Thursday, December 30, 2010

Throwback Thursday - Annie and the Outlaw

Author: Sharon Sala
First published in 1994 by Silhouette Books

Rejected by Hell for one final deed of kindness, outlaw Gabriel Donner is given a second chance by God to make it into Heaven. The price? To spend the next 150 years on Earth righting the wrongs he's done. His task is long and lonely; but just as his time is almost up, he rescues the one woman who could make him want to stay on Earth, Annie Laurie O'Brien. Annie, however, has a deadly secret of her own, and making it all work out in the end literally takes an act of God.

This is not in active print anymore, so you will probably have to hit up the used books stores or get it from the library like I did. So, why am I featuring it on Throwback Thursday? I think it is worth seeking out if you are looking for earlier works by Sharon Sala. This is a really touching story about redemption, faith and hope. Gabriel Donner has been wandering the earth for the past 150 years trying to make up for a checkered past. His last mission comes to him in the form of Annie who is dying, and doesn't believe in God and has lost her faith. Their love story is emotional, strong and very believable. The book is very moving and sucks you right in from the beginning. I do warn you, I cried while reading this; both sad and happy tears. I gave it 4 stars, but only because some of the references did date the book a little. See if you can find it. I guarantee you will like it!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'Twas The Night

Author: Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes, Trish Jensen
Publisher: Kindle edition, Bell Bridge Books

“Christmas or Bust!”What do a Blue Angels pilot, a bounty hunter and an ex-NFL football player have in common? The three bad-boy bachelors of Snowdon, Maine have to make a friend’s Christmas Eve wedding on time or die trying! They’re willing to risk anything to make that happen—even dashing through the snow in the goofiest bus on Earth, bright red and filled with a bunch of merry, meddling senior citizens known as the Santa Brigade. All too soon, these men will have met their matches in three special women: a woman from their past, a forest ranger so hot she ought to be declared a fire hazard, and a woman on the run. Ho, ho, OH!While serving up holiday cheer with the Santa Brigade, the guys will discover ‘tis the season for good will and folly. Wise men or not, they are well and truly caught, which means these roguish St. Nicks are willing to jingle a few bells along the way if that’s what it takes to find what they truly want for Christmas nestled in their beds after the stockings are stuffed and the gifts placed under the tree.

This was actually first published in 2001 as "Here Come Santa Claus" by Leisure Books. It has been re-released recently under the new name, 'Twas the night. This is not an ordinary anthology. The authors tried a different approach. Each author took one of the three men and told his point of view in the story; each taking place at the same time. Of the three couples in the book, the only one that I really bought into was Sam and Reba's relationship. They had a history and I could really buy into their reunion and subsequent love story. The other two couples, having only just met, seemed more like lust than the makings for long term love. Especially, Dana who had been infatuated with Stan during his football career and had posters of him in her bedroom. I would think that would creep out most guys. I can usually buy into the "love at first sight" story line, but this just didn't do it for me. Overall, however, I did enjoy the story as a whole. The peripheral characters are amusing and add a lot of life to book. I would recommend for a good, fast holiday read. I gave it 3 stars.


Monday, December 27, 2010


The winner of the Wither ARC and Goodnight Tweetheart is...

Windy Cindy

Congratulations Cindy!  I've sent you an email. 

On other blog related issues, I've been taking a bit of a break for the holidays.  I've had a lingering cold for the last couple of weeks and it's worn me down so I haven't been posting as usual.  Hopefully I'll be ready and raring for the new year! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Throwback Thursday - Only His

It's been a busy week getting ready for the holiday, so this one will be brief:

Author: Elizabeth Lowell
First published in 1991 by HarperCollins Publishers

Escaping the ravages of the Civil War, a gently reared lady must leave behind everything she knows -- and trust her life and her future to a dangerous gunfighter with a passion for vengeance.

A team of prize Arabian horses is all that Willow Moran has left -- and Caleb Black is the only man who can help her reach her brother in the Colorado Rockies. But she fears this stranger who burns to avenge the wrongs of treacherous men. For Caleb is as wild and unpredictable as the uncivilized land he loves. Yet, though she challenges him at every turn, the spirited southern lady knows this proud, enigmatic loner is her destiny. And no matter what peril awaits, they must face it together -- for Willow has become a fever in Caleb's blood ... awakening a need so fierce that he would defeat the devil himself to possess her.

This one would have been on my top 10 books read in 2009, had I done a top 10 then. I loved everything about this book. Willow and Caleb are 2 characters that I really liked. Willow is feisty, strong, yet innocent at the same time. Caleb is my favorite type of hero. Only His has everything you could want in a great romance: love, adventure and a steamy relationship that develops slowly. Their first kiss alone is hotter than the average sex scene in a typical romance novel. Aside from romance, this story is also about second chances and learning to trust and love again. This is the first in her "Only" series. I have read the other 3, but this one is my favorite by far! If you haven't read it, give it a shot. Maybe it will become one of your top 10 in 2011! 5 stars!

