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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Bookish Things You're a Grinch About


Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is BOOKISH THINGS I'M A GRINCH ABOUT! We often think of being a grinch as a silly thing, so try not to focus on serious topics that make your blood pressure rise such as abusive relationships, lack of diversity. Focus more on those petty things that make you cringe or induces an eye roll. Have fun with this one! 

In no particular order, here are my selections:


Movie or television tie-in covers


Image result for books with movie coversImage result for books with movie coversImage result for game of thrones book covers

These are just annoying.


Children's tie-in books with no expansion of the universe



I've talked about this before. My kids read a lot! And they also like to watch shows, especially Paw Patrol or Daniel Tiger or Blaze and the Monster Machines. If we are out and they see a book with their favorite characters on it, they get excited, which is awesome! But then we are all let down when we start reading it and discover it's only a rehashing of an episode they have seen multiple times. It would be great if they would expand the world of these shows by including content in the books that wasn't featured on the show. For now, I'm saving my money and we'll check them out at the library if we see them.


Series with way too much material


Image result for pretty little liars book series

While the Pretty Little Liars series is just one example, it's the most obvious to me. It sounds really interesting and something that I could definitely see myself reading, but the amount of books in the series combined with the companions and the television show just overwhelms me. I don't have much time as it is, so the idea of starting something that has so much material doesn't interest me at all. It's funny I feel this way considering Game of Thrones is life to me! I know there's people out there completely turned off by the size of each book and the show as well.


Hard cover new releases


I spend a lot of money each year on books and many of those are highly anticipated new releases. I don't necessarily want to wait forever on hold at the library, so I'll buy the book.  But the Grinch in me doesn't want to have to spend so much money on one book that I may or may not ultimately end up wanting to keep on my shelves. I just wish that the soft cover format could come out at the same time as the hardcover so I could spend even more buying more books sooner!


Ill-placed stickers on cover


Image result for bad sticker placement on booksImage result for bad sticker placement on booksImage result for bad sticker placement on books

I've worked and spent a lot of my life in libraries and bookstores, so I completely understand that there may be policies about sticker placement. Sometimes it can't even be helped. I just hate spending time scraping sticker residue off a book even if every once in a while there are some absolute gems.


So those are my picks. What are some things that you are a Grinch about when it comes to books?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, December 4, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda (Psychological Thriller)


Greetings Friends!

Today I have a review of the recent release Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda!


RATING:


Genre:  Thriller
Publication Date:  September 2017


SYNOPSIS:

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever. 
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? 
Pick up your copy on Amazon HERE!


REVIEW:


I get the sense that this book will either be a major hit with some or an absolute miss with others!

The story is told entirely from Paul's perspective in a very conversational manner. He talks to you like an old friend, but what you begin to learn about him makes for an uncomfortable relationship and a completely dissonant experience. You would never want to be such good friends with someone like this, but he keeps bringing you in closer and closer. It's incredibly creepy, but oddly entertaining. Paul is definitely one of those characters that you'll hate to love. He's so over the top and campy that you can't help but want to watch this train wreck of a guy fly off the rails! I was such a fan of how even within his own narrative he would let slip a few details that gave you just enough of the truth to know that whatever story he was trying to sell existed only his unstable mind.

As you follow the Stroms over the course of 24 hours, you become privy to all the lies, deceptions, and betrayals that this couple has experienced with one another as Paul attempts to give his wife the "best day ever." While that may be what he is trying to do, you know from very early on that it just isn't going to work out that way.

This is such an addictive and fast-paced read that I was able to finish it within a few sittings. Paul's unreliable narration sucks you in from the very beginning, but as Mia's voice begins to add more complex and shocking layers, the story becomes compulsively readable and hard to put down! This is a great character study that derives its tension from the interactions between characters and their inner thoughts. Ultimately, I would have liked to see a wholly different ending given how the shocks continued to ratchet up, but even Paul learns that we don't always get what we want.

I hear the audio book version is quite good, so this might be something to consider on your next road trip, as Paul includes his "perfect" playlist to go right along on your drive.

