Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tarnished by Karina Cooper (thoughts)

Tarnished was a unique and engaging read that left me eager to read the sequel Gilded.  It started off a bit slowly for me but before I knew it I found myself utterly lost in Cherry's world.  In this book Cherry St. Croix lives two lives.  She lives her respectable life as a part of London society above the drift.  But that is only one of the two lives that she leads: she also is a collector, who at night goes below the drift on hunts for various unsavory individuals.  When she is asked to hunt down the individual responsible for murdering a bunch of "sweets" below the drift, Cherry finds herself in way over her head.  But it seems that this madman has focused himself on her, and Cherry is going to have to do everything it takes not to become a victim herself.

One of the things that I liked most about this book was the unique storyline.  Cherry isn't your typical respectable lady, instead she is an opium addict who lives on the fringes of the respectable London society due to her family history.  She is both educated and independent which I always appreciate in a main character!  I loved the idea of the double life that she was made the book that much more intriguing as I was on constant alert wondering if she would be found out.  And the setting of the book was such an unusual idea.  Basically, London's high society moved above the drift when the living conditions below became too much.  Everyone below the drift is considered to be less respectable or in the slums.  Cherry is forced to wear goggles to help her see when she is below.  Different details like this really made the book stand out for me.  It just made for a really interesting setting for the story and I really appreciated how different it was from a lot of the books out there!

The story did start off a bit slowly for me.  I think the reasoning behind that was due to two things.  One, there was a TON of world building going on in the beginning of the book.  This is the first book in the series so I think that the author was getting things set up for books to come.  Secondly, I had a hard time connecting to Cherry at first.  It wasn't that the author failed at fleshing her out...actually she did a really great job in making her motivations come across in a way that felt realistic.  I just didn't connect.  I'm glad that I persevered and kept reading though because the ending was INTENSE!  I had no idea or inkling of what was coming and the author just kept the surprises coming.  She left enough open that I think we will learn more in the next book without leaving me feeling unsatisfied.  It was nicely done and really helped me to end up connecting to Cherry.

Overall, I found this to be a solid read!  If I gave ratings I would probably rate it 4 out of 5 stars.  It wasn't without its' flaws but I really ended up enjoying this book.  Happily enough, I already have Gilded loaded on my reader and will be reading it very soon.  If you are a fan of the steampunk genre, then I would definitely tell you to give this one a try.  I'll be also trying out this author's other series since this one worked out so well for me.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A solid beginning to this steampunk series!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss.  The thoughts are always my own!

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading??? (January 28th)

It's Monday! is hosted by  Sheila at Book Journey and states:

"Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!"

I had an AMAZING week of reading last week thanks to A Winter's Respite Read-a-thon!  I managed to finish 3 books in one week (which is unheard of for me lately).  And I made some progress with my current read as well which left me feeling very accomplished!  I'm hoping to continue on with this reading trend which will allow me to finish January off with a bang!  I'm writing this post on Sunday so who knows...I might just be able to slide one more book into the finished pile :)  Here is what I read last week:

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon was an intense, unputdownable read! Read my thoughts here.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb was my 1st ever audiobook and a reread.  Listening to a book was a different experience for me but I'm already planning out which audiobook I want to listen to next!

Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran was just what I hoped it would be! *swoon* I can't believe I waited so long to read it and I'm anxious to try more by this author!

I'm currently reading the following two books:

Both are good but The India Fan is suffering from my e-reader syndrome (I set e-books aside easier) so I'm going to focus on it this week.  If I can finish these two off before the end of the month I will be VERY happy!  I'm not sure what I'm going to read after these but I have plenty to choose from.  And for some reason I have a library itch again so I may just break down and go browsing the shelves.  I have to have a new audiobook, right???  That's my excuse anyways and I'm going to use it!  What are you reading this week?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Library Loot: Goodies, Goodies

Library Loot is hosted by Marg and Claire and asks us to share about the latest loot we find at the library.

I finally took the time to take the kiddos to the library last week which left them as happy as can be.  They filled up with books and movies and were even patient while I browsed myself.  Unheard of, I know!  I love that my kids love the library just as much as I do.  It is something special that we do together and it is a very RARE occasion when one of them doesn't want to go.  I didn't get a ton of time to browse but I still managed to walk out with way too many books.  The way I always leave the library if I am being honest :)  I don't know if it is the new year or all of the best of lists still ringing in my head but I seem to want to go to the library and bring EVERYTHING home.  I even had to make myself put a few back because I knew there was no way possible I would get them all read before they are due back.  Here is what I managed to grab:

I don't even know how I'm going to find the time to read all of these but I'm sure going to try!!  There is something so soothing about having a bunch of good books to read.  And you'll probably laugh but I have to admit that I went home and remembered half a dozen more that I meant to grab instead.  :)  Looks like I'll be visiting the library again sooner rather than later!  LOL!  What have you grabbed at the library lately???

