Apr 30, 2013

Review: Blood Money by Doug Richardson

Sometimes it is the book cover that grabs my attention and makes me wonder what lies between the pages. That' is what happened when I saw BLOOD MONEY, the latest release from Doug Richardson. I was looking for something different and a bit edgy and I was ready for some fast-paced action. I thought the cover with the big rig on it was really cool. I've always had a fascination with big rigs, especially the pretty ones. I wasn't familiar with the author so I visited his website and was amazed at how successful he is, not only as a writer of books, but also as a Hollywood screenwriter. When I learned that he was behind such hits as Die Hard II, Bad Boys and Hostage, I knew I wanted to read his new novel.

About The Book:

This crime/action novel centers around Kern County (CA) Debputy Lucky Dey and his chase to track down the driver of a black-on-black refrigerated truck who has been implicated in killing his younger brother, also a deputy sheriff. The horrible murder was caught on the dash cam video of the patrol car that also shows the deaths of two other people at the scene. One of the victims was a popular teen TV star whose father has deep pockets and a questionable past and he soon uses his connections and power to find out who killed his only child. But he is very specific - he wants the man alive so he can kill him himself.

Lucky follows the truck's path to L.A. where he teams up with some of his former colleagues with the L.A. County Sheriff's office.  Because of the high profile case, Detective Lydia Gonzalez from the LAPD has been  assigned to 'babysit' the out of town deputy in his search. Gonzo, as she is called, soon figures out that Lucky is not your ordinary country cop. He knows his way around L.A. and he has connections within law enforcement that Gonzo suspects runs deeper than just former co-worker camaraderie.

Greg Beam is the former Marine turned murder suspect who is behind the wheel of the semi. He has simple plan of driving the stolen rig and it's contents of stolen frozen plasma to Southern California and get it shipped out of the country.  He'll collect his big payoff and be on his way to a faraway paradise. But his plan is quickly spiraling out of control.  He's getting tired, making mistakes and leaving too many bodies in his wake. His last move threatens his entire mission and has devastating consequences for an entire city that believes it is encountering a terrorist attack.

My Thoughts:

Admittedly, I don't read a lot of books in this genre. However, the premise, when I read it, sounded exciting and it didn't sound far-fetched, which is something I dislike in crime stories. This is basically a pretty simple plot with many twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was drawn to Lucky Dey for several reasons: he's a tortured soul, a loner and he's definitely a man's man. OK, so the female in me thought he came across as sexy.   The supporting cast of characters were also good, although maybe a bit cliche, but I didn't really let that bother me. They each brought something to the book that was positive. There were many characters that I thought may be difficult to keep up with in the beginning, but after getting into the story, was not a problem at all.  Also, there wasn't a lot of character backstory that sometimes bogs down a book of this sort. Sure, there was some details that needed to be given about certain characters but it in no way slowed down the pace of the storytelling.

I felt the plot itself was plausible and the constant action kept me on my toes. I had no problem at all envisioning the events in my mind. It was like a movie playing out in my head. In fact, I think this would make a great feature action film, which Doug Richardson is so well known for.

The bottom line is that I really enjoyed the action and thrills that this book gave me. It made me realize that I'd like to spend more time reading such books because they get my blood pumping and it's different than what I usually read. Trying different things is a good thing and this book was also a good thing.

I'd like to thank Doug Richardson and his team for asking me if I'd like a review copy after seeing me repeatedly talking about it here on my blog and on Twitter. I really appreciate the opportunity. I enjoyed reading it very much.

BLOOD MONEY (Kindle Edition)
Author: Doug Richardson
Twitter: @byDougRich
Publisher: Velvet Elvis Entertainlment
Published: January 2013
Length: 320pp
Source: Author

Apr 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted each Monday by Sheila from Book Journey. This is where we discuss books we've read and reviewed in the past week and talk about what we're planning to read
in the coming week. 

