Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Any Day Now - Contemporary Romance Review

Any Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing #2) by Robyn Carr

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description:  For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.
Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  Robyn Carr is an author I really need to read more from and I loved the sound of this one.

My Impression:  I enjoyed my first visit to Sullivan's Crossing so much and loved Sierra right away.  She's fought some of her demons but there is still more fighting to be done and she's still running from her past.  She's reluctant to get to attached to those around her but at the same time desperately wants to belong.  I loved watching her start to relax and start to enjoy being part of a community.  Her relationship with Sully was so special and funny.  They weren't related but they may as well have been.  I liked her relationship with Moody as well as their discussions on sobriety.  But honestly, my favorite was the relationship between Molly and Sierra.  It was just pure joy.

The romance between Connie and Sierra was slow building and sweet.  I loved how honest Connie was about his past and his feelings.  He didn't press Sierra for more and he didn't get mad even though he knew she wasn't telling him everything.  But somehow at the same time he didn't fall into Too Good to Be True territory.  He just came off as a good guy who respected and cared for those around him.  He does have some issues but he's upfront about them and there was one scene with his mother which was just a treat.

Carr does a fantastic job of creating the feel of a community around the story of the main couple.  We see quite a lot of Sully and his friends and hear their stories as well as getting to see more of Cal (Sierra's brother) and his new wife and Sully's daughter, Maggie.  There is also a lovely subplot around Tom, Cal's carpenter, and his long time friend Lola that was so sweet.  This is the second book in the the Sullivan's Crossing series but I had no problem starting here though now I really want to read the first book.   I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can't wait for my next visit to Sullivan's Crossing!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm hoping to get to the first book in the series soon and am looking forward to book #3.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  This is a great read for fans of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things that Will Instantly Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 Things that Will Instantly Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book.  This was a little harder than last week's list of things that will make me WANT to read a book.  I think I could have come up with a top 20 without trouble for that one!  I will say that for almost all of these there is an exception - a book I read usually because a blogger friend made it sound to good to pass up and more often than not I end up loving it.  But without that these are some things that will make me put the book back on the shelf without putting it on my TBR.

1.  Death of a Child - Especially if the story is told from the parents' or child's POV.  I just can't handle it.  I can deal with a death way in the past but if it's present day I'm out.

2.  Controversial topics - There are 2 reasons I avoid this.  The first is that I tend to be an escapist reader and we're bombarded with current events and issues enough in the real world that I don't enjoy that in my fiction.  The second reason is that so often with an author is writing about a controversial topic they are frequently pushing their take on the issue.  Even when I agree with the author's POV I dislike that feeling of a pushed agenda.

3.  Cheating - I can handle a cheating spouse or significant other in a thriller but if I'm supposed to like or root for a character in a fiction, romance, or lighter mystery I just can't.

4.  Angst -  I'm not a huge fan of unnecessary drama so when there's 3 misunderstandings and tremendous amounts of sobbing in the blurb I tend to think the book isn't for me.

5.  Multi-book love triangles - I'm not a big fan of love triangles at the best of times - I typically end up feeling bad for the one not chosen unless the one not chosen is awful and then I have to wonder what the person was thinking in the first place. I can tolerate it in one book but when a major love triangle has drug on and on with no signs of ending that can be enough to make me stop reading the series.

6.  Books with animals if the animals are at risk in any way - If there's a dog in a romance I'm pretty good but the second the main character gets a pet in a thriller I'm on edge.  I've had to flip to the end of more than a few books to make sure that the dog or cat was still there before I could relax enough to read the actual story.

7.  Dystopian - This is probably the one where there have been the most exceptions.  I've read a number of Dystopian type books that I ended up really enjoying but unless it's heavily recommended I tend to steer clear.

8.  The characters are in high school - I didn't particularly enjoy high school or being that age and I'm not really drawn to most YA novels quite possibly for that reason.  I can handle some quests or teenagers saving the world but other than that I haven't had much luck.

9.  It's by an author who has burned me a few too many times in the past - There are a few popular authors who I've read a few books from and have finally decided their books just don't work for me.  Either the end feels emotionally manipulative, the characters don't click with me, or something about their writing style just is hard to get into but I've finally decided it's time to avoid them.

