Thursday, May 25, 2017

What's Samma Reading?

Hey There Peeps!!

I'm back for a quick little update on just a couple of books I've finished up since we last talked.   I wanted to get these in because I'm getting ready to head to the beach for an extended stay and you KNOW I'll be reading like a maniac when I'm there.  I didn't want these to get lost in the shuffle because guess what?  There's an elusive 5 Star Read in this list!!!

Let's get started because I've still got packing to do and the house to clean!

Book #1

All I Want for Christmas (Bellingwood Short Stories Book 5)

 I actually read this book after the next book when I should have read it before.  Somehow I completely missed this book in my beloved Bellingwood series.  Here's the description:

In the tradition of Bellingwood Christmas short stories, this will be a favorite. Polly and Henry have moved their family into the Bell House, as unfinished as it might be. Their first big event is a company Christmas party and it causes more than a little stress for Polly, but it's nothing her family can't handle. 

There are a few surprises and your job is to not reveal any of them after you read it - not in reviews, not in comments. 

But the joy of family and friends during the holidays is what makes Christmas and New Year's celebrations special and those spent in Bellingwood are no different. Happy Holidays!



I'm a direction follower (most of the time) and since the author asked for no spoilers I'm obliging.   Let's just say I read this in one afternoon.  It's a quick short read and if you are reading the Bellingwood books DON'T skip this one like I did.  The words wait, what??? will fill your mind if you don't read it before book 17.

Stars:   4.5 

It was a beautiful story that is an integral part of the Bellingwood series.


Book #2


Marks in a Lifetime (Bellingwood Book 17)




Yes, you saw that correctly!  This is book #17 in this series.  Please don't stop writing about this fictional world I want to live in!   I'm telling you, I love this series.   A little murder, amazing characters and a town that you want to escape to and become friends with all the people you've come to love living in Bellingwood!   Here's the official description:

Polly Giller is having difficulty motivating people in town to dig into a mystery she uncovered at the Bell House. Finding two metal boxes hidden in an old fireplace mantle might change that. In fact, she's about to insist.

In the meantime, life at the Bell House is never boring. The chaos of construction, moving, growing kids, life ... there's always something going on. Thank goodness for terrific friends and endless amounts of coffee. Even when she should be doing something else, Polly finds a reason to drop in at Sweet Beans Coffee Shop and Bakery. Sometimes all it takes is seeing a friend's car parked in front.

Aaron Merritt and his deputies are trying to find out who is breaking into the homes of elderly women. So far, the thieves haven't gotten to Bellingwood, but they've been in other parts of the county. It's just a matter of time. Little do those men realize it, but Bellingwood is the last place they want to show up. This is a community where people watch out for each other, and once they hit Polly's radar, she's not afraid to create a little chaos of her own to stop them.

The townspeople are becoming a bigger part of Polly's life every day. You will get to know many of them better in "Marks in a Lifetime" and, like Polly, you'll fall in love with these fabulous characters.
 


Seriously, I can't encourage you enough to start this series of books if you haven't yet.  Book 18 arrives June 25th and you can bet I'll be downloading that day!


Stars:   4.75   

So many exciting things happening in Bellingwood.  Children are growing up, people are exploring new relationships and friends are comforting each other and family definitely isn't confined to birth status.  It's the way our worlds used to be and how they should be now...friends, family looking out for each other. 


And for the final book of the day......


Book #3


Mississippi Blood (Penn Cage #6)



A couple of things about this series before we start the review.  This is book #6 of the Penn Cage series and according to Greg Iles, the author, the final installment.  This is also the reason we've only got 3 books to review this month.  First of all this was a pretty lengthy book and secondly, I SAVORED it ya'll. I mean I read it slowly and truly savored it since I knew it would be goodbye to Penn Cage and his family.   With that said here is the official description:

The climax to the ground-breaking Natchez Trilogy by No.1 New York Times bestseller, Greg Iles.
Penn Cage fears that his family is truly falling apart. He has lost his fiancée Caitlin, he's become a killer himself in a blinding desire for revenge, and his father Tom Cage seems on the verge of being indicted for murder and brought to trial.
Penn also faces the question of whether he has a half-brother, after it appears a DNA test exists that might prove that Tom's former nurse Viola Turner bore his child. The surviving members of the Double Eagles, a violent offshoot of the KKK, are on the loose again and more dangerous than ever before. And the evidence that could have put them behind bars and exonerated Tom has now been destroyed in a plane crash.
Now Penn must imagine his father's life being torn apart on the witness stand as he and his mother try to navigate the devastating revelations from Tom's past.
Don't be confused when it says it is the climax to the trilogy when I just told you it was book number six.  Books 1, 2 and 3 stand alone but should  must be read in order for complete understanding of the characters and events.   Books 4, 5 and 6 are part of the six book series but are a trilogy within that series.  Clear as mud??

DRUM ROLL PLEASE..........












