Monthly Archives: October 2014

Book Review: My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni


My Sister’s Grave (click on book for description or see below)
By Robert Dugoni
Releases 11/1/14
Downloaded free as my October Kindle First Read

Rating: 5 bones

Finish Time: 8 nights.  Don’t let that fool you though – it took me a few nights to get going (and I’ve been extra tired), but I finished probably 75% of it in the last 3 (late) nights.  This book really surprised me and I’m happy to have another 5-bone review this year finally!

This book was the whole package for me and I really had no idea where it was going to go.  It kept me interested, throwing around different theories in my head, and completely guessing and frantically turning pages until the very end.

20 years ago, Tracy and Sarah Crosswhite (sisters) parted ways from a shooting tournament, Tracy to go get engaged, Sarah, supposed to be headed home.  The next morning it was discovered that Sarah never made it home as her truck was discovered on the side of a country road.  While her body was never found, a local with a sketchy past, Edmund House, was convicted of her murder and sent to jail.  While for some, like Tracy & Sarah’s parents, this was closure enough (at least it was prior to their deaths), it wasn’t for Tracy who wouldn’t be satisfied until she knew the truth.  At the time of Sarah’s disappearance, Tracy was a teacher/professor, but her own personal investigation into her sister’s death, began an obsession, and led her to make a career as a homicide detective in Seattle, WA.

The story picks up at current day, 20 years after Sarah’s disappearance, when Sarah’s body is finally discovered.  Motivated even more by new evidence, Tracy pushes to get the case re-opened by helping to get Edmund House a new trial based on inconsistencies she had found in her own personal investigations on his first trial.  She is thrown back into a world that she has somewhat put behind her, in the community of Cedar Grove, who is still mourning the loss of one of their own.

I enjoyed Tracy reconnecting with a childhood friend, Dan O’Leary and his two big dogs, Sherlock and Rex, as Dan also recently returned home to practice law.  I enjoyed the banter with the local “brass”, as she called the authorities, and also with her co-workers in Seattle.  Everything just flowed together flawlessly and made for a really enjoyable read.  As I mentioned in true mystery novel sense, I had my guesses as to “who killed Sarah” and even came up with some theories of my own, but not one of them was close to the real story, which was nicely wrapped up in the end.  It’s not that cut and dry, the book is so choke full of suspense, thrills, edge of your seat excitement, twists and turns, and even a little romance, that I’m afraid I’ll divulge too much if I say anymore!

And bonus points to Mr. Dugoni for author’s notes at the end.  Those are quickly becoming my favorite things to read as just a glimpse into the author’s background on why they wrote the story, who helped them, and/or how they came up with it.  I will definitely read more of his books as the opportunity arises and kuddos to Kindle First for choosing this book to offer for October.  Check out his website here too for more info.  And I did just notice that My Sister’s Grave is the first in a series, and while I’m not usually a series fan, this one has me hooked, so I’ll definitely be on the lookout for that one!

My Sister’s Grave comes out Saturday November 1st – you really don’t want to miss this one!

Book Description:

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

 

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Teaser Tuesday: October 28th

Happy Tuesday!!  And Happy Halloween!!  I usually keep my kids out of my book posts – but had to share this one (aren’t they cute?!)

photo (19)

This week’s teaser is from my October Kindle First read – My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni releasing November 1, 2014.  Let me tell you – it is quite the page turner, and I have my guesses but I have no idea where it is going to go!  Stay tuned for review later this week!

“Hey, I know she’s a friend, Dan, but she’s been on this crusade for twenty years.  She tried to use me and now she’s using you.  She’s obsessed, Dan.  It killed her father and drove her mother crazy and now she’s sucking you into her fantasy.  Don’t you think it’s time to put it to bed?”
(37% into book)

Book Description:

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Teaser Tuesday: October 21st

Hello Tuesday!  Playing catch up again – but 3 new reviews out this week and a teaser for you for one that releases TODAY!!

