Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Sunday Post #74 (5.31.15)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey.  

So, I'm back from BEA...what a fun time!!! I'll be posting my recap some time within the next few days so be on the lookout for that. Now it's time to organize all the books and figure out what to read first! And of course, I go back to work tomorrow and unfortunately the next 6 weeks look to be pretty insane...hopefully I'll be able to sneak in some reading time, though. 

Have a great week everyone!!!

*****************************************************************************************

Last week on the Blog:                              
Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen
Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag  
Review: Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

* Review: The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods 
Review: An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer
#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 29
 

Books Read:                      
* Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs (audio book) 
* The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (audio book) 

Currently Reading:          
* The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel (review book)          

* It's You by Jane Porter  (review e-book) 
* The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review book) 

Books Up Next:                               

* Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge (review e-book)    
* Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman (review e-book) 

* The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer (review audio book)

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Month in Review: May 2015

* Review: The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (plus Giveaway!!!)   
* Book Spotlight & Guest Post: The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig
* Review: The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
* Review & Guest Post: It's You by Jane Porter 
   
Current Giveaways:
* Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen...Ends 6.1.15
   
Book Haul:    
For Review:
* The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (Courtesy of Publisher)
* As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman (Courtesy of Publisher/Author)

 
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

#FitBit Readers: Weekly Check-in May 29

So, I was in NYC Tuesday thru Saturday morning for BEA (Book Expo America). While I did quite a bit of walking around on the floor of the show each day, walking from one booth to the next and then back again later in the day for another signing or galley drop, the days with the higher steps amounts were when we went exploring in NYC after BEA. I absolutely love walking around the city. We mainly walked around Times Square, but did manage to walk over to the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. Hoping to get back to the city soon to do some more sightseeing and walking around!
   
Here's how my week went:  

May 23:  5,925 steps
May 24  8,849 steps
May 25:   6,918 steps
May 26:  17,670 steps

May 27:  9,096 steps

May 28:  16,021 steps
May 29:  16,567 steps
 
Audiobooks listened to this week - Finished  Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley, narrated by Emily Lucienne.

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer (audio)

Title: An Island Christmas    
Author: Nancy Thayer       
Narrator: Tanya Eby  
Published: October 2014, Brilliance Audio  
Length: 4 hours 39 minutes  
Source: Library 

In this enchanting holiday novel from New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer, family and friends gather on Nantucket for a gorgeous winter wedding with plenty of merry surprises in store.

As Christmas draws near, Felicia returns to her family’s home on the island to marry her adventurous, rugged boyfriend, Archie. Every detail is picture-perfect for a dream wedding: the snow-dusted streets, twinkling lights in the windows, a gorgeous red and white satin dress. Except a lavish ceremony is not Felicia’s dream at all; it’s what her mother, Jilly, wants. Jilly’s also worried that her daughter’s life with daredevil Archie will be all hiking and skydiving. Wondering if their handsome neighbor Steven Hardy might be a more suitable son-in-law, Jilly embarks on a secret matchmaking campaign for Felicia and the dashing stockbroker.

As the big day approaches and Jilly’s older daughter, Lauren, appears with rambunctious kids in tow, tensions in the household are high. With the family careening toward a Yuletide wedding disaster, an unexpected twist in Nancy Thayer’s heartwarming tale reminds everyone about the true meaning of the season.

My thoughts: This is Nancy Thayer's second holiday novel, and it is just as charming as the first. While it isn't a sequel by any means, it does take place in Nantucket like the other one and does bring back some familiar characters. 

This story is all about Jilly and her family. Jilly's daughter is coming home to get married and she isn't all that thrilled about her soon-to-be son-in-law. As the family gathers under one roof, there are quite a few misadventures that provide for some humorous moments. Between the hectic pace of the holiday season, the upcoming wedding, having family coming to stay, and the new cat, there wasn't a dull moment to be had. And through it all, the message of family and love comes through loud and clear.

This is a great holiday story, though in truth, it really can be read, or listened to, at any time. It once again only adds to my desire to one day make it to Nantucket...there doesn't seem to be a bad time to go - winter, summer, fall or spring - is there a bad time to visit Nantucket?


