Thursday, May 31, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Faceless Killers by Henning Menkell

Author: Henning Mankell
First Published in 1991 in Sweden, in English in 1997

It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is foreign, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecutor who has peaked his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.

I have read a few of the Swedish authors in the past, but Faceless Killers is the first I have read by this author.    Faceless Killers was on OK read for me. Set in the early 90s, the book is a bit dated when it comes to technology.  It's not really exciting and there is no real action.  I also think that the solution to the mystery was a bit of a let down.  I was glad I listened to this one as the names and places would have bogged me down with pronunciation. 

What intrigued me more about the book was the main character.  Kurt Wallander is divorcing, has no relationship with his daughter and is coping with caring for his elderly father.  He drinks a little too much, doesn't eat right and never exercises.  But, he is a pretty good cop and doesn't give up on his case.  I liked that this took place over a few months.  That made it more realistic to me.  While it wasn't great, I am intrigued enough to seek out the next in the series to try it out.  Hopefully the next mystery is better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blog Tour: Blue Eyes by Jerome Charyn

Author: Jerome Charyn
Publisher: Road
Date of Publication: Re-issue (April 10, 2012)

A cop and his disgraced mentor attempt to bust a white slavery ring.

Before Isaac Sidel adopts him, Manfred Coen is a mutt. A kid from the Bronx, he joins the police academy after his father’s suicide leaves him directionless, and is trudging along like any other cadet when first deputy Sidel, the commissioner’s right hand man, comes looking for a young cop with blue eyes to infiltrate a ring of Polish smugglers. He chooses Coen, and asks the cadet to join his department after he finishes the academy. Working under Sidel means fast promotions, plush assignments, and, when a corruption scandal topples his mentor, the resentment of every rank-and-file detective on the force.

Now just an ordinary cop, Coen hears word that his old mentor has a line on a human trafficking operation. When Sidel’s attempt at infiltration fails, he sends in Coen. For Coen, it’s a shot to prove himself and redeem his mentor, but it could cost the blue-eyed cop his life.

I'm going to be honest from the start, I didn't finish this book.  I am pretty open minded when it comes to books. Since I have been blogging reviews, I have expanded my reading horizons significantly.   The synopsis for Blue Eyes looked very interesting, so I thought I would give it a shot.  About 3 chapters in, I was so confused that I was struggling to keep up my interest in the book. I found myself searching the internet to read more about the synopsis to figure out what was going on. This is never a good sign for me.   Blue Eyes was written in the early 70s and is the first in a series by Mr. Charyn.  I will say that it is very well written and the slang seems very authentic for 1970s New York City.  Unfortunately, I am not a fan of books filled with slang, especially when it seems the book is teeming with it.

Now, having said all that, I think you SHOULD give Blue Eyes a chance.  Especially if you are a fan of gritty street crime novels.  It has gotten rave reviews from most readers. It just wasn't for me.  I think I would have enjoyed it more had I been able to follow it better.  The series is being re-issued as ebooks. That is the great thing about ebooks, we all get a chance to read and try out older novels that have been out of print for a while.  Give this one a shot!

About the Author:

Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.

In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong."

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Issac Sidel's Twitter:!/IsaacSidel

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Blue Eyes blog tour site:
Price: $9.99
Release: April 10, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick

Author: Amanda Quick
Publisher: Putnam
Date of Publication: April 2012

Evangeline Ames has rented a country cottage far from the London streets where she was recently attacked. Fascinated by the paranormal energy of nearby Crystal Gardens, she finds pleasure in sneaking past the wall to explore the grounds. And when her life is threatened again, she instinctively goes to the gardens for safety.

Lucas Sebastian has never been one to ignore a lady in danger, even if she is trespassing on his property. Quickly disposing of her would-be assassin, he insists they keep the matter private. There are rumours enough already, about treasure buried under his garden, and occult botanical experiments performed by his uncle – who died of mysterious causes.

With Evangeline's skill for detection, and Lucas's sense of the criminal mind, they soon discover that they have a common enemy. And as the energy emanating from Crystal Gardens intensifies, they realize that to survive they must unearth what has been buried for too long...

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Crystal Gardens.  It is the first in a new series by Amanda Quick (AKA Jayne Ann Krentz).  If you have been following this blog, you know that I haven't been thrilled with the latest Arcane books that have been coming out.  They were enjoyable, but not her best work.  Crystal Gardens looks like it is the start of a great new direction.  

While the Arcane society isn't part of the book, the paranormal aspect is still present.  Evangeline works for the Marsh and Flint  agency which employs women with a certain amount of talent.  They use their talents to fix problems in families.  They often pose as a lady's companion.  In addition to Evangeline, we also meet her 2 best friends who also work for the agency.  I assume the other books in the trilogy will involve these two women and their adventures.  

