First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph, June 19, 2018

First Chapter

This week I’m sharing with you a backlist book that has been sitting on my shelf for entirely too long!

Assassin

The late afternoon sun slanted through the tall windows opening onto the Grand Canal. There were silken peacocks in the velvet draperies and they stirred in the salty Adriatic breeze. These warm evening zephyrs sent sunstruck motes of dust swirling indolently upward toward the vaulted and gilded ceiling.

Not going to lie … this book was slightly slow to start. But I kept with it and I’m really enjoying it now! It’s chunkier than what I’ve been reading lately, but I really enjoy Alex Hawke’s character.

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5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 438

Read: May 25-June 2, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchased New

 

Blurb: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.


Review: This is not a book that I normally would have picked up on my own. In fact when it came out I actually passed it up on Book of the Month. I had never read anything by Kristin Hannah and I wasn’t sure about the Alaskan setting, so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry and I chose something else. So when I saw that it was going to be June’s selection on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s book club, I was a little nervous about it. I couldn’t access it from my library in time to read it for the discussion, so I purchased a new copy. I was all in by that point 🙂

And holy moly was I immediately sucked in by this! I mean from like the first page I was in love with the story. I immediately took to Leni’s character. She’s a wonderful voice in this story. The things that she has to see and live with can be heartbreaking at times. And let’s be honest – it would not be easy at all to be stuck in the Alaskan wilderness with no electricity and no running water in your house. I cannot even begin to imagine that! So it was no surprise just how strong Leni ended up becoming by the middle of the book – she had no real choice, if she wanted to survive.

This book deals with some pretty heavy hitting things. Domestic violence is at the heart of it. It was very difficult reading at times. I’ve been extremely lucky in that I have never been directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence, but I know that’s not necessarily the norm. I felt like Ms. Hannah handled the situation in a very respectful manner. It was stomach churning at times, but it was also riveting.

At the end there were multiple times that I actually cried. Like legit cried my eyes out. It was that powerful to me. It made me feel things about a book like I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am not usually that attached to a book like I was with this one. And ugh, the book hangover – it’s real!

I just cannot say enough good things about this book! Like I said this book is way outside my comfort zone. And I devoured every single page. It was a great book with wonderful characters and an amazing setting. Just a wonderfully powerful book that really made me think.

HIGHLY recommended!

[Honestly, joining the MMD Book Club has been the absolute best thing I have done for my reading. June marks my 3rd month as a member and the three selections so far have been amazing in their own way for differing reasons. I have expanded my reading in ways that are way out of my comfort zone. It’s been wonderful and I am always looking forward to the next book!]

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph, June 12, 2018

First Chapter

This week I’m spotlighting the ARC I’m reading right now. It was an impulse request on NetGalley and I’m LOVING it! **FYI: Strong language ahead**

Jar of Hearts

The trial has barely made a dent in the national news. Which is good, because it means less publicity, fewer reporters. But it’s also bad, because jut how depraved do crimes have to be nowadays to garner national headlines?

Pretty fucking bad, it seems.

Not going to lie … this book has sucked me in completely! I’ve read half of it the last day and a half and am looking forward to finishing it up rather quickly! Thank goodness, because I was afraid I was on the verge of a slump because I had picked up a book before this one and it was very slow going … I decided a change of pace would be nice and this book has definitely fit the bill of that.

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, June 11, 2018

Mailbox Mondays

I’ve definitely curbed my book acquisitions lately … my shelves are completely out of control. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself – that’s what I told myself as I made my way to the Goodwill to see what goodies they had on their shelves 🙂

Falling TogetherIt’s been six years since Pen Calloway watched Cat and Will, her best friends from college, walk out of her life. Through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them. When, after years of silence, Cat – the bewitching, charismatic center of their group – urgently requests that the three meet at their college reunion, Pen can’t refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what aways is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey around the world, with Pen’s five-year-old daughter and Cat’s hostile husband in tow. And as Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now.


Christmas Cookie MurderFor Lucy Stone, the best thing about Christmas in Tinker’s Cove has always been the annual Cookie Exchange. But the usual generosity and goodwill is missing from this year’s event which turns out to be a complete disaster.

Petty rivalries and feuds that have long been simmering finally come to a boil, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many guests, including Lee Cummings who accuses Tucker Whitney of stealing her recipe for low-fat, sugar-free cookies. But the icing on the cake is when Tucker is found strangled in her apartment on the following morning.

Who could’ve wanted Tucker dead badly enough to kill her? Despite all of the ingredients for danger, Lucy sets out on the trail of a murderer and soon uncovers a Christmas secret best left wrapped.

