Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!"

My Thoughts:

This was such an enjoyable and page turning read!  I feel like this is another book that would be perfect spend reading on the beach or during a long, hot summer afternoon.  This is actually only my second or third book (I tried checking Goodreads but she has written so many books that I couldn't tell for certain) that I've read by this author but I really enjoyed them both so much.  Mallery has a knack for creating characters that you can't help but root for and enjoy reading about.  Sunshine and Margot were both so very different, and yet they were twins and also wanted the same things out of life.  It was just the case that neither of them thought that they would ever find true happiness thanks to their family history. can you not want happiness for characters when they feel that way?  I just instantly found myself attached to them both and the two storylines that the author was telling us.  I loved when the two storylines intertwined but really I enjoyed it all.  I didn't even have a preference of one sister over the other - I wanted both of them to find true love and happiness with their lives.  I also really enjoyed the fact that neither of them were perfect or completely had her life in order.  Margot was definitely more on the I've got my stuff together side of things but she still had her issues that she was dealing with.  Sunshine on the other hand is just now going to college for the first time and trying to really make changes with her life.  While that isn't where I'm at in my own life, I related. to her and the struggles that she was dealing with because of the choices she made when she was younger.  I'm telling you guys - this book was such a winner for me because of these two characters and how relatable they both felt.  The pages of this book just flew on by and I was finished before I even knew it.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book immensely!  It just felt like the perfect read for these early summer days and I soaked it all in!  I'm not sure if I would classify this one more as contemporary romance or women's fiction but it has vibes from both genres.  I would classify it as a winner though and a book that I will be recommending to readers of either genre!  This book was also a great reminder that I would like to work on catching up with some of this author's backlist as well.  So many books and so little time!  Also, how gorgeous is this cover?  It's even better in person, I've got to admit!  This book was the perfect change of pace from the mysteries and thrillers that I read so often.  I always say to myself that I'm going to work on mixing my reading up more but books like this are why I want to make that happen so much!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A great summer read that I can't help but recommend!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn Ross (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Summertime is the best time to lose yourself in the romance of Honeymoon Harbor…

When he lands in the emergency room after collapsing at the funeral of a colleague and friend, Wall Street hotshot Gabriel Mannion initially rejects the diagnosis of an anxiety attack. But when warned that if he doesn’t change his adrenaline-fueled, workaholic lifestyle he could end up like his friend, Gabe reluctantly returns to his hometown of Honeymoon Harbor to regroup.

As he adjusts to the sight of mountains instead of skyscrapers, Gabe discovers advantages to this small Pacific Northwest town he once couldn’t wait to escape. But it’s irresistible librarian Chelsea Prescott who, along with the two foster children she’s taken under her wing, makes slowing down seem like the best prescription ever.

Over the course of their summer romance, Gabe gets a taste of the life he might have had if he’d taken a different path. But with his return to New York City looming on the horizon, he’ll have to choose between the success he’s worked tirelessly for and a ready-made family who offers a very different, richly rewarding future…if he’ll only take the risk."

My Thoughts:

Summer on Mirror Lake felt like the perfect read to start off my summer reading!  I don't read nearly enough contemporary romances or small town romances - books like this always leave me wondering why.  There is just something so comforting about them and it almost reminds me of the feeling I get with the cozy mysteries I read.  I love the small town vibe, getting to know all of the characters, and the descriptions of the town itself.  I always feel like with books like this that these towns feel like real places that I could actually go and visit which is fun in itself!  In this book, Chelsea is the head librarian in the town's library and is just focused on living up to her mentor and former head librarian's expectations.  Gabe has come back to his hometown from the summer needing a break from the stress of his job.  These two meet and the sparks fly almost instantly.  I usually don't care for romances that happen super fast but it was different with this book.  Gabe and Chelsea decide to have a summer fling rather than a committed relationship and I think that worked for me.  It felt more like a fun thing than the insta-love that I cannot seem to get behind.  My favorite part of this book though were the two young foster girls that Chelsea becomes caught up with.  There was just something about these two girls that tugged at my heartstrings.  I was almost more focused on them getting their happy ever after compared to Chelsea and Gabe.  I do say almost there because really isn't it all tied up into one thing in the end?  My one and only complaint with this book was that I had a hard time keeping track of all of the characters.  I'm thinking that this is my fault though as I didn't realize that this was the third book in a series.  Looks like I've got a few books to catch up on now!  I did finally get a hang of the who's who by midway through the book which helped.  And overall, I was satisfied by the way that things played out in the end.  It was exactly what I was hoping for which left me feeling content and happy when the book was finished.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am looking forward to reading the previous books in this series.  This book has a summer vibe to it that I couldn't help but appreciate.  I feel like this book would be the perfect binge read while spent on a hot day at the beach.  Or curled up with during a late night baseball game on a summer evening like I did!  That definitely worked as well.  I think that fans of contemporary romance and just romance in general would enjoy this book.  You don't have to read these books in order necessarily (I sure didn't) but it may help you keep track of the characters better if you do.  And books like this are just the perfect type of read for this time of year in my opinion!  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A great summer read and romance!

