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Light It Up by Nick Petrie

Light It Up (A Peter Ash Novel) - Nick Petrie

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book! This book reads like an action movie in a lot of ways. It was exciting and there are so many adrenaline filled scenes that keep the excitement level high. This is the third book in the Peter Ash series but I do think that it could be read as a stand alone since it tells its own story. I had such a good time reading this book and found it to be quite the page turner.

Peter is such a great character. I almost think that he can do anything after reading this book. He is smart. resourceful, and incredibly tough. I am not sure that a real man could do all the things that Peter was able to accomplish in this book but I don't care since it was such a fun read. Peter must deal PTSD as a result of some of the things he has seen and done as a Marine. For Peter, this manifests as claustrophobia and he cannot stand to be inside for long which adds an interesting twist to things. Most of this book happens outside so it didn't come up quite as much in this installment but there were a few scenes where it did come up.

The mystery in this book was interesting and fairly complex. I can tell you that I had no idea how things would work out. There were some people that I didn't trust as much as others but I had no idea how they might be involved. This was a multiple layered mystery and as soon as one puzzle was closer to being solved another would begin. The legal cannabis industry was a big part of the story which thought provoking. It was really nice to read such an original and unique story.

I enjoyed seeing a couple of characters from previous books play a role in this story. Lewis has been around since the first book and he is back for some action again in this story. I really enjoy seeing Lewis and Peter work together and think that they make a really great team. June played a big role in the last book and plays a key role once again. I really liked seeing the development in their relationship in this installment. There were some new characters in this book as well. The chapters that were from told from the point of view of the culprits were my least favorite parts of the book simply because I didn't enjoy spending time in their heads.

I would recommend this book to others. This is a great installment to an exciting and action packed series. Once I got started reading, I didn't want to set the book aside because I had to know how Peter would save the day. I can't wait to read more from Nick Petrie!

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Putnam G.P. Putnam's Sons via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was a pretty exciting read. Lots of action and great characters. Peter proves himself to be very resourceful and tough in this story. The mystery was pretty complex and kept me guessing. The fact that the mystery is connected to the business of selling cannabis legally made everything a little more interesting since it is a topic that I have really given no thought to before.

It by Stephen King

It - Steven Weber, Stephen King

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this one. I really have not read a lot of King's work but this book has been one that I have wanted to pick up for a long time. I decided to go with the audiobook since I had heard great things about the narration and I think I made a really good choice. This was a really entertaining story that kept me listening for hours at a time.

This book is told in alternating timelines. We follow a group of characters in the childhood and again as adults. The timelines worked really well with each other to tell the story of the events occurring in the town of Derry and there are some very strange events happening in that little town in Maine. I found that I liked both timelines equally and was really invested in finding out how things would work out in each. 

I really feel like I got to know all of the characters very well. There is no shortage of character development in this book. If anything, I would say that we are given too much information regarding the backgrounds of some of the characters. I mean this is a really long book and sometimes I felt like I spent hours listening to only learn one character's backstory. On one hand I really liked all the details but on the other hand the book felt too long. I liked that the main characters were all flawed individuals that had things to overcome as kids and new things to overcome as adults. 

I think that this book did a lot of things really well in addition to the characters and use of timelines. I think that it did a great job of painting a truly creepy and menacing portrait of the evil in Derry. I liked the mystery behind Pennywise and his appearances. There were some truly frightening scenes in the book which I really appreciated as well. There were a few scenes that felt so realistic that I found myself cringing as I listened to the book.

There were a few things that I didn't care for in the book. The end of the book felt really weird to me. The ending was surprisingly odd and just didn't seem to completely fit. I was also rather bothered by the sex scenes involving kids. It was just all kinds of wrong and the book would have been a lot stronger without it in my opinion. I did feel that the book was too long. I enjoyed the story but by the time I got closer to the end, I was more than ready to be done with it. 

