Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich (audio)

Title: The Winter Girl
Author: Matt Marinovich
Narrator: Quincy Dunn-Baker
Published: January 2016, Recorded Books
Length: 6 hours 26 minutes
Source: Publisher

A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband’s obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

It’s wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor’s booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor’s bedroom turn off. It’s clearly a timer…but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there’s something about that light he can’t let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn’t felt in a long time. Soon, it’s not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can’t restart the passion.

Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.

Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection.

My thoughts: It's no surprise that I'm a fan of pyschological thrillers, so when I saw this as a choice to review, I jumped at the chance. I've never heard of Matt Marinovich, so I wasn't sure what to expect...and boy was I in for a surprise...this was quite a ride!

While I did like this book, it was definitely darker, twistier and more disturbing than most of the psychological thrillers I've picked up so far. There is also little to no character development, which allows for the shorter length of the book. But, that's not to say that there isn't a lot happening, because there is - often at the same time. This adds to the tension of the book, and with all the little plot-twists, there's an intensity that has you wanting more. This was a hard book to walk away from until you knew how it would weird as that sounds.

Because there was little character development, it was hard to make connections with any of the characters. You never really felt like you knew that much about them. You just feel this odd compulsion to find out what is going to happen next to them and how they are involved in what is going on. There are secrets and crazy sexual games and personal agendas that will have your head spinning trying to figure it all out. 

A short book, but one that packs a punch...this is one twisted, evil book. If you end up reading it or listening to it, let me know! 

Audio thoughts:
This is the first time I've listened to Quincy Dunn-Baker narrate a book and I thought he did a great job. As creepy as this book was, his voice added just a little bit more of a  creep factor to it, in a good way...this was a dark, twisted book and having a male narrator just fit. Good choice with this narrator!


Sunday, May 29, 2016

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 27

I seem to have gotten off track with my yoga and need to fix that...while I haven't actually made it to classes in a while, I had been doing some yoga at home and was feeling good about it - and could actually start to feel the difference. I found some really great yoga flows on pinterest and would mix up what I would do each day...I just need to get back to doing that and hopefully find time to fit in a class or two as well. 

Our weather has gone from cold to hot in the blink of an eye, so now I really need to get those walks in early in the morning if I want to walk outside or use the gym or mall! I'll be upping my mileage soon - I'm doing a big walk early next year and need to up my endurance...more on this in the coming weeks ;)

Here's how my week went:     
May 21:  15,486 steps (5K - 4 Charity miles for Girls on the Run)
May 22:  13,220 steps
May 23:  17,234 steps
(30 min walk)
May 24:  10,843 steps (5K - 3.5 Charity miles for Girls on the Run)

May 25:  15,198 steps (5K - 4.5 Charity miles for Girls on the Run)

May 26: 
11,431 steps (30 min walk)
May 27: 
11,101 steps (30 min walk)
Total Steps: 94,513 steps
Audiobooks listened to this week: 

  • Started & Finished After Perfect by Christina McDowell, narrated by Christina McDowell
  • Started Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford, narrated by Anna Bentinck

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -  9
         10K  -  0                                10K  -  2

           5K  -  4
         10K  -  1
           5K  -  4
         10K  -  1
           5K  -  4
         10K  -  5


Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Spotlight: Appetite by Sheila Grinell

Title: Appetite
Author: Sheila Grinell
Published: May 2017, She Writes Press
Format: Paperback, 328 pages

When Jenn Adler returns from a year in India, she has a surprise for her parents: a young guru from Bangalore whom she intends to marry. Her father, Paul, is wary of this beggar Jenn has brought home who, he suspects, is conning his much-loved daughter while her mother, Maggie, is frightened that this alien stranger will steal away her only child, her focus in life. In the months leading up to the backyard wedding, Maggie is forced to reevaluate her virtues as she casts about for support, and Paul faces an unexpected threat at work one that Maggie could help him meet, if he would only ask. But even with these distractions, the two parents are focused on one primary question: Can they convince their daughter she is making a terrible mistake before the wedding takes place?

What readers are saying

"Appetite examines the different ways we seek satisfaction in our lives―some of us are hungry for power, others for love, and some find comfort in duty and tradition. This realistic and engrossing portrait of two generations is a promising first novel with wide appeal.” --Booklist

“Sheila Grinell’s debut novel Appetite takes us into the heart of a family being torn apart by conflicting beliefs about what constitutes love, marriage, and success. Do parents have the right to try to stop an adult child from marrying if they see disaster looming, or should they back off and wait to pick up the pieces? In this tight, well-written novel, Grinell highlights the conflict between youthful idealism and adult disillusionment in ways that are both moving and thought-provoking.” --Mary Mackey, author of the New York Times bestseller A Grand Passion

Appetite is the story of the conflict between a boomer couple, Maggie and Paul Adler, and Jenn, their millennial daughter, over the daughter’s impending marriage to an Indian guru. It is an engrossing account of a struggle to find common ground about how life should be lived. Long-held principles can be lost, debased, and degraded over time, sometimes to disastrous effect, while hopeful and idealistic plans for the future remain untried. This intergenerational drama of relationships, both long-established and newly formed, makes for a gripping journey―not only for the characters but for the reader as well. Sheila Grinell has done a splendid job in this fascinating first novel.” --Mickey Friedman, author of Hurricane Season

“In her debut novel, Sheila Grinell weaves a rich and sensual tapestry of individuals held together by devotion and duty. Taut and sexy, Appetite is a story about finding your own way and the magnetic appeal of youth, ambition, and freedom. A fun read that will leave you hungry for more.” --Gina Gotsill, co-author of Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y Employees

Appetite  by  Sheila Grinell  is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks.

Follow the #SRC2016, #BestSRCEver and #BestSummerEver hashtags on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! 


Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Title: No One Knows
Author: J.T. Ellison
Published: March 2016, Gallery Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by J.T. Ellison...and it definitely will not be the last!!! I know that she co-writes a series with Catherine Coulter that is on my to-read-list, but I did not know the extent of her back list of books...and I plan to get on that asap! But this book...OMG - this book was so good and I'm so glad that it was chosen as one of the She Reads 'Books of Spring' selections...yet another fantastic choice!

Psychological thrillers have definitely become my go-to read lately - I just can't seem to get enough of them and there are so many good ones that have come out recently. This one is so twisty and complicated - it's like a mystery within a mystery. J.T. Ellison certainly knows how to manipulate us as she pulls us into the story, making us sympathize with Aubrey as she deals with the grief of losing Josh. But, just how well do you know the people you love? 

There are such wickedly fascinating, twisted characters in this book - characters that you aren't sure you can trust. They are all flawed, which makes them that much more believable, even if they are not necessarily likeable, and also makes you want to know more about them...are any of them telling the truth? Are any of them redeemable?

It's hard to say more without giving any major spoilers away, but I'll leave you with this...I had a hard time putting this book down once I started reading it. I found myself completely immersed in the book, desperately needing to know what was going to happen. Every time I thought I had things figured out, some twist would occur that would have me gasping and having to recalculate...if you like a good twisty, suspenseful book, pick this one up!!!

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison is one of the She Reads "Books of Spring" reading selection picks. 

Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as posts related to the other "Books of Spring" selections. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman (audio)

Title: Sweet Forgiveness
Author: Lori Nelson Spielman
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Published: June 2015, Blackstone Audio / Plume
Length: 9 hours 50 minutes / 336 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley

#1 international bestselling author Lori Nelson Spielman follows The Life List with Sweet Forgiveness, in which a woman’s receipt of two “forgiveness stones” sends her searching for atonement

The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation—instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans' favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn't biting. Intensely private and dating the city’s mayor, Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years—and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah’s show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.

Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she’s clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs, or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever.

My thoughts: I read Lori Nelson Spielman's debut novel, The Life List, a while back and absolutely loved it, so when I saw this one, I knew I needed to pick it up...and I'm so glad I did. This one is such a thought-provoking and beautifully written book about forgiveness and what it takes to let go.

I love Lori's books because they not only entertain, they make you think about your life and how you can better it. In this case, the whole concept of forgiveness. Is it enough to just forgive and forget? Or is there more to it? I loved the idea of the Forgiveness Stones that Lori uses as the crux of her story and her characters are just so wonderfully flawed and life-like that you can so picture them actually reacting as you or your friends/family would were they to be given the Forgiveness Stones. 

This book provides so much food for's one that I think is definitely a keeper and even one for repeat reads, if not all the way through then at least certain sections, just to savor the writing and the little tidbits that Lori has shared with us.  Lori Nelson Spielman has quickly become an auto-read author for me and I cannot wait to see what comes next from her!

Audio thoughts:
I really enjoyed listening to this book...I thought Tavia did a great job with the voices and the pacing was just right. She was able to use just the right amount of emotion when called for and it was a very enjoyable listening experience. 


Sunday, May 22, 2016

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in May 20

This week was a little calmer than last week...that's for sure! I ended up spending the day on Friday at the elementary school I used to teach at many years ago - they were having their "Mini-Marathon Day" where all the kids do a "fun" run, the distance dependent on the age of the kids. They even have a teacher/parent run to start off the day! It was a great day and I loved getting a chance to catch up with all the teachers I used to work with. But, more importantly, it was so great seeing all these kids learn the importance of being active and learn that it's not so much about what place you come in in a race but about sportsmanship and finishing what you start. These kids did such a great job cheering their friends and having a good time and being active!
Here's how my week went:     
May 14:  14,072 steps (5K - 3.22 Charity miles for Girls on the Run)
May 15:  10,137 steps
May 16:  21,178 steps
(10K - 6.28 Charity miles for Girls on the Run)
May 17:  10,053 steps (30 min walk)

May 18:  15,050 steps (30 min walk)

May 19: 
11,850 steps (30 min walk)
May 20: 
12,738 steps (30 min walk)
Total Steps: 95,078 steps

Audiobooks listened to this week: 

  • Started & Finished The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza, narrated by Jan Cramer

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -  6
         10K  -  0                                10K  -  2

           5K  -  4
         10K  -  1
           5K  -  4
         10K  -  1
           5K  -  4
         10K  -  5

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