Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy

Blurb from Goodreads:
From the author of The Truth Beneath the Lies, which the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Karen M. McManus, called "smart, suspenseful, and unpredictable," comes a psychological thriller about a girl who must keep her arsonist ways hidden--or watch her life go up in flames.

Jenny didn't want to move to the creepy, possibly haunted town with her dad. But the cops are on to her, and the only way she can protect herself is by moving as far away from her hometown as possible and staying out of trouble. 

But even after she moves, Jenny still gets the itch. The itch to light a match and then watch it burn. 

It's something she hasn't been able to stop, ever since an accident years ago. Now, in a new town, Jenny has the strange feeling that someone is watching her every move. Will her arsonist ways be exposed? Or is the burning truth deep inside her a greater danger? 
My Review:
This was a good idea, in theory, but a bit scattered in practice. The author was trying to make this into a thriller/mystery and it felt a bit predictable and a bit unfocused.  I liked the New Mexican setting but I don't think I got into Jenny's head or self, ever.  The ending was okay, not great, but not nearly as predictable as it could have been.  Hopefully you have better luck with this one.  

Watch You Burn came out last month on October 23, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.
Everything out here is a fire starter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: A True Cowboy Christmas (Cold River Ranch #1) by Caitlin Crews

Blurb from Goodreads:
From USA Today bestselling author Caitlin Crews comes A True Cowboy Christmas, the first in a sensational series debut about a cowboy, a farm girl, and the greatest gift of all. . .

Gray Everett has a heart of gold but that doesn't mean he believes in the magic of Christmas. He's got plenty else to worry about this holiday season, what with keeping his cattle ranch in the family and out of the hands of hungry real-estate investors looking to make a down-and-dirty deal. That, plus being a parent to his young and motherless daughter, equals a man who will not rest until he achieves his mission. Now, all Gray needs is the help of his lifelong neighbor. . .who happens to have grown into a lovely, spirited woman.

For Abby Douglas, the chance to join forces with Gray is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. Much as the down-to-earth farmer's daughter has tried to deny it, Abby's been in love with stern, smoking-hot Gray her whole life. So when Gray proposes a marriage of convenience as a way to combine land--and work together toward a common cause—Abby can't refuse. But how can she convince Gray that sometimes life offers a man a second chance for a reason. . .and that their growing trust and mutual passion may be leading to true and lasting love?
My Review:
If you are looking for a sweet and fun cowboy Christmas romance, look elsewhere.  Specifically, I loved Snowbound in Montana and A Bramble House Christmas, both by C.J. Carmichael, Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr, and anything by Carolyn Brown (especially Merry Cowboy Christmas).   This was a marriage of convenience book but the marriage didn't happen until the book was halfway over - the two parties talked the marriage to death that it started to feel less like convenience and more like torture.  I never warmed up to Gray, either. This just was not lighthearted or fun or romantic . . .

A True Cowboy Christmas comes out TODAY on October 30, 2018, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!
If this was a preview of what mothering felt like, this unbearable ache for someone else's pain and the knowledge she'd dig it out with her own hands and carry it inside her if she could, if it would make Becca feel better, Abby felt something like seasick. Except far more humbled.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Review: Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

Blurb from Goodreads:
From the screenwriter of the Netflix Original viral hit, A Christmas Prince, comes another heartwarming holiday story about a beautiful Grinch who’s determined to get her dream job even if it means spending a week at a Christmas Camp where she discovers an unexpected love.

Haley Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping to the Caribbean to work so she can avoid all the traditional Christmas distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the corporate ladder at a prestigious Boston advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first, her boss, Larry, thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment, so he ships her off to a Christmas Camp at Holly Peak Inn to help her find her Christmas spirit.

Arriving at the charming mountainside inn, Haley meets the owner’s handsome son, Jeff, and feels an instant spark, but resists the attraction, refusing to be distracted from her goal of doing all the required Christmas tasks as fast as possible so she can get back to work.

At first Haley struggles with all the traditional Christmas Camp activities. It’s not until she finally allows herself to slow down, live in the moment, and let Christmas back into her heart, that she begins to grow closer to Jeff. But when he finds out Haley’s come up with a plan to help his dad save the struggling inn while he’s been trying to convince his dad to sell it, their relationship takes a serious holiday hit.  Now it will take the magic of the season to bring these two hearts together.
My Review:
This honestly read like it was already a Hallmark/Lifetime movie - that's not an insult - but it made for not the most fun read.  While I wouldn't mind seeing this on the screen, and it is a good story for that, the writing left a little to be desired if that makes sense. That being said, this is definitely cute and a fun read to get you in the holiday mood!

Christmas Camp came out last week on October 16, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.  I will bet you that this is made into a movie!
Haley Hanson was having a staring contest--with a bunch of dolls. And they were winning. Lined up on her desk, the adorable dolls were dressed in beautiful classic red velvet and emerald green Christmas dresses.. Each dress was meticulously trimmed with delicate white lace and had tiny pearl-like buttons up the front. But it was their perfectly painted smiles that made Haley's frown deepen. They weren't fooling her for a minute. She knew they might look innocent enough, but the truth was that these Christmas dolls were about to decide her entire future. They were everything.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Blurb from Goodreads:
A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don't meet the one.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
My Review:
The idea of this was better than the execution.  I mean, after spanning ten years, the end was abrupt and a bit of a let down.  There was so much build-up and the relationships in this book felt very real but something felt off about the actual characters.  Despite lots of internal monologue, I don't think I knew the characters at all.  I knew their relationship more than I knew them. This will definitely work better for some than it did for me, so good luck!!