Steven Weber did an absolutely fantastic job narrating this book. There was a very large cast of characters that he handled very well. I thought that he did an exceptional job with Bill's stutter and keeping all of the voices consistent. He added just enough of a creepy factor to the scenes that needed it. He really did such a wonderful job in bringing this story to life and I often listened to his voice for hours at a time. I would definitely listen to his narration again if given the opportunity.

I would recommend this book to others. It wasn't perfect but it was really good and I am glad that I finally took the time to listen to it. I do recommend the audiobook for anyone considering reading this book because I really do feel that the narration adds a wonderful element to the story. I do hope to read more from Stephen King in the near future.

Initial Thoughts
I liked it. This was my first time reading this book and I think I made a good choice picking up the audio version since Steven Webber does a fanstastic job with it. I did feel that the book is way too long and it really fizzled out at the end for me a bit. There were a few scenes that really made me pretty uncomfortable. 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I was completely underwhelmed by this book. I saw some really positive reviews for this book so I decided to read it myself because I love good books. I wanted to love this book as much as other readers but it just wasn't meant to be. I honestly don't see what all of the fuss is about. There were a few twists but nothing that really blew me away or anything. I am being really generous with my three star rating with this one.

This is one of those books that is going to be best to go in as blindly as possible. The less you know about the book the better your chances of enjoying it. As you can probably guess from the title, this book is about marriage. We meet an ex-wife and a soon to be wife and get to know them a bit. 

Nothing about this book ever grabbed me. I didn't feel much for any of the characters and I never felt that compulsion to keep turning pages so that I could find out what would happen next. It was a book that I could set aside if I had something else to do but it wasn't painful to read either. It was just kind of average. There are some big twists in the book but I honestly didn't find them all that shocking. By the time the first big twist is revealed, I just didn't really care all that much. 

I feel like this is a book that received more hype than it deserves. Then again, there are some readers that absolutely love this book. I won't be actively recommending this book to others but wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it either. 

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I am a bit underwhelmed by this one. I have seen so many 5 star reviews for this book so I guess I am in the minority but I really don't see what the fuss is all about. The first 40% of the book was really pretty boring for me. Then there were a few twists but nothing that really blew me away. It was an okay read but nothing more.

The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost

The Brightest Embers - Jeaniene Frost

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

My feelings are a little mixed on this book. I liked it but it didn't wow me in any way. This is the third book in the Broken Destiny series which really does need to be read in order since each book builds on the events of the previous installments. I thought that this book brought the series to a satisfactory conclusion and was a fairly quick listen.

Ivy and Adrian continue their quest for the hallowed weapons that they began at the start of the series. They need to find the spear before anyone else can get their hands on it. The problem is that should Ivy decide to use the item it will most likely kill her. Ivy wants to do what is right and Adrian wants to protect Ivy. Can they both achieve their goals?

Ivy got on my nerves in this installment a little more than I remember from previous books. At times, it seemed that she was just trying to create drama. In the last installment, Adrian and Ivy were in a good place in their relationship but of course that can't last. It just seemed like unnecessary drama to me. She also had such a hard time figuring out something that was painfully obvious to me that I had begun to doubt her intelligence. She didn't drive me crazy throughout the whole book. There were times that she seemed really strong and willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. It is just that when she annoyed me in this books she really annoyed me.

I thought that this book did some things really well. There were a few surprising revelations that I did not see coming. I really enjoyed the scenes with Brutus in the book. He became my favorite character in the series because of a few of the scenes in this book. I did feel that the ending of this story was a bit rushed and would have liked to see just a bit more to really help wrap the series up. 

Tavia Gilbert did a great job with the narration in this book. She handles a variety of characters very well along with a wide range of emotions. Her voice was very pleasant to listen to and I found myself able to stay focused on the story for hours at a time. I would not hesitate to recommend her narration.

In the end, I thought this was a decent trilogy and I am glad that I read it. I do prefer Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series but found this trilogy to be interesting and unique. I look forward to reading more from this talented author.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from Blackstone Audio, Inc. via Audiobook Jukebox.

