Sunday, December 30, 2012

ARC Review: The Prophet by Ethan Cross

The Prophet: A Shepherd ThrillerFrom the blurb:

OLD ENEMIES... Francis Ackerman Jr. is one of America's most prolific serial killers. Having kept a low profile for the past year, he is ready to return to work and he's more brutal, cunning, and dangerous than ever.
NEW THREATS... Scarred from their past battles, Special Agent Marcus Williams cannot shake Ackerman from his mind. But now Marcus must focus on catching the Anarchist, a new killer who drugs and kidnaps women before burning them alive. 
HIDDEN TERRORS... Marcus knows the Anarchist will strike again soon. And Ackerman is still free. But worse than this is a mysterious figure, unknown to the authorities, who controls the actions of the Anarchist and many like him. He is the Prophet and his plans are more terrible than even his own disciples can imagine. With attacks coming from every side, Marcus faces a race against time to save the lives of a group of innocent people chosen as sacrifices in the Prophet's final dark ritual.

My rating:

The fast pace of this story will have you hanging on to your seats as Ethan Cross takes you on a wild ride.

Marcus Williams is a member of the Shepherd organization, a secret government agency designed to hunt and take down the most vicious of criminals by any means necessary. His nemesis is Francis Ackerman Jr., who stays in touch with an unwilling Marcus via phone calls, and is seemingly always one step ahead of him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ARC Review: Eve and Adam by Michael Grant/Katherine Applegate

Eve and Adam
From the blurb:

And girl created boy… In the beginning, there was an apple— And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal. Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy. Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect... won’t he?

My rating:

I was very excited when I got approved for this ARC. After reading it, I feel let down by this book, and the potential it had to be outstanding.

The concept is fascinating. I expected a riveting story around the dangers and advantages of bio-engineering, plus a bit of teenage romance. What I got was a lukewarm romance chockfull of tropes and cliches. Meh. There wasn't much for me to like about this book, except maybe the cover. That is cleverly done, playing off the Adam/Eve/temptation/science/technology theme.

So much of the story didn't work for me. The slut-shaming (Eve's promiscuous best friend), the insta-love (Oooh, Solo, you so swoony, barf), the perfection of Adam (so utterly gorgeous, he stops everyone he comes across in their tracks, OMG), the one-dimensional characters, the lack of character development, the lack of character depth, the switching POVs (who both sound like the same person), adding a 3rd POV - the list goes on.

I'm sorry. This wasn't a good book, at least not for me.

Author's Goodreads page

Monday, November 19, 2012

ARC Review: Mistletoe Magic by Sydney Logan

Mistletoe Magic - A Short Story
From the blurb:

It’s Christmas Eve, and Melanie Taylor is on a mission to find the perfect gift for her husband. Something special. Something expensive. Something that will save her marriage. Can a chance encounter on an elevator make her Christmas wish come true? 

My rating:

Just in time for the holidays, Sydney Logan delivers a short story about two people who've lost that loving feeling. I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this story, and at less than 5K words, it was a quick read.

Melanie is shopping for a last minute gift for her husband who's spending too much time at work. Ethan is in the same department store, trying to purchase a gift for his wife, who's lately been caught up in fashion and money. Both are saddened by the state of their relationships with their spouses, but neither has any idea how to fix things.

It's a poignant story about what really matters, and that sometimes, we can get so caught up in work and material things that can damage a relationship.

With a little bit of magic, a mistletoe and a power outage, there just might be hope for these two to find what they have been missing.

It's a credit to the author that she manages to put much emotion and realistic character depth into such a short story. That's quite a feat, and I hope you'll give this story a chance.

And when you're done reading this, why not check out Lessons Learned as well?

Author's Goodreads Page

Author's website

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Until next time,

Monday, October 29, 2012

ARC Review: The Lost Son by Tamra Torero

The Lost Son
From the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Jacob has always been able to charm his way out of trouble with the law. But when he’s sentenced to work at a family Christmas tree farm in place of Cody Matthews—a boy killed in Jacob’s last DUI—Jacob is in for a harsh reality check. This emotional story of loss, love, and redemption is impossible to put down.

