Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Title: Slightly South of Simple
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff, #1
Published: April 2017, Gallery Books
Format: ARC E-book, 400 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.

My thoughts: Kristy Woodson Harvey is one of my favorite southern authors and this is the first book in her first-ever series! I adored her previous two books, Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love, which were both stand-alones, so when I heard she was writing a series, I was psyched! I love the characters she creates and the voice she gives to them and love that we get to stay with them for more than one book!!!

This first entry into the Peachtree Bluff series is off to a great start. I loved getting to know Ansley and her daughters and loved how the story was told. While we do get to meet all three girls and Ansley, Kristy has decided to tell the story from Ansley and older daughter Caroline's perspectives, having the chapters alternate back and forth. I loved this! 

This story is filled with emotion and the bonds that exist between mothers and daughters,  and that of sisters. It appears that Ansley and all three of her daughters are all at crossroads in their lives and while they all had been living separately, each of the daughters decide to come home to Peachtree Bluff at the same time. Of course, they don't come right out with what is really going on - that will take some digging and that is where the secrets come into play! And we all know that the secrets is what really drives a good book!

Even though the story is told from Ansley and Caroline's view points, we do learn quite a bit about the other two sisters, Sloan and Emerson. And each is not without their own story and secrets. Having two sisters myself, I loved seeing the three girls in action - both when they were younger through flashbacks, and in the present. I loved the bond between them - through good and bad and could definitely relate!

This book is so fun to read. It's filled with humorous situations as well as poignant ones, love and loss, happiness and sadness. The characters are so richly developed it felt like they had become real people to me and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series - I have a guess as to who it might focus on and how it might be told, but I can only surmise and will find out only when I have my hands on that book!

 Books in this series:
  1. Slightly South of Simple
  2. The Secret to Southern Charm - due out ???

Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Title: Any Day Now
Author: Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing, #2
Published: April 2017, Mira Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher via Little Bird Publicity

The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr's What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan's Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It's a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

My thoughts: This is the second book in Robyn Carr's Sullivan's Crossing series and I really enjoyed it. The first book, What We Find, was great, setting up the series and introducing us to some fun, interesting characters and this second book was just as good!

This story is about Cal's sister, Sierra and what brings her to the Crossing. Right away, I found her to be an engaging character and wanted to know more about her. Her story is one that will have you rooting for her in no time and hoping for her happily-ever-after - both romance-wise and just life-wise. She of course ends up finding romance and that is just a sweet story as it progresses. I loved the interactions she has with Conrad, otherwise known as Connie. They are just sweet together. And then there's Molly, the energetic puppy that Sierra rescues - she actually reads to her...a girl after my own heart!

But, this story isn't just about the romance. Robyn Carr tackles a rather serious subject in this book - that of recovery and I liked the way the did it. Sierra has just completed rehab and is hoping to restart her life. She takes her sobriety seriously and still leans on her old sponsor until she gets a new one - and can I just say how much I loved Moody? She also  made sure to find out where the meetings are and when they are a priority when she gets to the Crossing. All this is done so seamlessly, so naturally to fit both the character of Sierra and the storyline - there's no preaching, no harping - it's just a natural fit, but yet, such an honest look at how it can change one's life.

I also loved getting to know more about Sully in this book. If you've read the previous book in this series, What We Find, you first met him there. But, if you haven't read that book yet, no worries. He's the owner of the Crossing and has quite a story of his own. I enjoyed the bond that develops between him and Sierra. There are some other characters we also get to meet and their stories are just as charming and I hope we continue to get to follow them as the series goes on.

I really like the way this series is progressing and can't wait to see what comes next. As I was reading and we kept meeting new people, I kept wondering if perhaps they would be the focus of the next book? Maybe yes or maybe it will be someone we haven't met yet...who knows...all I know is that I will be reading it either way! Sullivan's Crossing is the perfect escape from the everyday craziness of life!

Books in this series:
  1. What We Find
  2. Any Day Now

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Witness by Caroline Mitchell (audio)

Title: Witness
Author: Caroline Mitchell
Narrator: Steve West and Elizabeth Knowelden
Published: December 2016, Brilliance Audio
Length: 9 hours 41 minutes
Source: Publisher

To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse. To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away. Enough time for the nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom—but it’s not her phone. Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime. And, to make matters worse, she has to choose the victims.

Fail to respond and you get hurt. Talk to police and you die. Ready to play? You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.

My thoughts: This is the first stand-alone book I've read by Caroline Mitchell and can I just say...WOW! This book had me all twisted and on the edge of my seat...it was an intense read from the get-go, with a completely unique premise and one heck of an ending that I did not see coming!

This is such a weird, twisty book - the characters pull you in and you find that you cannot walk away from them until you find out what happens to them. They are engaging, though definitely not completely likeable, at least not Solomon, but still, you need to find out what is the ultimate motivator to them. Rebecca is so unlike the typical girl in/from an abusive relationship - and yet, there is something quite unsettling about her. 

This cat and mouse game that goes on will keep you glued to this book. It's a sick game that Solomon puts Rebecca through and the way the story is narrated makes it all the more chilling. We also get glimpses into the past every once in a while to get a more full picture - adding more depth to the characters and the overall story.

This book is full of suspense and just when you think you have it all figured out - think again! It is filled with tension from start to finish, and creepy characters that stay with you long after you finish. This is one psychological thriller I can't recommend enough!