Initial Thoughts
I don't know 3 stars? 4 stars? Somewhere in there, I guess. I liked the book but found that Ivy got on my nerves more than I would have liked. She also had a hard time figuring out something that seemed pretty obvious to me. I thought that the ending was a bit rushed and would have liked a bit more to wrap things up. I really enjoyed Brutus in this book. The narration was very well done and it was a pretty quick listen.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Two Girls Down: A Novel - Louisa Luna

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really good! I went into this book rather blindly having never read the author before and not seeing much about the book. I thought it looked like a rather good mystery so I jumped in and started reading. I didn't stop reading until I had reached the end of the book. It has been a long time since I wanted to read a whole book in a single sitting but that is exactly what I ended up doing with this story. I am so happy to have stumbled upon this wonderfully written mystery.

This book grabbed me right away. You know from the very start that something bad is going to happen to Jamie's kids. When they disappear in the parking of the local Kmart, there aren't a lot of clues as to where they might may be. Jamie's aunt hires a private investigator who has a reputation for finding lost people, Alice Vega.

Vega is determined to find the girls and will do what it takes to find them quickly. She enlists the help of a former cop turned private investigator, Cap. Vega and Cap have very different styles of investigating but they soon form a great team. Together they sort through clues and piece a trail back to the girls.

I liked the characters in this story. Vega and Cap were both really interesting characters that ended up in their jobs for very different reasons. Vega was more than willing to cross over the line if that is what is was going to take to bring the girls home. She was tough and worked tirelessly. Cap seemed more like your normal good guy. He is a really good guy who puts his teen daughter first in his life. They were both really smart and have a lot of great instincts.

There was a lot of excitement in this story. I was actually pretty nervous about what would happen a time or two in this story. I couldn't figure out how things would work out and just had to go along with Vega and Cap to find out. I didn't expect to have an emotional reaction to this story but as I read to the end of the story, I found myself with a broken heart.

I would recommend this book to others. This was a very fast paced novel that was almost impossible to put down. I will definitely be reading more for this talented author in the future. 

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from Doubleday Books via First to Read.

Initial Thoughts
This was really good. I wasn't able to guess how things would go because this is a really complex mystery. I thought that Cap and Vega made a wonderful team.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was fantastic! I actually have looked at this book several times since its release and didn't pick it up sooner because I wasn't sure that I would like it. I had nothing to worry about. This story is disturbing and made me very uncomfortable but I loved it. Once I started reading this book, there was no stopping and I ended up reading it in a day.

As I said, this book tells a rather disturbing story. In some ways, it was like a train wreck that you know you shouldn't look at but you can't help yourself. This book deals with sexual abuse and could be difficult for some readers. I went through a wide range of emotions while reading this book. There were parts that made me mad, others that made me want to cry, some parts gave me hope, and some parts just made my skin crawl.

Lane goes to live with her grandparents after her mother's suicide. She has never met her Gran and Granddad, not to mention her cousin, Allegra. Allegra and Lane bond right away and become quite the pair. They spend almost all of their time together either in town with Tommy and Cooper or on the farm. Years later, Lane is called back to the farm because her cousin is missing. Lane works to figure out exactly what happened and where Allegra is.

This story is told through two timelines. One timeline follows Lane and Allegra as teenagers when Lane first comes to live at the farm. The other timeline is set in the present with Lane back at the farm to look for her lost cousin. These two timelines worked perfectly together. Information from the past that would be needed to fully explain the present seemed to be worked in at just the right moment. There were also a few passages from the other Roanoke girls which gave a lot of insight as to the history of the family.

I would highly recommend this book to others. This is the kind of story that will stay with me for a long time. I really appreciated that the book ended on a hopeful note with all questions being answered. This is the time that I have had the chance to read Amy Engel's work and I am looking forward to reading more of her novels in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Random House via Blogging for Books.

Initial Thoughts
Honestly, this was great! It was disturbing and uncomfortable but I never wanted to put it down. I wanted the Roanoke Girls to be okay and hated everyone who threatened that. There were a few surprises and a lot of heartbreaking moments. I love that the book ended on a hopeful note.

