Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis

Title: Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay Series #1), Author: Jill Shalvis

Sweet Little Lies. Finished 2-13-18, 3/5 stars, romance, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Karen White. 9 1/2 hours.

Book 1 of the Heartbreaker Bay series

As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.

Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.

Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

I was able to meet Shalvis at this event last year with her own hottie husband and and she was lovely.  I bought this first of the series expecting to love it because some of my blogger buddies who love romances have raved about her for years.  I think my expectations were too high.  I also wish I had read the paperback I have instead of listening in the car, because I didn’t like the narration.  There were definitely sweet moments but not enough of them compared to all the sex.  She introduced a bunch characters who I’m sure will be fodder for the series and they all seemed interesting but I’m happy that I don’t feel compelled to read more of the series.  Maybe I’ll try another of her books.

Turning Angel by Greg Iles

Title: Turning Angel (Penn Cage Series #2), Author: Greg IlesTurning Angel. Finished 1-24-18, rating 3/5, thriller, 644 pages, pub. 2005

Penn Cage books # 2 (1-The Quiet Game)

After winning the most dangerous case of his career, prosecutor Penn Cage decides to remain in his Southern hometown to raise his young daughter in a safe haven. But nowhere is truly safe — not from long-buried secrets, or murder….When the nude body of prep school student Kate Townsend is found near the Mississippi River, Penn’s best friend, Drew Elliott, is desperate for his counsel. An esteemed family physician, Drew makes a shocking confession that could put him on death row. Penn will do all he can to exonerate Drew, but in a town where the gaze of a landmark cemetery statue — the Turning Angel — never looks away, Penn finds himself caught on the jagged edge of blackmail, betrayal, and deadly violence.    from Goodreads

It’s been five years since we met Penn Cage and he’s settled back in his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi with his daughter and his parents.  He’s a prosecutor turned best selling author, but when his best friend is accused of murder he must step back into his lawyer role.  But his friend, a respected doctor, is accused of having an affair with a 17 year old golden girl and Penn knows innocence will be a hard sell.

Greg Iles knows how to tell a story, but geez, this one felt like he was working through some serious mid- life issues.  Penn’s best friend, 40ish, had a wife and small child and decided to embark on a sexual relationship with a 17 year old.  He also allowed her to go to notorious drug dealers to score drugs for his wife because she was an addict.  Oh, and she was valedictorian, cheerleader, two-sport starter, headed to Harvard in the fall and was into kinky sex with lots of partners, but ‘fell in love’ with Drew with her mother’s consent.  Okay.  So, after you swallow all of the justifications for sex with a minor BY HER DOCTOR, you must then come to terms with Penn’s high school babysitter being in love with him and he quite liking it.  He called her at all hours, at one point sat and scrolled through porn with her at a hotel in the middle of the night.  She, of course, came on to him, but he resisted…for a short time at least.

Anywho, the town was full of hot high school girls lusting after respected middle aged men (there were more) and it felt icky, like some sort of sick middle aged fantasy.  Iles is a skilled thriller writer and I like Penn and his family but this one did take the shine off a bit.  And I’m not even going to get into the drugs and those liberal Yankees.

Now that I’ve got all that off my chest you may wonder how I rated it a 3.  Well, Iles is good and I read over 600 pages of a book that make me roll my eyes more than once.  I’m just hoping that Penn can come to his senses in the next book.



Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Title: Heat Wave (Premium Edition) (Nikki Heat Series #1), Author: Richard CastleHeat Wave. Finished 1-19-18, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Johnny Heller

Nikki Heat series book 1

New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy.
   Mystery sensation Richard Castle introduces his newest character, NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, and professional, Nikki carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City’s top homicide squads. She’s hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York’s Finest. Pulitzer Prize winner Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. But his wisecracking and meddling aren’t Nikki’s only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.
   Castle, the hit ABC television series, premiered in March 2009. The main character, Richard Castle, is the bestselling mystery author of the critically acclaimed Derrick Storm novels. The hard-nosed but sexy Detective Kate Beckett, with whom Castle is paired up, provided the inspiration for Nikki Heat.    from Goodreads

I’ll keep this one short and sweet.  If you, like me, loved the TV show Castle (2009-2016) then you will most likely enjoy this mystery written by the fictional hero of the series, Richard Castle.  The mystery was good, but I had the most fun picturing the beloved cast as I listened.  It was perfect car listening since it was easy to follow along but also entertaining.  I see the series continues and while it wouldn’t be my first choice I’m not against giving book 2 a listen someday.

