Sunday, July 31, 2011

Giveaway: Safe From the Sea

Way back in September Unbridled Books sent me a book called Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye.  It was AWESOME.  I orginally posted about it here.  Back then I said:

LOVED. IT. You know that song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot? (if you don't I suggest you go listen to it!) I felt like it was that song, in a book. It wasn't really, because it was nothing about the Edmund Fitzgerald, but it was about a shipwreck in the Great Lakes and the impact it had on this family's life.

I really enjoyed the characters. Noah and his dad seemed so real and alive. I would have liked a little more information about where Noah's skiing went later in life, I assume he dropped it, but why and when? I really hated Natalie when she first appeared in the book. I felt like she was self absorbed and selfish and bratty, but later on in the book I decided she wasn't so bad.

I thought the author's best quality was writing the setting. I would get so absorbed into the book, I'd look up and be completely suprised it was 90 degrees outside. It seemed like I should be snowed in a cabin too!

It also made my Top 10 of 2010.  It was a good book!  Why am I talking about all this NOW?  It's coming out in paperback!  In celebration of this Unbridled Books is letting me do another giveaway. 

I have ONE book to give away.  It's open to the US and Canada.  Please leave a comment on this post with a valid email address.  This giveaway will be open until August 7th.

Review and GIVEAWAY: The Paradise Prophecy

published by:  Dutton Publishing
publish date:  July 21, 2011

The Myth:  When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, The Crusades, World Wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East Crisis... The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God's angels have been fighting Satan's demons on Earth, all in hopes of bringing about Satan's greatest ambition, the Apocalypse.

The Reality:  Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.

Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side- and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pair up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind's darkest imagination.

If you're a fan of Dan Brown, James Rollins, or even Clive Cussler, I think you'd like this book.  It's a action/adventure/thriller with historical and religious elements.  Normally, I fly through books, but this one I couldn't.  I found that it was somewhat "heavy reading".  I had to go back and reread some sections to figure out what was going on.  That was a little frustrating for me, but it was worth it because it was a really excellent story.
I really liked all this historical references throughout the book.  I haven't read Paradise Lost by John Milton so I don't know if everything in the book was true or not, but if it was it was pretty interesting.  I had never heard of the Codex Gigas before, but I looked it up and it's fascinating.  I'm going to have to learn more about it. 

As a reader from south Louisiana I was pleased to see that Sebastian LaLaurie was from Louisiana.  I also couldn't help but notice his last name.  If you're familiar with New Orleans history, or haunted houses you might have heard of the LaLaurie Mansion.  If you aren't, Marie LaLaurie was a horrible woman and there's all kinds of stories about her mistreatment of slaves.  I wondered if that historical nugget played in to this book about Satan.

I have ONE book to give away. It's open to the US and Canada. Please leave a comment on this post with a valid email address. This giveaway will be open until August 7th.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Blogger: Chloe JonPaul

Today, we welcome Chloe JonPaul, author of This Business of Children.

Vera Harriss, Deidre Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are elementary school teachers in the fictional town of Blevins, Maine whose secret, private lives change dramatically as you read.

Vera, who is about to retire, vents her anger during a Board of Education meeting with a speech that brings the audience to its feet. Why does Deidre, an exceptional teacher, leave the job she loves to become a corporate trainer down South? Then there is Mark, the perennial job hunter looking for a corporate position with more prestige and pay but then turns down the perfect offer when it finally comes through. Stu, one of the most popular teachers in the school, struggles with a deep, dark secret that he can only share with Deidre.

Chloe writes:

Inspiration for This Novel
In 1991, I took a leave of absence from my teaching position after a very troubling year at the school where I was assigned. To safeguard my sanity (smile), I decided that it would be best to take some time and re-group so I went back to Maine. My dear friend Helene invited me to stay at her home.

Lewiston, Maine was the place where I had done the best and most creative teaching in my entire career.

It wasn’t too long after my arrival that I began musing about the possibility of writing a novel. Before I knew it, these four characters emerged almost out of the blue. They weren’t any of the teachers I had known – possibly a composite of people I had known in the many places I had taught over the years. I must admit, however, that there is a bit of me in both Deidre Fletcher and Vera Harriss.

I wanted the setting to be in Maine but I didn’t want to name any particular town or city so I named the town Blevins. The story is also a reflection in some way of my own union activism as a teacher.

The greatest inspiration for the novel, I feel, is having worked beside so many wonderful teachers who DO make a difference in the lives of the children they teach. I want to acquaint the world with the struggles they face professionally while having to deal with the demons in their own lives.

My teachers and my high school principal inspired me to be the best that I could possibly be and so the dedication in this book reads:

To the special teachers in my life who inspired me with their wisdom, spirituality, and elegance.

