Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Kind of Christmas (Virgin River #20)



The Riordan brothers may have a reputation for being rough-and tumble, but Patrick has always been the gentle, sweet-natured one. These days, his easygoing manner is being tested by his high-octane career as a navy pilot. But for the Riordan brothers, when the going gets tough…the tough find the love of a good woman.
Except the woman who has caught Patrick’s attention is Jack Sheridan’s very attractive niece.
Angie LeCroix comes to Virgin River to spend Christmas relaxing, away from her well-intentioned but hovering mother. Yet instead of freedom, she gets Jack Sheridan. If her uncle had his way, she’d never go out again. And certainly not with rugged, handsome Patrick Riordan. But Angie has her own idea of the kind of Christmas she wants—and the kind of man!
Patrick and Angie thought they wanted to be left alone this Christmas—until they meet each other. Then they want to be left alone together. But the Sheridan and Riordan families have different plans for Patrick and Angie—and for Christmas, Virgin River–style (from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

As you can see from the title, this is book #20 in the Virgin River series. Dare I tell you that this is the first book I’ve read of the series. Where the H have I been!?!?!?!

This was a very satisfying read. The author made the characters very real. I liked Angie and Patrick, and cheered for them as they try to work through their struggles. Both bring a history of trauma and pain the made them very endearing.

I see from reading other reviews that the Virgin River series is VERY popular. From reading just this one book, I now understand why. Off I go to find book #1 so I too can meet all the folks from Virgin Rivers.
Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 30, 2012.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Merry Ex-Mas

Christmas in Icicle Falls... Between Yuletide traditions, winter sports and mistletoe hanging everywhere, Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls, Washington. But this year it's not so merry-for three of its residents, anyway.
Cass Wilkes, owner of the Gingerbread Haus bakery, was looking forward to her daughter, Danielle's, wedding...until Dani announced that she wants her father, Cass's ex, to walk her down the aisle. Seriously? And, since every B and B is full, it looks like he, his trophy wife and their yappy little dog will be staying with Cass.
Her friend Charlene Albach arrives at their weekly chick-flick night in shock. She's just seen the ghost of Christmas past: her ex-husband, Richard, who left her a year ago, running off with the hostess from her restaurant, Zelda's, to start a new life (and restaurant) in Seattle. Now the hostess is history and he wants to kiss and make up. Hide the mistletoe!
And bring out the hot buttered rum, because the holidays aren't so easy for Ella O'Brien, either. Ella, who's newly divorced, is still sharing the house with her ex while they wait for the place to sell, and they are still fighting over all the things they fought over when they were married. The love is gone. Isn't it?
But Christmas has a way of working its magic. One of these women is about to rediscover love, another is going to remember what's important in life and the third will find a new dream in the new year. Merry Ex-mas, ladies!
Between Yuletide traditions, winter sports and mistletoe hanging everywhere, Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls, Washington. But this year it's not so merry-for three of its residents, anyway (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I have to honestly tell you, I think this is my first ever story with a Christmas theme. I could not have picked a better place to start than with a story based in Icicle Falls. I have really gotten to like the folks in this town. I like how the author writes what her characters are really thinking on the inside versus how they are acting on the outside. You know, when internally you’re thinking “what the heck” or “no way” or “stick it” but on the outside we are saying “why sure!” or “gee, thanks” or “I’d love to”.

These are fun reads when you want something light that will make you feel good. I’m pretty sure I’m going to hang out in Icicle Falls for many years to come.

Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

Publish date: October 30, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration.

From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.
This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.
No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.

My Thoughts

It just so happened that on the day the Supreme Court was going to issue it’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA aka Obamacare), I had an appointment with my physician whose office is located within a hospital. Hmmmm - healthcare reform + doctor + hospital - seemed like a good time to ask people their opinion of the Affordable Care Act and their perception on how it would impact them. I, along with the rest of the country was anxiously awaiting the ruling. When it was announced that the Court decided to uphold the ACA, and this decision involved a stunning vote from Chief Justice John Roberts, I was curious as to how the Court came to their final decision.

As luck would have it, this book showed up on my radar screen and seemed like it might have the answers I was looking for. Not only did it do that, but The Oath provided me with a brief education on the Court and the Justices.

The book begins with the flubbed oath taking that started President Obama’s current term. It ends with the Court agreeing to rule on the constitutionality of the PPACA, the arguments presented by both sides, and the decision making process of the final rule. In between are chapters that talked about past and present justices, how they came to be on the Court and some of their beliefs and background that help shape whether they are conservative or liberal.