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon (thoughts)

The One I Left Behind was nail bitingly good and left me wondering why I hadn't tried this author before now!  I can never decide if it is a good or bad thing when I feel this way.  On one hand, I have so many other books to look forward to by McMahon.  But on the other hand, I keep thinking, "Where have I been???"  Neither are bad but I'm anxious to read more by her!

The One I Left Behind tells the story of Reggie and the summer that changed her life forever.  Told in two parts, the book weaves between that summer and her present day life.  Back in 1985, Reggie experienced firsthand the horrors of a serial killer when her mother went missing and no trace of her was found besides her right hand.  Mysteriously after that the killings seem to stop.  Reggie is living as normal a life as possible years later until the unthinkable happens.  Her mother is found alive and it looks like the killer is back.

Books like this are ones that I want to tell everyone about.  I found myself caught up in Reggie's memories of that summer.  I questioned whether every person that she came into contact with was the killer.  And I felt for her as we watched her struggle with learning who her mom really was.  The author turned the suspense on almost instantly which made it all too easy for me to turn the pages as fast as I could.  And the two storylines really worked together in a way that made me invested in the book.  I HAD to know what happened that summer and what was going to happen next.  Who the killer could be.  It all came together to add different layers of tension that kept me reading long after I should have gone to bed.  This book was dark and thrilling and everything that I wanted it to be!

The characters were some of the best parts of the book because the author never really let you know what their motivations were.  It left me guessing and second guessing all of their actions as I tried to figure out what was going on.  Reggie's experiences and memories from that summer really allowed for me to connect with her.  And you guys should know by now that I'm all about connecting with the characters of the books I read. I also liked that there was a secondary mystery between Reggie and her friends.  It made the book that much more interesting as I couldn't help but try to figure everything out.  Sitting here thinking about it, I realize that I don't really have any complaints to share.  There were a few loose ends left hanging but overall I really liked where the author took the book.  I feel like she pulled off the ultimate thriller:  lots of dark suspense, questions that needed answers, and tons of chilling atmosphere.  Nicely done if I do say so myself!

Overall, I was wowed by this book!  It was fast paced, tense, and dark....and I loved every minute I spent reading it.  I'm going out on a limb here since it is so early in the year but I'm guessing that this book will end up on my top reads list.  It was seriously that good!  I've already added this author's other books to my TBR list.  And I'll be recommending this one to anyone who listens.  Just be warned that it was spooky enough that I had to put it away one night when I was reading :)  I'm such a wimp sometimes!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  An intense read that I just couldn't get enough of!

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book for review from the publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour.  My thoughts are always my own.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Sunday Salon: Rambles

Good morning!  I'm getting a late start this morning since it seems everyone decided to sleep in.  This happens so rarely that I am in the best mood (all from a little extra sleep).  LOL!  And a three day weekend which is even better.  But I have lots of bookish randomness to talk about so let me begin.

This week begins A Winter's Respite Read-a-thon and I'm officially signing up to participate.  It doesn't start until tomorrow but I'm unofficially beginning today.  My reading has been pretty slow going in January (which I would like to blame the new job for but really it is probably just me) so I thought I would join and get some quality reading time.  Plus, I just love participating in read-a-thons!  I'll try to post some pics of the books that I want to read during the week but realistically I just want to get one or two books read.  I can totally do that!  So here is to reading and having fun while I'm at it :)  And if you want to participate as well click here.

I'm also officially signing up for the group read of The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley hosted by the lovely Christine.  I went to the library last week and snatched up all kinds of books that I still need to tell you about.  But one of the books that I grabbed was this one and I cannot wait to begin reading it.  Some of my favorite bloggers rave about her books and this will be my first by her.  This will be my first read-a-long of the year as well but next month is The Shining by King.  AAAHHH!  I'm so creeped out by this book that just thinking about it...I'm crazy but I HAVE to join in and read this one with others.  But enough on that until later.  If you want to join in on the group read for The Winter Sea click here.