I can't wait to check out the author's other works while I wait for her next book!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction exploring what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives.

Her previous novels include The Goodbye Year, All the Difference, Here, Home, Hope, and In the Mirror.

She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. 

You can connect with her on:

FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  INSTAGRAM  |  WEBSITE

Thursday, November 30, 2017

BOOK REVIEW + GUEST POST: Her Final Watch by Marguerite Ashton (Thriller)


Greetings Friends!

Today I have a review of Her Final Watch, the second book in the Detective Blanchette mystery series.  Marguerite Ashton has also graciously provided a guest post discussing how her time as an actress helped to hone her writing craft. 


RATING:


Genre:  Thriller
Publication Date:  August 2017


SYNOPSIS:


Detective Lily Blanchette will stop at nothing to solve a murder. Her current case involves the killing of an undercover cop working to bring down the mob for prostitution and drugs. But Lily's usual laser-like focus on the case has been disrupted. 

Two weeks earlier, she learned she was pregnant by her murderous husband whom she'd killed in self-defense. Unsure whether to keep her baby or place the child of this cruel man up for adoption, Lily keeps the pregnancy a secret from her colleagues. 

Under mounting pressure to solve the case, Lily arranges a sit-down with a local mob boss only to find out her suspect is also wanted by them. But before Lily can warn her team, she and her new partner, Jeremiah, are shot at, and another body is found. When she discovers Jeremiah has a connection with the underworld, she is pulled into a conflict that swirls around the boss's son who's hell-bent on revenge. 

To add to the complexity of the situation, Lily learns that her victim might still be alive if it wasn't for opportunistic Assistant District Attorney, Ibee Walters, who has a twisted vision of justice. As Lily gets closer to finding the killer, she unravels ugly secrets that point to Ibee and Jeremiah - placing Lily's life and her unborn child in danger. 

Pick up your copy on Amazon HERE.


BOOK EXCERPT:

Detective Ariel Weeks stabbed at the small block of ice until it split into several pieces across the counter. She tossed the jagged cubes into the glass and made her client a drink. 
In less than twenty-four hours, Ariel would no longer have to use the name Jasmine and keep men company to protect her cover. All she needed to do was make it through this last night and she’d be allowed to be who she was; a mom just doing her job. 
After gathering evidence and recording all the data she had, it would be hard to detach. Towards the end, she’d learned things she wished weren’t true, leaving her stomach in tattered knots. 
Back at home, there were two reasons Ariel would never take on another undercover assignment. 
Click. 
Ariel ground her teeth as the door to Cabin D opened and closed. She could feel Mikey Surace, the mob boss’s son, staring at the backless white dress she wore at his request. 
The man who smiled at the sight of blood was standing behind her, breathing heavily. 


REVIEW: 


This was such a fantastic read for fans of mob families and police procedurals. The story is filled with so much danger, intrigue, and a cast of characters so untrustworthy that there is no way to know who you can rely on. The author's writing is so vivid and perceptive that you feel as though you are either watching it happen on the big screen or right there along with the characters. 

Much of the action drew out the tension and kept the suspense ongoing, making this a fast-paced and thrilling read from start to finish. I also thoroughly enjoyed the family dynamics and strains plaguing the main characters, which added depth and emotional understanding to so much of their individual decision-making. 

Despite this being the second book in the series, I never felt that I was missing anything. In fact, the references and character development featured in this story to events that occurred previously piqued my curiosity enough that I plan on reading the first book in the near future. It would also be great to see the series continue on with additional cases.

This book is an absolute steal for your ebook library and highly recommended!



