May 29, 2016

The Sunday Salon: My Bookish Week

I've really enjoyed getting back into the swing of things last week, both with blogging and reading. The bottom line is, I'm happier when I'm busy. Though the number of comments is down, traffic to the blog is thriving, so I'm happy knowing people are visiting! Has anyone else noticed a drop in comments? (Just wondering)

A Look Back:

Last week was a productive week for me. I posted two reviews.  THE WEEKENDERS , is a new release from Mary Kay Andrews. Then I reviewed an audiobook, THE BLUE by Lucy Clarke. (It came out in paperback last Tuesday). Both of these books are great summer reads from two different genres.

The book I was reading last week is a yet-to-be-released psychological thriller by Lisa Unger called INK AND BONE. I'm a little more than half-way, so I'll be finishing it up this week. This is a new author for me. It's a lot different than what I was expecting. It has paranormal elements that were a surprise for me. I wonder, Do all of her books include paranormal activity? Luckily for me, I like it as long as it's not over the top weird and so far I'm liking this book. INK AND BONE hits shelves June 7th.

I started a new audiobook this week as well. It's another new-to-me writer. THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica is another suspense/thriller involving an abduction. I haven't gotten very far into it yet, (only about an hour or so) but I have liked what I've heard so far.

A Look Ahead:

I've got two reviews planned for this week if all goes well. COMETH THE HOUR by Jeffrey Archer, is book 6 of the Clifton Chronicles series. I've enjoyed it from the beginning and there's only one book left due out early next year.  The audiobook I'll be reviewing is from one of my favorite authors, Karin Slaughter. PRETTY GIRLS is the first stand alone novel I've read from her. I really enjoy her thrillers though I've heard some readers say her stories are too violent. Sometimes they are, and this one was tilting more that way, but it doesn't discourage me from reading them.

The books I plan to start this week are both new books from authors I've read before. Matthew Norman's WE'RE ALL DAMAGED and Ann Leary's THE CHILDREN are two of my most anticipated books. Both of thir previous novels were favorites of mine and I can't wait to get started. I'm not planning a new audiobook for this week. I'll just be finished up Kubica's and then I'll be waiting for END OF WATCH by Stephen King to be released in a few weeks. As you may know, it's the final book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy. It's bittersweet because it's coming to an end. The title alone makes me nervous and in true King fashion, I know it will end with a bang.

Wednesday, I'm excited to be attending a book discussion at the local library here in Amelia. I've never been there and my friend, Kathy is taking me. She's a big reader too! The book being discussed is the amazing ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT Anthony Doerr.

I want to thank you for stopping by and wish you all a Happy Memorial Day! I've been invited to a cookout Monday with my second family, the Whitaker/Franco clan. They're a bunch of crazies that I love so much and I know we'll be having a great time! Be safe and enjoy your holiday!

May 25, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Blue: A Novel by Lucy Clarke

If you love atmospheric novels that completely draw you in and make you feel as if you are actually there inside the story, THE BLUE is definitely a book you shouldn't miss. It's hardcover release was August of 2015 but it came out in paperback just yesterday, May 24, 2016.  I became a fan of Lucy Clarke about three years ago after reading an advance copy of her debut novel SWIMMING AT NIGHT (released in the UK under the title The Sea Sisters). All of Clarke's novels transport the reader to breathtakingly beautiful locales. In THE BLUE the story begins in The Philippines with the final destination being the coast of New Zealand.

While vacationing in the Philippines, lifelong friends Lana and Kitty befriend the laid back crew of a boat named The Blue. They spend the day on the boat enjoying the sunshine, water and laughs that seem to come so easy for this group of misfits. The girls are so taken in by this very different lifestyle of sailing from coastal city to coastal city, that when the crew asks them to join them for the remainder of the trip, they both jump at the chance. The truth is neither one of the girls is all that anxious to get back to their 'regular' life in London with all it's disappointments and troubles.