Finally, in reading news I'm currently reading The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon.  It is SO GOOD!  How have I never read this author before now????  I must remedy this and have added almost all of her books to my TBR list.   I'm reading this book as part of a TLC book tour so you should be able to read my review on Tuesday.  And if I keep this up I will be two for two on writing my reviews right after I finish (and not two months later).  I knocked out a few more of my 2012 reads that I have left to review last week but expect a few more mini review posts to finish that all up.  And that's about it for me except for one more thing.  I want to wish my Pickle baby the best 3rd birthday!  Happy Birthday Baby Boy!!!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rereads and Mini Reviews

Before book blogging came into my life I was a HUGE re-reader (if that is really a term).  I still reread some of my favorite books but not to the same extent like I used to which I'm sure could be a discussion/post all by itself.  That's not my intent for today though.  Instead I thought I would share some mini thoughts on two rereads that I finished in 2012.  Because if I don't do it soon I probably never will.  And once again since it is STILL January I'm adding a new goal to my never-ending and always expanding list of goals for 2013:  that goal is to reread more.  I always enjoy revisiting books that I have loved from years back.  Plus, it is one of those things that I'm always saying that I'm going to do but never end up really doing.  So new goal set.  And here are some mini reviews on two rereads:

I've decided to reread the first couple of books in Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series before continuing on.  I wasn't quite sure where I had left off with the series and wanted to just go back and start at the beginning.  I remember reading this one a few years back but I didn't remember the plot at all.  And once again I found myself immersed back in Harry's world.  In this book Harry is up against his most difficult foe yet.  Harry has to figure out who is behind the most brutal and horrifying murders that he has ever come across.  And he has to do it before it hurts the people that he cares about the most.

I absolutely, hands down love this series.  Even just rereading this book sucked me down so deep in the world that Butcher creates and I didn't want the reading experience to end.  I love it!  Harry is such an awesome main character with a huge heart that gets him into trouble more often than not.  And he always seems to find himself caught up in big messes.  I'll admit that I couldn't figure out how he was going to get himself out of the mess that he was in this time because he was in deep.  What else to say?  I didn't want to put it down, I was sad when it ended because I wanted more, and I'm eager to read the next book.  In fact, just sharing my thoughts on this one has me thinking that I should grab the next book from the library.  Because I NEED more Harry Dresden in my life!  I highly recommend this series and enjoyed this reread enough that I would rate it a rare 5 out of 5 stars if I did ratings.  Just be warned that you really should read Storm Front first and that this one was quite gory at times.  Other than that I've got nothing bad to say!

Bottom Line:  A kick-ass read that left me wanting more!

Ill Wind is the first book in Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series which is ANOTHER series that I'm rereading before continuing on with.  Except with this series I know that I only read the first two books so I'm rereading these and then I'll keep going with the rest of the series.  Ill Wind was even better than I remembered it and I can't wait to grab the second book from the library.  Joanne is running for her life and there is only one person that she can go to for help.  The only problem is that he is also a wanted man in hiding.  But Joanne is desperate and determined to save herself.  As long as she can outrun the weather that is following her every step.

This book was intense from the beginning to the end.  I always find myself completely surprised and pleased when I'm sucked back into a book that I've already read.  And while I remembered some of the plot line, there were enough holes in my memory that I was still turning pages as fast as I could.  This book was one big whirlwind and I loved every second of it.  And that!  It still packed quite the punch even the second time around.  I'm super excited now that I'm diving back in this series which means that of course I'll be picking up book 2 sooner rather than later.  This is another book that I would highly recommend especially if you are looking for a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  A must read for fans of urban fantasy and a 4 1/2 star read for sure!

Bottom Line:  A fast paced, intense read that I couldn't get enough of!

Looking back it seems that rereading both of these books was a VERY good idea.  They both left me wanting to read more in the series.  And they were both fresh and different from a lot of what is out there in the urban fantasy genre.  I'm hooked on both of these series and more than ready to continue on.  And writing up my thoughts on these two books has solidified my need to reread!  Now I just need to figure out what I want to reread next....Harry Potter anyone????

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Dangerous Liaison With Detective Lewis by Jillian Stone (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"When Fanny Greyville-Nugent’s father suffers a gruesome death in the clutches of his own machine, mourning his loss is not the beautiful heiress’s only heartbreak. Scotland Yard is convinced he was targeted in a plot to halt the rise of industry, and Fanny’s former fiancĂ©, dashing and dubious detective Raphael “Rafe” Lewis, has been assigned to the case.