Books I Finished/Reviewed Last Week:

Though I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked, I did manage to finish SWIMMING AT NIGHT by Lucy Clarke. I'll be posting my review later this week. 

Reviews Posted Last Week:

Books I'll Be Focusing On This Week:

I'll be continuing with ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline for my book club and also with THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone, which I am listening to on audio. Later in the week I will be starting LOOKING FOR ME, Beth Hoffman's new novel that I am VERY excited about! 

Upcoming Reviews:

  • BLOOD MONEY by Doug Richardson
  • SIX YEARS by Harlen Coben
  • SWIMMING AT NIGHT by Lucy Clarke     

That's what I'll be up to this week. What will you be reading? 

Apr 27, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Ching He Huang's Everyday Easy Chinese Cookbook

In keeping with my healthy eating lifestyle, I'm really looking forward to the summer months when so many vegetables are in season. I am a veggie lover and could live quite happily on them alone. I enjoy my veggies a little on the crunchy side so they are quick and easy to prepare. I love eating stir-fry Chinese food, but as you know, take-out Chinese tends to be greasy and not very good for you. So I decided to make my own Chinese dishes at home.

I used to have a wok years ago but probably sold it in a garage sale years ago. Besides, I'm a much better cook now and probably didn't do that old wok justice anyway. So I recently bought a new, carbon steel wok. I seasoned it properly using peanut oil and a nice handful of chives. Then I got a few basic ingredients that are used in a lot of Chinese cuisine. To start out, I bought peanut oil, sesame oil, light and dark soy sauce, Chinese Five Spice and some rice vinegar. Those are considered staples in Chinese cooking. It can be pricey to start out but once you have those items, you won't have to buy them for awhile. Because I'm on a tight budget (living on disability will do that to a person), each week I allow myself another item. Before long I will have a nicely stocked pantry and will be able to make a wide variety of dishes.

Along with my wok, I bought a Chinese cookbook that featured many of the take-out favorites I love. I watch a lot of cooking shows on the weekend and I'm always learning new techniques and tips. I love watching Ching He Huang on The Cooking Channel. She makes wok cooking look so easy so I chose her cookbook, CHING'S EVERYDAY EASY CHINESE. It contains over 100 quick and easy Chinese favorites.

This is a very nice cookbook, published October 2011 with 240 pages of simple dishes ranging from breakfast to dinner, including some really quick appetizers.  In the introduction, Ching explains her purpose for writing this cookbook. She wants to show the world that Chinese food can be healthy and easy to make. Her passion for Chinese cooking is very evident in her defense of the cuisine not getting the respect cuisines from other cultures receive. Ching is a down to earth cook who doesn't come across pretentious at all and if you've ever watched her shows, her book is written exactly the way she talks on TV. She is not shy about her love of this cuisine and it shows in her passion and her dishes. She puts her own spin on some favorites that have been around for decades and explains why she does some things differently.

There are beautiful pictures to accompany the recipes and though it doesn't have a spiral binding, the book is not so large that it is clumsy in the kitchen. There is only one thing about this cookbook that disappointed me. and maybe it affects me more because of my low vision, but the font type of the introduction to the book and the recipes is so fair and light that I struggle to read them. I like reading about the dishes before each recipe but it has really been a problem for me to see. The font for the actual recipes is black and not the same thin font, so luckily I can see them much easier. It may sound a bit nit-picky but for me, its an issue.

I have enjoyed going through the book and marking the dishes I want to try. I know that for anyone who feels comfortable in a kitchen, you really don't need a recipe to create some great stir-fry, but its nice to have a guide, especially when you want to make something as classic as General Tso's Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork or Kung Pao Chicken, which are all included in this book.  