One Day in December came out last week on October 16, 2018, and you can purchase HERE
I don't know if it's the movement of the arm across the glass or the flickering lights of dandruff-woman's earrings that snag in his peripheral vision, but he lifts his head and blinks a few times as he focuses his attention on my window.  On me. 
We stare straight at each other and I can't look away. I feel my lips move as if I'm going to say something, God know what, and all of a sudden and out of nowhere I need to get off this bus. I'm gripped by the overwhelming urge to go outside, to get to him. But I don't.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Review: Wrecked (IQ #3) by Joe Ide

Blurb from Goodreads:
Isaiah Quintabe--IQ for short--has never been more successful, or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him so notorious that he can hardly go to the corner store without being recognized. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ's PI business some real legitimacy: a Facebook page, and IQ's promise to stop accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleanings in exchange for PI services. 
So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it's not just the case Isaiah's looking for, but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can't see coming.  
Waiting for Isaiah around every corner is Seb, the Oxford-educated African gangster who was responsible for the death of his brother, Marcus. Only, this time, Isaiah's not alone. Joined by a new love interest and his familiar band of accomplices, IQ is back--and the adventures are better than ever.
My Review:
If you haven't started this series, what are you waiting for?  Isaiah, known as IQ, is one of the most complex, well-developed, lovable yet realistic heroes I've read in a long, long time.  To be honest, I could read about him reading a phone book - he is so well written! This latest book pushes Isaiah past his comfort zone more than ever before and, without giving much away, it's a necessary push. I loved seeing Isaiah confront his new challenge and placed in this new light.  I loved this book and can't wait for more!

Wrecked came out last week on October 16, 2018, you can purchase HERE!  I am in love with this series; you can read my review of book 1 HERE.
Slowly, they moved toward each other, and with that came a growing anxiety that made the progression even more momentous. The pieces massed together and conjoined, breathtaking in their scope and meaning. It was as if an exploded star had reassembled itself, its shards and fragments returned to their proper places, its shining form filling the emptiness with light. He didn't move for fear it would fall apart.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Blurb from Goodreads:
Susan Orlean, hailed as a “national treasure” by The Washington Post and the acclaimed bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief, reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution—our libraries.

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, “Once that first stack got going, it was Goodbye, Charlie.” The fire was disastrous: It reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. Investigators descended on the scene, but over thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries and the sometimes-eccentric characters who run them, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean presents a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling story as only she can. With her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, she investigates the legendary Los Angeles Public Library fire to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives. To truly understand what happens behind the stacks, Orlean visits the different departments of the LAPL, encountering an engaging cast of employees and patrons and experiencing alongside them the victories and struggles they face in today’s climate. She also delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from a metropolitan charitable initiative to a cornerstone of national identity. She reflects on her childhood experiences in libraries; studies arson and the long history of library fires; attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and she re-examines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the library over thirty years ago. Along the way, she reveals how these buildings provide much more than just books—and that they are needed now more than ever.

Filled with heart, passion, and unforgettable characters, The Library Book is classic Susan Orlean, and an homage to a beloved institution that remains a vital part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country and culture.
My Review:
I don't typically read nonfiction but I can't stay away from everything Susan Orlean writes.  She is so lyrical that her nonfiction is like reading poetry.  I absolutely loved her latest, which is about the Los Angeles central library.  From its origins to a fire that nearly destroyed the entire thing to the present it is as much about the heart of Los Angeles as it about what goes into running a library.  So many things that I never thought about!  Plus, I loved her exploration into the fire - such a horrible and catastrophic event that never had a real resolution but still feels fresh and devastating even today.  You will not be disappointed by reading this beautiful book!

The Library Book comes out next week on October 16, 2018, you can purchase HERE!  I definitely recommend this one, even for those of us that don't typically read nonfiction.
Our visits to the library were never long enough for me. The place was so bountiful. I loved wandering around the bookshelves, scanning the spines until something happened to catch my eye. Those visits were dreamy, frictionless interludes that promised I would leave richer than I arrived. It wasn't like going to the store with my mom, which guaranteed a tug-of-war between what I wanted and what my mother was willing to buy me, because I could have anything I anted in the library.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review: Winter In Paradise (Paradise #1) by Elin Hilderbrand

Blurb from Goodreads:
Spend the coldest days of winter on a Caribbean beach with New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand. 

Join New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand on the stunning beaches of St. John for the beginning of her thrilling new winter series-The Paradise. Welcome to Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue. Irene Steele’s idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John’s. This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter.
My Review:
I really love Elin Hilderbrand's Winter series so I was super excited for this new series, her first books not set on Nantucket!  And this first book does not disappoint!  By the end, I did not want to it be over and I wish I already had book 2! You will immediately be sucked into this story and these new characters.  I can already tell Ayers is going to be a favorite of mine!  This is a perfect beach read if you're lucky enough to escape winter or a perfect read for by the fire.  I already want to re-read it and I can't wait for more! Elin's new series lives up to all of my high expectations! 

Winter in Paradise comes out soon on October 9, 2018, you can purchase HERE!  This will definitely cure your winter blues and I can't wait for more of this series!
He's on his way to a five-flavor freak-out, which is how their father used to describe Cash's tantrums growing up. It makes no sense that Cash--who doesn't have an ambitious or competitive bone in his body, who skis for a living-- is so high-strung emotionally, while Baker, who thrives on pressure and tension, tends to be pretty sanguine no matter what.  And yet that's the way it is.
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