The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had such a good time reading this book! This is the fourth book in The Invisible Library series and while it tells its own story, I do think that this series is best if read in order. One thing that I love about this series is that each installment can be completely unique and the types of worlds that they visit really has no limits. This was a very strong story that was incredibly entertaining from beginning to end.

Irene finds herself in a difficult situation once again. She is approached by a dragon regarding a very important contest for a rare book. The Library does not get involved in dragon politics and must maintain their neutrality so Irene reports the incident to her superiors. Irene is given the assignment of investigating the actions of another Librarian and to find out what is going on with this situation.

Irene and Kai find themselves in a New York reminiscent of the 1920s complete with gangsters and other colorful individuals. Irene is in trouble right away once she enters the city and soon finds herself at odds with the local police. She must deal with them along with the local gangsters in addition to figuring out what is going on with the dragons and the other Librarian.

This was my favorite book in the series thus far. I was completely charmed by the whole story. I like how Irene is able to think quickly and can seem to get herself out of almost any situation. Kai spent a lot of time away from Irene in this book but we get to see that he is equally capable. I really like both of these characters a lot. They are both willing to make sacrifices if necessary in order to make sure that the right thing is done. Not to mention that dragons play a dominant role in this story which I found really interesting.

I would recommend this series to others. I found myself swept away in a wonderfully crafted world filled with a variety of interesting characters. I can't wait to read more of this delightful series!

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was such a fun book! This installment takes Irene and Kai to New York in a period reminisent of the 1920's complete with gangsters. There wasn't a minute of boring in this book and I was highly entertained the whole time I was reading. Things look pretty dire for a while in this book but it is always interesting to see what Irene can come up with to everyone out of trouble.

Heart on Fire on Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire - Amanda Bouchet

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I hate to say it but this was a bit of a disappointment. I really expected to love this book. I wanted to love this book. I didn't like this book nearly as much as the two previous books in the series. I thought it was okay and I am glad that I read it. This is the third book in the Kingmaker Chronicles and this review may contain spoilers from previous installments in the series.

My experience with this book goes back to when I first saw the cover. I immediately thought that it wasn't the real cover and someone had uploaded fan art or something to Goodreads. I kept checking to see when the real cover would be uploaded. Weeks went by. I decided to go to the author's website to see if she had the cover posted and discovered that what I was seeing was in fact the real cover. I was shocked. I think that the covers for the first two books are awesome. This one is not. I kind of hate this cover. I decided that it was just a cover and it was just a cover and I could ignore it and focus on what was in the book. I think it might have actually been some kind of sign.

Cat kind of drove me nuts in this book. I don't know why but she annoyed me. I didn't enjoy being in her head and I felt like this book spent a lot of time there. Cat is pregnant which puts everything in a new light. I understand how focused an expectant mother can be when it comes to her baby but all the talk of the little bean was too much for me.

Don't get me wrong...I did like the book. There were some pretty awesome scenes in this installment and I had no idea how Cat would get herself out of some of the situations she found herself in. There was some real excitement in the story and I was happy to see all of the characters that I have grown to love over the course of the series play a role. There were some pretty major revelations that really explained a lot.

I do recommend this series to others. This book does wrap up Cat and Griffin's story and has some great scenes. I did enjoy the two books leading up to this one a whole lot more but found this to be a satisfactory conclusion. I would not hesitate to read more from Amanda Bouchet in the future.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from Sourcebooks Casablanca via Edelweiss.

Every Dog Has His Day by Jenn McKinlay

Every Dog Has His Day (A Bluff Point Romance) - Jenn McKinlay

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

So I liked this one quite a bit. This group of friend in Bluff Point, Maine are starting to feel like old friends already. I was pulled into this romance from the very start and enjoyed it until the very end. This book had the perfect combination of cute animals, darling kids, and a couple destined to be together. 

Zach doesn't know what to expect when he finds two adorable little girls at his door. They need his help because their kitten, Chaos, is currently sitting on the roof of Zach's house. Being the nice guy he is, he jumps into help right away saving the kitten and landing in a big pile of snow. I thought the set up of this story was great but things got even better when Zach decided to make sure his neighbor and her two girls are okay during the blizzard that hit the area.

