Monthly Wrap Up

April 2014 Wrap-Up

I knew I was going to hit the wall. I knew it was inevitable. It happened this month. I just lost the reading mojo that I had the first three months of the year. Not sure what happened, but I’m slumping pretty badly. I hope I can snap out of it relatively quickly. Regardless, here’s what I read in April:

Books read: 4 (YTD: 19)

Duke City SplitChildren of the RevolutionStorm Frontspymistress-198x300

Duke City Split by Max Austin
Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini 

Pages read: 1262 (YTD: 6571)

Challenge Progress:

Eclectic Reader Challenge: 3/12
Official TBR Pile Challenge: 2/12
What’s in a Name Challenge: 1/5

Books received: 6 (see list here)

Hard copy Review books: 3
Electronic Review Books: 2
Paperbackswap Box-of-Books Trade: 1

Memes posted: 5

Events Participated In: None

Recipes shared: 0

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2014.19 REVIEW – The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Spymistress
by Jennifer Chiaverini

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 351
Rating: 4/5
Read: April 15 – 25, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 19
Format:  Print
Source: TLC Book Tours
Series: None

: Born to slave-holding aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia, and educated by Northern Quakers, Elizabeth Van Lew was a paradox of her time. When her native state seceded in April 1861, Van Lew’s convictions compelled her to defy the new Confederate regime. Pledging her loyalty to the Lincoln White House, her courage would never waver, even as her wartime actions threatened not only her reputation, but also her life.

Van Lew helped to construct the Richmond Underground and orchestrated escapes from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison under the guise of humanitarian aid. Her spy ring’s reach was vast, from clerks in the Confederate War and Navy departments to the very home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In Chiaverini’s riveting tale of high-stakes espionage, a great heroine of the Civil War finally gets her due.

Review: For those of you that don’t know, my college degree is in history. I have a deep love for the Civil War and Civil Rights eras. So you can imagine how quickly I jumped on the opportunity to read and review this book.

And I am pleased to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is extremely obvious that Ms. Chiaverini has done some massive research in preparation for this novel.

I think that the most important thing we can learn from Lizzie is that you should never underestimate a woman! She totally went against the norm in her thinking as well as her actions. She risked everything to work towards something she believed in wholeheartedly. She is the ultimate definition of a hero in my opinion.

I found the writing to be impeccable. The characters, even the most minor ones, were well developed. The overall storyline never lagged for me, it kept my attention all the way through.

Overall I highly recommend this book. I think history buffs and casual readers alike will all find something enjoyable in this book!

About the author:

Jennifer-Chiaverini-256x300Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt projects inspired by the novels. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

Connect with Jennifer on her website,, and on Twitter @jchiaverini.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

As always, I hope you will take the time to visit the other stops on the tour:

Monday, April 28thTales of a Book Addict
Thursday, May 1stLiterally Jen
Friday, May 2ndKritter’s Ramblings
Monday, May 5thFiction State of Mind
Tuesday, May 6thReading Reality
Wednesday, May 7thFrom the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 8thWest Metro Mommy
Friday, May 9thMom in Love with Fiction
Tuesday, May 13thPassages to the Past
Wednesday, May 14thBroken Teepee
Thursday, May 15thWords for Worms
Friday, May 16thNo More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, May 19thDaily Mayo
Tuesday, May 20thBookchickdi
Wednesday, May 21stPeppermint Ph.D.
Thursday, May 22ndMust Read Faster
Friday, May 23rdFiction Addict
Tuesday, May 27thThe Most Happy Reader
Tuesday, May 28th:  Books a la Mode – author guest post
Thursday, May 29thLit and Life
Baby Book Addict, Life

Three Weeks In…

…at daycare and things are going really well!!

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. He’s never been cared for by anyone other than family. He’s never not been the center of attention. I didn’t know how he would react. But I’m so pleased to say that he has really taken to daycare. And I hate to say that he actually gets upset when he doesn’t go on Thursday and Friday!

Those first couple of days were rough on momma. The first day I chose to take off and stay close to home (I work an hour from home) just in case something terrible went wrong and I needed to be there. Hub and I both went and dropped him off. He didn’t cry, but he was apprehensive about us leaving. I was perfectly fine driving the 13 minutes back to our house. And was fine through a phone conversation with my mother. I lost it when I sat down on the couch with the dog and looked up at the pictures on our entertainment center. I broke down and cried like a baby. I second guessed our decision all day that day.