Unfortunately, most people believe that if you're trying to eat healthy you have to stay away from Chinese food and that just isn't true. Yes, most take out food from anywhere is bad for you but if you can get in the habit of cooking at home with fresh ingredients and stay away from the prepared foods with all the salt and additives, it will make a big difference to your body. And it isn't limited to Chinese cooking. I quit buying prepared foods awhile ago and try very hard to make all of my meals using fresh ingredients along with staying away from pasta. Once I got away from all those processed, packaged foods, I started feeling less sluggish and generally just felt better.  Personally, I get irritated when people say to me, 'Oh, I don't have time to cook'. That's ranks right up there with 'I don't have to time to read.' - But don't get me started on that one! Cooking a healthy meal, especially a Chinese meal doesn't take hours. It takes just a little planning and prep work. Once you turn that wok on, you must have your ingredients ready because it goes very quickly. Most times, my meal is ready in under 12 minutes.  

I have really enjoyed my new wok and the quick and healthy meals I've made. My wok cooking technique is getting better with each try. The most important ingredient in cooking is your imagination. Start with what you like and let your imagination help create dishes that are not only good, but good for you!

Be sure to stop by Beth Fish Reads for more Weekend Cooking posts every Saturday!

Author: Ching He Huang
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
Published: October 2011
Length: 240 pp
Source: Bought

Apr 25, 2013

Review: The Good House by Ann Leary (Unabridged Audio Edition)

When I first noticed this book going around the blogs people were raving about it.  Then I started hearing how great the audio version was and since I was due for a new audio book, I chose that format. Boy, am I glad I did! Mary Beth Hurt was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S as Hildy Good! But hold on, I don't want to get ahead of myself  First, for those who aren't familiar, here is a bit about the book:

Hildy Good grew up and has lived in a small town on Boston's North Shore for all of her life. I guess you could call her a townie. She knows everyone and everyone knows her. She's had a good and successful life as a Realtor and is currently the only independent Realtor in town. She is divorced with two grown daughters, one married with a child and one not married.  For the most part Hildy lives a happy life. There's only one problem: Hildy is an alcoholic. When her family held an intervention, Hildy gave in to their demands and went into rehab. It's now the beginning of the story and Hildy has been sober for about a year. She says its not a problem and she can handle it, but inside she feels it was all blown out of proportion. 

Hildy is an outspoken but friendly sort but she does like her privacy.  Like many small communities, its hard to keep secrets so when Hildy begins to backslide from her sobriety, she is careful to keep it to herself and justifies it with one excuse after another. Hildy's denial of her drinking problem grows and before long she is back to having blackouts and suffering from hangovers on a regular basis until one night the unthinkable happens and she has to face that she may have been the cause.  If only she could remember . . .

My Thoughts:

I purposely left out a lot in my synopsis because I wanted to let Hildy tell her own story. Let me start by saying that Hildy Good is one of my favorite characters of all time. She is really something. Hildy is the one telling this story so it is her insights and perspective that is given to the reader. At first, I have to admit, I thought she came across a bit haughty and snobbish, but quickly changed my view. It's just her way. She is very opinionated, sometimes prickly but certainly not a bad person. She is deeply flawed however, and in such denial it is rather scary. I saw her gradual slide down that slippery slope and felt that helpless feeling but she is so convincing in her justifications that I wanted to believe her when she repeatedly said she had it under control.. There's no mistaking that Hildy is the star of this story but the supporting characters and sub plot added another element and were authentic and very believable.

But just know, THE GOOD HOUSE is not just a novel about an alcoholic, it is also about an unlikely friendship, an affair, a rekindling of long ago love and bonds. This book has it all and is told in perfect pitch. I chose to listen to the audio version and I am so glad I did. Mary Beth Hurt was the perfect Hildy Good. No one else could've portrayed this character in my opinion. She interpreted all of Hildy's characteristics flawlessly.

I can only imagine that writing a successful novel centered around alcoholism must be a daunting task. The way Ann Leary wrote Hildy's perspective and her continual justification of her drinking can only come from someone who knows alcoholism intimately. I feel she did an outstanding job. Once I got started I didn't want to stop. Hearing Hildy's voice with my own ears was such an authentic experience. I didn't want to leave her when the book was done.

