Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#SRC2016 Book Spotlight: Clear to Lift by Anne A. Wilson

Title: Clear to Lift
Author: Anne A Wilson
Published: July 2016, Forge Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Alison Malone has been assigned to a search and rescue team based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, near the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and far from her former elite H-60 squadron. A rule follower by nature, Alison is exasperated and outraged every time she flies with her mission commander, "Boomer" Marks, for whom military procedures are merely a suggestion. Alison is desperate to be transferred out of the boonies, where careers stagnate, and back to her life and fiancé in San Diego.

Alison's defenses start to slip when she meets mountain guide Will Cavanaugh during a particularly dicey mission. Will introduces her to a wild, beautiful world of adventure that she has never known before. Stranded on a mountain during a sudden dangerous blizzard, Alison questions every truth she thought she knew about herself. When Will braves the storm to save her life, she must confront the fact that she has been living a lie. But is it too late to change course?

Full of action and adventure, dangerous and heart-stopping rescues, blizzards and floods, family secrets and second chances, Clear to Lift by Anne A. Wilson is a thrilling woman's journey as she finds confidence, truth, love, and herself against the majestic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.

Clear to Lift  by Anne A. Wilson is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks.

Follow the #SRC2016, #BestSRCEver and #BestSummerEver hashtags on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books!


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Published: August 2016, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publicist

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

My thoughts: This was one of those books that as soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to read it...and boy oh boy, what a crazy read it was!!! Full of heart-stopping, anxiety-filled moments of not knowing what was going to happen next, this book had me reading with one eye closed half the time as I frantically flipped the pages to see how it would all end. 

I loved how this book was told - flipping back and forth in time from the present to the past. This so effortlessly and seamlessly built up the tension, while also presenting us with the bigger picture of what is really going on. It quickly draws you into Grace and Jack's world and as charming as they are, something seems off. 

The pacing of this book is just pulls you in, and the twists and turns keep you hooked so that every time you think about putting the book aside, you find you need to read just a little more, until you have devoured the entire book! 

This is an intense read that will leave you feeling unsettled and anxious for sure, but it's so worth it if you like crazy, twisted psychological thrillers. As debut books go, this one knocked it out of the park and I cannot wait to see what comes next for B.A. Paris...and movie rights have already been sold for this book! While I will go see this movie, it will definitely be with a hand over my eyes...this will be one crazy movie!!!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg (audio)

Title: The Ice Princess
Author: Camilla Lackberg
Series: Patrik Hedstrom (Fjallbacka), #1
Narrator: David Thorn
Published: October 2010, HighBridge Audio
Length: 15 hours 8 minutes
Source: Library
Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life.

Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past.

My thoughts: I've heard great things about this series and have been quite excited to start it...I've been on a bit of a Scandinavian/crime fiction kick lately and had heard this series was one not to miss! It's the first in an already established series, so the good thing is that there are already a few books out that I can pick up right away and not have to wait for release day.

Many times, the first book of a series tends to be slow with the introduction of the setting and characters, but I did not feel this was the case with this first book at all. The characters were all engaging and well-developed, flaws and all. The plot starts with a bang and doesn't really let up, and throughout the whole book, there were just enough twists and turns to keep me guessing as to what might come next. Even the setting - the small fishing town, set during the winter - all worked together to set that atmospheric tone in the book.

I really liked both Erica and Patrik, the two main characters. I found them both to be interesting and can't wait to see how the relationship that has started between them develops as the series progresses. I also liked the side story about Erica and her sister and hope that we see Anna again.  The family dynamics there are just begging to be dug into further. 

I liked this book so much so that I've actually already listened to it twice already...because so much happens and as a first book in a series, I wanted to make sure I had everything straight. Now I'm really anxious to continue on with the next book. I have requested it at the library, but since they didn't have it on audio, I had to recommend they purchase it. I'm going to wait a little longer to see if they end up getting it, but being that it's an older book, and a translated book at that, I'm not sure they will. Oh well, at least I know Audible has it!!!    

Audio thoughts: I've decided to listen to this series on audio and I'm already bummed to see that there is a narrator change mid-way....I hate when that happens. At least there is consistency with the first three books. I haven't listened to David Thorn before but I thought he did a good job making the voices distinct and unique. I am looking forward to continuing with him in the next two books.

Books in this series:
  1. The Ice Princess
  2. The Preacher
  3. The Stonecutter
  4. The Stranger
  5. The Hidden Child
  6. The Drowning
  7. The Lost Boy  

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in August 26

It was a crazy week, starting with my Fitbit acting up. It just stopped syncing suddenly and was quite frustrating trying to figure out how to fix it. After contacting Fitbit Support via twitter, I learned how to reset my Alta and that seemed to do the trick. Luckily I still have my Fitbit One so I used that while I was trying to figure things out with the Alta. 

I also  had my bi-annual skin check at the dermatologist and had a spot removed from the back of my leg. They must have hit a nerve where they injected the Novocaine because it really ended up bothering me all week - more so than usual. Since the whole area was/still is a bit swollen, it starts to hurt/throb a bit after too much sustained activity. It's a lot better today (6 days later) than it was, but not 100% until it is, I'll be taking it easy...and praying that the lab report comes back negative - I definitely don't want them digging around that area again ;)  

My August Goals:
* Because I will be starting my training schedule for the big walk in September, I am using August as a "rest month."

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - So-so on weekend, nailed it during the week :)
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - 5/5
  • Eat mindfully - This was a better week, though I'm still looking into a tracking app that will work for me.

