Monday, December 18, 2017

Audiobook Review - Mother's Day Out by Karen MacInerney

Mother's Day Out by Karen MacInerney
Narrated by Cris Dukehart
Series: The Margie Peterson Mysteries #1
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: April, 15, 2014
Date Read: December 14, 2017
Length:  9 hours 17 minutes
Source: Kindle Prime
Margie Peterson is a typical stay-at-home mom until she trades dishes for detective work to become Austin's least-likely PI. Soon she's knee-deep in cheating husbands, transvestites, and trouble in a laugh-out-loud new mystery from award-winning author Karen MacInerney.

With a husband who works long hours trying to make partner and two rambunctious kids that are running her ragged, Margie Peterson is like any other worn-out suburban mom. When she decides to take a job as a PI for a seedy local detective agency, everything changes. It doesn't take long for Margie to get in over her head: Her first day on the job she totals her minivan, mistakenly enters a drag contest, and winds up in the bathroom with a dead transvestite. But when Margie finds her home number in the victim's phone, things really start to get interesting.
My Review

My feelings are pretty mixed about this one.  I really enjoyed the last book by Karen MacInerney that I read a few months ago so I decided to give this one a try when I saw it offered through Prime Reading on Amazon.  I had a moment while listening to this book that I considered not finishing it.  I decided to keep going and did find the second half more exciting.  I would say that this was an okay read in the end.

Margie has been a stay at home mom but she decides to go back to work to help make ends meet for her family.  Getting a job turns out to be more of a challenge than she expects until she gets a job with a local private investigator firm.  Now while her kids are at preschool, she is out doing surveillance and whatever is needed.  Everything seems to be going okay until she finds a murder victim while on the job.

There were a few moments that were humorous during the story but I often felt like the book was trying too hard to be funny.  There was never a time that I actually wanted to laugh out loud.  I may have actually groaned a time or two due to the forced humor which wasn't all that funny. 

I was also not a fan of Margie's husband.  From the very start of the story, I didn't care for the man.  As the book progressed and I realized that he was hiding a few things, I liked him even less.  What I really disliked was Margie's response to everything.  I couldn't understand why she wouldn't sit down and have a conversation with him instead of investigating everything.  Although, I must say that one of the things that kept me listening when I considered stopping was that I wanted to know what was going on with this man. 

I did have a little bit of an issue with how the transvestite characters were treated in this story.  The murder victim in this story is a transvestite and had an identity both as a man and a woman.  I didn't think that this was handled in the story with any sensitivity.   It almost seemed like it was supposed to be funny when the characters stumbled over which pronoun to use. 

There were several storylines going on during this book and I wondered how everything would eventually come together.  I did find the story to be a bit more exciting once some real action started happening.  I did think that some of the things that happened in this book to be a bit of a stretch and there was at least one "clue" that Margie suddenly remembers from the very beginning of the story seemingly out of nowhere.

This was the first time that I have had the chance to listen to Cris Dukehart narrate a book and I think she did a great job with it.  There were a lot of different voices that she used to really help bring the story to life.  She had a very pleasant reading voice and I wouldn't hesitate to listen to her work again in the future.

In the end, this was a book that had some good moments and some moments that weren't as great.  I thought it was okay but I probably won't be continuing with the series.  If you are wanting to try one of Karen MacInerney's cozy mysteries, I would recommend picking up Killer Jam instead.

About the Author

Critically acclaimed author Karen MacInerney also teaches writers' workshops and drives a mean carpool. Her book Murder on the Rocks was selected as an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. When she's not writing or chauffeuring children, she loves to read, drink coffee, attempt unusual recipes, and hit the local hike-and-bike trail. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two children, and a rabbit named Bunny, and escapes to Maine as often as possible.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Audiobook Review - So Long, Lollipops by Sarah Lyons Fleming @SLyonsFleming @justjuliawhelan

So Long, Lollipops by Sarah Lyons Fleming
Narrated by Julia Whelan
Series: Until the End of the World #1.5
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Publication Date: September 12, 2014
Date Read: December 10, 2017
Length: 3 hours 12 minutes
Source: Audible Freebie


This novella contains major spoilers from the novel Until The End of the World. It's suggested you read the novel before you hear So Long, Lollipops. Unless you're someone who likes to read the last page of a book first - in that case, enjoy!

Peter watched his new family drive away, certain it was the last time he'd ever see them. But sometimes plans go awry in the best way. Now, the plan is to get back to them.

Sometimes the only plan is to believe it will be all right, even when it's almost impossible to believe.
My Review

I really need to warn anyone planning to read the first book in the series, Until the End of the World, to stop reading this review now.  I cannot talk about this novella without spoiling the first book.  It just cannot be done.  This review could ruin one of the best moments in the first novel.  You have been warned.

