Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Reads of 2012

Oh my goodness you guys, I am just loving all of these top reads of 2012 posts!  If ever I have a great excuse to add to my never-ending TBR list, it is now reading your thoughts on your best reads of the year.  I love it!  I'm almost like a kid in a candy store with the only downside being that I want to read each book RIGHT NOW which is obviously impossible.  I just keep adding them to the TBR list with the hopes of an amazing reading year in 2013.  But it is definitely time to narrow it down myself and share my best reads of the year.  Unless I manage to squeak one more book in I finished 54 books in 2012.  Definitely not my best year if you are looking at numbers but I'm not too worried about it.  As my kids get older, life gets just a bit busier which definitely cuts into my reading time.  I've got some goals for 2013 (personal and bookish) that I'll talk about in a different post which will hopefully allow for me to find some more reading time.  Because for me reading = relaxation.  But for now let's look at the books that make up my top 10 reads in 2012:

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier was so AMAZINGLY good that I don't even have words.  From the very first page until the last, I was entranced and utterly captivated.  I know that a lot of other readers talk about Rebecca (which I also loved) but I loved this one SO MUCH MORE!  I loved it enough that I would put a copy of this book in each and every one of your hands if I could!  

Divergent by Veronica Roth was one of those books that just languished on my shelves and then left me kicking myself for it.  I could not and did not want to put this book down.  I loved it so hard that I happily placed it in my sister's hands who ended up cursing me when she loved it just as much as I did (and had to buy the 2nd book).  2013 will be the year that I follow-up and read Insurgent!  

Wait For What Will Come by Barbara Michaels officially solidified my love for this author's books!  Gothic suspense at its' best kept me up late into the night because I just HAD to see what was going on in that creepy house!  I've become quite addicted to buying this author's books and now have six more of her books waiting on my shelves.  

Deadline by Mira Grant was SO. EFFING. GOOD!  Seriously, I have some mad love for Feed (which may be one of my favorite books ever!) which led me to worry that this book wouldn't live up to my expectations.  Not so!  Deadline took those expectations and SHATTERED them!  This book was so flipping amazing and so much more than I could have ever expected that before I read Blackout I'm going back and rereading these.  My plan is to read all three of these books back to back in 2013.  2013 may be my best year of books ever if I do this.  I'm just saying.

The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris is one of those rare books in a series that is even better than the first.  I found myself swept away by this book and immersed in the world that these authors created.  I loved how the two main characters have grown since book one and am chomping at the bit to get my hands on book 3.  Please write faster!!!  I need more!!

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams was such an intense page turner that I couldn't put it down!  This book had one of my favorite main characters in Keye Street as we watched her deal with all of her personal demons while trying to solve such an intense case.  I loved the ending of this book so much that it kept me thinking about it for days afterward.  2013 will be the year that I read the sequel to this!!  (See what I mean about big reading plans in 2013???)

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart was my first book by this author but definitely won't be my last!  I can't tell you how pleasantly surprised and pleased I was to find that I absolutely adored this book.  The mystery, the characters, the ending...I loved it all and was left wanting more.  I promptly added a bunch of her other books to my Kindle because this one was just SO GOOD!

Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton was one of the most intense and creepy reads that I read all year.  It almost feels like cheating to not add Now You See Me by Bolton as well because you NEED to read them both and they were both AMAZING!  But Dead Scared left me breathless with its' dark atmosphere and this was another book that I could not put down!  I WILL read all of this author's other books because these two were so good!

Bitter Night by Diana Pharaoh Francis was my favorite urban fantasy read in 2012!  This book was almost unexpectedly good in that way when you find yourself blown away by your current read.  Max was a kick-ass main character that I instantly adored...and one that I rooted for the entire way!  I liked the fact that the author was fearless in her choices that she made for her characters.  It left me wondering what could possibly happen next.  I cannot wait to read more in this series!!! 

