Monday, July 24, 2017

ARC Review: Wired by Julie Garwood

Wired (Buchanan-Renard, #13)Title: Wired
Author: Julie Garwood
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; July 4, 2017
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood...

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry. Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat. What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line and longing for more . . .

My Thoughts:

When I first saw the synopsis for Wired, I was immediately interested because it sounded like a good story. Despite my high hopes for this one, Wired turned out to be just okay.

Wired tells the story of Allison Trent who was a model, college student, and hacker with secrets. She gets involved in case after being approached by the FBI. At times, this story seemed a little busy. Some of the conflicts were resolved almost too quickly, just as I was getting into that part of the story. There was the plotline with the leaks, as well as another that directly stemmed from Allison’s genius level accomplishments/creations. However, I wish that the story would have found its focus and spent more time on the first conflict. Despite that, Allison’s being a hacker was a highlight of Wired. For the most part, I liked the way Garwood portrayed her character. I particularly liked the scenes when Allison was in the zone, because she displayed a clear confidence in her abilities.

Wired was more of an average read, but I would be open to checking out other books by Julie Garwood.

Rating 3/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, Ms. Garwood attributes much of her success to growing up in a large family of Irish heritage. "The Irish are great storytellers who relish getting all of the details and nuances of every situation. Add in the fact that I was the sixth of seven children. Early in life, I learned that self expression had to be forceful, imaginative, and quick," says Ms. Garwood. She began her writing career when the youngest of her three children entered school. After the publications of two young-adult books, she turned her talents to historical fiction. Her first novel, GENTLE WARRIOR, was published by Pocket Books in 1985. Since then, she has branched into other genres including contemporary romantic suspense. Today, her name appears regularly on the bestseller lists of every major publication in the country, and her books are translated into dozens of languages around the world. Her bestselling novel FOR THE ROSES was adapted for the HALLMARK HALL OF FAME television movie ROSE HILL. Ms. Garwood lives in Leawood, KS and is currently working on her next novel...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

ARC Review: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal by Jen Waite

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
Title: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
Author: Jen Waite
Publisher/Publication Date: Plume Books; July 11, 2017
Format/Source: E-ARC, First to Read
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir
Book Summary from Goodreads

What do you do when you discover that the person you've built your life around never existed? When "it could never happen to me" does happen to you?

These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband--the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life--fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.  Read More

My Thoughts     

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal is Jen Waite’s emotionally raw story of love, betrayal and the process of healing. It’s the classic story of what the other woman endures when she is faced with the other woman. Waite includes a discussion of early indications that problems were brewing in her marriage—signs that she had overlooked. The story alternates between the beginning of Jen and Marco’s relationship and the period after she found out what he was really like. This style of storytelling was effective. It drew me in as I began to understand how she got involved with Marco and struggled to break free of his influence. Waite’s memoir sends a strong message. It serves as a prime example of the fact that when someone is faced with a difficult situation, it is possible to muster the strength to rise to the occasion and carry on.

So, yes, I would definitely recommend Jen Waite's memoir to those who want to read a candid and heartfelt story.

Rating 5/5

***I received an E-ARC of this book from First to Read for this review.***

ARC Review: Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain HookTitle: Lost Boy
Author: Christine Henry
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; July 4, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever...

My Thoughts:

Lost Boy by Christina Henry was probably one of the darkest retellings of Peter Pan that I’ve read—not to say that I’ve read many altogether, but what I said still stands. This was a dark and gritty story filled with morally gray or just downright evil characters operating under the guise of naivety. By far, Lost Boy wasn’t a bad book. However, I had a hard time deciding about how much I liked this book.

Lost Boy was easy to read after I got past the beginning. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would finish this one, but once I got farther in the book I found that I couldn’t put it down. There was something engrossing about this story. Henry presented an interesting take on Peter and Hook’s story, including a setting that was fraught with danger. The island was isolated, but there were also monsters and pirates, which added more danger to a story already filled with it.

