Thursday, October 24, 2013

Library Loot: Drowning in Books

Library Loot is hosted by Marg and Claire and asks us to share about the lovely library finds that we bring home!

I honestly cannot remember the last time that I shared my library loot with you guys!  I haven't been going to the library as much as of late (just not enough time) and I have plenty of my own books waiting to be read.  I was starting to go through library withdrawals though (I'm only kind of kidding) so I made a point of finding the time this week to visit my local library.  I walked out with entirely TOO many books but also with a smile on my face.  Now I'm happy, happy and I have lots of good books just waiting for me to read!  Good stuff!  I'm starting to really consider the fact that the end of the year will be here sooner rather than later so I tried to grab books that felt like must reads for me.  2013 has already been a really good reading year quality wise but I can always try for even better!  Here are the books that I ended up taking home with me:

I can't even begin to decide which of these I would like to read first!  I think that I need to find a read-a-thon or two to join so that I can actually make a dent in this library pile.  The focus here seems to be urban fantasy but I also managed to slide in a historical romance and some romantic suspense.  Each of these books are just one more reason why I LOVE my library!  Love!  Have you guys read any of these?  Which one should I start with first?? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Backlash by Lynda LaPlante (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Late night on an estate in Hackney and a van is being driven erratically. The driver is pulled over by the police and questioned. A woman on the street after a long evening's drinking never makes it home. A suspect, an arrest, a confession, a case done and dusted?"

My Thoughts:

Backlash is my first dip into the Anna Travis' mystery series but it certainly won't be my last!  This police procedural slowly pulled me into the mystery but by the end I just could not put it down.  After Henry Oates is arrested for the suspected murder of a young girl, he surprisingly confesses to the murders of two other young girls.  Of course, soon after his confession he begins to change his tune and claims that everything he said before was a lie.  It doesn't stop the police from investigating though and that is when Anna Travis is brought in on the case. 

Anna Travis was one of those main characters that I love: she has flaws and unknown motives that seem to drive her.  She pays attention to the little details and pushes herself just a little bit harder than everybody else.  I really liked her from the very beginning but I will admit that I feel like I missed out a bit starting in the middle of this series.  There were obviously some situations that she had gone through in previous books that were still affecting her and I would have liked to know more about them.  Once again this reinforces my need to read series books in order and start at the beginning.  Anyways.  One of the things that I liked best about this book was that the author took her time in building up the mystery.  Even though we know (or had an idea of) the bad guy from early on, there was still questions and tension that were built into the story in such a way that you had to know what would happen next.  This book is slow moving at times but even that really didn't take away from my reading experience.  Instead, I felt that the pacing of the book allowed for me to get the chance to really connect with both the book and the characters.  

Even though I ended up really enjoying this book, I feel that it would have been an even better reading experience for me if I had started with book one.  I've already mentioned it but I think that the back story would have helped me to understand some of the characters better and in particular Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton.  I never really connected to his character and there were times when he drove me absolutely batty.  I wonder if I would have liked him more if I had read the other books in this series.  I don't know the answer yet, but I will because I plan on going back to the beginning of this series soon.  

Overall, I was very pleased with this book and am eager to pick up more by this author.  Fans of gritty police procedurals will not want to miss this one....I'm already regretting not trying this author sooner.  I loved that the author took her time with building up the tension and suspense in this book.  And I really liked the way that the book ended.  I can't wait to see what mystery Anna finds herself investigating next.  Definitely recommended but especially to mystery lovers!

Bottom Line:  A mystery that builds layer upon layer until coming to a very satisfying conclusion!

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


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Sunday Salon: A Reading Round-Up

Happy days!  This Saturday was the end of both football and soccer for my oldest two kiddos which means I get my evenings AND Saturdays back as of today.  Woohoo!  This was a really fun season for both of them for me to watch but I'm ready for life to slow down just a little bit.  Plus, this should mean a little more reading time for me....right??  I sure hope so!  Last week was quite busy with the end of all of these practices, my daughter turned six, and all the rest of the craziness that goes along with life.  We managed to fit in a family/friend birthday dinner and took the younger two to a Disney show for a birthday surprise.  It was lots of fun but I'm glad that we are laying low and relaxing today while watching football!