Their journey starts off smoothly and they are soon lulled into the rhythmic patterns of sea life that the constant motion of waves bring. There is a democracy aboard The Blue where all decisions are voted on, but Captain Aaron is ultimately the one in charge and his word is not tested. Relationships among crew members are not tolerated for obvious reasons so when the chemistry between Lana and Denny, another crew member, becomes too hard to fight, they keep their tryst a secret. But living in such close quarters, secrets are hard to keep and as time goes on, Lana feels as though she's not the only one hiding something.

When one of the crew is discovered missing while at sea, accusation come out and Lana can't go along with Captain Aaron's plan to keep The Blue out of trouble with the authorities. She takes a stand, tries to find out what happened but at the same time ostracizes herself from the rest of the crew, including Denny and Kitty. She ends up making a decision that could change her life forever, along with her friendship with Kitty.

My Thoughts:

Each time I read a Lucy Clarke novel I yearn for the sun, sand and water of the ocean. Her storytelling along with the vivid imagery she creates is so realistic. In THE BLUE I could almost hear the sea water lapping against the side of the boat. It's ironic that the atmosphere was so calming but the story was filled with tension throughout. There was a perfect balance to it. This is why I'm such a fan of Lucy Clarke's work. Each of the characters were flawed and multi-dimensional and so very believable. Even though the plot was not a complicated one, the characters, each with their own issues, made it into a very suspenseful story with danger never far away. This book, especially, out of all of her books, makes me appreciate her subtle yet purposeful writing style.

Audio Performance Review:

The characters of THE BLUE are an eclectic group of people from different parts of the world. There are two Americans, two Londoners, one German, one Frenchman and an Ausie. Scarlett Mack is the only narrator and she did an outstanding job! Her dialect for each of these characters was spot on. Mack has a very easy tone to her voice making it a very pleasant listen. This was the first time I've listened to a Lucy Clarke book and I chose mainly because of time constraints with some print books I was also reading at the same time but in the end, it was a great decision. This ranks up there with some of my favorite audios. I'll definitely keep an ear out for more listens by Scarlett Mack. If you're planning a long car ride this summer, THE BLUE would be a great choice to listen as you travel.

If you've never read a Lucy Clarke novel, I encourage you to do so. You will be swept away by both the story and the beautiful settings she chooses. THE BLUE would be the perfect book to kick your summer reading off right.

THE BLUE: A Novel (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Lucy Clarke
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published: August 2015
Length: 10 hrs 40 mins
Printed Length: 336
Source: Purchased thru Audible
Other Books I've Reviewed By Lucy Clarke

May 23, 2016

Review: The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

As a long-time fan, I look forward to the release of a new Mary Kay Andrews novel each Spring. Admittedly, my favorites go back a few years to Little Bitty Lies, Savannah Blues and Hissy Fit but I'm still enjoying her original and sometimes quirky characters and strong storylines. THE WEEKENDERS was no exception - in fact, it turned out to be more than what I've come to expect. There was a murder involved with more of a who-dunnit quality that I really enjoyed. Here's a quick synopsis . . .

Riley Griggs and her daughter, Maggy are headed to the North Carolina coast for the summer. The small island of Belle Isle was first developed by Riley's ancestors, making her family a fixture in the tight-knit community. Unfortunately, this summer won't be like previous summers because Rile and her husband, Wendell, have some difficult news to share with twelve year-old Maggy. After many months of fighting and basically living separately, they're getting a divorce. The plan is to break the news to their daughter over the Memorial Day weekend, the beginning of their summer retreat on Belle Isle with the rest of her family. But Wendell doesn't show up at the ferry on the designated day they were to meet. At first Riley assumes he's just bailing out on telling Maggy about the divorce but soon, Wendell's body is found in the marina and suddenly things get even more serious. Even as Riley is put on the growing suspect list, she is determined to find out who killed him, even as she learns that he has lost the house on the island due to foreclosure. With the help of her best friend, Parrish, she discovers that losing the house is just the tip of the iceberg. 

