Sunday, March 26, 2017

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in March 24

So, my two week break is over and I came back with a vengeance! I did 4 10K's last week :) Plus, I found a quick and easy arm workout that I did twice - it's perfect to add in after my walks and now I just need to find a good ab and leg workout and I'll have a nice balance of strength-training to balance out my week! And if I make it to a yoga class or two that would be a great compliment.  

March Goals: 

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - 5/5, 1/2
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - met
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough - met
Here's how last week went:    
Mar 18:  7,882 steps
Mar 19:  6,076 steps

Mar 20:  18,757 steps (10K - 6.26 Charity Miles for MS)  
Mar 21:  17,418 steps
(10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS; Arm workout) 
Mar 22:  11,070 steps (30 min fitness walk)

Mar 23:  19
,259 steps (10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS)
Mar 24:  19
,060 steps (10K - 6.2 Charity Miles for MS; Arm workout) 

Total Steps: 99,522 steps

Audiobooks listened to last week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk):

  • Finished The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg, narrated by Simon Vance
  • Started & Finished The Lost Children by Helen Phifer, narrated by Alison Campbell

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:                             September:   
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     February:                             June:                            October:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  9                                10K  -                                 10K  -   
     March:                                  July:                             November:
           5K  -  0                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -                                     5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                    10K  -                                  10K  -

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Blood Lines by Angela Marsons (audio)

Title: Blood Lines
Author: Angela Marsons
Series: DI Kim Stone, #5
Narrator: Jan Cramer
Published: October 2016, Bookouture
Length: 8 hours 52 minutes
Source: Publisher
How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr. Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

A totally gripping thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page to the final, dramatic twist.

My thoughts: This is the fifth book in Angela Marsons' DI Kim Stone series and seriously, can I just tell you I freakin' love this series!!! OMG - I don't think there is a more deviously twisted series out there and I mean that as the most sincere form of praise. Angela Marsons writes the best characters and the best plots you could possibly imagine and I just cannot get enough of them!

I was so excited to see the diabolical, deliciously evil Dr. Alex Thorne back. Oh, she's one crazy, twisted character and wants nothing more than to play games with our beloved DI Kim Stone and boy oh boy has she ever done that. The cat and mouse games she continues to play are epic - it seriously is a battle for control. Both these women are smart but who will be the victor this time?

I loved that we got further insight into Kim's past, particularly about her mother. Despite the fact that this was tied into the games played by Alex Thorne, it was still valuable information into Kim's psyche and her motivations in general. There's still so much about Kim that is unknown - that's part of her tough-gal persona and I have a feeling will always be that way. But just giving us that little bit with each book is like hitting gold - and another reason to read this series in order! It all makes sense and all the pieces fit together so much better.

As with each book, we get just a little more on each member of the team as well. Not too much, but just a little. I love the interactions Kim has with Bryant and Stacey - they tend to be humorous and happen at just the right time. Then there's Dawson, who seems to be feeling a bit left out of things. This team is feeling more and more like a family, which is good since it's just about all the family that Kim has.

I can't say enough good things about this book and this series. If you like dark, twisted thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat the entire need to read Angela Marsons. And lucky for us, the next book is out very soon!!!  

Audio thoughts: What can I say about Jan Cramer narrating this series that I haven't already said...I adore this woman and her ability to bring life to these characters. She is so consistent book after book, each character having their own unique voice and her pacing and the tension - spot on! I love listening to this series and so hope Jan continues to narrate it as long as it goes on.

Books in this series:   
  1. Silent Scream
  2. Evil Games
  3. Lost Girls
  4. Play Dead
  5. Blood Lines
  6. Deal Souls - due out April 28, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Black Fall by Andrew Mayne

Title: Black Fall
Author: Andrew Mayne
Series: Jessica Blackwood, #3
Published: March 2017, Harper Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

In Black Fall, the third book in the ITW Award-nominated series that began with self-published eBook phenomenon Angel Killer, magician-turned-FBI agent Jessica Blackwood investigates a series of seemingly unrelated, but equally bizarre and sinister, crimes that lead her to the Colorado desert and a town that has, simply, disappeared.

With two big cases under her belt, FBI Agent Jessica Blackwood is learning to embrace her unconventional past as the rising star in a family dynasty of illusionists. Her talent and experience endow her with a unique understanding of the power and potential of deception, and a gift for knowing when things are not always as they appear to be. Once resenting her eccentric grandfather, a brilliant magician in his own right, Jessica now sees him as a mentor and regularly seeks his advice about her work.

But Jessica’s routine surveillance operation becomes a fight for survival when a disturbed young woman, clutching a baby, shows up at the stake-out location and threatens to kill her child. On the same day, an hour after a severe earthquake rocks the eastern seaboard, a strange video goes viral. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Devon has been dead for eight years, yet here he is on camera, predicting the location and date of the earthquake. Jessica is put on the case by her boss, Dr. Ailes, but when Detective Aileen Lewis reports that they’ve found a Jane Doe who matches her description of her attacker, she’s torn between professional duty and a personal desire to find out who the woman was, and why she was killed.

