Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cover Crush: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
And we've got more flowers this week!! I promise I do enjoy covers with elements other than flowers, I just seem to be drawn to them lately. Anyways, this cover in particular...I really like how disjointed and hazy elements of the cover are as I'm sure they represent some sort of confusion or mystery within the story. I also like how the flowers seem to be cutting into this woman's profile. I have no idea what that could represent but I like it!
 
Let's read the synopsis to see what we can expect....
 
 
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cover Crush: Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
I seem to have something for flowers against black backdrops as this has quite a lot in common with last week's Cover Crush pick, with the exception of this one being more about the growth of flowers and less about their destruction. I love the way the flowers and greenery on this cover actually look to be alive and growing and how they weave within the title and author's name. The bright mix of colors is also pleasing against the dark background and it's all quite pretty.
 
Let's take a peak to see what's inside the cover, shall we.....
 
 
The two central activities in my life - alongside writing - have been reading and gardening.

Penelope Lively has always been a keen gardener. This book is partly a memoir of her own life in gardens: the large garden at home in Cairo where she spent most of her childhood, her grandmother's garden in a sloping Somerset field, then two successive Oxfordshire gardens of her own, and the smaller urban garden in the North London home she lives in today.
It is also a wise, engaging and far-ranging exploration of gardens in literature, from Paradise Lost to Alice in Wonderland, and of writers and their gardens, from Virginia Woolf to Philip Larkin.
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Publisher: Phoenix Books, Inc.
Pub. Date: April 17th, 2007
Length: 6 hours

Genres: Horror / Fiction / Suspense


Synopsis



The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre


First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I've enjoyed the movie version of The Haunting of Hill House since it came out years ago, but somehow never got around to reading (or listening, in this case) to the actual story as written by the author. In the movie we see a mix of the paranormal and the psychological, wondering how much of what was occurring was a result of ghosts and evil spirits or more within the twisted minds of the characters. I found this audiobook to be very similar, at least where it comes to that key mystery, and to have much about it to enjoy, even as the ending left much to be desired.

The characters are very similar: shy, lonely Eleanor; vivacious and outgoing Theodora; charming and appeasing Luke; and the doctor at the center of it all, studying the others and pulling the strings somewhat. The house itself is even a character, being strangely constructed with off-kilter doors, strange hallways and rooms, and oddities that would leave anyone feeling slightly uncomfortable or slightly insane within it. It's an overall fun house even as it can also feel quite terrifying.

The narrator was great, having that classic posh English accent that you would expect and want from this sort of story. While each of the voices didn't necessarily sound distinct of and to themselves they were still varied enough that it wasn't difficult to figure out who was talking to whom and he definitely made up for any lack of distinction with his great skills at keeping the narration foreboding and sinister feeling.

I have to admit I'm either disappointed with the ending or somewhat confused on what actually  happened. I don't want to say too much in case anyone else hasn't read/listened to the story and wants to, but I was left feeling like not that much actually happened by the end of the story. Sort of a "this happened and now we are all moving on" situation. I might have completely missed something while listening to the audiobook...that happens sometimes when you listen while driving...but otherwise it ended up being something of a letdown.

The Haunting of Hill House is a good, classically sinister story that gets under your skin even as not that much really happens. It's more about what isn't happening and the bumps in the night that we cannot see. While this doesn't make me a lifetime fan of Shirley Jackson's I'm definitely interested to see what her other stories might have to offer.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



I'm not a big fan of this particular cover as it's just the movie tie-in photo and doesn't really represent, for me, the story as a whole. I've seen other covers that show a creepy old house, which is great, but even those don't seem to have much depth to them.



My Rating: 4.0/5.0


I borrowed a copy of The Haunting of Hill House from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are mine alone. If you'd like to find out more about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 


Friday, May 11, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Pub. Date: May 16th, 2013
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Length: 15 hours, 54 minutes

Book Series: Cormoran Strike #1
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Crime Fiction


Synopsis



The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.


A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I feel very late to the game with this series of contemporary mysteries by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). I saw this first book in the series pop up on my library's Overdrive account and thought, why not give it a go? I'm been really enjoying mysteries this year and it sounded like a good premise. I'm glad I went with my gut because not only did I enjoy the story very much I also really enjoyed the narrator.

The main character - Cormoran Strike - is a gem. As the story began I pictured him as a classic sort of bumbling detective, kind of gritty and unkempt and seeming to be falling apart even when you know he's following all the clues. He's also got much about him that's very unique, having been in the military police and having been injured in the line of duty, as well as being the illegitimate son of a aging rockstar, something that put him in a very interesting predicament as he investigates the death of a supermodel that was surrounded by people who also know his father.

His (at first temporary) assistant, Robin Ellacott, is wonderful as well, serving as a great Girl Friday, keeping Cormoran in line and on target while also wrestling with whether she wanted to continue on assisting him in this unsteady detective business (something she very much enjoys much to the dismay of her fiancée) or move on to the next better paying and more secure position. I'm surprised that she isn't even named in the synopsis above as she plays a large part in the story and is just as enjoyable and fleshed out as Cormoran. I would definitely say I at least appreciated both of these characters equally.

The actual search into what happened to Lula Landry was fun to follow. The rich and vicious world Lula lived within was quite entertaining, if superficial, and I was constantly left feeling like these people who were supposed to care about Lula weren't telling the whole truth about what they knew about her or the events leading up to her death, whether that was because of secrets in their own lives or because of some sort of involvement. When the last shoe does drop and we find out exactly what happened to Lula - in great detail as Cormoran has figured out - I can honestly say I did not see it coming. I almost feel like I should have, given what we discover, but as it stands I was completely surprised.

