Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap Up and Favorites!

2015
What a year this has been!
Some really wonderful things have happened this year and I wanted to take a moment to sum everything up.

This Blog
2015 marks my second year of blogging.  It is really hard to believe that it has already been 2 years.  I feel like I have learned a lot during my time blogging.  I know that I have learned more about html code than I ever imagined I would.  My blog's style has developed and I am fairly happy with how it is now although I am sure that I will continue to make changes.  This post is the 386th post of the year so I think it is safe to say that I have stayed busy!  I am very thankful to all of my readers who take time out of your day to stop by my blog.  I am grateful for every follower and every single comment means a lot to me.

Books
According to Goodreads, I have read 189 books this year.  I have in fact marked that many books read but I feel like it is not exactly accurate.  I couldn't get myself to finish 7 books this year.  I also read 2 adult coloring books and a cookbook.  I did listen to quite a few short audio-books and read some short pieces as well.  I am still impressed that I found the time to read as much as I did!

Some of my favorites from 2015
Click on the covers to read my review!
http://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/03/review-grimspace-by-ann-aguirre.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/01/firefight-by-brandon-sanderson.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/08/review-magic-shifts-by-ilona-andrews.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/01/golden-son-by-pierce-brown.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/05/review-uprooted-by-naomi-novik.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/11/review-brother-by-ania-ahlborn.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/06/blog-tour-zach-by-sawyer-bennet-review.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/02/review-infinity-bell-by-devon-monk.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/02/review-infinity-bell-by-devon-monk.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/12/review-city-of-light-by-keri-arthur.html

Audiobooks
Click on the covers to read my review!
(Review pending on Dragonfly in Amber & Clean Sweep)
http://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/03/audiobook-review-tangled-by-emma-chase.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/02/review-sugar-daddy-by-lisa-kleypas.htmlhttp://carolesrandomlife.blogspot.com/2015/04/audiobook-review-blue-eyed-devil-by.html



My Life
This year definitely had some ups and downs.  I lost my Grandmother early in the year.  I was very lucky to have her in my life for as long as I did but I do miss her.  We also lost my mother's best friend who was like another mother for me early in the year.  In August, my beloved dog, Hershey, died after 13 1/2 years of being my best friend.  
My sweet Hershey

We did take a wonderful vacation to Disney World in the spring.  My youngest daughter started high school this year and even got her driver's permit - scary stuff!  My daughter was very active in the school's marching band and I spent a lot of hours hiding inside props during her performances.  In September, we adopted a puppy named Stella to help keep our older dog, Cookie, company.  Just a couple of weeks ago, we proved our insanity by adopting another puppy named Molly.  Yes...we now have 3 dogs including 2 puppies under 6 months of age in our house.

Stella is pictured on the left and Molly is on the right.  
Aren't they adorable?!?!

I hope that all of my readers had a wonderful 2015!  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Spotlight Tour - The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire by Sara Humphreys @authorsara @SourcebooksCasa

The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire by Sara Humphreys
Series: Dead in the City #4
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Beloved author Sara Humphreys' acclaimed paranormal romance series continues with sweltering attraction between two vampires who have all the time in the world to satisfy their desires...

He wants eternity?
Dakota Shelton is a vampire cowboy with a penchant for cinnamon lollipops and Johnny Cash. Though highly skilled and deadly dangerous to his enemies, he's still a Texas good ol' boy at heart. And he has that heart set on wooing Trixie LaRoux-the most badass punk rock chick in town-the old-fashioned way.

Over her undead body...
Trixie is tough as nails and sharp as a silver stake-the last thing she wants is a man to sit on a porch and not grow old with. So it'll take going to hell and back fighting a new threat to vampires before she admits Dakota's courtship makes her blood hum. Turns out chivalry's not dead after all.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23014597-what-doesn-t-kill-her

Excerpt


About the Author

Sara Humphreys is the award-winning author of the Amoveo Legend series. The third book in the series, Untamed, won two PRISM awards: Dark Paranormal and Best of the Best. The first two novels from her Dead in the City series have been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award. Sara was also a professional actress. Some of her television credits include A&E Biography, Guiding Light, Another World, As the World Turns and Rescue Me. She loves writing hot heroes and heroines with moxie, but above all, Sara adores a satisfying happily-ever-after. She lives in New York with Mr. H., their four amazing sons, and two adorable pups. When she's not writing or hanging out with the men in her life, she can be found working out with Shaun T in her living room or chatting with readers on Facebook. For a full list of Sara's books and reading order, please visit www.sarahumphreys.com

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Releases - December 29, 2015 #newreleases #newbooks

December 29, 2015  

It's Tuesday!  That means it is time to make a little bit of room on the bookshelves, load up your ereader, or make your way to your local library.  In other words - It is time to get your hands on a new book!

