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Friday, April 29, 2011

Virtual Book Tour - Save Magic City

Author: Rocsanne Shield
Publisher: iUniverse

The corporation employing the townspeople has left, the bank foreclosures have created whole streets of empty houses, people are leaving in droves... the town is slowly dying.

A black magician in his old time, Edmund is forbidden to do any magic if it is not for helping other people. He discovers and is fascinated by the magical powers of Internet and wants to bring instant relief to the townspeople, but Leona, who does not trust their dependency on magic, forbids him to do so.

Leo, Leona's adoptive son, and his friends, Squirrel and Raccoon, accept the magic with enthusiasm and do their best to help the town to survive.

When misfortune strikes, Leona gives her blessing for Edmund to use his magic.

Edmund is an evil knight who is banished to the future by his brother. He lands in a dying town and must learn to use his magic for good in order to redeem himself. Leona and her friends are trying to save their dying town from the big corporation who is ruining it.

What I liked: I liked the idea of a knight in shining armor coming to the rescue of a woman and her town. I also liked her use of children in the book and teaching them to get involved and to take pride in their community.

What I didn't like: While the idea for this book is very intriguing, it really fell short for me. The biggest problem I had with the book was the writing itself. It could have benefited from more editing. I felt like the ideas all ran together and the author tried to go into too many directions with the plot. I know that this was marketed as a young adult book, but I think middle part that deals with the legal and political issues of corporations and incorporating a town could potentially bore a younger audience. I found myself skimming parts because there was too much detail.

On the whole, I think the author had a good idea and with some more revisions, the novel would have worked better for me. I have read other positive reviews where people enjoyed the book, so it may just be a matter of opinion.

--Kari

* note: I read a complimentary copy of Save Magic City supplied courtesy of the author. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Fever

Author: Elizabeth Lowell
First published in 1983 by Harlequin

Rye McCall has a problem. He's got an obsessive father who's trying to ensure a dynasty, but Rye's rebellious and determined to lead his own life. And to make matters worse, he's just met a woman who may thwart both men's plans. For one brief, high-country summer, Rye manages the impossible--to keep his father's world at bay. But he's lost control of his own plans--he's fallen in love with Lisa Johansen. Now he's told too many lies for his happiness to last. He knows that. What he doesn't know is how to finally tell her the truth.



Fever has everything that I have come to love about the older Harlequin romances: cheesy lines, bad fashion, steamy loves scenes, a big misunderstanding and a HEA for a couple that I can believe in. Rye is a total alpha male and Lisa is the stereotypical, naive wall flower who doesn't know her own potency or worth. Yes, it's cheesy, but you just can't stop reading it.
Being written by Elizabeth Lowell guarantees it will have at least one hot steamy sex scene. This one has one that goes on for pages and pages!

I definitely recommend this early work by Ms. Lowell. It is a quick read and worth the afternoon it will take to devour it!

--Kari

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential

by:  Francine Pascal
published by:  MacMillan Audio

I won this audiobook from MacMillan Audio and that's why I listened to it, otherwise it's not my cup of tea.  I never read any of the Sweet Valley High books when I was growing up.  Not a single one.  I think that's why I didn't totally hate this book.  Apparently if you've read any of the SVH books, this book is awful.  Read the reviews of Goodreads or Amazon, this book gets ripped to shreds.  I was really surprised.  It wasn't just "this book sucks" kind of comments, it was long drawn out explanations of contextual errors.  I never read the books, so I didn't know it was wrong.

I thought it was ok, I found myself drawn into it, waiting to find out what was going to happen.  My biggest problem with it was the time line.  There seems to be several different points in time that the story is set in, present, 8 months prior, 5 years prior, and 10 years prior.  The story keeps switching between those time periods withouth any indication and it was a little hard to follow.  It could have been because I was listening to the audiobook, but I suspect not.

If you're a SVH fan, pick it up, see if you think it's as awful as the reviewers are saying it is.  If you weren't a SVH fan, it's an ok adult drama.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dread of Night (Volume One)


Author: Joshua D. Boeringa
Illustrator: Robert Frost
Publisher: Sissy Fist Press

Thirteen stories to keep you up at night.

Check the closet and under the bed. Grab a flashlight and hide out under the covers. In these stories, you will encounter monsters escaped from your nightmares. A helpful stranger is not quite as kind as he seems. An old man has a difficult time letting go. A fisherman's first catch of the day might also be his last.

