Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: The Cavendon Luck by Barbara Taylor Bradford (audio)

Title: The Cavendon Luck
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Series: Cavendon Hall, #3
Narrator: Anna Bentinck
Published: June 2016, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 16 hours 11 minutes / Hardcover, 512 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Publicist

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a captivating epic saga of courage and honor, following the aristocratic Inghams and the loyal Swann family who have served them for centuries.

It is 1938 in England, and Miles and Cecily Ingham have lead the family in bringing the Cavendon estate back from the brink of disaster. But now, with the arrival of World War II, Cavendon Hall will face its biggest challenge yet. It is a challenge that will push the Inghams and Swanns to protect each other and the villagers, and reveal their true capacity for survival and rebirth.

Told with Bradford’s deft, evocative prose and featuring a beloved cast of characters, The Cavendon Luck is a story of intrigue, romance, sorrow, and joy that readers won’t soon forget.

My thoughts: This is the final book in Barbara Taylor Bradford's Cavendon Hall trilogy and I'm so bummed to have come to the end of this series...I really enjoyed it and getting to know the latest families and world that Barbara Taylor Bradford has created for us. While Emma Hart and The Woman of Substance Saga will forever remain as my favorite BTB series, this one wasn't too bad...and having Emma Hart make a cameo - I loved it!!!

This latest installment picks up ten years after the prior book, just before the start of WWII. The family has brought Cavendon Hall back from the brink of collapse and now must weather the impending war. We see the impact that the war has on both families, the Inghams and the Swanns, and see that that class line that was once so distinct between the two families has slowly started to fade away.

I loved seeing the different roles that each character played during the war. Cecily and her shop and factories are at the ready for whatever clothing needs might be needed throughout the war. They have adjusted to the demands already, going from fashionable couture to ready-made clothing. Dierdre, one of the Dee's, is back at work at the war office, working at covert operations. I loved seeing her in the role as "spy" and her interactions with her operatives were at times humorous, with all their nicknames, but had that serious tone to it. 

This book, as with the other two, had its share of happiness, sadness, weddings and death. It was set during a tumultuous time in our history and the seriousness of that really comes across. We see the direct impact that the war has had on our characters and how they learn to deal with it in their everyday lives and in the aftermath. 

This series was a good series, a great family saga with fun characters that you just wanted more of. My only complaint would be that it would have been nice to have had a family tree included in the books to help keep track of who everyone was - it was hard to remember, especially in the beginning, who was who. What I did love, though, was the inclusion of some beloved characters from Barbara Taylor Bradford's previous books - especially Emma Hart and Blackie O' much so, that I am seriously considering rereading the Woman of Substance saga again!!!

Audio thoughts: I so enjoyed Anna Bentinck's narrations of this series...I thought she did a great job with the voices throughout the three books, staying pretty consistent from book to book, as far as I could tell. Her pacing and tone were good and she infused just the right amount of humor and seriousness when needed. I will definitely be checking out what else she has narrated!

Books in this series:  
  1. Cavendon Hall
  2. The Cavendon Women
  3. The Cavendon Luck

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Liar's Key by Carla Neggers

Title: Liar's Key
Author: Carla Neggers
Series: Sharpe & Donovan, #6
Published: August 2016, MIRA
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

An FBI legend, a mysterious antiquities specialist and a brazen art thief draw top FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan into a complex web of blackmail, greed and murder in the eagerly awaited new novel in the highly acclaimed Sharpe & Donovan series

Emma Sharpe is suspicious when retired Special Agent Gordon Wheelock, a legend in FBI art crimes, drops by her Boston office for a visit. Gordy says he's heard rumors about stolen ancient mosaics. Emma, an art crimes specialist herself, won't discuss the rumors. Especially since they involve Oliver York, an unrepentant English art thief. Gordy and Emma's grandfather, a renowned private art detective, chased Oliver for a decade. Gordy knows Wendell Sharpe didn't give him everything he had on the thief. Even now, Oliver will never be prosecuted.

When a shocking death occurs, Emma is drawn into the investigation. The evidence points to a deadly conspiracy between Wendell and Oliver, and Emma's fiancé, deep cover agent Colin Donovan, knows he can't stay out of this one. He also knows there will be questions about Emma's role and where her loyalties lie.

From Boston to Maine to Ireland, Emma and Colin track a dangerous killer as the lives of their family and friends are at stake. With the help of their friend, Irish priest Finian Bracken, and Emma's brother, Lucas, the Sharpes and Donovans must band together to stop a killer.

No one creates exciting, action-packed romantic suspense and international intrigue like New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers.

What readers are saying

"Everything is out of control, and nothing is as it seems, making for the intense, edge-of-your-seat whirlwind that best-selling Neggers does so well in her Sharpe & Donovan series. In this particularly wild cat-and-mouse installment, Neggers has her characters zipping from Maine to Ireland, where families form an alliance to take down a deadly killer." --Booklist

"[A] suspenseful, fast-moving thriller filled with plot twists and excitement to the delightful conclusion." --Reader TO Reader


Giveaway Details - (US only)
Thanks to the publicist, I have one copy of Liar's Key to give away to my readers. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter below by August 29th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends August 19th.

