Always With a Book

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard

In a little over a week, Paula Treick DeBoard's latest novel, Here We Lie, comes out, and I'm pleased to offer you, my readers, a chance to win a copy! I've already read the book - it's amazing!!! - and will be posting my review on publication day (January 30). You can see what others have to say below and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!!!

Title: Here We Lie
Author: Paula Treick DeBoard
Published: January 2018, Park Row Books
Format: Paperback, 368 pages

A riveting novel about how the past never stays in the past, from the critically acclaimed author of The Drowning Girls and The Mourning Hours .

Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey are complete opposites on paper. Megan is a girl from a modest Midwest background, and Lauren is the daughter of a senator from an esteemed New England family. But in 1999, Megan and Lauren become college roommates and, as two young women struggling to find their place on campus, they forge a strong, albeit unlikely, friendship. The two quickly become inseparable, sharing clothes, advice and their most intimate secrets.

The summer before their senior year, Megan joins Lauren and her family on their private island off the coast of Maine. The weeks go by, filled with fun and relaxation, until late one night at the end of the vacation, something unspeakable happens, searing through the framework of the girls' friendship and tearing them apart. Many years later, in the midst of a political scandal, Megan finally comes forward about what happened that fateful night, revealing a horrible truth about Lauren's family and threatening to expose their long-buried secrets.

In this captivating and moving novel of domestic suspense, Paula Treick DeBoard explores the power of friendship and secrets and shows how betrayal can lead to disastrous, and deadly, consequences.

Early Praise:

"DeBoard does a wonderful job creating her realistic and flawed characters, giving even secondary characters a rich backstory and a haunting sense of intrigue. This story particularly resonates now, in the throes of the #MeToo movement." --Booklist

"A wrenching tale of broken friendship and shattered dreams." --Kirkus Reviews

"With this story of two very different young women, DeBoard portrays the lies that people tell to find acceptance and the terrible acts that powerful people casually commit." --Publishers Weekly 

"Nuanced and complex... At its heart, Here We Lie examines the seemingly unbreakable bonds of both friendship and family, and the lengths one will go to take care of their own. Compulsively readable!" --Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year and The Blackbird Season

"From her riveting first chapter, DeBoard casts a line back in time and reels an unlikely college friendship ever closer to the novel's inevitable conclusions. An absorbing exploration of how we attain personal power and the consequences of wielding it." --Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling

"... a mesmerizing tale of two former best friends and one shocking secret. Suspenseful and evocative, with pitch-perfect prose and pacing, Here We Lie is a story that resonates long after the last word. An engrossing read." --Kimberly Belle, bestselling author of The Marriage Lie

"Here We Lie takes you on a remarkable journey of two girls who learn, together and alone, to decide who they will ultimately be--it is at once observant, devastating, and thoroughly satisfying." --Emily Carpenter, author of The Weight of Lies and Burying the Honeysuckle Girls


Giveaway Details -- (US/Canada Only)
Thanks to the author,  one reader will win a copy of Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by January 27.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only and ends January 27th.

Good Luck!!!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Blog Tour & Review: The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley (audio)

Title: The Pearl Sister
Author: Lucinda Riley
Series: The Seven Sisters, #4
Narrator: Stephanie Racine, Rehanna MacDonald
Published: November 2017, Whole Story Audiobooks / January 2018, Atria Books
Length: 19 hours 54 minutes / 528 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley via Publisher

From the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home.CeCe D’Apli├Ęse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman's daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.

My thoughts: Without a doubt, this series is going down as one of my favorites! This is the latest installment, book 4, in Lucinda Riley's The Seven Sisters series and with each subsequent book, I fall more in love not only with the D'Apliese family, but also with Lucinda's writing. It is magical and just pulls you into the story so that you don't want to put the book, or audio, down until you have reached the last page. I keep saying with each new book that it's my favorite, but really - they all have been so good that I don't know if I can just single out one over the overs.

I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about reading a whole book devoted to Cece - she hasn't been the most likeable of the sisters in the previous books - and so I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this one. Well, I needn't have worried. Lucinda Riley does such a great job of writing Cece's character here -we see her come into herself as an individual person, instead of always relying on Star. Yes, she is a bit out of sorts in the beginning, but we do see some incredible strength of character and personal growth in her throughout this book. Her story is one of hope, yet also filled with a bit of sadness, but it all works to create an engaging and addicting read.