The narrator of The Cuckoo's Calling was exceptional, varying the voices into distinct characterizations (and there are quite a few secondary characters) as well as keeping the narrative flowing evenly so as not to bog the listener down in all the details. He also perfectly expressed Cormoran's dry wit, making me connect with him as a character even more than I might have otherwise.

The Cuckoo's Calling was a fun audiobook to listen to on my commute. The story flowed, the characters and the mystery were interesting, and I'm left wanting more. I've now reserved the next book in the series and hope to be able to listen to it really soon! I'm also really excited to see the TV series that I read is being made based on the series.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



While I think this image represents the overall story well, I don't think the woman on the cover at all matches the image of Lula Landry that I had built up in my head while reading the story. I always prefer if the model on the cover matches the description of the character. Other than that, I love the blinding flashbulbs and the way the name is sort of scrawled within it. I also like that the author's name is quite small so as not to draw attention away from the rest of the cover.


My Rating: 4.0/5.0



I borrowed a copy of the audiobook version of The Cuckoo's Calling from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.
 
 


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Cover Crush: How to be Safe by Tom McAllister

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
There's something violently beautiful about this cover. That soft, pretty rose is just being smashed/shaken into destruction. You can almost see the vibrations of it! I mean, it almost looks like it's bleeding. With the off kilter placement of the title as well I'm thinking this story has got to be about something delicate being thrown into total disarray. It's even more vivid against that all black background and all together is quite a striking image.
 
What kind of destruction is happening within these pages? Hmm.....
 
 
Former Teacher Had Motive. Recently suspended for a so-called outburst, high school English teacher Anna Crawford is stewing over the injustice at home when she is shocked to see herself named on television as a suspect in a shooting at the school where she works. Though she is quickly exonerated, and the actual teenage murderer identified, her life is nevertheless held up for relentless scrutiny and judgment as this quiet town descends into media mania. Gun sales skyrocket, victims are transformed into martyrs, and the rules of public mourning are ruthlessly enforced. Anna decides to wholeheartedly reject the culpability she’s somehow been assigned, and the rampant sexism that comes with it, both in person and online.

A piercing feminist howl written in trenchant prose, How to Be Safe is a compulsively readable, darkly funny exposé of the hypocrisy that ensues when illusions of peace are shattered. 
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 
 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Cover Crush: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
I absolutely love the texture of these feathers! They look so soft yet ribbed...I just want to reach out and rub them. The iridescent coloring is beautiful as well and I can hardly even imagine a bird with such beautiful plumage (other than maybe a peacock). Having the title sort of tucked amongst the feathers is also a great touch. Just a really cool cover.
 
Read the synopsis to find out what "heist" this book is going to teach us about....
 
 
A rollicking true-crime adventure and a thought-provoking exploration of the human drive to possess natural beauty for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief.

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins–some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them–and escaped into the darkness.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man’s relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Spotlight on SAVING BOBBY: Heroes and Heroin in One Small Community by Renée Hodges

Publisher: She Writes Press
Pub. Date: May 1, 2018
Pages: 349



In the face of the staggering statistics about opioid addiction in the United States, Renee Hodges’s memoir, SAVING BOBBY, is a beacon of hope—encouraging, uplifting and inspiring.


In her memoir, Renee documents how she, her husband, and their small community in Durham, North Carolina rallied to help her nephew, Bobby, manage his recovery from an addiction to prescription painkillers prescribed for his back pain. Their story is striking because it focuses entirely on handling recovery while assimilating back into society, describing life after Bobby left the structure and protection of multiple rehabilitation centers and half-way houses.

Told in part through journal entries and e-mails, this raw, moving memoir describes a naïve aunt’s deeply personal journey grappling with her own family’s history of addiction, the crippling ripple-down effect of the disease in other generations, and the resources and holistic process used to help Bobby reclaim his life. Bobby did make it—in part because recovery doesn’t happen in isolation, and he had support from a caring community willing to move past the shame and stigma of addiction. A riveting, hopeful, and heartrending story of survival, SAVING BOBBY is an essential, timely read for those concerned about America’s most pressing epidemic.


Praise for Saving Bobby



“…a very loud, clear wakeup call that we must heed…”—Claude T. Moorman, III, MD, Former Executive Director, Duke Sports Sciences Institute and Head Team Physician, Duke Athletics

“…This book is a must-read for all of us.”—Kim Leversedge MD, Board Certified Pediatrician


“…strikingly personal and lyrically told….A heartfelt, inspiring, and deeply moving chronology of substance abuse and enduring, unconditional familial love.”—Kirkus Reviews


“…Teachers and parents will benefit from reading this eye-opening account into what might be an unfamiliar reality.”—Denise E. Carr, junior high and middle school science teacher

“…this story, though it is so poignantly Bobby and Renée’s story, belongs to us all…. This is a book you cannot put down. This is a story you cannot forget—nor should you.”—Dee Mason, journalist, author, playwright, and public speaker
 
 

Buy the Book

  
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Although her Louisiana roots run deep, RENÉE HODGES and her husband have called North Carolina home for the past thirty years. She co-wrote and self-published the Best Kept Secrets series of guides in the 1980’s. Settling into motherhood and raising a family, however, has been her most satisfying work, and today she is a wife, mother of three, writer, investor, community volunteer, and avid tennis player. She is also a Shatterproof ambassador.


Renee Hodges is touring nationwide. Learn more about her book and her appearances by visiting www.ReneeHodgesAuthor.com.