Read on if you dare!



Dread of Night is a great collection of very creepy short stories. This book brought me back to my "tween" years when all I wanted to read were "true" ghost stories and tales about haunted houses. My favorites of the book are "Our Little Secret" and "Teddy". But really, all of them are fun to read and will leave you shivering! I also loved the little poems that are sprinkled throughout the book between tales. Mr. Boeringa has quite the imagination. Rounding out the book are great illustrations by Robert Frost. He did a great job of giving the reader wonderful visual images to compliment the tales.

I would recommend this book to any lover of quick creepy stories. (I read it in an afternoon) I think it is appropriate for YA and adult readers alike. I would have loved this book when I was younger! I look forward to Volume 2!

--Kari

* note: I read an complimentary copy of Dread of Night supplied courtesy of the author. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cloaked

Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperCollins

I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with a curse. And a frog-napping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.



There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.



Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.



I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this audiobook. I haven't read anything else by this author. I am so glad I did. This was such a cute story. Johnny, who thinks his life is going nowhere, gets sucked into an adventure of a lifetime. Not only does he learn that magic does exist, he also learns about integrity, the value of true friendship and love along the way. He does get his own fairytale HEA, but you'll have to read the book to find out what that entails.



Alex Flinn has woven several fairy/folk tales into this book. Ms.Flinn is kind enough to list them out for the reader in the author's note. A few of them are "The Shoemaker and the Elves"," The 12 Swans", and "The Frog Prince". Some of them are a bit obscure, so it was nice of her to clue me in as to which ones she used. It made me want to look them up and read them.



So, I would definitely recommend this one! It was good clean fun and so appropriately labeled YA. I would even say a 'tweens' would like this one.



--Kari

Friday, April 22, 2011

Feed Me (Short Story Collection)


Author: Nigel Barto
Publisher: CreateSpace

FEED ME is a collection of short stories that rouses your heart, wakes your adoring mind, and ignites passion. These stories were inspired by the author’s journey. Paris, love, and taking chances. Everything has its reason.


Feed me is an interesting collection of stories. Although, I wouldn't really call them stories. To me they were more like reflections on different situations involving love and relationships. For example, the first story, "Thankful", reflects on love and acceptance within a family. I think the story I liked the best was the one called "Returning Home", in which the author describes his adventure in trying to return home from abroad. I think most of us have a time where there was trouble when we tried to return home from a journey. I could sympathize with his feeling of wanting to get home; the more you want it, the more your heart aches for it.

While I didn't enjoy all of the stories in the book, ( I found a couple a bit depressing), I would recommend giving it a shot. I think there is something here for everyone.


--Kari


* note: I read an ARC of Feed Me supplied courtesy of the author. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Sawyer (Buckhorn Brothers #1)

Author: Lori Foster
First Published in 2000 by Harlequin

Sawyer Hudson, the only doctor in Buckhorn County, took it upon himself to rescue the beautiful but enigmatic woman who came literally crashing into his life. Though he knew he should keep things platonic and professional, around her his body had other ideas. And his heart was no more cooperative.

Honey Malone was on the run, fleeing a dangerous predator, when she lost control of her car, drove into a lake - and found herself up to her neck in breathtaking men. After the brothers nursed her through her injuries, she tried to leave, but she hadn't bargained on their stubborn protectiveness. Or the passionate bond that tied her to Sawyer.

I seem to be on a Lori Foster kick lately. I think it is her ability to make her characters so likeable that has me wanting to read more of her books. Sawyer is the first in a series that came out in the early 2000s about 4 brothers who live and find love in their small town. They are all gorgeous and single. Sawyer is the oldest brother and a doctor. Honey is running from someone who wants to hurt her. The attraction between the two is believable and very cute. I think what appealed to me most about the book was the interaction between Sawyer and his brothers. They obviously want Sawyer to be happy and will do anything to make it happen. Sawyer also has a son who he has raised on his own. Any man who can do that gets big points in my book. Honey is a strong willed woman who has had to make it on her own. Her reaction to having 5 males want to protect her is pretty amusing.

This is a quick and fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have the other 4 books in the series on my bedside table ready to be read. Enjoy!

--Kari

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates

by:  Eva Gray
published by:  Scholastic
publish date:  May 1st, 2011

In a terrifying future world, four girls must depend on each other if they want to survive.