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman was a book that left me thinking about it for days afterwards.  One of those atmospheric and suspenseful reads that pulls the reader in before they even realize it, I found myself loving this one even more than Arcadia Falls which is the book I previously read by this author.  This book was deliciously good and I can't wait to read more by this author!

There are so many AMAZING reads here that it made it really hard to narrow it down from some of my other reads.  Here are a few honorable mentions that should of/could of made the list:

Gone by Mo Hayder:  Intense, creepy, and filled with suspense.
This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart:   Magical, enchanting, and captivating.
Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliott:  Romantic, lovely, and one that renewed my love for historical romance.

I could keep going but I might end up talking about all of the books I read in 2012.  LOL!  Here is to hoping that 2013 is another amazing year of reading in terms of quality!  Happy New Year to all of you and happy reading!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I was hoping to fit in one more review but it isn't looking good.  Instead, I would like to take the time to wish all of you a wonderful holiday!  I'll be back later next week with a top ten reads post for 2012 and goals for 2013 (hopefully) and maybe even a review or two.  But until then, from my family to yours:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mini Reviews on Wednesday

It's that time of year when I find myself playing catch-up a bit.  I love the idea of starting off the new year with a clean slate (when it comes to book reviews) but never find that it happens the way I plan.  Since I'm thirteen books behind, I've decided to write up some mini reviews.  I am thinking that this will also help me to share my thoughts on books that are part of a series which I really struggle to review while keeping spoiler free.

E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton was another very enjoyable installment in Grafton's alphabet series (is it accurate to call it that because I like it?).  In this one Kinsey finds herself under investigation thanks to an unexplainable deposit in her checking account and a questionable insurance claim.  Kinsey is in hot water but that isn't going to stop her from investigating and working to prove her innocence.

Kinsey is such an amazing main character.  She is smart, spunky and instantly likeable.  I love that this series is set back in a time period before technology was so advanced.  I enjoy watching Kinsey use her investigative skills as the mystery unfolds.  Each book in this series has been unique compared to the one before it all while staying true to Kinsey's character.  This book had me really worried about Kinsey at different points as she worked to prove her innocence.  And the storyline helped to ratchet up the suspense a few more notches as I waited for Kinsey to figure out exactly what was going on.  Just writing up my thoughts on this one makes me want to pick up the next book in this series.  If you are ever looking for an engrossing mystery series, than I would definitely recommend this one.  I do think that you should start at the beginning with A is for Alibi

Bottom Line:  A must read series and one of my personal favorites!

No Chance by Christy Reece is a romantic suspense that brings two young former lovers back together.  Skylar James finds herself in danger like she has never known after being kidnapped while trying to save a friend. Enter Gabe Maddox into the picture: former estranged lover hired to find Skylar and bring her back home safely.  Gabe and Skylar will both have to put the past to rest before they can truly find happiness again.

This was an enjoyable read at the time but looking back I've almost completely forgotten it.  I think that part of the problem that I had with the book was once again the character connection.  Whenever I don't connect with the characters, I find that the reading experience is a less memorable one or a book that I don't care for.  And I liked this book enough but it just didn't wow me like I had hoped.  The suspense was there but nothing that had me on the edge of my seat.  I did enjoy the romance between the two main characters as we watched them deal with their shared history.  It made it even better as they began to learn more about each other as they are now rather than the way they were back then.  Overall, if I did ratings I think that I would give this one 3 stars.  Not amazing but not a bad read either.  And a book I enjoyed enough to make me want to read more by this author.

Bottom Line:  An okay read but one that didn't blow me out of the water.

Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag brings back Anne Leone from Deeper Than The Dead as she is called in to act as the advocate for a young girl found laying across her dead mother's body.  Anne is swept away in this new mystery while still dealing with the after effects of the previous book's storyline (sorry trying not to share too much here).  The mystery of this book lies with with who the murdered woman was and uncovering all of her buried secrets.