Margery Harriss
Marguerite Zouck
Eunice Shay
Mother Colombina, MPF
I actually trashed the novel after I had written it but my friend retrieved it saying,
“You are NOT throwing this away!” I stashed it away and really didn’t think about it much until last year when I began seeing so much in the news about the problems in education. What topped it for me was reading about the teacher who committed suicide in Bethlehem, PA after being accused of molesting a student. We also had the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I thought, “Wow! That’s all in my book!” So I pulled the manuscript out once more…and the rest is history.

Thank you for joining us, Chloe! --Kari

Author bio:

Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., is a retired educator and writer of several published articles and a previous book entitled "What Happens Next: A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits" and More...

Her many achievements since the age of 55 include:
Title of Ms. Maryland Senior America 2003

Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996
• Volunteer internship during the 2005 Maryland legislative session as a Legacy Leadership Institute graduate
• Lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project in prison and community workshops on conflict resolution for ten years
• State representative for the National Family Caregivers Association's caregiver community action network 2006-2008
• Advisory board member: MD, Healthcare Commission and the Interagency Commission for Aging Services: Maryland Dept. of Aging
• Hospice and homeless shelter volunteer
• Coordinator for the Good Samaritan Project at her church
• World traveler - all 7 continents

Friday, July 29, 2011


published by:  Simon Pulse
publish date:  August 30, 2011

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.  Em and Chase have been chosen.
In looking over the reviews of this book it seems like they're very mixed.  I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.  I was drawn in by the really awesome cover, how beautiful is that?  Between the title and the synopsis I figured it was about Furies and thought that was an interesting topic.  I haven't seen that one done in YA yet (outside of Percy Jackson).  Overall, I'd say I liked it.  Since this is YA, it is of course, the start of a (let's say it all together) Trilogy.  I'd probably keep up with this one.  I found it interesting enough that I'd want to find out what happens in the next book.

The characters were kinda TV teen drama, a little overly mean I guess, but I don't really hang out with too many of the popular teenagers to know how mean they really are.  It'd be a little bit creepy even if I did say it was for research purposes.  The little scene towards the end of the book when Em realizes who she's really in love with reminded me of the movie Clueless when Cher realizes that she's in love with Josh.

Bottom line?  I'd say go for it if you really like YA in general.  If you're looking for a heavy paranormal influence, you aren't going to find it here, it leans more teen drama.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blog Tour: Left Neglected

published by:  Gallery Books

Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

Sarah Nickerson isn't like any other working mom.  Sarah is an overachiever.  She works like 80 hours a week and has a nanny and has to multi-task from 5 am to 11 pm to make it through her day.  She has a high profile job that is front and center of her life.  It isn't until she gets into a car accident because of that multi-tasking that her life changes drastically.

As a mom, I had a hard time with Sarah.  Yes, I wanted to praise her as a woman, but as a mom I wanted to slap her up side the head.  After she got in the accident and she suffers from a brain injury and a condition known as Left Neglect she got her priorities straight.  I found the concept of Left Neglect to be fascinating.  There was one point when she was frustrated with her husband and she had him describe the whole room to him so he did and then she asked him to describe the other half and he's like there is no other half, I think it help him and the reader understand what it was like.

Overall I thought this was a good book.  At times I thought it got a little slow, but in the end it was worth it.

Throwback Thursday - Irresistible?

Author: Stephanie Bond
First Published in 1997 by Harlequin books

From Harlequin: This is a reissue by Harlequin Treasury which is a new imprint from Harlequin that launched in July 2011. It prints back-list titles that have been recently digitized.

Wanted: Single women of any age to take part in a four-week clinical study.

Ellie Sutherland wasn't exactly desperate… yet. But after fourteen months, five days and two hours of being without a man, she was getting pretty close. So when she had a chance to try out a pill that attracted the opposite sex, Ellie didn't waste any time signing up. After all, she had nowhere to go but up!

Almost immediately, men started falling at her feet. She even had sexy Mark Blackwell eating out of her hand. And before long, she'd fallen head over heels in love with him, too. Ellie's life was a perfect, at least for a while. But when the pills ran out, would Mark still find her irresistible?

I was excited when I read that Harlequin was releasing older romances in e-book format. I'm hoping this will make it easier to find some of the older books by my favorite authors that I haven't been able to get my hands on.

Irresistible? by Stephanie Bond is an interesting concept for a book. Ellie enters a clinical trial for pheromone tablets and suddenly men are noticing her all over the place. She falls for Mark, but doesn't know if it is the pills that are making him fall for her.

While I liked to idea, I'm not sure I liked the main characters. Ellie seemed a bit too flighty for me and Mark was kind of a jerk. I know they say opposites attract, but these 2 just didn't seem right for each other. I couldn't see much in their relationship except physical attraction. There are some amusing scenes in the book that make it worth reading. Ellie's roommate Manny is hilarious! I haven't read anything else by Stephanie Bond, but I look forward to trying another one by her.


