Thursday, December 31, 2015

NetGalley TBR list 2016

This year, I really want to read all the books I currently have on my Kindle from Netgalley. I hate that I've left them on there so long without reading them. So I've made my list below of all the Netgalley books I have on my Kindle as of today and my goal is to read them all, in no particular order, by the end of 2016 (if not sooner). 

1. Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill (review here)
2. Power Play by Sophia Henry
3. The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag

4. Devil's Bridge by Linda Fairstein
5. Once and Again by Elisabeth Barrett (review here)
6. Mean Streak by Sandra Brown (review here)

7. The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen
8. The Competition by Marcia Clark 
9. Killer Ambition by Marcia Clark

10. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark
11. Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark 
12. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon 

13. The Tyrant's Daughter by JC Carleson
14. Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan 
15. Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons
16. Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

[Review] Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Weisel
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publishing Date: April 1982
Format: paperback
109 Pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, Orthodox teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust & the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare worlds of Auschwitz-Birkenau & Buchenwald present him with an intolerable question: how can the god he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

My Review 

I hate reviewing books like this. The story itself is incredibly heartbreaking; but I didn't like the book. Does that make sense? Maybe not, but it does to me. What Elie Weisel went through is absolutely awful and I can't imagine surviving anything like that. I truly think it's amazing that he survived the Holocaust, persevered, and is able to tell his story. However, I can't exactly explain why I didn't like this book. Please remember, though, that just because I didn't like the book doesn't take away anything from his story and experiences.  Everyone should read memoirs similar to this. I know there are many people who would disagree with me, but it's simply my opinion. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

[Mini Review] Once Upon a Cowboy by Maggie McGinnis

Once Upon a Cowboy by Maggie McGinnis
Series: Whisper Creek, #3
Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: June 30, 2015
Format: ebook
285 pages


In this sexy Whisper Creek romance for readers of Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery, and Molly O’Keefe, a red-hot cowboy uses some Montana magic to give a reclusive beauty her happily ever after.

Yoga instructor Jessalyn Alcott radiates peace, calm, and serenity—on the outside. Inside, she still feels like the broken, desperate girl from the trailer park. She’s got dark secrets she can’t share, which is why she never lets her relationships go beyond the third date. But when she travels to the Whisper Creek dude ranch for a friend’s wedding, Jess is enchanted by a cowboy whose deep blue eyes, dimpled smile, and rock-hard body make it tough to remember why she keeps running scared.

Cole Driscoll has struggled to find his place on a family ranch where he’s always played second fiddle. His future might be uncertain, but he’s sure of one thing: He wants Jess by his side. Easier said than done. When it comes to getting close, she’s full of excuses, and he longs to fix the hurt he sees in her eyes. Now that she’s at Whisper Creek, there’s nothing he wants more than to break down the walls around her heart and heal her pain with the power of love.

My Review

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. 

I read this book earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I just realized, as I was making lists for this upcoming year, that I never reviewed it! Oops! So I thought I would write a mini review of this one since it's been a while since I read it, but still wanted to give it the attention it deserves. There's just something about cowboys that intrigue me though I've never met a one. Maybe it's because they're working outside all day, riding horses, being with animals. I don't know. But it's pretty sexy (at least, it is in books). I know real life might not be quite that sexy, but dang, these authors know how to write about them! Jessalyn has a lot of secrets and wants to keep to herself. But once she meets Cole, it's a game changer and she won't ever be the same. This was a fun, romantic read with a lot of emotions. I've read other novels by McGinnis and I can't wait to read more! 

[Review] The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Publisher: Scribner
Publishing date: March 2005
288 Pages
Format: paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 4.5 stars


The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family. 

