Friday, July 28, 2017

The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo by Ian Stansel

The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo
by Ian Stansel
narrated by Jordan Killam

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: July 4, 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Contemporary, Western, California
Hardback: 208
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
What are you doing, brother?

These words clung to the gnarled oak of Silas's consciousness, climbing, nesting, making themselves at home.

A contemporary Western debut about two brothers locked in a deadly feud, a woman on horseback trailing her husband’s killer, and the inescapable ties of home and family

When Silas Van Loy flees home on horseback to avoid capture for his brother’s murder, he is soon followed by both the police and his brother’s wife, Lena, who is intent on exacting revenge. She reluctantly lets her trusted stable assistant join her in a journey across the wilds of Northern California in the hopes of catching Silas for one final showdown. Stansel follows the chase and shares the story of the brothers’ rise from hardscrabble childhood to their reign as the region’s preeminent horse trainers, tracking the tense sibling rivalry that ultimately leads to the elder’s death.

A fully realized tale that challenges notions of the modern West, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo will satisfy fans of Kent Haruf, Larry McMurtry, Molly Gloss, and Smith Henderson, and establish Stansel as a new voice in this grand tradition.

My two-bits:

Surely captures the western genre in a modern day setting. The location is set in my backyard (Marin county), so it was a treat to hear references to places I am familiar with.

The drama includes a cowboy on-the-run, a horse named Disco, a vengeful woman and a journey to an eventual showdown.


* Listened to audiobook version.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Ill Will
by Dan Chaon
narrated by:
Ari Fliakos as the Narrator
Edoardo Ballerini as Dustin
Michael Crouch as Aaron
Alex McKenna as Wave and Kate
Scott Aiello as Rusty

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Hardback: 480
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Sometime in the first days of November the body of the young man who had disappeared sank to the bottom of the river.

Zombie sighting:
Night after night this zombie of Dustin would rise and try to wander around if he wasn't woken up.
-part 6: Fall 1983

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient's suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

My two-bits:

The "ill will" vibe was certainly felt throughout this book. Creepy moments.

Character development and interplay were presented well in the audio version.

Got me thinking about repressed memory and affects of childhood traumas.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Vestige by Caroline George

The Vestige
by Caroline George

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Just released: June 30, 2017
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Dystopia, YA
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
"The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly."

Zombie sighting:
"Jack," he says and shuts his book—some obscure zombie novel.
-chapter 1

Choose to see the unseen...

Julie Stryker has spent her life in the scenic streets of Charleston, South Carolina, bicycling to the local college, working at a coffeehouse, watching her family fall apart and back together. She has plans, dreams—all of which seem out of reach. Then she meets a handsome stranger at work, and she believes her life is on the brink of a much needed change. But after a tragic accident, Julie is whisked away from the only home she’s ever known and confronted with a life-altering secret: The end of the world has already occurred and a portion of humankind has been kept oblivious.

Tossed into a hidden world of deception, Julie must confront the truth within herself and reveal the government’s layers before the end of the world becomes a permanent reality.

1st Layer: What you can see.
2nd Layer: What you know is real.
3rd Layer: What you can neither see nor know is real.

My two-bits:

Coming of age and some romance during the perils of a world that has transitioned into a dystopia setting.

The experience of being part of a military unit with missions into enemy territories provide pieces to what has become of this world.

I liked the epigraphs which were mostly from well-known dystopia related books.


* review copy courtesy of author

* part of Dystopia Challenge (here)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jane of Austin:
A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility
by Hillary Manton Lodge
narrated by Kate Handford

Find out more about this book and author:
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Just released: June 13, 2017
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Romance, Jane Austen theme, Retelling, Recipes, California, Texas
Paperback: 320
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
San Francisco, CA 2009
"Well, girls," our father began, "it's been a good run. And I'm not saying it won't be again, but we're going to have to… economize."

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience - or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

My two-bits:

This definitely captures S&S in a modern setting with lovely characters and gentle romance dramas.

The story starts off in San Francisco (one of my favorite places in the world) and incorporates lots of tea (another favorite). Delicious sweet and savory recipes are interspersed within the story which makes me want to get the print copy to experience the yummy-ness.

Loved learning about Austin, Texas and it's culture including the SXSW scene.


* check out Hillary's Jane Austen week celebration, July 16-21, 2017 (here)

* part of Foodies Read Challenge (here)

* Listened to audiobook version.

Winner for July

Here are the winners for giveaways that
ended July 23, 2017
during the My Favorite Things Giveaway Hop (here)

Thanks to all contestants!


To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - Amazon | Goodreads
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han - Amazon | Goodreads
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han - Amazon | Goodreads

Winner: poetry in leaves


* 7/26/17 updated winner as previous did not have an email address

* I will email winners for mailing addresses within two weeks.
Winners, feel free to contact me with your info if you don't get my email
or if you are just too darn excited and want to let me know -- like NOW ;-D

* contest policy

* if not this time, maybe next time
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