Friday, August 07, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell


Title: Louisiana Lucky
Author: Julie Pennell
Published: August 2020, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
From the critically acclaimed author of The Young Wives Club, a “heartwarming story about friendship, heartache, and self-discovery” (Karen White, New York Times bestselling author), comes a charming novel reminiscent of the works of Mary Alice Monroe and Kristy Woodson Harvey, about three sisters who win a huge lottery prize and learn what it truly means to be lucky.

Lexi, Callie, and Hanna Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they had the money.

For Lexi, it means the perfect wedding; for Callie, it means having the courage to go after her career dreams; and for Hanna, it means buying a house that isn’t falling apart and sending her bullied son to private school. When the incredible happens and the Breaux sisters hit it big—$204 million dollars big—all their dreams come true. Or so they think. Because it’s actually not a cliché—money isn’t the answer to everything, and it often comes with problems of its own.

Heartfelt, engaging, and featuring characters you’ll root for from the first moment you meet them, Louisiana Lucky is a satisfying page-turner from a rising star in women’s fiction.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Julie Pennell but it certainly will not be the last. Sometimes it's nice to read a lighter book inbetween all the darker thrillers that I tend to gravitate towards and this was just the palate cleanser I needed!

I love reading books about families, especially sisters as I have two myself, so this one definitely called to me. And while I thought this was going to be a light, easy-breezy story, I loved that there was some depth to it. The book alternates between the three sisters' points of view and I loved getting to know all three sisters. I'm not quite sure which sister I loved the most, but I do know that of all the men in the sisters' lives, Hanna's husband win's my heart. In every scene, he was the good guy all the way through. I can't really say that about the other two guys.

I'm always hyper-critical about the way the bonds between sisters are portrayed and I definitely think Julie Pennell got it right here. I loved how these sisters had their monthly girls night and did something just for themselves. I also appreciated how each sister had their own lives...there were things they kept to themselves. I can absolutely say with 100% certainty that I do this and I'm sure others can attest that this is real life. 

I also loved how this book was set in a small town. I've lived in small towns all my life and this book had that feeling in spades. While it was set in the south and I live in the north, that small town is so universal. Everybody knows everybody and that doesn't change no matter the geography.

I really enjoyed this book and while I have never won the lottery, it was fun living vicariously through these sisters as they got to live their dreams out after they did. Of course, in the end, the one lesson they learned is the one we all know only too well...money doesn't buy happiness. I cannot recommend this charming book enough.


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Review: The Son by Jo Nesbo


Title: The Son
Author: Jo Nesbo
Published: January 2015, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (1st published March 2014)
Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
The author of the best-selling Harry Hole series now gives us an electrifying tale of vengeance set amid Oslo's brutal hierarchy of corruption.
 
Sonny Lofthus has been in prison for almost half his life: serving time for crimes he didn't commit. In exchange, he gets an uninterrupted supply of heroin—and a stream of fellow prisoners seeking out his Buddha-like absolution. Years earlier Sonny’s father, a corrupt cop, took his own life rather than face exposure. Now Sonny is the center of a vortex of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest—all of them focused on keeping him stoned and jailed. When Sonny discovers a shocking truth about his father’s suicide, he makes a brilliant escape and begins hunting down the people responsible for his and his father’s demise. But he's also being hunted, and by enemies too many to count. Two questions remain: who will get to him first, and what will he do when he’s cornered?



My thoughts: I picked this book up as part of a bookclub pick and I am so glad I did. It's not my first Jo Nesbo book, as I have started his Harry Hole series, though I haven't gotten very far in that series. This is, though, my first of his stand-alones and I enjoyed it very much.

I love a book where no character is what you initially think they are and that is exactly what you find here. All the characters were so well-developed and no one was just good or just bad. The characters are all flawed which just makes them that much more intriguing. I was immediately drawn in to what was going on and while this is definitely not a book to fly though, I found myself completely engaged all the way through.

I loved that way the story all came together in the end. There were some interesting twists that I definitely did not see coming and I loved how it all played out. This really makes me want to read more of Jo Nesbo's books and I have a feeling I might want to reread this one at some point as well. Have you read any of his books - stand-alones or his Harry Hole series?


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Thursday, August 06, 2020

Review: The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Title: The First to Lie
Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Published: August 2020, Forge Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher/Publicist

Summary: 
Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling cat and mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, and second-guessing, and then gasping with surprise.

We all have our reasons for being who we are—but what if being someone else could get you what you want?