31 Days by Marcia Gloster
Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

And today’s teaser and new release is from Holding on to Georgia by Courtney Giardina.  Which I was excited and privileged to receive an ARC directly from the author herself!  Check out my review HERE and a link to her GIVEAWAY to celebrate its release!

“Things happen in life that sometimes we don’t understand.  We get hurt, we lose people, and struggle to pick up the pieces and start over again.  It seems like an eternity before the tears stop falling; but then, the day comes when you finally close the door on the past and no longer have a desire to look back.”
(65% into book)

Book Description:

Rylan Bradley is perfectly content with her single, thirty-something life. Love is the last thing on her mind—until she crosses paths with Wesley Kade. He is handsome, charming, and always there when she needs someone the most. But there’s a story behind those brown eyes that he’s not ready to tell. As Rylan and Kade struggle to untangle their feelings for each other, the reality of their pasts will once again resurface and threaten to take it all away.

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Book Review: Holding on to Georgia by Courtney Giardina

Holding on to Georgia
By Coutney Giardina
Releases 8/21/14 (TODAY!)
ARC provided to me free from the author!

Rating: 4 bones

Finish Time: 4 nights.  A quick, easy read.  Somewhat predictable, but choke full of great quotes (see a few below and my teaser this week) and hit somewhat close to home.  I was really excited to be approached directly by Ms. Giardina to receive an ARC to review.  And this book releases TODAY (10/21/14)!!  Always fun to be on the ground floor of a new release (and happy I made the deadline on this one!)

Check out Courtney Giardina’s website HERE and be sure to enter her GIVEAWAY too for a super cute Alex & Ani bracelet!

“Maybe it would end just like the rest of them, or maybe it would end with them as just friends-but maybe, just maybe, it might end up as something more.  It was time to start taking chances.  That is what life was all about.  Making choices that lead you to end up exactly where you belong at any given moment.” (42% in)

This book follows Wesley Kade, known simply as “Kade”, a widow of 3 years, as he moves to Charlotte, North Carolina from Georgia to start over.  And Rylan Bradley, a single dance studio owner/teacher who has been through her share of struggles in the past.  Both clearly bruised from the path and struggling with starting over.   So much in common, yet both carrying so much fear that drives them both together and apart throughout the book.  And you, as the reader has a front row seat to these ups and downs.

“And sometimes, no matter how much you want to be with someone, there’s never a guarantee that they want you back.” (73% in)

The title refers to Kade holding on to his past in Georgia, which having just made a big move from Georgia, is quite similar to my journey over the last few months.  Definitely not the same issues, but so many great themes; taking risks, following your heart/gut, and making the choose to be happy.  And Rylan too, having been burned by men in the past, it’s a story of redemption, letting go of the past, and getting what you deserve.

We also learn a lot about each character through past relationships, specifically thoughts/interactions with Jake (Rylan’s ex), and through thoughts/journals of Evelyn (Kade’s wife.)  And really throughout the whole book, bits and pieces of their pasts are revealed to help understand where they are coming from while they are both trying to get on with their lives in the present.  I really felt invested in their relationship and even found myself frantically turning pages to get through the tougher points of the book and when I just knew something else was going to happen.

It was a sweet, frustrating, entertaining, somewhat predictable, yet filled with enough anticipation to make this an enjoyable few nights spent with Kade, Rylan, and their friends!  Thank you Courtney for allowing me to preview!

Book Description:

Rylan Bradley is perfectly content with her single, thirty-something life. Love is the last thing on her mind—until she crosses paths with Wesley Kade. He is handsome, charming, and always there when she needs someone the most. But there’s a story behind those brown eyes that he’s not ready to tell. As Rylan and Kade struggle to untangle their feelings for each other, the reality of their pasts will once again resurface and threaten to take it all away.