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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Sunday Post #57 (Spoiler 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"

Good morning everyone!  I hope you've all been well and are enjoying the warmer weather!  While summer is probably my least favorite season - I am appreciating the warmer weather after all of the rain that we were getting there for awhile.  It's another busy weekend over here but I've been mulling some thoughts over for awhile now and wanted to get everyone's opinion.

Okay so here's the deal.  Last week (or the week before) I started reading No Mercy by Joanna Schaffhausen which is the second book in a mystery series.  According to Goodreads, I finished reading the first book back in December of 2017.  So it had been awhile and honestly when I started this book and the author referred to events that had happened in book one....well, I was a bit lost.  I couldn't remember the ending of that first book and how everything went down.  I ended up searching Goodread's reviews for spoilers so I could refresh myself on that first book.  Honestly, this isn't the first time that's happened especially as I read so many different series.  I also try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible which means I don't end up giving a lot of details on the plot.  Here's where I need your opinion.  I'm thinking that I'm going to change the way that I write my reviews of books.  I'm going to write up my thoughts like I normally do - and then in a marked paragraph I'm going to discuss my thoughts with spoilers and as many details as I like.  I'm thinking that I will post this paragraph at the very end so that those who don't want to see spoilers can just read my thoughts and skip that section.  The only times that I won't do this is if I'm reading/reviewing a book as part of a blog tour.  Blog tour books are for people to actually visit my blog and read my thoughts on the book so I don't feel like I should include spoilers in that kind of post.  But I want to really be able to remember what I read so for other books, why shouldn't I discuss everything or anything I want to?  What are your feelings on all of this?  How do you remember the details from all of the books that you read?  Or don't you....I sure don't!

Reading wise, I'm chugging right along at about the same reading pace as I have been all year.  I have a bunch of books that I need to write up my thoughts on so I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on the above.  My review copies have really been stacking up lately so I'm trying to focus almost entirely on them in June.  I did this in April and felt like it helped make the stack a bit more manageable.  That hasn't stopped me from putting WAY too many books on hold at the library or checking too many out.  Because some things never change and I AM a mood reader through and through.  In the past week (or so), I've finished the following two books:

Deadly Obsession by April Hunt - This is the beginning to a new romantic suspense series and I really enjoyed it.  I love romantic suspenses but there is a fine line between what works for me in this genre and what doesn't.  I'm hoping to write up my thoughts on this one soon but I will definitely say that I'm planning on reading more in this series!

Summer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn Ross - This is a small town contemporary romance that I read for an upcoming TLC book tour.  My thoughts on this one will be up later this week.  I will admit that I'm confused on if this is a part of a series or not - I need to research that further.  There are a lot of characters to keep track of but I found it an enjoyable read perfect for summertime.

I'm now currently reading the following:

I'm also reading this for an upcoming TLC book tour later this month.  It has been awhile since I read one of this author's books but I'm really enjoying it so far!  I'm sensing a need for a thriller or mystery next after these three books.  I'm also considering starting Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land to read alongside my current book.  We are into June already and I have yet to pick up any nonfiction - I REALLY wanted to read more nonfiction this year so this is something I need to focus on more.  Especially as I'm constantly adding nonfiction books to my TBR list but then never reading them.  I don't usually read two print books at once but I'm thinking I might change things up a bit with a nonfiction book instead of my usual e-book.