GUEST POST

How Acting Led Me to the Write Road

During my two-year attempt at acting, I had the pleasure of meeting actor Dan Lauria. He was a guest speaker at an actor’s workshop held by my agent at the time in Colorado. 
If you are not familiar with him, he was the dad on the family show The Wonder Years, and I loved him in it. A while back, I got to see him in a 1988 movie called David.  He played the role of a disturbed father which was a huge difference compared to his role as the grumpy and caring dad on the show. After the movie was over, I realized how frustrated I’d become watching him play this character. It had distorted my view of the guy I looked forward to seeing each week. 
Once I’d gotten over that the movie was based on a true story, I told myself that Dan Lauria was doing his job as an actor. He’d honed his craft. That was one of the moments that helped me decide that acting wasn’t for me. I wanted to be behind the camera and write. The similarities in each artist’s performance, whether it is on screen or paper, are meant to touch an audience. But to make any of it real, I had to do what Dan did—make my writing a priority. 
Fast forward to today. As I look back and reflect, it has been a long, long road. Going to conferences and treating my writing like a business on an author budget was tough. Except my desire to be a writer was stronger than my addiction to avocados. With all of the ups and downs, the easiest thing for me would have been to give quit. But that’s the one thing I refused to do. When my books weren’t selling, I kept writing. When the rejection letters poured in, I kept writing. When I reached the point of exhaustion, I took a nap and started a new chapter. 
I’ll never forget what my writing mentor told me. She said, “Keep your head low and just write. And that’s what I’m doing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



When Marguerite Ashton was in her twenties, she took up acting but realized she preferred to work behind the camera, writing crime fiction. A few years later, she married an IT Geek and settled down with her role as wife, mom, and writer. Five kids later, she founded the Crime Writer’s Panel and began working with former law enforcement investigators to create; Criminal Lines Blog, an online library for crime writers who need help with their book research.

She’s a workaholic who hides in her writer’s attic, plotting out her next book and stalking Pinterest for the next avocado recipe. 

A member of Sisters in Crime, Marguerite grew up in Colorado, but is now happily living in Wisconsin and playing as much golf as possible.


You can connect with her on:




Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book and Marguerite Ashton. It was a pleasure providing a review!

And be sure to check out the blog tour for more opinions and author extras!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian (Cozy Mystery)


Greetings Friends!

Today's feature is a cover reveal for a new cozy mystery series coming out next year!  Hummus and Homicide is the first book in the Kebab Kitchen series.


SYNOPSIS


When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu.

Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school . . . and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect.

Recipes included!



Ready…..



                     

Set…..

                       


Reveal!!



                     

Coming February 27, 2018 from Kensington Books!


You can pre-order your copy on Amazon HERE today!




ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Tina Kashian spent her childhood summers at the New Jersey shore, building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business where her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. She worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager.

After college, Tina worked as a NJ Deputy Attorney General, a patent attorney, and a mechanical engineer. Her love of reading fiction for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. The Kebab Kitchen Cozy Mystery series launches with Hummus and Homicide (3/18), followed by Stabbed in the Baklava and One Feta in the Grave by Kensington Books. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit www.tinakashian.com and join her Newsletter to enter free contests to win books, get delicious recipes, and to learn when her books will be released.

Tina is also an Amazon best-selling historical romance author and writes under the pseudonym Tina Gabrielle. Visit tinagabrielle.com to learn about her romances.


I hope you enjoyed today's feature and I look forward to hearing if you will be adding this book to your TBR for next year!

Monday, November 27, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Cold by Jennifer Chase (Thriller)


Greetings Friends!

Today I have a review of Dead Cold, the sixth book in the Emily Stone thriller series.


RATING:



Genre:  Thriller 
Publication Date:  July 2017


SYNOPSIS:

What happens when one California community has a disturbing spike in homicides? It catapults cops into a deadly game of murder. Frozen human body parts hideously displayed at the crime scenes offers a horrifying interpretation that only a sadistic serial killer could design—and execute. 

On the hunt for a complex serial killer, vigilante detective Emily Stone must face her most daring case yet. Stone’s proven top-notch profiling skills and forensic expertise may not be enough this time. 

Young and ambitious, Detective Danny Starr, catches the homicide cases and discovers that it will test everything he knows about police work and the criminal mind. Can he handle these escalating cases or will the police department have to call in reinforcements—the FBI.

Emily Stone’s covert team pushes with extreme urgency to unravel the grisly clues, while keeping their identities hidden from the police. With one last-ditch effort, Stone dangles someone she loves as bait to draw out the killer. She then forces the killer out of their comfort zone with her partner Rick Lopez, and with help from a longtime friend Jordan Smith. A revelation of the serial killer’s identity leaves the team with volatile emotions that could destroy them. 

