Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 End of the Year Thoughts

The Blog
This is my 327th post in 2017.  I am really pretty happy with how things are going with the blog during the past year.  Of course, there is always room for improvement.  On December 22, the blog turned 4.  It is really amazing how much I have changed things over the years.  I think I was pretty consistent during 2017 and have found what works best for me.  I do sometimes struggle with finding the time to visit other blogs so that is something I will continue to work on.

The Books
I am currently at 179 books read in 2017 which is up from the previous year.  Of those books, 43 were audiobooks and 3 were books I didn't finish.  I was pretty generous my ratings averaging 3.9 stars during the year.  There were a lot of 5 star re-read which probably throw the numbers off.  According to Goodreads, I have read 59,590 pages during the year.  I hope to maybe squeeze in one more book before midnight to bring the total to an even 180.

Favorite Books from 2017
(not including re-reads)

I don't do a lot of challenges.  This is only because I have such a hard time keeping track of things.  I did participate in two challenges:

Goodreads Challenge
Goal set at 100 books - Completed 179
I wanted this to be a stress free challenge so I decided to set the bar low and just see where I ended up at the end of the year.  I barely made my 2016 goal of 150 books so it seems that the stress free approach may have resulted in actually reading more books.  

Blogger Shame Challenge Hosted by Anna at Herding Cats & Burning Soup
Total read towards challenge - 9 books
I didn't have an official goal with this challenge so my goal was just to do as much as I could fit in during the year.  I wish I had gotten more done but do plan to participate with this challenge again next year.

What were some of your favorite books in 2017?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stacking the Shelves #100

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

It has been a cold but rather quiet week.  We are going to spend our day today celebrating Christmas a little late with my husband's family.  We don't usually do a lot for New Years but I am looking forward to a peaceful night at home with my family.

Books for Review
Twisted Truths by Rebecca Zanetti (Publisher)
Slammed by Victoria Denault (Publisher)
Back Home at Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy (Publisher)
Luckiest Cowboy of All by Carolyn Brown (Publisher)
Changing the Rules by Erin Kern (Publisher)

I was lucky enough to receive this lovely set of books from Forever (Grand Central Publishing).  Some of these books will be released in 2018 while others are recent releases.  I have had my eye on a couple of these so I am very happy to get a chance to read them.

Books Purchased

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Audible Purchase)
No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron (Audible Purchase)
Killman Creek by Rachel Caine (Audible Purchase)
Mordacious by Sarah Lyons Fleming (Audible Purchase)
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Audible Purchase)
Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom (Audible Purchase)

So that's a lot of audiobooks, huh?  I try to stock up when Audible has their 2 books for 1 credit sale which started this week.  I also received a $10 credit on the site which I used to add the audio to Killman Creek and Mordacious for only $1.99 each.  I still have $6 in credit left to spend and may add a few more books before the 2 for 1 sale is over.

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 29, 2017

Review - Every Dog Has His Day by Jenn McKinlay @JennMcKinlay @BerkleyRomance

Every Dog Has His Day by Jenn McKinlay
Series: A Bluff Point Romance #3
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Date Read: December 26, 2017
Length: 336 pages
Source: NetGalley

A stray kitten and a rambunctious poodle bring together a small-town bachelor and a single mother in the latest romance set in Bluff Point, Maine.

Bluff Point brewery owner Zachary Caine wants nothing to do with commitment. His wild bachelor lifestyle suits him perfectly—until a foster kitten named Chaos makes him a reluctant hero. Now he’s BFFs with the kitten’s two little girls and finds himself falling for their gorgeous mother, who couldn’t think less of him.

Divorced mother Jessie Connelly wants nothing to do with men like Zach. He’s sexy and charismatic and bad news, just like her ex. But her girls adore him, and he’s doing a good job filling in for their deadbeat dad. Then a snowstorm brings out the best in both neighbors, who, it turns out, have more in common than their mutual attraction...

So when Jessie’s past threatens her and her girls, Zach is determined to do whatever it takes to protect them—and live happily ever after with this family he has made his own.

My Review

So I liked this one quite a bit.  This group of friend in Bluff Point, Maine are starting to feel like old friends already.  I was pulled into this romance from the very start and enjoyed it until the very end.  This book had the perfect combination of cute animals, darling kids, and a couple destined to be together. 

Zach doesn't know what to expect when he finds two adorable little girls at his door.  They need his help because their kitten, Chaos, is currently sitting on the roof of Zach's house.  Being the nice guy he is, he jumps into help right away saving the kitten and landing in a big pile of snow.  I thought the set up of this story was great but things got even better when Zach decided to make sure his neighbor and her two girls are okay during the blizzard that hit the area.

