Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Reading Recap (2016)

We are already at the end of January which is crazy to think about.  I'm glad though as we are that much closer to spring which I am really looking forward to this year.  I think it is the lack of snow that has me not as thrilled about winter as I usually am.  If it must be cold (in my opinion) then there really needs to be snow on the ground.  Overall though it has been a pretty good month.  Lots and lots of reading happened.  I worked out for the first part of the month (let's not talk about the second half).  I managed to post quite consistently this month although I am still ridiculously behind on replying to comments.  In a nutshell, it was a pretty darn good beginning to the new year and I can't complain.

I was a reading machine this past month and managed to finish ten books.  Ten books!  Who is this girl?  I attribute most of my reading to focusing on staying off the internet more in the evenings.  It is crazy how much time I waste just on Facebook and Twitter combined.  Making a point to stay off of those sites and allowing myself to just enjoy my current read meant I finished a fabulous number of books.  I should probably do this all of the time.  Ha!  I'm not as caught up with reviews as I would like to be but I am scheduling posts two weeks in advance or more which NEVER happens.  I'm loving it although once the sports schedules kick back in for all of the kiddos I'm sure everything will go back to normal (and I will be behind once again).  Here are the books that I managed to finish in January:
  • Snow Angels by James Thompson
  • City of Light by Keri Arthur
  • Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
  • Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy
  • In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
  • Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
  • Enraptured by Candace Camp
  • The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves
  • The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne
  • If I Run by Terri Blackstock
I've got my reviews written up for a few more of these but they won't be posting until February.  I read SO many good books this month and I struggled to pick a favorite.  In the end I decided that I was picking two favorites rather then one (and even that was really hard for me).  My two favorite reads in January were:

Completely different but both books left me feeling almost sad when I finished.  They were both just so good and I wasn't ready for them to end.  City of Light begins a new series that I will be following and The Hunter is the second book in a series that I now need to read book one for.  I highly recommend them both and cannot say enough good things about them!

The end of this month also brings me to wanting to give an update on my #COYER progress.  I feel like I'm doing pretty well for this challenge as I've read a total of six books for this challenge.  Woohoo!  That is six less books on my e-reader which really feels like progress.  At least it does until I think about all of the books that I have added to it as well.  Hence the reason why I participate in this challenge in the first place.  Here are all of the books that I have read so far for #COYER:
  • On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander
  • Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • City of Light by Keri Arthuer
  • Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy
  • The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves
  • The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne
Plans for February include a ridiculous number of books which I will be sharing about later this week.  I've cheated and already begun reading from that pile (two of my January reads where from my February pile) but at least I am getting a head start.  I'm planning on getting motivated and back to my regular workout schedule.  Goals would be that 30 miles total of running like I had hoped to do in January and consistently doing the 30 Day Shred workout video as well.  Wish me luck that this month I will remain both focused and motivated for the entire month!

What was your favorite read in January?  What books are you hoping to read in February?  Do share!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Firelight by Kristen Callihan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .

Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask."

My Thoughts:

This is one of the best paranormal romances that I have read in a long time!  I am super excited about this series even though I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read it.  Why do I do this to myself?  I actually have the answer to that question though: because now I have a bunch of great books in this series to look forward to!  2016 is going to be the year that I focus on catching up with this series and read the rest of these books because I loved this one so much.  It was just so unique and different from many of the books out there!  I found this to be one of those books that just pulls you in as the reader and doesn't let you go.  I couldn't help but love this world that the author was creating.  It was a throwback similar to a historical romance with something "other" thrown in.  It was the paranormal aspect that really made this book stand out for me and honestly I just couldn't get enough of  this book!  

In this book, Archer hides behind masks and keeps to himself to hide his true nature from others.  He cannot resist taking Miranda as his bride though and the chemistry between them was instantaneous.  Oh my goodness but I loved the relationship that developed between these two.  They are both keeping secrets from each other from much of the book and it added a layer of suspense to the reading of the story.  I couldn't help but read faster so that I would be able to see how everything was going to play out.  One of the things that I love most in a romance book is when it takes time for the two characters to come together.  I'm not a huge fan of insta-love or anything similar to it.  I loved how Archer and Miranda's trust took time to build between the two of them.  It just made the ending all the sweeter because of it.  I also really, really loved Miranda's unique abilities.  It made her into such a strong main character and I always appreciate that but in especially in a romance read.  This book was just so completely readable for me and I found myself curled up on the couch with it for hours.  I especially loved the ending but I won't say more than that since I don't want to spoil anything.  I was left very excited about this series and ready to begin reading the second book as soon as possible!

All in all, this was one of the best romance reads that I read in 2015 and just barely missed being on my top reads list.  It was just so good and such a treat to read!  I'm super excited to continue on with this series and hopefully read ALL of the books in this series over the course of the year.  I have high hopes that each book after will be just as good as this one!  Romance fans should definitely give this one a try!  I highly recommend it!

Bottom Line:  Such a unique and refreshing romance!  Loved it!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. I also ended up buying a copy from the used book store which is the one I read.    

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Something venomous has come to Temperance …

It's been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance's resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.

Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don't want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters' own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.

