Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Spotlight: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

Today, The Wicked City, the latest book by Beatriz Williams comes out and I'm super excited about this one. This is the first book in her newest series.  I've had the pleasure of meeting Beatriz quite a few times and will be seeing her again next week. She's delightful and I have really enjoyed all the books I've read of hers, and I love that familiar characters have a habit of popping up again and again! My review of The Wicked City will be up in a few days, but in the meantime, please enjoy this spotlight and the bonus video that Beatriz put together about her books and New York City and do let me know if you'll be reading the book or seeing Beatriz on tour :)

Title: The Wicked City
Author: Beatriz Williams
Series: The Prohibition Series, #1
Published: January 2017, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Ella Gilbert impulsively—and, in her mother’s mind, foolishly—moves out of her luxurious Soho loft when she discovers her husband cheating. As she unpacks in a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building, it’s hard not to be depressed—until she’s doing laundry and runs into her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, who warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Apparently it had been a speakeasy during Prohibition, and Ella can’t help but be intrigued by the tall tale from her handsome neighbor.
And what a speakeasy it was. In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at the Christopher Club, just the kind of Village hideaway she imagined finding in Manhattan. But the fun turns dangerous when she’s caught up in a raid. And in the fallout, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.
Gin is headstrong and independent, and the last thing she wants is Oliver bossing her around and knowing what’s best. Plus, she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall (from Beatriz William’s A Certain Age) wrapped around her little finger and begging to make an honest woman out of her? This taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent doesn’t know what he’s in for.
Gin’s adventures—even by Roaring Twenties standards—will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.
And in the present, as Ella learns more about her predecessor and finds herself inspired to dance to her own rhythm in her own city.
THE WICKED CITY is Beatriz Williams at her finest, weaving together historical research, a strong sense of place, and headstrong adventures from women who aren’t afraid to take charge of their own destinies.

Early Praise for The Wicked City: 

“Williams deftly weaves together Ginger’s Jazz Age woes with Ella’s contemporary troubles, though Ginger steals the show. An otherworldly atmosphere, pulse-raising tension, and swoonworthy romance all provide a stellar foundation for what will become a series starring the dame-with-a-heart Ginger and her stalwart swain, Oliver Anson.”—Booklist
“The novel moves between the storylines smartly and quickly with powerful cliff-hangers and the two women leap off the page with a clarity and strength of purpose that is rare in stories. The connections forged between them across the decades is a journey of discovery for the reader.”—All About Romance 

Bonus Material:
Beatriz put together a short video about her books and New York City: 
About the author: A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, BEATRIZ WILLIAMS spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

THE WICKED CITY  by Beatriz Williams
William Morrow, Harper Collins Publishers  
January 17, 2017 
Hardcover ISBN: 9780062405029; $26.99
E-book ISBN: 9780062405036; $12.99

Sunday, January 15, 2017

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in January 13


This cold I have is one stubborn cold! But, I think it's finally easing up - and I am starting to feel more like myself!!! While I've been sick, I've been pretty much housebound, so I've been looking around Pinterest for workouts and found a ton of yoga flows. I'm hoping to start doing some of them on a regular basis. My gym offers yoga classes, but I never seem to make it to the classes :( Maybe this will be the jumpstart I need!

January Goals:
  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend - met
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - met
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough (esp. in important while training!) - met
My training plan for the Challenge Walk MS I'll be doing in March of 2017:

  • 4 miles, 2 days a week, interval training - met
  • Distance walks (distances will vary, try to do 2 days, back-to-back ) - didn't do this week
  • Try to attend one yoga class a week - didn't make it to class, but did do some yoga one day at home

Here's how my last week went:    

Jan  7:  11,744 steps
Jan  8:  14,840 steps + 15 minutes Yoga

Jan  9:  10,409 steps 
Jan 10: 10,398 steps
Jan 11:  15,456 steps
(5K+ - 4.33 Charity Miles for MS)
Jan 12:  20
,699 steps (10K - 6.29 Charity Miles for MS)
Jan 13:  10
,743 steps 

Total Steps: 86,173 steps

Audiobooks listened to last week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk):
  • Finished The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley, narrated by Jessica Preddy
  • Started Lost Girls by Angela Marsons, narrated by Jan Cramer

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

***In March, I'll be doing the CHALLENGE WALK MS in Savannah, GA. It is a three-day, 50-mile walk that tests your strength and your spirit, and makes an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with MS and their families.

To help me reach my fundraising goal, click here :)

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:                             September:   
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  1                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     February:                             June:                            October:

           5K  -                                     5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                    10K  -                                 10K  -   
     March:                                  July:                             November:
           5K  -                                     5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                    10K  -                                  10K  - 
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -                                     5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -                                    10K  -                                  10K  - 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Review: The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

Title: The Perfect Girl
Author: Gilly Macmillan
Published: September 2016, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Source: Personal copy

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.
In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe's former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.

My thoughts: Gilly Macmillan is back with her second book after her debut novel, What She Knew - which I loved!!! And she did it again with this one - another gripping psychological thriller that had me guessing what was really going on until the very end.

