Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday – January 8, 2018

Mailbox Mondays

I haven’t participated in Mailbox Monday in forever! I had a slim mailbox this week with only one book coming in. I ordered this off of Paperbackswap shortly after enjoying the first book in the Maggie Hope series, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

Princess Elizabeth's SpyAs World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, becomes a spy for MI-5. Possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous – and deadly – than Maggie ever expected. The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.

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End of Year Wrap-Up

Quick Recap of 2017

So we took off for a quick weekend get away to Savannah, Georgia Dec. 29-Jan 2. Because of that I never really got to take a good look at my 2017 book stats. I still didn’t go as in-depth as I normally do because I simply don’t have the time to sit down and get very in depth statistic wise. So … this is going to be a really quick recap.

In 2017, I read 63 books! That’s the most I’ve read in a year since 2011! Pre-kids, lol! I read 22,180 pages. That averages out to 5.25 books per month and 1,848 pages per month. My slowest reading months were February, September, and December with only finishing 3 books each month. June was my best reading month with 9 books finished. In Of those 63 books, only was non-fiction (boo!) I read mainly mystery/thriller books, but I did venture out a little into a few romances and two YA. My one non-fiction book was a true crime. I read 1 library book, e-books, and 10 review books.

The 8 e-books surprised me – e-reading is not my favorite format, but I did find that Barnes & Noble has a Serial Reads program, which basically gives you access to a free e-book each month. Some of them didn’t interest me, some got me out of my comfort zone.

Reading 63 books in a year is great … until you realize that you added 143 books to your shelves…. oops?! And I won’t tell you how many of those books I acquired I actually read in 2017 …. ::eyeroll::

I’d like to break it down even farther with male vs. female author and series stats, and a few other breakdowns that I find interesting, but I just simply don’t have the time for it.

Oh …. I guess I should have somewhat of a favorite reads list too, huh?! Okay … well, I did read 63 books, but I was quite stingy with my ratings this year. According to Goodreads, I only gave out 2 5-star ratings this year…. wow! And looking back, yeah, I’d still give those 2 books 5-star ratings. So this year, I only came up with 7 best of the best reads.

Absolute PowerCity of BoneseenyHer Last BreathLacy EyeNYPD RedWinter Prey

Well, I guess that’s all I’ve got for now ….. I’ve already finished my first read of 2018 and will be posting a review of that later this week. I’ve also got a few other posts scheduled. I hope to finish the review book I’m reading to get that review posted. I’m also reading Final Girls by Riley Sager and I’m 132 pages into it and it’s fantastic!!

Meme, What Should I Read Next

What Should I Read Next – January 2018

Wow, here we are in 2018! Doesn’t seem possible! Remember how when you were younger time passed so slooooooooowly? Now it’s like I blink and it’s a new year! Crazy! Anyway, once again I am here to ask for your help to pick my next read. Last month you wonderful friends chose Mr. Churchill’s Secretary for me out of the three historical fiction books I put forward for you.

So this month I wanted to keep with another theme ….. this month I’m giving you my three oldest Book of the Month selections. I have gotten some really great books through BOTM in the over 2 years I’ve been a member and I am ashamed to say that I have actually only read 2 of the books I’ve paid for from this program. **WHAT?!?!** So… one of my 2018 resolutions for my reading was to read some of these past selections. And with your help I’m going to clear one of the three oldest off my shelf!! Here’s what I’ve got for you…..

What She KnewWhat She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
Published Dec. 1, 2015
512 pages
ok, so this was my December 2015 BOTM selection. This one was her debut book. I have read another book by this author (The Perfect Girl), it was a so-so read for me, but I’m still interested in reading more from this author.

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…


The Verdict

The Verdict by Nick Stone
Published Dec. 7, 2015

512 pages – this was my January 2016 BOTM selection. I always love a good legal thriller and I was (and still am) drawn to that cover …. and I’m not even a cover person! 

Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk, desperately trying to get promoted. And then he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite.

The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, turns out to be not only someone he knows, but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry’s career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him so badly?

With the trial date looming, Terry delves deeper into Vernon’s life and is forced to confront secrets from their shared past that could have devastating consequences for them both. For years he has wanted to witness Vernon’s downfall, but with so much at stake, how can Terry be sure that he is guilty? And what choices must he make to ensure that justice is done?


The Night Charter

The Night Charter by Sam Hawken
Published Dec. 8, 2015
326 pages
so BOTM now has a feature where you can “skip” a month if you want to. I so wish they had had this feature available in February 2016, because for whatever reason that month had nothing very appealing to me. This was my selection that month and it was only because it was the best sounding book, not because I was dying to read it. It’s probably a good read, but the blurb still leaves me a little “eh” about it. (PLEASE!!!! Don’t let my initial feelings sway your vote if this is the one of the three you like best!) 

Exactly one year ago, Camaro Espinoza killed five bad men in New York City and fled town. Now she’s keeping a low profile in Miami, running night charter catch-and-release fishing trips off the coast. It’s a simple life for a former combat medic. But it wasn’t easy to come by. Camaro plans to do everything she can to hold onto it.
Trouble comes knocking in the form of Parker Story, a man in over his head with all the wrong people. Parker wants to book Camaro’s boat to run a small errand off the coast of Cuba. Camaro knows she shouldn’t get involved. But Parker’s got a teenaged daughter named Lauren, and Parker’s associates have threatened to harm her if the mission doesn’t go off without a hitch. Camaro has never met the girl. Barely seen her picture. But that doesn’t mean she can ignore her plight.

Camaro’s used to being wanted–by men good and bad, by soldiers wounded on the field of battle, by the long arm of the law. But she’s never been needed before. Not the way Lauren needs her. Joining forces with Parker, Camaro soon finds herself in the midst of double crosses, international intrigue, broken promises and scattered bullets. Even a skilled warrior like herself may not be able to escape unscathed.

So there you have it….. those are my three selections for you to vote on this month. I look forward to the results and can’t wait to get some of my BOTM selections read!!

 

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Meme, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – January 2, 2018

toptentuesday

Well it has been years since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday! (And it’s soon moving over to a new host…) Anyway…. this week’s topic appealed to me, so I figured it would be a great time to jump right in.

January 2: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2017

Okay, so looking back at my 2017 books read …. I read 24 new-to-me authors in 2017. Of these 24 authors, only 7 really make my “top ten” list. So in alphabetical order, along with the books I read, here’s my list:

  • M.J. Arlidge ….  Eeny Meeny and Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Julie Hyzy …  State of the Onion
  • Victoria Laurie … Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye and Better Read than Dead
  • Gilly Macmillan … The Perfect Girl
  • Susan Elia MacNeal …  Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
  • Leslie Meier … Mistletoe Murder
  • Michael Palmer … Oath of Office
4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, Maggie Hope, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, What Should I Read Next

Review: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr Churchill's Secretary

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 349

Read: Dec. 9 –15, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased new

 

 

Blurb: London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.


Review: So this was my December pick chosen by you dear readers! I was really looking forward to digging into it! So what did I think? ……

Well. The beginning was excruciatingly slow. EXCRUCIATINGLY. No joke. To be completely honest, had I not been also reading this one in conjunction with a Goodreads challenge that required the book to be finished by Dec. 15th, I have a pretty good feeling I would have walked away from this one.

But. But. But! …. I am very glad that I stuck it out because it got really good around the halfway mark and was a lot better from that point on. The first 100 pages or so was really setting the scene. I understand that. But it just didn’t grab me like I wanted it to. So once I got past that 100 page mark it got a lot easier, and by the halfway mark I was fully invested in the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s character. She felt very real to me. And the supporting characters were all well-developed with their own backgrounds. This book is very character driven and I personally enjoy that. I like series where I can get invested in the characters. So just that alone makes me look forward to continuing on in this series!