Between all the chaos I have been reading which always helps to keep me relaxed.  I actually read three books this week which is just amazing for me!  First of all I finished Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson which I read on my ipad.  This book was such a good start to this urban fantasy series but oh my goodness that ending.  I was left saying, "What??  That can't possibly be it....and then NOOOOOOO!!"  I hate when I don't see a cliff hanger ending coming but at least I already have book two loaded on my ipad ready to read.  I will definitely write up my thoughts on this one sooner rather than later!

I also finished listening to two books this week which were both rereads but my first time listening to them.  I first finished Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb and I'm so enjoying listening to this series.  It is a great way to re-experience these books from the very beginning.  I'm having fun with seeing how Robb introduces us to the main characters that become so important to these books later on.  Plus, it has been so long that I've basically forgotten most of the storylines to these books.  I also finished listening to One For the Money by Janet Evanovich.  This book was just as funny on audio as it was when I read it which meant that I was laughing at my desk while listening.  I can only imagine what my coworkers were thinking.  Ha! 

I'm currently reading the following two books:

The House Next Door is my print book and creepier than I expected it to be so naturally I'm loving it!  It is perfect reading for the gloomy, cold weather that we have been having as of late.  It is also a nice change of pace to actually be reading a book off of my own shelves.  I'm hoping to finish this one up soon though because I want to give it to my sister to read next weekend when I see her!

A Study in Silks is my current e-book and I'm already hooked which is saying something since I'm not that far into it yet!  I'm loving the references to Sherlock Holmes and I can't wait to really dig into this one!  Plus, there are steampunk elements AND magic so what more could a girl really ask for??  This is definitely my type of book!

I'm not sure exactly what I will read when I finish these two up but my plans definitely include this one:

I've heard really good things about this one so I'm super excited to read it for myself.  In audio, I need to figure out what I want to listen to next but I'm leaning towards Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  If you haven't listened to the Harry Potter books on audio, you simply must!  I adored listening to the first one and can't wait to listen to book two.  Such fun!

That's enough out of me for today.  Look for a library loot post this week since I FINALLY found the time to go (and of course then grabbed as many books as I could) and a review for a TLC book tour.  I'm off to fit a run in, bake some cookies, and of course finish up a few loads of laundry. 

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Killer Image by Wendy Tyson (thoughts)

I've been in the mood for mysteries lately and I chose to read this one thinking that it would be a lighter read.  What I actually got was so much more and I am delighted to say that I enjoyed this book more than I would have ever guessed!  It just goes to show you (and by you I mean me) that I shouldn't judge books by their covers.

In Killer Image, Allison Campbell is an image consultant which is basically a fancy way of stating that she helps people make over their lives.  Need self confidence?  She can help with lifestyle changes, new clothing/make-up, and a healthy dose of self esteem.  Allison seems to have her life completely together but under the pretty facade she has many of her own problems.  She takes on a new job against her better judgement when an upcoming senator basically bullies her into working with his troubled daughter.  Maggie isn't your typical teenager and brings along with her more trouble than even Allison can handle.  But it will be up to Allison to stand by Maggie's side when Maggie is accused of murder.  Will Allison be able to clear Maggie's name?  And why does it seem like Allison's past is coming back to haunt her?

