My Favorite Books of 2016

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Since there are only a couple more days until 2017, I thought I would round up some of my favorite books from 2016.  I’ve only included books that were published this year and have been mentioned in other blog posts.  Let me know if you have any to add to the list!

  1. The Widow by Fiona Barton (Published February 2016)
  2. Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon (Published February 2016)
  3. We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley (Published June 2016)
  4. You by Caroline Kepnes (Published June 2016)
  5. The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell (Published June 2016)
  6. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (Published July 2016)
  7. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (Published August 2016)
  8. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris  (Published August 2016)
  9. Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra (Published September 2016)
  10. Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton (Published September 2016)

Book Review: Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

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Genre: Mystery

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!  I read Inherit the Bones last week and wanted to share a review with you all.

First of all, I can’t believe this is the author’s first published book!  It is so well written and a great mystery overall.  The story follows Gemma, a pregnant police officer, who is assigned a complicated murder case that seems to be related to older unsolved crimes.  One of the crimes is the murder of two young boys who went missing and whose bodies weren’t found until years later.  Gemma was the one to stumble upon their remains and has been haunted by the unsolved case for years.  When she discovers her current case may somehow be related, she is even more intent on catching the killer.

This is the first book in the Detective Gemma Monroe novels and I’m looking forward to following the rest of the series.  Gemma is a likeable main character who is strong, independent and great at her job.  I’m excited to see where the series will take her next.

This mystery held my attention from beginning to end and was a nice change of pace from some of the darker books I’ve read lately.  If you enjoy mysteries but aren’t a big fan of gory reads, this may be one to check out!

 

Book Review: Losing Juliet by June Taylor

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Juliet and Chrissy were inseparable throughout their college days.  From spending afternoons checking out thrift stores to traveling abroad, the two did everything together.  Twenty years later, Chrissy is a widowed mother raising a teenage daughter on her own and Juliet is a successful business woman.  The two women have not spoken since Chrissy cut off all communication at the end of college.  When Chrissy’s daughter learns of their college friendship, she becomes determined to help reunite them.  As the story alternates between past and present, clues are revealed about what led to the rift between the two women all those years ago.

I had mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, it was an addicting read and it kept my interest.  I connected with Chrissy’s daughter’s character and enjoyed the chapters that were from her point of view the most. On the other, I didn’t feel like the character’s motives were very strong.  Without giving away any spoilers, I never fully understood why Chrissy had such negative feelings toward Juliet.  I was also hoping to see Chrissy’s character grow and become stronger throughout the story but unfortunately she remained the same from beginning to end.

Although there were certain questions I didn’t feel were completely answered, I thoroughly enjoyed the story overall.  This was an addicting read and I will keep my eye out for other books written by this author in the future.

 

Book Review: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After a woman’s mother unexpectedly passes away, she learns she was kidnapped as a toddler and the couple who raised her are not her biological parents.  Shattered by this devastating discovery, she decides to leave her present life behind and meet the family she was taken from.

This was an emotional read and the author did a great job of explaining the points of view of each of the characters.  Although the main character was kidnapped as a toddler, she grew up in a mostly happy home and was loved by the parents who raised her.  On the other hand, her biological family were torn apart by her disappearance and never recovered from the trauma of losing her.  The main character is conflicted by her feelings of loyalty toward the people who raised her and the knowledge that what they did was wrong.  The story is told in both the past and present, allowing the reader to better understand the kidnapper’s motive and the effect it had on the biological family.

This book was both intensely sad at points and uplifting at others.  The author’s portrayal of the situation was very realistic and it was easy to imagine the devastating consequences of the kidnapping.  I really enjoyed watching the main character break out of her shell and become her own person as she learned more about where she came from.

This was a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers!

Book Review: Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen

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Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Since I’m a big fan of both thrillers and Christmas, I couldn’t wait to read a book that is a combination of the two!

When a young woman is approached by a handsome stranger while out Christmas shopping, she agrees to go home with him on a whim.  Once back at his place, she realizes he doesn’t plan on letting her leave and intends to make her his prisoner for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Each day, he presents her with increasingly disturbing gifts and subjects her to the backstory of each item.  As the days creep by, she wonders if she will make it past the twelfth day alive.

This was a great read that was equal parts horror and thriller.  It was fast paced and had more than one twist I didn’t see coming.  Some of the scenes were a little hard to read but the author didn’t rely on shock factor alone.  Each of the characters were complex and revealed hidden layers and motivations as the story progressed.

This isn’t your typical light hearted Christmas read but if you like thrillers, this is one I would recommend checking out!  I can’t wait to check out other books by this author in the future.  I’ve got my eye on this one next.

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

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Christmas is exactly one week away!  I’ve lined up some of my favorite ideas for anyone looking for stocking stuffers or last minute gifts.  All of these can be found at Target and are under $15.