Like I said, once you get past the first 100 or so pages the pace really picks up and the book gets a lot more interesting from that point on. I would definitely recommend this book to historical fiction lovers as well as mystery lovers and even espionage lovers too! It’s a good book that will appeal to a variety of readers. And I’m really looking forward to reading more from this series in the future.

So, dear readers …. you did pretty good for me this first go around! I’ve got another three selections coming up for you to vote on for my January version of this! Hopefully it’ll be another good read! See you next week!

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2/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, N, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2017, Review Book

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Before I Let Go
by Marieke Nijkamp

Before I Let Go

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 372

Read: Dec. 16 – 22, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Source: NetGalley

 

 

Blurb: Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…


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

So this was totally an impulse request on NetGalley. The cover really drew me in. The blurb made is sound so creepy. I don’t read a lot of YA, but this one really sounded great to me.

But. It fell flat. Very flat for me. There were times I considered just DNF’ing it. The writing  itself was good, but the actual structure of the book was strange. There were flashbacks and then there were chapters that were written like a script. It was just a strange set up for a book in my opinion.

And the overall plot/storyline? It fell flat as well. I think I expected more from it somehow. It started out extremely slow. Like slower than slow. And it was a little bit all over the place and really confusing.

I didn’t really care for how Kyra’s bipolar illness was portrayed. If you or someone you know has a mental illness issue of any kind, I do not feel like you should read this book at all. The way it is presented was just very disheartening to me.

Bottom line? This book just didn’t work for me.

Meme, What Should I Read Next

Dec. 2017 What Should I Read Next Results

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Last week I posted a poll for my readers to choose my next read. I was feeling a historical fiction and selected The Empty Glass, The Yard, and Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

So per the rules of the event, I am here today to announce the winner of last week’s poll and the book that I am starting next!

Mr Churchill's Secretary

This one took an early lead and never relinquished the lead (I checked my responses obsessively, ha!) Even though I was looking forward to any of the three selections to win, I’m over the moon that this one pulled through!

I can’t wait to dig in 🙂  I hope you chose a winner for me!!

And I hope you’ll return for my review!!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer

Oath of Office
by Michael Palmer

Oath of Office

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 464

Read: Dec. 2 –8, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased used

 

 

Blurb: In a suburb of Washington, DC, Dr. John Meecham goes on a shooting spree in his office, killing his associate, staff, and two patients before killing himself.

On a quiet country road, a housewife finds herself compelled to drive recklessly, nearly killing herself and her passenger.

In a quaint restaurant, a kitchen worker wields his knife, unable to stop himself from almost severing his hand.

What is the connection? How can Dr. Lou Welcome clear his friend Meecham’s name? And what is the unspeakable conspiracy that leads all the way to the White House?


Review: I’ve had this one on my shelf for quiet some time, but had been putting it off for whatever reason. Well, to be honest … it’s probably because I’m not usually a fan of medical thrillers. I figured it was time to get to it or get rid of it. (Remember, my shelves are at critical levels….)

So this one started out with a bang for me. I read the first couple hundred pages rather quickly. And then the book started to take a more scientific route and I kind of ran out of steam. I can handle medical storylines, but you really start to lose me with science.

Overall this book was a decent read for me, but not necessarily a favorite. It was interesting enough, and the storyline itself was quite believable. I look forward to reading more of Michael Palmer’s medical thrillers in the future.

Book Blitz

Book Blast: A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow

A Mother’s Lie

by Jo Crow

Book Blast on December 5, 2017

Synopsis:

A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow

When her child’s life is at stake, a mother will do anything to save him.

Clara McNair is running out of time to save her son, James. When the two-year-old is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, only an experimental treatment can save his life. She desperately needs money to pay for the surgery, but she’ll have to travel back to the site of her darkest memories to get it.

