Saturday, July 1, 2017

Review: The Truth We Bury


This is my last post until I return in mid-August. I've satisfied all my NetGalley reviews until September :)
See you when I see you, and enjoy your summer-- reading and otherwise!

The Truth We Bury by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Kindle Edition, 306 pages
Expected publication: July 25th 2017 by Lake Union Publishing 
received from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest review

Barbara Taylor Sissel does it again with a contemporary, dysfunctional family "women's fiction" sure to satisfy her fans, and fans of the genre. I've read several of her novels and am always pleased by the interesting characterizations and the Texas settings. This dialogue is authentic and the plot will pull you in. I enjoyed this one as much as Faultlines, Safekeeping, and Body of Evidence. This one also deals with a mystery, to boot (no pun intended).

Without giving away too much of the plot I can say it deals with two dissimilar families being thrown together for an upcoming wedding-- one is wealthy and privileged, but keeping secrets, and the other is run by a single parent who struggles to pay the bills and keep a firm hand on her free-spirited daughter. The story is also heavily impacted by a PTSD theme and doesn't skirt around the issue of how we should treat returning soldiers who are suffering from this invisible disability. Add to the mix the discourse in a multi-generational relationship between three generations on the family ranch-- and not one, but two, murders of young women-- and you have a book sure to keep you turning the pages late at night!
4/5 star rating

Friday, June 30, 2017

Month in Review- Paging through June

This post is pre-scheduled to link up to Kathryn's Month in Review, with the last book added as a tweak. I'm still packing, stressing, cleaning, stressing.... and oh yea, reading up a storm! It's great for calming that pesky stress!

Paging Through Books in June 2017- 
A Month in Review

June is gone already...we always say time flies... and it does! Seems like only last week I was taking part in Kim's HoHoHo Holiday Challenge and now it's July. Uh, what?!

Reading can make time fly too; you get engrossed in a book and suddenly you're late for work or school, dinner is burning on the stove, or it's way past the time you planned on going to sleep.

Here are the titles I read in June, all of them good, some very good; all are 4/5- 5/5 stars I rated on GR. Add them to your TBR list, crack open a new book or two or three, and before you know it we'll be reading Christmas stories again :) !
 This was my best reading month all year and of the last couple of years, too. In my 6+ years of blogging, I would say that I only duplicated this rate of reading (and reviewing so many of them, to boot!) less than 3 or 4 times, for sure! I consistently read 2- 2 1/2 books a week and review one of them, possibly 2... unless I get in a major slump, or am involved with vacation/company/illness, then it's even less.

The stars aligned, or more probably... I made some really great selections from NetGalley... I was motivated to read & review them before I moved so I could concentrate on my September requests when we get there... I double-downed on two fave authors,  Nora Roberts and Lisa Scottoline to ensure my pleasure... and most of the others were repeat & enjoyed authors. And the nonfiction essay book by Scottoline was such a quick (but fun) read that I finished it up pronto! Miss Bridgerton was an easy read and done in one afternoon also. So... how'd I do?

read: 13

fiction: 12/13

my choice of genre cubby-holes:
suspense/procedural/mystery:  2
general fiction: 1
humor: 1
romantic suspense: 1
fantasy: 1
historical romance: 1
"women's" contemporary fiction: 3

new to me authors:  5/13 titles
male to female ratio: 2:11 authors
part of a series?: 6/13 books
NetGalley titles: 10/13 titles
recommend? 13/13 of them!

favorite (s) of the month
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts


very close runners-up:    
-Because of Miss Bridgerton
-Paradise Valley
-I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool

unless noted:
~hope you get a chance to pick up at least a couple of these this summer~
  1. A Merciful Truth- Kendra Elliot
  2. The Weight of Lies-Emily Carpenter
  3. Because of Miss Bridgerton- Julia Quinn- not reviewed, not NG
  4. The Last Place You Look- Kristen Lepionka
  5. The Right Side- Spencer Quinn
  6. When We Were Worthy- Marybeth Whalen Turner- (review to come near release)
  7. UNSUB- Meg Gardiner
  8. Stars of Fortune- Nora Roberts- not reviewed, not NG
  9. Come Sundown- Nora Roberts- not reviewed, not NG
  10. One Perfect Lie-  Lisa Scottoline
  11. In This Moment- Karma Brown
  12. Paradise Valley- C.J. Box
  13. I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool- Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool

I'm still on blogger hiatus while I move, but I'm posting reviews for my NetGalley books that release during the summer. I'm not responding to comments, but feel free to leave your opinion if you want, and myself and others will read it. 

