Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Perfect Together by Carly Phillips (audio)

Title: Perfect Together    
Author: Carly Phillips   
Series: Serendipity's Finest, #3    
Narrator: David Barker  
Published: 2014, Recorded Books  
Length: 8.5 hours  
Source: Publisher 

In the picturesque town of Serendipity, New York, three siblings have grown up in the shadow of their proud and respected police chief father. But what do love, fate, and fortune have in store for the next generation of Serendipity’s finest?

Tired of being the easygoing daughter, always ignored in favor of her high-maintenance sister, and no longer interested in being her fiancĂ©’s trophy wife, Nicole Farnsworth calls off her wedding. All she wants is to be herself. And where better to find her destiny than Serendipity? The place where she met the one man who made her heart beat faster, and gave her the courage to reinvent her life—even if he doesn’t know it.

Officer Sam Marsden calls Serendipity home and he loves it there—even though his childhood sweetheart was stolen by his best friend. After such heartbreak, Sam fears he can’t trust his instincts when it comes to love. Yet he’s so tempted by Nicole, a woman he met only briefly but who has starred in his dreams ever since. For Nicole and Sam, opening their hearts one more time could change their lives forever. But who’ll be the first to take that chance?

My thoughts: This is the third and final book in Carly Phillips' Serendity's Finest series. I had started reading this series as soon as it came out, but fell behind and even though I didn't read the two previous books (one full-length book and one novella), enough back story was provided to make you feel as if you didn't miss out on that much. That being said, I definitely plan on going back to read the other two as soon as I get a chance!

This is Sam and Nicole's story and I liked both their characters very much and loved their journey to their HEA. Nicole is a strong character and I really admired her for what she had to put up with by deciding to move to Serendipity. She decides she wants to be her own person and not live her life according to anyone else's expectations, including her parents. Sam is strong and sexy, but very weary of trusting his heart after being left at the altar. But, sometimes, the heart wants what the heart wants, and in the case of Sam and Nicole, they really are quite perfect together. They just have a few obstacles to get by in order to get to that HEA.

What I liked about this story is that it's more than just a love story. The added drama about Nicole's father’s company and Tyler, her ex, being in Serendipity really helped to keep the plot moving fast and added a little mystery to the book. I also enjoyed the secondary romance that seemed to be brewing.

Being that this is the last book in the series, Carly Phillips does a great job of wrapping up everything in Serendipity. We get a final look at the whole Marsden clan, and even some of the supporting characters. While I'm sad to see this series ending, at least I have the middle two books to still read.

Audio Thoughts: I was a little apprehensive when I found out this book was being narrated by a male. But it turns out that David Barker did a great job with the story and all the voices, even the female ones. He was able to add emotion when needed, provide that strong male voice when needed - all-in-all, it was a great listening experience. 

I don't know why the powers-that-be decided on having a male narrate this story, but I think it works out quite well. Turns out, he narrates the whole series, so now I'm debating whether to read or listen to book 2...hmmm. What to do, what to do.

Books in this series:

   1.  Perfect Fit
   2.  Perfect Fling
   2.5  Perfect Stranger
   3.  Perfect Together

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Burn by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Title: Burn   
Author: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge    
Series: Michael Bennett, #7     
Published: September 2014, Little, Brown & Company  
Format: ARC Paperback, 401 pages   
Source: Publisher  

Detective Michael Bennett finally returns to New York City - and to the most unsettling, horrific case of his career.

At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.

Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report.

But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously - and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.

My thoughts: It's no big secret that I am a huge James Patterson fan. I read just about all his adult books - series and stand-alones - and so I was ecstatic when I heard that ARCs (advanced reading copies) of his latest Michael Bennett book would be given away at BEA this year. This was one book that I had to get above all others because I've never had an ARC James Patterson book before. While it wasn't a signed copy, I was just happy to get one!!!

This book picks up shortly after the previous book, Gone, ends, with Michael Bennett tying up a few loose ends so he and his family can finally head back to their home in NYC. Once home and back at work, Bennett finds that things don't quite go according to plan. He thinks that maybe, now that he's brought the huge crime-lord Perrine down, that he'll get himself a promotion, but the powers-that-be have different plans. Nothing gets Bennett down, and despite the lemons he's been given, he soon finds himself right back in the middle of the fray.

I will admit that this book does start off a bit slow and it isn't until quite a few chapters in that the pace finally picks up and then all of a sudden it is nonstop action. Like a fire that's slow to ignite, once it starts burning, it doesn't stop. Being involved with two seemingly unconnected cases and then having a crisis on the homefront certainly amp up the pressure for our beloved Detective Michael Bennett. Can he solve both cases before all hell breaks lose? Is there a connection between the two? 