Evangeline and Lucas both possess certain levels of paranormal talent.  I loved Lucas and his instant attraction for Evangeline was very sweet.  It just took her a bit longer to figure it out.  I liked their banter and they worked well together. The other characters, mainly Lucas's family,  were  really interesting and entertaining.  I hope we get to see see more of them in the other books.  I liked the mystery in this one and I didn't call the end.  Yay! If you were debating on trying this one, I say give it a shot.  I'm glad I did.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2 in 1: The Pajama Diaries & Seriously, Just Go to Sleep

I have 2 family friendly books for you today.  One is perfect for the moms out there and the other is perfect for the kiddos.
The Pajama Diaries 
Author: Terri Libenson
Publisher: TJ Studios Ltd
Date of Publication: June 2011

The nationally syndicated comic strip, Pajama Diaries, details the personal life of Jill Kaplan, a contemporary working mom trying to juggle it all-work life, family life, and sex life (or lack thereof)-without going completely bonkers. The characters age in real time so readers can enjoy and relate to each new challenge that awaits Jill and her family. The Pajama Diaries: Déjà To-Do! is the author's first book collection to mark the strip's fifth year of syndication. It contains all-time favorite full-color daily and Sunday strips. Multitasking families everywhere will certainly see themselves in this funny, contemporary cartoon.

I had a hard time reading The Pajama Diaries without bursting out with major giggles.  For anyone who is a mom, working or stay at home, you will appreciate this book!  While I enjoyed the entire book, I would have to say two of my favorites are "Contents of a Child's Lunch box: Morning vs Afternoon" and  the one with the checklist for figuring out if a child is sick enough to stay home from school.  I have that same checklist that I use often!

I can't imagine that any mom would be able to read these strips without finding something they can relate to as well. Several of the strips resemble my life so much it is scary.  There are even some strips that the dads out there will be able to nod their heads at while they are reading. I haven't seen the author's comic strip in the paper, but I will be looking for it in the future. This would make a great birthday gift or even a just thinking of you gift for that special hardworking mom.  If you are in need of a good laugh pick this one up!

Seriously, Just Go to Sleep
Author: Adam Mansbach & Ricardo Cortes
Publisher: Akashic Books
Date of Publication: April 2012

Critical success for the original Go the F*** to Sleep, a #1 best seller at: New York Times,, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and many more!Seriously, Just Go to Sleep is the G-rated, traditional-sized, children's version of the book every parent has been talking about. Go the F*** to Sleep, the picture book for adults, became a cultural sensation by striking a universal chord for parents. Now, Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes do a companion volume that lets kids in on the fun."

Last summer, I reviewed the adult version of the book, Go the Fuck to Sleep. While I thoroughly enjoyed that one, I was curious to see what the kid version would look like.   I can safely say that Seriously, Just Go to Sleep is very kid friendly and one I think all kids will enjoy.  The illustrations are done really well and really help enhance the story.  I read this to my son, who has a lot of trouble staying in bed at times and he got a kick out of the book.  If you are looking for a good bedtime story, pick this one up and read it to the kids.  I think you will both enjoy it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2 in 1 Novellas: Heat Rises by A. Gaines and Aegean Intrigue by P. Kiyono

I have 2 novellas for you today..enjoy!

Heat Rises
Author: Alice Gaines
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Date of Publication: June 12, 2012

Snowbound in a cabin . . . able to live out all her fantasies . . . 
Laura Barber has dreamt of doing unspeakably delicious things with Ethan Gould for years. Now, stuck in a mountain cabin, she just might get her shot. Ethan offers her the chance to live out each and every one of those desires. They may be rivals in the business world, but in the bedroom they're a perfect match. Knowing they have only a few days, Laura shakes off all her inhibitions. Every secret need, every lust-filled thought . . . it's all fair game. 

I enjoy reading novellas because they are a nice break from long and involved books.  I usually will read a couple in between novels just to give myself a little break and a quick HEA.  As I have often mentioned, the downfall is that I am often left wanting more.  I was pleasantly pleased that I was not left wanting in this case.  Heat Rises is a great short story.  The perfect thing to read on a rainy afternoon. It is well written and very steamy.   The characters were well fleshed out for a short story.  I felt like I got to know them fairly well. The author did a good job of catching the reader up on both Lura and Ethan's background.  Given that they had a past history, I definitely thought their affair was believable.  If you are looking for a quick read, you should try his one!

Aegean Intrigue
Author: Patricia Kiyono
Publisher: Astracea Press
Date of Publication: February 2012

Someone has been stealing priceless Greek artifacts and it's Alex Leonidis' job to uncover the thief. His prime suspect is beautiful archaeological graduate student, Francie Vasileiou. His plan is to join in an archaeological dig and catch her in the act. All he has to do is keep his mind on his job, and not on the way his lovely suspect warms his heart. He's learned the hard way not to trust fragile-looking women who seem to need his help.

