Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Review: Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs

Title: Egg Drop Dead
Author: Laura Childs
Series: Cackleberry Club, #7
Published: December 2016, Berkley
Format: ARC Paperback, 288 pages
Source: Author
In Laura Childs’s New York Times bestselling mystery series, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni—co-owners of the Cackleberry Club Café—are back to track down another bad egg…
Maintaining good personal relationships with their suppliers is one of the secrets of the Cackleberry Club Café’s success, so Suzanne doesn’t mind going out to Mike Mullen’s dairy farm to pick up some wheels of cheese. She’s looking forward to a nice visit with the mild-mannered farmer before heading back to their hectic kitchen.

But when she arrives, Mike’s nowhere to be found. The moaning of his cows leads her to look in the barn, where she discovers a bloodcurdling sight—the farmer’s dead body. Apparently not everyone was as fond of Mike Mullen as the Cackleberry Club.

Churning with grief and outrage, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni vow to find the farmer’s murderer—but as they get closer to the truth, the desperate killer gets whipped into a frenzy and plans to put the squeeze on them...

My thoughts: This is the latest book in Laura Childs' Cackleberry Club series and, even though it's book seven in the series, I would say this book could really be read as a stand-alone. In fact, most of the books could, though you do miss some of the character development that happens along the way - but that's not crucial to the overall enjoyment of the individual book.

I found myself drawn right into this book and had a hard time putting it down. While these are usually quick reads, this one in particular I flew through! It was the perfect combination of interesting plot, good mystery, just the right amount of twists and turns and red herrings thrown in, and the pace kept moving. I was completely thrown for a loop when the guilty person was revealed - well played, Laura Childs, well played! Sometimes I am able to figure it out and sometimes not...this was not one of those times.

Reading this series is like coming home to visit old friends - I love catching up with Suzanne, Petra and Toni and finding out what's new not only with their super cool place, The Cackleberry Club - a breakfast/lunch place, book shop & yarn store all-in-one place, but also seeing what's going on in their personal lives. And of course, there are the other series regulars that we've come to love as well - Sheriff Doogie and Junior being at the top of the list! 

I used to read a ton of cozy mystery series and now, Laura Childs is the one author I religiously read. She just has good series - 3 that I still read - that I know I will enjoy, with characters I have come to love, and that's enough for me. Do you have an old stand-by that you just can't give up, even though your reading tastes have changed?

Books in this series:

   1. Eggs in Purgatory                     6. Scorched Eggs   
   2. Eggs Benedict Arnold             7. Egg Drop Dead   
   3. Bedeviled Eggs                         

   4. Stake & Eggs                              
   5. Eggs in a Casket           

Review: The Christmas Gate by T.A. Cline

Title: The Christmas Gate
Author: T.A. Cline
Published: December 2016, Tate Publishing
Format: Paperback, 102 pages
Source: Author via Friend
Robert Robinson is a renowned author of two best-selling mystery novels. As his prestige begins to affect his work ethics, he becomes detached from his writing obligations. Because of his failure to fulfill a three-book contract that was already long overdue, his editor gives him an ultimatum. He could either face legal action, or travel to the editor's farmhouse in upstate New York to complete a manuscript with no distractions. He arrogantly agrees to go after realizing that his options are limited, and makes a discovery in the old farmhouse that will change his life forever in the story of The Christmas Gate

My thoughts: I adore reading Christmas stories and this one, the first part of what will be a two-part story, was a real treat! While this is short book, coming in at just over 100 pages, it sure does pack an emotional punch. It is strong with the religious tone, but that's the chance you take when you pick up a Christmas book and I actually didn't mind it. 

I found the overall theme to be one that actually resonates in everyday life - one of forgiveness and making amends. The Christmas theme just lent itself to having that religious undertone, and I could totally see this being made into a Hallmark movie - oh wouldn't that be perfect! In a way, this book sort of reminded me a little of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but was different enough that I didn't feel I was rereading that story. 

I am anxious to see where the second part of this book goes - we are left with a little bit of a cliff-hanger, though I do have my suspicions as to what might come next! This was a very sweet story and I am glad to have been given the chance to review this book.


Monday, December 05, 2016

Review: Silent Scream by Angela Marsons (audio)

Title: Silent Scream
Author: Angela Marsons
Series: DI Kim Stone, #1
Narrator: Jan Cramer
Published: April 2015, Bookouture
Length: 8 hours 18 minutes
Source: Publisher
Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever… 

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

My thoughts: This is a brand-new author/series to me and I am so glad to have been given access to it, thanks to the folks over at Bookouture. I had been seeing this series all over the blogosphere and had just hadn't picked up the books yet. Well, let me tell you - DI Kim Stone might just be my new favorite crime-fighting gal out there, right up there alongside Detective Helen Grace from M.J. Arlidge's book series.