Here are just a few books that have just been released that you may want to grab soon:
Choked Up by Janey Mack
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | BAM!

She's working undercover--and she's in way over her head.

Scrappy Traffic Enforcement agent Maisie McGrane has finally landed her dream job as a Chicago police officer. There's just one catch. She must remain undercover as a meter maid to gather evidence against Stannislav Renko, a charismatic Serbian mobster running a brutal multi-million dollar mobile chop-shop operation.

When Maisie is targeted by a killer who leaves a body slumped against her car, Renko comes to her rescue and takes her under his wing. From her perch inside the crime boss's inner circle, Maisie sets up a daring sting operation to take down Renko once and for all. But can she pull it off before her family of overprotective Irish cops and her sexy ex-Army Ranger boyfriend blow her cover?

Anything for You by Kristan Higgins
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23746004-black-eyed-susans
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | KoboBAM!

Before you get down on bended knee…

…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it's the perfect time to get married.

When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her.

But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks…


First Touch by Laurelin Paige
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25205422-who-do-you-love
When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven't spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what's more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she's drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she's forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24502483-the-scamp?from_search=true&search_version=service

Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can't see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax's nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.

Though he's unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford's never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn't part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her.

It's an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton's most adored heiress and London's most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

Monday, December 28, 2015

#Review - The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry @EmilyHenryWrite @RazorbillBooks

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
Penguin Group - Razorbill
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Date Read: December 14, 2015

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23014597-what-doesn-t-kill-her


I think that my expectations for this book were set way too high.  I was really needing to read one of those books that grab a hold of you and refuses to let go.  On Goodreads, the reviews are amazing so I decided that this would be the next book that I fell in love with and it almost worked.  I liked it but I didn't fall in love with it.  I am giving this book a very generous 4 stars but it comes very close to being a 3 star read for me.

The overall premise of the story was very interesting.  Natalie starts seeing things wrong.  Things in her town seem to appear and disappear but she is the only one who seems to notice.  She has been visited by Grandmother for much of her life and has been in a lot of therapy as a result.  Grandmother spends her visits telling stories which I found to be very engaging.  Natalie meets a young man named Beau just as things start happening rapidly.  When Natalie learns that she has three months to save him, she must figure out what is going on and who she needs to save.

This book did have a lot of things going for it.  It was truly a unique story that kept me guessing.  This book actually kept me up past my bedtime more than once just because I felt like I needed to figure out what was going on.  The pacing of the story was nearly perfect with information being share piece by piece in a manner that really kept my interest.  I did enjoy the overall writing style.

There were also a few things that I didn't care for as much in this story.  I was able to figure out the two main mysteries in the book very early on.  I was actually very disappointed when my predictions were correct.  I did get a little tired of the focus on the romance in this story.  There were so many other things going on that were more interesting that I really wanted to stay focused on.  I honestly did not care for how this book ended...at all.  When I turned the last page and realized that the book was actually ending as it did, I wanted to throw it across the room.  

I would recommend this book to fans of Young Adult novels.  I do think that this book will prove to be very popular largely due to its uniqueness.  This is the first novel by Emily Henry and I look forward to reading her future works.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Razorbill  via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

About the Author

Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

Author Links:  Goodreads |  Twitter

Sunday, December 27, 2015

#Review - City of Light by Keri Arthur @kezarthur @SignetEclipse

City of Light by Keri Arthur
Series: Outcast #1
Penguin Group - Signet
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Date Read: December 6, 2015

The first in an all-new futuristic fantasy series from Keri Arthur—the New York Times bestselling author of the Souls of Fire novels.