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool (The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman) by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 11th 2017 by St. Martin's Press
received from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest review

excerpt from blurb:
The bestselling and “perennially hilarious” mother-daughter team is back with a new collection of stories from their real lives, guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. 
They offer a fresh and funny take on the triumphs and facepalm moments of modern life, showing that when it comes to navigating the crazy world we live in, you’re always your own best lifeguard."

humor, nonfiction essays 

part of a series?
They're not, but this mother-daughter duo has been releasing a humorous essay-filled book every summer for years. I've read several of them over the years, mostly thanks to the publisher.

why you should read it: 
If you've read any of Ms. Scottoline's stand-alone suspense books (I've read most of these!) or her continuing female attorney series (I've read a few), then you know that she is quite the talented writer. Maybe you didn't know that she is a hoot! These books never fail to make me-- at the least-- smile & chuckle, maybe even laugh a bit. The authors' take on  "women's" topics in this book, from style to social expectations to their own personal quirkiness, make it a great choice for summer! Her 30-ish daughter, Francesca, is herself an accomplished writer and she alternates chapters with her mother to give a younger woman's perspective on life in general and being a female, in 2017, in particular.

I've read: Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? and I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places, to name a few of her lightweight, funny, throw-in-the beach-bag  books and recommend them all. The chapters are ultra-short, the writing is that sharp-as-a-razor, deadpan humor I love and expect from Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella.

You can just crack open the books to any page and go-- no reading in order needed! Perfect for those summer days when you might not be able to concentrate on a novel while by the shore, the pool, the back yard, the BBQ... hope you get to read any of these humorous releases!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: Paradise Valley

I'm still on blogger hiatus while I move, but I'm posting reviews for my NetGalley books that release during the summer. I'm not responding to comments, but feel free to leave your opinion if you want, and myself and others will read it. 

Paradise Valley by C.J. Box
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 25th 2017 by St. Martin's Press 
received from publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest review 
my rating: 5/5

 from blurb:
"She almost caught him once. Now, he’s back. For three years, Investigator Cassie Dewell has been on a hunt for a serial killer known as the Lizard King whose hunting grounds are the highways and truck stops where runaways and prostitutes are most likely to vanish. Cassie almost caught him...once.

Working for the Bakken County, North Dakota sheriff's department, Cassie has set what she believes is the perfect trap and she has lured him and his truck to a depot. But the plan goes horribly wrong, and the blame falls on Cassie. Disgraced, she loses her job and investigation into her role is put into motion.

At the same time, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled kid whom Cassie has taken under her wing, has disappeared after telling people that he’s going off on a long-planned adventure. Kyle's grandmother begs Cassie to find him and, with nothing else to do, Cassie agrees—all the while hunting the truck driver..."

mystery, suspense, thriller, police procedural 

part of a series? 
Yes, and I've read them all! This is book #3 of the Cassie Dewell series and book #4 of the Highway series, not connected to his Joe Pickett series, which I admit I've never read but now I do want to! There is an overlap because there was a different MC in book #1 of the Highway Quartet, Back of Beyond (Cody Hoyt).  I loved that book, and that's the one that got me hooked on the series. He also is in The Highway (#2) with Cassie Dewell, then she takes over the series in Badlands #3 and this one.

This book could be a stand-alone if you missed the others because Mr. Box fills in the reader with quite a bit of backstory in the first few chapters. However this book revisits a setting from the first book, and the understanding is better if you've followed along with all of them. It seems from the ending that this series could continue on (?)- called The Highway Quartet, and that's 4- but.... I hope so, because Cassie is a believable federal investigator; she's not conventionally attractive and with personality flaws and a dysfunctional family life.

pleasing to the eye, and does fit in with a scene in the story

if this was a movie...: would be definitely rated R- mature audiences only due to the main plot idea (a long-distance trucker serial killer of prostitutes) and depiction of violence,  necessary to the plot-- not gratuitous.

my thoughts: 
I've never read Mr. Box before I stumbled on this series, though of course I'm familiar with his long-running Joe Pickett series! I intend on picking up book #1 in that series this summer because I'm very satisfied with the quality of the author's writing style-- his ability to set the scene, make the characters and the dialogue believable, and to keep the reader invested in the plot. He writes a story that kept me glued to the pages and staying up past bedtime!

recommended for:
fans of C.J. Box & fans of exciting mystery/suspense stories, and realistic police procedurals

not recommended for:
readers who don't enjoy mature themes, described violence, or have a trigger for sexual attacks (on women). All this is necessary for the plot and though somewhat dark and gritty, the story-- and series-- is actually enjoyable if you like thrill rides in your book!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: In This Moment

I'm still on blogger hiatus while I move, but I'm posting reviews for my NetGalley books that release during the summer. I'm not responding to comments, but feel free to leave your opinion if you want, and myself and others will read it. 