  Miss seeing these two onscreen together.

Three bestselling authors in one post!

As the year winds down and Christmas preparations hit high gear I’m just going to knock out short thoughts about these three books I’ve finished recently.

Title: Rogue Lawyer, Author: John GrishamRogue Lawyer. Finished 11-2-17, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Mark Deakins.  11 1/2 hours.

Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult, who is accused of molesting and murdering two little girls; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house.  Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even if he, Sebastian, has to cheat to secure one. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks, or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behavior.    from Goodreads

Jason and I listened to this on a road trip and it was okay.  Sebastian was a fun character and the cases he found or that found him were fun, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into each of them.  I didn’t realize at the beginning that it was more a series of short, sometimes connected short stories, and that took away some of the enjoyment for me.  Jason liked it better than I did.

Title: Friction, Author: Sandra BrownFriction. Finished 12-6-17, rating 4/5, thriller, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Stephen Lang.

A Texas Ranger, relegated to deskwork due to past recklessness, petitions to regain custody of his five-year-old daughter, and his case is assigned to a family court judge who is as attractive as she is ambitious. When a masked gunman barges in during the custody hearing with his sights on the judge, the Ranger reacts instinctually and goes after him. But authorities apprehend the wrong man, and the real gunman remains unknown, at large, and a threat. Will this take-charge lawman jeopardize his chances of custody by going after the would-be assassin? And will this unlikely pair be able to deny the forbidden attraction building between them?    from Goodreads

I haven’t read Sandra Brown in years and I really enjoyed this thriller.  I could have done without the (few) sex scenes, but I really liked Crawford, a Texas Ranger, and Holly Spencer,  the judge deciding his child custody case.   There were layers to the mystery and the narration by Lang was excellent.

Title: E Is for Evidence (Kinsey Millhone Series #5), Author: Sue GraftonE is Evidence. Finished 12-13-17, rating 3/5, mystery, 200 pages, pub. 1998

Kinsey Millhone series #5 (1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat)

Being a twice-divorced, happily independent loner has worked like a charm for P.I. Kinsey Millhone—until holiday weekends like this one roll around. What she needs is a little diversion to ward off the blues. She gets her much-needed distraction with a case that places her career on the line. And if that isn’t enough to keep her busy, her ex-husband, who walked out on her eight years ago, pops back on the radar…

It all begins with a $5,000 deposit made into Kinsey’s bank account. Problem is she’s not the one who deposited the money. But when she’s accused of being on the take in an industrial arson case, Kinsey realizes someone is framing her…     from Goodreads

I like Kinsey.  She’s fiercely independent, successful, but also a bit lonely.  Some of her personal relationships were missing in this one. but we did get to meet one of her ex-husbands so that was fun.  I thought this one dragged a but did pick up the pace with a letter bomb.  These mysteries are always quick which is another reason I like this series.



Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

Title: Three Men in a Boat, Author: Jerome K. JeromeThree Men in a Boat. Finished 9-13-17, rating 3/5, classic, 211 pages, pub. 1889

Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks—not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.’s small fox-terrier Montmorency.

Three Men in a Boat was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian ‘clerking classes’, it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.  from Goodreads

This classic from 1889 is still funny.  Three young men and a fox terrier take a boat down the Thames River.  Jerome, Harris, and George are tired of the daily grind and decide to get away for a bit with a hilarious boat trip.  Mishap and everyday observances combine for a surprisingly modern tale.  I enjoyed it, but was bored at points along the way too.

I’m just going to leave you with a taste of the writing for dog lovers…

We got up tolerably early on the Monday morning at Marlow, and went for a bathe before breakfast; and, coming back, Montmorency made an awful ass of himself.  The only subject on which Montmorency and I have any serious difference of opinion is cats.  I like cats; Montmorency does not.

When I meet a cat, I say, ‘Poor Pussy!’ and stoop down and tickle the side of its head; and the cat sticks up its tail in a rigid, cast-iron manner, arches its back, and wipes its nose up against my trousers; and all is gentleness and peace.  When Montmorency meets a cat, the whole street knows about it; and there is enough bad language wasted in ten seconds to last an ordinary respectable man all his life, with care.

