Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Fun (Or What I Have Been Doing This Weekend)


This was Friday evening.  First fire of the year with the kids (and ice cream bars of course).  Nevermind that it was bit cold and we were all wrapped up in blankets.  It was the first day of spring and we enjoyed it!

Yesterday afternoon was spent soaking up the sunshine with a picnic at a local park.  I cannot get enough of this beautiful weather!  (Especially since they are now predicting snow/thunderstorms for later tonight. Yuck!)

Today's plans involve reading to my heart's content from one of these three.  Most likely it will be on my kindle as I am halfway through Angela Marson's Silent Scream which I can't seem to set down. 

What have you been up to this weekend?  I'm off to get the day started and laundry going but tell me: what book (or books) are you planning on reading today?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father's disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the town's dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next."

My Thoughts:

I am on such a great reading kick lately and this book just added to that streak!  From page one I knew that I was in for a treat with this book and that feeling continued on until the very last page.  The author has created such an original setting to this book where the wild west meets magic and this combines into one of the most unconventional books that I have ever read.  I loved the fact that I never quite knew what to expect with this book.  Petra is the main character in the book and she is a completely grounded individual who doesn't believe in anything out of the ordinary.  She comes to Temperance in search of her missing father and encounters the unbelievable at every turn.  A coyote that seems to understand her and want to protect her?  Check!  Calcified skeletons that have died for no apparent reason?  Yup!  A drunk that gives out hints of the future and makes predictions while under the influence?  Double yep!  This book had it all and it was all of these different elements that really combined to make this book a very dark read.  It was a nail biter for me as I needed to know what was going to happen next.  Plus, very early on I realized that Petra was basically a magnet for trouble so reading as fast as I could to see what kind of trouble she would find herself in was a must!

I haven't even touched on the uniqueness that was Gabe and the other hanged men.  It was both awful and intriguing to read about and learn their secrets.  I'm telling you that this book blew me away with the entire storyline.  It is just so completely different from other books out there.  I couldn't get enough!  The ending of this book was very intense and left me wondering if this will be a part of a series.  Tell me that it is going to be part of a series because I need more!  The twists and turns kept me reading this book late into the night until I finally finished.  This is literally how I spent my Friday evening.  It was a good ending but I want more!  Because there were definitely a few questions that I had left unanswered so my fingers are crossed that there will eventually be a second book to look forward to!  Until then I'm planning on reading this author's other books to keep me happy!  

Overall, I just cannot say enough good things about this book!  It was unique enough that it is very hard to categorize it other than maybe a mix of urban fantasy, a few steampunk elements, and a western thrown all together?  I don't even honestly know that I can really classify it as urban fantasy when I think about it.  That's the best I can do but it is definitely worth the read!  The author has created a dark mix where magic plays a very deadly role at times.  It was a book with a very strong main character along with great secondary ones.  It was just an overall great read!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A book where I never knew what to expect and I loved every minute of it!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a Bewitched Blog Tour.  Thoughts are my own!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I'm Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man . . . dead or alive."

My Thoughts:

Second books can either make or break my love of a series.  This one easily cemented my love for this series and ensured the fact that I will be reading the rest of the books (hopefully sooner rather than later).  One of the reasons that I am now such a huge fan of this series is thanks to the main character Gin Blanco.  She is so unapologetic about the things that she has done and I find it completely refreshing.  Gin is a take charge kind of character with her own idea of what is right and wrong.  Those personal morals lead her to get involved in this case where she is trying to help a family being terrorized for the property that they own.  It was fun to see characters from the previous book all make an appearance in this story although I will admit that I do not understand Gin's attraction to Donovan Caine.  He is too wishy-washy, doesn't see any shades of grey, and is definitely not good enough for Gin in my opinion.  I have no idea why she seems to be so hung up on him.  That being said, I was very excited that there were also some new characters introduced in this book that I would like to see more of.  

