Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Wife and the Widow by Christian White (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, The Wife and The Widow is an unsettling thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside when she’s forced to confront the evidence of her husband’s guilt. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives. Brilliant and beguiling, The Wife and The Widow takes you to a cliff edge and asks the question: how well do we really know the people we love?"

My Thoughts:

The Wife and the Widow was quite a thrilling ride - it had me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages late into the night!  This book is told from two different viewpoints (I'm sure you can see where the title comes into play here) with Kate and Abby being the two different storylines.  I actually was equally intrigued by both of their storylines which doesn't always happen with a book set up like this.  There was just a perfect blend to the two storylines where it felt inevitable that that they were eventually going to tie together but as the reader you didn't know how or when.  I don't feel like that's a spoiler especially if you have read the above summary.  Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the setting.  This book is set in this isolated, deserted town set on an island during the winter time.  In the summer, the island is a popular tourist type of destination but during the winter only the locals live on the island.  The setting gave this book this atmospheric and eerie feeling that I just couldn't get enough of!  It was honestly the perfect type of setting for a thriller and just added so much to the story in my opinion.  This book was also a real page turner!  I found myself unable to set this book down for long because I was just so curious to see what would happen next.  Without delving too far into spoiler territory here, the ending of this book was phenomenal.  I didn't see it coming even though I would have sworn that I had the book figured out.  When I finished this one, I was actually really excited to see what other readers think and discuss the ending.  If this is a sign of what my 2020 reading year is going to be like, I am certainly in for a treat!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so excited to have found this author!  I've had his previous book on my TBR list but just hadn't gotten to it yet.  I'm definitely going to have to make it a priority though in the new year after loving this one so much!  Books like this are why I have such a deep love for mysteries and thrillers.  The setting, the dual storylines, and the page turning suspense really made this book a standout for me!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A jaw-droppingly good read!

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Hollows by Jess Montgomery (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Ohio, 1926: For many years, the underground railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a short cut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.

Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths, but Lily does not believe that an old woman would wander out of the hills onto the tracks. In a county where everyone knows everyone, how can someone have disappeared, when nobody knew they were missing? As ghost stories and rumors settle into the consciousness of Moonvale Hollow, Lily tries to search for any real clues to the woman’s identity.

With the help of her friend Marvena Whitcomb, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—an asylum is northern Antioch County—and they begin to expose secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains."

My Thoughts:

Wow!  I am so, so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book and find this series.  It was SO good!  I picked this one up and almost instantly knew that it was the kind of book that you take your time with.  I've got to admit that's exactly what I did as I let the author wrap me up in the story that she was telling and these characters lives.  It wasn't always an easy read as it stays very true to the historical period that it is set in.  Women's rights are iffy at times and there was a different expectation of how a woman should behave back then.  It's set during a time period when integration was beginning to happen but not everyone was on board with it yet.  It touches on some very difficult topics to read about but I felt like the book handled them true to the time period in which it was set.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was how the author brought these characters to life for me.  This is the second book in a series where I haven't yet read the first.  It didn't matter though because the author was still able to bring these characters to life in a way that they almost felt like old friends.  They had imperfections and didn't always make the best decisions but that made them feel all the more real.  I'm going to make a broad proclamation here with only having read the one book in this series but this book gave me serious Louise Penny vibes.  They are very different as this is a historical mystery whereas Penny's series is not.  But it is something about how both authors bring both the characters and the towns that they live in to life that really struck a chord with me.  I felt like I was there in the hollows when reading this book right alongside of Lily and her friends.  It was just SO good and I'm so excited to have found this author and series!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading more in this series!  The more historical mysteries I read, the more I realize how much I enjoy this genre.  This book was a definite standout for me!  I don't think that you should rush through reading this one but instead just take your time with it like I did.  It was a really wonderful reading experience that way!  I really was able to connect with the characters - even when at times I was frustrated with the choices that they were making.  I won't be waiting long to read the first book and then I will eagerly be waiting for the next release!  This a book that I can highly recommend!

