Friday, February 12, 2016

2015 Mini Reviews (Thriller Edition)

I ended 2015 with over thirty books that I hadn't shared my thoughts on.  I've been working on those reviews here and there and have whittled that number done some but not enough for my liking.  At the rate I'm going I will be sharing my thoughts on these books until 2017.  Rather than do that (and forget my thoughts on some of these books entirely) I have decided to do some mini reviews to help me catch up faster.  I really shouldn't feel guilty for not reviewing a book but I do so short reviews it is.  Here are a few books that I have been wanting to share my thoughts on for awhile now:

Hidden by Karen E. Olson

Summary from Goodreads:

"Nicole Jones – if that is her real name - lives off the grid. She doesn’t have a license, passport or bank account. She definitely doesn’t own a computer. She hasn’t left her refuge, Block Island, in fifteen years. She’s hidden from the world and she likes it that way. Nicole doesn’t use a computer, not because she’s afraid of it, but because she’s afraid of what she – a badass hacker in her past life – would do with it.

When the last person Nicole wants to see suddenly reappears, using a name he knows will draw her out, Nicole realizes that her time hidden is now ending. Her past secrets tumbling into the open and her carefully-constructed new life set to fall apart, Nicole must re-hone her long-suppressed computer skills in order to escape from an island that is no longer a haven, but suddenly a prison."

My Thoughts:

I really loved this book and cannot believe that I waited until now to share my thoughts on it!  It was such a unique thriller and was one of those books that swept me away.  I was completely caught off guard by it and found myself just immersed in it the entire time that I was reading.  This is one of those books that will just suck you in and it wouldn't let me go.  I can't describe it any other way.  I found myself constantly reading (long after I should have been in bed) and the entire time I was guessing.  Guessing at what was going to happen next, guessing as I tried to figure out Nicole's past, really I was just guessing and trying to figure out what in the heck was happening the entire time.  And I loved every minute of it!  This book was such a page turner (or it would have been but I read it on my kindle- what do you call that?) and it was just so good!  I'm gushing a bit at this point but that is because I really loved my reading experience with this one.  The summary was the reason I requested it from NetGalley but the book itself was so much more than I expected.  Nicole was so much more herself and I loved her character!  I was so nervous while reading this one as I wanted everything to turn out okay for her.  The tension and suspense that this author created was so intense and was why this book was such a great read for me!

Overall, I was left exhausted after reading this one.  Literally, as I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish and work came way too early that next morning.  It was completely worth it though and I was thrilled to learn that this is a beginning to a new series.  Heck yeah!  I have no idea what kind of ride that this author is going to take us on next but sign me up!  I'm also hoping to go back and check out this author's other books as some of my favorite bloggers recommended them to me as well.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A wild ride that left me breathless by the end!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks the publisher courtesy of NetGalley.

Birdman by Mo Hayder

Summary from Goodreads:

"Greenwich, south-east London. The Met's crack murder squad, AMIP, is called out by nervous CID detectives to a grim discovery. Five bodies, all young women, all ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome. As each post-mortem reveals a singular, horrific signature linking the victims, officers realize that they are on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a sexual serial killer.

Detective Inspector Jack Caffery - young, driven, unshockable - finds himself facing both hostility within the force and echoes of his past in this, his first case with AMIP. Haunted by the memory of a death long ago, he employs every weapon forensic science can offer for he knows it is only a matter of time before this chaotic, sadistic killer strikes again."

My Thoughts:

This book!  Oh boy, this was such a dark and disturbing read!  I don't get creeped out too often by books but this one definitely had the creepy factor on high.  A few years back (I think-not sure how long ago) I read a different book in this series and really enjoyed it.  I knew that I wanted to see how this series began so I grabbed this one from the used bookstore one day.  Wow!  This book packs a punch and is quite the beginning to this mystery series!!  While it isn't a book for everyone, it is a book that is very well done and one that kept me reading easily.  There were times that I actually wanted to set it aside because it was just so dark but I couldn't because I also needed to see what was going to happen next.  What does that say about me?  Not sure I want to look too closely at that but I cannot sing this author's praises enough.  She isn't afraid to make the reader cringe and it was great to go back and learn more about Jack's character.  He has this mysterious air to him and I'm hoping that we will learn more about him (and his past) as we get further into the series.  I will definitely be continuing on with this series- I know that for sure!