I'm writing this early because plans for today include baseball games.  If we aren't at the fields all day then I'm going to work on laundry and getting the house ready for the week.  I've been watching the Harry Potter movies this weekend as my husband and daughter are away at a softball tournament.  I'm not a huge television nut but I always love marathoning the Harry Potter movies (and not feeling bad when I make my husband watch them for the umpteenth time)!  I'm off to enjoy my Sunday and this beautiful weather!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…"

My Thoughts:

This was such a fun and enjoyable read for me!  I don't read a ton of contemporary romances but this book has me reconsidering that.  One of my absolute favorite tropes in romance is the (I'm not sure what this is exactly called but this is what I'm calling it) hate to love romance.  I adore when the main characters despise each other but ultimately can't fight their attraction to one another!  It's my favorite so it was a sure fire thing that I was going to enjoy this book with that kind of set up.  I think one of the reasons that I enjoy this type of trope so much is that it usually means that there isn't any kind of insta-love which is my least favorite romance trope. The romance between Naomi and Oliver was a slow burn of the best kind in my opinion.  Also, just to let other readers know - this is a book that I've been recommending to readers who want a romance without the steamy scenes.  I just wanted to throw that out there for any other readers who are looking for that kind of romance!  In this book, Naomi remembers Oliver instantly from her childhood when they meet for the first time but Oliver doesn't remember her.  This leads to some humorous moments as Oliver can't figure out why Naomi seems to despise him on sight.  Especially as he is as attracted to her as he is annoyed with her for the way she is treating him.  The chemistry between these two was just absolute perfection so I couldn't get enough of reading it.  I also really enjoyed the friendship that Naomi had between two other ladies which is the kind of setup of this trilogy.  I don't want to give too many details on how they become friends, but I'm now eager to read both of their books so I can see them get their happy ever after as well.  This was just a fun read for me even though there were some serious aspects to it.  Oliver's father has Alzheimer's disease which plays a prominent part in this book.  The disease isn't glossed over and it is something that Oliver is constantly dealing with throughout the book.  I really liked the end of this book and am eager to get my hands on the next book in this trilogy.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author.  This is actually the second book that I've read by Lauren Layne - the other book that I read was Cuff Me which had more of a suspense vibe to it than this book did.  Two very different books but both books that I enjoyed immensely.  Looks like I have another author whose backlist I need to catch up on!  Also, I can't believe that I haven't mentioned this before but how gorgeous is that cover?  I love it!  It was almost a shame that I read this book on my e-reader so couldn't experience that cover in its' full glory.  Ha!  I would recommend this book to fans of romance but also to readers who are starting to get on board with the new wave of romantic comedies that are becoming so popular as of late.  This book was just a plain fun read at times and I think that there are many other readers who will enjoy it as well.  An easy book for me to recommend!

Bottom Line:  A fun and enjoyable read that has me excited for the next book!

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past."

My Thoughts:

I've enjoyed previous books by this author so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  The Better Sister was a definite page turner that I couldn't stop reading! The setup of this book is a bit unique in the fact that Chloe is raising her sister's son with her ex-husband.  But when she finds her husband murdered in their beach house, her entire life is turned upside down.  What I loved about this book was that it was so completely different from what I expected it to be.  I always read the summary of a book before starting it but this book ended up being very unexpected (but in a good way).  I guess I went into it with notions of what was going to happen and how the book was going to go - and was completely wrong!  Go figure!  It helped make this book even more of a thrilling read for me though because I couldn't figure out what was going to happen and how everything was going to turn out.  Chloe doesn't have many positive feelings towards her sister at first so I was all prepared not to care for Nicky as well.  I honestly don't want to say more than that because this is a book to be experienced for yourself.  Just check those expectations at the door and enjoy the ride that this author is going to take you on.  It is completely worth it in my opinion!  One of the other things that I really liked about this book was the author's portrayal of commenters on the Internet.  A person can see this type of thing all over the Internet - just look at news stories and the comments that follow.  The comments can range between sympathetic to absolutely nasty - and all on a topic or individual that they might not have any background knowledge of.  I just felt like those parts of the book sadly rang very true to real life.  I honestly was kept guessing throughout the entirety of this book.  It's funny because I did at one point guess Adam's murderer but dismissed my guess early on.  It wasn't until the very last pages that I fully understood and realized I had been correct without knowing it. I'm curious to see how other readers felt about the ending but I really don't want to say more than that.  It worked for me if you are curious as to how I felt.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a ton and I think that this may be my favorite book by her so far!  I would really like to work on catching up with her backlist as well (but if I keep saying that with every author I read it won't happen).  Ha!  But seriously, I have yet to read a "bad" book by her and actually I believe that  I've rated all of her books at least four stars.  She is definitely an author to check out if you haven't yet!  I appreciated so much about this book that I didn't even share about as it might be considered a spoiler but if you want to discuss further just let me know.  This felt like a refreshing read and change of pace from all of the other thrillers that I've been reading lately - I can say that!  I would recommend this book to fans of both mysteries and thrillers.  I also think if you just enjoy suspenseful reads that this book would work for you!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A refreshing mystery that kept me guessing until the very end!