Bottom Line:  An atmospheric mystery that I just couldn't get enough of!

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"The truth is easy to miss, even when it’s right in front of us. As a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office a week after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case come to life once more. 

In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies and no clues behind—until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigation skills appear to have led to his identity. But before police could question her, Angela disappeared. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder—the only crime the DA could pin on him. As a former client of her father’s, Rory becomes reluctantly involved with the killer—though he continues to insist he didn’t murder Angela. Now he wants Rory to do what her father once promised: prove that Angela is, in fact, still alive.

As Rory begins reconstructing Angela’s last days, another killer emerges from the shadows, replicating those long-ago murders. With every startling discovery she makes, Rory becomes more deeply entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell—and in The Thief’s tormented mind. Drawing connections between past and present is the only way to stop the nightmare, but even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . . "

My Thoughts:

What a page turner this book was!  I picked this book up because I was in the mood for a thriller and had been hearing good things about this book.  It definitely didn't disappoint!  One of the things that I enjoyed about this book was the short chapters that kept me unable to set this book down.  The book was fast paced to begin with - then you add in the short chapters and I just couldn't stop reading.  I also really liked Rory's character.  She was unique in ways that I didn't expect but it left me so intrigued by her character.  The book is told in two parts - one is Rory's current investigation into what happened to Angela Mitchell and the other part is told from Angela Mitchell's viewpoint so many years ago.  The author went between the two storylines seamlessly and in a way that just added to the overall level of suspense.  I remember thinking when I finished this book (which is sadly a few months ago now) that this is what a good suspenseful mystery/thriller should be like.  It was just that kind of book!  I didn't want to stop reading, couldn't wait to see what happened next, and was completely invested in how everything was going to turn out.  What more could you really ask for?  

I don't want to give anything away so I'm going to leave my thoughts on this one short and sweet.  It's an author that I cannot wait to read more of though and a book that made it on my top reads list for 2019.  I'm excited that I have backlist books of his to look forward to plus I believe he has a new one releasing in 2020.  I'll definitely be keeping that book high on my radar after enjoying this one so much!  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A top ten read for me in 2019 - I feel like that says it best!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.  I ended up reading a copy courtesy of my local library.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblings…well, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herself…and Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun."

My Thoughts:

Almost Just Friends was a fun way to begin my reading year in 2020!  I enjoy reading contemporary romances although I can't say that I read a ton of them.  I honestly think I would read more of them though if they were like this one.  This book was just fun to read at times.  It had me grinning at the book and laughing out loud.  What made this book that much more remarkable is that this book also took on some heavier issues like addiction within its pages.  So not only was it absolutely adorable at times but it also was heavier and more serious at others.  I really appreciated the fact that the author wasn't afraid to take these more serious issues and include them with what could have been a much lighter story otherwise.  I also really enjoyed all of the different characters in this book.  The author brought them all to life for me so that I couldn't help but care about each and every one of them.  I especially had a soft spot for Cam's father Emmitt.  His character always seemed to crack me up especially when they threw him a surprise birthday party (readers who have already read this book will understand what I mean here).  I also really enjoyed the relationship that developed between Piper and Cam.  Piper was such an independent character who definitely didn't want to acknowledge her feelings for Cam.  Cam, on the other hand, was much more open to what he was feeling and the relationship that was developing between him and Piper. It made for a fun reading experience to see how their relationship would develop while also watching Piper try to navigate the relationships she has with her brother and sister.  I spent the entire book rooting for her to figure it out all out so that she and Cam could find their happy ever after together.  It was just such an enjoyable read and the perfect way to start 2020 off!

Overall, this was just a feel good romance that I couldn't help but enjoy. I loved that it took on some heavier issues and really dealt with them rather than just pushing them to the side.  I also loved that this book still had a lighter feel at times that I couldn't help but enjoy.  I've read other books by Shalvis but have to say that I think this one is my favorite.  This is actually book four in the Wildstone series so I'm excited that I can go back and read the earlier books soon.  I would recommend this book to fans of romance (specifically contemporary romance), women's fiction readers, and just fiction readers in general who don't mind a little romance in their books.  It was really enjoyable and easy to recommend!

Bottom Line: A book that kept me grinning the entire time I was reading it!

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

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Sunday Post #61 (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"

Happy Sunday!  It finally feels like winter is here with our 1st winter storm of 2020.  I'm writing this post on Saturday afternoon  with the snow coming down and the wind blowing.  It's the perfect type of weather to curl up with a book and just read.

It felt like a much busier week than I expected it to be (but maybe that's because it was just the 1st full week of work in a couple of weeks).  The kids are all back in school, softball and baseball practices, football lifting, and basketball all started back up this week.  No wonder I was so tired now that I list all of that stuff out for all of you.  This is actually still our "down time" when it comes to sports - it will get REALLY crazy come this spring so I'm trying to enjoy the nights I have at home as much as possible.  There isn't much else to update you with - I finished my first book of the year and took the week off of posting on Bookstagram.  I didn't read much at all during the week which was a bit disappointing because I was trying to unofficially participate in the Bout of Books read-a-thon.  I'm hoping to be more successful in reading this coming week instead now.

The first book that I finished in 2020 was:

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis was a fun and solid way to begin my 2020 reading year.  I've actually already written up my thoughts on this one - my review is scheduled to be posted on the 14th so keep an eye out for it!  I really enjoyed it though and because it is part of a series I have now added the previous books to my TBR list.

I'm currently reading the following books:

I don't usually read three books at once but that's just the way things turned out.  I've been reading The Hollows by Jess Montgomery which is courtesy of the publisher as part of an upcoming TLC book tour.  I'm enjoying it so far but this isn't a book that you want to rush through - instead it is one that I'm taking my time with.  Because of that (and my reading mood), I decided to pick up Six Years by Harlan Coben off of my own shelves.  With the winter storm that we were supposed to be getting this weekend, I decided a needed a fast paced page turner so I finally picked this one up.  It's definitely keeping me turning the pages so I'm thinking it was a good choice.  Finally on my e-reader I'm currently reading How To Claim An Undead Soul by Hailey Edwards.  I read the 1st book in this series two years back and am glad to be finally continuing on (although I'm really not that far into it yet).

It's going to be my reading goal of the week to finish at least two of these books.  I don't have any other plans for the weekend besides working on my out of control laundry piles.  My youngest has baseball practice and a basketball game tomorrow but he isn't feeling well so it remains to be seen if he will go to either.  If not, we will be in hibernation mode all weekend long which is just GLORIOUS!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Anything For You by Saul Black (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"On a hot summer night, a watchful neighbor locks eyes with an intruder and unwittingly alerts the police to a vicious crime scene next door: a lavish master bedroom where a man lies dead. His wife is bleeding out onto the hardwood floor, clinging to life.

The victim, Adam Grant, was a well-known San Francisco prosecutor--a man whose connection to Homicide detective Valerie Hart brings her face-to-face with a life she's long since left behind. Adam's career made him an easy target, and forensic evidence points towards an ex-con he put behind bars years ago. But while Adam's wife and daughter grapple with their tragic loss, Valerie uncovers devastating clues that point in a more ominous direction. Lurking in the shadows of the Grants' pristine life is a mysterious blonde who holds the key to a dangerous past.

As Valerie struggles to forge a new path for herself, the investigation forces her to confront the question: can we ever really leave our pasts behind?"

