Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

by:  Sarah Jio
published by:  Plume
publish date:  December 27, 2011

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora.

Anne is engaged to the man of her mother's dreams.  Gerard is the son of the bank president.  He will be able to provide her a life of comfort.  But when her best friend Kitty decides to join the war effort as a nurse, Anne drops everything and goes with her to the Pacific.
Anne and Kitty are 2 of 40 women on an island of 2,000 soldiers.  There's a lot of pairing off of couples.  Anne meets the man that finally makes her heart go pitter pat, but because of various circumstances and the ongoing war they are separated. 

The book ends with a super sweet ending that was just a little too convenient for my taste, but overall it was a good story.   I'm sure there are a lot of women's literature fans that will love this book.  
My criticism with this book was that I didn't understand what drew Anne and Westry together, other than the bungalow.  I went back and checked what I had written about The Violets of March because I thought I had similar feelings about that book.  I had the same problem with that book.  The characters' relationship didn't necessarily feel real.   I have Blackberry Winter to read too, so I'm curious to see if it'll be a recurring theme.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Kill Me Again by Leslie Rule

Author: Leslie Rule
Originally published in 1996 by Jove
Re-issued by Andrews McNeel Publishing in April 2012

In her dreams, her life was not her own. Awake, the threat of danger was real. Everyone said that she was crazy. But when Alexis dreamed of dying, she knew she had been killed before. And if it had happened once, it could happen again.  

 I really enjoyed Kill Me Again.  The whole idea of reincarnation and karma is a fascinating subject.  The book starts when Alexis moves to her mother's hometown and things seem start to seem familiar to her.  The problem is that she hasn't been in the town since she was a toddler.  She also looks exactly like her aunt Nan, who supposedly ran away from home when she was 17. Is she the reincarnation of her aunt or is she just imagining things?

This book has a little something for every YA reader.  There is a murder mystery. Young girls keep dying and Alexis keeps finding them.   There is a very sweet romance between Alexis and Josh who seemed to be destined for each other.  Thankfully, it wasn't your typical YA mushiness.  Finally, there is the paranormal plot line that keep the books really interesting.  I loved the ending and the way it made me wonder...

There really was nothing objectionable in the book so I could recommend it for younger YAs.  If you missed it in the 90s give it a shot now!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Joint Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date of Publication: April 2012

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Grave Mercy was nothing like I thought it would be.  For some reason, I was thinking it would be more of a dystopian book.  What I got instead was a historical novel with mythology, intrigue and a sweet romance.   While it did drag a bit in parts, I was glad I stuck it out.  I ended up really enjoying the overall story.  I will admit that in the beginning, I didn't care for Ismae.  While I felt badly for her situation, I was a little taken aback at her eagerness to kill people.  I was hoping that I would come to like her in the end and I was happy that I wasn't disappointed.

The love story turned out to be sweet and wasn't annoying in the way that so many YA book romances are. In fact, it is pretty subtle and is one of the things that helps to guide Ismae into seeing things differently.  I have mixed feelings about this book being classified as YA.  While there is really no explicit sexual content, some of the other subject matter is a bit adult in nature.  Given the time period of the book, the reader shouldn't be appalled at the prospect of a 13 YO being married off, but it still is a bit disturbing.  I would probably leave this one for the over 16 crowd.  I look forward to the next in the series!

I really wasn't too terribly interested in starting Grave Mercy, but Kari can be a tough taskmaster so I grudgingly started Grave Mercy so we could do this joint review.   Next thing I knew I was a third of the way through.  The book started great.  It was a really interesting premise to have a convent of nuns as assassins for Death.

Once it got past that one-third mark it got a little dull for my tastes.  It was a lot of politics and French history.  I suppose if French political history is your thing it would be terribly exciting, but it wasn't really mine.  I wanted to read more about Ismae in action, poisoning people and garroting them with her miseriecord.

I don't think I liked this book as much as Kari did.  I don't know that I would pick up the next book in the series, unless it was really different.  I want to read about kick ass ninja nuns, not somewhat meek "demoiselles" that sit around waiting for orders.

So who do you side with Kari?  Or Autumn?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog tour: And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Date of pubication: April 2012

In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. 

In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record. 

But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee. 

My thoughts:

This is the first book by Ms. Lippman that I have read.  I will admit that initially, I had a hard time getting into  And When she Was Good.  But as the book progressed, I was intrigued to find out what makes a woman choose to become a madam.  I liked the way the story alternated between the past and the present.  The author does a great job of showing the reader how Heloise evolves into "the mother" and "the madam".  Heloise keeps her life ordered and compartmentalized.  Few people know what she really does for a living.  She manages to keep it all from her son and has been raising him in a nice, homey environment. The problem is that her normal life and her hidden life are slowly crashing together.