I learned a great deal from this book. I really like Mr. Toobin’s writing style. He is informative, yet entertaining. It certainly appears to be well researched. As someone with no legal background, I found the book to be fairly readable in that it did not contain too much legal speak. 
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the workings of the Supreme Court and how their decisions impact the nation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Secret Keeper

1959 England. Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world (from Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I just read the last 30 pages of this in the bathroom with the door closed so no one could find me - this is that good!
I am in awe of this story. It is one of those slow paced mysteries where the author drops a clue in every once in awhile that made me think “oh really? or “hmmm - now I wonder what that means?” Ms. Morton weaves such an intricate tale, I found it difficult to put down. The ending - oy - totally unexpected. Totally.
This is the first book I have read by Ms. Morton. I’m am so glad that I did, sad that I am at the end of this totally amazing book, but happy to know she has other stories out there that I still need to read!
I am eternally grateful to Atria Publishing and Netgally for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 16, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jimmy The Stick

The Lindbergh kidnapping was one of the most highly publicized crimes of the 20th century. Charles Jr., the 20-month-old son of the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, was abducted on March 1, 1932 from his home in New Jersey. The first week after the kidnapping was a time of fear, confusion and utter disbelief as America scrambled to come to terms with the horror, protect their own kids, and find someone to blame.

Jimmy the Stick is a historical mystery that takes place during this chaos. After retiring from a career of running with mobsters and working as a bootlegger, Jimmy started a speakeasy in New York City. Evoking the atmosphere of the 1930s Prohibition, his bar is a place where crooks, police and civilians can come for a nice drink in a dark and discreet atmosphere. His “retirement” ends, however, on the day after the kidnapping when he’s inexplicably beat up at his bar, then brought to New Jersey to protect his former partner’s son from Lindberg’s same fate. There, he discovers, the suburban calm of the rich is anything but, and worse, his crooked past is threatening to catch up to him…(from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

I received an email from the publisher asking if I would consider reading this book since I have read historical fiction before.

“Why not?” I thought. But hey - wait a minute - what if I don’t like the story?

Well, not to worry, because I liked it a lot. I got involved with the story line right from the beginning. There is always something going on that keeps the story moving along at a good pace.Jimmy the Stick is a very likeable character. He is street wise and stands by his friends.

I thought the author captured the tone of the time period quite well. Mr. Mayo - I hope you have more stories for us in the future.

Thank you to Open Road Media/Mysterious Press for allowing me to read - via Netgalley - this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. I’m sure glad you asked!

Publish date: October 16, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Double Blind: A Novel

Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate.

When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo?

What if something far worse goes wrong?

Written in the relentless style for which Brandilyn Collins is known, Double Blind is a psychological thriller with mind-bending twists. Lisa faces choices that drive her to the brink, and one wrong move could cost the lives of many.(from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

Once Lisa Newberry gets her brain chip, she immediately starts to feel better. But just as quick, she starts having nightmares that seem more real than dreamed. Is it the chip? If not, where are these images coming from and what could they possibly mean?

This was a great read. Fast paced and I think, believable. Lisa is a fighter and determined to find out the truth at any cost. The story had my heart pounding from the suspense.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I am looking forward to reading some of her other stories.

Thanks to B&H Publishing Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchanges for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 15, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Darkness Rising (East Salem Trilogy #2)

by Lis Wiehl and Pete Nelson

The evil that's in East Salem is no longer content to hide in the shadows. The stakes-and the darkness-are rising.

Dani Harris thought there wasn't much left that could surprise her after serving as a forensic psychiatrist in East Salem. And Tommy Gunderson has faced few challenges in his life that he couldn't overcome by either physical strength or his celebrity status.

But as they race to uncover what's really happening behind the high walls of St. Adrian's Academy, it becomes clear that supernatural forces have been at work here for generations. And now their focus is on making sure Dani and Tommy don't interfere.

When the unseen becomes seen, faith is the only weapon strong enough to fight in a battle involving not only murder and betrayal-but angels and demons.(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This was excellent! I do love a tale about good versus evil. I did not realized when I pick this up that it is book two of a trilogy. I don’t feel that not reading book one had any impact on my enjoying the story. I definitely want to go back and read the first book now.

I liked both Dani and Tommy. The seemed real, had flaws and sometimes struggled with their faith. The story was suspenseful and it was hard to put down - oh that I was one of those people who can read all night and still work the next day!

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing and NetGallet for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 3, 2012.