Sunday, January 31, 2016

Short & Sweet Review: Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs (audio)

Title: Bones Are Forever
Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Temperance Brennan, #15
Narrator: Linda Emond 
Published: August 2012, Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 9 hours 30 minutes 
Source: Library


#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs, a producer of the Fox hit show Bones, is back with her fifteenth “pulse-pounding” (Publishers Weekly) novel featuring North America’s favorite forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan—a story of infanticide and murder set in the high stakes, high danger world of diamond mining.

Beneath a diamond’s perfect surface lies a story of violence and greed. Just like bones...

In a run-down Montreal apartment, Tempe finds heartbreaking evidence of three innocent lives ended. The landlord says Alma Rogers lives there—is she the same woman who checked into a city hospital as Amy Roberts, then fled before doctors could treat her uncontrolled bleeding? Is she Alva Rodriguez, sought by a man who appeared at the crime scene? Heading up an investigation crackling with the sexual tension of past intimacies, Tempe leads homicide detective Andrew Ryan and police sergeant Ollie Hasty along the woman’s trail and into the farthest reaches of mining country—where the grim industry of unearthing diamonds exacts a price in blood. And where the truths the unlikely trio uncovers are more sinister than they could have imagined.
***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: This was quite an interesting installment in the Temperance Brennan series...I never know just where the case is going to take us and boy oh boy this one was quite a compelling, yet tough ride. It was a little hard to get through at times, due to the sensitive nature of the babies that kept turning up dead, but then when the diamond connection turned up, it just became really interesting. I really do love the facts that Kathy Reichs is able to impart throughout her books - I always feel like I walk away from her books with little tidbits of knowledge about a wide array of topics.


There was an interesting dynamic going on for Tempe in this book - not only was Ryan involved in this case, but so was an old fling of Tempe's and that sure did make for some tense moments. It definitely put Tempe on guard, trying not to stir the pot by making either jealous as both happen to be exes as of this case. It was comical to watch, though I'm sure Tempe didn't think so! 


Audio thoughts:
Yay...another book narrated by Linda Emond! While I know it's only a matter of time before the narrator switches, I am enjoying this long spree of books with a consistent narrator while it lasts. I think Linda does a great job with the voices and pacing in this series.


Books in this series:

  1. Deja Dead                                14.  Flash & Bones
  2. Death du Jour                       15.  Bones are Forever
  3. Deadly Decisions                 15.5  Bones in Her Pocket
  4. Fatal Voyage                         16.  Bones of the Lost
  5. Grave Secrets                        17.  Bones Never Lie
  6. Bare Bones                              17.5  Bones on Ice
  7. Monday Mourning              18.  Speaking in Bones
  8. Cross Bones                            
  9. Break No Bones                    
  10. Bones to Ashes                    
  11. Devil Bones 
  12. 206 Bones
  13. Spider Bones
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#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in January 29

 
    
It was an ok week. I was really tired all week for some reason, so getting up to go to the gym didn't really happen after Monday...not sure what's going on there. I still have my head cold, though it is much better. I think fighting that is really taking a lot out of me. Hopefully, now that it seems to be mostly gone, next week I can get back to my regular routine - I seem to sleep much better on the days I get to the gym!
 
Here's how my week of went: 
   
Jan 23:  6,954 steps
Jan 24:  6,422 steps
Jan 25:  10,045 steps (Gym, 35 minutes on treadmill)

Jan 26:  11,327 steps
Jan 27:  11,024 steps

Jan 28: 
7,290 steps 
Jan 29: 
10,927 steps
 
 
Audiobooks listened to this week: 

  • Finished The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley, narrated by Noreen Leighton, Rachel Lincoln
  • Started White Gardenia by Belinda Alexandra, narrated by Deidre Rubenstein

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


Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:  
           5K  -  3
         10K -  0
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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Short & Sweet Review: Flash & Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio)

Title: Flash & Bones
Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Temperance Brennan, #14
Narrator: Linda Emond
Published: August 2011, Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 8 hours 33 minutes 
Source: Library


Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next day, a NASCAR crew member comes to Temperance Brennan's office at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, Wayne Gamble's sister, Cindi, then a high school senior and aspiring racer, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right-wing extremists known as the Patriot Posse. Could the body be Cindi's? Or Cale's?

