Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Embark on the breathtaking romantic adventures of The Lady Travelers Society in the brand-new series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander

Really, it's too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders's favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what's a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he's escorting the world's most maddening woman to the world's most romantic city to find her missing relative.

While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she's certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart."

My Thoughts:

I feel like this is going to be a hard review for me to write because I was very in the middle when it came to my feelings on this book.  I never really was able to put my finger on why but I didn't connect with this book like I had hoped to.  I didn't dislike it to be clear but I also didn't love it.  I just found myself kinda underwhelmed by it all.  I'll try to explain why but it is hard when for me when I'm just kinda meh about it.  I'm almost wondering if my reading experience suffered because I was in the middle of a reading slump.  I kept trying to push through on it because I was supposed to read it for a blog tour and I don't think that helped.  I loved the premise of this book because it sounds like a romance and adventure combined.  It was those things but it was also a bit meandering if I'm being completely honest.  I think that part of the problem was that I didn't connect to the main character India Prendergast.  I don't think that the reader is meant to like her in the beginning really but that also made it hard for me to connect to her and the story as a reader.  Usually when I read romances I'm really rooting for both of the main characters to fall in love and find their happy ever after.  Instead I was only rooting for Derek Saunders (the hero) as his character was one that I could get behind.  He was a romantic at heart and someone that I enjoyed reading about.  I just wish that I could have cared about them both because that would have made this book that much more enjoyable.

One thing that I did really enjoy with this book was the mystery of what had happened to India's missing aunt.  I found myself reading this book more to find out where she was then for the actual romance portion.  I was really surprised (and I won't say more than that) when we did actually find out the answers to the mystery portion.  It made the last part of this book much more fast paced for me compared to the rest of the story.  I also have to add that I really, really liked some of the secondary characters in this book.  I have high hopes that Derek's brother will be featured in the next book as I believe this is the beginning of a series.  I would definitely want to read that one!  I also found Derek's aunt and her friends to be a delight to read about.  I would really, really like to see more of them as well.  It sure sounds like I'm going to have read the next book, doesn't it?  LOL!  Now you can probably understand why I had such a hard time deciding on how I felt about this book.  Mixed feelings anyone?

Overall, I found this to be a good read but not great.  I can't honestly tell you if the book was to blame or if it was just my reading mood at the time.  I enjoyed it enough to plan on reading the next book in the future.  On the other hand, there are other romance reads that I would recommend before this one.  I'm glad that I stuck with it though as I found the ending to be much more in line with what I had hoped the entire book would be like.  This may have been my first book by this author but I don't think that it will be my last.  Recommended but with a few hesitations.

Bottom Line:  A book that left me wanting in ways and satisfied in others.  I can't say it better than that.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley as part of a TLC book tour (I also completely missed my tour date and am just now posting my thoughts.  My apologies.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Sunday Post #31 (Bout of Books Wrap-Up)

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"

Happy Sunday!  How has everyone been lately?  School is back in full force so we've been busy, busy all of the time.  The kiddos have adjusted well to the back to school routine which has made everything that much easier.  We currently have high school football, travel softball, and flag football all going on so there is a TON of coordinating our schedules to fit everything in.  This upcoming Friday we are traveling about two hours away to watch my son's first high school football game of the season.  I'm so excited for him.  They've been practicing all summer and then a few scrimmages but now the real thing is finally here.  Crazy but awesome!

I spent this past week participating in the Bout of Books read-a-thon which is always a good time.  I managed to finish two books for it which has me really excited.  I've only read 35 books this year though even with those two added to my totals.  I feel like that is such a low number for me.  I don't know what the deal is but I'm really glad to see that my reading is picking back up.  I finished the following books:

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander begins a new cozy mystery series that is being published I believe in October.  I adore her Bakeshop mystery series so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  I won't be sharing my thoughts on this one until closer to the release date but I will say that I adored it as well. 

Memory In Death by J.D. Robb was a reread and just as good as the first time that I read it.  So I started "rereading" these books by listening to them in audio despite the fact that I wasn't caught up with the series.  This has morphed into my rereading them all before I continue this point I've got to be getting pretty darn close to wear I left off.  I couldn't remember what happened with this one which made me read it all the faster. 

I'm now reading the following books:

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is my current print read.  I stopped reading it to squeeze in Memory in Death last week but have now moved back into reading this one.  I'm not very far into it yet but I'm finding it to be quite creepy already.  I'm looking forward to reading this one more later on this afternoon.

A Season to Lie by Emily Littlejohn is my current Kindle read that I've just barely begun.  I loved the first book in this series so I'm really looking forward to reading more from this one soon.  Both books are set during wintertime which feels perfect as we begin to have fall-like weather here and there. 

I would love to continue on with the reading pace that I had last week with Bout of Books and finish both of these this week.  I've got tons of really great books calling my name lately.  I never seem to stop adding books to my TBR list thanks to NetGalley.  I've also finished my last tour book for the near future.  I'm taking a break and just focusing on reading what I want, when I want with the hope that my reading will even itself out that way. 

I'm off to work on laundry for the week and maybe get in a few hours of uninterrupted reading time.  Also the Bears are on so I've got football watching going on as well.   I've got some upcoming PTO to look forward to which means that this week will either go really fast or drag on by.  Tell me what books that you've been reading lately!  Is everyone enjoying school being back in session or were you not ready for it yet?

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Everything We Lost by Valerie Geary (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Lucy Durant was only fourteen-years-old when she lost her older brother. First to his paranoid delusions as he became increasingly obsessed with UFOs and government conspiracies. Then, permanently, when he walked into the desert outside Bishop, California, and never returned.

Now on the tenth anniversary of Nolan's mysterious disappearance, Lucy is still struggling with guilt and confusion--her memories from that period are blurry and obscured by time, distance, and alcohol. Now an adult, she's stuck in a holding pattern, hiding out at her father's house, avoiding people, and doing whatever she can to keep herself from thinking about Nolan. But when a series of unsettling events leads Lucy back to Bishop, she is forced to reconcile with her estranged mother and come to terms with the tangled memories of her past to discover what really happened to her brother all those years ago.

Told in Lucy and Nolan's alternating voices, Everything We Lost is a psychological mystery exploring family, beliefs, obsessions, the nature of memory, and fear of the unknown--a haunting, compelling story that will resonate with readers long after the last page is turned."

My Thoughts:

Everything We Lost is one of those books that I can already tell is going to stick with me for awhile to come.  It was an unexpected read for me and also one that I enjoyed immensely despite everything that goes on in this story.  I'm not even sure those two descriptions make sense together but it is the truth.  I almost hate to say that I find books to be unexpected because how in the world do I know what to expect in the first place from a book that I haven't read?  But the statement is accurate here because I went into this book thinking it was about Lucy's search for her missing brother.  It is that but it is also so much more!  This book is this almost perfect mix of two very different things: one is the possibility of other life forms that we don't know of yet (and Nolan's search for these things) and the other is the mystery of what really happened when Nolan disappeared so long ago.  This author takes those two story lines and blends them together so seamlessly throughout the book.  It was almost hard to tell which one was which at times.  Yet it made such an intriguing combination, and even now I'm blown away by how the author managed to keep it all together so that even the ending fit in perfectly with all of this. 

This book is told from two different viewpoints: Lucy's viewpoint in  the present and also Nolan's viewpoint from the days leading up to before he disappeared.  The author managed to create all of these questions for me as the reader that were constantly running through my head while reading.  Were there really other life forms and did these things factor into Nolan's disappearance?  Was Nolan dead after something horrible that might have happened to him so long ago?  Was he going crazy?  It caused me to be unable to put this book down because I was so caught up within the story.  I also loved how focused this book was on outer space, the stars, and other planets.  I really read this at the perfect time with the solar eclipse this week being all over the news.  Add to it that after finishing this book my husband and I watched The Passengers movie (also featuring outer space) and it just enhanced my reading experience so much more.  I'm going to get into slightly spoiler-ey topics here so be warned you might want to move on to my final thoughts if you don't want to read this last part.  I'm going out on a limb here but I think that the ending of this book is going to cause mixed reactions among readers.  I think that the author ended it perfectly myself and it felt very true to the way the entire book was set up.  But I do think that others could possibly not agree which is a shame.  I loved it even when I wanted more!

Overall I really, really enjoyed this book and am so glad that I had the chance to read it!  It isn't the usual type of book that I read but I think that just made me want to branch off from my usual reads a little more often.  This book reminded me a bit of a book I read last year - Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay so if you read this one and want something similar give that one a try.  I really can't wait to see what other readers think of this book.  I enjoyed it so much and know that I won't be forgetting it anytime in the near future.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A book that I can't stop thinking about!

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bout of Books #20 (Count Me In!)

" The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th 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 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team"

It has been too long since I participated in a week long read-a-thon.....or really any read-a-thon to be honest!  My year of reading has been pretty dismal although this past month it has picked up a bit.  I'm hoping to finish both of my current reads during this week.  We've got a pretty busy schedule going all week long so two finished books will count as success and any more will just be bonus reads.  Here is what I'm currently reading:

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander begins a new series by one of my favorite cozy mystery authors.  I'm really enjoying it so far!  The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is my current print read and I actually haven't quite started it yet.  I first heard of this one on the Read or Dead podcast (a new favorite of mine), and I instantly requested it from the library.  A movie is coming out based off of this book so I'm even more excited to read it first!

Two extras if I make it through the above are:

Here is to hoping for a very successful read-a-thon!  Happy Reading!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal

Summary from Goodreads:

"It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.

A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.

The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born."

My Thoughts:

I've got to say that I'm a streak with reading some really great books lately.  This book was a brilliant beginning to a new mystery series - I need more books just like this!  I was intrigued by this book just from reading the above summary which meant that I couldn't resist the chance of reading it.  The idea of the birth mother being drawn into the search of the missing daughter that she's never met (or wanted to even) can you resist a premise like that?  I just knew that this was going to be a good read but what I didn't expect was how dark of a read that this was going to be.  Nora is not your typical leading female detective in a mystery novel.  She isn't even really a detective but instead works for a lawyer and businessman as an almost human lie detector.  She has all of these issues relating to her past, doesn't have any normal relationships, and is a recovering alcoholic.  She is basically kind of a mess but I loved her!  Even when she was making crappy decisions I was rooting for her.  I wanted to know more about what had happened to her even though there were enough clues that I could guess.  She just was one of those main characters that really stood out for me, and I'm looking forwarding to reading more books featuring her.  I also really enjoyed the mystery portion of this book.  I found myself reading this one for long periods of time which hasn't happened all too often lately.  It was a page turner and one of the things that kept me reading way too late into the night was just trying to see what trouble Nora was going to get herself into next.  And then I kept reading to see if she would get out of it of course.  Ha!  I loved that this book was set in Canada which is a place I've never had the chance to visit but would like to.  I felt like I was really there while reading, and reading about the colder weather made this feel like the perfect fall read (although I read it a bit too early for that).  The ending was super intense and left me wanting more.  

Overall I have to say that I'm left very excited about this author and this series.  This book really stood out for me as it is different from a lot of the mystery series that I've read.  I've come to the conclusion that mystery series featuring lone female main characters is kind of my reading catnip.  I just can't seem to get enough.  This book wasn't any different and Nora is one of those characters that I won't be forgetting about any time soon.  I feel like I'm rambling at this point but this book was just that good.  I cannot wait to see what other readers think!  I would recommend this book mystery fans as well as those readers who enjoy a good thriller.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A dark mystery that I just couldn't put down.  I need more!

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Love & Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea

Summary from Goodreads:

"After three years of living in the small town of Reigny-sur-Canne, all Katherine Goff really wants is to be accepted by her neighbors into their little community. But as an American expat living in the proud region of Burgundy, that's no easy task.

When the elderly Frenchman who lives in the village chateau is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, the town is turned into a hot bed of gossip and suspicion, and Katherine suddenly finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the small town's secrets. A motherless teenager, a malicious French widow, a brash music producer, and a would-be Agatha Christie are among those caught up in a storm that threatens to turn Katherine's quiet life upside down. As more and more of the villagers' secrets are brought to light, Katherine must try to figure out who, if anyone, in the town she can trust, and which one of her neighbors just might be a killer."

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed my time reading this book!  It is always delightful when a book just transports you to another place.  Reading this book made me feel like I was there in the French countryside with Katherine and her husband.  I've never had the chance to visit France but I could certainly picture what it must be like with this book.  The descriptions of the food, the countryside....I just couldn't get enough of all of it!  This was a quiet read that I just took my time with.  I loved Katherine's character so much.  The descriptions of the different items she would find at the market and the little thrift shop finds she had come across just fit in so perfectly with the atmosphere of the book.  I really can't say enough good things about just the feel of this book.  Although there was a murder mystery happening, what I enjoyed most about this book was everything else.  Don't get me wrong, I found the mystery portion interesting but it was the other parts that made this cozy mystery stand out for me!

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was all of the other characters.  There were a variety of characters in this book each different from the other.  It made the book fun to read as you never knew what some of the characters were getting up to.  I liked the chances that we had to get to know some of these characters as it also helped to make me feel like I was really there within the story.  As to the mystery itself, I guessed parts of it but was incorrect as to the reasons why.  In fact, I really missed a good portion of the whodunnit completely which made the ending more intense than I had expected.  I seriously felt like I was questioning what was going on right until the author decided to share the truth with the reader.  It was a solid read and I'm eager to visit this quiet French village again!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am hoping that this is the beginning to a cozy mystery series.  It would be really great  to have the chance to visit with these characters (and especially Katherine) again!  I loved my time in this world that the author created - I almost wasn't ready to leave by the time the story ended.  I really think that those readers who like a quieter mystery should give this one a shot as I'm sure that they will enjoy it as much as I did!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A book whose atmosphere just pulled me into the world that the author created.  I loved every minute of it!

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