Friday, December 6, 2019

'Tis The Season - White Elephant Review

TITLE: White Elephant
AUTHOR: Trish Harnetiaux
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLISHING DATE: November 1, 2019

FROM GOODREADS: There are only a few rules in a White Elephant gift exchange: 1) Everyone brings a wrapped, unmarked gift. 2) Numbers are drawn to decide who picks first. 3) Gifts don’t need to be pricey—and often they’re downright tacky. 

But things are a little different in Aspen, Colorado, at the office holiday party for the real estate firm owned by Henry Calhoun and his wife Claudine. Each Christmas sparks a contest among the already competitive staff to see who can buy the most coveted gift: the one that will get stolen the most times, the one that will prove just how many more commissions they earned that year than their colleagues. Designer sunglasses, deluxe spa treatments, front row concert tickets—nothing is off the table. And the staff is even more competitive this year as Zara, the hottest young pop star out of Hollywood, is in town and Claudine is determined to sell her the getaway home of her dreams. 

Everyone is puzzled when a strange gift shows up in the mix: an antique cowboy statue. At least the sales agents are guessing it’s an antique—otherwise it’d be a terrible present. It’s certainly not very pretty or expensive-looking. In fact, the gift makes sense only to Henry and Claudine. The statue is the weapon Henry used to commit a murder years ago, a murder that helped start his company and a murder that Claudine helped cover up. She swore that no one would ever be able to find the statue or trace it to their crime. So which of their employees did? And why did they place it in the White Elephant? What could possibly be their endgame? 

Over the course of the evening, Henry and Claudine race to figure out who could have planted the weapon, and just what the night means for the secrets they’ve been harboring. Further adding to the drama is a snowstorm that closes nearby roads—preventing anyone from leaving, as well as keeping law enforcement from the scene. And by the end of this crazy night, the police will most definitely be required… 

MY THOUGHTS: First of all let me say this is an extremely short thriller at roughly 230 pages.  While sometimes I find shorter books lacking, that wasn't the case with White Elephant and the fact that I was able to sit down and read it in its entirety during one Saturday, only made me love it even more.

So pretty much the synopsis from Goodreads, shown above, pretty much tells you more than you need to know about the plot. It's a snowy holiday season in Aspen and Claudine's real estate business desperately need to see a mansion her husband built in order to make a comeback.  She's in luck because pop star Zara is very interested, so much so that she has been invited to the holiday party at the location. 

I loved so many things about the tale.  First of all, the setting is an isolated mansion during a blizzard.  Second of all, there are some really great characters, and some who you just love to hate. Claudine is not likable at all, which I found only increased my fondness for Henry.  I felt badly that he was married to such a self-centered woman and if you read this novel, I believe you might just feel the same.  And finally, I actually made it to the end of the book and didn't know the culprit.  It was clear someone was out to get Claudine and her husband, but there were several people to chose from.  I didn't see the twist at the end coming at all.

And I feel I must mention Zara.  She's a spoiled pop star who really isn't spoiled at all.  And she just so happens to be a true crime buff meaning she ended up in exactly the right place this holiday season.  I really connected with her and think she added a lot to the overall plot.  Plus she has a cute dog.

So if you love mysteries and thrillers, and just happen to be looking for a holiday read, you should consider picking up White Elephant.  It's definitely worth the time it takes to read and is a wonderful way to usher in the holiday reads.


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Best Book Covers - Chuckle's Christmas Selection

So, it's time for all the year-ending lists so many of us love to complete and share.  This year Chuckles, over at Chuckles Book Cave has created a Christmas Selection for each day of the month.  I loved so of her ideas so much that I just had to participate on 4 or 5 select days.  Just something extra for the month.  Check out here original list HERE and join in on the fun!


I read this in February as an arc.  Even though this is not the cover of the one I read, it is my favorite edition.

This is rather simplistic but it definitely conveys the snowy, desolate setting of the novel.  

So much to take in on this one but I love how it portrays the old west feel.  Add in the horror elements and it's almost perfect!

I love black covers added with colors that pop.  This one has to be one of the best horror covers of the year - and actually makes me miss Pearl.

The cover along with the title makes me smile every time I see it!

This series has some great covers but I do think this is my favorite of all.  I love the look on Curran's face along with Kate's attire.  She always dresses very practical for what she does and I love it!

One of my favorite reads of the year as well as favorite covers.

It's quite possible you will get sick of seeing this book pop up on so many of my lists this month.  But what can I say?  I loved it and it may take the top spot of best of the year.  This book has ST, Dennis and even a purple octopus.  What more could you want?

I really didn't like the book at all but the cover is awesome. Look at that little creepy eye staring at you.  And as I had a library edition, the foil on the cover was actually "foilish."  Look at me - I created a word!

I love the pentagram and the teddy bear - such contrast.  I also really enjoy the 8-ball and those who have read the book definitely knows of its importance.  Not always one for pastel colors but hey, there's purple so maybe that's why I'm giving this a pass and voting it as one of my best of the year.

If you're participating, make sure to let me know in the comments.  And also make sure to hop over to Chuckles and visit one of my favorite bloggers!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday (239)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

So the public has spoken - Cass is now a full-time contributor to Can't Wait Wednesday.  That means each week you'll see two books here. Of course Cass is already lobbying for an increase in salary (at least he works for treats - and bandanas).

