Sunday, March 01, 2015

Month In Review: February 2015

Here are my reading stats for February! 
  • Books read:  12

 Books I read: 
  1. Crazy Love You -- Lisa Unger
  2. Dust to Dust -- Tami Hoag (audio book)
  3. The Forgotten Girls -- Sara Blaedel
  4. The Girl on the Train -- Paula Hawkins
  5. First Frost -- Sarah Addison Allen (audio book)
  6. One Step Too Far -- Tina Seskis
  7. A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers -- Hazel Gaynor (audio book)
  8. The Girls of Mischief Bay --Susan Mallery (e-book)
  9. Shopaholic on Honeymoon -- Sophie Kinsella (e-book)
  10. Finding Jake -- Bryan Reardon
  11. Perfect Fling -- Carly Phillips (audio book)
  12. Searching for Grace Kelly -- Michael Callahan (audio book)

Favorite Books of February:   

  • Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger
  • One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

2015 Challenge Update:

  •  You Read How Many Books Reading Challenge -- Books read: 24/150 
  •  Library Books Reading Challenge -- Books read: 2/24
  •  Mount TBR Reading Challenge -- Books read: 1/24
  •  Netgalley Reading Challenge -- Books read: 5/21
  •  First Reads Reading Challenge -- Books read: 14/26 
  •  E-books Challenge -- Books read: 7/25
  •  Audio Book Challenge -- Books listened to: 8/50

The Sunday Post #61 (3.1.15)

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 hard to believe today is March 1st. Hopefully that means winter is slowly winding down, though we are once again expecting another snow storm later today. I honestly cannot remember the last time I have seen the grass - we've had snow on the ground since just after the New Year. Hopefully this is the last storm and we'll get some warmer days and the big melt will begin - slowly so as not to cause any problems. I'm have a big gathering here at my house in 3 weeks for our town's St. Patrick's Day parade and it would be nice to not have snow still on the ground!

Have a great week everyone!!!
Last week on the Blog:                        

* Review: Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag 
* Book Spotlight: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
* Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
* #FitReaders: Weekly Check-in February 27

Books Read:            
* Shopaholic on Honeymoon by Sophie Kinsella (mine)  
* Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon (review book) 
* Perfect Fling by Carly Phillips (review audio book) 
* Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan (review audio book)   

Currently Reading:            
* Mrs. Grant & Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini (review book)  

* The Burning by Jane Casey (audio book)

Books Up Next:                   

* One Wish by Robyn Carr (review e-book)
* First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan (review book)

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

* Book Spotlight & Author Q&A: One Wish by Robyn Carr (with Giveaway!!!)
* Review: The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery

* Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins 
* Review: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Book Haul:           
For Review:
* Hold Me by Susan Mallery (Netgalley) 

* Woman With a Secret by Sophie Hannah (courtesy of Publisher)
* The Bone Tree by Greg Iles (courtesy of Publisher)
* Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Speilman (courtesy of Publicist)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in February 27

So, my 1/2 marathon is in 2 weeks and I'm not even stressing about it. Last year at this time I was a total wreck - I think because it was my first one. I guess because this will be the 3rd 1/2 marathon I'm walking, it's not as stressful, though I do admit I was not as diligent with my training this time around as I was last year. This winter has been brutal and it really is affecting me, more so than ever before. I don't want to leave the house if I don't have to and I know that's not good. Spring really needs to get here and get here soon so I can resume my outdoor walking, which is really what I prefer!
Here's how my week went:  

Feb 21:  rest day (3985 steps)
Feb 22:  rest day (4232 steps)
Feb 23:  impromptu rest day due to crazy busy work day (3871 steps)
Feb 24:  1 hour indoor walking (10,856 steps)

Feb 25: 1 hour indoor walking (11,445 steps)

Feb 26:  1 hour on treadmill at gym - 4 miles (13,582 steps)
Feb 27:  1 hour indoor walking (9,250 steps)

Audiobooks listened to this week: Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan, narrated by Kristin Kalbli. 
How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (audio)

Title: First Frost   
Author: Sarah Addison Allen   
Series: Waverly Family, #2   
Narrator: Susan Ericksen  
Published: January 2015, Brilliance Audio  
Length: 8 hours 34 minutes   
Source: Publisher  

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...

It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My thoughts: About two years ago, I listened to Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells and really enjoyed it. I found myself wishing there was more to the story, as I had really come to love the Waverly sisters, so imagine my delight when I head that SAA's newest book, First Frost, was the bringing us back to them!

I just love these characters - Claire, Sydney and Bay, who is now a teenager. The relationship between sisters and mothers/daughters, while not always as strong as it should be, is a bond that can never be broken. Each of these characters have struggles that are real and so it's easy to relate to them. The characters themselves are so fully drawn that at times it's easy to forget that they are just characters in a book. 

While there is some action in this book, including that of the mysterious stranger that comes to town to cause trouble for the Waverly's, this book is more character-driven than anything. It's about knowing and accepting yourself for who you are. Each of the Waverly's has had to go through this rite of passage, sometimes more than once, and we now witness Bay finding herself as she learns to accept her gift and figure out how to live alongside it. Even Mariah, Sydney's daughter, finds out what her gift is...though she is still so young.

My favorite part of this book is the way the magic is woven into the story. It seems to just enhance the storylines without overpowering them - it never feels as if it's too much, but rather you need to suspend belief just a little. It's the perfect little extra that makes these stories so good! And really, don't we all claim to have those special powers every once in a while - that special remedy that only you know about or that perfect way of calming down an infant that only you seem to be able to do?

Picking up this book was like revisiting old friends. While I had only read/listened to Garden Spells two years ago, I had no problem remembering these characters once I got into this book. It did help that First Frost picks up ten years after Garden Spells ends, and there is enough explanation of who's who in the beginning that if it's been seven years since reading the previous book or you've never read it, I think you'll be fine. I do hope, though, that this isn't the last we've seen of the Waverly's. The way the book ended gave me the glimmer of hope that just maybe there will be more...

Audio Thoughts: I just love listening to Susan Ericksen. She actually narrated Garden Spells, which I also listened to, and I felt like I was right back in Bascom, NC, as soon as this book started. Susan is able to give every character their own unique voice and infuses just the right amount of sass and emotion when needed. I'm really glad that she narrated this second book!

Books in this series:
  1. Garden Spells
  2. First Frost

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Last Spring, at BEA, I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Kubica and picking up her debut novel, The Good Girl. So of course, I was ecstatic when I heard it was one of the She Reads 'Books of Winter' selections. I read it over the summer and found it to be one of those books that I just couldn't stop thinking about. I've since recommended it to everyone I know! You can read my thoughts of the book here.  Today the book is being released in paperback.

Title: The Good Girl   
Author: Mary Kubica          
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA  

"I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will."

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica is one of the She Reads "Books of Winter" reading selection picks. 
Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as posts related to the other "Books of Winter" selections. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag (audio)

Title: Ashes to Ashes    
Author: Tami Hoag   
Series: Kovac & Liska, #1    
Narrator: David Colacci 
Published: November 2014, Brilliance Audio (re-release)   
Length: 18 hours 26 minutes  
Source: Personal copy via Audible 

He performs his profane ceremony in a wooded Minneapolis park, anointing his victims, then setting the bodies ablaze. He has already claimed three lives, and he won’t stop there. Only this time there is a witness. But she isn’t talking.

Enter Kate Conlan, former FBI agent turned victim/witness advocate. Not even she can tell if the reluctant witness is a potential victim or something more troubling still. Her superiors are interested only because the latest victim may be the daughter of Peter Bondurant, an enigmatic billionaire. When Peter pulls strings, Special Agent John Quinn gets assigned to the case. But the FBI’s ace profiler of serial killers is the last person Kate wants to work with, not with their troubled history. Now she faces the most difficult role of her career—and her life. For she’s the only woman who has what it takes to stop the killer . . . and the one woman he wants next.

My thoughts: I only started reading (or in this case listening to) Tami Hoag a few years back and I have to say I really enjoy her books. I had been sent her short story, The 1st Victim, which was a prequel to her novel, The 9th Girl. Little did I know that these two books were part of a series that she was coming back to after a long absence. Enjoying both of them, I promised myself I would go back and pick up the earlier books when I had the chance. Fortunately for me, Brilliance Audio happened to re-release the audio for the first two, so I snatched them up via Audible and now I'm just hoping they will be doing the same for the third one.

I will say with this book, I was a bit confused at first, because I went into the book knowing it's the first in the Sam Kovac/Nikki Liska series, but felt that they really weren't front and center the whole time. Kate Conlon and John Quinn, in my opinion, really seemed to get more focus than Kovac and Liska. That's not to say that Kovac and Liska weren't part of the book, because they certainly were, they just seemed to be more like supporting characters than main ones. And, I really liked Kate and Sam - they had a history prior to this book and due to the case they are all working on, are brought back together. They have serious chemistry and I'd love to see them continue in a series of their own.

The case itself is pretty intense and gruesome, and there are plenty of twists and turns throughout. It's fast-paced with lots of action and, being the first in the series, plenty of character development. The suspense builds nicely, but at times is ramped up and each time I thought I had figured out who the Cremator was, another development popped up to change my mind. I love books like that, where I am constantly kept on my toes. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the next two books are set up and I'm also curious if Kate and Sam appear in any future books...I guess I'll have to read on to find out!

Audio Thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to David Colacci narrate a book and I thought he did a fantastic job with this book. He was able to give each character their own unique voice and even did a fairly good job with the female characters - not being overly dramatic when emotion was needed. I'm excited he's narrating the second book in this series and really hope he does the third if Brilliance re-releases it.

Books in this series:
       1.   Ashes to Ashes
       2.   Dust to Dust
       3.   Prior Bad Acts
       3.5   The 1st Victim
       4.   The 9th Girl

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Sunday Post #60 (2.22.15)

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  

Oh winter, you certainly are digging your heals in! We got another 6 inches last night, and while it's supposed to warm up today - close to 40 degrees, it's only going to drop again tonight to frigid temps this week. I am definitely counting the days until the spring!

Have a great week everyone!!!
Last week on the Blog:                        

* Review: Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker  
* Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
* Short & Sweet Reviw: Anything But Love by Beth Ciotta
* Review: The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen
* #FitReaders: Weekly Check-in February 20

Books Read:            
* One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis (library book)  
* A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor (review book/audio book) 
* The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery (review e-book)    

Currently Reading:            
* Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon (review book)  

* Perfect Fling by Carly Phillips (audio book)

Books Up Next:                   

* Disarming Detective by Elizabeth Heiter (review e-book)
* Mrs. Grant & Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini (review book)

Recent Giveaway Winner:                  
* Susan Mallery's California Dreamin' Prize Package ...Dixie-Lee Campbell

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag
* Book Spotlight: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
* Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
* Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
* Review: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Book Haul:           
For Review:
* The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell (courtesy of Publisher) 

* Perfect Fling by Carly Phillips (audio book courtesy of Publisher)
* Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan (audio book courtesy of Publisher)
* Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman


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