I really, really enjoyed Deeper Than The Dead when I read it awhile back so I think that I went into this book with high expectations.  And while I found this book to be good/bordering on better than good, I never quite connected with this book either.  I just didn't like it as much as I did the previous book which really surprised me.  The suspense was there, the mystery was there, but for whatever reason I never connected. I feel like this is one of those "it's not you, it's me" moments.  That makes it sound like I didn't like this book (I did) but really I just didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to.  I did like the fact that many of the characters from the previous book were all still in this one.  I also appreciated how so much of what happened in the previous book tied into this one.  It made for a solid reading experience on that end.  And it made me look forward to eventually reading the 3rd book.  Hopefully, I'll have a better reading experience with the next book.

Bottom Line: A thriller that just didn't quite fit what I was looking for while still being enjoyable.  Mixed feelings anyone??

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Moment of Silence...

I'm sitting here trying to write up reviews and all that I really want to do is say how thankful I am for my blessings.  I know just how lucky I am to see these beautiful smiling faces every day.  What happened in Connecticut was awful but it served to remind me once again how much I have to be thankful for.  Before I can write up those reviews, I just want to take a moment.

A moment of silence for the lives that were lost.  And a moment to appreciate my blessings.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. Now she has returned to the placid, isolated shores of the lakeside school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories that will become a living nightmare."

My Thoughts:

The Lake of Dead Languages was one of those books that pulled me into its' pages and left me thinking about it for days after.  After enjoying Arcadia Falls by this author a few years back, I had been meaning to read more by this author.  I'm so glad that I finally did as this book was even better than Arcadia Falls in my opinion.  Although I admit that after glancing over my review of the previous book, I'm surprised at the similar type of storylines/settings of these books.  Are all of Goodman's books set in private schools?  Or did I just manage to read the two that are?  Hmmm....I may just have to check that out.  Even though there are similarities between the two books, I didn't notice while reading this book at all.  Instead, I was caught up in the mystery of Heart Lake and learning about Jane's history with the school.  

Jane was one of those main characters whose motivation and intentions I never quite understood.  It lent an aura of mystery to her as I tried to figure out just who she was.  I loved the parts of the book that were her memories of her time at the school.  Once again, it made the book seem as if it was a story within a story but both stories intertwined and worked so well together.  There were aspects of this book that I found to be a bit predictable.  Rather than taking away from my enjoyment of the story, I instead was almost amused to find that I was right at figuring out parts of it.  And there were definitely parts of the story that I didn't see coming at all which ratcheted up the suspense level quite nicely.  The author created such an amazing setting and atmosphere that really made this book stand out for me.  I lived and breathed these pages while I read the book.  I loved the fact that I couldn't and wouldn't put this book down.  And after finishing, I thought about these characters for a few days after.  

Overall, this book solidified the fact that I will be reading all of this author's back-list of books.  And while this book wasn't perfect, it didn't matter to me as the author managed to create such an amazing reading experience for me.  This book quietly tugged me into its' layers and never let go.  The icy setting fit in perfectly with this time of year (and made me wish for some snow myself).  This was just a great read and one that I would highly recommend!

Bottom Line:  The setting and atmosphere made this book an unforgettable reading experience!

Disclosure:  Checked out from my local library.  Now to figure out which of her other books to read next...

Here is a link to my thoughts on Arcadia Falls if you are interested.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Read Sam Read (Mystery Edition)

Older books need love too!  These are all books that I've recently added to my TBR list and that were published before 2012.  The other day I was looking over my books read for 2012 and considering which ones might make my top ten list for the year.  And I was both surprised and pleased to learn that a good portion of the books that will make it as a top read are older books (for me that means that they weren't published this year).  Don't get me wrong....I love new books!  And pine for them on a constant basis.  But I really wanted to share with you all some of the books that aren't getting as much attention in the bloggy world because they are older :)  I've decided to group them by genre and do posts like this ever so often.  It will give me a chance to share with all of you those books that I've been adding to my TBR list in a fun way!