With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy."

My Thoughts:

I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that this book was coming out!  I had previously enjoyed Dark Alchemy (the first book in this series) so much and had my fingers crossed that the author would be writing a sequel.  So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I got wind of this book.  This series is so completely original and is just different from everything out there!  I find it a treat to read and this has been my experience with both books in this series.  I should say that you need to start off by reading the first book in this series because events in this book are a continuation from book one.  Not all of it which means new readers could start with this book if they wanted but I just feel like they would be missing out a bit.  And personally I feel like that this is such a great series and shouldn't be missed!  I love how the author takes the impossible and makes it possible with these books.  I just cannot emphasize enough how fresh and unique these books are.  It is a mish mash of genres in the best possible way:  a mystery mixed in with fantasy along with some steampunk elements and a western feel all rolled into one.  I love it so much for all of these different reasons (and these are the same things that I loved about book one)!

In this book Petra once again finds herself caught up in a heap of trouble as she attempts to help investigate the mysterious deaths of a family that have died for no apparent reason.  She is looking at the geological features of the area trying to determine if a hot gas spot is the reason behind these deaths or could it be the mysterious snake that was sighted in the area.  Almost instantly things start to go wrong and Petra is forced to search for answers while trying to keep herself out of danger.  I found myself immersed in this book immediately after starting was just that easy to fall back into the world that Bickle had created in Dark Alchemy.  I loved that we had the chance to meet up again with all of my favorite characters from the previous book.  I especially loved that this book delved more into the mysterious hanged men and their fate after the way that things had ended in book one (trying not to spoil anything here so sorry if I'm being too vague).  This book was just as fast paced as the first book and just as hard to set down.  Basically I just loved this book as much as I did the first and am now a huge fan of this series!  And the ending- what an ending!  I loved that we got some answers but I also really loved the set up for the next book.  There is going to be a next book!!!  I cannot wait!

Overall, I just cannot say enough good things about this series or about this book!  I hope that other readers are reading and loving this series as much as I have.  Trust this author to take you on a wild ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time.  Now I'm just going to have to patiently wait and wish for the next book in this series.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  Such a great follow-up to the first book in this series!  I cannot recommend it enough!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Sunday Post #22 (A Reading Update)

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme"

I'm getting a bit of a later start this Sunday afternoon but that's okay.  I made breakfast for the family this morning and then decided to just work around the house a little bit.  Now I'm settled in with the computer and hoping to get some reviews written up for the upcoming weeks.  This past week went by pretty fast which was nice as I was in training all week for work.  I will be in training this week as well but then by next week everything should be back to normal.  Not much else new to report- homework is back with a vengeance so that is how I spend a good portion of my evenings.  I have been reading a lot though so I'm happy with that!

This past week was the Winter's Respite read-a-thon.  I managed to finish two books for it which made me very happy.  Really January is turning into a pretty solid reading month for me so far!  I've already finished seven books and I'm feeling pretty good about my reading quality wise as well.  I need to work on writing up reviews though so that I don't fall behind like I did last year.  What else?  I've been horrible on the working out front (which means I've basically done nothing) so I need to focus on that this week.  Oh yes, and I STILL haven't managed to stay off of NetGalley like I had planned.  Apparently I need to work on my self control a bit more. Ha ha!  But back to the books now.  Here are the books that I have finished since my last reading update.

Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy was a great beginning to this new romantic suspense series and I've already shared my thoughts on it here.  I am looking forward to reading more by this author!

In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming starts the beginning of a new mystery series that I will definitely be continuing on with!  I enjoyed it all the more reading this one during the winter but it sure did make me wish we had more snow on the ground (yes, I'm one of those people).  I'm so glad that I listened to Kay when she said to read this one- and even better this was off of my own shelves!  Now I just need to get my hands on book two.

Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell was yet another great addition to this series.  I read this one in two days and basically did nothing else but read this book.  It was SO, SO good!  This book was also off of my own shelves and I pulled it off because it just wouldn't stop calling my name.  It was a great decision to follow this mood and the ride Cornwell took me on was completely worth it!

Enraptured by Candace Camp was such an enjoyable read!  I was worried about having a bookish hangover after finishing Cornwell's book so I switched genres completely.  It was the right choice and I found myself enchanted with this book.  I loved the characters and the romance so much- now I have to go back and read the first two books as this was the ending of a trilogy.  A new to me author that I cannot wait to read more of!

Wow!  I told you all that I was having a really great reading month of January and the above books really help to prove that.  I'm now currently working on my 5th #COYER book and reading the following:

I loved the first book in this series so I'm really excited about this book!  I'm only about 10% in so far but already I am hooked.  I'm hoping to spend a good portion of my evening reading this book while watching football. 

New Additions:

I told you I've been awful!  The Hunter and The Sweetest Chase are both for blog tours in February.  Both sound really great and I'm excited to read them soon.  Crime and Poetry is the beginning to a new cozy mystery series so I just could not resist requesting it.  It Takes One has an amazing cover!  So of course I requested this one as well!  Oh well, maybe I will be better this week and can manage to stay away from NetGalley.  I'm sure going to try anyways!

Plans for today are the usual: laundry, laundry, and more laundry.  It is a bit ridiculous on how much laundry one family of five can really have if I'm being honest.  I also would like to write up at least three posts and respond to some blog comments as I'm horrible at that lately.  I'll be by later this evening to visit blogs and catch up on blog reading.  I hope you all have are having a wonderful January!  Be safe if you live in the areas affected by all of these winter storms.

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense...."

My Thoughts:

This book was easily one of the darkest and creepiest books that I read all year long!  What an amazing beginning to this new mystery series!  Books like this are why I read:  because they suck me in and just don't let me go.  This wasn't always an easy read as it was so dark and twisted at times, but that didn't stop me from devouring it.  I literally flew threw the pages of this one as I was reading as fast as I could- I just had to see what would happen next!  I loved the fact that there were so many different pieces of the puzzle.  I was guessing the entire time that I read this book!  I'm struggling with my thoughts on this one as really all I want to say is READ IT!  It was one of the most engrossing thrillers that I have read this past year and I read a bunch over the course of the year.

One of the things that I liked most about this book was the main character Helen Grace.  She is a bit of an enigma which made her very interesting to me as the reader.  I could never quite guess how she was going to react to different things and she just was so very mysterious.  I loved it!  I loved that as the investigation went on we were able to slowly learn more about her even if it was just here and there.  I'm looking forward to future books in this series and seeing how her character continues to develop.  The story line or mystery is unlike any other book that I've read so far.  It was so completely original and quite terrifying to think about.  This author wasn't afraid to take chances and this was reflected by all of the twists and turns throughout the book.  Every time that I thought I had things figured out....well, the author pulled the rug out from under me.  I found myself filled with anticipation just trying to figure out how this would all end.  And the ending.  Wow!  I didn't see it coming at all which made it even more intense.  Looking back, I don't think that it could have ended any other way but I still didn't see any of it coming.  It was a shattering conclusion to an amazing book!  I can't describe it any better any other way.

Overall, this book was an easy addition to my best reads list of 2015.  I just cannot say enough good things about it- I'm gushing at this point.  It was dark and twisted so it won't be a book that everyone enjoys but it will be a series that I am reading more of.  I've already added this author to my must read list.  I will be continuing on with this series as soon as possible.  I've actually got a copy of the second book on my shelves already so that makes it even easier.  I can't wait!  Highly, highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  One of the best books that I read in 2015!

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Rafe Vargas is only in Newton, Iowa, to clear out his late grandfather’s small house. As the covert ops specialist for ARES Security, he's eager to get back to his new life in Texas. But when he crosses paths with Annie White, a haunted beauty with skeletons in her closet, he can't just walk away—not when she’s clearly in danger…

There’s a mysterious serial killer on the loose with a link to Annie’s dark past. And the closer he gets, the deeper Rafe’s instinct to protect kicks in. But even with his considerable skill, Annie’s courage, and his ARES buddies behind him, the slaying won’t stop. Now it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s next—unless they can unravel a history of deadly lies that won’t be buried."

My Thoughts:

I'm so glad that I've finally given this author a try and started this series!  I probably say this every time but I really enjoy the romantic suspense genre and don't read enough books like this.  This was the perfect change of pace to some of the darker thrillers and mysteries that I've been reading as of late.  Which funnily enough wasn't as different as I had expected because this book did contain a mystery as well.  The focus though was on the romance which felt refreshing and was exactly what I was in the mood for at the time.  Don't you love when that happens?  This wasn't a perfect read for me but overall I enjoyed it which is really all that matters.  I'm really excited to read more by this author now and it looks like I have a variety of books to look forward to!

One of the things that I liked most about this book was how easily I fell into it.  This wasn't one of those books that you feel the need to set down or get distracted from.  Instead I found myself constantly reading (even when I shouldn't have been) and it was another late night as I raced to finish this one.  Rafe and Annie both come back to the small town of Newton, Iowa for different reasons.  Rafe is dealing with family stuff and Annie is in search of answers concerning both the past and present.  Her hunt to learn more about the Newton Slayer otherwise known as her father connects her to Rafe when he begins to try and help her learn more.  My one and only complaint with this book was how easily Rafe and Annie fell together.  It almost felt like insta-love which is not my favorite thing in a romance.  I do say almost because it wasn't that extreme but honestly I would have liked a little more conflict or time for them to develop their feelings for one another.  That being said, the chemistry between this couple was pretty darn hot and one that I couldn't help but enjoy.  I loved how the author tied the mystery and Annie's past together to give their relationship a feeling of urgency.  Maybe that is why they fell into their feelings for one another so easily due to the danger that they were facing.  The author did a really nice job with the mystery portion of this book and I sure didn't see the ending coming.  I also really, really enjoyed all of the other characters in this book which are Rafe's "brothers".  This will be a series that I am definitely following waiting for each of these men to get their happy ever after.

Overall, this book was a fun, fast-paced read that just fit my reading mood perfectly.  I am so glad that I decided not to wait any longer and read this one.  I'm left really excited about this series and impatiently waiting yet again for the next book to release (and wondering whose book that will be!).  I'm very eager to check out this author's other books while I wait for book two in this series.  I would recommend this book to readers of romantic suspense or just romance in general to be honest.  Even fans of mysteries should give this one a try since the mystery was done so well.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  One of those books that just fit my reading mood perfectly!

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


Monday, January 18, 2016

When Reading Plans Go Awry....

or your reading mood changes completely and this book feels like a MUST read right now.  You just have to go with it.  I'll be back to my January reading plans after this (or at least I think I will be- ha!).

I've also decided to participate in the week long, A Winter's Respite read-a-thon, that begins today.  Cruel and Unusual will be my first book for it and then I will see where my reading mood takes me.  I've participated in this read-a-thon multiple times and it is always fun.  My goal will be to finish two books this week.  

Happy Monday and Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

On My Wishlist (Radar Books) #18

On My Wishlist is my way of sharing all of the books that I cannot wait to get my hands upon and read. These are a mixture of books that are about to be released along with some older titles that I really want to read as well. (All summaries are from Goodreads).

I thought that it would be fun to do a wishlist/radar edition based off of all of the books that I add to my TBR list thanks to podcasts.  I love listening to book related podcasts when I am cleaning, doing laundry, or just working around the house.  My current favorite podcasts to listen to are:  All the Books, Books on the Nightstand, The Readers, and the Dear Author, Smart Bitches podcast.  I add books from all of these podcasts to my TBR list like crazy so for this post I am going to share some of those books that I have found.  Funny fact:  I add a TON of nonfiction titles to my TBR list thanks to these.  This will probably surprise many of you as I don't read that many nonfiction books (and this is something I would really like to change in 2016).  I hope that this is the year that I actually read some of these great sounding titles!

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths are Solving America's Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber

"The Skeleton Crew provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes–wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains.

In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths.


The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth."

Oh my goodness!  This is a thing?  I cannot even tell you how much I wanted to read this book after hearing about it.  It just sounds so interesting and I cannot even fathom how I never had heard about this until now.  I added this title to my TBR list thanks to an All The Books podcast.

Smokejumper: A memoir by One of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters by Jason A. Ramos and Julian Smith

"Enter a world of breathtaking danger and beauty: In this remarkable memoir, veteran smokejumper Jason Ramos offers a rare inside look at the lives of airborne firefighters, the select few who parachute into the most rugged and remote wild areas to battle nature's blazes.

Forest and wildland fires are growing larger, more numerous, and deadlier every year as record drought conditions, decades of forestry mismanagement, and the increasing encroachment of residential housing into the wilderness have combined to create a powder keg that threatens millions of acres and thousands of lives. One small group of men and women are America's frontline defense: smokejumpers."

I instantly added this one to the TBR list after hearing about it as well from an All The Books podcast.  It sounds so very interesting and I want to learn more about it!  Really, how could I not want to read this one?  I can't wait to give this one a try!

Revelation by Erica Hayes

"Blind faith is for fools. That’s what Dr. Morgan Sterling believes. And she’s going to prove it by curing the zombie plague ravaging her city’s slums. She’s certain it’s not a sign of the End of Days, but a nasty disease—until an angel appears in her morgue in a flash of glory.

Luniel is not just a fallen angel. He’s a powerful warrior sworn to fight evil in hopes of a chance at redemption. He’s after the demon princes who are stealing the seven vials of holy wrath which, when perverted, will unleash eternal hell on earth.

To stop the plague, Luniel needs Morgan’s help, and her faith. But Morgan believes science is their salvation. If the zombie plague is a demonic curse—and if Luniel is true—he’ll have to prove it. Even if he loses his heart to true love or his soul to Hell…"

Romance and zombies in the same book?  That is basically all that you had to say.  Take my money!  Unfortunately this cover is pretty hideous but thanks to a Dear Author, Smart Bitches podcast this book is now on my radar.  And I definitely plan on reading it!!!

Departure by A.G. Riddle

"Harper Lane has problems. In a few hours, she'll have to make a decision that will change her life forever. But when her flight from New York to London crash-lands in the English countryside, she discovers that she's made of tougher stuff than she ever imagined.

As Harper and the survivors of Flight 305 struggle to stay alive in the aftermath of the crash, they soon realize that this world is very different from the one they left. Their lives are connected, and some believe they've been brought here for a reason.

In addition to Harper, several other passengers seem to hold clues about why Flight 305 crashed."

I'm actually not quite sure which podcast put this book on my radar but tell me that doesn't sound good!  I love, love the sound of this book and want to read it as soon as possible! 

All the books!  I want to read all of the books!  These are just a few of the many (MANY) books that I have added to my TBR list thanks to podcast listening.  I haven't yet found a podcast that focuses on mysteries and thrillers which is something that I would really love to find.  But I have found some really great podcasts which makes cleaning and laundry much more enjoyable!  Now I just need to find the time to read all of these!

Tell me, are you a podcast listener?  Do you know of any great bookish podcasts that I should check out?  I'm always open to recommendations especially in this area!  And what books have you added to your TBR list lately?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

City of Light by Keri Arthur (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between this world and the next, they allowed entry to the Others—demons, wraiths, and death spirits who turned the shadows into their hunting grounds. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay....

As a déchet—a breed of humanoid super-soldiers almost eradicated by the war—Tiger has spent her life in hiding. But when she risks her life to save a little girl on the outskirts of Central City, she discovers that the child is one of many abducted in broad daylight by a wraith-like being—an impossibility with dangerous implications for everyone on earth.

Because if the light is no longer enough to protect them, nowhere is safe..."

My Thoughts:

I really loved book a lot so I feel like that should be a warning:  do not read review if you aren't open to lots of gushing about this series, book, etc.  Ha!  In all seriousness though, there is a very good chance that this book could make my top reads list for 2016 and the year has only just begun.  It was just that good for me and I basically loved everything about this book!  I loved how fresh this book felt with this unique world that Arthur has created that is unlike anything I've ever read.  This book felt like a mix between urban fantasy and science fiction which turned into a really great combination.  The book itself was action packed while still detailed enough that the author was able to really bring this new world to life.  

I loved how the author used light as a sign of safety.  In this world it is the shadows and dark that are the most dangerous as that is where all of the dangerous creatures lay in wait.  Entire cities are constantly in light at all times to keep these creatures at bay.  Tiger is a déchet which in this world is both a unique (due to the fact that the rest of her kind were killed off) and bad thing to be.  She lives alone in an empty bunker with only the ghosts of other déchet's to keep her company.  But then she is pulled into this mystery involving disappearing children and her life will never be the same.  Everything about Tiger's character intrigued me from the very beginning!  I loved that we don't know all of her experiences from the war but we do know very early on how dangerous it is for her to be a déchet.  When she is drawn into the investigation for the missing children, she is forced to lie and pretend to be something that she is not.  This hidden secret plays such an important part of this story because those people that she is working with would look at her as lesser if they truly knew what she was.  This book was filled with both twists and turns that kept me reading late into the night.  I just couldn't read fast enough!  And I cannot emphasize enough how unique this world that Arthur has created felt!  The ending of this book just about killed me and left me seriously pining for the second book.  Which doesn't release until later this year!  Gah!  What am I going to do until then??

Overall, this was one of the freshest and best beginnings to an urban fantasy/science fiction series that I have read in a very long time.  It was filled with both intrigue and action....and I just couldn't get enough!  I need more books like this in my life.  I will definitely be continuing on with this series (Winter Halo is the name of book two if you are wondering) and just pining away for book two until it releases.  This was one of those books that left me with a bookish hangover that I just didn't want to get over.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  An amazing beginning to this new series!  Second book please?

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It's the dead of winter in the sleepy town of Ashland, which means no tourists-and fewer customers-for Jules Capshaw and her bakery. But when she's asked to cater an off-season retreat for the directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, business starts heating up...until Jules finds a dead body in the freezer.

 Someone at the retreat has apparently iced the bartender, a well-known flirt with a legendary temper-that is, before a killer beat him to the punch. Then, from out of nowhere, Jules's own ex-husband shows up at the shop-and soon becomes a suspect. With accusations piling up higher than the snow-and thicker than a chocolate mousse cake-Jules has to think outside the (recipe) box to find the real culprit...and make sure he gets his just desserts."

My Thoughts:

This series is fast becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery series to follow!  Last year I read all three of the books in this series and each one was such a fun reading experience.  What I love about this series is how focused they are on baking and food in general.  It makes me SO hungry while I'm reading at times because the descriptions of food are just amazing!  If I could bake and cook like Jules does, well that would be just amazing.  Sometimes I truly feel like I am reading more for the food and descriptions of Jules' cooking rather than the mystery itself.  I also really appreciate in this series that Jules doesn't have her life figured out.  She isn't perfect and is kind of at a turning point in her life.  Actually all of the characters in this series are pretty great which is one of the reasons why I love this series so much!  Great characters, yummy food descriptions, and suspenseful mysteries are why these books are clear winners for me.  I just can't seem to get enough!

One of the things that I really loved about this book was the setting.  I loved how the author used a winter snow storm and a mountain lodge to give this book such an isolated and creepy feel to it.  I read this book during a snow/ice storm of our own and it just fit in so perfectly with this time of year.  This book felt darker and more suspenseful than the previous two books thanks to the setting.  I just loved it!  The mystery portion of this book was well done and I wasn't able to figure out what was going on until the very end.  I also liked that in this book we finally got to meet Jule's estranged husband Carlos.  We have been hearing so much about him since the very beginning and now it was interesting finally getting to see him and Jules interact with one another.  I can't honestly say how I feel about him at this point.  I actually am more a fan of Thomas (Jules' ex-boyfriend) so I am very, very curious to see what happens in the next book!  The ending of this book tied up everything quite nicely and left me eager for book four.  I especially love how the author includes recipes at the end with some of the different recipes that Jule's has made throughout the book.  I just need to get some confidence and try one of them!!! 

Overall, this was another great addition to one of my favorite cozy mystery series!!  I'm super excited that another book will be releasing in 2016....I just need to get my hands on it as soon as possible.  I'm hoping that we will get more resolution to Jules and Carlos' relationship in the next book.  And many more delicious recipes of course!  These books are just so much fun and are such great reads.  I cannot recommend them enough!  I feel like you should start with book one Meet Your Baker just so that you get the full reading experience but really these books could be read on their own.  Cozy mystery fans and mystery readers in general should really give this series a try!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  Another standout read from one of my favorite cozy mystery series!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley as part of a CBB Book Tour. 


Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Sunday Salon #21 (Read-a-thon Edition)

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme"
This week has been a busy one but that was to be expected.  Life has gotten back into the normal routine.  Kids are back to school, work is work, and daily homework help each night has begun again.  I'm not complaining though as I enjoy the fact that everything is settling back down.  The weather has gotten colder and there is nothing better than curling up with a good book whenever I can find the time.

This week was the Bout-of-Books read-a-thon which is always a fun experience.  I did really great with it and managed to read two books for the read-a-thon.  This means I've read three books already in 2016.  Who is this girl?  LOL!  I attribute all of this reading to really great books and the need not to move from under a warm blanket.  I've also jumped back into the fitness/exercise thing with two feet.  I was mostly successful so I'm happy but I'm hoping to work even harder this week at it.  My biggest struggle is finding the time to workout before dinner because I'm useless afterwards (and it just won't happen).  I'm going to work this week on working out directly after getting off of work- no excuses!  Enough rambles out of me though, here are the books that I have finished so far in 2016:

Snow Angels by James Thompson - A thrilling read that was just meant to be read on a cold winter evening.  This book was darker than I expected but really it was a book that I just couldn't set down.  A really great start to my reading year! 

City of Light by Keri Arthur - Gah!  This book was so, so good and left me pining for the second book (which doesn't release until late this year).  A really great start to this new series and one that I will be immediately continuing on soon as I get my hands on book two that is.  Loved it!

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan - This book- I don't even know what to say about it.  It was dark, haunting, and one of those books that just took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  I read this book for a TLC book tour (my stop is early next month) and I cannot wait to see other readers' thoughts on it.  It is one of those books that I really want to discuss.

Whew!  My reading year really has started off with a bang thanks to these three books.  I'm now currently reading the following book:

I haven't gotten very far into this one but I have high hopes for it.  It sounds really great and I just love a good romantic suspense!  I'm doing really great so far with reading the books that I picked out for January.  It has also helped narrow down my options a bit making it easier to decide on my next book.  I'm not going to lie- I still struggle a bit but that is because I can just be so indecisive.  LOL!

#Fit Readers Update- I'm on day eight of the 30 Day Shred video.  I've skipped two days which I wasn't happy about but obviously I was lacking the motivation.  I will be moving on to workout two this week which is going to make me work even harder.  I've also managed to get two runs in - both a little over a mile long.  Not great but if you understood how much I hate running on the treadmill then it would make more sense why I view this as an accomplishment.  I need to start working on two mile runs though if I want to hit my goal of 30 miles in January.  I've got lots of plans for this upcoming week apparently :)

New Books:

I've failed.  I couldn't stay off of NetGalley and have downloaded some new books this week.  In my defense I had ALREADY requested them before my ban (but then I may or may not have requested a few more).  It is a sickness I tell you.  LOL!  Here are the books that I added to my e-reader this week:

There were actually a couple of more but I will save them for next week's post.  Plans for today include a workout and laundry.  A little bit of cleaning and prepping for the upcoming week.  My normal Sunday plans.  We will be watching football and I will be working on getting some reviews written up.  I'm also hoping on visiting and catching up on all of the comments that have been left here lately.  I've been awful when it comes to responding- this is something that I would like to work on in 2016.  And a little bit of reading of course.  The read-a-thon might be officially over but I can still read like it isn't!  I'm off to get this day started.

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:


When the body of a missing schoolgirl is found buried in the Dublin Mountains, her hands clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair, the hunt for her killer reaches epic proportion with the discovery of a second girl's body 24 hours later.


Desperate to find the murderer, police call in criminal psychologist Kate Pearson, to get inside the mind of the serial killer before he strikes again. But the more Kate discovers about the killings, the more it all begins to feel terrifyingly familiar as her own past threatens to cloud her investigations.


Ellie Brady has been institutionalised for 15 years, for the killing of her twelve-year-old daughter, Amy. After all this time, does Ellie hold the key to finding the killer of the Dublin schoolgirls?

What would you do if you were accused of killing your own daughter? What if those closest to you turned their back on you? And when everyone stopped listening, what next, when even you believe you're guilty?"

My Thoughts:

I feel like this year was such a great year in terms of finding great new authors to follow and Louise Phillips is definitely one of them!  I read the above summary for this book and just knew that I wanted to read it.  It wasn't available in my local library system so I couldn't help but add it to my Amazon shopping cart when I went on a book buying binge.  This book was so completely worth it and I'm glad that followed my instincts on this one.  I'm a sucker for any thriller with a hint of a mental institution being involved....something about that type of setting seems so entirely creepy to me that I just cannot resist.  Add to that a storyline that involves a mother accused of killing her own daughter and I was completely sold by that point.  This book didn't disappoint in the slightest and was just as dark and twisted as the summary portrays it to be.  I admit to being fully hooked by this book from beginning to end.  It was one of those books that just sweeps you up and doesn't let you go which was exactly what I needed.  Really a great thriller and mystery all wrapped in one!

One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was that this book was told from multiple viewpoints.  This allowed for the reader to experience the different parts of this book in a way that ratcheted up the suspense level several notches.  For instance parts of the book were told from the viewpoint of the killer and then other parts were told from the viewpoint of Ellie Brady who was the mother accused of killing her own daughter.  I was a bit partial to Ellie's story as I could tell from the beginning that she was a bit of an unreliable narrator which I am a complete sucker for.  I loved how we were given bits and pieces here and there of what happened to her daughter but it wasn't until the very end that everything began to tie together.  The author did a really amazing job of fitting all of the pieces of the puzzles together in a way that really worked for me as the reader.  I found the ending to be a heart pounding reading experience!  I flew through those last pages reading as fast as I possibly could.  Wow!  I was left instantly wishing for more books like this one which means that I couldn't help but see what else this author has written.  Thank goodness that I have more books in this series to look forward to (even if my wallet will be hurting because of it)!

All in all, I found this to be a really great read that left me so excited about this mystery series!  I loved how easily I fell into this book and how hard I found it to set down.  It was tense and filled with suspense which was exactly what I was hoping for.  I cannot wait to see what kind of case Kate will find herself wrapped up in next.  Easily recommended but especially to those mystery and thriller fans!  I've already handed my copy off to my Mom for her to enjoy next.  

Bottom Line:  A thrilling read that I didn't want to stop reading!  I need more!

Disclosure:  I bought this book for myself as a bookish treat- now I need to buy the rest of the series.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Impatiently Waiting (2016 Releases That I NEED!)

I've been writing this type of post for three years now at the beginning of the new year.  There is just something about the new year and ALL of the books that will be releasing soon that gets me pumped up!  2016 is already starting off with a bang as Mira Grant has a new book being released in the Newsflesh series this year!!!!  I am SO excited that I cannot even stand it!!!  I LOVE these books!  I cannot even contain my excitement here.  Last year I didn't manage to read as many of the books on this list as I had hoped to so this year I'm going to have to change that.  There are just so many books and so little time!  Here are the books that I am already making grabby hands for:

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton - A NEW books by Sharon Bolton!?!  I didn't even have to read the description before I was adding this one to my list.  I add a books of hers to my list every year- she is hands down of my favorite authors.  Want! Want! Want!

River Road by Carol Goodman - I have enjoyed EVERY book that I have read by this author so I couldn't help but be excited about her newest book.  And I actually was approved for a copy of this one (before my NetGalley ban) so you can bet I will be reading it very soon.  Can't wait!

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong - A new series by Armstrong?  I NEED it!!  And it is a mystery series which makes me want to read it even more!  I cannot even right now.  Sigh.  I will be reading this one ASAP!

Butterfly in the Dark by Gilly Macmillan - This author's debut novel made my top reads list of 2015 so of course I'm adding this one to my wishlist!  And it sounds so good which makes me even more excited to read it!!

Ink and Bone by Lisa Under - There are SO many thrillers that I want to read in 2016 but this cover has me seriously lusting after this book!  It looks so creepy and I just cannot wait to read it!!

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard - This books seems to be all over the blogsphere lately but for good reason if this book is as good as it sounds.  I cannot wait to find out for myself!  Plus it doesn't hurt that it has such a gorgeous cover either!!

Unhinge by Calia Read - I basically read that this one was set in a mental institution and added it to my TBR wishlist that fast!  It seems to be part of a series though so I will need to get my hands on the first book as well.  I'm excited to read them both!!

Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge - Basically I have a goal to read all of the books in this series in 2016!  This will be the fifth book in this mystery series and I'm already chomping at the bit to get my hands on it!  So excited for this series!

Forevermore by Kristen Callihan - I just started reading this series in 2015 but I can't help but pine for this newest one.  I am hoping to read all of the books in this series as well in 2016.  I have big plans for my reading this year!

Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep - I actually have a copy of this one for my kindle and I just adore the cover for it!  Yes another series that I am planning on catching up with in 2016.  (Are you sensing a trend yet? LOL!)

I could keep going and going but I'm forcing myself to stop at this point.  Rest assured that I will continue posting about other books that I am excited to read in my on the radar/wishlist posts.  There are just so many!  I can't even begin...seriously...I am pumped for 2016!  I will include really quickly a few books that would be listed above but they don't have covers quite yet:
  • Rewind by Mira Grant (this is THE book that I want to read MOST in 2016)!
  • The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris (love this series so much!)
  • Grilled For Murder by Maddie Day (cozy series that I want to continue on with)
  • Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle (another series I adore)
And so many more!  Tell me, what books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?  I would love to know!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Reading and Exercise (Or Winter Plans/Goals)

"The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team"
What better way to kick off the new year than with a week long read-a-thon?  I've participated in the Bout of Books read-a-thon quite a few times now and it is always a fun experience.  It also usually really helps me to prioritize getting some extra reading time in.  I'm hoping this will get my 2016 reading year off to a really great start.  I'm going to need the boost as the kids go back to school this week AND it is my first full week back to work after the holidays.  Blah!  I'm also going to use this read-a-thon to help me boost up my numbers for #COYER.  A win/win scenario if I do say so myself.  

