Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Where Memories Lie by Sibel Hodge (audio)

Title: Where Memories Lie
Author: Sibel Hodge
Narrator: Anna Parker-Naples 
Published: September 2015, Brilliance Audio 
Length: 9 hours 17 minutes
Source: Publisher

Chilling family secrets, obsession and decades-old lies. How well do we really know the ones we love? A gripping psychological thriller from the #1 bestselling author of Look Behind You.

Twenty-five years ago Katie ran away from home and never came back. But now she’s suddenly reappeared in her best friend Olivia’s life—in the form of a chilling confession. Olivia’s father—in-law, wracked with guilt, says he murdered her all those years ago. Tom suffers from Alzheimer’s and his story is riddled with error and confusion. Except for one terrifying certainty: he knows where the body is buried.

As Olivia and the police piece together the evidence, they are left with one critical question. They have a crime, they have a confession, and now they have a body—but can any of it be trusted?

My thoughts: Sibel Hodge is a new-to-me author but when I read about this book, I just knew it was something I wanted to get my hands on. I've been in the mood for really good psychological thriller/mysteries lately and this one definitely fit that perfectly!

This is the type of book that you get slowly drawn into and can't help but become completely involved with. You just need to know what is going to happen next and see how all the pieces are fit together, and just when you think you have it all figured out, another secret is revealed that leaves you back at square one. As an added dimension to this already twisted tale, one of the main characters has Alzheimers and it is because of this that a long-ago secret comes to light.

What I loved about this book is that while at the surface it seems to be about what happened to the young girl that went missing so long ago, it delves into so much more. It's about just how far a family will go to protect those they love as well as exploring those very bonds of family and love.

After Tom, who had Alzheimers, confesses to killing Katie to Olivia, the rest of the family begs Olivia to let it rest. They believe he doesn't know what he's saying, that with his illness, you can't possibly trust what he says. But, Olivia can't let it go and so gets the cops involved. As they start investigating, Olivia start digging into things herself and begins unearthing things she wishes she hadn't. Is it better to keep some memories from surfacing?

I have not stopped thinking about this book since I finished listening to it. It was so good and I never saw the ending coming. I definitely think I will be listening to this one again to see if I missed any clues the first time around and I will certainly be checking out Sibel Hodge's other books as well! 

Audio thoughts:
This is the first time I've listened to Anna Parker-Naples and I thought she did a good job with the narration. She gives all the characters a unique voice and adds a little tension to her voice at times to create a little suspense.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris (audio)

Title: Real Murders
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Aurora Teagarden Mystery, #1
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: November 2009, Recorded Books
Length: 6 hours 7 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

Though a small town at heart, Lawrenceton, Georgia, has its dark side-and crime buffs. One of whom is librarian Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, a member of the Real Murders Club, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It's a harmless pastime -- until the night she finds a member killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal "copycat" killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects -- or potential victims.

My thoughts: I first heard of this series after watching the tv-made movies of two of these books on the Hallmark Channel with Candace Cameron Bure. I enjoyed the movies so much and didn't realize that they were based on a book series, so I decided to give the first book a go. 

I love the premise of this series - a group of people, calling themselves the Real Murders Club, meet monthly to discuss famous murders. It's kind of fascinating, in a morbid, dark way. But, to each it's own when it comes to hobbies. I really liked the main character, Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, who is a librarian and member of this club. She is all set to present the case she has selected to the group when she finds someone murdered at the meeting place and it's exactly like the case she was about to present. And that's not the only body to be found nor the only case to be copied. Someone is targeting members of their club and causing the cops to look at the other club members very closely.

It's interesting to note that for some reason, Hallmark did the second book as their first movie and the first book as their second movie...I'm not sure what the reason was for the switch and I was a bit confused when I looked into the series, but I decided to read the series in the order that it was written. 

This book was a fun, thrilling read. Having already seen two of the Hallmark movies, I already knew how this would play out, but it was still fun to read it as it was a little different. And I'm glad that it was. I like that I didn't know every little detail going in and I definitely plan on continuing with the series - both reading and watching, if Hallmark continues making them! 

Audio thoughts:
I think Therese Plummer did a great job with this book. She was able to give each character a unique voice and I had no trouble following along. This was an Audible Deal of the Day and I'm glad that I picked it up - it was well-worth it!!!

Books in this series:
  1. Real Murders
  2. A Bone to Pick
  3. Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
  4. The Julius House
  5. Dead Over Heels
  6. A Fool and His Honey
  7. Last Scene Alive
  8. Poppy Done to Death   


The Sunday Post #92 (11.29.15)

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 Kathryn's It's Monday post over at Book Date. 
I can't believe December begins this week...this year is just flying by!!! I'm so not ready for the new year to begin - there's still so much I want to finish up before the end of the year. I'm hoping to get some decorating done this week - we aren't hosting any holiday gatherings this year, so no real tree, but maybe I'll get creative and do a book tree!!!