After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know—she isn’t the only one plotting her revenge.

An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who must choose her new reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?



My thoughts: I have been a fan of Hank Phillippi Ryan for quite some time and am always left stunned at her books and this one was no exception. This newest book was one of my most anticipated summer reads and it totally delivers. I devoured it in one day - I just could not put it down!

This book completely drew me in right from the start and with all the twists and turns it takes, I felt it never let up. The pacing is nearly pitch-perfect and this is definitely one of those books that I found myself saying "just one more chapter" as I flew through the pages.

I love a good revenge story and this one takes the cake. But because I think this book is so much better going into it blind, I am not going to give any plot details. All I will say is that every single time I thought I had things figured out, a new twist would be thrown into the mix and I was left trying to figure out how these new pieces fit together. It was nothing short of brilliant as to how everything came together in the end and I never once got there myself. The suspense builds the entire time, keeping you on edge and hooking you so that you just cannot walk away.

What I loved most about this book is that as we get deeper into the book, you come to a point where you don't know who to trust. Who is telling the truth and who is lying? And even more frustrating, who is really who they say they are. All the characters you meet are so well-written and dynamic, but I just liked some more than others. Some I immediately became suspicious of, and it turns out, I was right to do so.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is addicting and completely binge-worthy and filled with deliciously fun characters. I've loved all of Hank Phillippi Ryan's books, but this might just be my new favorite!

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Monday, August 03, 2020

Review: The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard (audio)


Title: The Nothing Man
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Narrator: Alana Kerr Collins, John Keating
Published: August 2020, Blackstone Publishing
Length: 9 hours 57 minutes
Source: Netgalley audio

Summary:
At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man--the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family's killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim's not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.

Jim soon beings to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won't give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first ...


 
My thoughts:  This is the first book I've read by Catherine Ryan Howard but it certainly will not be the last. And thanks to Netgalley offering audiobooks, I jumped when I saw that this one was available as an audiobook galley. 

I absolutely loved this book. It is so cleverly crafted and kept me hooked from start to finish. There were so many little twists here and there that I wasn't expecting and the tension really builds all the way through so that you are kept on the edge of your seat. There are some really chilling parts to this book, especially the parts where we find out about all the victims of the serial killer, but I always think being in mind of a serial killer can be haunting in it's own way.

I am obsessed with the whole book-within-a-book format and I loved how it was done here. Reading parts of the chapters along with the killer was just sheer brilliance, getting his reaction as he goes through the book. But even having Eve's point of view as she works on the book gives such insight to what she went through and why she ultimately wrote the book in the first place.

This was one of the best cat and mouse games I've ever read. This book isn't about finding out who the killer is - we know that right from the start. Rather, it is about the killer getting caught. And being in the mindset of the killer is so haunting and chilling. I've read other books where we are privy to a killer's thoughts and stream of consciousness, but never have I been as freaked out as I was while reading this book. It was pure brilliance.

I loved the way this book came together. It totally gets under your skin, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's definitely an addictive, binge-worthy thriller that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.


Audio thoughts: I loved this audiobook. I thought the narrators, Alana Kerr Collins and John Keating did a fantastic job with this audio, bringing their individual parts to life. Both narrators have Irish accents and with the book taking place in Ireland, the accents seemed natural. They really brought this book to life, and their pacing and intonations were spot on. I felt they infused just the right amount of tension and suspense into their voices as needed and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook.


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Blog Tour & Review: Someone's Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass


Today, I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the blog tour for the Someone's Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass. Thank you Graydon House for inviting me to participate. 


Title: Someone's Listening
Author: Seraphina Nova Glass
Published: July 2020, Graydon House
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

Summary: 
She wrote the book on escaping a predator… Now one is coming for her.

Faith Finley has it all: she’s a talented psychologist with a flourishing career, a bestselling author and the host of a popular local radio program, Someone’s Listening, with Dr. Faith Finley. She’s married to the perfect man, Liam Finley, a respected food critic.

Until the night everything goes horribly wrong, and Faith’s life is shattered forever.

Liam is missing—gone without a trace—and the police are suspicious of everything Faith says. They either think she has something to hide, or that she’s lost her mind.

And then the notes begin to arrive. Notes that are ripped from Faith’s own book, the one that helps victims leave their abusers. Notes like “Lock your windows. Consider investing in a steel door.”

As the threats escalate, the mystery behind Liam’s disappearance intensifies. And Faith’s very life will depend on finding answers.