I've enjoyed this series immensely, but I think this book is the best one yet. The way the action starts slow and builds to a crazy pace made me not want to put the book down. I typically read James Patterson's books in a day or two, but this time, I read it in just one sitting - it was that good! The only problem with that is that I now have to wait another year before my next Michael Bennett fix...

Books in this series:
  1. Step on a Crack
  2. Run For Your Life
  3. Worst Case
  4. Tick Tock
  5. I, Michael Bennett 
  6. Gone
  7. Burn

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Sunday Post #42 (9.28.14)

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

Usually my weekends are a time for me to devote huge chunks of time to reading. This weekend, however, I decided to get all my errands done on Saturday, which included picking up my new phone! I was actually eligible for an upgrade early this year - Verizon was hoping I would jump on the iPhone bandwagon, but sadly, I am an Android girl and love my Samsong Galaxy phone! I upgraded to the Galaxy 5 and spent the day playing around with it, trying to get used to all the new features. So far, I love it!!!

Today's plan is to get caught up on reviews - I need to get back to scheduling my reviews for the week. Trying to write them each morning is making for a stressful girl and I want to go back to enjoying blogging. So, no reading today until I get this week all planned out and my reviews written!

Have a great week everyone!!! 
Last week on the Blog:            
* Review: Barefoot in the Rain by Roxanne St. Claire
* Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne  
* Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in September 26

Books Read:        
* Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne (review book)  
* Burn by James Patterson (review book)
* In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins (review book)

 Currently Reading:              

* Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan (review book)               
* Close to Home by Lisa Jackson (review audio book)

Books Up Next:                  
* Gutenburg's Apprentice by Alix Christie (review book)  
* Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (review book)   

Current Giveaways:            
* Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne...1 copy. Ends 9.30.14

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Burn by James Patterson

* Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell  
* Month in Review: September 2014
* Review: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins (with giveaway!!!)
* Review: Perfect Together by Carly Phillips
Book Haul:     
For Review:
* The Distance by Helen Giltrow (Netgalley)

* The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (Netgalley)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in September 26

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

Today I went and renewed my membership at the gym. I haven't really been there since the early spring, but now that it's getting lighter out later in the mornings, I think I will go back to going to the gym first thing in the mornings to walk on the treadmill a few days a week. Plus, I desperately need to get back to my yoga classes - I miss them and can feel the difference not going once or twice a week makes. 

As part of my membership, I get a free 1-hour session with a personal trainer. I used to work out with a trainer twice a week a few years ago, but stopped. Now that my fitness goals have changed, I'm interested in seeing what the trainer can suggest. I do plan on walking another 1/2 marathon next spring and possibly a full marathon next summer. Maybe he/she can give me some strength-building exercises to do in preparation for that!  

Here's how my week went:  

Sep 20:  rest
Sep 21:  rest
Sep 22:  30 minutes
Sep 23:  30 minutes

Sep 24:  45 minutes
Sep 25:  30 minutes

Sep 26:  45 minutes
How did your week go?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (audio)

Title: The Cuckoo's Calling   
Author: Robert Galbraith    
Series: Cormoran Strike, #1    
Narrator: Robert Glenister  
Published: May 2013, Hachette Audio
Length: 16 hours  
Source: Library 

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

My thoughts: In typical fashion, I once again am behind the times in finding out about this series. Of course, by the time I did hear about it, I already knew that Robert Galbraith was really the pen name that JK Rowling adopted for her new adult series, but that wasn't what drew me to this book. It was the storyline itself. I love a good mystery/crime book and had been hearing really good things about this book.

I felt that all the characters in the book were quite well developed and strong. Cormoran Strike is a unique character is his own right. He's rough around the edges at times, but as you get to know time and as the story progresses, you end up caring for him and even liking him. Robin, the temporary assistant that's assigned to his office, is like a breath of fresh air for him. She's capable, intelligent and even enjoys helping him out. I loved their interactions throughout the book and can't wait to see how their working relationship pans out as the series progresses.

The first case we see Strike working on involves a famous supermodel who fell to her death from her balcony window. Her adopted brother insists this was not a suicide, as the police have determined it to be, and offers Strike a substantial fee to take the case. With Strike investigating, we not only meet a whole cast of characters, all pretty well-flushed out, but we start to really get to know Strike through flash-backs of his past. 

I never guessed who the murderer was, though I did have plenty of incorrect guesses as the book progressed. Each time Strike came up with something new, I thought I had it figured out, only to be proven wrong. The intrigue was there, though, and kept me glued to the book, hoping that I would finally figure it out!

I really did enjoy this first installment and am looking forward to the next one. I've decided to do this series on audio instead of print. Hopefully I can get all the books in audio format!

Audio Thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Robert Glenister narrate a book and I loved listening to him. He did a great job with all the voices, including the female ones. Even though this was a long audio book (16 hours!), I was fortunate to listen to huge chunks at one time. I thought the production was well-done and couldn't wait to get back to it. I just hope that they use the same narrator for the whole series!

