Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bookish and Non-Bookish Thoughts...

February is here and that means Jane Eyre.  Yep, I agreed to reread Charlotte's beloved novel this month alongside Meredith of Dolce Bellezza.  I'm going to start it this week, so wish me luck.  I ask for luck, because last time I read it I didn't enjoy it.  Fingers crossed I fall in love with it this time round.  As for what else I've been up to:
  • Johnny Cash.  I've been listening to his music nonstop lately and loving it.
  •  The X-Files.  Oh my! I heart Mulder and Scully.  I loved this show back when I was in high school and find myself falling in love with it once again.  How could I not?  Did you see the Were-Monster episode!?!  I can't believe there are only 2 episodes left!  I'm going to miss watching Mulder and Scully investigate new cases.  I keep hoping they announce more episodes to come.  Fingers crossed!

  •  Downton Abbey. I just finished watching season 6.  I can't believe its over.  Such a good show.  The acting, the wardrobe, the history, and Highclere Castle.  I spent the past weekend watching the last season unfold.  I was so glad to see Tom back at Downton - he's Mary's BFF and needed to be back at home.  Carson's rigid ways regarding upstairs/downstairs life was a bit grating this time round.  I loved seeing Edith flourish in London.  Mrs. Patmore's house of ill repute was good for a laugh.  Barrow's bout with depression was heartbreaking - yes, I know he's a jerk, but nonetheless I felt for him.  So much happened, but I don't want to give anything away for those still watching it on PBS.  Suffice it to say, the season ends as it should.
  •  Valentine's Day.  Buying treats and cards for my loved ones.  I'm also thinking of baking a heart shaped cake.  I'm not usually so excited for Valentine's Day, but this year I am.  Must be all the pink and chocolate swirling around in the stores that has finally brainwashed me into liking Valentine's Day. 
  • Lent.  Starting today I need to give something up. Hmm...what should it be?  I'm thinking sweets.  Or maybe social media.  Definitely not reading.  
  • Books.  I really need to buckle down and read my own damn books like I had intended to at the beginning of the year.  Why is it so hard to resist all the new little pretties that seem to be calling out to me?  I just bought a copy of Muriel Barbery's latest, The Life of Elves. And I just got my hands on Lahiri's latest, In Other Words.  Talk about being a book buying addict - ack!  So, I'm going to limit my book buying to only ten more new books this year - the horror, the horror!  I figure if I limit myself, I will be forced to choose only the books I am truly excited about. Fingers crossed this works for me.  Plus, I can look to my own shelves and finally pick up all those unread books and dive right in.  Wish me luck!
And now I'm off to read my copy of MORE magazine.  Hope you have a great week! Happy Valentine's Day!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

OUT TODAY!! Find Her: A Novel by Lisa Gardner

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

my thoughts:

Find Her is my first book by Lisa Gardner and it will not be last.  Talk about a riveting, suspenseful and chilling read.  I found myself curling up with this book late one night and turning the final page as the sun rose.  I could not help myself.  This book was just too good to put down.

Flora Dane was in college and celebrating spring break with her friends when she was taken.  The unimaginable horrors she endured whilst held captive lasted for 472 days.  This story is about after - what happened post-kidnapping to Flora.  Well, her relationship with her brother is non-existent (he couldn't handle the new Flora that came home) and he now lives in London.  As for her mom, they communicate on a regular basis, but there is a strong disconnect.  Its been five years and Flora is still adjusting to normalcy.  She's still in contact with the FBI advocate (Samuel Keynes) who met her the night she was rescued - he's her ICE (in case of emergency) contact.  And she's taken a keen interest in the recent disappearances of young women.  Her walls are covered in newspaper clippings of information and photos of these women.  Oh, and she's also taken self-defense classes, learned how to create crude weapons, and trained to escape from dangerous situations.  Flora is ready for anything...or so she thinks.

