Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand (audio)


Title: Winter in Paradise
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Series: Paradise, #1
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Published: October 2018, Hachette Audio
Length: 10 hours 11 minutes
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
Spend the coldest days of winter on a Caribbean beach with New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.  

Join New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand on the stunning beaches of St. John's for the beginning of her thrilling new winter series-The Paradise. Winter Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue. 

Irene Steele's idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband's death. He was found on St. John's island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John's only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. 

As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband's death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John's. 

This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter.



My thoughts:  It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Elin Hilderbrand...I have read/listened to every book she has written, falling in love with the characters and stories she creates. I was ecstatic when she wrote her first winter series and so bummed when that ended last year, so of course I jumped for joy when I heard she had a new one coming out...and what a surprise to find out she had changed the setting on us!

This book, the first in Elin Hilderbrand's Paradise series, transports us to the island of St. John...a departure from her typical Nantucket locale...and I have to say, I loved getting to know a different island, especially since it's an island I have yet to visit! As is typical with all Elin's books, the characters are incredibly relatable and the story is told with compassion and emotion.

Irene is the epitome of strength - even possessing strength she did not realize she had. After her life is turned upside down by the phone call she receives about her husband's death, she travels to St. John's to try to get answers...but finds out her husband had been keeping quite a few secrets from her. And the more she digs, the more questions she has.

I loved all the characters we meet in this first book - I feel that each one has such a distinct personality and I cannot wait to see how they all continue to develop as the series progresses. They are all brought together by circumstance - Irene and her two sons, Baker and Cash, and the islanders that have a connection to Irene's late husband Russ - Huck, his granddaughter Maia, and their family friend Ayers - and I think seeing how they go forward will be interesting. Already there have been some intriguing developments.

Of course, I have to say something about that ending...how could I not? I love series...I read them all the time. But I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers! Especially when you have to wait a year for that next book to come out. So yes...great book, but be warned that you are going to want to read the next book right away, and it's not out until next fall.



Audio thoughts: I love listening to Elin Hilderbrand's books on audio - they just translate really well and Erin Bennett gets that. She is able to bring Elin's characters to life, giving them their own unique voices and personalities, and she gets Elin's style and nuances so that the story comes alive as she tells it. I hope Erin Bennett narrates this whole series - I am such a fan of consistency when it comes to narrators and series.


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Short & Sweet Review: Missing by James Patterson


Title: Missing
Author: James Patterson
Series: Private, #12
Published: October 2016, Grand Central Publishing
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
Even for Private Investigations, the world's top detective agency, it's tough to find a man who doesn't exist . . . 

Craig Gisto has promised Eliza Moss that his elite team at Private Sydney will investigate the disappearance of her father. After all, as CEO of a high-profile research company, Eric Moss shouldn't be difficult to find.

Except it's not just the man who's gone missing. Despite the most advanced technology at their disposal, they find every trace of him has vanished too.

And they aren't the only ones on the hunt. Powerful figures want Moss to stay "lost," while others just as ruthlessly want him found.

Meanwhile, a routine background check becomes a frantic race to find a stolen baby and catch a brutal killer - a killer Private may well have sent straight to the victim's door . . .
 



***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: I loved that this book brought up back to Australia and the Private team there, headed up by Craig Gisto. We first met him in Private Down Under and I was happy to see he was still around - since the Private books move around from country to country, we are always meeting different teams, so this was almost like coming back home. The only other familiar team is Jack Morgan's team back home in L.A. - which is still my favorite team!

I liked that this book only had the team involved in two cases - as I have mentioned in previous reviews on these books, having only two cases for the team to be working on really allows a deeper focus on those cases and you don't feel like you are being pulled in so many different directions. Both cases were quite interesting and kept me guessing as to how they were going to play out.

I enjoyed this installment and hope that this isn't the last time we see this team. I think there is still plenty of character development left to be explored in Craig Gisto!


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

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

     14.  Private Princess

 
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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens


Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Published: August 2018, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary:
Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.
   
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens's debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.



My thoughts: Oh, this book! This book is one of those books that as soon as I finished, I wanted to read all over again...and while I haven't yet, I will say, I have not stopped thinking of this book since I finished reading it. It's also one of those books that is so hard to put into words just how much you love it...because you know you will never be able to find the right words to do justice for all the things this book means to you - how beautiful the writing is and all the emotions it evokes in you. That's what this book is - and that's why it took me so long to write this review because every single time I started it, I felt it was inadequate.

Right away, I felt an emotional attachment to Kya and that attachment only grew the further I got into the book. Kya is all but abandoned by first her mother, and then slowly the rest of her family and pretty much left to fend for herself in the North Carolina marsh area. You cannot help but feel for her as she learns how to navigate this world on her own.

While this book is in part a mystery, I much more preferred the coming of age story of Kya. Yes, I was intrigued by the murder - was he in fact murdered or not, and if so, by who? - and I did like how the story alternated between 1969 when the murder happened and the 1950's where we follow Kya growing up, but I will say, it is these earlier years that really shine in my mind. This is where Delia Owens takes her love of nature writing to give us this unique coming-of-age story of a young girl living in the marsh, learning to survive on her own, learning to depend on herself and only herself.

This is the type of book that you know you will be thinking of for a long time to come...and I know I will most definitely be rereading this again in the future. For a debut novel, Delia Owens knocked it out of the park and I cannot wait to see what comes next for her...she is definitely going on my must watch author list, for sure! If you have not picked this book up, I highly recommend doing so...you will not be disappointed!

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Book Spotlight: Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne -- With Giveaway!!!

Back in September, RaeAnne Thayne's latest book, Season of Wonder, was published and I ended up with 2 finished copies. As we are now in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, I would love to offer both these copies up to 2 lucky readers....one giveaway is being hosted here & one is being hosted on my Instagram page. Read on to find out what the book is all about and then you will find out the options for entering the giveaway - either here or on my Instagram page or you can enter both. 


Title: Season of Wonder
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point, #9
Published: September 2018, HQN 
Format: Paperback, 317 pages

Summary: 
He’s giving her children a season of wonder…Dani Capelli seized a chance to start over in a small town with her daughters. Now, facing her first Christmas in Haven Point, she wonders if leaving New York was a mistake. Dani loves working alongside veterinarian Dr. Morales, but her two children aren’t adjusting to small-town life. And then there’s Dr. Morales’s son, Ruben—Dani’s next-door neighbor. Gorgeous, muscled and dependable, the deputy sheriff is everything she secretly craves and can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

Ruben never pictured himself falling for a big-city woman like Dani. But beneath her prickly facade, she’s caring and softhearted and she needs all the love and protection he can give. When Dani’s teenage daughter starts acting out, Ruben draws on family traditions to show the girls just how magical a Haven Point Christmas can be. But can he convince Dani that she’s found a home for the holidays—and forever—in his arms?


What readers are saying:

"[Thayne] engages the reader's heart and emotions, inspiring hope and the belief that miracles are possible." -- Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"RaeAnne has a knack for capturing those emotions that come from the heart." -- RT Book Reviews

"RaeAnne Thayne is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors...once you start reading, you aren't going to be able to stop." -- Fresh Fiction 



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Giveaway Details -- (US Only )
Thanks to the publicist, two readers will win a finished copy of Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne. 

There are 2 options to enter: by the rafflecopter here on this page and by heading over to my Instagram page to this post. You can enter on both if you so choose. Both giveaways will end on Thursday, December 13th, and are not affiliated with or sponsored by Instagram or Blogger.



a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen


Title: The Surrogate
Author: Louise Jensen
Published: December 2018, Grand Central Publishing
Format: ARC E-copy, 324 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
"You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you'd kill for it?"

Be careful what you wish for...


Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat's childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa's history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat's perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family...


From the USA Today bestselling author of The Sister and The Gift, this is an unputdownable psychological thriller which asks how far we will go to create our perfect family.




My thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Louise Jensen and the second time I have been floored by the crazy twists she comes up with in her psychological thrillers...she certainly knows how to craft tense, engaging stories that you just cannot put down until you reach the end.

This book took on an emotional hook for me, being that it deals with surrogacy, and of course having dealt with infertility myself, I am always sensitive to these issues, but it never got too heavy for me. Rather, the book deals with secrets - hidden secrets - and that becomes the basis for the entire story.

This book kept me guessing as to what was really going on and whether there were any ulterior motivations at play - and believe me, as soon as you meet all the players, you can't help but start second guessing what's behind everyone's actions. The story moves back and forth in time and I really felt that every time we learned more about each of the characters, I was left with more questions than answers. Everyone, and I mean each and every character, is so complex, that you can't help but wonder what is really going on with them and whether they could really be trusted. And what's even more remarkable is that these are characters that aren't even all the likable...some are, but most aren't.

This book starts off with a sense of dread and that sense stays with you all the way through. It kept me on my toes and scratching my head as I tried to guess where it was heading...and I certainly did not see that ending coming! This is one author who I love to read and I cannot recommend enough!


*If you think this is a book you'd like to read...be sure to check out the #BookGiveaway (ends 12.10.18) - there are 2 chances to win!
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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Book Spotlight: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen -- with Giveaway!!!

Today, Louise Jensen's latest novel, The Surrogate, is being published in the United States - this is the first time one of her books is being published here in the US!!! To help the publisher get the word out, I am hosting a giveaway for two lucky readers...one giveaway is being hosted here & one is being hosted on my Instagram page. I just finished reading this book and will be sharing my review soon. You can see what others have to say below and then you can find out where to enter the giveaway below!!!  



Title:  The Surrogate
Author: Louise Jensen
Published: December 2018, Grand Central Publisher
Format: Paperback, 336 pages

Summary: 
"You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you'd kill for it?"Be careful what you wish for...Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat's childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa's history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat's perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family...

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Sister and The Gift, this is an unputdownable psychological thriller which asks how far we will go to create our perfect family.


What readers are saying: 

"Twist-filled plot."--- Publisher's Weekly


"This novel was paced perfectly and I actually finished it in one day because I couldn't put it down... so addictive! The Surrogate is a 5-star novel that is a 2017 must read! I am already looking forward to reading what Louise Jensen comes out with next!" --- Steph and Chris Book Reviews


"This book had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, with the heart thumping feeling to go with it! If you like psychological thrillers, then definitely read this one.... you will not regret it! Five Stars!" --- Stardust Book Reviews


"Ever since I read Louise Jensen's debut The Sister I've been a huge fan of her writing, but OMG The Surrogate, her latest and most adventurous book yet, plants her firmly on my list of "must-read" authors... I really think this is the author's best book yet and it is definitely one of the best psychological thrillers I've read this year." --- The Book Review CafĂ©


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Giveaway Details -- (US or Canada Only) 
Thanks to the publisher, two readers will win a finished copy of The Surrogate by Louise Jensen. 

There are 2 options to enter: by the rafflecopter here on this page and by heading over to my Instagram page to this post. You can enter on both if you so choose. Both giveaways will end on Monday, December 10th, and are not affiliated with or sponsored by Instagram or Blogger. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway





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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Month in Review: November 2018


Happy December!!! I can't believe we are heading into the last month of 2018...where has this year gone? It was a good month, but a slower month reading-wise...and I'm ok with that. I am participating in a buddy reading of Anna Karenina, which started the first week in November and goes until the end of December, so that has certainly cut into my normal reading schedule, but I am so enjoying it. I cannot believe I never picked this book up before - it is actually one of the books that I have had sitting on my shelf for a while, so it totally counts for the #UnReadShelfProject!!! And I'm so happy to hear that Whitney, who is hosting that project, just announced she is running it again in 2019! I am totally participating again next year :) 

I started unpacking some of the boxes of books in my bookroom/office and quickly realized we definitely do not have enough bookshelves for all the books we have. So, we have to decide if we are going to buy more bookshelves or have some built-in. My husband is a big reader, too, so he has quite a collection of books as well. I have a feeling we are going to end up with bookshelves all over the house and I am 100% ok with that!


 
Reading Stats:  
  • Read this month: 13
  • Year to date: 184

Books Read:
 
  1. Tell Nobody -- Patricia Gibney (e-book)
  2. The Medical Examiner (Bookshots) -- James Patterson
  3. Daughters of the Lake -- Wendy Webb
  4. Inhuman Resources -- Pierre Lemaitre
  5. The Dream Daughter -- Diane Chamberlain (audio book)
  6. Not Our Kind -- Kitty Zeldis
  7. Lost Lake --Emily Littlejohn
  8. The Silent Women -- Sara Blaedel
  9. An Anonymous Girl -- Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
  10. One Day in December -- Josie Silver
  11. The Latecomers -- Helen Klein Ross (audio book)
  12. The Lost for Words Bookshop -- Stephanie Butland
  13. The Three Beths -- Jeff Abbott
  
Favorite Books of November: 
 
  • Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb
  • The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
  • An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen


Update #UnReadShelfProject2018:

*These numbers only refer to books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while or that I have recently purchased. It does not include any review books.

  • Total # unread books on shelf at beginning of November: 204
  • Books read in November (that count): 2
  • Books bought/received as gift in October: 6
  • Books cleaned off shelf/donated: 8
  • Total unread books on shelf at end of October: 200
 
 YTD Stats:
 
  • Total # unread books on shelf at beginning of January: 260
  • Total Books read from shelves (that count): 22
  • Total Books bought/received as gift: 14 (and I already read 4 of them!!!)
  • Total Books cleaned off shelf/donated: 51
  • Total unread books on shelf at end of October: 200

 

*Kathyrn over at The Book Date has created a Month in Review meme for those who put together these monthly posts. From now on, I'll be linking my post up each month...Thanks Kathryn for putting this meme together!!!


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