My thoughts: As a big fan of psychological thrillers, I was eager to get my hands on this one and just as excited to see that it was from a new-to-me author. I'm happy to say, it was one crazy ride and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for what Seraphina Nova Glass writes next!

I love nothing more than a protagonist that I am a little unsure about and Faith Finley certainly delivers on that end. Not only is she a completely flawed and complex character, but she is also so damaged that she doesn't even realize it. Enter the drinking and use of narcotics to get through the day. Of course, her issues are compounded by the fact that her husband goes missing yet no one believes her. Everyone else thinks he's run off but she intuitively knows something more sinister is going on.

This book, starting with the title, is addictive and just a little creepy. Not nightmarishly so, but just enough that it keeps you on edge, wondering just what the heck is going on. Faith's mental stability only adds to the complexity of what is already a crazy story.

The suspense builds throughout this story and while I thought I had things figured out, I found myself second-guessing things a time or two. The twists and turns this book takes, especially towards the end really ramped up the tension and while I ended up being right with my first guess, I never put all the pieces together as to the why. 

This is such a fun, wild ride and I cannot recommend it enough. It's the perfect read to escape in during these crazy times...you will surely not be able to put this book down once you start it!





About the author: Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas- Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone's Listening is her first novel.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Instagram |   Goodreads 



Buy Links: 


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Saturday, August 01, 2020

Month in Review: July 2020


It was certainly a good reading month - MY BEST EVER! Yes, things have slowly been going back to normal, but I for the most part am still content staying home. We are no where close to this pandemic being over and while the numbers in my area are pretty good, they are not at zero. I have a few people I see, but I actually don't mind staying home - and it gives me more reason to read ALL MY BOOKS! 
 
 
  Reading Stats:
 
  • Read this month: 30
  • Year to date: 179

Books Read:   
 
  1. Side Trip -- Kerry Lonsdale (audio book)
  2. How to Save a Life -- Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (audio book)
  3. Hurry Home -- Roz Nay
  4. Jo & Laurie -- Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz (e-book)
  5. The Cuckoo's Cry -- Caroline Overington (audio book)
  6. The Golden Cage -- Camilla Lackberg
  7. Left for Dead -- Caroline Mitchell (audio book)
  8. Blacktop Wasteland -- S.A. Cosby (e-book)
  9. The Last Wife -- Karen Hamilton (e-book)
  10. Somebody's Daughter -- Carol Wyer (e-book)
  11. Winter in Paradise -- Elin Hilderbrand (audio book) - reread
  12. Family for Beginners -- Sarah Morgan
  13. The Request -- David Bell
  14. The Safe Place -- Anna Downes
  15. Musical Chairs -- Amy Poeppel (e-book)
  16. The Butterfly Room -- Lucinda Riley (e-book)
  17. The Last Flight -- Julie Clark
  18. His & Hers -- Alice Feeney (audio book)
  19. The Switch -- Beth O'Leary (audio book)
  20. The Vacation -- T.M. Vacation
  21. The Woman Before Wallis --Bryn Turnbull
  22. Home Before Dark -- Riley Sager
  23. Hush Collection Series -- Ruth Ware, Oyinkan BraithWaite, Laura Lippman, Jeffrey Deaver, Alison Gaylin, Lisa Unger
  24. Dear Emmie Blue -- Lia Louis (e-book)
  25. Bluebird, Bluebird -- Attica Locke
  26. The Wife Who Knew Too Much -- Michele Campbell (e-book)
  27. Someone's Listening -- Seraphina Nova Glass (e-book)
  28. Behind the Red Door -- Megan Collins (e-book)
  29. What Happens in Paradise -- Elin Hilderbrand (audio book) -- reread  
  30. The First Lady -- James Patterson
  
Favorite Books of July: 
   
 
  • The Golden Cage by Camilla Lackberg
  • Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
  • The Safe Place by Anna Downes

 
Challenges:
Once again I am participating in #TheUnreadShelfProject2020, hosted by @theunreadshelf. I will be posting monthly updates both here and over on Instagram.


#TheUnReadShelfProject2020:

*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 July: 177
  • Books read this month (that count): 4
  • Books bought/received as gift this month: 9
  • Books cleaned off shelf/donated: 9
  • Total unread books on shelf at end of July: 173
 
 YTD Stats:   
 
  • Total # unread books on shelf at beginning of January: 158
  • Total Books read from shelves (that count): 25
  • Total Books bought/received as gift: 49
  • Total Books cleaned off shelf/donated: 9
  • Total unread books on shelf at end of July: 173

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