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"ALICE gets off a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in Delphi, NY. She is fleeing an abusive relationship and desperate to protect...

OREN, ten years old, a major Star Wars fan and wise beyond his years. Though Alice is wary, Oren bonds nearly instantly with...

MATTIE, a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available, and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn't say is that Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the age of ten.

But Mattie isn't the only one withholding elements of the truth. Alice is keeping her own secrets. And as the snowstorm worsens around them, each woman's past will prove itself unburied, stirring up threats both within and without."

My Thoughts:

The Night Visitors was such an atmospheric read and one where I found myself instantly pulled within the pages.  I've read a few books by Goodman now, and she just has a way with creating these suspenseful books filled with atmosphere and tension.  This was actually the perfect reminder of how much I enjoy her books - it made me really want to work on catching up with her backlist!  I actually didn't intend on binge-ing my way through the pages of this book....I was going to take me time and just immerse myself within it.  But what really happened is that I flew through the pages utterly compelled and unable to put it down.  I am such a sucker for thrillers featuring blizzards.  The sense of isolation that the characters experience always adds a spooky layer of tension that I enjoy reading about and this book was no exception.  I'm going to try to be as spoiler free as possible here but there are a few things that I want to talk about that could be considered to be a spoiler.  Feel free to skip ahead if you want to stay completely spoiler free and just check on my overall thoughts.  So this book did have a supernatural aspect that I found very intriguing.  Oren just seems to "know" things (for lack of a better word) that he shouldn't or couldn't possibly know and yet he does.  I feel like this was done really well and that it added to the overall storyline.  I'm trying to remember if this is something that Carol Goodman does with all of her books but I can't say for certain so apparently it has been awhile since I read anything by her.  It doesn't matter because overall it worked really well for this book.  I came to a point in this book where I just knew that I was going to finish despite the fact that I still had at least 100 pages left.  The twists and the turns just kept coming and I couldn't not see how it was all going to end!  I actually really liked the ending and thought it fit perfectly.  The thing I enjoyed most about this book though is how the author continually used the icy, snowy weather to add tension and suspense throughout the book.  I'm curious if it would have been even creepier to read this book during the winter but honestly reading it now in the spring worked just fine if I do say so myself!

Overall, this book was a really great read that I just lost myself within!  When I started it I fully intended to take my time with it but I just couldn't seem to set it down.  I really liked the three main characters so I was rooting for them the entire time.  I especially liked Maddie's character and appreciated that we got to see both her flaws and strengths in this book.  I'm glad that I still have quite a few books of this authors to catch up on!  There is just something about her writing that never fails to draw me in - I had almost forgotten until I picked this book up how much I have enjoyed her books in the past.  I won't be waiting long to pick up another of her books this time around.  I would recommend this book to fans of both mystery and suspense.  Thriller readers will also enjoy this one in my opinion even though I would hesitate to label this book a thriller.  It's suspenseful enough though to appeal to those types of readers in my opinion.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  An atmospheric and page turning read that I enjoyed immensely!

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Sunday Post #56 (Catch-Up 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"

Good morning everyone!  Happy Mother's Day to those who are mothers in whatever form that takes.  If you haven't noticed I've been hitting you guys with lots of reviews (for me at least) this week.  I didn't realize how far behind I was starting to get so I'm working on catching up with reviews.  I'm hoping to post at least two more this week.  May has started off as a strong reading month for me.  I've finished three books already which I feel like is better than previous months so far this year.  Hopefully I can keep up the reading pace!

Life has been pretty busy otherwise.  We are at either a baseball or softball tournament every weekend (or both more often than not).  During the week there are practices and league games as well as a multitude of other things.  Thankfully, we are getting down to the end of the school year.  My kids are more than ready to be done with school and for summer break to begin.  I'm just enjoying it all because it always goes by so fast.  Not much else new otherwise.  I'm just going to share the books I've finished in May since it has been awhile since my last reading update.  I've actually been pretty spotty on my posting this year - if you want to hear my thoughts on books more consistently check out my Instagram account (@samsbooks1020).  I am on there more often talking books then anywhere else.

In May I have finished the following books:

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen was such an enjoyable read - I actually posted my thoughts on this one earlier this week.  Check them out here if you are interested.  I'm really looking forward to checking out more by this author as I enjoyed this one so much.