For the estranged ex-lovers, bringing the notorious assassins to justice proves as tumultuous as quelling pent-up desires. Fighting peril and passion at every turn of a dangerous journey from Edinburgh to London, they are pursued by an anarchist group hell-bent on destroying her father’s mysterious entry into the London Industrial Exposition

My Thoughts:

 A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis was a delightful way to begin 2013 and is my first read of the year!  I don't know what I expected when I opened up this book (other than romance) but I got so much more!  From almost the beginning of the story, the pages were filled with a whirlwind adventure as Rafe and Fanny found themselves caught up in romance, mystery, and intrigue.  I loved that this book wasn't your typical romance but instead was a harrowing adventure/mystery where I never knew what would happen next.  Was it highly unlikely at points?  Yes.  But I have to admit that I didn't care because I was so caught up in the story.  I couldn't wait to see what kind of trouble that Fanny and Rafe were going to find themselves in!  The suspense and mystery filled the pages of this book and also kept me constantly guessing.  My favorite part of the book besides the romance developing between Fanny and Rafe was the fact that I never knew what might happen next.  I just really enjoyed the constant level of tension that the author created in this book!

The romance that developed between Rafe and Fanny was so sweet and genuine.  They had a shared history from their past that was a major part of the book as they tried to both deal with it and move on.  I liked the fact that it wasn't always easy for them.  It made me root for them as a couple so much more!  And the author did the unexpected when it came to their relationship towards the later half of the book which I really appreciated.  Sorry but you'll have to read it to find out what I mean :)  My only complaint was the numerous references to Fanny's mouth.  I mean many times could Fanny bite her lips or lick her lips in one book?  Apparently enough times that it caught my attention but as that was my only qualm I can't really complain.

Overall, I found this to be a really enjoyable read which cements Jillian Stone as a must read author for me.  The first book in this series (An Affair with Mr. Kennedy) was just as good as this one so I'm adding all of her books to my TBR.  I would definitely recommend this book to fans of both adventure and romance.  I would recommend starting off with the first book in this series but it isn't a necessity.  I did like the fact that characters from the first book carried over into this one but it doesn't mean that you can't read them out of order.  As for me, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on A Private Duel with Agent Gunn which is the next book in this series.  Definitely recommended!

Bottom Line:  An adventure filled romance that I couldn't get enough of!

Disclosure:  I checked this lovely read out from my local library.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Filling My Kindle: Take Two

If I keep sharing posts like this you guys are going to think that I have no self control.  Wait a minute.  Who am I kidding??  You all should know by now that I have no self control when it comes to books :)  But on a more serious note it would probably help if I was actually reading some of these books that I can't seem to stop buying.  I think I need to join an e-book challenge just to get some of the lovely books that I have on my reader actually read.  LOL!  Who does this besides me??  I mean really....I just can't resist those stupid AMAZING daily deals on Amazon.  And then I get emails from publishers telling me about more sales and I just have to peek.  Because as we already established I lack the ability to tell myself no.  It is entirely too easy for me.  So my new goal for the year is to work on reading some of these amazing books that I can't stop buying.  Since it is still January I've decided that means it is okay to add more goals for the year as I go.  Here are a few of the books that I picked up for my reader lately:

I picked up On The Island as soon as I saw it was on sale thanks to Naida's review!  And The Monsters of Templeton has been on my TBR list for such a long time that I couldn't resist.  And the Stephen King one doesn't even need an explanation.  Don't these all look amazing???  Enough talking...I need to get to reading!  What have you picked up recently for you reader?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Sunday Salon - Fresh Beginnings

Good morning everyone!!  I can't tell you the last time that I wrote up a Sunday Salon post but I'm hoping to get back to it more often in this new year.  Be warned though that I have tons to share so I'm afraid that this may be one of those long, rambly posts that I do every so often :)

First up I'm excited to share that I found a new job!!!  Yayayayayaya!  I cannot tell you how excited that I am to share this or begin (I start tomorrow).  It has been a really, really long time since I started a new job and I just CANNOT wait!  I found a position at a company that I'm hoping I can really grow with and stay at.  It is solid paying and has great benefits which will be just wonderful for my family.  It is such a blessing and I'm so grateful.  Now to actually begin will be even better because right now the idea of not knowing what I'm doing is quite nerve-wracking.  The best part is no weekends which just sounds heavenly after working weekends all of my life.  But enough about that...just talking about it gets me excited and nervous all at the same time.  I'm really, really hoping that this works out the way I want it to but either way it got me out of where I was at :)