When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between this world and the next, they allowed entry to the Others—demons, wraiths, and death spirits who turned the shadows into their hunting grounds. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay....

As a déchet—a breed of humanoid super-soldiers almost eradicated by the war—Tiger has spent her life in hiding. But when she risks her life to save a little girl on the outskirts of Central City, she discovers that the child is one of many abducted in broad daylight by a wraith-like being—an impossibility with dangerous implications for everyone on earth.

Because if the light is no longer enough to protect them, nowhere is safe...
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23014597-what-doesn-t-kill-her


I loved this book! I decided to read this book because the premise sounded really interesting. Plus it is the first book in a new series so I jumped right in and never looked back. This book was one that sucked me right in and I found it very hard to put down. The world building was amazing and the world that is in this book is different than anything else that I have ever read. The story grabbed me right away and it really never stopped. It wasn't a perfect story but it was highly entertaining with a lot of action.

I liked Tig right away. She is really an easy to like tough character from the start. I grew to like her more and more as the story unfolded and I learned more about her. Tiger is a déchet. A déchet is basically an engineered super-solider that is a blend of human, shifter, and vampire. Déchets are not born. They were created by humans to fight in the war between the humans and the shifters. Everyone believes that all of the déchets were killed at the end of the war so she must keep her true identity a secret.

Tig is tough but she has quite the soft spot for children. She lives in the same bunker that she lived in at the end of the war. The only difference is that now she lives with the ghosts of the other déchet that did not survive the war most of them children. Two of the ghosts, Cat and Bear, spend a lot of time with Tig and are able to leave the complex because of their strong bond. Cat and Bear are ghosts but they were children at the time of their death so Tig is determined to keep them safe. She is fiercely protective of all the ghosts. It is no surprise that she will sacrifice everything to save the children that are mysteriously being abducted.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that it was very easy to slip into this world. I had honestly expected that there would be some info-dumping since this is the first book in a futuristic fantasy series. While there was a lot of information about the world shared in the story, I never felt like it was being dumped on me. The world building happened seamlessly as the story unfolded. This really is a very complex world but I was never confused about anything going on. I really enjoyed this world and thought that it was very creative and unique.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Tig wasn't perfect which I think added to her appeal. At her core, she was good and I found that I liked the way she handled difficult situations. Her abilities were very interesting. I can't remember reading about another character that could do nearly as many things as she can do. It will be fun to see how she uses all of her talents as the series progresses. I also really liked Jonas. He is a shifter who is not really sure that he should be trusting Tig.  Jonas is the kind of character that will question things but once he gives his word he will follow through.

The only thing that I didn't care as much for was the sex scenes that kind of came out of nowhere. It just seemed like there wasn't enough build up leading to the sex and I really didn't feel the chemistry between the characters involved. I don't mind a good sex scene but only when it moves the plot forward. Throwing a sex scene into a book just so it is there doesn't do a thing for me. I think that it was supposed to help illustrate that Tig is wired a little differently than a human but it just seemed forced to me.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a futuristic fantasy. The book does end with a few unresolved issues and I am looking forward to seeing how things work out in future installments in this new series. This is the first book by Keri Arthur that I have had a chance to read but I look forward to reading more very soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Signet  via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

About the Author

Keri Arthur, author of the New York Times bestselling Riley Jenson Guardian series, has now written more than thirty-three novels. She’s received several nominations in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and has won RT’s Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy. She lives with her daughter in Melbourne, Australia.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Saturday, December 26, 2015

#Review - The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag @TamiHoag @DuttonBooks

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag
Series: Kovac & Liska #5
Penguin Group - Dutton
Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Date Read: December 19, 2015

EVERY FAMILY HAS A SECRET. THEIRS WILL CHILL YOU TO THE CORE.

#1 New York Times Bestselling author Tami Hoag returns to the bestselling series of her career with a Kovac and Liska case that will delight fans and new readers alike.

A murder from the past. A murder from the present. And a life that was never meant to be... As the dreary, bitter weather of late fall descends on Minneapolis, Detective Nikki Liska is restless. After moving to the cold case squad in order to spend more time with her sons, she misses the rush of pulling an all-nighter, the sense of urgency of hunting a murderer on the loose. Most of all she misses her old partner, Sam Kovac.

