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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reading Cycles

Books are waiting to be read. At least one review is waiting to be written. I'm not motivated or interested. I haven't picked up a book to read for at least 6 days.

I've often thought I should keep track and chart my reading cycles, because that's what they really are; they're cycles. I will go for a period of time and read constantly. I'll have reviews scheduled for weeks before they post.

But, then the apathy creeps in (is that the right word? Maybe it's detachment...) and I just don't want to pick up a book, print or electronic. I look at my TBR stack and shrug my shoulders.

Why is that? Do I burn myself out over those few days or weeks of continual reading? Is it hormones that just make me tired of life and any kind of responsibility? Is it stress from the pressure of scheduled reviews and blog tours?

I don't have any answers at the moment. I will ponder the idea of tracking these cycles though. That could prove to be an interesting experiment.

What about you? Do you have reading cycles or are you always on top of your reviews and never have a problem picking up a book?

This post was shared at Spread the Love Link Up, No Rules Weekend Blog PartyWeekly InspirationFabulous Friday, Creative CollectionPin Me Linky PartyAnything GoesFlaunt It Friday   

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Reflections 10/25

Looking outside....it's cold and foggy. The fireplace is going this morning.

Listening...The Boy is watching Scrubs and laughing.  The Artist is still asleep.

Loving...that fall is here. This makes me happy.

Thinking...about the things I need to do.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and Chili & Rice for dinner.

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a black turtleneck.

Needing...to get the dryer fixed and the garage tidied up.

Reading...The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

Today...the corn maze and zombie shooting with the extended family.

Hoping...this lingering cold will go away.

Planning...for the week.  

Gratitude...essential oil diffusers that work wonders when you are congested and heating pads that help when your back hurts from coughing.

From my world...technology. Isn't technology amazing? I have a love/hate relationship with it most of the time, but I'm still in awe sometimes.

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Thursday, October 23, 2014


About the book:
A grieving mother. A mysterious child. And a dedicated PI who's determined to solve the puzzle.

For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she's convinced it's her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating "accident" begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon's many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plotline that accelerates to an explosive finish.

After her husband and son are presumed dead in a boating accident, Kate tries to move on with her life. Three years later, a chance encounter at a mall convinces Kate that her son is still alive. Never feeling like the police listened to her when the accident first happened, she can't go to them now. Instead, she turns to a private investigator who believes her story. As Kate and Connor delve more deeply into the case, they find more questions, discover answers and soon realize that there are dangers at play.

It's no secret that I love Irene Hannon's books and I think Deceived is my favorite. I love that Irene's books are thrilling and compelling without gratuitous violence or language. I always enjoy her characterizations and Kate and Connor were fantastic. I loved their interactions and repartee. The insights into the law enforcement world are fascinating and well researched. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

Part of the Private Justice series, the story stands alone just fine, but as past characters return, having read the stories in order just enhances the richness of the storytelling.

Thanks to Lanette with Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Irene Hannon here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Sea House...Review

About the book:
Scotland, 1860.

Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naive and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together -- a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home -- but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past.

Based on a real nineteenth-century letter to The Times in which a Scottish clergyman claimed to have seen a mermaid, The Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love, hope and redemption, and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.

In 1992, Ruth and Michael have purchased the rundown Sea House on the island of Harris in the Hebrides with the hope of turning it into a Bed & Breakfast. During the renovations, they discover the remains of a baby whose legs are fused together. From appearance, a mermaid child.

Ruth, in an effort to overcome her own issues of abandonment and to find out what happened to the mermaid baby, begins researching the history of The Sea House and learns the story of Reverend Alexander Ferguson a newly ordained pastor, recently arrived on Harris.

Having always been told he was descended from the selkies or seal people, Alexander has had a lifelong fascination with mermaids. As the story alternates between 1860 and 1992, the novel bounces back and forth between Ruth's efforts to find out what happened to the mermaid child and Alexander's efforts to discover the truth behind the selkie/mermaid legend.

Historically, I was intrigued by the premise of The Sea House and Elisabeth Gifford has done an amazing job of blending legend with fact as well as addressing issues of PTSD and abandonment.

There were some complaints on this tour that the book contained profanity. I found two instances of the "F" word in only one sentence and it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the novel.

A fascinating, compelling story.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Elisabeth Gifford here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday 10/20

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

I was out of town last weekend for a family funeral and missed posting Mailbox Monday.  Here's what has arrived over the past two weeks.

At Bluebonnet Lake by Amanda Cabot (for review, from Baker Publishing)
The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer, from Netgalley

Ryder: American Treasure by Nick Pengelley (for review, from TLC Book Tours)
A Thing of Beauty by Lisa Samson, from Netgalley

The Beekeeper's Son by Kelly Irvin, from Netgalley

What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Mason Jar...Review

About the book:
What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she’s ever read? “But,” she said, “it’s about you.” The author is your college ex.

In The Mason Jar, Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather’s desk; letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark, debutante, named Savannah. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she leaves, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.

Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the young woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar.

A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who wrote a book about her and a reunion they never imagined.

Written for the bruised and broken, The Mason Jar is an inspirational epic, romance, tragedy which brings hope to people who have experienced disappointment in life due to separation from loved ones. With a redemptive ending and written in the fresh, romantic tones of Nicholas Sparks, The Mason Jar interweaves the imagery of Thoreau with the adventures and climatic family struggles common to Dances with Wolves, A River Runs Through It and Legends of the Fall.

It's always disappointing when a book doesn't live up to your expectations.

The premise of the letters between Clayton and his grandfather was what drew me to the book and that was a minor subplot to Clayton's obsession and inability to move on from Eden. Clayton spends much of the book wallowing and it drew no sympathy from me.

There were also glaring inconsistencies that distracted me. The main one being that in the back cover blurb, the name of the woman Clayton is in love with is Savannah. In the book, her name is Eden. He also is supposed to have changed her last name in his novel, but it's the same in the novel as well as the book. I'm still puzzling over how those were missed in the editing process. I also found the dialogue difficult to follow at times.

There wasn't enough explanation for me of why Eden left and when the friends all gather together again years later for college homecoming, the interactions are juvenile and childish. I kept thinking, "Enough already".

The ending is very reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks and a comparison to him isn't a great recommendation for me.

Overall the parts just didn't add up to a whole and it was a promising potential that went unfulfilled.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about James Russell Lingerfelt here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* *
2/5 Stars

Friday, October 17, 2014


About the book
As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?

Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant. 

Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.

Wow and wow.  I'm 2 for 2 this week on my thrillers and I'm loving it. Ryder invokes feelings of Indiana Jones and National Treasure. The race to discover clues and secrets was edge-of-your seat thrilling.

I really liked Ayesha. Seriously an awesome heroine and tough ass woman. She's been through hell and back, literally, and she can hold her own against terrorists and killers. I loved that it was the women who were strong and who ultimately figured out the answers to the Lawrence puzzle. I hope we see more of Dame Imogen and Lady Madrigal in later books.

Historically rich and detailed. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, my understanding and knowledge of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is minimal at best. My knowledge of T.E. Lawrence is even scantier. I've never seen Lawrence of Arabia. So, I have no idea how much of the history is real or how much, if any, is fictional. And I don't care. The book was fast-paced and thrilling and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough.

I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Mild profanity and descriptions of torture.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Nick Pengelley here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Penny for the Hangman...Review

About the book:
Fifty years ago, on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, two teenagers born to privilege were convicted of slaughtering their parents in cold blood. Today the men are free and a Hollywood movie has been made about the murders. For Karen Tyler, an eager New York journalist, the case is irresistible. She has been invited to the Virgin Islands for an interview that’s too good to pass up . . . and sounds too good to be true.

Karen packs her bikini and her digital recorder and follows an ingeniously designed trail that leads her to a wealthy, mysterious figure. The man claims to be one of the notorious boys, but Karen soon learns that all is not as it seems. On this isolated utopia of sun and surf, a young reporter far from home fights for the truth—and for her life. Because the shocking secret behind the infamous atrocities has remained hidden all these years. And the killing isn’t over yet.

Karen Tyler, a journalist, is contacted by one of the men who is one of two boys convicted 50 years earlier of killing their parents.  Free now, the man wants to share his version of the story and requests that Karen come to the Virgin Islands to meet him. The story Karen anticipates isn't the one she discovers. And that story includes danger, intrigue and surprises.

I read this in a couple of hours. The narrative jumps back and forth between past and present and multiple characters. It was confusing at times, but clearer as the story unfolded. Karen was a bit of a conundrum for me. For someone who is obviously bright and educated, she did some pretty asinine things. Going off to an unknown destination to meet a man she didn't know, a man who was a confessed murderer was stupid. I found that a little implausible, but the story compelled me to finish and as it went on, I could forgive her some of her decisions.

I thought I had everything figured out, but I didn't. Not completely. I appreciated that the author used true crimes as a complement to the fictional one.  It really lent an air of authenticity to the story.

Thrillers aren't normally my thing, which is kind of funny because the only two television shows I watch are Bones and Castle. This, this not only captured my attention, it held it. That's pretty good for a genre I don't normally read.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Tom Savage here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday 10/13

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

I miss last Monday, so this is what has arrived over the past two weeks.  Minus some Netgalleys...

The Three Mrs. Monroes series: AmeliaPenelope, and Vivian by Bernadette Marie (for review from Author Marketing Experts)

Christmas in Snow Valley by Cindy Roland Anderson, Jeanette Lewis, Cami Checketts, Taylor Hart, Kimberley Montpetit, and Lucy McConnell (for review, via the authors and Amazon)

God Bless Us, Every One!: The Story Behind a Christmas Carol by John Rhys-Davies and Brandon Dorman (for review, via Shadow Mountain)
Loving Lucianna by Joyce DiPastena (for review, via Italy Book Tours)


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Red Dirt Duchess...Review

About the book: 
When English society playboy Jonathan Hartley-Huntley is sent to outback Australia after a disastrous affair with his editor, all he wants is to take a few pictures, do a quick interview and get back to his usual life of luxury as soon as possible. Until he meets his host, the irresistible Charlie Hughes, and suddenly the back of beyond is a lot more appealing.

Running the pub is a labour of love for Charlie and she has no desire to ever leave the tiny town of Bindundilly. That is, until Jon discovers an old painting that raises questions about both their lives. Charlie impulsively decides to follow him to London, and as the feelings between them begin to deepen, she starts to wonder if there's more to life than the pub. But at Jon's family home, the magnificent Hartley Hall, they become acutely aware of the differences between them, and it soon seems clear they have no future together – especially if Jon's mother has her way.

The Australian outback meets stiff British aristocracy. When Jonathan is sent to Australia to cover a story, he doesn't anticipate meeting the charming Charlie Hughes. Charlie loves her life running a pub in Australia. Still she connects with Jon and impulsively follows him to England. Upon meeting his stiff, unwelcoming family, she's certain there is no future for them, but events soon unfold and Charlie discovers secrets about her parents and a life she never expected.

This was a book that caught my eye on Netgalley and the premise sounded promising. I'm not familiar with the author, but I love books set in Australia and England. It was a bit of a slow start, but I enjoyed Jon and Charlie and found their characters surprisingly well developed. The art aspect was fascinating as was the glimpse inside old, established British families trying to find their way in modern England.

The book isn't long and is easily read in one or two sittings. It's light and would be a perfect beach read. Sometimes you just need a book you can escape with.

There is mildly explicit non-marital intimacy.

Thank to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Louise Reynolds here. You can purchase your own copy Red Dirt Duchess.

Read 9/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm...Review

About the book:
Bess Riehl is preparing Rose Hill Farm for her Christmas wedding, but her groom isn't who she thought it would be. Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge, his family, or Bess. And that suits Bess just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word, without any explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes to Amos Lapp, Billy's cousin and best friend. But as Bess and Amos's wedding day draws near, her emotions tangle into a tight knot. She loves Amos. Yet she can't forget Billy.

When a "lost" rose is discovered at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. Get in, identify the rose, and get out. That's his plan. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose, and he can't get those tropical blue eyes of Bess Riehl out of his mind.

When Billy Lapp left Rose Hill, it broke Bess Riehl's heart. Bess continued raising roses on her father's farm and Billy became a rose rustler or one who cares for, discovers and researches roses. Bess moves on and becomes engaged to Billy's cousin Amos. A few days before her wedding, an unknown rose begins blooming in her greenhouse and when they request a rustler to identify it, Billy is the one who resentfully shows up.

