Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Books We Didn't Finish - July Edition

 The Columbus Affair looked pretty interesting when it popped up on my library's audiobook website.  I have never read anything my the author so I figured I would give it a shot.  I was so bored that by the middle of the second disc, I couldn't take it anymore.  I felt like I was in history class.  The author kept switching between characters and just when things seemed to get going, he would slide into another history lesson.  I just don't think it was for me.

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey  looked like a really fun read.  You all know how much I didn't like the book that is intended to make fun of and I was hoping this one would be amusing.  It was...for about 2 chapters.  Then it got tedious and not so funny anymore.  Sometimes, I think parodies can only go so far and should be shortened to a novella or in the case of a movie, a skit.  This book is a perfect example.

I'll start by saying that I had no idea who Bethenny Frankel was when I started this book and didn't until I looked her up.   I got about a quarter of the way through Skinnydipping and lost interest.  I didn't like the main character.  For a New Yorker, she is kind of naive. Or maybe I'm just too old to care about someone's life in Hollywood. I read somewhere that this work of fiction seems to mirror Ms. Frankel's own life.  Why not just write a memoir? At any rate, I just couldn't make myself care enough about Faith to see where she ends up. It just wasn't for me.

I'm going to finally throw in the towel on  The Yard.  I had really high hopes for this book.  It was being touted as the next Alienist.  If you aren't familiar it's a historical murder mystery.  The Yard is set in London right after the Jack the Ripper murders.  There's a new murderer in town and Scotland Yard is set to investigate.  It just wasn't working for me.  I kept putting it down to read other things and every time I picked it up I'd read less and less of it until it was just a dreaded task.  It kind of reminded me of The Bedlam Detective, so if you liked that book, you might like this one.  If you really are looking for the next Alienist, check out Gods of was AWESOME!  And Caleb Carr is supposed to be having a book coming out sometime this year I think.
The Hangman's Daughter had a really cool title and pretty cool cover.  However, once I got into it, it really wasn't as interesting as I had expected it to be.  The book also wasn't really so much about The Hangman's Daughter.  I think the title came to be because of the trend of naming books about The such and such's Daughter and that kinda turned me off to it.  The second book in this series came out last month, it's called The Dark Monk. 
Question Readers:  Did you read these books and have a differing opinion?  Did you have any books that you just could not stand to finish?

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

by:  Peter Geye
published by:  Unbridled Books
publish date:  October 16, 2012

Against the wilds of sea and wood, a young immigrant woman settles into life outside Duluth in the 1890s, still shocked at finding herself alone in a new country, abandoned and adrift; in the early 1920s, her orphan son, now grown, falls in love with the one woman he shouldn’t and uses his best skills to build them their own small ark to escape. But their pasts travel with them, threatening to capsize even their fragile hope.

I absolutely adored Peter Geye's first book Safe From the Sea.  It was a wonderful father/son book.  If you haven't read that one yet, I highly recommend it.

The Lighthouse Road was a little different.  It was a historical novel set in two different time periods.  One storyline followed Odd and his life in the 1920s.  The other followed his mother, Thea Eide, in the 1890s and what it took for her to get from her home country to Lake Superior.  Through flashbacks and memories we learn about the tragic circumstances of her life in America and Odd's birth.

I liked The Lighthouse Road, but once again Geye's biggest strength is in creating the setting.  He does such a great job of writing what that area of the country is like in the winter time.  It makes for great reading in the heat of the summer.  My disappointment was in the characters.  I didn't particularly care for Odd's "wife".  I suppose the reader isn't meant to care for her, but I didn't understand their attraction to each other unless maybe she was the only eligible female in the area.  I don't know, I just didn't get it. 

In the end, I would say this one was as good as Safe From the Sea, but it's different.  It took me a little while to get over that difference to be able to appreciate this book and the story it was telling.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Joint Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

by: Jamie McGuire
published by: Simon and Schuster-Atria Books
publish date:  August 14

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Kari and I first blogged about this book in December of last year.  Since then it's joined the ranks of Fifty Shades of Grey and On the Island.  It's gone from self published ebook phenomenon to being picked up by a big name publishing house.  Unlike Fifty Shades, Kari and I both liked this book.  See what we said back in December.  Hopefully, S&S got those typos fixed up.

This book captured my attention because it was one of the nominees in the Goodreads Awards this year. I had never heard of it and when I started reading the comments people were gushing over it like crazy. It's inexpensively priced on Amazon ($2.99 when I bought it) so I decided to give it a read.

Beautiful Disaster is somewhat out of my reading comfort zone. I don't do romance, I leave that to Kari. However I was completely sucked into this book. I was up late reading it because I didn't want to put it down.

