Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Title: In a Dark, Dark Wood   
Author: Ruth Ware         
Published: August 2015, Scout Press  
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages    
Source: Publisher   

Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room....

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

My thoughts: I was fortunate to get a signed copy of this book at BEA this year and couldn't wait to read it...I love a good psychological thriller and let me tell you - this definitely fits the bill and then some!!! I loved it and haven't stopped thinking about it. This is definitely a keeper and I certainly plan on rereading it sometime in the future to savor it all again and again.

I loved the way this book was written. The way it goes back and forth between the present with Nora waking up in the hospital and trying to figure out what exactly happened and just prior to that at the hen party where everything happens. Nora herself becomes somewhat of an unreliable narrator in that she has a major head injury, and unable to remember what really happened, you question what she does remember. As the story slowly pieces the night together, it becomes a chilling tale.

The characters that Ruth Ware has created are wonderfully delicious in that they are so easily liked or hated, with some even both liked and hated. They are well-developed and even the setting itself, the glass house in the woods becomes a character at times. Add in the fact that once you're at the house, you are cut off from the outside world - cell phone service is non-existent and a snow storm seems to isolate them even further. It only adds to the darkness and suspense of the book. 

This book had me guessing until the end how it would play out. It is clear from the beginning that something sinister is going to happen and it's hard to walk away from the book until you find out what. The short chapters will keep you reading just a little bit more until you find that you are at the very end. I devoured this book and cannot wait to see what comes next from Ruth Ware - she is definitely going on my authors-to-watch list!!!

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

Title: Bones to Ashes   
Author: Kathy Reichs    
Series: Temperance Brennan, #10     
Narrator: Linda Emond  
Published: August 2007, Recorded Books  
Length: 10 hours 30 minutes  
Source: Library   
Temperance Brennan, like her creator Kathy Reichs, is a brilliant, sexy forensic anthropologist called on to solve the toughest cases. But for Tempe, the discovery of a young girl's skeleton in Acadia, Canada, is more than just another assignment. Evangeline, Tempe's childhood best friend, was also from Acadia. Named for the character in the Longfellow poem, Evangeline was the most exotic person in Tempe's eight-year-old world. When Evangeline disappeared, Tempe was warned not to search for her, that the girl was "dangerous."Thirty years later, flooded with memories, Tempe cannot help wondering if this skeleton could be the friend she lost so many years ago. And what is the meaning of the strange skeletal lesions found on the bones of the young girl?

Meanwhile, Tempe's beau, Ryan, investigates a series of cold cases. Three girls dead. Four missing. Could the New Brunswick skeleton be part of the pattern? As Tempe draws on the latest advances in forensic anthropology to penetrate the past, Ryan hunts down a serial predator.
***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 good installment in the Temperance Brennan series. Not necessarily my favorite, but still a good story. The case is set in Quebec, so there is quite a bit of French and we do get a bit of French Canadian history thrown in. 

While the case is personal to Tempe as it reminds her of a long-lost friend, what really kept my interest piqued was the fact that Harry, Tempe's sister was back. I loved the interactions between the two sisters and the ones in this book were pretty good at times. Harry even manages to help Tempe with her case, even going so far as to go off on her own to do some investigating. Not the best move on Harry's part, but it kept the story fresh and interesting. 

What I didn't like is the on-going Tempe/Ryan seems we've come to the off part of their relationship. I have a feeling that they are going to be like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli - right up to the very last book their relationship will be in question. I guess only time will tell...

To me, the personal story lines are what made this book more so than the forensic case. I guess that's to be expected in this series and I'm ok with that. It would be bad if I didn't like the main characters and didn't care for their personal lives - then I would have a hard time staying with the series. I'm invested in these characters and want to know what's going on with them, so this book actually worked for me.

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Linda Emond narrate and I really enjoyed listening to her. I thought she did a great job with the voices and the accents when necessary. I'm thrilled that she will be narrating the next bunch of books coming up - as many of you know, my major complaint with this series has been the lack of consistency with the narrator.

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                     17.5  Bones on Ice
  10. Bones to Ashes                      18.  Speaking in Bones
  11. Devil Bones

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens (audio)

Title: Those Girls    
Author: Chevy Stevens      
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie, Emily Woo Zeller, Nicol Zanzarella
Published: July 2015, Blackstone Audio  
Length: 11 hours 29 minutes   
Source: Personal copy via Audible 

Chevy Stevens is back with her most powerful, emotional thriller yet— a story of survival…and revenge.

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.

Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.

This time there’s nowhere left to run.

As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, THOSE GIRLS is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil.

My thoughts: I'm a big fan of Chevy Stevens' books, in particular I love listening to her books on audio. I find that they are the perfect books to listen to - the thriller/mystery aspect of the story just keeps my attention and makes for a great listening experience. I couldn't wait to start listening to this one and loved every minute of it.