I thought the characters in this book were wonderful. At the start of the series, Jessie seemed like the bad guy but things have changed as the series has progressed. Once I got the chance to spend a few moments in her head during this story, I completely changed my opinion of her. She really is a great character and has had a lot of things in her life go horribly wrong. Zach was such a good guy. He really was perfect with Jessie's girls and worked hard to be what they needed him to be. 

I loved Zach and Jessie as a couple. They had so much fun together from the very start and the chemistry between them was amazing. Zach's relationship with both of her girls was equally well done. I really liked how both Jessie and Zach keep their focus on the girls and their best interest. It really did feel like this group of people belonged with each other. It was really refreshing to see the kids play such an important role in the book but don't worry there are plenty of steamy moments to balance everything out.

The book was really good but I did have couple of issues. I thought that some of the interactions with the larger group were a bit immature. I thought it was rather odd that a grown woman would go into another room during a situation to ask her friends for advice in a group chat. This group of friends didn't hesitate to share some pretty personal details. I kept thinking that if Zach and Jessie would just be that open with each other it would solve a lot of problems. The other issue I had concerned a situation with the girls' grandfather. He was really a difficult man and I thought that his complete change of heart seemed a bit unrealistic. These were really very minor issues that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This is the third book in the series but it could easily be read as a stand alone. Readers of the series will enjoy spending time with characters featured in the earlier books. I can't wait to read more from this talented author very soon.

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I liked Zach and Jessie a lot and thought that they worked very well together. The kids were adorable and such an important part of the story. The dog and cat were pretty cute as well.

Choked Up by Janey Mack

Choked Up - Janey Mack

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was an okay read for me. I decided to read this book because it seemed to be exactly what I was in the mood to read. I remembered seeing some comparisons to Evanovich and thought a mystery with a side of laughter would be just perfect. Unfortunately, I didn't find this book funny. At all. I didn't crack a smile even once so that is a pretty big disappointment. The mystery did hold my interest though. It wasn't a bad read but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

Maisie McGrane comes from family of police officers and defense attorneys. Maisie is a meter maid which isn't exactly the same thing. Maisie does want to join the police but her family has blocked her path so she jumps at the chance to work undercover with a special unit. She is eager to quit her job and start her new career until she learns that they want her to continue working as she gathers information.

Maisie jumps into her new role completely. She is soon an important part of the life a notorious mobster, Stannis. There are quite a few action scenes with Maisie finding herself in danger more often than can be healthy. She must keep the mobster happy while feeding information to her contacts. Hopefully she can remain safe and explain things to her boyfriend later. 

Maisie seemed to be in way over her head. I can't say that I really liked her or disliked her character. I didn't have a lot of confidence in her abilities and thought some of her actions were pretty questionable. Her boyfriend, Hank, didn't seem real to me at all. His character did remind me a bit of Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series but even little more perfect and superheroish. 

In the end, I think that this story was rather forgettable. This is the second book in the series but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by reading out of order. I was really curious about how everything would work out which kept the pages turning but I don't plan to read any additional books in the series. 

I received an advanced reader edition of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I thought this was okay. I saw this book being compared to the Stephanie Plum series so I expected it to be funny. I didn't find it funny which was a disappointment. I found that I was bored during sections of the book as well. I did wonder how Maisie would get herself out of the situation she was in and kept trying to figure out if anyone else was undercover.

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was another great installments in an excellent series. I have been working my way through an audio re-read of this amazing series over the course of this year. It surprises me how much I am enjoying this series during my re-read. This book isn't one of my favorites in the series but it was really good. I wanted to listen to this book for hours at a time because I wanted to stay with Mercy and the gang and make sure that everything would work out for them. 

This book opens with Mercy and Jesse doing some black Friday shopping. Mercy gets into a small traffic accident while they were out which really shouldn't have been a big deal. They realize that there is a problem when they can't reach Adam or any other member of the pack when they call for a ride home. The entire pack has been abducted. 