Note: I read a complimentary copy of Irresistible? supplied courtesy of HQN Books. I was not compensated in any way 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.*

Blog Tour- Absolute Obsession

Author:C. Elizabeth
Wings ePress Inc. (May 2011)

Triggering an intervention of fate, 42 year old Rose Gerbaldi, discovers her heart and soul has been forever united with beautiful, 30 year old, British movie star, Michael Terrance. A discovery that compels her reality to firmly reclaim her – consequently devastating the very lives fate had so lovingly entwined.

Forsaken by a woman he’s never met, unable to control the debilitating agony, Michael seeks solace on the darker side of Hollywood. Meanwhile in Western Canada, having been doubly devastated, Rose relinquishes to a life of loneliness. Both are certain they’ll never again find that for which they long for – each other.

Foolish people – fate is infallible.

Rose is a 40 something married mother and grandmother who experiences episodes of depression. It is during one of these episodes that she becomes obsessed with a character in a book and then with the actor who portrays him in the movie. She writes the actor a letter and he calls her on the phone. Here begins a friendship that develops into an emotional affair. This is the part of the book that made me a bit uncomfortable. I was happy when Rose realizes that she has to break things off and chooses her husband instead.

The title, Absolute Obsession, is very appropriate for the book. Both Michael and Rose are obsessed with their feelings for each other. I felt Michael's reaction to losing Rose was, at first, a bit extreme. But when you realize how much she seemed to ground him, I think you can understand why he went off the deep end. I did like how Michael fell for Rose without ever knowing what she looked like. Once they ended up together, I wasn't sure I would like their relationship.
At times, I thought the relationship was a bit unhealthy. Michael was a bit immature and his sudden outbursts of rage and jealousy come out of nowhere. I also thought Rose was almost a mother figure to him. For instance, she was always thinking about scolding him for his phone manners. By the end of the book, both characters changed enough and I felt comfortable with their HEA.

Absolute Obsession is well written. The author takes the readers through a range of emotions. It deals with love, loss and second chances. It was an enjoyable book and I think most people will like it. I look forward to seeing what C. Elizabeth comes up with next.



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blog Tour - Blank Slate

Author: Heather Justesen
Publisher: Jelly Bean Press

Adrianna Mueller may be a world-renowned concert pianist, but when she wakes from her coma after a serious car accident, her ability to perform has disappeared as completely as her lost memory. As she recovers from her injuries, she struggles with the expectations of everyone—her family, friends, and fiancé, Brock—who all want everything to go back to the way it was.

Everyone except Gavin, Adrianna’s brother’s business partner, who finds himself drawn to the woman she is now. But he has his own problems. As he tries to get a handle on a former employee’s embezzlement, he fights his growing feelings for Adrianna.

And then a trip to the emergency room shakes everything up, leaving her to stumble as she tries to regain her footing all over again.

Sometimes a book just grabs you and doesn't let go. Blank Slate was one of those books. I couldn't put it down. Imagine what it would feel like if you woke up from an accident and everyone told you the you were one person, but you felt like someone else? The author does a great job of exploring that subject in this book. The romance was very sweet. I loved Gavin's character. He is the only one who really accepts Adrianna for who she is after the accident.

Blank Slate is beautifully and well written. Even though it wasn't hard to see where the story was headed, I still enjoyed getting there with everyone in the book. I don't want to give too much away, though. Let's just say I wasn't surprised halfway through.

I definitely recommend Blank Slate. In fact, Ms. Justesen has arranged for her book to be sold at a discount. From now until July 31, 2011, you can purchase Blank Slate on Smashwords for $1.49. Go here for details and enter code WV49Z to get the discount. Enjoy!


* Note: I read a complimentary copy of Blank Slate supplied courtesy of the author as part of her blog tour. I was not compensated in any way 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.*

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


by:  Marianna Baer
published by:  Balzer + Bray
publish date:  September 13, 2011

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar.  But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night?

This is the first offering from debut author Marianna Baer.  I got an ARC of this at the ALA convention in New Orleans.  I didn't really know too much about it other than it was a ghost story.   I liked the first 7/8 of the book...approximately.  I wasn't thrilled with the ending.

The story centered around Leena moving into Frost House for her senior year of high school at a private boarding school.   It's an old house that has ghost stories attached to it.  When she moves in she gets the unpleasant news that she's going to have to room with Celeste.  She tries to make the best of it and make friends with Celeste and it doesn't hurt that Celeste has an older brother that is really hot.  However, the house it seems has other things in mind for Celeste and Leena.