The bottom line is THE GOOD HOUSE is one of my top reads this year and the audio is probably my favorite of all. If you're looking for an audio that you can get sucked into right away with great characters and great story, then you should definitely listen to this latest from Ann Leary. It was a real treat. Just one more comment about this author: Am I the only person on the planet who didn't know Ann Leary is married to Denis Leary, the actor from Rescue Me?  Saw her on an MSNBC program and they mentioned that and I was shocked!

THE GOOD HOUSE (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author:  Ann Leary
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: January 2013
Length: 10 hrs 12 min
Recommend? Absolutely 100% YES!!!

Apr 23, 2013

Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer (Unabridged Audio Edition)

Sometimes I am looking for something different in a book: a previously untold story, a unique character or location. That task is growing harder and harder with every new book that is published today, but I believe I found that unique quality in SHINE SHINE SHINE, debut novel by Lydia Netzer. Here is a description of the book taken from the author's website:

Sunny Mann has masterminded a life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town.  Her house and her friends are picture-perfect.  Even her genius husband, Maxon, has been trained to pass for normal.  But when a fender bender on an average day sends her coiffed blonde wig sailing out the window, her secret is exposed.  Not only is she bald, Sunny is nothing like the Stepford wife she's trying to be. As her facade begins to unravel, we discover the singular world of Sunny, an everywoman searching for the perfect life, and Maxon, an astronaut on his way to colonize the moon. 
My Thoughts

I can honestly say, I had no idea what to expect from this book, but I'd been hearing so much praise of Lydia Netzer from other writers that I respect and like, so I my curiosity was more than piqued.

The originality of this quirky story is what really stood out for me. Sunny is a woman who wants only to be accepted in the world she lives in and to provide a seemingly perfect role model for others. Sure, that is nothing that hasn't been written about before, but Netzer throws in some unique details and history of her characters that you don't read about every day. Firstly, Sunny was born in Burma, and with a rare condition that left her completely bald. Not many of us, especially women, can relate to that or appreciate how difficult that must be, especially if you desperately don't want people to know. Secondly, Sunny's husband is an astronaut with a genius IQ. How many of us can say that?! She also has a special needs son and is pregnant with her second child whom she hopes is born normal. Needless so say, Sunny has a lot on her plate. I found the story very entertaining, especially Sunny's interactions with her neighbor, the local news anchor, along with Maxon's job of going to the moon in hopes of colonizing it and leaving Sunny behind to handle daily life here on Earth.

Netzer does a great job of creating supporting characters that add to the story and explain how Sunny and Maxon met and fell in love. Theirs is certainly not your typical love story. Though Sunny's mom is in the hospital for all of the book, she is still a huge part of the story. Their son, Bubber, is one of my favorite characters. He is so endearing and though I don't think it is every stated directly, he is Autistic.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Sunny makes the decision to take Bubber off all the meds he's been taking for years. It's a gamble but she does it and she is amazed at the difference in his demeanor. I felt that was a bold element to add to this book and I applaud her for 'going there'. This book reminds us that each and every one of us has our own definition of 'normal' and your normal may not be my normal but that's OK.

I do have to add that the reason I chose to listen to this novel was simply the narrator. Joshilyn Jackson is a wonderful narrator (as well as one of my favorite writers!) and I just couldn't pass it up. She did a fabulous job of interpreting the story and using the many inflections of her fabulous voice to make it real. She did an outstanding job!

The bottom line is I did enjoy this quirky story but I don't think I can come out and say I loved it.  It certainly is one of the most memorable stories I've ever read and I'm sure I won't soon forget Sunny and Maxon. When I first finished it, I thought it was too odd, but after I gave it some thought and remembered the things I liked about it, I felt a little better about it. If you're looking for a fun, quirky book, this is definitely one you should try.