In This Moment by Karma Brown
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Park Row Books 
received from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest review 

excerpt from book blurb:
"Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she's able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.

After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him...."
After reading just this part of the blurb on Goodreads I knew I wanted to read this book. You see, I've imagined this happening and got a chill down my back. I've been guilty of waving a car at the edge of a parking lot to go ahead of me into busy traffic, only to have them try to change into the left lane at the same time and almost get rear-ended by a fast moving car. With the sound of screeching tires, I've thought "what if?" This story goes there... and more.

Meg is leading the average American "normal" life: a complacent teen, a house in the burbs, a beloved career, a doctor husband who loves her, satisfying friendships and plenty of opportunities for "girls' night out"... until the day she makes just one error in judgement, and almost contributes to the death of her daughter's boyfriend's twin brother. She was not the only one involved; the other driver who hit him was texting on her phone, so she is most at fault, but Meg and her daughter's remorse allow them to start making a series of bad mistakes that domino into a major fall-out.

I've read the other two Karma Brown books and have to say I enjoyed this one the most. Ms. Brown usually deals with some kind of grief process in her plots: mourning the loss of a child, a former love, a career, a spouse, a friend.... but she makes her stories flow smoothly. In this book I could relate more to the family/friends/community dynamics. There was only one part which made me uncomfortable, with a character I didn't enjoy, but I'm sure that the reader was meant to be shaking their head and saying, "don't do it!" 

I recommend this title to all "women's fiction" lovers, and those who just enjoy good contemporary fiction dealing with family dynamics. A very timely-- and unfortunately possible-- tale of blame, grief, remorse and moving on.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: UNSUB

{While I'm away from formal blogging during my move this summer, I'll still be honoring my NetGalley requests by putting up reviews here as needed. Some have already been pre-scheduled}.
UNSUB (UNSUB #1) by Meg Gardiner
received from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest review

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: June 27th 2017 by Dutton

4.5/5 rating
This is quite an intense, edge-of-your-seat read from an enjoyable author who keeps delivering winners year after year (I've read half a dozen books by this author & loved them all-- Phantom Instinct is one of my favorite suspense novels, ever). The story obviously pays tribute to the mind-breaking work done by detectives of various agencies during the Zodiac Killer spree, but puts its own original twist on it.

Caitlin grew up in the shadow of The Prophet's murder spree when she was just a child and her father was a dedicated detective obsessed with solving the crime. After his partner is murdered by The Prophet, he is institutionalized for a breakdown and can no longer perform at his job. Caitlin picks up the reins of the long dormant case when the disturbed killer returns after many years of silence and gathers her up into his twisted schemes.

Ms. Gardiner is a master of the dark suspense thriller, and she pulls no punches here! My only reason for marking this down to 4.5/5 is based solely on my personal enjoyment, and I found the storyline just a tad too sadistic for my taste. It's dark and gritty, and full of twists and turns, but wow--- what a ride!

Monday, June 19, 2017

See You Soon!

I got the feeling this morning when I was faced with a long to-do list... that it's that time again, folks... Con te partiro`... I'm moving cross-country in July and it's a massive chore to get prepared, drive (my son is driving our car with me as hostage passenger) and unpack at other end. But it will be worth it with the first step on that beach at sunset :)

...but I've left you with an uplifting gift to listen to. Please turn on your volume and click the link above. It should be totally safe-- I've had no problems at all opening it.

Remember, I'm on Goodreads as RitaH 
I have a bunch of you as friends but am willing to add more; send me a message! I'll be adding to my "read books" shelf as that occurs, and updating my "wish list aka to read list" also. I might even start adding mini reviews on there too as I go along. I'll also try to make time to visit some of your blogs and leave comments as time-- and wifi connection-- allows, over the next two months. Should be back blogging mid-August! Despite being "off-blog" I will honor my summer NetGalley arc requests, and write up reviews for the books listed in the sidebar. They will appear on my blog and GR sometime over the next 2 months. I have several more titles lined up for the Fall, also-- stay tuned!