At the time of their disappearance, the FBI joined the investigation, only to terminate it weeks later. Was there a cover-up? As Tempe juggles multiple theories, the discovery of a strange, deadly substance in the barrel alongside the body throws everything into question. Then an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes missing during Race Week. Tempe can't overlook the coincidence. Was this man using his lab chemicals for murder? Or is the explanation even more sinister? What other secrets lurk behind the festive veneer of Race Week?

A turbocharged story of secrets and murder unfolds in this, the fourteenth thrilling novel in Reichs's "cleverly plotted and expertly maintained series" ("The New York Times Book Review"). With the smash hit "Bones "about to enter its seventh season and in full syndication--and her most recent novel, "Spider Bones, "an instant "New York Times "bestseller--Kathy Reichs is at the top of her game.
***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: Being a Nascar fan, I really enjoyed this installment!!! I loved all the references to racing and the bits of history that Kathy Reichs included about the history of how racing came to be. For instance, she mentioned that 40% of Nascar fans are female, and I'm proud to say, I'm definitely part of this statistic! Of course, having Tempe based in Charlotte, N.C.,  it was only a matter of time that a storyline involved Nascar, and I thought it was a great case.

I also loved that Slidell was back...oh how I just love him!!! He's so quirky and it's always fun hearing about his interactions with Tempe. He hasn't been around in a while and I do hope this isn't the last of him!

Then there's Summer, Tempe's ex-husband, Pete's new wife-to-be. What a trip she is! I love that Summer has found an ally in Tempe much to Tempe's dismay, so much that she goes as far as asking Tempe to help her get Pete to see reason with the wedding plans...these scenes were so comical!!! 

This has definitely been one of my favorite installments in the series but only because I am a Nascar fan. I could definitely see where if you don't like Nascar, this one might not be up your alley.  


Audio thoughts: I've been lucky to have found a set of audios that Linda Emond has narrated. It's so strange that there are different versions with different narrators. But anyway - I am really enjoying listening to the same narrator narrate this series, especially as I catch up on this series. 

My only complaint remains the same with this production - the tracks are really long so it's hard to go back or switch from one place to another in the middle of a track - like move from car to house. I guess that's the drawback when using CD's as opposed to using audible or another program on my phone. Oh well, I manage, but I do prefer when the tracks are shorter, because there are times when I do want to re-listen to something, just because I've gotten distracted or I want to rehear something and with the longer tracks, I tend not to. 


Books in this series:
  1. Deja Dead                                14.  Flash & Bones
  2. Death du Jour                       15.  Bones are Forever
  3. Deadly Decisions                 15.5  Bones in Her Pocket
  4. Fatal Voyage                         16.  Bones of the Lost
  5. Grave Secrets                        17.  Bones Never Lie
  6. Bare Bones                              17.5  Bones on Ice
  7. Monday Mourning              18.  Speaking in Bones
  8. Cross Bones                            
  9. Break No Bones                    
  10. Bones to Ashes                    
  11. Devil Bones 
  12. 206 Bones
  13. Spider Bones
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Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Title: The Things We Keep
Author: Sally Hepworth
Published: January 2016, St. Martin's Press 
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher


Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Sally Hepworth and it is an absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful, yet thought provoking book. It's a hard book to put down once you get involved in it, yet one that you will not be able to stop thinking about once you finish reading.

I loved the way this story was told, alternating between Anna, diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in her late thirties; Eve, suddenly a single mother, who begins working at the assisted living facility where Anna lives; and Clementine, Eve's 7 year-old daughter. This allowed for a different perspective on what was going on, as well as different story lines. The main story is Anna's, though Eve does have her own story to tell as well. But, what's equally interesting is that Anna's part is told in reverse order, while Eve and Clementine's is told straight forward. How clever and when you think about it, makes total sense!

