Thursday, May 30, 2019

Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…"

My Thoughts:

This was such a fun and enjoyable read for me!  I don't read a ton of contemporary romances but this book has me reconsidering that.  One of my absolute favorite tropes in romance is the (I'm not sure what this is exactly called but this is what I'm calling it) hate to love romance.  I adore when the main characters despise each other but ultimately can't fight their attraction to one another!  It's my favorite so it was a sure fire thing that I was going to enjoy this book with that kind of set up.  I think one of the reasons that I enjoy this type of trope so much is that it usually means that there isn't any kind of insta-love which is my least favorite romance trope. The romance between Naomi and Oliver was a slow burn of the best kind in my opinion.  Also, just to let other readers know - this is a book that I've been recommending to readers who want a romance without the steamy scenes.  I just wanted to throw that out there for any other readers who are looking for that kind of romance!  In this book, Naomi remembers Oliver instantly from her childhood when they meet for the first time but Oliver doesn't remember her.  This leads to some humorous moments as Oliver can't figure out why Naomi seems to despise him on sight.  Especially as he is as attracted to her as he is annoyed with her for the way she is treating him.  The chemistry between these two was just absolute perfection so I couldn't get enough of reading it.  I also really enjoyed the friendship that Naomi had between two other ladies which is the kind of setup of this trilogy.  I don't want to give too many details on how they become friends, but I'm now eager to read both of their books so I can see them get their happy ever after as well.  This was just a fun read for me even though there were some serious aspects to it.  Oliver's father has Alzheimer's disease which plays a prominent part in this book.  The disease isn't glossed over and it is something that Oliver is constantly dealing with throughout the book.  I really liked the end of this book and am eager to get my hands on the next book in this trilogy.  

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author.  This is actually the second book that I've read by Lauren Layne - the other book that I read was Cuff Me which had more of a suspense vibe to it than this book did.  Two very different books but both books that I enjoyed immensely.  Looks like I have another author whose backlist I need to catch up on!  Also, I can't believe that I haven't mentioned this before but how gorgeous is that cover?  I love it!  It was almost a shame that I read this book on my e-reader so couldn't experience that cover in its' full glory.  Ha!  I would recommend this book to fans of romance but also to readers who are starting to get on board with the new wave of romantic comedies that are becoming so popular as of late.  This book was just a plain fun read at times and I think that there are many other readers who will enjoy it as well.  An easy book for me to recommend!

Bottom Line:  A fun and enjoyable read that has me excited for the next book!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past."

My Thoughts:

I've enjoyed previous books by this author so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  The Better Sister was a definite page turner that I couldn't stop reading! The setup of this book is a bit unique in the fact that Chloe is raising her sister's son with her ex-husband.  But when she finds her husband murdered in their beach house, her entire life is turned upside down.  What I loved about this book was that it was so completely different from what I expected it to be.  I always read the summary of a book before starting it but this book ended up being very unexpected (but in a good way).  I guess I went into it with notions of what was going to happen and how the book was going to go - and was completely wrong!  Go figure!  It helped make this book even more of a thrilling read for me though because I couldn't figure out what was going to happen and how everything was going to turn out.  Chloe doesn't have many positive feelings towards her sister at first so I was all prepared not to care for Nicky as well.  I honestly don't want to say more than that because this is a book to be experienced for yourself.  Just check those expectations at the door and enjoy the ride that this author is going to take you on.  It is completely worth it in my opinion!  One of the other things that I really liked about this book was the author's portrayal of commenters on the Internet.  A person can see this type of thing all over the Internet - just look at news stories and the comments that follow.  The comments can range between sympathetic to absolutely nasty - and all on a topic or individual that they might not have any background knowledge of.  I just felt like those parts of the book sadly rang very true to real life.  I honestly was kept guessing throughout the entirety of this book.  It's funny because I did at one point guess Adam's murderer but dismissed my guess early on.  It wasn't until the very last pages that I fully understood and realized I had been correct without knowing it. I'm curious to see how other readers felt about the ending but I really don't want to say more than that.  It worked for me if you are curious as to how I felt.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a ton and I think that this may be my favorite book by her so far!  I would really like to work on catching up with her backlist as well (but if I keep saying that with every author I read it won't happen).  Ha!  But seriously, I have yet to read a "bad" book by her and actually I believe that  I've rated all of her books at least four stars.  She is definitely an author to check out if you haven't yet!  I appreciated so much about this book that I didn't even share about as it might be considered a spoiler but if you want to discuss further just let me know.  This felt like a refreshing read and change of pace from all of the other thrillers that I've been reading lately - I can say that!  I would recommend this book to fans of both mysteries and thrillers.  I also think if you just enjoy suspenseful reads that this book would work for you!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A refreshing mystery that kept me guessing until the very end!