Have a great week everyone!!!


Last week on the Blog:                              
* Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells
* Review: Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
* Review: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks
* Review: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

* Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block
* Review: Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella 
#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in November 27

Books Read:                      
* The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (audio book) 
* The Word Game by Steena Holmes (review e-book)     
* Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich (library audio book) 

* The Hundred Gifts by Jennifer Scott (review book)
Currently Reading:                    
* What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (review book)    
* The Witches by Stacy Schiff (review book)    
* The Distance by Helen Giltrow (audio book) 
Books Up Next:                               
* Night Blindness by Susan Strecker (review book)  
* Flash & Bones by Kathy Reichs (library audio book)
Recent Giveaway Winner:
* The Hundred Gifts by Jennifer Scott...RAnn


Current Giveaways:
* The Seafront Tearoom by Vanessa Greene...Ends 11.29.15

* The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells...Ends 11.30.15 

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Where Memories Lie by Sibel Hodge

* Month in Review: November 2015
* Review: The Girl Without A Name by Sandra Block
* Review: Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill
* Review: The Word Game by Steena Holmes

Book Haul:    
For Review:
* Smoke by Catherine McKensie (audio via Publisher)
* Once Shadows Fall by Robert Daniels (Courtsey of Publisher)
* The Distance by Helen Giltrow (audio via Audible)

From Library:        
* Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich (audio)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in November 27

So, I decided to take the week off. I still wasn't feeling 100% and rather than push myself and end up sick for Thanksgiving, I decided maybe a week off would do me some good. I knew I had a bit of running around to do at the beginning of the week and then we would be away for two days for the holiday itself. Hopefully next week I'll be able to resume my regular activities - I actually miss working out when I take time off, though I do think it's important to do so every once in a while.
Here's how my week went: 
Nov 21:  8,409 steps
Nov 22:  5,624 steps
Nov 23:  9,806 steps

Nov 24:  5,643 steps
Nov 25:  4,729 steps

Nov 26: 
6,205 steps
Nov 27: 
2,875 steps
Audiobooks listened to this week: 
  • Finished All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafar Burke, narrated by Jan Maxwell 
  • Finished The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, narrated by Johnny Heller, Karen White, Kathleen Early, Keith Szarabajka 
  • Started Tricky Twenty-two by Janet Evanovich, narrated by Lorelei King

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

Review: Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Title: Shopaholic to the Rescue
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Series: Shopaholic, #8 
Narrator: Clare Corbett
Published: October 2015, Random House Audio
Length: 9 hours 27 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

Becky Bloomwood and a hilarious cast of beloved family and friends (plus one enemy!) set off in a van to find her missing father, last heard from in Las Vegas.

Becky’s father Graham and her best friend’s husband, Tarquin, have disappeared from Los Angeles saying simply they have “something to take care of.”

But Tarquin’s wife Suze who is Becky’s best friend, and Becky’s mother Jane, are convinced the two men are hiding something and are in danger—their imaginations run wild. They must track them down!

Hijinks ensue as husband Luke drives Becky, daughter Minnie, Jane, Suze and other favorite Kinsella characters across country from LA to Las Vegas in search of the missing men.

Becky feels deeply guilty about ignoring her father while he was in LA, in addition Becky feels her enemy Alicia is threatening her friendship with Suze.

My thoughts: I just love Becky Bloomwood and am so glad she's back!!! This is just a fun series, and Becky just makes me laugh, plain and simple and sometimes you just need that. 

This book picks up right after the previous book, Shopaholic to the Stars, picks up. Becky decides she must go after her dad and Tarkie and the whole gang comes along for the ride.  It's a comedy of errors as they rent a RV and head from LA to Las Vegas.  And that's what I love about this makes me laugh! Becky is a memorable character and I just love her for all the antics she seems to find herself involved in. And she even reaches out to Derek Smeath for advice - I loved that!!! 

All the faces we have grown to love made appearances in this book - Becky, Luke and Minnie, Suze and Tarquin, Becky's parents Graham and Jane, their neighbor Janice, Luke's mom Elinor, and even Becky's arch-enemy Alicia. It seems that all loose ends were tied up - Suze and Tarquin resolved their issue, Graham's secret came out, the tension between Becky and Suze was resolved and they once again are back to being each other's 3am friend, and so on. And most importantly, Becky herself has done some maturing - which is so not like her. It's almost as if things are being wrapped up in a neat little bow because this is the last hurrah for these characters...could that be? Is this our last visit with Becky? Have we reached the end? 
Whether it's the last Shopaholic book or not, I enjoyed this book. I kept my attention, made me laugh and remember why I love this series. Yes, Becky might have changed a little, but over time, don't we all? Deep down, I think she's still the same flawed character we originally fell in love with, who is slowly starting to see things a little differently. Is she completely going to change if the series continues - I don't think so, but a little change won't hurt, plus I don't see her being a girl scout model anytime soon - a huge sale at her favorite store will probably have her back to her old self in no-time!!!

