapsed, you’d better tell me what happened in that time period.

Anyway, this review is for the audiobook. I think I may have liked the actual book better because the narrator for this one drove me a little nuts. The guy read Lindy’s parts as if he was Derek Zoolander. Seriously. It was funny at first because I, for one, think Zoolander was one of Ben Stiller’s funnier movies, but it started grating on my nerves after awhile. Maybe I’ll give the actual book a read one day, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.  I'm still considering reading Cloaked by this same author, though...I can't help it.  I love retellings.  But maybe I'll read the book instead of listening to it, especially if it's narrated by the same guy.
The Mephisto Covenant (The Mephisto Covenant, #1)Title:  The Mephisto Covenant
Author:  Trinity Faegen
Series:  The Mephisto Covenant
Publisher:  EgmontUSA
Publication Date:  September 27, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

This book is reminiscent of some of the not-so-well written YA novels of late, but I think this one may have fared better than most of its predecessors. Regardless, I really enjoyed this novel and found myself devouring it. I think that’s what’s important…enjoying a good book and being able to overlook the semantics sometimes.

The Mephisto Covenant grabbed me from the very beginning. There’s action right from the start and a dastardly secret that our protagonist Sasha is hell-bent on discovering. And of course, there’s Jax, the obligatory hot boy. He’s a son of Hell and destined to spend eternity with Sasha, if he can only convince her to stay with him. Tragically beautiful, right?

The narration in this novel switches between Sasha and Jax’s point of view. I’m kind of on the fence when it comes to switching POVs in a story. In this case, I think the author handled the transition between characters well, and I felt that it was necessary to the plot to see both sides of the story.

Call me old-fashioned, but I liked the romance in this story. It was quaint and sweet how hard Jax tries with Sasha. He’s finally found “the one”, and he’ll do anything to keep her by his side. But I also appreciate that Sasha wasn’t immediately besotted with Jax. He may be enamored with her, but Sasha’s got other stuff going on in her life that requires her attention.

Did I mention the hot brothers?  Also sons of Hell.  But still hot.  From what I've surmised, it appears that this first installment is Ajax's (Jax) story, and the next book in the series will be about Xenos.  Intriguing.

I think this was a very good start to what promises to be a very entertaining series. This novel was not quite what I was expecting, but I’m glad I gave it a chance. The story had some unique elements, and I hope that others’ comparisons to other novels of this type won’t deter anyone from giving this story a chance, too.

I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley.

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

Show & Tell: Where do you grab a book and get lost in it? Show us your favorite spot you like to read at. 

Honestly, I can read anywhere...and I do.  I always have a book with me, plus my Nook goes everywhere I go.  So, if I find myself with five minutes to spare, I'll use that time to read, no matter how much it pains me to have to stop reading and get back to whatever I was doing.

But I recently moved, and lo and behold, I have the most awesome reading spot ever now.  I actually just recently posted about this, but in case you missed it, here's my amazing new backyard view:

In the very near future, my hubby will be setting up a hammock for me.  I don't think he realizes that once he does that, I'll never leave home again.  ;)

So, where's your favorite place to curl up with a good book?  Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?

Friday, October 7, 2011

TGIF #11

Friday, October 7, 2011 with No comments

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

To-Be-Read's: How big is your pile? Which book keeps getting pushed down the stack, but you keep meaning to read it? 

This question makes me feel like I do when the in-laws are coming for a visit.  You know how you have to rush around cleaning and making everything perfect before they get there?  Same goes for my TBR pile.  I want to clean it up before exposing it to you guys because that thing is a mess right now!

Currently, it consists of quite a few ARCs I've acquired recently and not yet had time to read because of the moves (yes, plural...see this post for explanation).  Then there's all the books that have recently been released that I've also not found the time for.  And, of course, my Nook is full of books I've not yet read.  I work full-time and I have a three-year-old, so sometimes it's hard to find the time to fully engulf myself in the worlds of my books, but I think I do alright balancing everything for the most part.

Except that darn TBR pile*.  Seriously, I probably have close to 100 "real" books and ARCs still packed in boxes, waiting to be read.  There's probably another 20 on my Nook.  But now that we're in a house and I have my office back, I have more space (read:  I get a bigger bookshelf!) so I plan to get them all unpacked this weekend, and I think I'm going to put them in order of how I want to read them.  Wait, that plan has fail written all over it.  I'm never in the mood to read what I thought I'd want to read next.  (Does that ever happen to you?)  Plus, I have several more new releases queued up in my B&N cart, waiting for me to click that little button and make them mine.

I say this all the time, and I think the hubs is starting to agree with me, but I have a real problem.  There's no way I'm going to get through all these books.  Or is there?  I have some vacation time stored up.  Maybe I take a reading vacation, without the hubby or kiddo to distract me?  That actually sounds pretty appealing.  And it's a cheap vacation.  :)  But I digress.