My rating:

The subject of this book and the message it sends is neither new nor original, but the packaging in which it is delivered was rather enjoyable.

Jacob is a typical teenage boy. He has a girlfriend, but it's not above cheating on her with another girl, he drinks, he parties and he doesn't take life too seriously. When his girlfriend confronts him about kissing another girl at a party, and the other girl's boyfriend gets in his face, Jacob drunkenly drives home. On his way he causes an accident in which he kills a boy about his age. The boy's father, injured in the same crash, asks the judge for leniency during the ensuing trial and requests that Jacob's punishment be to stay on the father's Christmas tree farm until December 24th to help out with the trimming and sale of the trees.

What develops then is a story of redemption, forgiveness and new beginnings, with a sometimes heavy religious undertone that reminded me of my favorite Karen Kingsbury novels. The author did a nice job of weaving her tale but never making it sound preachy. Jacob is not the only one who has a few lessons to learn.

I enjoyed reading this book. The characters were multi-dimensional, struggling with their choices and results from those choices, and growing throughout the story. A satisfying read to curl up with on a cold winter night by a warm fireplace, sipping a mug of hot cocoa. Bring your tissues.

I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.

Goodreads Book Page

Goodreads Author Page

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Naturally, Charlie by S.L. Scott

From the blurb:

Twenty-five year old Charlotte “Charlie” Barrow is caught between her old life and the one she is beginning to build when she crosses paths with a handsome stranger on the subway. Not looking for romance, she closes her heart off to the possibilities of love. With a knack for mishaps, Charlie maintains her sense of humor while befriending the kind stranger who seems to be there at all the right times. New York freelance writer, Charlie Adams, is forging his own path beyond the expectations of the society circles of his childhood. Rejecting family money, and fast-lane friends, he is snubbed by his family as he follows his own compass to a life more extraordinary. Through a coincidence of events, they come to rely on each other for comfort. This is the tale of two Charlies learning to trust again while fighting their fates to create their own destiny.

My rating:

There's romance books, and then there's romance books. This was the latter. I loved it, for the natural story-telling and the ease with which the author's words drew me in.

I waited a few days before writing up a review because I needed to get a grip on my inner fangirl first. If I hadn't, this review would be full of happy, swoony gifs, and nobody wants to see a grown woman go all gushing fangirl over a book, right? Also, for those of you that know me, I'm usually more reserved in my reviews. Anyway...

Just One Night by Eve Gaddy

Just One NightFrom the blurb:

They spent one passionate night together, a night neither could forget . . . But it isn’t until Bomb Unit Detective Alexandra “Alex” Sheridan is assigned to investigate architect Luke Morgan about the bombing of his new building that Alex is forced to face the man–and feelings–she’d run from earlier. Drawn to the charismatic man who'd soothed her grief with their shared passion, she finds herself wanting more from him. As the case progresses, however, she questions his innocence and his feelings for her. Can she trust him, ignoring his past and the evidence pointing to his guilt? Or will she have to be satisfied with just one night?

My rating:

Just One Night is a quick read, a good romantic suspense, albeit a bit heavy on what happens between the sheets.

At a convention, speaking about bomb awareness, Bomb Unit specialist/investigator Alex(andra) Sheridan meets Luke Morgan, an architect who attends her lecture. The two spend a torrid night together after which Alex goes home and tries to forget about Luke. Her departure is so quick that Luke doesn't even get a chance to say goodbye, or tell her that he lives in the same town.

If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones

If I Were You (Inside Out Trilogy, #1)From the blurb:

When Sara McMillan finds a stack of journals in a storage unit, she’s shocked and enthralled by the erotic life the writer led. Unable to stop reading, she vicariously lives out dark fantasies through Rebecca, the writer—until the terrifying final entry. Certain something sinister has happened, Sara sets out to discover the facts, immersing herself in Rebecca’s life. Soon she’s working at the art gallery Rebecca worked at and meeting Rebecca’s friends. Finding herself drawn to two dangerously sexy men, the manager of the gallery and a famed artist, Sara realizes she’s going down the same path Rebecca took. But with the promise of her dark needs being met by a man with confident good looks and a desire for control, she’s not sure anything else matters. Just the burn for more.