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Book Review: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Night of a Thousand Stars
By Deanna Raybourn
Released 9/30/14
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: 7 nights.  As I picked up this book…this author’s name sounds familiar, maybe I’ve read her before?  A few nights later…wait Evangeline Starke is a real person?  I know I’ve read about her before!  A few minutes later…oh wait I have read a book about her written by Deanna Raybourn before.  Duh!  That ever happen to you?  I sure hope so!  This book is a follow-up to City of Jasmine that I read and reviewed earlier this year!

“This book is a follow-up to City of Jasmine, with different main characters but the same setting and a few supporting characters that will be familiar faces.  It gave me a chance to visit that world again and pick up the threads of a story that reaches beyond the events of City of Jasmine.” (from the Reader’s Guide to this book)

If you read that review of mine – I feel like I could write the same review for this book.  I thought maybe it was because I had a lot of distractions going on, but I really felt confused by all the characters and allegiances throughout this book…again!  2 times is not a coincidence (actually maybe it is – but I still think it’s hard not to ignore!)  And again looking at the description – it’s a historical fiction – right up my alley – no question as to why I requested it!

I enjoyed the beginning, a young girl (Poppy) fleeing her wedding, picked up by a stranger, contemplating how to start over and figure out just who she is.  But then it quickly takes a sharp turn into non-stop action, drama, danger, and excitement.  I loved that I never knew what was next, but then I found myself trying to figure out who was working with who and who  you/Poppy could trust, and I just became a bit frustrated.  But then bits and pieces are put together and it all comes together nicely and I did enjoy the ending.

I enjoyed the main characters that I could keep track of – Sebastian as the handsome, mysterious, humble, unassuming hero and possible romantic interest.  Masterman as Poppy’s protector/lady’s maid and confidant but clearly with her own secrets and story.  And ofcourse Poppy, discovering herself for the first time.  She made a great main character and I found myself wondering what I would do if ever in her shoes (but also very glad I wasn’t!)

So a good, solid, historical fiction.  Not my favorite, but not one to pass off if you get the chance to read.  I did really enjoy the Reader’s Guide at the end that includes a Q&A with the author.  If I had a lot more time, I’d love to read her Julia Grey books and learn more about the March family!

Thanks again to NetGalley for this opportunity to read and review!

Book Description:

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than there seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

 

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Book Review: 31 Days by Marcia Gloster

31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction (click on book or see below for description)
By Marcia Gloster
Released 9/16/14
Provided free from The Story Plant in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time; 7 nights.  I put this one off for a while too (I guess that is what happens when the to-read stack just gets too big.) But after seeing almost perfect reviews (not reading any – I won’t do that until after I’ve written mine,)  I decided to pick up this book, a little late (now a month since release – oops!), but better late than never.

I’ve also delayed in writing this review as this was really the first memoir/non-fiction book I’ve read, at least since I started reviewing.  Can I say I don’t like the characters when they are real?  It’s a lot easier in a fiction book, as they aren’t real.  Either way, real or made up, I guess they are products of the author, so why does one seem easier to criticize?

That all being said, some of the characters in 31 Days just frustrated me to no end, but looking back, that helped this story read like fiction (my usual genre).  At times I couldn’t believe that Ms. Gloster remembered events in such details from 40 years ago, but she mentioned keeping a journal.  I love that she had the foresight to know this would be a great story to tell.  And by great story meaning that it contained a lot of events, great characters (whether I liked them or not!), drama, romance, friendship, art, all in a beautiful setting during a once in a lifetime trip for a young woman.

I found myself excited to pick it up each night, but again frustrated.  I wanted my heart to fill up with a great romance, but looking back at the subtitle – I was promised seduction, not romance.  Maybe you’d anticipate the difference, I didn’t, and there is a big one.  I can only picture Bill Thompson as an egotistical, self-centered, womanizing, free-spirited teacher with a bad reputation.  Marcia does a great job at describing him as those things, also not your typical Romeo as he wasn’t gorgeous, but he just had an air about him that she couldn’t ignore.