This book is more like a YA psychological thriller than a YA paranormal ghost story.  I think I went into it expecting more of a ghost story, and less of the psychological thriller part.  Other than that, it was well written and interesting.  There were some parts that I wish I could have had pictures of like the cockroaches in dresses.  I would have liked to have seen Celeste's artwork.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Among the Missing

Author: Morag Joss
Publisher: Delacorte Press June 2011 (audiobook by Blackstone Audio, Inc.)

A pregnant woman, believed killed in a bridge accident in the Scottish Highlands, seizes her chance to disappear from her uncaring husband. Determined to safeguard her baby's future and reinvent herself, she befriends illegal immigrant Silva, whose husband Stefan and daughter Anna, as she alone knows, have died in her place. As the bridge is rebuilt, the two women build a precarious existence in a makeshift home by the river. While Silva waits for Stefan and Anna's return and the pregnant woman awaits the birth of her child, they are helped by the boatman, Ron, whose devotion to them masks his guilt for a past disaster for which he must atone.

Each of them having crossed some bridge in retreat from the world, each seeking an ever-elusive peace of mind and struggling with displacement and grief, together the three exiles conjure an unstable mix of trust and distrust, compounded by love and jealousy, both parental and sexual. With the discovery of Stefan's and Anna's bodies in the river, the tension in their uneasy triangle mounts inexorably and unbearably. With the birth of the new baby only days, then hours away, it finally breaks.

I really had to sleep on this one before I reviewed it. Among the Missing is NOT a light book. It is dark and, at times, pretty depressing. From the first page, the author sets you on an emotional roller coaster that doesn't stop until the end. I had to immediately read a light fluffy romance after this to lighten my mood. I have a feeling that this book will stay with me for a long time. I find it really hard to review this book without giving away any of the plot. So, I'll do this instead:

What I liked: The concept of the story. I'm sure we have all wanted to disappear without a trace at times. Although, I'm just not sure how they could all live in the cabin for months and not be discovered. I did like how the author told the story through the 3 characters. We hear from "Annabel" through her point of view. Silva tells us her story through letters to her husband, and Ron's is told in third person. The flow of the book was smooth and is beautifully written.

What I didn't like: I ended up not really liking any of the characters. "Annabel" was just too naive for a 43 year old woman. Her choices from the beginning just made me shake my head. I just couldn't muster any sympathy for her. Really, if you see someone burning your shoes, shouldn't that be a clue that something is wrong? While I sympathized with her on the loss of her family, I felt Silva was just plain crazy and cruel. I think Ron was the only one that had any common sense. I HATED the ending. Then, I have never been a fan for endings that are left open to interpretation. After putting the reader through all that the author did, I felt we deserved something more than what we were given.

If you are looking for some light easy reading, you probably won't want to read this book. In the end, I'm still not sure I liked it. I'll just go with liking aspects of it and leave it at that. You will have to judge for yourself.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Sweet Jiminy

Author: Kristin Gore
Publisher: Hyperion (April 2011)

In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Jiminy Davis abruptly quits law school and flees Chicago for her grandmother Willa's farm in rural Mississippi. In search of peace and quiet, Jiminy instead stumbles upon more trouble and turmoil than she could have imagined.

She is shocked to discover that there was once another Jiminy the daughter of her grandmother's longtime housekeeper, Lyn who was murdered along with Lyn's husband four decades earlier in a civil rights era hate crime. With the help of Lyn's nephew, Bo, Jiminy sets out to solve the cold case, to the dismay of those who would prefer to let sleeping dogs lie.

I think what really drew me into this tale were the characters themselves. Jiminy Davis is 25 and not really sure she likes the direction that her life has taken. She goes home to Mississippi to try to figure out what to do next. There she uncovers a mystery that has been hidden by the town for years. In her determination to find out what really happened, she finds that she is stronger and more courageous than she ever thought she could be. Jiminy is a realistic and relatable character. She has irrational fears like most of us do. For instance, she is afraid of cows. That had me laughing. I loved her relationship with Bo and was rooting for them. I was saddened by lingering racial tensions of the town that were preventing them from being together. As the story progresses, it was nice to see how Jiminy's quiet acceptance of those around her helps change some attitudes in the town.

Racial issues dominate this book and are at the core of the mystery surrounding the deaths of "Sweet Jiminy" and her father. There were times I felt ill by the comments of some of the towns people. There was one scene that struck me as ironic. Two white women are discussing the relationship between Bo and Jiminy with disgust because he is black. Yet, they are slathering on tanning oil to make their skin darker. I had to shake my head at that.

While the mystery wasn't too hard to figure out, I still enjoyed it. It was the heart-wrenching journey to the truth that made the book for me. Ms. Gore has produced a beautifully written story that I know readers will enjoy. The ending was just and satisfying. I know this will be one of my recommended books of 2011.


*note: I read an complimentary copy of Sweet Jiminy supplied courtesy of Hyperion. 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, July 21, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Love Beyond Reason

Author: Sandra Brown (writing as Rachel Ryan)
First published in 1981 by Dell

The very sight of him made her weak with desire --- this "brother-in-law" she barely knew. What cruel fate drove her into his arms and tempted her to yield to his outrageous demands?

Jason Manning's arrogance knew no bounds. First he expected her to give him their orphaned niece, the child she had vowed to raise alone. Now he demanded that she marry him ... or lose the child in court! How could she trust another Manning? Yet how could she resist him? Katherine hated him with a burning passion ... yet her treacherous heart kept whispering "Yes!"

First, I have to admit that the original cover for this book makes me giggle. What were they thinking? The covers have improved over the years, but this one does reflect the times, doesn't' it?

Anyway, the story is pretty good, yet typical of the time. I liked Jason and Katherine's relationship. But the whole," let's get married so we can avoid losing the child to my parents" was a bit unbeleivable. It's worth a peek if you want to read Ms. Brown's early works. Her writing has much improved since.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Virtual Book Tour - Flesh and Bones

Author: Paul Levine
Publisher: Avon Books (1997)

"I was sitting at the end of the bar sipping single-malt Scotch - eighteen-year-old Glenmorangie at nine bucks a shot - when I spotted the tall blond woman with the large green eyes and the small gray gun." The next thing linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter knows, the woman pumps three bullets into the man on the next barstool, then collapses into Jake's arms. The woman is the stunning model Chrissy Bernhardt, and the dead man is her millionaire father. Lassiter agrees to defend Chrissy and is soon enmeshed in a world of lies, deceit, and psychological riddles. Under hypnosis, Chrissy claims to remember being sexually abused by her father, but Lassiter suspects that the "recovered memories" were either implanted by a shady psychiatrist or fabricated by Chrissy herself. Lassiter digs deeper and finds a troubling connection between the psychiatrist and the greedy developer Guy Bernhardt, who steals other landowners' water and stands to gain if Chrissy, his half sister, is convicted of murder.

Flesh and Bones is the seventh book in the series featuring Jake Lassiter, a former line backer turned lawyer. It was first published in 1997. Paul Levine is touring to promote this book and has announced that
Lassiter,” the first new book in the series since 1997, will be released as a Bantam hardcover on September 13, 2011.

I will admit that legal thrillers aren't usually my thing. I had a little trouble getting into this book. But, I am glad I stuck with it. The author does a good job of grabbing your attention and never lets go. I was kept guessing and never really knew who to trust. I wanted to see how Jake would get Chrissy off when everyone saw her shoot her father. I liked Lassiter's character. He was a really likable and funny guy; someone I would want to be friends with. He is not your typical lawyer. He is the type of guy that will do anything to get to the truth. As I said, this is number seven in the Lassiter series. I haven't read any of the previous books, but I never felt like I didn't know what was going on. I think anyone who likes mysteries will enjoy this book.


*note: I read an complimentary copy of Flesh and Bones supplied courtesy of the author as part of his virtual blog tour. 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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blood Wounds

published by:  Harcourt Children's
publish date:  September 12, 2011

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.

Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.

This was a rather short book, but it packed a really powerful punch.  I read the entire book in one sitting.  I was so absorbed in the story I couldn't put it down.  It dealt with the issue of blended families which is one that you don't really see very much of in YA, usually the parents are mostly or completely absent in YA books, but in this one it seemed like there was an overabundance of them.

The second paragraph of the provided synopsis is a little misleading I think.  I don't think Willa's mother was really harboring secrets.  That kind of sounds sinister.  I think she was just trying to leave her past behind her and not think about Willa's father anymore.  Also, Willa is keeping her own secret, but I don't think it has the potential to tear her family apart. 

That said, this book was one of the most unique contemporary YA books I've read in quite awhile.  I have part of the Life As We Knew It series at home.  I need to get on the ball and read it because if it's as good as this was, it'll be a treat!

Monday, July 18, 2011


published by:  Gallery Books
publish date:  July 5, 2011

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancé discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death.

Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn’t resist—who is now the monster who won’t let her go.

This is the debut book by Jennifer Hillier and I was impressed.  Once I started, I couldn't stop.  I read through the entire thing cover to cover in one evening.  The title certainly fit the bill.  Ethan was a creep, the tone of the book was creepy, even Sheila herself was a little bit creepy at times.

From the very beginning I was very sympathetic towards Sheila.  I'm sure some readers might not like her, but I did.  Ethan was the perfect sociopath.  He manipulated Sheila so smoothly, but she was able to hold her own against him when she had to. 

This book has a lot of twist and turns and big surprises.  It was a great read.  I'd definitely recommend it!