Overall I found this to be a very disturbing thriller but one that I also won't be forgetting about any time soon!  It was fast paced and intense....basically everything that I look for in a good mystery series!  I will be grabbing book two for this series sooner rather than later.  I just need to make sure I am in the right frame of mind for it.  Ha!  Twisted is the best way to describe it!  And that ending will make the entire ride worth it!  Recommended but with the warning that this isn't a book for everyone!  Gruesome factor is high!

Bottom Line:  One of the darkest books that I read all year but I still loved it!

Disclosure:  I purchased a copy of this book from my local used bookstore.  

Two books is enough out of me for one day!  Heck, that is two off of my list so that is even better.  I'm going to try and make a few more posts just like this so that I can catch up completely with my 2015 reads.  Have any of you read either of these?  I would love to chat more about both of these with you if you've read them.  Let me know!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"A scandalous proposal.

As one of London't most elite hunters, Christopher Argent never misses his mark and always gets his man. But when his latest target turns out to be a woman—the popular, and stunningly beautiful, actress Millie LeCour—it turns his whole world upside-down. Overwhelmed by the heat that simmers between them, Christopher can't complete his mission. On the contrary, he'll do anything to save Millie's life—even if it means risking his own...

A dangerous passion...

When she learns what Christopher was hired to do, Millie is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this dangerous man's arms may be her only path to safety—but giving in to her desire may be the deadliest mistake she's ever made. With both of their lives in jeopardy, Millie and Christopher must learn to trust the real feelings they're hiding—to find the true love they're looking for..."

My Thoughts:

This book!  I don't even have words for this book other than: READ IT!  This was one of those books that I could not get enough of and didn't want to stop reading.  I read this one in a matter of days because I just could not put it down!  Even now I'm having trouble putting into words how and why I loved this book so much.  Let's start from the beginning and I will try to explain why I thought this book was so great (with emphasis on the word try here).  Easily one of the things that I loved most about this book was the premise.  Falling in love with your would be assassin sounds next to impossible if I'm being entirely honest.  The author took this story line and made me believe in it.  From the very beginning I was wary but this author managed to pull me in and want it to work.  I found that I was behind Christopher and Millie's relationship from the first time that they met and was very eager to see how they would work everything out.  How Millie was ever going to be able to fully trust Christopher was beyond me but I wanted her to.  Basically I was reading this one just with the willingness that goes along with instantly trusting the author to take me on an emotional ride.  I was all in and this book definitely was able to make me feel all of the emotions.  

One of the other things that I enjoyed about this book was the chemistry between Christopher and Millie.  These two had some serious chemistry going on and it was hot!  I especially loved how we were able to see Christopher open up slowly but surely.  He was so closed off at the beginning of the book and I loved seeing how he changed.  I was also very intrigued by the story line and trying to figure out who wanted Millie dead and why.  It made this book much more fast paced as it constantly felt like there was danger lurking around every corner.  I found myself reading this book constantly and fitting in chapters whenever I could.  I just needed to see how it was all going to end.  This book also had one of the more creepy villains that I have come across and there was a scene towards the end of this book that was so intense!  By the end of this book I was at the point where I knew I wasn't setting it down and had to finish.  The ending was absolutely perfect in my opinion.  I ended this one with a smile on my face even though I was sad to see the book come to an end.  I loved these characters so much and am hoping that we will see more of Christopher and Millie in future books.

Overall, this was such an engaging and unique historical romance.  This is a book that I won't be forgetting any time soon and will definitely be rereading at some point.  I have read some good historical romance lately but this one is one of my favorites by far.  I love how the author took a relationship that I totally thought wouldn't work and made me believe in it.  This was a book that put me through the wringer emotionally but I loved every minute of it.  I just plain loved this book!   Luckily for me I have the first book in this series to look forward to.  I won't be waiting long to read it.  Highly recommended but especially to those historical romance readers.  