My Thoughts:

Over the past several months I've begun reading more books from the suspense and thriller genre and they sometimes get a little dark so I was ready for something more upbeat and less disturbing. Enter THE WEEKENDERS. An added bonus was realizing that even with the 'lighter' content, there was a change from her previous books. The big difference was the mystery aspect of who killed Riley's no-good lying husband. With several suspected characters, there was a lot ot think about while reading. Don't get me wrong, all of her stories are good, but this gave it a little more depth and I appreciated that. Of course, there was the usual romantic element along with friendship and the complications of family that are always prevalent in her books. There was also the more serious subject of juvenile Diabetes which fit nicely into this story and at the same time gave awareness to a growing problem in today's society.  I always love the locales MKA chooses for her novels and this was no exception. Having just moved away from Florida myself, I began missing the beach a little!

This is the perfect beach read for the summer, and for me it was a nice respite from some heaver books I've been reading. I think readers will like the murder mystery element as much as I did. In my opinion, THE WEEKENDERS puts Mary Kay Andrews back on top!

THE WEEKENDERS by Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Published: May 17, 2016
Print Length: 462:
Source: Publisher

May 22, 2016

The Sunday Salon: After the Big Move!

A lot has changed since my last post to this blog. Back in March I was preparing to move out of my house that I'd sold and pack up all my worldly belongings and move back to my home state of Ohio. Well, the move is done, I'm (for the most part) settled in my new apartment and life is slowly getting to a new normal. I was sidelined for well over a week with a terrible cold but I'm much better now. The weather, though I'm loving the cooler temps, is much different than what I'm used to and that has been another adjustment. I'm not typically a jacket-wearer, but here, you need to have one handy because the air is so different. But I can say without a doubt that I do not miss the sweltering humidity of Florida.

Though the actual move with the movers went smoothly, the car ride from Florida to Ohio was anything but. We left Florida in the wee hours of April 16 and that afternoon we'd made our way to Chattanooga, TN and stopped for lunch. A few hours later while going through Louden, TN, my mother's car blew a tire while going somewhere close to 70 mph. She and my sister and their three cats were in the car and they were following behind the car I was in with my best friend and her husband and we were pulling a small U-Haul trailer. The sound of screeching tires was so frightening, especially when I realized it was my 76 year-old mom's car that was making the noise. Her car was headed into a median with a very rough terrain, but luckily she side-swiped a sign that pushed her back onto I-75 and she was able to get the car under control and stopped without involving other cars or sustaining injuries. They were extremely lucky and we were all thankful no one was hurt, besides the car. (over $9,000 in mostly body damage) The accident held us up for about four hours but we were back on the road by 7:30 pm and continued on. Again, we are all incredibly grateful we all made it safely because it could have easily had a much different outcome.

It feels really good to be settled and to begin a new routine here in Amelia, Ohio. It's such a nice city and  so close to Cincinnati, where there is so much to do, unlike whee I moved from. I finally started reading again this month and now that I have my home office set up I'll start posting reviews that have been stacking up since March, when I had to be out of my house. It's also nice to have all my stuff out of storage!  Here's a peek at some of the books I'll be posting reviews for in the coming weeks::

  • THE WEEKENDERS by Mary Kay Andrews
  • COMETH THE HOUR by Jeffrey Archer
  • THE BLUE by Lucy Clarke
  • THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian (Audio Review)
  • PRETTY GIRLS by Karin Slaughter (Audio Review)
The two books I'm currently reading are very exciting too. INK AND BONE by Lisa Unger is due out in June. It's my first from this author, but so far I am really into it. It's a physiological thriller in which the main character has the ability to see people who've crossed over. I am intrigued by mediums, so I'm really enjoying this book. I'm also listening to THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica, also a new author to me.

I'm looking forward to visiting the blogs now that I am all moved in to see what everyone else is reading.  I feel so out-of-the-loop! As for today, I plan to do some laundry and spend some time reading.  Thanks for taking the time to stop by today and please visit again soon!