10. Catastrophe Fiction - Earthquakes,tornadoes, hurricanes, or other disasters natural or otherwise aren't my favorite things. I've read a few I've really really enjoyed but for the most part I avoid them

What things make you want to avoid a book?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Double Whammy - Cozy Mystery Review

Double Whammy (A Davis Way Mystery #1) by Gretchen Archer

Rating: Good
Source: Publicist

Description:  Davis Way thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she lands a job as the fifth wheel on an elite security team at the fabulous Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. But once there, she runs straight into her ex-ex husband, a rigged slot machine, her evil twin, and a trail of dead bodies. Davis learns the truth and it does not set her free—in fact, it lands her in the pokey.
Buried under a mistaken identity, unable to seek help from her family, her hot streak runs cold until her landlord Bradley Cole steps in. Make that her landlord, lawyer, and love interest. With his help, Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: This series has been on my TBR for ages and when I got the chance to review it I was less than an hour away from Biloxi so it kind of seemed like a sign.

My Impression:  This book was so much fun!  Think early Stephanie Plum but smarter, tougher, and less likely to have a car explode.  I loved Davis right away.  She's smart and really funny in a self deprecating way and is aware of the rather tremendous mistakes she's made in her past.

There's some setup here as Davis lands in Biloxi desperately trying to get a job in casino security and lands in something she wasn't expecting.  For awhile I wasn't quite sure just what the mystery was going to be.  Davis has a number of small undercover missions at the beginning giving the readers and Davis herself a peak at different areas of the casino and introducing her to a number of quirky, intriguing, and occasionally creepy characters.  I really enjoyed this part and learned that I never ever want to work in hotel housekeeping.  When the dead bodies start showing up the mystery really gets going and I flew through it wondering just what exactly was going on and how was Davis going to get her way out of the mess she had landed in.  An extra treat for me was that many of the areas Davis visits are familiar too me.  I've spent quite a lot of time in South Mississippi and the mention of Davis attending the University of Alabama in Birmingham made me smile.

This was a super fun mystery and a great start to a series.  I really like Davis, Bradley, and the host of side characters at the casino and in Biloxi itself and am really looking forward to seeing what trouble Davis lands in next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to the 2nd book!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely!  If you love cozy mysteries this is a fantastic read!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Week in Reading - April 23

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Nothing!  I don't think I even have any requests pending.  It's a strange mix of freedom and emptiness.  I'm hoping this means I"m going to keep working on shrinking that stack of review books.


Reading:  Pay the Piper by Patricia Wentworth, Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick, and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Listening: I just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline so I'm listening to podcasts until I pick my next audio.

Watching:  We've been watching movies lately.  This weekend we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Rogue One.  I really enjoyed both (Monty Python is a multiple repeat) though they are VERY different.

Off the Blog:

It's been a pretty quiet week around here so nothing really to report other than being just flat out exhausted.  I'm not exactly sure what my problem is right now but all I want to do is go to sleep and I feel like I'm never caught up - it's like having an infant again without actually having an infant.
I've started a giant book cataloging process which is taking some time.  After my allergist informed me I was ridiculously allergic to dust mites I packed all the books I had crammed in corners and under my bed into totes and have been storing them in a guest room.  I hate not having them around and being able to look through them (though they were all crammed so tight it wasn't like that was all that possible) so I'm trying to add them all to this library app and label them by box number.  Basically it's letting me play with books while letting me feel like I'm accomplishing something!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Double Whammy - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Ten Things that Will Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book
Wednesday:  Any Day Now - Women's Fiction Review
Thursday:  Pay the Piper - Classic Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: 52 Pins in 52 Weeks - April Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Mystery Review

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Rating: Loved it!
Source: Library

Description:  In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I loved Ware's previous book In a Dark Dark Wood and Imogen Church is one of my absolute favorite narrators so I just couldn't pass this up!

My Impression:  I started holding my breath in the first chapter when Lo opens her bedroom door to find an intruder standing in the hallway and I don't think I let it out until the very last page.  The image Ware paints of Lo opening her bedroom door holding her cat only to find herself confronted with a man in a hoodie and latex gloves was so ridiculously vivid that I won't be opening doors in the night with a pretty good bit of hesitation.  The bulk of the book takes place on a luxury cruise with luxury and beauty flowing out of every corner and in every detail.  Claustrophobia starts as an unsettling feeling but increases until it was almost unbearable as the plot unfolded.  I was completely spellbound.  I figured out a few things but only right before they happened and it was a delight to have my suspicions confirmed.

If you have to like the main character to enjoy a book than this isn't the book for you.  Lo isn't very likable.  She's emotional and at times irrational, always poised on the edge of shattering.  It's easy to see why she isn't taken seriously at times and there were times I wondered why her boyfriend put up with her.  There were times when she came off like a child - acting impulsively than regretting her actions but unaware of how to fix them.  I didn't find her too annoying but she is a difficult protagonist.  As well there is a slight confusion in the time line.  The majority of the book is told from Lo's perspective as events unfold on the ship but sprinkled in are a handful of emails and messages from the outside world that take place later than the actual plot is taken place.  I wasn't completely clear on the dates the main story was taken place so there was a little confusion as to what the concern was about.  Once I realized they were taking place later in the week I had no trouble getting it sorted out. Neither of these were things that detracted from the book for me but they may effect other's enjoyment of the story.