My Thoughts:

Anything For You was a really interesting and suspenseful mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.  This is actually part of a series (the 3rd book to be exact) of which I haven't yet read the previous books.  That didn't affect my reading experience in the slightest - I honestly couldn't even tell that it was part of a series as it didn't feel like I was missing out on anything that had happened previously or character details, etc.  Instead, I found myself really sucked into this mystery of who killed Adam Grant and why.  The book is told from two different parts - the main one is from Valerie's viewpoint as she investigates Grant's murder.  Valerie's character is interesting because she isn't always likeable but she is a very intriguing main character.  There is just something about her motivations and actions at times that kept me guessing as the reader.  Is that because I haven't read the two previous books so I wasn't as familiar with her character as I would have been otherwise?  It's a possibility but honestly her character really added to this book in my opinion.  I didn't always like her but she felt perfectly real with all of the imperfections that come into play in real life.  The second part of the book are told from an unknown woman's character.  Her motivations and actions are kept a mystery but those parts of the book also really added to the suspense while I was reading.  It all combined into being quite the suspenseful mystery where I didn't see the end coming until I was supposed to.  My one and only complaint (for lack of better word here) with this book was that the ending left me unsure.  I'm trying not to spoil anything here but was I supposed to take the reasoning behind it all as absolute truth?  This is the why - it happened - and that's they why behind it all?  I just wasn't sure on that part of it so it left me questioning the ending a bit.  And that's not to say that I didn't like it (especially if what was  said to have happened was really true) but it was just that feeling that I didn't know exactly what I was supposed to believe.  That's the best way I can explain it.  

Overall, I really ended up enjoying my time with this book and am left eager to get back to the earlier books in this series.  I didn't realize it before now but I already had the 1st book on my TBR list so I think I'll put it on hold at the library soon so I can read it sooner rather than later.  This is definitely a series and author that I want to read more of!  I'm actually really looking forward to catching up on other reviews of this book to see what other readers have thought as I feel like it would be an interesting read to discuss.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful mystery that kept me guessing throughout!

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

Monday, January 6, 2020

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened."

My Thoughts:

Good Girls Lie was an entertaining thriller that kept me reading and guessing throughout!  I'm a sucker for books set in boarding schools - as soon as I heard about this one and that it featured a boarding school I was adding it to my TBR list.  One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the fact that it was written in a way where I wasn't sure who to trust.  It felt like everyone in this book had secrets or was hiding something.  It really helped to add to the overall level of suspense that was present throughout the book.  I also enjoyed the fact that Goode school had all of things that seem to come with a boarding school.  Supposedly haunted buildings and mysterious deaths?  Check.  Secret societies?  Check.  A questionable past and a present where bad things keep happening?  Check, check, check.  How could I not enjoy a book when it had all of these things and more?  All of these things combined into a suspenseful and atmospheric read that I really couldn't get enough of!  I also really enjoyed the fact that I didn't see the end of this book coming whatsoever.  I had plenty of guesses of what was going on but I was completely wrong.  I can't help but appreciate a thriller that keeps me guessing and manages to surprise me with the ending!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a thrilling read!  I've read previous books by this author (not her standalones but a couple in one of her series that she has written) and really enjoyed them as well.  This book was a great reminder of how much I've enjoyed all of her books - I need to work on catching up on her backlist more in the new year!  I really think that readers of suspense and thrillers will enjoy this book.  Ultimately, this book was a great way to end my reading year in 2019 and also an easy book for me to recommend!

Bottom Line:  A thrilling read that kept me guessing until the very end!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley and am participating in a blog tour hosted by the publisher.  Honest thoughts are my own.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Top Ten Reads of 2019

2019 was a solid year of reading for me.  It wasn't my best year numbers wise and it wasn't my worst year either.  I do feel like I had a really great year of reading when it comes to the quality of books I read and enjoyed though. There were A LOT of four star and 4.5 star reads for me which makes me very happy.  I branched out a bit with my reading in 2019 but I want to do that even more in the new year.  Life isn't going to slow down any time soon though, so it's all about just making sure that I'm making the time to read.  Reading is (and always has been) my stress relief.  So as long as I keep on reading....that's what matters in the end!  Now let's move on though to my top reads of 2019!