The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman was another really great read.  I plan on posting my thoughts on this one later this week.  It was the perfect reminder of why I enjoy Goodman's books so much. I really need to catch up with the rest of her backlist!  She has such a way with creating these suspenseful and tense books that I can't get enough of.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse is a book that I just finished last night between innings during my daughter's softball game.  It was really good and left me very excited to read the next book in the series which just recently released.  I hope that we will continue to learn more details about this new world as the series goes on.  I really enjoyed it and will be sharing my full thoughts on this one as well in the near future.

I'm now currently reading the following books:

Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne is my current read on my e-reader.  I'm reading it as part of a blog tour later this month.  I'm enjoying it so far and am about 29% into it so hopefully I will get some quality reading time with it this week.  In print I'm getting ready to begin reading The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair.  This is the beginning to a new historical mystery series that releases next month.  I've been in the mood for a historical mystery so I'm planning on diving into this one later this afternoon.

Plans for today are pretty much nothing besides relaxing and enjoying a quiet Sunday.  My husband is cooking an early lunch/late breakfast for me and then I may roll my lazy self out of bed.  Or not - it has been such a busy few weeks that I may just sit here all day.  LOL!  I would love to get a few of those reviews I've been talking about written.  And maybe a load of laundry or two if I'm motivated at all.  The kids do need clean clothes this week at some point.  Ha!  I hope that you all have a wonderful, relaxing day as well.  Take care of yourself in whatever form or shape that takes!!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.
Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?
Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves."
My Thoughts:
Oh wow - this book was so much more than I expected it to be!  I went into reading this one expecting a suspenseful read based off of the above summary.  And this was a suspenseful read - don't get me wrong there.  But it was also so much more and because of that I have a feeling that this one will stick with me for awhile.  I don't think that it's too much of a spoiler to say that as the reader we get to meet Annie before she goes missing.  I thought that because we got to see her beforehand that it made everything that went after that much more potent.  I found myself so immersed in these characters and their lives.  The good and the bad, the secrets, the every day details - these things brought each of these characters to life for me and made me care for them.  I rooted for them every step of the way.  I really liked the way that this book was set up.  It was told from the viewpoints of multiple characters and each chapter was from one of the characters viewpoints.  Setting the book up this way really helped me as the reader to get to know each of the characters and get inside their heads.  I think it is one of the main reasons that I was able to connect to so many of them so easily.  Okay so fair warning for slightly spoiler-ey talk here for a few minutes.  I finished this one in between innings at my son's baseball game and let me tell you what - it was the perfect ending even if it wasn't the one I had been hoping for.  Also, finishing it between innings allowed me to reflect on the ending in a way that I might not have otherwise.  It was both heartbreaking and hopeful.  Isn't that a sign of a great book?  I sure thought so!  I'm really looking forward to seeing what other readers thought of this one now!
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and am looking forward to reading more by this author.  It was a bit different than my usual mystery and thriller fare but I enjoyed this book all the more because of it.  I definitely need more books like this in my reading life!  It felt good to stretch my reading a bit and reminded me that I need to do this more often.  On an entirely different note here - how gorgeous is this cover?  I love it!  I would recommend this book to fans of suspense but also to anyone who enjoys a good character driven novel.  I obviously can't say enough good things about it but that is the mark of a good book.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A book with characters that came to life for me - and a book that I won't be forgetting about anytime soon!

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

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.
That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.
Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . ."
My Thoughts:
The Last Time I Saw You was the perfect book to lose myself within during the long wait between games one weekend at my youngest son's baseball tournament.  I sat under a tree and just immersed myself in this thriller.  It was the perfect page turner that almost made me wish the time between games was longer (I say almost because then I was a bit lost after I finished this one and didn't have another book on hand).  The book is told from two different perspectives: Kate's and her former best friend Blaire.  We know from the beginning of the book that Kate and Blaire were super close when they were younger and then something happened causing a rift in their friendship.  Blaire returns though when Kate's mother is murdered and begins investigating when it is clear that Lily's murder is just the beginning.  What I liked about this book was that there was a layer of unreliability to it that causes the reader to question what's going on.  I don't want to go into too many specifics but there are things that happen that made me unsure of who to fully trust.  I love that type of thing in thrillers so of course I was completely hooked.  There isn't much else I can say that wouldn't be considered a spoiler.  I wasn't sure on my feelings on Kate until the end of the book - there was a level of detachment with her character where I couldn't decide if I liked her or not.  I will say that I really liked the way the author wrapped everything up with this book.  It worked for me in a way that I would have said it wouldn't have when I was in the middle of the book.  
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book!  I'm glad that I have another of this author's books to look forward to.  This is one of those rare books that I managed to read in just a little over a day (which doesn't happen very often).  I just couldn't set this one down and really didn't want to.  I'm excited to have found this author and will be watching for anything new that she comes up with.  I just really liked this book a lot!  I would recommend it to fans of thrillers and suspense.  I also think that mystery readers in general would enjoy this one.