I love the dual narration in these books. So far, I have found myself equally drawn to both time lines. That doesn't always happen, as usually one is stronger or more engaging than the other. Not in the case of Lucinda's writing - she makes both equally captivating. I love that as the girls are learning about their past, we get such a rich story out of it, and in this case in particular, quite a history lesson. 

We are now just past the halfway point in this series and there are still so many unanswered questions. I like that there is this big mystery surrounding Pa Salt. Who was he and why did he adopt all these girls? And, who is the seventh sister? I keep hoping we will get answers in each book, yet I find that not only do  we not, but the mystery itself seems to get bigger and bigger. I love this - it makes me want to read the series even more and possibly at some point in the future, reread it to see if there were clues along the way! But for now, I am just savoring each book - and loving the attention to detail and being able to explore and learn about different parts of the world.

Audio thoughts: I adore listening to this series on audio - I just get lost in the narration and have found so far, that each and every narrator has done a great job telling the story. In this case, both narrators - Stephanie Racine and Rehanna MacDonald - were new to me, so I didn't know what to expect as far as their narration skills. But, I needn't have worried - I thought they did a great job and I felt that having two different narrators, one for the present and one for the past, really did make sense. 

Books in this series:
  1. The Seven Sisters
  2. The Storm Sister
  3. The Shadow Sister
  4. The Pearl Sister
  5. The Moon Sister - Due out in UK 11/18 (?), not sure when in US

About the Author:  
Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including Hothouse Flower and The Seven Sisters. Her books have sold more than ten million copies in over thirty languages. 

Lucinda divides her time between West Cork, Ireland, and Norfolk, England with her husband and four children.   

Authors Links:
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Goodreads   |   YouTube

The Pearl Sister  by Lucinda Riley 
January 23, 2018 
Hardcover ISBN: 9781501180033 
E-book ISBN: 9781501180057


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: The English Wife by Lauren Willig (audio)

Title: The English Wife
Author: Lauren Willig
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik
Published: January 2018, MacMillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 14 hours 52 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.
Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips? 

My thoughts: I have read a few books by Lauren Willig and always find myself completely myself completely wrapped up in her stories. This latest one is set during the Gilded Age and is scandalous and suspenseful all at the same time. 

I love the characters that Lauren creates - they are all so well-drawn that you can't help but find yourself completely engaged in their tale. In this case, there are some really good characters and then there are some deliciously devious characters - and at times, it is sometimes hard to figure out which side they are on. Let's just mention the mother here...she's overly domineering and hard to like, but she is quite memorable for sure!

The story is told from two timelines that end up converging at the end. I loved this - I found myself equally engaged in both and desperately trying to figure out how and where it would all end up. The mystery really keeps you on your toes, especially as clues are slowly revealed. The added family secrets only heightened the suspense and give the story more depth. This is definitely a case of things not quite being what they seem. 

I really enjoyed this book - I found myself completely captivated from the beginning and loved the setting. I even learned a few things about the area where the story took place. I never knew that "Kill" was the dutch word for river...hence all the names of the towns along the Hudson River that have the name "Kill" in it - Peekskill, Fishkill, etc. I've lived in NY almost all my life and I never knew that. That's what I love about reading in general and reading historical fiction specially - I feel I always learn something new!

Audio thoughts: Despite the fact that I had a print copy of this book, I decided to go the audio route and what a great decision that was. While Barrie Kreinik is a new narrator to me, and I wasn't sure what to expect from her, I need not have worried - she did a great job narrating this book. She gave each character their own unique voice and the characters just came alive under her narration. This was a great book to lose oneself in and the audio did just that for me.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

Title: Just Between Us
Author: Rebecca Drake
Published: January 2018, St. Martin's Griffin
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Rebecca Drake and it definitely won't be the last. This twisty domestic thriller kept me on my toes the entire was engaging and once I started it, I had a hard time putting it down.

This is a tale about four women who have become friends because of their children. It is told from the perspectives of each of the women - and while this is a little confusing at the beginning, trying to keep each of them separate, it eventually becomes clear who is doing the narrating at different points. What I did find intriguing, though, is that as we are getting to know each of the women, it that there are hints at an underlying darkness in each of the women's past...this is what kept me reading long after my bedtime! I needed to know what it was they were hiding.