But I have never second-guessed it since. He loves it. His little personality is really coming out now. He’s such a ham! His vocabulary is expanding daily (he is a little bit behind where he “should” be, but not to the point where therapy is needed). In three days he went from barely being able to hold a fork to feeding himself with it. And can I just say that the kid now actually eats? Feeding time has always been a fiasco in our house … from the constant spit-up from his reflux as an infant to his pickiness now as a toddler, dinner time is a challenge. Not so much anymore, he does so much better now. He eats it without me having to constantly repeat “eat your food”.

I know I was apprehensive about placing him in daycare when it was technically a choice and not a necessity. But I am seeing my little boy blossom in ways I never expected each and every day.

And I respect my time with him more than I ever did. When you see your child all day every day, you tend to lose sight of what’s important. I treasure every moment I get with him on Friday, because that’s “our” day now.

Sometimes I tear up wondering where on earth my little baby has gone to. But at the same time I love seeing the little boy that he’s growing into. (He is more than likely going to be an only child).

How on earth will he be TWO next month?!

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #19


Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

Critical Damage

Today I’m featuring a book that I have accepted for review. 

Mallen stared down at the hollow-point hypodermic needle poised over his arm, about a half-inch south of the crook in his elbow. The first needle he’d been around since quitting. The piece of rubber tied tight on his upper right arm was a sensation he hadn’t thought he’d ever experience again.

But here he fuckin’ was.

I read and reviewed the first Mark Mallen book, Untold Damage last year and loved it!! So I was thrilled when Mr. Lewis contacted me about reading his newest Mallen book, Critical Damage. I haven’t started this one yet, but those first few sentences really stick out at me because I know that Mallen is a recovering addict … is he relapsing? I’ll have to keep reading to find out 🙂 I can’t wait to get into this one and see what happens with Mallen this time around!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, B, Book Review, Dresden Files, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, SERIES

2014.18 REVIEW – Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front
by Jim Butcher

Copyright: 2000
Pages: 322
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: April 4 – 15, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 18
Format:  Print
Source: Personal Copy (PBS)
Series: Dresden Files #1

: Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a – well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get … interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Review: A little while back I asked my Twitter friends for recommendations for a person who wanted to dabble in urban fantasy. Samantha gave me many recommendations, but this one stuck out for me. So I put myself on the wait list for it at Paperbackswap (I have credits out the wazoo) and got it relatively quickly. Then it sat. And sat some more. I finally picked it up when I realized I wanted a guilt-free book, something that wasn’t scheduled, just random.

So what are my thoughts? Well, if you know me very well, you will know that anything sci-fi and/or paranormal is wayyy out of my comfort zone. I’m slowly getting into paranormal, but I still have that “yeah, right” mentality when things get weird.

But overall I enjoyed this one. I won’t lie to you, I found myself losing interest slightly about halfway through. But there was something about Harry’s character that really drew me in. Believe it or not … he’s funnyI never would have thought there would be humor in this book. But there was a bit of it throughout the whole book. He’s just got a lot of sarcasm in him. I liked it!

There’s not much to say about this book that probably hasn’t already been discussed (I hate that part of reviewing older books … it seems like everyone has already read them, what is there left to say?!). Overall I have to say, for my first foray into the real of urban fantasy, it wasn’t all that bad. I kind of liked it. Okay, I really liked it at certain times. And while it will probably take me forever to do so, I will more than likely continue on with this series.

So thanks, Samantha, for a great recommendation!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book

2014.17 REVIEW – Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson

Children of the Revolution
by Peter Robinson

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 336
Rating: 4/5
Read: April 2 – 11, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 17
Format:  Print
Source: Publicist for blog tour
Series: Inspector Alan Banks #21

Children of the RevolutionBlurbThe body of a disgraced college lecturer Gavin Miller is found on an abandoned railway line by a woman out walking her dog early one winter morning. In the four years since Miller’s dismissal for sexual misconduct, he’s been living like a hermit, listening to music from his college days and existing as frugally as possible on the outskirts of a small village. So where did he get the five thousand pounds found in his pocket?

Leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks begins to suspect that the victim’s past may be connected to his death. Forty years earlier the dead man attended a university that was a hotbed of militant protest and divisive, bitter politics. And as the seasoned detective well knows, some grudges are never forgotten – or forgiven.

