Sunday, October 18, 2015

Weekly Book Haul.....October 18, 2015

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

This is the best time of year in Arizona, starting to cool down to low 90's.  I'm actually excited about El Nino because it means we might get some good thunderstorms this winter.  I know now that I didn't appreciate them enough when I lived in Illinois. 

Despite my best intentions of not adding to my TBR pile, I did add a few this week.  I haven't read much this week, I've been more involved in TV, which is ridiculous.  But I am heavily into Showtime's The Affair, and The Walking Dead just started last Sunday.  Then I love Black-ish, and The Big Bang Theory, so I suddenly find myself watching more TV than ever.

Last week during some channel surfing, I came across the movie Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro book.  Anyone read that?  Hands down, this was one of the strangest book experiences I have had.  I was frustrated and slightly bored when I was reading it, but after I finished it, I found it to be haunting and had a hard time forgetting it.  I had the same experience with the movie - Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield were superbly cast.  Keira Knightly, not so much.

Anyway, here's what I added this week.


The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig.....1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel's portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate?  And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother?  In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known.  But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room? 

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton....In need of a good adventure, Delaney
Nichols takes the leap and moves to Edinburgh, Scotland to start a job at The Cracked Spine. She doesn't know much about what she's gotten herself into, other than that the work sounds exciting, and that her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, has given her the opportunity of a lifetime. Edwin has promised that she'll be working with "a desk that has seen the likes of kings and queens, paupers and princes," and Delaney can't wait to get started.

When she arrives, she meets her new Scottish family; also working at the Cracked Spine are Rosie, perpetually wrapped in scarves, and who always has tiny dog Hector in tow; Hamlet, a nineteen-year-old thespian with a colored past and bright future; and Edwin, who is just as enigmatic and mysterious as Delaney expected. An unexpected bonus is Tom the bartender from across the street, with his piercing eyes, and a rolling brogue -- and it doesn't hurt that he looks awfully good in a kilt.

But before she can settle into her new life, a precious artifact -- a previously undiscovered First Folio of Shakespeare's plays -- goes missing, and Edwin's sister is murdered, seemingly in connection to the missing folio. Delaney decides to do some sleuthing of her own, to find out just what the real story is behind the priceless folio, and how it's connected to the tragic death, all without getting harmed herself.

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman....Through an heirloom charm
bracelet three women will rediscover the importance of family, love, faith, friends, fun and a passion for living as the magic of each charm changes their lives.
Lolly, still lives in the family cabin on Lost Land Lake where her mother gave her the charm bracelet that would become Lolly's talisman and connection to family past and Lolly hopes the present, but her daughter, Arden, and granddaughter, Lauren, haven't visited in years and time is running out for Lolly.
Arden, couldn't wait to leave her small town life behind for Chicago, but now divorced and burned out at work, she's simply trying to make it from day to day. In the rush of life she's let the years and all the things she once enjoyed slip away. When she receives an unexpected phone call about her mother she must decide if she can face going home.
Lauren, a talented young painter buries her passion to study business in the hopes of helping her mother after she discovers that her father left Arden struggling to make ends meet, but Lauren is slowly dying inside and doesn't know how to tell her mother the truth.

House Trained by Jackie Bourchard....Alex Halstad, a childless-by-choice
interior designer and dog mom, is a true perfectionist. But her orderly life turns chaotic when the teenage daughter her husband, Barry, never knew he had shows up on their doorstep...with a baby girl of her own in tow. 

While Alex’s dog enthusiastically welcomes the new arrivals, Alex struggles with the loss of her steady routine. She desperately needs peace and quiet to get her business back on track before Barry finds out she’s spent most of their savings. Meanwhile, the arrival of the girls stirs up old insecurities, and Alex can’t help but worry that Barry’s ex will make an entrance too. 

With her tidy life a distant memory, will Alex be able to learn from her dog the true meaning of love and acceptance?