Two questions kept circling my mind as I read this - Just how far would you go for your friends? and How well do you really know your friends? As the story progresses and we start to uncover those secrets, I became more and more addicted to the story. I loved that along the way, there were these little "bombs" dropped - just little pieces of the puzzle that were revealed when you least expected them to be. This kept me guessing as to what was really going on - my brain was going into overdrive each time something new popped up.

The suspense builds slowly and the pace moves along at a good clip. The twists and turns really keep everything on edge - though I will say I did figure out one part before it was revealed. But this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book...I think it only heightened my thinking while I was reading. And I think the best part of this book is that it definitely didn't go where I thought it would. I thought I had it all figured out, but between the twists and turns and the secrets - it really keeps you guessing.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Short & Sweet Review: Private L.A. by James Patterson

Title: Private L.A.
Author: James Patterson
Series: Private #6
Published: February 2014, Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover, 425 pages
Source: Personal copy

Private Jack Morgan investigates the disappearance of the biggest superstar couple in Hollywood.

Thom and Jennifer Harlow are the perfect couple, with three perfect children. They maybe two of the biggest mega movie stars in the world, but they're also great parents, philanthropists and just all-around good people.

When they disappear without a word from their ranch, facts are hard to find. They live behind such a high wall of security and image control that even world-renowned Private Investigator Jack Morgan can't get to the truth. But as Jack keeps probing, secrets sprout thick and fast--and the world's golden couple may emerge as hiding behind a world of desperation and deception that the wildest reality show couldn't begin to unveil. Murder is only the opening scene.

***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: For me, reading this series is just pure fun...the books are easy reads, fast-paced, filled with memorable main characters - characters that are well-developed and usually come with quite strong personalities, and the cases themselves are so intriguing, you find yourself glued to the pages until everything is solved. It's an adrenaline-filled read every time!!!

I liked that in this one, it's back to having Jack Morgan at the forefront - some of the other books in this series focus on other team members, especially those that are set in other countries. In this one, though, not only do we have Jack leading the investigations, but his twin brother Tommy is back and boy oh boy, their sibling rivalry comes out in spades here. I love that this thread periodically pops up and is further developed. I also liked that we got to know a little more about Justine, one of Jack's employees. The character development that occurs in this book is pretty good.

The book is filled with crazy twists and turns and you are never quite sure where things are heading. The short chapters lead to you binge-reading this book, as is the case with most of James Patterson's books, leading to that "just one more chapter" mentality, until you find yourself at the last page. 

Books in this series:
*This list contains both the Private home office books and the Private other offices books combined. Some lists keep these as separate. And some books have 2 different names, depending on where you buy them.

     1.  Private
     2.  Private #1 Suspect
     3.  Private Games
     4.  Private London
     5.  Private Berlin
     6.  Private L.A.
     7.  Private Oz / Private Down Under 
     8.  Private India: City on Fire
     9.  Private Vegas
     10.  Private Paris
     11.  Private Rio / The Games
     12.  Private Sydney / The Missing
     12.5  Bookshots - Private Royals
     13.  Private Delhi / Count to Ten
     13.5  Bookshots - Private: Gold



Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis (audio)

Title: A Map of the Dark
Author: Karen Ellis
Series: The Searchers, #1
Narrator: Lisa Flanagan
Published: January 2018, Hachette Audio
Length: 7 hours 6 minutes
Source: Publisher

A girl, missing
A woman, searching
A killer, planning...

A thrilling new FBI series for fans of Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter.

FBI Agent Elsa Myers finds missing people.
She knows how it feels to be lost...

Though her father lies dying in a hospital north of New York City, Elsa cannot refuse a call for help. A teenage girl has gone missing from Forest Hills, Queens, and during the critical first hours of the case, a series of false leads hides the fact that she did not go willingly.

With each passing hour, as the hunt for Ruby deepens into a search for a man who may have been killing for years, the case starts to get underneath Elsa's skin. Everything she has buried - her fraught relationship with her sister and niece, her self-destructive past, her mother's death - threatens to resurface, with devastating consequences.

