Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review: 2014

2014 has been another great year and it's hard to believe that 2015 starts tomorrow!

Some of the highlights of this year include:
  • Attending BEA 2014 - what a great experience!!! Lots of great books, meeting other bloggers in person, networking with publishers/publicists, meeting authors and attending some of the parties! So much fun and I am definitely going again in 2015!
  • I walked my first 1/2 marathon in just over 3 hours and then did a second one for charity 3 months later.

My top reads of 2014 are (in no particular order):

So, here are my stats for 2014. Overall, I completed 158 books (which includes audio books) which is 2 books shy of what I read last year. I also participated in some fun challenges that caused me to alter some of my reading habits - all for the good. Here's the breakdown:
  • 158 books completed
    • 110 books read - 58 print/52 e-book
    • 48 audio books listened to
  • 20 books from library 
    • 6 print/14 audio
  • 7 books read from my shelves - NEED TO WORK ON THIS!!!
  • Purchased 79 books (includes audio books purchased via Audible)
    • read/listened to 44

Of the 13 year-long reading challenges that I participated in for 2014, I completed 7. To see which ones I did, see my Month in Review: December 2014 post, where I list the final totals of each challenge. While I started to freak out about this back a few months ago when I realized I wasn't going to finish a bunch of them, I decided to just let it go. After all, I did read quite a lot of books - and with some of the reading challenges, I crushed the goal, so in the end, I'm very happy with my results.

In the next few days I will be adding the challenges that I plan on participating in during 2015 - they are a combination of ones I've done before and some new ones. Some of these I sign up for merely to help me keep track of what I read - for instance, how many audio books I listen to in a year or how many e-books I read in a year. Some I do just because I enjoy participating in!

Thank you to all my readers - I love reading and sharing with you my thoughts on the books I read. I also love reading all your blogs. I look forward to seeing what 2015 brings for my way!!!


Month in Review: December 2014

Here are my reading stats for December! 
  • Books read:  11

Books I read: 
  1. The Perfect Witness -- Iris Johansen (audio book)
  2. Leaving Time -- Jodi Picoult
  3. Hunted -- Elizabeth Heiter
  4. Some Kind of Wonderful -- Beth Ciotta (e-book)
  5. The Midnight Rose -- Lucinda Riley (audio book)
  6. The Lodge on Holly Road -- Sheila Roberts (e-book)
  7. Bare Bones --Kathy Reichs (audio book)
  8. Butternut Lake: Night Before Christmas -- Mary McNear (e-book)
  9. The Life Intended -- Kristin Harmel (e-book)
  10. Mercy Snow -- Tiffany Baker (audio book)
  11. Vanished -- Elizabeth Heiter

Favorite Books of December:  

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  • The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

2014 Challenge Update: 

  •  You Read How Many Books Reading Challenge -- Books read: 158/150 (COMPLETED)
  •  Library Books Reading Challenge -- Books read: 20/50
  •  Mount TBR Reading Challenge -- Books read: 7/36
  •  Review Pile Books Reading Challenge -- Books read: 0/10
  •  Netgalley Reading Challenge -- Books read: 22/15 (COMPLETED)
  •  First Reads Reading Challenge -- Books read: 41/26 (COMPLETED)
  •  Quick Fix Fiction Reading Challenge -- Books read: 37/15 (COMPLETED)
  •  Chunkster Reading Challenge -- Books read: 5/5 (COMPLETED)
  •  E-books Challenge -- Books read: 52/25 (COMPLETED)
  •  Historical Fiction Challenge -- Books read: 15/25
  •  Nonfiction Reading Challenge -- Books read: 1/5
  •  Finish the Series Fiction Challenge -- Series completed: 1/4 + 1
  •  Audio Book Challenge -- Books listened to: 48/25 (COMPLETED)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review & Giveaway: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

Title: The Life Intended   
Author: Kristin Harmel          
Published: December 2014, Gallery Books  
Format: ARC E-book, 368 pages   
Source: Netgalley via Publicist  

From the author of the international bestseller The Sweetness of Forgetting, named one of the Best Books of Summer 2012 by Marie Claire magazine, comes a captivating novel about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.

In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

My thoughts: Every once in a while you read a book that just hits you in such a way that you find yourself constantly going back to it long after you've finished that last page. Sometimes it's because you really connect with one of the characters, sometimes it's because the writing is so beautiful and sometimes it's just the story moves you. For me, it's really a combination of all three, but more so, the last one - this story really touched me.

This is a beautiful story about love, loss, grief, and happiness and how sometimes we don't even know what it is we want until we are given a little push by our subconscious. From page one, I was drawn into this book and had a hard time putting it down. When I wasn't reading it, I was constantly thinking about the characters and wondering what was going to happen next. I felt like Kate was part of my life - a friend or family member, she felt that real to me.

I loved how the dreams that Kate had about Patrick and the life she was "supposed" to have with him were played out in the book. At first, I was a bit confused by them and not sure what it meant about Kate's state of mind, but as the book progressed, I began to understand and appreciate them.

It's hard not to go through a wide range of emotions when reading this book yourself. Tears will be shed, both in grief and in happiness. Also expect anger, excitement, joy and sadness to name a few others. I'm telling you, it's an emotional roller coaster reading this book and yet I know it will be a book I will read again and again - I loved it that much!

Thanks to Kristin at Gallery Books, one reader can win two of Kristin Harmel's books - THE LIFE INTENDED & THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by January 7th.


This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends January 7th. 

Good luck!


Review: Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas by Mary McNear

Title: Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas   
Author: Mary McNear    
Series: The Butternut Lake Trilogy, #2.5      
Published: December 2014, William Morrow Impulse  
Format: E-book, 112 pages    
Source: Publicist 

Butternut Lake is so beautiful at Christmas—from the delightfully decorated shops, to the cozy homes with their twinkling lights outside, to the lake itself. And this year so much is happening!

A wedding: Caroline meticulously plans her perfect Christmastime dream wedding to Jack, remarrying him after many years apart.

A baby: Allie and Walker are expecting the best Christmas gift of all—their first baby together.

A reunion: Daisy, Caroline and Jack's daughter, is returning home after a long semester away at college.

But what's Christmas without complications? Walker smothers Allie with worry; Daisy pines for her true love, Will, away in the army. And then the unthinkable happens—and Caroline's wedding plans are ruined.

And just when it seems all is lost, the people of Butternut Lake come together to give their friends the greatest gifts of all. . . .

My thoughts: This novella is part of Mary McNear's Butternut Lake Trilogy and it's a delightful, heartwarming holiday read. I will warn you, though, that due to its short length, you will want to have read the first two books before picking this one up so that you aren't lost as to who's who and what's going on. There isn't a whole lot of back story to fill you in on what has already transpired.

What I love most about this series is that it's both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time - it's real. I feel that I can relate to the characters in some way throughout the book because they seem so believable. I can appreciate Walker smothering Allie during her pregnancy because of the loss he suffered with his first wife - I've had my share of miscarriages and they don't ever leave you. I can also appreciate that Caroline wants to have that perfect wedding - nothing too big, but everything just right. Until things go awry and then all she wants is to just get married to the guy she loves. Any old place will do. While my wedding plans did not go awry, I was older when I got married, and didn't need all the fuss and bustle that the younger generation tends to go for. 

And then there's the joy when all seems to lost and your friends come together for a surprise that you never imagined. As you are reading this, it's hard not to guess what will ultimately end up happening along the way - in fact, there are a few surprises that really don't quite end up being full-on surprises, but still get points for their sweetness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella and cannot wait for the final book of this series to come out next Spring. I'm curious to see who will be the main focus of that book! I've been passing this books on to my mom, who's also been enjoying the series. I love when I can I can do that!!!

Books in this series:

     1.  Up at Butternut Lake
     2.  Butternut Summer
     2.5  Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas
     3.  Moonlight on Butternut Lake - due out Spring 2015


Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke (audio)

Title: The Cinderella Murder    
Author: Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke   
Series: Under Suspicion, #1   
Narrator: Jan Maxwell  
Published: November 2014, Simon & Schuster Audio  
Length: 8 hours 40 minutes   
Source: Personal copy via Audible 

Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program - a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected - is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.

Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode of Under Suspicion: the Cinderella Murder. When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. Why was her car parked miles from her body? Had she ever shown up for the acting audition she was due to attend at the home of an up-and-coming director? Why does Susan's boyfriend want to avoid questions about their relationship? Was her disappearance connected to a controversial church that was active on campus? Was she close to her computer science professor because of her technological brilliance, or something more? And why was Susan missing one of her shoes when her body was discovered?

With the help of lawyer and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley, Laurie knows the case will attract great ratings, especially when the former suspects include Hollywood's elite and tech billionaires. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen - but is Cinderella's murderer ready for a close-up?

My thoughts: I had no idea when I listened to I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark earlier this year that it would be the springboard for a new series or that she would be collaborating with Alafair Burke in the subsequent books. It wasn't until I had just started this book that I found that out - the familiar characters definitely had me thinking I'd read something similar and then I saw an interview with MHC and put it all together! I was pysched as I really enjoyed the other book and now that MHC is working with Alafair Burke, an author who I've heard nothing but good things about - I couldn't wait to see how it would all come together!

This story starts with Laurie looking for a new case to highlight now that her series, Under Suspicion, has been given the green light after a successful pilot. Having found one, the cold case of Susan Dempsey, which has been dubbed the Cinderella Murder, she begins to gather all the necessary people in one place. Of course, as the show gets rolling, it becomes evident that someone is not happy that this case is being looked into.

I was also glad to see that Alex Buckley was back. I really liked the interactions between him and Laurie in the first book - there was something just starting to happen between them and I think it's going to be fun watching whatever's brewing between them. I also enjoyed the scenes with Laurie's father and how he's not afraid to use his cop connections even across the country!

What I loved is, much like the previous book, there are quite a few red herrings thrown in to keep you guessing who is behind the murder. A few times I thought I had it figured out only to be proven wrong. As the taping continues, secrets are revealed and very slowly we get the entire picture of what really transpired the night Susan Dempsey was killed - who killed her and why. 

I think this is going to be a fun series and adding Alafair Burke into the mix, who apparently has a legal background, can only make the series that much better! I've never read anything by her before, but I definitely plan on changing that soon!

Audio Thoughts: Jan Maxwell does a great job narrating this book. She is able to give all the characters unique voices and stays consistent throughout. I hope she continues to narrate this series for as long as it goes on - I like when they use the same narrator whenever they can. This is definitely a fun series to listen to and I think one that I will continue to do on audio.

Books in this series:

     .5  I've Got You Under My Skin
     1.  The Cinderella Murder

Review: Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta

Title: Some Kind of Wonderful    
Author: Beth Ciotta    
Series: Cupcake Lovers, #3.5     
Published: October 2013, St. Martin's Paperbacks  
Format: ARC E-book, 83 pages    
Source: Netgalley  

Have yourself a scrumptious, small-town Christmas with this special Cupcake Lovers holiday novella, Some Kind of Wonderful!

Growing up in Sugar Creek, Maya Templeton and Zachary Cole were best friends. After high school, each went out into the world in search of adventure. Maya moved to Florida to explore her passion for baking and pastry-making, eventually establishing her own business: Cupcakes & Dreamscapes. Zach joined the military and became a Marine Scout Sniper. Now, after years apart, they’re both going home for the holidays. They don’t seem to have much in common anymore. In fact, Zach seems to have the hots for Maya’s business partner. But when the two get stranded together during a blizzard, they are forced to reexamine their connection. Are Maya and Zach better off “just friends”—just as they were when they were young? Or could it be that true love was there all along?

