Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Giveaway Winners

The winners of January's giveaway are: 


Silver Girl
By: Elin Hilderbrand

Winner: Mamabunny







Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
By: Rhoda Janzen

Winner: Rachel W








What I Thought I Knew
By: Alice Eve Cohen

Winner: Tiffany Drew


 
Sand in My Eyes
By: Christine Lemmon

Winner: Margie










Thanks to all who entered and don't forget to stop by next month to see a new set of books up for grabs!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Tailspin by Catherine Coulter

First line: She thought she swallowed because her throat burned hot, as if splashed with sharp acid, but she wasn't sure because she couldn't think clearly.

From the back cover: FBI Special Agent Jackson Crowne is flying renowned psychiatrist Timothy MacLean to Washington, D.C. But they don't make it. FBI Special Agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock are sent to find out what happened. Crowne was able to crash land in Kentucky. The crash was witnessed by Rachael Abbott, a young woman on the run. Savich and Sherlock find MacLean comatose. They know that MacLean has dementia, his ability to maintain doctor-patient confidentiality badly compromised. MacLean's patients include Washington's elite. Is someone so desperate that they'd kill the doctor for what he knows?

My thoughts: This is the 12th book in Catherine Coulter's FBI Thriller series, a series that I haven't read in a long time but was able to jump right back into as I try to catch up. I have always enjoyed the FBI Team of Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock and this story was no exception.

This time, Savich and Sherlock are investigating two crimes. Dr. MacLean is a well-known psychiatrist; Rachael Abbott is a former senator’s lovechild. Both are being targeted by assassins. The point of view jumps back and forth among the four leading characters, Savich, Sherlock, Jackson Crowne and Rachael Abbott and with conspiracy theories, political secrets, dysfunctional families and assassins on the loose, Catherine Coulter provides an excellent plot weaved with suspense, mystery and romance. I liked the whole question of what could happen if damaging private information were to be leaked to the public. It makes you wonder just how private our private information really is.

I enjoyed getting back into the swing of things with the dynamic FBI team duo of Savich and Sherlock and am looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Books in the series:
  1. The Cove                            9.  Blowout
  2. The Maze                         10.  Point Blank
  3. The Target                       11.  Double Take
  4. The Edge                          12.  Tailspin
  5. Riptide                              13.  Knockout
  6. Hemlock Bay                   14.  Whiplash
  7. Eleventh Hour                15.  Split Second
  8. Blindside

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (1.30.12)



It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Well, I was able to get a ton of reviews done last week as well as some decent reading time in!!! My husband and I went up to our cabin for the weekend and it was really cold up there. I stayed in and read while hubby was out cutting trees and playing around with the dog. It was a great weekend - peaceful, relaxing and I was able to finish 2 books and start a third...that's my kind of weekend!

Books Completed last week:
  • Pleating for Mercy by Melissa Bourbon (mine)
  • Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr (e-book)
  • The Summer Garden by Sherryl Woods (review book)
  • Sew Deadly by Elizabeth Lynn Casey (library book)
Reading Now:
  • Home at Rose Cottage by Sherryl Woods (e-book)
Next:
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (library book)
  • The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen (library book)
Reviews completed last week
Other Posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Tailspin by Catherine Coulter
  • Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson
  • Pleating for Mercy by Melissa Bourbon
  • Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr
  • The Summer Garden by Sherryl Woods
  • Sew Deadly by Elizabeth Lynn Casey
Contest information: 
  • More giveaways coming soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Review: Make, Take, Murder by Joanna Campbell Slan

First line: I was rummaging around the trash Dumpster searching for my lost paycheck, when I reached down and grabbed Cindy Gambrowski's severed leg.

From the back cover: Dumpster diving for her lost paycheck is definitely the low point of Kiki Lowenstein's day - that is, until she finds a severed leg thrown in with the trash. Who'd toss a body part in the garbage outside the scrapbook crafts store where Kiki works?

Accompanying the grisly "gift" is a creepy computerized voice message, a warning to the store's "rich and snotty" female shoppers. Kiki soon discovers that the leg belonged to Cindy Gambrowski, a customer with a tyrannical and violent husband - who's now harassing Kiki. Combing through Cindy's scrapbook projects for hidden clues, Kiki tries to find the killer. Was it a crime of marital malice, or did someone else beat Cindy's husband to the punch?