Author: Lydia Netzer
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Published: July 2012
Length: 10 hrs 53 min or 320 pp
Recommend?: Yes

Apr 16, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Swimming At Night

Hello and welcome to one of my favorite weekly book events, Teaser Tuesday, hosted each week by Should Be Reading. We share a few teaser sentences from a random page in our current reads. It's a great way to get a peek inside some new-to-you books!

Today I'm taking my teasers from a debut novel by Lucy Clarke. SWIMMING AT NIGHT is the story of two sisters, one of which is trying to piece together the events that led to her younger sister's death in Bali while on a world trip with a friend. The trouble is, Bali was not on the itinerary. Using her sister's travel journal, she vows to find out what really happened and why it is being ruled a suicide, which she doesn't accept at all.

My Teaser:

She hadn't told him of the hateful, shameful things she'd said.  She hadn't told him about the anger and hurt that had been festering between them for months.  She hadn't told Ed any of this because there are some currents in a relationship between sisters that are so dark and run so deep, it's better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what's beneath. ~ Loc 199 Kindle

Apr 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday everyone! This fun, weekly meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. We discuss books we've read and reviewed during the past week and talk about what we are planning to read in the coming week. 

Books I Finished/Reviewed Last Week:

I finished reading a new book by Doug Richardson called BLOOD MONEY. Its a fast-paced crime novel that has a bit of everything: murder; cops; feds; rich Hollywood types with a sense of entitlement; and a odd pairing of cops with totally different work styles. I'll be posting my review in the coming days.

I posted my review of BLACKBERRY WINTER by Sarah Jio. You can find it here. She is an author I am definitely going to be reading a lot more of this year. I have to catch up on her previous two novels, plus she has one coming out on May 28th called THE LAST CAMELLIA and she's currently working on her fifth novel.  

Books I'll Be Focusing On This Week:

My main focus will be on a debut novel that was released last month by Touchstone called SWIMMING AT NIGHT by Lucy Clarke.  It's a gripping story of two sisters from London. Mia is the younger, breezy sister of Katie Greene, the orderly and very pretty older sister. Shortly after Mia left with her friend, Finn to travel the world, Katie received the devastating news that Mia committed suicide in Bali. The trouble was that Mia wasn't even supposed to be in Bali. According to her itinerary, she was to be in Australia. Katie refuses to believe that her sister has taken her own life and sets out to find the truth behind her sister's death. I've only just begun reading but already I am getting drawn into the story. I think I like where this  one is going.so far.

I didn't spend much time on my audio, SIX YEARS by Harlen Coben, last week, so I'll definitely be working on that as well. I've already chosen my next audio and it will be THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone. As you know, this book got a lot of buzz when it first came out and I've heard the audio version is very good.

Upcoming Reviews:

  • THE GOOD HOUSE by Ann Leary (Audio)
  • SHINE, SHINE, SHINE by Lydia Netzer (Audio)
  • BLOOD MONEY by Doug Richardson

The Sunday Salon: Just a Few Bookish Things on My Mind

Hello and Happy Sunday to you!  I just have some random thoughts I wanted to share today. Nothing great big, but I did want to share them with ya'll. First, you probably have heard that 'Goodreads is joining Amazon!' OK, I may be a little slow but...what the heck does that mean actually? Is Amazon slowly taking over the world or what?  Don't get me wrong, I am a fan and frequent user of this global giant but what are they going to do with my favorite reading/book site? I've read some bloggers complain that this is a game-changer and they're afraid our Goodreads reviews are going to be combined with Amazon's and shown on their site. I, personally wouldn't have a problem with that, however, I would prefer that to be a one-way street. Meaning, I don't particularly want Amazon's reviews to show up on Goodreads. I'm not trying to be a snob or anything but the people whose reviews and thoughts I trust are chosen by me to be my 'friend' and those are the reviews I care about. Boy, that really did sound kinda snobby, didn't it? Well, it is what it is.