Audio Thoughts: Tanya Eby does a great job with the narration of this book. She is able to give all the characters unique voices and infuse just the right amount of stress or emotion into everyone's voice as needed, especially Jilly. I really enjoy listening to books Tanya narrates - I can always count on a good listening experience when she's doing the narrating!

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods (audio)

Title: The Christmas Bouquet   
Author: Sherryl Woods   
Series: Chesapeake Shores, #11    
Narrator: Christina Traister  
Published: October 2014, Brilliance Audio / Harlequin MIRA  
Length: 6 hours 33 minutes / 288 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley 

When it comes to family and Christmas, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods always looks to the O'Briens for a little holiday magic...

For the very driven medical student Caitlyn Winters, catching the bridal bouquet at a Christmas wedding has set off a chain reaction that she's sure is more curse than blessing. Not only has she fallen in love with family medicine resident Noah McIlroy, but an unexpected pregnancy threatens her well-laid plans for the future. It doesn't help that Noah—with a whole lot of help from her O'Brien relatives—is completely on board with the prospect of marriage and happily-ever-after.

It takes a whole lot of patience, love and family persuasion to help Caitlyn realize that she can still have everything she ever wanted, including a home in her beloved Chesapeake Shores and a man who understands all of her dreams.

My thoughts: I love Sherryl Woods' Chesapeake Shores series and this is the latest installment. I fell in love with the wonderfully loud, boisterous, noisy and loving O'Brien clan from the very first book and was glad when Sherryl Woods decided to keep writing these books after her readers begged her to.

Having basically watched the O'Brien family grow up, it's hard to believe that this story focuses on Abbie's daughter - I remember reading one of the earlier books when Caitlyn and her twin sister, Carrie, were wreaking havoc - and now they are all grown up. Oh the magic of novel writing - and one of the reasons why Sherryl Woods had to be convinced to keep writing - technically the matriarch of the family, Nell O'Brien would be long gone by now, but Sherryl refuses to kill her off, so she is aging some characters and keeping others forever the same. 

But back to this story...what I loved about this book is that going in, you know there's going to be a happy ending - that's just what a romance novel is going to give you. And while I wouldn't classify these books as strictly romance, they do have a strong romantic element to them. I also knew it was a given that Caitlyn would have to give up her dreams once she realized she was pregnant. What I wasn't expecting is just how genuine and understanding Noah would be. He was willing to do whatever it took for Caitlyn to be ok with how things were with their new normal. Of course, he didn't plan on having a boisterous family at his back every step of the way.

I love this series because it reminds me of my family - not that it's quite as large as the O'Brien clan, but the way they are always there for each other, ready to stick up for and help each other out at a moment's notice. Of course, they can also be in the way just as often! I am definitely looking forward to catching up with this series, hopefully seeing what happens with Caitlyn's twin sister Carrie at some point.


Audio Thoughts: This is the first book in this series that I listened to and I found it to be a fun, easy book to listen to. It's also the first time I've listened to Christina Traister narrate a book and I thought she did a great job. I think she narrates the next book in this series and as I'm a bit behind, I might just try another one on audio! I also will be seeing what else she narrates as I enjoyed listening to her.



Books in this series:
  1. The Inn at Eagle Point                          9.  The Summer Garden
  2. Flowers on Main                                    10.  A Seaside Christmas
  3. Harbor Lights                                        11.  The Christmas Bouquet
  4. A Chesapeake Shores Christmas     12.  Dogwood Hill
  5. Driftwood Cottage                                13.  Willow Brook Road
  6. Moonlight Cove                                    
  7. Beach Lane 
  8. An O'Brien Family Christmas
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Short & Sweet Review: Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio)

Title: Cross Bones   
Author: Kathy Reichs    
Series: Temperance Bones, #8      
Narrator: Michele Pawk   
Published: June 2005, Simon & Schuster Audio  
Length: 11 hours 30 minutes  
Source:  Library  

When an Orthodox Jew is found shot to death in Montreal, Temperance Brennan is called in to examine the body and to figure out the puzzling damage to the corpse. Unexpectedly, a stranger slips her a photograph of a skeleton and assures her the picture is the key to the victim's death. Before she knows it, Tempe is involved in an international mystery as old as Jesus, a mystery that could rewrite 2000 years of religious history.