-- Kari

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway

You are at stop #77.  The full list of blogs participating is located here

I will be giving away an ARC of Wither and a copy of Goodnight Tweetheart to one winner (US address only please).  Since this is such a short giveaway I'm doing this super easy.  Just leave a comment below with an email address.  That's it.  I'll randomly pick a winner then notify the winner Thursday by the email address in the comment.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Wither

by:  Lauren DeStephano
published by:  Simon and Shuster Children's Publishing
publish date:  March 22, 2011

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Despite my not wanting to get sucked into anymore series I somehow got sent an ARC of this book and how can you not read this book?  Look at that cover!  I loved the circle and line graphics and they continued throughout the entire book.  Kudos to whoever came up with that.  It was something different and I like to see things like that. 

This was a really dark story.  It's a dystopian so it's expected to be, but this one seemed to go beyond the usual YA dystopian.  Kidnapping, forced marriages, murder, horrible nasty deaths, human experiments are just some of the issues touched upon in this book.  Also, these girls are 14, 16, 19 years old when they're taken to be brides.  Pretty young ages for the things that entails.  I imagine that will raise some objections in certain areas.

I will say that I did like the book.  I read it in about 2 sittings.  It was one of those books I had a hard time putting down because I just couldn't believe what I was reading.  Parts of it were just so heart breaking and I felt so terrible for the characters.  I loved Rhine and Jenna.  I even liked Linden.  I wished that Rhine would have given Linden more of a chance.  I never really got what she saw in Gabriel other than someone to go with her when she tried to escape.

Bottomline...definitely add it to your To Read list if you like dystopians.  YA readers will more than likely want to check it out too.

Want my copy?  Check back tomorrow I'll be giving it away in the Mid-Winter Giveaway

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Killing Storm

by:  Kathryn Casey
published by:  Minotaur Books

On a quiet afternoon in the park, four-year-old Joey plays in the sandbox, when a stranger approaches looking for his puppy. While Joey’s mom, Crystal, talks on her cell phone, the stranger convinces the child to help search. By the time Crystal turns around, her son has disappeared. Yet her reaction is odd, not what one would expect from a distraught mother. Is Crystal somehow involved in her son’s abduction?

Meanwhile, on a ranch outside Houston, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong assesses a symbol left on the hide of a slaughtered longhorn, a figure that dates back to a forgotten era of sugarcane plantations and slavery. Soon other prizewinning bulls are butchered on the outskirts of the city, each bearing a similar drawing. The investigations converge at the same time a catastrophic hurricane looms in the Gulf. Finally, as dangerous winds and torrential rains pummel the city, Sarah is forced to risk her life to save Joey.

This is the 3rd book in a series by Kathryn Casey featuring Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong.  I haven't read the first two, but I didn't feel lost at all.  This book felt like it stood competely on it's own.  That's a real plus in my opinion. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was very well written and it was really tense and suspensful.  There was the all the action of the initial abduction and trying to figure out what happened to him and trying to find Joey before it was too late.  In addition to that, there was an impending hurricane threatening to derail the entire investigation. 

I've been telling my suspense loving friends to check out Kathryn Casey.  This was this first book I've read by her and I was very impressed.  Her characters were great and story was clever and obviously well researched.  I'll be going back to read the first two books for sure and looking forward to future books as well.

Veil of Night

Author: Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 2010

Jaclyn Wilde is a wedding planner who loves her job—usually. But helping Carrie Edwards with her Big Day has been an unrelenting nightmare. Carrie is a bridezilla of mythic nastiness, a diva whose tantrums are just about as crazy as her demands. But the unpleasant task at hand turns seriously criminal when Carrie is brutally murdered and everyone involved with the ceremony is accusing one another of doing the deed.

Assigned to the case, Detective Eric Wilder finds that there’s too much evidence pointing toward too many suspects. Compounding his problems is Jaclyn, with whom he shared one deeply passionate night before Carrie’s death. Being a prime suspect means that Jaclyn is hands-off just when Eric would rather be hands-on. As the heat intensifies between Eric and Jaclyn, a cold-blooded murderer moves dangerously close. And this time the target is not a bride but one particularly irresistible wedding planner, unaware of a killer’s vow.

I was really looking forward to this one. As I have said before, I am a big Linda Howard fan, so I flock to any new book by her. I was a little disappointed in this one. I've read better by Ms. Howard. It started out promising, but by the middle, it just fell flat. It was too easy to figure out the mystery. There was nothing overly exciting that happened and I feel like there were some parts that were just unnecessary filler to make up pages. This one might have worked better as a novella. I did like the hero and heroine,though, as their interaction was amusing. I just wish there was more romance. The love scenes weren't up to her usual steamy standard. If you are new to Linda Howard, don't start with this one. Pick up one of her earlier romantic suspense first. 2.5 stars

- Kari

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Throwback Thursday - Baby Love

Today's installment features: Baby Love
Author: Catherine Anderson
First published in 1999 by Avon

Desperate and determined, Maggie Stanley grabs her small baby and runs into the snowy Idaho night. In her loneliest, blackest hour, she unexpectedly finds a warmth and comfort she has never known in the tender compassion of a handsome, down-and-out stranger. In Rafe Kendrick, Maggie recognizes a soul wounded like her own—though she knows she must never trust any man ever again.

Rafe is more than he seems—an enigmatic man of secrets who could give Maggie the moon, had he not vowed to spend his life alone. But sometimes love's flames can transform a cold world into paradise—and a man who's lost nearly everything, a woman who's forgotten how to dream, and the helpless child who needs them both can become that most wondrous creation: a family.