Just as Banks is about to break the case open, his superior warns him to back off or risk losing the promotion he has been promised. Yet Banks isn’t about to stop, even if it means risking his career altogether. He’s certain there’s more to the mystery than meets the eye, and more skeletons to uncover before the case can finally be closed.

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION is available now at
Amazon | B&N  IndieBound 

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

I read and reviewed my very first Peter Robinson book just last month, Watching the Dark. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Enough so that it made me want to sign up for the blog tour for this most recent installment in the Inspector Banks series.

Overall I liked this one quite a bit. There were a few more revelations regarding the main characters that gave a little bit more insight into their backgrounds. Since I’m not likely to go back and read the entire backlist (hey, 19 books is a lot to commit to), I still have a lot of questions, but things are starting to make a bit more sense the more I read.

As I stated in my review of Watching the Dark, this book is not necessarily a page-turner, thrill-a-minute book. Instead it is meant to be savored. The writing sucked me in and I was entirely wrapped up in what was going on. As I felt with the previous book, I so enjoyed working the case with Banks.

I did have one issue, though. The ending. The way that it occurred (no spoilers), well it just didn’t sit well with my opinion of Inspector Banks’ character. I can’t imagine that he would let things end the way it did. Maybe it’s a sign of what’s to come in future books (that promotion?), but for whatever reason it didn’t feel right to me. Obviously, having only read two of these books, I’m no expert on Banks’ character, it just felt off to me.

All that aside, though, I would definitely recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am definitely looking forward to the next Inspector Banks installment!

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #18


Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

The Spymistress

Today I’m featuring a book that I’m reading for review. 

The Van Lew mansion in Richmond’s fashionable Church Hill neighborhood had not hosted a wedding gala in many a year, and if the bride-to-be did not emerge from her attic bedroom soon, Lizzie feared it might not that day either.

Turning away from the staircase, Lizzie resisted the urge to check her engraved pocket watch for the fifth time in as many minutes and instead stepped outside onto the side portico, abandoning the mansion to her family, servants, and the apparently bashful bridal party ensconced in the servants’ quarters. Surely Mary Jane wasn’t having second thoughts. She adored Wilson Bowser, and just that morning she had declared him the most excellent man of her acquaintance. A young woman in love would not leave such a man standing at the altar.

Perhaps Mary Jane was merely nervous, or a button had come off her gown, or her flowers were not quite perfect. As hostess, Lizzie ought to go and see, but a strange reluctance held her back. Earlier that morning, when Mary Jane’s friends had arrived – young women of color like Mary Jane herself, some enslaved, some free – Lizzie had felt awkward and unwanted among them, a sensation unfamiliar and particularly unsettling to experience in her own home. None of the girls has spoken impudently to her, but after greeting her politely they had encircled Mary Jane and led her off to her attic bedroom, turning their backs upon Lizzie as if they had quite forgotten she was there. And so she was left to wait, alone and increasingly curious.

I’m reading this one as part of a TLC Book Tour. I hope you’ll come back on April 28th and see my final thoughts! So far I’m really enjoying it, I personally didn’t think the first few paragraphs were really going to draw me in, but as I finished the first chapter I was hooked!!

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, April 14, 2014

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

No physical books this week, but I did get approved for an e-galley that I’m super excited about!! I read and reviewed the first book in the Lucy Black series, Little Girl Lost, earlier this year and was beyond excited to get the chance to read the next one!!

Someone You KnowOn the outskirts of a picturesque Arcadian city, just before Christmas, a 16-year-old-girl is found dead on the train tracks. Detective Lucy Black is called to identify the body. The only clues to the teenager’s last hours are stored in her mobile phone and on social media – and it soon becomes clear that some of her friends may have been her worst enemies.


This second book is another e-galley I had signed up for a chance to review through a Shelf Awareness ad.

The ThreeFour simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…

Book Spotlight

Book Spotlight: You’re Not Safe by Mary Burton

Today I’m spotlighting a book that sounds like a really good read, I only wish I had time to read and review it right now, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to share some more information about this book with my readers. I have most definitely added it to my never-ending TBR list!