This book kept me hooked and thinking about it when I wasn't listening to it. I ended up finishing it in three days because I just couldn't walk away from it - I had to know what was going to happen next and how it would all play out. It was twisted and dark and, yes, there are some pretty graphic scenes in it, so be forewarned if you don't like those types of scenes. Even now, I haven't stopped thinking about those girls and all they went through.

What these three sisters endured is sad and unbelievable, but yet could happen and probably does more than we'd like to admit in real life. That's what makes this story so incredible and even relatable. Just what secrets are the people you meet every day keeping hidden from all to see? 

This book tackles the bonds between sisters, but is goes so much deeper. It's about abuse in all its forms and just how rampant it truly is. And it's about strength, one's personal strength to rise above what they've come from and move on. It's about family and love and learning to deal with all that entails. The suspense that's woven in will leave you on the edge of your seat and you will find yourself unable to stop thinking of those girls once you open this book.

Audio Thoughts: I loved the audio production of this book - it was great! The narrators did a fantastic job portraying the different voices and emotions of the story and building up the suspense when warranted. They portrayed just enough raw emotion to make it seem real and I thought it was perfect. I've listened to Jorjeana Marie narrate before, but it was the first time listening to both Emily Woo Zeller and Nicol Zanzarella narrate, and I will certainly be checking them all out again.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in August 21

It's been a while since I last checked in - I was sick and then I was on vacation for two weeks, one week of which we spent at the beach!!! I haven't really been working out regularly because I was sick and not eating properly, so I felt that my body didn't have the proper fuel to handle any big workouts. I take some nice walks each morning on the beach, though, which was delightful and am desperately missing that. They weren't fast walks by any means as I was too busy trying to find beach glass, but they were good long walks, plus walking in the sand adds a whole new dimension to your workout - it really works your legs!!! I have been pretty diligent with yoga lately - not going to classes, but just doing some yoga flows at home, and even at the beach. I've found some I really like and seem to be sticking with it for now. I'm hoping that whatever stomach issues I've had have finally gone away and I can get back to my regular workouts soon. I'm off to my mom's in North Carolina this week coming up as she's having surgery and so I'm not sure how much I'll get done, but hopefully by the time I get back, all will be back to normal.
Audiobooks listened to last few weeks :

  • Finished The Summer End by Mary Alice Monroe, narrated by Mary Alice Monroe  
  • Started The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance
How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey

Title: No Virgin Island   
Author: C. Michele Dorsey    
Series: A Sabrina Salter Mystery, #1     
Published: August 2015, Crooked Lane Books  
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages     

Sabrina Salter traded a high-pressure job as a Boston meteorologist for life as an innkeeper on sun-soaked St. John. But storm clouds roll in when Sabrina finds Carter Johnson, her most attractive guest, tucked up in a hammock way past check-out time...and he’s not just dead to the world, he’s just plain dead, with a bullet hole in his chest.

This isn’t the first time Sabrina has seen a dead body, and the island police are well aware of that. Thanks to her checkered history, not to mention the fact that she was the last person who saw Carter alive and far from entirely clothed, she finds herself marked as the prime suspect.

The U.S. Virgin Islands may be the sort of place where even defense attorneys wear flip-flops, but the laid-back life is over for Sabrina unless she can clear her name. So, she sets out to solve the crime, only to find herself caught in a tidal wave of adultery, kidnapping, identity fraud and murder in No Virgin Island, C. Michele Dorsey's outstanding mystery debut.

Thanks to
the publisher,
one reader can win a copy of  No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey.   To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by August 27th.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends August 27th.

Good Luck!!! 

Review: A New Hope by Robyn Carr

Title: A New Hope   
Author: Robyn Carr    
Series: Thunder Point, #8     
Published: June 2015, MIRA  
Format: ARC E-copy, 336 pages   
Source: Netgalley   

Starting over is never easy, but in Thunder Point, where newcomers are welcome and friends become family, it's possible to find yourself again. In this brand-new story, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr takes us on a moving and rewarding journey as a young woman finds new hope.

After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, and with the help of her cousin Ray Anne, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she's excited to start her first big assignment, assisting with the Lacoumette wedding.

In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger finds herself swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride's brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own recent divorce, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself and Ginger when he tries to make a pass at her, forcing Ginger to flee the scene in embarrassment.

But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Discovering they have a lot in common, they form a solid friendship, though everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.

My thoughts: This is the 8th book in Robyn Carr's Thunder Point series and with each book I find myself loving the series even more! As much as I loved her other series, Virgin River, I think this one might be my favorite...there's just something charming and endearing about the setting and the characters that just pull me into the story, and this one in particular, that I just love.

