Friday, March 27, 2015

These make me so giddy!!

You know those little annoying ads on Facebook that just drive you nuts?!  Well for once I was so glad that a certain one advertising British Illustrator, Johanna Basford's adult coloring books Enchanted Forest and Secret Garden!  

I mean people, REALLY look at these drawings!  

They are SICK! (And I mean that in the most awesome way!) 

I'm not actually a huge coloring fan, but I am a huge embroidery fan and these pictures would make some absolutely STUNNING embroidery pieces.  

And apparently, I'm not the first one to have that idea.  Check out Mary Corbet's GORGEOUS work of one of Johanna's illustrations from her website

Talk about inspiring!  

I know this is a book blog, and technically I AM raving about these astounding coloring books, but they're just too gorgeous not to stitch as well!  And did you know coloring can greatly reduce stress? Lord knows we could all use a lot more of that in our lives ;-)

Copies of both books can be found on Amazon here and here!!  And they're so affordable too!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

That Night by Chevy Stevens

I don't even need to read the synopsis of a Chevy Stevens book to know I'm automatically going to like it.  And not surprisingly - I actually loved it.

She's still a relatively new author and this is the 5th book she's put out.  Her first two, Still Missing and Never Knowing were insanely awesome and I read those back in 2011.  I didn't even know about her third book The Other Side - I'll need to reserve that from the library.  Then I read her 4th book Always Watching in 2013, which I wasn't a huge fan of but it wasn't enough to throw me off her books altogether.  As soon as I saw That Night was featured on NetGalley I pretty much begged and pleaded to be able to read a copy!  I'm so grateful they allowed me, cause it was sooo good!!  I love a good suspense psychological thriller (my taste seems to be really evolving the older I get...weird).

The entire time I kept trying to figure out how everything was going to play out - though I admit I did have my suspicions and was totally dead on with those. Still, even though I figured it out, I so enjoyed every page of this intense story!  And isn't that cover gorgeous?  I'm such a sucker for covers involving water or leaves.

Thank you so much NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for graciously allowing me the opportunity to read a copy for an unbiased review!  This book is already out, so snag your copy here! (*All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.)

Description: They said she was a murderer. 

They said she killed her sister.

But they lied.

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

Rating: *****

Recommend:  Yup! 2 thumbs up!  But in my opinion, if you haven't read Chevy Stevens before, start with Still Missing, I think it's my favorite of them all!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens is my third Lisa Genova novel, and as I expected... it was fantastic!!  I mean this woman can do no wrong.  I truly am in awe of her writing and the way she portrays these rare & incurable conditions or diseases that individuals are left to face every day.  It helps that she's a Neuroscience graduate of Harvard - I mean whoa.

I fell in love with her first novel Still Alice back when I read it in 2009, then again her third novel, Love Anthony when I read it in 2013. And now again, her fourth novel, Inside the O'Briens which releases in stores April 7, 2015.  Why I haven't picked up her third book, Left Neglected is beyond me - I have to do that ASAP.

With each heart-wrenching story she gives such a personal and in-depth understanding of what an individual and a family goes through when diagnosed with a difficult condition or disease.  With Still Alice it was Alzheimer's, with Love Anthony it was Autism and with Inside the O'Briens it's Huntington's.

My absolutely only issue with this book - is how it ended.  I do hope to God that she's writing a sequel to it, because I just can't be at peace with the conclusion.  I need a bow Lisa - it doesn't even have to be a pretty one, it can be ugly, it can even be downright disgusting - but I NEED A BOW!  ha!!  I sat there venting to my husband at the end of the book - "Oh no she didn't! I don't accept this - this can't be the end."  And then I proceeded to start searching all over the Internet for clues of a sequel (*cue tears*).

This is a great story folks - the kind that makes you think, makes you cry and makes you look at this reality for some from all different sides. I Loved it.  A massive thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for allowing me the privilege of reading an advanced copy.  Pre-order your copy here!  (*All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.)

Description: From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.

Rating: *****

Recommend:  I recommend all of her books, they are just incredible and is in the top 5 of my favorite authors. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

Typically the only Christian historical fiction you'll see me picking up is by Francine Rivers - the woman knows how to do it right.  Unfortunately, I haven't found many other Christian authors that I enjoy historical fiction from.  BUT I will say, I LOVED the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke, so when my mother-in-law dropped the Acts of Faith trilogy off at my house to give a try - I thought - heck why not?!

Sigh.....but it was not to be folks.  I read the first of the series, The Centurion's Wife and I just couldn't get into it.  And I'll admit I was actually a bit frustrated.  Here's why - because when Christian authors take actual historical Biblical accounts and "add" their spin to it, it confuses the absolute crap out of me.   And then next thing I know - I genuinely think there was a niece of Herod's out there by the name of Leah who fell in love with a Centurion of the name Alban and they had a bunch of interactions with Jesus and the disciples.  Didn't happen people.  Every now and then I do love a great historical fiction novel, but it has to keep some distance from actual historical events or it just loses me all together. I hope that makes sense.  Of course, that doesn't mean that I give up on Janette Oke all together, I just wasn't too keen on this one and therefore didn't feel compelled to read the remaining 2 books in the series.  Hey, at least I tried right?

Description: Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma. 

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor. 

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, The Centurion's Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

Rating: **

Recommend: If blending between fiction & actual historical events doesn't bother you, then by all means give this one a shot!