About the book: 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary Burton lets loose an obsessed killer who’s granting the wishes of four former friends the only way he knows how—by killing them—in her latest suspense novel, YOU’RE NOT SAFE It joins Burton’s highly praised novels NO ESCAPE andTHE SEVENTH VICTIM to complete her Austin-set trifecta featuring Texas Rangers confronting multi-layered crimes of passion and deceit.

YOU’RE NOT SAFE is Ranger Tec Bragg’s and vineyard owner Greer Templeton’s story. Greer has had enough pain in her life and has worked hard to move forward, to ensure the fulfillment of her aunt’s dreams for her fledgling Texas Hill Country vineyard and to stay out of the limelight of her past.  Then Tec shows up on her doorstep questioning her about a suicide on the adjacent property, her relationship to the dead man and why her photo was found at the scene.

Tec, a no-nonsense, hardened professional isn’t sure what he expects to find when he heads to Bonneville Vineyards to question Greer.  A broken body has been found hanging from a tree and his gut tells him it wasn’t a suicide.  Greer is his best lead, and possibly his top suspect, and he’s determined to find out what she knows, despite her refusal to betray confidences of the past.

Soon, another death—also an unlikely suicide—makes it all too clear that something from Greer’s teen years ties her to the killer and his victims.  The question is what? And, as not one but two more murders are discovered, can Tec find and knock down the walls Austin’s elite are hiding behind before the killer gets to Greer?

Mary Burton, the “modern day Queen of Romantic Suspense”* brings readers characters faced with daunting challenges that take them to the dark side and back again, not simply in the pursuit of justice, but as they come to terms with themselves and the lives they’ve chosen.

About the author: 
MB2 author photo croppedNew York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Mary Burton has been intrigued by investigative work and the people who do it since Virginia, her home state, was stung by a string of serial killings that spanned more than twenty years. Not surprisingly, many of her suspense novels are fueled by the acts of multiple killers and the people who pursue them, as is YOU’RE NOT SAFE, which completes the trio of stories set in and around Austin she began with The Seventh Victim and continued with No Escape.

The author of twenty-one novels and three novellas, her earlier work includes I’m Watching You, Dead Ringer and Dying Scream, set in her home town of Richmond, and Senseless, Merciless and Before She Dies, set in Alexandria.

Mary’s intensive research has led to meetings with key members of law enforcement, to seminars and classes, and to the firing range. She is a graduate of the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy and the Richmond FBI Citizen’s Academy, and has attended Sisters in Crime’s Forensic University program and the Writers Police Academy in Jamestown, North Carolina.

A Richmond native whose family roots run as deep as the nation’s, Mary has lived there for most of her life. She graduated from Virginia’s Hollins University and had a career in marketing before deciding to write full time. Her first manuscript, a historical romance, was published in 2000.

She is a member of Thriller Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She travels often for signings, speaking engagements and other appearances. She is a frequent speaker regarding writing and genre fiction, and continues to present her “Unraveling Romantic Suspense” workshop and her day-long program “Writing Your Book…The First Step.”

Mary is currently finishing work on her new suspense novel, Cover Your Eyes. The first of three thrillers set in Nashville, it is being published in November. In October her novella, A Ranger for Christmas, will be featured in the holiday anthology, Our First Christmas, along with works by Lisa Jackson, Mary Carter and Cathy Lamb.