That brings me to the plot. Lost Boy was a story about the lost boy who would eventually become Peter Pan’s greatest enemy, Captain Hook. So, right off the bat, I was interested in what Henry could do with that concept, and the result was, well, interesting. Like I said above, Lost Boy was a dark book and it dealt with characters that actually willingly did cruel things all in the name of Peter’s idea of fun. The situation on the island had such a skewed perspective. On one breath I could see how Jamie cared for his fellow lost boys, but even he wasn’t above following the rules made and partaking in activities directed by Peter. While this was really Jamie’s story, Lost Boy was also about Peter, a boy who never grew up. Peter knew how to sell his version of paradise to the lost boys who were otherwise unwanted in the “Other Place”, but his idea of fun was skewed. He was a monster. However, from what I know about the original Peter from J.M. Berry’s work, this portrayal is more in line with his actual personality.

So, yeah, Lost Boy was a total surprise. There were a lot of things I liked about the story. There were a few details that I didn’t totally agree with, but otherwise Lost Boy was good. This is the first book I've read by Christina Henry and it certainly won't be the last.

Rating 4/5

This Copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the CHRONICLES OF ALICE duology, ALICE and RED QUEEN, a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as LOST BOY: THE TRUE STORY OF CAPTAIN HOOK, an origin story of Captain Hook from Peter Pan. She is also the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS series (BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING) featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle. She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Thoughts: Lipton Mango Flavored Iced Tea

An Enjoyable Tropical Flavor

As I mentioned before, I’m a member of My MagazineTM Sharing Network. Over the past month, I had the opportunity to try a 12 pack of Lipton Mango Flavored Iced Tea for free.  The tea was available at my local Ralphs grocery store. When I buy Lipton’s tea, I usually select the lemon flavor. And I usually avoid teas sweetened with sucralose. I feel that it leaves a bad after taste, and it's not my sweetener of choice. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Lipton’s Mango Flavored Iced Tea. It had an enjoyable tropical flavor without the after taste that I dislike. So, even though Lipton’s Mango Flavored Iced Tea wouldn’t be my first choice, it definitely wouldn’t be my last.

Click the link to find out more about Lipton Mango Flavored Iced Tea.

Please Note: ***In exchange for my unbiased review, I received coupons from My MagazineTM Sharing Network to try the Lipton Mango Flavored Iced Tea for free.***

Monday, July 10, 2017

July Entangled Indulgence Release Day Blast

Indulge in brand new romances from Jenna Bayley-Burke and Sonya Weiss! Choose your favorite sexy seduction...and fall in love today!


Megan Carlton’s secret affair with financier Brandon Knight ended when he pulled off a hostile takeover of her family’s hotel empire and then kissed another woman. Broke and alone, Megan starts a new life and learns to stand on her own, then Brandon finds her serving coffee and surviving on tips and tries to pull her back into her old life and his arms. She thought she was over him, and she certainly can’t ever trust him again. But what her head knows and her heart feels are two different things. 

Brandon was used to always getting what he wanted, then the woman he loves disappeared without a word. When he finds her months later working as a barista, he wonders if she’s suffering from amnesia. Getting a scalding Americano to the chest proves she recognizes him, but she’s got the situation—and him—all wrong. Now all he has to do is prove it

About Jenna Bayley-Burke

Jenna Bayley-Burke is known for her fun, sexy romance novels, baking banana bread and over-volunteering. She thinks she has the best jobs in the world—mother, wife and author. When she’s not lost in her latest story, she can be found pursuing whatever hobby her characters are enamored with—photography, yoga, shoes, gardening, crafts and cooking up a storm.


Holly Campbell is trying to turn her life around. But, to protect her younger brother, she has one last job to complete. All she needs to do is use her unique skills to break into the safe on a yacht—millionaire Jake Lawson’s yacht—a man Holly had a one-night stand with before she knew his true identity. 

Jake knows Holly can’t be trusted. He believes she used the one night stand as a decoy to steal from his company and he knows she’s up to something again. Jake’s determined to figure out what and stop her. He won’t let her take anything from him, least of all his heart.  


About Sonya Weiss

From the time she was a child, Sonya knew she was destined to be a writer. If she didn’t like the ending of a book or movie, she would write her own ending. When her children were young, she often wrote stories to entertain them. At the urging of one of her daughters, she submitted a short story and to her surprise and delight, it sold. Sonya loves writing all things romance whether it’s writing contemporary adult or teen fiction and still hasn’t lost the wonder that she gets to do what she loves. She enjoys reading, movies, chocolate, and laughter and credits her daughters as being the sweetest blessings in her life.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ARC Review: The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The WindfallTitle: The Windfall
Author: Diksha Basu
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Publishing Group; June 27, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A heartfelt comedy of manners for readers of Seating Arrangements and Crazy Rich Asians, Diksha Basu's debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India...