Winners of the Blogfest Giveaways!!

Blogfest was extremely successful this year.   We were blown away at the number of entries we had!  We would like to welcome all the new followers.  We are so glad to have you here and hope you like what you see.  Now on to the winners!!  Unfortunately we only have 6 prizes and only 6 winners which were picked using

The winner of Prize Pack #1:  Autumn's Beach Reads is:

Sheila H.

Winner of Prize Pack #2:  YA #1 is:

Ash M.

Winner of Prize Pack #3:  YA #2 is:

Traci I.

Winner of Prize Pack #4:  Adult Biographies:

Heather H.

Winner of Prize Pack #5:  Adult Fiction

Cassandra A.

Winner of Prize Pack #6:  Kari's Throwback Thursday Features

Jessica B.

Congratulations everyone!  I have your addresses so prizes will be sent out soon.  And if you aren't a winner this time, don't worry.  We already have more books to give away!!  Stay tuned....

Rock Bottom

by:  Erin Brockovich and CJ Lyons
published by:  Vanguard Press
publish date:  March 1, 2011

Ten years ago, a pregnant seventeen-year-old, Angela Joy Palladino, fled her hometown, Scotia, West Virginia, as a pariah. Over time, AJ succeeded in establishing herself as an environmental activist, dubbed “The People’s Champion,” only to be forced to retreat from the spotlight in the wake of a crushing media disaster.

When AJ is offered a job with a lawyer who is crusading against mountaintop removal mining, she is torn. As a single mother of a special needs nine-year-old boy, AJ can use any work she can get. But doing so will mean returning to the West Virginia hometown she left in disgrace so long ago.

Upon arriving in Scotia, AJ learns of the sudden death of the lawyer who hired her. Soon after joining forces with his daughter, Elizabeth, threats begin to surface, bodies begin to pile up, and AJ discovers that her own secrets aren’t the only ones her mountain hometown has kept buried. Hitting rock bottom, AJ must face the betrayal of those once closest to her and confront the harrowing past she thought she had left behind.

No, you didn't read that wrong.  It is THE Erin Brockovich, the one that Julia Roberts played in the movie.  She teamed up with author CJ Lyons to write Rock Bottom.  According to Goodreads, this is the beginning of a series.  I'm assuming the rest of the series will feature AJ and Elizabeth teaming up to protect the environment and concerns of consumers.  In fact, you won't have to wait long for the second book to come out.  Hot Water is schedule for release this October.

I happened to really like this story, much more so than I had anticipated I would.  I downloaded the audiobook from the library strictly because I saw it was co-written by Erin Brockovich and it was a novel, so I was curious.  First off I will say, if you don't like tree-hugging, leftist, environmental and political activism, this book is not for you, fair warning.  Beyond that, it was a well written, exciting, thrilling suspense novel. 

AJ was a very interesting character.  She had a lot of flaws, which added a lot of dynamics to the story that were a little frustrating at times, but completely realistic.  Her son, David, was a really cool kid.  I liked him a lot.  Elizabeth wasn't particularly my favorite, but maybe she'll grow on me in future books.

Overall, I'd recommend this one.  I'd definitely recommend the audiobook.  The narrator, Coleen Marlo, was excellent.   I'll definitely be keeping up with this series!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogfest 2011 July 15-17


It's that time of year again! We've been saving up our goodies so we could have some fantastic prize packs to give away. We're so excited about what we have to give away and I hope you are too!

You can find the full list of blogs participating here

Make sure to check out these awesome blogs:
Girls Just Reading
Good Choice Reading
Hannah Downing
Happy Mom of 5
Harris Channing, Author of Erotic and Mainstream Romance

Now on to our giveaway!!!

The first set is: Autumn's Beach Reads

I took these on vacation with me so they're a little beat up. They got a little wet here and there and they might smell like suntan lotion, but otherwise they're good enough to read.  It includes:  The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Predicteds by Christine Siefert, Without Tess by Marcella Pixley, The End of Everything by Megan Abbott, Frost by Marianna Baer, and Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

The second set is: YA Pack #1

These are ARCs of books that I got at ALA. These are some hot books!  Boy 21 by Matthew Quick, Emory's Gift by W. Bruce Cameron, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Possess by Gretchen McNeil, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

The third set is: YA Pack #2

More ARCs I got at ALA. I know y'all want these!  Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore, As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

The fourth set is: Adult Biographies
I got these at ALA also. They are both autographed by the authors. They were there and they signed them for me so that I could give them away to y'all!

The fifth set is: Adult Fiction

Kari and I just recently reviewed both of these books.

The Orphan Sister by Gwendolen Gross
Chasing Amanda by Melissa Foster (format of winner's choice paper back or ebook)

The sixth set is: Throwback Thursday Pack

Every Thursday Kari does a Throwback Thursday post. These are recent features.

After the Night by Linda Howard
The Golden Valkyrie by Iris Johansen

We're going to do the FORM thing this time. So please fill out this FORM. No comments will be counted as entries. You can gain extra entries by spreading the word, twitter, facebook, blogpost etc. (you will have to provide links).  International entries ARE allowed!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Whirlwind ( Welcome to Tyler #1)

Author: Nancy Martin
First Published in 1992 by Harlequin

A town filled with memorable friends and unforgettable lovers. Share the passions, the hopes and dreams of America s favorite small town.

Each book set in Tyler is a self-contained story; together, they stitch the fabric of a community.

When lively, brash Liza Baron arrives home unexpectedly, she moves into the old family lodge—where silent, mysterious Cliff Forrester has been living in seclusion for years .

When a body is uncovered on the lodge grounds, the community begins to piece together the truth about Tyler's first family, and a secret hidden for 40 years threatens to tear the town apart .

This is the first in a series put out by Harlequin in the 90s about the small town of Tyler, WI. I believe there are a total of 12 books in the series, each written by a different author. I have read most of them. If you get a chance to seek them out, I think you will enjoy reading them as well. The ongoing mystery of who the unearthed bones belong to and what happened to her will keep you guessing as the series progresses

Whirlwind helps set the stage and give you a sense of the small town of Tyler. We meet Liza, who is returning home to get her life back on track. She meets Cliff, who has been the caretaker of the lodge for year. Because of a tragic past, he has lived as a hermit for years. I liked the couple and loved seeing how their relationship blossoms. Liza really helps Cliff come out of his shell and work through things.

Whirlwind is a quick, light read. Something to bring to the beach this summer!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heart of Evil

Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira books ( June 2011)

Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery’s most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War. Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare – often inexplicable – intuition. Among them is Jake Mallory, a gifted New Orleans musician with talent that stretches beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own. The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried – even in death….

Heart of Evil is the second in the "Krewe of Hunters Series" by Heather Graham. This time around, team member Jake gets involved in helping an old flame figure out who is trying to ruin her and her family. The team heads Ashley Donegal's plantation outside of New Orleans to find out who has committed murder and see if there are really ghosts.

I was a bit disappointed in this one. I thought that there was something missing. The team chemistry that I really enjoyed in the first one wasn't really there. In fact, we barely see a few of the team members. While I liked the mystery and was kept guessing until the reveal, I thought the romance was a bit flat. I felt like Ashley and Jake fell back together too quickly without really discussing what happened between them. There also wasn't enough supernatural suspense for me. I thought the scenes between Ashley and her ghostly relative were a bit hokey.

I liked it enough to recommend it and to continue on with the series. I just hope the next one is as good as the first.


*note: I read an complimentary copy of Heart of Evil supplied courtesy of Mira Books. 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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seven Year Switch

Author: Claire Cook
Publisher: Hyperion (June 2010)

Struggling and sassy single mom Jill—left to raise three-year-old Anastasia when husband Seth runs away to join the Peace Corp—is just about over the devastating loss when Seth reappears seven years later ready to pick up where they left off. Jill wrestles with her still-raw anger and her precocious daughter's heart-breaking need for her daddy back in her life. Honey, if you don't forgive him, it'll eat you alive, counsels Jill's boss and best friend, Joni. For his part, It wasn't the life we planned, Seth explains. But Anastasia helps him remember it's the life he needs while Jill discovers letting go teaches you how to hold onto new possibilities.

Seven Year Switch was just issued in paperback this year, so when I saw the audio available on my library's website, I decided to give it a shot. This was a quick "read". I only gave it 2.5 stars on Goodreads and I think that was being generous. I'm not sure I totally liked the choices Jill makes. I think she took her ex-husband back into her life a little too easily. I was amazed it never occurred to her to ask what he was doing for a living currently and had been doing for the past 7 years. But then, I guess that would have ruined the "twist".

The only character I really liked was Billy. I didn't really care enough about the rest of them. I thought the neighbor was annoying. I didn't see enough of the relationship between the 2 women to understand why they would be friends. For me, Jill's "ah-ha" moment came a little too easily for someone whose life was supposed to be so messy.

I also got tired of the cultural history lessons that the author kept throwing into the book. For example, I really didn't need that much detail about plantains. It started to feel like filler to make the book longer. I know others seemed to have loved this book, but I couldn't give it more than 2.5 stars.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The End of Everything

by:  Megan Abbott
published by:  Regan Arthur Books
publish date:  July 7th, 2011

Thirteen-year old Lizzie Hood and her next door neighbor Evie Verver are inseparable. They are best friends who swap bathing suits and field-hockey sticks, and share everything that's happened to them. Together they live in the shadow of Evie's glamorous older sister Dusty, who provides a window on the exotic, intoxicating possibilities of their own teenage horizons. To Lizzie, the Verver household, presided over by Evie's big-hearted father, is the world's most perfect place.