The killer continues to taunt and expertly manipulate the police, as well as Stone’s team, and as they run out of time—they leave behind everyone and everything—in Dead Cold.
Order your copy on Amazon HERE.


BOOK EXCERPT:


ESCAPE WAS IMPOSSIBLE. TEARS STREAMED down her face as she sat in the darkness and waited for the man to return. There was no other choice—but to wait.
She hadn’t eaten anything in three days and had only a limited amount of water—her strength continued to fade with every hour. With her wrists and ankles secured with duct tape, her skin stung with pain every time she struggled to move. At least the man had peeled the tape from her eyes and mouth so that she could see something besides pitch-blackness.
Even if she could escape, the only way to safety was jumping into the frigid water, but she could not swim and would drown before ever reaching the shore.
The only thing thirteen-year-old Kayla Swanson thought about was home. Fond memories flashed through her mind of her parents, her little brother, and her dog Charlie. She was never going to see them again. Their smiling faces were forever etched in Kayla’s mind, and she constantly held them close to her heart.
The boat rocked, and seemed to sway more violently as the tide flooded in and out of the harbor. Kayla could hear a consistent clanking noise above her as the boat rolled back and forth. The sound had a hypnotic quality, and kept her mind on something else besides when the man would return and what he would do next.
Her lips were dry and cracked as she bordered on dehydration. Even her tears dried on her cheeks, leaving her skin stiff and drawn. Her body began to shake, not only from fear, but also because of the extreme exhaustion and the constant dampness all around her.
The boat rocked more, but this time it shifted from the opposite sides. Kayla heard soft footsteps above, which she knew wasn’t her captor’s heavy walk. She strained her eyes in the darkness and thought she saw a thin shadow stealthily move along the upper deck. 
Was it a ghost?  
Kayla remembered a television series where a team of people hunted ghosts and they had said that ghosts could occupy any type of space, house, property, and even a boat.
She blinked her eyes several times and hoped that she could catch a glimpse of the ghost again. With every ounce of declining strength, Kayla scooted her body closer to the narrow stairs leading to the upper deck.
Painfully craning her neck, she strained to see something up in the darkness.
The dark shadowed areas played tricks on her eyes—it was there, then it wasn’t.
She waited for several minutes.
Nothing appeared.
The only sounds she heard were the usual boat noises she had grown accustomed to hearing. Whatever she thought she heard was gone now. It was most likely her imagination trying to give her some hope and a few moments break from her dire circumstances.
As she relaxed her shoulders and leaned back against the wall, the reality of her world pressing down hard. Tears streamed down her face. She tasted the saltiness that settled around her mouth. Her last moments were approaching, and there was nothing she could do.

REVIEW:


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

I'm just going to start off by saying, WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN ALL MY LIFE!?!  Wow! I'm a huge fan of serial killer stories, so I was definitely intrigued after reading the synopsis and this book completely delivered! I'm now adding all the previous books to my TBR and can't wait to get started from the beginning!

This is an exciting and intense thriller that is told from multiple perspectives, so that each adds layers to the growing suspense and builds anticipation for the final showdown. The majority of the story follows Emily as she tries to figure out who the killer is, while at the same time, you get to follow Detective Starr for the official investigation. We also get a little peak into the killer's mind, which was quite unnerving. And finally, there's Kayla's, a former victim who was rescued by Emily years earlier and now Kayla is trying to find this elusive woman and thank Emily for saving her. I was not the biggest fan of Kayla's point of view and when she finally found Emily, it was so cringe-inducing and off-putting to be unnecessary. Personal preference aside, some people may like Kayla's contribution to the story, but in the end, I didn't see how she brought any meaningful value. I ultimately felt that the pacing slowed way down when Kayla entered the story, but as you can tell from my rating, it wasn't such a distraction to cause a problem with the overall storytelling. I thoroughly enjoyed that through these multiple points of view, the author created a perfect balance between the good and bad forces at play where crime is involved. I'm a big fan of reading about the shades of gray that dwell in between those two power dynamics and Emily and her team were a highly believable cast of characters to read about as they took us through the underbelly of vigilante justice.