I enjoyed the details of Europe and really had a map/picture in my head of just where Marcia studied, walked, ate, and drank (lots of vino!) each day.  I liked her as the narrator as being a good balance of emotional and smart when it came to Bill, although at times I would have liked to knock some sense into her, as some of her friends desperately tried to do as well.  It was a good coming of age story.  I toyed between 3 or 4 stars, as it was well written, yet something about it just doesn’t have me raving about it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on memoirs/non-fiction, as it is not my usual genre.

Thank you to The Story Plant for allowing me to preview and review!

Description from Amazon:

Marcia Gloster was a college student traveling through Europe in the summer of 1963. When she arrived in Salzburg, Austria to study at Oskar Kokoschka’s School of Vision, she envisioned a month of intensive painting, never expecting to find herself swept into a passionate affair. Nor did she imagine her lover to be a married instructor with a long history of indiscretions. Even at a young age, Marcia knew how to protect her heart. But it had never been taken by a man as overwhelming and sensual as Bill Thomson.

31 Days is the story of Marcia and Bill in Salzburg. 31 days that would redefine love, sex, passion, and permanence for a woman of twenty; and a month that would resonate in her life forever.

Deeply sensual, intensely vivid, and achingly beautiful 31 Days is a memoir that lives in all of us.

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I Will Rise

IMG_3276
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:13-15
Good morning!  This week my heart has been quite heavy and my prayers filled with more pleads than usual.  Not an easy topic to address for some, but one if addressed through the WORD, provides so much hope and promise.

 

This week a family member is nearing the end of their time on earth.  And thoughts of death and heaven have filled my prayers and conversations.  This person has not outwardly declared Jesus as their LORD and Savior, but our prayers have been that they have an inward knowledge of their maker and can find peace and comfort as they prepare to leave their earthly body.

 

Death is scary and sad and emotional, and I could only imagine if I didn’t have the knowledge of what was next and thought that this life was it, it would be even more so.  But as followers of Jesus – isn’t death what we live for?  It sounds morbid writing it out, but Jesus promises eternal life.  I know when this life gets tough, the hope of that perfect Eden is quite encouraging.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to leave things here, but I can only pray that when God calls my name , I will run open-armed into His arms knowing He will take care of me and we will all be together once again in heaven very soon.

 

Heaven has been a topic that my LL has been asking a lot about lately.  Who she knows in heaven, what they are doing, what it will be like?  I can only go off of what the Bible promises, but we talk about it as a place filled with love, and singing, and dancing.  A place where all doggies and kitties have homes.  A place where everyone can be a princess or a superhero.  A place where no one cries, no one is mean, no one is ever hurting.  What is in your heaven?  How do you talk to your kids about it?

 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4

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but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

And if you know me, ofcourse a song inspired this post.  I thought about I Can Only Imagine which depicts what it would be like to meet Jesus and be with him in heaven.  But thought Chris Tomlin’s I Will Rise (video and lyrics below) was more appropriate.  I pray that I will rise when my name is called, knowing that what is ahead is beyond anything I could have imagined through the words of the Bible and through amazing songs like this one.

 

For the person I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I will continue to pray and ask for your prayers as well.  For peace and to know this excitement that God promises us for eternity, that this life is not it.  And for those still here with us, for peace as well, that this person is no longer suffering, and the only pain and sorrow will be in our mourning.  As always God will come through on His promises and His love will prevail.

 

Thank you for reading and stopping by today.  Have a blessed day.  Amen.

 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I Will Rise
Chris Tomlin
There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well” Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
“Worthy is the Lamb” And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

 

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Teaser Tuesday: October 7th

Happy Tuesday yet again!  I’ll keep this short this week, I’ve just started a new NetGalley read – Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn, set in may favorite era – the 1920’s!

“At first, I thought it best, given the sort of family we came from.  I thought a chance at normality might be the best thing for you.  But the more I came to discover of you, the more I came to believe you were one of us.”
(12% into book)

Book Description:
On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.
With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear. 

Thanks for stopping by and please leave your teaser in the comments!  See you next week!

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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