My Review

Captivating. That's the first word that comes to mind about this memoir. This book had been sitting on my shelf for a good couple of months... probably about a year. I had heard it was good, but was never in the mood for it and so I didn't get around to it. I finally decided to pick it up when I was going over to my in-laws for Christmas. I wasn't sure if I was in the mood to read it, but felt like I needed to since it was just sitting on my shelf. I immediately loved this book; Walls has a gifted way of telling her story. I felt so bad for her the entire time I read it. I know things like this happen all too often. But I still was shocked by some of the things her family went through and how her parents acted. I can't imagine growing up with this type of life, moving around constantly, not knowing whether you'll have food to eat, whether you'll go to school, or whether you have running water. 

Nevertheless, Walls perseveres. Her sister moves to New York, she follows soon after, and together they start a new life. She slowly gets on solid ground by having a stable place to live, having a job, and going to school. Through all of her hard times, Walls continues to land on her feet. It clearly wasn't an easy childhood, and many people, unfortunately, would fall into the same cycle that her parents did. But she and most of her siblings were able to overcome that. I wish we knew a little more about what happened to Maureen, but I guess it really just shows what Walls' life was like when she finished this book; she didn't really know much about Maureen either. 

I highly recommend this book! I can't wait to read more of her work, especially Half Broke Horses. I never thought I would like non-fiction and memoirs as much as I do, and this certainly won't be my last! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves 12.27.15

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews. Its all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether physical or virtual books. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course, ebooks! Tynga posts this meme on Saturdays, but you can post on any day that works best for you! Check out the guidelines by visiting Tynga's blog! 

Christmas Haul!

I received some really great books this year and I can't wait to dive into them all! Here are the 6 that I got:

Friction by Sandra Brown
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Noticer by Andy Andrews
The One and Only by Emily Giffin
See Me by Nicholas Sparks

I've never actually heard of The Noticer, but my mother-in-law read it and loved it. So she gifted a copy to me and my three sister-in-laws. I'm just really excited to start them all! Plus I was given a good amount in gift cards, so more books will be purchased, and soon!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

[Review] The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Publisher: GP Putnam's Sons
Publishing Date: July 30, 2013
396 Pages
Format: Hardcover
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 4 Stars


At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died...

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

My Review

I was so excited to receive a copy of this book last year for Christmas! I wanted to read it right away, but then life got in the way (like normal). I finally got around to this one during this Christmas and I couldn't put it down. I read Big Little Lies earlier this year and immediately fell in love with Moriarty's work and writing style. I love the way she tells a story and how each of the characters' lives slowly intertwine with each other. 

This book, like Big Little Lies, grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go. Cecilia is a very interesting character; her life seems absolutely perfect, especially from the outside eye. But the more we get to know about her, the more we realize that it really isn't perfect, especially once she reads the letter from her husband. Meanwhile, Tess' life is not-so-secretly falling apart and Rachel has no idea what she's going to find out very soon. 

The whole book only takes place over a few days time, but there's a lot of information packed into it! It's a very fast read and you won't want to put it down. The characters are so interesting and compelling; they each have their own stories but you find out more and more how their lives intertwine. I loved Big Little Lies and I really loved The Husband's Secret as well. I know Moriarty is going to continue to be a favorite author of mine and I can't wait to read more! What Alice Forgot is on my shelf waiting to be read, and hopefully soon! I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Blogging Challenge: Day 6

The 7 Day Holiday Challenge is an event hosted by Parajunkee! Check out her website for more information and to participate! 

Day Six: Favorite holiday book!

Oh, this is a hard one for me! I really don't have a book that I re-read each holiday season (though I want to be one of those people that do!) I really like anything that has some holiday scenes, like Harry Potter, The Christmas Shoes, Little Women... 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Blogging Challenge: Day 5

The 7 Day Holiday Challenge is an event hosted by Parajunkee! Check out her website for more information and to participate! 

Day Five: Share a holiday tradition!