 

 


And then I also got my BOTM selection in this week:

The Book of EssieEsther Anne Hicks – Essie – is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Should they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Pass the child off as Celia’s? Or try to arrange a marriage – and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie seeks her salvation in Roarke Richards, a senior at her high school with a secret of his own to protect, and Liberty Bell, an infamously conservative reporter. As Essie attempts to win the faith of Roarke and Liberty, she has to ask herself the most difficult of questions: What was the reason her older sister left home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

Written with blistering intelligence and a deep, stirring empathy, The Book of Essie brilliantly explores our darkest cultural obsessions: celebrity, class, bigotry, and the media.

AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, Read in 2018

Review: NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson

NYPD Red 2
by James Patterson

NYPD Red 2

Copyright: 2014

Pages: 392

Read: May 19-23, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased Used

 

 

Blurb: When NYPD Red arrives at a crime scene, everyone takes notice. Known as the protectors of the rich, famous, and connected, NYPD Red is the elite task force called in only for New York City’s most high-profile crimes. And Detective Zach Jordan is the best of the best, a brilliant and relentless pursuer of justice. He puts professionalism above all, ignoring his feelings for his partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald, the woman who broke his heart when they first met in the academy.

Even with their top-notch training, Zach and Kylie aren’t prepared for what they see when they’re called to a crime scene in the heart of Central Park. They arrive to find a carousel spinning round and round, its painted horses grinning eerily in the early-morning dark. There is only one rider: a brutally slaughtered woman, her body tied up and dressed in a hazmat suit, on display for the world to see.

The victim, a woman of vast wealth and even greater influence, is the fourth in a string of shocking murders that have hit the city. As the public pressure mounts, and political and personal secret of the highest order hang in the balance, Zach and Kylie must find out what’s really behind the murderer’s rampage. But Kylie has been acting strange recently – and Zach knows that whatever she’s hiding could threaten the biggest case of their careers.


Review: I can always rely on James Patterson for a quick and easy read. I was a little hesitant to pick this one up when I did because I had already read a James Patterson book in the month of may – Never Never – and was a little unimpressed by it. But I remember really liking the first book in the NYPD Red series, so I was definitely looking forward to reading the second book.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It was quick and easy to read. The storyline was interesting. I enjoy the characters and there was a lot going on personally for Kylie in this book. I look forward to see what happens going forward for her. A good, strong installment in this series.

Definitely recommended.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, K, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: A Risk Worth Taking by Brynn Kelly

A Risk Worth Taking
by Brynn Kelly

A Risk Worth Taking

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 400

Read: May 22-28, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

 

 

BlurbHe can’t outrun himself…

Legionnaire Jamie Armstrong lives in the shadows. A medic haunted by his mistakes, he knows better than to hope for redemption. But his latest mission brings a threat he doesn’t see coming—an attraction as irresistible as it is dangerous. Hacker Samira Desta is a woman he swore to forget, but as a key witness to a deadly conspiracy, Samira is his to protect.

But the woman he rescues might be the one who saves him

After a year in hiding, Samira’s worst fears come true when her cover is blown and the unlikeliest of allies comes to her aid—the secretive Scot with whom she shared one unforgettable night. Hunted by lethal forces and losing the battle against their desire, Jamie and Samira make a desperate play to take the fight to their enemy—but those at greatest risk of ruin may be themselves…


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

When I first accepted this book I knew it was part of a series, but was assured that it read well as a standalone. I’m not sure I can entirely agree with that. For a good chunk of the early part of the book I had trouble understanding what was going on. Why was Samira is hiding? What was she hiding from? Who was coming after her? There were a lot of references to something that had previously happened that I had no idea about. A little more background would have been helpful in my opinion.

I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense. So I was pleasantly surprised that there was a little more suspense than romance. I found it to be a really good balance for my personal tastes. But I fear that people who prefer more romance in their romantic suspense will not be as pleased.

Overall the book was an exciting and thrilling ride! The pacing was really good, it kept my attention throughout. My one and only complaint is that I felt I needed a little more background at the beginning of the book. It did finally come together, but a little more info would have been better. This was a good book and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Kelly’s books in the future!

Recommended.