My rating:

This was excellent. Sensual and dark, and a rollercoaster until the end. OMG, the end. What the heck? Abrupt and without conclusion.I did not expect it to end like this, in the middle of a scene. And I'm supposed to wait until next year for the continuation? I'm a little ticked off.

Sara is in her late twenties, a teacher who lives off her modest salary, even though her passion is art. Since art doesn't pay much, and she doesn't want to live off her rich father whom she hates, she is content with what she has.

At the start of summer break, Sara's best friend Ella decides to elope and leaves Sara with a key to a rental storage unit, with instructions to empty it out before the contract expires.

Inside the unit, Sara finds journals written by Rebecca, that tell an erotic tale of submission and domination. Intrigued, Sara begins to read but as she gets deeper into the private words inside the journals, she becomes determined to find Rebecca and return her belongings. Her search leads her to an art gallery, and to Mark, the owner/director. He's impressed with her knowledge of art and hires her on the spot to take over Rebecca's job for the summer.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Damaged Goods by Alexandra Allred

Damaged Goods
From the blurb:

When Joanna Lucas moves to a small town to escape a scandal and a scoundrel, she finds herself in trouble again when she befriends a stripper-turned-Mormon, a one-legged woman thanks to a loose tiger, and a dirty-minded troublemaker with a love of inane questions, and they take on an industrial town. Erin Brockovich has nothing on these ladies! Prepare to laugh out loud and cheer them on as they set out to right a terrible wrong . . . no matter how outlandish things get.

My rating:

I read the blurb prior to accepting this book as an ARC from the publisher and thought I was in for a humorous little chicklit book similar to The Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Boy, was I wrong. Not about the humor, because there's riotous laughing to be had inside, but this book went far beyond chicklit and tackled some heavy issues that reminded me of Erin Brockovich.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More by T.M. Franklin

From the blurb:

Ava Michaels used to think she was special. As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn't so bad after all. Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core. Because Caleb isn't quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one. Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she's not actually normal . . . she's not even just special. She's a little bit more.

My rating:

MORE is a really good debut novel that meshes a very interesting mythology with a nice hint at romance between the two main characters, and an action-packed and suspense-filled plot. Ms. Franklin focuses the first book of her trilogy on world-building and introduction of characters, yet manages to largely avoid one of the pitfalls of first books in a series - the massive info dumping. And I say largely avoids because there are some section where she doesn't succeed, and the plot slows down.

MORE tells the story of Ava Michaels, a college student. There are some odd occurrences in her past, and Ava has always thought of herself as a bit different than others. When we first meet her, Ava is having a horrible nightmare where someone is chasing her in the dark. That someone has one green eyes and one blue, which ties in nicely with the good-looking cover that the author reportedly designed herself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Improper Relations by Juliana Ross

Improper Relations
From the blurb:

Dorset, 1858 

When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified--but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored. The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him. When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?

My rating:

This was rather disappointing, primarily because the plot felt rushed in this novella length book, and there was too much focus on sex for such a short story.

The book takes place in England in the mid-1800s. Hannah is the poor, widowed relation and living with her late husband's aunt, for whom she is a companion/assistant/servant. One afternoon in the library, she observes Leo, the black sheep son, having a bit of fun with one of the housemaids.

Hannah is even more shocked when Leo tells her that women can feel passion too, and offers to 'tutor' her.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day

Seven Years to SinFrom the blurb:

The longer the resistance... 

Seven years ago, on the eve of her wedding, proper Lady Jessica Sheffield witnessed a licentious scene no innocent young miss could imagine. Shocked, yet strangely titillated, she'd held her silence regarding scandalous Alistair Caulfield, and walked down the aisle as expected. But through years of serene, unremarkable marriage, Caulfield's image remained burned into her imagination, fueling very illicit dreams. . . 

...the sweeter the reward. 