I thought the characters in this book were wonderful.  At the start of the series, Jessie seemed like the bad guy but things have changed as the series has progressed.  Once I got the chance to spend a few moments in her head during this story, I completely changed my opinion of her.  She really is a great character and has had a lot of things in her life go horribly wrong.  Zach was such a good guy.  He really was perfect with Jessie's girls and worked hard to be what they needed him to be. 

I loved Zach and Jessie as a couple.  They had so much fun together from the very start and the chemistry between them was amazing.  Zach's relationship with both of her girls was equally well done.  I really liked how both Jessie and Zach keep their focus on the girls and their best interest.  It really did feel like this group of people belonged with each other.  It was really refreshing to see the kids play such an important role in the book but don't worry there are plenty of steamy moments to balance everything out.

The book was really good but I did have couple of issues.  I thought that some of the interactions with the larger group were a bit immature.  I thought it was rather odd that a grown woman would go into another room during a situation to ask her friends for advice in a group chat.  This group of friends didn't hesitate to share some pretty personal details.  I kept thinking that if Zach and Jessie would just be that open with each other it would solve a lot of problems.  The other issue I had concerned a situation with the girls' grandfather.  He was really a difficult man and I thought that his complete change of heart seemed a bit unrealistic.  These were really very minor issues that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance.  This is the third book in the series but it could easily be read as a stand alone.  Readers of the series will enjoy spending time with characters featured in the earlier books.  I can't wait to read more from this talented author very soon.

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

The Series - Bluff Point
Book #1 - About a Dog - My Review
Book #2 - Barking Up the Wrong Tree - My Review
Book #3 - Every Dog Has His Day
About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jenn McKinlay is the author of About a Dog, the Library Lover’s mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery mysteries, and the Hat Shop mysteries.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review - Choked Up by Janey Mack

Choked Up by Janey Mack
Series: Maisie McGrane Mystery #2
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Date Read: December 24, 2017
Length:  352 pages
Source: NetGalley
"The most engaging new detective in a long time." --Hy Conrad, author of Toured to Death

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?
My Review

This was an okay read for me. I decided to read this book because it seemed to be exactly what I was in the mood to read.   I remembered seeing some comparisons to Evanovich and thought a mystery with a side of laughter would be just perfect.  Unfortunately, I didn't find this book funny.  At all.  I didn't crack a smile even once so that is a pretty big disappointment.  The mystery did hold my interest though.  It wasn't a bad read but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

Maisie McGrane comes from family of police officers and defense attorneys.  Maisie is a meter maid which isn't exactly the same thing.  Maisie does want to join the police but her family has blocked her path so she jumps at the chance to work undercover with a special unit.  She is eager to quit her job and start her new career until she learns that they want her to continue working as she gathers information.

Maisie jumps into her new role completely.  She is soon an important part of the life a notorious mobster, Stannis.  There are quite a few action scenes with Maisie finding herself in danger more often than can be healthy.  She must keep the mobster happy while feeding information to her contacts.  Hopefully she can remain safe and explain things to her boyfriend later. 

Maisie seemed to be in way over her head.  I can't say that I really liked her or disliked her character.  I didn't have a lot of confidence in her abilities and thought some of her actions were pretty questionable.  Her boyfriend, Hank, didn't seem real to me at all.  His character did remind me a bit of Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series but even little more perfect and superheroish. 

In the end, I think that this story was rather forgettable.  This is the second book in the series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by reading out of order.  I was really curious about how everything would work out which kept the pages turning but I don't plan to read any additional books in the series. 

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley.
About the Author

Janey Mack grew up always wanting to be a cop but her dad wouldn't let her, so she did the next best thing and created Maisie McGrane, who gets to do everything she can't. She lives with her husband and children in Scottsdale, Arizona, within driving distance of her brothers.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Audiobook Review - All the Stars in the Sky by Sarah Lyons Fleming @SLyonsFleming @justjuliawhelan

All the Stars in the Sky by Sarah Lyons Fleming
Narrated by Julia Whelan
Series: Until the End of the World #3
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Date Read: December 22, 2017
Length: 12 hours 19 minutes
Source: Audible Purchase

Cassie Forrest has sworn she’ll never let the world get the best of her again.
She’s chosen to believe everything will be all right.

But on a journey filled with heartbreak and madness and zombies, Cassie and her friends must struggle to stay alive—and it’s hard to believe in a future when survival seems unlikely.

