Monthly Wrap Up

February 2014 Wrap-Up

February turned out to be a pretty decent month. I actually really enjoyed all the books I read this month. The only thing disappointing is that I was only able to read one of my own books, and I didn’t make it a priority to read a book for the TBR Challenge. I’m also a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to share any recipes this month. But honestly, I only tried one new recipe and it was a bit of a bust. Oh well, there’s always next month 🙂

Books read: 5 (YTD: 9)

The ExecutionThe Innocent SleepFade AwayFortunate SonPrecious Thing

The Execution by Dick Wolf
The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry 
Fade Away by Harlan Coben
Fortunate Son by David Marlett
Precious Thing by Colette McBeth (Review coming 3/4/14)

Pages read: 1583 (YTD: 3343)

Challenge Progress:

Eclectic Reader Challenge: 3/12
Official TBR Pile Challenge: 1/12
What’s in a Name Challenge: 1/6

Books received: 13 (see list here)

Purchased at Used Book Store: 10
Hard copy Review books: 3

Memes posted: 5

Events Participated In: None

Recipes shared: 0

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READING CHALLENGES 2014

#TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 2

2014tbrbutton

Well, here we are at the second TBR Challenge checkpoint. This is going to be a sweet and simple post this month.

Why?

Because I failed to read a book for this challenge this month.

*Sigh*

So now I’m slightly behind on this challenge. But I took on way too many obligations for March. I need to learn to say NO to those awesome review book requests. I do this to myself every single year. Then I get burned out and ban myself. Only to start the vicious cycle all over again.

It’s okay though, now that I’m a book behind I have a reason to read more of my books 🙂

Here’s to hoping March is much better!

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book

2014.8 REVIEW – Fortunate Son by David Marlett

Fortunate Son
by David Marlett

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 337
Rating: 4/5
Read: Feb. 14 – Feb. 20, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 8
Format: Print
Source: The Story Plant for blog tour

Fortunate SonBlurb: Meet James Annesley, son of 18th Century Ireland. Though you may have never heard his name before, his story has already touched you in profound ways. Now, for the first time, novelist David Marlett brings that incredible story to life.

Stretching from the dirty streets of Ireland to the endless possibilities of Colonial America, from drama on the high seas with the Royal Navy to a life-and-death race across England and up the Scottish Highlands, from the prospect of a hangman’s noose to a fate decided in the halls of justice, Fortunate Son is a powerful, relentless epic. Here nobility, duels, love, courage, revenge, honor, and treachery among family, friends and ancient enemies abound. And at its center is the most momentous trial in Irish history – the trial of Annesley v. Anglesea from which our modern “attorney/client privilege” was forged, and our concept of a “jury of one’s peers” was put to the test.

Carefully researched, vividly evoked, and lovingly brought to the page, Fortunate Son is an unforgettable work of fiction based on fact, one that will resonate deep within you long after you finish it.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free from The Story Plant for review purposes in conjunction with a blog tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

When I was pitched this book, I was immediately drawn to the words “historical,” “courtroom drama” and “epic adventure.” They had me at hello!

I will say that in the beginning I found this book difficult to read. It’s very true-to-form in regards to the language used. I’m not used to reading books that have 18th century language. But once I got used to that it was a lot of fun. Jemmy, what a character. He went through so much, honestly, that it really hurt me at times to read what was happening.

I cannot imagine the amount of research that Mr. Marlett put into this book. It’s billed as being “carefully researched,” but that simply does not do it justice. As a reader I could tell that Mr. Marlett knew his subject inside and out and I truly believe that this is what made this book so very readable.

It might be a “courtroom historical adventure” but this book is all of that and so much more. The blood, sweat and tears, of the characters and the author are ever-present in this book. I really recommend this book to adventure fans, historical fans, and legal fans. It’s a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it!


About the author:

shapeimage_1David Marlett is an attorney, artist, and self-trained historian who grew up in a storytelling Texas family. He attended Texas Tech University where he earned multiple degrees in finance, economics and accounting. Subsequently, he earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. David has created and written stories and screenplays since childhood, and is particularly interested in richly textured history and the drama behind major courtroom battles. He is a serial entrepreneur focused primarily on the arts. (He once owned eight bookstores across the United States.) David currently speaks and lectures at conferences and universities on trans- media, storytelling, entrepreneurship in the arts, and crowdfunding. He has been a featured contributor to Movie Maker magazine, Digital Book World, and many other publications. He has developed and sold a number of film scripts and has directed/ acted in many regional theatrical performances. David is also a photoartist whose work has appeared in several galleries across the United States. He lives outside Dallas, Texas, and has four children. His second novel, American Red, another historical courtroom drama, is due to be published in late 2014.

Connect with Mr. Marlett:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, February 24, 2014

Mailbox Monday has returned home to Mailbox Monday’s site this year.

Nothing came into my actual mailbox this week. Maybe I was getting anxious about that, so I decided a trip to the used book store was in order. But when I got there, I saw the worst note on the door ever. My one and only used bookstore in my town is going out of business in April. I can’t even tell you how upset this makes me. All that leaves me with in my town is whatever I can scrounge up at the Goodwill and a big box store that I’m not particularly fond of. I. Am. Devastated. I guess I will be doing a lot more online purchasing now, but that still doesn’t help the fact that I can’t go browse at that store anymore. I can’t talk about this anymore, it’s so upsetting to me (I know, I’m a dork).

So. I loaded up with 10 new-to-me books. And I can only hope that I will get a few free hours to myself before they close so I can go back at least one more time.

Here’s what I got:

Absolute PowerHello, DarknessGone for GoodThe RookThe AssociationTerrifiedOath of OfficeThe Tenth CircleThe Patriots ClubMurder in Georgetown

Some goodies that I’m definitely excited about. Too bad I’ve got so much reading ahead of me that I have no idea whatsoever when I will be able to get to any of these. *Sigh*

What about you, what did you get this week?

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, LT Early Reviewer, P, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book

2014.6 REVIEW – The Innocent Sleep by Karen Perry

The Innocent Sleep
by Karen Perry

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 323
Rating: 4/5
Read: Feb. 1 – Feb. 5, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 6
Format: Print
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program

The Innocent SleepBlurb: Tangier. Harry is preparing his wife’s birthday dinner while she is still at work and their son, Dillon, is upstairs asleep in bed. Harry suddenly remembers that he’s left Robin’s gift at the cafe in town. It’s only a five-minute walk away, and Dillon is hard to put down for the night, so Harry decides to run out and fetch the present.

Disaster strikes. An earthquake hits, buildings crumble, people scream and run. Harry fights his way through the crowds to his house, only to find it a crumbled wreck. Dillon is presumed dead, though his body is never found.

Five years later, Harry and Robin have settled into a new life after relocating to their native Dublin. Their grief will always be with them, but lately it feels as if they’re ready for a new beginning. Harry’s career as an artist is taking off and Robin has just realized that she’s pregnant.

But when Harry gets a glimpse of Dillon on the crowded streets of Dublin, the past comes rushing back at them both. Has Dillon been alive all these years? Or was what Harry saw just a figment of his guilt-ridden imagination? With razor-sharp writing, Karen Perry’s The Innocent Sleep delivers a fast-paced, ingeniously plotted thriller brimming with deception, doubt, and betrayal.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

They say there are two sides to every story. Sometimes, there are three. (p. 265 from ARC)

Oh where to start with this review? I have to admit that I slept on my thoughts before really sitting down and writing them out. It’s so hard to put into words my feelings regarding this book without revealing major spoilers.

So to begin, overall this is a thrill-a-minute book that slowly reveals itself to a pulse-pounding, nearly unbelievable conclusion.

I guess I have to really start with the entire notion that a parent would leave their young son in bed asleep and go out and down the street. I don’t care if it’s 3 blocks down or next door, you just don’t do that. Heck, I don’t even like to go to the mailbox when Garrett is asleep! It’s just something that I cannot wrap my brain around. So from the beginning I had a really big problem with Harry’s character. I simply could not trust him after that revelation. And then there’s Robin. I was so fed up with her character because she continued to stay with Harry after he not only left Dillon alone asleep in bed but there was another big revelation that is just absolutely unforgivable. What kind of woman could really stay with a man like Harry? Well as the reader continues, it becomes very obvious that not everyone is as perfect as they appear. Robin has some pretty nasty stuff in her past as well. They’re both incredibly flawed characters. But it works for some reason.

So how on earth could I possibly like a book that I was really disgusted by the two main characters? I simply cannot answer that question. But for whatever reason, it works. The psychological mind twist that goes on throughout this book really makes you want to keep reading. I had to know what happened. I had to know if Harry was losing his mind. I had to know if Dillon could really be alive.

And then the ending … the last page. Just, wow. There’s a huge twist that I never saw coming and left me with a little lukewarm feeling. Personally it felt unnecessary and more than a little unbelievable if you ask me. Unnecessary, that’s really the best word that I can use for the ending. But please don’t let this change your decision to read this book, because it’s a good read.

This is just one of those books that words can’t adequately describe. You have to really read it to understand it. I can’t say much more about it without giving away entirely too much. Just read it. Seriously.

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Edelweiss, Fiction, Lucy Black, M, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, SERIES

2014.2 REVIEW – Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway

Little Girl Lost
by Brian McGilloway

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 238
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Jan. 7 – 12, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 2
Format: E-Book
Source: Edelweiss

LITTLE GIRL LOST_cover imageBlurb: Midwinter. A child is found wandering through the snowy woods, her hands covered in someone else’s blood.

Authorities suspect the child is the kidnapped daughter of real estate tycoon Michael McLaughlin. Once they realize she is far too young to be the missing teenager, they reach a dead end in identifying the girl, who either cannot or will not speak. The only adult she seems to trust is the young officer who found her, Detective Lucy Black. A frenzied investigation to find the McLaughlins’ daughter and to discover the name of the mysterious child is ignited when it becomes apparent that the two cases are linked. As Lucy digs deeper and deeper into the case, she is forced to question not only the persons of interest, but everything she thought she knew about her own past.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via Edelweiss for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

I had come across this book randomly on Edelweiss one day and my interest was piqued. Honestly the first time I saw it, there was no book description. All that was there was the book cover. This book’s cover really is what caught my interest (I’m not normally a big cover person). Maybe a week later my contact at William Morrow sent me more information on this book and I immediately clicked the link she sent through for direct access to the book. I loaded it onto my Nook the day Bout of Books started and I was off reading.

The first few pages in I had determined that this author must really have an issue with spell-check. I was a little concerned until I saw the tell-tale “our” on the end of a word instead of the American “or” version. That was finally when I realized that it’s okay that “curb” was spelled “kerb” and “pajamas” was “pyjamas.” I guess I should spend a little more time reading what publicists send me so I know that I’m actually reading a European author write a book set in Ireland! Actually it’s pretty sad because when I look back at the email I was originally sent the subject line actually reads: “#1 UK Kindle Bestseller now available by Witness.” Um, yeah, Tara … you could be a little more observant!

Anyway, I guess I should really stop with the rambling and get on with the review.

So, I will say that I was immediately taken with Lucy Black’s character. She just seemed to spunky and fresh. And you knew immediately that she was dealing with some personal issues as well. Her father is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she has moved back home in order to care for him. Her relationship with her mother is very seriously lacking. And she’s trying to settle into a new job in a new department. So what happens? She dives straight into a case and starts finding connections that some people don’t want to be made. Lucy is such a compassionate character – she really has a way with children and she’s a saint for what she deals with in regards to her father’s failing condition. She’s just a really likable character. I am also interested in seeing how her mother’s character is fleshed out in the future books. The door is open for them to have more of a relationship, I hope that it happens for both of them.

The writing itself was very good and the storyline was really interesting. There were a lot of twists and turns along the way. And when Lucy finally came to figuring out the entire thing, well in order to avoid spoilers, let’s just say that you will probably be surprised with how things end up unfolding. I especially liked how the storylines ended up weaving in together. I spent the majority of the first part of the book trying to figure out how the two cases were going to come together, so it was very interesting to see how they finally did – and not entirely surprising, either.