This was one of my top 10 of 2010. I absolutely loved this book. It has a classic Cinderella story line that will always be a favorite of mine. It is a story about learning to trust and second chances. I really felt like I got to know Rafe and Maggie and grew to love them and their relationship. Both come to each other with major baggage, but they work through it together. I enjoyed Rafe's courtship of his wife after he marries her. Baby Love is the first in the Kendrick/Coulter series. I have read the books that follow and while they are great stories, this one is still my favorite. 5 stars

- Kari

Goodnight Tweetheart

by:  Teresa Medeiros
published by:  Gallery Books

Abigail Donovan has a lot of stuff she should be doing. Namely writing her next novel. A bestselling author who is still recovering from a near Pulitzer Prize win and the heady success that follows Oprah's stamp of approval, she is stuck at Chapter Five and losing confidence daily. But when her publicist signs her up for a Twitter account, she's intrigued. What's all the fuss?

Taken under the wing of one of her Twitter followers, "MarkBaynard"—a quick witted, quick-typing professor on sabbatical—Abby finds it easy to put words out into the world 140 characters at a time. And once she gets a handle on tweets, retweets, direct messages, hashtags, and trends, she starts to feel unblocked in writing and in life. After all, why should she be spending hours in her apartment staring at her TweetDeck and fretting about her stalled career when Mark is out there traveling the world and living?     Or is he?

Told almost entirely in tweets and DMs, Goodnight Tweetheart is a truly modern take on a classic tale of love and loss—a Griffin and Sabine for the Twitter generation.

I'm not a huge fan of Twitter.  I haven't been able to get the hang of it so I didn't know if I was going really like this book or not.  I was worried it was going to be a lot of @ and # and shorthand that I wasn't going to get.  However, it was was definitely for the Twitter novice.  If you aren't familiar with Twitter at all you can still read this book and get the hang of it.

If you loved movies like You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle you'll love this book.  It was a sweet, emotional little romance novel.  It's a quick read with a really satisfying ending.

The characters were really endearing.  I felt out of the loop half of the time though.  I apparently don't watch enough television.  I didn't know what they were talking about half the time.  I didn't know what TV shows they were referencing.  I guess I live in a cave.  Or a book maybe  ;)

Check out this website for great fun freebies about this book and a chance to win a free copy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves

published by:  Delacourte Books

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

For those of you that have read The Forest of Hands and Teeth this book The Dead Tossed Waves picks up approximately 17 years later.  At the end of  tFoHaT Mary left the Forest and made her way to the ocean and that was where it had ended.  This book starts with her teenage daughter Gabry hanging out with her friends and making a life altering decision to leave the safety of their protected area for a little adventure.

The behavior that made Mary somewhat unlikeable in the first book continued into this book.  Her selfishness was jaw-dropping at times.  However, she does own up to it in time.  I guess that is somewhat redeeming.  The fact that she raised a good daughter in Gabry is good thing too.  I really liked Gabry's character.  She was one of those kind of characters that we all love with a deep core of inner strength but very humble.

I had to wait forever to get this book from the library and it was well worth the wait.  All the creepiness of the Infected/Unconsecrated continued along with some information about different different types of Infected.  Some great new characters were introduced: Gabry, Elias, and Catcher.  I'm ready for the next book in the series to come out, The Dark and Hollow Places, next March.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Indulgence in Death

author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: Putnam Hardcover

First it was a limo driver shot through the neck with a crossbow. Then it was a high-priced escort found stabbed through the heart with a bayonet.

Random hits, thrill kills, murderers with a taste for the finer things in life-and death-are making NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas angry. And an angry Eve can be just as an efficient and dangerous predator as the killer.

As time runs out on another innocent victim's life, Eve's investigation will take her into the rarefied circle that her husband, Roarke, travels in-and into the perverted heart of madness...

After 31 Eve Dallas tales (not including the novellas),I still feel like I am visiting family when I read the In Death books. I enjoy watching Eve navigate social etiquette. She is so far from the hard cop with few friends that we met in the first book, but she is still clueless sometimes. I also love her and Roarke's relationship. They are so good together and have come do far over the course of the series. This latest story is more of a straight police procedural this time around, with only glimpses of some of my favorite peripheral characters, like Mavis. I listened to the Brilliance Audio version. Susan Erickson does a wonderful job with the character voices. I hope she continues to narrate the books in the future. 4 stars!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Annette's Top 10 in 2010

1 - Lover Mine by JR Ward

2 - Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop

3 - Changes by Jim Butcher

4 - Never the Bride by Paul Magrs

5 - The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

6 - Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

7 - My Life in France by Julia Child

8 - Johannes Cabal, Necromancer by Jonathan Howard

9 - Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta

10 - The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

And an Honorable Mention (because I haven't actually finished it yet but it is great!)

11 - The Devil in White City by Erik Larson

These are the ten I picked last night and to be honest, today I may have changed a couple. There's something for everyone on this list :)

10 on The 10th

This month's 10 is the 10 best books I've read in '10.

Some of these will be entire series, I refuse to pick just one book from a larger body of work.

1. Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts, 1st in the series is Unholy Ghosts.

2. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.

3. The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (Yes, those Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books.)

4. Sleepless by Charlie Huston

5. Johannes Cabal The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard (Second in the series, read in order for best effect.)