I love when a book takes me by surprise and Killer Image did exactly that!  From the very beginning of this book the author managed to pull me into Allison's past history of dealing with a different troubled young girl.  It was easy to see that it wasn't going to have a happy ending to it since Allison was obviously still trying to get over her past but the way the author weaved it into the storyline really pulled me in.  She managed to take two different storylines and intertwine them in a way that really strengthened this book as a whole.  I was totally invested in both storylines and wanted to know how it would all end.  In fact, I NEEDED to know how it would all end so that I could find out who the killer really was.  The author did a really great job of keeping me guessing while trying to figure out who the killer could possibly be.  It really made this book stand out for me because I was so deeply entrenched in the mystery that I just couldn't put this book down.  I know that I've mentioned it here a million times but I'm always a sucker for a story with a dark and gritty atmosphere.  And this book had that in spades at certain times.  I also like when the characters have secrets and can't always be trusted.  The author did a really good job with all of the characters in this book both main and secondary.  They were completely fleshed out and I loved that we didn't always know their motivations behind their actions.  It just added to the mystery of the book for me!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am eager to read more by this author.  It looks like this is going to be the first book in this mystery series and I will definitely be willing to read the second book.  This book had basically everything that I am looking for in a mystery:  action and suspense, lots of suspects, and a dark atmosphere that sucks you in!  I'm so glad that I got the chance to read this book because I've found a new author to follow.  This is a book that I would not hesitate to recommend!

Bottom Line:  A mystery that instantly captured my attention and kept it throughout!

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

**As an aside, my one and only complaint with the entire book was that they changed the cover!  I adored the cover that they originally were using but this one just doesn't do it for me as much.  So if you are a cover addict like me, please don't miss this one because it is definitely worth your time!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna (thoughts)

Fatal Strike is my first read by McKenna but it definitely won't be my last.  I just wish that I would have started at the beginning of this series as I think that it would have really added to my reading experience!  That being said it was a fun way to pass a few days, and I'm eager to read more!

In Fatal Strike, Miles Davenport is having really intense and weird dreams that all center around a missing girl that he is looking for.  He is also struggling to deal with the new psychic abilities that he got unexpectedly (from a previous book I'm assuming).  He is no position to really help anybody since he can't even seem to help himself but Lara Kirk's disappearance pulls at him.  And then he finally finds that one lead that can help him to figure out where she is.  But will he really be able to keep Lara safe from the ones that have been holding her captive?

I seem to have been on a mission lately to find some good romantic suspense!  This one definitely was what I was looking for although it wasn't a perfect read for me.  The good parts were the relationship between Miles and Lara.  I loved it!  I really enjoyed the instant chemistry that they had and was eager for them to fall in love.  They both had their own flaws and issues to overcome but together they really worked well!  That being said I would have liked to have seen more of this at times.  For instance, there was a strong emphasis on the feelings that developed for one another due to the dreams that they were having.  I would have loved if one of those dreams had really been included within the book (personal preference I know).  It didn't matter in the end though because I really liked them as a couple and wanted to see their happy ending.  The bad guys in this book were bad and totally creepy.  It made for a page turning read because all I wanted was for Lara to finally be safe from them.  I also really liked getting to know some of Mile's friends that I'm assuming have been featured in previous books in this series.  It makes me anxious to start at the beginning of this series and read more about all of these characters!

While I really enjoyed most of this book I did find that the book stalled out a bit for me in the middle.  I guess I was just impatient with wanting the happy ever after for Miles and Lara.  Miles was also a bit of a jerk at one point.  I just wanted to shake him and snap him out of it!  But even though I had a few quibbles with this book I overall really enjoyed it.  And it just made me want to read even more romantic suspense!

All in all, I ended up really enjoying this one!  It wasn't perfect but I think that is my own fault for reading the series out of order.  The chemistry was there, the suspense was there, and I'm definitely ready to read more by this author so that equals success for me!  I would recommend this one but with the opinion that you should probably start at the beginning with book one.

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful read that kept me intrigued but with a few flaws.