 Alistair ran far from the temptation of the prim debutante with the fire of passion in her eyes—all the way to the West Indies. As a successful merchant, he has little in common with the rakehell youth she knew. But when newly widowed Jessica steps aboard his ship for a transatlantic passage, seven years' worth of denied pleasures are held in check by nothing more than a few layers of silk—and the certainty that surrender will consume them both. . .

My rating:

thoroughly enjoyed this book.

On the eve of her wedding to Lord Tarley, Jessica Sheffield, a proper English lady, witnesses an amorous coupling while walking her dog in the garden. When she locks eyes with the man fornicating in the gazebo, she is suddenly awakened to desires and urges she has so far suppressed. And Alistair Caulfield falls desperately in love with a woman he knows he can't have. Despite getting married the next day, and having a happy, albeit childless, marriage, Jessica never forgets what she saw that night, and what emotions the scene invoked in her, nor the man she observed.

Fast forward seven years. Jessica's husband has passed away, and she has decided to travel to the West Indies to oversee the possible sale of the plantation her husband left to her. Unbeknownst to her, Alistair has pined for her ever since that night in the garden. When the young widow boards his ship, he decides to use this opportunity to woo her and gain her love, patiently using the vast amount of charm and sexual prowess he possesses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Mine by John A. Heldt

The Mine

From the blurb:

In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

My rating:

This was an incredibly moving read, and an exceptional debut offering from a new author.

Small spoilers in the review below.

Joel Smith is about to graduate from college in the year 2000 when he and his friend Adam stop at an abandoned mine near Helena, MT. On that day, a rare cosmic event takes place, and when Joel steps into the mine, he is somehow transported back in time to 1941, shortly before Pearl Harbor and the US entering WWII. Without any means (credit cards were not yet invented, his cell phone doesn't work), Joel makes his way to Seattle where he fortuitously encounters a young man, Tom Carter, in a precarious situation. From there, Joel meets and becomes friends with Tom's family and friends, gets a job and forges a new life. Tom is friends with Ginny Gillette - who is also Joel's grandmother and quite a special character. When Joel meets Grace Vandenberg, he forgoes his plan to not do anything that might change the future and subsequently falls in love with her.

The author did a fantastic job researching the time period shortly before the US entered into the 2nd World War and created an exquisite line-up of characters that really made this book shine. The situations Joel finds himself in, knowing what the future holds and yet unable to say anything, are finely crafted to forward the plot. And yet he also gives Joel enough spunk to bet on sports events for which he knows the outcomes, thus giving him a way to make a little money on top of his job.

When Joel realizes that the rare cosmic event will happen in 1941, on the same night that Japanese fighter planes attack Pearl Harbor, he is faced with a huge decision - stay and possibly die in the coming war, or go back into his own time and thus leaving the woman he loves behind.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

What I Didn't Say
From the blurb:

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again. When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

My rating:

Imagine you're a teenage boy living on a small island in the PNW, population about 5,000. Everybody knows everybody else. You hang with your friends, you make eyes at pretty girls, you play football and you dream of getting out of Dodge as soon as you graduate. The Airforce has accepted you, and you love to fly, so you're really looking forward to your future, so much so that you're counting down the weeks and months.

You're invincible. You're almost eighteen, and your Senior year is looking damn fine. You study hard and play harder. Sure, there's that one girl who caught your eye a while back, but she's out of your league and not really in your circle of friends. Samantha Shay is poised to be the valedictorian, and there may possibly be something not quite right with her, but hey, that's her loss, if she doesn't want you, right?

And still, you can't quite forget about her, so one drunken night right before your Homecoming game, your addled brain confesses to your friends that you're in love with her. You say it - out loud - and then you get this crazy idea in your head that you should tell her, to her face, right now.

So you get into your car, with your equally drunken friends, and on the way to her house, you get into an accident, and subsequently you lose your ability to speak.