6. New Blood by Gail Dayton First in a new series, Blood Magic.

7. Willing Victim by Cara McKenna (I also recommend everything with her name on it.)

8. The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

9. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (Her entire Iron Seas series is recommended, TID is the first book - but there is a short prequel Here There Be Monsters in the Burning Up anthology.)

10. Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, 1st book is Magic Bites.

Books are in no particular order - ok #1 is #1 for a damn good reason. Kane has done something new & wonderful in the Urban Fantasy universe. Pay attention to her & Meljean Brook, both of these authors are going to be considered defining for their genres. Come back in 5 years and congratulate me on my psychic prowess. I can wait, I can also say "I told you so." ;)

All the others... just buy them and read them. Seriously, I love them all and it's hard for me to stop at 10. I easily have another 10 I could recommend, but I edited this list for popularity too. I pulled off some books, like Changes by Jim Butcher - great book, but the man gets plenty of love. Yes, Larsson isn't hurting either, but when I'm obsessed with your characters... ok I could say the same for Butcher. See why this is making me pull my hair out?

Autumn's 10 on the 10th

We're each doing our top 10 books of 2010.  These are mine in no particular order.

Autumn by David Moody
Beyond Justice by Joshua Graham
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Winter Bloom by Tara Heavey
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Horns by Joe Hill
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
and for those of you that can do math this makes 11 Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson.  Backseat Saints and Gods in Alabama go hand in hand.  They're stand alone books, but if you read one you have to read the other.

Add all these books to your TBR Piles right now!

Kari's Best 10 of '10

Here is my list of the best 10 books that I read in 2010. In no particular order:
1. Baby Love by Catherine Anderson ( The first in a great series about the Kendrick's and the Coulters)
2. Almost Home by Barbara Frethy
3. Lover Mine by J.R. Ward (Really the entire series, but I loved John Michael's story)
4. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5) by Rick Riordan (A great ending to the series)
5. Twisted by Andrea Kane
6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (Again, a great ending to the entire series)
7. The Whisper (FBI/BPD, # 4) by Carla Neggers
8. The Bride by Julie Garwood
9. Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
10. Vision in White (Bride Quartet, #1) by Nora Roberts

Maybe they will make it to your TBR pile in 2011!

- Kari

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: The Remains by Vincent Zandri

published by:  Stone House Ink

Thirty years ago, teenager Rebecca Underhill and her twin sister Molly were abducted by a man who lived in a house in the woods behind their upstate New York farm. They were held inside that house for three horrifying hours, until making their daring escape. Vowing to keep their terrifying experience a secret in order to protect their mother and father, the girls tried to put the past behind them. And when their attacker was hunted down by police and sent to prison, they believed he was as good as dead. Now, it s 30 years later, and with Molly having passed away from cancer, Rebecca, a painter and art teacher, is left alone to bear the burden of a secret that has only gotten heavier and more painful with each passing year. But when Rebecca begins receiving some strange anonymous text messages, she begins to realize that the monster who attacked her all those years ago is not dead after all. He s back, and this time, he wants to do more than just haunt her. He wants her dead.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I liked it more than I thought I would.  It wasn't so much a crime thriller like I thought it would be.  There was definitely a supernatural feel to the book.  There wasn't any thing specifically supernatural about it, but it wasn't a straight up mystery book either.

I'd definitely recommend this one for the mystery lovers.  It had some unique elements to it.  I think Vincent Zandri is an author to keep an eye on for more interesting books in the future.

Throwback Thursday - Prince Joe

Today's installment is: Prince Joe (Tall Dark & Handsome #1)
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
First published in 1996 by Silhouette

Veronica St. John is facing the challenge of a lifetime. The media consultant has two days to teach a rugged Navy SEAL to impersonate a European prince who has been targeted by terrorists. It's a tough assignment, but Veronica is sure she's up to the task -- until she actually meets Joe.

Despite his physical resemblance to the handsome prince, Lieutenant Joe Catalanoto is nothing like the stuffy aristocrat. Everything about the combat-hardened Navy SEAL -- from the arrogant gleam in his eyes and streetwise attitude to the New York accent -- says regular guy, not royalty. One conversation and Veronica knows nothing could turn this military man into nobility. Joe, on the other hand, is confident he's got what it takes to complete his duty.

But neither of them expects their assignment to include falling in love . .

This is the first in Brockmann’s 11 book “Tall Dark and Dangerous” series. The series was the lead-in to her later “Troubleshooter” series. It is a quick read and nice, if somewhat silly romance. The main characters, Joe and Veronica are somewhat believable. The attraction between the two is instant and pretty steamy. There isn’t much in the way of a mystery, so a reader looking for that will be disappointed. The peripheral characters are fun and make you want to read the other books in the series to see what happens to them. If you are a fan of Brockmann’s, I think you will enjoy this one.
3 stars

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)

by:  Rachel Hawkins
published by:  Hyperion Books

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

I received an ARC of this book through International Book Tours.  My feelings are mixed about it.  I'm tired of series and trilogies.  This book ended almost mid-sentence so you HAVE to read the next book to find out what happens.  I find that really frustrating.  It's not like the next book is going to come out next week so our curiosity is satisfied in a timely manner.  Plus, I read Hex Hall a few months ago and I had already forgotten some of the minor details and characters and when they were brought up in this book I was like "wait who? what?"