For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all. The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters.

Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere...

My Thoughts:

I have read exactly two books this year that were named windfall and both of them have been great. The latest one is The Windfall by Diksha Basu, which was just one of those books that I happen to find incredibly enjoyable. It focused on the everyday lives of the characters and how a stroke of good luck can affect one family and potentially those around them in ways perceived to be both negative and good. And guys, this book was a whole lot of fun.

Given the title of this book, I knew that a large sum of money—or some other good luck—would be involved even before I read the synopsis. From the start, I had moderately high hopes for this story and wasn’t disappointed. Truly, the characters were kind of awesome, especially the Jha family and their close-knit group of friends. The Jha family was delightful to read about. I felt like Basu approached the worries felt by the characters in a realistic way that was thoroughly engrossing. I think that was my favorite part of The Windfall: how the unexpected good fortune wasn’t just something that was superficially added as an afterthought, but affected the characters in good, bad, and emotional ways.

Point blank: the story was just a good one. There was something so simple and refreshing about The Windfall and how it explored the complexities of life, love, family, and change. I was thoroughly impressed by this book. Now, I’ll just sit over here and patiently wait for Basu’s next novel.

Rating 4/5

Disclaimer: copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Diksha Basu is a writer and occasional actor. Originally from New Delhi, India, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and now divides her time between New York City and Mumbai...

Monday, June 26, 2017

ARC Review: Boardwalk Summer by Kimberly Fisk

Boardwalk SummerTitle: Boardwalk Summer
Author: Kimberly Fisk
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; June 27, 2017
Genre: Contemporary; Romance
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the town of Tranquility Bay, summer is the season of second chances... 

Single mother Hope Thompson has built a happy life for herself and her twins in beautiful Tranquility Bay, Washington. She doesn t dwell on her painful past especially not on the man who broke her heart all those years ago. But when Hope s beloved son needs help, she takes a desperate chance and reaches out to her children s father. Nick Fortune lives life in the spotlight as a champion race car driver. He s shocked to hear from Hope and even more surprised to learn that he s a father. He immediately heads to the Pacific Northwest to confront the past and the woman he once loved. There, on the quiet lakeshore, Nick and Hope must work together to save their son even if it means facing their complicated past for a second chance as a family...

My Thoughts:

Who was looking for a contemporary romance packed full of raw emotions, characters you could root for, and a story about second chances? Well, apparently, me. And I mean that in a good way, because I enjoyed Boardwalk Summer. I basically jumped into this book after another eARC I had to read ended up being incredibly disappointing. For a second, I thought I was going to end up in a reading slump, but once I started Boardwalk Summer, I couldn’t put the book down. This is the kind of story that I could go on and on about, but I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot and ruin the experience for someone else. So, I really had to work on this review, and cut out some things that got too close to spoilers.

The main theme of this story was second chances amidst a medical crisis. Emotions ran high, and things that happened in the past were talked about at length. Boardwalk Summer really illustrated how the past could haunt a person, as shown through the experiences of the characters. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really enjoy second chance stories. So, from the start, I was interested in seeing what Kimberly Fisk would do with the trope in Boardwalk Summer. The initial introduction of the main character, Hope Thompson, was great. I was immediately drawn into the story and wanted everything to work out for Hope and her kids. I don’t read enough contemporary anyway, but I hardly see race car drivers as love interests. So, Nick Fortune and his side of the story came across as particularly entertaining. Some of my favorite parts of the book happened to be the interactions between Hope and Nick.

Boardwalk Summer was a quick read that dealt with some heavy subjects, combined with a romance I could totally get behind. Those things put together is what made this book so readable. Boardwalk Summer is the first book I’ve read by Kimberly Fisk and it certainly won’t be the last.

Rating 4.5/5

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

Friday, June 23, 2017

ARC Review: The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett

The Space Between the StarsTitle: The Space Between the Stars
Author: Anne Corlett
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; June 13, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction; Dystopia
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In a breathtakingly vivid and emotionally gripping debut novel, one woman must confront the emptiness in the universe—and in her own heart—when a devastating virus reduces most of humanity to dust and memories.

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit...

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be...

