Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer (audio)

Title: An Island Christmas    
Author: Nancy Thayer       
Narrator: Tanya Eby  
Published: October 2014, Brilliance Audio  
Length: 4 hours 39 minutes  
Source: Library 

In this enchanting holiday novel from New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer, family and friends gather on Nantucket for a gorgeous winter wedding with plenty of merry surprises in store.

As Christmas draws near, Felicia returns to her family’s home on the island to marry her adventurous, rugged boyfriend, Archie. Every detail is picture-perfect for a dream wedding: the snow-dusted streets, twinkling lights in the windows, a gorgeous red and white satin dress. Except a lavish ceremony is not Felicia’s dream at all; it’s what her mother, Jilly, wants. Jilly’s also worried that her daughter’s life with daredevil Archie will be all hiking and skydiving. Wondering if their handsome neighbor Steven Hardy might be a more suitable son-in-law, Jilly embarks on a secret matchmaking campaign for Felicia and the dashing stockbroker.

As the big day approaches and Jilly’s older daughter, Lauren, appears with rambunctious kids in tow, tensions in the household are high. With the family careening toward a Yuletide wedding disaster, an unexpected twist in Nancy Thayer’s heartwarming tale reminds everyone about the true meaning of the season.

My thoughts: This is Nancy Thayer's second holiday novel, and it is just as charming as the first. While it isn't a sequel by any means, it does take place in Nantucket like the other one and does bring back some familiar characters. 

This story is all about Jilly and her family. Jilly's daughter is coming home to get married and she isn't all that thrilled about her soon-to-be son-in-law. As the family gathers under one roof, there are quite a few misadventures that provide for some humorous moments. Between the hectic pace of the holiday season, the upcoming wedding, having family coming to stay, and the new cat, there wasn't a dull moment to be had. And through it all, the message of family and love comes through loud and clear.

This is a great holiday story, though in truth, it really can be read, or listened to, at any time. It once again only adds to my desire to one day make it to Nantucket...there doesn't seem to be a bad time to go - winter, summer, fall or spring - is there a bad time to visit Nantucket?

Audio Thoughts: Tanya Eby does a great job with the narration of this book. She is able to give all the characters unique voices and infuse just the right amount of stress or emotion into everyone's voice as needed, especially Jilly. I really enjoy listening to books Tanya narrates - I can always count on a good listening experience when she's doing the narrating!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods (audio)

Title: The Christmas Bouquet   
Author: Sherryl Woods   
Series: Chesapeake Shores, #11    
Narrator: Christina Traister  
Published: October 2014, Brilliance Audio / Harlequin MIRA  
Length: 6 hours 33 minutes / 288 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley 

When it comes to family and Christmas, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods always looks to the O'Briens for a little holiday magic...

For the very driven medical student Caitlyn Winters, catching the bridal bouquet at a Christmas wedding has set off a chain reaction that she's sure is more curse than blessing. Not only has she fallen in love with family medicine resident Noah McIlroy, but an unexpected pregnancy threatens her well-laid plans for the future. It doesn't help that Noah—with a whole lot of help from her O'Brien relatives—is completely on board with the prospect of marriage and happily-ever-after.

It takes a whole lot of patience, love and family persuasion to help Caitlyn realize that she can still have everything she ever wanted, including a home in her beloved Chesapeake Shores and a man who understands all of her dreams.

My thoughts: I love Sherryl Woods' Chesapeake Shores series and this is the latest installment. I fell in love with the wonderfully loud, boisterous, noisy and loving O'Brien clan from the very first book and was glad when Sherryl Woods decided to keep writing these books after her readers begged her to.

Having basically watched the O'Brien family grow up, it's hard to believe that this story focuses on Abbie's daughter - I remember reading one of the earlier books when Caitlyn and her twin sister, Carrie, were wreaking havoc - and now they are all grown up. Oh the magic of novel writing - and one of the reasons why Sherryl Woods had to be convinced to keep writing - technically the matriarch of the family, Nell O'Brien would be long gone by now, but Sherryl refuses to kill her off, so she is aging some characters and keeping others forever the same. 

But back to this story...what I loved about this book is that going in, you know there's going to be a happy ending - that's just what a romance novel is going to give you. And while I wouldn't classify these books as strictly romance, they do have a strong romantic element to them. I also knew it was a given that Caitlyn would have to give up her dreams once she realized she was pregnant. What I wasn't expecting is just how genuine and understanding Noah would be. He was willing to do whatever it took for Caitlyn to be ok with how things were with their new normal. Of course, he didn't plan on having a boisterous family at his back every step of the way.