This well written plot was fascinating to read and really set some high expectations for the rest of the series which I'm looking forward to getting started on! So if you're in the mood for the dark, gritty, and dangerous, definitely give this book a read!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning crime fiction author and consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master's degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

You can connect with her on:


FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE 


Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book and Jennifer Chase. It was pleasure providing a review!  

And be sure to check out other blog tour participants HERE for more opinions and author extras!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (T5W): Books I'm Thankful For


Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.


This week's topic is BOOKS YOU ARE THANKFUL FOR

In celebration of Thanksgiving, let's chat about the books that for whatever reason you owe some gratitude towards.

In no particular order, here are my selections:



This book definitely starts a positive conversation about a very difficult subject. Showcasing amazing family dynamics and immensely likeable characters, this book addresses race relations and police violence in a truly harrowing way. This book deserves all the hype it receives and I have a feeling it will become a modern classic.




If you ever find yourself in a reading slump, pick this book up! If you have a reluctant reader in your life, give them this book. Whatever your situation, you can't go wrong with this one.




This is the fantasy I love - the perfect balance of realistic political intrigue with just a taste of the magical.




While books have always been a strong feature in my life, I can still remember when my third grade teacher read this book aloud. I was fascinated with their circumstances and couldn't wait to read more. I think this sparked the beginning of my desire to read on my own.




I found this book by happenstance at a used book store when I was a preteen. Finding it at that time helped me to see connections to myself inside my reading world as a way to feel better about all the teen angst I was going through. I appreciated the fact that it opened me up to young adult literature and I still have my copy today. 



So those are my picks for books that I am thankful for.  What are some of yours?  Let me know in the comments!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2017

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes (Cozy Mystery)


Greetings Friends!

Today I have a review for the new cozy mystery A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes, the first book in the Keepsake Cove mystery series.

A Fatal Collection (A Keepsake Cove Mystery) by [Hughes, Mary Ellen]

RATING:


Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  November 2017


SYNOPSIS:

Callie Reed pays a long overdue visit to her aunt, Melodie, at her fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, which is home to a bevy of collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of the music box shop she owns. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being ruled accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she in the shop in the middle of the night? 
As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection. 
Pick up your copy on Amazon HERE.



REVIEW:  


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

This was a delightful cozy that was really enhanced by how charming the community of Keepsake Cove was. Because Callie is new to the locale as well, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone and everything right along with her. I absolutely love these small towns with locally owned businesses that individually specialize in a certain niche, and Keepsake Cove is full of collectible shops that thrive on the tourist market. Selling a wide variety of unique gifts, this is definitely a welcoming place to visit and explore. The author's vivid descriptions certainly created an inviting atmosphere that I could picture myself strolling through for a sweet shopping experience. 

With a quirky yet highly likeable cast of secondary characters, there is no shortage of suspicious suspects or motives. And while I was able to accurately determine who the culprit was very early on, this in no way detracted from the story for me. I enjoyed developing several ideas on the motive, which ultimately did turn out to be a slight surprise, but completely believable.

There is a total lack of law enforcement involvement in solving the mystery, so the story loses that more traditional antagonistic relationship between the amateur and the expert. I appreciated this aspect and thought it worked well in connection with the hints of paranormal activity Callie was using as her guide. She never overtly goes out of her way to put herself or others in danger nor is she even sure there is a mystery to be solved. Her instincts suggest something isn't right, and in the end, she is just as surprised as the reader when the answers are revealed. In many ways, this made the story so much more refreshing and engaging to read.

Overall, this was a great, solid start to yet another lovely cozy mystery series and I am very interested to see how quite a few interactions between characters play out as the story continues.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories. 

You can connect with her on:

FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE


GIVEAWAY INFO!


Enter to win a print copy of the book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Best of Luck!

Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours and Mary Ellen Hughes. It was a pleasure providing a review! And be sure to check out the other blog tour participants for more!