This story is definitely about loss, no doubt about that, though, not all loss is tangible. Anna is trying desperately to hold on to the person she was before her diagnosis and maintain some sort of dignity. She learns quite a bit when she befriends Luke, the other young person at the care facility with a similar diagnosis. Their relationship blossoms into something that no one expected and it's sweet, though not everyone agrees. But that begs the question - what drives a relationship - your mind or your heart?

There is a lot of food for thought when reading this book. It's a compelling read that will leave you with many questions. But, isn't that the point when you read a book of this type? Isn't it supposed to get you thinking? I always think so.

 
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn (Giveaway Closed)

Title: No Ordinary Life
Author: Suzanne Redfearn 
Published: February 2016, Grand Central Publishing


Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood. Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know who to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.

Excerpt:

We’ve been in LA a month and have settled into a routine, not miserable but a good measure shy of content, a sustainable existence that borders on normal.

My mom and I barely see each other, which is perhaps the reason the precarious peace exists. My four shifts at Natrij keep me out until after the rest of the house is asleep, and my mom works the other three days, two as a volunteer at the local library, the third at Star Gazer, a weekly tabloid devoted to stalking celebrities, snapping photos of them, then making up stories to go along with those photos.

Prior to her retirement, my mom had been a middle-school English teacher. Now she uses her writing skills and her obsession with the famous to write an astrology column on the stars, divining their futures from the position of the sun and the moon, the exact moment of their birth, and their current location on the globe. It’s all very scientific hogwash, but the readers love it, and her column is one of the most popular in the magazine.


School ends in a week, and I’m stressed about the summer routine, or rather the lack of routine. Since we moved here, my mom has homeschooled Tom, sparing him from starting in a new school, so he and Molly have been home, but blessedly Emily’s been gone five days a week, sparing us all from her spite.


Emily hates her new school, hates LA, and hates me. And I hate to admit it, but I’m glad she’s not around on the days I’m home so I don’t have to deal with it. The only saving grace is the soccer team she joined. Other than that, she’s miserable and miserable to be around, and when school ends, she’s going to be like a caged elephant with a stubbed toe.

I’m surprised when I walk into the condo after my shift to find my mom still awake. I look at the clock, 10:15.

“What are you doing up?” I ask, my tongue thick from exhaustion and boredom. The new rhythm of my life—work, cooking, cleaning, laundry—is like elevator music, droning on endlessly without enough differentiation to tell one day from the next.

My mom springs from the couch, her face lit up in a way that scares me. It’s the same look she had on her face when I was eleven and she announced we were going on a celebrity cruise where we would mingle with the famous. A total disaster. Even my mom didn’t recognize the has-beens that were billed as the stars on the cruise, and my dad and I spent the vacation leaning over the railing green with seasickness.

“You’re not going to believe what happened today,” she says.

“You won the lottery.”

“Better.”

“Better than winning the lottery? Tom got up in front of Congress and gave a speech on the injustice of banning peanut butter from school lunches.”

“Better.”

Nothing could be better than that. “What?” I say, tired of the game.

She holds out a business card. “Look who came by the condo today.”

Monique Braxton, Braxton Talent Agency, a Wilshire Boulevard address, a phone number, a website, an email, a Facebook address, a Twitter address.

I shrug.

“Don’t you know who that is? Monique Braxton. She’s like the biggest talent agent on the planet. She reps anyone who’s anyone. Not adults, only kids, but if you’re a someone under eighteen, you’re a Monique Braxton kid.” My mom is so excited that the words spit and sputter like machine-gun fire.

“So?”

“So, look at this.” 

Grabbing me by the wrist, she pulls me to her laptop on the kitchen table and wiggles the mouse to wake it. The screen opens to a YouTube page. She clicks the gray triangle in the lower left corner and the video starts to play…a video of Molly!