Francie wants to get her PhD and become an archaeologist, like her famous father. The sudden invitation to participate in a dig on the beautiful Greek island of Paros is a wonderful opportunity. She has no time for distractions like Alex, the handsome Project Director. Experience has taught her to stay clear of handsome, charismatic Greek men.

On the shores of the Aegean Sea, Alex and Francie work together, searching for treasures from Greece's past. While pursuing their goals, they discover some of the truths they had believed to be carved in stone may have been flawed

Aegean Intrigue is a case where I wish the book was longer. The synopsis made the book sound intriguing and I was looking forward to a good romantic suspense.  I think this would have worked well as a longer novel.  While I did enjoy the setting and the mystery, I wanted more about the characters.  I didn't really believe the HEA for Francie and Alex.  They didn't have a lot of  scenes with one another and only shared one kiss that was described almost as an after thought.  Because of this, I felt like their pledge of love in the end came out of nowhere for me.  I was hoping for more.  I did like it enough to look for other works by the author.  Give it a shot and see what you think.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Iron House by John Hart

by:  John Hart
published by:  St. Martin's Press
publish date:  July 12, 2011

There was nothing but time at the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, time for two orphans to learn that life is neither painless nor won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is both feared and fiercely protective. When an older boy is brutally killed, Michael makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect his brother: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him.

For two decades, Michael thrives on the streets of New York, eventually clawing his way to a world of wealth, fear and respect. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets a woman who knows nothing of his past or sins. He wants a fresh start with Elena, the chance to build a family of his own. But a life in organized crime is not so easily abandoned. With a price on his head and everyone he loves at risk, Michael spirits Elena back to North Carolina, to the brother he’d lost and a thicket of intrigue more dense than he could possibly imagine. In a tour de force narrative of violence, hope and redemption, the brothers must return to the Iron House of their childhood, to the place that almost broke them, the place it all began.

I've had this book forever.  FOREVER!  I finally just got around to it and I could kick myself.  What was I waiting for?  It was awesome!

Michael is a cold blooded killer, yet we can't but cheer him on throughout the book.  He risks everything he's ever had for the woman he loves and the brother he barely knows.  Personally, I kept expecting Elena to turn on him.  I really really expected her to be some secret agent or assassin or something, I don't know.   She seemed suspicious to me.

The whole history of Iron House and Michael and Julian was very well written.  Abigial, Julian's adoptive mother, was a great character.  Her storyline in the end was so heart breaking.  Throughout the whole book I kept questioning why she wanted to adopt Michael and Julian specifically, but that question isn't until the very end and it's a little surprising.

This book sold me on the writing of John Hart.  I will definitely check out his older book and be anticipating anything new coming out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bedlam Detective

by:  Stephen Gallagher
published by:  Crown Publishing Group
publish date:  February 7, 2012
From a basement office in London’s notorious Bethlehem Hospital, Sebastian Becker investigates wealthy eccentrics whose dubious mental health may render them unable to manage their own affairs.  His interview with rich landowner Sir Owain Lancaster, whose sanity has been in question since a disastrous scientific adventure in the Amazon killed his family and colleagues, coincides with the disappearance of two young local girls. When the children are found slain, Lancaster claims that the same dark forces that devastated his family have followed him home. It is not the first time that children have come to harm in his rural countryside town, though few are willing to speak of incidents from the past. Becker must determine whether this mad nobleman is insane and a murderer, or if some even more sinister agency is at work.

This book was just kinda "eh" for me.  I've been trying to work my way through three historical murder mysteries at the same time, The Bedlam Detective, The Gods of Gotham and The Yard.  Of the three, I much preferred The Gods of Gotham.
I think The Bedlam Detective would probably appeal more to people who like cozy mysteries rather than the really good hardcore mysteries.  A lot of the circumstances in the book felt silly and Sir Owain was just a little too bizarre.  The only time the book got really interesting was when Sebastian's wife was taken hostage at the hospital she works at.  That situation ended rather abruptly when I felt like it should have been fleshed out a bit, even though it was somewhat irrelevant to the rest of the story.

Overall, I wouldn't say it was a bad book, it just wasn't for me.  I do like the cover a lot though!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop.  You are at stop #41.  For a list of participating blogs, click the hop logo above.

For this hop, we have 4 giveaways. Just fill out the form below and let us know which prize you would like to win. :)
Thanks for visiting!
Prize #1 - ARC PB of Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

Prize #2 - HC of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Prize #3 - PB of At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Prize #4 - HC of Stunning (Pretty Little Liars #11) by Sara Shepard

Good Luck!!