On Goodreads, a lot of the commenters refer to this book being like a drug, it's bad for you but you don't want to stop. I agree with that assessment. There are typos galore and Abby and Travis are both so stupid most of the time, but you can't help but cheer them on.

When I found out that Autumn was reading a romance, I had to see what all of the fuss was about. Like her, I was sucked right in.

Beautiful Disaster is an emotional roller coaster ride. I have read comments that the relationship is dysfunctional and at times stalker like. In a way, I have to agree. They are definitely dysfunctional. But, what I really saw in Abby and Travis were 2 young people with trust and security issues. In real life, I probably would have suggested the 2 seek therapy before committing, but since it wasn't reality, I went with the flow. Like Autumn, I did find myself rooting for them in the end.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Interview with Author Mar Preston

Today, we have an interview with author, Mar Preston.  She is promoting her new murder mystery, Rip-Off.

Author: Mar Peston
Publisher: Pertinacity Press
Date of Publication: June 2012

"A Hollywood studio exec comes home to find the dead body of a stranger in his ocean-view condo in this upscale Los Angeles suburb. Santa Monica Police Department’s Detective Dave Mason pulls his warring team together to link the body to a string of high-tech burglaries which has Santa Monica on edge.

The stakes rise as the investigation leads Mason away from Santa Monica to Hollywood to the Russian community to be warned off by the FBI and Homeland Security. A bungled take down results in two murders of key informants. Fingers are pointed. Mason is outranked and the Department blamed.

On the way to a resolution that restores the Department’s and Mason’s reputation, the burglar and a Chechen housewife find true love. While Mason has brought an international whodunit to an end, he finds his relationship with his activist girlfriend teetering on the edge."
Kari: Tell us about Mar Preston is this your first book, and what do you do when you are not writing?

Mar: No Dice was my first book, introducing Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department and his community activist girlfriend Ginger McNair. The plot centers on a casino consortium’s attempt to build a high-rise casino in Santa Monica, much against the community’s desire. It’s a rip-snorting tale of big money, big development.

When I’m not writing, or procrastinating, I work with the SPCA writing grants, and fostering litters of feral kittens and their mamas.  I walk in the forest with my dog Lily, although it’s so hot now neither of us enjoys it much. I watch out for rattlesnakes too.

Kari: What is or was your goal when you wrote Rip-Off?  Did you have an agenda, some wrong you wanted to right?

Mar: I hope not. I wanted to tell a good story about some memorable characters and a situation that draws Mason into the vortex of organized crime playing out in an upscale Los Angeles Beach City. Detective Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department is very real to me, as is Ginger. I wanted to take their lives further than I had done in No Dice and write about what happened next to them.

Kari: If someone asked you, what is the moral of your story, how would you respond?

Mar: Oh, boy. Billie, you sure ask hard questions. The moral?  I don’t know that there is one. How would you answer that?

Kari: Rip-Off reads like you've been part of a police department—are/were you? Or is there a police officer/detective in your family?

Mar: Not at all. I’m a diligent researcher and genuinely interested in the Santa Monica Police Department.  They’ve been very receptive to my questions. Plus I love the city and want to share all the quirkiness of Santa Monica with readers.

Kari: When you create characters do you base them on real people?

Mar: All the bad guys come from my imagination and research. I wish I knew a master burglar I could interview or a Chechen organized crime boss.  Ginger comes from me and my community activist crusades, I must admit.  Detective Mason is a composite character of all the great cops I’ve known.

Kari: Everyone likes to peek into the mind of an author and find out Where Do You Get Your ideas from—can you tell us where yours come from?

Mar: I guess the newspapers in the case of Rip-Off. No Dice came from personal experience being up close and dirty in Santa Monica municipal wars. My third one, Payback, that I’m preparing for printing now comes from sticking my nose in local politics up here in the mountain village where I live in Southern California.

Kari: Do you use contemporary political climate in your novels?  Are you afraid it will date your series or that it will become old news of sorts?

Mar: Yes, I use what’s going on now, and it will probably become old news.  That’s probably true in the law enforcement technology I write about as well. But crime in all its various expressions remains current. No chance of police departments being closed down for lack of work.

Kari: What's next for Mar Preston?

Mar: I’m working with my editor, Jodie Renner, on a fourth novel, untitled as yet. I wanted to write about what happens next with Mason and Ginger. I really like rewriting and seeing the work get better and better. Working with an editor is frustrating fun. You finally have a collaborator after living with this manuscript for years.

Kari: Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Mar: Please Google me, or look at my website at

Kari: Do you have a readers guide for book clubs and are you available in person or via Skype or chat room or some other venue for your readers?

Mar: No, because I never thought of doing that until now when you suggest it. I’ll get to work on it.  I’d love to talk to book clubs.  Imagine people being that interested in me! 