Louisa is nervous about being sent away to a boarding school -- but she’s excited, too. And she has her best friend, Maddie, to keep her company. The girls have to pretend to be twin sisters, which Louisa thinks just adds to the adventure!

Country Manor School isn’t all excitement, though. Louisa isn’t sure how she feels about her new roommates: athletic but snobby Rosie and everything’s-a-conspiracy Evelyn. Even Maddie seems different away from home, quiet and worried all the time.

Still, Louisa loves CMS -- the survival skills classes, the fresh air. She doesn’t even miss not having a TV, or the internet, or any contact with home. It’s for their own safety, after all.

Or is it?

Behind the Gates is Book #1 in a series of dystopian stories aimed at Middle Graders.  It's set in a not too distant future in a war torn United States.  Children are sent to schools in the countryside to escape the difficult life in the city.  Behind the Gates opens with Louisa and Maddie getting on the bus to leave for Country Manor School.

I'm a real fan of dystopian lit and it's not surprising that it's trickled down into the MG reading level.  I noticed that this book was copyrighted by Suzanne Weyn who is the writer of the book Empty which is a YA level dystopian book.  While I though Empty was ok, I thought this book was much better.  My biggest problem with Empty was the preachiness of it.  I didn't notice so much of that in this book, which is good because kids are far more impressionable at this age.  This book focuses a lot on being self-reliant, that's a positive! 

I think these books could be quite popular with a wide variety of "tween" girls.  It has a lot of elements that would appeal to a broad spectrum, adventure, sports, friend drama, insecurities, etc.  Great summer reading book!  Nosing around I found some more great summer reading ideas from Scholastic.  Check these out.
Summer Reading Challenge 10-12
Summer Reading Challenge Young Adult

Winners

Last week we post a giveaway for Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
The winners of that giveaway are:

Tiffany
and
Erinberry

Congratulations and check your email!

Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance #1)



Author: Larissa Ione
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't-or won't-understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.


While this is the first book in a new series by Larissa Ione, it is a direct follow from her five book Demonica series (starting with Pleasure Unbound). Ione's fun and sexy characters and a well constructed world come together for a very entertaining romp. A perfect bit of escapism.

Holy moly... just look at that cover alone!

**Note: This book was purchased for my personal library.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Midnight Riot


Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Del Rey

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

If you are a fan of English mysteries and dry as dust humor, this is the book for you! Originally published as "Rivers of London" the first installment in the new Peter Grant series was retitled for American audiences. Personally, I find that annoying...Rivers of London was a great title for the story.

Anyway, memorable characters, snappy dialogue, a nice twisty plot and a unique tour of English countryside makes this a great read. I'm ready for the sequel!

**Note: this book purchased for my personal library

The Pleasure Garden (Anthology)

Authors: Amanda McIntyre, Charlotte Featherstone, Kristi Astor
Publisher: Spice (Harlequin)

Many lifetimes ago, the beautiful MAY QUEEN found exquisite seduction not with her husband, but in the arms of the GREEN MAN—the passionate ruler of all that is warm and light. And thus began the earth’s most torrid love triangle.

Now three women of diverse eras are drawn to the mystical site of the Celtic queen’s tragic demise. Their fiery obsession ignited by BELTANE MAGIC is barely perceived, but erotically felt. With each kiss, their passion would break an ancient curse— and reunite a love most profound…

•Cara•
Driven by an unseen force, the goddess maiden seduces the one man forsaken by law and principle—an Irishman soon for the priesthood…

•CATHERINE•

The future countess of Fairfax House yearns for illicit nights and perfect love in the arms of her betrothed’s cousin…

•EMMALINE•
She inherits a decrepit house and garden that awakens in her a raw sexual awareness, the likes of which she can abide alone no longer…

The Pleasure Garden contains three novellas, each taking place in the same garden, but in a different time.

Sacred Vows is Cara's and Edmund's tale. It takes place during a time when their relationship was forbidden due to the laws in England at the time. I likes this tale the least of the three. I had a hard time believing that Cara could be so caught up in the 'magic' of the garden that she would give up her virginity so easily to a man she met minutes before then be instantly in love with him. I thought Edmund was a wimp for not sticking around despite the laws.

I thought Perfumed Pleasures, Catherine and Joscelyn's tale, was better. He is a fallen war hero who has been wounded and severely scarred. Catherine has always loved him, but is forced to become engaged to his cousin because of family obligation. While I did think that Catherine was a bit weak when it came to standing up to her family, I loved how she was able to see through Joscelyn's scars and see the man he used to be. I liked their HEA.

Rites of Passion, Emmaline and Jack's tale, is the strongest of the three. Both have seen the horrors of war and have deep emotional scars. Their love for one another allows them to heal and find happiness. Their HEA was very sweet.

Overall, it was a good anthology. The loves scenes were well done and very sensual. All three authors can definitely write a love scene. I liked the Green Man theme that ran throughout the book. Was the curse of the Green Man broken? Read the book to find out!

--Kari

* note: I read an ARC of Pleasure Garden supplied courtesy of Harlequin. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Monday, April 18, 2011

Already home


Author: Susan Mallery
Publisher: Mira Books

After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She's supported her ex-husband's dreams for so long that she can't even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents' home and envisions her very own cooking store.

Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna's adoptive mother. But just as she's gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.

Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex's latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love….

Already Home is a beautifully written tale about family and home. I was sucked right in from the beginning. Jenna has moved back home to make a fresh start and try to find herself again. While starting a new business, she meets Violet, who is in someways searching for the same things. Throw into the mix the potential for new love and the appearance of her birth parents, Jenna gets more than she bargained for by coming home.

I loved this book. The relationships are complicated and realistic. The characters are strong and likeable. While there are two really nice romances in the book, they really take a back seat to the main story. Watching Jenna try to stay close to her adoptive mother while navigating her relationship with her newly found birth mother was endearing and at times heart wrenching. Violet's struggle with reconciling her hidden past while learning to trust again was equally engaging. I would definitely recommend this book. For me, it is one of those book that stays with you long after you have read it.

--Kari

* note: I read a complimentary copy of Already Home supplied courtesy of Mira. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Friday, April 15, 2011

2 for 1 - The Lothario Books

The Lust Boat
Author: Roz Lee
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing

When her fiancĂ© called off the wedding and told her he’d had better sex with a blow up doll, Candace traded in her honeymoon cruise for a week on the Lothario, the most notorious ship to ever sail the high seas. Little does she know that Ryan, the sexy passenger who offered to be her escort as she samples all the ship has to offer, is really Ryan Callahan, the ship’s playboy owner.

Ryan Callahan is single, rich, and considered quite the catch. Two years ago he and his business partner launched the Lothario, a floating den of iniquity where passengers can indulge their every sexual fantasy, but since the ship docked following its maiden cruise, Ryan has been so scarce he’s earned the nickname, Monk, until sweet, naive Candace coaxes him out of his tower, heats his blood, and steals his heart. But will she still want him when she finds out who he really is?


The Lust Boat is the first in a series and the debut book by Roz Lee about the cruise ship Lothario, where all of your fantasies can come true. For a first book, the writing was a bit awkward for me, but I enjoyed Ryan and Candace's story anyway. For Ryan it is love at first sight, but it takes a while for him to convince Candace that it is more than lust at first sight. I'm not sure I believed the relationship went beyond lust at first, but by the end it worked for me. The love scenes were very steamy, but tastefully done. There is a hint of some intrigue that is thrown in toward the end of the book that, for me, come out of the blue. It makes me wonder if the author toyed with making it an erotic suspense at the last minute. I will say that it made me look forward to the next book to see where she was going with that story line.

Which brings me to the second in the series:


Show Me the Ropes
Author: Roz Lee
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing

He’s going to hell. Not that he’s any stranger to the place. For two years Richard Wolfe has lived in a self-imposed hell in order to prove his devotion to the woman he loves. When Dr. Fallon Enright asks for an early release from her contract with the Lothario, Richard knows his time has run out. Desperate to keep her on board, he stoops to an all-time low, even for him.

Fallon knew it wouldn’t be easy to walk away from the Lothario, and the man she loves, but she never dreamed Richard would stoop to blackmail to keep her on board. Worse, instead of leveling charges of sexual harassment, she’d agreed to his asinine plan. For the next week, she would submit to Richard, in all things. The possibilities sent a shiver down her spine.