Tempe learns that the stranger's picture shows bones uncovered during an archeological dig. She discovers the Montreal shooting victim ran an import business that might have fronted for the trade of black market antiquities. Along with Detective Andrew Ryan and biblical archeologist Jake Drum, Tempe travels to Israel to probe the origins of the skeleton and the ancient crypt in which it was found.

They make a startling discovery that raises radical questions about Christ's death and places them squarely in the middle of a swirling controversy. Could one of the tombs really be Christ's last resting place? Or, has someone concocted an elaborate hoax?
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: This was a very interesting installment of the Temperance Brennan series. As I slowly make my way through, I find that with each book, I pick up a new fact or interesting tidbit that I never knew and I love that. This book, though, really had me intrigued. It involves a finding that has the potential to rewrite Christian history.

Taking us from Montreal to Israel, I felt there was much more archaeology in this book than in the previous books. I also loved the romance that continues to build between Tempe and Ryan - the "tap pants" refrain had me chuckling a few times. I also could totally relate to the description Tempe gives of her cooking versus Ryan cooking - she's all basic and he can create masterpieces - this is exactly how it is in my house with me and my husband!

What I love about this series is that each book seems so very different from the others. I haven't yet felt that same oldness that I occasionally feel from other series. I still have a way to go, but I really hope that I don't get that feeling with this one.

Audio thoughts: Yay - the same narrator for two books in a row!!! Can you tell I like consistency when it comes to narrating a series? If you've been following along, you know that I'm trying to catch up with this series and am annoyed that the narrator seems to switch with every book...but there is finally some consistency with books 7 & 8. Dare I hope book 9 follows suit? 

I did enjoy Michele Pawk's narration - I like her Tempe voice and enjoy her French accents and pronunciation. I would be very happy if she would continue narrating the rest of the series.


 
Books in this series:
  1. Deja Dead                                12.  206 Bones
  2. Death du Jour                       13.  Spider Bones
  3. Deadly Decisions                 14.  Flash & Bones
  4. Fatal Voyage                         15.  Bones are Forever
  5. Grave Secrets                        15.5  Bones in Her Pocket
  6. Bare Bones                              16.  Bones of the Lost
  7. Monday Mourning              16.5  Swamp Bones
  8. Cross Bones                            17.  Bones Never Lie
  9. Break No Bones                    18.  Speaking in Bones - due out Jul 2015
  10. Bones to Ashes
  11. Devil Bones
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag (audio)

Title: Cold Cold Heart   
Author: Tami Hoag    
Narrator: Julia Whelan   
Published: January 2015, Brilliance Audio    
Length: 12 hours 20 minutes  
Source: Publisher 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag delivers a shocking new thriller

Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims.  Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep.  Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together.  But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school.  Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past.  Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies.  Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…

My thoughts: I was really excited for this book to come out - I've really come to enjoy Tami Hoag's books. In fact, she's become one of my auto-authors - I see she has a book coming out and it automatically goes on my list. She's also an author who's books I find work really well on audio, so whether it's through my audio contacts or my audible subscription or the library, I know I'll be in for a great listening treat, and this one was no exception.

This book really could have been a continuation of the last Kovac/Liska book, The 9th Girl, as Dana was the 9th victim of that serial killer. This explains why Kovac and Liska were involved, as Dana is the only victim to survive, but they really only play a small part in the beginning of the book. Not really sure if this is all needed, but it does tie it all together, especially if you've read the other book. (I did and I highly recommend it!!!) 

What follows is a remarkably chilling thriller. Dana is dealing with the physical and emotional wounds from her ordeal, along with major PTSD. She is definitely not the person she was before she was attacked and is struggling to come to terms with that, as is her family. As she convalesces, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her long lost best friend when a familiar face strikes a cord and reminds her of the past.

What I love about Tami Hoag's books is that I am constantly guessing as to who the killer is. Every time I think I have it, I am foiled. She introduces us to such rich, developed characters, some immediately likeable and some immediately unlikeable and suspicious. It was so hard to know who was trustworthy and who wasn't and I kept wavering on some of the characters, which kept me hooked on the story. I wanted to know who the bad guy was so bad and was so anxious for Dana as she got more and more involved in finding out what happened to Casey.

Another great story from Tami Hoag and I can't wait to dig into the next. Have you read any by her? If so, what's your favorite?