The reason I decided to bring this up here today is this: After being away from my local library's website for a couple of months, I went on there this morning to request a couple books. Even though I live in the largest county in the state of Florida, we're typically not in the forefront of technology, but we do usually catch up. Anyway, after I pulled up the book I was interested in borrowing, I was surprised to notice there is now a thumbnail picture of the book beside the description. I thought, 'Wow, that's nice'. Then I continued scrolling down the page and noticed a section for 'Reader Ratings and Reviews'. This is also a new feature on the site. It has a bold disclaimer about Goodreads and shows the average rating and a button you can click to read other reviews. After the shock wore off, I decided that this was a positive step for our po-dunk county libray. I am actually really impressed that the PTB in charge of my library made such a positive step in making our site better.

That got me to thinking that maybe Goodreads joining Amazon might not be as horrible an idea as I first thought. I don't know when any changes are to be made but I'm confident that it will not affect my current list of 'friends' on Goodreads and my access to their reviews, so I am willing to wait and see how it turns out. Has anyone else heard any rumblings about this major change? If so, I'd sure love to know what  you know. I used to use LibraryThing but eventually made Goodreads my number one book site and I am hopeful that this will not completely screw up my Feng-shui.

With my depression over the loss of Google Reader in July finally subsiding, I don't think I can take anymore major changes to things I love. I still am very perplexed as to why Google has decided to do away with Reader, but I don't want to get all that started up again....

One last thing I wanted to mention is that I'd like to let those of you who may not know, that I have a page on Facebook for Southern Girl Reads. Many of my book-friends on FB have already 'Liked' my page and I want to say Thank You for that. If you are my Friend on FB but only want to see book related posts/reviews and don't really care what I'm making for supper or family stuff, you may want to make the change to my FB fan page. For those of you whom I am not Friends with on FB, I invite you to visit my page and 'Like' it if you so desire. I'd love to have you!

OK, well that's all I have today. I hope that if any of ya'll have information on the Amazon/Goodreads Thing,  you'll leave a comment so we can all know what you know! Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week ahead in books!

Apr 10, 2013

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

BLACKBERRY WINTER, Sarah Jio's third novel is my first, but it will not be my last. This book actually tells two stories in one and takes place in a city that I, personally, have never visited, but has always intrigued me: Seattle.  The main story, taking place in present day drives the second story, which takes place in 1933 during a very tumultuous time.

In present day we meet Claire, a journalist at a large, local newspaper, owned by her husband's family. It becomes obvious early on that Claire and her husband  heve been through something traumatic in the last year and the strain of that trauma is beginning to put cracks in  their marriage. During a rare  late season snowstorm, Claire is assigned to write an article about the odd weather phenomenon.  At first, she is less than thrilled with her assignment but while researching the archives she stumbles across a most unusual story from 1933.  The fact that a similar snow-storm occurred on the exact same day in 1933 was to be the focal point of the story, however, what really caught Claire's attention was the disappearance of a three-year-old little boy in the middle of that storm and the subsequent murder of his mother, a worker in one of Seattle's poshest hotels at that time. A local townsman had been convicted of the crime but very little was done to locate the boy.

The mysterious disappearance of that child and the complete lack of information in the files is just what Claire needsedto get her spark back.  Against her supervisor's wishes, she turned this simple story about the weather into something much more. Soon she is consumed with finding out who the little boy is and if he was ever found. The trail she set out on took her places she never dreamed and  to people she couldn't have imagined.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that I saw this book making it's way around the blogs after it's release and saw it mentioned on Twitter a lot but I just never picked it up. I don't know what I was waiting on. To be honest, I remember reading a few reviews that indicated it may be a little predictable and that is something I hate in books. But this was a good lesson for me to learn because I didn't find it predictable at all. Sure, I had my moments of 'I knew it!!' but overall, I was completely caught off guard by the final outcome. And I loved it.