That is the premise of What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor. The story is told from Jake's perspective, and it sucked me in to the point where I simply couldn't stop reading, forgoing sleep to finish it in one sitting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wellesley Wives by Suzy Duffy

Wellesley Wives
From the blurb:

Popsy Power - a Boston society-wife and her best friend, Sandra seem to have it all with billionaire husbands and beautiful daughters. But things change. From Bollinger to basic-wage, it's a roller coaster for the ladies who lunch. When the daughters land in a heap of trouble too, it's hardly surprising that their mother should worry about the next generation of Wellesley Wives. Life can't always be fun in the sun, but that's why there's fur! Sit back, relax and enjoy the wonderful world of the Wellesley Wives.

My rating:

This book is a character study of four women, all at different points in their lives, infused with humor, fun and strong emotions, perfectly paced to showcase friendships, love and strength in adversity and pain.

Popsy, Sandra, Rosie and Lily are at the center of this book, all with their own stories to tell, yet all connected to each other through blood or friendship. As we initially meet them, with their fancy cars and beautiful homes and rich lives, you'd think they have everything you ever wanted, and that their lives are perfect.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

SpeechlessFrom the blurb:

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed. Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse. But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

My rating:

Wow! This book!! If there's a book any teenager ought to read this year - it's this one. All the Awards!

“Hate is... It's too easy.[] Love. Love takes courage.”

When we are first introduced to Chelsea Knot, she comes across as a rather typical teenager struggling to fit in and finding her way in her world. She's a bit shallow, impetuous, unsure of her place and thus a little self-serving, doing things that she might not be doing if she would take the time to question her motives. Then again, what typical teenager does? She's also known as the school gossip - nothing seems sacred, and everything and everyone could be a target. People's secrets were fodder, and feelings didn't matter as long as it was to Chelsea's benefit and that of her popular friends. She's also after a particular boy, but what attracts her to him are mostly superficial qualities.

At this point, I was rather glad to not be in high school anymore, and I also didn't like Chelsea. She had a Mean Girls vibe, and I couldn't really find a redeemable quality in her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day
From the blurb:

A has no friends. No parents. No family. No possessions. No home, even. Because every day, A wakes up in the body of a different person. Every morning, a different bed. A different room. A different house. A different life. A is able to access each person's memory, enough to be able to get through the day without parents, friends, and teachers realizing this is not their child, not their friend, not their student. Because it isn't. It's A. Inhabiting each person's body. Seeing the world through their eyes. Thinking with their brain. Speaking with their voice. It's a lonely existence--until, one day, it isn't. A meets a girl named Rhiannon. And, in an instant, A falls for her, after a perfect day together. But when night falls, it's over. Because A can never be the same person twice. But yet, A can't stop thinking about her. She becomes A's reason for existing. So each day, in different bodies--of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, walks of life--A tries to get back to her. And convince her of their love. But can their love transcend such an obstacle?

My rating:

I don't even know where to start. This book made me cry, it was so good.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

The MC is a person of indeterminate gender, looks and even name, who wakes up in a different body every single day. 'A', as s/he calls him/herself has been like this since birth. Every morning, 'A' has to check whether the body currently inhabited is male or female, check the location and then try to make it through the day without drawing notice and without getting the host into trouble. For sixteen years, this has been the life s/he knows.

'A' is resigned to this non-life and never questions whether there is a different way, or why the constant body changes happen. It just is.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan

GhostwriterFrom the blurb:

After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.

My rating:

I had to mull this over for a few days before I was ready to write up a review.

Ghostwriter is a good book. The writing is mostly flawless and flows well, though it could use another edit or two to tighten things up and fix the errors within.

It tells the story of Sara Howell, a young woman who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is now living alone in an apartment she cannot afford. Her journalist career has been derailed, and she recently agreed to be a ghostwriter for a politician's autobiography. When she runs into Ginny, a realtor, while looking for a cheaper place to live, Ginny seems a god-send when she offers Sara the use of a house on an island in the Outer Banks that used to belong to her great-uncle, who just happens to be Seth Fortner, the late author Sara admires like no other, who mysteriously died much too young.