One of things about this series that has me the most intrigued is Gin's history.  Without sharing too many possible spoilers, we know now that Gin doesn't know why her family was killed or who was behind it all.  This mystery has played a part in both books in this series so far, and after the things we learned at the end of this book I think it will play a very important role in the next one.  I'm excited about that!  I've loved all of the questions and the way that author has slowly been giving us tidbits here and there.  It has me very eager to read the next book and see what will happen next.  Especially since I think that Gin is just really learning some new things about her elemental powers.  She has lots of untapped potential and I have a feeling that these powers are going to continue to grow.  This is all speculation on my part but I'll be finding out hopefully soon when I pick up Venom (the 3rd book).  

All in all, this was a really great read for me and I had a hard time setting it down.  I am so glad that I finally took it down off of my shelves and read it because it left me eager for more.  If you are looking for a fast paced urban fantasy series then you should definitely give these books a try.  Just make sure you start with Spider's Bite as this is a series best read in order.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  I need the next book ASAP!  That is all :)

Disclosure:  This was off of my own shelves paid for by me.  Used bookstore find, maybe?  I can't really remember but yay for finally reading it!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Sunday Post #11 (Reading Progress)

"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"

Another good week of reading this past week which left me very happy with my reading progress.  I'm trying to appreciate my reading time as much as possible as the upcoming spring sports seasons will be beginning very soon and the chaos will begin.  All three of the kiddos are playing a form of baseball/softball this year.  One in t-ball, one in coach pitch, and one in regular baseball.  Then my youngest two also have soccer seasons to finish out.  What in the hell was I thinking?  This is going to be madness! I have no idea how it is all going to work out but it will be busy.  I do know that it is going to effect my reading time which is why I don't feel guilty reading to my heart's desire now.  Or at least as much as I can fit in amongst everything else that goes into my daily routine.  Anyways, I guess I will worry about it when it happens.  Here are the books that I finished last week:

Clean by Alex Hughes - This was a really great read and left me eager for more!  Great world building and fast paced....I flew through the pages of this one.  I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series.  Review to come.

Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle - I finished this one as part of a Bewitched Blog Tour.  I will be posting my thoughts on this one later this week but here is a quick spoiler on my thoughts:  I loved it!

I've now moved on to reading the following two books:

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is my current print read of which I haven't even cracked open.  Hopefully later today I can actually begin reading it.  The Kill Shot is my new kindle read and I also haven't even started it yet.  Two fresh new reads for the new week!  The Kill Shot is the second book in a mystery series, and since I really enjoyed The Kill List (book 1) I have high hopes for this one.

New Additions:

I don't want to talk about it.  I may or may not have picked up a ton of books yesterday at my local thrift stores.  In my defense they were half off an already ridiculously low price.  But really, I just said that I wasn't buying any more books.  What was I thinking?  Pictures to come but here are the books that I got from NetGalley and Edelweiss this week:

I'm not even going to mention the fact that I was supposed to stay away from NetGalley.  Oh well.  Plans for today include taking the kiddos on a bike ride, lots of laundry, and working on scheduling some blog posts.  I will also be catching up on my blog reading later today so I will be by visiting then.  I hope that everyone has had a great weekend.

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Library Loot (Or Reasons I Love My Library #6)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

As you can see from the below pictures I went a bit library loot crazy this past week with two trips to two different libraries.  What can I say other than it was a very hectic week at work and I needed the stress relief?  It worked even if I brought home way more books than I can possibly read in one month.  A girl can hope!  Anyways, here are ALL of the books that I brought home during my two trips:

This would have been enough right here but instead the next day I brought all of these home too:

Craving some urban fantasy/paranormal lately....can you tell??  Ha!  I don't think that any of the books that I brought home are NOT part of a series.  Oh my goodness, what was I thinking?  I haven't the slightest but looking at all of these has me very excited to read them all so there is that.  Even if I can't possibly read them all before they are due, a part of me wants to try so I will.  The question remains of which one I should read first.  Lots of choices and I should certainly get my fill of the paranormal.  Until my mood changes and I want a good mystery at least :)

Any suggestions?  Or books that I just cannot miss here?  Do tell!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If You've Got It, Haunt It by Rose Pressey (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Cookie Chanel has opened her own vintage clothing boutique, It's Vintage, Y'All, in the charming town of Sugar Creek, Georgia. Always on the lookout for stylish second-hand steals, she attends the estate sale of deceased socialite Charlotte Meadows. But she gets a lot more than she bargained for when Charlotte's ghost appears before her--offering fashion advice and begging Cookie to find out who murdered her.