My Thoughts:

The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett was a book I happened to see when it was up for review, and decided to go ahead and get it while I had the chance because it seemed interesting. Honestly, The Space Between the Stars is a book I feel mixed about. I don’t know if I like this book or not. It’s hard to say because there were things I liked about the story and others that I disliked entirely—with extremes in both the latter and former categories.

In my opinion, the beginning was the best part. It started with the main character waking up after coming down with a virus that had a low survivability rate. Right there, that’s where the story got its start, when the novels goal was set up, and the main character, Jamie Allenby, was introduced. I liked that Corlett made the decision to tell the story from the point of view of a survivor of this virus, and chose to show what immediately came after beating-the-odds. Actually, I liked Jamie’s narrative in the beginning. Her voice was strong and her experience was both emotionally raw and compelling. In her situation, I could understand her reaction and her desire to seek out familiar places and people. Jamie was a character I could get behind.

However, the direction the story partially took later on didn’t end up being my kind of thing. I kept reading because I wanted to know what the end would bring for Jamie and the people around her. While the beginning was awesome, my problem stemmed from the middle section of the book. It focused on the travels of the characters and how they interacted with one another. Some of the places they visited just made me stop and wonder why it was necessary since it was quickly forgotten.

Sure, near the last couple of chapters, I had to go back and reread certain bits of dialogue, but it was worth it because the details ended up making a whole lot of sense.

So, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the middle of the book, but the things that I liked about the beginning of the book came back at the end. Things I didn’t think would get resolved did, and I was pretty happy about that.

Rating 3/5

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

The Shark ClubTitle: The Shark Club
Author: Ann Kidd Taylor
Publisher/Publication Date: Viking; June 6, 2017
Genre: Fiction; Mystery
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A novel about love, loss, and sharks by the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the memoir Traveling with Pomegranates...

On a summer day on the Gulf of Mexico in 1988, two extraordinary things happen to twelve-year-old Maeve Donnelly. First, she is kissed by Daniel, the boy of her dreams. Then, she is attacked by a blacktip shark. Eighteen years later, Maeve is a world-traveling marine biologist studying and swimming with the very animals that once threatened her life. Known among her peers as the “shark whisperer,” Maeve is fearless in the water. On land, however, Maeve is dogged by unresolved wounds and indecisive about the path her life will take. After a particularly inspiring assignment abroad, Maeve returns to the small island off Florida’s coast where she grew up and to her childhood home—the legendarily charming and eccentric Hotel of the Muses, where she was raised by her grandmother. There, she is greeted by troubling news.

An illegal shark-finning operation has moved into town, and hundreds of sharks are dying. As Maeve fights to protect the fate of the animals so dear to her heart, she finds that her twin brother may be about to make it big as a novelist, using her love life as his jumping-off point. Will she confront her feelings about her brother’s betrayal—and forgive her childhood sweetheart, Daniel, the missteps of their youth? Or will she dive headlong back into her work and open her heart to Nicholas, her colleague who shares her passion for the ocean? Set against the intoxicating backdrop of palm trees, blood orange sunsets, calypso bands, and key lime pies, The Shark Club is a love story, an environmental mystery, and an exploration of a woman’s mysterious kinship with the sea and the sharks that inhabit it...

My Thoughts:

I went into The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor with little to no expectations. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author, so I wanted to keep an open mind about the story. And, you know what? The Shark Club wasn’t half bad. There were a lot of things I particularly liked about this story. The Shark Club is a character driven novel. A lot of time was devoted to developing the characters and their relationships. There was even a little bit of a mystery going on.

This book was mainly about the main character, Maeve Donnelly, returning home to her life after a research trip where she got to study sharks up close and personal. The Shark Club focused on Maeve’s relationships—both new and old—between friends, family, and old loves. At some parts, this book felt like a lot of other contemporary novels that I’ve read, but Maeve’s background and occupation is what made the story interesting. I don’t see marine biologists portrayed in fiction very often. I’ve seen it mentioned in passing, but I rarely come across a book that specifically deals with it in the way The Shark Club did. The plotline with the sharks was interesting, and I wish there would have been more of the technical stuff involving Maeve’s job.

The mystery was there. However, just like the marine biology side of the story, the mystery seemed to take a step to the side when considering other aspects of the story. Still, the mystery was pretty good.

Overall, I enjoyed The Shark Club.