Sara moves into the house, and it's not long until strange things begin to happen - pictures fall off walls, things disppear, and mysterious messages appear on the fogged up mirror when she takes a shower. Plagued by ever increasing headaches, her writing is going slow, and she begins to avoid the book she's supposed to write, and instead snoops around and discovers letters Seth left behind, which help her begin to piece together a thus far secret history of the author. She soon realizes that she's not crazy, and that Seth's ghost is haunting the old house. Undeterred, Sara begins to draw him out, speaking to him, seeing him, which then culminates in his visits to her during her dreams, where she can touch him and eventually kiss him.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

Country Mouse From the blurb:

Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun. Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don’t leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything’s a competition—even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him. Owen’s all for an adventure with a native, but he’s not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm’s not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing's too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.

My rating:

Meh. It was a quick read, with a bit too much focus on the sex, instead of letting the characters grow. While Malcolm does undergo growth, it felt rushed and too unbelievable in the short time frame given.

The love scenes were well done, but drawn out for this short a read, and thus the book only gets two stars. This could have been a good story, if the authors had focused a bit more on character development, instead of rushing through the emotional parts of it. I also thought the title Country Mouse, describing Owen as a bit of a hick, was rather condescending. London may be a metropolis, but Owen was not country nor mousy. There were also some anti-gay undertones, that supposedly explained Malcolm's personality.

The ending is quite romantic, or at least that seems to have been the intention. To me, it felt rushed and just a bit too unbelievable.

I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.

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Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment - I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Risking It All by Jennifer Schmidt

Risking It All
From the blurb:

Kennedy Monroe barely got her foot in her college dorm her freshman year before she was being warned about a certain dark-haired, blue-eyed self-proclaimed Casanova. There were only so many tales of heartache – and incredibly steamy nights – she could listen to before she started to believe them. But after a run in with the most sought after college womanizer, her ill feelings toward him change and soon a friendship forms that surprises everyone.
Twelve years later Kennedy and Memphis Adams are closer than ever - and only friends despite what those around them think, including Kennedy’s boyfriend Ian Brooks. When Kennedy accepts an invitation to vacation in Alaska from Memphis, her relationship with Brooks is tested as is her restraint when it comes to the desire she has always had for her best friend.

My rating:

I wanted to like this book, really, I did. And the writing itself is not bad, but the plot and the characterizations in this novel drove me batty.

Kennedy and Memphis have been best friends since college. He's a bit of a Casanova, don't-tie-me-down kinda guy, and she's pretending to be an adult, reading possibly too much into the warnings to stay out of his bed because he is rumored to just use and discard women. Fast forward 12 years, Kennedy is dating Brooks, a doctor, who's as one-dimensional as you can get, and not happy in the relationship.

Afraid to rock the boat and possibly end up alone, she whines and complains to Memphis about Brooks (over and over), yet refuses to take his advice or that of her friend Vanessa to just end things with the doctor. When the good doctor doesn't show up for her first art show, she decides that kissing Memphis is a good idea.

Miscommunication and confusion ensues.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards

Soul Weaver
From the blurb:

Since the accident that nearly took her life, Chloe suffers from acute agoraphobia. Living alone above her family's bookstore, she spends restless nights terrified by strange visions . . . until a mysterious stranger appears and offers her salvation. Chloe is drawn to the ethereal, gorgeous Nathaniel-but her haunted soul warns her there is more to him than meets the eye. An archangel who roams Earth collecting souls of the newly departed, Nathaniel is the sole witness to the accident that should have taken Chloe's life. Seduced by the purity of her soul, he defies Providence by saving her life. But his attempt at kindness marks Chloe for damnation, and makes her an unwitting pawn in a game of unholy ambition. Now together they must fight the demons of Hell itself-for a love that defies the boundaries of Heaven and Earth. 

My rating:

2.5 stars at most for this book. I wasn't overly impressed with the story, nor its execution.

Nathaniel is a soul weaver. Once he was an angel, but he's been banished from heaven for lying about his brother's involvement with a mortal woman. After his fall, he's forced to work for Delphi, ruler of hell. His job is to collect souls of bad people (Harvest) and then weave from them a cloth that is used to make wings for the other fallen angels (the Harvesters).