Here's how my week went:     
Aug 20:  5,993 steps
Aug 21:  8,538 steps
Aug 22:  10,006 steps
(30 min fitness walk)
Aug 23:  10,756 steps (30 min fitness walk)

Aug 24:  11,082 steps (30 min fitness walk)

Aug 25:  11
,211 steps (30 min fitness walk)
Aug 26: 
12,597 steps (30 min fitness walk)
Total Steps: 70,183 steps
Audiobooks listened to this week: 
  • Started and Finished Black Rabbit Hall  by Eve Chase, narrated by Nathalie Buscombe, Katie Scarfe, & Cassandra Campbell

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

***In March of 2017, I'll be doing the CHALLENGE WALK MS in Savannah, GA. It is a three-day, 50-mile walk that tests your strength and your spirit, and makes an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with MS and their families.

To help me reach my fundraising goal, click here :)

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -  9
         10K  -  0                                10K  -  2
     February:                             June:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  5
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -  5                  
     March:                                  July:
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  3
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -  1
     April:                                    August:
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  6
         10K  -  5                                 10K  -  1


Friday, August 26, 2016

#SRC2016 Book Spotlight: The Lucidity Project by Abbey Campbell Cook

Title: The Lucidity Project
Author: Abbey Campbell Cook
Published: May 2016, She Writes Press
Format: Paperback, 288 pages

After suffering from depression all her life, twenty-five-year-old Max Dorigan joins a mysterious research project on a Carribean island, where she's introduced to the magical and healing world of lucid dreaming.

Depression has haunted twenty-five-year-old Max Dorigan her entire life. After years of unsuccessful treatment and a failed suicide attempt, Max agrees to join "The Lucidity Project," a program at a mysterious health and wellness resort in the Caribbean - where, she soon finds, the people are just as troubled as she is, only in a different way. They claim to have psychic powers. They claim they can see ghosts. They claim Max is one of them.

Max refuses to pay much attention until Dr. Micah McMoneagle, the charismatic head of the project, reveals he's found a way to allow people to enter each other's dreams. Now, instead of discussing their issues in talk therapy, Max and her new gifted friends can symbocally work through their problems on the astral plane. Together they embark on a magical, tranformational journey through dreamtime to reveal the causes of the things that are holding them back - an adventure that ultimately awakens them to who they really are, and what they came to earth to do.


The Lucidity Project  by Abbey Campbell Cook is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks.

Follow the #SRC2016, #BestSRCEver and #BestSummerEver hashtags on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: The Cavendon Luck by Barbara Taylor Bradford (audio)

Title: The Cavendon Luck
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Series: Cavendon Hall, #3
Narrator: Anna Bentinck
Published: June 2016, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 16 hours 11 minutes / Hardcover, 512 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Publicist

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a captivating epic saga of courage and honor, following the aristocratic Inghams and the loyal Swann family who have served them for centuries.

It is 1938 in England, and Miles and Cecily Ingham have lead the family in bringing the Cavendon estate back from the brink of disaster. But now, with the arrival of World War II, Cavendon Hall will face its biggest challenge yet. It is a challenge that will push the Inghams and Swanns to protect each other and the villagers, and reveal their true capacity for survival and rebirth.

Told with Bradford’s deft, evocative prose and featuring a beloved cast of characters, The Cavendon Luck is a story of intrigue, romance, sorrow, and joy that readers won’t soon forget.

My thoughts: This is the final book in Barbara Taylor Bradford's Cavendon Hall trilogy and I'm so bummed to have come to the end of this series...I really enjoyed it and getting to know the latest families and world that Barbara Taylor Bradford has created for us. While Emma Hart and The Woman of Substance Saga will forever remain as my favorite BTB series, this one wasn't too bad...and having Emma Hart make a cameo - I loved it!!!

This latest installment picks up ten years after the prior book, just before the start of WWII. The family has brought Cavendon Hall back from the brink of collapse and now must weather the impending war. We see the impact that the war has on both families, the Inghams and the Swanns, and see that that class line that was once so distinct between the two families has slowly started to fade away.

I loved seeing the different roles that each character played during the war. Cecily and her shop and factories are at the ready for whatever clothing needs might be needed throughout the war. They have adjusted to the demands already, going from fashionable couture to ready-made clothing. Dierdre, one of the Dee's, is back at work at the war office, working at covert operations. I loved seeing her in the role as "spy" and her interactions with her operatives were at times humorous, with all their nicknames, but had that serious tone to it. 

This book, as with the other two, had its share of happiness, sadness, weddings and death. It was set during a tumultuous time in our history and the seriousness of that really comes across. We see the direct impact that the war has had on our characters and how they learn to deal with it in their everyday lives and in the aftermath. 

This series was a good series, a great family saga with fun characters that you just wanted more of. My only complaint would be that it would have been nice to have had a family tree included in the books to help keep track of who everyone was - it was hard to remember, especially in the beginning, who was who. What I did love, though, was the inclusion of some beloved characters from Barbara Taylor Bradford's previous books - especially Emma Hart and Blackie O' much so, that I am seriously considering rereading the Woman of Substance saga again!!!

Audio thoughts: I so enjoyed Anna Bentinck's narrations of this series...I thought she did a great job with the voices throughout the three books, staying pretty consistent from book to book, as far as I could tell. Her pacing and tone were good and she infused just the right amount of humor and seriousness when needed. I will definitely be checking out what else she has narrated!

Books in this series:  
  1. Cavendon Hall
  2. The Cavendon Women
  3. The Cavendon Luck
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