From bestselling author Jackie Bouchard comes a humorous and heartwarming look at how life creates opportunities to love in surprising ways.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Shattered Blue by Lauren Bird Horowitz

What They Say....For Noa and Callum, being together is dangerous, even deadly. From the start, sixteen-year-old Noa senses that the mysterious transfer student to her Monterey boarding school is different. Callum unnerves and intrigues her, and even as she struggles through family tragedy, she’s irresistibly drawn to him. Soon they are bound by his deepest secret: Callum is Fae, banished from another world after a loss hauntingly similar to her own.

But in Noa’s world, Callum needs a special human energy, Light, to survive; his body steals it through touch—or a kiss. And Callum’s not the only Fae on the hunt. When Callum is taken, Noa must decide: Will she sacrifice everything to save him? Even if it means learning their love may not be what she thought?

What I Say....This book is part of the Booksparks Fall Reading Challenge.  I always love taking part in their challenges because they have so many authors that I know and love, but then I also get books that I would have never picked up on my own.

I'm not usually a science fiction/fantasy girl, butI have to admit that I read this book in twenty four hours.  The book starts out with Noa and her family grieving her sister, who has recently died in an accident. The family is broken, with everyone grieving on their own.

Noa previously boarded at school, but is now a commuter, so that she can be closer to her family.  She is hollow, just going through the motions of life when Callum appears, a new kid at school.

This sets off a whole new chapter in Noa's life.  A world where she is falling in love with a Fae, who is breaking all the rules by telling her of his existence in order to keep her safe.

When Callum's brother Judah suddenly shows up, everything starts going wrong.  Callum is kidnapped, faefyre is appearing, and Noa's friends seem to be acting strange.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, because it's going to be a trilogy.  What is it with the trilogy?  When did that get to be a thing?

My one criticism is that the beginning relationship seemed very Twilight, and Callum didn't really do anything that made it understandable why Noa was immediately in love with him, but that did get better further into the book.

Good YA fantasy, appropriate for the teens in your life!

Current Goodreads Rating 3.89

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Weekly Book Haul.....October 11, 2015

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I think I need to update my opener and my header picture.  Showcase Sunday has only happened a few times this year, so I need to just remove it.  Which is a bummer, because I love the books and blogs that were listed, but it's annoying to advertise something that isn't happening.

The best thing about writing my blog is finding new authors.  Dana Bate is one of the authors I discovered through NetGalley and writing my blog.  I just finished her new book, Too Many Cooks, and I loved it.  Smart, funny and just entertaining.

This weekend, I cleaned up the patio and put the summer stuff and pool things away.  The pool is down to 78 degrees, which is way too cold for this girl!

I continue trying to whittle down my TBR pile, so I've been pretty careful about requesting any new reads.


Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz....From #1 bestselling author Dean Koontz—the must-read thriller of
the year, for readers of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure.
The girl who said no to death.
Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.
She replies, “We'll see.”
Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.
An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.
But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?
Bibi's obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.
Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.


Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore....The Hawthorne family has it all. Great jobs, a beautiful house in one of the most affluent areas of northern California, and three charming kids with perfectly straight teeth. And then comes their eldest daughter's senior year of high school . . .

Firstborn Angela Hawthorne is a straight-A student and star athlete, with extracurricular activities coming out of her ears and a college application that's not going to write itself. She's set her sights on Harvard, her father's alma mater, and like a dog with a chew toy, Angela won't let up until she's basking in crimson-colored glory. Except her class rank as valedictorian is under attack, she's suddenly losing her edge at cross-country, and she can't help but daydream about the cute baseball player in English class. Of course Angela knows the time put into her schoolgirl crush would be better spent coming up with a subject for her term paper—which, along with her college essay and community service hours has a rapidly approaching deadline. 

Angela's mother, Nora, is similarly stretched to the limit, juggling parent-teacher meetings, carpool, and a real-estate career where she caters to the mega rich and super-picky buyers and sellers of the Bay Area. The youngest daughter, Maya, still can't read at the age of eight; the middle-child, Cecily, is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid she once was; and the dad, Gabe, seems oblivious to the mounting pressures at home because a devastating secret of his own might be exposed. A few ill-advised moves put the Hawthorne family on a heedless collision course that's equal parts achingly real and delightfully screwball.
Sharp and topical, The Admissions shows that if you pull at a loose thread, even the sturdiest of lives start to unravel at the seams of high achievement.