Another aspect I appreciated was that Sarah Jio successfully wrote a book of mystery with some romance thrown in.  Typically, I'm not a big romance novel reader, but this had just the right amount that didn't overtake the story but added to it. I thought it was well done.

The characters are strong, in both storylines and though I enjoyed Claire's story, I was always anxious to get back to Vera Ray and her lost son in 1933. It was fascinating to me. The city, itself, became a character in this book and I really enjoyed that as well.  I felt the chapters alternating between the stories fit very well and moved it along and kept me wanting more from both. As I read on, the stories began to intertwine, which drew me in even more.. I honestly had a hard time putting this one down.

As I said earlier, having the backdrop of Seattle only added to the goodness of this novel. There is such a rich history in that city and I found it very endearing in the way Sarah Jio used it to her advantage. I've since learned that she lives in Seattle, which explains her obvious admiration for the city.

I'm very anxious for her fourth book, THE LAST CAMELLIA to be released on May 28th by Penguin (Plume). I've read that it's her 'darkest and most mysterious novel to date'. Hmm, dark and mysterious - I'm in! I also have made a promise to myself to go back and read her first two books as well. BLACKBERRY WINTER is one of my most enjoyable reads so far this year. If you've read it, I'd love to know your thoughts..

Author:  Sarah Jio
Publisher: Penguin (Plume)
Pubilshed: September 2012
Source: Purchased
Recommend? Absolutely!

Apr 9, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: A Thriller of a Crime Novel

Teaser Tuesday is one of my favorite things. Its a good way to get a quick glimpse inside books that other bloggers are reading. Anyone can participate so stop by Should Be Reading for full details and for additional teasers.

Today my teasers come from a suspenseful book I just started reading called BLOOD MONEY by Doug Richardson . . .

Lucky stuffed the weapon between his belt and the small of his back, slung on an antique high school letterman's jacket, and walked out into the dawn without locking the door behind him.  It would be the last time Lucky ever saw the place. ~ Loc 312 Kindle Edition

I'm rolling through this book pretty quickly and enjoying the ride as I go. Its a fast-paced, hold nothing back crime novel with an array of unique characters. Plus, I LOVE the cover!  To learn more about this accomplished author/Hollywood screenwriter, please visit his website.

Apr 8, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday everyone! This fun, weekly meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. We discuss what books we've read/reviewed in the past week and talk about what we are planning
 to read in the days ahead. 

I recently took a break from my normal life and took a trip to Columbus, Ohio to visit some family and friends. Although I took some books with me, I didn't read a single page while there, so my reading has really suffered. To make it worse, I am completely overwhelmed with review copies at the moment, so now I'm scrambling to get caught up. I did manage to make some progress this past week however. 

Books I Finished and Reviewed Last Week:

I only finished one book last week. It was my book club selection (She Reads Book Club). It's a brand new release by Patti Callahan Henry called AND THEN I FOUND YOU. It's a quick but emotional story about unplanned pregrnancy, adoption and family. This is Callahan-Henry's ninth book, but a first for me. The story was inspired by true events in the author's family, so it had a realness to it that was unmistakable. I posted my review yesterday and you can find it here.  

Books I'm Focusing On This Week:

I'm looking forward to really making a dent in my book pile this week. Lucky for me, all the books I'm scheduled to read are ones I've been anxious to get my hands on! That's always a plus, isn't it? My main focus is going to be on BLOOD MONEY by Doug Richardson from DIE HARD fame. I am only a few chapters in at this point, but it is sure to be an intense thriller. You can learn more about by clicking on the link on my sidebar. 