Mercy is such a strong character and great leader. She takes her role as Adam's mate seriously and works to keep everyone she safe. There is quite a bit of excitement as she works to protect the few connected to the pack that were not taken. She is able communicate with Adam through her mate bond so she isn't completely unaware of things that are happening.

I really enjoyed spending time with some of my favorite characters. Mercy was incredibly brave and smart in this story. She is willing to sacrifice her own safety to keep others safe when needed. Adam was fierce at times but such a great leader and protector. I do wish that Mercy and Adam hadn't been separated so much during this story. I really enjoyed the focus on Ben, Tad, and Asil in this book since they are characters that we don't always see a lot of. 

Once again Lorelei King does a fantastic job with the narration. There were a few sections of this book that were told from Adam's point of view and I thought she did a great job with those. She really does bring Mercy to life. There is so much emotion that really comes through in her narration. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators and I look forward to listening to more of her work soon.

I would highly recommend this series to others. This is my second time experiencing this book but it will not be my last. It is simply wonderful to find a series of books that you know you will enjoy no matter how many times you read them. I can't wait to listen to the next book very soon.

Initial Thoughts
Another great installment in the series. The story was good and the narration was excellent. 

Book source: Audible purchase

All the Stars in the Sky by Sarah Lyons Fleming

All the Stars in the Sky: Until the End of the World, Book 3 (Volume 3) - Sarah Lyons Fleming

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was a really good conclusion to the series. When I find a series that I enjoy, I usually try to take a bit of a break between books just to stretch things out a bit. After finishing the previous book in this series, And After, I knew that this would be a situation where I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. It has been quite the adventure with Cassie and the group.

This is the third book in the Until the End of the World series which I do think needs to be read in order. This book picks up immediately after the events of the previous book. I do my best to write spoiler free reviews but there may be some spoilers about events from earlier books. The second book really left the group in a desperate situation which is where we find them as this book opens.

Cassie and the group need to make to a new safe zone. The plan has been to head to Alaska if Kingdom Come was compromised. She is with a small group making their way by vehicle across Canada to reach their goal and hoping to avoid the zombie pods. They have limited supplies in terms of food and fuel but they are resourceful and work well together. During their travels, they encounter some pretty scary situations that had me at the edge of my seat. They run into some really nice people and some people who could be described as anything but nice. I felt like I was right there with the group and wanted to see them reach safety more than anything. 

This was a really exciting book. There seemed to be more instances where they had to deal with life-threatening zombie situations. They spent nearly the entire book in danger. I did think that the book slowed down for me at the end. The last section of the book focused more on relationships than anything else and I thought it was drawn out just a bit. I did like the fact that the characters continued to talk about other characters that have died to keep their memory alive. I thought this felt really authentic and it helped me get over a certain character that was lost at the end of the second book. Can you tell that some of these deaths still bother me? No character is ever safe in the zombie apocalypse.

Julia Whelan does an amazing job with this series. There is a large cast of characters and she did a fabulous job representing them in the same manner in each book of the series. I was constantly pulled into the book through her narration. Exciting scenes, funny scenes, and more heartfelt scenes are all handled equally well. I listened to this book for hours at a time and definitely plan to listen to her work again in the future.

I would recommend this series to others. I think that fans of The Walking Dead would appreciate this story of survival. I liked the series enough that it is one that I hope to listen to it again at some point in a few years. I hope to read more works by Sarah Lyons Fleming in the future.

Initial Thoughts
This was a good conclusion. The group was in a lot of danger for much of the book so there was a lot of excitement. It did fizzle out a bit during the last hour or so of the audio when the focus was almost entirely on romance. Overall, I really enjoyed the whole series.

Book source: Audible purchase

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really good! Amazingly good! I am kind of thinking that I am a big dummy for not realizing how good it was when I read the book last year. I liked it the first time around but I wasn't nearly as impressed as I was with this listen. I really do think that the narration of this story took everything to a whole new level. I listened to it over just a few days and really never wanted to stop listening. I am so glad that I decided to give this book another try.