I watch in disbelief. The video is from our day on the promenade. It starts abruptly, the big man strumming the beginning riff of “Johnny B. Goode,” his body bobbing with the beat. Behind him, off to the side, Molly does little he-man squats in sync with the big man’s big he-man squats. It’s very funny to watch.

Then the big man does a hip thrust and a leg kick, and Molly follows with a hilarious mini-hip thrust and leg kick that causes a burst of giggles from the audience. The big man looks confused by the reaction and repeats the move. Molly mimics him again, and again the audience cracks up.

The big man whirls, spots his miniature impersonator, wiggles his finger for her to come toward him, and that’s when the throwdown begins.

The video is three minutes and fifty-two seconds long and ends with Molly knocking knuckles with the drummer. In the final seconds is when I see us—Emily, Tom, and me standing in the background, matching grins on our faces.

“So, the thing is,” my mom says, “this video’s gone viral. Look at the number of hits.”
I blink at the number, certain it can’t be right. 7,867,672. My mom is still talking, but I’ve stopped listening, my eyes blurring as I continue to stare at the glowing digits.

“Did you hear me?” my mom nearly screeches.

“Huh?”

“The Gap wants Molly for a commercial.”

“What?”

“The Gap, you know, the clothes store.”

“Yeah, what about them?”

“They want Molly to be in one of their commercials. They hired Monique Braxton to track Molly down, and Monique Braxton did. Not some assistant but her. Monique Braxton, in the flesh. Here. In my condo.”

She’s so giddy that it’s almost possible to imagine her as the little girl she must have been, enthusiastic and animated, perhaps a little like Molly but with a penchant for the stars. I bet she was one of those girls who collected princess paraphernalia and, when she outgrew that, plastered her wall with movie posters. The passion carried into adulthood, a fascination with the famous that borders on obsessive. The hobby is both endearing and a bit disturbing—an inordinate amount of time and energy spent on people she’ll never meet. My mom can tell you more about most stars than she can about me. She knows how old they are, where they were born, who they’ve dated, what movies they’ve starred in, what tragedies have befallen them, the addictions they have, who they’re related to, who supposedly likes them and who loathes them. She subscribes to every tabloid in print, has sat in at least a hundred studio audiences, and regularly signs up for those ridiculous Hollywood tours that drive past celebrity’s houses in hopes of catching a glimpse of the rich and fabulous.

“And she absolutely loved Molly,” she says. “Of course what’s not to love? Did you see that video?”

I glance at Molly snoring on the pull-out couch.

“Can you believe it? Molly. Our Molly.”

“How’d she find us?” I ask.

“A private investigator. He asked around on the promenade, and one of the managers at one of the restaurants remembered you and pulled out your application. Simple as that.”

Simple as that. My skin prickles, and my stomach knots—millions of strangers watching Molly, private investigators asking around about us, famous talent agents showing up uninvited on our doorstep—it feels like a punch to the solar plexus, a strange mixture of exhilaration and horror, a sickly stew of pride and violation.

“So all you need to do is call her tomorrow to set up an appointment.”

My head shakes involuntarily, causing my mom to squint her eyes and say in a much slower voice, “What do you mean, no?”

“Molly’s not…we’re not…I’m…we’re just normal people. We’re not…” I gesture to the frozen image of Molly on the screen. “That.” 

My mom’s face literally changes color, growing from pale peach to so crimson that I feel the heat radiating from her skin. Then she blows, “Jesus criminy Christ, Faye. Bad enough you haven’t an ounce of gumption to go out and do something with your life, but now this amazing opportunity literally lands in your lap, and you’re just going to let it slip right through your fingers. You’re just like your father. A pot of gold could have dropped from the sky with his name on it, and he’d have walked around it, complaining it was raining gold when what we really needed was a bit of rain.”
 

**********************************************************************************

GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (US/Canada only) 
Thanks to the publicist I have one copy of No Ordinary Life to give away to my readers. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by February 2nd.  


Form closed  

 
This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only and ends February 2nd. 


Good luck!
 
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