Ever year on Christmas morning, my family goes to my mom's parents' house for brunch. We then go to my dad's parents' house to see all of our extended family. But the best part of Christmas day (other than opening gifts in the morning) is that my parents would make sure we were home each Xmas day by 6 pm. They always wanted to give us enough time to play with the toys we got that morning. Holidays can be hectic, and it was always a bummer to leave so soon for brunch after we opened presents! Leaving my grandparents by 6 was our immediate family time and time for us to relax and wind down after the busy holidays. I love spending time with my extended family, but those few hours at night were always my favorite and even as we've grown older, we still try to do this! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Blogging Challenge: Day 3

The 7 Day Holiday Challenge is an event hosted by Parajunkee! Check out her website for more information and to participate! 

Day Three: Share a holiday photo moment! 

Shoot, I missed yesterday! Oops... to make it up, here's my holiday photo! I'll post Day 4 later tonight!

My husband and I from 3 years ago! Wow, we look so much younger (at least I think so!) Too bad I wiped my computer and don't have my hard drive plugged in otherwise I'd have a more recent photo. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Blogging Challenge: Day 2

The 7 Day Holiday Challenge is an event hosted by Parajunkee! Check out her website for more information and to participate! 

Day Two: Favorite holiday scene in a book!

Oh, this is a little hard for me! I'm not great at remembering specifics from books...It's partly the reason I started my blog; I figured if I posted a personal review, then I would remember the book a little better after I finished reading. It has helped quite a bit, but not always, clearly. I'm going to have to say that one of my favorite holiday scenes from a book is definitely Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I know it's a bit of a cliche answer, but I really love Harry's first "real" Christmas experience. With the Dursleys he was never treated as part of the family. But at Hogwarts, he has a family and the Weasleys make sure to include him. His surprise when he first wakes up is really great. It's a scene I think I'll always remember! 

Plus I also really loved reading The Christmas Shoes by Donna Van Liere. A really touching story! Plus I still tear up over the song!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Blogging Challenge: Day 1

The 7 Day Holiday Challenge is an event hosted by Parajunkee! Check out her website for more information and to participate! 

On the first day of the challenge, we're discussing a gift we're giving this year!

I'm really excited about a couple of gifts that I'm giving this year! For both of my nephews and my niece, they're getting books (no surprise!). The youngest (about 8 mos. old) is getting one book, and the other two are getting 2-3 books each! Plus they're all getting something else too, including Green Bay Packer clothing -- Go Pack! 

I think my favorite gift that I'm giving is for my mom (hopefully she doesn't read my blog!) It's a Galileo Thermometer. She had one previously, but it broke many years ago when it was knocked off a shelf. I found a smaller version of hers when I was in Door County Wisconsin earlier this year and knew I had to get it for her!

What gifts are you giving this year? Join Parajunkee's Holiday Challenge and let us know!

[Review] The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Series: Women's Murder Club, #9
Publisher: Little Brown
Publishing Date: April 26, 2010
Format: hardcover, purchased
355 Pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3 stars


The most personal

A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in bloodred lipstick. 

The most dangerous

The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling is woken by a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars' worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is a nearly empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria. 

The most exciting Women's Murder Club novel ever

Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner, Rich--and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her engagement and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line--but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best!

My Mini Review

Another good, fast-paced book by James Patterson! I really enjoy this series by Patterson and always look forward to his next one. I started this series much later so I've been able to read them closer together than people who have followed from the beginning, which I think helps me interested. While I really liked this book, I think Patterson has some other novels that are a bit better. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with this book, and like I said, I still enjoyed it. I found the plot line interesting and it kept me hooked. I like this series and I'll continue to read them! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

[Review] We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: Aug. 18, 2015
320 Pages
Format: ARC, hardcover
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 5 stars


From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.

For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.

Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

My Review

I LOVED this book! I thought it was so, so good! I read Diffenbaugh's first book, The Language of Flowers, earlier this year for my book club and fell in love with Diffenbaugh's writing style. That book was so original and full of emotions; I knew I needed to get her next book. When I started reading We Never Asked for Wings, I was immediately hooked. I finished it in three days while traveling to and from Chicago for the weekend. I never wanted to put this book down. 