I do not blame the dog (contenting myself, as a rule, with merely clouting his head or throwing stones at him), because I take it that it is his nature.  Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are, and it will take years and years of patient effort on the part of us Christians to bring about any appreciable reformation in the rowdiness of the fox terrier nature.

This was my 19th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

Monday mini-reviews

There were a few books that I can easily group together from last month’s book a day challenge, so I’m trying to get those out of the way first.  These three books were all written by women writers and for the most part I had similar feelings about them.

Title: The Writing Life, Author: Annie DillardThe Writing Life. Finished 9-25-17, rating 3.5/5, memoir, 111 pages, pub. 1989

Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including the memoir of her parents, An American Childhood; the Northwest pioneer epic The Living; and the nonfiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A gregarious recluse, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.    from Goodreads

I admit that I picked this up at a book sale because it was short and  I’m so glad that I made the impulsive choice.  I’d never read Annie Dillard before, but found her writing beautiful.  She doesn’t make the writing life sound like very much fun, but I loved the honesty and the insight into how a mind can go a little nutty while writing.  If you are a writer or even just want an inside look into the writing  life I think this slim book is worth reading.

Title: A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, Author: Joan AndersonA Year By the Sea. Finished 9-14-17, rating 3.5/5, memoir, 190 pages, pub. 1999

During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. Like many women in her situation, Joan realized that she had neglected to nurture herself and, worse, to envision fulfilling goals for her future. As her husband received a wonderful job opportunity out-of-state, it seemed that the best part of her own life was finished. Shocking both of them, she refused to follow him to his new job and decided to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod.   from Goodreads

I really connected with this woman who was feeling out of sorts in her life.  Her sons were on their own and her husband came home and said that he had taken a job that would force them to move.  I got her.  I was rooting for her when she embraced new challenges on her own.  I’ve never lived on my own, always having a roommate, so I was living vicariously.  It started strong, but she did lose me a little halfway through.  I liked then ending so, all in all, I’m glad I read it.

Title: Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, Author: Dani ShapiroHourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage.  Finished 9-29-17, rating 3/5, memoir, 145 pages, pub. 2017

Hourglass is an inquiry into how marriage is transformed by time–abraded, strengthened, shaped in miraculous and sometimes terrifying ways by accident and experience. With courage and relentless honesty, Dani Shapiro opens the door to her house, her marriage, and her heart, and invites us to witness her own marital reckoning–a reckoning in which she confronts both the life she dreamed of and the life she made, and struggles to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.   from Goodreads

This slight memoir flitting around her marriage from before to beginning to present with little vignettes about things that happened over the years of their 18 year marriage.  The writing was beautiful and some of it was thought provoking, although I had expected it to go a bit deeper.  I enjoyed the writing so I’ve to added some of Shapiro’s fiction to my reading list.





A few mini-reviews from last month

Last month while reading a book a day, I had very little time to review books on this blog, so I’m going to group these four with the reviews from my 30 day challenge.  The rest of the books I’d like to take some time with and will post about later.

We are working on yeast issues in the house so I’m trying to convert over to this diet, but it is a very difficult thing to force on a 6 year old.

Title: The Everything Candida Diet Book: Improve Your Immunity by Restoring Your Body's Natural Balance, Author: Jeffrey McCombsThe Everything Candida Diet Book. Finished 9-30-17, 4.5/5 stars, diet, 304 pages, pub. 2014

This book is an excellent resource and surprisingly progressive in it’s knowledge.  Highly recommended if you suspect you have a candida problem. You can treat at home without a doctor using diet and supplements.  It has lots of recipes.  The two I’ve tried so far have been big hits with all three of us.

Title: Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem?, Author: Leon ChaitowCandida Albicans. Finished 9-20-17, rating 3/5, health, 150 pages, pub. 1998

Candida Albicans is a parasitic yeast that is present in all of us, but in most people it does no noticeable harm. This book provides a comprehensive and non-drug programme for its control.   from Goodreads

This was a fine overview of the issue, but dated.  There are better, more current books out there.  I only read this one because a friend loaned it to me.