  1. Makeup Sponge – I have this makeup sponge and absolutely love it!  To use it, first soak the sponge under cool water, squeeze it out and put your foundation on the slanted side of the sponge.  Then, pat the foundation on your face.  It makes foundation look so even and dewy.  I’ve never tried the more expensive beauty blender but because of the low price of this sponge, I don’t know if I’ll ever switch!  This is the perfect gift for any beauty lover in your life.
  2. Makeup Wipes – Makeup wipes are always great to have around and these are super affordable.  For a natural option, try these.
  3. Hair Mask – This hair mask is a great deal and I’ve heard good things about the OGX brand.  This hair treatment strengthens and softens hair.
  4. Lotion & Lip Balm Gift Set – I got this set for my birthday last year and used it all the time!  The lotions smell so good and the coconut lip balm is my favorite out of all the eos flavors.
  5. Mini Nail Polish Gift Set – Essie has some of the prettiest nail polish shades and their holiday set does not disappoint.  The colors are perfect for the holidays or year round!
  6. Tassel Key Chain – This key chain is both functional and cute.
  7. Fuzzy Socks – Who doesn’t love a pair of cozy socks?!  These are festive and have grips on the bottom.
  8. Travel Cup – I got this travel cup for Christmas last year and use it all the time at work.  I love how it has a handle and holds 32 oz. so it doesn’t need to constantly be re-filled.
  9. K-cups – K-cups always make a great gift.  This Starbucks holiday pack is perfect for the holidays!  Not a peppermint fan?  Try this one.
  10. Ornaments – These ornaments are so cute and there are a bunch of different options to choose from.  They’re made of felt so they’re perfect for stuffing in a stocking.

Let me know if you have any ideas to add!

Book Review: The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

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Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After reading a ton of positive online reviews for The Vanishing Year, I knew I had to check it out.

The plot follows a woman, Zoe, who takes on a new identity after testifying against a group of dangerous criminals.  In her new life, she is married to a successful businessman who lavishes her with gifts and frequently sweeps her off on extravagant trips.  Although she seems to have everything she could ever want, she can’t help but reflect on her past and have questions for the birth mother who gave her up for adoption.  As Zoe uncovers information about where she came from, she realizes her two lives are not as separate from one another as she once believed.

The author constructed a well written story that gradually revealed clues about Zoe’s past as the book progressed.  I was surprised by a couple of the plot twists and liked the way the story was wrapped up in the conclusion.  The only reason I would give this book a 4 instead of 5 stars is because I felt like the beginning of the book was a little slow.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that I felt the suspense kick up a notch.  Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slow building thriller!

 

Favorite Finds

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Happy Friday!  I hope everyone has had a great week.  Here are some of my recent favorite finds:

  1. Favorite Face Mask – Target and Walmart have recently started carrying these face masks and I can’t wait to try them out.  They have a bunch of different kinds to choose from depending on your skin type.  They were 2 for $5 at Walmart last time I was there and range between $2 – $4 individually.
  2. Favorite Hat – I love the double pom pom hat trend that’s going on right now.  I saw a really cute one on this blog.
  3. Favorite Boots – I’ve been wearing these boots so much this winter.  They’re much cheaper than similar name brand boots and just as comfy.
  4. Favorite Socks – My husband has gotten me these socks the past couple years for Christmas and they are so warm and cozy.  They are usually offered as a buy one get one free deal and end up being about $6 each.
  5. Favorite Christmas Outfit – This outfit is so cute, I can definitely see our pup wearing it!

Book Review: A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone

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Genre: Fiction/Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow – I just finished reading A Suitable Lie and it was an emotional roller coaster!  There has been a lot of hype about this book and after reading it, I can say that it’s for good reason.

Andy is a widowed father who lost his wife during the birth of their son.  Although his son is the center of his world, he still feels there is something missing from his life.  When he meets Anna, Andy thinks he has found his perfect match.  Anna is everything he is looking for – kind, loving and a mother figure for his son.  After a short engagement, they are married.  Not long into their marriage, Andy sees a side of Anna he never knew existed.  Her moods swing from sunny and happy to dark rages.  Andy is determined to stay on his wife’s good side and do anything in his power to make her happy.  But when the situation becomes increasingly dangerous, Andy must decide how to save his family and himself.

This book was so well written and the author did a great job in his characterization of Andy.  Andy is a good man and father who is placed in the impossible situation of an abusive relationship.  Although this type of situation is rarely discussed, this book shows how easy it could happen.

If you’re looking for an intense thriller, I highly recommend checking this one out!

Blog Feature: Coupon Pro

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog feature so I thought it would be fun to share one of my favorite blogs, Coupon Pro!  Coupon Pro offers tons of coupons (obviously!) and even better – freebies.  I visit the blog mostly to learn about freebies but also to see what sales are going on at different stores.

Coupon Pro has an email subscription option that allows you to get daily emails with information about all the best deals and freebies.  I used to just visit the blog online and realized I was missing a lot of the best offers because they expired by the time I saw them.  Some of the best freebies I’ve gotten include, Starbucks K-cups, travel size shampoo and conditioner, lotion, toothpaste and more.  Freebies aren’t offered all the time so it’s nice to be notified of them through email whenever they are!

If you’re interested in couponing or just like getting free stuff, I would recommend checking out Coupon Pro!  Thanks for stopping by the blog.