My Review

This was a really good conclusion to the series.  When I find a series that I enjoy, I usually try to take a bit of a break between books just to stretch things out a bit.  After finishing the previous book in this series, And After, I knew that this would be a situation where I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next.  It has been quite the adventure with Cassie and the group.

This is the third book in the Until the End of the World series which I do think needs to be read in order.  This book picks up immediately after the events of the previous book.  I do my best to write spoiler free reviews but there may be some spoilers about events from earlier books.  The second book really left the group in a desperate situation which is where we find them as this book opens.

Cassie and the group need to make to a new safe zone.  The plan has been to head to Alaska if Kingdom Come was compromised.   She is with a small group making their way by vehicle across Canada to reach their goal and hoping to avoid the zombie pods.  They have limited supplies in terms of food and fuel but they are resourceful and work well together.  During their travels, they encounter some pretty scary situations that had me at the edge of my seat.  They run into some really nice people and some people who could be described as anything but nice.  I felt like I was right there with the group and wanted to see them reach safety more than anything.

This was a really exciting book.  There seemed to be more instances where they had to deal with life-threatening zombie situations.  They spent nearly the entire book in danger.  I did think that the book slowed down for me at the end.  The last section of the book focused more on relationships than anything else and I thought it was drawn out just a bit.  I did like the fact that the characters continued to talk about other characters that have died to keep their memory alive.  I thought this felt really authentic and it helped me get over a certain character that was lost at the end of the second book.  Can you tell that some of these deaths still bother me?  No character is ever safe in the zombie apocalypse.

Julia Whelan does an amazing job with this series.  There is a large cast of characters and she did a fabulous job representing them in the same manner in each book of the series.  I was constantly pulled into the book through her narration.  Exciting scenes, funny scenes, and more heartfelt scenes are all handled equally well.  I listened to this book for hours at a time and definitely plan to listen to her work again in the future.

I would recommend this series to others.  I think that fans of The Walking Dead would appreciate this story of survival.  I liked the series enough that it is one that I hope to listen to it again at some point in a few years.  I hope to read more works by Sarah Lyons Fleming in the future.

The Series - Until the End of the World
Book #1 - Until the End of the World - My Review
Book #1.5 - So Long, Lollipops - My Review
Book #2 - And After - My Review
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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Releases - December 26, 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:

The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes

Find it at:
Goodreads | Booklikes | LibraryThing
He was only supposed to keep an eye on his friend’s sister . . . now he’s about to lose his heart . . .

When Thomas Heathmore, Duke of Coventry, agrees to steer his friend’s inexperienced younger sister through society, he doesn’t expect the lady in question to be so infernally stubborn. Amelia Matthews seems to have little interest in balls or suitors at all. Instead, she intends to open a school, and against his better instincts, Thomas offers to help. Yet somewhere along the line, Amelia ceases to be a simple responsibility . . . and becomes an undeniable temptation.

Since her brother inherited a dukedom, Amelia’s prospects have transformed. But though she’s long been secretly infatuated with Thomas, she refuses to heed the arrogant aristocrat’s advice. If only it were as easy to ignore his heated touch. And as Amelia soon learns, the ton is a minefield, where one moment’s indiscretion can unleash a scandal—or entice her to surrender everything to the duke of her desire...

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Find it at:
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

The Art of Running in High Heels by Rachel Gibson

Find it at:
Goodreads | Booklikes | LibraryThing
Running in five-inch stilettos is an art form

Leaving your fiancĂ© at the altar on live television is a disaster. Lexie Kowalsky thought she was ready to get married in front of millions of people, but at the last minute she fled the set of television’s hottest reality show, Gettin’ Hitched. Wearing a poofy white dress and a pair of five-inch sparkly shoes, Lexie hopped a float plane for Sandspit, Canada. She figured no one would find her there. But she was wrong.

Sharing her flight was the Seattle Chinooks biggest star, Sean Knox. Lexie wasn’t just a reality-show runaway, she was his pain in the butt coach’s daughter. She was chaos and temptation and definitely off limits, but getting her luscious body out of that wedding gown, he couldn’t resist getting her in his bed for one amazing night.

Then a photo of Sean and Lexi breaks the internet—and suddenly they’re both swept up in a crazy plan to spin the whole story. But you can’t run from love—

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Find it at:
Goodreads | Booklikes | LibraryThing
One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.
More Great Books Being Released Today
(Covers link to Goodreads)

What new releases are you excited about this week?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of my friends and followers!  I hope that Santa is very kind to each and every one of you and that your day is filled with joy. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review - Home for Christmas by Lily Everett

Home for Christmas by Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island #4
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Date Read: December 3, 2017
Length: 320 pages
Source: NetGalley

Tis the season for family and love…

At least it's supposed to be. For Libby Leeds, however, the holiday season is just another reminder of things she'd rather forget. When she left Sanctuary Island as an orphaned child, she never thought she'd go back except in her dreams, dreams she's kept alive by writing monthly column of her fictional small-town life, until her publisher sends her back home for the holidays.