About the author:

Mar Preston is the author of No Dice and Rip-Off, both set in Santa Monica and featuring Detective Dave Mason of the SMPD and his community activist girlfriend. Both are available as paperbacks at Amazon.    Ebook versions are available at Amazon and Smashwords

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle

by:  Victor LaValle
published by:  Random House Publishing
publish date:  August 21, 2012

Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn't seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can’t quite square with his memory. In the darkness of his room on his first night, he’s visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It’s no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down.

This was one of those books that when I'm done I just don't really know what to think about it.  It was compelling.  I read it all the way through.  I wanted to know what was going to happen to all the characters, because they were really good characters.  Overall there was just kind of an "That's it?" feeling at the end I think.

I guess I was hoping for more of an actual horror story and not an accounting of the atrocities that go on in mental institutions.  It WAS scary.  The whole book was dark and foreboding, but all the monsters were everyday things once in the daylight.  There were some other things about the book that I didn't particularly care for.  The whole biography of Vincent van Gogh was a little much. 

However, like I said, I did like the characters.  I really liked when Pepper met his girlfriend.  His comment about her teeth had me dying laughing.  Pepper's comments throughout the book were a constant source of amusement.  Loochie was another really fun character.  Her personality was really likable and you can't help but cheer her on.

While it wasn't necessarily my favorite book of the year, it definitely wasn't the worst.  I am glad I read it because I think it will be one of those quietly successful novels.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Twist of Fate by Jayne Ann Kretnz

 Author: Jayne Anne Krentz
First published in 1991 by Severn House Publishers
Audiobook by Brilliance Audio, 2011

Cloistered as a faculty member at a small college, beautiful Hannah Jessett can almost forget her family heritage. Few know she's the niece of Elizabeth Nord, the legendary anthropologist who stunned the world with her revolutionary work--until her aunt dies, leaving Hannah in sole possession of her priceless unpublished journals.

I had a really hard time deciding whether or not to like this book. I did manage to listen to the entire audiobook, but I will admit that I was kind of bored. I didn't really see the passion between Hannah and Gideon. Even the HEA didn't really make me overly excited. I also thought thet the book was a bit out of date, even for 1991. The way Hannah feels that she can't have it all was puzzling to me. Even in 1991, women were doing it all the time.

The mystery wasn't really one. I picked out who was stalking Hannah right away. I thought it was amusing that neither her nor Gideon picked up on what the reading audience would have from the start. It was so obvious. So, while I have liked most of Ms. Krentz's early books, this one was kind of... meh.  If you issed it, you probably aren't missing much.

Book Spotlight: The Aspen 2-Million Winner-Take-All

Author: John Morris
Publisher: Tribute Books
Date of Publication: May 2012

Morgan thought he had it made.  He owned a cozy if dilapidated house in Aspen’s otherwise-fashionable West End, had lots of friends, a great business, threw the best parties in town.

Then his beautiful-but-aloof neighbor Risa sued him for a million bucks-- for killing her dog.  (Seriously.  And he hadn’t even been there.)  She was asking the judge to throw him out of town, too.  (It’s a local tradition.)

For Morgan, the money didn’t matter.  He didn’t have a nickel to his name.  But he couldn’t imagine not living in Aspen.

His only hope: to win a 2-million dollar golf tournament (held on the sly at the local links) and pay Risa off.  Either that or discover her deep, dark secret and blackmail her. Until his best friend/lawyer suggested Option #3: “Why don’t you just get her to fall in love with you?”

About the author:
John Morris lives in Aspen, Colorado, with his loving wife and two wonderful children.  Having worked many of the same cowboy / construction / bartender / ski-patrol jobs as his fictional counterpart Morgan, he can vouch for how easy it is for a good-looking guy to get in trouble there.
Enjoy this excerpt from the book:

Chapter One

Morgan Somerville lived in the sole surviving do-it-yourself duplex in Aspen’s otherwise fashionable West End. Slapped together in the 50’s by a Swiss ski instructor with a free summer and a very casual approach to theft, the forget-about-plumb brown shoebox had tall doors, short doors, big windows, little windows, sagging 2nd-floor decks, no shutters, walls that weren’t quite vertical and a roof that was flat only in the sense that the ocean is flat. Most folks assumed it was the 20 coats of shellac that kept the whole thing from collapsing, but it also served as a humble reminder of the stove-in-from-a-helluva-lot-of-snow sort of place Aspen once was.

“The Quiet Years,” those times were called. Post-1893, when the price of silver plummeted and the population shrank to 800, when there was one schoolhouse, two trains a week, people made their own clothes, their own whiskey, and all the old trucks sat rusting in the weeds.