My thoughts: This is the 4th book in Joanna Campbell Slan's Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery series. Normally the books are pretty light-hearted - well as light-hearted as you can get in a murder mystery. This one is a little different. The overall theme is pretty dark and there are a lot of serious topics discussed such as cancer, infidelity, and domestic violence. While this series is still considered "cozy", the subject matter in this particular installment is serious and eye-opening.

When Kiki discovers a severed leg in her dumpster at work, she is set on a roller coaster ride to find out who it belongs to, and why it was left in her dumpster. When the owner of the leg is confirmed as one of her customers Kiki is determined to bring the killer to justice. She starts looking into things while running the scrapbook store during the busy holiday season, and during all this, she copes with a hostile co-worker whose history forms part of the plot of the book. 

Not everything is resolved at the end of the book, making me anxious to read more about Kiki in her next book. Joanna Campbell Slan deals with some heavy issues in this story, but does it in such as way as to make the reader stop and think - what would we do in the same situation.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Books in this series:
  1. Paper, Scissors, Death
  2. Cut, Crop and Die
  3. Photo, Snap, Shot
  4. Make, Take, Murder
  5. Ready, Scrap, Shoot - to be released in April, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (81) 1.29.12

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.

 
 
For Review (1)
The Summer Garden by Sherryl Woods

Library (3)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
Sew Deadly by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Purchased (8)
Only Us: A Fool's Gold Holiday by Susan Mallery (e-book)
Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday (e-book)
Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr (e-book)
Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr (e-book)
Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr (e-book)
My One and Only by Kristan Higgins (e-book)
All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins (e-book)
That Holiday Feeling by Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Robyn Carr (e-book)

Free Downloads (0) 

Borrowed from family member (0)

From Paperback Swap (0)

Won (0)


What's in your mailbox?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Bonnie by Iris Johansen

First line: "What star is that, Mama?"

From the inside cover: When Eve Duncan gave birth to her daughter, she experienced a love she never knew existed. Nothing would stand in the way of giving Bonnie a wonderful life - until the unthinkable happened and the seven-year-old vanished into thin air. Eve found herself in the throes of a nightmare from which there was no escape. But a new Eve emerged: a woman who would use her remarkable talent as a forensic sculptor to help others find closure in the face of tragedy. Now with the help of her beloved Joe Quinn and CIA agent Catherine Ling, Eve has come closer than ever to the truth. But the deeper she digs, the more she realizes that Bonnie's father is a key player in solving this monstrous puzzle. And that Bonnie's disappearance was not as random as everyone always believed...

My thoughts: I have been reading Iris Johansen for so long I don't remember when I started, but I do remember picking up that first book of hers, The Killing Game, and becoming totally enthralled. I loved it and then went back to read the first one in the Eve Duncan series and have gone on to read every other book in the series as well as some of her stand alones. I find Iris Johansen to be one of those writers that I can't seem to get enough of.

The unsolved disappearance of Eve's daughter Bonnie years ago has literally haunted her and has always been the unresolved issue in her life. In this special trilogy about Eve, Quinn, and Bonnie, we are able to learn about the backgrounds of the characters and the events that led up to Bonnie's disappearance.

Bonnie begins with a touching flashback describing the last night shared between Eve and Bonnie. Then the book moves quickly to the chase. Joe, Eve, Catherine Ling and John Gallo resume their hunt with a quick and exciting pace. Eve is eventually taken away from the others and is forcibly led through a Georgia state park. During this journey there are moments of hope and anticipation. There are also moments of despair and disbelief. Through it all Eve learns exactly what happened to Bonnie that last day in the park and let me tell you, it was heart-wrenching. I was never particularly happy with the paranormal aspect that came later in the series but it makes sense here and adds to the satisfying conclusion.

For Eve's sake, I am glad that she (and as a result, us as the readers) finally have the closure about what happened to Bonnie. I hope, though, that this doesn't mean the end of the Eve Duncan series...that would be very unfortunate. Iris Johansen creates some interesting chemistry between her newest characters, Catherine Ling and John Gallo, and I would love to see what comes of that in the future. I would also like to see how Eve and Joe deal with their relationship now that Bonnie's disappearance no longer hangs over them.