I think this book will be met with mixed feelings.  The book is well written and the characters were very well fleshed out.  I'm just not too sure many of them are likable.  For me, that includes the main character.  I could see how she made her early mistakes.  Many abused, naive girls fall into situations that they can't find a way out of and I can understand that.  What I didn't understand is why Heloise chose to stay in the life.  She had several opportunities to make herself into something different.  Many single mothers manage to go back to school and find jobs with which they can support their family.  When she is making money as a madam, she chooses not to funnel it into an education for herself.  I lost some respect for her because of this.

The subject of prostitution is a very controversial issue.  Heloise feels she is providing a service, but how many families is she helping to tear apart when the husbands come to her?   I had a hard time reconciling that in my mind. Despite all of that, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it.  And When She Was Good is a book that I believe will be talked about for a long while. I did like the ending and I know it is a book that  will stay with me for a long time.  If you are a fan of Laura Lippman, give this new one a shot.

About the author:

Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. Since the publication of What the Dead Know, each of her hardcovers has hit the New York Times bestseller list. A recent recipient of the first-ever Mayor’s Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans with her husband, David Simon, their daughter, and her stepson.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

by:  Lydia Netzer
published by:  St. Martin's Press
publish date:  July 17, 2012

Sunny Mann has masterminded a perfect life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town. Even her genius husband, Maxon, an astronaut on his way to the moon, has been trained to pass for normal. But when a fender bender sends her blonde wig flying, her secret is exposed. Not only is she bald, but she's nothing like the Stepford wife she appears to be. As her facade begins to unravel, we discover the singular world of Sunny and Maxon, two outcasts who found unlikely love in one another. Theirs is a wondrous, strange relationship formed of dark secrets, long-forgotten murders and the urgent desire for connection.

I had an ARC of this book to read, but then I was at the library and saw the audiobook.  I always prefer audiobooks when I can get them.  Then I saw it was narrated by Joshilyn Jackson.  What??  I stopped everything and popped that baby in.  Joshilyn is not only an awesome writer, but she does an amazing job with audiobooks.

I've been giving out 5 stars on Goodreads very sparingly this year, but Shine Shine Shine got the coveted 5 stars from me.   This had to be one of the best books I've read this year and I've read some really good ones.  I loved everything about it, from the story to the characters to how the book was laid out.   This was one of the first books that I read that portrayed a person with autism/Asperger's as a normal functional person.  It was a refreshing change.

A lot of women will see themselves in Sunny in some aspect.  While some of her actions are bizarre and frustrating, it makes her instantly identifiable and lovable.  Everybody has something they're hiding like Sunny's baldness and I'm sure most of us wonder if we're brave enough to show it like she does when she stops wearing her wig. 

I can't wait for everyone else to read this book.  I want to hear other people talking about it!  Shine Shine Shine would make such a great book club book.  Have you read it?  Did you love it as much as I did?

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review: Mercy Gunderson Series by Lori Armstrong

I don't remember how exactly I came across these books, but somehow they ended up in my download cart at the library.  Both books ended up being pretty good so I was happy.

The first book in this series is No Mercy (2010, Touchstone).  Mercy Gunderson is an Army sniper that's going back home to her South Dakota ranch for the first time in 20 years.  She's on medical leave after an accident leaves her with damage to her eye.  Her father, the county Sheriff, has just passed away and now it's up to Mercy to decide what to do with the family ranch. 

As if medical leave, coming back home after 20 years and the death of her father isn't enough to deal with, suddenly dead bodies start cropping up around Mercy.  This puts her in the path of the new Sheriff her father appointed, Mason Dawson.  

Most books would have Mason and Mercy teaming up to solve the murders, but this book wasn't like that.  Mercy is not impressed with Mason's investigative techniques and sets out on her own.   There's a lot of sexual tension between the pair and it does carry over into the second book in the series.

The next book is called Mercy Kill (2011, Touchstone).  This book is a little more complex.  In order to save Mercy from a downward spiral she gets a job at a local bar, while that sounds a little counterintuitive it keeps her busy.  She runs into an old Army buddy who ends up dead in the parking lot.  Once again Mercy is less than impressed with Mason Dawson and the way he's running the investigation into her friend's death.

Mercy's frustration leads to her decision to run against Mason for county Sheriff.  She uses gladhanding and campaigning as her cover to investigate the murder and try to figure out if it has anything to do with the oil pipeline trying to make it's way across her land. 

