2020 Book #21 – Outfox by Sandra Brown

Title: Outfox
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 5/15/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 448
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the #1 NYT bestselling author: After a thirty-year search for a serial killer, FBI agent Drex Easton becomes a suspect’s next-door neighbor — but can he navigate a shocking series of twists and turns to track down the truth?
 
FBI agent Drex Easton is relentlessly driven by a single goal: to outmaneuver the conman once known as Weston Graham. Over the past thirty years, Weston has assumed many names and countless disguises, enabling him to lure eight wealthy women out of their fortunes before they disappeared without a trace, their families left without answers and the authorities without clues. The only common trait among the victims: a new man in their life who also vanished, leaving behind no evidence of his existence . . . except for one signature custom.
 
Drex is convinced that these women have been murdered, and that the man he knows as Weston Graham is the sociopath responsible. But each time Drex gets close to catching him, Weston trades one persona for another and disappears again. Now, for the first time in their long game of cat and mouse, Drex has a suspect in sight.
 
Attractive and charming, Jasper Ford is recently married to a successful businesswoman many years his junior, Talia Shafer. Drex insinuates himself into their lives, posing as a new neighbor and setting up surveillance on their house. The closer he gets to the couple, the more convinced he becomes that Jasper is the clever, merciless predator he’s sought–and that his own attraction to Talia threatens to compromise his purpose and integrity.
 

This is Drex’s one chance to outfox his cunning nemesis before he murders again and eludes justice forever. But first he must determine if the desirable Talia is a heartless accomplice . . . or the next victim.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of Bout of Books 28.

I have always really loved Sandra Brown’s books, though some I’ve liked more than others. This was a fairly solid suspense but I thought there would be more to the plot twists. I didn’t especially love the big plot twist at the end, I thought it was a little bit of a let down. I still overall liked the story though and, for most of the book, I didn’t want to put it down. There were a couple of parts where the pacing grew a bit slow but overall it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book. I read this book with a couple work girlfriends and we read and discussed the book. Overall I liked the book but I can’t say it was my favorite, definitely not my favorite of Brown’s (which is of course Deadline in case you didn’t already know). I think it’s still worth the read but if you’re going to only read one of Brown’s books in life, read Deadline.

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

 

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 7 & Wrap Up

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I’ve participated in the Bout of Books reading challenges in the past few years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done – I’ve found it’s a great way to help me focus on reading and have concentrated reading time. I was especially excited for this month’s Bout of Books since 1) I have a lot of time to relax at home right now (welcome to the pandemic) 2) I had a pretty bad reading slump this year and didn’t read for almost two months so I’m looking forward to diving into some great reads and 3) work this year has been intense so I was more eager than ever for some relaxation time!! I got a good amount of reading done this week and it was great to spend some time focused on the blog and participating in the challenges.

First let’s do my Day 7 (Sunday) update on reading.

Update

Sunday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 146 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,412 pages
Books read: Started Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich
Challenges: I did tweet about Sunday’s challenge which was just a stretch goal challenge!

And now let’s look at how I fared for my overall Bout of Books 28 wrap up:

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least an hour Monday and Tuesday and then from there I’m hoping to read at least 3 hours a day, hopefully more.
I met the daily reading goal all of the days! Overall the pandemic really helped me since I can’t exactly go anywhere. I honestly probably would’ve gotten more reading done but I started playing a game in an app on my phone and it quickly got me addicted so I was distracted for some of the days. Overall I read over 23 hours for the challenge so I’d call that a success!

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading and devouring my books. My traditional busy season at work goes from January to April and it was a killer this year, especially with all the additional issues presented with the pandemic. I gave up on reading for pretty much February through the beginning of April since all I was doing was making myself more tired staying up too late reading. I’ve just recently picked up reading again and it’s been going well but I need to get back on board with my reading schedule and catch up on books I missed over the last couple months!

I was able to read every day, which was probably easier than normal since I took the second half of the week off of work.  I also participated in 5 out of the 7 daily challenges, the two that I missed were logistical issues.