This was followed by the boom years, or “Aspen as we know it.” Post World War II, when the young men of the 10th Mountain Division came back, when skiing was born, nightclubs were built, a bunch of pretty girls showed up, and life became about as much fun as you could have at 8,000 feet.

The only real concern-- after the skiing and the parties and the girls-- was finding a place to live. Because no matter how
much fishing and climbing you did, no matter how good you were on skis or on horseback and no matter how many famous writers and movie stars you knew, eventually you had to put a roof over your head. And even in the summer, a teepee up Hunter Creek wasn’t gonna cut it with the girl of your dreams.

Whom you’d probably met the night before at the Tippler or the ’Horn or the ’Onion.

The old mining town would never have enough places to live. The Roaring Fork hemmed it in on the east and the north, Castle Creek ran down the west side, and Ajax climbed straight up from Durant Street to the south, so town was never gonna get any bigger than 10 blocks by 20.

And most everything was one-room miner’s shacks or simple two-story houses. Only the Wheeler Opera House and the Hotel Jerome stood three stories high, and if you’d suggested putting up anything taller, you’d have gotten run out of town. The only things in Aspen that grew over 30 feet high were chairlifts and trees.

So when Morgan showed up, many years ago now, his first order of business had been to put a roof over his head. And little did he know that his first-ever flophouse would wind up being “home” for literally decades to come. Because almost on Day One he happened upon...

Chalet Sepp. Not that it was called that. It was too much of a dump even then to merit a name. But that’s what it was: a listing, two- story slab of wood owned and operated by a crotchety old goat named Sepp. Whom nobody in town could stand.

Morgan found an ad on the community bulletin board, wandered over to Sepp’s stunningly stark tenement house and signed on to inhabit the smaller (darker) half with two other young guys who needed a place to crash. Even if the place might burst into flames any day (or night), or maybe just fall over.

And not surprisingly, by the following spring it was Chalet Sepp that was still standing and the two roommates who were gone. One of them couldn’t hack the long winter, the other went back to law school. So Morgan found himself all alone. He figured he’d have to move out, but Sepp told him not to bother, not to even recruit new roomies. Things were better with only the two of them, Sepp seemed to think, and he didn’t really need the rent money. He just wanted to have someone around who was nice to him.

Which Morgan was.

Which was way more than you could say for anyone else in town. Most folks, actually, pretty much hated Sepp Wegner. “Crusty old shit” sounds quaint, but in a small town, when people hate you, they just hate you.

So Morgan stayed on. Kept paying his modest share of the rent, kept being nice to Sepp. Listened to the old guy’s stories, helped him out with repairs, walked Sepp home from the Elks Club when he’d had too much to drink. Watched TV with him, talked about skiing, heard about all the famous European downhills Sepp had raced in, and made sure Sepp got invited to all the backyard parties Morgan started hosting as a way to get known around town. Chalet Sepp may have been the ugliest house in the West End, but it also had the biggest back yard.

So the years rolled by with Morgan and Sepp living side-by- side lives. Summers and winters came and went, pretty girls came and went, most of the miners’ shacks in the West End got torn down, replaced by designer second homes, but Chalet Sepp-- somehow-- endured.

Til the day arrived when Sepp himself stopped enduring. Lung cancer, they said, maybe the only thing that could’ve killed him. Face it: When you’ve got an asbestos-removal business and smoke 2 packs a day, something’s gotta give.

And after the surprisingly well-attended funeral, Morgan was equally surprised to get a phone call from a lawyer informing him that he-- Morgan Somerville-- was the sole beneficiary of Sepp Wegner’s estate. Because there was no long-abandoned wife, no long-neglected kids, no brother back in St. Anton. There was nobody.

There was also (of course) no secret stock portfolio, no unspoiled spread up in the Yukon, no 20-dollar bills tacked inside the walls. Just... Chalet Sepp.

And the estate taxes. The property taxes. The water bill, the electric, the trash. Various liquor-store bills, the inevitable IOU’s that old farts in small towns never forget (or forgive). But at least there was no spoiled-brat nephew popping up out of nowhere wanting to bulldoze the place. Kick Morgan out, build a trophy home, take the money and skip back to Florida.

There was nobody, so Morgan got the house. He got the house, both sides of it, so he could do whatever he wanted with it, short of spending money on it. Because he didn’t have any.

But he could do whatever he wanted. He could throw old mattresses out the back door, leave the Christmas lights up all year long, crank up his garage band every night of the week.

Most importantly, he wouldn’t have to move out. Wouldn’t have to pack up all the furniture, athletic gear, musical instruments, car parts, tools, the wine collection and the trampoline, and find another place to live. (And you don’t just find another apartment in Aspen. It’s never that easy, even if you’re rich. Getting thrown out of your home in Aspen is basically the end of everything.)