I can also be reached for book chat-- or whatever-- @ blog email address:

Enjoy your summer.... enjoy your books..... enjoy peace! hugs, Rita

Review: The Right Side

The Right Side by Spencer Quinn

I received this from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest opinion
stand-alone from the author of the Chet & Bernie Mystery Series (I haven't read this)
Kindle Edition: 336 pages
Expected publication: June 27th 2017 by Atria Books 
genre: mystery, general fiction, animal companion story, returning U.S. Vet fiction 
if this was a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for detailed description of war scenes, war injuries, coarse language
my rating: 4.5/5, rounded up to 5/5
I rate the books I read for NetGalley based on my own enjoyment only, unless the story is (very) poorly or fantastically written.  Then I take that into consideration too.
I loved this book! At first I thought it might be too much of a downer for me, 
but it turned out to be uplifting in certain ways. 
LeAnne is wounded overseas in Afghanistan during the war, and is sent back to
Walter Reed Army Hospital stateside to recuperate. However, she leaves before
her mental and physical wounds have healed. She's out to right a wrong for a
fellow soldier who was worried about her daughter left behind. She heads out on a
cross-country, rambling trip to offer her help. But because of shrapnel left in her 
brain-- it's not in a position to safely operate-- LeAnne suffers long and short 
term memory loss and confusion, but when she remembers she is pure in her 
emotion and so real!
I don't usually read these types of stories because I get my (over)fill of war 
news on tv every day, but there was something about the cover that grabbed me.
This is not just LeAnne's story; this is a story of a dog that takes the help
she needs from her new human companion and gives it back double. LeAnne suffers
from the loss of her right eye, so even just everyday life is a complicated affair,
but Goody intuitively senses her friend's disability and assists her. This didn't
seem too far-fetched to me, because we adopted a dog who is very in tune with our
illnesses, injuries, and moods. 

So far the author has stated that there is no sequel and he is now working on 
another Chet and Bernie installment. I hope he changes his mind because I enjoyed 
the "realness" and impulsiveness of LeAnne's personality. Without spoiling anything,
I believe that the story was definitely left in such a way that it could be 
continued without loss of plot fluidity. Perhaps Mr. Quinn is waiting to see how
his audience accepts this book, stepping out of his lighter writing style. 
Recommended... if you understand that it will be melancholy.
Another good choice, from: NetGalley 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weekly Book News

I link up on weekends to Kim @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer  and Kathryn @ Book Date.

Abbreviated version today....

What I read-- 3 books, another good reading week for me, quantity & quality-wise: 

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka NetGalley-- linked to my review
Good suspense! Dark, gritty book 1 of new series.

The Right Side by Spencer Quinn NG-- review this Tuesday
Really enjoyed it!  Stand-alone.

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline 
Enjoyed it, especially the second half of the book. Perhaps a review this week. Stand-alone.

Put aside--not feeling it:

Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton

What I'm reading now--

The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea

EDIT: Finished this one, above! Wow, this was a really good one if you don't mind a thriller venturing into the creepy side.

What I want to read next--

I honestly have no idea at this point. Perhaps another NG book not releasing until further down the road, only because they're so tempting! I'll choose one after I finish my current book. 

EDIT: Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts... recommended recently by Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts too... recommended by Kathryn @ Book Date
It's a Nora Roberts double-header, yay! Just for the fun of it!

Any suggestions? What title caught your eye that you haven't read yet?
Happy Father's Day to those who celebrate it-- we Daughters/Moms appreciate you guys!

My dad- we miss you everyday

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: The Last Place You Look

The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary #1) by Kristen Lepionka

Received from the publisher through NetGalley for a fair and honest review. 
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: June 13th 2017 by Minotaur Books 
Cover love: yes, pulls me in
Genre: crime fiction, thriller
My rating: 4/5
recommend: yes, to those who like a gritty crime noir
series?: first in a series
would I continue?: yes, when in the mood for this type of story
if this was a movie: it would be rated R with mature themes, language, and situations

Book blurb:
 "Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton - black and from the wrong side of the tracks - was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.

Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah's vanishing act, especially when she thinks she's linked Sarah's disappearance to one of her father's unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad's life and her own."
I found this book to be a darker and grittier story than I was assuming it would be. Roxane drinks hard and often (whiskey straight) and works hard and less often (private investigator), and her only social life is a weekly dinner with her very dysfunctional family (after the death of her alcoholic detective father) and occasional bedroom antics with the very few men and women who are still in touch with her. 