Title: Why I March: Images from The Women's March Around the World, Author: Abrams BooksTitle: Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope--Voices from the Women's March, Author: Artisan Finished 9-24-17, rating 4/5, current events, pub. 2017

Between the two, Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope by Artisan Press and Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World edited by Samantha Weiner and Emma Jacobs, I preferred the former (on the bottom in the picture).  It had quotes from the march in Washington DC that the other didn’t.  Both were great and took me back to one of the most inspiring days of my life.  This country needs a little more protesting and a little less sitting on our butts and complaining about people who don’t agree with us.  There were marches on every continent – even Antarctica – and no arrests. I will always support a peaceful protest. I was inspired all over again.  Here are a few of my favorite signs.

IMG_1665 IMG_1655  IMG_1656


The Reluctant Mystic by Nancy Torgrove Clasby

Title: The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening, Author: Nancy Torgove ClasbyThe Reluctant Mystic. Finished 9-5-17, 3/5 stars, memoir, 110 pages, pub.2016

“It felt like the whole world was shaking, inside me and all around me. It felt like bliss-perfect peace. This light was pouring through me, and as it was pouring through me, it was teaching me things.” So begins The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening, the story of an extraordinary spiritual experience-one moment in a massage therapy office that forever changes the trajectory of the author’s life. In this compelling memoir and meditative guide, Nancy Torgove Clasby, an ordinary mother of three small children, gradually pieces together the greatest mysteries of life after a spontaneous awakening completely redirects her focus and energy and leads her to become a healer. More than twenty years later, Nancy has gone on to help hundreds of people with life-threatening illnesses, as well as those grieving lost loved ones. Along the way, she has been guided by three wise teachers and inspired by her many courageous clients. In Nancy’s words, “Each of us has a gift, and our purpose is to reconnect with that gift and then give it away.”  from Goodreads

I am not well-versed in mystics or healers, but was willing to be educated because this book was short, 110 pages.  One day this mother of three young children was in a session with her massage therapist, when the world opened up to her.

“I was on the table, fully clothed, and he was working at my head.  All of a sudden, my body started to shake, and it felt like I left my body.  My eyes were wide open, so I could see the room I was in, but I could also see through what I later found out was my “third eye,” which is an invisible energy center everyone has that sits in the middle of the forehead and is the seat of intuition.”  page 7

She sought out the advice of those around her and found supporters, including a rabbi, reverend and doctor, that would help push her in the right direction.  She learned to understand her gifts more clearly and spend the next 20 years as a healer.  I admit that much of it was too much for me, in part because it was new, no doubt.  But she was sincere and truly open and how rare is that?  She included pages written by her mentors, but the bulk of it was stories about some of her patients.  She included some different meditations at the end that left me feeling wonderful.  I love meditation and don’t do it often enough.

I can’t say I was the target audience but I’m glad I read something out of my comfort zone.  I feel a little more enlightened 🙂

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Title: Whiskey Beach, Author: Nora RobertsWhiskey Beach. Finished 5-14-17, rating 3/5, romance?, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio performed by Peter Berkrot. 15 hours 33 minutes.

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He needs sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.

While Eli’s beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has cared for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say overbearing, brand of nurturing—including Eli.

He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim—and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House’s many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach….  from Goodreads

Nora Roberts is an easy listen.  You don’t need to be 100% glued to the audio to follow the story.  That’s a good thing in this case, because I thought this one was just meh.  I thought Eli’s backstory and what he went through as a suspect in his wife’s murder was interesting, but the rest of it, not as much.

Roberts is hit or miss with me and this one is a miss, but I will still give her a listen when I’m cleaning or driving 🙂

Do you have a favorite Nora Roberts novel?  I really liked The Witness.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Title: The Forgetting Time: A Novel, Author: Sharon GuskinThe Forgetting Time. Finished 5-2-17, 3/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Susan Bennett and David Pittu.  I liked the dual narration.

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.  from Goodreads

This showed up on a list of page turners so I was excited to give this debut author a try.  I didn’t know (because I didn’t read the description) that the main theme of this novel was reincarnation and that’s a good thing because I probably would have avoided it altogether.  We all need to read, or in this case listen, outside of our comfort zone or interests once in a while.  How else would we grow?

Anyway, the Goodreads description is a good one that reveals just the right amount of info and I don’t want to spoil more of the story. If you are looking to learn a little bit more about reincarnation and the history of it or like stories about the strength of a mother’s love then this one fits the bill.