Audio thoughts: I really enjoy listening to this series now...I switched to listening to the books with the last book and loved it! It's such a fun series to listen to and Clare Corbett is the perfect narrator for this series. She does a great job with the voices and infuses just the right amount of humor into her voice when needed, which with this series is quite often! I do want to see what else she narrates, though, and will be checking that out soon.

Books in this series:

  1. Confessions of a Shopaholic
  2. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan
  3. Shopaholic Ties the Knot
  4. Shopaholic & Sister
  5. Shopaholic & Baby
  6. Mini Shopaholic
  7. Shopaholic to the Stars
  8. Shopaholic to the Rescue

Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Title: Little Black Lies
Author: Sandra Block
Series: Zoe Goldman, #1 
Narrator: Kara Bartell
Published: February 2015, Hachette Audio / Grand Central Publishing
Length: 9 hours / ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley

She helps people conquer their demons. But she has a few of her own...

In the halls of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in training, dedicated to helping troubled patients. However, she has plenty of baggage of her own. When her newest patient arrives - a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother - Zoe becomes obsessed with questions about her own mother's death. But the truth remains tauntingly out of reach, locked away within her nightmares of an uncontrollable fire. And as her adoptive mother loses her memory to dementia, the time to find the answers is running out.

As Zoe digs deeper, she realizes that the danger is not just in her dreams but is now close at hand. And she has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most. Because what she can't remember just might kill her.

Little Black Lies is about madness and memory - and the dangerous, little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My thoughts:  I am a big fan of psychological thrillers and when I saw this one, I knew I just had to read it. As a debut author, I wasn't sure what to expect from Sandra Block, but I now say that she has a new fan!!! I found this one to be a thrilling, edge-of-your seat story that had me hooked right from the start. 

I love books that right from the beginning have me totally enamored with the main character and leave me wanting to know everything about her. That's how I felt with Zoe as soon I met her in this book. I also liked how there was a nice mix of Zoe's personal life with that of her work life...we really get to know Zoe, but as it turns out, Zoe doesn't even really know Zoe. 

Balancing ADHD with memory loss from when she was little and her birth mother died in a fire, Zoey is determined to find out who her birth mother really was and what really happened the night she died. Despite her adoptive mother's dementia, and her constantly changing stories about what happened that night, she continues with her search. But at what cost? Her new patient seems to have triggered the nightmares that used to plague her years ago. Why is this and what is the connection?

As the answers unfold, I found myself completely engaged and needing to see how it would all play out. I was totally unprepared for what would happen and definitely see myself rereading this just to see if I can pick up the clues on a second read. This is a cleverly constructed book and I really loved how it all came together. From the richly drawn characters to the subject matter to the setting - it all comes together to create a crazy good psychological thriller that you just can't stop thinking about.  

Audio thoughts:
This is the first time I've listened to Kara Bartell narrate a book and I really enjoyed listening to her. She does a great job with the different characters' voices and adding just the right amount of tension to her voice to set the scene and add extra suspense. I will definitely be looking to see what else she has narrated.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Title: Pretending to Dance
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Published: October 2015, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Paperback

Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She lives in San Diego with a husband she adores, and they are trying to adopt a baby because they can't have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings to light many questions about Molly's past and her family—the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years before. The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison's Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head. The summer of twenty years ago changed everything for Molly and as the past weaves together with the present story, Molly discovers that she learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. If she learns the truth about her beloved father's death, can she find peace in the present to claim the life she really wants?

My thoughts: Diane Chamberlain is quickly becoming one of those authors that I just have to read...her books are so emotionally charged and the stories are so compelling, you can't help but find yourself completely engaged in them. And, if you happened to read the prequel to this book, The Dance Begins, then you know the stage was set and like me, have been waiting to find out how things would play out...

I love how this story was told - using the past, when Molly was 14 and living back on Morrison Ridge with her disabled father and family; and the present when Molly is an adult and living in San Diego with her husband going through the adoption process. It moves back and forth, giving just enough with each timeframe to slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. As the story is coming together, we are also given the pros and cons of open and closed adoptions, which I found to be quite fascinating and plays a huge part in both story lines. 

This story is so emotionally complex and as the layers are peeled away, you realize that nothing is as it seems. You want to know all the secrets that everyone seems to be keeping but at the same time, you almost don't for fear of what they might be. 

There are so many topics that this book covers - coming of age, living with a disability, adoption and all that comes with that, dysfunctional families, and more. It also has a little mystery to it that creates a little suspense and will keep you glued to those pages even more, if you weren't already.

I flew through this book, finding myself needing to see how everything would play out. It's one story that I have not stopped thinking about, long after reading that last page. I have only read Diane Chamberlain's more recent books, and I certainly plan on going back and reading her backlist as I haven't been disappointed yet and everyone keeps raving about them. Do you have a favorite that I should start with?
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