September & October 2017 Reads

Well….. it’s obviously been awhile ūüė¶ September saw a HUGE reading slump…. I went from reading anywhere from 6-9 books to a whopping 3 in September…. October wasn’t that much better….. Here’s to hoping November is better ūüôā

So I’ll do a quick mini-review round up of my September and October reads. It’s so impressive, I tell ya …. ::eyeroll::

Sate of the Onion
Title: State of the Onion
Author: Julie Hyzy
Read: Sept. 3-6, 2017
Pages: 325
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the first in the White House Chef Mystery series …. it was a fun read that I enjoyed! It was cute, but not cutesie …. if that makes sense? I definitely am looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Where They Found Her
Title: Where They Found Her
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Read: Sept. 10-19, 2017
Pages: 326
Source: Purchased New
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: So this one I found in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble. I had my eye on it when it first came out because I had read and LOVED her previous book,¬†Reconstructing Amelia, so I think I had high hopes for this one. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me right off the bat and I struggled to really get into it. And when it was all revealed in the end, it wasn’t as surprising as I had hoped for. So good, but not great.
Obstruction of Justice
Title: Obstruction of Justice
Author: Perri O’Shaughnessy
Read: Sept. 20-29, 2017
Pages: 512
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the 3rd book in the Nina Reilly series. I have read and enjoyed the previous two so I was looking forward to this one! I enjoyed it and it definitely left me wanting to read the fourth book … if only they weren’t so long, I often find myself too intimidated by longer books these days….
Her Last Breath
Title: Her Last Breath
Author: Linda Castillo
Read: Oct. 2-5, 2017
Pages: 320
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the 5th book in the Kate Burkholder series. I read and LOVED the first 4 in 2016 and had tried to pick this one up shortly after I read the 5th, but realized that I was a little burned out on the series. In fact, I can recall feeling like the books were all too similar to each other. So I set it aside and decided I’d come back to it later. Apparently a year later I decided it was time …. I’m glad I waited because I thoroughly enjoyed it! I had no trouble jumping right back into Kate’s life and I can’t wait to see where her and Tomasetti go in the future. I definitely recommend this series!
Pop Goes the Weasel
Title: Pop Goes the Weasel 
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Read: Oct. 8-13, 2017
Pages: 390
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: I read the first book in this series, Eeny Meeny,¬†¬†back in January of this year and I absolutely adored it! So I had high hopes for this one, but I wanted to let it sit for awhile (series burnout is real!) … and while I did enjoy this one, it definitely didn’t grab me as fast as the first book did. It was gruesome and a roller coaster ride, but I felt like it was a letdown from the first book. Yet I still want to continue on with this series, so it wasn’t terrible either. A solid thriller.
Beautiful Storm
Title: Beautiful Storm 
Author: Barbara Freethy
Read: Oct. 6-25, 2017
Pages: 321
Source: B&N Serial Reads
Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: This book was October’s selection for Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads…. I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, mainly because I don’t read a lot of romance. So I was a little unsure going into this one, but I was immediately intrigued by the storyline – the missing person’s case. If only it had been a little more on the intrigue and less on the romance (which really, wasn’t overbearing honestly…) it would have been a lot more interesting to me. So not something I would ever pick up on my own, but definitely a decent freebie read.
Winter Prey
Title: Winter Prey
Author: John Sandford
Read: Oct. 21-27, 2017
Pages: 400
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: I remember very clearly thoroughly loving the previous book in this series, Silent Prey, so I was looking forward to getting to this 5th book in the Lucas Davenport series. Why did I wait so long between books?!? I really enjoyed this book. It was so creepy and suspenseful. I know I’m only on the 5th book in the series, but other than #2 they’ve all been home runs for me! Definitely makes me look forward to continuing on sooner rather than later!