I enjoyed this novella quite a bit.  I usually listen to audiobooks at work and only rarely listen to much at home.  I decided to start this one on a Saturday while I was walking my dogs and planned to finish during the work week.  I listened to the whole thing over the weekend because I couldn't get enough.  It is rather short but it answered a lot of questions that I had from the first book in the series.

**Spoilers Ahead**

This novella tells Peter's story.  Peter was a character that I wanted to feed to the zombies at the beginning of the series.  You know, the one guy that you kind of hope will die quickly and painfully.  Peter did what few characters are able to do.  He completely redeemed himself in the first book.  The same guy I wanted to see die a horrible death became a man that I got a little choked up over once I believed he had actually met that fate.   Not to mention the surprise and joy when I realized he had survived at the close of the first book.

Since finishing Until the End of the World, I wondered how Peter could have possibly survived.  When the group left him, he was in an impossible situation.  This novella details what Peter goes through from the point the group left him until he is reunited and what a story it is.  Peter has turned into a genuinely good guy that I would want fighting on my side.  He encounters a few new characters and has some great moments with them.  He also runs into more than a few zombies and things look dire a time or two.  Of course, I knew he would survive and make it back to the group since I saw that in the first book from Cassie's point of view.

I think that Julia Whelan does a great job with this series.  I am very happy to see that she narrates all of the books in the series.  I think it would have been a huge mistake to switch to a male narrator for this one despite the fact that this story is told from a male point of view.  She does a great job with Peter and all of the other characters he encounters.  I look forward to listening to this narrator again very soon.

I would recommend this book to others.  This is a series that really should be read in order.  I think it would be possible to read and enjoy this as a stand alone but I don't think that it could possibly have the same kind of impact.  I can't wait to read the rest of this touching zombie series!

This audiobook is currently free on Audible and the ebook is $0.99 at most retailers.

The Series - Until the End of the World
Book #1 - Until the End of the World - My Review
Book #1.5 - So Long, Lollipops
Book #2 - And After
Book #3 - All the Stars in the Sky
About the Author - Sarah Lyons Fleming

I'm a Laura Ingalls devotee, wannabe prepper and lover of anything pre-apocalyptic, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic—-or anything in between. Add in some humor and romance, and I'm in heaven.

Besides an unhealthy obsession with home-canned food and Bug Out Bag equipment, I love books, making artsy stuff and laughing my arse off. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, I now live in Oregon with my family and, in my opinion, not nearly enough supplies for the zombie apocalypse. But I'm working on it.

Author Link:  Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves #98

I am really excited to participate in Stacking the Shelves, a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality.

This was a pretty standard week at our house.  My daughter had her final concert of the year and I must say that I am really looking forward to a bit of a break.  I feel like I need one.  I am starting my Christmas celebrations with family this weekend since my sister is coming in from out of town.  I haven't bought anything for Christmas yet so I will probably be spending my Saturday running around to get ready for the holidays. 

Books for Review

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (NetGalley)

I was so excited when I received the email that I was approved to read this book on Sunday.  I have already read it and can tell you it is amazing!

Books Won
Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs (Goodreads Giveaway)

This one is new to me but I thought it sounded like something I would enjoy.   I was very happy to win a Kindle copy on Goodreads.

Books Purchased/Free

Protected by Claire Zorn (Kindle Freebie - no longer free)

I was really lucky to catch this book when it was offered for free earlier this week.  Unfortunately, it is no longer free.  I am looking forward to getting to it when my reading schedule clears up a bit.

What books do you add to your shelves this week? 
Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your own STS post!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Spotlight Tour - The Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle @ginaconkle @SourcebooksCasa

Guest Post from Gina Conkle

How to Have Your Christmas Pudding Like a Georgian

Does pudding make you think sex? Probably not. When someone says “pudding” most people think of the dessert easily made from a box. Its popularity has fallen in favor of cakes, pies, and ice cream.

But once upon a time, pudding was polarizing. Political factions rose up over the food. Laws were debated in England’s Parliament. Citizens clashed (and yes, even rioted!) over the right to feast as they saw fit. Pudding was surprisingly a contentious issue in England’s history. For a time, the dish was on the outs.

Georgian England, thank goodness, recovered their decorum. King George I was served pudding at Christmas dinner and he thought the dish divine. Pudding was back.

But, why all the hubbub over…pudding? Let me explain.

A funny thing happened during Christmas

Medieval England was largely Catholic. Christmas Day was generally somber with Epiphany (the twelve days following Christmas) the time to party big—in many cases with Mardi Gras-esque debauchery. Historically speaking, Mardi Gras actually begins on January 6th (Twelfth Night).

In modern times, that kind of revelry stays in New Orleans. But, imagine what would happen if it cropped up all over? Some would denounce the excess. In early 17th century, many did.