As the persistent poltergeist tags along and a possibly psychic pussycat moves into the shop, Cookie sorts through racks of suspects to see who may be hiding some skeletons in the closet. Do a clothing store owner and a disembodied socialite have a ghost of a chance of collaring a killer--or will Cookie's life be the next one hanging by a thread?"

My Thoughts:

This was such a fun read!  I really, really enjoyed this one and am left just waiting for the second book to release.  The waiting game, yet again.  It will be worth it though if the next book is as good as this one.  I enjoy cozy mysteries but honestly I don't read enough of them.  This book was a good mix of all the reasons why I enjoy this genre.  The focus of this book was more on vintage clothing than the mystery which I was completely okay with.  Because I don't always read cozy mysteries for the mystery portion but instead I usually read them for the characters.  Cookie is definitely a fun character to read about with a killer fashion sense.  Ha!  Then you add in a snarky ghost and a cat that communicates using tarot cards and this was a winning combination for me!  I loved the descriptions of all of the different clothing that Cookie was wearing or outfits that she had found.  I really loved the parts of the book where she was at estate sales searching for different clothing finds.  I would have loved even more details about those parts just because it was so fun to read about.  

The mystery itself was pretty cut and dried in my opinion although it took Cookie the entire book to figure out the killer's identity.  That was okay as it was enjoyable to watch her search for clues while trying to deal with her ghostly shadow.  The ending tied up everything nicely other than the author never fully explained what happened to Charlotte (the ghost) afterwards.  I wondered if she continued to follow Cookie everywhere or did she move on after getting closure.....maybe we will find out more in the next book!  I will definitely be grabbing the second book just to find out!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and was left very excited about this series!  It was a fun read, easy to immerse myself into, and definitely hard to put down.  The characters were great and definitely original but really it was the vintage clothing that I just could not get enough of!  Cozy mystery fans need to give this book a try!  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  An enjoyable read and great beginning to this series!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.  Thoughts are my own!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Sunday Post #10: (Spring Is Coming Edition)

"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"

Losing an hour of sleep is totally worth it if it means that spring is on the way!  According to our local weather forecasters there is a chance this week of the temps getting up into the 50's.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited that makes me.  I've been starting to plan out my garden in my head with all of the different vegetables that I want to plant.  It is going to be great!  This has been a long winter with very cold temperatures so I am more than ready for spring.  Plus, my kids need to be able to go outside and play.  The fresh air will do them good (along with allowing them to blow off some steam).  Now let's just hope the weather really cooperates!

I just realized that I haven't done a reading update in a few weeks but since I just shared my February reads yesterday I will stick to the books that I actually finished this week.  I've already managed to finish two books in the month of March so I'm off to a really great start!  Here are the books that I finished this week:

If You've Got It, Haunt It by Rose Pressey - This was a fun, easy read that I spent the majority of last weekend reading while at the waterpark.  It was cute and a definitely a good enough beginning to this series to make me want to read more!  Review to come soon.

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers - This was a dark and compelling read that I had a hard time setting down.  I've been meaning to read this one every since it first came out and I am glad that I finally did.  I didn't connect to it quite like I had hoped but it was still a very good read if you know what I mean.  Review also to come.

I am now currently in the midst of these two books:

Clean is my current print read and one that I just started late yesterday afternoon.  I am already hooked and plan on reading lots more of it today!  Dark Alchemy is my current kindle book and I am reading it for a book tour later this month.  This has been a really unique read so far and I am really liking it!  This means I have two really great books going at once which makes deciding which one to focus on difficult.  Hopefully I will finish them both up this week!

