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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Hidden Gems within the Thriller Genre


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, you can find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is HIDDEN GEMS within your FAVORITE GENRE! My favorite reads are thrillers, and this genre is infamous for proclaiming every newly released title as the next Gone Girl without actually delivering on that promise. Most of us are burnt out on that proclamation and just want good stories, but often that even becomes hard as well. Here are some standouts within a genre that seems intent on telling the same story over and over again. 

In no particular order, these are my selections:

Taboo


This is the first book in the CSI Reilly Steel series and I talk A LOT about these books on my blog. I discovered this book by chance in 2016 at my local library and binge read the entire series in a few months. The mysteries become more gripping and gritty with each book (except #3, which I explain HERE if you're interested in checking that out) and the writing crafts amazingly relatable characters that truly come alive on the page so that you are racing right along with them to solve the cases.  Taboo is actually FREE right now on Kindle, so download it and start reading today!



Now You See Me


This is the first book in the Lacey Flint series, featuring a young detective constable from London on the hunt for a Jack the Ripper copycat. It's compelling, fast-paced, and will keep you guessing until the very end. 



https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312947151/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=thatswhatsh00-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0312947151&linkId=9d8ea260ec4a2a5e1e2000f33d30c462

Heartsick


This is the first book in the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series, featuring a female serial killer and the troubled detective that almost died at her hands. Gretchen is beautiful, cunning, and pure evil. It's definitely tragic to watch the relationship dynamics between these two, but it makes for an incredible reading experience. 



Dead Cold (An Emily Stone Thriller) by [Chase, Jennifer]

Dead Cold


This is the sixth book in the Emily Stone series. I discovered this one through a review campaign and absolutely LOVED it! Plus it's an incredible steal on Kindle at 99 cents! 

Featuring a covert, vigilante detective, this story gave you insight into the killer's mind as well as how the investigation proceeded along both the procedural and more secretive side. This one is extremely fast-paced, much more action oriented, and places more of an emphasis and spotlight on the importance of profiling serial criminals, especially given the author's own extensive background and expertise with forensics.



The Weight of Blood: A Novel by [McHugh, Laura]

The Weight of Blood


While the other books are all part of a series, this is the only standalone and much more character driven and atmospheric.

Spanning across decades, Lucy is haunted by the disappearance of her mother, a woman she never knew, and the murder of her friend, a girl she couldn't save. The bucolic community turns macabre as dark secrets are revealed within this secluded, protective, and insular small town. It was definitely hard to forget this stunning debut novel!


So those are my picks! What are some hidden gems in your favorite genre? Let me know in the comments because I'm always looking to expand my TBR!

Monday, January 29, 2018

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton (Cozy Mystery)


Greetings Friends!

Today I have a REVIEW and GIVEAWAY for the new cozy mystery Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton! This is the first book in the Deputy Donut mystery series.

 

 
Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive. 
If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts. 
Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business.
Order your copy on Amazon HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series – cops, crime, coffee, donuts and one curious cat. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes were folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company.

You can connect with her on:

FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE


RATING:

Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  January 2018


REVIEW:


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

This was such a delightful and solid debut for any fan of cozy culinary mysteries that you will definitely want to look for! And it would also make a great choice for those who haven't discovered the world of cozies before and are simply looking for a place to start.

Between the community and the cast of characters (I'm looking at those Knitpickers), this story provides the potential for much hijinx to ensue as the series progresses.   The writing is well done and keeps you guessing right along with Emily as she tries to figure out what happened to her friend. I enjoyed that Emily's character was intriguing enough to keep you drawn to the mystery, but never annoying enough that you felt drug through the story. If you've read enough cozy mysteries, you are fully aware that sometimes the lead can come on a bit too strong, especially in terms of her amateur sleuthing abilities. Emily wasn't like that at all, and in fact, turned to her police associates many times without hesitation as she learned new information that could assist them in their efforts to solve the case.

Many times in these cozy mystery settings, you can be instantly and continuously inundated with the minutia of the niche, but I thoroughly appreciated how the story focused more on the mystery while the bakery remained in the periphery. This may not remain the case as the series continues, but for the opening story, it was really well done. The moments that included scenes from the bakery will leave your mouth watering, so be sure to have snacks available, preferably your favorite pastry or you can make your own using the provided recipes!

I look forward to picking up the second book coming out in August entitled Goodbye Cruller World!


GIVEAWAY INFO!