I listened to the audiobooks for both of these books.  They were both well done and enjoyable.  The ending of Mercy Kill led me to believe there will be another book in this series.  I really hope so, because I liked the Mercy Gunderson character and would like to see more of her.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: The Reluctant Matchmaker by Shobhan Bantwal

Author: Shobhan Bantwal
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp, 
Date of Publication:June 26, 2012

It starts with a bizarre accident. When young and petite Meena literally collides with her strikingly tall boss, Prajay, she takes a nasty fall, but doesn’t count on falling in love with him. So imagine her dismay when he makes an astonishing request. He wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife, a statuesque, sophisticated Indian-American woman who will complement his remarkable height. 

The Reluctant Matchmaker is a very sweet romance.  It is a story of how love can be found anywhere and sometimes fate has a way of intervening.  Despite what Prajay believes, he and Meena are very right for each other. Meena just needs to convince him.  

I liked Meena.  She is a strong character who has an internal struggle.  On one hand, she wants to be independent and  find her own way.  On the other, she wants to stay true to her culture and upbringing.  I enjoyed the cultural aspects of the book. I liked the way the author wove it into the book.  I felt for Meena and her siblings who are first generation Indian.  They have grown up with their parentscultural influence as well as being influenced by American culture.  They want to honor their parents, yet they want to be happy.  For Meena's brother, this means falling in love with someone who is not Indian and having to face the consequences.

I definitely recommend The Reluctant Matchmaker.  It's a fun book with interesting characters and a cute romance that will leave you smiling in the end.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Revisiting The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin was one of my favorite books in 2010.  It was one of the first books I wrote about back when I started this blog. 

The link to the original post is here.

The next book in the trilogy comes out in October.  It's called The Twelve.  I've been waiting for it since...well August of 2010.  Here we are two years later and I only have to wait 2 more short months for it to come out.  You may remember it was featured as one of my Most Anticipated Books of 2012.

In preparation for the release of The Twelve, I've been rereading The Passage.  It's a big book, I'm sure some of the details have escaped my mind in all this time.  Once again I am reminded of why I loved this book so much.  Cronin has a way of making his characters so real and I love all his little backstories about each of them.  Only Stephen King does this better and seriously he's the master.

Again, I can't recommend enough listening to the audiobook.  Scott Brick is awesome with the narration.  I've found in my poking about that he's done the narration for The Twelve as well so I'll definitely be checking that out when I get a chance.

If you haven't read The Passage, right now is the perfect time because you'll be able to read the next book in just a few short weeks.  Even if you're vampired out like I've been, these aren't like vampires you've ever seen before.  This book will blow your mind!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Moonspun Magic by Catherine Coulter

Author: Catherine Coulter
First Published in 1988 by Onyx

Beautiful Victoria Abermarle feared and fled the imperious desires of handsome Damien Carstairs, Baron Drago. But there was no escaping her own desires when she was rescued on the lawless highways of Regency England by Damien's identical twin, Rafael Carstairs. 

I think I liked Moonspun Magic the best out of the Magic trilogy.   I had liked Rafael's character in the previous book, Calypso Magic.  It was nice to see that he wasn't really a pirate, but a spy for the government. While a bit naive, Victoria give Rafael a run for his money. I thought they were well matched.   Since this is a trilogy, the characters from the first two books show up in this one.  It is always nice to "catch up" with familiar characters.  Ms. Coulter has also added in a very evil character here.  Damien Carstairs is a really despicable man. I felt badly for Victoria that she has to put up with a cousin-in-law like him.  

The only issue I had with the book is that it does have some uncomfortable content.  Damien (the evil twin) and other men in the community are a part of a secret society that kidnap and gang-rape young servant virgins in the surrounding villages.  The scenes are handled  fairly delicately given the subject matter.  But, the general attitude of the men towards the servant girls was appalling and might be hard for some readers to stomach.

In all, this was a good close to the trilogy.  I do recommend it if you are looking for a good historical romance. The audio was done fairly well and worth a listen!

Interview & Review: Sins of the mind by Garland & Gould

Enjoy our interview with L.J and Debbie after my thoughts on Sins of the Mind!

Authors: L.J. Garland & Debbie Gould
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Date of publication: May 2012

Seven years ago, Abby Montgomery survived a brutal attack. Now she is ready to put her pain in the past and move on with her life. The problem is, one by one the men in her life are being viciously murdered.

My thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed Sins of the mind.  It was a well written mystery and although I had pretty much figured out who the killer was halfway through, it didn't take away from my enjoyment.  There was still a surprise in the end that I didn't see coming.   I liked the chemistry between Abby and Ethan. While the romance was quick, it was believable and very hot!  I'm hoping that the next book in the series will feature Ethan's friend Will. I look forward to seeing what comes next from this team of authors.  They work very well together!