Detective D.D. Warren finds herself in pain.  Her shoulder has yet to heal and she's struggling to keep up without anyone noticing her struggling.  She just wants to solve crimes and feel in control of her team.  D.D. finds herself at a new crime scene with a victim who somehow managed to overtake her captor - to the point that she has killed him.  D.D. wants answers, but the victim won't talk.  And then the FBI shows up and D.D. learns that the young lady who fought for her life is Flora Dane - the girl who survived being held prisoner for 472 days.  What the what?  Now, D.D. has even more questions for Flora, but she's not getting any answers.  And so she begins to dig into the young lady's past and present.  She wants to find out how Flora knew to defend herself, what she was doing with this man, and why is she so interested in the current missing persons case of a young college co-ed who has gone missing.  So many questions lead to more questions...and then a new mystery to solve.  Seems that someone isn't too happy with Flora and now she's been taken once more.  Racing to solve the disappearances of two young women and their connection, Detective D.D. enlists the help of FBI advocate Samuel Keynes, and her top notch staff.

Talk about a page-turner! I couldn't stop reading.  I loved getting to know Flora and D.D..  The danger, drama, and unthinkable events that occur within the story are at times disturbing, but integral to understanding the ways in which Flora has changed after being kidnapped.  This story digs into the ugliness and brutality of it all.  And then there is D.D. - a woman determined to find Flora.  She works round the clock following leads and clues.  She nips home to kiss her son and reassure her husband she's fine.  D.D. is not going to stop until she finds out who has taken Flora and why.

I absolutely loved reading Find Her by Lisa Gardner.  The writing was terrific! The characters were flawed and real.  And the story was haunting and unforgettable.  I can't wait to read more of Gardner's works!  I would happily recommend Find Her to fans of Gardner and fans of suspense-thrillers - you will LOVE this book!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

GIVEAWAY & REVIEW of Jane and the Waterloo Map: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron

Amateur sleuth Jane Austen returns in Jane and the Waterloo Map, the thirteenth novel in Stephanie Barron's delightful Regency-era mystery series.

Award winning author Stephanie Barron tours the blogosphere February 2 through February 22, 2016 to share her latest release , Jane and the Waterloo Map (Being a Jane Austen Mystery).  Twenty popular book bloggers specializing in Austenesque fiction, mystery and Regency history will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts and book reviews from this highly anticipated novel in the acclaimed Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.  A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of Ms. Barron's book and other Jane Austen-themed items, will be open to those who join the festivities.

How fun and exciting!  I know that I'm thrilled to be a part of the celebration of such an amazing author and her wonderful Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.  I'm positive that fans of Stephanie Barron and Austen will LOVE the latest book, Jane and the Waterloo Map - I certainly did!
about book:

Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery.

November, 1815.  The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy - dragging several of his brothers down with him.  The crisis destroys Henry's health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying.  While she's there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince's fabulous London home.  The chaplain is a fan of Jane's books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel - Emma- to HRH, whom she despises.  

However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body - sprawled on the carpet in the Regent's library.  The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington's.  He utters a single failing phrase: "Waterloo map"...and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

my thoughts:

Jane Austen is the new Sherlock Holmes! How cool is that?! I absolutely loved Jane the investigator - determined to solve a mystery, no matter the cost!  She's brave, strong, smart, and extremely capable when it comes to clues, danger, and everything in between.

In the latest installment of the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, Jane finds herself in London.  Her brother, Henry, is ill and she's come to care for him.  She's also in town to look over the proofs for her latest novel, Emma.  Having recently been revealed to be the author behind P&P and Mansfield Park, Jane is invited by HRH's chaplain to view the Prince's library.  Though she despises the Prince, she goes on the tour.  Whilst in his home she finds the body of a hero from the Battle of Waterloo - a Colonel MacFarland.  He's been poisoned and his final words are "Waterloo map".  Talk about unexpected!  With a new mystery to solve, Jane sets out to find the meaning behind MacFarland's words and the mastermind behind his death.  

Filled with twists and turns, intrigue, and red herrings, Jane and the Waterloo Map makes for quite a captivating read.  I found myself staying up til the wee hours just to get to the end of the story - it was unputdownable!!  I absolutely loved reading about Jane the sleuth, alongside her life as a writer.  The deeper she gets involved with this new mystery, the more time she needs to set aside to edit her novel.  Plus, she has to deal with her brother's disapproval of her gumshoe ways - he thinks its all rather unladylike.  Oh, and then there is the artist, Mr. West.  Jane can't seem to help feeling more and more attracted to the man - oh my!  What's a gal to do?  In  Jane's case, "Keep Calm and Carry On". 