Throwback Thursday: Artemis Fowl Series # 2,3 & 4 by Eoin Colfer


Eoin Colfer's final Artemis Fowl book, The Last Guardian, is coming out this summer.  Since Autumn and I reviewed the first one(with very differing opinions) in March, I thought I would read and review the other ones to catch up to be ready for #8.
I wasn't too happy with the second book, The Arctic Incident (pub. 2002 by Hyperion) .  I didn't think it was as good as the first one. In the end it ended up being just OK for me.  I couldn't quite put my finger on why I didn't really like it as much.  It seemed to have less humor and was much more serous.  I also felt like I as getting a science lecture on radiation.  Too much technical stuff bogged down the story for me and I though that as a kid, I would have gotten bored with it pretty quickly.

The one thing that I did like was the Artemis seems to have grown a little more as a person.  He truly does care about his family and wants to rescue his father.  Holly and him have also started a tentative friendship of a sort.  

I liked The Eternity Code (Pub 2003 by Hyperion) a lot more than the 2nd book.  It was lighter and much more interesting.  It was more of an adventure that I thought a kid would like  There was a lot less scientific information crammed into the book. Artemis is going legit, he just has one more thing to do.  He has created a supercomputer cube that is made from stolen fairy technology. Even though he is a genius, he discovers that he hasn't thought of everything.  His plan sets off events that threaten not only his world but the fairy world as well.

In The Eternity Code, we see a nicer side of Artemis.  He has started to really care about his friends.  When Butler's life is in jeopardy he is willing to whatever it takes to bring him back. I also think having his father back and seeing a new attitude in his father contributes to this change.Artemis and the fairies work together as a team once again and their bond deepens.  I was a bit surprised by the ending and looked forward to seeing how it played out in the next book.  This is a great addition to the series.

The Opal Deception (Pub. 2005 by Hyperion) continues the adventures of Artemis Fowl.  In this book, Artemis and his family have been mind-wiped.  They have no recollection of the fairy world. Holly is being accused of murder and she must convince Artemis that they once knew each other in order to save his life.  This installment was pretty good.  There are some pretty intense moments and plenty of action. Most of the main characters are back.  I was surprised at the loss of one of the key characters in the book.  I wonder at the author's motivation for that when the murder set-up could have been anyone.  I'm not usually a fan of major characters being killed off, so I this was one element of the book I didn't like.

For the first part of the book, Artemis is back to his old plotting self, yet he seems to have developed a conscience that tries to tell him to do the right thing.  I was glad to see Artemis change significantly in toward the end of the book.   Now that I'm halfway through the series, I am curious to see how it all ends. I just hope the author doesn't kill anyone else off that I like.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Woodrose Mountain by RaeAnne Thayne

Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: March 2012

Evie Blanchard was at the top of her field in the city of angels. But when an emotional year forces her to walk away from her job as a physical therapist, she moves from Los Angeles to Hope's Crossing seeking a quieter life. So the last thing she needs is to get involved with the handsome, arrogant Brodie Thorne and his injured daughter, Taryn.

A self-made man and single dad, Brodie will do anything to get Taryn the rehabilitation she needs…even if it means convincing Evie to move in with them. And despite her vow to keep an emotional distance, Evie can't help but be moved by Taryn's spirit, or Brodie's determination to win her help—and her heart. With laughter, courage and more than a little help from the kindhearted people of Hope's Crossing, Taryn may get the healing she deserves—and Evie and Brodie might just find a love they never knew could exist.

Woodrose Mountain is the second book in the Hope's Crossing trilogy by Ms. Thayne.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one as much as the first one, Blackberry Summer. It is beautifully written story about hope and forgiveness.  Hope's Crossing may be a tourist destination, but at its heart it is still a small town.  It's a small town that has endured a lot of tragedy and is in need of finding major healing and forgiveness.  

Evie and Brodie are great together.  On the surface, they seem like total opposites.  While they are pretty different, they compliment each other very well.  Evie seems to bring a sense of calm to the chaos that Brodie constantly feels inside.  Brodie helps Evie open her heart again to let love fill it.  I loved them together and was so rooting for them.  

The character I loved the most was Taryn.  She has a lot of courage and strength.  She shows this not only in her fight to recover from the accident, but in what she does for Charlie in the end.  Her ability to forgive  is one that I think anyone would have to admire.  My heart broke for Charlie.  While he was the person who ultimately caused the tragedy, there were a lot of outside factors that contributed to the accident.  In the end, I was happy and satisfied with how things turned out for him. It was just, but it was also fair.

Even though this is the second in the trilogy, I felt like this could be a stand alone novel.  Ms. Thayne did a great job of catching the reader up along the way.  I have read Blackberry Summer, but I didn't get the sense that I would have been lost had I picked this one up first.  I like that in a book. 