I love this series because it reminds me of my family - not that it's quite as large as the O'Brien clan, but the way they are always there for each other, ready to stick up for and help each other out at a moment's notice. Of course, they can also be in the way just as often! I am definitely looking forward to catching up with this series, hopefully seeing what happens with Caitlyn's twin sister Carrie at some point.

Audio Thoughts: This is the first book in this series that I listened to and I found it to be a fun, easy book to listen to. It's also the first time I've listened to Christina Traister narrate a book and I thought she did a great job. I think she narrates the next book in this series and as I'm a bit behind, I might just try another one on audio! I also will be seeing what else she narrates as I enjoyed listening to her.

Books in this series:
  1. The Inn at Eagle Point                          9.  The Summer Garden
  2. Flowers on Main                                    10.  A Seaside Christmas
  3. Harbor Lights                                        11.  The Christmas Bouquet
  4. A Chesapeake Shores Christmas     12.  Dogwood Hill
  5. Driftwood Cottage                                13.  Willow Brook Road
  6. Moonlight Cove                                    
  7. Beach Lane 
  8. An O'Brien Family Christmas

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio)

Title: Cross Bones   
Author: Kathy Reichs    
Series: Temperance Bones, #8      
Narrator: Michele Pawk   
Published: June 2005, Simon & Schuster Audio  
Length: 11 hours 30 minutes  
Source:  Library  

When an Orthodox Jew is found shot to death in Montreal, Temperance Brennan is called in to examine the body and to figure out the puzzling damage to the corpse. Unexpectedly, a stranger slips her a photograph of a skeleton and assures her the picture is the key to the victim's death. Before she knows it, Tempe is involved in an international mystery as old as Jesus, a mystery that could rewrite 2000 years of religious history.

Tempe learns that the stranger's picture shows bones uncovered during an archeological dig. She discovers the Montreal shooting victim ran an import business that might have fronted for the trade of black market antiquities. Along with Detective Andrew Ryan and biblical archeologist Jake Drum, Tempe travels to Israel to probe the origins of the skeleton and the ancient crypt in which it was found.

They make a startling discovery that raises radical questions about Christ's death and places them squarely in the middle of a swirling controversy. Could one of the tombs really be Christ's last resting place? Or, has someone concocted an elaborate hoax?
***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 very interesting installment of the Temperance Brennan series. As I slowly make my way through, I find that with each book, I pick up a new fact or interesting tidbit that I never knew and I love that. This book, though, really had me intrigued. It involves a finding that has the potential to rewrite Christian history.

Taking us from Montreal to Israel, I felt there was much more archaeology in this book than in the previous books. I also loved the romance that continues to build between Tempe and Ryan - the "tap pants" refrain had me chuckling a few times. I also could totally relate to the description Tempe gives of her cooking versus Ryan cooking - she's all basic and he can create masterpieces - this is exactly how it is in my house with me and my husband!

What I love about this series is that each book seems so very different from the others. I haven't yet felt that same oldness that I occasionally feel from other series. I still have a way to go, but I really hope that I don't get that feeling with this one.

Audio thoughts: Yay - the same narrator for two books in a row!!! Can you tell I like consistency when it comes to narrating a series? If you've been following along, you know that I'm trying to catch up with this series and am annoyed that the narrator seems to switch with every book...but there is finally some consistency with books 7 & 8. Dare I hope book 9 follows suit? 

I did enjoy Michele Pawk's narration - I like her Tempe voice and enjoy her French accents and pronunciation. I would be very happy if she would continue narrating the rest of the 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                    18.  Speaking in Bones - due out Jul 2015
  10. Bones to Ashes
  11. Devil Bones

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag (audio)

Title: Cold Cold Heart   
Author: Tami Hoag    
Narrator: Julia Whelan   
Published: January 2015, Brilliance Audio    
Length: 12 hours 20 minutes  
Source: Publisher 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag delivers a shocking new thriller

Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims.  Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep.  Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together.  But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school.  Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past.  Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies.  Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…

My thoughts: I was really excited for this book to come out - I've really come to enjoy Tami Hoag's books. In fact, she's become one of my auto-authors - I see she has a book coming out and it automatically goes on my list. She's also an author who's books I find work really well on audio, so whether it's through my audio contacts or my audible subscription or the library, I know I'll be in for a great listening treat, and this one was no exception.

This book really could have been a continuation of the last Kovac/Liska book, The 9th Girl, as Dana was the 9th victim of that serial killer. This explains why Kovac and Liska were involved, as Dana is the only victim to survive, but they really only play a small part in the beginning of the book. Not really sure if this is all needed, but it does tie it all together, especially if you've read the other book. (I did and I highly recommend it!!!) 