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Review: Game of Crowns by Christopher Andersen

Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne
by Christopher Andersen

Game of Crowns

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 299

Read: July 11-22, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb:¬†One has been famous longer than anyone on the planet – a wily stateswoman and an enduring symbol of grace, power, and a bygone age. One is the great-granddaughter of a king’s mistress and a celebrated home wrecker who survived a firestorm of scorn to marry her lover and replace her archival, a beloved twentieth-century figure. One is a beautiful commoner, the university-educated daughter of a self-made entrepreneur, a fashion idol, wife of one future king and mother of another.

Master biographer Christopher Andersen takes readers behind palace walls to examine the surprising similarities and stark differences among three remarkable women – Queen Elizabeth; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Princess Kate. Andersen reveals what transpires within the royal family away from the public’s prying eyes; how the women actually feel about each other; how they differ as lovers, wives, and mothers; and how they are reshaping the landscape of the monarchy in this addictive read that will shock even those who are spellbound by the royal palace.


Review: When I first saw this book I was so excited and quickly placed it on my Paperbackswap wishlist. I was amazed at how quickly I snagged a copy! So when it arrived I jumped at the opportunity to start it immediately. And I will say it was an easy read. But there were some things that I didn’t really like about it.

I hated the way that Mr. Andersen portrayed Kate Middleton and her family. He made her look like she was planning¬†from an early age to marry into the royal family. And I’m sure growing up over in England it was a common dream of all the young that they would grow up to marry Prince William (or Harry) – I remember being a teenage girl and having a rather large crush on Prince Harry. But when Mr. Andersen finally brought Kate Middleton into the book, he portrayed her and her mother in what I would consider a very negative light. He made her mother look like she just pushed her daughter toward William while¬†scheming in the background in order to snag the future king. Now it may have indeed happened that way, but I prefer to look at Kate in a more positive light and can’t imagine her really scheming that hard just to become a royal. But what do I know? I also didn’t like how it seemed he sneered at Carole Middleton being a flight attendant turned business owner – what’s so wrong with a woman¬†being a flight attendant or a business owner? I just really didn’t like how he portrayed the whole Middleton family.

I got the distinct feeling that Mr. Andersen really doesn’t like the royal family. And I thought that was weird, because I have read numerous other books he has written on the royal family, and I don’t ever remember getting that feeling before. But I will say it was a little gossipy in places. Some parts of it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

So while it wasn’t necessarily a terrible book, you could probably find all this information in the gossip magazines. Just an “eh” book for me – and that leaves me a little disappointed since I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Andersen’s books before.

2015.27 REVIEW – In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes
by Emily Arsenault

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 369
Rating: 3/5
Read: Aug. 18-22, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 27
Format: Print
Source: Won from booktrib.com in 2011
Series: N/A

In Search of the Rose NotesBlurb:
¬†Eleven-year-olds Nora and Charlotte were best friends. When their teenage babysitter, Rose, disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the girls decided to “investigate.” But their search – aided by paranormal theories and techniques gleaned from old Time-Life books – went nowhere.

Years later, Nora, now in her late twenties, is drawn back to her old neighborhood – and to her estranged friend – when Rose’s remains are finally discovered. Upset over their earlier failure to solve the possible murder, Charlotte is adamant that they join forces and try again. But Nora was the last known person to see Rose alive, and she’s not ready to revisit her troubled adolescence and the events surrounding the disappearance – or face the disturbing secrets that are already beginning to reemerge.


Review:I won a copy of this book back in 2011 from booktrib.com. And I proceeded to do as I always seem to do … let it sit and linger. I finally picked this one up because of a¬†Goodreads challenge.

Let me just start by telling you that me giving this book a 3 star rating is probably being a little bit on the generous side. You see, as the reader, I spent a good 300 pages with Nora and Charlotte on their quest to figure out the mystery of Rose’s disappearance. Through the “flashbacks”, I also suffered through their high school years. I spent those 300 pages practically¬†dying to know what on earth had happened to Rose.

And then when it was finally revealed, 45 pages after the first 300 pages, it was such a disappointment that I honestly wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust. It was just a complete and utter let down. To be completely honest with you, it wrecked the book in my opinion. There were all these indications throughout the book (to me, at least) that something sinister had gone down and it was up to me to figure out the who-dun-it. Oh no, nothing sinister at all happened in the end. And as a mystery lover, the disappointment was just palpable.