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

On the romantic suspense front, what other authors do you guys recommend?  So far this year I've tried Shannon McKenna, Shiloh Walker, and Maya Banks.  Who else should I be reading and trying in this genre?  Because I NEED more books like this!  They are the perfect way to just lose myself for a short period of time :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lost by S.J. Bolton (thoughts)

I LOVED this book so much that I've been putting off sharing my thoughts on it because I didn't know how to express how good this book (and series) really is!  This is the third book in the Lacey Flint series and it is almost impossible to review without giving away a few spoilers here and there.  So if you haven't read this series then let me make it short and sweet for you:  I LOVE this series and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!  I honestly feel like not enough people know how amazing these books are and it makes me sad.  If you are looking for intense, dark, fast-paced, edgy thrillers and haven't tried this author then you are missing out.  Seriously!  But you must really start this series at the beginning and read in order (don't say I didn't warn you).  I highly, highly recommend these books! 

Now if you haven't read the books in this series you should probably stop reading my thoughts starting here because I'm ready to discuss the amazingness that is this book.  In Lost,  Lacey Flint is still trying to deal with everything that happened to her during her time at Cambridge University.  She has taken leave from the police force and is avoiding DI Mark Joesbury as much as possible.  But trouble always seems to find Lacey like a magnet, and it is Lacey's young neighbor Barney Roberts that brings it to her door this time.  Because there is a serial killer at large killing young boys and leaving them out in the open for the cops to find.  This killer seems to be targeting boys just like Barney and the police have little to go on.  Lacey may not be emotionally stable but she also can't seem to keep herself out of trouble.  Getting involved might mean though that Lacey loses everything and everyone that she cares about....but when has that ever stopped her?

Oh my goodness this book was so good!  It was even darker and creepier than the last book (which I didn't think was possible).  At this point I am so invested in Lacey's character and such a fan of this series that I can't even begin to put it all into words.  Lacey is a complete emotional mess, an unreliable main character at times, and yet she really pulls you in as a reader.  I never know what she is going to do next other than more often than not it will lead to trouble for her.  And that is okay because it just makes the book even more intense!  I flew through pages of this book and was absolutely hooked from the very beginning.  The author did an amazing job of creating this menacing and ominous atmosphere where it feels like no one is safe and everyone could be the killer.  The way she described water in this book gave me chills at times as she described Barney's fears of it creeping up on him.  It was completely reminiscent for me of reading King's It (which I really need to finish) and his descriptions of water that also gave me chills. I wish I would have written some quotes down but I've already turned the book back into the library so you will just have to trust me on this. 

What else did I love?  How I should always expect the unexpected when it comes to this series because this author isn't afraid of making her readers sweat!  Sometimes I feel like I miss some major clues because it never fails that I don't see the end coming.  This time I had the killer picked out at least three different times (and all three times I was completely wrong).  I love how the author has built on this series with each book.  They keep getting better and better!  Creepier and creepier!  My one and only complaint is having to wait for book four.  I don't want to wait...I need more books just like this!  I can only gush for so long though.  Read these books already! 

So in summary: I loved this book, I'm a huge fan of this series, and I really, really want to read more!  I guess that I will have to satisfy myself with trying this author's other books while I wait for the new Flint book to publish.  This book was everything that I expected it to be and then so much more!  I can't wait to see what happens with Lacey and Mark in the next book.  These are books that I just can't recommend highly enough! 

Bottom Line:  Another amazing read by one of my favorite authors!  Oh so good!

Disclosure:  Checked out from my local library and read as soon as I brought it home!  This is one series that I will set everything aside for!

If you haven't had the please of trying this author here are my thoughts on the other books in this series:

Book 1: Now You See Me
Book 2: Dead Scared

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Sunday Salon: Motivation

Whew!  It has been entirely too long since I last participated in The Sunday Salon.  Life has been just as crazy/busy as usual but that is really no excuse for my lack of blogging.  I think that I've just been a little lacking in the motivation department especially when it comes to sharing my thoughts on the books that I have read.  I'm SO far behind on reviews that I end up reading even more (and writing even less).  Today is the first Sunday in awhile where I don't feel like I have hundreds of tasks to complete so I'm going to try and dive into my review writing.  Maybe that will help me to get back into the bloggy swing of things (where I actually comment on other blogs, read reviews, etc.)