Books in this series: 
  1. The Cuckoo's Calling
  2. The Silkworm

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

Title: Angel Killer    
Author: Andrew Mayne     
Series: Jessica Blackwood, #1     
Published: September 2014, Bourbon Street Books   
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  

FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she has successfully left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her . . . until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A mysterious hacker, who identifies himself only as “Warlock,” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place. It hides the GPS coordinates of a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground . . . as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family, and her legacy, to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old copy of Magician Magazine will turn Jessica’s carefully constructed world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to seemingly achieving the impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to embrace her gifts and stop a depraved killer?

If she can’t, she may become his next victim.

My thoughts: I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Mayne at BEA this past Spring during the Harper Collins Party, where he was doing magic tricks and chatting it up with us bloggers. He talked a little about his upcoming book and I knew it was something I wanted to read. I was fortunate to get an advanced copy that night and then when I found out TLC was doing a tour for the book, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of it.

This is the first book of what I think will be a fun, intriguing series. I love the premise behind it - a magician-turned cop-turned FBI agent. Add to that the fact that the author himself is a magician and I was completely hooked. Once I started reading, I found I couldn't put the book down - I was just flying through the pages, completely drawn in, and needing to find out what was going to come next. 

I loved the character of Jessica Blackwood. She's great at her job, able to provide that attention to detail that magicians thrive on, yet insecure about not being taken seriously due to her background. This drives her to work even harder to catch the killer, leading to an even more thrilling pace. I am very intrigued by her relationship with Damien and wonder just how that will play out in future books - at least I hope he continues to be part of the series! There's something curious about him that needs to be further explored.

I will readily admit that I usually don't go crazy for anything having to do with magic or magicians. I haven't ever been to or watched any of the famous magic shows - David Copperfield or Penn & Teller, but this book just called to me. I loved how the magic tricks were explained in such a way that it didn't seem to ruin the magic, but rather provided a sneak peak into the magician's bag of tricks. The marriage of magic and FBI just works. And I really enjoyed it...so much so that I cannot wait until the next book in this series comes out.

About the author: Andrew Mayne is the star of A&E’s magic reality show Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, and has worked for David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine. He lives in Los Angeles.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook

To see who else is participating in Andrew Mayne's Angel Killer tour, click here

I ended up with two copies of this amazing book which means that you, my readers, benefit! I am giving away  one copy of Angel Killer. The only catch is that the giveaway book is an advanced reading copy (an ARC).
To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends September 30th.

Good luck!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Barefoot in the Rain by Roxanne St. Claire

Title: Barefoot in the Rain   
Author: Roxanne St. Claire    
Series: Barefoot Bay, #2      
Published: October 2012, Forever   
Format: Paperback,     
Source: Personal copy   

They say you can never go home again . . .

When "Life Coach to the Stars" Jocelyn Bloom is embroiled in scandal, the only place she can hide is the one place she wishes she could forget. She left Barefoot Bay-and the boy next door who knew all her secrets-years ago. Now nothing about the tiny island off the coast of Florida is quite how she remembers it, especially Will Palmer. He's even more gorgeous and tempting . . . and still capable of turning her world inside out.

But what if someone is waiting for you?

To Will Palmer, Guy Bloom is more than the elderly, senile neighbor he looks after-he's the last connection to Jocelyn, the woman Will loved and lost. But the reunion with Jocelyn doesn't go smoothly. Shocked by the change in her father's personality, Jocelyn struggles to reconcile her dark childhood with the sweet, confused man who has grown close to Will. Jocelyn has guided countless clients to happiness-but can she escape the rainy days of her past for a new sunny future with Will?
***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: As soon as I had read the first book in this series, Barefoot in the Sand, I just knew it was going to be a series I was going to continue reading. The characters are completely relatable, the story lines feel as if they could happen in real life and the romance is sweet.

This book is more than just a romance novel, though. It touches on real life issues, including Alzheimer's and domestic abuse. The emotion that comes out of the characters is raw and real, and had me tearing up quite a few times. But, the story is also uplifting - it's about second chances. It finds the main character, Jocelyn, answering the question, how far would you go for those you love?

I enjoyed the first book in this series and had been looking forward to reading this one. Jocelyn's story is heartbreaking and I found myself rooting for her all the way. I thought Wil was a great match for her and loved watching them find their way to their HEA again. As in the previous book, the three friends were great as secondary characters, as was the town. I can't wait to catch up with these characters again soon with Zoe's story, which is up next!

Books in this series:
  1. Barefoot in the Sand
  2. Barefoot in the Rain
  3. Barefoot in the Sun
  4. Barefoot by the Sea

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