Talk about a fun, witty, and adventurous read!  Jane and the Waterloo Map is an absolute gem.  It falls perfectly in line with Stephanie Barron's creative and smart series, Being a Jane Austen Mystery.  Fans will love it!!  And readers looking for a new-to-them series to get obsessed with need to check out this wonderful series - they will be so happy they did!!



In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 2, 2016 through 11:59pm PT, February 29, 2016.  Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie's website on March 3, 2016.  Winners will have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize.  Shipment is to US addresses.  Good luck to all!!

How awesome is that?  So, don't forget to leave a comment!!  And, check out the Blog Tour schedule for: Jane and the Waterloo Map

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Be Frank With Me: A Novel by Julia Clairborne Johnson

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

my thoughts:

Quirky characters, a Hollywood setting, and a writer tasked with penning another bestseller - what more could I ask for?  Be Frank With Me is a terrific story about family, love, and relationships. 

Mimi Banning wrote a book that was considered THE BEST THING EVER a long time ago.  Now she needs money or she'll lose her house, so she's decided to pen another bestselling novel.  Except she needs help with her son, so she can devote her time to writing.  Enter Alice, a young lady tasked with helping Mimi get her book written by any means necessary - mainly, keeping an eye on Frank (Mimi's son).  Suffice it to say, Alice has her hands full with Frank, trying to figure out who his dad is, and dealing with Mimi and Xander (Frank's piano teacher).  Talk about a 24 hour job!

Told through Alice's point of view, we get to learn about a unique little boy who loves old movies, detests being touched, and is devoted to his mother.  Frank is definitely not what Alice expected, but sometimes the unexpected leads to great things.  Or in Alice's case - big life changes.  I think its Frank's penchant for following his own path that leads Alice to really look at her life.  Along with the chaos that is considered a typical day at the Banning home. 

And that is all I will write.  I know its not much.  The truth is, Be Frank With Me is a story you need to experience for your self.  Its a charming read that is sad, funny, and beautiful.  There is a depth to it that you will appreciate.  I absolutely loved this book and think that you will, too.  

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Be Frank With Me
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Ex: A Novel by Alafair Burke

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Twenty years ago she ruined his life.
Now she has the chance to save it.

In this breakout novel of suspense in the vein of Luckiest Girl Alive and The Girl on the Train, a woman agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been framed for murder—but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife, Molly, by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that, when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, barefoot, enjoying a champagne picnic alone, reading his favorite novel. Everything about her reminds him of what he used to have with Molly. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when Jack’s world falls apart.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancĂ©, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is, who would go to such great lengths to frame him—and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets and absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

my thoughts:

As a huge fan of Alafair Burke's novels, I was super excited to read her latest, The Ex.  I knew I would be in for an unputdownable read that would be filled with mystery, intrigue, suspense, drama, and so much more.  Lo and behold, I got what I wanted - a terrific new story that kept me up all night!

Liv is a defense attorney who works hard, enjoys a good drink, and doesn't tolerate fools.  Her only weakness is the massive guilt she feels about a very bad breakup that happened twenty years ago.  She blames herself for the breakup and the fall out following the breakup - think infidelity, a death and a psych ward.  Anyhow, that's the past and she's tried to move on.  Until she gets a call from a young girl demanding that Liv help her father - according to the girl, Liv owes him after what she did to him.  Assuming it will be a quick trip to the police station, Liv is shocked to discover that Jack has been accused of a triple homicide - talk about having her work cut out for her.  Consumed by guilt, she immediately agrees to help him.  After all, he's innocent, right?  There's no way that her Jack could ever have killed anyone - even if one of the victims happens to be the father of the teenager who killed Jack's wife.  Hmm....coincidence?  Well, Liv is convinced that Jack is being framed and she's determined to find out why and by whom.  Of course, as more details emerge about the day in question, the people involved, and Jack's past, Liv finds her faith in Jack faltering.  In fact, she's staring to wonder if she ever really knew Jack. 

Talk about an intriguing read!  I absolutely loved the way Burke slowly revealed information about Liv and Jack's relationship, the day of the shooting and Penn Station Massacre, and what happened to Jack after that night he left and never came back.  So many twists and turns had me flipping pages faster than normal - I just had to find out what really happened and who was behind it all.  The Ex was such a riveting read.

I would happily recommend this novel to fans of Alafair Burke and fans of suspense stories - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Ex
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!