STARS: 5 + 

I was engrossed and on the edge of my seat and immersed 100% of the time while reading this book.  I didn't want it to end but it did.  I felt it was a fitting end to an excellent book and series.  I can't wait to see what Greg Iles has for us next but knowing him it'll be another year or so before we see that.  It is highly possible I will re-read this series, it's just that good!  A special thanks to my high school friend Jerry for introducing me to Greg Iles and this series, I can't thank you enough for the recommendation!! 



Fair warning when I'm at the beach I don't usually read super intensive, thought provoking books.  They are usually light, easy beach reads that can be put aside for a walk down the beach for a cold drink, a hop in the water to cool off or a conversation with family or newly found friends.   The first part of our stay Hubster has to work some and none of the kids will be there yet so I might have a heavier read during that time but who knows.   I do know John Grisham has a new one coming out while we are gone so that one will probably make the next review for sure. There was also a found manuscript that Michael Crichton wrote that just came out so I'm pretty stoked about that as well. 

Until next time my dears......

Peace, Love & Books



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What's Samma Reading?


Hey There Peeps!!

When I said I was easing myself back into blogging slowly, you didn't think it would be this slow did you?   haha   Me Either!!!

In any case there is lots going on around our house and I'm gearing up for prime reading season, AKA pool/beach weather and I figured that I should probably at least catch you guys up on what I've managed to read since we last chatted.

Once again I'm obligated under "blogger laws" to tell you these book links will take you to Amazon through my affiliate link.  Allegedly I can receive compensation from those links, in many years of use I've never received any compensation from Amazon so don't think I'm rolling in the dough over here by linking the books this way, and no, you won't pay more for buying anything through my link. I believe most of my links are for the Kindle versions of the books too.  Man, I'd be killing forests if I was buying regular books!

My rating scale: I will rate the books on a scale of 1 to 5   (just a hint- a 4 is a really good review, if I rate something a 5 you should know that I LOVED it and will talk your ear off about the book).

Let's get started:

#1 A Whole Latte Murder
     Author:  Caroline Fardig
 This is the 3rd book in the Java Jive Mystery Series and here's what Amazon has to say:
"Coffeehouse manager and reluctant sleuth Juliet Langley returns in a gripping novel from the bestselling author of Death Before Decaf and Mug Shot. Just as things are perking up in Nashville, a serial killer sends tensions foaming over
Juliet’s personal and professional lives have recently received an extra jolt of energy. Her romance with the hunky detective Ryder Hamilton continues to simmer, and business at Java Jive has never been better. But her good mood quickly turns as stale as day-old espresso when she finds out that Ryder has been promoted to his precinct’s homicide division. With him risking his life to catch the worst kind of criminals, Juliet’s growing sense of unease ignites when a local college student goes missing.
 Suddenly every Nashville resident is on high alert, especially Juliet’s neighbor Chelsea. Juliet does her best to calm the girl’s nerves, but her worst fears are confirmed when she finds Chelsea dead. Even though she tries her best to stay out of it, Juliet’s involvement puts a strain on Ryder’s first homicide case.  The situation soon becomes even more personal for Juliet and her best friend Pete Bennett when one of their employees disappears during her shift. As a killer lurks in the shadows, Juliet, Pete, and Ryder seek out a double shot of justice"

These are fun, easy reads that I always enjoy after reading a really intense book.  The 4th installment comes out April 25th and it will get added to my ever growing books to read list.    
I give it a 3.9, ok fine it's a 4 but it's barely a 4.  🤓


#2  Memories for Tomorrow (Bellingwood #16)
      Author:  Diane Greenwood Muir
Yes, this is book #16 in this series!!    This is what Amazon has to say:

"When school starts, life should settle back into a normal routine, right?
Not in Bellingwood and not for Polly Giller. Rather than normal or routine, chaos erupts all around her. The school year has just begun and her kids face upheaval in their personal lives, Henry's parents lives turn upside down in mere minutes, and then, of course, Polly finds the body of someone whose life caused stress for her family and whose death could bring even more trouble. 
Work on the Bell House will not move quickly enough for any of them. Hayden and Heath worked diligently all summer and it still doesn't feel as if they'll ever be finished. At this point, running water would be enough. The old building continues to reveal mysteries and surprises; things that don't appear until the walls and ceilings have been ripped away. No one in town knows what it's all about. This one might take some time to unravel.
To top it all off, Polly's birthday is coming up. She doesn't have time to think about that - not that she really wants to anyway. But even with everything that happens, family and friends are there to offer love and support.

Welcome back to Bellingwood."

Yes, I've actually read all 16 of these books and I have #17 waiting for me now.  I LOVE these books and my wish is that 1) she never stops writing this series and 2) Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel turns this into a television series.   I give it a 4.9 rating, Diane has amazing character development skills!