Audio Thoughts: Julia Whelan does a great job with the narration of this audio book. She is able to give each character their own unique voice and infuse just the right amount of tension and fear in the voices when needed. I find that really enhances mystery/thriller books. 

 
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen (CLOSED)

Title: Your Last Breath    
Author: Iris Johansen    
Series: Catherine Ling, #4     
Published: April 2015, St. Martin's Press    

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an explosive new thriller

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. Luke was kidnapped at age two, and now, nine years later, he has astonishingly been returned to her. Catherine vows never to fail him again. Now, just as she is building a relationship with Luke, it seems that someone from Catherine’s past is playing a deadly game with her, and using those she cares about as pawns. Three are dead already: the former prostitute who helped Catherine when she was out on the street, a CIA agent with whom she worked closely, and the informant who helped her free Luke. Someone is picking off the people Catherine cares about one by one, with the circle narrowing closer and closer to those she loves the most. Catherine has made many enemies throughout her life, and she has no choice but to weed through her past to find out who is targeting her now, and then go after the vicious killer herself.


GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (US only)  
Thanks to
Karen at St. Martin's Press, one reader can win a copy of  Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen. (Please note this is an advanced copy edition.)  To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by June 1st.



Form closed

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends June 1st.
 
Good Luck!!! 
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Sunday Post #73 (5.24.15)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey. 

It's BEA week...I'm off to the city on Tuesday and BEA is Wednesday - Friday, then I'm home on Saturday. It will be a whirlwind of the week and I am so excited!!! I still have to pack, finish up my schedule and get a few other odds and ends tied up, so today and tomorrow will be hectic, but I am really looking forward to it. I'll try to tweet a bit and post some instagram pictures while I'm there, but I'm not promising anything - it's so crazy while there, but I will definitely be posting a recap of the whole event, so stay tuned for that! I do have some reviews set to be posted - hopefully they go live (otherwise the blog will be quiet!).  
Have a great week everyone!!!

  *****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:                              

* Blog Tour & Review: Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear
* Review: I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster  
* Review: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison
* Guest Post: Kristy Woodson Harvey
* #FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 22
 

Books Read:                      
* The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe (audio book) 
* I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster (review book) 
* Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (review audio book)
* The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (review e-book)   
 
Currently Reading:            
* The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review book)          

* Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley  (audio book)
* Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs (library audio book)

Books Up Next:                               

* The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review book)    
* The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (review e-book)

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen  

* Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
* Review: Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
* Review: The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods  
* Review: An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer
   
Recent Giveaway Winners:
* At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor...Carol Wong
* Daydreams in Dixie by Beth Albright...Rose Milligan 
   
Book Haul:      
For Review:
* A Wedding on Primrose Street by Sheila Roberts (Netgalley)
* Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne (Courtesy of Publisher)

* Second Life by S.J. Watson (Courtesy of Publisher)
* All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank (Courtesy of Publisher)
* The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer (audio, Courtesy of Publicist)

* The Wrong Man by Kate White (Courtesy of Publisher)
* A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax (Courtesy of Publicist) 
Purchased:
* The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

* Thought I Knew You by Kate Moretti
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 22

 
It was a crazy-busy week, work-wise, as I was trying to finish up some projects before starting my vacation on Friday. I started the week off strong, but then my back started acting up again, so I decided to take it easy the rest of the week. I'm heading into the city next week for BEA (Book Expo of America) and I know I will be on the my feet, doing a lot of walking around for the 3 days I'm there. It's still bothering me a bit, but with some more rest over the next few days, I think I should be ok.
   
Here's how my week went:  

May 16:  4,687 steps
May 17  8,741 steps
May 18:   5k at gym (16,546 steps)
May 19:  20 minute fitness walk with dog  (7,958 steps)

May 20:  20 minute fitness walk with dog (7,324 steps)

May 21:  5,064 steps
May 22:  9,012 steps
 
Audiobooks listened to this week - Finished  The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe, narrated by Mary Alice Monroe and started Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley, narrated by Emily Lucienne.

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Post: Kristy Woodsen Harvey

Please join me in welcoming Kristy Woodson Harvey to Always With a Book. Kristy's debut book, Dear Carolina, is now out and she's been busy promoting it. You can read my review of the book here

Today, is Kristy talking about her blog tour.