Sam is having an even harder time adjusting to Nikki's absence, saddled with a green new partner younger than pieces of Sam's wardrobe. Sam is distracted from his troubles by an especially brutal double homicide: a middle-aged husband and wife bludgeoned and hacked to death in their home with a ceremonial Japanese samurai sword. Nikki's case, the unsolved murder of a family man, community leader, and decorated sex crimes detective for the Minneapolis PD, is less of a distraction: Twenty years later, there is little hope for finding the killer who got away.

On the other end of the spectrum, Minneapolis resident Evi Burke has a life she only dreamed of as a kid in and out of foster homes: a beautiful home, a family, people who love her, a fulfilling job. Little does she know that a danger from her past is stalking her perfect present. A danger powerful enough to pull in both Kovac and Liska and destroy the perfect life she was never meant to have.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23014597-what-doesn-t-kill-her


I really liked this one.  When I saw that I had the chance to read an early copy of this book, I jumped at the opportunity.  Tami Hoag is an author that I have wanted to read for quite some time but just haven't actually sat down with one of her books until now.  I really don't know what I was waiting for because this book was really very good.  I predict that there will be a lot more of Tami Hoag's work in my reading future.

This book is the fifth book in the Kovac and Liska series but it reads just fine as a stand alone novel.  It did take me a little bit to keep all of the characters straight but readers new to the series should be able to follow along as I did.  Kovac and Liska are former partners who are now working in different departments which means that this book actually follows two cases.  Both of the cases were incredibly interesting and I have to admit that I was completely stumped.

The characters were just as interesting as the case that they were working.  This book has a pretty large cast of characters.  Sam Kovac is a long time homicide detective that is currently working a case that is getting a lot press.  Of course any double homicide that involves a sword wielding ninja is really hard to keep out of the press.  Sam's new partner, Taylor, doesn't have a lot of experience but he has really good instincts. Nikki Liska is now working cold cases which is supposed to be more of a 9 to 5 job which will work better for her because of her sons.  Her first case is a a 25 year old unsolved murder of a sex crimes detective which she suspects will be nearly impossible to solve.  All of the characters connected to both cases brought something to the story.

I was really impressed by the complexity of both of the cases featured in this story.  They were both equally interesting and were featured in equal amounts in the story.  I was completely in the dark with both of them.  I felt like I was right there with the detectives as they worked to figure out what had really happened.  I liked how the story showed how much the work affected the detectives.  Their overwhelming desire to solve the case felt very realistic.  There was a lot of excitement worked into this book and I honestly couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

I really liked the way this book was written.  Two major story lines were able to be woven together seamlessly.  The focus of the book was able to change hands at just the right moment to keep the interest level high.  The pacing of the story was also very well done.

I would highly recommend this book to mystery thriller fans.  This is the first book by Tami Hoag that I have read but I am really looking forward to reading more from this very talented author.  I definitely plan to read the previous books in this series and I can't wait to take a good look at all of her other work.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Dutton via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

About the Author

Tami Hoag is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, including her latest thrillers—BITTER SEASON, COLD COLD HEART and THE 9TH GIRL. Renowned for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, Hoag first hit the New York Times Bestseller list with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller.

She leads a double life in Palm Beach County, Florida where she is also known as a top competitive equestrian in the Olympic discipline of dressage. Other interests include the study of psychology, and mixed martial arts fighting. A woman of eclectic tastes, to say the least, Tami was recently asked to list seven things people may not know about her:

1. I was once offered a job by a private investigator.

2. I have a license to carry concealed weapon, but never do. I took the course for research purposes.

3. My high school guidance counselor encouraged me to become an actress, but I thought that was too impractical (Of course, there's nothing practical about being a writer, either, but at least I'm not obligated to look good on a daily basis.)

4. I used to sing at weddings.

5. While I have no intention of ever getting married again, I love watching "Say Yes To The Dress."

6. I have legitimate knockout power in my right hand, and I'm not afraid to use it.

7. When I'm stressed out, all tech devices around me go haywire. I've stopped watches, and fried hard drives. I once killed a television in a store display by merely touching it. I'm better off sticking to life's simple pleasures--like books!

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
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