And then, one afternoon, Evie disappears. The only clue: a maroon sedan Lizzie spotted driving past the two girls earlier in the day. As a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the Midwestern suburban community, everyone looks to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?

Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth, prowling nights through backyards, peering through windows, pushing herself to the dark center of Evie's world. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power at the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secrets and lies that make her wonder if she knew her best friend at all.

I started this book on the assumption that it was a YA book.  I don't know why other than the fact that the characters were 13 years old.   This is NOT a YA book.  This is an adult fiction/literature book.  The fact that it was written in a completely different cadence than a typical YA book should have clued me in initially.  That took a little getting used to, don't read bad into that, it was really quite lovely.  Once I really got into it and the story started evolving and people were speculating about what happened to Evie, my eyebrows started going up and I was thinking this can't be a YA book.  Then at the end of the book, my eyes were goggling out of my head and my jaw was on the floor and I knew for sure it wasn't a YA book.  I was reading this at the beach sans computer to check these things out for sure.

I will say I found this book to be eye opening and shocking to say the least.  Maybe not so much in the beginning, but you start to get an inkling of what's to come once Evie starts taking matters in her own hands.   There were a few moments that I found to be somewhat disturbing, but I think they were foreshadowing and setting up some of the actions of the other characters, particularly Dusty, the older sister.

This is one of those books that I'm sure will haunt me for quite some time.  I know that I haven't stopped thinking about it since I finished it.  As a mother, I'm always worried about my girls, but I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about other people looking at them.  After reading this, I'm wondering if I should and would it matter?

If you have a mature reading group, I think this book could lead lead to some excellent discussions.  I think there were a lot of characters in this book that would warrant a deeper look, like the mothers for example.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Go the F**k to Sleep

Author: Adam Mansbach
Illustrator: Ricardo Cortes
Publisher: OPen Road Media (Akashic Books) (June 2011)

Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, it captures the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. Beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny, Go the F**k to Sleep is a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children.

When I read the description of this book on Netgalley, I knew I had to read it. Anyone who has children, has probably said these words to themselves at one point. As the mother of 2 children who resist sleep at every opportunity, I could relate to every page in this book! The book looks like a sweet little bedtime story, with beautiful illustrations. But what you get is a hilarious tale about a parent who wants their kid to sleep. This would make a great gift for a new parent with a sense of humor.

Recently, the book's release was celebrated at the New York Public Library. You can get a peek inside the event via Open Road Media's blog post here, which includes photographs of author Adam Mansbach, illustrator Ricardo Cortés, print publisher Johnny Temple, Paul Holdengråber from the NYPL, Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock, and links to more coverage around the web.

I definitely recommend this one if you want a laugh! But please, don't read it to your kids. This one is for the parents.


* note: I read a complimentary copy of Go the F**k to Sleep supplied courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley. 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, July 7, 2011

Blog Tour: The Orphan Sister

by:  Gwendolen Gross
published by:  Gallery Books
publish date:  July 5, 2011

Clementine Lord is not an orphan. She just feels like one sometimes. One of triplets, a quirk of nature left her the odd one out. Odette and Olivia are identical; Clementine is a singleton. Biologically speaking, she came from her own egg. Practically speaking, she never quite left it. Then Clementine’s father—a pediatric neurologist who is an expert on children’s brains, but clueless when it comes to his own daughters—disappears, and his choices, both past and present, force the family dynamics to change at last. As the three sisters struggle to make sense of it, their mother must emerge from the greenhouse and leave the flowers that have long been the focus of her warmth and nurturing.

For Clementine, the next step means retracing the winding route that led her to this very moment: to understand her father’s betrayal, the tragedy of her first lost love, her family’s divisions, and her best friend Eli’s sudden romantic interest. Most of all, she may finally have found the voice with which to share the inside story of being the odd sister out. . . .

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  The beginning was kind of slow and I was starting to wonder if I was going to make it through the book or not.  By time I got to the middle, the story was picking up and I was getting into the characters.  When the end came around, I was boohooing and I was really sad that the book was finished.

I have twin daughters and I was really fascinated by triplet aspect of this book.  Mine are only 7, so I don't think they really understood the questions I kept pestering them with while I was reading this book.  The "Party Trick" sounded fun, and hearing each other talk inside their heads was really beautiful.  It added an interesting dynamic to the story.  My only little criticism here would be that Odette and Olivia's names were so similar that I had trouble keeping them separate in my head.

Overall, a good solid contemporary fiction, chick-lit, type story.  I'd definitely recommend it.  It had reading group questions in the back, so it would be a good choice for your next pick for your book club.