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"ALICE gets off a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in Delphi, NY. She is fleeing an abusive relationship and desperate to protect...

OREN, ten years old, a major Star Wars fan and wise beyond his years. Though Alice is wary, Oren bonds nearly instantly with...

MATTIE, a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available, and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn't say is that Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the age of ten.

But Mattie isn't the only one withholding elements of the truth. Alice is keeping her own secrets. And as the snowstorm worsens around them, each woman's past will prove itself unburied, stirring up threats both within and without."

My Thoughts:

The Night Visitors was such an atmospheric read and one where I found myself instantly pulled within the pages.  I've read a few books by Goodman now, and she just has a way with creating these suspenseful books filled with atmosphere and tension.  This was actually the perfect reminder of how much I enjoy her books - it made me really want to work on catching up with her backlist!  I actually didn't intend on binge-ing my way through the pages of this book....I was going to take me time and just immerse myself within it.  But what really happened is that I flew through the pages utterly compelled and unable to put it down.  I am such a sucker for thrillers featuring blizzards.  The sense of isolation that the characters experience always adds a spooky layer of tension that I enjoy reading about and this book was no exception.  I'm going to try to be as spoiler free as possible here but there are a few things that I want to talk about that could be considered to be a spoiler.  Feel free to skip ahead if you want to stay completely spoiler free and just check on my overall thoughts.  So this book did have a supernatural aspect that I found very intriguing.  Oren just seems to "know" things (for lack of a better word) that he shouldn't or couldn't possibly know and yet he does.  I feel like this was done really well and that it added to the overall storyline.  I'm trying to remember if this is something that Carol Goodman does with all of her books but I can't say for certain so apparently it has been awhile since I read anything by her.  It doesn't matter because overall it worked really well for this book.  I came to a point in this book where I just knew that I was going to finish despite the fact that I still had at least 100 pages left.  The twists and the turns just kept coming and I couldn't not see how it was all going to end!  I actually really liked the ending and thought it fit perfectly.  The thing I enjoyed most about this book though is how the author continually used the icy, snowy weather to add tension and suspense throughout the book.  I'm curious if it would have been even creepier to read this book during the winter but honestly reading it now in the spring worked just fine if I do say so myself!

Overall, this book was a really great read that I just lost myself within!  When I started it I fully intended to take my time with it but I just couldn't seem to set it down.  I really liked the three main characters so I was rooting for them the entire time.  I especially liked Maddie's character and appreciated that we got to see both her flaws and strengths in this book.  I'm glad that I still have quite a few books of this authors to catch up on!  There is just something about her writing that never fails to draw me in - I had almost forgotten until I picked this book up how much I have enjoyed her books in the past.  I won't be waiting long to pick up another of her books this time around.  I would recommend this book to fans of both mystery and suspense.  Thriller readers will also enjoy this one in my opinion even though I would hesitate to label this book a thriller.  It's suspenseful enough though to appeal to those types of readers in my opinion.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  An atmospheric and page turning read that I enjoyed immensely!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and JKS Communications.  Thoughts are my own.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Sunday Post #56 (Catch-Up 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"

Good morning everyone!  Happy Mother's Day to those who are mothers in whatever form that takes.  If you haven't noticed I've been hitting you guys with lots of reviews (for me at least) this week.  I didn't realize how far behind I was starting to get so I'm working on catching up with reviews.  I'm hoping to post at least two more this week.  May has started off as a strong reading month for me.  I've finished three books already which I feel like is better than previous months so far this year.  Hopefully I can keep up the reading pace!

