Reader, Writer, Reviewer


Field of Graves by J.T. Ellison – And Giveaway!

field-of-gravesI’m offering a hardcover giveaway of this intense novel, so please leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win.  Giveaway ends midnight Thursday, September 29.  Good luck!

Rating:  **** (4/5)

Published: MIRA, June 2016

Format: Signed ARC

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Source: Publisher (BEA)




Bookish (and fall-ish) Thoughts

Egad, autumn is upon us!  As much as I hate to see summer go, there are a few things I’m looking forward to this fall…

For once in my life I’m excited about Halloween because it is the first time ever I will be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.  I might have to up my Halloween decorating game since I currently own nothing festive.

Speaking of Halloween, I have a few spooky books I’ve been saving for the latter half of October: Stalking Jack the Ripper, Tomes of Terror, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

And October means Dewey’s 24 hour readathon!  This is my first event in the new house and I’m super excited to hunker down in my library for a good portion of it.  If the weather is on the cool side, I’ll spend the latter part of the day in my comfy reading chair in front of the fire.  We shall see!  Tentative books I’m looking forward to: The Princess Bride, The Kept Woman, and Last Seen Leaving.

I’m hosting a little BEA girls reunion next month, too and I look forward to getting together with my favorite friend acquisitions: Words for Worms Katie, Daily Dosage Marisa, and Unruly Reader Stacey.  Book nerds unite!

bea photobooth

Photobooth with some of my new favorite people!

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Irena’s Children by Tilar Mazzeo

irenas-childrenSubtitle: A True Story of Courage

Rating:  ***** (5/5)

Published: Gallery Books, Se2016

Format: ARC

Genre: Nonfiction

Source: Publisher (BEA)

Often referred to as the female Schindler, Irena Sendler was credited with saving 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto.  As a social worker, she was in a unique position to have access to the walled city within the city and the deprivation and inhumanity within.  She saved orphans and children whose families were doomed, often convincing parents to send their children away.  These kids were offered new identities with forged paperwork, and taught to live as Christians to ensure their safety.  Though the Nazi’s never determined how imperative she was to the Polish resistance, they knew Irena was a collaborator and her capture and merciless torture was inevitable.  The fact that she survived and escaped was miraculous, and that didn’t deter her from continuing her selfless endeavors.  She risked her own life daily and the vast network of people who assisted her were heroes in their own right.

This book illustrates that being a Pole in Warsaw during German occupation was the worst situation to be in, but being a Polish Jew was an even more horrific prospect.  Irena witnessed thousands of people transported to Treblinka, the liquidation of the ghetto, and the destruction of her city.  One of the saddest scenes was Irena helplessly witnessing the liquidation of an orphanage and the stoic bravery of the children and the doctor in charge who voluntarily accompanied them.  In Irena’s own words, “…that tragic precession of innocent children marching to their own deaths.”  But because of her, thousands of children were saved and future generations exist because of her organization, defiance, and bravery.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


5th Blogiversary Extravaganza!

I consider this a pretty monumental anniversary.  5 years going strong and relatively steady on my little corner of the internet.  This year seems like it’s been exceptionally special for two major reasons:  having attended BEA, and all of the fun bookish things I’ve been able to do to our beautiful new house.  Guys, I am bursting with love right now and so grateful for everything (my readers and friends, my cheerleaders, my family).

For this very special anniversary of JulzReads, I am offering you a few prizes courtesy of my friends at MIRA.  First prize will win a hardcover of Daughters of the Bride, an ARC of Liar’s Key, and paperbacks of The Bourbon Thief and Free Fall.  Second Prize will win a hardcover of Liar’s Key.

Giveaway ends midnight on Monday, September 19.  Please leave a comment below for a chance to enter and good luck!


Liar’s Key by Carla Neggers:

An FBI legend, a mysterious antiquities specialist and a brazen art thief draw top FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan into a complex web of blackmail, greed and murder…

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz:

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon.

Free Fall by Rick Mofina:

High above the Adirondack Mountains, a commuter flight to New York City turns into a rolling, twisting nightmare, plunging from the sky before the crew regains control. Then, in London, a jetliner crashes into the runway, killing fifteen people.  Investigators with no answers…

Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery:

With Joy, Love and a Little Trepidation, Courtney, Sienna and Rachel Invite You to the Most Emotional Wedding of the Year… Their Mother’s.

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

the-couple-next-doorRating: ***** (5/5)

Published: Pamela Dorman Books, August 2016

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Source: Amazon Vine

This is the perfect end-of-summer thriller and I devoured it in just a few hours. When Anne and Marco’s baby Cora goes missing from her crib while they’re at the next door neighbor’s party, all hell breaks loose. But this isn’t a random abduction, and as the police investigate, they can’t help but suspect Cora’s parents. Could Anne have hurt her daughter in a dissociative state? Why is there no physical evidence that anyone else was in the house? What was Marco doing with his neighbor’s wife that makes him seem guilty? There are so many twists and turns that I didn’t know who was completely to trust. Between Anne’s postpartum depression and Marco’s financial woes, no one was entirely blameless, including the peripheral characters. This is the best kind of mystery that unspools with perfect pacing and kept me guessing the entire time.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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Into the Black by Rowland White

into the blackSubtitle: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Her

Rating: **** (4/5)

Published: Touchstone, April 2016

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Nonfiction

Source: Blog Giveaway (Thanks Swapna!)

I wasn’t even two years old when the Space Shuttle Columbia launched for the first time.  Growing up, the Shuttle program always existed and I never really appreciated it. This book gave me a better understanding of the revolutionary engineering and technology that went into getting a reusable Shuttle into being from concept to flight.  To appreciate the program’s evolution, it’s also important to understand the history of space exploration in America, from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, to the Cold War tensions that had the US and USSR in such heated competition for space firsts.  The first 100 pages of this book deliver that, as well as the backgrounds on the individuals who contributed to Columbia and the people who would fly it.  There are familiar characters from earlier NASA projects, a slew of Air Force guys, engineers, and various organizations involved.  Though some of the science, math, and technical specs went over my head a bit, it was still fascinating.  I’ve always been intrigued with the conquest of space, and this comprehensive history of the Columbia and the Space Shuttle program  was captivating.


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The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

women-in-the-wallsRating: *** (3/5)

Published: Harlequin Teen, September 2016

Format: ARC

Genre: YA Horror

Source: Amazon Vine

I liked the premise of this book: a girl in a big spooky house in the middle of nowhere starts to question her own sanity after a series of tragedies. There’s a slow buildup of tension as Lucy’s aunt disappears, then her cousin breaks down, and she starts hearing voices coming from the walls. The end, however, kind of fell apart for me. I have nothing against supernatural elements, but this particular malevolent being was not as clearly defined as I would have liked. One thing the book had going for it was the gore factor. Lukavics does not shy away from blood and a high body count, and I can respect that. I wanted to like it more, but the open-ended conclusion felt somewhat unresolved and I wasn’t too keen on Lucy’s resignation to her fate.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.