The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn....Iliana Passing—wife, mother, and former acclaimed journalist—gave up her career to start a family. Almost fifteen years later, despite how much she loves her husband and kids, she can’t help wondering how she ended up with a life spent carpooling and running errands.

Ready to get back into the journalism game, Iliana searches for an exciting lead. When she discovers that Jeff Downs, the heartthrob star of an old TV show and her girlhood crush, now owns a nearby textile company, she thinks she’s found her story: teen celebrity and its aftermath. But as Iliana gets to know Jeff, the two grow closer than she ever could’ve imagined. Now that her teenage dream has walked into her present-day reality, how far will she go to entertain an old fantasy?

Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde....Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, are just teenagers when their older brother ships off to Iraq. When Joseph returns, uninjured, only three and a half months later, Ruth is happy he is safe but also deeply worried. How can it be that her courageous big brother has been dishonorably discharged for refusing to go out on duty? Aubrey can’t believe that his hero doesn’t have very good reasons.
Yet as the horrifying details of the incident emerge, Joseph disappears. In their attempts to find him, Ruth and Aubrey discover he has a past far darker than either of them could imagine. But even as they learn more about their brother, important questions remain unanswered—why did he betray his unit, his country, and now his family? Joseph’s refusal to speak ignites a fire in young Aubrey that results in a disastrous, and public, act of rebellion.
The impact of Joseph’s fateful decision one night in Baghdad will echo for years to come, with his siblings caught between their love for him and the media’s engulfing frenzy of judgment. Will their family ever make their way back to each other and find a way to forgive?

What I Wrote This Week

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate

What They Say....“Bate’s writing is smart and compelling.” --Publishers Weekly
In this hilarious, insightful new novel from the author of A Second Bite at the Apple, a cookbook ghostwriter finds that she’s bitten off more than she can chew…

When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips. 

Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?

What I Say....Every time I read a Dana Bate book, I wonder why she hasn't become a bigger deal.  I got an ARC copy of A Second Bite at the Apple last winter, and I really enjoyed it (review here).  So I was open to reading and reviewing Too Many Cooks, and I'm so glad that I did.  Bate writes smart women which makes me happy.

It's no secret that I like chick lit, mostly because my job is stressful.  I work hard, and I have to make decisions all day , so when I read, I want to relax.  However, I like SMART chick lit.  Not completely formulaic, or completely unrealistic - although that can be fun at times too - that's mostly what I like about the Christmas chick lit.

But I digress.  Back to Too Many Cooks.  Kelly moves to England to escape her boring life.  Her whacky mother has just died, her dad is crochety and crazy and her cardiologist boyfriend is boring her out of her mind.

A sudden phone call to ghost write a cookbook for a celebrity seems like the perfect answer.  It's not completely crazy, Kelly has been ghost writing cookbooks for some fairly big names.  So now seems like the perfect time to take a sudden left out of her boring life.

When Kelly arrives in England, she finds the Natasha to be beautiful, graceful and completely out of touch with writing a cookbook.  One weird thing was that Natasha did seem to have some background in cooking, and at times gave knowledgeable input on spices and such, but then would give instructions that she wanted her grandmother's scrambled egg recipe recreated, saying only that they should be creamy and fluffy - ummm, isn't that what we all want from scrambled eggs?  Then I try to cook them and mine look like this:

I digress again.

Kelly begins a small flirtation with Natasha's husband, which soon develops into a full fledged affair. Hugh is a handsome politician that is in a marriage of convenience with Natasha, and he's ready to grab onto real love and the promise of a family.  Kelly believes she has found her happily ever after.  

I'm not going to say any more because I hate spoilers.  And I'm hoping this cliffhanger will encourage you to read the book! 