Today's TBR theme is mysteries.  I'm a huge fan of classic mysteries, and I'm always looking for new authors to try.  Here are some of the latest mystery reads that I've added to my TBR wishlist:

These are all new to me authors and most have huge backlists of books!  And they are all the beginning books in a series.  LOL!  I already have WAY too many series that I'm working on but that doesn't stop me from wanting to try these.  Now I just need to get my hands on some of these.  Looks like a visit to my local library will be in the near future!  What books have you added to your TBR list recently??  And are you a fan of newer or older books....or do you mix it up like I do?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle (thoughts)

Dark Awakening was an enjoyable way to revisit one of my favorite paranormal romance authors.  Tynan MacGillivray is on the hunt for a special "Seer" that can help secure victory for the vampire clan that he works for.  Although he is considered to be an outcast among the vampires that he lives around and works for, he has a hope that finding this seer will make life better for him and his kind.  Until he meets Lily Quinn and his entire life changes...

There is nothing better than a good paranormal romance especially one written by this author.  I was completely enchanted with this book from the first page until the last.  Tynan is one of those tortured heroes that you can't help but love and root for.  I wanted to see him happy and in love, and Lily Quinn was the perfect match for him.  The chemistry between these two easily heated up the pages and had me cheering for them as a couple.  The storyline was fresh and original and I especially enjoyed the idea of Lucy being a Seer.  It was interesting to see some of the skills that she possessed and I'm guessing that we will see her develop more in future books in this series.  I'm just hoping that each book has a couple with a hot relationship like these two did.  Another thing that I appreciated with this book was the different "castes" or groups of vampires.  Tynan was a part of a group that was considered to be below other vampires which is one of the reasons that he was trying to make things better for his kind.  I really liked that about it him, it just endeared him to me all the more.  I found the ending of the book to be a strong finish even though it is part of a series which I really appreciated!  I get frustrated sometimes when authors leave too much open for the next book but luckily that didn't happen here.

What else to say about this book other than I loved it?  It was a fast paced read, I didn't want to set it down, and I wanted to read more about the characters after I was finished.    I'm eager to see what happens in the next book of this series.  In fact, I've already got it loaded onto my Kindle ready to go.  I'm a huge fan of this author and would definitely recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance.  If you haven't tried this author yet I would also recommend her MacInnes Werewolf trilogy.   

Bottom Line:  A must read author in my opinion!  And this book just serves to reinforce that!

Disclosure:  I checked this book out from my local library!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Library Loot (The Last for 2012??)

So I may have gotten off of work super early yesterday and figured that this was a PERFECT chance to go to the library by myself.  Yep.  By myself!  I had no plans of books that I wanted to grab or anything.  Just a quiet half hour browsing the shelves.  It was lovely and especially appreciated since the last time I had visited I spent part of the time *literally*chasing my two year old.  Turns out he is quite fast when you have an armload of books that you are holding.  I took my time yesterday and just looked.  I put books back and then ended up grabbing other ones.  But when it was all said and done here are the books I walked out with:

  • A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis by Jillian Stone:  I grabbed this one to feed my current romance addiction.  And I loved the 1st book in this series!
  • Ill Wind by Rachel Caine:  This will be a reread for me.  I've only read the first two books in this series (and I don't think I've reviewed either) but it has been so long that I've decided to reread before continuing on.  
  • Little Face by Sophie Hannah:  Awhile back I read The Wrong Mother by Hannah and liked it although I didn't love it (that's another one I'm not sure I reviewed).  But I've always wanted to go back and read more by her, and this one sounds SO good!
  • Black Water Rising by Attica Locke:  I've wanted to give this one a try every since I read Jenny's review on it.  I'm intrigued plus it was nominated for the Edgar award!
  • The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendall:  Because I've been wanting to read more by this author for some time now and I'm finally going to do it. 
This time of year never fails to remind me that there are so many books out there that I haven't found the time to read yet.  But I'm hoping that I will find a quiet evening here and there this month to read some of these lovelies!  What have you picked up from the library lately?