This story is quite imaginative. Rose falls into a hole as a small child and discovers what appears to be the hand of a giant metal robot. I was hooked right away. The entire premise is just so interesting and I loved watching this group try to figure everything out. Since I had read this book just a year ago, I already knew how things would play out but that didn't lessen the excitement for me. 

This book is laid out a little differently than the norm. Instead of a running narrative, this story relies on a series of interviews, reports, and journal entries. The interviews are conducted by a character that doesn't have a hands on role with the project but seems to have a lot of power over everything that is going on. I found myself not only trying to figure out what was going on with the project but also trying to get some kind of clue regarding the identity of the nameless character. 

One of the main reasons that I decided to give this story another try was the fact that this audiobook is performed by a full cast. Having read the book before, I had a feeling that if done right this audiobook could be amazing. I was right. I almost felt like I was listening to a play being performed. Each character in the book had a different narrator. Interviews would be conducted back and forth between two narrators. The narrators were all really good and captured the characters very well. 

I would highly recommend this book to others. If you are someone who enjoys audiobooks, I would recommend that format if you have the option. The full cast production of this audiobook really does take a good story to a whole new level. I can't wait to continue with this series.

Initial Thoughts
I read an arc of this book last year and liked but didn't love it. I actually only gave it 3 stars last year. I had heard that the audiobook was really good so I decided to give it a try and I am amazed. The full cast performance of this story was fantastic. How did I not love this book the first time around? I probably should have liked it a bit more when I read it the first time but I do think that the audio takes it to a whole new level.

Book source: Audible purchase

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

Gwendy's Button Box: Includes bonus story "The Music Room" - Richard Chizmar, Stephen King, Maggie Siff

This review can also be found Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this little story! This was one of those books that once you started you wanted to keep listening. This book isn't very long so it really is no surprise that I was able to listen to it in a single day but I started this one on a Saturday and I rarely listen to audiobooks during the weekends. I just couldn't get enough of this story. 

The story opens with Gwendy exercising on the stairs. She meets a stranger who gives her a magic box. This box can do a lot of things and she takes the responsibility that comes with it very seriously. She has a lot of questions about the box and no real way of finding any answers. She's doesn't even know anything about the man that gave it to her.

I think Gwendy showed more restraint that I would have at such a young age. Who am I kidding? I don't think I would have a lot of restraint now either. I wanted her to push all of the buttons but was a little scared and wanted to to leave it alone all at the same time. If anyone can hook me up with the magic chocolate, please let me know because I am pretty sure that I could use some of that in my life. 

The story took some unexpected turns and held my interest the entire time. There were a few moments that broke my heart just a little bit. I thought the whole concept of the story was really imaginative and well developed. I liked how this story kept me thinking about how I would have handled the situation if I were in Gwendy's place. 

The narration was very well done. I think that Maggie Siff did a fantastic job of bringing Gwendy to life. She was able to bring a lot of emotion into the story and expertly handled everything from a child's wonder to a teenager's heartbreak. Her voice was very pleasant to listen to and her delivery was performed at a very nice pace. 

I would recommend this book to others. The audiobook that I listened to also included a very short story which was very enjoyable even though it only lasted a few minutes. The conversation between the authors was also quite entertaining. I do hope to read more from both of these authors in the future.

Book source: Library via Overdrive

Home for Christmas by Lily Everett

Home for Christmas - Lily Everett

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

Well, this was a disappointment. I have read Lily Everett before and really enjoyed her work so I decided that this would be the book that I would read leading up to Christmas this year. I just knew that this would be a great read. Unfortunately, this book really didn't work for me. I am not sure if my reading tastes have changed since I last read this author or if it is just this book but this wasn't the enjoyable reading experience I had hoped it would be.

Libby Leeds has been living a lie. She is a well known author with a column that is supposed to be non-fiction but her life looks nothing like that column. She gets caught with her deception when her boss invites a well known hero to her home in Sanctuary Island for Christmas dinner. She is then forced to reconnect with family and do her best to be the woman the world knows from her column.