As he approached the building, a woman pushed through the glass doors of the main entrance. She wasn’t tall, barely standing over five feet, but she held her shoulders back and her clear green eyes cut. Not more than thirty, she had gently tanned smooth skin that accentuated a high slash of cheekbones. She wore her light brown hair in a braid that brushed slender shoulders, a white Bonneville Vineyards T-shirt billowing over full breasts and tucked into faded work jeans hugging gently rounded hips. Her boots were dusty, well-worn. “Can I help you?”
Her voice had a rusty, whiskey quality giving this wholesome farm girl a seductiveness enjoyed by older more sophisticated women.
Elizabeth Templeton.
She was a far cry from the girl in the old image or the pictures Rory had taken. The last dozen years had leaned out her frame and face adding maturity and an appealing naturalness. But Rory’s picture images had gotten her all wrong. What he’d taken for as anger and bitterness in the photos, in person, appeared to be a fascinating intensity. He suspected this woman did no job halfway.
“I’m with the Texas Rangers.”
Elizabeth cocked her head, studying him close, as if sensing this place wasn’t his kind of place. However, even as her gaze catalogued his large frame and the scar on his face she showed no fear. “How can I help you?”
He managed a smile. “You Elizabeth Templeton?”
Mention of her name triggered waves of tension that straightened her spine and narrowed her eyes. Hesitation flickered as if she seemed to toy with a lie. “That’s right. But I go by my middle name now. Greer.”
Elizabeth Greer Templeton. Greer. The woman who’d offered his boy a job. “Sergeant Tec Bragg.”
He studied her expression closely. “I investigated a murder bordering your land yesterday.”
A hint of remorse darkened her gaze. “I heard about that. Some fellow hanged himself.” And then as if to head off his next question, “A cruiser came by yesterday and spoke to my farm manager while I was in town. I’m supposed to call him back but haven’t gotten to it. “
“You hear anything else?”
“No. I don’t have time for gossip and news. So if you’re here to ask me about the dead person I’m afraid I can’t do much for you. I spend most of my days here working. I don’t venture out much.”
And yet you’d made your way into town yesterday to talk to my boy. “I think you might know the victim.”
“Could be, but I only know a handful of people in the area.”
He studied her face closely. “The victim’s name was Rory Edwards.”
Irritation gave way to surprise. Pursing her lips she drew in a deep breath, letting it out so slowly he barely saw her move. “Is this some kind of trick? Are you trying to prod information out of me because I hired your nephew?”
“No trick. The medical examiner confirmed the identity of the body yesterday.”
She folded her arms over her chest. “I’ve not seen Rory in a long time. At least twelve years.”
“You’ve had no contact with him in this time?”
Her lips pursed. “I had a message on my voice mail a week ago. The caller said he was coming to see me. He was an old friend. I did not return the call.”
“Why not?”
Green eyes clouded before sharpening. “Some matters are better left in the past.”
“I get the impression he still cared about you after all this time.”
She shook her head. “I have no idea.”
“I searched his room last night. He had a box full of recent pictures of you.”
Her face paled. “I don’t know about that.”
“Can I ask how you two met?”
The grip on her biceps tightened. “I get the sense you already know.”
Apprehension rolled off her and all but slammed into Bragg. Rory Edwards and her past were sore subjects. “Answer the question.”
She glanced around as if making sure no one was around. “We met when we were teenagers. We were both in a clinic for troubled teens.”
“You both tried to kill yourself.”
The lines in her forehead deepened. “I’m not proud of that time, but what does it have to do with Rory’s death? Like I said, I haven’t seen him in a dozen years.”
Bragg unclipped his phone and scrolled to the picture he’d taken of the photo found at the crime scene. He held out the phone, coaxing her closer toward him. “You remember this picture?”
She didn’t approach right away but then moved closer. The soft scent of soap rose up around her. No flowery perfumes or exotic scents but simply clean soap. His body tightened, unmindful of logic or reason.
For a long moment she didn’t say a word and then she cleared her voice. “It was taken the last night we were both at the camp. Rory left the next morning.”
“How’d he end up with the picture if he left?”
“I sent him a copy from camp. I didn’t want him to forget me.”
“His brother said you wrote to him several times a week but Rory’s father threw out the letters.”
Her jaw tensed, and he suspected an old wound opened. “I guess one letter made it through.”
“Rory never forgot you.”
She stepped back. “I wish he had.”
“Why’s that?”
“Really, do you have to ask? It was a painful time, and I’ve done my best over the last twelve years to forget about it.”
He locked his phone and tucked it back in its cradle. “Were you really able to forget?”
She cleared her throat. “Rory’s family did us a favor by keeping us apart. But the rest? No, I have not forgotten that I wrecked a car and killed my brother and his girlfriend. I ruined so many lives. I carry that with me every day.”
“That why you tried to kill yourself?”
First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #17


Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

Children of the Revolution

Today I’m featuring a book that I’m reading for review. 

As Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks walked along the disused railway track, he couldn’t help but imagine two young lovers kissing on the footbridge ahead, shrouded in smoke from a steam engine. All very Brief Encounter. But the age of steam was long gone, and it wasn’t love he was walking towards; it was a suspicious death.

I’m reading this one in conjunction with a blog tour hosted by the publisher. I read my first Peter Robinson book this year (Watching the Dark) and enjoyed it and was thrilled to get the opportunity to read the latest installment from Mr. Robinson. So far this book has definitely caught my interest, and I hope you return on April 16 to see my final thoughts.