Bottom Line:  One of the best historical romances that I've read in a long time.  Sigh....I loved it!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Beside Myself is a literary thriller about identical twins, Ellie and Helen, who swap places aged six. At first it is just a game, but then Ellie refuses to swap back. Forced into her new identity, Helen develops a host of behavioural problems, delinquency and chronic instability. With their lives diverging sharply, one twin headed for stardom and the other locked in a spiral of addiction and mental illness, how will the deception ever be uncovered? Exploring questions of identity, selfhood, and how other people's expectations affect human behaviour, this novel is as gripping as it is psychologically complex."

My Thoughts:

This book left me emotionally drained after finishing it!  It was one of the most intense reads that I have finished in awhile.  Heck, I finished it a couple of days ago now and I'm still thinking about it!  This was one of those books where you just can't quite believe the premise.  How do two twin girls switch places and no one ever realizes the truth?  The author took this storyline and made it work in such a way that I was absolutely just blown away by this book.  It was horrible to read about at times seeing what Smudge (this is what Hellen who turns into Ellie calls herself as a grown woman) went through after the two girls switched places.  This wasn't always an easy read and was much darker than I expected.  But it was so compelling and I just could not set this book down.  My Friday night was basically devoted to reading and finishing this book because I just HAD to see how it was all going to end.

What I loved most about this book was that there were two different story lines.  One was the present and dealt with Smudge's current life.  This viewpoint was so completely interesting to read about because I could never quite get a grip on her actions.  She had that feel of an unreliable narrator that I just adore so much.  The second story line was all about the past and focused on the switch and the years after the girls switched places.  Of the two this really felt the darkest and I found it all so very horrifying.  There were times I just had to set this book down because I was so completely invested in this book.  I had to breathe and remind myself that this was just a story.  I also couldn't help but wonder how things would have been if the girls hadn't decided to play a game one day and switch places with each other.  That unknown was haunting and deeply troubling for me as the reader.  The ending of this book wasn't at all what I expected but thinking back on it, I would have to say it worked.  I really don't think that it could have ended any other way (and I won't say more than that for fear of spoiling it for others).  This was a reading experience that I won't be forgetting about any time soon and an author to watch!  All I really can say after reading this one is" WOW!"

Overall, I really enjoyed this book which feels weird to say when it was such a disturbing read at times.  I connected to the characters and the book just really came alive for me.  I don't know how else to explain it.  I loved how this book made me question and wonder about life experiences in general and how the little things affect us.  The best way to describe this book is troubling....troubling and terrifying but so completely readable.  What a book!  This is an author that I will definitely be reading more of!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A haunting read that left me thinking about it for days!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Sunday Post #23 (Football Fun)

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme"

Good morning everyone!  I'm getting a nice early start on this beautiful morning and the sun is shining.  Happy Sunday to us all.  It is Superbowl Sunday which means football time is coming to an end.  I always miss it but am really looking forward to tonight's game.  We have a few friends coming over so that should be a good time.  Honestly I would rather watch The Walking Dead marathon that is also on today so I will be sneaking in some quiet time to watch old episodes as well.  NEXT WEEK!  I am so very excited that the mid-season premiere is next week....I can't even!  I am so obsessed with this show and have been impatiently waiting for it to return.

In bookish news, February has started off on the right foot as I've already finished two books.  Both were great reads and I'm already in the midst of another one.  I can't say that I've done well on the NetGalley front (because I haven't) but at least I am also working on getting reviews written to work on improving my ratio.  If I could just stop wanting to read EVERYTHING that looks and sounds good, I might have more of a chance for success.  LOL!  I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet as I have piles of laundry that I need to get to before we have company this evening.  The laundry battle just never ends.

Since my last reading update I have finished the following books (this is more books than I realized- maybe I should start doing these posts every week rather than every two):

The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves - I've already shared my thoughts on this one here.  Suffice it to say that this book was such a great follow-up to book one and has cemented my love of this series.  It was this close to getting five stars from me on Goodreads.  I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne - Sigh!  I loved this book....just loved it.  I actually already have my thoughts written up and my review is scheduled for this week.  But a preview:  I basically just gush about this book the entire time.  So good!