Hi, Always With a Book readers! I'm so excited to get to be here with all of you today. Thank you so much, Kristin for having me. I was so honored to have Kristin review my debut novel, Dear Carolina, on May 5 when it launched, and was so excited that she enjoyed the book! The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, so I thought I'd share a bit about my book tour with you today!


Book. Tour. Those were two words I used to dream of, words that I was afraid I'd never get to experience in real life. I had longed for the day that I would get to sign copies of my books and chat with readers and hear their feelings about Dear Carolina. I wanted to hear about their favorite authors, if they'd read my book what they thought about it, what their lives were like...


But, as the actual time approached for the first leg of this Dear Carolina tour, I started to get a little nervous. Fourteen days. My mom. My three-year-old. My husband and dad joining us on the weekends. Fourteen days hadn't seemed that long in theory. But, once it got closer, all I could think was, Who drags a three-year-old boy from city to city for that long and expects him to behave? Am I insane?

But, now that I'm heading back home today, I think it's safe to say that we did make it through fourteen days and at least as many cities and certainly more hours than that in the car with little incident. He was on his absolute best behavior, and I think he enjoyed himself - and all the attention he got from all those ladies!

Every event was different. Some were packed to the brim, some were attended by smaller groups. I spoke at some, signed at some, read at some. But, at every, single one, I can confidently say that I made new friends, met "online" friends in person, had a blast and was generally blown away by people's kindness and generosity and willingness to share their time with my book and me. For a writer who has dreamed of going on book tours for years, I don't think there could be a better feeling!

So now, we're moving into the a-couple-of-events-a-week zone, where things become generally less complicated. But I'm planning another leg of the tour that will include Tennessee, Alabama and some parts of NC along the way. And, as I'm mapping out the hours in the car, whether we should fly or try to make it a road trip so we can visit new bookstores along the way, it's rolling around in my head again: Am I insane?

But, I figure if Khaki, one of the main characters in Dear Carolina can travel around with her three kids, surely I can do it with my one! (We won't mention that she's fictional...) Good or bad, crazy or not, I keep reminding myself that we're making memories, visiting new places and having new experiences. And, at the end of the day, that's what this journey is all about!

Thank you again for having me, Kristin! It's such a pleasure, and I hope to visit with your readers again soon!

Thank you Kristy for writing this...it's always fun hearing about the author's experience on book tours! And readers, if you haven't picked up this gem, what are you waiting for???
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison (audio)

Title: A Small Indiscretion    
Author: Jan Ellison    
Narrator: Kathe Mazur   
Published: January 2015, Random House Audio / Random House  
Length: 10 hours 15 minutes / 336 pages  
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley 

Fans of Everything I Never Told You and The Girl on the Train will devour this page-turning literary debut about a harrowing coming-of-age and a marriage under siege from O. Henry Prize winner Jan Ellison.

At nineteen, Annie Black abandons California for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and looking for love in the wrong places. Twenty years later, she is a happily married mother of three living in San Francisco. Then one morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, and an old obsession is awakened.

After a return trip to London, Annie’s marriage falters, her store floods, and her son, Robbie, takes a night-time ride that nearly costs him his life. Now Annie must fight to save her family by untangling the mysteries of that reckless winter in Europe that drew an invisible map of her future.

With the brilliant pacing and emotional precision that won Jan Ellison an O. Henry Prize for her first published story, A Small Indiscretion announces a major new voice in suspense fiction as it unfolds a story of denial, obsession, love, forgiveness—and one woman’s reckoning with her own fateful mistakes.

My thoughts: As soon as I read the blurb of this book, I knew I had to read it. It just called to me and I really ended up enjoying it. I think my favorite part is that the author slowly reveals to us everything rather than giving us all the information we need in one fell swoop. This truly is a character study and is character driven rather than plot driven. It is one to be savored and not necessarily rushed through.

I loved the character of Annie. I found her to be both likeable and dislikeable at times and I love characters like that. Most of the time she was likeable, but there were moments when I wanted to scream at her for the decisions she made. We learn about her past and present and see how her past comes colliding into her present with disastrous consequences. I loved the honesty, though, that comes out as Annie tells her story - it really only makes her that much more endearing.