As I mentioned in my review of Eve, I purposely waited until all three books were released before reading them and I am so glad I did...the first two left the reader with quite the cliff-hanger and the third tied up a lot of the loose ends.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Books in this series:
  1. Eve
  2. Quinn
  3. Bonnie

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Quinn by Iris Johansen

First line: Stop me.

From the inside cover: As a former Navy Seal turned cop, Joe Quinn has seen the face of evil and knows just how deadly it can be. When he first met Eve Duncan, he never expected to fall in love with a woman whose life would be defined by her dual desires to bring home her missing daughter and discover the truth behind her disappearance - no matter how devastating. With the help of CIA agent Catherine Ling, they make a shocking discovery that sheds new light on young Bonnie's abduction and puts Quinn squarely in the crosshairs of danger. Eve's first love, John Gallo, a soldier supposedly killed in the line of duty, is very much alive - and very much a threat.

Emotionally charged, with one shock after another, Quinn reveals the electricity of Joe and Eve's first connection, and how they fell in love in the midst of haunting tragedy. As their search takes them deeper and deeper into a web of murder and madness, Joe and Eve must confront their most primal fears...and test their resolve to uncover the ultimate bone-chilling truth.

My thoughts: This is the second in Iris Johansen's Eve trilogy. The purpose of this trilogy was to answer the question that readers have been dying to know in the Eve Duncan series - what happened to Eve's daughter Bonnie.

In this book, we get to go back in time to when Eve and Joe first met and follow them as their relationship develops. The story goes back to when Bonnie was first abducted and Joe Quinn makes his appearance in Eve's life. We get Joe's perspective of what was happening during those early days and how he fell for Eve almost instantly. Since her disappearance, Eve has always been able to "see" Bonnie and it wasn't until many years later that Joe was able to "see" her, too. As he lies in his hospital bed at the beginning of this story, he is with Bonnie, trying to figure out if he will join her or go back to Eve.

The story then brings the reader to the present where Quinn, Eve, and CIA agent Catherine Ling continue to pursue John Gallo, Bonnie's father, who is believed to have knowledge about who kidnapped her many years ago. There is quite a lot of time devoted to Catherine and Gallo - perhaps there is a new relationship worth pursuing in subsequent books?

As I mentioned in my review of Eve, the first book in this trilogy, I waited to read this series until I had all three books at once. With the first two books ending with crazy cliff hangers, I am definitely glad I did.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Books in this series:
  1. Eve
  2. Quinn
  3. Bonnie

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: Eve by Iris Johansen

First line: Two minutes.

From the inside cover: Eve Duncan's mission in life is to bring closure to the families who have experienced the agony of a missing child. As a forensic sculptor, she is able to piece together bones, create a face, and match a name to a child who would have otherwise gone unidentified. Eve is brilliant, driven, and tormented - because her own daughter, Bonnie, was taken from her years ago. Now, with the help of CIA agent Catherine Ling, a startling piece of evidence is uncovered in the quest to find Bonnie, leading to a connection that had been all but buried.

Catherine challenges Eve with a name: John Gallo, a man from Eve's own past, seemingly raised from the dead, whose whereabouts are unknown. Could Gallo be the missing piece to the puzzle that has haunted Eve for years? Why was he in Atlanta just before Bonnie's disappearance? And what kind of darkness was he hiding. With a brilliant narrative that exposes Eve Duncan's early life, exploring her history and motivations like no other novel before, Eve reveals long-guarded secrets and is guaranteed to keep Johansen fans holding their breath for more.

My thoughts: I have been reading Iris Johansen's Eve Duncan series for years now and I have absolutely love each one of them. The stories are suspenseful and full of crazy twists and turns and throughout the entire series (16 books to date) there has always been one unanswered question: What happened to Eve's daughter Bonnie?