I'm going to admit right off the bat, this story had personal meaning to me. As soon as I met Ginger in an earlier book, I was eager for her story, desperately wanting her to have her own book and finally was excited, yet cautious to read it. I knew it would be a more heartbreaking read, but I so wanted to see her get her HEA. Ginger holds a soft spot in my heart and I loved watching her learn to overcome her grief and move on without feeling guilty. And I think Matt was her perfect compliment. He, too, has suffered loss, and needed to learn how to deal with that, and together they are able to work out how to let go. I loved how they became friends first and then moved on from there.

This book deals with a lot of heavy issues - loss and letting go and family being the two core themes and I loved that. Besides Ginger and Matt, there is also the storyline involving Grace and her mother, which is both endearing and heartwarming. If you've read the earlier books, you can appreciate just how far this relationship has come. If you haven't, no worries, Robyn Carr gives you a quick background setup. We are also introduced to a few new faces, including the new nurse Grace hires for her mother, Lin Su, and her son, and if I'm not mistaken, I think they just might be the focus of a future book...

I really enjoy this series. While there's always a bit of romance, it's not just about that. The stories have substance and the characters are strong and relatable. It gives you a sense of hope as the characters work through their issues and find their HEA. And the issues the characters have aren't silly ones, but real, everyday issues you and I might have. Reading about a character that's been in my shoes or a similar situation and seeing how they deal/move on is almost therapeutic in a way.  That's why I love this series and why I hope it's around for a long while!

Books in this series: 

  1. The Wanderer                   7.  One Wish
  2. The Newcomer                 8.  A New Hope
  3. The Hero                             9.  Wildest Dreams - due out Aug 25, 2015               
  4. The Chance 
  5. The Promise
  6. The Homecoming

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Short & Sweet Review: Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio)

Title: Break No Bones    
Author: Kathy Reichs    
Series: Temperance Brennan, #9     
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblatt  
Published: July 2006, Recorded Books  
Length: 10 hours 30 minutes  
Source: Library  
Following the tremendous success of "Cross Bones, "Kathy Reichs explores another high-profile topic in Break No Bones -- a case that lands forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan in the middle of a gruesome international scheme. Summoned to South Carolina to fill in for a negligent colleague, Tempe is stuck teaching a lackluster archaeology field school in the ruins of a Native American burial ground on the Charleston shore. But when Tempe stumbles upon a fresh skeleton among the ancient bones, her old friend Emma Rousseau, the local coroner, persuades her to stay on and help with the investigation. When Emma reveals a disturbing secret, it becomes more important than ever for Tempe to help her friend close the case.

The body count begins to climb. An unidentified man is found hanging from a tree deep in the woods. Another corpse shows up in a barrel. There are mysterious nicks on bones in several bodies, and signs of strangulation. Tempe follows the trail to a free street clinic with a belligerent staff, a suspicious doctor, and a donor who is a charismatic televangelist. Clues abound in the most unlikely places as Tempe uses her unique knowledge and skills to build her case, even as the local sheriff remains dubious and her own life is threatened.

Tempe's love life is also complicated. Ryan, her current flame, has come down to visit her from Montreal, and Pete, her former husband, is investigating the disappearance of a local woman -- and he and Tempe are staying in the same borrowed beach house. Ryan and Pete compete for her attentions, and Tempe finds herself more distracted by her feelings for both men than she expected.

"Break No Bones" is a smart, taut thriller featuring the kind of high-stakes crime that makes the headlines every week. Reichs, the inspiration for the hit FOX TV show Bones, is writing at the top of her form, and Tempe has never been more compelling.
***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 another good installment in the Temperance Brennan series. Despite being a bit behind in the series, I love that I am able to pick up the next book rather quickly, rather than having to wait a whole year...and I'm hoping to be totally caught up by the time next year's book comes out!

What I loved about this book was that I felt there was a fairly even balance between the casework and Tempe's personal life. Tempe is called to South Carolina to fill in at a field school when the students come across recent remains at the burial site. As she digs a little deeper and more bones begin to appear, she realizes this case has become bigger than she anticipated.

On the personal front, Pete, Tempe's ex, shows up in South Carolina and ends up bunking with her at the beach house she's staying at. Being in close quarters makes her realize that her feelings aren't quite as resolved towards Pete as she thought. And when her boyfriend Ryan shows up, things become further complicated and stressful for all. Quite the predicament for Tempe and it only gets further complicated when Pete is shot. 

With a pace that moves fairly quickly and an interesting case, plus the romantic troubles that Tempe finds herself in, this book kept me hooked and eager to see how it would play out on all levels. It was a new angle for this series and I quite enjoyed it! Can't wait for the next one!!!

Audio thoughts: I'm so glad to hear Barbara Rosenblatt narrate again...she narrated an earlier book and I really enjoyed her narration. She does a good job with the voices and her pacing is good. As I've said in earlier reviews of this series, my only complaint has been that there's been no consistency with the narrator. They've all been good, but it would be nice to have one consistent narrator for a 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                     17.5  Bones on Ice
  10. Bones to Ashes                      18.  Speaking in Bones
  11. Devil Bones

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