If I Run by Terri Blackstock - I've already written up my thoughts on this one as well!!  I'm so proud of myself.  Ha!  This was a fast-paced read that I just flew through.  I won't be sharing my thoughts on this one till its' release date so in another week I believe.  Also very good though if you were wondering.

The Becoming by Jeanne Stein - Off of my own shelves for the win!  This was the first book that I finished this week and I actually tried to slow down reading this one because I was enjoying it so much.  Didn't quite work but a happy surprise is that I already had book two waiting for me on my kindle.  (And yes sometimes I don't know what is on my kindle until I look.)  An excellent read and I can't wait to continue on with this series!

The Sweetest Chase by Sharla Lovelace- I read this one for a tour later this month and I adored it.  Obviously I don't read enough contemporary romance because I just couldn't get enough of this book!  I loved it to pieces and will be going back for the first book asap!

Whew!  Lots of really great reading ahead of me and only two of those books still need reviews written.  Score!  I'm now currently reading the following book:

Holy crap!  This book is so intense!  I can't even begin to describe it.  If I didn't have people coming over this evening I honestly would probably have spent the entire day reading this one.  As it is, I'm going to be squeezing in as much reading time as possible before the game.  I have to see what happens next!!

New Additions:

Sometimes I feel like I'm setting myself up to fail when I say that I'm going to stay away from NetGalley.  I just can't seem to do it and before I know it I am requesting too many books yet again.  Sigh.  This week I also may have one clicked on a few freebies as well.  Here are a few of the books that I added:

The Demonists and Mortal Falls are both courtesy of NetGalley.  One is a thriller and the other begins a new urban fantasy (I think?) series.  Red Hot Steele was a freebie that just sounded too good to pass up.  The Restorer was a purchase and a book that I have been wanting to read for years so I was thrilled to add it to my kindle.  So many books...

Plans for today are make my house presentable.  Find time in there somewhere to blog, read, and watch The Walking Dead.  And work on my piles of laundry.  Always laundry.  I doubt that I'll be able to catch up with all of you until tomorrow.  Don't worry though- I will have plenty of time then to catch up on my blog reading and hopefully get some commenting in as well.  I'm off to get this day started and my butt in gear.

Happy Sunday and Happy reading!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Snow Angels by James Thompson (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It is called kaamos--two weeks of unrelenting darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls upon Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, just before Christmas. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian alcohol; some sink into depression.

This year, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder. The brutalized body of a beautiful Somali woman has been found in the snow, and Inspector Kari Vaara must find her killer. It will be a challenge in a place where ugly things lurk under frozen surfaces, and silence is a way of life."

My Thoughts:

Best way to describe this book:  both dark and chilling!  I picked this as my first read of 2016 because I felt like the cold snowy setting would be great for this time of year.  Add in the fact that this was a beginning to a new mystery series and I was basically set.  All I can tell you is that this book was way darker than I expected it to be and utterly compelling.  The quote on the front of this book from Michael Connelly is so completely true!  This is a world so different from anything I've ever experienced....I just could not seem to get enough of it.  This author pulled me into this book with such ease and before long I was just so completely immersed in this story.  The idea of constant darkness and the cold, wintery setting all combined to create one of the most chilling settings that I have read about in a long time.  The cold and darkness almost felt like a living, breathing thing and it was unsettling to read about at times.  Reading this book curled up under a warm blanket in the evening definitely added to my reading experience with this novel.

The mystery portion of this book was done very well and I found myself guessing until the very end.  Even when I thought that I had portions of it figured out, the author managed to take me by surprise with the ending.  The last fifty pages or so found me reading without stopping because I just could not wait to see how it was all going to end.  I was left very excited about this series and eager to get my hands on book two.  While I really enjoyed this book for the most part, there was a trigger warning that I feel like readers should know about ahead of time.  There was a part of the book that made me uncomfortable and that was the use of a certain racist word.  The author didn't use it to be racist but instead included it because this was possibly a race crime.  That being said- not my favorite thing at all so I couldn't not mention it.  This book is very violent and dark at times so it won't be for all readers.  For me it really fit with the setting of this book and the constant darkness that was present in this book.  When the winter days feel like they will last forever, I am going to remember this book and be grateful that at least the sun is shining where I'm at.  This is a thriller that I am going to remember for a long time!