I found that I liked this one better than the first. You can see some real improvement in the writing which is encouraging. Show Me the Ropes involves the other owner of the ship, Richard and his employee, Fallon. This relationship was a bit more believable since the main characters have known each other for a couple of years. I won't go too into the plot as I don't want to give away a major reveal. I'll just say that the loves scenes are a bit more intense as compared to the first, but still tastefully written. There is more of the intrigue here that was hinted at in The Lust Boat, but no complete resolution. Maybe in the next book?

If you are looking for some quick, enjoyable erotica with a plot, check these out. I think you will enjoy them.


--Kari

* note: I read a complimentary copy of The Lust Boat and Show Me the Ropes supplied courtesy of the Red Sage Publishing. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Throwback Thursday - A Lady of the West


Author: Linda Howard
First published in 1990

Only true love could redeem....

Victoria Waverly, noble daughter of the war-ruined South, is sold in marriage to a ruthless rancher. Honor and pride help her endure life as a wife in name only but nothing can quench her forbidden desire for hired gunman Jake Roper. His gaze is hard, but tenderness he can't hide promises to unveil to Victoria the mysteries of love.

Only true love can destroy....

Jake curses his burning need for Victoria, for he wants nothing to stand in the way of his drive to reclaim Sarratt's Kingdom -- the ranch that is his legacy and obsession. But ancient wrongs and blazing passions will bind together the aristocratic beauty and the powerful cowboy. In a bloody land war, they will fight for Jake's birthright...and seize at all costs the love that is their destiny.

If you have been following this blog, you will know that I am a big fan of Linda Howard, especially her earlier romance novels. This time out, I can't say that I enjoyed reading her book as much. A Lady of the West is definitely darker than most of the others that she wrote in her early days. There isn't a lot of joy throughout most of the book. While the love scenes do live up to her usual standard, I'm not sure I believed the love between any of the couples, except maybe Victoria's young sister and the ranch hand. Jake is not a likeable hero and I couldn't understand how Victoria fell for him, especially after he reveals who he really is. He all but bullies her into marriage to gain his land back and actually assaults her at one point. This being a deal breaker for me in real life might have something to do with why I didn't like their relationship. I didn't really care for Victoria either, she is a bit of a doormat, so that played a part as well.

As in everything, if you haven't read this one, you might give it a try. But, I don't think you will be missing anything if you decide to skip it.

--Kari

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Winners and a New Giveaway!

The winners of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady are SusieBookworm and Orchid!  Congratulations!!  I'll be sending you emails shortly. 

Now for the new giveaway!  Yay!!

I have another great book from Doubleday.  Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

A. D. Miller's Snowdrops is an intensely riveting psychological drama that unfolds over the course of one Moscow winter, as a young Englishman's moral compass is spun by the seductive opportunities revealed to him by a new Russia: a land of hedonism and desperation, corruption and kindness, magical dachas and debauched nightclubs; a place where secrets - and corpses - come to light only when the deep snows start to thaw - Snowdrops is a chilling story of love and moral freefall: of the corruption, by a corrupt society, of a corruptible young man. It is taut, intense and has a momentum as irresistible to the reader as the moral danger that first enchants, then threatens to overwhelm, its narrator.

This book was a little hard to read, not necessarily because of the subject matter, but because of the location.  It takes place in Russia so there are a lot of long Russian words in it and I'm not one of those people that can just skip over a word like that, I have to stop and sound it out and so it took me a while to make my way through this book. This is also why I never got past the first couple of chapters of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!

Snowdrops was written as a confession, the narrator to a fiancee I assumed, explaining what his life was like when he lived in Russia.  He was a lawyer and he was involved in some shady schemes.  He dealt with some really interesting characters and he's telling this other person everything that happened.

I found the book pretty interesting.  I felt like I learned a few things about Moscow, beginning with what a "snowdrop" is.  If you're thinking it's a flower, think again!  This book is dark and tense and keeps you wondering what's going to happen.

Same giveaway rules apply: US addresses only, no PO Boxes please.  Leave a comment WITH A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS please!  If you want an extra entries you can spread the word about this giveaway (facebook, twitter, etc) and post the link in a separate comments.

There will be 2 winners for this giveaway and I'll randomly pick names on April 20th.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Witches Lottery


Author: Krystal McLaughlin
Publisher: Self

When Sophia and Drew McKibben's parents are killed in a tragic car accident, they are shipped off to live with an aunt they never even knew existed. Believing that they are moving to a privately owned island just off of the coast of Mystic, CT to live alone with her, they are surprised to find a sort of under-aged bed and breakfast.