Rating 3.5/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the Author...

Ann Kidd Taylor is the coauthor of Traveling with Pomegranates, a memoir written with her mother, Sue Monk Kidd. Published by Viking in 2009, it appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times list, and has been published in several languages. Sue Monk Kidd, is the award-winning and bestselling author of the novels The Secret Life of Bees, The Mermaid Chair, and The Invention of Wings. The Shark Club is Ann’s first novel. She lives in southwest Florida with her husband, son, and two dogs...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: All by Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

All By Myself, Alone
Title:  All By Myself, Alone
Publisher/Publication Date:
Simon & Schuster; April 4, 2017
Format/Source:  Hardcover; Library
Genre: Suspense

Book Summary from Goodreads

A glamorous cruise on a luxurious ocean liner turns deadly in the latest mystery from “Queen of Suspense” and #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark.

Fleeing a disastrous and humiliating arrest of her husband-to-be on the eve of their wedding, Celia Kilbride, a gems and jewelry expert, hopes to escape from public attention by lecturing on a brand-new cruise ship—the Queen Charlotte.

On board she meets eighty-six-year-old Lady Emily Haywood, “Lady Em,” as she is known throughout the world. Immensely wealthy, Lady Em is the owner of a priceless emerald necklace that she intends to leave to the Smithsonian after the cruise.  Read More

My Thoughts

Mary Higgins Clark is one of my all-time favorite suspense writers. In All by Myself, Alone, Clark presents a murder mystery at sea. It’s a quick, engaging read that’s divided into sections that reveal the events of the six day voyage, which—as the synopsis indicates—includes the murder of Lady Emily Haywood. Clark does a good job of presenting a variety of characters that might have the motive to commit the crime, which left me questioning whodunit until the end of the story. Needless to say, that this book is another page-turner by Mary Higgins Clark, and I look forward to reading additional work by this author.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Miracles (The Divine Cities, #3)Title: City of Miracles
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Publisher/Publication Date: Broadway Books; May 2, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Paperback

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Revenge. It's something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing...

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara's killers deserve. Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara's death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And perhaps most daunting of all finally face the truth about his own cursed existence...

My Thoughts:

When dealing with Divinities you never know what might (and mostly will) go wrong...

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett is undoubtedly one of my most anticipated book releases of 2017. My sentiment about the second book in the series—City of Blades—is similar to my conclusion about City of Miracles: It was well worth the wait, because, oh man, this story was fantastic. City of Miracles was a bittersweet yet fitting end to this series.

After the sudden, unexpected death of Shara Komayd—who was one of my favorite characters—Sigurd is left with one goal in mind. However, when the Divine are involved, you never know what might happen. The actual plot of City of Miracles was awesome. Every time I thought I would take a break and set this book aside, I got to a good part. I basically stayed up well past midnight finishing it. There were so many twists, so many revelations that not only was this book exciting, it was packed full of action.

City of Miracles picks up years after the last book, and a lot of things have changed. In the last book, the progression of technology replacing divine miracles was being shown in its early stages. But change is slow and sometimes painful, and people want to cling to what they know. That is one of the things I truly liked about this series: its approach to progress, and the way these things gradually took place. City of Miracles also marked the return to Bulikov, the city surrounded by mysterious walls filled with stairs that went nowhere. It wasn’t the same as before, but again, that’s progress.

Sigrud je Harkvaldsson has had a role each time something inexplicable happened, but City of Miracles was where his story was front and center. There was always an air of mystery to him, and like so many other things about this series, City of Miracles answers those lingering questions. And yeah, I cried a little at the end, but in my defense emotions were running high in almost every scene.

I’m a little sad that this series is over. However, I can’t say that I’m sorry because City of Miracles was a good note to end on. Truly, it was an experience.

Rating 5/5

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. His fifth novel, City of Stairs, is in stores now. He lives in Austin with his wife and son. He can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Thoughts: New Nestea Lemon & Raspberry Teas

I’m a member of My MagazineTM Sharing Network. I recently had the opportunity to try Nestea’s new Raspberry and Lemon flavored teas for free. I actually enjoyed both flavors, but due to my personal preference, the lemon tea was my favorite. I often find that bottled teas are too sweet, but that wasn’t the case with the new Nestea—the drinks were just sweet enough. The perfect combination of sweetened tea and fruit flavoring resulted in refreshing drinks that I simply love and will definitely buy again in the future! Click here to learn more about the New Nestea.