Life has been pretty busy otherwise.  We are at either a baseball or softball tournament every weekend (or both more often than not).  During the week there are practices and league games as well as a multitude of other things.  Thankfully, we are getting down to the end of the school year.  My kids are more than ready to be done with school and for summer break to begin.  I'm just enjoying it all because it always goes by so fast.  Not much else new otherwise.  I'm just going to share the books I've finished in May since it has been awhile since my last reading update.  I've actually been pretty spotty on my posting this year - if you want to hear my thoughts on books more consistently check out my Instagram account (@samsbooks1020).  I am on there more often talking books then anywhere else.

In May I have finished the following books:

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen was such an enjoyable read - I actually posted my thoughts on this one earlier this week.  Check them out here if you are interested.  I'm really looking forward to checking out more by this author as I enjoyed this one so much.

The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman was another really great read.  I plan on posting my thoughts on this one later this week.  It was the perfect reminder of why I enjoy Goodman's books so much. I really need to catch up with the rest of her backlist!  She has such a way with creating these suspenseful and tense books that I can't get enough of.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse is a book that I just finished last night between innings during my daughter's softball game.  It was really good and left me very excited to read the next book in the series which just recently released.  I hope that we will continue to learn more details about this new world as the series goes on.  I really enjoyed it and will be sharing my full thoughts on this one as well in the near future.

I'm now currently reading the following books:

Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne is my current read on my e-reader.  I'm reading it as part of a blog tour later this month.  I'm enjoying it so far and am about 29% into it so hopefully I will get some quality reading time with it this week.  In print I'm getting ready to begin reading The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair.  This is the beginning to a new historical mystery series that releases next month.  I've been in the mood for a historical mystery so I'm planning on diving into this one later this afternoon.

Plans for today are pretty much nothing besides relaxing and enjoying a quiet Sunday.  My husband is cooking an early lunch/late breakfast for me and then I may roll my lazy self out of bed.  Or not - it has been such a busy few weeks that I may just sit here all day.  LOL!  I would love to get a few of those reviews I've been talking about written.  And maybe a load of laundry or two if I'm motivated at all.  The kids do need clean clothes this week at some point.  Ha!  I hope that you all have a wonderful, relaxing day as well.  Take care of yourself in whatever form or shape that takes!!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.
Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?
Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves."
My Thoughts:
Oh wow - this book was so much more than I expected it to be!  I went into reading this one expecting a suspenseful read based off of the above summary.  And this was a suspenseful read - don't get me wrong there.  But it was also so much more and because of that I have a feeling that this one will stick with me for awhile.  I don't think that it's too much of a spoiler to say that as the reader we get to meet Annie before she goes missing.  I thought that because we got to see her beforehand that it made everything that went after that much more potent.  I found myself so immersed in these characters and their lives.  The good and the bad, the secrets, the every day details - these things brought each of these characters to life for me and made me care for them.  I rooted for them every step of the way.  I really liked the way that this book was set up.  It was told from the viewpoints of multiple characters and each chapter was from one of the characters viewpoints.  Setting the book up this way really helped me as the reader to get to know each of the characters and get inside their heads.  I think it is one of the main reasons that I was able to connect to so many of them so easily.  Okay so fair warning for slightly spoiler-ey talk here for a few minutes.  I finished this one in between innings at my son's baseball game and let me tell you what - it was the perfect ending even if it wasn't the one I had been hoping for.  Also, finishing it between innings allowed me to reflect on the ending in a way that I might not have otherwise.  It was both heartbreaking and hopeful.  Isn't that a sign of a great book?  I sure thought so!  I'm really looking forward to seeing what other readers thought of this one now!
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and am looking forward to reading more by this author.  It was a bit different than my usual mystery and thriller fare but I enjoyed this book all the more because of it.  I definitely need more books like this in my reading life!  It felt good to stretch my reading a bit and reminded me that I need to do this more often.  On an entirely different note here - how gorgeous is this cover?  I love it!  I would recommend this book to fans of suspense but also to anyone who enjoys a good character driven novel.  I obviously can't say enough good things about it but that is the mark of a good book.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A book with characters that came to life for me - and a book that I won't be forgetting about anytime soon!