Naughty, sexy pudding

When Oliver Cromwell came to power, Parliament demanded change in England’s Christmas festivities. Pudding was an often-discussed dish. Lawmakers (many of them Puritans) called pudding “lewd” and “unfit for God-fearing people.” Puritans weren’t the only pudding-bashing group. Quakers claimed pudding was “the invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon.”

These groups objected to what went into dessert puddings, brandy being a chief ingredient. Those opposed to pudding felt the food added to drunken, licentious behavior. Of course, we know today high temperatures cook the alcohol, leaving only the flavor. You won’t get drunk on pudding.

But, Cromwellian leadership took the excesses to heart. They banned Christmas. They ordered shops to stay open on Christmas Day. Soldiers patrolled the streets and seized “Christmas feast food” which especially meant sinful pudding!

To be fair, the Scottish Kirk (church) had outlawed Christmas decades earlier. People north and south of the River Tweed were sickened by the gluttony of sins. When Cromwell’s reign ended, Charles II was restored to the English throne. Yet, Christmas and its famed pudding didn’t come roaring back. Citizens worn out from in-fighting didn’t rush to reinstate the old way of celebrating the holiday.

The Complaint of Christmas

It took satirist John Taylor to bring people to their senses. In his pamphlet, The Complaint of Christmas, Taylor decried the “harmless sports” of the holiday which “are now extinct and put out of use… as if they had never been.” He rightfully pointed out “the merry lords of misrule [are] suppressed by the mad lords of bad rule at Westminster.”

Christmas crept back…more like a lamb than a lion, but it was back. In moderation.

It took George I enjoying his first Christmas dinner as England’s monarch to bring pudding again into holiday popularity. The tasty dish was de rigueur!

Here’s to your Christmas feast (with pudding or without). ~Gina Conkle

Don't miss Gina Conkle's new book - The Lord Meets His Lady!

The Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle
Series: Midnight Meetings #3
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 9781492651901
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Lord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.

One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…

Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Lord Meets His Lady!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Gina Conkle writes sensual Georgian romance and lush Viking romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.  Find her at

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review - The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @CrownPublishing

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Date Read: November 24, 2017
Length: 288 pages
Source: First to Read / Blogging for Books
The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry that will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending.

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank…until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.
My Review

I loved this book!  Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down.  I ended up reading the whole book cover to cover in a single evening.  This was a pretty fast paced novel that kept me guessing.  I may have figured a few things out but there were a whole lot of things that really surprised me.  I was truly impressed by this thriller.

This book is told in two timelines, 2016 and 1986, so we get to see Eddie and his friends both as children and adults.  Both of the timelines worked together to tell the story and I really enjoyed both of the equally.  I couldn't turn the pages fast enough as I was incredibly eager to know what had happened when they were kids and what was happening to them in their adult life. 

I thought that the opening pages were incredibly strong and set the stage for the novel.  I wanted to know how that body ended up where we see it at the start of the novel and needed to know its identity.  When everything was eventually revealed, I found it to be a somewhat surprising and satisfying conclusion. 

I thought that the characters were well developed.  The story is told from Eddie's point of view so we see everything from his own perspective.  There are things that the boys do that made me cringe a bit but I thought that they all felt very realistic.  This group of boys go through a lot together and it was interesting to see how some of those things impacted their relationship with each other over the years.

I would highly recommend this book to thriller fans.  I found this to be a really exciting read that kept me guessing.  I am really impressed by that fact that this is C.J. Tudor's debut novel.  I will be eagerly waiting for more books from this new author.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from Crown Publishing Group via First to Read and Blogging for Books.
About the Author

C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Author Links: Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review - On the Naughty List by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, Beth Ciotta, and Sugar Jamison

On the Naughty List by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, Beth Ciotta, and Sugar Jamison
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Date Read: November 17, 2017
Length: 352 pages
Source: NetGalley
The most wonderful time of the year is back with On The Naughty List, bringing perennial favorite holiday stories from Lori Foster and Carly Phillips, along with two Christmas stories that delighted readers a year ago. This sexy anthology will make you want to give your heart to Christmas again and again…

Lori Foster has two co-workers plan a Christmas party side-by-side-and discover a love worth celebrating in Christmas Bonus.

Carly Phillips explores a "mistletoe moment" when a no-nonsense lawyer intent on seducing her boss meets his twin instead--and gives him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more in Naughty Under the Mistletoe.

In Sugar Jamison's Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas, former wild child Dina Gregory returns home to New York to find the father of her young son. Instead, she finds his stuffy older brother, Ben. Ben can't help but admire her tenacity--and her bold beauty. Could it be that Dina has reignited his Christmas spirit?