Please Note: ***In exchange for an unbiased review, I received coupons to try the New Nestea for free.***

Friday, May 26, 2017

Reading on the Rocks Design Change!

Thanks to my daughter, the header for Reading on the Rocks has a new look! Now it's time to get back to reading.—Andrea 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ARC Review: The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

The Girl Who Knew Too MuchTitle: The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Author: Amanda Quick
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; May 9, 2017
Genre: Historical; Romantic Suspence
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part, transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool. Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago. With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

My Thoughts:

You know, I felt like I was expecting more from The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick than what I actually got. It was an okay story, but I have some thoughts about this one. At first glance, The Girl Who Knew Too Much has a very interesting premise. I was interested more in how the mystery would work with the time period this book was set in. 1930s California, that’s what the synopsis said, and I did see hints of elements that alluded to the time period.

This is definitely a romantic suspense novel. On top of the both mysteries, there was a heavy emphasis on the romance. It didn’t start out that way. The beginning was really good. I got the sense of urgency that the character felt, and the danger was front and center. But as the story progressed, the focus seemed to shift a little. There was a lot going on—and I mean A LOT—and I almost feel like some aspects of the story weren’t given enough time. That brings me to the conflict. The initial start of the whole thing was incredible. It wasn’t necessarily packed to the brim with action, but the opening chapters set up an atmosphere of suspense. However, the end was just okay
—and a little anticlimacticwhich makes me kind of sad because the beginning was so strong.

Irene Glasson was an okay character. I liked her more in the beginning, some of her decisions were just kind of meh, but her character development turned out to be alright. The rest of the characters were pretty interesting, but I just don’t have anything to say about them.

Overall, The Girl Who Knew Too Much was a pretty average read for me, and I would definitely consider picking up another book by this author.

Rating 3/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Pseudonym of Jayne Ann Krentz

The author of over 40 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense, often with a psychic and paranormal twist, in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 30 million copies of her books in print. She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries. Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington...

Friday, April 28, 2017

ARC Review: One Good Thing by Wendy Wax

One Good Thing (Ten Beach Road, #5)Title: One Good Thing
Author: Wendy Wax
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; April 25, 2017
Genre: Womens Fiction
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

From the USA Today bestselling author of Sunshine Beach, a story of four women trying to rebuild more than their lives...

Before you can fix it up, you might have to tear it down...

Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships. Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and deal with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached. But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling...

My Thoughts:

Lately, I’ve ended up with books that are pretty late in the series. So, I was kind of worried that I might have some trouble following the story since One Good Thing by Wendy Wax is the fifth book in the series. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, and I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. One Good Thing was very much a story about love, loss, endings, and new beginnings. And guys, it was pretty fantastic.

One Good Thing is definitely one of those books that is driven by the characters. That’s what the book was primarily about but it does it in such a hopeful yet bittersweet way, and I found that completely compelling. Wax took such seemingly ordinary characters and expertly put them into situations that illustrated the potential highs and lows of life. The issues that many of the characters faced were done pretty well and gave a highly emotional aspect to the plot. It was more than easy to get into the story.

I actually enjoy multiple points of view in books, and this is just another good example of why it does work. There were a lot of characters that had their own perspectives, but honestly, I didn’t even mind. I liked reading from so many viewpoints and getting to see the different experiences and sides of the story, despite the characters being in the same environment. Each character had their own unique voice and I never felt like I was reading from the perspective of characters that were carbon copies of each other.

Despite getting such a late start in the series, I’m glad that I went ahead and read One Good Thing anyway, because it was a great story.

Rating 4/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, is the author of thirteen novels, including Sunshine Beach, A Week at the Lake, While We Were Watching Downtown Abby, The House on Mermaid Point, Ocean Beach, and Ten Beach Road. The mother of two grown sons, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and is doing her best to adjust to the quiet of her recently emptied nest...
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ARC Review: Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life UnstrungTitle: Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung
Author: Min Kym
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Publishing Group; April 25, 2017
Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The spellbinding memoir of a violin virtuoso who loses the instrument that had defined her both on stage and off -- and who discovers, beyond the violin, the music of her own voice...