Overall, this book was a really great way to start off my reading year in 2016.  I couldn't have chosen a better read to utterly creep myself out than this one!  It wasn't always easy to read about but it was so completely compelling.  I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in this series!  If the next book in this series is as creepy as this one....I will be in for a treat!  I will recommend this one to other mystery and thriller fans but with a bit of caution- this might not be for everyone as it is so dark and has difficult subject matter.  Recommended but with those warnings!

Bottom Line:  Creepy, horrifying, and yet such a great way to begin my reading this year!

Disclosure:  This was a copy from my own shelves.  I can't quite remember where I bought it from: either used book store or local thrift store are my guesses but paid for with my own money.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"For Lizzie Snow, the ice and snow of her first punishing North Woods winter are dreadful enough. But near the small town of Bearkill a stubborn forest fire now rages out of control, and as embers swirl dangerously in the smoke-filled air, a teenage girl with a history of running away has dropped out of sight again. The locals and the law both think Tara Wylie is up to her old tricks—until her mother receives a terrifying text message.

Equally disturbing: Henry Gemerle—a kidnapper and rapist who once held three girls prisoner for fifteen years—has escaped, and may be lurking in Bearkill. As the fire closes in, Lizzie teams up with her boss Sheriff Cody Chevrier and state cop Dylan Hudson to search for the missing girl and the wily fugitive. But they're blocked by Tara's mother, a frustrating teller of needless lies and keeper of dark, incomprehensible secrets.

Following a trail of grisly clues—a bloodstained motel room, a makeshift coffin in a shallow grave—Lizzie is drawn ever closer to the flames in her race to save an innocent and corner a monster. Someone else also wants to find Tara Wylie and Henry Gemerle, though, for reasons that have nothing to do with mercy or justice. And when they all meet, the inferno threatening Bearkill will pale in comparison to the hell that's about to break loose."

My Thoughts:

Last year I read and adored the first book in this series titled Winter At the Door.  I knew as soon as I finished that book that I wanted to continue on with this series so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  And I went into reading it with higher expectations because of my love of book one.  Happily enough for me, this book was even better than Winter At the Door in my opinion and has cemented my love for this series!  I am well and truly hooked at this point and must see what kind of trouble Lizzie finds herself in next.  What I loved most about this book was how completely different it was from book one.  This one tells a few different story lines at once and they all come together in the end perfectly.  It was such a suspenseful read because of the way that they story was told!  This book was also much darker then I had expected it to be which was a surprise.  There were times when I could literally feel my heart pounding while reading it and I admit to cringing a bit at the beginning.  That is because I wasn't sure what was going to happen next but I knew that it wasn't going to be good.  Before long I was completely sucked into this book and it wasn't until the very last page that I was able to finally to relax.  

One of the things that I love most about this series is how the author uses the weather to create additional tension and add to the suspense level.  In the first book it was the cold winter weather but in this book it was the constant threat of forest fires that the characters had to deal with.  The fire's presence felt like a living, breathing entity at times....I felt like the entire town might go up in flames at certain points while I was reading.  It made the book seem that much more sinister and suspenseful for me as the reader.  I also really enjoyed getting to see all of the characters from book one again.  Lizzie is still just as great as I remembered her to be which made me happy.  I'm hoping that the story line about her missing niece will continue into further books and that at some point we will finally get all of the answers to that mystery.  The author does a great job of interweaving this story line into each book without it being overwhelming.  It is just something else that Lizzie is trying to deal with along with everything else that she has thrown at her.  The ending of this book was quite crazy and I fully admit to being unable to stop reading once I got to a certain point.  I stayed up way too late to finish this one but it was completely worth it!