Books to Read

  • Finish Outfox by Sandra Brown – Done! Review will be posted later this week
  • Read Close Up by Amanda Quick – Read and reviewed
  • Read BuzzBooks Romance sampler – Read and reviewed
  • Read Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia – Read and reviewed
  • Read Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson – Read and reviewed
  • Read a book I own (TBD) – Skipped
  • Read Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich – Started on last day of challenge but haven’t finished yet

Overall I thought I did super well with this challenge and made a lot of time for reading! I’m hoping to also participate in the August Bout of Books this year but that will be dependent on a few scheduling items. Either way, I had a great time this past week! Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 6

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Yesterday was a wonderful day! I did most of my reading for the day at night, as we spent most of the afternoon at my parents having a wonderful make up Mothers Day. Yesterday was a beautiful day for weather and it was great to spend the afternoon on the deck in the sun. So anyways my Saturday’s progress is below:

Update

Saturday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 4.25 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 256 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,266 pages
Books read: Finished The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
Challenges: I did not participate in the challenge for yesterday – the challenge was to post a review but I was all caught up with my posts and I didn’t get to finish the current book I was reading in time to post a review.

Stay tuned for continued progress made in my next post on my Sunday update!!

2020 Book #29 – The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Title: The Accidental Beauty Queen
Author: Teri Wilson
Date finished: 5/17/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Pages in book: 305
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of Bout of Books 28.

I hadn’t had a chance to read this when it came out back in 2018 but I had originally requested it because it sounded very interesting and the cover is so cute. I’ve never read anything by this author before but this book was great! This book was a perfect blend of Miss Congeniality, The Parent Trap, and Pride and Prejudice. There were so many great bookish references – lots of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice references. This is a great read for a book lover! Overall it was a really sweet story and the plot line was well constructed and implemented. I thought that the ending all wrapped up a little quickly though. There was a lot of emotional growing that Charlotte went through during the book and I would’ve liked to witness more of the confrontation / result with Charlotte and her parents and also Ginny. This book was just so fun and entertaining, I really enjoyed it and I would recommend reading it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 5

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Yesterday was another great reading day. I had some work to get done in the morning but then the afternoon and evening I was able to get a lot of reading done. So anyways my Friday’s progress is below:

Update

Friday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 4.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 284 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,010 pages
Books read: Finished Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia, Finished Outfox by Sandra Brown (review to come next week!), and started The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
Challenges: I participated in the challenge yesterday on Twitter!

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Saturday update!!

2020 Book #28 – Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia

Title: Strike Me Down
Author: Mindy Mejia
Date finished: 5/15/20
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Pages in book: 348
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley / Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the critically acclaimed author of Leave No Trace, the “nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go” (The Real Book Spy), comes a visceral thriller where a high stakes crime triggers a woman’s complicated and potentially deadly search for the truth.

Nora Trier catches thieves. As a forensic accountant and partner in her downtown Minneapolis firm, she’s unearthed millions in every corner of the world. She prides herself on her independence, the most essential currency of accounting, until her firm is hired by Strike.

An anti-corporate, feminist athletic empire, Strike is owned by Logan Russo, a brash and legendary kickboxer, and her marketing genius husband, Gregg Abbott. They’re about to host a major kickboxing tournament with twenty million dollars in prize money, and the chance for the champion to become the new face of the company. Gregg suspects his wife already has a new face in mind—a young trainer named Aaden, for whom Logan feels an unexpected connection.

Days before the tournament begins, it’s discovered that the prize money is missing. Gregg hires Nora’s firm to find both the thief and the money but Nora has a secret connection to Strike that threatens her independence. Her partner pressures her into taking the case anyway, hinting he has information about Strike that could change the course of the investigation in a shocking and deadly way.

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My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this as part of Bout of Books 28.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have always enjoyed them. And I have to say – this book was pretty perfect for me since it’s about a CPA! And there are a couple funny anecdotes included that made me giggle (included below).  This was a solid mystery, it had me guessing pretty much right up to the end. I thought there was going to be more of a “reveal” so there was a small disappointment when the plot twist wasn’t quite as twisty as I’d expected. Overall though the whole plot was good and I thought it was well paced, I was interested throughout the book. I didn’t understand the vagueness on why her team was crying about Corbett, and it said they knew something she didn’t, but I can’t remember if we ever found out what that thing is. Also the ending was a little too vague for me. Was there something romantic going on between Nora and Logan? It was a little unclear to me and left it up a little to the reader but I wouldn’t liked it to be a little more definitive. Other than those couple things though it was a really good book and I really enjoyed it. Especially being an accountant myself (and being the dorky kind where I actually like accounting) it was exciting to see an accountant as the main character and topic of the story! And I didn’t even realize that the author is a CPA herself, how fun. I would definitely recommend!!