I definitely recommend this book as well as the first one, Blackberry Summer.  That one is Claire and Riley's story; another couple who are so right for each other. Their relationship just sizzles right off the pages.  The final book comes out in the fall.  I can't wait to see who the Angel of Hope turns out to be!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Third Gate by Lincoln Child

by:  Lincoln Child
published by:  Knopf Doubleday
publish date:  June 12, 2012

Under the direction of famed explorer Porter Stone, an archaeological team is secretly attempting to locate the tomb of an ancient pharaoh who was unlike any other in history. Stone believes he has found the burial chamber of King Narmer, the near mythical god- king who united upper and lower Egypt in 3200 B.C., and the archaeologist has reason to believe that the greatest prize of all—Narmer’s crown—might be buried with him. No crown of an Egyptian king has ever been discovered, and Narmer’s is the elusive “double” crown of the two Egypts, supposedly pos­sessed of awesome powers.

The dig itself is located in one of the most forbidding places on earth—the Sudd, a nearly impassable swamp in north­ern Sudan. Amid the nightmarish, disorienting tangle of mud and dead vegetation, a series of harrowing and inexpli­cable occurrences are causing people on the expedition to fear a centuries- old curse. With a monumental discovery in reach, Professor Jeremy Logan is brought onto the project to investigate. What he finds will raise new questions . . . and alarm.

Lincoln Child is one of my favorite writers.  When he teams up with Douglas Preston to write the Agent Pendergast book, it's nothing but thriller perfection.  I had been feeling a little bit let down lately with the Gideon Crew books, because I just don't care for them.  The Third Gate made me happy again.

Jeremy Logan was solid character.  I think he would be a great foundation to build a series around.  I really enjoyed the archaeological aspects of the book.  I learned a lot of things that I never knew about before.  I never knew there was a giant swamp in Sudan and it sounds like a pretty horrible place.

The Third Gate was back to the more traditional Lincoln Child writing that I really like.  I would love to see this continue as a series. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Diamond Jubliee Hop Sponsored by Romance at Random

Join us for the hop — starting 5/21 ending 5/31 – Romance at Random will be randomly giving away some of their jewels of romance, to celebrate the UK’s Diamond Jubilee including:

·  1 winner, 1 copy – Born To Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann
·  1 winner, 1 copy – The Proposal by Mary Balogh
·  1 winner, 1 copy – Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian
·  3 winners, 1 copy of WITCHFUL THINKING by HP Mallory
·  10 winners, 1 copy of a PREVIEW from Net Galley of ABOUT LAST NIGHT by Ruthie Knox
·  10 winners, 1 copy of PREVIEW from Net Galley of DEEP AUTUMN HEAT by Elisabeth Barrett 

Fill free to enter below or click on the photo above to enter at the Romance at Random Website.
Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Participating Blogs:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Red Sky Warning by Wendy L Young

Author: Wendy L. Young
Publisher: Self
 Date of Publication: November 2011

In this fast-paced follow-up to Wendy L. Young’s debut novel, Come the Shadows, the mystery deepens…

Will and Laura Harmon are trying to get on with their lives but are left reeling when a vicious hit-and-run sends Laura to the hospital. With all the recent changes in Campbell Creek Will has a long list of suspects – and few leads.

One thing is clear: Someone wants Laura dead and Will has to stop them in time.

But who from Campbell Creek’s shadowy past is behind the threats on Laura’s life and can Will figure out the mystery before tragedy strikes again?

There is a new mystery in Campbell Creek.  Someone is trying to kill Laura and Will  needs to find out who and why.  There is also a mysterious new neighbor who may or may not have something to do with it all.  It may also have something to do with the events of the year before.  Red Sky Warning is the sequel to Come the Shadows.  (My thoughts are on Goodreads here). I liked this one more than the first book.  I felt more comfortable with the characters and felt like I got to know them a little more.  I also felt like the pacing was better in this book.  I was sucked in right away.  

Will and Laura are a comfortably married couple who are still very much in love.  That was a nice change.  Their relationship made the sense of danger and urgency very believable.  I really liked their banter at times.  We also get to see more of Ricky and his wife as they navigate pregnancy and the complications that go along with it.  

Sometimes sequels can be stand alone books, but I wouldn't say that about this one.  There are places where I think the reader would be lost if they hadn't read Come the Shadows.  So, I recommend picking up that one first.  As in the first book, this one leaves some unanswered questions.  It looks like this is part of a trilogy, so I'm hoping that they are answered in the final book.  

This is a well written series and I definitely recommend it.  Try it out!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

by:  Jennifer Bosworth
published by:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
publish date:  May 8, 2012

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

I liked this book. I must have, I read it in like a day.

This was a great debut novel in the YA dystopian genre. Struck was an exciting read and I don't think it will disappoint most readers.

I keep reading that Mia was a lightning addict. I didn't pick up on that at all. To me, it didn't seem that she particularly wanted to be struck by lightning, she just couldn't help it. It was part of her life to be repeatedly struck by lightning. An addict would imply she sought out the lightning and wanted to be struck.

My one criticism with this book was the relationship between Mia and Jeremy. Her first contact with him is him trying to kill her. The next few scenes he's basically a stalker and a weirdo. Then BAM they're in love with each other. It's the bane of YA, instalove with a bad boy, but we keep reading it and loving it anyway don't we?

Want to read this book for yourself?  We're giving away a copy!  Since this is coming directly from the publisher, US and Canada addresses only.   To enter leave a comment below with a valid email address.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Post: Jennifer Bosworth on The Origins of Struck

Today Jennifer Bosworth tells us how Struck got started

STRUCK Origins – How it all began . . . as a completely different book

Our memories can be unreliable. Not only do we forget important details of our lives, but our brains invent new details, false memories that eventually replace the truth of what really happened.

Sometimes I forget that Struck didn’t start out as Struck . . . or, I remember the origin of the story differently, and I convince myself that my false memory is the real one.

But I’m experiencing a moment of clarity right now. I have remembered and entire book that I forgot I wrote . . . the book that spawned Struck. To put it in Biblical terms, that original book was Adam, and I took its rib and made Struck.

The forgotten book was titled Damned, and it was about a girl who falls in love with the Antichrist. I’d call it a cross between Twilight and The Omen.

 Now, if you’re asking yourself how someone could forget writing an entire novel, then you’re asking the right question. And I’ll tell you the answer:

I forgot because Damned was, in a way, Struck. It was, but it wasn’t.

You see, Damned was my first attempt at writing a young adult novel, and I had no idea what I was doing. Damned was an unholy mess. I didn’t know if I could ever turn it into something I’d want to shop around.

I was trying to decide what to do with the giant pile of nonsense words I was calling a manuscript when new inspiration struck. Literally. It struck, and it was Struck!

A new idea for an entirely different novel charged into my brain and declared sovereignty. There was no room left in my head for Damned. Struck had become king.

But I was conflicted. I had an entire book already that I should probably revise and try to fix. I didn’t want Damned to go to waste, so I figured out a compromise. Even though Damned was a disaster, I liked the characters, and I liked the setting. So I stole them. From my own book. And I gave them to Struck.

Mia Price, lightning addict, used to be Mia Price, mistress of the Antichrist. But Mia fit much more comfortably into Struck, and so did all the friends she brought to the party. The earthquake-ravaged Los Angeles of Damned became the earthquake-ravaged Los Angeles of Struck.

Most authors have at least one or two trunk novels that never see the light of day, and even though I forgot about one of mine, it didn’t go to waste. How’s that for recycling?

Damned is gone . . . but not forgotten. (At least not at this exact moment)

Check out tomorrow's post for a giveaway of Struck....and check out this post for other blog tour participants

The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

by:  Lindsay Faye
published by:  Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
publish date:  March 15, 2012

Timothy Wilde hadn't wanted to be a copper star. On the night of August 21st, on his way home from the Tombs defeated and disgusted, he is plotting his resignation when a young girl who has escaped from a nearby brothel crashes into him; she wears only a nightdress and is covered from head to toe in blood.

Searching out the truth in the child's wild stories, Timothy soon finds himself on the trail of a brutal killer, seemingly hellbent on fanning the flames of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment and threatening chaos in a city already in the midst of social upheaval. But his fight for justice could cost him the woman he loves, his brother and ultimately his life...

I don't usually like saying one book is like another book, because if you really liked the comparison book, the one you're about it read is almost always a let down.  There have been a lot of books lately compared to Caleb Carr's The Alienist, which is one of my most favorite books and none come close.  Finally, after 18 years of searching (do you realize it's been 18 years since The Alienist came out??) there's a book that's just as interesting and well written.

The Gods of Gotham takes place in 1845.  There's a huge influx of Irish due to the potato famine.  This creates tensions between Protestants and Catholics.   It's just one more strain on a city struggling with racial and political divisions.  This is the same year that a huge fire breaks out and alters the course of Timothy Wilde's life.

Timothy loses his entire life savings along with the bar he works at in the fire.  When he wakes up from the injuries that he suffered, his politically connected brother informs him that they're now both policemen in New York's newly formed Police Department.  Timothy grudgingly takes the job to discover that he's good at it.

Gods of Gotham will more than likely make it to my Top Ten of the Year.  It was so good.  It appears as though it might be the start of a series with Timothy Wilde as a detective.  I would definitely get behind that idea!  I can't wait to read more from Lindsay Faye.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Throwback thursday - Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz

Author: Anthony Horowitz
First published in 2005 by Scholastic Press

Matt is being punished for a crime he saw, but didn't commit. Instead of being locked up, he is being sent to the middle of nowhere to live with a new foster mom, as part of a government scheme called The Leaf Project. But Matt's new home provides anything but peace and quiet. His new guardian is involved in very sinister things . . . and the whole town seems to be on her side. Everybody who tries to help Matt winds up disappearing . . . or dead. The truth is much bigger than Matt or the town -- but Matt is the only person who can stop the ultimate evil from being unleashed.