Anyway...on to the specifics of this book.  The love triangle rears its ugly head.  It's a YA book, it had to right?  This one wasn't quite as bad though.  It wasn't Sophie's fault I guess is what I'm getting at.  It didn't come about through her brainless indecision.

I didn't think it was a bad book, it was ok, but I wasn't jumping around thinking "OMG this is the most awesome book EVER".   It was a necessary book to carry on the trilogy, to get you to read the last book.  I thought Hex Hall was pretty cute and I really liked the story line and Hawkins writing style, but this one just didn't grab me like Hex Hall did. 

I will say that I do like Hawkins casual writing style.  I do enjoy her humor and little bits of sarcasm sprinkled throughout her books.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: Three by Ted Dekker

published by:  Mass Market Paperback

Enter a world where nothing is what it seems. Where your closest friend could be your greatest enemy.

Kevin Parson is driving his car late one summer day when, suddenly, his cell phone rings. A man who identifies himself as Slater speaks in a breathy voice: You have exactly three minutes to confess your sin to the world. Refuse, and the car you're driving will blow sky high.

Kevin panics. Who would make such a call? What sin? Kevin ditches the car. Precisely three minutes later, a massive explosion sets his world on a collision course with madness.

I own a few Ted Dekker books, but this is the first one that I've read.  It certainly won't be the last.  I really liked it!

If you want a great thriller suspense type book, this is definitely one you need.  The ending was very interesting and surprising.  It made me want to reread the book and see if I could poke holes in the story.  Very clever! 

His writing style reminded me of Tami Hoag.  I think if you're a fan of her you would like his books as well.  It seemed like the same level of suspense and violence...maybe a little less than Hoag.  Just a good solid thriller mystery that keeps you hanging until the very end.

Thanks to Hachette for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

by:  JL Bryan
published by:  CreateSpace

Jenny is a shy, small-town South Carolina girl whose touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. She can't touch anyone for long without killing them. Her life is painfully lonely until she meets a boy named Seth with the opposite power, a healing touch. Jenny's love for Seth brings the wrath of Seth's beautiful, popular and devious girlfriend, Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all--the power to inspire love.

I won a copy of this book.  I was very impressed with it. The premise of the book was really a cool idea and it was fairly unique in the YA genre.  

I read this book in about 2 days.  It was very well written and moved along quickly.  

I loved Jenny.  She was a great character.  I was so happy when she met Seth and I liked how her relationship with him progressed.  It seemed very natural and not forced or cheesy like some YA books make first loves.  Ashleigh was awesomely horrible.  I can't remember another character I disliked so much.  She was about as bad as Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.  She's that evil and awful.

I would highly recommend this book if the summary interests you.  This is probably one of the most memorable books I read this year.  I would be very interest in any sequels that might be written.  I don't know if there are any plans for that, but I hope there are!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Silver Bound

1 Star

Sheriff Guy Trident doesn't have much to do with off-worlders; he has his hands full keeping his own planet safe. But he'll do anything, go anywhere to save Jewel Quinn. She broke his heart years ago when she left to marry a Terraloft aristocrat. Now she's run away from her husband, only to fall into the clutches of slavers.

Posing as a wealthy playboy, Guy arrives at Zuthuru Station to learn he's too late: Jewel's memories have been erased. She's been tipped in silver, a process that leaves nothing behind except her body, sexually bound to pleasuring her master. Unwilling to give up hope, Guy buys her.

Jewel fights to reclaim herself, recalling a different connection to the handsome sheriff, remembering the frightened eyes of a young boy and the events that made her run. Together she and Guy search for her cure, plan her son's rescue from her ruthless ex, and test if they have any kind of future...before the past catches up to them.

Rightly or wrongly you set a romance in space I'm going to compare you to Han & Leia. If you tell me Firefly served as one of your inspirations, you have set the bar very high. And for about the first third of the book Drake lived up to it. Yes, there was a misstep in the second chapter where Silver Tipping was unnecessarily and unbelievably explained to the victim, Jewel. I was willing to let it slide with a snide aside to myself of "exposition much?"

In the beginning the characters were all set up well, I understood them. Understood the motives to their actions, but then it all fell apart. :(

Let me be clear I was ENJOYING Silver Bound up until about the half way point and then the only way I can describe it; the WTF'ckery took over.

Jewel's ex-husband HAD HER MIND WIPED AND TURNED INTO A SEXUAL SLAVE. He also had people killed. He killed someone himself with his bare hands. Guy knew all of this. Guy hid Jewel from the ex during the bare hand murder and later in the book he turns Jewel over to the ex because Jewel says "He (ex-husband) won't hurt me." I repeat W.T.F.?!

Basically I could've forgiven all the other little inconsistencies in character, the in your face exposition but every single time the ex-husband appeared on the scene Guy and Jewel turned into morons. Are you familiar with the scene in Scary Movie where Carmen Electra grabs the banana instead of the knife or gun?

Well that's what Guy and Jewel's behavior when dealing the ex reminded me of.

Admittedly I've come down like a ton of bricks on Silver Bound, and I'm not saying this to mitigate my opinion of it - but I did like enough of it that I will try another book from Ella Drake. When Silver Bound was good, it was great. But when it was bad - it was an unfunny, infuriating parody.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Feature and Follow Friday

This week's feature is:

I've been following Icey Books for awhile now and I enjoy her posts.  If you haven't already, go check her out!