Roxane was a rather unlikable MC for me, and it took me a while to care about what she was up to. Her relationship with all her family members is complex, in shades of gray rather than black & white. Her father has recently passed after being murdered during an arrest-- and though he seemed a very bitter, frustrated, and explosive personality-- Roxane misses him and it takes a toll on her career. 

After the scenario is set up and the characters introduced, I became more involved in the story and was anxious to find out what happened. An African-American teen was swiftly found guilty and put on death row years ago for the murder of his white girlfriend's parents, and her own disappearance. He is now facing death soon and Roxane is hired by his sister to find the missing girlfriend, whom she swears she spotted recently in town. Everyone else thinks the sister is grasping at straws and is uncooperative, but then Roxane digs up another murder in town that fits the M.O. and tries to connect the dots. The other murder took place while the young man was incarcerated, so she begins to dig into police files and question witnesses, much to the chagrin of the cops and the people in the wealthy, inclusive neighborhood. Why is everyone so eager to finger the boyfriend as the murderer? Who is keeping secrets in town? You'll have to read this intense thriller to find out!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Weekly Book News

 Yay for another great week of reading! Somehow, despite-- or because of-- the utter chaos that is my house, now that we are packing boxes and moving them into the garage, which needs to be organized also, I'm enjoying all my reads and grabbing my time when I can. I usually read every night for about 3 hours, but now I'm carrying my Paperwhite around for those unexpected moments of downtime

As mentioned during the week, I relented and joined NetGalley again because I need to slow down on the e-book buying, read my own titles, put more library books on hold, and visit the Friends of the Library used bookstore more. Anyway, for now I have control over my NG addiction and am not requesting too many more than what I'm reviewing. Have to watch the publication date though; some of the new titles I received don't release for a month or so and I want to read them now :) Maybe I will...

Read-- linked to my reviews:
  1. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Rokesbys #1)
  2. The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter NG
  3. A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot (Mercy Kilpatrick #2) NG

Currently reading: 
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (Roxane Weary #1) NG new to me author

Received from NetGalley for future reading: 
1. The Right Side by Spencer Quinn-- new to me author
2. The Truth We Bury by Barbara Taylor Sissel-- enjoy this author
3. Close to Home by Robert Dugoni (Tracy Crosswhite #5)-- enjoy this series!
4. When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen-- new to me author

My own books recently acquired:
1. Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon (Webb's Glass Shop Mystery #1): pub. 2015 Backlist Challenge in mind
2. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham: pub. 1992 Backlist Challenge in mind {my son's book; he's reading it now}
3. Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (Van Shaw #1): pub. 2015 Backlist Challenge in mind

I joined Lark for this challenge...
@ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

Enjoy your week... stay calm and read a book!
note: Apologies to many of my bookish friends, whose blogs I haven't been visiting or commenting on. Apparently my Spam Folder was just full up with unread messages from 9-10 bloggers I'd signed up to follow! And... they were all WP folks, so I must have something clicked wrong somewhere. I realize now that you really were posting new things that I missed out on, or subscription links that I didn't get to activate! This makes me really annoyed, but problem solved, so I'm going to stay calm... and read a book, of course!

Weekend linking to:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
(Rokesbys #1)
 Mass Market Paperback, 375 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Avon

Because of Miss Bridgerton.... 
I smiled-- grumpy ol' reader of serious books that I am-- after an annoying bout on the phone with insurance reps.
Because of Miss Bridgerton...
I laughed out loud-- in several places-- and the dog tilted her head to say, "what's up?"
Because of Miss Bridgerton...
I brought the Kindle to bed to finish the last few chapters despite a wearying day of cleaning out a few closets.
Because of Miss Quinn...
I may have discovered another genre to fall back on when my dark mysteries start to drag me down

It's light, it's fluffy, it's not earth-shattering, nor did I learn a history lesson, but I had fun...and I rate my books based on *my enjoyment* not on whether the masses will enjoy it, so this one got top honors from me. 

Thanks, Miss Bridgerton-- Billie-- such a delightfully strong-willed and funny MC ...and thank you Miss Quinn for your creativity!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: The Weight of Lies

The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter
disclosure: received from the publisher through NetGalley for an unbiased & honest review

Kindle edition: 382 pages
publisher: Lake Union Publishing
expected release date: June 6, 2017 
genre: suspense, psychological thriller, contemporary Southern gothic mystery
in a series? no
would read this author again? oh yeah!
cover love: very much so, nice imagining of the MC & the topic 
rating: 5/5 
recommend? yes
maturity level? if this was a film it would be rated R for mature themes, some detailed violence 

excerpt from book blurb:
"Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page."

my thoughts:
Where to begin? I don't need to recap the story; the blurb is quite descriptive. If you haven't read the back cover yet, then don't, and go in cold with no idea of the story. Ah yes, and please pick up this book asap if you love an intense, head-turning, twisty-plotted, hold your breath, on the edge of your seat thrill! 