And moving downvalley wasn’t an option. If you’re an Aspenite, you live in Aspen. You don’t live in Basalt, you don’t live in Carbondale. It’s not about being snotty. It’s just that Aspenites live in Aspen, and if you’re not gonna live in Aspen, you may as well move to Alaska.

So by inheriting the place, he wouldn’t have to move out or move to the Klondike. The only thing he couldn’t do was make Chalet Sepp livable. As in: Renovate it, re-build it, re-furbish it. Maybe put up some shutters, re-do the decks. Rent out Sepp’s half. Be a landlord. (Which might be asking for trouble, he knew.)

In the end he borrowed some money from the bank, upgraded Sepp’s side enough to fool an unsuspecting out-of-town buyer, and turned it over to a friend in real-estate to sell.

Which the friend did. In no time. This being Aspen.

Morgan unloaded Sepp’s side of the building almost overnight and pocketed a fair amount of change in the process. Which meant he should’ve been able to rest easy. He should’ve been able to coast.

The one major worry for any working-stiff Aspenite, securing a long-term place to live, had been for him forever resolved. He had cash in his pocket. He had his health, his business, a respected place in society, his fair share of friends. Everything should’ve been great.

In fact, if you’d seen Morgan shortly after he’d sealed the deal, after he’d signed the contract and handed over the keys and cashed the check, you’d have seen a guy who thought he was on top of the world. Who thought the toughest question he was ever gonna face was...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blog Tour: Knee Deep by Jolene Perry

Author: Jolene Perry
Publisher: Tribute
Date of publication: May 2012

Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.

I really enjoyed Knee Deep.  I was able to pretty much read it in one sitting.  I really think it will be a great read for any YA reader, especially the girls.  Ronnie has been in love with Shawn since she was fourteen.  But as they get older, their relationship turns violent.    Stress and alcohol play a huge part in Shawn becoming violent.  Ronnie does what many victims of boyfriend or spousal abuse do, they hide it and believe that the abuser can change.  The book also showed what can happen when parents don't pay enough attention to their kids.  They miss when something really bad is happening to them.  I was angry at Ronnie's parents for not noticing things were seriously wrong.  Even her friends suspect, but don't intervene right away.  

I loved Luke.  He has loved Ronnie forever, but has instead played the best friend in order for Ronnie to be happy. I applauded his decision in the end to give her time.  I think that was important and would ultimately make their relationship stronger in the end.  Ronnie also struggles with her decision of "going all the way".  I was happy that she listened to her gut and realized she wasn't ready.  She didn't give into peer pressure.

Knee Deep is well written and very honest.  I definitely recommend picking this one up!

About the author:

Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of Night Sky and The Next Door Boys.

ISBN: 9780983741886
ISBN: 9781476060316
Pages: 240
Release: May 1, 2012

Kindle buy link - $2.99

Nook buy link - $4.95

iBookstore buy link - $4.99
Coming soon

Google buy link - $3.79

Smashwords buy link - $4.99

PDF buy link - $4.95

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pulse by John Lutz

by:  John Lutz
published by:  Random House Audio
publish date:  July 3, 2012

The killer’s depravity is insatiable. What he does to his victims is unthinkable. Homicide detective turned P.I. Frank Quinn has seen this M.O. before. A demented ritual, it’s the work of Daniel Danielle—a notorious serial killer who blurs the line between male and female, human and monster.

Argh...Pulse was my random audiobook pick and it was the 7th book in a series and I didn't know that when I started.  However, that's a testament of a good writer that I didn't know it was part of a series until I got on Goodreads and found out that way.  I found that out halfway through and initially it didn't really matter.  Later on in the book I think some of the previous storylines started bleeding through because I really had no idea what was going on with some of the minor characters. 

The issue with the minor characters was the only thing that detracted from this book.  Otherwise it was a pretty good serial killer type murder mystery.  I liked the killer being a cross dresser.  It added an added dimension to who it might be.  Also, there was a question as to whether or not the killer had been killed in 1986 so was this the original Daniel/Danielle killer or a copycat?  I did have one big beef with this book.  One of the "clues" was email passed between high school kids in 1986.  Hello?  What HS kids were emailing each other in 1986??  Unless I totally misheard that part of the audiobook, but I don't think I did.

Anyway, it was good.  It made me interested in seeing if I can find the beginning of the series and see how well it starts out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Finding Emma by Steena Holmes

by:  Steena Holmes
published by:  Steena Holmes
publish date:  April 1, 2012

Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She's the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it's never Emma. Emma's been missing for two years.

Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan's husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan's life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on.

When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both families lives.