I figured I would take a break from older romances and listen to some older YA novels.  This book has been sitting on my MP3 player for months. After listening, I wish I had not waited so long to try it out.  I thoroughly enjoyed Raven's Gate.  It reminded me of one of those movies from the 60s where the newcomer moves to a strange town and everyone seems to be crazy.  Something weird is going on and the newcomer can't find anyone to trust.  This book is pretty creepy and kept me engaged right through to the end.

I liked Matt.  Despite his delinquency record, he is actually a good kid who has just had a crappy life since his parents died.  There is also something special about him.  I admired his strength given he is only 14 years old.  The evil characters were well written and definitely gave me the creeps.

As a parent,  would probably keep this to the over 14 crowd.  It is a bit violent, but nothing a high schooler haven't seen in a video game or recently in the Hunger Games movie and books.  There are supposed to be a total of 5 books. The fifth one is supposed to come out later this year.  If you haven't discovered Raven's Gate yet, give it a shot.  I know I will be seeking out the other books in the series.

Interview & Review - Tide of Lies by Sarah Ballance

Today, we welcome author Sarah Ballance who is promoting her book Tide of Lies.  Check out Sarah's interview with us after my thoughts on the book.  Welcome Sarah!

Publisher: Noble Romance
Date of Publication: April 2012

A devastating secret. A shocking betrayal. A deadly obsession.

Haunted by three unsolved murders, Detective Holden Whitlow is stunned when his cold case takes a heated turn. Julia Cohen, his ex-lover, is back in town, and in the face of a brutal attack she's ready to run. No matter how tightly she holds her secrets, for Holden, turning away from the woman he's spent a decade trying to forget isn't any more an option than walking away from his job . . .even when it threatens to cost Julia her life.

Julia is still reeling from a past she can't bear to face. When she becomes the target of a killer, fate throws her back into Holden's arms, but she's yet to recover from a truth that has stripped her of everything—and everyone—she loves. Will she tell him the secret that will destroy him, or will her lie destroy them both?

My Thoughts:
Tides of Lies is a quick and enjoyable romantic suspense.  I only wish it had been a bit longer.  I wanted more of Holden and Julia together.  Despite that, I felt like I got to know the characters pretty well. THe author did a nice job of giving me enough background on each of them.  I was rooting for their HEA. While I did figure out the secret Julia was holding pretty quickly, I wasn't able to figure out the identity of the killer until the end.  The motive behind it all was a surprise.  I definitely recommend you pick this one up.

And now some words with Sarah!
Thanks so very much for letting me hang out with you today! I'm looking forward to getting to know you and your readers.

Kari: What inspired you to become a writer?

Sarah: About four years ago I started writing nonfiction for stay-at-home work. (My husband and I have six kids, and we homeschool our six children. I, uh, don't have a job. Snort.) A friend suggested I give fiction a try, to which I said NO WAY. Fiction is so personal and leaving myself on the page felt … raw? But I didn't like the thought of *not* being able to do something, so I gave it a try just to prove myself wrong. I finished my 45k romance in six months, submitted it so my crit partner would stop insisting I do so, and was shocked when it was picked up by the one publisher I queried. That first piece of fiction is DOWN IN FLAMES, and it's on display for all the world to see, LOL.

Kari: Where do you come up with the idea for your books?

Sarah: I don't even remember where the first idea came from, but the second for RUN TO YOU was a dream, which was inspired by an after-dark, edge-of-a-storm walk on the beach with my husband. Since then, most of my plots are a result of hashing ideas out with my husband. He doesn't read romance, but he's really great at plotting. (But don't tell him I told you that. *grin*)

Kari: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Sarah: I'm almost finished with LAST CALL, a romantic suspense slated to be my debut release with For the Muse Publishing. I'm also working on a paranormal romantic suspense, STAY THE NIGHT, which is going to be a free read. (Yay!) There's a historical romance further down the plot line, and I'm also contemplating writing something horror, although it would have a degree of romance in it. (I keep trying to shed that idea, but it won't leave me alone. Maybe if I just call it dark romantic suspense …? LOL.)

Kari:Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Sarah: This is going to sound so cheesy, but I'm going to say it anyway: Nancy Drew. I used to DEVOUR the Case Files, and it was there my love of mystery sparked. My tastes matured into the romantic suspense of Harlequin Intrigue, but it totally started with Nancy Drew Case Files.

Kari: Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Sarah: I don't mean to sound boring, but I'd have to go with cat … one of the Garfield types. One who spends hours snoozing in that perfect patch of sunlight (which never fails to land on clean laundry) and gets the cat food that *almost* looks good (versus gnawing on some poor critter, meat and bones). I've loved a lot of animals—in addition to the regulars, I've had horses most of my life and we currently have three adult pigs and eight piglets—so I feel even more confident in saying those pampered indoor cats have it made. *grin*

About the author:
Sarah lives a charmed life as the mother of six incredible homeschooled children, all of whom are completely adorable when they're asleep. Her husband of many years (long, long years, he calls them) is the kind of guy who could teach those heroes from the books a thing or two about romance, not that he'd readily admit it. Completely supportive of her love for writing fiction, he's generously offered to help with any necessary research for "the good parts." She's never had to ask twice.

Although the idea of writing romance and romantic suspense initially intimidated Sarah, it has morphed into a favorite pastime since her characters, unlike her kids, actually listen to her. Er, sometimes.
You can find Sarah's books on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, or with For the Muse Publishing, Noble Romance ,and Astraea Press.

send her an e-mail

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Author Spotlight: Virgil Allen Moore

Today we welcome author Virgil Moore who is promoting his book, Demon Vampire. Welcome!

PublisherEruditeSmall Press
Date of Publication: October 2011

Demon Vampire asks the question, if given the choice to have power, grace, and immortality at the cost of your soul, what would you do? What if the choice was easier than you think? Small incremental segments of you childhood for a boost in strength? The ability to protect your loved ones for the corners of your mind that you don't often use? Regeneration for the traits that make you who you are? If faced with a grave decision of morality, what would you choose?

About the author:

Virgil Allen Moore has been writing for seventeen years. He began as a poet and eventually turned to long fiction. In his words "My pen wields visceral morality as I write. I use my poetic knowledge to woo and satiate the minds of the world." His books are written for their vivid imagery and well defined storytelling. He blends old world refinement with a modern feel in a way that gives strength to the core of his novels. With his books, you are left not just with a sense of accomplishment, but a moral choice. The reader has choice over how they feel through the story. The ordeals of the characters are transmuted to the reader, lending a direct sensation of emotion that only the best novels can evoke. When you read his words, you will be rewarded. As he says, "If you enjoy vampires, you will be enthralled by mine."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu

by:  CJ Omololu
published by:  Walker Books for Young Readers
publish date:  February 2, 2010

Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.

Dirty Little Secrets is one of those "trend" books.  It picks up on the popularity of shows like Hoarders and takes a look at the problem from the standpoint of one of the kids. 

This was a really quick read.  I got through it in a couple of hours.  It was one of those books that wasn't spectacularly great, but it wasn't too bad either.  It was kind of interesting subject matter, but on the other hand I felt like I could have watched an episode of Hoarders and gotten less frustrated with the characters.  Lucy's hesitation to call 911 annoyed me.  I guess I kept thinking about things from the standpoint of the police asking questions.

This might be one of those books to check out from the library this summer.  There wasn't anything objectionable throughout this book, so it's safe for all YA reading lists.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman

Author: Andrea Kayne Kaufman
Publisher: Grant Place Press
Date of Publication: November 2011

Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman has come to Oxford University to study feminist poetry. Yet the rigors of academia pale in comparison to her untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, fueled by her overachieving parents and manifested in a deathly aversion to germs and human contact. Her next-door neighbor (who is also, to her mortification, her loomate) is Henry Young, the appealing but underachieving English music student. Still mourning the death of his supportive mother while enduring the mockery of his disapproving and merciless father, Henry is haunted by the unexpectedly serious ramifications of a reckless and tragic youth. Gloria and Henry's relationship evolves from a shared obsession with Van Morrison's music into a desire to fill the gaps in each other’s lives. Yet the constraints of a debilitating illness and the looming revelation of a catastrophic secret conspire to throw their worlds into upheaval and threaten the possibilities of their unlikely yet redemptive love.

Oxford Messed Up was a well written story about two pretty messed people and the love and healing they find in each other.  Gloria suffers from OCD and Henry is a former drug addict who fells like a failure and a fraud.  When they find out they are sharing a bathroom, they begin a tentative friendship.

I really liked Henry and Gloria.  I think they were very good for each other.  This was not a co-dependent relationship. Instead, they both are able to see the potential in each other.  This allows them to begin to change and grow.  I also think it helped that both of them are away from their overbearing and domineering parents.  After reading about Gloria's mother, it isn't any wonder why she has OCD. Henry seemed to have followed right in his father's path into addiction.

While I did enjoy the overall story, I have to admit that the Van Morrison references and song lyrics were lost on me.  I'm not a big fan of his music, so I had a hard time relating them to the story.  Maybe if I had known his music better, I would have liked it more.  Also, I thought that Gloria got over her OCD kind of fast.  I know that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is very effective, but it just seemed too fast.  Especially for someone who has lived this way for so long.

I think readers will enjoy Oxford Messed Up.  It is, in its essence, a sweet love story.  This is the first book I have read by Ms. Kaufman and I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.