Here's your chance-- it releases today! I requested it from NetGalley based on just one respected book blogger's high praises, and not to go all "fan-girl" on you, but this is a special treat for any readers who love psychological suspense! A moody, atmospheric, contemporary suspense written in a Southern Gothic vein. Whatever you think this is about, it isn't. Whoever you think is the guilty party, they aren't. Whenever you think the story must be over, it won't be. And when you close the book, you'll still be thinking about it and saying, What the heck just happened?! It will definitely be on my favorite books of 2017 list! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: A Merciful Truth

A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot (Mercy Kilpatrick #2)

(I only write formal reviews for books received for review consideration)

disclosure: received from the publisher through NetGalley for an unbiased & honest review
Kindle edition: 322 pages
publisher: Montlake
genre: romantic suspense
cover love: very nice- catches my eye, represents the plot
rating: 4/5, very good!
expected publication- U.S: June 6, 2017
part of a series?- yes, #2... but I didn't realize when requested, and I've yet to read book #1
would I continue?- yes, now I do want to read book 1 to learn of the previous issues raised by the MCs during this story
would I recommend?- yes, to other lovers of romantic suspense 
maturity level- if it was a film: would be rated PG-13, no explicit sensual scenes or graphic violence

book blurb:
"Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge—even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she’s not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff’s deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.

Still shunned by her family and members of the community, Mercy must keep her ear close to the ground to pick up any leads. And it’s not long before she hears rumors of the area’s growing anti-government militia movement. If the arsonist is among their ranks, Mercy is determined to smoke the culprit out. But when her investigation uncovers a shocking secret, will this hunt for a madman turn into her own trial by fire?"

My thoughts: 
note: I'm once again requesting a few NG titles to supplement my library borrowing and less buying of books, since we are cutting back on luxuries in preparation for our move this summer. 
I really enjoyed this book! I'd read one Kendra Elliot title a while back... and while I enjoyed it, I don't remember loving it. I was expressly searching for a romantic suspense and saw this title on NetGalley and recognized the author, so I requested it. I was pleasantly surprised, even after I realized my mistake; I hadn't read book #1 in this series yet. There wasn't a problem with this being read as a stand-alone, but I would've better understood the relationships between the main characters and the supporting characters--of which there were many-- if I had. The actual crime-solving mystery was unaffected by skipping the first book because it didn't rehash the same problems from book one. 

The main character, Mercy Kilpatrick, is an FBI agent in her early 30s who has transferred back to the same small town, Eagle's Nest in eastern Oregon, where she grew up. She comes from a family of  "preppers", those who believe that they must plan for a catastrophe-- whether an act of God or man-made, and stockpile supplies and learn how to be self-sufficient. Mercy has been estranged from her family for years, but still believes in the prepper movement, and even has her own rural cabin hidden in the woods, full of supplies, though she lives in town.

Her love interest is Truman Daly, the local police chief, and they get involved working on a case together about a rash of arson attacks, which then turn deadly when bodies are found at a scene. While Mercy investigates, she gets the feeling that the person or group of people responsible might belong to a home-grown militia: a radical group that believes in autonomy and not in the laws of the government. Suddenly Mercy is concerned that the criminal/s could be involved in both the prepper movement and the militia, and she no longer feels welcome or safe with the people she grew up around.

Good story-- worth a read for many of you!

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Late Take on My Yearly Challenge 2017

I apologize for being a scatter-brain, but when I left blogging for a permanent (which it wasn't) break and creating my new, laid-back blog, I forgot that I'd started a fun-- and sometimes necessary-- yearly challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard. 

It's The Backlist Reader Challenge 2017, geared to encourage you to read your older titles, whether on your wishlist or actually on your shelves or e-reader, since before 2016. Rules here.

Before you shake your head because I'm starting a challenge mid-year, actually I signed up before New Year's and was eager to participate then. Lately I have to tighten my book spending because of financial issues such as a distant move, so I reluctantly signed up for NetGalley again and borrowed a couple of books, but I'll also read my older titles too :)

This post will be linked on my sidebar through the badge for the challenge if you want to check my progress. Still a work in progress for a bit.....

Books older than 2016 that I've been wanting to read for a long time--->

reading now:
1. Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (2015)
DNF/put aside status

reading now:
1. Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts (2015) from my kindle backlist
recommended by Lark,, Kathryn and Katherine

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What I Read in May 2017

Linking up to the wonderful Kathryn, at The Book Date for a monthly check-in!

I had a wonderful month of reading! Loved most of the books I picked up , liked all of them, though some more than others. I am slowing down on my reading to 2 books a week it seems, but hey, we can't all be speed-readers!

{note: I thought I'd be offline for a couple of days to care for my very sick dog, but she is bouncing back remarkably and I have spare time to blog, anyway}

The Previous Month in Review!
  1. The Diva Takes the Cake by Krista Davis (Domestic Diva #2)
  2. The Diva Paints the Town by Krista Davis (#3)
  3. Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
  4. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  5. The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
  6. All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg
  7. The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
  8. The Deep End by Julie Mulhern (Country Club Murders #1)

(my opinion) of the genres:
fiction- 8
cozy mysteries- 3
women's contemporary fiction-2
literary fiction- 2
suspense- 1

My Favorites of the Month.... wow, very hard to choose this month, comparing apples to oranges here:

Slightly South of Simple
The Red Hunter
The Stars Are Fire

I recommend each and every one of these books if you are in the market for the genre I imagined them to be in. Each one is well-written and kept me interested in reading more. Isn't that what counts in the end?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Midweek Bookish & Doggie Thoughts

Allow me to meander away from bookish news for just a moment.... I'm going to be sporadically posting and commenting the next couple of days because of what went down (on a holiday, of course, just because life's a bit tougher of late).

My only surviving Shih Tzu-- we favor this breed, but only rescue-adopt our pets, never buy-- was approximately 5-6 years old when we adopted her off "death row" years ago. We have 3 other dogs still, too-- well, one is my daughter's mutt while she lives with us. Anyway, she didn't come to our home bowing & scraping and looking at us with adoration; she came in like she owned the place and claimed her spot in it, feisty and grouchy as she is! She even walks with a masculine swagger!

Well, on Memorial Day afternoon-- all regular vet offices closed for the holiday-- after a weekend of numerous "accidents" from both ends of her body, she started passing blood, a lot of it. We had to bring her to the emergency vet office (think extra money just to walk in the door)... and if we didn't have a reserved credit card kept only for vet visits, we would have had to end her life. We're moving cross-country, kids are preparing to leave the nest, and there is just no extra money to be found, not the thousands of $ that vets require for emergency, prolonged care. What a decision to weigh on anyone who loves their furbabies as their family, like we do!

Wrapping up the story... we had to transfer her from the vet's ER after an overnight stay, bring her to our old vet in our former hometown, 45 minutes away, because the doctor knows her history. Now she stayed overnight at that office yesterday, with bags of fluids and medicines and watchful care. She's almost definitely being released today, just waiting for the call to pick her up... if they get her to eat and drink on her own; it's been 3 days of her getting fluids by a catheter port and no eating.

Except for this horrific episode of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis of unknown cause, the x-rays and bloodwork show that she has no underlying diseases, no cancer, no organ shut-downs, nothing out of the ordinary for a 13-ish year old canine. Remarkable! We're grateful we could be there for her, make the right decision, and will bring her home to her family. Her doggie brother has been whining and depressed since she's gone. He'll try to give her kisses when she comes home, she'll grumble and give a casual snap in his direction, and life will go on... Love comes in all different forms.
Now... books. Okay, not much reading going on here. Understandably distracted and busy.

finished up this week:
The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

 I loved The Stars Are Fire! I don't usually read these more literary historical fictions, but this one turned out to be a page-turner for me. Not because it's a fast-paced, intense story, it's isn't, but because the character-driven story had me hooked-- I wanted to know more. There's a fire that wipes out the town (not giving away anything you don't know from the cover blurb, the title, and the first chapter or so), but there's also a story of survival, both physical and emotional. The MC has to fight to live after this catastrophe, but she also has to fight to stay sane in an unloving, totally domineering relationship with her husband against the realization that she is stronger than she thought. I recommend this for most readers.

The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
This has lots of love from other bloggers and is well-written, but I found it a bit shallow (yes, I realize the author is writing this tongue-in-cheek, she doesn't expect us to identify with the MCs). I found the MC and her mother to be annoying and their snarky conversation didn't grab me. I think it's the scenario of the series that didn't pull me in-- the fact that they're wealthy and privileged...all the acquaintances give air-kisses and worry about their jewelry and their tennis game. So... I agree it's a great cozy idea, very different, interesting because it's set in the '70--but while I appreciate the writing talent & all the reader love, it's just not a favorite of mine. I'll continue with the series, but won't rush to pick up #2. A case of "it's me, not you", certainly. Thanks to all who recommended it. Remember we all have our own distinct likes and dislikes in reading so no flak, please. I love the Domestic Diva cozy series which is a lightweight offering but great fun for me, and haven't found any others who enjoy it. It's all relative.  If I was rating, which I don't anymore, I'd offer it a 3/5 and that's not bad, that's average.

what I'm reading now:
To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton (a Dangerous Type Mystery book #1)

I'm enjoying this! Nice setting... the author admitted it's a  re-imagining of Park City, Utah-- a bit different scenario for any cozies I read. There's skiing, there's unusual old-time shops, I'm learning some history about gold-mining & all things about communication: typewriters, paper, pens... the old-school way. I've only read 20% or so, but I so far recommend it. Will let you know. As you see, I'm gravitating towards quieter reads, comfort reads, less violence. I have a lot on my mind this month and don't need a plethora of thrillers, though I'm not giving them up :) Just cutting back. Remember last year when I had stress and I only read historical mysteries? I'm in a reading groove, and that's all that counts, to me.

Enjoy your reading this week! I'll be posting again in a few days...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Weekly Book News

Weekly Book News- my occasional recap of what I will read, did read, am reading.. you know, just bookish chat.

I have had such good reads lately, and can thank my Amazon gift card for that. I was able to pick up a few titles that I had my eye on and sprinkle them with some library new-releases. Can't complain.

What I read:

All the Best People by Sonja Yeorg
genre: hmm-- possibly contemporary/historical family fiction would sum it up
{I'm from now on substituting family fiction for "women's" fiction, which sounds so 1950-ish if you think about it}
also by this author: House Broken & The Middle of Somewhere---I've read all three
Very Good!

I recommend this author for thoughtful style writing that pulls you in. This title was more melancholy than her two previous, and still quite enjoyable for me. Made me think! It's not just about mental illness. That's just one part of the plot, actually. I discovered that's not the primary connecting theme between the grandmother, mother, and daughter in one family. It is about relationships between the "best" people & the "have-nots": between men and women's place in society, the wealthy and those barely paying the bills, the ones born attractive and the ones more plain, even religions claiming superiority to others. Okay... not as heavy as my description just made it! Some on GR even classified this as "chick-lit", another term I don't like to use. It is definitely not in this genre, in my opinion!

This points out why I am putting aside more titles lately if they don't pull me in, and then going back to them later. I talked about this title earlier in the week and said I wasn't sure if I was feeling it. So, I started in on my Anita Shreve book then picked it up again and sure enough, I connected, big-time! I just won't call any book a DNF unless I made a mistake and picked up a book that I totally won't read-- such as erotica-- or I pick up a book I don't know anything about-- and the writing style is so unprofessional that it ruins the enjoyment for me. Sometimes I have to ruminate about a plot and then pick up the book again to see what else it has to offer.

Reading now:

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve 
-coincidentally another historical (1940s Maine) that also deals with the relationships between men & women, and wealthy & poor-- with an emphasis on feminism. I've read a bunch of Ms. Shreve's books, but usually I prefer her oldest titles better. I took a chance on this one. So far, very good! Only thing that bothers me is POV: third-person, present tense.

EDIT: Just finished last night, stayed up late turning the pages. For a book that I wasn't even sure that I would like, I loved it! The beginning is a bit slow for a couple of chapters, but stay with it. One of my favorite books of 2017!

The Deep End by Julie Mulhern (book #1 in a cozy-ish mystery/family fiction series)-- only read one chapter so far while I thought about All the Best People for this post and started The Stars Are Fire, but I know I'll like it just fine.

Thinking Ahead:
Well, I have my last book downloaded from the gift card I could pick up, a total 180 change from the titles I've been reading lately. So maybe....

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
- #4 in The Others series UF (one of only two UF series that I currently read, the other being the Mercy Thompson one by Patricia Briggs).

... or one of my older titles lingering on my Kindle. Who knows, but I'm hoping whatever it is that it's an enjoyable read for me!

What I'm hoping to pick up in June:

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy- 6/6/17 publication

I'm going to be linking back up this weekend to my dear blogging friends:
Kim @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer on Sunday

Kathryn @ Book Date on Monday