The story moves back and forth in time and as such, we are slowly given pieces of the overall puzzle until we finally have the complete picture of what is going on. At times, I thought I had put some things together, only to be totally off track, but that's what I love about reading - taking what I am given and thinking about it and drawing my own conclusions and then seeing if I am right or wrong. 

This was Jan Ellison's debut novel and I am definitely going to be keeping on eye out for what comes next from her. I was completely swept up in this novel and can only hope that her next book is of the same caliber as this one.


Audio Thoughts: Kathe Mazur is one of my favorite narrators and I was thrilled to see she was narrating this book. She did a great job with the voices, especially Annie's, and I found myself completely absorbed in this book.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: I Regret Nothing: A Memoir by Jen Lancaster

Title: I Regret Nothing: A Memoir   
Author: Jen Lancaster        
Published: May 2015, NAL  
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages   
Source: Publisher  

New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster has lived a life based on re-invention and self-improvement. From Bitter Is the New Black to The Tao of Martha, she’s managed to document her (and her generation’s) attempts to shape up, grow up, and have it all—sometimes with disastrous results…

Sure Jen has made mistakes. She spent all her money from a high-paying job on shoes, clothes, and spa treatments. She then carried a Prada bag to the unemployment office. She wrote a whole memoir about dieting…but didn’t lose weight. She embarked on a quest for cultural enlightenment that only cemented her love for John Hughes movies and Kraft American Singles. She tried to embrace everything Martha Stewart, while living with a menagerie of rescue cats and dogs. (Glitter…everywhere.)

Mistakes are one thing; regrets are another.

After a girls’ weekend in Savannah makes her realize that she is—yikes!—middle-aged (binge watching is so the new binge drinking), Jen decides to make a bucket list and seize the day, even if that means having her tattoo removed at one hundred times the cost of putting it on.

From attempting a juice cleanse to studying Italian, from learning to ride a bike to starting a new business, and from sampling pasta in Rome to training for a 5K, Jen is turning a mid-life crisis into a mid-life opportunity, sharing her sometimes bumpy—but always hilarious—attempts to better her life…again.

My thoughts: I don't tend to read too many memoirs, but when I read the blurb for this, I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did. It's always good to read outside one's comfort zone every once in a while and this book certainly reinforced that. I'm also not one to usually mark up a book when I read, yet I find myself doing just that because there were quite a few things that Jen Lancaster said or wrote about that resonated with me.

First off, I absolutely adored her blatant honesty throughout this book. It was refreshing to read and I found myself saying "yes" or "exactly" quite a bit. Reflecting upon her life as she reaches her mid-forties, Jen decides she wants to live a life of no regrets, so she decides to create a bucket list and live in the moment. I loved this idea and I loved that we got to see how she approached or tackled some of the items on her bucket list. 

In many ways, while I found this book to by quite hysterical - the Channing Tatum Tax, the adult tricycle episode, etc - I also found it to be inspiring. Jen set out to accomplish some pretty difficult tasks and in so doing, came to some pretty impressive conclusions. She learned Italian so she could travel there, by herself, and she did it! I don't think I would have the guts to do that. While training for a 5k race, she realized that it wasn't her body that was giving up so soon after starting but her mind, and once she realized that, her whole outlook on training changed. As someone who's trained for races (walking not running, but same difference) this is such a big concept to overcome and one that I occasionally struggle with. The mind is such a powerful block to anything at times.

This book has definitely got me thinking of making my own bucket list and what items I would put on it, especially as I'm just around Jen's age. Having a variety a items on your list makes the list that much more appealing and I loved that about Jen's list. Living in the moment, being present in life and not having regrets - all so important to living a happy life.

I found this to be a funny, yet thought-provoking book. It's the first book I've read by Jen Lancaster but it definitely won't be my last. For those of you that have read some of her other books, which one would you suggest I read next? What are your favorites of hers that are must reads?

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Blog Tour & Review: Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

Title: Moonlight on Butternut Lake   
Author: Mary McNear    
Series: The Butternut Lake Trilogy, #3 
Published: May 2015, William Morrow & Company  
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Up at Butternut Lake comes the third novel in the Butternut Lake series—a dazzling story of two wounded souls seizing a second chance at life and love

On the run from her abusive husband, Mila Jones flees Minneapolis for the safety and serenity of Butternut Lake. Ready to forge a new life, Mila’s position as home health aide to Reid Ford is more than a job. It’s a chance at a fresh start. Though her sullen patient seems determined to make her quit, she refuses to give up on him.