If Ms. Arsenault had simply taken Rose’s ending in a different direction, this book would have been a home run for me. Seeing as how that didn’t happen, I have to leave this one with an “eh.”

2015.17 REVIEW – The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango

The Truth and Other Lies
by Sascha Arango

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 241
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: May 23 – May 31, 2015
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 17
Format: Print
Source: Publicist for review
Series: N/A

The Truth and Other LiesBlurb: Henry Hayden seems like someone you could admire, or even like. A famous bestselling author with the air of a modest everyman. A loving, devoted husband even though he could have any woman he desires. A generous, compassionate friend. But Henry Hayden is a construction, a mask. His past is a secret, his methods more so. Only he and his wife know that she is the actual writer of the novels that made him famous.

But when his hidden-in-plain-sight mistress becomes pregnant and his carefully constructed facade is about to crumble, his permanent solution becomes his most terrible mistake.

Now not only are the police after Henry, but his past – which he has painstakingly kept hidden – threatens to catch up with him. But Henry is an ingenious man, and he works out an ingenious plan, weaving lies, truths, and half-truths into a story that might help him survive. Still, the noose tightens.

Smart, sardonic, and compulsively readable, this is the story of a man whose cunning allows him to evade the consequences of his every action, even when he’s standing on the edge of the abyss.


Review: I received a copy of this book for review after responding to an offer in a Goodreads group I belong to. All opinions expressed below are my own.

Henry Hayden is one interesting character. He’s a best-selling author despite never having written a word in his life.¬†Rather it’s his wife who is the author. And she’s a big part of this book, yet I didn’t really feel like I knew her at all. Of course, I also didn’t feel very connected to Henry either. There’s a lot that we as readers do not know about Mr. Hayden. He’s got a pretty shady childhood … yet we really aren’t given very many details beyond him ending up an orphan at a fairly young age. And the logic that he uses throughout the book … well, I just can’t grasp most of the decisions he made either. Although I will say he is definitely one sneaky dude. His wife might have been the bestselling author in the family, but he managed to come up with a pretty far-reaching story as to what happened to his wife and mistress.

At one point early on in this book I couldn’t figure out if Henry was delusional and I was¬†reading pretend dialogue, or if what was happening at ay given moment was really happening and not just a figment of his imagination. I have to say that I really struggled with this throughout the book and I think that’s what really impacted my final rating of this novel.

This isn’t a very long book, only clocking in at 241 pages. And to be perfectly honest here, I felt like it could have been a tad bit longer just because there were some places that I felt lacking. I guess it was more because I felt as if there was no real ending. There’s a big “what happened?” at the end that I would have preferred to see resolved. I wanted to know what really happened to Betty. And I really would have liked to have known what happened to Henry’s mother all those years ago.

Overall, this isn’t a bad book. It’s just a little bit different from what I’m used to reading. But it did keep my attention and kept me guessing throughout. Had there been a little more finality to it at the end and had I been able to connect more with the characters, I would have preferred it just a little bit more. But I¬†would recommend it to mystery lovers.

2014.53 REVIEW – These Few Precious Days by Christopher Andersen

These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
by Christopher Andersen

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 308
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 20 – Dec. 31, 2014
Challenge: What’s in a Name
Yearly count: 53
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy РPurchased new
Series: N/A

These Few Precious daysBlurb:¬†They were the original power couple – outlandishly rich,impossibly attractive, and endlessly fascinating. Now, in this rare, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Kennedys in their final year together, #1¬†New York Times bestselling biographer Christopher Andersen shows us a side of JFK and Jackie we’ve never seen before. Tender, intimate, complex, and, at times, explosive, theirs is a love story unlike any other – filled with secrets, scandals, and bombshells that could never be fully revealed … until now. Including:

  • Stunning new details about the Kennedys’ rumored affairs – hers as well as his – and how they ultimately overcame all odds to save their marriage.
  • The president’s many premonitions of his own death, and how he repeatedly tried to pull out of his last fateful trip to Dallas.
  • Shocking revelations about how the couple, unaware of the dangers, became dependent on amphetamine injections, the real reason – according to his longtime personal physician – for JFK’s notorious libido, and how the White House hid his many serious medical problems from the public.
  • How the tragic death of their infant son Patrick led to an emotional outpouring from the president that surprised even their closest friends – and brought JFK and Jackie closer than they had ever been.
  • Touching, firsthand accounts of the family’s most private moments, before and after the assassination.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews conducted with the Kennedys’ inner circle – from family members and lifelong friends to key advisors and political confidants – Andersen takes us deeper inside the world of the president and his first lady than ever before. Unsparing yet sympathetic, bigger than life but all too real,¬†These Few Precious Days¬†captures the ups and downs of a marriage, a man, and a woman, the memories of which will continue to fascinate and inspire for generations to come.


Review: This is the fourth book I’ve read by Christopher Andersen, having previously read¬†After Diana, Diana’s Boys,¬†and¬†William & Kate. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Andersen’s books and this one was no exception!

It’s really no surprise that I picked this book up. I am a little Kennedy obsessed, after all. But for the most part, everything I’ve ever read about JFK has been entirely related to his assassination. So to say I learned a lot of things while reading this book would be an understatement. There was a ton of information in this book that I had no idea about. I really enjoyed it.

I can’t imagine the tragedy that Jackie went through during her lifetime. To have all that heartbreak with her child-bearing issues, suffering one miscarriage, one stillbirth and losing Patrick just a day or so after he was born (all while having to watch RFK’s wife pop baby after baby out). ¬†And then to lose her husband while she was still grieving the loss of Patrick. I can’t even begin to imagine. Talk about a woman who suffered endlessly it seems.

For all that I know about JFK, there is so much that I don’t know about Jackie. It was fascinating to get a more intimate peek into who Jackie Kennedy was. It definitely makes me want to read more about her in the future.

It’s really amazing what the Kennedys were able to hide from the press and general public. If the world had known then what we know now … “Camelot” probably would have been over before it began. I think it’s just so shocking to me because¬†we are so used to knowing everything about everyone immediately in our culture. JFK’s staff and aides, along with the Secret Service, really protected him in more ways than just physically. It’s amazing, really, what he got away with, so to speak.

Overall, this was a really interesting book to me. I think what draws me to Mr. Andersen’s books so much is that while being non-fiction, they are so easy to read. It reads like fiction, to be honest. It just flows so well and I never found any “dry” spots in this book. I would definitely recommend this author and this book.

 

2014.51 REVIEW – Duke City Hit by Max Austin

Duke City Hit
by Max Austin

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 150
Rating: 3/5
Read: Dec. 12 – Dec. 18, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 51
Format: E-Book
Source: TLC Book Tour
Series: N/A

Duke City Hit

Blurb:¬†Max Austin takes readers back to Albuquerque for another action-packed thrill ride in¬†Duke City Hit,¬†as an elite assassin takes aim at‚ÄĒwell, everyone.

According to Vic Walters, the secret to happiness is low overhead and few demands. Living rent-free in a modest bachelor pad behind his boss’s house, he has no debts, no entanglements, and no expensive relationships. He works just a few days a month, but his bank accounts keep growing.

Vic is a high-priced hitman with a legendary record of success. That is, until someone starts eliminating his marks before he can get to them . . . until his manager puts him in the middle of a vicious drug-cartel feud . . . and until a young man walks into his life with a big .45 and a startling revelation.

For Vic Walters, it’s time to step out of the shadows. Which means it’s killing time in Duke City.


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

You may remember that earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading Mr. Austin’s book¬†Duke City Split. I enjoyed that one and was pleased to be offered the chance to read more from Mr. Austin.

I knew going into this book that it was a short read – only 150 pages. Sometimes that is exactly what you need! And I definitely needed it!