Beth Ciotta brings two friends who, after years apart, together at home for the holidays. They don't seem to have much in common anymore, but when the two get stranded together during a blizzard, they are forced to reexamine if they are better off as "just friends"? Or could it be that true love was there all along? in Some Kind of Wonderful.
My Review

This was a nice enough read.  I have had a review copy of this book for a couple of years but somehow missed reading it and it ended up buried on my Kindle.  I decided to dust off as I was trying to get into the holiday spirit this year.  I don't know that it had any impact on my readiness for the holiday but I did find the book to be an okay read.  I enjoyed all four of the stories pretty equally with nothing really standing out. 

Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster
I am not always a fan of office romances but I thought this one worked.  The couple in the story have known each other for a long time.  They really did seem to work well together and I liked the chemistry between them. 

Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Philips
This one starts off at an office holiday party.  Intending to finally make a move on her boss, the main character ends up kissing his twin instead.  The couple has a lot of chemistry.  I liked the twist on the office romance since she worked for his family but not him directly.

Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison
This was another story featuring brothers.  Dina decides to reach out to her baby's father but finds his older brother instead.  This was a fun opposites attract kind of story and I liked how the baby, Dash, played an important role in it.

Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta
This was a fun friends to lovers story.  The couple has known each other for years but they haven't seen each other lately.  They find themselves stranded in a cabin and realize that they both might feel more for each other than they realized. 

I thought that this was a worthwhile anthology.  I would give each of the individual stories 3 stars and really liked how different they were.  I had fun sampling the writing of a few new to me authors and would definitely try their work again in the future.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.
About the Authors

Lori Foster is a New York Times bestselling author. She received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy.

Carly Phillips has published over forty sexy contemporary romance novels, and is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Sugar Jamison is a Southern belle who spends her day at her very normal day job and night dreaming up sweet and sassy romances.

Beth Ciotta is an award-winning author. Beth specializes in writing romantic fiction.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Releases - December 12, 2017 #newreleases #newbooks

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:

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Find it at:
Goodreads | Booklikes | LibraryThing
Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

The Truth Beneath the Lies by Amanda Searcy

Find it at:
Fight or Flight.

All Kayla Asher wants to do is run. Run from the government housing complex she calls home. Run from her unstable mother. Run from a desperate job at No Limit Foods. Run to a better, cleaner, safer life. Every day is one day closer to leaving.

All Betsy Hopewell wants to do is survive. Survive the burner phone hidden under her bed. Survive her new rules. Survive a new school with new classmates. Survive being watched. Every minute grants her another moment of life.

But when fate brings Kayla and Betsy together, only one girl will live.

Ginger Snapped by Gail Oust

Find it at:
Goodreads | Booklikes | LibraryThing
Piper Prescott and Police Chief Wyatt McBride might have gotten off on the wrong foot but, over the past year, their interactions have evolved into a friendship of sorts. And when the body of Shirley Randolph is found floating in a fishing hole, their relationship reaches entirely new territory.

Shirley, the town's Realtor of the Year, was also Wyatt's suspected romantic interest, and now the residents of Brandywine Creek are speculating that Wyatt is responsible for her death. As the town council moves to suspend the handsome lawman, Piper springs into action to save his reputation and possibly his freedom. She enlists the aid of her BFF, Reba Mae Johnson, along with Wyatt himself, to help solve the puzzle and find Shirley’s real killer.

Pointing them toward high-powered real estate tactics and possible affairs, the investigation soon becomes personal when Piper's shop, Spice It Up!, is burglarized, and she’s forced off the road late one night, narrowly escaping serious injury. Realizing that she must be close to uncovering the truth, and that the evidence against Wyatt is no longer circumstantial, Piper resorts to drastic measures to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.

The Chameleon by Michele Hauf

Find it at:
Goodreads | Booklikes | LibraryThing
The Elite Crimes Unit is a covert team within Interpol that specializes in taking down the world’s top criminals—and then offering them a deal. Because sometimes a history of bad behavior can be a very good thing . . .

Jack Angelo is clearly off his game. First his wallet gets lifted—by a pregnant woman, no less—on the ferry to Finland. At his hotel, he’s seduced by a sexy redhead who takes him for a ride, too. And when he finally starts casing the bank he’s supposed to rob, yet another female fouls things up. All he wants is to complete this assignment for the ECU to save himself and his family. Little does he know that the women who keep interfering are actually one woman—who’s about to show him just how outmatched he really is . . .

Known as “The Chameleon” Saskia Petrovik is a mistress of disguise tasked with watching the new recruit as he meets up with his high-level crew of thieves. She has no problem getting under the covers to pull off an undercover job—especially with the man known as Gentleman Jack. But multiple identities can cause multiple problems, and in these dangerous circles, the temptation to show her true self could change a deceptive affair into a deadly one . . .
More Great Books Being Released Today
(Covers link to Goodreads)

What new releases are you excited about this week?
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