Bottom Line:  A page turning read that I couldn't set down!

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

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth."

My Thoughts:

I'm always, always on the lookout for new cozy mystery series to follow!  I jumped at the chance to read this one, but especially after I realized that it began a new series.  Sometimes it feels like the only cozy mysteries I hear about are books that are part of long established series so I was super excited to hear about this one.  What I really enjoyed about this book was the premise.  Jazz is just working on training a cadaver dog when she and the dog accidentally stumble across a real body.  And because she has found this body and knows of the girl, she feels drawn to figuring out what happened to her.  This made sense to me and it felt reasonable as to why Jazz kept asking questions and trying to solve the murder.  I liked that part of it because sometimes it doesn't make sense why a person would keep getting involved in murder investigations in books like this.  Instead, I wanted Jazz to ask questions and figure out who was responsible for the girl's murder.  I also was really intrigued by some of the back story that the author alluded to.  For instance, Jazz's father was the fire chief and has recently died in a fire.  There is some (for lack of better words here) curious circumstances relating to his death that has me intrigued.  Is there more to it?  Will we learn more in upcoming books in this series?  I'm looking forward to finding out!  I also really enjoyed the parts that focused on the training of the cadaver dogs.  I actually would have loved even more of that because it was just so interesting to read about!  

Overall, I enjoyed this one for the most part.  It definitely felt like it was setting up more to come which sometimes happens with first books in a series.  I'm intrigued enough though that I'm anxious to get my hands on the next book when it releases.  The author did a good job of setting up characters that I'm eager to see more of.  The mystery portion kept me guessing especially because the victim's motivations were a bit of a mystery.  She wasn't portrayed as this perfect character but I found myself wanting Jazz to find her justice despite all of that.  It was just an interesting beginning to a new cozy mystery series and I'm left excited about it.  I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble Jazz gets herself into next and if it relates to her father's death.  I would recommend this one to fans of cozy mysteries and suspense.

Bottom Line:  A good beginning to this new cozy mystery series - I look forward to reading more in this series in the future!

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"For a woman, being killed by someone who claims to love her is the most ordinary murder of all.

With its antebellum houses and ancient oak trees draped in a veil of Spanish moss, Savannah’s graceful downtown is famous around the world. When a woman is killed in the heart of that affluent district, the shock is felt throughout the city. But for crime reporter Harper McClain, this story is personal. The corpse has a familiar face.

Only twenty-four years old, Naomi Scott was just getting started. A law student, tending bar to make ends meet, she wanted to change the world. Instead, her life ended in the dead of night at the hands of an unseen gunman. There are no witnesses to the crime. The police have three suspects: Scott’s boyfriend, who has a criminal past he claims he’s put behind him, her boss, who stalked another young bartender two years ago, and the district attorney’s son, who Naomi dated until their relationship ended in acrimony. All three men claim to love her. Could one of them be her killer?

With the whole city demanding answers, Harper unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy. But the pressures on her go beyond the murder. The newspaper is facing more layoffs. Her boss fears both their jobs are on the line. And Harper begins to realize that someone is watching her every move. Someone familiar and very dangerous.

Someone who told her to run before it’s too late…"

My Thoughts:

Let me start off by saying that I truly think you should read the first book in this series (An Echo Killing) first to get the full reading experience.  And secondly, let me just tell you how much I loved this book!  Wow!  I thought that the first book was a really solid beginning to this mystery series, and actually it came pretty darn close to hitting my top reads list for last year.  I've been waiting to get my hands on this second book every since and it was completely worth the wait!  This book is even better than that first book which should tell you exactly how much I enjoyed it.  I'm going to be careful to try and not share any spoilers from that first book.  This book picks up not too far long after the first book and there is a lot of stuff that carries over.  Things I can't share without spoiling but one of those things is a pretty big storyline itself (and just to be clear the first book doesn't end abruptly or anything like that and has a solid ending).  But these are the exact reasons why I think a reader would want to read that book first just to get a full understanding of everything that has gone on and could be now.  Anyways, the suspense and mystery pick up right from the beginning with this one.  It has this creepy stalker vibe going for it that really amped up the tension for me as the reader.  I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on and who was behind it all.  There is all of these other things in play as well because there are possible layoffs going on in the newspaper which has Harper worried about her job while she is trying to also investigate Naomi Scott's recent murder.  Everything just added altogether beautifully and in a way where I couldn't put this book down.  I hit a point with this book where I just knew that I had to finish it no matter how late it meant I was staying up - I needed to see how everything was going to end!  And let me vaguely tell you about that!  I'm seriously, seriously pining now for the third book.  I have no idea what is going to happen next for Harper but I will be there as soon as that book releases to see for myself!  This is seriously one of the best new mystery series that I have found and I am so excited about it!