I loved the way this story was told - not only alternating between multiple points of view, but also before and after. Before and after what? This book immediately pulls you in and has you wondering just what has happened and I also loved how the suspense slowly builds. You know something big has happened but Gilly Macmillan doesn't actually give you all the answers. And now something else has happened in the present and again, we aren't sure exactly what. 

As the story unravels, we get to know all the characters - some by their narrations and some by the narrations of others - which I found to be quite clever. This is not so much an action-packed story as it is a character-driven tale that pulls you in and has you spinning in circles trying to figure out what is going on. Secrets abound, family dynamics definitely come into play and the characters are compelling in their own unique ways - some are quite likeable and some are definitely not, but they are all needed to tell this story!

Gilly Macmillan is definitely on my auto-buy list - she has crafted two incredibly well-thought out, gripping tales and I cannot wait to see what comes next from her!!! 


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Two Days Gone by Randall Silvas

Title: Two Days Gone
Author: Randall Silvas
Series: Ryan DeMarco Mystery, #1
Published: January 2017, Sourcebooks Landmark
Format: ARC E-book, 400 pages
Source: Netgalley
A literary page-turner about a beloved college professor accused of murdering his entire family, and one small-town cop's dangerous search for answers.

Thomas Huston, a beloved professor and bestselling author, is something of a local hero in the small Pennsylvania college town where he lives and teaches. So when Huston's wife and children are found brutally murdered in their home, the community reacts with shock and anger. Huston has also mysteriously disappeared, and suddenly, the town celebrity is suspect number one.

Sergeant Ryan DeMarco has secrets of his own, but he can't believe that a man he admired, a man he had considered a friend, could be capable of such a crime. Hoping to glean clues about Huston's mind-set, DeMarco delves into the professor's notes on his novel-in-progress. Soon, DeMarco doesn't know who to trust—and the more he uncovers about Huston's secret life, the more treacherous his search becomes.

My thoughts: Every once in a while Netgalley has some "Read Now" options that catch my eye - well, this one certainly did and I'm so glad that I took a chance on it. This one kept me hooked from start to finish - though not necessarily in the way you might think!

This is a twisted, crazy book! It's dark and strange - definitely one of the crazier psychological thrillers I've read in a while, which is a good thing, because it was so very different and is definitely set apart from all the others. It almost comes across as if two writers wrote it at times...though that's not the case. You have two different points of view from time to time, and let me tell you, when Huston is telling us the story - it gets a little nuts! But, I loved it! I loved the writer's perspective, getting inside his head and all the literary references. Which was so very different from DeMarco's chapters - so very to the point and on target, very straight-forward. I think this was my favorite part of the story - the unlikely pairing of these two characters telling the story - it's a bit disjointed at times, but I think it's brilliant!

Both men are flawed, troubled, emotionally damaged men. They have their demons, particulary DeMarco, and that makes them so very real and believable. The despair Huston feels is palpable, and DeMarco just can't quite believe his friend would be guilty of such a savage act, but nevertheless demands to be put in charge of the case. This is tough for DeMarco, but it shows his strength and determination.

There are quite a few twists and turns in this book and some that left me quite speechless. I was desperately trying to figure out just what happened to Huston's family - was he or was he not involved in their deaths - and the answer is definitely not what I was expecting. Bravo Mr. Silvas!!! And on top of that, to find out that this is not the last we have seen of Ryan DeMarco - I'm one very happy reader :)


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Short & Sweet Review: Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos (audio)

Title: Before He Finds Her
Author: Michael Kardos
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published: February 2015, HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books
Length: 10 hours 30 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.

But everyone is wrong. The daughter got away. Now she is nearly eighteen and tired of living in secrecy. Under the name Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in small-town West Virginia as part of the Witness Protection Program. She has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have internet at home. Precautions must be taken at every turn, because Ramsey Miller was never caught and might still be looking for his daughter. Yet despite strict house rules, Melanie has entered into a relationship with a young teacher at the local high school and is now ten weeks pregnant. She doesn’t want her child to live in hiding as she has had to. Defying her guardians and taking matters into her own hands, Melanie returns to Silver Bay in hopes of doing what the authorities have failed to do: find her father before he finds her. Weaving in Ramsey’s story in the three days leading up to the brutal crime, Before He Finds Her is a stirring novel about love and faith and fear—and how the most important things can become terribly distorted when we cling to them too fiercely.
***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: Every once in a while I take a chance with the Audible Deal of the Day and go in blind with the author...this was one of those times I did just that and luckily it turned out to be a good thing! I ended up really enjoying this story.

What I loved most about this book was how the author explored just how complex our relationships, and human nature, can be. This of course naturally lead to some in-depth character development. You really get into the heads of the main characters, feeling as if you are living through each and every situation right along with them. Having the story told from different perspectives allows information to be revealed slowly, bit by bit. It was almost like putting a puzzle together, one piece at a time.

There were quite a few twists and turns, though no more surprising than the ending - I thought I had it all figured out, but I didn't see that coming! All in all, this was a great mystery and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what else Michael Kardos writes.

Audio thoughts: I've listened to Julia Whelan many times and just love her audio narrations. She makes stories come to life and this story was no exception. She gives each character their own unique voice and speaking style. 


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