In Eve, we find out more about Eve's early life - her meeting Bonnie's father John Gallo (another mystery solved) and their tumultuous time together. It picks up right where Chasing the Night leaves off and we get a glimpse into Eve's background as a teenager and the conception of Bonnie, the little girl that is behind everything that Eve does. The story starts in the present and then goes back to when Eve was 16. After filling us in on what happened during that time, the story moves back to the present when Gallo reappears in Eve's life and then the hunt for him after he takes off.

The question throughout the book is the same as in all Eve Duncan novels - who killed Bonnie. In this novel we look at Gallo; Black, a psychopathic pedophile killer who is an assassin for the CIA; and Queen, a rogue CIA agent who controls both of them.
 
I devoured this book and I knew I wouldn't want to wait at all before reading the next book, so I decided to wait until the library had all three books available at the same time and then read them one after the other. It was well worth the wait, especially with the crazy cliff hangers at the end of the first two.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)


Books in this series:
  1. Eve
  2. Quinn
  3. Bonnie

Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (audio book)

From the back of the audio case: Thirty-year-old Willa Jackson hails from a fine old Southern family that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam - once Walls of Water's grandest home - has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow.

No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition. But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate - socialite Paxton Osgood - has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory. Maybe the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property's lone peach tree. The bones are not all that lay hidden. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, untied by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families - and uncover truths of the long-dead to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Read by: Karen White

My thoughts: This is the first book by Sarah Addison Allen that I've read (or in this case, listened to) and I loved it. The story had me hooked from the opening lines and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, especially when the secrets started coming to light.

The Peach Keeper is set around The Blue Ridge Madam - a mansion in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina that was built by Willa Jackson's once well-to-do family. The house is being restored as a historic bed and breakfast by Paxton Osgood and along with the restoration comes the unearthing of some long-ago secrets. It also brings together four people who weren't exactly the best of friends in high school - Willa was the silent class joker; Paxton was the goody goody popular girl; Sebastian was the oddball outcast; and Colin, Paxton's twin, was the slightly stiff hunk.  Fast forward to today, when they are all in their 30s and their lives are now intertwined.

Filled with a little mystery, a little magic, and a little romance, it is easy to become completely absorbed in the story. The characters are truly likeable and I enjoyed how it goes back and forth between Willa and Paxton's point of view. I am definitely going to be picking up Sarah Addison Allen's other books - I have one sitting on my shelf and cannot wait to start reading it.

(I borrowed this audio book from the library.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

First line: Bad things come in threes.

From the back cover: After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger's syndrome, seeks comfort in the kitchen. The rich aroma of ribollita, painstakingly recreated from her Italian grandmother's handwritten recipe, calms her senses. But it also draws an unexpected visitor - the ghost of Nonna herself - and Ginny soon discovers she has the power to call forth the spirit of any dead person whose dish she prepares. As her pragmatic sister pushes her to sell the only home she's ever known, Ginny finds evidence of a provocative riddle from her parents' past that could be the key to her uncertain future. But can she cook up a dish that will bring them back long enough to help her solve it? Not to be rad on an empty stomach, The Kitchen Daughter is an "intelligent and moving" (Publishers Weekly) debut from a brilliant new literary talent that considers the question: What does it really mean to be normal?

My thoughts: This is the type of book that grabs hold of you and you don't want it to end. I was immediately enthralled with the characters and despite the fact that the book delves into some magical realism, which I don't particularly care for, in this case, it worked to enhance to story.

The Kitchen Daughter is a story with ghosts, but it's not a "ghost story." It's a story about somebody with a syndrome, but that syndrome is not the focus of the story; rather, it provides the lens through which the story is seen. And finally, it's a story about food, written with such obvious passion and expertise that you swear you can smell the food being described. As Ginny struggles with expressing her feelings to her sister, she discovers family secrets hidden in her home. Wishing to find answers to her questions, she continues cooking, finding recipes from her mother and father which enable her to speak with them. What their answers reveal teach Ginny more about herself than anything else and she learns that "normal" is different for everyone.  

I really enjoyed this story and loved all the recipes that are included. While I am not much of a cook, I love reading about characters and their passion with cooking...it inspires me to want to learn more. I hope to see more from this author.

I received a complimentary copy of The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry from Ayelet at Simon and Schuster

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (1.23.12)



It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Last week was one of those weeks where I didn't feel up to writing reviews and so once again I have quite a back log of reviews to get done. I did manage to get a lot of reading done, though, so I guess it was a somewhat productive week.