Owen was wounded in action and has been working hard to get back into shape so he can return to duty. He has recently discovered that he has a young child who is now living with his sister in Sanctuary Island. He is headed to there to get to know his child and get therapy. He accepts the invitation to have dinner with Libby since he wants to share the perfect Christmas with his daughter.

I didn't like Libby or Owen. Libby is living an absolute lie. Owen seems to only be able to focus on going back to active duty. Libby is even pretending to be married for a good portion of the book so this romance just never worked for me. I honestly didn't see a lot of chemistry between them. This is a very tame romance and I just didn't feel the spark that I would have hoped to see.

I think that my biggest issue with the book was that so much of the story seemed pointless. Once Libby opens up to Owen, I didn't see the point of continuing with the charade. There is a secondary romance that added nothing to the story and only contained a few short scenes. I found that I was often bored while reading this book and had to read passages more than once because my mind would wander. 

I would say that the best parts of the book included the scenes with Libby's grandfather and Owen's daughter. Those two characters were the highlight of the story and I would have really liked to see a bit more of them. The book does have a very strong Christmas theme with just about everything Christmas making an appearance at least once. 

I will not be recommending this book to others. I think that this was a rather forgettable story that was a bit too sweet for my tastes. I won't hesitate to read more from Lily Everett in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was a bit of a disappointment for me. It was overly sweet and I found myself rather bored at times. I couldn't connect with either of the main characters and much of the plot seemed pointless. Caitlyn and Grandpa were the highlights of the story. There was a whole lot of Christmas worked into the book which is another plus.

And After by Sarah Lyons Fleming

And After: Until the End of the World, Book 2 (Volume 2) - Sarah Lyons Fleming

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I am loving this series! I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this series because I am very taken with it. I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead but I don't actively search for zombie books to read (although maybe I should). As I listened to this book, I have found myself comparing it to The Walking Dead but I don't think that is a bad thing since I would expect some similarities. This book was hard to put down and I ended up listening to it for hours at a time and thinking about it at other times. 

I do have to tell you that this book broke my heart. More than once. I didn't expect to care about this group of characters as much as I do but it seems like any time they experience something terrible my heart hurts a little bit. In a world with zombies all over the place, there is a a whole lot of horrible going on. There is also a whole lot of good and I love that this book really shows how great people can be during a crisis.

Cassie and her group of friends are living at Kingdom Come. The community at Kingdom Come works well together. They are growing food, canning, and basically doing whatever is needed to support their population. They have even set up a school for the children. Everyone has their assigned jobs and life is about as good as you can make it during the zombie apocalypse.

But things eventually go wrong and Cassie has to learn how to move forward even when she doesn't want to. This book really put me through the wringer at times and just as I started to feel a bit better about things it would crush my heart all over again. There times that I was nervous for the characters, times that I was happy for them, times that I laughed along with them, and times I wanted to let them cry on my shoulder.

I do really like Cassie and her group of friends. The group that we met in the first book are still together and I really feel like I know them at this point. I think it is great how much they are really able to support each other and it is obvious how much they really care for each member of the group. It is really a more positive approach to their situation since they really work together to get through different events.

Julia Whelan does such a great job narrating this series. This book is from Cassie's point of view and she does a fantastic job of capturing all of Casie's emotions during the story. There is a pretty large cast of characters in the book and she handles them all very well. I think that her reading of the story may have added a bit of impact to some of the more intense sections of the book.

I would highly recommend this series to fans of The Walking Dead or zombie apocalypse stories. This was a highly entertaining story filled with wonderful characters trying to not only survive but flourish. I usually take a break between books in a series to stretch things out a bit but I moved straight into the next book in the series once I finished this one because I couldn't wait to spend more time with Cassie and her group. I will definitely be reading more from Sarah Lyons Fleming in the future.

Initial Thoughts
This book broke my heart several times. Damn. Great characters and lots of zombie fun. The narration is fabulous. I can't get enough of this amazing series.

Book source: Audible purchase