Enter for your chance to win a prize package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours, Kensington Publishing, and especially Ginger Bolton for the opportunity to read and review this book! It was an absolute pleasure!

Be sure to check out the other blogs on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Copycat by Alex Lake (Psychological Thriller)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I have a review of the new psychological thriller Copycat by Alex Lake.


RATING:


Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Publication Date:  September 2017


SYNOPSIS:


Your stalker is everywhere.
Your stalker knows everything.
But the real problem is that your stalker is you.


Sarah Havenant discovers–when an old friend points it out–that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now–almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile–that her problems really start…
You can order your copy on Amazon HERE.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna is the first book to be written under the author’s pseudonym, and it has been a No.1 bestselling ebook sensation. The author now lives in the US, in Brunswick, Maine.

You can connect with the author through social media on:




REVIEW:


A few years ago when the author's first book After Anna was released, I was inundated on social media about how much I would love that book. I never got a chance to read it, but it was with that curiousity that I was able to get an advanced reader copy last year of Killing Kate, which we choose to read in my book club and you can check out my full review here. While it started out extremely slow, around the middle, it took off and never stopped! Becoming quite outlandish in its intensity, I was taken aback at some of the violence that occurred towards the end that seemed slightly gratuitous for this type of thriller. In the end, I wasn't completely sold; however, I knew I was interested to see what Lake would write next.

I never heard much from anyone about either After Anna or Killing Kate nor was I privy to any information about another book coming out, so it was quite surprising when a few days after Christmas, while perusing the book section at Target of all places, I found Copycat. The premise intrigued me that I couldn't believe I hadn't heard ANYTHING about this new book! This may have certainly drummed up the intrigue, but after a few sittings of reading that stole time from my life that I will never get back, it has already made the worst of the year two weeks into 2018!

Many of the same problems I had with Killing Kate exist with Copycat, but the extreme violence has been ratcheted up even more and into levels that I think would definitely stun if not disturb a more casual thriller reader. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of stories about serial killers which can run the gamut, but you always know to some extent what you're getting into when you pick one up. What I thought I was getting with this book was nothing that ended up being delivered to me.

The pacing is extremely slow in the beginning even in order to set up the situation the main character is facing, and that doesn't even prepare you for what is coming. Nothing can. The day to day minutia drags on for way too long and then suddenly everything spirals out of control like a balloon losing air and just flying haphazardly around a room from one direction to another. But by far the biggest disappointment for me was anticipating a thriller that was billed as something profoundly realistic (stolen identity and stalking) and resulted in the most ludicrously and laughable scenario that you couldn't even suspend your disbelief for. While I had my suspicions about the antagonist early on, I couldn't begin to tell you why this person was exacting so much vengeance; however, no one would ever figure it out unless you slog through to the end and listen to the dialogue heavy info-dump that spells it all out. As I stated in my review of Killing Kate, I "like seeing the steady unraveling as characters discover clues that lead them towards the horrible understanding of what is going on," but this one hits you right in the face at the same time that the main character figures it out as well.

This is grade A hyperbolic Lifetime movie shock and awe, and there in lies the rub. It's the worst junk food you could get your hands on, and while you know you have to put it down because it's just going to cause problems, you keep shoveling it in, or in this case, reading. I can't deny that the story was addictive. I continued coming back wanting to know what was going to happen and how this whole thing was going to end, and needless to say, it wasn't good. As ridiculous as this sounds, everything was neatly wrapped up with a little bow, yet open-ended enough to suggest a sequel.

Overall, I wasn't impressed. While I'm intrigued to check out After Anna to see if it was at all any different than these last two, I'm not sure I will continue with any future books. In the end, it's all personal preference and it does actually receive fairly high ratings on both Goodreads and Amazon, although I wonder if we all read the same book! If you decide to read this one, please let me know your thoughts because I'm apparently in very small company with this one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Forgettable Books


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 FORGETTABLE BOOKS! These are the books that whether you loved them or hated them, you just don't remember anything about them! Many of these are simply the case that I read them so many years ago that I have a really difficult time remembering basic plot points. To some degree, reading the synopsis has helped, but not completely!

In no particular order, here are my selections:


Not Exactly a Love Story


I've honestly got nothing for this one. Even reading the synopsis is not helping! I rated it three stars in 2012, so it was essentially just a middle of the road read even then for me.


Impossible



The one thing I remember about this one was that it was inspired by the classic folk ballad "Scarborough Fair." I also remember really liking this one and wanted to continue the series, but I didn't follow through and now I have no recollection of any of the events in the story.