Overall, I've gushed this entire review so I'm guessing that you can tell I loved this book!  It was everything that I look for in a mystery series without me even knowing it.  I am so glad that I didn't wait to read this one.  Sometimes when I really like a first book in a series, I'm hesitant to pick up the second one in case it doesn't live up to the first.  This book was even better then that first book so I needn't have worried.  What else is there really to say at this point?  I highly, highly recommend both of these books!  I'm happy to have found another favorite author to follow at this point!

Bottom Line:  This series is fast becoming a favorite of mine after two really great reads!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher, thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone.

Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes.

Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…"

My Thoughts:

Let me just start off by saying that I adored this book!  I feel like whenever I have this strong of feelings on a book that I have a tendency to ramble and gush so heads up that's probably what you are getting here.  The thing I loved most about this book though is how easily I connected to it and the way it made me feel.  Let's start at the beginning here though.  This book is told from two different points of view - Grace, who is a middle-aged woman whose husband has recently told her he wants a divorce, and from Audrey, a young girl with a really crappy home life.  Now for the record I'm happily married so that's not actually why I connected to Grace so easily (although it was sadly easy to imagine/understand what she was going through).  I connected to Grace's character because she had so many similarities to me in other ways.  Before her life completely changed, she was comfortable with her life.  I say comfortable in a way that isn't necessarily a good thing.  It's easy as a woman and mother when you've been with someone for so long to maybe not try like you used to.  I fully admit to throwing my hair back into a ponytail almost every single day just because I'm tired of it being in my face.  I work from home so there are days where I don't even put on makeup or think about it.  And maybe none of these things are exactly like Grace but they add up to the same thing.  You forget sometimes to take care of yourself.  To do things just for you and not your children or even your husband.  Sometimes you lose a piece of yourself without even realizing it....and this all just hit home for me so much.  I'm very grateful that I don't have Grace's experiences but this book was a reminder to take care of me too.  So much emphasis at times is to take care of your children's needs, your husband's, and everything else in life but who is there to remind you to take care of you?  I'm rambling now but ugh - this book just was so spot on with real life!  I absolutely could not care more about these two women and the problems that they were facing.  I just immersed myself within their lives and within the pages of this book.  I loved everything about this book and even the things that I didn't expect to.  The author took chances where in other books I might not usually have liked the decisions the characters were making but it worked in this book.  And worked perfectly if I do say so myself!  

Overall, I enjoyed this book so much that I actually wasn't ready for it to end.  I'm so curious to see other reader's thoughts and reactions to this one.  I understand why I enjoyed this one so much but am eager to see if others feel the same!  This is only my second book by Sarah Morgan but it certainly won't be my last.  I kind of want to read everything and anything that she has written now after loving this one so much!  Gah!  It was just so perfect for me and gave me all of the emotions.  This is a book that I think I would easily reread a few years down the road.  If I connected to this one now, I can only imagine how I would feel in a few years when my kids are getting closer to the age of going to college and moving out.  I obviously cannot say enough good things but I highly recommend this book. This isn't just a romance book but I'm sure romance readers would enjoy it.  I think that readers who enjoy women's fiction or just fiction in general should give this one a shot.  Also, someday I simply must go to Paris to experience it all for myself!  This was SO good!

Bottom Line:  A reading experience that I won't be forgetting any time soon!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a Goodread's giveaway.  Thoughts are my own.

Monday, April 8, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading (April 8th)

"It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date."