Overall, this was an amazing follow-up to book one and left me so excited about this series in general.  When is book three coming out??  I need it in my life!  I do think that readers will enjoy this series more if they read the books in order but this definitely could be read by on its own.  Obviously I highly recommend them both (as evidenced by all of my gushing).  This is just a really great mystery series with some great characters and I can't say enough good things about it.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A mystery that I couldn't put down until the very end!  So good!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Reading Plans (2016 Edition)

Creating a reading pile in January seemed to work really well for me last month, and I found myself mentally creating February's pile very early on.  I had hoped that having a pile of books to choose from would help me to pick out my next read with more ease.  I'm happy to report that it worked for the most part!  I did go off pile at one point because Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell felt like the ONLY book that I wanted to read at that moment but for the most part I did really well.  I had enough variety to fit my reading moods and I'm calling it a success.  For February I tried to include a mix of genres as well because that works best for me.  I even included a nonfiction title off of my own shelves because 2016 will be the year I read more nonfiction!!  I am determined!  Anyways, here are the physical books that I am hoping to read in February:
  • The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein - First in an urban fantasy series and a book that has been sitting on my own shelves for a ridiculous length of time.  It is time to finally give this series a try especially as I believe I have a different book further on in this series on my kindle.  I've heard good things about these books so I have high hopes!
  • The Lie and The Lady by Kate Noble - This is a review copy and a book that I have been itching to read since it arrived.  I adore a good historical romance and this is a new to me author that I've been wanting to try!  Looking forward to reading this one very much!
  • If I Run by Terri Blackstock - Review copy that I couldn't help but accept as soon as I read the description of it.  I'm a sucker for a good thriller and this one sounds like my kind of read!  I am really pumped to crack this one open so will be reading it hopefully early on this month!
  • Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge - YES!  I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am about this book!  I loved the first book in this series and cannot even contain myself with how excited I am to read this one!!!  Thanks to a Goodread's giveaway and the publisher I will be reading this one this month!
  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - My nonfiction pick for this month and a book from my own shelves.  Actually my sister gave me this one to read awhile back but I'm just now getting around to finally reading it.  I'm so intrigued by this one and there was a lot of hype on it last year.  Can't wait to finally check it out!
  • Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes - Honestly I have no clue what this one is about but I am still SO excited to read it!  Her first book (which I have not read but do have on my TBR list) got a ton of hype and even Stephen King himself recommended it so I just cannot wait to read this one!  This is also a review copy.
It wouldn't be a reading pile if I didn't also include all of the e-books that I am hoping to read in February.  Here are all of the books on my kindle that are being included in my February reading plans:

  • The Widow by Fiona Barton - A creepy sounding thriller that I am participating in a blog tour for.  I love the sound of this one and am looking forward to reading it!
  • Find Her by Lisa Gardner - Review copy thanks to NetGalley and an author that I've been wanting to try.  I feel like I may have read a book by Gardner pre-blogging possibly but I can't remember for sure.  Regardless I am really excited to read this one and give this series a try!
  • Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti - Post apocalyptic romance?  Heck yes!  That was basically all I needed to know when requesting this one from NetGalley.  I have very high hopes for this book!
  • Moonglow by Kristen Callihan - I have a goal in 2016 to catch up with this series so I just had to add this one to my February reading pile.  Also, I really want to read it so that helped my decision as well.  Ha!  And the cover for this one is just gorgeous!
  • Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey - This is an author that I hear a ton about so I couldn't resist requesting this book.  Ugh!  I am sensing another trend this month - lack of self control in regards to NetGalley.  Yet another NetGalley read but one that just sounds like a book that I will enjoy!
  • The Sweetest Chase by Sharla Lovelace - Also a NetGalley review copy but I am participating in a blog tour for this one (in my defense?).  It sounds cute and I really don't read enough contemporary romance so I just couldn't resist adding it to my reading plans.
  • The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne - When the publisher emailed asking if I would like to participate in the blog tour for this one I basically jumped at the chance.  So many bloggers raved about the first book in this series- I wanted to see what the hype is all about!  There is a good chance that I may end up reading this one in January if I can squeeze it in.
  • The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer - Basically all you need to know is that I have no self control when it comes to thrillers and mysteries on NetGalley.  Enough said.  I will try to do better next month but for now I am just going to enjoy reading this one!
Oh dear!  My pile of February books is even larger than my January pile was.  At least I have plenty of good reading to look forward to.  In case you are wondering I also am including the leftover books from my January reading pile to choose from.  Those currently are:
  • Between A Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims
  • Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle
  • Swerve by Vicki Pettersson 
  • Steal Me by Lauren Layne
  • The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer
That way those books don't get left behind if I can fit one in here and there.  There is no way possible that I will get all of these read but really the fun is in the trying.  I like having lots of choices to choose from!  And last month I had a really month of reading so hopefully I can do that again in Feburary!

Tell me, what books are you hoping to read this month?  Are there any on my pile that you've read or think I should read first?  Do share!

Happy Reading!

***Edited to add:  I actually wrote this post ahead of time and I've already managed to read two books off of it for January.  As seen from yesterday's post I've already finished both If I Run and The Hunter.  So that is two books less which makes this post seem a little less crazy.  LOL!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Reading Recap (2016)

We are already at the end of January which is crazy to think about.  I'm glad though as we are that much closer to spring which I am really looking forward to this year.  I think it is the lack of snow that has me not as thrilled about winter as I usually am.  If it must be cold (in my opinion) then there really needs to be snow on the ground.  Overall though it has been a pretty good month.  Lots and lots of reading happened.  I worked out for the first part of the month (let's not talk about the second half).  I managed to post quite consistently this month although I am still ridiculously behind on replying to comments.  In a nutshell, it was a pretty darn good beginning to the new year and I can't complain.

I was a reading machine this past month and managed to finish ten books.  Ten books!  Who is this girl?  I attribute most of my reading to focusing on staying off the internet more in the evenings.  It is crazy how much time I waste just on Facebook and Twitter combined.  Making a point to stay off of those sites and allowing myself to just enjoy my current read meant I finished a fabulous number of books.  I should probably do this all of the time.  Ha!  I'm not as caught up with reviews as I would like to be but I am scheduling posts two weeks in advance or more which NEVER happens.  I'm loving it although once the sports schedules kick back in for all of the kiddos I'm sure everything will go back to normal (and I will be behind once again).  Here are the books that I managed to finish in January:
  • Snow Angels by James Thompson
  • City of Light by Keri Arthur
  • Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
  • Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy
  • In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
  • Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
  • Enraptured by Candace Camp
  • The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves
  • The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne
  • If I Run by Terri Blackstock
I've got my reviews written up for a few more of these but they won't be posting until February.  I read SO many good books this month and I struggled to pick a favorite.  In the end I decided that I was picking two favorites rather then one (and even that was really hard for me).  My two favorite reads in January were:

Completely different but both books left me feeling almost sad when I finished.  They were both just so good and I wasn't ready for them to end.  City of Light begins a new series that I will be following and The Hunter is the second book in a series that I now need to read book one for.  I highly recommend them both and cannot say enough good things about them!

The end of this month also brings me to wanting to give an update on my #COYER progress.  I feel like I'm doing pretty well for this challenge as I've read a total of six books for this challenge.  Woohoo!  That is six less books on my e-reader which really feels like progress.  At least it does until I think about all of the books that I have added to it as well.  Hence the reason why I participate in this challenge in the first place.  Here are all of the books that I have read so far for #COYER:
  • On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander
  • Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • City of Light by Keri Arthuer
  • Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy
  • The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves
  • The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne
Plans for February include a ridiculous number of books which I will be sharing about later this week.  I've cheated and already begun reading from that pile (two of my January reads where from my February pile) but at least I am getting a head start.  I'm planning on getting motivated and back to my regular workout schedule.  Goals would be that 30 miles total of running like I had hoped to do in January and consistently doing the 30 Day Shred workout video as well.  Wish me luck that this month I will remain both focused and motivated for the entire month!

What was your favorite read in January?  What books are you hoping to read in February?  Do share!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Firelight by Kristen Callihan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .

Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask."