Sophia draws the attention of one of the locals, Falen, immediately. He always seems to know exactly what she is thinking, and to her frustration, everything she does seems to amuse him. When a newcomer to the island brings with him a sense of deja vu, she begins to ask herself the ultimate question: Am I going crazy?

Sophia's world starts to unravel when she notices her own brother acting just as abnormal as the rest of them. When she begins to realize that the life she left behind looks even more bizarre then the one she was forced to leave it for, she's faced with a decision to make: embrace the new life that has been given to her, or drown in the past. Either choice brings with it more secrets and deceptions to unearth. The problem now is that the two worlds may actually be more intertwined than she thought.


The Witches Lottery is the debut novel by Krystal McLaughlin. It is the first in a series about an enchanted island where things aren't always what they seem. Sophia and her brother, Drew, are sent there to live with their aunt after the death of their parents. Even before they leave Colorado, weird things start to happen to Sophia. The mystery and action begin on the first page and it doesn't slow down until the end. Sophia is a very likeable character. She is a typical teen who is having to deal with some atypical issues and she navigates them very well. The characters in the book are strong and intriguing. The author gives you enough of a glimpse into their lives that leaves you wanting to read more about each one.

I definitely recommend this YA novel lovers of the genre. It was nice to read a book that is really is appropriate for a young adult. I find that so many "YA" books out there aren't very appropriate for the audience to which they have been marketed. (Totally a personal opinion) Ms. McLaughlin has a bright future ahead of her. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

--Kari

* note: I read a complimentary copy of The Witches Lottery supplied courtesy of the author. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Monday, April 11, 2011

Phantom Evil

Author: Heather Graham

Publisher: Mira Books (Harlequin)

A secret government unit is formed under the oversight of Adam Harrison, famed paranormal investigator. The six members he’s gathered know a little of the otherworldly—each has honed a psychic talent of their own.

Jackson Crow, part English, part Cheyenne, heads the group. Haunted by his experience with an ancestral ghost who saved his life as a child, and the recent murders of two previous teammates, Jackson can’t tell if Adam’s demoted him or given him an extraordinary opportunity. Despite his link to the realm of spirits, he’s well aware that the living commit the most heinous crimes, with spiritualist charlatans existing merely to fool and seduce the unwary.

To counterbalance Jackson’s careful skepticism, Adam Harrison has paired him with Angela Hawkins, a young woman who learned the painful lesson of loss at an early age. A police offi cer utilizing her paranormal intuition in Virginia, she already has her hands full. But Adam’s call to New Orleans is strong.

The case: In a historic mansion in New Orleans’s French Quarter, a senator’s wife falls to her death from a balcony. Most think she jumped, distraught over the loss of her young son. Some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits that inhabit the house—once the site of a serial killer’s grisly work. Whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion, greed and desire will cast the pair into danger of losing their lives...and their immortal souls.



Phantom Evil is the first in a new mini-series by Heather Graham. I haven't read too many books by Ms. Graham, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was happy I gave it a shot. Phantom Evil sucked me right in from the first page. The main characters, Jackson and Angela, were great characters and played well off of each other. Their relationship and attraction is easy and uncomplicated. It flowed right along with the story. I liked that the author introduced the team to the reader gradually, rather than overwhelm us with everyone in the beginning. I look forward to reading their stories in the future.

With its many twists and turns, Phantom Evil will keep you guessing as to what really happened in the house. Is it really a ghost or someone playing at being a ghost. You'll have to read to find out!

--Kari

* note: I read a complimentary copy of Phantom Evil supplied courtesy of the publisher. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Throwback Thursday - The Playboy

Author: Carly Phillips First Published January 1st 2003 by Warner Forever Officer Rick Chandler isn't such a bad guy -- he just doesn't believe in marriage. But that doesn't stop his mother and the rest of the women in town from trying to set him up with every single woman in sight! Enter Kendall Sutton, a formerly engaged firebrand who's just as wary of marital vows as Rick. The two strike up a convenient arrangement to keep their respective families at bay, but could true love evolve out of such false pretenses?


The Playboy is the follow up to Carly Phillips's The Bachelor, which I reviewed here on Throwback Thursday a few weeks ago.