Finding Emma was a story about every mother's biggest fear, losing a child.  In this story Megan turned her back for a minute and Emma disappeared from the house without a trace. 
Megan becomes obsessed not only with finding Emma but doing anything to help keep other children in the neighborhood safe.  This obsession is putting a strain on her family.  Her daughters are feeling left out and her husband is threatening to leave. 
Eventually, Megan's obsession pays off.  She sees Emma in a picture taken at a town fair.  Is it really her daughter?  Can she find the couple she's with?  Will anyone believe her anymore?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Open Road Media Celebrates National Parents’ Day

A couple of months ago, I reviewed Seriously, Just Go to Sleep by Adam Mansbach.  Open Road Media has finished up its National Parents Day week with an article by Mr. Masbach talking about how the book came about.  You can check it out here.

They are also giving away 10 copies of the book, so make sure you head over and enter!

In case you missed the other articles from the week, this is the schedule.  If you have some time, check them out!

Wednesday (July 18)-- Anna Perera, author of Guantanamo Boy  -- 
Thursday (July 19) -- Susan Morse, author of The Habit
Friday (July 20) -- Dori Hillestad Butler, author of the Buddy Files series
Saturday (July 21) -- Richard Kirshenbaum (Madboys) and Mark Salzman (The Man in the Empty Boat) 
Sunday (July 22) -- Adam Mansbach, author of Go the F**k to Sleep discusses the conceiving of the newly released G-Rated version of his bestseller, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep and offer his picks. We will also be hosting an ebook giveaway of 10 copies of Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

Series Week: Ben Coes' Dewey Andreas Series

The first book in the Dewey Andreas series is Power Down (St. Martin's Press, 2010).  Dewey is an ex Delta Force Army Ranger.  When his wife and son died he walked away from the Army and eventually became a roughneck on an oil rig.  This is where we meet Dewey Andreas as the Chief of Capitana Oil rig right before it gets destroyed by terrorists.  These terrorists continue to make systematic strikes at America's infrastructure and Dewey Andreas is unwillingly drawn into the confrontation.

Power Down is the debut novel of author Ben Coes.  I was really impressed.  Power Down was well written and exciting.  There were a few little moments where I was kinda like "Really??", but I chalked that up to suspending disbelief.  Generally, I was reading the book thinking that the author knows a lot of stuff or did a ton of research...or both. 

I finished Power Down and started right in on the second book on the series Coup d'Etat (St. Martin's Press, 2011) the same day.  Coup d'Etat picks up some time after Power Down.  Dewey has fled to Australia to get away from the terrorists that are out to kill him for revenge.  The same terrorist group is still trying to invoke?/commit? jihad on the rest of the world.  Now they have a democratically elected president in place in Pakistan.  A little border skirmish between India and Pakistan leads to a nuclear attack on India.  The US President and his National Security Advisor Jessica Tanzer come up with a plan with the Indian President that only one man can carry out.  Dewey Andreas.  Can Jessica get him out of Australia before the terrorists get to him?

Coup d'Etat was just as good as the first book.  Again I was marveling at how well researched it was...or at least it seemed like it was anyway.   It was one of those books I couldn't put down once I started.  The only thing I didn't care for in Coup d'Etat was the terrorist Youssef.  His mannerisms seemed a little off with me, even for one that had been in the US for awhile.  I couldn't imagine one terrorist screaming "shut your piehole" to another.  Maybe they do, but that just doesn't go with the mental picture I have.  Anyway, it was a great read.  People who like political thrillers will love it I'm sure. 

The third book in the series, The Last Refuge (St. Martin's, 2012), just came out and I'm just getting started with it.  So far it's starting out just as tense and exciting as the first two.  Ben Coes is definitely on my Must Read Authors list after reading this series.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Series Week - Let's Talk Sequels!

Both of us have been reading a lot of sequels this year. So as part of our series week, we thought we would combine a few of them into one post.

A Millions Suns by Beth Revis ( Razorbill, January 2012) is the sequel to Across the Universe.  I reviewed that book last year hereA Million Suns was just as good as the first book. I would say this one was much more YA appropriate, unlike the first book. There is another mystery in this one.  Orion has left Amy clues throughout the ship that will reveal some important secrets about  Godspeed.  I won't give any of them away because it would really ruin it for you.

While trying to help Amy out, Elder is now Eldest and is trying to navigate his way to becoming a leader. Meanwhile, all of the inhabitants of Godspeed are off the drugs that kept them emotionless for so long.  I thought this was really interesting because they are all of a sudden trying to learn how to be a civilized society with only ancient books telling them what to do.  As you can imagine, chaos is rampant!  A Millions Suns ends on another cliffhanger of sorts.  I was pleased that  lot of unanswered questions from the first book are answered here. I look forward to the last in the trilogy, Shades of Earth, that comes out in 2013!