DEBBIE GOULD: Thanks for inviting us, I’m excited.
LJ GARLAND:  Yes, thanks so much for having us today!

Kari: What inspired you to become a writer?

DEBBIE GOULD: My daughter, she kept meeting a bunch of losers, so I decided to write about the type of man I wanted her to find, lol. She’s been a huge supporter. She and my boys continue to be great inspirations. 
LJ GARLAND: I had all these voices in my head, telling me their stories. They kept me up at night. Seemed the only way to get them to shut up was to write about them. Lol My husband has encouraged from the start (probably cause he got tired of me talking to myself – lol). And Deb…she helps keep me on track. (Hey, tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!) lol

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

LJ GARLAND: As I recall, we were both on the same Internet forum. We’d known each other for…what? Two years, Deb?
 DEBBIE GOULD:  Yup, about that. We had been brainstorming a plot in one of the books I was writing (still unfinished, lol) and I showed her the first chapter of another story that had been screaming in my brain at me. She liked it, and I asked her if she wanted to co-write it. 
LJ GARLAND:  That’s right! And I was excited because the story was interesting. Romance and murder, what’s not to like? So, we started brainstorming ideas and things got pretty intense and…what’s the word I’m looking for? 
DEBBIE GOULD: Yes. That’s a great descriptor. But we both loved it and voilà, Sins of the Mind! 
DEBBIE GOULD: From there, came the town of Red River. 
LJ GARLAND:  Yes. We both loved the town and the characters that survived the first book.  
DEBBIE GOULD: It was a big joint effort. 
LJ GARLAND: Yep. Debbie and I work great together. We get to talking and the ideas just flow. It amazes me how “on-track” we are with each other. We’re both very open…listen to each other’s thoughts and ideas…whining, complaining… *cough*, um, laughing and giggling. 
DEBBIE GOULD:  Definitely. We have great brainstorming sessions on all our stories, and it’s amazing the things we come up with. I also think we share a brain, lol.
 LJ GARLAND:  Yeah! A lot of times, I’m IMing something to Deb, and by the time I hit SEND, BAM – she’s IMd me the same thing! LOL

Kari: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

DEBBIE GOULD: We’re actually working on three stories right now.
LJ GARLAND: Oh gosh, yes…we are! We keep tossing these chapters back and forth and sometimes I forget which character goes with which story. LOL
DEBBIE GOULD: I try to keep her straight, but it’s difficult at times. Especially if Laura hasn’t had her coffee.
LJ GARLAND: (glances down at coffee cup) Oh wait. I need a refill. Back in a sec.
DEBBIE GOULD: There she goes again. (sigh) We are working on the next book in the Red River Series. Yup more murder, mayhem, and romance, lol.
LJ GARLAND: Back. Now, Red River series? Yep, we’ll be torturing the next characters even more than the first. Though, I think Sins of the Mind had several unexpected twists…and the characters got banged up pretty good.
DEBBIE GOULD: Think we should tease?
DEBBIE GOULD: Okay. So, the next book in the Red River series is Will Donovan’s story. Here’s a little bit of our latest WIP….

FBI Agent Will Donovan jogged down the platform toward the train. Each step jolted the flashlight in his hand, sending the beam of light dashing over the concrete in front of him. Would he be too late?
Rows of light illuminated the abandoned trains, left in an old offshoot line of Boston’s Boylston Street Station. He rushed past a wall decorated with graffiti and cobwebs, his footsteps ringing hollow in the old concrete-lined tunnel. Behind him his partner, Kate Yarbrough followed.
“Will,” she called, her voice a harsh whisper filled with warning.
He slowed up. Kate was right. Rushing in could get them both killed. Just because the psycho bastard hadn’t set traps before didn’t mean there weren’t any this time. With both hands, he swept his flashlight beam and Glock 23 across the area, searching out the monster who’d murdered so many women. But only dirt, gravel, and rusted tracks were revealed.
He twisted back to his partner, who tilted her head toward the train car. Get on the train, Will. Find the girl. He nodded.