Incoming Additions:

Both of these are courtesy of NetGalley I believe.  I was really bad as I requested Vision in Silver without having read the other two books in this series which meant I grabbed Written in Red from the library this weekend.  I need to read them all, you know?  I just couldn't resist since so many of favorite bloggers love this series or are currently reading it (looking at you Wendy!).  I plan on starting Written in Red once I finish up my current reads.  Other than that I am very excited to read both of these books.

Plans for today include working on scheduling some blog posts, a ton of laundry (I'm completely behind thanks to last weekend), a workout, and of course some blog visiting.  All of this while patiently waiting for the newest episode of The Walking Dead that airs tonight.  Priorities!  I'm off to get this day started and a load of laundry in the washer.  Tell me what you are planning to read this week!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

February Reading Recap (2015)

 (This was taken a year or so ago at our last hotel waterpark trip. I haven't uploaded on the computer the new pictures from this past weekend.)

I'm behind in sharing my February reads thanks to a short weekend getaway last weekend.  We took the kids to an indoor waterpark hotel for the weekend which was very, very busy but also lots of fun.  The kids had a blast which was the point so we were all happy.  And then very happy to be home afterwards :)  I had a really great month of reading in February as I was able to finish seven books!  That's a really great amount of reading for me so I was pretty happy.  I'm actually caught up in regards to my Goodread's reading challenge which is the first time so far this year.  I doubt it will last but it was fun to actually see that I was "on track".  Here are the books that I finished in February:
The most amazing thing is that I have actually already posted my thoughts on four out of seven of those books!  That hardly every happens!  I really struggled with picking a favorite for the month as the majority of these books are what I would consider four star reads.  And they were all really great for various reasons.  That being said Slave to Sensation was my pick for the month of February.  This is why I read paranormal romance.  For books just like this!

 I'm skipping doing the challenge wrap up as I haven't a clue which challenges I read for this month and am feeling a bit too lazy to go look.  Suffice it to say that each book I read fit in for at least one reading challenge so I was happy with that.  I still have a few reading challenges that I haven't read any books for.  That is something I hope to fix in the month of March.  I didn't cook as much as I did last month so I am going to focus on that as a goal for March.  I am also continuing to work out but it is very hit or miss.  Another thing that I really need to focus on!  Gosh, it looks like I have lots to work on in March and we are already a week in. 

What was your favorite February read?  Any suggestions for keeping me motivated to work out the ENTIRE month?  I couldn't definitely use those kind of tips! 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What The Fly Saw by Frankie Y. Bailey (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The morning after a blizzard that shut down the city, funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead in the basement of his funeral home. The arrow sticking out of his chest came from his own hunting bow. A loving husband and father and an active member of a local megachurch, Novak had no known enemies. His family and friends say he had been depressed because his best friend died suddenly of a heart attack and Novak blamed himself. But what does his guilt have to do with his death? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The minister of the megachurch, the psychiatrist who provides counseling to church members, or the folksy Southern medium who irritates both men—one of these people may know why Novak was murdered.  Detective Hannah McCabe and her partner, Mike Baxter, sort through lies and evasions to find the person who killed their “Cock Robin,” But McCabe is distracted by a political controversy involving her family, unanswered  questions from another high-profile case, and her own guilt when a young woman dies after McCabe fails to act."

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book for so many reasons!  It was a great way to find a new mystery series that I will definitely be reading more of.  This was such an interesting mystery thanks to the unique futuristic world that it is set in.  In this book we meet detectives Hannah McCabe and Mike Baxter who are assigned to investigate the murder of the dead funeral director.  They soon begin to realize that this isn't going to be an easily solved case as the victim seems to be well liked by all that knew him.  This scenario instantly had me intrigued.  For one, I loved how the author used a winter storm to add to the creepy feel that came with the victim's murder in his own funeral home.  The storm gave a sense of isolation and really got the book off to a great start for me.  Then add multiple suspects and no clear motive for murder and I was truly hooked.  The added bonus for me was all of the little details that the author gave that brought to life this futuristic world that the author has created.  I really felt like this is one of the more unique mysteries that I have ever read!