He knows that rule breakers are punished, but when he comes upon an accident, a pure soul calls to him. This soul, while pure and sparkling clean, has no ties to anyone in heaven, which prevents it from being seen by the angels. Realizing that his angelic, heavenly counterparts are not coming to claim this soul, and with no one to prevent her soul from being lost, Nathaniel, in a rushed decision, bonds a piece of his own soul with that of the injured woman's he finds in the wreckage.

Oopsie. Shouldn't have done that. The consequences of his actions are far-reaching.

Fast forward about ten months or so. Chloe McRea was supposed to die in that accident. While she suffered from social anxiety before, since being unwittingly saved by Nathaniel, she's been experiencing nightmares that have made her more or less a prisoner in her own home/bookstore. Her parents, with whom she had a close, loving relationship, have passed, and the store now belongs to her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tulip Season (A Mitra Basu Mystery) by Bharti Kirchner

Tulip Season:  A Mitra Basu Mystery
From the blurb:

 A missing domestic-violence counselor. A wealthy and callous husband. A dangerous romance. Kareena Sinha, an Indian-American domestic-violence counselor, disappears from her Seattle home. When the police dismiss suspicions that she herself was a victim of spousal abuse, her best friend, Mitra Basu, a young landscape designer, resolves to find her. Mitra's search reveals glimpses of a secret life involving her friend and a Bollywood actor of ill repute. Following the trail, Mitra is lured back to India where she uncovers the actor's ties to the Mumbai underworld and his financial difficulties - leading her into a web of life-threatening intrigue where Mitra can't be sure of Kareena's safety or her own.

My rating:

Mitra Basu, a gardener/freelance writer by trade, is of Indian heritage, making her life in Seattle after leaving her home country. She's best friends with Kareena, a counselor for victims of domestic violence, who's married to Adi, an IT Software company owner. She's also cultivated a friendship with an older woman, to whom she affectionately looks as her stand-in grandmother.

When Kareena suddenly disappears without a word and without a hint as to where she might have gone, Mitra dives head first into the mystery and tries everything she can to find her friend. During that journey, she realizes that for all the familial ground she shares with her friend, there are fundamental differences between them, which clearly set them apart. And perhaps also that some things are not what they seemed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Thin, Dark Line by Emma Elliott

A Thin, Dark Line

From the blurb:

When Cormac O'Malley--Dogwood, Ohio's former bad boy and a man just released from prison--returns and shows up on her doorstep, librarian Eloise Carmichael hires him as a handyman despite warnings and misgivings. After a body is found at the library, Eloise becomes obsessed with the mysteries surrounding a murder that took place fifteen years ago. But as the body count rises and family secrets are brought to light, Eloise and Cormac realize the only hope for redemption--and love--lies in each other.

My rating:

4.5 flowers, more accurately.

Well, well, well - I don't know what I expected but I surely didn't expect to be so blown away. Let the gushing commence.

While A Thin, Dark Line is not using a brand-new story line, Emma Elliott delivers a mighty fine romance/suspense/whodunit with her debut novel.

Eloise Carmicheal or Aunt Weez, as her two adorable godsons call her, is the family's black sheep and the librarian in the small town where she grew up and still lives. Approaching her 30th birthday, she muses to her best friend Jane (the mother of the two godsons and Eloise's best friend) about feeling stuck in a rut, without a boyfriend in sight, and yearning for having a husband and children herself.

She knows she has awesome friends, among them Jane and her husband who are struggling with the upcoming arrival of a new baby and some marital issues, and her cousin Patrick and his partner, Sal (who's also the son of the Italian Restaurant owners who regard Eloise as family).

Her mother, a most snotty, awful woman, doesn't agree with Eloise's choices in life and uses every possible opportunity to intrude on her daughter's life and make her displeasure known. Her father isn't much better, usually deep into his cups to be much of a buffer. Her three sisters are also all doctors, and Eloise's being 'just' a librarian is generally frowned upon by her entire family. Lovely people, all of them. Not.

Eloise deals with it as best as she can, usually giving back as good as she gets. The author gave her heroine some great backbone, and I smiled a lot when Eloise stands up for herself.

Enter Cormac O'Malley, the town's fallen son, a convicted murderer who upon his release from prison returns to his hometown. Eloise hires him as a handyman, against the advice of everyone around her, and this is where things really take off.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shadow Rising (Dark Dynasties #3) by Kendra Leigh Castle

Shadow Rising (Dark Dynasties, #3)

My rating:

From the blurb:

As one of the Grigori, a noble vampire dynasty shrouded in mystery, Ariane has spent her life hidden away in the desert. Like all of her kind, she is a watcher, fated to observe, forbidden to act. Yet when her best friend, Sammael, vanishes, she defies all rules and flees her safe haven to bring him home. A shape-shifting assassin for the House of Shadows, Damien Tremaine is hired to locate Sammael. His hunt for the wayward Grigori leads him to Ariane, the rogue vamp who stands between him and his bounty. Damien never lets emotion interfere with his work, but a single touch from the sexy, beguiling vampire shatters his self-control. Drawn together by their common goal, what begins as an alliance of necessity soon becomes one of desire. But when the secret at the dark heart of the Grigori comes to light, Damien and Ariane must make a choice that could bind them eternally...or tear them—and everything they care about—apart.

I was warned that reading book 3 of this series wasn't a good idea without having read the first two. Of course, when I requested this galley, I wasn't even aware that this was the third in a series.

In the end, it didn't matter one bit. Shadow Rising (aptly named) primarily tells the story of one naughty, disillusioned, cynical cat shifter and one sheltered, beautiful vampire.

And what a story it is. Thankfully, the author provides a list of the dynasties in the beginning, explaining what each does and what its purpose is, which helped tremendously in understanding the world in which this book takes place.

There's very little world-building, as one would expect in a third book of a series, so the focus remains with the actual romance between our H/h. Boy, can Kendra Leigh Castle weave a fascinating tale. I was enthralled from the first chapter and could barely force myself to put this book down.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Celebrating "Comeback Love" by Peter Golden - Blogtour and Giveaway

Peter Golden has stopped by with his debut novel 

Comeback Love. 

A novel about a man and his romantic quest to find the woman he loved and lost years before.

Like Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller, first-time novelist Peter Golden knows how to write the kind of nostalgic fiction that men and women alike fall for. In Comeback Love, a universal story about lost love, he offers an evocative debut that begins in the tumultuous 1960s and ends in the feverish thrill of present-day New York City.

Over thirty-five years ago, Gordon Meyers, an aspiring writer with a low number in the draft lottery, packed his belongings and reluctantly drove away, leaving Glenna Rising, the sexy, sharp-witted med student he couldn’t imagine living without. Now, decades later, Gordon is a former globetrotting consultant with a grown son, an exwife, and an overwhelming desire to see Glenna again.

Stunned when Gordon walks into her Manhattan office, Glenna agrees to accompany him for a drink. As the two head out into the snow-swept city, they become caught up in the passions that drew them together before tearing them apart. And as the evening unfolds, Gordon finally reveals the true reason for his return. Comeback Love is a bracing journey into the hearts of two lovers who came of age in the 1960s. Plumbing the depths of youth, regret, and desire, Peter Golden deftly illuminates the bonds that mysteriously endure in the face of momentous change.

Welcome, Peter! Thanks for joining us today!   

MyFictionNook: Peter, what inspired you to write Comeback Love?

Peter: I was looking for a new artistic challenge—one that would combine my interest in history with my passion for fiction. Writing love stories engages me at the deepest emotional level, alters my dreams. It teaches me things about myself I never knew. Sometimes I like what I learn, other times I do not, but I can’t say I’ve ever regretted a moment of the journey.

MFN: While writing, did/do you draw on your own life experiences? If so, how did that translate in Comeback Love?

Peter: I start with real life and work from there. For example, I have a wife and son, and there are similarities between them and the characters, but in the end there is more of me in all the characters than anyone else. I believe novels are dreams translated into words, and dreams always belong to the dreamer.

MFN: Did your work as a journalist, biographer and historian help when writing Comeback love? If so, in what way?

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