#3   The Night Bird
       Author:  Brian Freeman

 This is the first book by this author for me and I can tell you that in January of 2018 I will be reading the next in this series of books too!   Here's what Amazon has to say about it:

"Homicide detective Frost Easton doesn’t like coincidences. When a series of bizarre deaths rock San Francisco—as seemingly random women suffer violent psychotic breaks—Frost looks for a connection that leads him to psychiatrist Francesca Stein. Frankie’s controversial therapy helps people erase their most terrifying memories…and all the victims were her patients.
As Frost and Frankie carry out their own investigations, the case becomes increasingly personal—and dangerous. Long-submerged secrets surface as someone called the Night Bird taunts the pair with cryptic messages pertaining to the deaths. Soon Frankie is forced to confront strange gaps in her own memory, and Frost faces a killer who knows the detective’s worst fears.As the body count rises and the Night Bird circles ever closer, a dedicated cop and a brilliant doctor race to solve the puzzle before a cunning killer claims another victim."

I LOVED this book!  It did kinda creep me out a bit but then again I'm home alone a lot and I've noticed reading at midnight seems to intensify that feeling.  Great book and having been to San Francisco a couple of times it was cool to picture the places he was referencing.     I'm going on a limb and giving this one a solid 4.9!!   (People you need to understand, there are very few books that will get a 5 from me and a 4.9 is really good!!)

#4  Eleanor & Park
      Author:  Rainbow Rowell

OK peeps......This is a classified as a Young Adult book but don't let that stop you from reading it.
Here's the Amazon description:
"Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we're 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I'm not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under."

Here are a few little awards this book has picked up:
New York Times Best Seller!
A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book. 
Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2013 
New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013
Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
Amazon best of the month in March 2013

AAAANNNNDDDD here you go .......5 STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
All the feels people, all the feels in this book.  You will find yourself in heaping pile of every emotion imaginable while reading this book!    Now if you will excuse me, I'm heading back to 1986 to slip into my Esprit sweater and Gitano jeans so I can get those slouchy socks on with my LA Gear street dancer shoes and head to the mailbox to see if my 12 for 1 cassette tapes from BMG music have arrived.  Later I'm sipping on wine coolers and reflecting on first-loves.      Seriously, read this book.


 #5   The Girl Before
        Author:  J. P. Delaney


From Amazon: "Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before."

This is also going to be a major motion picture directed by none other than Ron Howard.

I'm going with a solid 4.5 stars on this.  It was good, very good and honestly I cannot wait for the movie.  I want to see how Ron Howard casts these characters and since there is no release date as of yet the whole "that's not how it was in the book" scenario will be diminished.    I'm really not a lot of fun to watch movies from a book with.   In the meantime if you like psychological thrillers this is a good one.  


#6  The Fifth Petal
      Author:  Brunonia Barry 


From Amazon:  "When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. 
But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?"

First off, I didn't realize this was book #2 in a series until I started writing this post. Fair to say you don't have to read the first one to understand this one.

Secondly, this scared the ever loving peediddly winks out of me.  I'm serious, I mean I slept with the lights on kind of scared.   Don't get me wrong I still enjoyed the book because Salem witches and the Mob will always fascinate me to no end but this one should not be read late at night when you're home alone.    Now that I know there was a previous book I'll probably go back and read it...in the daytime of course.  

Oh, my rating ..... a solid 4 stars!  

#7  A Criminal Defense
      Author:  William L. Meyers, Jr. 




Amazons take:  "When a young reporter is found dead and a prominent Philadelphia businessman is accused of her murder, Mick McFarland finds himself involved in the case of his life. The defendant, David Hanson, was Mick’s close friend in law school, and the victim, a TV news reporter, had reached out to Mick for legal help only hours before her death.
Mick’s played both sides of Philadelphia’s courtrooms. As a top-shelf defense attorney and former prosecutor, he knows all the tricks of the trade. And he’ll need every one of them to win.
But as the trial progresses, he’s disturbed by developments that confirm his deepest fears. This trial, one that already hits too close to home, may jeopardize his firm, his family—everything. Now Mick’s only way out is to mastermind the most brilliant defense he’s ever spun, one that will cross every legal and moral boundary."


I picked this as my selection in March in the Kindle First program and once again, I was not disappointed.  I didn't see the end of this book coming at all!! It was full of twists and turns and legal mumbo jumbo and I was all happy happy.  It's my understanding this was the first novel for the Philadelphia lawyer and his second book is slated to hit the shelves in January of 2018.  Sign me up, looks like next January there's going to be lots of good reading! This book is an excellent legal thriller with all the twists and turns you want from that genre.   What does it get??  4.5 stars 



Whew....I shouldn't wait so long to post a reading update! I've got a 2 week vacation at the beach coming the end of May/first of June and if the past tells us anything, that's going to be a LONG  list of books!  Hopefully my streak of no duds will continue!


I'm currently reading a book that will be the finale of the series and most likely an elusive 5 star read as well.   It's kind of intense so I'm sure it will be followed by the #17 Bellingwood book because a girl can only solve so many intense murders before she needs a chill book.   I'm participating in the GoodReads reading challenge this year and set my goal for 25 books for this year.  As you can see I'm a wee bit ahead of pace and am feeling a surge coming on!!  If you'd like to be friends on GoodReads I'm listed as  Samma Sims and I'd love to see what you're reading too!

Until next time my friends!
Peace, Love, & Books
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