We are already six days into 2013 and I haven't come up with my goals for this year.  Yikes!  I find that I've been most indecisive on what these goals should be so I've been putting off sharing them.  But here is where I'm at right now:
  • Read 75 books.  This is the number that I set my Goodreads goal at.  I've no clue why since I haven't read that many books in the past couple of years but here is to high goals!  I'm hoping that if I can actually manage to do this then I will make a small dent in the TBR.
  • Run a 5K.  Yup, I'm back to really trying to incorporate exercise into my life.  2012 saw me doing this in waves.  I would start up, I would stop. Rinse and repeat.  So far I've been using the From Couch to 5K program to get me started and I've been doing really good.  But my real goal here is to actually sign up and participate in a 5K.
  • De-clutter my house.  My poor house needs this desperately after living here for the past however many years.  Five people can accumulate a lot of junk and I want it out!  I want closets cleaned out, rooms redone, the works.  We've made really good progress with my daughter's room but I would like to do the entire house in 2013.
  • Do something different.  This may sound like a weird goal but I haven't really nailed it down yet.  I just know that I want to try some new things.  Maybe learn how to knit.  Learn how to cook.  Join a gym.  I just want to do something this year that I haven't done in years past.  We will see how it goes with this goal being so open-ended.
That's it.  Four goals/resolutions seems quite manageable.   I'm not going to put any pressure on myself when it comes to reading so I didn't make my bookish goal very specific.  I'm hoping that 2013 will be a year filled with lots of good bookishness AND personal success.  In whatever form that may be....
I also haven't joined any reading challenges yet.  I can't seem to decide if I'm going to participate in them or not so I will leave that to another post.

But it isn't a Sunday Salon unless I share what I'm reading with you so I'm currently in the midst of:

A Dangerous Liaison With Detective Lewis by Jillian Stone is quite good so far.  I should be able to finish this one up in the next couple of days.

The India Fan by Victoria Holt is one that I've just barely begun but I'm so excited to read.  I have been meaning to try Holt for some time now so I have high hopes!  I'm reading this on my e-reader which I'm hoping to actually read more books on in 2013.  Instead of browsing the internet.  LOL!

Naked In Death by J.D. Robb is a reread for me but also my 1st audiobook.  I have been making some really great progress with it the past week or so but then forgot to charge my MP3 player.  Bummer.  I should finish this one up soon too which means I need to start thinking about my next audio.

That's what my reading looks like so far in the new year.  And that is definitely enough rambling out of me for one post.  I'm excited to hear what you chose to read to start off the new year.  And what reading resolutions have you made for 2013???  Happy Sunday!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (thoughts)

Into The Darkest Corner was a dark, thrilling read that kept a constant flow of tension running through me the entire time that I was reading.  The story is told in two parts: one part is Catherine's memories and the other part is the present day Catherine as she struggles to deal with those memories and adjust. 

I'm not going to tell you more than that as I don't think it's necessary and because this is one of those books where less is more.  From the very first page the author creates this atmosphere that is filled with tension, fear, and suspense.  It made for such a dark reading experience because every turn of the page left me waiting for something to happen.  For the ball to drop so to speak.  I began to feel the fear that was a constant presence in Catherine's life.  I knew that something bad was going to happen and it was mainly just a matter of when.  It made every page filled with suspense and creepiness.  Wow!  For this being a debut the author did an AMAZING job with the atmosphere in this book.  It was a presence entirely of its' own!

Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was the author's portrayal of Catherine.  I much preferred reading about present day Catherine and watching as she learned to deal with her OCD.  I thought that the author did a really great job of writing Catherine's fears so realistically until the point where you almost felt them yourself.  I loved that there wasn't an easy answer to her problems.  I found that I really connected with her as a main character because of this.  While I didn't always care for the Catherine in her memories or agree with her choices, I cared about what happened to her.  It made for a really solid read!

Overall, I am quite anxious to read more by this author.  I'm extremely pleased that I had the chance to read this book and will definitely be recommending it.  I've got to honestly tell you that if I hadn't read so many amazing thrillers last year that this book would have made my top ten reads.  It was that good!  There were just too many others though so I didn't end up choosing it.  I would highly recommend this one with one warning:  there is violence (lots of it) and it is a pretty dark book at times.  If any of that bothers you then it might not be a book for you.  Otherwise like I said, I highly recommend and really enjoyed it myself!

Bottom Line:  A tense thriller that kept me glued to the pages!

Disclosure:  I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of this book for review thanks to the publisher and am reviewing it as part of a TLC book tour!  Thoughts are my own as always :)