Audio thoughts: This was such a creepy book to listen to and I thought Steve West and Elizabeth Knowelden did such a great job with the audio production. Steve in particular, I felt, was convincingly threatening and evil as the voice of Solomon. I think in this case it really worked to have both a male and female narrator - it wouldn't have worked to have one person do all the voices. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley (audio)

Title: The Shadow Sister
Author: Lucinda Riley
Series: The Seven Sisters, #3
Narrator: Jessica Preddy
Published: November 2016, Whole Story Audiobooks / April 2017, Atria Books
Length: 18 hours 36 minutes / 512 pages
Source: Personal Copy via Audible

Travel through the lush English countryside and explore the magnificent estates of the British aristocracy in this next spellbinding love story in The Seven Sisters series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley.

Star D’Apli├Ęse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life...

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

The Shadow Sister is the third in the sweeping Seven Sisters series, “soaked in glamour and romance” (Daily Mail) and perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and the novels of Kate Morton.

My thoughts: I am a big fan of Lucinda Riley's books and this series in particular. I keep saying that with each book, I find a new favorite...but I don't know, this one really might be it! Though it could be that I happened to read it just after returning from a trip to London and this one happens to be set there and it features Beatrix Potter - one of my favorites! Either way, this series is so uniquely written and the story so fantastically plotted that I just loved it and cannot wait until the next one comes out.

I've been waiting to hear Star's story since we first met her in the first book, The Seven Sisters. Oh how she needed to step out of her sister's shadow and find herself and given Pa's last gift to each of the sisters' she is given that much needed push to do so. There were so many times, though, that I wasn't sure if she actually would.

This story is such an emotional journey, not only for Star, but also for Flora. I found myself so invested in both these characters - each time the story would switch from one to the other, I felt a bit sad. While I wanted to know more about each, I wanted to stay with the one we were just with - if that  makes sense

The way this story is crafted, taking us back and forth between the past and the present, and ultimately bringing us to the origin of the sisters is almost magical as it never ends up being quite what you expect it to be. I also love that these stories are almost set up to be happening in a parallel time-frame - they all start off happening at the same starting point and then move from there. At times, events from the previous books occur in the current book - this takes some serious plotting on Lucinda's side - and I love it!!! To tie in these books and know where you're heading - I can't imagine all the work that goes into that. 

I also love that we are not given the whole story - there is still a bit of a mystery left and I think that is not going to be solved until the very last book. Yes, we are given little clues here and there as to who the next book will be about, but there's also some other clues that have been dropped that I think will come together in that final book.

This is definitely going to be a series that I will be rereading once I read the whole thing. I've been listening to it on audio, but also buying the hardcover books as they come out - aren't the covers just beautiful? I want those books on my shelf - I love looking at them, glancing at the covers and reminiscing about the stories. Do you ever do that? Just look at a cover and think about a character or the story itself?    

Lucinda Riley, you are a master storyteller and it shows in this series. I cannot wait to see where you go next, who's story you give us. I've loved each one so far and know this is without a doubt my favorite series to date! And, for those who haven't heard, Lucinda Riley signed a deal with a Hollywood production company for a multi-season TV series of 'The Seven Sisters' - how awesome is that!!!

Audio thoughts:
Having made the decision to listen to this series on audio, I've come across some wonderful, new-to-me narrators so far. Jessica Preddy is another new-to-me narrator and I thought she did a fantastic job with this audio production. I felt she really did a great job voicing Star's character and did well with the other characters as well.  

So far, there have been different narrators for all three books, so I will be curious to see if that is the case for the whole series. Usually I like consistency, but as this series is a bit different, having different narrators makes sense.

Books in this series: 
  1. The Seven Sisters
  2. The Storm Sister
  3. The Shadow Sister
  4. The Pearl Sister - (Due out in UK 11/17, not sure when in US)

About the Author:  
Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including The Seven Sisters and The Storm Sister. Her books have sold more than eight million copies in thirty four languages. 

Lucinda lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and West Cork, Ireland.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook 
|   Goodreads   |   YouTube

Sunday, April 16, 2017

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in April 14


What a great week!!! The weather was awesome and I got some good walks in - one day even doing 2 walks :) Not really planned, but I'll take it! I really focused this week on staying on top of my water intake - I feel that I haven't been as good as I should with that and I definitely notice a difference. On top of that, my allergies have been awful - I have seasonal allergies and have had to double up on my meds, which is making me way more tired than usual, but staying hydrated seems to be helping! And I'm trying not to over-caffinate - though I really need it some days! It seems to be a never-ending battle, though. Anyone else suffering with allergies now?

April Goals: 

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - 5/5, 2/2
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - met
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough - met
Here's how last week went:    
Apr  8:  8,021 steps
Apr  9:  10,439 steps

Apr 10:  25,823 steps (10K+ -9 Charity Miles for MS)  
Apr 11:  29,294 steps
(2 5Ks - 5 Charity Miles for MS, 5.4 Charity Miles for MS) 
Apr 12:  17,504 steps (5K+ - 4.54Charity Miles for MS)

Apr 13:  14
,790 steps (5K - 3.1 Charity Miles for MS)
Apr 14:  17
,573 steps (5K+ -  4 Charity Miles for MS) 

Total Steps: 123,444 steps

Audiobooks listened to last week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk):
  • Finished In the Shadow of Lakecrest  by Elizabeth Blackwell, narrated by Teri Clark Linden
  • Started & Finished Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser, narrated by Therese Plummer
  • Started & Finished The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells, narrated by Cris Dukehart, Hillary Huber, Eric Michael Summerer

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  -  3                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -  9                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -                                  10K  -


Always With a Book Copyright © 2010 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template Sponsored by Online Shop Vector by Artshare