FUN Quotes from the book

“Among accountants, there was no judgment like spreadsheet judgment.” (This is 100% true)

(This is a long one but so funny) “A business owner was looking to hire a manager and he interviewed each candidate with a simple question: ‘How much is 2+2?’ The engineer pulled out his slide rule and shuffled it back and forth, finally announcing, ‘It lies between 3.98 and 4.02.’ The mathematician said, ‘In two hours I can demonstrate it equals 4 with the following short proof.’ The psychologist said, ‘It’s not for me to answer, but we should spend some time exploring the question.’ The attorney stated, ‘In the case of Swenson v. the State, 2+2 was declared to be 4.’ The accountant looked at the business owner, got out of his chair, and closed the office door. Then he leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, ‘How much would you like it to be?'”

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 4

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This week is going well so far! I was able to read for a good amount of time yesterday. With my time off this week I’m trying to do other things that are good for my mental health, like chores around the house and some tv time and I found a fun new game to play where I get to interior design different rooms. I’ve been really enjoying the balance this week of getting things that I urgently need to get done with work but also making space with time for just me! So anyways my Thursday’s progress is below:

Update

Thursday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 3.5 hour
Number of pages I’ve read today: 230 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 726 pages
Books read: Started Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia
Challenges: I wanted to participate in today’s challenge but I couldn’t figure out functionally how to get in there and find other people’s posts to respond to with recommendations. Granted I am not a whiz with Twitter so that may have been part of the issue but I thought it was a great idea!

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Friday update!!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 3

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Yesterday was a good reading day, but I wouldn’t say great. I had taken some vacation days this week with the thought that I could just read all the time, but between a basement issue we’re dealing with and a lot of house cleaning I’ve been putting off because I’ve been working so much, there’s a lot to distract me from reading during the day. Plus as much as I’d love to 100% put work down for a couple days, there are things that still need to get done! So anyways my Wednesday’s progress is below:

Update

Wednesday

Time spent reading: 4 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 234 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 496 pages
Books read: Finished the Buzz Books Romance sampler
Challenges: I did participate in the challenge for yesterday!

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Thursday update!!

2020 Book #27 – Buzz Books Romance sampler

Title: BuzzBooks 2020 Romance Sampler
Author: Various – see below
Date finished: 5/13/20
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: May 14, 2020
Pages in book: 275

Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

These are the samples that are included in the BuzzBooks 2020 Romance collection – I can’t say I loved most of them, but there was a good variety of stories included. Just seemed like most of them weren’t ones that grabbed out at me personally. Anyways, here’s the books with samples included:

Romeantically Challenged by Marina Adair

The Ballad of Hattie Taylor by Susan Andersen – LOVE the cover on this one

Searching for Rose by Dana Becker

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels – I couldn’t find this one on Amazon but I think this one was my favorite in the sampler. I really loved the dynamic between the two main characters and the story line had me interested right from the start. I’ll have to see if I can find this for review on NetGalley or Edelweiss

The Cul-De-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

Follow Your Heart by Brenda Jackson

Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinley

Better Than People by Roan Parrish

A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

Then There Was You by Mona Shroff

How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

Scandalous Secrets by Synthia Williams

The Way You Tempt Me by Elle Wright

Overall I was really excited by the diversity included in this sampler. There were so many different genres and types of characters that I think there would be something that everyone would love! I was surprised by the number of stories included featuring politicians (three!) since I haven’t seen as many of those featured up until about a year ago.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 2

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I am loving Bout of Books this week! Tuesday went well, I was able to carve out some reading (and some blogging) time after work. So my Tuesday’s progress is below:

Update

Tuesday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 117 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 262 pages
Books read: Finished Close Up by Amanda Quick and started Buzz Books Romance
Challenges: I participated in Tuesday’s challenge! It was great fun – the prompt for yesterday was “If You Like This, Try That” – you can see my post on it here.

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Wednesday update!!