Happy Monday everyone!  It's a bit of a later post over here but I really wanted to share a quick reading update with all of you.  I love sharing my thoughts on books with reviews but I really want to mix it up more here on the blog.  That takes time though which isn't always something I have a lot of.  Are you following me on Instagram yet?  If not you can find me @samsbooks1020 (you can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads with this same handle).  But anyways....on Instagram I mentioned that this month I'm trying to focus on reading some of the review copies that are piling up on my nightstand.  My pile was getting kind of high (for me at least) and I didn't want it to get out of control.  So far both of the books that I've read this month are off of that pile so I feel successful already!  My current read is a NetGalley book but this also counts since it is a review copy (I just mentioned my print copies on Instagram).  I'm SUPER behind on my NetGalley reads as well - although when am I not is probably an accurate statement honestly.  Regardless, I feel like I'm making some good progress and knocking out some of those "should" reads.  After this though I seriously need to mix in some backlist books because I'm slacking there this year.  I've been focusing so much this year on newer releases when I usually mix it up.  Maybe I'll do a backlist May or something.....but on to the books I've been reading!

Since my last reading update (which has been a couple of weeks) I've finished the following:

Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien was a fun cozy mystery that has me excited to read the other books in this series.  I've actually already shared my thoughts on it here if you are interested.

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty was an amazing addition to this mystery series (book one just released last year so you don't have too many books to catch up on if you are interested).  This book was even better than book one - my thoughts will be up on this one hopefully later this week.

Fierce Justice by Piper J. Drake was an enjoyable romantic suspense and also the first book I finished off of my review stack this month.  I'll be sharing my full thoughts on it hopefully soon as well.

Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan was SO, SO good!  I'm really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this one but I will tell you this - I felt a personal connection to this one which is why I couldn't help but love it so much.  SO good!

I'm now currently reading the following:

I'm really enjoying it so far but won't be sharing my thoughts on this one until next month.  I'm participating in a blog tour for it so will be sharing my review then.  I'm off to focus on my laundry piles and watch a little television.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Her Father's Secret by Sara Blaedel (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"After suddenly inheriting a funeral home from her father--who she hadn't heard from in decades--Ilka Jensen has impulsively abandoned her quiet life in Denmark to visit the small town in rural Wisconsin where her father lived. There, she's devastated to discover her father's second family: a stepmother and two half sisters she never knew existed. And who aren't the least bit welcoming, despite Ilka's efforts to reach out.
Then a local woman is killed, seemingly the unfortunate victim of a home invasion turned violent. But when Ilka learns that the woman knew her father, it becomes increasingly clear that she may not have been a completely random victim after all.
The more Ilka digs into her father's past, the more deeply entangled she becomes in a family drama that has spanned decades and claimed more than one life--and she may be the next victim..."

My Thoughts:

Her Father's Secret was an enjoyable read that has me itching to pick up the previous book in this series.  Yep, I started yet again in the middle of a series.  In this case it was only book two but it still seems as I never read in order.  I will admit that it took me a few chapters to really get into this book.  It may have been the fact that I jumped in without having read that first book (I do honestly believe that was the reason).  It just took me a bit to catch on to what was going on and what had happened.  But before long I found myself just caught up within the mystery of Ilka's father and the life he had led in this small Wisconsin town.  I loved the fact that this book felt very real to life.  Ilka is struggling financially after basically inheriting all of her father's debt and trying to figure out if she should close the business he left of her because of it.  This isn't something that is just mentioned and then forgotten either; instead, it played a prominent role throughout the book.  It just felt so real to life for me which kept me reading wanting to see how everything would work out.  I felt this attachment to the funeral home that her father had left Ilka because it was really the only thing that she had left of her father.  This was a book that I took my time with and just enjoyed.  It didn't feel like a book that needed to be rushed in the slightest, so I just let the author pull me along for the ride.  I enjoyed every minute of it!  That being said, the ending was much more surprising than I expected.  It left me seriously wishing for (and looking forward to) the third book in this series!  But first I think that I had better go back and see how this all started with that first book I missed.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am eager to continue on with this series.  I'm kind of kicking myself though because I have had this author's books on my TBR list for awhile now.  I feel like I've been missing out not having read them.  Once I finish the first book in this series, I will give her other series a try too!  I do think that readers should probably try reading this series in order.  While it didn't end up effecting my enjoyment overall, it did take me time to really catch on to what was happening with this book and the why's at first because I hadn't read that first book.  This is a quieter mystery and one that I would almost label as a domestic mystery.  Don't let that description deter you though because it was really good!  I'm super excited to have finally given this author a try and that I have more books to look forward to.  I would recommend this book to both mystery and suspense fans. Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A mystery that I took my time with - it was perfect to cozy up with and enjoy over long afternoons and evenings!

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