Carpe Demon



I happened upon this one over ten years ago while at work in the library. I remember it being a cute and fun read about a former demon-hunter who is now a stay-at-home mom. I have memories of there being some pretty funny moments and wanting to continue, but again lack of follow through and time have erased anything I know about this book.


Thirteen Reasons Why



So, I read this one in 2007 when it was first published and while I remember feeling emotionally impacted by it and deeply moved, I can't tell you anything beyond basic plot points. I don't have Netflix, so I doubt I will be seeing the show anytime soon. I am interested in rereading it at some point to see how well it will hold up or if I will view it as more problematic like I have seen many others discuss since the show's launch.


The Kiss of Deception



I bring this one up because it had so much potential, but for me, it was hemmed in by being a young adult fantasy that it couldn't move to the next level. With the popularity of the New Adult genre, I could definitely see that had this one been written with that audience in mind, it would have been so much more memorable and exciting!


So those are my picks! What are some your most forgettable books? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, January 15, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena (Psychological Thriller)


Greetings Friends!

Today,  I have a review of Shari Lapena's newest psychological thriller A Stranger in the House!


Rating:


Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Publication Date:  August 2017


SYNOPSIS:

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind. 
There's a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town. 
The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes.  Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. 
Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won't stop asking questions.
Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.
Order your copy on Amazon HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Shari Lapena

Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next DoorShe was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Toronto.
You can connect with her on:

FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE


REVIEW:


While this book was incredibly fast-paced and addictive, I'm just getting slightly tired of the overuse of memory loss as a device to uncover the mystery. Especially given that in the majority of these stories, everything about the couple's relationship was incredibly perfect and the ideal to others until one day one bad thing happens and everyone begins to question the woman's sanity and/or honesty. Ugh. One day something new will come along, but today is not that day.

One of the first few reviews I wrote at the beginning of my blog was for Lapena's debut novel The Couple Next Door (full review here). As with that story, the multiple perspectives greatly enhances the sense of unlikeability you begin to have for these characters. Even the characters that I'm assuming you are supposed to have some empathy for become annoying and even more unlikable. Especially Tom.  What a pathetic, suit of a man! No one is actually redeemable and the vast majority of their problems wouldn't even be an issue if they would just TALK to one another! But they don't and honesty never reigns supreme, so we end up with this convoluted mess! But I do thoroughly enjoy the varied perspectives on the issue, so readers are fully aware of what's going on, while leaving the characters out in the cold. The suspense is heightened along with the adding some layer to character depth, which can be pretty lacking.

There is no doubt that Lapena can write train wreck thrillers with quite a few twists along the way, so I will still continue keeping an eye out for her future books. I would highly recommend this one for anyone wanting out of a reading slump, but if you're looking for more of a crime-centered story with depth, you'll have to look elsewhere. The ending is definitely worth waiting for and I think I would spend the few bucks on a novella to find out more, but please don't turn it into a full length sequel!


Do you think you'll read this one? If you have, what were your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments because I always love hearing what you think!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Books I Didn't Get to in 2017


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 I DIDN'T GET TO IN 2017! Another very self-explanatory chat. These are the books that I had every intention of reading last year, but never got around to. I'm sure you get easily distracted by more books too! 

In no particular order, here are my selections:

Into the Water


I even preordered this one when it came out in February of last year and it's still staring at me!


Every Last Lie


I have read two of her previous books The Good Girl and Pretty Baby and really enjoyed them. I really want to get to this one and Don't You Cry at some point this year.


Artemis


The Martian is one of my favorite books of all time. so finding out he had this one coming out was an immediate preorder. I didn't want to rush the experience of reading this and it being over; however, I waited so long that now all I hear is about how bad it is, so now I'm not in any hurry just in case I'll be disappointed too. 


The Unquiet Dead


I had seen this one being talked about on YouTube a few years ago and thought it was right up my alley. Ultimately, life got in the way and I still haven't picked it up.


Missing Pieces


Heather Gudenkauf is another author that I have read everything she has written, but unfortunately, I just didn't get to this one when it came out.


So those are just a few of the many books that I didn't get to last year. Are there any books that are waiting for you? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, January 8, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander (Cozy Mystery)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I have a review of Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander, the newest book in the Bakeshop Mysteries series.