Owen Shepard is a fallen hero, wounded in action rescuing three of his fellow soldiers, but after a whirlwind of media attention, all this charismatic Army Ranger wants is to get back on his feet and make it to Sanctuary Island to be with his daughter in time for Christmas. What he didn't expect was to be put on a crash course with a columnist hiding her past. Will the magic of Sanctuary Island at Christmastime allow them to find healing together?
My Review

Well, this was a disappointment.  I have read Lily Everett before and really enjoyed her work so I decided that this would be the book that I would read leading up to Christmas this year.  I just knew that this would be a great read.  Unfortunately, this book really didn't work for me.  I am not sure if my reading tastes have changed since I last read this author or if it is just this book but this wasn't the enjoyable reading experience I had hoped it would be.

Libby Leeds has been living a lie.  She is a well known author with a column that is supposed to be non-fiction but her life looks nothing like that column.  She gets caught with her deception when her boss invites a well known hero to her home in Sanctuary Island for Christmas dinner.  She is then forced to reconnect with family and do her best to be the woman the world knows from her column.

Owen was wounded in action and has been working hard to get back into shape so he can return to duty.  He has recently discovered that he has a young child who is now living with his sister in Sanctuary Island.  He is headed to there to get to know his child and get therapy.  He accepts the invitation to have dinner with Libby since he wants to share the perfect Christmas with his daughter.

I didn't like Libby or Owen.  Libby is living an absolute lie.  Owen seems to only be able to focus on going back to active duty.  Libby is even pretending to be married for a good portion of the book so this romance just never worked for me.  I honestly didn't see a lot of chemistry between them.  This is a very tame romance and I just didn't feel the spark that I would have hoped to see.

I think that my biggest issue with the book was that so much of the story seemed pointless.  Once Libby opens up to Owen, I didn't see the point of continuing with the charade.  There is a secondary romance that added nothing to the story and only contained a few short scenes.  I found that I was often bored while reading this book and had to read passages more than once because my mind would wander. 

I would say that the best parts of the book included the scenes with Libby's grandfather and Owen's daughter.  Those two characters were the highlight of the story and I would have really liked to see a bit more of them.  The book does have a very strong Christmas theme with just about everything Christmas making an appearance at least once. 

I will not be recommending this book to others.  I think that this was a rather forgettable story that was a bit too sweet for my tastes.  I won't hesitate to read more from Lily Everett in the future.

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

Lily Everett grew up in a small town in Virginia reading Misty of Chincoteague and Black Beauty, taking riding lessons, and longing for a horse of her own. Sadly, her parents gave her a college education instead-but she never forgot what the world looked like from the back of a horse. She currently lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes full-time.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Stacking the Shelves #99

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

Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.  I can't believe we are already celebrating Christmas!  I finished up my Christmas celebrations with my side of the family on Friday and we will see my husband's family next weekend.  My husband has to work 12 hours shifts all weekend and on Christmas day so we try to work our holiday celebrations around his availability.  My schedule is completely open this weekend so I hope to do a little reading and get caught up with some of my blog visits that were neglected during the past several days. 

Books for Review

Mind of a Killer by Simon Beaufort (NetGalley)
More to Love by Alison Bliss (NetGalley)
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (Blogging for Books)

Mind of a Killer really sounds like my kind of book so I am really happy to get an early copy.  I also added More to Love to my tbr.  Forever (Grand Central Publishing) was also kind enough to auto-approve me on NetGalley which makes 4 auto-approvals so I finally have that badge I feel like I have been trying to get forever.  The Roanoke Girls is a book that I think I will either love or hate.  I hope I end up loving it.

Books Purchased

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Kindle Purchase)

I couldn't pass Into the Drowning Deep up when I saw it offered on Amazon for $2.99.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs (Audible Purchase)
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (Audible Purchase)
Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs (Audible Purchase)
Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Audible Purchase)

I decided to use up some of my Audible credits on the three Patricia Briggs books.  I should get a $10 coupon next week that I can use to buy the book that I skipped over in the series.  I have heard some great things about Say Goodbye for Now so when I saw that I could add the audio for only $1.99 I grabbed a copy.

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!
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