Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blog Tour: Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech

Author: Sarah Creech
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: August 2014

For generations, the Lenore women have manufactured a perfume unlike any other, and guarded the unique and mysterious ingredients. Their perfumery, hidden in the quiet rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, creates one special elixir that secretly sells for millions of dollars to the world's most powerful-movie stars, politicians, artists, and CEOs. The Lenore's signature perfume is actually the key to their success.

Willow, the coolly elegant Lenore family matriarch, is the brains behind the company. Her gorgeous, golden-haired daughter Mya is its heart. Like her foremothers, she can "read" scents and envision their power. Willow's younger daughter, dark-haired, soulful Lucia, claims no magical touch, nor does she want any part of the family business. She left the mountains years ago to make her own way. But trouble is brewing. Willow is experiencing strange spells of forgetfulness. Mya is plotting a coup. A client is threatening blackmail. And most ominously, the unique flowers used in their perfume are dying.

Whoever can save the company will inherit it. Though Mya is the obvious choice, Lucia has begun showing signs of her own special abilities. And her return to the mountains-heralded by a swarm of blue dragonflies-may be the answer they all need.

Season of the Dragonflies is a wonderful book about family and love.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book.  I read it in a day.  It's honestly not what I was expecting.  The story isn't just a feel good tale about three women, but is one filled with magic and enchantment. I know fans of Alice Hoffman will like this debut novel.

I loved all of the characters, but Lucia was my favorite.  She left home years before thinking that she had none of the family talents.  Coming back home, she is able to discover that it was there all along.  Her mother always knew she had a special gift, but it was one that Lucia had to discover for herself.  The solution to all three women's problems was wonderful.  I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't tell you any more.  I highly recommend this book.  It will leave you with a warm feeling in the end!  With a debut like this one, I see a bright future for this author.
About the author:

Born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sarah Creech grew up in a house full of women who told stories about black cloud visions and other premonitions. Her work has appeared in storySouthLiterary MamaAroostook ReviewGlass, and Glimmer Train. She received an MFA in 2008 and now teaches English and creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. She lives in North Carolina with her two children and her husband, a poet. This is her first novel.
Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

Sarah’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, August 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, August 13th: Always With a Book
Thursday, August 14th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Monday, August 18th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, August 19th: Literally Jen
Wednesday, August 20th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, August 21st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 25th: BoundbyWords
Tuesday, August 26th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, August 28th: Bookfoolery and Babble
Friday, August 29th: Kahakai Kitchen

Throwback Thursday: Seducing Simon by Maya Banks

Author: Maya Banks
First published in 2006 by Samhain 

One fateful night, Toni Langston seduces her best friend, the guy she's been in love with forever. Two problems-he doesn't remember a thing that happened and now she's pregnant. Toni Langston has been in love with Simon, her best friend, for years. The night Simon breaks up with his long time girlfriend, he and Toni make love. Toni is devastated and humiliated when, in the heat of the moment, he calls her by his girlfriend's name. The next morning, Simon remembers nothing of the previous night and Toni is only too relieved not to remind him. Two months later, she discovers she's pregnant. She wants Simon to love her, apart from any obligation he might feel because of the baby. So she embarks on a quest to seduce her best friend, to make him see her as more than a little sister, to make him love her as much as she loves him. It works. Maybe too well. Now when things are perfect, she faces telling him of the secret she's kept.

After not loving Into the Mist, I was hesitant about trying another of this author's early romances.  In all, Seducing Simon was a cute story.  If you can get past Toni's deception, watching Simon realize he has feelings for Toni was fun to watch.  The ending is a bit abrupt, but I still liked it.

What I didn't like was the audiobook.  The narrator who was chosen for this audiobook had almost no emotion at all.  There was little change in the character voices, so it was often hard to tell which character was speaking.  It's a pretty short book, so it was tolerable.  But, I would recommend reading the book instead.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blog Tour: The Hexed by Heather Graham

Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Harlequin (Mira)
Date of publication: July 2014

Devin Lyle has recently returned to the Salem area, but her timing couldn’t be worse. Soon after she moved into the eighteenth-century cabin she inherited from her great-aunt Mina—her “crazy” great-aunt, who spoke to the dead—a woman was murdered nearby.

