Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Sunday Post #51 (12.14.14)

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

At the beginning of last week, I had barely made a dent in my Christmas shopping. I have 17 nieces and nephews and I buy a little something for all of them  - crazy, right! - but I'm happy to say as of yesterday, I have all the shopping done, and now I just have to finish making a few parts of some of the gifts. A few of the girls are getting some crocheted items - scarves and baby dolls blankets. What a relief to have all the done! Whew!!!

Today, hubby is getting the tree and we will decorate it this week and I will finish decorating the house at some point as well. I have my work holiday party on Tuesday, so I was busy making fudge this weekend to bring along with some other items to the luncheon. Can't believe it's only 11 days til Christmas!!! 

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

* Review: Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman
* Help Author Suzanne Redfearn Pick the Title & Cover of her Upcoming Book
* Short & Sweet Review: Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson
* Review: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in December 12

Books Read:          
* Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter (library book)      
* Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta (e-book) 
Currently Reading:            
* The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (review e-book)  

* The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Rose (audio book)            

Books Up Next:                  
* Vanished by Elizabeth Heiter (review book)
* The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts (review e-book)

Recent Giveaway Winners:
* Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs...Katherine & Kimberlee

* Christmas in Dixie by Beth Albright (and other goodies)...Jennifer

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

* Guest Post: Sonja Yoerg
* Review: One of Us by Tawni O'Dell
* Review: The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke

Book Haul:       

For Review:
* Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue (courtesy of Publisher)   

* The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt & David Batcher

* Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Barbara Leaming
* The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin
* Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas by Mary McNear (e-book)
From Library:
* Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio book)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in December 12

  #BookBlogWalkers is hosted by Felicia @ The Geeky Bloggers Book Blog

All week I've been fighting a cold - it never really materialized into anything big, just those annoying sniffles and a scratchy throat. Due to that, I kept things low key - I really don't want to be sick over the holidays and usually when I get sick, I get really sick.
Here's how my week went:  

Dec  6:  rest
Dec  7:  rest
Dec  8:  rest - spa day thanks to my hubby!!!
Dec  9:  1 hour (indoor walking)

Dec 10:  1 hour (indoor walking)
Dec 11:  1 hour (indoor walking)

Dec 12:  1 hour (indoor walking)
How did your week go?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Title: Shopaholic to the Stars   
Author: Sophie Kinsella   
Series: Shophaholic, #7    
Narrator: Clare Corbett   
Published: October 2014, Random House Audio  
Length: 12 hours 37 minutes  
Source: Personal copy via Audible 

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) has stars in her eyes. She and her daughter, Minnie, have joined husband Luke in LA—city of herbal smoothies, multimillion-dollar yoga retreats, and the lure of celebrity. Luke is there to help manage the career of famous actress Sage Seymour—and Becky is convinced she is destined to be Sage’s personal stylist, and go from there to every A-list celebrity in Hollywood! But things become complicated when Becky joins the team of Sage’s archrival. How will charming and supportive Luke deal with this conflict? Is it possible that what Becky wants most will end up hurting those she loves most? Shopaholic fans old and new will devour Sophie Kinsella’s newest adventure!

My thoughts: The Shopaholic series is one of my all-time favorite series and I was thrilled to find out that a new one was coming out. This series is just a fun, easy read that will have you laughing out loud with Becky's antics, though there are some cringe-worthy moments as well!

This latest installment brings Becky to LA where she believes that she is going to become a fashion designer to the stars. She and Luke have moved to LA temporarily while he is working with a client and Becky believes she can start her own business. Of course, things do not go according to plan and there are quite a few mishaps thrown in Becky's way, all of which provide for some comical moments. She is definitely a do/say first then think of the consequences type of gal and yet, she doesn't ever change, and I wouldn't want her to.

It's been a while since the last Shopaholic book - four years to be exact - yet, it felt like it was just yesterday as the book brings in all the characters we've come to love- Becky, Luke, Minnie, Becky's parents, and even Becky's best friend and her family. Picking this up was like catching up with old friends you haven't seen in a while. And the ending leaves me to think there is definitely another book in the works...that couldn't possibly be the end of the series, now could it?

This series is what turned me on to Sophie Kinsella's books and since the last Shopaholic book came out, I've picked up quite a few of her stand-alone books. While I have enjoyed them, I have to say, this series is where my heart lies - there's just something about Becky Bloomwood that I love, flaws and all, and I hope she's around for a long time!