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts (Penguin, May 2012) is the second in the Boonsboro Inn Trilogy.  I reviewed the first one, The Next Always, earlier this year. While I liked this installment, I'm not sure I liked it was much as the first one.  It moved a bit too slowly for me.  It seemed like it took forever for Owen and Avery to get together.  I know that Owen is a planner, but the way they over analyzed their relationship got a bit boring after a while.

It was nice to see all of the other characters in this one.  The scene with Owen and his mother in the kitchen was just too funny!  I could not stop laughing!  The humor between the brothers was a lot of fun as well.  We learn a bit more about the resident ghost and that story line is turning out really interesting.  The last in the series, The Perfect Hope, comes out in November 2012.

The Serpent's Shadow (Hyperion, May 2012) is the last in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan.  This one was kind of a let down for me. I was hoping it would top the second book, The Red Pyramid,(which I loved) but sadly it fell a bit short.  I thought some of the parts were a bit drawn out. I found myself hoping the audiobook would hurry up and finish already. The idea about shadows was interesting but not enough to keep me fully engaged.

As expected, the brother and sister team save the day with help from their friends.  They also learn some lessons along the way.   While I am a sucker for romance, I felt like the "romances" between Carter and Zia as well as Sadie and Walt/Anubis (that kind of creeped me out a bit) were unnecessary to the story line as a whole.  The books would have been fine with out them and would have made for a better ending. 

I finally got around to reading Insurgent (HarperTeen, 2012) the sequel to Divergent by Veronica Roth.  It was really good, but I didn't feel as emotionally attached to the characters as I did in the first book.  Perhaps it was because too much time passed between reading the two books?  Sometimes I think I should wait until all the books come out before I start reading these trilogies, but then I'm behind the times and I hate that too.  Such a quandary!

In Insurgent Tris and Four are battling the ups and downs of their relationship and I think this was part of my problem.  I just wanted Tris and Four to be happy.  I didn't understand why she couldn't just do what he wanted so they could be happy and normal together.  But they're also waging a battle against the Erudite and trying to get and keep the factionless on their side so all that is putting strain on their relationship. 

Overall, it was a good second book in a trilogy.  Usually, seconds are fairly worthless, but this one wasn't too bad.  I'm ready to read the third, but I'm going to have to wait until sometime next year I guess.  It doesn't even have a title yet...although I've seen some jokes going around saying it was going to be titled Detergent  :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Series Week: Heiress Series by Judy Teel

Seducing an Heiress 
Author: Judy Teel
Publisher: Golden Angel Press
Date of Publication: July 2011

An heiress changes her identity and starts a new life away from her father’s ruthless, self-serving world, only to find herself falling in love with the slick, corporate player her father sends to bring her back.

Seducing an Heiress was a pretty fun read. It's well written and has pretty steamy love scenes.  I liked Dakota a lot.  She was a strong character who finally got free from her father and decided to live her life her own way.   Her father is a despicable man who only sees her as a commodity.  Trey is his employee and has been sent to find her and bring her back.  I liked their attraction.  The peripheral characters really made the book.  The town residents who come to Dakota's aid were a lot of fun.  I wish that Chelsea would get her own story!

I was reading on Goodreads that there seem to be 2 versions of this book.  An uncensored one and one that is more appropriate for YA readers.  I'm pretty sure that I read the uncensored version, so if you are suggesting this to anyone under 18, I would make sure you have the correct one.

Instructing an Heiress

Author: Judy Teel
Publisher: Golden Angel Press
Date of Publication: April 2012

 "When a hard-nosed CEO must get married or lose everything, she hires her womanizing best friend to teach her about men, but as the lessons progress so does her alarm as she finds herself falling in love with him."

Instructing an Heiress was a fun read.  This is one of the types of romances that I love.  Two people have been friends forever and finally realize that they are made for each other.  I loved CK and Ryan together.  Ryan is such a player, but CK has been the one constant in his life.  She is his best friend.  When CK learns she must marry or risk losing her company, she asks Ryan to teach her how to attract a man.  What follows are some very funny scenes.  

I loved Ryan's friends.  They can truly see what he refuses to see.  He is in love with his best friend but is afraid to accept it.  They are some very intriguing characters and I hope Ms. Teel will write books about them.  I would love to delve into Ajax a lot more!  

The books do not share the same characters, so they can be read as stand alone books.  Pick them up for a fun read!

Guest post and Giveaway: Shonell Bacon

Please welcome author Shonell Bacon as she tells us what motivates her to write.  She is on tour promoting her new book, Into the Web.

Giveaway Details:

Ms. Bacon has kindly offered 1 e-copy of her book, Into the web for one lucky reader.  Just leave a comment with a valid e-mail.  I will pick a winner on July 24, 2012.  Good luck!