Letty is a young mother of two children; she got pregnant at 17 and wasn't ready for motherhood. As a result, her mother raised her two children until one day, her mother and father leave California to return to Mexico. Letty's forced to grow up and start caring for her children. It definitely isn't smooth sailing and they have a lot of issues. But what I loved so much was watching as Letty grew up, matured, and became the mother that her children needed. It's a lot of trial and error with Letty, her son Alex, and her daughter Luna. Alex is a young, high school kid trying to find his way in the world, and Luna is a spunky 6 year old who loves her mother unconditionally. Things don't go perfect, but they are a family and learn to work things out together. This is another really great book by Diffenbaugh; so original and thought-provoking. I really loved Letty and Alex as characters and I couldn't wait to keep reading their story. I wish it didn't have to end! 

I know this book was just released, but I seriously can't wait until Diffenbaugh writes something else! She's easily a favorite author of mine!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

[Review] One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

One in a Million by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor, #12
Publisher: Grand Central
Publishing Date: Oct. 14, 2014
368 Pages
Format: purchased, paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 4 stars


As the brains behind wedding site, Callie sees it all: from the ring to the dress, the smiles . . . to the tears. It's that last part that keeps her single and not looking. Getting left at the altar will do that to a girl. But when Callie returns to her old hometown, she finds that her sweet high school crush is sexier than ever. And he makes it hard to remember why she's sworn off love . . .

Tanner is a deep-sea diver with a wild, adrenaline-junkie past—and now his teenage son is back in his life. How can Tanner be a role model when he's still paying for his own mistakes? It's hard enough that gorgeous Callie has appeared in town like a beautiful dream, challenging his best-laid plans to keep his heart on lockdown. Though there's something about being around her again that makes him feel like he can be the man she—and his son—deserve. Little Lucky Harbor holds their past; can it hold a beautiful new future?

My Review 

I've been on a romance kick lately and can't get enough of it! It's always been my first love in book genres and my favorite fall-back when I'm not sure what else to read. I don't think I've read anything by Shalvis before but this certainly won't be the last! I really loved this story. Callie and Tanner are so much fun together. I love high school crushes that bloom later in life. It's great to see how they interact and how flustered Callie gets around him. This book had a little bit of everything you want in  a romance story. I really can't wait to get more books by Shalvis! She's definitely great at what she does. I highly recommend this book (and I'm guessing her others) if you like romance stories. Plus, Callie's grandmother is really funny (:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

[Review] Meant-to-Be Mom by Karen Templeton

Meant-to-be-Mom by Karen Templeton
Series: Jersey Boys, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Publishing Date: March 17, 2015
224 Pages
Format: purchased, paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3 stars



Sabrina Noble's Journal

Dear Diary,

You'll never believe who I spotted on my first day back in Maple River -- the one who got away, Cole Rayburn. He's definitely not the same kid I swung on the monkey bars with. In fact, Cole is more handsome than ever and has two adorable tweens.

There's definitely still something between Cole and myself…but I get the sense that his ex burned him and his kids pretty badly. Now that I'm back in New Jersey, I'm spending more and more time with the Rayburn clan, and I'm honestly loving it. But can I be the bonus mom these kids deserve and have the husband I've always dreamed of? Or is it true that you can't go home again?

My Review

I picked up this book because I wanted a quick, easy romance. And that's what I got. It was a short book about two former high school friends. They haven't seen each other in years, and haven't spoken for that long. Something happened between the two of them that we don't really find out until later in the book. But these two fit together well; Cole has two children from a previous marriage and Sabrina dotes on them. Cole's son is a little hesitant to get too close to Sabrina, but she slowly breaks down those walls. I wish there was a little more romance in this book, though. I felt like a lot of it was just building their friendship back up, which is obviously important, but then it's not until the very end that things start to heat up between them. I just wish it had happened sooner and we saw a little more romance with them! Overall, good, quick book.