Audio Thoughts: Clare Corbett is a new-to-me narrator and I really enjoyed listening to her narrate this book. She was really able to get the nuances of Becky's character - at least the way I picture her to be! She did a great job with the other characters, too and made the entire story fun to listen to. This is the first time I decided to listen to the book instead of read it and I found it to be a great choice...Becky's character makes for a fun listening experience and I think, if there are more books in this series, audio is the way to go!!!

Books in this series:
  1. Confessions of a Shopaholic
  2. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan
  3. Shopaholic Ties the Knot
  4. Shopaholic & Sister
  5. Shopaholic & Baby
  6. Mini Shopaholic
  7. Shopaholic to the Stars

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Short & Sweet Review: Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson

Title: Alex Cross, Run   
Author: James Patterson    
Series: Alex Cross, #20     
Published: February 2013, Little, Brown & Company  
Format: Hardcover, 407 pages   
Source: Personal copy  

Detective Alex Cross arrests renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with teenage girls. Now, his life ruined, Creem is out of jail, and he's made sure that no one will recognize him--by giving himself a new face.

A young woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window, and Alex is called to the scene. The victim recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found. Before Alex can begin searching for the missing newborn and killer, he's called to investigate a second crime. All of Washington, D.C., is in a panic, and when a third body is discovered, rumours of three serial killers send the city into an all-out frenzy.

Alex's investigations are going nowhere, and he's too focused on the cases to notice that someone has been watching him--and will stop at nothing until he's dead. With white-hot speed, relentless drama, and hairpin turns, FREE ALEX CROSS is James Patterson's ultimate thrill ride.
***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: I am a bit behind on my beloved Alex Cross series - the 22nd book just came out and I am only up to book 20!!! It's not that I have become disheartened by this series - it's just that there are way too many books out there and just not enough time to read them all. Luckily, though, these books are relatively quick reads.

This latest is jam-packed with action both workwise and on the homefront for our beloved Alex Cross. He's dealing with multiple murders that are pulling him in all different directions at work, and on top of that, there's suddenly trouble with Ava, the foster child the Cross family has taken in. Oh, and there's a reporter that seems to have it in for Alex. Will Alex be able to juggle all three of these without letting the pressure get to him? 

This book kept me on the edge of my seat as I tore through the pages to find out what would happen next. The short chapters only add to the tension, along with all the unexpected twists that play out. I think this is one of the better books in the series and I can't wait to read the next installment - I only hope it's as good as this one!

Books in this series:
  1. Along Came a Spider                   14.  I, Alex Cross
  2. Kiss the Girls                                   15.  Alex Cross's Trial
  3. Jack and Jill                                    16. Cross Country
  4. Cat and Mouse                               17.  Cross Fire
  5. Pop Goes the Weasel                   18.  Kill Alex Cross
  6. Roses are Red                                 19.  Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
  7. Violets are Blue                             20.  Alex Cross, Run
  8. Four Blind Mice                             21.  Cross My Heart
  9. The Big Bad Wolf                            22.  Hope to Die
  10. London Bridges                           
  11. Mary Mary
  12. Cross
  13. Double Cross

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Help Suzanne Redfearn Pick the New Title & Cover for her Upcoming Book

Last year, I had the pleasure of reading Suzanne Redfearn's debut novel, Hush Little Baby, for one of my online book clubs. It was a fantastic read and I have been eagerly awaiting for more from this author. Well, the wait is almost over. But first, Suzanne needs our help...

Do you enjoy novels by Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty, JoJo Moyes, or Anita Shreve? Then you are the perfect reader to help up-and-coming author Suzanne Redfearn choose the title and cover for her next women’s fiction novel. For participating, you will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Click here to participate.

Book Cover/Title Selections:

1. The Price We Pay (Red)

2. The Price We Pay (Green)

3. No Ordinary Life (Bow)

4. No Ordinary Life (Hand Holding)
All designs are the property of Grand Central Publishing, are not final, and subject to change. Scanning, uploading, or electronic sharing without permission of Grand Central is prohibited

Here's the synopsis of the book:
FOUR-YEAR-OLD Molly Martin is as cute as they come. With her mop of curls and precocious personality, it's no wonder the crowd fell in love with her when she stepped forward to do an impromptu jig with a street musician in Santa Monica. But when a YouTube video of her performance goes viral, it turns into another thing altogether.