Clara has escaped the demons of her youth—or so she thinks. It’s been ten years since the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Widely suspected of murdering her mother and father, Clara fled west to start a new life. Now, a documentary film crew is offering cold, hard cash—enough to pay for James’s treatment—in exchange for the sordid secrets of her past.

With no other choice but to delve into a long-ago tragedy, Clara must unravel the lies surrounding that terrible night. Facing hostile gossip, Clara is fighting to clear her name and learn the truth about what really happened. But how far will she go into the dark to save her son—and herself?

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published by: Relay Publishing

Publication Date: November 29th 2017

Number of Pages: 310

ISBN: 978-1979295420

Purchase Links: Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Dense red clay was pushing between the teeth. Pond mist drifted across the manicured lawns, wisping through the dark eye sockets. Parts of the cranium were shaded a vile yellow-brown where decomposing leaves clung to its surface like bile expressed from a liver. The jawbone was separated from the skull, its curved row of teeth pointing skyward to greet the rising sun.

Two feet away, closer to the oak tree, other bones were piled haphazardly: a pelvis, high iliac crests and subpubic angle. A femur, caked with dirt, jammed into his empty skull. Sunlight decorated the brittle bones in long, lazy strips and darkened hairline fractures till they blended with the shed behind them.

It was peaceful here, mostly. The pond no longer bubbled, its aerator decayed by time; weed-clogged flowerbeds no longer bloomed—hands that once worked the land long ago dismissed. Fog blanketed the area, as if drawn by silence. Once, a startled shriek woke the morning doves and set them all into flight.

It was the first time in ten years the mammoth magnificence of the Blue Ridge Mountains had scrutinized these bones; the first song in a decade the morning doves chorused to them from their high perch.

A clatter split apart the dawn; the skull toppled over as it was struck with another bone.

In a clearing, tucked safely behind the McNair estate, someone was whistling as they worked at the earth. The notes were disjointed and haphazard, like they were an afterthought. They pierced the stillness and, overhead, one of the morning doves spooked and took flight, rustling leaves as it rose through the mist.

A shovel struck the wet ground, digging up clay and mulch, tossing it onto the growing mound to their left. The whistling stopped, mid note, and a contemplative hum took its place.

Light glinted on the silvery band in the exposed clay—the digger pocketed it—the shovel struck the ground again; this time, it clinked as it hit something solid.

Bone.

A hand dusted off decayed vegetative matter and wrested the bone from its tomb. Launching it into the air, it flew in a smooth arc, and crashed into the skull like a bowling pin, scattering the remains across the grass. With a grunt of satisfaction, the digger rose and started to refill the hole from the clay mound.

When it was filled and smoothed, and the sod was replaced over the disrupted ground, the digger lifted the shovel and strolled into the woods, one hand tucked in a pocket as they whistled a cheery tune lost to the morning fog.

***

Excerpt from A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow. Copyright © 2017 by Jo Crow. Reproduced with permission from Jo Crow. All rights reserved.

More About Jo Crow:

Jo Crow

Jo Crow gave ten years of her life to the corporate world of finance, rising to be one of the youngest VPs around. She carved writing time into her commute to the city, but never shared her stories, assuming they were too dark for any publishing house. But when a nosy publishing exec read the initial pages of her latest story over her shoulder, his albeit unsolicited advice made her think twice.

A month later, she took the leap, quit her job, and sat down for weeks with pen to paper. The words for her first manuscript just flew from her. Now she spends her days reading and writing, dreaming up new ideas for domestic noir fans, and drawing from her own experiences in the cut-throat commercial sector.

Not one to look back, Jo is all in, and can’t wait for her next book to begin.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:

Click here to view the A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow Participants

Giveaway:

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jo Crow. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of A Mother’s Lie by Jo Crow. The giveaway begins on December 5 and runs through December 11, 2017.

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