Craig Rockwell—known as Rocky—is a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s team of paranormal investigators. He never got over finding a friend dead in the woods. Now another body’s been found in those same woods, not far from the home of Devin Lyle. And Devin’s been led to a third body—by…a ghost?

Her discovery draws them both deeper into the case and Salem’s rich and disturbing history. Even as the danger mounts, Devin and Rocky begin to fall for each other, something the ghosts of Mina and past witches seem to approve of. But the two of them need every skill they possess to learn the truth—or Devin’s might be the next body in the woods….

The Hexed is another great addition to the Krewe of Hunters Series.  I especially liked this one because it takes place very close to home... Salem, Massachusetts.  Being familiar with the area always makes for a great read.  Ms. Graham definitely does her research because I felt like she knew the area and described it perfectly.  

This time around, "Rocky" is back on his home turf after reading about the murder of a woman who was killed in a very similar way that a friend was murdered 13 years before.  He is convinced there is a serial killer who is back at it.  He joins the Krewe and sets out to see what is going on.  Devin is a local author who can also see the dead and is quickly caught up in the mystery when she discovers a third body in her woods.  The romance between the two was pretty subtle but I liked both of them together.  Their hooking up seemed natural, so I liked that part of the book.  I loved how Auntie Mina kept trying to get them together.

I also liked the mystery.  I didn't call the killer until the reveal.  I was going in a completely different direction. It was also great to see some of the old Krewe members involved in the case.  As with most of this series, you can read this one as a stand alone, so if you start here, don't worry.  But, why not go back and read them all?

About the author:

New York Times and USA TODAY  bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels and has been published in more than 20 languages. An avid scuba diver, ballroom dancer and the
mother of five, she enjoys her south Florida home, but loves to travel as well, from locations such as Cairo, Egypt, to her own backyard, the Florida KeysReading is still the pastime she still loves best, and she is a member of many writing groups.

She’s a winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers’ Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and also the founder of The Slush Pile Players, an author band and theatrical group.

Heather annually hosts the Writers for New Orleans conference to benefit both the city, which is near and dear to her heart, and various other causes, and she hosts a ball each year at the RT Booklovers Convention to benefit pediatric AIDS foundations.
Connect with Heather

Heather Graham’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, August 11th: Supernatural Snark
Wednesday, August 13th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Thursday, August 14th:  Reading Reality
Monday, August 18th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, August 19th: Saints and Sinners Books
Wednesday, August 20th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 21st: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Monday, August 25th: Read-Love-Blog
Tuesday, August 26th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Wednesday, August 27th: Queen of All She Reads
Friday, August 29th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, September 2nd: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday September 2nd: Books a la Mode – guest post/giveaway
Wednesday, September 3rd: Ladybug Literature
Thursday, September 4th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, September 8th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, September 10th:  Bibliophilia, Please
Friday, September 12th:  Bibliotica
Monday, September 15th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, September 18th: Harlie’s Books

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blog Tour: Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch

Author: Marc Krulewitch
Publisher: Random House Alibi
Date of publication: August 2014

Chicago runs in Jules Landau’s veins. So does the blood of crooks. Now Jules is going legit as a private eye, stalking bail jumpers and cheating spouses—until he gets his first big case. Unfortunately, the client is his ex-con father, and the job is finding the killer of a man whom Jules loved like family. Why did someone put two bullets in the head of gentle bookkeeper Charles Snook? Jules is determined to find out, even if the search takes him to perilous places he never wanted to go.

Snooky, as he was affectionately known, had a knack for turning dirty dollars clean, with clients ranging from humble shop owners to sharp-dressed mobsters. As Jules retraces Snooky’s last days, he crosses paths with a way-too-eager detective, a gorgeous and perplexing tattoo artist, a silver-haired university administrator with a kinky side, and a crusading journalist. Exposing one dirty secret after another, the PI is on a dangerous learning curve. And, at the top of that curve, a killer readies to strike again.