Another book I'll be reading this week is SWIMMING AT NIGHT by Lucy Clarke. Its a debut novel published by Touchstone about two sisters who have unresolved conflicts between them. But when one sister disappears while traveling abroad, the other sister refuses to believe her sister took her own life and sets out to find the truth. This book grabbed my attention when I first learned about it and I'm very anxious to get started on it. (Click on title link for more info)

I'll also be finishing up the audio I've been listening to the past few days. It's Harlan Coben's stand-alone novel, SIX YEARS. I am a newbie to his work and since this is a stand-alone, I thought it would be the perfect way to get to know his writing. I'm half-way through the book now. Its an intriguing story and I'm enjoying it very much.

Reviews I'll Be Posting This Week:

THE GOOD HOUSE by Ann Leary (Audio Edition)

Here's wishing you a productive, enjoyable week in books! Thanks for stopping by!

Apr 6, 2013

[TSS] Review: And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

The She Reads Book Club selection for April is a heartwarming, yet difficult story of unplanned pregnancy, adoption and the 'not-knowing' that comes with those circumstances.  AND THEN I FOUND YOU is a story centered around Kate Vaughn, who lives in Bluffton, South Carolina, where she grew up and met her first love at the tender age of thirteen.  Katie always knew that Jack Adams was the only guy for her, and even though they were 'together' all through high school, Jack's family moved to Birmingham, Alabama but their bond remained strong. Even when they went to separate colleges, their commitment to each other was in tact. But Katie's decision to take a job in Arizona helping troubled teens through introducing them to the wilderness, the stress of a long distance romance really began to take its toll. Jack was close to achieving his dream of becoming a lawyer and working in his father's firm in Birmingham, and he was ready to start his life there with Katie, but each time Katie postponed her relocation to Alabama for one more season, Jack felt forced to move forward with his life, even if it meant doing so without Katie.

Katie went to see Jack to plead with him to wait just once more for her. They spent a very intimate night together and when Katie returned to Arizona, she thought she'd gotten through to him, but soon she discovered he'd moved on and eventually married another.  Katie was dealt a double-blow when she realized she was carrying Jack's baby. Both their worlds were turned upside down and the decision was ultimately made to put the baby up for adoption.

Thirteen years later, a friend's request popped up on Kate' Facebook page from a young girl named Emily. Though she'd spent every day of her life since giving birth wondering about her daughter, she wasn't at all prepared for the new reality that was happening now. So many questions, possibilities, and fears rose instantly to the surface. The first person she thought of was Jack, who had written her every year on the birth date of their daughter, they called Luna. What did this mean for Kate and her current love, Rowan, who was anxious for a commitment from her and what did it mean for Jack, who had his own family in Birmingham?

My Thoughts:

I'm going to be straight up and say I initially wasn't all that gung ho for this novel. I tend to shy away from books with a lot of family heartbreak and misery, but I am very happy to say I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't all tears and sadness like I imagined it would be. Right away, I liked Katie and I loved Jack, even though he did frustrate me a lot. His goodness always won out and I never could stay upset with him for long.  I was surprised to learn that the story was inspired by an actual event in the author's own family, which obviously made it even more believable. It was also so well written that I felt I was living through this with a friend. With all the social media out there, our world is a much different place than it used to be and I'm sure there are many stories of people finding lost loved ones via Facebook. It made this book very relevant to our times and lent an incredible realness to it.

Although I had a pretty good idea how this story was going to end early on, I really did enjoy both the story and the characters. I appreciated all the complicated emotions they went through during what I can only imagine must be an extraordinary experience. For anyone who has been involved in adoption, on either side, to them I must say that I believe Patti Callahan Henry did a very respectful job with this most delicate subject matter.  Though I've never read any of Ms. Henry's previous novels, I wouldn't hesitate now to pick up any of them.

I encourage you to stop by the She Reads blog for links to more reviews of this endearing novel. I would like to thank both the She Reads Book Club and the publisher for supplying me with my review copy.  This book is hitting shelves this Tuesday, April 9th.

Author: Patti Callahan Henry
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Published: April 9, 2013
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher