Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, when a friend recommends her for a small design job she jumps at the chance. How hard can it be?

Nick Sinclair needs his house decorated in time for his family’s festive visit – and money is no object. What he doesn’t need is to be distracted from his multi-million dollar business – even if it is Christmas.

When Abbey pulls up to the huge Sinclair mansion, she has a feeling she might be out of her depth. And when she meets the gorgeous, brooding Nicholas Sinclair, she knows that she’s in real trouble…

With the snow falling all around, can Abbey take the chance to make her dreams of being a designer come true? And can she help Nick to finally enjoy the magic of Christmas?"

My Thoughts:

I requested this one earlier this month as I was just in the mood for a holiday romance and thought this one sounded like a fun read.  This book was exactly what I expected it to be:  filled with feel good moments, cute, and light-hearted are all perfect but different ways that I would describe this book.  It was a great way to spend a few enjoyable evenings leading up until the craziness of the holidays.  I also fully admit to choosing this book over the thriller that I had been planning on reading in print.  Sometimes a girl just has to go with her reading moods, you know?  It was a good choice on my part and I easily found myself wrapped up in this Christmas romance hoping for a happy ever after. 

Abbey is a nurse who has always dreamed of being an interior decorator.  She finds herself with this huge chance to live her dream when it comes to being hired to decorate Nick Sinclair's mansion.  Nick is focused entirely on growing his business and is only having his house decorated to please his family.  He has very little interest in anything that has to do with the decorating of his house but that doesn't stop the sparks from flying between Abbey and him.  I really enjoyed how Abbey was able to pull Nick outside of himself for a little bit and get him to loosen up.  I loved her character and felt like I (as the reader) really got to know her throughout this book.  It was a bit opposite for me when it came to Nick.  I never really felt like I fully connected to his character as the story is only told from Abbey's viewpoint.  Nick was so determined and focused on his business for the majority of the book....he just felt almost inaccessible and I never really understood his character fully.  I loved the parts of the book where Abbey would show him how much more there is to life than just work.  Those parts were so fun to read about and provided some of the feel good moments that I had talked about earlier.  I just would have liked to get to know Nick more outside of his work, work, work mantra that he always seemed to have going on.  

All in all, this was a fun holiday read that I couldn't help but enjoy.  It sure did make me wish for snow on the ground though!  I was a bit jealous of the snowstorms they were getting as we ended up with a rainy but definitely not white Christmas where I live.  I couldn't help but love the way the author wrapped up this book- it lived up to my expectations perfectly!  I would easily recommend this to other readers who are looking for a good holiday romance.  It wasn't a perfect read for me but I did really enjoy it and would love to read more of this author's books.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A great read for a snowy evening!  (I just pretended there was snow on the ground where I live when I read it. LOL!)

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this books thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.

Monday, December 28, 2015

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes. 

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most."

My Thoughts:

I don't even think that I can explain coherently how good this book was or how emotionally wrenching I found it to be while reading.  The premise of this book is every mother's nightmare and I felt emotionally drained when I finished reading it.  I had to stop reading at one point because I just couldn't take it any more and was going to give in to the urge to peek at the ending because the suspense level was sky high.  I managed to resist though and have to admit that I was glad I held strong as it made the ending of the book that much better for me.  After finishing this book I had to move on to a cozy mystery because I needed something on the lighter side since this was such a dark read.  It was so good though and I managed to read this chunky book in a matter of days.  Dark, atmospheric thrillers like this are like my reading catnip (if there was such a thing) so I have to admit that helped boost my enjoyment to an even higher level.  This was just one of those books that I could not set down!

One of the most disturbing things about this book was how real it all felt.  How easy it is for a person to make a choice and have their entire life change because of it.  It scraped my emotions raw seeing everything that Rachel was going through.  I cannot even begin to explain how horrifying I found this book to be when I considered how easily this situation could happen.  This was most especially true when it came to the media coverage of the disappearance and how easily they placed the blame on Rachel herself.  It is too easy to think of other real life examples of the media skewing public opinion a certain way just by the way they present coverage of the news.  It is a scary world we live in sometimes and this book felt terrifyingly real with the way the public and media both seemed to turn on Rachel.  What else to say without giving too much away?  The author was able to create such a dark almost sinister atmosphere in this novel where Rachel didn't know who she could trust.  I loved how the author had me suspecting just about everyone's motivations as I tried to figure it all out.  The ending felt real to me which I really appreciated as I had no clue how the author was going to tie this all up.  I won't say more than that as I feel like it might spoil things but the author did a really great job in my opinion.  This is a book that will almost certainly be on my top ten reads list for this year and an author that I cannot wait to read more of!

Overall I really don't know what else to say about this book besides READ IT!  It was dark and gut-wrenching but it was so completely worth it!  I cannot get over the fact that this is Gilly Macmillan's debut novel, and I also can't wait to see what she comes up with next!   Recommended, recommended, recommended.  And when you finish with this one come back and discuss it with me, won't you?  I have so many other things that I would like to say but I don't want to spoil the book for others.

Bottom Line:  A book that will be on my top ten list for this year.  Enough said!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a PICT book tour.



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Season for Desire by Theresa Romain (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected to marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety. Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto, attending scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation, Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at once.

Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts—along with kisses that require no mistletoe—and Audrina discovers even proper gentlemen have their wicked side…"

My Thoughts:

I was in the mood for a great holiday read and found this book sitting on my kindle unread.  It had sat there way too long because this was honestly a delight to read.  I haven't read a ton of historical romances this year but each one that I've read was enjoyable with this being an easy favorite.  Set near Christmas time, Lady Audrina and Giles Rutherford are thrown together unexpectedly when Giles comes to Audrina's aid at the request of her parents.  They find themselves in a situation that neither truly wants afterwards where Audrina is forced to accompany Giles and his father on their hunt for a secret box that possibly contains their inheritance from Gile's deceased mother.  If that isn't excitement enough for you, Audrina is also caught up in her own scandal thanks to previous choices she has made and now needs to find a suitable husband or risk not being able to attend her own sister's wedding.  All of this combined into such a great read where I was never sure how everything was going to work out.  I had to just sit back and enjoy the ride that the author was taking me on which was completely worth it!

One of the things I loved about this book was all of the different characters.  Lady Audrina comes across as a bit haughty and spoiled at the beginning of this book but it isn't long before the reader begins to see a different side of her.  We also begin to learn the reasons behind this facade and I liked her character all the more for it.  The chemistry between Audrina and Giles was almost instantaneous and I found myself eager to see how it would all play out.  Really I managed to read this entire book in a matter of days because I just didn't want to set my kindle down.  The snowy setting of this book had me wishing for snow (and yes I am bummed as there still is no snow on the ground) on a constant basis.  Add to all of this the adventure that the characters found themselves on and you can basically figure out why I loved this book so much.  The author took a scenario that seemed completely improbably and made it work with such ease that I just fell into the story.  And the ending was just icing on the cake for me!  I loved it!  I loved the little surprises here and there which meant a better happy ever after for the main characters.  I loved how strong Audrina was and how much more confidence she had in her self worth by the end of this book.  I just loved it all and now want to read all of this author's books.  Does that tell you enough?

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful read for this time of the year and a really great romantic read!  I'm lucky that I have more of this author's books to look forward to which I've already added to my TBR list.  I loved that this author was able to wrap me up so completely in this story and make me wish that it wouldn't end.  I'm glad that I finally took the time to read this one- shame on me for waiting so long to read it!  Easily recommended!

Bottom Line:  A delightful read that is just meant to be devoured in a day or two!

Disclosure:  I received my copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley (an embarrassingly long time ago).


Monday, December 21, 2015

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful family. A dream home. So what makes lawyer Emily Coleman—a woman who appears to have everything—get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start again as someone new?

Deliberately losing herself in London, Emily quickly transforms herself into Cat. Along with her new name, she finds a new home in a shared house in North London teeming with an odd assortment of flatmates, and a new job as a receptionist.

Soon Cat has buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can’t bury the past—or her own painful memories. As the days turn to months, thoughts of all she’s left behind begin to consume her. She cannot outrun the ghosts that haunt her, no matter how hard she tries to elude them. And soon, she’ll have to face the truth of what she’s done—a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far..."