I absolutely love DI Kim Stone...she's one tough cookie. She's extremely passionate about her job, yet keeps herself closed off to her co-workers. She puts herself all in on her cases, and the way the book was written, I felt that I was able to not only know what she was thinking at all times, but also know what she was feeling, too. Everything was put out there with her - for the reader, not for anyone else. She definitely puts up walls with everyone else. 

This is a tough book to read at times, as the case that DI Kim Stone and her team are working on is graphic and disturbing, yet I couldn't pull myself from this book once I started it. There were so many twists and turns with this mystery and the pace is go-go-go from the start. It's definitely an uncomfortable read at times, yet one that you just don't want to stop reading...I loved that!!!

I cannot wait to continue on with this series - DI Kim Stone is such a fascinating, complex character and I think we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what makes her her. I think this is going to be a great series, if this first book is anything to judge it by, and I can't wait to start the next book!

Audio thoughts: I am a big fan of Jan Cramer and so I was quite excited to see that she was narrating this series. I've listened to her before as the narrator of another series, but had no trouble adjusting to her giving life to a whole set of new characters. She gave each and every character a unique voice and the pacing is spot on. I just hope she decides to continue to narrate this series!

Books in this series:
  1. Silent Scream
  2. Evil Games
  3. Lost Girls
  4. Play Dead
  5. Blood Lines   


Sunday, December 04, 2016

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in December 2

I had a great week, if I do say so myself, and it feels so good to be back to exercising regularly!!! I just focused on getting back to where I was before I got sick and while I will continue to do that, I will also start to do one or two distance walks. The big walk is 3 months and will be here before I know it!!! I also need to get serious about fundraising for the walk...something I don't love doing, but need to do! If you're interested in supporting me in this walk - it's for MS - please see the link to my fundraising page below. Any help is much appreciated :)

December Goals:

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - 5/5, 1/2
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - met
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough (esp. in important while training!) - met
My training plan for the Challenge Walk MS I'll be doing in March of 2017:

  • 4 miles, 2 days a week, interval training - Met
  • Saturday & Sunday: Distance walks (distances will vary) - will start this week, though the days might vary, just need to be back-to-back days
  • Try to attend one yoga class a week- will start this week

Here's how my week went:    

Nov 26:  5,861 steps
Nov 27:  8,524 steps
Nov 28:  14,102 steps (2.86 Charity Miles for MS)

Nov 29:  17,636 steps (10K - 6.37 Charity Miles for MS)

Nov 30:  19,785 steps (10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS)

Dec  1:  20
,527 steps (10K - 6.27 Charity Miles for MS)
Dec  2:  12
,789 steps (5K - 3.55 Charity Miles for MS)

Total Steps: 99,224 steps

Audiobooks listened to this week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk): 
  • Started & Finished Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, narrated by Jan Cramer
  • Started & Finished Love You to Death by Caroline Mitchell, narrated by Emma Newman
  • Started Evil Games by Angela Marsons, narrated by Jan Cramer

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

***In March of 2017, I'll be doing the CHALLENGE WALK MS in Savannah, GA. It is a three-day, 50-mile walk that tests your strength and your spirit, and makes an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with MS and their families.

To help me reach my fundraising goal, click here :)

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:                             September:   
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -  9                                 5K  -  4
         10K  -  0                                10K  -  2                               10K  -  4
     February:                             June:                            October:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  5                                 5K  -  2
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -  5                              10K  -  0 
     March:                                  July:                             November:
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  3                                 5K  -  4
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -  1                               10K  -  2
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  8                                 5K  -  1
         10K  -  5                                 10K  -  1                               10K  -  1  


Friday, December 02, 2016

#FRC2016 Book Spotlight: Size Matters by Cathryn Novak

Title: Size Matters
Author: Cathryn Novak
Published: November 2016, She Writes Press
Format: Paperback, 200 pages
John Frederick is a man of considerable substance, in every sense of the word. Rich, intelligent, reclusive, and very large, John Frederick lives to eat. His everyday needs are tended to by Mrs. Floyd, his house manager, and by a never-ending parade of personal chefs. 

Enter Lexie Alexander, the latest applicant for that once-again vacant position. A young woman of magical sensibilities, fresh out of culinary school and still recovering from a recent personal tragedy, Lexie lives to cook. As time passes, a love of food, musical comedy, and tea begins to weave a connection between John Frederick and his new chef but then a major medical crisis completely turns life at Frederick House upside down, threatening the bond John Frederick and Lexie have forged. 

Size Matters is the story of how people interact with each other and with the world, and what happens when the structure of a person s life, their self-image, and all their familiar coping mechanisms are shattered.

Size Matters  by Cathryn Novak is one of  BookSparks "Fall Reads" reading selection picks.
Follow the #FRC2016 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other fall books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #FRC2016 #Shelfie Grand Prize Giveaway and other fun links.


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