For me this book was a fun read. It was just plain fun. There wasn’t a lot of thinking involved, it was just a mindless, quick read. Perfect for around the holidays (and when you’re in the middle of moving and unpacking a gazillion boxes).

Don’t worry if you pick this one up without reading¬†Duke City¬†Split. It’s a whole new cast of characters. And just as fun.

Recommended!!


Max AustinAbout the Author: Max Austin is the pseudonym of writer Steve Brewer. He lives in Duke City (Albuquerque), New Mexico.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY! There is also a giveaway available in conjunction with this tour. The winner will receive a $25.00 gift card to the e-book retailer of their choice and one copy of Duke City Split. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE GIVEAWAY PAGE. 

Please be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, December 9th: Nightly Reading
Wednesday, December 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, December 11th: Reading Reality
Thursday, December 11th: Rhodes Review
Friday, December 12th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, December 15th: Omnimystery News Рauthor guest post
Monday, December 15th: Bell, Book & Candle
Tuesday, December 16th: CiCi’s Theories
Wednesday, December 17th: Reading to Distraction
Thursday, December 18th: Teena in Toronto
Monday, December 22nd: Book Nerd
Monday, December 22nd: The Book Diva’s Reads
Tuesday, December 23rd:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, December 29th:  From the TBR Pile
Monday, December 29th: FictionZeal
Tuesday, December 30th:  Tales of a Book Addict

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2014.16 REVIEW – Duke City Split by Max Austin

Duke City Split
by Max Austin

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 253
Rating: 4/5
Read: March 30 – April 2, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 16
Format:  E-Book
Source: TLC Book Tours


Duke City SplitBlurb
:¬†Bud Knox isn‚Äôt your average bank robber. He‚Äôs happiest fixing a nice lunch for his wife on her lunch break or watching his two young daughters play soccer. He leaves the boldness and brawn to his partner, Mick Wyman. In the past fourteen years, they‚Äôve hit nearly thirty banks all over the West‚ÄĒeverywhere but ‚ÄúDuke City,‚ÄĚ their hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So when Mick calls him about the perfect job, Bud is less than convinced, because the target is on their own turf. But with the potential to haul in millions, Bud simply can’t say no. If they do this job right, Bud may never have to work again.

As it turns out, the heist is the easy part. Holding onto the money while evading everyone from the FBI to the Mafia to the low-life criminals who want a cut will be the hardest thing Bud Knox has ever done‚ÄĒand it might just cost him his life.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley for review purposes in conjunction with a TLC Book Tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

When I was first pitched this book I was a little unsure to be honest. There was something about the description that intrigued me, but I wasn’t 100% sold. But I have to tell you, I am so glad that I took the plunge and gave this book a shot. It ended up being one heck of a thrill ride!

The concept behind this book … two bank robbers who had been successful for¬†years? That is like so unheard of in real life! And the whole idea that they then proceed to go home and be normal, average, everyday guys?! Insane to consider, right?! So what on earth would make these guys not only take on a third partner but also hit a bank in their hometown? Millions, that’s what! Not that I could really blame them… ha!

If you want a fun book this one will definitely fit the bill. But don’t expect too much out of it. There’s no thinking involved. The characters, while enjoyable, are not very complex. There are no curveballs thrown at you¬†along the way. It’s just a plain jane fun book. I liked it. It works. And I’m dying to know what happens next!

There’s a lot going on in this book. But I found myself actually wanting Bud and Mick to get away scot-free! And let me tell you, they did a lot of unsavory things throughout this book. But for some reason, I wanted them to succeed. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?!

Another great book that I think will appeal to a lot of readers. I hope you give it a chance!

Recommended.

 

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

I hope you’ll take the time to stop by the other blog stops:

Monday, March 31st: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Thursday, April 3rd: Reading Reality
Friday, April 4th:  A Bookworm’s World
Monday, April 7th: Tales of a Book Addict
Tuesday, April 8th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Wednesday, April 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, April 14th: Crime Book Club
Friday, April 18th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, April 23rd: Cupcake’s Book Cupboard
Monday, April 21st: …the bookworm…
Friday, April 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

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