I’m excited that this is the first in a new series. I can only hope that the next book in the series will be made available in the US as well because I am very eager to meet these characters once again.

Highly recommended.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, February 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday has returned home to Mailbox Monday’s site this year.

One review book this week:

The Sound of Broken GlassIN THE PAST … On a blisteringly hot August afternoon in Crystal Palace, once home to the tragically destroyed Great Exhibition, a solitary thirteen-year-old boy meets his next-door neighbor, a recently widowed young teacher hoping to make a new start in the tight-knit South London community. Drawn together by loneliness, the unlikely pair forms a deep connection that ends in a shattering act of betrayal.

IN THE PRESENT … On a cold January morning in London, Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job while her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home caring for their three-year-old foster daughter. Assigned to lead a Murder Investigation Team in South London, she’s assisted by her trusted colleague, newly promoted Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Their first case: a crime scene at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace. The victim: a well-respected barrister, found naked, trussed, and apparently strangled. Is it an unsavory accident or murder? In either case, he was not alone, and Gemma’s team must find his companion – a search that takes them into unexpected corners and forces them to contemplate unsettling truths about the weaknesses and passions that lead to murder. Ultimately, they will question everything they think they know about their world and those they trust most.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, Myron Bolitar, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, SERIES

2014.7 REVIEW – Fade Away by Harlan Coben

Fade Away 
by Harlan Coben

Copyright: 1996
Pages: 355
Rating: 4/5
Read: Feb. 6 – Feb. 13, 2014
Challenge: Eclectic Reader Challenge
Yearly count: 7
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy

Fade AwayBlurb: In novels that crackle with wit and suspense, Harlan Coben has created one of the most fascinating heroes in suspense fiction: the wisecracking, tenderhearted sports agent Myron Bolitar. In this gripping third novel in the acclaimed series, Myron must confront a past that is dead and buried – and more dangerous than ever before.

The home is top-notch New Jersey suburban. The living room is Martha Stewart. The basement is Legos – and blood. The signs of a violent struggle. For Myron Bolitar, the disappearance of a man he once competed against is bringing back memories – of the sport he and Greg Downing had both played and the woman they both loved. Now, among the stars, the wannabes, the gamblers, and the groupies, Myron is embarking upon the strange ride of a sports hero gone wrong that just may lead to certain death. Namely, his own.


Review: This is the third book in the Myron Bolitar series and I want to start this review by telling you the same thing I told you in my review of the second book (Drop Shot). Myron Bolitar is hilarious. Laugh out loud hilarious. Yeah sometimes it’s pretty cheesy, but for the most part it’s really funny. Humor is not something I have in the book that I read, so this was a nice light read for me … just what I needed, really!

In this book Myron is called back onto the basketball court. His NBA career was over before it even began many years prior when his knee blew out after an unfortunate collision with another player. So you could tell that Myron was as giddy as could be when the opportunity arose which would place him back on the court. Yeah, he understood he wasn’t in as good of shape as the other guys and that he would likely warm the bench. But still, you can’t help but smile at the thought of a second chance for Myron. Regardless of how short-lived it would be. And so what if this opportunity arises because a star player has disappeared and he’s really only joining the team to get closer to the team members in order to try to find Greg Downing.

There are many twists and turns in this one. Myron finds himself crossing paths with the Mob, murderers, blackmailers and even some people who have been underground for many years after being outed as 1960s revolutionaries. There’s a lot that goes on and every twist and turn definitely kept me on my toes because I never knew what Myron would find himself involved in next.

Overall this is a really good book. The characters were well-developed. The writing was excellent. The storyline was interesting. The book’s pacing was spot on. There’s not much at all I can honestly find to complain about.

I’m definitely interested in seeing where Myron goes next now that he’s had his “closure” from his playing days. I think what I like most about Myron is that yeah he’s funny, but he’s really got heart. There’s just something to him that works.

Definitely a good book that I would definitely recommend, but I don’t know if this one would standalone very well. I’m sure it would be okay, but I honestly think that you won’t understand some of the secondary characters if you don’t have the background of the first two books.

Either way, definitely recommended.

Favorite quotes:

Riverside Drive was relatively quiet. Myron arrived at his Kinney lot on 46th Sreet and tossed Mario the keys. Mario did not park the Ford Taurus up front with the Rolls, the Mercedes, Win’s Jack; in fact, he usually managed to find a cozy spot underneath what must have been a nesting ground for loose-stooled pigeons. Car discrimination. It was an ugly thing, but where were the support groups? (p. 34)

Myron checked the clock. He’d been in for thirty-four seconds and his man had scored five points. Myron did some quick math. At that rate, Myron could hold Reggie Wallace to under six hundred points per game. (p. 241)

4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014, SERIES, Sookie Stackhouse

2014.1 REVIEW – The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People
by Jennifer McMahon

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 336
Rating: 4.5/5
Read: Dec. 29, 2013 – Jan. 1, 2014
Challenge: Eclectic Reader 2014, What’s in a Name 2014
Yearly count: 1
Format: E-Book
Source: Edelweiss

The Winter PeopleBlurb: West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

 


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via Edelweiss for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

In January of 2013, I had my first experience with a Jennifer McMahon book, The One I Left Behind. It absolutely blew me away and ended up on my Best Reads of 2013 list. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw her 2014 release available on Edelweiss for request. You can bet your life that I clicked that request button as soon as absolutely possible (and probably put something like “I loved her last book and would love to read this one” in the additional request box …).

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting of this book, but I know I went in with it with high expectations. Overall I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed. However, it definitely wasn’t the book I expected it to be. I was expecting more mystery than ghost story. But it’s okay, because once again, Ms. McMahon blew me away.

If I honestly had to use one word to sum up this book it would without a doubt be “creepy.” Extremely creepy. Like, I had to put it aside at 10:30pm because I was too creeped out to continue and didn’t want to give myself nightmares creepy.

This book flips back and forth between the present day storyline and the 1908 storyline. There are so many characters in the beginning that I will be completely honest here and let you know that I was a little confused by the sheer number of characters being mentioned. But eventually things come together nicely and you really understand the need for all the characters.

The writing was extremely good. The storyline was so fresh and interesting. The characters were extremely well-developed. And the mystery of it all was so incredibly creepy I still give a little bit of a shudder when I think back on the book itself.

Overall I really have nothing but nice things to say about this book. I definitely highly recommend it and am so excited to realize that I have found another favorite author to put on my auto-read list!

Highly recommended.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, February 10, 2014

Mailbox Monday has returned home to Mailbox Monday’s site this year.

Two more review books this week:

The Weight of BloodFor fans of Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Daniel Woodrell comes a gripping, suspenseful novel about two mysterious disappearances a generation apart.
 
The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane’s mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy’s family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family’s influence, Lucy—darkly beautiful as her mother was—is always thought of by those around her as her mother’s daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls—the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t save—and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri’s death.

What Lucy discovers is a secret that pervades the secluded Missouri hills, and beyond that horrific revelation is a more personal one concerning what happened to her mother more than a decade earlier.

The Weight of Blood is an urgent look at the dark side of a bucolic landscape beyond the arm of the law, where a person can easily disappear without a trace. Laura McHugh proves herself a masterly storyteller who has created a harsh and tangled terrain as alive and unforgettable as the characters who inhabit it. Her mesmerizing debut is a compelling exploration of the meaning of family: the sacrifices we make, the secrets we keep, and the lengths to which we will go to protect the ones we love.


Watching the DarkA decorated policeman is murdered on the tranquil grounds of the St. Peter’s Police Treatment Centre, shot through the heart with a crossbow arrow, and compromising photographs are discovered in his room. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is well aware that he must handle the highly sensitive and dangerously explosive investigation with the utmost discretion. And as he digs deeper, he discovers that the murder may be linked to an unsolved missing persons case from six years earlier and the current crime may involve crooked cops.