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner makes this the 3rd time that this author and series has made my top reads list for the year.  I'm officially obsessed!  I also started in the middle of this series and haven't looked back (although I really do fully intend to go back and read those earlier books at some point...maybe 2020?).  This is a series and author that I want to see more readers find because it's SO GOOD!  I will be reading anything and everything she writes at this point.  I actually have the next book in the series on my kindle waiting to be read....I'm hoping to read it very soon!

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup was officially the creepiest book that I read in 2019!  This book is so dark and thrilling (word of warning though that it really won't be for everyone because it is that dark).  It was also quite a chunky read but I liked that it was longer because it allowed for me to completely immerse myself within the book's pages.  I CANNOT wait to see what this author comes up with next!  I would also just adore if this book became the start of a series because I NEED more!

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty is the 2nd book in the Harper McClain series and even better than the 1st book (which is saying a lot because that 1st book was also amazing)!  One of the things that makes this series stand out to me from other mystery series that I follow is that Harper is a reporter and not detective.  She also has a traumatic past that is leading into a very intriguing storyline (I won't say more because spoilers).  It sure has me chomping at the bit to read the 3rd book though!

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin has me regretting the fact that I haven't read more fantasy in the past couple of years because this book was AMAZING!  This was another chunky book that I just absolutely lost myself within.  It made me think (especially about the things that it wasn't necessarily saying but reflected our past history) and made me want to explore the fantasy genre more.  I am thrilled that this is just the 1st book in a trilogy - I cannot wait to continue on!  Also, the way this book was setup was absolute perfection!

Still Life by Louise Penny was actually a reread for me but still deserves a place on my top reads list!  The writing in this book was just gorgeous - I found myself marking quotes to save and share which isn't something that I often do.  I also just completely fell into the world of Three Pines - I actually read two books in the series this year and am already looking forward to continuing on and reading more!  This series is really hyped on bookstagram but I'm here to tell you that the hype is real and well deserved!

One Summer in Paris was one of those books that hit me right in the feels while reading it.  I related to this one unexpectedly - it was the way one of the main characters came to realize that she didn't know herself like she thought she did that I couldn't help but relate to.  She was comfortable with her life in a way that actually wasn't a good thing - and the things she experienced in the book helped her to get to know herself, her desires, and just what she wanted out of life better.  I loved the Paris setting, the relationship between the two main characters.....I just really loved this book!  I need to make sure that I read more from Sarah Morgan in 2020!

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton was a dark thriller that had me completely hooked the entire time! Sharon Bolton has been on my favorite author list for some time now and books like this are exactly why.  This book was also quite creepy and atmospheric.  I believe there is going to be a sequel to this book at some point which is really exciting!  I will read EVERYTHING that this author writes and at this point I cannot even tell you how many times one of her books has made my favorites of the year list!

Buried by Ellison Cooper is the 2nd book in the Agent Sayer Altair series and also makes this the 2nd time that this series/author has been on my top reads list.  I am absolutely hooked on this series!  It is SO UNBELIEVABLY good!  One of the things that I'm loving in the series I have been reading lately is that there are underlying mysteries that carry on from each book.  There is one in this series that has me just itching to get my hands on the 3rd book in this series!  This is another standout mystery series that you need to check out if you haven't had the chance yet!

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager has officially cemented my love of this author's books!  This book creeped me out in the best of ways.  It has this feeling of dread that is present throughout the book that I just couldn't get enough of.  And the ending....the ending of this book was absolute perfection!  It gave me chills - no exaggeration!  I absolutely will also be reading anything and everything that this author writes at this point!

Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea was a thrilling and page turning mystery that I enjoyed immensely!  I'm so excited to have found this author because this book was so flipping good!  I love, love, love when I find new authors like this - I cannot wait to check out what else he has written!  This book had a mystery that kept me guessing the entire time and characters that I really enjoyed reading about.  What else could you want in a mystery?  So good!

Just looking over all of these reads reinforces what an amazing year of reading I really had!  There were quite a few books that I loved that were so close to making this list.  I discovered some new authors, found some new series to follow, and just overall had a great year of reading.  I can only hope that 2020 turns out to be just as great!