My one and only complaint was that I feel like I missed out a bit on some back story thanks to starting on the second book in the series.  That's my own fault as the reader.  The author did a really great job of sharing details to catch the me up but there is an ongoing mystery that started at the first book and it looks like will play a role in the next one as well.  This just ensures that I am definitely going to be reading book one sooner rather than later.  Other readers might want to start at the beginning though which is why I mentioned it.  

Overall, this was such a great read thanks to the world building and the mystery itself.  I loved that I didn't figure out who the killer was until the end.  I really like the way the author ended this book with questions left that made me wishing that I had my hands on the next book.  Aack!  I hate waiting but I am really excited about this series.  At least I have the first book to help lessen the wait.  This is definitely a mystery series to check out.  Easily recommended!!

Bottom Line:  A unique futuristic setting made this mystery a instant win for me!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book as part of Partners in Crime book tour thanks to the publisher.  Thoughts are my own.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Night is the Hunter by Steven Gore (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"They call it pulling the trigger.

Not by a killer in the night, but by a judge on the bench.

Twenty years ago, Judge Ray McMullin proved to the people of San Francisco that he could pull that trigger by sentencing Israel Dominguez to death for a gangland murder. But it meant suppressing his own doubts about whether the punishment really did fit the crime.

Now, as the execution date nears, the conscience-wracked judge confesses his unease to former homicide detective Harlan Donnally on a riverbank in far Northern California. And after immersing himself in the Norteno and Sureno gang wars, which left trails of bullets and blood crisscrossing the state, and in the betrayals of both cops and crooks alike, Donnally is forced to question not only whether the penalty was undeserved but the conviction itself."

My Thoughts:

Night is the Hunter is one of those slow building mysteries where the suspense level slowly creeps  up on you until it explodes at the very end.  I really enjoyed this one for a variety of reasons but the main one was the way the author used age and a person's memories to really add to the mystery in this book.  It was done in a way that left the main character Harlan Donnally questioning what really happened and the truth behind what he was finding out.  I was questioning the truth in everything as well, and I feel like this sense of unreality really added to the atmosphere of the story.  In fact, there were multiple instances throughout the book where age and memory played key points.  Judge McMullin comes to Donnally struggling with the possibility that he made the wrong decisions and a young man is about to be executed because of it.  He is getting older and his memories from that time are questionable at best.  As Donnally begins to dig into the case he begins to realize that he is finding more questions than answers.  All of this combined to create such a great atmosphere where I as the reader never really knew what was going on.  I loved how the author used all of these different questions to really add to the mystery!

The mystery was great and I fully admit that I didn't figure it out on my own even though I was trying.  The ending was actually really great because of this and because the author managed to throw in one final surprise.  But what really left me intrigued was at the end of this book in a sort of afterwards the author goes on to talk about the law and how each of his books are based on problems found within the justice system.  Say what?!?  And then he goes on explain the law that he was using in this book and explain how it relates in understandable terms.  The best part though is his explanation of how it relates to this book using the ending as an example.  Be still my bookish heart!  I absolutely love learning something new but then going back through and seeing how it was used in the story.  Excellent choice!  This may be the best ending to a mystery ever!  I've always liked when mysteries or books are based on actual events and this is kind of like that but different.  Definitely something that I appreciated though!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading more from this series!  I've been lucky so far this year to find some great new to me authors and Gore is definitely on that list.  The author takes his time building both the mystery and suspense but it is worth the wait!  And learning something new just makes it even better.  Another book that I can easily recommend!!!

Bottom Line:  A solid mystery with a great sense of unreality!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.  Thoughts are my own!