FROM GOODREADS: Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.

But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.

Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?

The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.  

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  I still need to read Wilder Girls but I was very curious when I saw this cover.  I really want to know what poison is in Margot's family tree.  Sounds ominous! 


FROM GOODREADS:  In the 54 years she has run the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary, deep in the Kent countryside, Barby has taken in all manner of animals in need of love, care and a second chance at life. She thinks she's seen it all until Gabby, a scruffy, golden-haired terrier, arrives on her doorstep.

Trembling, her eyes wide with fear, Gabby is unable to play with other dogs and is completely mute. When Barby discovers that Gabby has been kept locked indoors her whole life, all becomes clear - Gabby has never learnt to be a dog.

Soon Barby has fallen in love with this strange little mutt and is determined to help her connect with her true nature. But when tragedy befalls Barby, it is not only Gabby but the entire animal sanctuary that's at stake...

WHY CASS CAN'T WAIT:  While this sounds sad at first, I think it's gonna have a good outcome.  I can't wait to teach my puppy how to bark and be a dog.  I'm going to be such a great big brother.  After, all I learned from the best - Booker T!


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

TTT - Books to Read During the Holidays

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to ThatArtsyReaderGirl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week's topic is books to read during the holidays.  I don't really do many rereads but I will share some here I think would be perfect to read during this time of year, as well as a few I hope to make time for. 

If you love cozies, make sure to check out this one as well as its sequel 'Twas the Knife Before Christmas.  I loved both so much and such a fun Christmas-themed town.  I was bummed there wasn't one released this year.

For some reason Christmas makes me think of Harry Potter (maybe because it's on TV all the time).  I have only read the series once but I am hoping to crack open this lovely illustrated edition and do a reread during Christmas break.

I don't read a lot of classics but I first read Little Women during a snowy Christmas holiday and for some reason, it seemed perfect.  Now it always makes me think of Christmas.

I may be cheating a tad as this is my current read but for those of you who want a mix of holidays and horror, this one will be right up your alley.  A group of people trapped on a highway in a snowstorm and weird things start happening.  

This is the sequel to A Dog Called Jack and I will DEFINITELY be reading it this holiday.  Can't wait to visit the Christmas Street residents again.

I want to make time for this one since it's a Gothic Christmas thriller and if I'm not able to, I will be working it in during January.

If I can get my hands on a copy, I'll be picking this one up this Christmas.

I couldn't resist grabbing this book from the library - I'll be reading it to Cassius this Christmas.  So I think it's official, I've become a crazy dog lady!

So there you have it.  I'm amazed I came up with 8.  Can't wait to see everyone else's lists this week!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Cassius Has An Important Announcement!

HELLO GUYS!  Guess what??? I'm going to be a big brother.  Mom and Dad bought me a puppy.  I haven't met him yet but he's coming home on December 23rd.  I love him already and couldn't wait to tell you guys.  I know that Booker T is happy Daddy is finally able to allow another dog in his heart. 

So here's the details:

* He was born about an hour away
* He has one brother and two sisters
* His birthday is November 8, 2019
* He's MINE!

The name is still up in the air.  We are letting Dad decide as this has been such a journey for him.  Here are the contenders though:



Read A Series in a Month Challenge Update

Because Reading is better than real life

So I wanted to do a quick update to just let everyone know that on Saturday, the last day of November, I managed to complete this challenge!  I already have my review up for the first in the series and you can find it HERE.  I will be posting the ones for the 2nd and 3rd later this week but needless to say, they were both 4/5 paw reads.  I'm so anxious to see if this series will continue.  I have really become quite attached to the characters and want to know where everyone is headed.

Many thanks to Michelle and Berls of Because Reading for motivating me to finally read this series!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

What's Happening (11-30-19)...

So I'm doing things a tad bit differently this year and will be combining all of my regular weekend posts.  This will enable me to add more content on Fridays and it is just starting to make more sense.  I'll still be linking up with Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.  Both blogs are awesome so make sure you check them out. 

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday (if you celebrated) and spent lots of time with family and friends.  I will admit I've been kind of scarce this week but am trying to catch up on visits and comments so don't worry - they're coming!  

Cass had a wonderful birthday, which reminds me I need to get his pictures posted.  Look for them next week.  Our anniversary was super nice and I got some lovely roses, among other things.  The picture of Booker T for Mr. Barb was an absolute hit as well.  Of course we never doubted that did we?

Gpa came up and ate Thanksgiving Dinner with us and then he came down with a cold the following day so I ran and got him some much needed meds.  Stupid Uncle is in off the barge but to be honest, he's about as useful here and he is when he's gone.  Mr. Barb and I have enjoyed our time off and Cass definitely enjoyed having people around all day.  I did some reading but also managed to watch a lot of shows.  We are now current on Castle Rock (the verdict is still out on this one).  We also watched Sweetheart which is a horror movie about a woman who washes up on a deserted island and ends up battling a monster which reminds me of an upgraded Creature from the Black Lagoon.  We watched IT Part 2 which I know has mixed reviews but which I found terrifying.  We watched a few other things as well.  Yep, we played couch potatoes pretty well.

I hope to get some books finished before the vacation is officially over.  Here's what I'd love to wrap up this weekend.

I hauled a few books but to be honest, just want to wrap this up so I can get it posted.  Look for some exciting books next week!