DEBBIE GOULD: We’re also just finished a suspense short story for Decadent’s 1Night Stand series. 
LJ GARLAND: Oh, yeah…those hottie pararescue guys.
DEBBIE GOULD: Oh, my they are sooo hot and a great bunch of guys.
LJ GARLAND: That story is a romantic suspense. And we’re hoping to build a string of stories about these amazing guys.
DEBBIE GOULD: We’ve each got a 1Night Stand story. L.J.’s is Dead or Alive. A sci-fi romance/thriller. It’s fast-paced and has wonderful characters and a Hot romance. I’m waiting for that story with Mr. Jones, btw. Lol
LJ GARLAND: I’m working on it! Debbie’s 1Night Stand story is Second Chance. It’s a romantic suspense and the first book in the Pararescuemen series. Awesome characters and a very emotional story. We both liked the idea of writing a series about these amazing guys, that we sat down and hammered out the next one.
DEBBIE GOULD: Did I mention they are hot!
LJ GARLAND: LOL Yes, Debbie. The guys are hot. But they’re more than that, too. Right? They have their own set of issues/baggage. In My Sights was just contracted with Decadent Publishing. The third story we’re working on is a short paranormal romantic suspense.
DEBBIE GOULD: Oh, yeah. The tat story.
LJ GARLAND: Another twisty tale…or it should be by the time we’re finished.
DEBBIE GOULD: No doubt, lol. If one of our minds doesn’t think of it, the other does.
LJ GARLAND: That one’s a paranormal romance. So, hopefully, we’ll have more releases soon. Some shorts and a longer story or two.

Kari: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

DEBBIE GOULD: Hmmm, I can’t think of a specific character. But I like strong women who can take care of themselves, yet once they meet THAT guy, will lower her defenses and let him in, and I like the same characteristics in a man. Alpha all the way except when it comes to his girl.
LJ GARLAND: Wow, I probably should pick some classic character like Jane Eyre or Elizabeth Bennett or maybe Scarlett O’Hara. But right now I’m finishing up The Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen is pretty cool. I like that she’s resourceful, giving, and smart. I like really strong heroines. Another fav character is Alyssa Locke from Suzanne Brockmann’s Trouble Shooter Series. Another kick-butt heroine.

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

LJ GARLAND: Boring, I know, but I’d pick an indoor cat. I love kitties and I look at them and what a relaxing life they have…pampered, waited on hand-and-foot, brushed, get to sleep as much as they like, yet they’re also pretty darn smart, resourceful (opening/closing doors), stealthy, acrobatic. Plus they purr. lol I know how much I like to hold them when their motor starts running. I can’t imagine how awesome/relaxing it must feel to BE the one purring. ;-) 
DEBBIE GOULD: Cougar, LMAO. Enough said.

- We can be tracked down at where we blog, chat about stuff, and interview other authors.
- L.J. can be caught at and emailed at You can also tweet her at @LJ_Garland1
- Debbie can be found at and emailed at  Tweet her at @DebbieGould
- We love hearing from people who have enjoyed our stories!
And you can find Sins of the Mind here!

LJ GARLAND: Thank you so much for having us here today!  
DEBBIE GOULD: Yes, thanks! We had an awesome time!

Kari: Thanks, ladies!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Author Interview: Jenna Jaxon


Please welcome author Jenna Jaxon who is promoting her book, Only Scandal Will Do. She shared a few thoughts with us!

Author: Jenna Jaxon
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Date of publication: July 2012

He has the woman of his dreams, but what price will he have to pay to win her heart?

Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.
Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she's a lady, but how can she be?

Kari: What inspired you to become a writer?

Jenna: Writing has always been something that I enjoyed.  I wrote my first story in 3rd grade--about a woman who finds a kitten.  Write what you know, right?  We were always adopting kittens and cats at our house.  In 8th grade we were given writing prompt about a brother and sister who discovered a time machine.  I went crazy with it, wrote a Civil War era story that was a pretty decent length.  Got a 100% on it and kind of knew then I was a writer, because I enjoyed writing so much.

Three and a half years ago, January of 2009, I read Kathleen Woodiwiss’s final book, Everlasting.  It was set in my favorite period--medieval--and when I finished it, I looked at the computer in my office and said, “I can write something like that.”  And sat down and started to draft the outline for Time Enough to Love.  I haven’t stopped since.

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

Jenna: Everywhere. Only Scandal Will Do was due partly an historical incident--the last peer hanged in England--and partly a scene in another historical that I took a completely different way. My erotic novella Hog Wild was supposed to be an erotic fractured fairy tale--my daughter suggested The Three Little Pigs, my husband rides Harleys so I immediately thought about HOGs, and it took off from there.  My current book I’m in edits with, 7 Days of Seduction, was inspired by Katy Perry’s song “Last Friday Night.”  But the ideas just run rampant.  Everything is a potential idea for a story.  I was visiting an old friend, glanced at him, and thought, “Well, he’d be an unlikely hero,” (because he fits no romance hero stereotype) and I now have an outline for “An Unlikely Hero” sitting on my computer. If only my fingers can keep up with the ideas!