Swept into the vortex of Hollywood, Molly's star rises as lightning speed, straight to the pinnacle of stardom, as the world falls completely in love with her. At first it seems like the family has hit the jackpot -- fame, fortune, opportunity -- but when the reality of their new life settles in, the dark trappings of celebrity are revealed and their world begins to splinter apart.

Molly's mom struggles to hold it together, but when her ex-husband appears to cash in on the action, and Molly's older sister, Emily, finds herself on the fast track to trouble, things begin to unravel. And in a business where everyone is an actor and every move you make is scrutinized by the world, it is difficult to know who to trust. Becoming famous was easy, becoming unfamous will require the performance of a lifetime.

Now's your chance to head over to Suzanne's website and chime in as to what you think is the best cover/title for this book. Don't wait too long - voting is only open until December 21st. And don't forget - all who vote are entered to win a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Vote here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Review: Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman

Title: Ruin Falls    
Author: Jenny Milchman    
Published: April 2014, Ballantine Books  
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages   
Source: Library  

In a suspenseful follow-up to her critically acclaimed Cover of Snow, Jenny Milchman ratchets up the tension with this edge-of-your-seat story of a mother determined to find her missing children.
Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving behind her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood.

On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz goes to check on her sleeping children, all her anxiety comes roaring back: Ally and Reed are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of the kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in.

Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind—but in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant she realizes that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room that night. Someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Though she knows that Ally and Reid are safe, Liz will stop at nothing to find them and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her own hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.

My thoughts: This is my first time reading Jenny Milchman and I picked this up because two blogger friends had chosen this as their Book Talk book and had invited everyone to join in on the discussion. I love a good mystery/thriller and let me tell you, this definitely fit the bill.

This book is why I love to read thrillers. It's got a sinister story with creepy characters. It is fast-paced and filled with enough tension and drama to keep you on the edge of your seat as you frantically page through the book, and the short chapters only add to that tension and suspense.

I loved how Jenny Milchman kept twisting the tale, adding layer after layer to the mystery of what happened to Liz's kids, all the while making her fear for them quite palpable. On top of that, we get these chapters interspersed throughout the book that introduce other characters that appear to have no connection to the Daniels family. I knew there had to be something linking all these characters, and as each one is introduced, I was suspicious of them. Just how will all this come together? With each new character added, the main focus, though, never strays too far from Liz and her search for her kids. She remains the central part of the story.

This is the type of book that begs you to keep reading and I had a hard time putting it down, especially when I got to the last third of the book. The tension is kicked up a notch and as everything starts to unravel, there are more twists and turns thrown in.

Jenny Milchman is definitely going on my authors to watch list and I will be picking up her first book, Cover of Snow, very soon - hopefully before her next book, As Night Falls, comes out next summer! I'm so glad Tamara and Rhiannon picked Ruin Falls as their October Book Talk book - thanks ladies for helping me find a new author to love!!!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Sunday Post #50 (12.7.14)

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

I started to do some holiday decorating this weekend - just a few things here and there. I'm not sure if I'll go all out this year or just keep it simple. I did get out my holiday candles - I just love the scent of cinnamon and vanilla. My two favorites at the moment are from Yankee Candle - North Pole, which has an icy cool mint and sugary rich vanilla cream scent, and Sparkling Cinnamon, which has a hint of clove combined with the scent of cinnamon stick. Now I just need to get motivated to do my Christmas cards so I can get them out in a timely fashion! 

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

* Month in Review: November 2014
* Review: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
* Review: Christmas on 4th Street
* Guest Post: Jenny Milchman - Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day
* Review & Giveaway: Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs
* Review: Christmas in Dixie by Beth Albright
* Guest Post: Beth Albright (and giveaway!!!)
* Review: Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in November 28

Books Read:          
* Anything But Love by Beth Ciotta (mine)      
* The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen (audio book)  
* Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (library book)
Currently Reading:            
* Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter (library book)  

* Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner (audio book)            

Books Up Next:                  
* The Distance by Helen Giltrow (review e-book)
* The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (review e-book)

Current Giveaways:
* Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs...2 copies. Ends 12/11/14

* Christmas in Dixie by Beth Albright (and other goodies)...1 copy. Ends 12/12/14

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman

* Review: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
* Review: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
* Review: Alex Cross, Run

Book Haul:       

For Review:
* The Marriage Game by Alison Weir (Netgalley)  

* A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison (Netgalley) 
* Christmas at Carriage Hill by Carla Neggers (e-book)

From Library:
* Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult


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