My Thoughts:

This is one of the best paranormal romances that I have read in a long time!  I am super excited about this series even though I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read it.  Why do I do this to myself?  I actually have the answer to that question though: because now I have a bunch of great books in this series to look forward to!  2016 is going to be the year that I focus on catching up with this series and read the rest of these books because I loved this one so much.  It was just so unique and different from many of the books out there!  I found this to be one of those books that just pulls you in as the reader and doesn't let you go.  I couldn't help but love this world that the author was creating.  It was a throwback similar to a historical romance with something "other" thrown in.  It was the paranormal aspect that really made this book stand out for me and honestly I just couldn't get enough of  this book!  

In this book, Archer hides behind masks and keeps to himself to hide his true nature from others.  He cannot resist taking Miranda as his bride though and the chemistry between them was instantaneous.  Oh my goodness but I loved the relationship that developed between these two.  They are both keeping secrets from each other from much of the book and it added a layer of suspense to the reading of the story.  I couldn't help but read faster so that I would be able to see how everything was going to play out.  One of the things that I love most in a romance book is when it takes time for the two characters to come together.  I'm not a huge fan of insta-love or anything similar to it.  I loved how Archer and Miranda's trust took time to build between the two of them.  It just made the ending all the sweeter because of it.  I also really, really loved Miranda's unique abilities.  It made her into such a strong main character and I always appreciate that but in especially in a romance read.  This book was just so completely readable for me and I found myself curled up on the couch with it for hours.  I especially loved the ending but I won't say more than that since I don't want to spoil anything.  I was left very excited about this series and ready to begin reading the second book as soon as possible!

All in all, this was one of the best romance reads that I read in 2015 and just barely missed being on my top reads list.  It was just so good and such a treat to read!  I'm super excited to continue on with this series and hopefully read ALL of the books in this series over the course of the year.  I have high hopes that each book after will be just as good as this one!  Romance fans should definitely give this one a try!  I highly recommend it!

Bottom Line:  Such a unique and refreshing romance!  Loved it!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. I also ended up buying a copy from the used book store which is the one I read.    

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Something venomous has come to Temperance …

It's been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance's resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.

Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don't want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters' own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.

With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy."

My Thoughts:

I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that this book was coming out!  I had previously enjoyed Dark Alchemy (the first book in this series) so much and had my fingers crossed that the author would be writing a sequel.  So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I got wind of this book.  This series is so completely original and is just different from everything out there!  I find it a treat to read and this has been my experience with both books in this series.  I should say that you need to start off by reading the first book in this series because events in this book are a continuation from book one.  Not all of it which means new readers could start with this book if they wanted but I just feel like they would be missing out a bit.  And personally I feel like that this is such a great series and shouldn't be missed!  I love how the author takes the impossible and makes it possible with these books.  I just cannot emphasize enough how fresh and unique these books are.  It is a mish mash of genres in the best possible way:  a mystery mixed in with fantasy along with some steampunk elements and a western feel all rolled into one.  I love it so much for all of these different reasons (and these are the same things that I loved about book one)!

In this book Petra once again finds herself caught up in a heap of trouble as she attempts to help investigate the mysterious deaths of a family that have died for no apparent reason.  She is looking at the geological features of the area trying to determine if a hot gas spot is the reason behind these deaths or could it be the mysterious snake that was sighted in the area.  Almost instantly things start to go wrong and Petra is forced to search for answers while trying to keep herself out of danger.  I found myself immersed in this book immediately after starting was just that easy to fall back into the world that Bickle had created in Dark Alchemy.  I loved that we had the chance to meet up again with all of my favorite characters from the previous book.  I especially loved that this book delved more into the mysterious hanged men and their fate after the way that things had ended in book one (trying not to spoil anything here so sorry if I'm being too vague).  This book was just as fast paced as the first book and just as hard to set down.  Basically I just loved this book as much as I did the first and am now a huge fan of this series!  And the ending- what an ending!  I loved that we got some answers but I also really loved the set up for the next book.  There is going to be a next book!!!  I cannot wait!

Overall, I just cannot say enough good things about this series or about this book!  I hope that other readers are reading and loving this series as much as I have.  Trust this author to take you on a wild ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time.  Now I'm just going to have to patiently wait and wish for the next book in this series.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  Such a great follow-up to the first book in this series!  I cannot recommend it enough!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss.