Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams (thoughts)

The Stranger You Seek was a book that caught my interest at page one and didn't let go until the very last page. Keye Street is a woman with many of her own demons, but she soon finds herself getting drawn deep into a murder investigation where the killer is taunting the police. Her past as a FBI profiler begins to come back to haunt her as she attempts to help with the ongoing investigation while unknowingly becoming one of the killer's targets. Of course, the question is if she can find the killer before he finds her.

I enjoyed each and every page of this book due to the underlying suspense that was constant throughout the book. From the very beginning, the author pulled me into the story with a creepy and horrifying murder that ratcheted up the suspense level right away. The novel continually kept me turning the pages as I tried to figure out who the killer could possibly be. I loved Keye Street as the main character for a variety of reasons but mainly because she was so scarred and troubled. The author did a great job of realistically portraying Keye's demons which made me want Keye to succeed all the more. I find that I love a good main character that has a few rough edges. That maybe isn't perfect but is working towards getting his or her life back on track. Keye was one of those main characters and I liked her all the more for it. I really appreciated that she wasn't apologetic for her darker past and I felt that the author did a good job of incorporating it into the novel.

The mystery itself was quite good. I didn't see the ending coming from a mile away. And I really liked that because I felt like the author wasn't afraid to pull any punches. I didn't expect that last page but I was presently surprised when it happened (those of you that have already read the book will understand). A good mystery will always suck me in and that is exactly what this book did. It had atmosphere in spades, solid characters with depth, and a killer ending! I couldn't ask for more. Except for there to be another book featuring Keye which apparently there is. How exciting!! I went into this book thinking it was a standalone to find out that it will be the beginning to a mystery series. I cannot wait to grab the second book and see what happens next! This was an awesome read that I highly recommend! And can I just say how much I love when I find a new author that I enjoy this much? So exciting (hence all of the exclamation points)!

Bottom Line: One of my favorite thrillers that I have read so far this year!

Disclosure: Checked out from my local library. I wish I had a bought a copy though because I will be recommending it a lot!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Read-a-longs

Good morning everyone! It is nice and gloomy outside this morning which means that it will be perfect laundry weather. Yeah, I said it. Laundry weather. How fun do you think my Sunday is going to be?? LOL! A few weeks back I posted about blogging changes that I wanted to make. And then I just started back to posting a bit more regularly but didn't really mention those changes again. But folks, I HAVE been changing. And doing it by going overboard, Sam style, as usual.

First, I joined in officially for the IT-a-long. Yep, I'm gearing up to read IT by Stephen King. And since it has already started I'm sure that I'm a bit behind. But the book is waiting for me at the library now. I just need to gather up my wits and go grab it. It can't be THAT bad, right??? Now normally that would be enough for just about anyone but I never do anything without overdoing it so I kept my eyes open for other read-a-longs and challenges as I waited impatiently for Carl's RIP Challenge to be announced. (C'mon September 1st already) And guess what I found.....

A read-a-long for The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters!!! I adored Affinity when I read it last year and have been chomping at the bit to read this book. But I have been saving it for the RIP Challenge and now this. How perfect! I already have this one on my shelves and cannot wait to read it. And I'm even more excited because I will be able to discuss this one with other readers as I read it. I'm SO COMPLETELY EXCITED about reading this book and participating in the read-a-long that it is a bit ridiculous but there you have it.

In the midst of all of these read-a-longs I have been more active than usual in some of the Goodreads book groups that I belong to. And through these I have signed up for 3 (yes, I just said three) TBR list reads. For two of them, my partner will pick a book off of my TBR list for me to read. One of the books that has already been chosen for me is Looking For Alaska by John Green. I haven't found out who my partner is for the other challenge like that. For the other group, I'm doing a buddy read on Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Both books are ones that have been on my TBR list forever so I'm excited to finally get the push to read them. Then add to this all of the books that I want to read for the RIP Challenge and I am already shaking my head. I just may have overdone it this time. But so many good books and fun to be had in my future.

Alright, I'm off to get that laundry done. Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Recommendations: Cookbook Style

I LOL every time I look at this picture (an older pic of my youngest). Obviously, he loved and devoured that spaghetti but I can't honestly say that I made it. Because truth is I'm a lousy cook. If I can burn it, I probably do. If I can undercook it, then there is a possibility that I might do that as well. I also have a tendency to forget key ingredients. Embarrassing but true :) But now all of that is going to change. It's time for Sam to learn how to cook! I don't want to my family to cringe when I say that I'm cooking dinner. I would also prefer that they didn't expect something frozen when I cook as well :) So I'm here asking for your help. Send me your best cookbook recommendations. For a beginner. A very, very, very, easily intimated beginner cook. In return, I promise to share a few of my attempts at new dinners and what my family thinks of them. It's going to be my own project. I'm sure it will be lots of fun (and maybe not so much on some of it) But there it is....can you help a girl out???

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Still Life by Louise Penny (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter."

My Thoughts:

I'm so glad that I finally gave this mystery series a try! I found Still Life to be a quiet, easy read that pulled me in to the small town atmosphere where the book was set. In this book I found characters that I want to revisit again and again. I loved the setting that the author created so vividly. It all came across so realistically, and I instantly connected with the characters. The mystery was important to the story but not in the typical whodunnit way. It was more a study of the characters and the reasons behind their interactions with one another. I appreciated that the characters weren't portrayed without their own flaws. These flaws and differences added layers to both the mystery and the story. The ending of the book didn't surprise me completely but I was okay with that. It didn't bother me because for me what made the book was the experience of reading it. Allowing myself to get sucked down into the town that the author created while getting to know each character. I can't wait to go back and visit Three Pines in future books!

Overall, I found this book to be a very solid beginning to this mystery series. It isn't your typical edge of the seat, suspenseful mystery but rather a quiet, endearing book that still pulls the reader along. I loved it and can't wait for more! And I'll admit that I was super excited to see that I have a lot more books to look forward to :)

Bottom Line: A quiet but enjoyable read!

Disclosure: Checked out from my local library. I need to find more mystery authors like this!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (on Thursday)

Because I love this picture so beautiful kiddos :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Really Random Tuesday: It-Along

Really Random Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Suko and let's us share basically anything that we want to :)

The Stand. It beat me. Or I should really say that I gave up after less than 100 pages. Yikes! I just couldn't get into it so I set it aside for other books. And then more books. Before I knew it the read-a-long was over and I hadn't really even begun. Oops! So I decided to return it to the library and try again another day. I mean it is a HUGE book. I can try again later, right???

But who am I to give up on Stephen King after one read-a-long?? Instead I'm diving head first into ANOTHER read-a-long and for a book that scares the living daylights out of me. Ummm...just look at that picture :/ I hate clowns! I'm absolutely, positively certain that this one will probably give me nightmares but I just HAVE to try it. Kinda like I really, really, really want to read The Shining (and every other book that King has written) at some point but I'm terrified. So this book may hang out in my freezer while I sleep....and I'm only halfway kidding. But I'm throwing in my hat and am going to participate. Baby steps to picking this one up from the library. And then baby steps to cracking the book open. I is scared... :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson (thoughts)

Wicked As They Come tells the tale of Criminy Stain and his enchanted locket that brings Tish into his world. A world that is only available to her when she sleeps but is like something that she has never experienced before. Criminy is like no one that she has ever met especially when he claims that they are meant for each other. And when she finds herself unable to return to her own world, she sets out on an adventure with Criminy that she will never forget.

Wicked As They Come was a fresh and original story filled with a world that brought about new reading experiences for me as a reader. I went into reading this book with high hopes as every review that I had seen was mostly/extremely positive. And while the world that the author created was extremely fascinating, I never managed to connect with the characters. It left me feeling a bit shaky about my overall experience with the book.

One of the things that I liked about the book was the circus atmosphere and the world that Criminy lived in. It was both unique and engrossing and I found myself wondering what the author would come up with next. The book was filled with killer "blud" animals and all of the humans lived walled up in a city that was supposed to protect them from the "bludmen". This was all very different than anything I had ever read before. The author also used different plays on names of countries and continents to tie the world that she had created to our actual world. It made it fun to read and find those references. Everything about Criminy's world I enjoyed and the world building was my favorite part of the book. That being said, I was never able to connect to either of the main characters in the story. Tish and Criminy's relationship was precarious from the start for me and I spent a good portion of the book trying to figure out how it would work. It was clear from the beginning that Tish was going to have to choose between her world or Criminy's and I didn't like either choice by itself (sorry if that is a bit spoiler-ey). I also felt that the relationship that developed between them went too fast for me to really root for them as a couple. I just never connected, plain and simple, which left me wanting more.

All in all, I can understand why so many others have loved this book way more than I did. And you probably should check out some of those reviews if you are on the fence about this book at all because my opinion seems to be in the minority. I just didn't love this book like I hoped that I would. I liked it enough though to give the second book a try at some point when it comes out. Hopefully, another dip into Criminy's world will allow for me to connect and love the world like so many others. And if not, then that's okay too :)

Bottom Line: Just an okay read for me.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review from the publisher. Obviously, my thoughts on it are my own.

In other news, does anyone else have a hard time writing negative or even semi-negative reviews? I swear this took me over an hour to write and even then I'm not sure if I expressed everything that I wanted to. Ugh! If only we loved every book that we read :) I seem to have broken through my HUGE reviewing slump though and considering that I am now 12 reviews couldn't have come sooner. I need a review-a-thon or something. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

On My Nighstand: August Edition

Is it time for Carl's R.I.P. Challenge yet??? I'm in the mood for horror, gothic, thrillers, creepy, and things that go bump in the night! I'm stockpiling up on books that will fit with this challenge even though I'm guessing that it is a month away. And my library ban just went to hell as I put at LEAST 15 books on hold. I'm not kidding. Oops :) Here are a couple of books that I'm hoping to find the time to read in August:

I'm already in the process of rereading Fool Moon by Jim Butcher. I love me some Harry Dresden so I'm already knee deep in his world. I'm also currently reading Tarnished by Karina Cooper on my Kindle. I find that I have an easier time setting books down when I read them on my reader so I haven't really delved too deep into this one yet. It's good so far though....

There are LOTS of other books that I would love to find the time to read but let's be realistic. Time gets away from me these days. That's what happens when you have two sixteen year old girls living with you for two weeks. Fun times were had but now it's back to reality. And laundry. Lots of laundry. Today will prove to be a difficult day as I have a visitation to go to this afternoon but maybe afterwards I'll find the time to do some bloggy visits. It has been TOO long since I've made my rounds :) Happy Sunday to all of you!