You know what else slows down my reading progress?  Actually reviewing the books I read.  Don't get me wrong, I love to review and discuss and get others' reactions to the books I've read.  But I think I could get through my TBR pile 20% faster if I didn't review the books afterward.  I say this because I tend to agonize over what I want to say in my reviews.  But I love doing this, so no use whining about it, right?  Right.

Ashes (Ashes Trilogy, #1)As for a particular book that keeps getting pushed down further in the pile, there are several for me, but most recently, it would have to be Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick.  I fully intended to read this book the day it came in, but I spent most of September packing, so it got pushed to the way-side.  I wish I could say it's going to be my next read, but I don't think that's going to happen either.  Before Ashes, there was Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, though I did finally read that AND Demonglass recently, so at least there's that.  But I've yet to write up my reviews for them.  Ha!  And I was so engrossed in them that I didn't even take notes.  Oh noes!

Oh, well.  I'll just consider it an accomplishment to get my books unpacked this weekend.  And it'll be a bonus if I get to read and/or review any of them.  :)

How's your TBR pile lookin' these days?  Does it make you want to pull your hair out or do you enjoy having more books than you know what to do with?

*Approximations listed in this post do not include books I want to read but do not own yet.  For that behemoth, check out my Goodreads profile.  And have a good laugh cause that TBR pile is insane!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ARC Tour Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 with No comments
Legend (Legend, #1)Title:  Legend
Author:  Marie Lu
Series:  Legend
Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date:  November 29, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

I’m a sucker for a good dystopian novel. We both know this. And though there is no shortage of dystopian novels, they are not all alike. For some, the stand-out attribute is the plot itself. For others, it’s the well-developed characters and relationships that set the book above par. With Legend, I think the preeminent feature was the writing itself.
I think the plot was a little contrived, and it was pretty easy to envision where the story was going early on in the book. But I’ve also read a ton of books in this genre, and the same could be said for a lot of those, as well. The characters in Legend weren’t developed as well as I would have liked to see in this first installment, but like I said, it’s the first installment in the series, so I have faith that I’ll feel like I know them better by the end of the next book. I found all of the characters to be likeable, but they had no depth.

Characterization is a big point of contention for me. I want characters I can believe in. Not necessarily that they have to exist in the real world—this girl loves the paranormal—but that their actions should be realistic and believable considering the circumstances the characters find themselves in. In Legend, we’re not only given a strong, intelligent protagonist to admire, but she’s got an equally strong, intelligent male counterpart.

The main characters shared the point of view in this narrative, and though that’s been done before, too, I found the POV switches in Legend to be refreshing. I felt like the narrative was all-encompassing rather than an inner monologue. Some split POVs feel forced and jump around between the action, but in this novel, it was as if you could see what was happening from both sides of the coin, simultaneously. Whenever one narrative would leave off, the other would pick up, sometimes going back a few scenes to give insight to this character’s take on the situation. This is a big part of why I think the writing in this novel is the big selling point. The story may not be wholly unique and the characters may be a little archetypal, but the writing stands on its own.

Besides the writing, I loved the details. It’s the little things that make me happy. Like how we’re not just told that June is uber-smart, but we’re also shown in the way that she’s always sizing up the situation, gauging possibilities and probable outcomes, and inwardly making calculations on the fly. And like how we’re shown that Day is really intelligent through his cunning actions before we’re ever told that his cleverness is comparable to that of June's intelligence. Or, for example, that there are still cars in this future version of our country. I find that interesting. To me, it means that this story is set in our very near future. I don’t really have to guess at the time that has lapsed between our present and the future in June and Day’s world.  This cannot be said for a lot of dystopians.

Marie Lu’s debut novel is full of intense action and kept me turning the pages well into the night. I really enjoyed this novel; I love a good book full of fighting and betrayal and doomed love. It was one of the better dystopians I’ve read this year, and I’m eager to read more in this series.

Thanks to the ladies at Good Choice Reading for offering up their copy for an ARC tour!!!

Hey, guys.  First off, I want to say THANK YOU to all who entered the Banned Books Week Giveaway and to all my new followers.  You guys are awesome!  I appreciate each and everyone of you!

Secondly, sorry for my absence on the internets lately, here on the blog especially, but also on Goodreads, Twitter, etc.  My office moved on the 23rd and then my little family moved from our crime-riddled apartment community to a house out in the "country" the very next weekend.  And since the move, I've been without internet access.  Bleh.  The guy from AT&T is supposed to come check out the problem today, though, so hopefully I'll be back in business soon.  In the meantime, I'll try to post my review of Legend by Marie Lu today from the office, work permitting.  :)

For now, I leave you with my new and improved views:

The view from my new corner office.  Yep, that's Dallas.  :)
And my new favorite reading spot.  :) :) :)

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