Books Completed last week:
  • Bonnie by Iris Johansen (library book)
  • Make, Take, Murder by Joanna Campbell Slan (library book)
  • Tailspin by Catherine Coulter (library book)
  • Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson (mine)
Reading Now:
  • Pleating for Mercy by Melissa Bourbon (mine)
Next:
  • Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr (e-book)
  • Home at Rose Cottage by Sherryl Woods (e-book)
Reviews completed last week
  • None
Other Posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry 
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Eve by Iris Johansen
  • Quinn by Iris Johansen
  • Bonnie by Iris Johansen
  • Make, Take, Murder by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • Tailspin by Catherine Coulter
  • Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson
Contest information: 

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (80) 1.22.12

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store. 
 



For Review:
 
Agony of Leaves
by Laura Childs

This is the latest in Laura Child's Tea Shop Mystery series and I cannot wait to read it.


 
 

 
Purchased:
 
Infidel
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

This is our book club pick for February - I've heard great things about this one.


 
 
 
 
 
Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years
by Barbara Leaming

I have a crazy obsession with the Kennedy's  and I couldn't resist picking this one up.


 
 
 
 
 
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride (e-book)
by Sandra Bricker

This looks like a fun read. I have the first one, Always the Baker, Never the Bride on my Nook and am looking forward to reading both.


 
   
 
 
 
What's in your mailbox?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions #2 (1.16.12)


Book Blogger Confession is a new blog meme hosted by Tiger of All Consuming Books and Karen of For What It's Worth. The meme will run on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of every month  to discuss some of the frustrations that are unique to book bloggers.

You can read the introductory post here.

Q: Have you ever had reading/blogging slumps? How do you work through them or work around them?

I can't remember the last time I had a reading slump. For me the problem is more that I run into times when I don't get any reading in because too much else is going on in life. There may be a few days where I just don't find any time during the day to read and then I end up so tired that when I get in to bed to read, I only get a few pages done. Luckily for me, this doesn't happen to often.

As far as blogging slumps - I've found myself in a few. The first time it happened, I had been trying to post something every day and just simply burned out. I then realized that it was ok not to post every day, which is really just a personal choice, but one you have to be able to live with. I also stopped participating in all the memes I used to do. I was trying to do almost one every day. Doing all these memes when I first started blogging did help, as it allowed me to find some really good blogs out there that I still follow today. I just realized that it would stress me out if I couldn't get to the meme or commenting on other blogs who were doing the meme. So then I stopped with the memes and just concentrated on posting book reviews. That became another stress because then if I didn't get a chance to write up so many reviews each week, I felt I was neglecting my blog. My solution was to pick a few memes that I would be ok with missing if life got in the way and I try to post a review or two each week - nothing set in stone. Since deciding on this plan, it doesn't stress me out if I don't get to my blog for a few days.

I never want blogging to become a "I need to blog" type of hobby. I want it to be fun and for the most part it is. I enjoy getting review books and posting my thoughts, but recently I have cut back on taking too many review requests. I have so many books on my shelves that I have not had time to read yet and this year I am focusing on reading them. I think this will also help to prevent any reading or blogging slumps. I am free to pick what I want to read when I want and then I feel that my reviews are that much easier to get done.

So what about you? Do you find yourself in the occasional reading or blogging slump? If so, what do you do to get out of it?

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (1.16.12)



It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

It was a pretty quiet week and I got a bit of reading in. Now that winter has made it's presence known in the Northeast, I plan on staying in more and reading more!


Books Completed last week:
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (library audio book)
  • Eve by Iris Johansen (library book)
  • Quinn by Iris Johansen (library book)
Reading Now:
  • Bonnie by Iris Johansen (library book)
Next:
  • Make, Take, Murder by Joanna Campbell Slan (library book)
  • Tailspin by Catherine Coulter (library book)
  • Mr. Darcy Takes Wife by Linda Berdoll (library audio book)
Reviews completed last week
Other Posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry 
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Eve by Iris Johansen
  • Quinn by Iris Johansen
Contest information: 

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!
 

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