Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guest Post & Review: Red Zone by Sherri Hayes

Welcome back to author Sheri Hayes.  She joins us today to promote her latest book, Red Zone.  Enjoy her post about what motivates her as a writer!

Publisher: The Writers' Coffee Shop Publishing House
Date of publication: February 2013

After a case ended badly for Rebecca Carson, she’s losing her mind sitting around her apartment waiting on her superiors to allow her to return to work. Since she was a teenager, the only thing she’d ever wanted was to join the FBI. Now that dream was in danger.

Gage Daniels has made a pretty good life for himself. A nice house. A career he loves. As a professional football player, he’s used to getting almost everything he’d ever want with just the snap of his fingers. This includes women. A well-timed smile is usually all it takes to attract the opposite sex, especially in Nashville.

My Thoughts:

I have read two other books by Ms. Hayes and I was looking forward to reading Red Zone.  I wasn't disappointed.  I devoured Red Zone!  This is the second book in the Daniels brothers series.  The first of which was Behind Closed Doors (my review).  This time around we get to know Gage Daniels, the youngest of the brothers.  Of course, being a football player, he is sexy and tough.  I loved how he flustered straight laced FBI agent, Rebecca.  Both characters are very strong and well matched. Watching their relationship develop was a lot of fun and very sweet.  I liked the change of pace in this book.  It was nice to read about a woman being hired to protect a man.  While I was able to figure out the stalker pretty early on, I still enjoyed the journey to catching him. I can't wait to read the next book in this series! This is another well written romantic suspense that you won't want to miss!

What motivates you as a writer? by Sherri Hayes

I’ve always had stories floating around in my head. Once I started reading novels, I found myself continuing the story in my mind when I’d lie down to go to bed at night. If I were enjoying a book, I wouldn’t want it to end.

Never did I think growing up that I would become a published author. I was always creative, acting and singing in school, but I’d never considered writing as a career path because I’ve always been a horrible speller. All I can say is thank goodness for spell check and editors.

What motivates me the most is the characters themselves. They want their stories told, and I want to see what will happen next in their lives. Since I don’t plot out my stories ahead of time, I’m right there taking the journey with my characters. I get to see what will happen to them only moments before I type it sometimes. It’s fun, and keeps writing exciting. I never know what’s going to happen next.

About the author:

Sherri is the author of four novels: Hidden Threat,Slave (Finding Anna Book 1), Need (Finding Anna Book 2), Behind Closed Doors (A Daniels Brothers’ Novel), Red Zone (A Daniels Brothers’ Novel), and a short story, A Christmas Proposal. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and three cats. Her mother fostered her love for books at a young age by reading to her as a child. Stories have been floating around in her head for as long as she can remember; however, she didn’t start writing them down until she turned thirty. It has become a creative outlet that allows her to explore a wide range of emotions, while having fun taking her characters through all the twists and turns she can create. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found helping her husband in his woodworking shop.

Buying link:

Throwback Thursday: Untamed by Nora Roberts

Author: Nora Roberts
First published in 1983 by Silhouette 


of superlatives . . .of illusions . . .an ageless wonder in a changing world. So Jo Wilder, the diminutive lion trainer, told Keane Prescott, the new owner of the circus. And he believed her. Night after night he had watched her fearlessly enter the lions’ cage in her gold spangled body suit, her dark hair flowing down her back.

He had seen her gentle the fiercest lion, command the lead elephant to kneel, tumble with the acrobats. Why couldn’t he realize that her heart did cartwheels at the very sight of him, and that for her the greatest wonder of them all was when he held her in his arms?

Being a fan of Nora Roberts, I have been slowly making my way through her very early works.  Untamed is a very quick read so I thought I would breeze right through it. Instead I found myself just skipping ahead to see if it got any better.  Sadly, it didn't.  I can't honestly say that I enjoyed this one.  It was just too cheesy to enjoy fully.  I didn't like either Jo or Keane.  I couldn't decide what Jo was supposed to be, a brave lion tamer or a naive innocent.  I had a hard time buying the innocence act since she grew up in the circus.  Keane just came across as a playboy. The back and forth angst got tiring. I'd say skip this one if you haven't read it.  It really isn't worth the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leap Into Books Hop

Welcome to the Leap into Books hop sponsored by I'm a Reader, Not a Writer and Jinky is Reading.  You are at stop # 90.  For a full list of participating blogs go here.

Today we have 2 separate prizes up for grabs.  To enter just fill out the rafflecopter below.  Good luck! US entrants only, please.

Prize #1: HC copy The Big Exit by David Carnoy

Prize #2: HC Copy of Fuse by

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Joint review: Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown

Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of Publication: March 1, 2013

Everything is calm in Cadillac, Texas until Aunt Agnes declares war on Violet Prescott, the president of the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society, just in time for the annual jubilee. But after the festivities—and the hostilities—are over, it's four friends who are left standing, proving once again that friendship is forever.

When I started this book, I almost put it down.  I didn't much like the characters.  I thought they were abrasive and read as older than they were.  I'm glad I gave it a chance.  I ended up enjoying the story.  You ever want to read a story about a nasty person who thinks they are all that and a bag of chips?  You know the type.  She's the queen bee in town and everyone bows to her.  Ever want to read a story about seeing her get what's due?  Then this book is for you.

 It is filled with hilarious characters.  Aunt Agnes is the type of old lady I want to be when I get older!  The small town gossip makes for some fun times. But at the heart of the book, you will find a wonderful story about deep friendship.  All I can say, is stick with it and I think you will enjoy the book. 

I'm a big fan of Southern Literature so I was happy to give this book a shot.  I was really disappointed with the characters.  They were all big and loud and outrageous.  It was the characters were all Paula Deen at various stages of her life. 

I started reading the book and didn't care for so I set it aside.  When I tried to go back to it, I found that my feelings really hadn't changed.  So, unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me.  This is one of the rare times Kari and I disagree on a book.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Interview & Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Welcome to author, Cora Carmack.  She joins us today with an interview as she promoted her new book, Losing It

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date of publication: October 2012

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible-- a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theater professor. She'd left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

My thoughts:
 I really enjoyed Losing It and found myself not wanting to put it down. It is well written and a pretty quick read. The attraction between Bliss and Garrick was instant and compelling. Their romance was very sweet. The book deals with her "first time" and all of the anxiety and questions that goes along with it. I loved that Bliss followed her gut feeling and waited until it was truly right for her, not because her best friend thought it was a scandal that it hadn't happened yet.  I think that was a great message to send. Along with Bliss' first time, the book deals with a lot of the drama that surround college age adults such as navigating friendships, unrequited love, and what comes after graduation.  

Losing It falls under the new category "New Adult".  Given the fact that the characters are around 21-24years old, I would say this qualifies.  I would keep it to at least upper high school as it deals with sex and drinking. The next book, Faking It comes out this summer.  It's Cade's story.  I felt so badly for him in Losing it, that I am glad he is getting his own book.

Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Cora: I’m an insatiable reader. I read a lot when I was younger, but especially my last year in high school, I was averaging close to a book a day. Anytime you’re reading that much, I think it’s a natural progression. I got to the point where these ideas were popping into my head for stories I was desperate to read. But they didn’t exist, so I had to write them for myself.

Kari& Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Cora:  From just about everywhere. I might get a little spark of something from real life or from a conversation or a dream, and then I just keep picking at it until it grows into a full story.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Cora: Well, in June, my second book titled FAKING IT releases. It’s a companion novel to losing it that follows Cade. As the resident nice guy, he gets swept up into a crazy plot wherein he pretends to be a girl’s boyfriend to please her parents. But since he’s awesome in human form, he impresses them a little too much, and they have to keep faking. Craziness ensues.

I’m also working on a companion novel about Kelsey set after they graduate. Kelsey’s backpacking through Europe having all kinds of crazy adventures. I can’t say much more than that except that I’m LOVING writing this book. And the guy… *swoon*. 

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Cora: Hermione Granger. Hands down. I grew up on Harry Potter, and I identified with her so much. I, too, was a know-it-all, insatiable reader, and victim of incredibly fuzzy hair. More than that, though, she was strong and brave and beautiful, and I pretty much just want to be her, okay?

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

Cora: Dolphin. I’ve always wanted to swim with one, so why not take it a step further and just be one. Plus, all you have to do is do a little jump and people love you. Now, that’s a life I want. 

About the author:
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blog Tour: Long Way Home by Mariah Stewart

Giveaway details:
 One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Long Way Home by Mariah Stewart.  Just leave a comment with a valid e-mail address to enter.  (US/Canada only)  The contest will stay open until March 3. Good luck!

Author: Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date of publication: January 2013

As the only child of a wealthy investment manager, Ellie Chapman has never known anything besides a life of perfect privilege. But her years of good fortune come to an abrupt end when her father is exposed for swindling billions of dollars from innocent investors in a massive Ponzi scheme. And just like that, Ellie loses everything: money, job, home--even her fiance, who's jailed as her father's partner in crime. With no job prospects on the horizon, no cash, and her family name in tatters, Ellie has only one place to go. 

The Long Way Home is the 6th book in the Chesapeake Diaries series set in the town of St. Dennis, MD. Ellie has inherited her mother's house and has come to town to fix it up and sell it.  She also wants to keep a low profile especially because of who her father is and what he has done to thousands of people. She comes with nothing.  The terms of the will state that she must live in the house for six months or everything goes to charity.  I really felt badly for Ellie.  She essentially has lost everything.  By coming to this sleepy little town, she not only gains a home and friends, she also gets her mother back.  

The characters in the book are what make it special.  The town is filled with interesting characters, such as Miss Grace.  She runs the local paper.  She also keeps a diary.  Entries from the diary are sprinkled throughout the book and they add some background and insight into the town.  I loved Cam!  I loved watching his and Ellie's relationship develop. Because of his background, he is perfect for Ellie. Their HEA was incredibly sweet!

Usually, when I am asked to review a book that is far into a series, I try to catch up and read the previous ones.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to do that this time.  But, it made no difference.  At no time did I ever feel like I was missing something.  In a way, I felt like I was meeting the town and its inhabitants just as Ellie did.  This can really be read as a stand alone novel, but after reading it, I am anxious to read the ones that came before.  Pick this one up if you get the chance.  I think you will enjoy a peek into St. Dennis and won't want to leave.

About the author:

Mariah Stewart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-six novels and three novellas and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. She is a RITA finalist in romantic suspense and the recipient of the Award of Excellence for contemporary romance, a RIO Award for excellence in women's fiction, and a Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. A three-time winner of the Golden Leaf Award presented by the New Jersey Romance Writers, Stewart was recently awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award (which placed her in their Hall of Fame along with former recipients Nora Roberts and Mary Jo Putney — very excellent company, indeed!)

After having written seven contemporary romance novels, Stewart found true happiness writing murder and mayhem. She considers herself one lucky son of a gun to have landed the best job in the world: getting paid for making up stories. At home. In sweats and J. Crew flip flops. Could life be sweeter?

Mariah's website:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Entwined by Heather Dixon

by:  Heather Dixon
published by:  Greenwillow Books
publish date:  March 29, 2011

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.  But there is a cost:  The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Are you in a funk after the season finale of Downton Abbey?  Wish you had something to tide you over and lift your spirits after the questionable ending of Season 3?  Entwined by Heather Dixon might be the answer.  It seemed to have all of the same kinds of drama, but with a little bit of Harry Potter magic sprinkled throughout.

It tells the story of Azalea and her need to find a suitable husband, because as the eldest princess her husband will be King.  The kingdom is losing money and she doesn't have a suitable dowry so she's worried that Parliament might make her choice for her.   But in the midst of that she has to look after her 11 sisters while her father is at war.  Also, there might be a malevolent spirit lurking in the walls of the castle.

I listened to the audiobook for Entwined and really enjoyed it.  I found that it got overly long and times and some of the subplots could have been eliminated, but other than that it was a lovely fairy tale story and well told.  Suitable for all levels of YA.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2 Novellas in 1: Sarah's Fate & Mason's Fate by Marissa Dobson

If you are looking for a couple of quick and steamy reads, pick up these two by Marissa Dobson. Sarah's Fate and Mason's Fate are the final two books in the Fate series.

Publisher: Sunshine Press
Date of publication: February 2013

Sarah McMillan’s life came crashing down when her parents died. Moving across country, she’s determined to pull the pieces together and get on with her life. But when a man steps into her path, all her plans may have been for nothing.

Josh Andrews spent years searching for his mate, only to find her when he least expects it. Fate brings him Sarah, someone who needs him more than he’d thought he’d needed her. But convincing her to be his mate and start a new life might be harder than the journey to find her.

Sarah's Fate is the second in the Fate series that began with Snowy Fate (my review).  While it is part of a series, you could read this as a stand alone novella.  I enjoyed Sarah and Josh's story.  Sarah is trying to get her life back together and Josh wants the life his brother has with his mate.  He believes Sarah s is his mate.  The problem is she doesn't know what to make of Josh's alternate self.  I thought Sarah's reaction to seeing him become a wolf was pretty realistic.  Their love story is very sweet and definitely hot!  Right now it's on sale for $0.99 in celebration of the final book in the series, Mason's Fate on March 1, 2013.

Publisher: Sunshine Press
Date of publication: March 1, 2013

Still recovering from his last mission in Afghanistan, Mason Andrews has returned home to civilian life with a heavy heart and blood on his hands. Though he’d rather lock himself away and heal on his own, his family has a different idea—bringing him out of his comfort zone and into a place where healing is his only option. But when he finally gives in, he finds that there’s more for him than just his thoughts and pain—there’s her.

After breaking down on a deserted road with her sick infant, Tiffany Tyler is at her wit’s end. All she wants is to be back in the comfort of her own home, away from judging eyes. Mason, whose eyes hold more pain and memories than she thought possible, steps out of the shadows to her rescue.

As the final novella in the series,  Mason's Fate is one that I wish was a little longer.  I wanted to see more of Mason and Tiffany together.  While there was definitely enough background that I felt like I knew them both, I just wanted more of them.  I think they were my favorite couple out of the three stories.  Mason is back from war and trying to find his place.  He finds it in Tiffany and her baby daughter.  Their HEA was really sweet and left me with a smile!

I definitely recommend this series.  Give them a try and see what you think!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

Authors: Linda Howard & Linda Winstead Jones
Publisher: Ballantine
Date of Publication: November 2012

Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.

Running Wild starts a new series by authors Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones.  For the most part, I enjoyed the book. I liked the main characters, Carlin and Zeke.  They are well matched and their attraction definitely sizzles.  Any fan of Linda Howard's love scenes will really enjoy the ones in here.  

The peripheral characters were also fun.  I especially liked Spencer.  He was just too cute and I hope he gets his own story!  There wasn't much mystery and I never really got the sense that Carlin was in any real danger until the end of the book. So, I would read it for the romance, not the suspense.

My biggest complaint about the book was the same issue I had with their previous collaboration, Blood Born (my review).  It was so repetitive.  I think a third of the book could have been cut out.  I was annoyed after the 5th time I was reminded that Carlin really couldn't stay at the ranch and would have to move on soon.  Had I not been listening to the audio, I probably would have skimmed passages at that point to move the story along.  The character's also had a lot of internal dialogue that really slowed the book down.  I couldn't find any info on the next one, but I'll probably continue with the series if it ever comes out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday: The Love Talker by Elizabeth Peters

Author: Elizabeth Peters
First published in 1980  by Dodd Mead

Laurie has finally returned to Idlewood, the beloved family home deep in the Maryland woods where she found comfort and peace as a lonely young girl. But things are very different now. There is no peace in Idlewood. The haunting sound of a distant piping breaks the stillness of a snowy winter's evening. Seemingly random events have begun to take on a sinister shape. And dotty old Great Aunt Lizzie is convinced that there are fairies about — and she has photographs to prove it. For Laurie, one fact is becoming disturbingly clear: there is definitely something out there in the woods — something fiendishly, cunningly, malevolently human — and the lives of her aging loved ones, as well as Laurie's own, are suddenly at serious risk.

 I'm a fan of Barbara Michaels aka Elizabeth Peters, so I thought I would see if The Love Talker was like the other Barbara Michaels books I have read in the past.  It was very similar, but it ended up being just an OK read for me  It may have been the narrator of the audiobook.  Her voices blended together too much so that it was sometimes hard to figure out who was talking.  I may have liked it more if I had read it instead.

The mystery was easy enough to figure out.  Even the reveals/twists at the end were nothing earth shattering. Although, I thought that one of the reveals was weird and not really needed.  Especially since there was no follow-up with it. It had a major ick factor. The characters were just so-so.  Laurie is kind of a flake and makes some dumb decisions.  It also got frustrating that the whole reason that Laurie goes back home is because weird things are happening, yet no one wants to talk about it. 

I'd say skip this one unless you have read all of her other books under both names.  You won't be missing anything.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interview & Review: Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn

Welcome to author, Tracey Devlyn who joins us today with an interview.  She is promoting her book, Checkmate, my Lord.

Publisher:: Sourcebooks
Date of publication: February 2013

A desperate mother falls in love with the spymaster she’s forced to betray.


Catherine Ashcroft leads a quiet life caring for her precocious seven-year-old daughter, until a visitor delivers a startling ultimatum. She will match wits with the enigmatic Earl of Somerton, and it's not just her heart that's in danger.


Spymaster Sebastian Danvers, Earl of Somerton, is famous for his cunning. Few can outwit him and even few dare challenge him--until now. After returning to his country estate, his no-nonsense neighbor turns her seductive wiles on him--but why would a respectable widow like Catherine risk scandal for a few passionate nights in his bed?

My Take:

Checkmate, My Lord was quite the adventure.  It is the second in a series. At first, I felt like I was missing something since I hadn't read the first book.  I think had I read it, I would have been able to orient myself to the characters a little better.  As the story progressed, I found myself feeling more comfortable with Sebastian and Catherine's story.  

When it comes to spies and intrigue, who can you trust?  Catherine wants to find out what happened to her husband, but can she trust the one man who can tell her?  I loved Catherine and Sebastian together. They both long for love and family, but they are afraid they will never find it. I liked that Catherine wasn't a naive timid virgin.  It was a nice change.  I was really rooting for them!  The other characters were wonderful  especially little Sophie. 

I highly recommend this book.  It's filled with spies, action and a mysterious figure who looks to maybe play a part in the next book?  I look forward to reading Ethan's story as well as going back and reading Cora's.  

Thanks so much for having me at TBR today. I look forward to chatting with everyone!

Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Tracey: For several years, I had been reading almost exclusively historical and paranormal romances. In my early thirties, I began envisioning more suspenseful scenes in some of the historicals I read and, one day, decided to put pen to paper. It’s been a great ride ever since!

Kari& Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Tracey: Everywhere. I do a lot of people watching and eavesdropping. TV news reports, printed articles, a stray comment, dreams, the shower…Truly, everywhere.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Tracey: After Checkmate, My Lord this month, the third novel in the Nexus series releases in October. Right now, I’m developing a proposal for a new series that I’ve been eager to write for a couple years. Keep your fingers crossed my publisher loves it!

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Tracey: Lisa Kleypas’s Derek Craven will go down as one of my all-time favorites. He’s a severely damaged hero who calls the heroine “mouse.” It melts my heart every time I read Dreaming of You.

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

Tracey: A Siberian Tiger. They’re beautiful, majestic, at the top of the food chain, fearless and great mothers. The only drawback is—they live in Siberia.

About the author:

Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey Toward the heroine’s happy ending). She’s a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance, and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland’s exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction.

An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website at:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blog Tour: Fallen by Laury Falter

Author: Laury Falter
Publisher: self
Date of Publication: April 2009

Maggie is unaware of the terrifying fate that awaits her. It isn’t until she lands in New Orleans for a full year at a private high school and her unknown enemies find her does she realize that her life is in danger. 

As a mystifying stranger repeatedly intervenes and blocks the attempts on her life, she begins to learn that there is more to him than his need to protect her and that he may be the key to understanding why her enemies have just now arrived.

Let me first point out that this book should not be confused with the book with the same title written by Lauren Kate.  I tried that book, but just couldn't get into it.  This book, titled Fallen by Laury Falter was a much different experience for me.  I was intrigued from the beginning and sucked right into the story.  This was actually a fairly fast read for me as I didn't want to put it down.

I liked the main character, Maggie.  She has a unique ability that allows her to speak to the dead in her dreams.  She uses this talent to deliver messages for those left behind.  When she moves to New Orleans to finish out her last year of high school, strange things start happening to her.  The story is an interesting twist on angels and fallen ones.  I really liked how the author described the afterlife. This Heaven sounds like a place anyone would want to end up.  

The other characters were interesting and fun.  I loved Maggie's roommates.  I also liked Eran. Their fall into love may seem sudden, but it makes sense once you read more about Eran and Maggie  I was so glad that there while there was a bit of angst, it didn't drag on forever.  There was also a lack of a love triangle, yay!   

I do 
recommend trying this one out. I think most YA readers will enjoy it.  Even though Maggie is 18, it's a fairly clean book.  The other books in the trilogy,  Eternity and Reckoning are out as well.  I look forward to reading them.

About the author:
Laury Falter is the bestselling author of the Guardian Trilogy (Fallen, Eternity, & Reckoning). When she isn't writing, she likes to take her two stray dogs for walks and enjoy date nights with her husband.

Laury's debut novel, Fallen, hit Amazon's Top 100 list in three genres and the remaining two books in the trilogy made showings in the Top 100 of the same genres as well. With a new series available, Residue, about a teenage girl who learns she is a witch and falls in love with a boy from a feuding family, her reader following continues to grow rapidly.

Fallen on

Laury's website:

Monday, February 18, 2013

What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

by:  Jacquelyn Mitchard
published by:  Soho Teen
publish date:  January 8, 2013

Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”

What We Saw At Night seems like a book about kids suffering from "XP", but it's not really.  It's not even really about Parkour.  It's more about sociopaths and serial killers. 

Allie and her friends stumble upon a killer in their midst and he seems to be preying on one of their own.  At first Allie everyone is making Allie feel like she's the crazy one, but eventually they come to understand that's she's telling the truth and that she really is seeing dead people.

I felt like there was a lot missing from this book.  I understood how the Parkour tied into the story.  The trio stumbled upon this killer and his handy work through their Parkour running and that made sense.  However, it felt like there was supposed to be more to the XP thing.  Like it was all a conspiracy, they never had it or they all had it because of some scandalous reasons I kept expecting to be revealed.  It just felt like there was a dangling hook.  Maybe I read too many dystopians and always expect the absolute worst.

It was an ok book.  It's one that should probably be gently nudged towards the older YAs because of some mature themes regarding sex and sexual abuse. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill
Date of Publication: January 2013

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

I have very mixed feelings about  Paper Valentine.  On on hand, I really enjoyed the story.  The book did capture my attention very early on and kept me intrigued enough to keep reading.  I was dying to find out who the killer was and his/her motivation behind the murders.   I also liked the "haunting" of Hannah by her dead fiend, Lillian.  I looked at the haunting as Hannah's way of working through her grief at the loss of her best friend to anorexia. Even to the point that I wonder if she was really being haunted. 

While I enjoyed the overall storyline, in the end, I was a tiny bit disappointed.  Throughout the book, I was expecting more of a ghost story or just more paranormal elements. For instance, emphasis keeps being placed on dying birds, but in the end they really had nothing to do with the story.  Instead, I feel this was more of a coming of age story.  As Hannah works through solving the mystery, she also works through discovering who she is without her best friend by her side. She even finds a bit of romance along the way. The relationship between Hannah and Finny was very sweet. It was a fast read and good enough to recommend.  This is my first book by the author.  I am intrigued enough to go out and try her other works.   

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Footprints in the Sand by Mary Jane Clark

Author: Mary Jane Clark
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of Publication: January 2013

It's the dead of winter and struggling actress and wedding cake decorator Piper Donovan is thrilled to be in warm and romantic Sarasota, Florida, enjoying the powdery white beaches, soothing seas, and golden sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. She and her family are there to celebrate her beloved cousin's wedding. Not only is Piper creating the sugar sand dollar-festooned wedding cake, she's also the maid of honor.

But a cloud seems to hover over the whole affair. Shortly after a bridesmaid mysteriously disappears, a kindly neighbor's car is run off the road and a prospective witness, an innocent Amish teenager, is threatened to keep silent. Then a body is found on the wedding beach. 

In my review of  The Look of Love, the second book in this series, I ended by saying I hoped the third book would be the charm.  I am happy to say that it definitely was this time around.    Footprints in the Sand was a much more enjoyable story.  The mystery was much tighter with less suspects.  That was my main complaint about the first two books.  

I liked Piper more in this book.  She seemed more sure of herself and she actually solves the crime.  OK it's almost too late for the revelation, but still.  Kudos for her.  I liked the characters overall.  It was easier to connect with them.  It's a very quick  and enjoyable read.  It gives me hope that the next books will be better.  I just hope Jack makes his move in the next book!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

by:  Cathy Marie Buchanan
published by:  Penguin
publish date:  January 10, 2013

A gripping novel set in Belle Époque Paris and inspired by the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and a notorious criminal trial of the era.

When the father of Marie and Antoinette van Goethem died it left their family in a serious financial bind.  In 1870s Paris there weren't too many options for the two sisters along with their absinthe addicted mother and their little sister.  It was decided that Marie, while traditionally too old, would go to the ballet with their younger sister Charlotte where they would both earn a wage.  Antoinette would go to the theater as an actress.

These decisions would lead to diverging paths for the two sisters.  Marie would reach great and unexpected levels of success and Antoinette would sink lower than anyone thought she could. 

At first I was kinda iffy about this book.  I listened to the audiobook and I had trouble with all the french names and words sprinkled throughout.  It was hard to distinguish one from the other I guess and keep them all straight in my head.  However, over time that became less of an issue and the story really captivated me.  I really enjoyed this book.  After I got done, I looked up the work of Degas and started to really examine the subjects and see if I could recognize any of the characters in the artwork. I know that's silly, but it was a fun little exercise. 

I definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.  Even if you aren't this book was still very well researched and was a fascinating read.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review & Interview: Talisman of El by Alecia Stone

Welcome to author, Alecia Stone who joins us with an interview today.  She is promoting her debut novel, Talisman of El

Publisher: Centrinan Publishing
Date of publication: May 2012


One Planet.

Two Worlds.

Population: Human ... 7 billion.

Others ... unknown.

When 14-year-old Charlie Blake wakes up sweating and gasping for air in the middle of the night, he knows it is happening again. This time he witnesses a brutal murder. He's afraid to tell any one. No one would believe him ... because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago - the day before his dad died.

Charlie doesn't know why this is happening. He would give any thing to have an ordinary life. The problem: he doesn't belong in the world he knows as home. He belongs with the others.

My thoughts:

Talisman of El has the potential to be a great middle grade fantasy series.  In the first book, there is a lot of world building.  I liked the world of Arcadia. As far as fantasy worlds go, it sounds beautiful, mysterious and intriguing.  The characters were fun. Charlie and his friends were written pretty well.  The loyalty between them is strong. That is one element of middle grade books that I always like.  When a group of "misfits" kids form a family of sorts.

Having said all of that, I felt that the book really needed a bit more editing.  Some of the transitions were abrupt and confusing. This really slowed the book down for me because I found myself rereading passages to see if I had missed something. Some of the dialogue felt awkward and out of place.  I just wish I liked the book more than I did.   I would recommend this series to a middle school reader.  It is perfect for that age level as there is nothing too mature in the book.

Kari & Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Ms. Stone: I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when I was fourteen, and since then, I’ve wanted to be a writer. It’s always been a dream of mine, albeit one I didn’t think would come true. I just loved the way she brought her characters to life. She had the ability to suck me into the world she had created. I fell in love with the story and the characters, and I just thought it would be great if I could create a world people could escape into, even if it was only for a moment.

Kari & Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Ms. Stone: It must be a combination of all the movies and stories I’ve read over the years. I’m a huge fantasy and sci-fi fan, and I truly believe that genre has allowed me to broaden my imagination. As for Talisman Of El, I can’t pinpoint an actual source, but it was great creating that world and exploring it with the characters.

Kari & Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Ms. Stone: Well, since I’m writing a trilogy, I have two more books to write. I’m currently writing the sequel.

Kari & Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Ms. Stone: It has to be the boy who never grows up. It’s none other than Peter Pan. He’s a brilliant character. He sustains that immortality people long for. He represents youth in its purest form. I love his mentality, and he has the most amazing adventures. He’s just a great character with a wonderful imagination.

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

Ms. Stone: I always have a different answer for this question. I guess it depends on my mood. Right now I feel like spreading my wings and flying away, so I’m going to go with an eagle. They are a beautiful and intelligent species. For me, they represent freedom.

Author Bio:

Alecia Stone has been in love with anything and everything paranormal for many years. She grad­u­ated with a BA in Film & TV and has worked in tele­vi­sion for a short period of time before branch­ing out into storytelling. When she isn't writ­ing, she enjoys going to the movies, lis­ten­ing to music, and travelling. Talisman Of El is her first novel. She currently lives in England, UK.