My Thoughts:

This book is going to be so difficult to share my thoughts on without spoiling anything!  If I seem less coherent than usual because of this you now know why.  Brief summary of my thoughts:  this book was unexpected.  I went into reading this one intrigued by the premise but also with a bit of trepidation.  I instantly had the question in the back of my mind of what could cause this woman to leave her family behind in order to start a completely new life?  Why would she want to start over at all?   These questions were constantly running through my mind as I began reading this book and were present for the majority of my reading experience.  What made this book really pull me in as the reader was the way the author slowly gave pieces here and there of Emily's past life.  Because I had those questions constantly in the back of my mind, I couldn't help but try to figure out what had happened on my own.  It was a mystery but not the typical type of mystery that I am so used to reading.  Instead of figuring out the whodunnit, we were trying to discover what had really happened to Emily that caused her to just leave her life behind.  I've never read another book like this!

Another thing that really intrigued me with this book was Emily or Cat herself (for purposes of this review I am just going to call her Emily).  She was almost a bit of an unreliable narrator at times because she works so hard to suppress her memories from her previous life.  I constantly felt like her actions and thoughts gave me more questions rather than answers.  The author slowly built this atmosphere that was so intense by the end of the book...I had to force myself to keep reading and not stop to peek at the ending.  I'm so glad that I held out though because it was completely worth the wait.  I won't say more than that as I don't want to give anything at all away.  This is a book to be experienced on your own without any spoilers or preconceived notions.  Just read it!  I also couldn't help but appreciate how the author managed to keep me so connected to this book even when I didn't always particularly like Emily's character.  There were times when she annoyed me, where I couldn't understand the decisions that she was making, but yet I didn't want to stop reading.  I just knew that there had to be reasons why she was making the choices that she was.  I hate to make the comparison but it reminded me a bit of Gillian Flynn's writing where there is just that compelling factor that keeps you reading no matter what.  That feeling was definitely in this book and by the end I knew exactly why!

Overall, I really ended up enjoying my reading experience with this book and am left eager for more!  This is definitely an author to watch in my opinion!  I went into this book expecting a thriller of a different sort and was pleased to get a book that completely exceeded my expectations in an entirely different way!  Who out there has read this one?? I would love to discuss with others!  Definitely a recommended read- one that I would give out 4.5 out of 5 stars too if I still did ratings.

Bottom Line:  A book that kept me guessing and unable to stop reading.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book as part of a TLC blog tour thanks to the publisher.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Irresistible Rogue by Valerie Bowman (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Lady Daphne Swift comes from a family with two brothers who have proudly served the Crown. She may be a female, but she's willing to do whatever it takes to prove that she's as useful to the war effort as her brothers. She even went so far as to secretly marry a spy. The fact that she just happened to have been pining for Captain Rafe Cavendish for years didn't hurt matters. But after their first mission, when she realized their marriage had been strictly business, Daphne immediately wanted an annulment. The fiery Daphne has always been a multi-tasker and now she's hell bent on two things: finding the men who killed her brother and securing her engagement to another man to forget about Rafe forever.

As a spy for the War Office, Captain Rafferty Cavendish has been on dozens of missions. But one mission haunts him, the mission that resulted in the death of Daphne Swift's eldest brother, Donald. Rafe agreed to work with Daphne once and put her life in danger. Now he must find the men who killed Donald, avenge the family, and convince Daphne to give him one more chance. But Daphne's enlisted her other older brother, Julian, to help her get a quick and quiet annulment so that she can marry a fop who only wants her for her title and money. Can Rafe convince Daphne to give him one more chance, on the mission and with her heart?"

My Thoughts:

I really need more historical romances in my life!  I always forget how much I enjoy this genre until I read a book like this and am reminded of how great they really are.  This book was a such a fun read for me and left me wanting more books just like this one!  It was easy to immerse myself in and very soon after I began reading I found myself swept away into the pages.  I really had a hard time setting this one down mainly because I just didn't want to stop reading!  Was it a perfect read for me?  No, I found it to be a bit far-fetched at times but I loved it all the more because of that.  The author took her liberties and I found the book to such a fun read because of it.  There is one particular scene where Daphne finds herself to be slightly intoxicated and the ensuing scene is just priceless!  I won't say more as you'll have to read it for yourself to see what I'm talking about but I loved it!  This was just a fun read and I cannot emphasize that enough!

The relationship between Daphne and Rafe is one of my favorite types of relationships.  I absolutely love a hate/love relationship where the characters start off despising each other.  Rafe wasn't actually like this in regards to Daphne but it didn't matter as they both started at opposing ends.  It was all of the events that brought them together (and no that isn't a spoiler- this is a romance people) that was so fun for me to read about.  I have said this before and I will say it again:  I love when a romance takes time  to develop over a book.  In the case of this book, even though both main characters had feelings for each from the very beginning they still fought those feelings for a very long time.  It took time for them to start to build up trust between one another.  And when the time finally came- whew!  Those were some steamy scenes that were also very fun to read about.  I found the ending of this book to be quite surprising.  It definitely has me very excited to read the next book in this series.  While I wait though, I think I will go back to the beginning books and read about some of the other characters happy ever afters.  I can't wait!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read more by this author!  It was such a fun read for me and a great way to break up all of the mysteries/thrillers that I have been reading as of late.  I love a good historical romance and this book reminded me just why I feel that way.  Luckily I have more books by this author to enjoy so I won't be waiting long to read more by her.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A fun read that I found myself swept away with!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher from a Goodread's giveaway!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

False Security by Morgan Blaze (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"There are two things Wynn Holcolm can't stand -- liars, and her father. Sexy bodyguard Foster Drake is a liar who works for her father. Unfortunately, he may also be the only man who can keep her alive.

When a wealthy Vegas gambler hires the elite VIP Vegas Securities firm to secretly protect his daughter -- who's perfectly safe and living in a small tourist town just south of Sin City -- Foster is less than thrilled to land the assignment. She picks his fake dating profile from the bait they're using to get close to her, and things go from bad to worse when she discovers the deception and refuses to see him again.

But it turns out Wynn's life actually is in danger. Now Foster must win her trust and keep her close by, because the man who killed her mother has unfinished business with her -- and her father is keeping a deadly secret that could destroy them all."

My Thoughts:

Books like this are why I love the blogging world so much!  This is a completely new to me author that caught my attention through email- I read the included excerpt and just knew that I wanted to keep reading this book.  I'm happy to say that the rest of the book was just as good as the excerpt which meant a really great reading experience and yet another new author to follow.  Love it!  As this is a genre that I really just don't read enough of, I'm so glad that I decided to give this book a try.  I will definitely be seeking out more books by this author and am really excited that this looks to be the beginning of a new series!

One of the things that really made this book stand out for me were the two main characters Wynn and Foster.  I enjoyed both of their characters a lot for different reasons.  It was the chemistry between them though that really made me want to keep reading.  They fit together perfectly from the very beginning even though neither of them really was willing to admit to it.  Instead there were missteps and misunderstandings along the way....all the things that I love in a romance.  For some reason I am just a sucker for books where the romance doesn't go smoothly instantly.  It just makes it all feel a bit more realistic to me when the romance takes time to develop.  There is one heads up that I would like to give to romance readers:  this is a book that focuses less on the romance scenes and more on the relationship that is developing.  It didn't effect my enjoyment of the book in the slightest but I just thought other readers might like to know.  The suspense portion of this book was very well done and the ending sure had me on my toes!  I loved how the author managed to take my expectations and completely turn them on their head by the end of the book.  I will say no more so I don't spoil anything but suffice it to say that I really loved the way this book ended!

Overall I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end.  I managed to read it in just a few short days because I really didn't want to put it down.  It was a quick read but so completely worth it!  I've now found a new author to follow and a series that I really can't wait to read more of.  I sure do hope that she plans on writing many more books focused on this series!  Easily recommended!

Bottom Line:  A really great romantic suspense and an author I can't wait to read more of!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this books thanks to the author.

Friday, December 4, 2015

#COYER Challenge (Back to Basics)

This challenge couldn't have come at a better time if I do say so myself!!  My kindle is overflowing as of late and I love the idea of getting some of those unread books finally read.  I have participated in COYER a couple of different times now and it is always fun!  The entire point of the challenge is to work on cleaning out your e-reads which is something that I really need to do thanks to my book buying addiction and NetGalley.  So. Many. Books.  I NEED this challenge and am hoping to really make a dent on my kindle shelves with it.

One of the best parts of this challenge (or my favorite part anyways) is coming up with a list of books that I might want to read for the challenge.  A pool of possibilities if you will.  Obviously we all know by now that my reading moods tend to change on a whim but here are just some of the books that I would like to read for this challenge (I'm grouping them in pairs because it seems like fun):

Two cozy series that I cannot wait to continue.

Two thrillers that I desperately want to read.

Historical romances that are calling my name.

Authors that I have loved previously and need more of!

And finally, two books that I had planned to read in previous COYER challenges but are still unread.

I have many, many more books that I might read or would like to read but this gives me a good starting point.  I'm sure it will change a bit as well but my overall goal is to NOT add any other books to my kindle from NetGalley during this challenge.  Yep, I'm going on a NetGalley/Edelweiss ban during COYER this time around.  The only exceptions being those few books that are part of a series I am already reading that feel like must haves.  The key to success here for me will be trying not to browse these two sites at all.  If I can stay away, I know that I will be able to make a dent in my unread piles.

Tell me, are you participating in COYER this time around?  Do you have a list of possibilities like I do or is anything on your e-reader fair game?  Make sure to let me know in the comments if you are also participating so we can cheer each other on!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Charlotte's Story by Laura Benedict (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The fall of 1957 in southern Virginia was a seemingly idyllic, even prosperous time. A young housewife, Charlotte Bliss, lives with her husband, Hasbrouck Preston “Press” Bliss, and their two young children, Eva Grace and Michael, in the gorgeous Bliss family home. On the surface, theirs seems a calm, picturesque life, but soon tragedy befalls them: four tragic deaths, with apparently simple explanations.
But nothing is simple if Bliss House is involved. How far will Charlotte go to discover the truth? And how far will she get without knowing who her real enemy is? Though Bliss House may promise to give its inhabitants what they want, it never gives them exactly what they expect."

My Thoughts:

Wow!  I don't say this lightly at all but this is an author to watch!  I'm a sucker for a good gothic them, love them, love them.  This book had everything that I love about these type of books and I couldn't help but love this book because of it.  One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the uncertainty I felt while reading it.  At the beginning of this book tragedy unexpectedly strikes and it was the aftermath/causes of this tragedy that the book focused on.  For me, I always seem to enjoy a book where I don't quite know what is going on.  I find that with books like this I am able to put my trust in the author's capable hands and just enjoy the ride.  Early on in the book I started to question things and before I knew it I was completely lost in the story.  I loved the atmosphere that the author created in this book which was filled with more questions than answers and loads of suspense.  There was some foreshadowing but the author was able to use this to create even more questions for me as the reader.  All of these different things made for such an intense reading experience.

I also really enjoyed the way that Bliss House is portrayed in this book.  It comes across as a living, breathing entity that managed to give this book such a creepy feel because of it.  I never quite knew if what was happening was because of the house or due to the people living in it.  It had a presence in this book that I can only liken to the house in the book The Haunting of Hill House.  Both books have these houses that almost seem to come alive and both books were able to thoroughly creep me out.  The ending of this book is wonderfully done with the story wrapped up but in a way that questions were still left open.  I can't say more without spoiling other than I loved the way that this book ended!  And now I absolutely cannot wait to read more by this author!

Overall this book left me so completely excited about this author!  A dark, forbidding house, ghostly presences, even a seance....I couldn't have asked more more from this book!  I truly mean it when I say that it took everything that I love from gothic novels and wrapped it altogether in this one book.  I found myself completely engrossed while reading this book and also very creeped out.  I will definitely be reading more by this author!!!  Easily recommended!

Bottom Line:  A book that isn't to be missed if you are a fan of gothic novels!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book Tour.