Maxwell Street Blues was a very enjoyable read.  I have to say, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the book at first, but before I knew it, I was halfway through.  I was sucked in that fast.  I had a fun time following Jules on his path to find out why his mentor, Snooky, was killed.  I thought the mystery was very well planned out and the number of suspects was just enough to had me doubting my guesses along the way.
I loved the main character Jules.  He is really trying to make something different out of his life than following family tradition of a life of crime.  He kind of took me by surprise because he is a vegetarian, doesn't drink,  loves his cat and has a pretty good sense of humor.  I was expecting someone more dark, so it was a really nice change!  The book is also filled with other interesting characters to make the book a great start to a series.  I highly recommend this one and look forward to reading more with Jules Landau in it.

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About the author:

Marc Krulewitch’s Jules Landau mysteries take place in Chicago, where he was born and where his family has lived for generations. He now resides in Colorado.

Marc Krulewitch’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 28th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, July 29th: Mystery Playground
Wednesday, July 30th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 4th: Omnimystery News - author guest post
Thursday, August 7th:  Rhodes Review
Thursday, August 14th: Book Dilettante
Monday, August 18th:  Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, August 19th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 19th:  Words by Webb
Monday, August 25th:  By the Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 26th: Fiction Zeal
Thursday, August 28th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Wednesday, September 3rd:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Friday, September 5th: A Book Geek

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Beyond Hollywood Strip by Shamron Moore

Author: Shamron Moore
Publisher: Vigliano Books
Date of publication: July 2014

Callie Lambert is the hottest starlet in Hollywood. With a hit TV show under her belt, the tabloid-targeted actress–christened one of “The 20 Most Tantalizing Angelenos”–leads a charmed life, hobnobbing with fashionistas in Paris and industry bigwigs in Los Angeles .  She’s sexy, sassy, and unsinkable….and currently unemployed.

Beyond Hollywood Strip offers an inside look into the realities of being famous and beautiful, following Callie as she navigates the seedy underbelly of the entertainment industry. Juggling hunky ex-boyfriends, battling lawsuits from rival actresses, staying one step ahead of the press, organizing a charity event to honor her murdered friend…Callie’s got it all under control. But when she receives a mysterious letter from a young woman claiming to be her long-lost sister, Callie’s world begins to crack around the edges and all bets are off.

Beyond Hollywood Strip was a mixed read for me.  I liked the overall story as I felt like it gave a pretty good view into the gossipy and fast paced Hollywood scene.  The view was so good that I know that life would never be for me.  I know I could never play the games that need to be played to survive.  I don't have it in me.  I also, for the most part, liked Callie.  I think that she, in a way, does try to stay true to who she was before she made it big. Although as the story progressed, I felt like she lost more and more of herself.

The thing that I didn't like about the book was that it was a sequel and I really wish I had read the first book before this one. Through most of the book, I felt like I was missing a ton of back story.  I think it would have been nice to have more of a glimpse into how Callie got to where she was in this book. As I was liking Callie through most of the book, I really lost respect for her after what she does to Mitch.  I had a hard time moving past that.

This is a fairly quick read with interesting characters.  But, you might want to check out the first one before reading this.  I don't recommend it as a stand alone book.

About the author:

The chronicles of Callie Lambert are loosely based on author Shamron Moore’s real life experiences as an actress and model. Shamron left her home state of Michigan to pursue the excitement of Los Angeles. She has appeared in numerous commercials, television shows and feature films. FHM named her one of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World. Nowadays, she prefers to focus on writing, one of her lifelong passions. Beyond Hollywood Strip is her second novel.

Connect with Shamron

Shamron Moore’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, August 18th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, August 20th: Steph the Bookworm
Thursday, August 21st: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, August 25th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, August 26th: Reading in Black and White
Wednesday, August 27th: Harlie’s Books
Thursday, August 28th: The Suburban Eclectic Review
Monday, September 1st: Read – Love – Blog
Tuesday, September 2nd: Sveltlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, September 3rd: Shelf Pleasure -author guest post
Thursday, September 4th:  Three Girls and a Book Obsession
Friday, September 5th:  Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, September 10th:  Traveling with T

Sunday, August 17, 2014

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

by:  Cristin Terrill
published by:  Disney Hyperion
publish date:  September 3, 2013

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.  Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

This book was one of my surprise favorites of the year.  Time travel usually isn't one of those topics I like to read about, there are too many things that can go wrong in the story, but this one was well written and I never noticed any glaring problems.

Marina and James have been best friends forever, but after a night of violence their lives are changed forever.  James, a super genius, will do anything to go back to change the events of that night. Em is Marina's future self and she is doing everything in her power to make sure James doesn't go down his path that will ultimately destroy them all.

This was a great YA sci-fi read.  I would highly recommend this debut from Cristin Terrill to any YA readers.  It had a lot of fast-paced action and adventure, plus a little romance and of course a love triangle.  I didn't realize this was going to be a series since this book seemed to have a clean ending, but the next book will be coming out some time next year. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell

Author: Elizabeth Lowell
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: April 2014

After a family tragedy, Kate Donnelly left the Caribbean behind forever. But a series of bad management decisions has left her family's diving and marine recovery business drowning in red ink. Now her brother pleads with her to come back to the island nation of St Vincent. Without Kate's financial expertise, the iconic treasure-hunting enterprise started by her grandfather will go under. Unable to say no to the little family she has left, Kate heads back to the beautiful and terrifying ocean that still haunts her nightmares.

Night Diver is the latest from Elizabeth Lowell.  You all know I'm a big fan, so I dove right into this book.  I really enjoyed it as it felt like one of her earlier stand alone romantic suspense books.  It's a good, solid mystery with interesting characters and a great steamy romance.
Kate Donnelly is called home to try to save her family's business.  The biggest problem for her is that she hasn't been on the water in years since she witnessed her parents death in a tragic diving accident years before.  Major sparks fly when she meets Holden, the man who has been sent to help shut them down. I loved these two together.  I also loved that it wasn't an insta-love since they pretty much hated each other and didn't trust each other from the beginning.

As I said before, the mystery was pretty solid.  I felt like it was well laid out and planned. I also loved the aspect of not knowing who to really trust among the characters.  What I also thought was well handled was the panic attacks that Kate felt every time she was on the boat and in the water.  Her ease back into the life style was realistically gradual.  After reading this book, I might be tempted to learn how to dive.  It sounds absolutely beautiful under the water!  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

by:  Laura Lane McNeal
published by:  Pamela Dorman Books
publish date:  July 3, 2014

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

When I read Dollbaby, I felt like Laura Lane McNeal had grown up watching all the same movies I did and reading all the same books I had.  Looking at her bio, she grew up in New Orleans and she looks to be roughly the same age as me, so it's likely to be true.  

When Liberty Bell's father suddenly dies, her mother drops her off at her grandmother's house in New Orleans.  They've been estranged from Fannie because she didn't think her son was good enough to marry Ibby's mother.  After her father's death, Ibby is thrust into a world she doesn't know with people she doesn't know, grieving her father and not understanding why her mother left her there.  Queenie and Dollbaby do their best to help Ibby adjust to her new surrounding.

The whole time I was reading this book I kept wondering why it was titled Dollbaby and not something else.  It didn't really feel like Dollbaby was the main character.  She was A main character, but not THE main character.  In the end, it made more sense, but I'm not going to give that away.  I thought this was a strong debut novel.  I'm always excited to read books from authors of my home state of Louisiana and Laura Lane McNeal did us proud!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Into the Mist by Maya Banks

Author: Maya Banks
First published in 2008 by Samhain

Hostage recovery specialist Eli Chance has a secret. He was born a shifter. A freak of nature. While on a mission, Eli’s men and their mercenary guide are exposed to a powerful chemical agent, and suddenly his secret has become easier to hide. Now he’s not the only one with the gift. But for his men, this “gift” is becoming more and more of a curse.

Tyana Berezovsky’s brother Damiano was the guide for Eli’s team and was the worst affected by the chemical. As he grows increasingly unstable, Tyana fears she’s going to lose him to the beast he is becoming. Tyana will do whatever it takes to help him, even if it means using her body to go after the one man she thinks holds all the blame—and possibly the cure. Eli Chance.

I have read this author's historical romances and have really enjoyed them.  I wish that was the case with this book.  I downloaded the audio-book from my library and I have to admit, I only made it to the middle of the second disc.  By that point, Eli (whoever he is) sees Tyana (whoever she is) in a bar.  He takes her back to his apartment for sex.  He decides to still sleep with her after he sees her try to drug his drink.  Really?  You need her that badly?  At this point I don't think they even exchanged names. After the most boring sex scene, she breaks into his office after he fake falls asleep. Then he tries to catch her by shifting in mist (?).  Then the scene switches to her back at her headquarters feeling like a slut and all of a sudden needing a hit of pot. 

I gave up after that. I should not have to wait that long to even have a hint of what is going on in a story. There was no character development whatsoever.  Had I not read the synopsis, I wouldn't have had in inkling of the story line.  And using dirty names for body parts does not make for a hot sex scene.  I was actually bored to tears with that opening scene, as there was no chemistry at all.  Meh, I say skip this one and read her McCabe trilogy instead. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blog Tour: 2 AM at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Author: Marie-Helene Bertino
Publisher: Crown
Date of publication:  August 2014

2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS begins on a quiet morning in a Philadelphia apartment the day before Christmas Eve, where we meet the precocious and smart-mouthed nine-year-old Madeleine Altimari.  Madeleine’s mother has recently died, and her father is still lost in his grief. Meanwhile, Madeleine finds solace in music and aspires to become a jazz singer. Just two days shy of her tenth birthday, she is about to have the most remarkable day of her life.

After facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine decides today is the day to find Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas, and make her debut. On the same day, Madeleine’s fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who has moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with her high school love. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Jack Lorca discovers that his beloved venue may close be closed due to financial woes by the end of the night. As we follow these three lost souls over the course of twenty-four hours, we also meet a cast of unique and brilliant characters who surround them – from the warm-hearted cafe owner Mrs. Santiago to Melissa, the former “snake lady” exotic dancer who might be Lorca’s last hope for love.  With sharp wit and irrepressible spirit, Marie-Helene Bertino turns Philadelphia into a magical place where anything can happen.

The premise for this book intrigued me, so I dove right in. I liked the idea that the entire story takes place in a day. Kind of like a day in the life of these people.  Sadly, I didn't finish the story.  I just couldn't connect with it.  I got about halfway through.  I often found the story line confusing and had a hard time keeping my interest in their lives.

Though the book takes place "today", it had an old feel to it, like the story should have been set in the 50s or 60s.  A few things bothered me about it...such as chalkboard erasers.  Do schools even use chalk boards anymore?  I know around here it's all dry erase boards. The attitude of the principal toward Madeleine was atrocious and I had a hard time buying that many people would let her get away with it. Finally, the lice thing drove me nuts. Has the author been around anyone with lice lately?  School nurses are a bit more discreet than the ones in the book.  And anyone who has dealt with lice knows that it isn't just a matter of washing the hair for a week with special shampoo.  It is a LOT more involved than that. I was cringing as the hair dresser sent her home without giving her more instructions.   I know those are nit-picky things, but for me, they are enough to drive me crazy while reading a book.

I think readers who love this type of quirky/artsy type book will like this one a lot, it just wasn't my style.

About the author:

Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the story collection Safe as Houses, which won the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Prize and The Pushcart Prize, and was long-listed for The Story Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. An Emerging Writer Fellow at New York’s Center for Fiction, she has spent six years as an editor and writing instructor at One Story.
Connect with Marie-Helene Bertino:

Marie-Helene Bertino’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 4th:  Bibliotica
Tuesday, August 5th:  Too Fond
Wednesday, August 6th:  Must Read Faster
Thursday, August 7th:  My Bookshelf
Friday, August 8th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 11th:  Reading Reality
Tuesday, August 12th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, August 13th:  From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 14th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, August 15th:  From L.A. to LA
Monday, August 18th:  Caribousmom
Tuesday, August 19th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, August 20th:  Broken Teepee
Thursday, August 21st:  Guiltless Reading
Friday, August 22nd:  Walking With Nora
Monday, August 25th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, August 26th:  Literally Jen
Wednesday, August 27th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, August 28th:  BookNAround