Good Luck!!! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in August 19

Getting back into the swing of things after vacation is always tough...but I managed to get in 2 5K's and some yoga. I think my priority over the next few weeks has to be making sure I'm eating enough. I've been so tired lately...and I don't really think it's that I'm not getting enough sleep - I've never been one to need a lot of sleep. I'm starting to think it's that I'm not eating enough. I need to take a hard look at what I eat throughout the day and make sure its enough calories, protein and fat. I'm not a bit fan of tracking/writing down what I eat all day, but in this case I just might have to. Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated!!!

 My August Goals:
* Because I will be starting my training schedule for the big walk in September, I am using August as a "rest month."
  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - Still on vacation over weekend, but nailed it from Monday on!
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - 5/5
  • Eat mindfully - Work was a bit stressful this week, so this wasn't as sucessful :(

Here's how my week went:     
Aug 13:  10,533 steps
Aug 14:  5,660 steps
Aug 15:  16,136 steps
(5K - 4.02 Charity Miles for MS, 10 min Yoga)
Aug 16:  13,162 steps (5K - 3.28 Charity Miles for MS)

Aug 17:  11,517 steps (30 min fitness walking, 15 min Yoga)

Aug 18:  10
,226 steps (30 min fitness walking)
Aug 19: 
10,660 steps (30 min fitness walking)
Total Steps: 77,894 steps
Audiobooks listened to this week: 
  • Started and Finished The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson, narrated by Joshilyn Jackson

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:
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -  9
         10K  -  0                                10K  -  2
     February:                             June:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  5
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -  5                  
     March:                                  July:
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  3
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -  1
     April:                                    August:
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  6
         10K  -  5                                 10K  -  1

Friday, August 19, 2016

#SRC2016 Book Spotlight: Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Title: Swear On This Life
Author: Renee Carlino
Published: August 2016, Atria Books
Format: Paperback, 320 pages

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

What readers are saying

“Swear on This Life is Renée Carlino at her finest. Raw, real and gripping; I read it in one sitting.” --Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends With Us

“Carlino fans will love this one, and so will readers who have not yet made her acquaintance. The tale is engaging and paced to keep the pages turning long after the lights should be out.” --Kirkus Reviews

“[Readers] will find themselves simply smitten by both the novel in front of them and the story within the story. Romance readers and women’s fiction fans should snap up this charming love story.” --Booklist

"Romance fans will find this heartfelt story of resilience and first love hard to put down." --Library Journal


Swear On This Life  by Renee Carlino is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks.

Follow the #SRC2016, #BestSRCEver and #BestSummerEver hashtags on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (audio)

Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Narrator: Olivia Song
Published: August 2016, Simon & Schuster Audio / Atria Books
Length: 11 hours 11 minutes / Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Publisher

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Colleen Hoover and I really enjoyed it. I have another book sitting on my shelf by her that I just haven't had time to read yet, but I can definitely say I will be making a priority to pick up her other books - especially if they are as good as this one

This is such a powerful, profound, emotional that found me laughing, crying, getting angry, getting sad - you name the emotion and I probably felt it! I haven't gone through such a range of emotions while reading one book in such a long time and yet this book made me do just that...and then some. This is a story about true love and having the strength to make tough decisions in what seem like impossible situations.

I loved the characters in this story. Lily, in particular, might go down as one of my favorite characters ever. She is such a strong character with incredible conviction and vulnerability. She's the type of character that will make you think about yourself, realize things about yourself that you may not have thought about before.

This is not a light read by any means. This is a heavy, deep read, but such a great story. It will leave you thinking about so many different things and will stay with you long after you have finished the book. This book is a keeper and possibly even worth a reread in the future, just to savor the beauty of this story, for though it is an emotional, heavy read, it is a beautiful story! 

Audio thoughts: This is the first book I've listened to Olivia Song narrate and I thought she did a great job with it. This was a tough one to listen to at times, because it was so emotional, but I thought she handled it so well...she infused just the right amount of emotion when needed - sadness, happiness, anger - you name it and it came across as if it were a real conversation you and I were having. As heavy as this book got at times, this really was a great audio book and I did enjoy listening to it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: Watching Edie by Camilla Way (audio)

Title: Watching Edie
Author: Camilla Way
Narrator: Heather Wilds, Fiona Hardingham
Published: August 2016, Penguin Audio / Berkley Publishing Group/NAL
Length: 9 hours 6 minutes / ARC Ecopy, 299 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…

My thoughts: This was an intriguing dark, psychological thriller that kept me guessing what was going to happen all the way through. It's a little strange, a little addictive and definitely keeps you on your toes throughout...and has an ending that comes to a shocking conclusion.

I really liked how this one was told, with the "Now" and "Then" sections, slowly building up the tension and suspense so that you know something big happened back then, but you aren't quite sure what it was. These characters get under your skin, both Heather and Edie, and while they sure aren't very likeable at times, you can't help but sympathize with them at times, nonetheless. What I also found incredibly clever is that throughout the book, I found myself feeling for one girl more than the other, then despising one girl more than the other, and constantly flip-flopping on this.

The obsessive behavior, the stalkish friendship, the twists and turns that this book takes - it all leads to an ending that I definitely did not see coming.  This book has an unsettling feeling to's a dark and haunting tale about friendship and will have you thinking twice about just who you decide to befriend!

Audio thoughts:
I thought the audio production of this book was well-done. Having two narrators can be kind of tricky, but I thought each did a good job with their sections. I've listened to Fiona Hardingham before, but this was the first time listening to Heather Wilds


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