My thoughts: I really enjoy Beth Ciotta's Cupcake Lovers series and this holiday novella was just the perfect treat to read around the holidays. I have to say that this story reminded me a little bit of the romance that transpired between my husband and I. We were best friends from 8th grade all the way until we graduated high school and then went our separate ways until we reconnected 14 years later and we've been together ever since - going on eight years now, six married! I love reading stories that let me reminisce about our own story.

Zach and Maya were childhood friends who drifted apart after high school. While they've kept in touch here and there via email, they haven't seen each other in years. The problem arises when Maya sets up her best friend as Zach's pen pal. Giselle isn't exactly a great writer, so she has Maya help with some creative, romantic writing, and in the process, Maya ends up pouring out her heart's deepest desires. What happens, though, when Maya heads home with Giselle in tow and Maya sees Zach? Can she keep her distance? After all, she does have a boyfriend and Giselle does like Zach - on paper, that is.

Sometimes there are novellas that I wish were longer because I feel the romance is just a bit rushed, but this time, I feel it's just the right length. I never once felt we were short-changed on Maya and Zach's romance - it just felt right exactly the way things played out. It's sweet and tender and I hope that they make an appearance in the next book.

Books in this series:

    1.  Fool for Love
    2.  The Trouble With Love
    3.  Anything But Love

    3.5  Some Kind of Wonderful
    4.  In the Mood for Love


Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Sunday Post #53 (12.28.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey

What a wonderful holiday we had - it's always a crazy rush to get everything ready and then it goes by so quickly! And now, I am looking forward to a week of doing nothing but reading and catching up on my blog!!!

Here's two photo's from yesterday's family gathering at my house - we had four of my siblings over with their families, plus my dad - 19 in all! The kids had a great time playing with their cousins, but boy did I feel bad for my one lone nephew! The top photo is my dad with 8 of his grandkids and the bottom is 7 of the kids playing with props that my sister-in-law brought over. So fun!!!

Have a great week everyone!!! 
Last week on the Blog:               
* Review: One of Us by Tawni O'Dell  
* Review: The Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter
* Review: The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts  
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in December 26

Books Read:          
* Butternut Lake: Night Before Christmas by Mary McNear (review e-book)     
Currently Reading:            
* The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (review e-book)

* Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker  (library audio book)     

Books Up Next:                  
* Vanished by Elizabeth Heiter (review book) 

* ???

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke
* Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (with Giveaway!!!)  
* Month in Review: December 2014
* The First Book of the Year 2015
* Year in Review 2014
* 2015 Goals for Reading/Blogging/Life in General

Book Haul:       
For Review:
* The Pocket Wife by Susan H. Crawford (Edelweiss)
* One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis (Edelweiss)  
* Echo Lake by Carla Neggers (Netgalley)
* Holding Strong by Lori Foster (Netgalley)    
* The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene (audio via Audible coupon)
From the Library:
* Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker (audio book)


Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in December 26

  #BookBlogWalkers is hosted by Felicia @ The Geeky Bloggers Book Blog

This is the last weekly check-in for 2014. It was a challenging week trying to get everything set for the holidays - we traveled down to Long Island to my in-laws Wednesday -Friday and then hosted some of my family here on Saturday - four siblings and their families, my dad plus my husband and I ended up with 19 for lunch! It was a lot of fun, but a bit crazy!!! Needless to say, other than a lot of walking around here and there cleaning and getting things done, I didn't quite get too much exercise in, other than my usual walks with the dogs. Oh well. 

Here's how my week went:  

Dec 20:  30 minute walk
Dec 21:  20 minute walk
Dec 22:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs
Dec 23:  2-15 minute walks w/dogs

Dec 24:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs
Dec 25:  30 minute walk w/ dogs

Dec 26:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs
How did your week go?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts

Title: The Lodge on Holly Road   
Author: Sheila Roberts     
Series: Life in Icicle Falls, #6     
Published: October 2014, Harlequin MIRA  
Format:  ARC e-copy, 364 pages  
Source:  Netalley 

How Santa Gets His Christmas Spirit Back…

James Claussen has played Santa for years, but now that he's a widower, he's lost interest—in everything. So his daughter, Brooke, kidnaps him from the mall (in his Santa suit!) and takes him to Icicle Falls. She's arranged a special Christmas at the lodge owned by long-widowed Olivia Wallace and her son, Eric. And yet…Brooke wants Dad to be happy, but she's not ready to see someone else's mommy kissing Santa Claus.

Single mom Missy Monroe brings her kids to the lodge, too. Lalla wants a grandma for Christmas, and her brother, Carlos, wants a dog. Missy can't provide either one. What she'd like is an attractive, dependable man. A man like John Truman… But John's girlfriend will be joining him in Icicle Falls, and he's going to propose.

Of course not everything goes as planned. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones you don't expect!

My thoughts: While this is the sixth book in Sheila Roberts' Life in Icicle Falls series, it really can be read as a stand-alone. I've happened to have read all the previous books, but there really weren't too many characters or connecting stories in this book that would make you feel that you were missing out on anything if you picked this up one first. That's not to say it wasn't a charming read, just that it really does stand on it's own.

I love the little town of Icicle Falls and everything it seems to stand for. The magic of Christmas is certainly felt throughout this book, with the spirit of Christmas almost like another character in the story. I love the characters that Sheila Roberts creates - each one brings a little something to the table that we all can relate to, from love, to loss, to the promise and hope that is Christmas. We get to take an intimate peek into the lives of these characters until we feel we've known them for much longer than just a holiday season. They feel like they've become friends and you only want the very best for them. 

And these characters really are just charming. From Olivia, the lodge owner who wants everyone to have that perfect stay; to a single mother who saved up all year so she could give her two children a magical Christmas; to a widowed man playing Santa with not much Christmas spirit and his two grown children;  to a young man hoping to plan the perfect holiday to pop the question to his girlfriend - these are just some of the characters that will tug at your heartstrings in this book. 

This is definitely a great holiday read and would make the perfect holiday movie. I know at least two of her books have already been made into tv movies and hope they decide to make this one into one as well. At the back of the book, Sheila has included some of the recipes that were mentioned throughout the book that were served at the Lodge - I think I might have to try out a few as they sound pretty good!

Books in this series:  
     .5  Welcome to Icicle Falls             
     1.  Better Than Chocolate               
     2.  Merry Ex-Mas                           
     3.  What She Wants    
     4.  The Cottage on Juniper Ridge

     5.  The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane
     6.  The Lodge on Holly Road

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter

Title: Hunted   
Author: Elizabeth Heiter    
Series: The Profiler, #1      
Published: December 2013, Harlequin MIRA  
Format: Paperback, 368 pages   
Source: Library  

Terror stalks a small Virginia town.

FBI rising star, criminal profiler Evelyn Baine, knows how to think like a serial killer. But she's never chased anyone like the Bakersville Burier, who hunts young women and displays them, half-buried, deep in the woods. As the body count climbs, Evelyn's relentless pursuit of the killer puts her career - and her life - at risk. And the evil lurking in the Burier's mind may be more than even she can unravel.

Terror is closer than she thinks.

The Bakersville Burier knows he's got an FBI profiler on his trail. He knows who she is and where to find her. And he's biding his time, because he's planned a special punishment for Evelyn. She may have tracked other killers, but he vows to make this her last chase. This time it's her turn to be hunted!

My thoughts: This is the first in Elizabeth Heiter's Profiler series and I wanted to read it before her second book, Vanished, comes out next week. I flew through this book and think it's a great start to a new series!

This is thriller had me turning the pages so fast, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Right from the beginning, I was caught up in what was going on. First-year FBI Profiler Evelyn Baine is asked to give a profile for the neighboring police department after two dead bodies are found. Shortly afterwards, she finds herself the target of the serial killer. And so begins the roller-coaster ride of twists and turns. We even get inside the mind of the serial killer, which is quite creepy and sinister.

I love the main character. Evelyn's a strong, tough female lead that is driven by her past. We get glimpses of this throughout the book and you can tell it really haunts her, yet it also pushes her to be the very best at what she does. She really is a good match for the crazies that she hunts down in her line of work, particularly the killer in this book. But, she's also a flawed character, which makes her that much more believable. She has secrets from her past that she keeps to herself. She doesn't let anybody in. Not even the guys at work that want so desperately to help her. She's socially awkward and tends to come off as stand-offish because she works so much. Small talk is definitely not her thing.

I also loved the secondary characters that Elizabeth created and I'm hoping that they continue to be part of this series. There's definitely something between Evelyn and Mac, but Evelyn refuses to allow anyone in, so she continually pushes off his advances. Now, I'm not saying I want this to turn into a romance novel, but a little romance added in wouldn't be bad! I also love the dynamics between Evelyn and Greg, her former mentor at the office. I hope Greg continues to be part of the series as I think he's a good balance for her. 

I am very eager to start reading Vanished and see just what got Evelyn started on her career as an FBI Profiler. Luckily, I already have my copy of the book and will be starting to read it very soon!!!

Books in this series:
  1. Hunted
  2. Vanished

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: One of Us by Tawni O'Dell (audio)

Title: One of Us   
Author: Tawni O'Dell   
Narrator: Nick Podehl & Amy McFadden  
Published: August 2014, Brilliance Audio  
Length: 9 Hours 52 Minutes   
Source: Publisher 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Back Roads comes a fast-paced literary thriller about a forensic psychologist forced to face his own demons after discovering his small hometown terrorized by a serial killer.

Dr. Sheridan Doyle—a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist—is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners' deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny—in pursuit of a killer—comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.

In this masterfully told psychological thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the past and present collide to put Lost Creek’s long-lived ghosts to bed.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read/listened to by Tawni O'Dell and I really enjoyed it. It's a gripping, atmospheric tale that's full of secrets and kept me hooked from the start.

I loved how complex the two main characters were, Danny Doyle and Scarlet Dawes. They were so richly developed it was easy to love or strongly dislike them as you get to know them throughout the book. They each have troubled and conflicted pasts. Even the other characters are developed enough to give you a sense of either liking them or not. Coupled with that is the setting - a mining town with a troubled history, the ghosts of the past and tragic crimes.

This is why I love reading psychological thrillers - the depth of atmosphere and some truly chilling moments alongside real psychological insight into the characters and what has led them there. But there are also some lighter moments - a psychic dog and it's fabulous owner? Oh, but those scenes sure did lighten the tension. 

This story is filled with a crazy serial killer, lots of family secrets and some pretty shocking twists and turns that will leave you stunned. There are dysfunctional families galore and characters that you just can't get out of your head. I had a hard time getting out of the car while listening to this - I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next. I really think, if I could have managed it, that I could have listened to this straight through - it was that good!

Audio Thoughts: This was a fantastic book to listen to. The production was great - Amy McFadden did such a great job as Scarlet Dawes, having that sense of entitlement just ooze from her voice. Nick Podehl did just as great a job as Danny Doyle, the level-headed of the two characters. As the book alternated between Danny and Scarlet's points of views, there were times when Nick would have to do Scarlet's voice as well as the other characters and then vice versa, Amy would have to do Danny's voice and other characters. And they did this just fine. This really was a great production and I'm eager to listen to both narrators again.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Sunday Post #52 (12.21.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey

It's hard to believe this week is Christmas...I have two more crochet gifts to finish making and then I just need to wrap all the gifts. We are going to my sister's for dinner on Christmas Eve - quality Auntie time with two of my nieces - and then spending the night and Christmas Day at my in-laws. Then it's back home. Saturday we will be celebrating Christmas with my side of the family - four of my siblings and their families are coming over and it should be lots of fun. Hubby is cooking and there will be 18 people in all. We did this last year and it was a blast!

Have a great week everyone and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!!! 
Last week on the Blog:               

* Book Spotlight & Guest Post: House Broken by Sonja Yoerg
* Review: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in December 19

Books Read:          
* The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley (audio book)      
* The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts (review e-book)  
* Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs (library audio book)
Currently Reading:            
* The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (review e-book)       

Books Up Next:                  
* Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas by Mary NcNear (review e-book)

* Vanished by Elizabeth Heiter (review book)

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: One of Us by Tawni O'Dell

* Review: Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter
* Review: The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts
* Review: The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke

Book Haul:       

For Review:
* Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (Publisher)

* The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller (Negalley)
* One Wish by Robyn Carr (Netgalley)
* The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery (Netgalley)  
* Christmas in Dixie by Beth Albright (signed copy by Author)


Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in December 19

  #BookBlogWalkers is hosted by Felicia @ The Geeky Bloggers Book Blog

Well, this week certainly didn't go as planned. Work was insanely busy, plus I ended up getting that cold that was brewing last week. Needless to say there wasn't too much exercising going on here other than the usual dog walks each day. Oh least the dogs get me moving each day!!!
Here's how my week went:  

Dec 13:  rest
Dec 14:  rest
Dec 15:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs
Dec 16:  2-15 minute walks w/dogs

Dec 17:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs
Dec 18:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs

Dec 19:  2-15 minute walks w/ dogs
How did your week go?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey (audio)

Title: The Oleander Sisters    
Author: Elaine Hussey   
Narrator: Janet Metzger   
Published: July 2014, Brilliance Audio  
Length: 10 Hours 22 minutes   
Source: Publisher 

An emotionally riveting tale of the bonds of family and the power of hope in the sultry Deep South

In 1969, the first footsteps on the moon brighten America with possibilities. But along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a category five storm is brewing, and the Blake sisters of Biloxi are restless for change. Beth "Sis" Blake has always been the caretaker, the dutiful one, with the weight of her family's happiness—and their secrets—on her shoulders. She dreams of taking off to pursue her own destiny, but not before doing whatever it takes to rescue her sister.

Emily Blake, an unwed mother trying to live down her past, wants the security of marriage for the sake of her five-year-old son, Andy. But secure is the last thing she feels with her new husband. Now she must put aside pride, and trust family to help her find the courage to escape.

With Hurricane Camille stirring up havoc, two sisters—each desperate to break free—begin a remarkable journey where they'll discover that in the wake of destruction lies new life, unshakable strength and the chance to begin again. Dreams are reborn and the unforgettable force of friendship is revealed in The Oleander Sisters, an extraordinary story of courage, love and sacrifice.

My thoughts: This is the type of book that captivates you right from the beginning. It's a heartwarming tale filled with memorable characters, poignant moments, Southern charm and scrumptious recipes! Working off the theme of finding hope amidst heartbreak, Hussey pits personal family issues against a public force of nature - Hurricane Camille.

I just loved each and every character. Beth, know to all as Sis, is the caretaker of the family. She's strong and fierce and no one messes with her family or those she loves. Emily, Beth's sister, is the sweetheart of the family, but is dealing with her own demons. Sweet Mama is starting to show signs of dementia, but trying to hide it from her granddaughters and has Beulah, her friend and confidant, to help her when she gets stuck. These four women have strong personalities and really make the book come to life. I found myself going through a range of emotions as we follow their story, wanting everything to work out for them.

Between secrets coming to light and the arrival of the hurricane, this story is action-packed! Yet, I never felt that it was too much. It was quite easy to follow all the threads going on, even with the flash-backs that we occasionally got. This is definitely a story that has stayed with me and one that I think I will be revisiting, as the characters were so memorable that I feel I need to connect with them again!

Audio Thoughts: Janet Metzger did a great job with this production. She was able to give each of the characters a unique voice, oozing that Southern charm just as I would expect the characters to have. Even now, as I think back to the story, I can still hear her voices in my head - they are that memorable. This is definitely an audio I'm hanging on to, so I can re-listen to it. 

Do you have audios that you keep so you can re-listen to, because either you love the story so much or you just love the audio production?

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