In order to save the missing girl, she may have to lose herself...and return to the darkness she's been hiding from for years.

My thoughts: As you might know, I am a big fan of series, especially a good mystery/crime fiction one and this one definitely falls into that category. It is the perfect combination of a police procedural and a mystery thriller and kept me engaged throughout.

I loved that this book had an eery, creepy feel to it. This is definitely an atmospheric read as much as it is a good mystery. And it is as much character-driven as it is plot-driven. Elsa proves to be a good lead character - she is complex and has her share of secrets. As in most first books to a new series, a fair bit of time is devoted to developing the characters and I think that while we do learn quite a bit about Elsa, there is much more to discover about her as the series continues. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present - it not only added an extra layer to the mystery - what really happened in her childhood - but it provided us with a glimpse into the person she is now and why that might be.

I also liked that there are intermittent chapters that allow us to see what is going on with a captive. These chapters were as chilling as they were puzzling - who was this and what would be her fate. They really added another dimension to the story.

While this book does get off to a slow start, it eventually picks up speed and never lets go. One you get straight in your mind what is going on - that the past chapters are slowly revealing Elsa's troubled childhood and that we are being told this for a reason, that the present is not only about the case but also about Elsa dealing with the downward spiral of her father's health, you slowly start to see clues emerge - not only about the case, but also about Elsa herself. And the case she is working on is quite intriguing and the twists and turns that it takes really kept me captivated.

This was a good first installment to what I hope is going to be a great series. I definitely plan on continuing and hope it isn't too long a wait for the next book.

Audio thoughts: Lisa Flanagan is a new-to-me narrator and I thought she did a good job with this audio. She gave each of the characters their own unique voice and infused just the right amount of tension and emotion into her voice as needed. I hope she continues to narrate this series - I find having the same narrator really brings consistency to the overall feeling of the series.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review & Giveaway: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins (audio)

Title: Now That You Mention It
Author: Kristan Higgins
Narrator: Xe Sands
Published: December 2017, Recorded Books / HQN
Length: 11 hours 6 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.

My thoughts: I adore Kristan Higgins and her books and so it's a no-brainer when I was approached to review this book for my blog. Of course I said yes. Kristan has this unique way of blending a good story with her trademark humor...there's the serious side and there's there's good old funny, too!

I think what I love most about Kristan Higgins' books are that she creates the most endearing characters. In this case, I loved Nora. Right from the start, I was enamored with her - how could you not be? A quirky doctor who loved Harry Potter, what's not to love? She has lived a life that would make anyone else want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over their heads, but not Nora...she always seems to find the positive in everything. And she doesn't give up on anyone...even if others seem to have given up on her. She keeps trying until she finally breaks down those walls.

But it's not only Nora that I loved. The secondary characters are also endearing in their own way. They each have their own quirks and charms that make them just as lovable and relatable as Nora. They all seem to jump off the page - that's how well-developed and real they are. And let's not forget Kristan's trademark - the pets. I loved the dog of all dogs, Boomer. A dog person myself, this dog seems like the best dog in the world, not that I am at all surprised when it comes to Kristan's imagination! And then there's Tweety, the bird. Oh Tweety, how he did provide some comic relief!

This book has all the feels. It will make you undoubtedly laugh - there are so many laugh out loud moments! - but, it will also have you reaching for a tissue a time or two. It is so well-balanced that you are never feeling one emotion for too long without it being lead to the other end. That is what I love about these books - the easy way that Kristan has of keeping it from getting too heavy or too light-hearted. 

I know when I pick up a Kristan Higgins book, I am going to get a good story. I am going to be entertained, I am going to laugh and I might even shed a tear or two - and that's a good thing.

Audio thoughts: There are just some things that go together and one of those things is definitely a Kristan Higgins book and Xe Sands narrating it - she just gets her books...the characters and the story line and all the nuances that go along with it. Xe has this way with her voice that you can feel the emotion just dripping off it, the laughter and the sadness, the comedy and the drama. It's the perfect combination and so I just knew when I saw that Xe was narrating this book that I had to listen to it and what a treat it was - this was such a fun book to listen to - the characters came alive and the story was all the more vivid for it. 

HQN Books is giving away a prize pack! Enter below...Giveaway ends February 9, 2018. 

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