Why I Write by Shonell Bacon

A few years ago, I had to write an essay in which I had to answer the question, “Why is writing important to your life?” It's a question I had to think deeply about because they expected no more than five pages, but surely more than one sentence. My response was a simple one, “I write to breathe.” Eventually, after some brainstorming and a little cajoling, I was able to expand upon that one sentence, but everything I wrote came back to that one sentence: “I write to breathe.”

I always found it hard to say aloud to people what I always felt in my soul: “I was born to write. God told me this is what I was to do with my life.” I didn't want people to think I thought I was ALL THAT or high on myself. So, I kept it to myself and diligently wrote, waiting for the day when the truth would come to light. Slowly, now, light trickles upon the truth though I am still on my journey to the full flooding of light.

Developing Into the Web was an illustration of that needing writing to breathe. Jovan and Cheyenne Parham, the main characters of ITW and the first book of the series, Death at the Double Inkwell, endeared themselves to me. Here, I had two characters that I could follow throughout the course of several books and watch them grow, learn, change, develop. In the midst of writing DDIW, I assumed it would be the only book about these women, but as soon as I wrote the final words, I knew there would be another. Their stories were not done, and I was the only one that could pen their stories and bring them to live.

At the end of the day, I know that my major goal in life is to tell stories, stories that cover an array of black experiences, stories that allow others to see a part of themselves and hopefully, to see a part of me reflected within the words.  I write to smile, I write to cry, I write to laugh, I write to understand, but ultimately, I write to breathe.  Without my words, without my ability to translate what bothers me, excites me, annoys me, hurts me, I'm not really sure how I would survive.  Words are my truth, and the truth will set me free.

About the author:

Shonell Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, educator–every woman. She
has published both creatively and academically–novels, short stories, essays, and textbooks.
She has had an essay of hers developed as part of a live theatre documentary production. In addition to her love of writing and what the future holds in her literary life, she is also an editor who loves helping writers hone their literary craft. Since 2001, she has edited for hundreds of writers who have gone on to pursue self-publishing careers and have been published within the traditional publishing arena. Her love for helping writers also moved her to begin writing articles and commentaries regarding the writing life and craft, and she publishes these articles on various

websites. She is an educator, having taught English and mass communication courses in addition to fiction writing and other courses related to creative writing. And while taking part in all of those things, Shonell also finds the time to pursue her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University. Now a doctoral candidate, she is conducting research and writing her dissertation.

Connect with with the author here: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Blog

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Series Week - T T edition - Texas! series by Sandra Brown


For this week's Throwback Thursday, I am reviewing the Texas Tyler Family series by Sandra Brown.  They were all originally published between 1990-1992 by Fanfare. Even though the books are set in the 90s, they aren't too out dated and are still enjoyable today.

Last May for Throwback Thursday, I reviewed the first book in this series, Texas! Lucky.  Here is what I said:

"Texas Lucky! is an earlier work by Sandra Brown that was re-issued recently. I am a fan of Ms. Brown's earlier works, but I thought this one was just OK. I didn't really like either of the characters. Neither of them had many redeeming qualities. Lucky was just too much of a player for me. Devon was kind of annoying. I didn't really buy into the relationship between Lucky and Devon. I thought it was based more on lust than anything. Frankly, I wasn't sure what Devon saw in him. I thought Devon's reasons for not wanting to alibi Lucky were kind of lame. The mystery was probably the only thing I did like in the book. The tragedy at the end killed the HEA for me. I'd rather end on a high note. I haven't read the others in the series, maybe it gets better? "

Well things did get better.  The next book, Texas! Chase was more emotional and  enjoyable.  I liked Sage and really felt for him in his dilemma about letting go of his love for his dead wife and learning to love his new one.n  For some people, I think Claire buying his house may seem a bit weird and stalkerish, but I can understand why she did it.  She felt responsible for his wife's death and wanted to make a home for him someday to try to make up for it.  Misguided?  Yes, but not weird.  I liked their relationship.  While it starts out as a marriage of convenience, they both learn to set the past aside and really care for each other.  The addition of all of family members, rounds out the book nicely. I also liked the little mystery the runs through the book.  It lent some excitement to the book.

The last book of the trilogy, Texas! Sage was the best out of the three books.  I liked Sage and Harlan the most out of the three couples.  They were both stubborn and their banter was amusing to watch.  Their attraction is very strong and it is easy to see how they end up together.  I liked the air of mystery that surrounded Harlan.  Sage was a little spoiled, but I really felt for her.  Her family still sees her as a little girl, even though she is a grown woman with a master's degree.  It was nice to see how she manages to prove them wrong.    I liked their HEA.  It was really sweet.

The series as a whole is pretty enjoyable.  All three books are on audio and are only 5 or 6 discs long.  If you missed this series, give it a shot.