What I’ve read, so far, this year

Good evening, bloggers! My apologies for not being as active on my page for a while. I believe I’ve overwhelmed myself with the many books I’ve wanted to read, including the surprise book mail I’d receive from giveaways. Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump, but I think we all have been there, right?

No matter, I’ll make the most of it. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a list of every book I’ve read this year, mainly ones I did enjoy and ones I found just okay.

  • The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton
  • Hausfrau, by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  • The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson
  • The Dark Lake, by Sarah Bailey
  • 24: Deadline (24: Live Another Day, #1), by James Swallow
  • Background Music, by J.R. Rogue
  • The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas
  • The Butcher’s Wife, by Li Ang
  • Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life, by Gary John Bishop
  • The Aquitaine Progression, by Robert Ludlum
  • Convicted, by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins
  • Cicada Summer, by Maureen Leurck
  • The United Continuums (Continuum Trilogy, #3), by Jennifer Brody
  • Swann’s Way Out (Henry Swann, #4), by Charles Salzberg
  • The Gemini Contenders, by Robert Ludlum
  • The Dog Who Was There, by Ron Marasco
  • The Map That Leads to You, by J.P. Monninger
  • Come Sundown, by Nora Roberts
  • The Breakdown, by B.A. Paris
  • Lift and Separate, by Marilyn Simon Rothstein
  • He Said/She Said, by Erin Kelly
  • Public Library and Other Stories, by Ali Smith
  • Luellen & Lucy, by Dee DeTarsio
  • Definitions of Indefinable Things, by Whitney Taylor
  • Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
  • The 5 Love Languages: Singles Edition, by Gary Chapman
  • Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls, #1), by Lisa See
  • The Summer That Melted Everything, by Tiffany McDaniel
  • The Golden Gate, by Vikram Seth
  • Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens
  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough
  • The German Girl, by Armando Lucas Correa
  • The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, by Louise Miller
  • Not Exactly Love: A Memoir, by Betty Hafner

So there’s my list. I hope you all are enjoying your current reads. Are there any books on this list you’ve read or want to read? Feel free to post your comments. New reviews will be up as soon as possible. Happy reading!

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“The Dark Lake”–Review

51ZIhQaUz2L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Rose was lit by the sun, her beautiful face giving nothing away. Even back then, she was a mystery that I wanted to solve.

In a rural town in Australia, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is on the case involving a murder of a high school classmate, Rosalind Ryan. To many, Rosalind was beautiful, talented, and mysterious. People seemed to be obsessed with her. But why? After the news of her death comes out, everyone is devastated. What had made Rosalind so special?

As the case goes on, Gemma tries to figure out why Rosalind had quit her teaching job in Sydney to return to her hometown. Even though her father was one of the richest men in town, why did Rosalind live in a run-down apartment? And did anyone truly know her? Was she as great as people claimed?

The longer the case goes on, the more frustrated Gemma becomes. All the while, she’s juggling her own problems and secrets: an affair with her colleague, including a tragedy from long ago that Gemma fears may not stay in the past.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this great debut. The dialogue was well-written and it all left me curious as to what secrets would be revealed. For thriller fans, this might be the book for you. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Sarah Bailey was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived all her life and resides with her two young sons. She has a degree in journalism and works in advertising. She is currently a partner at the creative agency Mr Smith. The Dark Lake is her first novel.

“The Resurrection of Joan Ashby”–Review

51gPNfTSLBL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Joan Ashby is an acclaimed writer, a woman who believes in the importance of independence, to pursue her aspirations, to not let anything stand in her way. For as long as she’s been writing, one of her main goals was to never marry or have children. Despite her years of success, however, life didn’t turn out the way she’d planned, for she had become a wife and mother to two sons. Although she loved her sons, Joan still felt a betrayal of the pact she and her husband, Martin, made, which was to not have children.

While living the life of wife and mother, it is years since Joan’s had anything published. At the same time, she is secretly writing a new novel, which takes decades to complete. Once the secret manuscript is complete, Joan questions every choice she’s made. Where had she gone wrong? Was she still a writer? Was her family to blame for her choices? And can she reclaim the life she’s always wanted before she’d given it all up for love?

Honestly, I was excited about the conflict of this novel. I liked the idea of an acclaimed writer trying to find herself after putting her life on hold for her family. Although the first half of the story was good, there were too many excerpts of Joan’s writing in a few chapters, including the second half of the story. I got the idea behind her stories, yet it was a bit much for me. Of course, I won’t give any spoilers. I just wasn’t too happy with the second half, especially the ending. The writing is excellent, but I was turned off later on in the book. I don’t discourage anyone from reading the book, though, so check it out.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Cherise Wolas a writer, lawyer, and film producer whose movies include an SXSW Audience Award winner. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in New York City with her husband. The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is her debut.

“Convicted”–Review

51KKYkaafTL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_A crooked cop, an innocent man, and an unlikely journey of forgiveness and friendship.

Taking place in Benton Harbor, a small city on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, this story is narrated by Andrew Collins—a white narcotics officer—and Jameel McGee. When Andrew Collins became a police officer, he knew he always wanted to make a difference in his community. Things got better for him when he moved up to being a narcotics officer. However, the more drug busts he went out on, the bigger his ego. He got a bit too greedy. That’s when everything changed for Jameel McGee—a black man who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time—who Collins had framed for possession of drugs.

After his being falsely convicted, McGee had spent four years in federal prison. During his time behind bars, McGee vowed to get back at the cop who’d ruined his life.