Parajunkee asks:  What do you do besides reading / reviewing as a hobby??

I'm married with 3 kids.  I don't have much time for other stuff.  However, when I do have time I like to cross stitch.  All 4 of the writers on this board cross stitch.  That's how we know each other  :)

Audiobook Review and Giveaway: The Reversal by Michael Connelly

published by:  Hachette Audio 

Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change sides and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder.

After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.

Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years.

With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. If Bosch is sure of anything, it is that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.

Just upon opening this audiobook I was impressed.  It contains 10 CDs of the audiobook.  1 MP3 disc of the book and another MP3 disc of a second book The Brass Verdict.  You're kinda getting 3 books in one.  I personally really like the MP3 discs for in the car.  My car stereo reads that kind of disc so I don't have to keep changing the disc.  It's very handy.

The reader for this audiobook, Peter Giles, initially grated on my nerves.  He was overly intense.  He kinda reminded me of the "Sunday Sunday Sunday" guy on a monster truck commercial.  I stuck with it though and I'm glad I did.  After awhile I got used to the reader's intensity and got into the story. 

I thought this was a very well written story.  I haven't read anything by this author before, but I definitely will in the future.   If you like legal procedurals this one was perfect.  It focused a lot on the particulars of the proceedings which was somewhat unique in legal dramas. 

Thanks to the awesome people at Hachette Audio I can giveaway 2 copies of this fantastic audiobook.  To enter the giveaway just leave a comment below with a valid email address.  If you would like an extra entry you can Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. just leave a link to the share in a separate comment to let me know where you spread the word.   I'll randomly draw winners on December 14.  US addresses only and NO P.O. Boxes please!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Throwback Thursday - Son of the Morning

Today's installment is: Son of the Morning

Author: Linda Howard
First published: 1997 by Pocket

A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the legend of the Knights of the Templar—long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power—Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force. Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar's secret for all eternity. But to find him—and to save herself—she must go back in fourteenth-century Scotland...and to Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire...

This was a fairly good story, although I think I liked the ending more than most of the book; the beginning dragged a bit. I wouldn't call it a romantic suspense since the hero and heroine don't actually meet until the last 1/3 of the book. I did like the time travel aspect. It was a nice change of pace. Since it came out in 1997, the technology is a little dated, but didn't hamper the enjoyment of the book. I listened to the audio version. Overall, I have read better by Linda Howard, but fans of hers will like the book. If you missed it, give it a shot.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Audiobook: Life by Keith Richards

by:  Keith Richards
published by:  Hachette Audio

With the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life.

Now, at last, the man himself tells his story of life in the crossfire hurricane. Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, learning guitar and forming a band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones' first fame and the notorious drug busts that led to his enduring image an outlaw folk hero. Creating immortal riffs like the ones in "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Honky Tonk Women." Falling in love with Anita Pallenberg and the death of Brian Jones. Tax exile in France, wildfire tours of the US, isolation and addiction. Falling in love with Patti Hansen. Bitter estrangement from Jagger and subsequent reconciliation. Marriage, family, solo albums and Xpensive Winos, and the road that goes on forever.

With his trademark disarming honesty. Keith Richard brings us the story of a life we have all longed to know more of, unfettered, fearless, and true.

I had really wanted to listen to this audiobook because it was narrated by Johnny Depp.  Who wouldn't want to listen to 23 hours of Johnny Depp no matter what he's talking about? 

The first couple of hours of this audiobook was all about listening to Johnny Depp read.  However, I quickly realized he's not really an awesome audiobook reader.  He didn't seem to get into the way a lot of audiobook readers do.  I know Keith and Johnny are friends and all, but I think Keef could have found someone else that would have done a much better job.  This isn't to say JD did a horrible job, I think he's just inexperienced in the world of reading books.  He was somewhat monotone and I think I expected far more "acting".

I found the story to be really interesting.  There's a little blurb in the beginning about how he remembers everything.  I find that a little hard to believe.  I can't hardly remember conversations I had yesterday, but this book has a lot of details that I'm sure I would have forgotten over the course of many decades.  Keith apparently kept a lot of journals and maybe that's why there are so many details.  I just had to wonder how much of it was really from his memory or from help from his "contributor" James Fox or help from any researchers or writing assistants. 

It was very well written.  I did eventually become more interested in the story than listening to reading.  There's a difference.  Know what I mean?  It made me want to learn how to play the guitar.  I think I could leave the rest of it, but it did inspire me to want to learn.

This audiobook and the hardcover are worth the purchase in my opinion.  It would probably make a good gift for the musician or Stones fan in your life...maybe even the Johnny Depp fan!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call Me Mrs. Miracle

Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira Books

This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley’s, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner’s son.

For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him — and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.

Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly’s widowed brother is in the army and won’t be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley’s, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it…

Fortunately, it’s Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others — and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!

This Christmas will be different. For all of them.

I listened to the audio version. It was a very quick "read". I really enjoyed the story. Just the right book to put me in the mood for the holiday season. Even though it was published this year, it had an old fashion feel to it. The characters were fun and believable. The romance was sweet, without any angst and a nice change of pace. My only regret is that it wasn't longer. I would have liked a better epilogue or more about Holly's brother and her boss. I would definitely recommend for anyone looking for a quick holiday read. 5 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In The Dark of Dreams

By: Marjorie M. Liu

4 Stars

She was only twelve when she saw the silver boy on the beach, but Jenny has never stopped dreaming about him. Now she is grown, a marine biologist charting her own course in the family business—a corporation that covertly crosses the boundaries of science into realms of the unknown…and the incredible.

And now he has found her again, her silver boy grown into a man: Perrin, powerful and masculine, and so much more than human—leaving Jenny weak with desire and aching for his touch.

But with their reunion comes mortal danger—from malevolent forces who would alter the world to suit their own dark ends. For Perrin and Jenny—and all living creatures— their only hope for preventing the unthinkable lies in a mysterious empire far beneath the sea—and in the power of their dreams.

A true love story. A real world romance with believable conflicts, (yes, he's a merman and shape shifters and magic abound - it's still believable) motivations and emotions.

Liu writes like a poet. The phrase "beautiful turn of phrase" was created for writers with her skill. For example:

And then those eyes disappeared, blown apart as though made of sand - each grain floating through the water toward his face, slow and glittering. Perrin watched, breathless. No longer hearing anything but the sound of his pounding heart.

Too often in today's romance novels hot sex (not that there's anything wrong with that & it does put in an appeareance here too) sucks up all the oxygen in the room and leaves none for love scenes. Dark of Dreams has oxygen enough for both:

She wrapped her arm around his neck and pulled him close until his head rested on the cot, their cheeks pressed together, her mouth against his ear, whispering words that she forgot as soon as she said them, just that her heart was in her throat, she wanted him to feel her heart, and hear it, and know he wasn't alone.

The lead characters are Perrin & Jenny. Perrin - forgive me - is a fish out of water. Save me from super-natural beings who thrive in the human world. Shouldn't other-worldly beings have a tough time in a society that doesn't have a place for them? In the world Liu has built the "different" truly do have a difficult time fitting in and I think her books are better for it. Perrin is in full exile from his world and people; a true stranger in a strange land and he suffered accordingly.

Jenny is smart and capable, while still being in need of help. She does help herself as much as possible, but she does really need Perrin's support. Together they are more than the sum of their parts. And isn't that a wonderful thing? Two people in love and actively supporting their partner. I think this is something we all dream of. Jenny & Perrin both are willing to sacrifice for the good of the other, this is perfectly written selfless not martyred love.

I'll let you read them for yourselves, the final three lines of In The Dark of Dreams are happily ever after gold.

This is the 10th installment of the Dirk & Steele series. It's not necessary to have read the previous 9 (but you should, Liu is a wonderful writer - her entire body of work is just lovely). Besides pure enjoyment the other books will give you a better understanding of the Dirk & Steele organization.

A Winter Solstice Celebration

Author: Didi Lemay
Publisher: AuthorHouse

From the author's site: A Winter Solstice Celebration” helps children and adults alike to understand how the animals feel about their planet, how humans can help and how and how humans and animals can live together in harmony. A Winter Solstice is warm story that relates to all who read it.

A Winter Solstice Celebration takes young readers deep into the forest, where they discover how seemingly harmless human activities can wreak havoc on the natural world

This was a cute story that I think most kids will like to read. It teaches a good environmental lesson. It also shows how one person's voice can make a difference. I think my kids will enjoy the book. The illustrations were really nice, and I wish there had been more of them.

One thing I didn't like about the book was the format. I'm a bit picky, but the white lettering on blue background made it hard to stay focused. I also didn't like the use of all capital letters. But, I think this is just a personal preference.

To read more about the author, Didi LeMay, visit her website: Didi LeMay

* I have been provided a complimentary copy of A Winter Solstice Celebration for review by Author DiDi LeMay through an e-mail from The YP Publishing. By receiving a complimentary copy, I am in no way obligated to write a good or bad review. I am an honest reviewer and my reviews are based on my own opinion and only written by me. - Kari*

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bright Young Things

by:  Anna Godberson
published by:  Harper

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the roaring twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey have escaped their small Midwestern town to chase their big city dreams. In New York, they meet Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have everything she could ever want.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Luxe series so I had high hopes for this book.  It lived up to expectations in my opinion.  It was somewhat similar to The Luxe series except that it was set during the Summer of 1929. 

Letty and Cordelia were both very likeable characters.  Astrid was kinda eh.  I think she was the girl you were supposed to not like, but there wasn't much about her to not like.  

This book reminded me a lot of The Great Gatsby.  If that's a book you liked, I think you would find this book pretty interesting.  The back of the book  indicates that it'll be a series and it should be an interesting time period to continue this story of affluent young women.  I'm looking forward to the next book already.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Throwback Thursday & Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to launch Throwback Thursday. Every Thursday, a review of an "older" book, i.e. pre-2005, will be posted. Since I tend to read a lot of not so recently published books, I thought it would be fun to share reviews of some of them with you. Who knows? Maybe you will get re-acquainted with a favorite author or discover a great book that you may have missed. Enjoy!

The first Throwback Thursday book is.....

The Bride
Author: Julie Garwood
First published in 1989 by First Pocketbooks (Simon & Schuster)

From Goodreads:
By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, the feisty youngest daughter of Baron Jamison. Alec ached to possess her forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian. Though his kisses fired her blood, shadowed secrets from Alec's past threatened Jamie's happiness. She brazenly resisted him -- until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills.

I absolutely loved this book. It was so much fun reading Jamie and Alec's love story. Ms. Garwood created two very likable characters. The romance is believable as they fall in love over time and not over night. There are a few steamy love scenes that made me want to blush. I loved the running joke of Jamie's lack of a sense of direction. There is even a little mystery and I was surprised at who that killer turned out to be. I listened to the audio version of the book and I think that really enhanced my "reading" experience. The narrator did a great job with the voices. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and I often felt my heart melting. I think this is going to be one of my favorite all time romance novels. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good romance. 5 stars!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Talion

by:  Mary Maddox
published by:  Cantraip Press

The dying body has a thousand voices, and all of them speak to Conrad (Rad) Sanders. Fifteen-year-old Lisa Duncan has no idea she has attracted Rad’s interest. At a mountain resort in Utah, he watches as vivacious Lisa begins an unlikely friendship with Lu Jakes, the strange and introverted daughter of employees there. Lu enters his fantasies as well. He learns she is being abused by her stepmother and toys with the notion of freeing her from her sad life and keeping her awhile as his captive. Lu seems like an easy conquest who could be persuaded to act out his fantasy by turning against her new friend.

But someone else is watching over Lu.

Talion appears to Lu as an angelic vision. He offers her love and counsel, the courage to defend herself from bullies at school and a way to free herself from her stepmother’s violence. He seems to know beforehand what will happen. But Talion’s true nature is unclear. His guidance leads Lu into dark places, moving her inevitably closer to the world inhabited by Rad. When she and Lisa are thrust into that darkness, will Talion come to her aid? Or will he become the killer’s ally?

I will say that I really liked this book.  I liked it a lot more than I was expecting.  I enjoyed the characters.  Lu was a really great character. 

I thought the writing was really solid and quite good.  The thing that surprised me about this book was the level of violence that Rad inflicted on his victims.  You don't normally see that from female writers.  Usually it's kind of glossed over and male writers get more into the nitty gritty details.  There wasn't anything wrong with it because it was appropriate in the context of the story, but it was something that surprised me a bit.

My only negative about the book was that I was a little unclear on Talion.  I know if he was real, like a real angel coming to Lu or if he was a hallucination.  Maybe that was the intent of the writer, to leave it open to interpretation.

About Mary Maddox

Mary Maddox grew up in Utah and California. A graduate of Knox College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University.

She lives in Charleston, Illinois with her husband, film scholar Joe Heumann. Her interests include riding her horse, Tucker, and playing club and tournament Scrabble. Mary’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Farmer’s Market, Yellow Silk, and The Scream Online. Her writing has been honored with awards from the Illinois Arts Council.

Talion, her debut novel, is available at as a trade paperback and at as both a paperback and a Kindle book. You can visit her at her Web site and follow her blog at

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Empty

by:  Suzanne Weyn
published by:  Scholastic

It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.

Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.

Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.

I had a lot of high hopes for this book.  It sounded like it had a really great premise.  It sounded like it would be a really cool dystopian type novel. 

Unfortunately, this book just wasn't what I had hoped it would be.  I felt like the whole book was kinda preachy about consumption, not just about oil consumption, but all consumption on the part of Americans.  The book wasn't badly written or anything like that and the story carried well.  It just wasn't something I was in the mood to be chastised about.

I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading this book because it was pretty interesting, but be warned that it's a "tree-hugger" type book.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm a bit late in announcing the winners of two giveaways.  It's been a hectic week.  My oldest daughter turned 9 and her party sapped all my energy for awhile.  Carrying on...

The winner of Fragment by Marilyn Monroe is Jen @ I Read Banned Books

The winner of The Radleys ARC is Rachel

I've sent emails to the winners so check your email ladies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review and Giveaway: To Nourish and Consume

by:  Ryan O'Reilly
published by:  Black Oak Press


Brian Falk and his best friend, Dabney, share a passion for the beautiful and wealthy Jackie, their childhood playmate and the prize catch of their social set. But, the young men are also drawn to each other—a secret, illicit connection that is cut short when Jackie chooses to wed the more moneyed Dabney.

Soon after graduation, a devastated Brian flees his hometown and, for ten agonizing years, tries to overcome the anguish that has all but consumed him. Now he is drawn back to try to answer some of the questions he can no longer ignore: Is he over Jackie? Was what he felt for Dabney really love? Does Jackie still love him?

As Brian desperately searches for closure, old wounds are reopened, a new love appears and revelations about his past throw his life into renewed turmoil.

I thought this book was fairly good.  It was well written and well constructed.  However, I just kinda kept waiting for something to happen. 

The main character kinda frustrated me.  I felt like he was stereotypical of a lot of people my age.  Sort of drifting around without a clue of what they want to do with their lives.  I don't know anyone like that though.  Most people my age have settled down and grown up.  I wanted to tell Brian to quit being such a baby and get over himself and deal with it!
About the Author:  Ryan O’Reilly’s is the author of critically acclaimed travel novel, Snapshot, which was published in 2007 and received rave reviews from Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, fellow authors and his many devoted readers and fans. He is also a freelance contributor to newspapers and periodicals across the country and a member of the National Writers Association and the Writers League of Texas.

I have two copies of this book to giveaway thanks to PR By the Book.   Just leave a comment with a valid email address on this post  before 11/23.  I have to ship these myself so US addresses only please.