Other than reading I've been working really hard on once again getting back to working out.  I'm horrible about starting to work out and then just stopping.  Motivation once again....but this is one of the hardest things for me to keep up with.  It is entirely too easy to tell myself that I have other more important things to do (and then I sit on my butt in front of computer, television, whatever).  I'm starting week 2 of the From Couch to 5K program later this afternoon and it feels good.  Really good to be running once again and hopefully shedding a few pounds.  I just need to keep reminding myself how much better I feel about myself when I work out.  That should really be all of the motivation that I need!

Let's talk about my reading though, shall we?  This week I finished up Backlash by Lynda La Plante which I read for an upcoming TLC book tour.  It was pretty good although I feel like I missed out a bit in not reading this series in order.  I should know better because I feel this way a lot when I read books in series out of order.  I'm now currently reading Killer Image by Wendy Tyson which is also for a TLC book tour.  It is a mystery that has already captured my attention so I'm hoping to get some more reading time in today with it.  I'm also working my way through Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson which I'm reading on my e-reader.  I will definitely be spending the majority of my time on this book today because I'm hooked!  I've got no clue what I will be reading after these as there are just so many books that I want to read. 

Alright guys, I'm off to go get this run in so I can relax for the rest of the day.  And write up a few reviews!  I hope that you guys all have a great Sunday curled up with a good book.  Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Burning by Jane Casey (thoughts)

The Burning was definitely a thrilling read and not at all what I expected it to be!  This is the first book that I picked up for Carl's R.I.P. Challenge and it was a perfect fit for so many reasons.  I was left constantly guessing and then second guessing myself as I read the book which made it a definite winner for me!

In this book, Maeve Kerrigan is a detective helping to investigate the latest death attributed to a serial killer that the press has dubbed The Burning Man.  His victims are all women that have been severely beaten to death and then their bodies burned.  The police have little to go by and no suspects when they come across the latest victim.  Unfortunately, this victim's death seems to be a bit different than the rest and there are questions that aren't easily answered.  It will be Maeve's duty to dig into the most recent victim's life with the hope of uncovering a critical piece of evidence that will help them find the killer.  But instead Maeve finds danger like she has never known.

What I really liked about this book was that the author had me guessing from almost the very first page.  It is clear from the very beginning that the latest murder is different from the previous ones, and the question of what that means plays a very important part of this book.  I liked the way the author switched points of view between the main characters.  The way that she did it left me questioning almost everything that was happening.  The author also did a really good job of fleshing out the main characters without really letting their motivations become clear.  That sounds confusing but it wasn't.  Instead it added to the atmosphere of the book which was quite dark and thrilling!  I also really liked Maeve Kerrigan's character and am anxious to see what happens to her in future books.

My one complaint with this book was that one of the two story lines ended in a surprisingly abrupt manner.  It wasn't what I was expecting at all.  I don't want to really go into more detail than that but I will admit that it was a bit jarring.  That being said it also added to the suspense because by then I was so fully invested in this book that I could not decide on what was really going on.  I had guessed the killer, second guessed myself, convinced myself that I was wrong, then went back and forth like this for the rest of the book.  There was a lot that I didn't see coming at the end.  There was also some unresolved stuff for Maeve that left me wanting more.  I'm eager to dive into the second book just to see what happens next!

Overall, a really solid beginning to this mystery series!  I'm so glad that I finally took the time to read this book (considering I probably checked it out from the library five times before I finally did).  It was worth it though and I have high hopes that this series will get even better with the next book.  I would recommend this one to both mystery lovers and fans of thrillers as well because this book was a little bit of both.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A thrilling read with one of those dark, questioning atmospheres that I love so much!

Disclosure:  Checked out from my local library!  Like five times but who is counting???  :) And a great way to kick off the R.I.P. Challenge!