What follows is a remarkably chilling thriller. Dana is dealing with the physical and emotional wounds from her ordeal, along with major PTSD. She is definitely not the person she was before she was attacked and is struggling to come to terms with that, as is her family. As she convalesces, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her long lost best friend when a familiar face strikes a cord and reminds her of the past.

What I love about Tami Hoag's books is that I am constantly guessing as to who the killer is. Every time I think I have it, I am foiled. She introduces us to such rich, developed characters, some immediately likeable and some immediately unlikeable and suspicious. It was so hard to know who was trustworthy and who wasn't and I kept wavering on some of the characters, which kept me hooked on the story. I wanted to know who the bad guy was so bad and was so anxious for Dana as she got more and more involved in finding out what happened to Casey.

Another great story from Tami Hoag and I can't wait to dig into the next. Have you read any by her? If so, what's your favorite?

Audio Thoughts: Julia Whelan does a great job with the narration of this audio book. She is able to give each character their own unique voice and infuse just the right amount of tension and fear in the voices when needed. I find that really enhances mystery/thriller books. 


Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen

Title: Your Last Breath    
Author: Iris Johansen    
Series: Catherine Ling, #4     
Published: April 2015, St. Martin's Press    

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an explosive new thriller

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. Luke was kidnapped at age two, and now, nine years later, he has astonishingly been returned to her. Catherine vows never to fail him again. Now, just as she is building a relationship with Luke, it seems that someone from Catherine’s past is playing a deadly game with her, and using those she cares about as pawns. Three are dead already: the former prostitute who helped Catherine when she was out on the street, a CIA agent with whom she worked closely, and the informant who helped her free Luke. Someone is picking off the people Catherine cares about one by one, with the circle narrowing closer and closer to those she loves the most. Catherine has made many enemies throughout her life, and she has no choice but to weed through her past to find out who is targeting her now, and then go after the vicious killer herself.

Thanks to
Karen at St. Martin's Press, one reader can win a copy of  Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen. (Please note this is an advanced copy edition.)  To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by June 1st.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends June 1st.
Good Luck!!! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Sunday Post #73 (5.24.15)

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 BEA week...I'm off to the city on Tuesday and BEA is Wednesday - Friday, then I'm home on Saturday. It will be a whirlwind of the week and I am so excited!!! I still have to pack, finish up my schedule and get a few other odds and ends tied up, so today and tomorrow will be hectic, but I am really looking forward to it. I'll try to tweet a bit and post some instagram pictures while I'm there, but I'm not promising anything - it's so crazy while there, but I will definitely be posting a recap of the whole event, so stay tuned for that! I do have some reviews set to be posted - hopefully they go live (otherwise the blog will be quiet!).  
Have a great week everyone!!!

Last week on the Blog:                              

* Blog Tour & Review: Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear
* Review: I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster  
* Review: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison
* Guest Post: Kristy Woodson Harvey
* #FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 22

Books Read:                      
* The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe (audio book) 
* I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster (review book) 
* Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (review audio book)
* The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (review e-book)   
Currently Reading:            
* The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review book)          

* Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley  (audio book)
* Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs (library audio book)

Books Up Next:                               

* The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review book)    
* The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller (review e-book)

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen  

* Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
* Review: Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
* Review: The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods  
* Review: An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer
Recent Giveaway Winners:
* At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor...Carol Wong
* Daydreams in Dixie by Beth Albright...Rose Milligan 
Book Haul:      
For Review:
* A Wedding on Primrose Street by Sheila Roberts (Netgalley)
* Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne (Courtesy of Publisher)

* Second Life by S.J. Watson (Courtesy of Publisher)
* All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank (Courtesy of Publisher)
* The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer (audio, Courtesy of Publicist)

* The Wrong Man by Kate White (Courtesy of Publisher)
* A Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax (Courtesy of Publicist) 
* The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

* Thought I Knew You by Kate Moretti

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 22

It was a crazy-busy week, work-wise, as I was trying to finish up some projects before starting my vacation on Friday. I started the week off strong, but then my back started acting up again, so I decided to take it easy the rest of the week. I'm heading into the city next week for BEA (Book Expo of America) and I know I will be on the my feet, doing a lot of walking around for the 3 days I'm there. It's still bothering me a bit, but with some more rest over the next few days, I think I should be ok.
Here's how my week went:  

May 16:  4,687 steps
May 17  8,741 steps
May 18:   5k at gym (16,546 steps)
May 19:  20 minute fitness walk with dog  (7,958 steps)

May 20:  20 minute fitness walk with dog (7,324 steps)

May 21:  5,064 steps
May 22:  9,012 steps
Audiobooks listened to this week - Finished  The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe, narrated by Mary Alice Monroe and started Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley, narrated by Emily Lucienne.

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

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