As Billy and Rose try to discover the origins of the mysterious rose, they are drawn together.  Bess is torn between her love for Amos and her returning feelings for Billy.

I enjoy Suzanne Woods Fisher and her stories. I was somewhat apathetic at first about this particular story, but it is a lovely little novella, perfect for curling up with before a fire. The historical aspect about roses and rustling was new to me and fascinating. This is a sweet Christmas story about love and forgiveness, ministering angels and the enduring legacy of roses.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Suzanne Woods Fisher here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, October 6, 2014

Yesterday's Tomorrow...Review

About the book: 
She’s after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He’s determined to keep his secrets to himself.

Vietnam 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent, and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes.

Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something. Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Kristin Taylor journeys to Vietnam, driven by the need to find out why her father died. He had been in pursuit of a story that would expose military secrets and Kristin is determined to finish it. Luke Maddox photographs the war experience and the two are thrown together in partnership. Each has secrets, but they know they must work together. The war stole lives and brought heartache to all sides and neither Kristin nor Luke is immune to its tragedy. Their love is tested but will it too be a casualty of war.

Like most people who were born in the mid 1960s or later, my knowledge of the Vietnam war comes from second-hand sources of school, history books and films. It was such a turbulent time with high tension and conflict.  Catherine West has captured that turbulence well in Yesterday's Tomorrow.

Kristin's emotional struggles in Vietnam were remarkably genuine. Like many, she questioned the reason for the war as she watched the toll it took on soldier and civilian alike. Her outrage at the sanitized version presented to those back home in America was palpable. Her sorrow as she returned home and waited was agonizing.

My father's military career ended just before Vietnam. I am proud of his military service, but ever so grateful he was spared the horrors of Vietnam.

Yesterday's Tomorrow is a believable, compelling story and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

I received a complimentary copy for review. You can purchase your own copy here. You can learn more about Catherine West here.

Read 10/14

 * * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Booking Through Thursday...Sick

What do you read when you’re sick and just want something easy and comforting? Or do you watch TV instead?(Assuming you’re not napping, of course.)

When I'm sick, the only thing I want to do is sleep. So, if I'm not actually sleeping in my bed, I'm curled up on the couch dozing while I watch something. Illness often makes it hard for me to focus and concentrate, so I don't normally read. I watch Jane Austen movies instead, with a blanket and hot chocolate. If I'm just under the weather, I might curl up with a Rosamund Pilcher book, but inevitably I fall asleep.

Go here for more BTT posts.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Imaginary Life...Review...DNF

About the book:
Meet Fortunata Fortuna, at a crossroads but ready to make her mark on the world.

What goes through your head when the person you love leaves you? What do you do with your life when you have to start it all over again? Do you make it up? Nata’s world fills with unanswered questions when Beto leaves her. But time doesn’t stop, and the stories that Nata begins to tell herself about her own life lead her to a place where everything becomes possible again. 

Original and contemporary, this debut novel, a finalist for the Planeta Prize, has the nerve center of a confessional and introduces readers to Fortunata Fortuna, a character the world won’t soon forget.

Nata's boyfriend has left her and all she does is wallow in her self pity. Her imagination is active as she imagines scenarios of meeting Beto again. The narrative is first person and quite erratic. At times you're not quite sure if it's still Nata's imagination or if it's now real life.

I found no redeeming qualities in Nata, I found no enjoyment in her story. Quite frankly, she came across as completely crazy.

I couldn't finish it. I tried. I've seen this book called quirky and fresh. I can agree with that assessment. It's definitely a book that you will either certainly enjoy or absolutely hate.

Mild profanity.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Mara Torres here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Monday, September 15th:  Annabel and Alice
Wednesday, September 17th:  BookNAround
Thursday, September 18th:  Bell, Book & Candle
Monday, September 22nd:  Back Porchervations
Wednesday, September 24th:  The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Thursday, September 25th:  Nightly Reading
Friday, September 26th:  Patricia’s Wisdom<
Monday, September 29th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller:
Tuesday, September 30th: Imaginative Minds
Wednesday, October 1st:  2 Kids and Tired Reviews
Monday, October 6th:  I’d Rather Be Reading at the Beach

Read 10/14

1/5 Stars