Her first violin was tiny, harsh, factory-made; her first piece was -Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.- But from the very beginning, Min Kym knew that music was the element in which she could swim and dive and soar. At seven years old, she was a prodigy, the youngest ever student at the famed Purcell School. At eleven, she won her first international prize; at eighteen, violinist great Ruggiero Ricci called her -the most talented violinist I've ever taught.- And at twenty-one, she found -the one, - the violin she would play as a soloist: a rare 1696 Stradivarius. Her career took off. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned. Then, in a London cafe, her violin was stolen. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function, stunned into silence. In this lucid and transfixing memoir, Kym reckons with the space left by her violin's absence. She sees with new eyes her past as a child prodigy, with its isolation and crushing expectations; her combustible relationships with teachers and with a domineering boyfriend; and her navigation of two very different worlds, her traditional Korean family and her music. And in the stark yet clarifying light of her loss, she rediscovers her voice and herself...

My Thoughts:

A while ago, I mentioned that I was going on a bit of a hiatus from reading nonfiction. Well, that’s obviously over. It’s cancelled. I’m going to leave it at that, because when I saw Gone by Min Kym up for review, I was more than interested. Gone sounded like the kind of book I would love to read, and my initial assessment was right. Gone was truly a fantastic memoir that was worth the time I spent reading it.

I’ve read a couple of memoirs here and there, but Gone was something else. The subject dealt with music, which I rarely read about. Still, this seemed like such and authentic book because of the writing—which was engrossing—but also because Kym herself is the violinist. Min Kym wrote about her personal experiences. She talked about the expectations that were placed on her because of her obvious and natural skill with a violin and how her early lessons and learned habits ultimately affected her life. Gone detailed some of the most pivotal times in her life—both emotionally and professionally—and painted an honest picture. It was written from the perspective of a person who was a child prodigy from their perspective, not told by someone else. Gone was as much about the violin that was unjustly taken as it was the violinist behind the bow. And let me tell you, the result was powerful.

I could write more about Gone, but I’m not trying to summarize the whole memoir. There wouldn’t be a point to it. You’d have to read it to truly understand. That’s all I can say.

Now, I have looked up more about Min Kym and discovered that there is an album that was released as a companion to this book. I have listened to it. And it has reminded me of why I still, to this day, enjoy listening to classical music.

So, if you read the memoir also listen to the companion album too. That’s my recommendation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have music to listen to.

Rating 5/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

Monday, April 3, 2017

I watched Jean of the Joneses...

Title: Jean of the Joneses
Written by: Stella Meghie 
Produced by: Floyd Kane; Amos Adetuyi; Stella Meghie
Directed by: Stella Meghie
Watched/Channel: TV; TV One

My thoughts:

I don’t normally talk about the stuff I watch on TV, especially on Reading on the Rocks. However, I had a lot of thoughts about Jean of the Joneses, so I decided to write about it for the blog anyway.

You know, I really like when I happen to find a movie that totally surprises me, and that’s what happened with Jean of the Joneses. I literally knew nothing about this movie, but it happened to come on before I changed the channel I was watching. And, oh man, you guys, this movie was everything.

Jean of the Joneses is one of the best movies I’ve recently watched. There was something so real about the characters and how they handled and reacted to the situations in their personal and professional lives. A lot of the character development happened gradually, and was done in a way that really added emotional depth to the movie. There was an almost realistic authenticity to it that was pretty amazing, and that made the film entirely engrossing.

I absolutely loved Jean Jones. She was going through a lot of things in her life. She wasn’t a perfect character, but her story was far more interesting because of it. She was at an impasse in her personal life and career, and it was interesting to see how she handled things as they were thrown her way. Jean was a writer. I liked how that detail was ultimately handled because the film presented a different view on the life of a writer. The actress they got to play Jean, Taylour Page, was absolutely phenomenal at portraying such a complex character.

Another thing I particularly liked was the dialogue. It’s one of the reasons why I loved this movie so much. The conversations that went on were so freaking entertaining.

There’s one more thing I want to mention before I close out this post, and that’s the relationships. I’m not going to go into specifics, but I felt like that was something worth noting. This wasn’t the kind of movie that only showed the good. No, it got into the bad and the messiness often involved in truly emotional situations between family and people who love or no longer care enough about each other.

So yeah, Jean of the Joneses was a phenomenal movie. All the stars for this one.

Rating 5/5

Check out the trailer...

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