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

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Marybeth

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.
That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.
Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . ."
My Thoughts:
The Last Time I Saw You was the perfect book to lose myself within during the long wait between games one weekend at my youngest son's baseball tournament.  I sat under a tree and just immersed myself in this thriller.  It was the perfect page turner that almost made me wish the time between games was longer (I say almost because then I was a bit lost after I finished this one and didn't have another book on hand).  The book is told from two different perspectives: Kate's and her former best friend Blaire.  We know from the beginning of the book that Kate and Blaire were super close when they were younger and then something happened causing a rift in their friendship.  Blaire returns though when Kate's mother is murdered and begins investigating when it is clear that Lily's murder is just the beginning.  What I liked about this book was that there was a layer of unreliability to it that causes the reader to question what's going on.  I don't want to go into too many specifics but there are things that happen that made me unsure of who to fully trust.  I love that type of thing in thrillers so of course I was completely hooked.  There isn't much else I can say that wouldn't be considered a spoiler.  I wasn't sure on my feelings on Kate until the end of the book - there was a level of detachment with her character where I couldn't decide if I liked her or not.  I will say that I really liked the way the author wrapped everything up with this book.  It worked for me in a way that I would have said it wouldn't have when I was in the middle of the book.  
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book!  I'm glad that I have another of this author's books to look forward to.  This is one of those rare books that I managed to read in just a little over a day (which doesn't happen very often).  I just couldn't set this one down and really didn't want to.  I'm excited to have found this author and will be watching for anything new that she comes up with.  I just really liked this book a lot!  I would recommend it to fans of thrillers and suspense.  I also think that mystery readers in general would enjoy this one.

Bottom Line:  A page turning read that I couldn't set down!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Thoughts are my own.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth."

My Thoughts:

I'm always, always on the lookout for new cozy mystery series to follow!  I jumped at the chance to read this one, but especially after I realized that it began a new series.  Sometimes it feels like the only cozy mysteries I hear about are books that are part of long established series so I was super excited to hear about this one.  What I really enjoyed about this book was the premise.  Jazz is just working on training a cadaver dog when she and the dog accidentally stumble across a real body.  And because she has found this body and knows of the girl, she feels drawn to figuring out what happened to her.  This made sense to me and it felt reasonable as to why Jazz kept asking questions and trying to solve the murder.  I liked that part of it because sometimes it doesn't make sense why a person would keep getting involved in murder investigations in books like this.  Instead, I wanted Jazz to ask questions and figure out who was responsible for the girl's murder.  I also was really intrigued by some of the back story that the author alluded to.  For instance, Jazz's father was the fire chief and has recently died in a fire.  There is some (for lack of better words here) curious circumstances relating to his death that has me intrigued.  Is there more to it?  Will we learn more in upcoming books in this series?  I'm looking forward to finding out!  I also really enjoyed the parts that focused on the training of the cadaver dogs.  I actually would have loved even more of that because it was just so interesting to read about!  

Overall, I enjoyed this one for the most part.  It definitely felt like it was setting up more to come which sometimes happens with first books in a series.  I'm intrigued enough though that I'm anxious to get my hands on the next book when it releases.  The author did a good job of setting up characters that I'm eager to see more of.  The mystery portion kept me guessing especially because the victim's motivations were a bit of a mystery.  She wasn't portrayed as this perfect character but I found myself wanting Jazz to find her justice despite all of that.  It was just an interesting beginning to a new cozy mystery series and I'm left excited about it.  I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble Jazz gets herself into next and if it relates to her father's death.  I would recommend this one to fans of cozy mysteries and suspense.

Bottom Line:  A good beginning to this new cozy mystery series - I look forward to reading more in this series in the future!

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