I absolutely loved this book.  I normally have to keep pretty busy to stay focused on an audio books but I can't begin to count the number of times I found myself standing completely still in the middle of a room just listening - waiting to find out what happens next. I found the story fast paced and once again am impressed by Ware's ability to make the atmosphere of the setting seep through pages.  I'll be anxiously awaiting her next book.

Audio Note: Imogen Church is an amazing narrator.  Her voice is compelling and hypnotic and ridiculously versatile as she voices a number of characters giving them distinct voices without sounding forced or overly theatrical.  I would listen to any book that she narrates on the strength of her voice alone.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  Ware really needs to write faster.  I'm anxiously waiting her next book

Would I Recommend this Book?: I would unless you have to like the main character.  For me if the plot is compelling enough it doesn't matter if I like the characters or not and this was definitely the case here but if that doesn't work for you than give this a pass.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Linkups - Double Whammy

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs or would you continue reading the book?

My Answer:
Oh good question!  I think it depends on the way the author handles the issue.  If the character is doing something or something is happening that I am very much against but I felt like it was handled in a way that wasn't pushing an agenda and perhaps just shedding new light on an issue  I would probably keep reading.  If it came across like the author was telling me how to feel or think about something than I would stop reading.  I'm not a fan of books like that even if I agree with the author's POV!

I'm on a roll with cozies lately and Gretchen Archer's Davis Way series has been on my TBR for quite sometime.  When I was offered the chance to review the first book in the series - Double Whammy - I just couldn't resist.  So far I'm loving it!  Davis Way is a great character - tough and smart though with a tendency to run headlong into disaster.

The Beginning:
A little unemployment goes a long, long way, and after more than a year of it, applying for every available position in L.A. (Lower Alabama), I took a right and tried Mississippi.

My Thoughts:
I like the voice of the beginning.  She sounds like she's going to be an interesting main character (and so far so good!)

The 56:
"I just do.  Because you can't get in those safes with a tool."
My jaw unhinged.  How in the world did George know what I was doing?

My Thoughts:
Things sound a bit like they're unraveling.  There's not many good law abiding reasons for Davis to be trying to open a safe!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Manderley Forever and Never Entice an Earl - Short Reviews

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay

I really enjoyed the author's forward where she talks about not wanting to simply report Daphne du Maurier's life but to really show who she was. Daphne du Maurier wasn't just the author of Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, The Birds, and countless other books but she was a fascinating and complex woman in her own right.

However, the writing style of the book just didn't work for me.  I enjoyed the author's commitment to trying to show a more personal view of du Maurier but there was a certain sing songy quality of the prose that I struggled with such as passages like this:
"Why go on vacation when their house is perfect?  Gerald whines, and Muriel smiles at him, indefatigable, just a bit tense, comforting him, trying to keep him entertained."
  I'm not sure if it's an issue with translation but 472 pages of this were a challenge.  While Daphne du Maurier is a woman worth learning more about this biography wasn't the way to do it.  Rating: Not For Me

Never Entice an Earl (One Scandalous Season #2) by Lily Dalton

Lord Cormack Northmore is desperate to avenge his sister which is what brings him to the Blue Swan, a notorious brothel, just in time to save lady's maid "Kate".  When a chance encounter reveals that "Kate" is in fact Lady Daphne Bevington - part of the society he is trying to break into - he decides to blackmail her.  All she has to do is provide him introductions and invitations and in return he will keep her secrets.   Daphne will do anything to protect and help her lady's maid and best friend which is what puts her on the collision path with the very attractive Cormack.  Both on a mission and both trying to save those they love but could those actions be putting them in danger?

I'm typically not a fan of a revenge plot - especially not when it involves one character using the other to further a personal agenda.  Nor am I a fan of fake identities.  However, I was pleased with how Dalton handled both issues.  The fake identity was very short lived and while Cormack did want Daphne to help him become accepted into society he was in no way unclear on his motives and intentions.  The romance itself was heavy on bickering with lots of lust but I did feel like there was a connection between the two.  Their priorities were similar and when they weren't arguing they did really seem to understand each other.  While this wasn't my favorite romance I've read this year I did find it an enjoyable read.  We meet the characters from the next book in this one and I was so intrigued by one I will definitely be reading the third book in the series.  Rating: Good