RATING:


Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  January 2018


SYNOPSIS:

Torte, the beloved small-town bakeshop run by Jules Capshaw, is set to hit the stage. But who would have guessed that murder would makes a surprise appearance?
It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house, and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama―and his just desserts―but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets―before the curtain drops on someone else.
Order your copy on Amazon HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she's not coated in flour, you'll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.  

You can connect with her through social media on:

WEBSITE  |  TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  INSTAGRAM


REVIEW:


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

After really enjoying the previous book (full review here), A Crime of Passion Fruit, I was super excited to get approved for an advance copy and find out what Jules has been up to since arriving back on shore! I've been slowly making my way through the series since finishing the last one, but these are definitely stand-alones, so you can start with this one without feeling like you are missing anything.

This is such a fabulous addition to the series, which is a cut above the average cozy mystery. As an actual pastry chef, Jules is a true foodie and her descriptions of ingredients and flavors merging together to create delicious baked goods will leave your mouth watering and your pantry empty! There are also recipes provided, which I'm still trying to find time to recreate!

Some of my favorite moments were the interactions between Jules and her staff at Torte. She has put together a hard-working, reliable, and dedicated team and the concern they express towards one another is truly heartwarming, especially during these cold, winter months!

While I did have to suspend my disbelief again with the mystery element to the story, it was much more engaging this time around. Jules is not butting heads with any form of law enforcement, incompetent or otherwise, and free to conduct her own form of investigating without much negative consequence. Ultimately, I would have liked to see more push and pull between Jules and any antagonists, regardless of their involvement to the case; however, if you like your mysteries more character centered and not easily seen coming, then you should really enjoy this one.

Overall, I highly recommend this series if you're a fan of cozy culinary mysteries and I will continue to look forward to reading more adventures with Jules.




Many thanks to Ellie Alexander, St. Martin's, and NetGalley. It was a pleasure providing a review!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: 2018 Reading Resolutions


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 2018 READING RESOLUTIONS! Very self-explanatory. Let's chat about our reading goals for this year!

For me, these "goals" are more ideas to strive for. Last year I met none of the reading goals I set for myself, but at the same time, I also accomplished many things that I hadn't even anticipated. For example, I joined three book review companies and grew my audience exponentially based on that partnering. I have also received individual requests from publicists and authors to read and review books that I never believed possible beginning last year. My interview with M. Tara Crowl for her book Eden's Escape remains my most viewed post. So it is always with that in mind that I create these resolutions for the year ahead.

In no particular order, here are my reading resolutions for 2018:


Read 52 books


I do keep track of my reading on Goodreads and the yearly challenge they offer, but I did come across a reading spreadsheet from Portal in the Pages that will definitely allow me to keep better statistical data on my reading. If you're interested, you can check out all the information by watching the video below. A book a week can seem daunting when you have three young children, but you never know. Some months are better than others!




Start a podcast


I've been watching BookTube on YouTube for over three years now and while I absolutely love it, I just don't think videos are the right outlet for me. I know that I am a rambler and my videos would always be well over 20 minutes each time without some very strong discipline. Plus the amount of time it takes to get ready, film, and then edit a video seems so daunting to me at this stage of my life with three small children. But I am very much a talker and there are times when I want to vocalize my opinion or make lists of recommendations or discuss broader themes and that's where the podcast comes in. It may not be a podcast in the truest sense, but I can record a sound file and upload it on the blog with an applicable post in an effort to meet a growing need to talk more about what I'm reading. It's definitely going to be a small venture for now, but who knows what the future holds.



Continue to grow my audience 


While I began blogging in 2011 as part of library school, I only restarted this venture because of a growing need to talk to others about books and reading. Once it's no longer fun, then it's time to stop, but for now, I'm quite in awe the number of people who actually read what I write! I want to keep interacting with others and making connections through books, so I want to continue posting meaningful content that grows that audience. Feedback and ideas are greatly encouraged, so keep commenting, subscribing, following, and liking!



Commit to a reading challenge for the year


I've been following Book Riot's Read Harder challenge for three years now, but I have yet to actively participate or track my reading. It would be a great addition to read books with some of their challenges in mind. The spreadsheet I linked above also has a sheet to specifically track titles, so I'm trying to those challenges in mind when forming my monthly TBR.



Host a monthly/quarterly online book club


This one may be the hardest one to commit to. I would like to interact more with readers by hosting a discussion group each month or quarter on my Facebook page. I'm not sure how I will be able to make that fit in my life right now, but I'm always open to trying it if there is interest. 





So those are my top bookish goals for the year! What are some of yours? And please let me know if you would be like to participate in my online book club. 

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