The Playboy is a pretty decent sequel. It involves the middle brother, Rick, finding his HEA. I liked Rick’s character. He is always rescuing someone and has a huge heart. I felt badly that his mother was always trying to fix him up with the available women in the town. I think that would get annoying after a while. I’m not sure I liked Kendall all that much. I thought she was a bit whiny and weak in the beginning. When presented with the one thing she has been searching for all her life, her first instinct is to run. Thankfully, she comes to her senses. The attraction between the 2 was instant, but it quickly moves from lust to love, especially for Rick. Most of the characters from the first book are back in this one. I loved the relationship between Rick’s mother and the doctor. The one thing I did wish for was an epilogue in this one as I thought the ending was pretty abrupt.


I recommend this one if you are planning to read the whole series. It was entertaining and a pretty quick. Pick up the paperback version though. The narrator was the same in this one and his women continued to sound like valley girls.


--Kari

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review & Giveaway: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

by:  Elizabeth Stuckey-French
published by:  Doubleday

Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs come hell or high water. In 1953, he gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent as part of a secret government study that had horrible consequences.

Marylou has been plotting her revenge for fifty years. When she accidentally discovers his whereabouts in Florida, her plans finally snap into action. She high tails it to hot and humid Tallahassee, moves in down the block from where a now senile Spriggs lives with his daughter’s family, and begins the tricky work of insinuating herself into their lives. But she has no idea what a nest of yellow jackets she is stum­bling into.

Before the novel is through, someone will be kidnapped, an unlikely couple will get engaged, someone will nearly die from eating a pineapple upside-down cake laced with anti-freeze, and that’s not all . . .

Told from the varied perspectives of an incredible cast of endearing oddball characters and written with the flair of a native Floridian, this dark comedy does not disappoint.

I generally like a dark comedy, but when I was reading about this book I was trying to imagine who funny a 77 year old woman could be.  Think Betty White!  If this book was ever made into a movie I could totally see her playing the part as the devious Marylou acting like nothing but a forgetful sweet old lady but in reality trying to kill an old man and make his family crazy. 

Marylou wreaks all kinds of havoc on Wilson Sprigg's family.  Through her mischievous manipulations his family is awakened from the stupor they've been living in and their lives get turned completely upside down.  In the end though, all these problems aren't for the worse.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I've been in a bit of a slump lately.  I've had a hard time finding a book to hold my interest all the way through and this one did.  The story was unique and pulled in contemporary as well as some historical issues.  It has a little bit of something for everyone.

Thanks to the lovely people at Doubleday I have 2 copies to giveaway.  US addresses only, no PO boxes.  Leave a comment with a valid email address before April 13th.  I'll randomly pick winners on the 13th.  If you want extra entries you can spread the word (twitter, facebook, etc.) about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with a link to each place you posted about it.

Treachery in Death



Author: J. D. Robb
Publisher:
Putnam Adult

Detective Eve Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are following up on a senseless crime-an elderly grocery owner killed by three stoned punks for nothing more than kicks and snacks. This is Peabody's first case as primary detective-good thing she learned from the master.

But Peabody soon stumbles upon a trickier situation. After a hard workout, she's all alone in the locker room when the gym door clatters open; and-while hiding inside a shower stall trying not to make a sound-she overhears two fellow officers, Garnet and Oberman, arguing. It doesn't take long to realize they're both crooked-guilty not just of corruption but of murder. Now Peabody, Eve, and Eve's husband, Roarke, are trying to get the hard evidence they need to bring the dirty cops down-knowing all the while that the two are willing to kill to keep their secret.


I absolutely loved the latest in J.D. Robb's In Death series. Treachery in Death has everything I have come to count on when I visit the world of Eve Dallas. This one was fast paced and kept me hooked from the beginning. I just love the relationships in these books. Peabody and Eve’s partnership moves up to a new level in this installment. I felt like for the first time, they were really partners and not teacher/student. That was refreshing and about time. Eve’s handling of the intricacies of her relationships is always endearing to watch. There is a hilarious scene with Eve and baby Bella that just melted my heart. Treachery in Death is a little different because you know who the culprit is right from the start. It’s in how they catch her that makes it exciting to read. I definitely recommend if you are a fan of the series.

--Kari

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stone Kissed


Author: Keri Stevens
Publisher: Carina Press
When Delia Forrest talks to statues, they talk back. She is, after all, the last of the Steward witches.

After an arsonist torches her ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, Delia is forced to sell the estate to pay his medical bills. Her childhood crush, Grant Wolverton, makes a handsome offer for Steward House, vowing to return it to its former glory. Delia agrees, as long as he'll allow her to oversee the restoration.

Working so closely with Grant, Delia finds it difficult to hide her unique talent—especially when their growing passion fuels her abilities.

But someone else lusts after both her man and the raw power contained in the Steward land. Soon Delia finds herself fighting not just for Grant's love, but for both their lives...

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started Stone Kissed, the debut novel by Keri Stevens. I was pleasantly surprised. From the first chapter, I was swept into the story which is well written and engaging. Stone Kissed was a nice change of pace from the usual paranormal stories that I tend to read. Delia Forrest is the last in a line of witches who can communicate with stone figures and statues. As the story progresses, her love for Grant causes the stone figures to come alive. I really liked Grant’s character. While he is a ruthless business man, he has a soft side for the people he cares about. The chemistry between Grant and Delia is pretty strong. Both are searching for a home and both want to find it in Steward House. The ending is very sweet and left me smiling. The one thing that I did wish for was more detail about the Steward witches and their history, especially Cecily. I think it would have rounded out the story nicely. I would recommend giving this one a shot. I think Ms. Stevens has a bright future ahead of her.

--Kari

* note: I read a complimentary copy of Stone Kissed supplied courtesy of the publisher. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Diviner's Tale



Author: Bradford Morrow
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra’s credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra’s hanged girl.

What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she’d long since thought was behind her. The Diviner’s Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman.

When Cassandra’s dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.


Cassandra is a diviner and she tells her the tale of what happened to her one summer while looking for water for a client. The story is interspersed with flashbacks from her younger life. I’m not sure I really liked the main character. She was a bit boring and at times pathetic. Her 11 year old twin sons were more interesting. They come across as older and wiser than their age. Especially Jonah, who, repeatedly tells Cassandra to be true to herself and not try to conform to what everyone else thinks she should be. Cassandra’s relationships with her family and friends are what really drove the book for me. Cassandra’s struggle as she watches her father deal with the onset of Alzheimer’s was both touching and heartbreaking.

While I enjoyed listening to the Diviner’s Tale, I did feel that some parts of the story lagged a little. The detail is a bit longwinded in parts and probably could have been shortened. I was expecting more of a mystery, but I didn’t feel like it was really main focus of the book. The mystery wasn’t too hard to figure out. Anyone really paying attention should be able to finger the culprit pretty early on. I listened to the audio version and the narrator did a pretty good job. Her voices kept me listening. Give it a shot, you might like it.

--Kari

Friday, April 1, 2011

Murder Takes the Cake


Author: Gayle Trent
Publisher: Gallery Books

Cozy murder mystery. When the meanest gossip in Brea Ridge dies mysteriously, suspicions turn to cake decorator Daphne Martin. But all Daphne did was deliver a spice cake with cream cheese frosting--and find Yodel's body. Now Daphne's got to help solve the murder and clear her good name. Problem is, her Virginia hometown is brimming with people who had good reason to kill Yodel, and Daphne's whole family is among them.

Murder Takes the Cake is a re-release paperback but has been published with some added content. In the back of the book, the author provides a few cake recipes and tips on decorating cakes. I thought that was a nice addition to the book. Murder Takes the Cake involves Daphne Martin, a 40 year old Divorcee who returns to her home town to start a new life and a new cake baking business. While delivering a cake to a client, she stumbles into a murder mystery.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the story. What I enjoyed most about the book were the characters themselves. I think they shone through more than the mystery itself. All of the characters were interesting and allowed a glimpse of small town life where a gossip line runs rampant. I would have liked to read more of the relationship between Ben and Daphne as they slowly rekindle their romance. But that is the hopeless romantic in me coming out. Perhaps there is more of that in the next book.

As for the mystery itself, it was pretty simple and I was able to call the murderer pretty early on. One thing I did not like about the book was the amount of the detail about cake decorating. It felt like it was put in there for filler and just didn’t hold my interest.

I would recommend this book. It is a pretty fast read and I think the series has potential. I know I will probably seek out the next book.

--Kari


* note: I read a complimentary copy of Murder Takes the Cake supplied courtesy of the publisher. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me.*