The investigations pull her in very different directions—until they start to converge, leading Jessica to confront something darker, and more powerful, than anyone expected. Something so twisted, only one person could be behind it…the Warlock.

My thoughts: This is the third book in Andrew Mayne's Jessica Blackwood series and I just love this series! It's such a unique series in it's premise and I just cannot get enough of it.

Once again, I found myself completely engaged in the story and hooked from page one. As soon as I started reading, I had a hard time putting this book down - the story just grabs you, and then there's the short chapters that typically end with mini-cliffhangers where you just can't stop reading - you need to find out more about what was just revealed! 

And then there's Jessica - one of my favorite characters! She's endearing because she's so unsure of herself at times and known for her bluntness, yet she's so good at her job that she ultimately ends up getting the case solved. I loved the way she took to Detective Aileen Lewis. I would love to see them work together again - that bond they created just seemed to jive, and the dinner invitation was just priceless! I also like how we get the occasional flashbacks of Jessica's childhood every once in a while - these help give us a better glimpse of who Jessica really is, a more solid picture of her. 

The case that Jessica and her team are working on is quite intense and it never really seems to let up. The tension is so palpable I could feel everyone's nerves as they feverishly worked to solve what was going on. And it seems as if it could have been ripped from today's headlines to some extent - that's a little scary!

This is such a great book and while it can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the two previous books in the series first to have a better understanding of Jessica and all her talents.  Now, hopefully we haven't seen the last of Jessica...I need more of her, more of this magician turned FBI agent!!!

Books in this series:
     1.  Angel Killer
     1.5  Fire in the Sky

     2.  Name of the Devil
    3.  Black Fall


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

Title: The Secrets You Keep
Author: Kate White
Published: March 2017, Harper Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wrong Man and Eyes on You comes a harrowing new psychological thriller about a successful self-help author who suddenly finds her life spiraling dangerously out of control.

What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you—secrets with terrifying consequences?

Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning.

In the beginning, Bryn’s husband Guy couldn’t have been more supportive. But after moving into a new house together, disturbing incidents occur and Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on, she wonders? Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered.

As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain —she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.

With unexpected, riveting twists, The Secrets You Keep is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that once again showcases Kate White’s extraordinary storytelling talent.

My thoughts: I've long been a fan of Kate White's books, ever since I started reading her Bailey Weggins series - which I am ever so patiently waiting for the next one!!! But her stand-alones are equally engrossing and suspenseful, keeping you engaged and flipping the pages from start to finish. This one was no exception!

I loved the characters in this book. There were plenty to keep you guessing as to whether you could trust them or not and right from the start I was enamored with Bryn - I felt for her, having just been in a horrific car accident and still needing time to recover and get her life back on track. Deciding to spend the summer with her husband in the country instead of staying the city, she is a bit out of her element, and the nightmares she's having aren't helping. But that's only the start.

Kate White hooks you slowly, but boy oh boy does she hook you and soon you find yourself unable to put the book down. You say, "Oh, I'll just read one more chapter"...and then, you find you've read five more and still you can't manage to tear yourself from the pages. This book has twists and turns and secrets and a mystery that haunts you. But, it also delves into the marriage itself of Bryn and Guy. I can't say too much about this without giving any spoilers, but this is something Kate White doesn't often tackle - usually her main protagonists are strong, single females, or if they are married, the marriage itself is not a subject to be questioned. 

I really liked this book. It kept me engaged and guessing throughout - each time I thought I had it all worked out, another clue would be worked out to thwart my guesses. This is the type of book that will consume you until you reach the conclusion - so be ready for some good reading - and be ready to be suspicious of all you meet along the way!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Title: The Cutaway
Author: Christina Kovac
Published: March 2017, 37Ink/Atria Books
Format: ARC e-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher
The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.

My thoughts: There's been a lot of buzz about this debut novel from Christina Kovac and I've been anxious to read it...though a bit apprehensive. Sometimes the buzz is overkill, but in this case, it is well-deserved - this book kept me engaged throughout. 

What I loved most about this book is having it told from the journalist's point of view. This was a nice change of pace from the usual police procedurals that I tend to gravitate towards. Virginia Knightly is an investigative journalist - so we see the investigation from her side. She is one determined, strong-willed, capable reporter who goes after whatever she wants and isn't willing to let anyone or anything stand in her way.  

For some reason, the case of this missing woman haunts Virginia - she can't let this go and is determined to do whatever it takes to not only find out everything about this woman and investigate what happened to her, but to also get the exclusive story for her tv station. This is where the story takes off! And let me tell you - with this case, it is so much more than what it first appears to be.

Having the story told by Virginia means there is no question as to the reliability of the narrator. It also means that we are not only on the case with her at all times, but we also see her in action as the television producer - getting to see the inner workings of the news world was intense at times! 

This was a fast read with a mystery that builds slow, but then comes crashing down at the end. It kept me engaged the entire time and the twists and turns that take place kept me on my toes. I loved the intrigue, the political scandal and the behind-the-scenes look at journalism that we get. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from Christina Kovac!!! 


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