I don't have any set goals other than I would like to finish at least two books.  I will be choosing from the books in my January reading pile.  If one of those isn't calling my name then I will just switch it out with something different from my kindle.  It isn't like I don't have plenty of books just waiting to be read.

#FitReaders hosted by Geeky Bloggers Book Blog  and That’s What I’m Talking About.

I'm also planning on participating this year with #FitReaders.  I thought that I would share my goals for January with all of you (even though I find this quite scary....what if I don't meet them?)  I haven't always been the most motivated person but I have taken running back up since last year.  It was a year of running and then not running with huge gaps in between.  This year I would like to really focus and run more consistently throughout the entire year.  Besides my running partner and I have a personal goals to run a half marathon this year so I need to get more serious about it!

For the month of January my exercise goals are the following:
  • Do Jillian Michael's 30 day shred video every day.
  • Run minimum 30 miles over the entire month of January.
These both seem pretty doable to me but I always have great intentions and then things fall to the wayside.  I don't run on the treadmill very well (I despise it to be honest) so it will be a challenge to motivate myself to run distances on it.  Hopefully the weather will allow me to get outside and run once in awhile.  I have made it past the 2nd workout on the shred video but the 3rd workout really kicked my butt.  I really, really want to finish and do all thirty days of it.  Only time will tell though. 

I've got lots of plans for the new year so I need to get my butt in gear!  Are any of you also participating in either of these events?  Let me know so we can cheer each other on!!  Trust me when I say that I can ALWAYS use the extra motivation when it comes to working out :)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

January Reading Plans (2016 Edition)

A couple of years back I used to make a pile of books that I wanted to read for each month but then as usual these posts fell to the wayside.  This seems to happen often with me in regards to blogging.  I'm not always good with a strict reading schedule (in fact I'm awful with that type of thing) but I do like having a pile of books to choose from to help narrow it down.  Because let's face it, choosing the next book that you want to read can be HARD sometimes when there are so many great books staring back at you.  The above picture are the print books that I have in my pile but as I'm currently participating in #COYER I also have some e-books in my pile too.  Here are the books that I'm hoping to read in January:

  • In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming - 1st book in a mystery series that has been on my radar for some time.  The title of this one makes me think that it will be a perfect read for this time of year with snow and ice on the ground!
  • Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims - Review copy and a book that I know virtually nothing about other than it sounded good enough that I wanted to say yes to reading it.  This happens way too often if I'm being honest but I'm still excited to read it!
  • Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle - 1st in a new to me cozy mystery series.  This book has been on my shelves for a ridiculously long time and I'm excited to finally take it off.  
  • Enraptured by Candace Camp - Review copy that showed up unexpectedly but sounds good so I'm adding it to my reading plans.  At least I think it was unexpected...I'm not really for sure about this.  It does also fit my goal of reading more historical romance this year though.
  • Snow Angels by James Thompson - A thriller set in winter time?  Heck yeah!  I couldn't resist adding this book to my reading plans when I was browsing my own shelves.  And the description on the back of the book makes me want to read this one right now!
  • Beside Myself by Ann Morgan - Review copy for a TLC book tour.  The tour isn't until February but I thought I would get ahead of the game.  Plus this one sounds excellent so why wait?
  • Swerve by Vicki Pettersson - Review copy and carry over from 2015.  I actually had just barely begun this one and then had to set it aside as I had a book tour book that I needed to get finished first.  I never ended up going back to this one but I am going to now.  This one started off great so I can't wait to finally finish it.
Here are the e-books that are being included in my reading plans:

  • Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy - Review copy from NetGalley and a book that I've wanted to read every since I first heard about it.  I won't be waiting any longer to read this one and I'm so excited for it!
  • Steal Me by Lauren Layne -  I blame Lisa for this one entirely.  Also a review copy from NetGalley that I just had to request after reading her thoughts on this one....I just couldn't resist.  I get a lot of my romance recommendations for her so I can't wait to give this one a try!
  • City of Light by Keri Arthur - 1st in a new series by Arthur and also NetGalley review copy.  I've enjoyed everything that I've read by Arthur so far so I can't wait to give this series a try!
  • The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer - Review copy from NetGalley.  Does anyone else sense a trend here?  This is why I have banned myself from requesting any more books during #COYER.  I have too many already that I need to get through first before I request more.  This sounds super good and comes out this month so I added it to the reading pool.
  • The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves - Last year I read and LOVED the first book in this series so of course I requested this one from NetGalley when I saw it.  I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens next in this series!
Twelve books is a bit of a ridiculous number if I'm being honest but I wanted to make sure and give myself plenty of books to choose from.  If I don't get them all read then I can always add them to another pile in a different month.  Just looking at these books gets me pumped to start reading.  Maybe I will have one of those stellar reading months and will start the year off with a bang!  That would be amazing!

Tell me what your reading plans are for this month!  Have you read any of these?  Is there one that absolutely cannot be missed?