Haunted by the car accident that nearly killed him, Reid retreats to his brother’s cabin on Butternut Lake and lashes out at anyone who tries to help. Reid wishes Mila would just go away. . .until he notices the strength, and the secrets, behind her sad, brown eyes.

Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond as Mila lowers her guard and begins to trust again, and Reid learns how to let this woman who has managed to crack through his protective shell into his life. While the seemingly endless days of summer unfold, Reid and Mila take the first steps to healing as they discover love can be more than just a dream.

My thoughts: This is the third installment in Mary McNear's Butternut Lake trilogy and I'm so bummed to see it come to an end! I've really come to enjoy spending time at Butternut Lake and meet all the lovely characters that Mary Mcnear has introduced us to. That being said, I was kind of surprised to see that not many of the previous characters were actually present in this one, so much so that I felt this book really could be read as a stand-alone.

This book had a bit of a different feel to it than the previous two did in that it dealt with some pretty heavy issues. Both Mila and Reid are trying to deal with some personal demons - her an abusive husband and him a long road to recovery after a horrific car accident. I found the saying "You never really know someone" to be so true throughout this whole book because all along both were keeping secrets that prevented them from really getting to know each other. 

They came together due to practical reasons - she was to be his third home health care aid and he provided a safe, secluded home for her (unbeknownst to him!). And while they both had their guards up, the bond between them slowly forms. I loved that there wasn't an instant attraction between them, that this was to be a slow romance. There were so many sweet moments between them as their relationship grew.

This was a great series and I always get a little sad when I come to the last book because that means I will not have the opportunity to catch up with these characters and places I've come to enjoy visiting. That's what I love about reading series. But, all good things must come to an end at some point, right?



Books in this series:

     1.  Up at Butternut Lake
     2.  Butternut Summer
     2.5  Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas
     3.  Moonlight on Butternut Lake





About the author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear is a writer living in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, minuscule white dog named Macaroon. She writes her novels in a local donut shop where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made donuts. She bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.

Authors Links: 
Twitter 
Facebook  
  



To see who else is participating in Mary McNear's Moonlight on Butternut Lake tour, click here.



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Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Sunday Post #72 (5.17.15)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey. 

Only one week of work left until BEA!!! I am so excited, but at the same time, a but overwhelmed at all that I still need to do. I still need to finalize my schedule and get some odds and ends for my trip. But I am really looking forward to it. I only have four days of work, though I foresee they will be long, busy days.

Today, I'm heading to Collegeville, PA to an author event with one of my sisters. It's being billed as a Women's Fiction Book Club Event and six authors will be there - some of which I have read and some I have not. I'm looking forward to it and will be sure to write a post about it soon!
 
Have a great week everyone!!!
  *****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:                              

* Guest Post: Ten Most Memorable Moms in New Fiction by Andrea Lochen
* Author Q&A, Recipes & Giveaway: At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor   
* Blog Tour & Review: The Bone Tree by Greg Iles  
* Book Spotlight & Guest Post: Daydreams in Dixie by Beth Albright (Plus Giveaway!!!)
* #FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 15
 

Books Read:                      
* The Bone Tree by Greg Iles  (review book/audio book) 
* Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear  (review e-book) 
* Cat and Jemima J by Jane Green (mine)   
 
Currently Reading:            
* I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster (review book)          

* The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe  (audio book)
* Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (review audio book)

Books Up Next:                             
 
* The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review book)    
* The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (review e-book)

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Blog Tour & Review: Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear 
 
* Review: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison  
* Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag  
* Review: I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster

Current Giveaways:
* At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor...Ends 5/18/15 
* Daydreams in Dixie by Beth Albright...Ends 5.22.15 
   
Book Haul:      
For Review:
* Daydreams in Dixie by Beth Albright (Courtesy of Author)
* The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon (Courtesy of Publisher)

* My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrick Backman (Courtesy of Publisher)  
Purchased:
* The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (audio via Audible)


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