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Win a signed copy of A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

I'm so excited to offer a copy of A Small Indiscretion signed by the author, Jan Ellison. I reviewed this book back in January - and I really liked it. Since then, the book has gone on to be named an Oprah's Editor's Book Club pick and a San Francisco Chronicle Book Club pick. This would make a great Christmas gift - can you believe it's almost here? Or just a great add to your own book collection. Enter for a chance to win this great prize! Who doesn't want an autographed book? a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Weekly Book Haul......October 4, 2015

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

I'm so proud of myself because I barely added to my TBR pile this week.   My NetGalley percentage has dropped down to 67% - a high D is nothing to be proud of!  Time to get busy.

It's a cool, rainy Sunday morning here in Arizona.  The perfect weather for some football watching and Kindle reading!

I just finished Kate Morton's new book, The Lake House, and I loved it!  I'm a huge Kate Morton fan, so I can't imagine not liking a book she wrote, but this one was really good.  I always wonder about the process of writing a book.  Some authors seem to knock them out every 6 months (Janet Evanovich, James Patterson), but Morton usually only publishes one book every 2 years.  This is a bummer for the reader anxiously waiting for the next book, but as an author, I think it must be stressful too, because you worry if you don't publish often enough, you drop out of the public eye.  But writing a book has to be such a private experience, it's such a solitary effort, how can anyone tell you how to do it?  

The only book that I got this week was from the Booksparks Fall Reading Challenge.

The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino....Taking readers from 1905 Italy to
present-day Philadelphia, The Legacy of Us uncovers how the lives of three generations of women are changed by love, loss and one little necklace...

Liz Moretti thought she knew almost everything about her grandmother, Ella, from her love of "The Golden Girls" to the perfect pound cake recipe. But when Ella passes away and Liz finds a cameo locket with a marriage proposal engraved inside (from a man who was not her grandfather), she realizes that sometimes a person's secrets are discovered only after they're gone. 

On top of losing Ella, Liz's career as a jewelry designer is stagnant and her love life lacks sparkle, too. When she reconnects with the one who got away, Liz thinks maybe things are finally starting to look up. But after a few drinks and a trip down a flight of stairs, Liz wakes up to realize the cameo is gone. Her ex offers to look for it, but so does Justin, the intriguing new guy in her apartment building. 

While dealing with her feelings for two very different men and generally trying to reinvent her mess of a life, Liz finds answers and solace in Ella's diary. The story of the cameo, and the relationship between her grandmother and great-grandmother, an outspoken socialite from Italy, inspires Liz to grow up and accept responsibility for her missteps. Eventually she must choose between the life she thought she wanted and the promise of something better.

I'm excited to read this - it looks like it's right up my alley.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Lake House by Kate Morton

What They Say.....From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

What I Say.....Rosamunde Pilcher started my love affair with English war novels when I read the Shell Seekers, but Kate Morton quickly became one of my go to authors.  These two women make me wish I was born in a different time, and on a different continent.  Going to Cornwall is on my bucket list just to see the place of my favorite novels.

So when I got an ARC of The Lake House from NetGalley and Atria Books, I was over the moon!  It jumped right to the front of my reading queue.  

As usual, Kate Morton does not disappoint.  Sadie Sparrow is a young detective on a forced leave from the police department, for becoming too involved in a case of a young mother abandoning her daughter.  Sadie stays with her beloved grandfather, and starts exploring the area in an effort to keep her mind off of her troubles. 

She comes across an abandoned country house, and falls quickly into the local mystery surrounding a small boy who disappeared 60 plus years ago.

I always love how Morton's books go back and forth in time, giving equal weight to everyone's storyline.  This is one of the things this author does best, and make her books so unique.

As Sadie gets closer to solving the mystery of Theo's disappearance, those around her are forced to confront the secrets that they have kept from each other over theirs, all of them harboring guilty feelings for their parts in the loss of their baby brother.

My only real complaint about Kate Morton's books is that she doesn't write faster!  It's been three years since The Secret Keeper, it's super frustrating to have to wait!  This is definitely a first world problem!