Kari: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Jenna: Well, I’ve been a busy little bee this summer. As I said, I’m finishing up edits for 7 Days of Seduction, I’ve got a Victorian historical novel, As Long As You’re Mine, out to three agents, I’ve just sent Betrothal, Book 1 of my medieval trilogy, Time Enough to Love--my first novel, if you remember--to my editor and I plan to self-publish that this fall (followed swiftly by Betrayal and Beleaguered).  And I’m starting work on revisions of the second book in the House of Pleasure series, the one that follows Scandal, Only Marriage Will Do.

Kari:  Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Jenna: The one who immediately pops into my head is Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind. She was the first heroine I’d read who took her destiny into her own hands.  Right or wrong, she was determined that she would be the captain of her own fate and I admire her for that.  Women haven’t always been taught that that’s acceptable, and to have her example when I was growing up helped shape my views of what women could and could not do.

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

Jenna: I love the whimsy of this question!  I think perhaps a meerkat.  I watched the show, Meerkat Manor, several years ago and was fascinated by the community these animals build out in the Kalahari Desert. It was my favorite show while it aired, an animal style soap opera that kept me on the edge of my seat. They were all very personable and I’d love to join the Whiskers group. LOL

Thank you Jenna!!

About the author:

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical  and contemporary romance.  She is currently finishing revisions to  her third full length novel, As Long As You’re Mine, set in Victorian London and Richmond, Virginia.  Her Georgian novel, Only Scandal Will Do, the first in what she hopes will be a series of five interconnecting novels, will be released in May 2012.

Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage. 

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review & Interview: Section 132 by Helga Zeiner

Please welcome author Helga Zeiner who is promoting her book Section 132.  Stay tuned for her interview after my thoughts about the book,

Giveaway details:  The author has kindly offered on ecopy of her book.  Just leave a comment with a valid e-mail.  This will be open until August 25, 3012.

Author: Helga Zeiner
Publisher: POW wow Books
Date of Publication: July 2011

Lillian grows up in an American fundamentalist Mormon sect which still practices polygamy. At thirteen she becomes the child-bride of a Canadian Bishop. His compound is located deep in the wilderness of British Columbia, totally isolated from the rest of the world. 

I believe in honest reviews, so I will start by saying that I didn't finish this book. The reason for this is NOT because it is poorly written or because of a weak plot.  On the contrary,  Section 132 is very well written and compelling. I thought the synopsis sounded interesting when I was approached for the blog tour, so I decided to try it out.   But it deals with a subject that I found very uncomfortable to read about and I had a hard time finishing it.  Perhaps it is because I have a daughter who is just a few years away from the main character's age that it bothered me so much. I can't really pinpoint why.  

The book deals with a fundamentalist Morman sect very much like the ones that have dominated the news in the past couple of years. In this community, Brother Jacob, deems himself the Bishop and takes on many child brides. While he believes it is what God intended, he does nothing to care for them properly.  The women and children are forced to work and live in appalling conditions.  In reality, he is nothing but an insane pedophile and murderer. When we enter the story, he "marries" Lillian who is just 13.  Yes, it is as horrifying as it sounds and her initiation scene was hard to stomach. I was appalled by the way the women of the compound allowed themselves to be treated the way they were.  I know that they were raised that way, but it was still disturbing. The story alternates between Lillian and a land developer, Richard, who has purchased the land next to the compound.

Section 132 has gotten great reviews and I definitely think that readers should give it a try.  While the book wasn't for me, I would still recommend it to others who are interested in this subject. 

What inspired you to become a writer

It was actually a person: my dad. I have been making up stories as soon as I could hold a pen. When I had written an essay for school, my dad usually got the whole family together and made me read it to them. I loved it – I guess those were my first ‘book-readings’.
Quite frankly, I don’t remember many of those essays. Some must have been pretty awful - I was still a child, searching for the best way to express myself - but he always praised my work and encouraged me. He was so proud of my talent, I wish he would still be around and share the joy of seeing my work published.

Where do you come up with the idea for your book?

I have no idea where the initial spark comes from. Something captures my attention and doesn’t let go any more. It’s a bit obsessive. I can’t stop thinking about it and when I start to dig deeper into it, I suddenly discover that information about this subject is all around me. In this crazy research stage my protagonists start appearing. They talk to me, argue with me and become part of my every-day life. Usually they tell me when it’s time to sit down and write about them. My first draft is written in an all-consuming manner and takes me only about 2 to 3 months for a novel of approx. 450 pages.

What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

I have a project lined up which I’m currently researching. It is top secret as it is a very hot topic and I don’t want to give anything away at this stage. While I’m researching, which is usually quite time-consuming, waiting for official replies etc, I am currently translating one of the novels I have originally written in German. To move between the languages is a lot of fun. I discovered that my writing styles in the different languages are quite different.

Who is your favorite literary character and why?

My current favorite is still Liz Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. She is independent, smart, strong, yet also vulnerable and sensitive. Just like many women are. Most female protagonists in the novels I write are like that. They have to overcome enormous difficulties to succeed in life and fulfill their dreams.

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

An eagle! I have always wanted to soar into the sky and look at the world below from a perspective of ultimate freedom. I wanted this so much that I took up skydiving when I was 25. I have jumped out of airplanes, hot-air balloons and helicopters over 200 times. Diving through the sky is exhilarating beyond imagination, yet I still think the eagle has an advantage. He can stay up there as long as he likes.

Thanks Helga!

About the author:

Helga Zeiner Canadian and German citizen. At the age of 18, having completed her arts degree at the Art School of Bavaria, Helga Zeiner left Germany. She then lived and worked for two years in Australia and twelve years in Hong Kong. Since 2004 she and her husband Manfred live in the wilderness of British Columbia, about 5 hours north of Vancouver. There they own over 500 acres which they have developed into a gated cabin community, the Rainbow Country Estate. For as long as Helga can remember, she has been writing novels, usually in her spare time. However, nowadays most of her time is devoted to writing. Several of her novels have been published in Germany already: Magische Tage, Lesani Verlag, 1997 – a Hong Kong novel Machtgelüste, Bastei-Lübbe, 1999 – a Hong Kong novel Magische Tage, Weltbild Verlag, 2006 Das Geheimnis von Lake Lousie, Fredebold&Fischer, 2007 – a Canadian novel Feuermeer, Fredebold&Fischer, 2008 – an Australian novel Silberbüchse und Bärentöter - e-book,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Tour: Morgan Hall by Bo Briar

Author: Bo Briar
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Date of Publication: December 2011

Love never dies, and revenge never sleeps in Morgan Hall…

Morgan Hall, a desolate country estate, has been in Lady Christie Morgan’s family for almost 400 years. A family cursed by eternal tragedy, and now Christie is the last Morgan.
Apparitions appear, sparking a chain of horrifying occurrences involving Christie and the two men who love her: Anthony Longfield-Lothian and Tristan Ely.
A saga of mystery and sordid family history weaves intrigue for the passionate love triangle. Past and present war as the secrets of three aristocratic families unfold – resurfacing in a spine-chilling mystery of passion and lust, ghostly happenings, and blood-curdling murders.
Morgan Hall was a pretty quick read, especially when it sucked me right in and wouldn't let me put it down.  I really enjoyed the book.  It reminded me of an old, Gothic ghost story.  I kept forgetting that the book was set in modern times because it had an old fashioned feel to it.  Christie has moved back in her ancestral home.  When her childhood friend, Anthony and his friend Tristan come to visit, weird things start happening.  She is seeing people that aren't there and rooms in the house are getting trashed.  Is she crazy or is something else going on? 
The relationship between Christie and the guys was a little weird to me.  She is definitely torn between the two men, but I didn't feel the connection between her and Tristan at first.  Their affair was a little fast for me and I felt badly for Anthony.  I definitely don't want to give away too much because the end would be ruined with spoilers.  I loved the ending as it had a great and very creepy twist!
If you are in the mood for a great creepy novel, then pick this one up!

About the Author:

Bo Briar nursed a love of art, music and architecture from childhood as well as all things ghostly. Her years at a British boarding school secluded in an ancient English county of majestic stately homes, historical towns and quaint medieval villages, nestled among mysterious forests and chocolate-box landscapes formed many of her lifelong impressions, beliefs and ideas.
Although having a natural affinity for the countryside Bo lived most of her life between the big cities of London and Hong Kong. Though widely travelled, she will always return to the two cities she calls home.
Her love for writing began at university where she would often diverge from composing dissertations to creating spooky stories. After taking a sabbatical from work in the hope of quality time with her two young children, she has also managed to complete and publish her first novel Morgan Hall. She is currently writing the sequel.
Bo welcomes you to her website at:
Feel free to email Bo at:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

by:  Charlotte Rogan
published by:  Reagan Arthur Books
publish date:  April 3, 2012

The Lifeboat is about the survivors of the sinking of an ocean liner in 1914.  It's not about the Titanic.  There are references to it in this book.  So we're dealing with a completely different boat and different circumstances, although pretty much everything else is the same.  Too many people, not enough lifeboats and it's a life and death struggle to get in the few lifeboats available.

The difference with this book is what if no mayday alert got out?  What if those survivors in the lifeboats spent nearly a month at sea waiting to be rescued? 

The Lifeboat is told from the viewpoint of 22 year old Grace Winter.  She is recalling her time spent in the lifeboat while she is on trial for murder.  Grace details the everyday struggles the 39 people had to endure to stay alive on the small boat while they suffered from starvation, dehydration and exposure to the elements. 

For the most part I really liked this book.  I'm always a sucker for a survival story and especially when women are the strong ones.  I did have questions when I finished this book.  Why the ship sank was never explained.  The secrets of the boxes weren't ever told in full, although the contents were somewhat hinted at.  Some of the actions of John Hardie, the ship's mate, didn't make sense and I guess it was chalked up to madness brought on by starvation, but I don't know.  It felt like there was more to it, but it wasn't explained.

Want to read more reviews of The Lifeboat?
Literate Housewife
Hooked Bookworm

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: The Princess and the Peer by Tracy Anne Warren

Author: Tracy Anne Warren
Publisher: Signet 
Date of Publication: April 2012
Audio-book: Tantor Media
Narrator: Justine Eyre

When a royal summons from her brother arrives, Emma knows it’s time to embrace her duties as the princess of a small European kingdom, and marry the man her brother has chosen for her…a stranger she has never met. Instead she does what any self-respecting princess would do—she runs away. All she wants is one week in London. One week to experience everything life has to offer, before she is locked away in a loveless marriage forever…

This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Warren.  I know I will be seeking out more of her works. The Princess and the Peer was a random pick off of my library's audio-book shelf.  Occasionally, I can find a recently published book that sounds good.  I was hoping for a good romance and I wasn't disappointed.  

After learning she is to be married off to a king in order to save her country, Emma runs away to experience a little fun before the inevitable.  What she didn't count on was meeting and falling in love with Nick.  Emma and Nick are so perfect for each other. It was fun to watch them fall in love. I especially loved the pub scene!   It was heartbreaking knowing there was so much in the way of them being together.  I was so hoping they could figure out a plan for them to get their HEA.  I loved the end and how it worked out.  The solution was a nice surprise.

The other characters, mainly Emma's other princess friends were wonderful and a lot of fun.  I know that they are the other princesses in the last two books of the trilogy.  I especially loved Ariadne and her forward thinking.  She snubs her nose at convention and hates the situation that Emma is being forced into.  I wonder if she and Prince Rupert will end up together?  Princess Mercedes's story, Her Highness and the Highlander, is the next book and comes out in November.  I will definitely be looking for it to hit the shelves.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: Heartbroken by Lisa Unger

Author: Lisa Unger
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Audiobook: Random House Audio
Date of Publication: June 2012

Long after anyone expected Kate to do anything with her life, she did. Using the journals left behind by her aunt and grandmother, she wrote a novel based on a very real generation-old love story that ended in tragedy. On the other side of town, Emily is about to set fire to her life. She’s in a dead-end job and is involved with the wrong man; she can feel herself being drawn into darkness, with horrific consequences. With nowhere to go, she finds herself on the run.  Without knowing each other, and with lives that couldn't be more different, Kate and Emily head to the same point on the map: Heart Island

I can't say that I really cared that much for Heartbroken.  I'm not sure why I even finished listening to the book.  It probably should have been a DNF book for me. I think I was hoping that it would get better or that something would happen. The lackluster ending was very disappointing.  I was left with the feeling of...That's it?   I'm not sure what type of book Heartbroken was supposed to be. I thought it was going to be a thriller based on the synopsis, but I was wrong. At first, it seemed to be a character study.  We are introduced to several characters and get a glimpse into their lives. It was hard to figure out how some of the characters fit into the story.  The first 2/3 of the book were tedious and kind of slow. In the last 1/3 of the book, it turned into an unexciting thriller. 

None of the characters were very likeable nor did I really feel connected with them.  I had some mild sympathy for Emily in the beginning, but as the book advanced, she wasn't as pitiful as I thought she was at first.  She was almost as bad as her boyfriend.  She knew what she was doing was wrong, yet she kept being a doormat and allowed him to use her repeatedly in his schemes.  I liked Birdy the least as she isolates everyone in her life.  I was surprised that her family hadn't stopped making and effort with her long before the events in the book take place.  The rest of the characters were just forgettable.

This book did get good reviews, but I just didn't care for it.  The audio book was fairly good and that is probably why I finished it.