 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

Connect with Brynn

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

tlc-logo-resized

Monthly Wrap Up

May 2018 Wrap Up

Well I’m a couple of days late… but I’ve been totally wrapped up in finishing up The Great Alone … suffice it to say I LOVED it! Look for my review of it sometime next week 🙂

Here’s what I finished in May:

Never NeverWhat I Saw and How I LiedWhat Doesn't Kill HerNYPD Red 2A Risk Worth Taking

I only just now realized that I never wrote my review for NYPD Red 2 … oops?! I guess look for that in the next few days too 😉 I had a good month of reading, but none of these books really stand out as “WOW” books to me… What I Saw and How I Lied and What Doesn’t Kill Her were both good books, but nothing that’s really going to stick with me. [I’m still in book hangover mode from The Great Alone – I seriously cannot WAIT to put my feelings together in a review!] My review of A Risk Worth Taking will post tomorrow, so be on the lookout for that!

Anywhoo …. here’s what was on the blog in May:

I didn’t realize that I went completely quiet on the blog the last week in May. But our lives kind of got turned upside down for a little bit 🙂 My longtime readers may remember that when we relocated back home about 3.5 years ago my husband took a job with my family’s concrete company. Well. Turns out it wasn’t a good fit for him. 😦 This past Friday he started his new job with IDOT (Illinois Dept. of Transportation). He’s back doing engineering work and he’s already thrilled. … plus his hours are going to be 7am-3:30pm, you don’t get much better than that! No more Saturday morning work, no more crazy early mornings or late evenings at work. It’s going to be such a nice change for all of us as a family. There are absolutely no hard feelings with my family for him leaving the company, which was my biggest concern. Everyone is just happy that he’s happy again – it’s hard to get up every day and go to a job you really don’t like.

We also had to buy a new car this week. Ugh. He had been extremely lucky and had been provided a company vehicle. Obviously with him leaving the company, we were going to be without a personal vehicle for him. So he went and bought a new Mustang. Totally and ridiculously inappropriate for a 33-year-old man with two children still in car seats, but I wasn’t going to argue with him over it. He’s been drooling over these things for the last 2 years, it was just easier to let him have what he wanted rather than buy him something he potentially hated. It’s a sharp car and it’s super nice … just not very family friendly. Oh well. We usually take my SUV everywhere anyway, but still… I don’t have to drive it every day so whatever.

We only got one date night this month, and it was in conjunction with the day we bought his car … so we didn’t really want to spend too much money, ha! So we just went out to dinner and came home and watched a movie. It was nice since it had been a month since we had any alone time together.

I’m so glad May is over. It was an absolutely insane month. We were crazy busy! I’m ready to enjoy the summer months 🙂 I’m also still in complete and total denial that Garrett has finished kindergarten. I’m not entirely sure where the school year went …

Well I think that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve got a few reviews to get scheduled, so hopefully I won’t go quiet for another week 🙂

Have a good upcoming week and happy reading!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, N, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

What Doesn’t Kill Her
by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her

Copyright: 2015

Pages: 367

Read: May 11-15, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased New

 

 

Blurb: Reeve LeClaire is not a victim. Not anymore. After four years of being held captive by Daryl Wayne Flint, Reeve is finally getting her life back on track. Little does she know that Flint – imprisoned at a top psychiatric hospital – has been watching, waiting, and meticulously planning his getaway. And he’s ready to seize his chance.

Flint’s escape is Reeve’s worst nightmare. Less than twenty-four hours later, Flint is already on another killing spree … and as he evades capture, baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail through the forests of Washington State, Reeve is struck by a sudden realization: She knows this psychopath better than anyone – and only she can stop him. But what is she willing to risk to save lives, including her own?


Review: This is the second book in the Reeve LeClaire series. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book, The Edge of Normal, back in 2013. I remember I purchased this one a few years ago when I saw it was out in paperback. And then for whatever reason I let it sit on my shelves. I wish I hadn’t done that because I really enjoyed this one!

It was interesting to see Reeve use her knowledge of Daryl Wayne Flint to track him down for capture. At one point Reeve is told that she has a knack for criminal investigation, and I definitely agree – I’d love to see her brought back as a profiler or something in the future!

This book was full of twists and turns. At times my stomach was in knots trying to see if the characters would get out of the jams they were in. I really enjoyed it a lot. It could definitely read well as a standalone (it’s been 5 years since I read the first book, so I was going in pretty well blind anyway). Definitely recommended! A great read!

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph, May 22, 2018

First Chapter

This week I’ve got another backlist book that I’m currently reading for you…

NYPD Red 2

“Were you really serious about the Hitler thing?” Dave said, dousing Meredith’s jeans and sweater with lighter fluid.

“Easy on the rocket fuel there, pyro,” Gideon said. “We’re just torching her clothes, not trying to burn the house down.”

So I read the first book in this series, NYPD Red, last year and enjoyed it. So I happily picked this one up looking forward to a quick and easy read. The intro really caught my attention … why are they burning someone’s clothes?!