A few years later, after investigations of his falsifying police reports, Collins is thrown in prison. During his time in prison, Collins starts to face his reality, that he’d become everything he’d hated, that he’d ruined too many lives, all because of his greed and his ego. It is during an unexpected reunion, however, that makes the two men face their own realities and how they wound up where they were. No matter how much anger and mistrust they have in their hearts, they both must learn, that in order to truly live again, that they need to forgive.

I enjoyed reading this book. For a while, I really was wondering how things were going to go down between Collins and McGee. As difficult as it was for the two of them, it definitely took a lot of strength to make peace with everything that went wrong in their lives, to let go of all the remaining anger, and to maintain a strong friendship. If you’re interested in this story, I recommend it.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Convicted will be available on September 19, 2017.

*I received this copy from Waterbrook Multnomah, in exchange for an honest review.

About the authors: Jameel McGee works for Emergency Shelter Services, a program to help the homeless find sustainable housing. Andrew Collins works with youth, as part of Young Life. Mark Tabb is the New York Times best-selling author and collaborator of Mistaken Identity and other books.

“Cicada Summer”–Review

61TRNEC4GsL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_It’s never too late to start again…

Alex Proctor invests in and renovates old homes. She’s come upon many, rundown properties, yet she’s always believed that, no matter the house’s condition, there’s a story behind the walls of every home, that there’s beauty in it all. She enjoys the excitement of making properties a home again. Her latest project is a century-old house near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Because the house has been badly neglected, Alex knows the work is going to be challenging. Nevertheless, she has faith that it all will work out.

Within a few weeks, the cicadas are supposed to reappear after 17 years, which is also the time the repairs on the house should be finished and ready to sell. However, Alex stumbles upon one disaster and surprise after another, leaving her wondering if her hard work is even worth it all.

While working on the house, Alex finds random treasures hidden in the house, one of them including some carved initials which reveal a love story from long ago of Alex’s elderly neighbor, Elsie.

While getting to know more of Elsie’s past life, Alex has been thinking about her own life and how to make peace with everything that’s caused her heartache. Meanwhile, her mind constantly wanders toward her lingering feelings for her ex-husband, Matt. Their only involvement is their five-year-old daughter, yet Alex’s feelings are all over the place every time she and Matt have to see each other when it comes to their joint custody with their daughter.

No matter her feelings, Alex has always felt that moving on was the only way. However, with all that is going on in her life, she sees this house as a possibility of second chances, not just with the house, but with her life.

I received this copy from the author, in exchange for an honest review, and I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed the story. No spoilers, of course, but you’ll learn the reason behind the book’s title. I love how this book shows the reader that, no matter what’s happening in our lives, there’s always a chance to make things right.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Maureen Leurck graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and currently resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and three children. She escapes up to the Lake Geneva area when she can for a good fish fry. For more info on the author, click here.

“The Little French Bistro”–Review

51fN2ZGIF4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_After 41 years, Marianne is fed up with her loveless marriage. For years, she’s felt so unworthy, so unloved because of her husband’s controlling ways. Finally realizing her life has passed her by, Marianne decides life is no longer worth living—until she is saved. Finding herself in Brittany, the northwestern part of France, she is swept up by a new life at Ar Mor (the Sea) restaurant, where she meets Yann, the handsome painter; Genevieve, the restaurant owner; Jean-Remy, the heartbroken chef; and many others.

While she takes in her new surroundings, along with getting to know the locals, Marianne starts to find a forgotten version of herself.  Even though she’s often afraid, she learns what it means to truly live again. However, her past still beckons her, and that’s when she needs to decide if she’s meant to return to her old life or to push it aside for a better future.

Although I liked the storyline, the book was leaving me in a bit of a slump. I felt I couldn’t really connect with the characters. I’m less than halfway through with the book, so I just might finish it to see if it may change my perspective. No matter, I don’t discourage anyone from reading a book I didn’t really enjoy. Perhaps you’ll feel differently. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Nina George is the author of the bestselling international phenomenon, The Little Paris Bookshop, as well as numerous other books that have been published around the world. She also works as a journalist, a writer, an advocate for author rights, and a storytelling teacher. She lives with her husband in Berlin, Germany, and Brittany, France.

FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

“The United Continuums”–Review

513Kz8kOo8L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, bloggers! I can’t believe this trilogy has come to an end. I was so excited to read all of the books in the Continuum trilogy, so here’s my review of the final installment.

Aero Wright, of the outer space Second Continuum, must lead a group of insurgents to overthrow his rival, Supreme General Vinick, and to unite his space colony’s military forces. Seeker, from the underground Seventh Continuum, embarks on a secret mission back to her colony to reinforce Earth’s defenses and protect the First Continuum against an even greater threat. Meanwhile, Myra Jackson, from the underwater 13th Continuum, is anxiously preparing the fight against the Dark Thing that is approaching Earth with the threat to eradicate the planet’s fledgling populace if the secret of the Doom isn’t handed over. The only way the three Carriers, including their armies, can avoid another coming of the Doom is to stand together and destroy the Dark Thing and save the remaining colonies.

I’m sad to see this superb trilogy come to an end, but it was definitely worth reading. I enjoyed the suspense, the dialogue, and how it all left me wanting more. The characters were amazing, as well. Many scenes made me sad, some angry, and some happy. What I also like about the idea behind the stories is that, no matter how badly things have turned out, there’s always a chance of hope. The author did a wonderful job. If you haven’t read these books, I encourage you read them. Honestly, these books will be on my mind for a while. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Jennifer Brody lives and writes in Los Angeles. After graduating from Harvard University, she began her career in feature film development. Highlights include working at New Line Cinema on many projects, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Golden Compass, and Love In The Time of Cholera. She’s a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She also founded and runs BookPod, a social media platform for authors. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.