Life, Miscellaneous Ramblings

Monday Updates….

Well, for the first time in a few weeks I haven’t had any books come in. And trust me …. with 500+ books on my shelves, this is a very good thing! I’m acquiring faster than I will ever read!

Last week was absolutely nuts in my little corner of the world. On Wednesday, our local water supplier suffered a huge water main break at their plant. This is the plant that provides the water to the local towns, affecting about 175,000 people. We were put on alert to conserve as much water as possible because the original “quick fix” didn’t work. Relatively early on Thursday, our little town of Carterville ran completely out of water. Completely. Schools closed, restaurants closed, bars closed, beauty shops closed. Just about everything shut down. You can imagine what our Wal-Mart/Kroger/Target/gas stations looked like in order to get bottled water…. because there was ultimately no time-line on the fix. The water plant had to have a huge part brought down from Chicago (about 6 hours away) …. and I think it had to be made before it was shipped. Thankfully, my parents were not affected by this and we went and stayed Thursday night with them. By the time we got back home later in the evening on Friday we had enough water pressure to flush the toilets. But goodness it was not a fun couple of days at all. And I’m so thankful for all the people who worked tirelessly night and day to get that plant back up and running. I feel like the employees/contractors don’t get nearly enough thanks and praise for what they sometimes have to do in these situations.

Normally I would have taken this a lot more calmly than I did. I flat-out panicked. Why? Because we had our son’s birthday party reserved for Saturday in one of the neighboring towns at Pirate Pete’s (essentially a big arcade type place) and we had no idea whether or not he would get that party or if we would be stuck either rescheduling or scrambling to just host it at our house. It was an absolute nightmare! Luckily, the fix to the water plant was able to be successful with the water coming partially back online by late Friday evening and by Saturday Pirate Pete’s was able to be open for business. I was so relieved. A 6-year-old can’t comprehend why his birthday party can’t happen because of something like this. And he was able to have an absolutely wonderful birthday party! Our boy is so blessed with many wonderful friends (and their parents are great too!).

On Sunday we had tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. I was exhausted from the previous few days that I sent my husband and Garrett with his parents. I didn’t feel like driving the nearly 3 hours (each way) to the game plus sitting at the game with a 3-year-old who probably wouldn’t want to sit there for an entire game…. so Katelyn and I had a very nice quiet day together at home. We were able to play outside on the new playset the kids got for their birthdays from my grandmother. And we watched more than our fair share of Sofia the First 🙂

We’ve got a fun-filled week coming up. Garrett has his baseball game on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday evening he has his kindergarten class’s end of the year picnic that his teacher is hosting (I just LOVE everything about our community!) Next weekend we’ll be hosting Garrett’s family birthday at our house. And I’m sure we’ll do something fun for Memorial Day too … he’s been invited to his best buddy Ryder’s grandparents house (just up the road from us) for some swimming on Sunday. And then it’ll be the last couple of days of school and we’re out for the summer. I can’t believe that my baby’s kindergarten year is almost over 😥 It has absolutely flown by! This summer I’ve chosen not to do daycare for him (he’ll do a few weeks of different camps), but I’m going to be working from home and utilizing the grandparents. So I’m really looking forward to some one-on-one time with him. I’m hoping for a fun-filled summer!

I got to watch some of the Royal Wedding. It was beautiful. I’m still not entirely sure about the match of Meghan Markle and Harry …. but he looked amazingly in love so that’s what matters! And I do love the fairytale of it all. I thought her dress was absolutely beautiful, but a little on the plain side … it needed a just a little more embellishment to it. But I did love her reception dress – that was gorgeous! Ahh gotta love a good fairytale 😀

Oh and one other little tidbit…. Nathan has formally accepted a new job offer. A little over three years ago he took a position within my family company to get us to be able to move back to the area. It wasn’t really an ideal fit for him and he really missed engineering (his chosen field), so when an opportunity popped up he applied, interviewed, and got the job. He starts that on June 1. We’re all very happy for him. Engineering jobs are few and far between in our area (it’s why we had to move in the first place) so we are thrilled that this has happened for him! Plus it’ll be nice to be going back to a normal schedule of Monday-Friday 8-4:30 …. which will be a really nice change after working Saturdays and odd hours, including super early and super late. The concrete business is not ideal for young families, he has missed out on quite a bit these last few years because of the crazy hours the concrete company sometimes has … like on Mother’s Day weekend this year when he literally had to work from 8;30pm Saturday night to 2am Sunday morning and then had to go back from 7am – 6pm Sunday … yeah  😦