Friday, May 27, 2011

ARC Review and Giveaway: Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

by:  Chevy Stevens
published by:  St. Martin's Press 
publish date:  July 5th, 2011

All her life, Sara Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. As an adopted child with two sisters who were born naturally to her parents, Sara’s home life was not ideal. The question of why she was given up for adoption has always haunted her. Finally, she is ready to take steps and find closure.

But some questions are better left unanswered.

After months of research, Sara locates her birth mother—only to be met with horror and rejection. Then she discovers the devastating truth: her mother was the only victim ever to escape a killer who has been hunting women every summer for decades. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out about her father is him finding out about her.

If you read Still Missing many of the elements of Never Knowing will be familiar.  It's set up the same way as Still Missing as the main character telling the story to her psychiatrist.  I was a little disappointed in this.  I thought that was really unique in Still Missing and really worked for that book.  In this book it still worked, but I had hoped for something a little different I guess.

I did really like this book.  It was really exciting and tense.  All the heartbreak and fear that Sara suffered with the reader does too.  Chevy Stevens does a great job of pulling you into Sara's world and let you walk around and get to know the characters. 

While I thought that Still Missing was way too in-your-face and kind of shocking for the big screen, I thought this book would make a really great movie.  I could see it cast with some cool people.  I kept thinking Agent Cho from The Mentalist might make a good Billy.  Sandra Bullock kept coming to mind for Sara, like her character in Murder by Numbers.


Since we surpassed 700 followers (yay!) we're going to have another giveaway!!  I will be giving away my gently used ARC of Never Knowing to one lucky winner.  I'll go ahead and make this one INTERNATIONAL.  Please leave a comment below with your email address.  If you would like additional entries please share this giveaway on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc. and leave the link in a separate comment.  I'll leave this contest open until 6/6/11.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Splash into Summer - Giveaway Hop 5/25- 5/31

Welcome!! You are at stop #67. You can find the rest of the list here.

We have 3 books to give away today. 3 lucky winners (US addresses only please)will be chosen and notified by e-mail. Each winner will get 1 of the books below.

We are making this simple. All you have to do is leave a comment with a valid e-mail and your book preference if you have one.

Here's what is up for grabs:

1 copy of The Silent Land By Graham Joyce (hardcover)
1 ARC of Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
1 copy of Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent

Good Luck!!

- Kari & Autumn

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Disaster Relief Announcement

John Herrick, the author of From the Dead (reviewed here) , is donating 100% of his author earnings from the Kindle sales of his book toward disaster relief. He will run this campaign until June 10, 2011.

The following is from his e-mail to us:

As a St. Louis resident, my state and others across the nation have experienced an onslaught of disaster, including floods and tornadoes. As I write this message, news footage of the Joplin, Missouri, tornado is mind-boggling and the deadliest U.S. tornado in more than 50 years.

For years, part of my attraction to writing books was the hope that I could encourage people and help charity projects. This is my first real opportunity to put it into action. I will donate my Kindle earnings to Service International, a St. Louis-based relief organization. I have participated in Service International projects in the past, have seen its impact firsthand, and believe in it firmly.

From The Dead Kindle link:

Service International link:

Thank you for your time and consideration.

All best,

John Herrick

The book is currently listed for 99cents. Why not pick up a copy for a great cause!

--Kari & Autumn

Double DoubleDay Giveaway!!

That's right folks!  Step right up!  We have 2, count 'em, not 1 but 2 giveaways today from the awesome people at DoubleDay.

First up is The Russian Affair

Twenty-nine-year-old Anna Viktorovna lives in Moscow with her young son and her father, a once popular and respected poet who has fallen into disgrace because of his dissident views. Her husband, a junior officer in the Red Army, is on active duty and living seven time zones away. Anna struggles gamely through her difficult existence, doing the best she can amidst the long lines, bureaucratic inferno, and corruption and incompetence of the police state. When she meets and makes an impression on a pow­erful Soviet official—Alexey Bulgyakov—her life begins to look a little brighter. Alexey is married and nearly twice her age, but he turns out to be a man of infinite patience and forbearance, and gradually a strange but solid bond grows between them. Though Anna still loves her mostly absent husband and harbors no illusions about the future, she and Alexey become lovers.

Soon Anna and Alexey’s burgeoning romance is irrevocably threatened when a KGB colonel forces Anna to spy on Alexey, who is suspected of disloyalty to the state. Though Anna loathes the notion of double-crossing the man she has come to love, when her family is threatened she must com­ply. But Anna isn’t the only character playing a double game.

With bravura storytelling, stunning authenticity, and com­plex yet sympathetic characterizations, The Russian Affair depicts a love that struggles to survive against all odds and despite its many-layered deceptions.

The second book we have to offer is Treasures From the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family.

An old lady dies in Basel, Switzerland. Her devoted daughter-in-law, Gertrude, steels herself to do what all families must in the aftermath of death—she heads upstairs to the attic to sort through the effects. But Helene Elias wasn’t just any old lady, and none could put a price on what she left as an inheritance.

Helene Elias was born Helene Frank, sister to Otto Frank, and thus Anne Frank’s aunt. Alice Frank, the matriarch and grand­mother of the family, left Germany for Switzerland in the 1930s, and though her family had scattered across Europe, she remained at the hub of their lives. They wrote voluminously, sent photos, visited for summer holidays and reunions, and of course wrote about them when they returned home. Alice kept every bit she could. It all sat upstairs in the house, which was eventually passed down to Alice’s grandson, Buddy Elias, Anne Frank’s childhood playmate, and his wife, Gertrude.

What Gertrude found has become an utterly engaging, endear­ing, and convincing account of a family that tells us who shaped Anne Frank, made her who she was. They believed themselves to be ordinary members of Germany’s bourgeoisie. That they were wrong is part of history—one that we celebrate here.

Due to the generosity of Doubleday I have 2 copies of each book to giveaway. US addresses only, no PO boxes. Leave a comment with a valid email address before May 31st. I'll randomly pick winners on the 31st. If you want extra entries you can spread the word (twitter, facebook, etc.) about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with a link to each place you posted about it.  Please specify which book (or both) you would like to win.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Virtual Book Tour - Slow Burn

Author: Ednah Walters (writing as E.B Walters)
Publisher: Firetrail Publishing

She doesn’t want to deal with the past...

Ten years ago, Ashley Fitzgerald witnessed the death of her parents in a tragic fire and blocked the memory. She pretends to have moved on, is a successful artist and photographer, until the morning she opens her door to a stranger she assumes is a model and asks him to strip to his briefs .

He wants to expose the truth....

Wealthy businessman Ron Noble has the body, the jet, the fast cars and the women, but he hides a deadly secret. His father started the fire that killed Ashley’s parents. Now someone is leaving him clues that could exonerate his father and they lead to Ashley’s door. Blindsided by the blazing attraction between them and a merciless killer silencing anyone who was there the night of the fire, Ron dare not tell Ashley the truth. Yet the answer he seeks may very well tear them apart.

While a demented arsonist...SLOW BURN(s)...and plots his ultimate revenge.

Slow Burn is the first in a new series by E. B. Walters. I really enjoyed Slow Burn. It's well written, fast-paced and has many twists and turns. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, something would happen to change my mind. I love when that happens, it keeps things exciting. Ashley is an artist who lost her parents in a fire when she was younger. Slivers of memory of the night they died haunt her. Ron's father was the one who saved Ashely's life, but Ron wrestles with rumors that it was his father who set the fire. Ashley and Ron have great chemistry together. I was really pulling for their HEA. The love scenes were steamy and very sensual. While I enjoyed the book, I wish there was more of Ashley's family in the book. We get glimpses of them and how much the care about her. I hope we get to know them in future books. I definitely recommend this book. I look forward to the next in the series.


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe', no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Virtual Book Tour - Desperate Desires (Novella)

Author: Terri Wolfe


A Sweet and Spicy Novella

The cunningly audacious Lady Lucinda Davenport is by no means a conventional woman. Smart and fiercely determined, she’s more comfortable adding numbers than she’ll ever be socializing with highfalutin members of the ton. When desperate straits force her into action to save her home and lands, she finds herself faced with only one option. Summoning every ounce of her courage, she sets in motion a wild and raunchy scheme that would set the ton on fire if they ever caught wind of her actions.

Lucien Brandford, fourth Duke of Carlsborough, is a dangerous man. Wealthy beyond imagination and handsome to a fault, the Duke is sought after by nearly every woman of the ton. Single, widowed, or married, ladies vie for his attention with cutthroat precision. But the Duke has no tolerance for the machinations of his title and fortune-hungry peers. He seeks his pleasure from women who require no commitment.

That attitude ensnares the Duke in Lady Lucinda’s plan. Caught unawares, Lucien finds himself at the mercy of a bold and luscious woman whom he cannot decide if he wants to strangle or bed.

Being a novella, Desperate Desires is a pretty quick read, but there is a lot packed into this short tale. I liked both of the characters. Lucinda and Lucien are good together. I liked how the Duke fell so hard for Lucinda. The love scenes are very steamy and well written. I was surprised at the open frankness toward sex among the characters. You don't usually see that in historical novels. I thought it was an interesting twist on things. I also enjoyed the premise of the tale, the woman kidnapping the man to have her way with him. You don't get to see that every day! Desperate Desires is one of those novellas that I wish was longer. I would have liked to know more about the backgrounds of both of the characters, for example, Lucien's relationship with his family members. I would definitely recommend Desperate Desires. I think you will be happy you gave it a shot!


* note: I read an complimentary copy of Desperate Desires supplied courtesy of the author. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. 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.*

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Priest's Graveyard

Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Center Street

The last thing Renee Gilmore remembers is being rescued by a pair of unknown arms after her drug-dealer boyfriend attempts to murder her. She wakes up in a beautiful glass house surrounded by doctors and the man that saved her life, Lamont Myers. Lamont offers her protection, if she abides by his rules. Among these; she must not leave the house, making her the bird in his gilded cage.
Danny Hansen is a Bosnian immigrant who came to America to escape the bloodshed of his country and the memories of his own involvement. Danny is a priest who lives by a strict moral code, one which values the loving of others above all else. It is those that pretend to abide by religious and legal law but intentionally harm others that insence Danny. And he believes it is duty to show them the error of their ways. Those few that admit and renounce their behavior are forgiven and set free, but never without a severe reminder of their wrongdoings. Those that refuse to admit to their behavior are killed.

A year after Renee is rescued by Lamont he is murdered and she vows to seek revenge. At the same time, Danny has continued to carve a swath of judgement and punishment. In their individual pursuits, Danny and Renee's paths become entangled and before long it is clear that neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

The Priest's Graveyard is a dark and disturbing book that explores the question of judgement and justice. The book is well written and well thought out. The story is told through both Danny's and Renee's point of view. It was really interesting to see how each of them interpreted the events of the story. Danny is a vigilante priest and Renee is an ex-junky. I spent a lot of the book wondering who was crazier. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, because it would really ruin the book. Let's just say, I didn't expect some of the events that occurred in the book. I do love an author that can surprise me!

While it kept me on the edge of my seat, I had to sit on it for a few days and think about whether or not I really liked it. I did, but I'm not sure I liked the ending. It left me a little unsettled. I think that is why I had to sit on it for a few days. Read it and you will see what I mean. I listened to the audiobook and the two narrators did a great job, which really added to my enjoyment of the book.

I definitely recommend this latest by Ted Dekker. It is the first I have read by the author. If his other books are like this, then I'll definitely try him again.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

44 Charles Street

Author: Danielle Steel
Publisher: Delacourt Press

The plumbing leaked; the furniture was rescued from garage sales. And every inch was being restored to its original splendor—even as a relationship fell apart. Owner of a struggling art gallery and newly separated from her boyfriend, Francesca Thayer does the math and then the unimaginable. She puts out an advertisement for boarders, and soon her Greenwich Village house becomes a whole new world. First comes Eileen, a pretty L.A. transplant, now a New York City schoolteacher. Then there’s Chris, a young father struggling for custody of his seven-year-old son. The final tenant is Marya, a celebrated cookbook author hoping to heal after the death of her husband. Over the course of one amazing, unforgettable, life-changing year, the house at 44 Charles Street fills with laughter, heartbreak, and, always, hope. In the hands of master storyteller Danielle Steel, it’s a place those who visit will never want to leave.

44 Charles Street is the latest by Danielle steel. The story was pleasant enough but nothing exciting. I liked the theme of second chances, learning to let go of the past and moving ahead with your life. The characters were pretty well written, however, they were a bit frustrating. I felt that Francesca was incredibly naive for a 35 YO who owns her own art studio. With parents like hers, I would have thought she would be a little more worldly. I was disturbed by the way the roommates handled the situation of domestic abuse of one of their own. They claim to care about Eileen, yet don't really do anything to help her. I couldn't see how they were really shocked at the outcome of her situation. I felt that part of the book was unnecessary and didn't really add anything to the story. Also, I kept waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever really does.

It think the idea for the book was good, but the writing just didn't hold up for me. I think this story would have worked better in an anthology. It just didn't have enough to sustain a full novel. I was surprised at all of the repetition in the writing. The same ideas were repeated over and over. For example, how many times do I need to be told that Francesca doesn't like Internet dating or think it is a good idea? Cut out a lot of the repetition and you have a nice novella.

This is my first Danielle Steele novel. I'm not sure if this is her usual way of writing. If it is, I'm not sure I would read another by her.


Friday, May 20, 2011

The Gatekeeper Post Interview!

Check out our interview with the staff at The Gatekeepers Post!

Here is a direct link: Autumn and Kari's interview

We had a lot of fun doing it and hope you enjoy!

--Kari & Autumn


Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Dutton Adult

Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

Attachments is the debut novel by Rainbow Rowell. This book is just adorable and is the kind of book that makes you sigh with contentment in the end. The book has some great laugh out loud moments. It also kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't wait to see if they ended up together. I also enjoyed the format of the book. We get to know Beth and Jennifer just as Lincoln does, by reading their e-mails to each other. I have always believed that you can get to know someone better through their letters. I believe that people tend to pour more of themselves into their writing than they do in face to face conversations. The author really did a good job of conveying that here.

As for the characters, I loved Lincoln. He seems a little wimpy and lost at first, but he is just so likeable that you can't help rooting for him to succeed. I loved that he fell for someone before he knew what she looked like. I loved how he wanted to become a better person because of his feelings for Beth, which was a big contrast to his relationship with Sam. With Sam, he was content to go with the flow and let her take the lead. I wasn't sure I liked Beth at first. Her relationship with her boyfriend was frustrating. But, as I read her e-mails, I really grew to like her. The secondary characters in the book help to round out the story nicely.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was amount of the pop culture references. I know the story is set in 1999-2000 and they work in a newspaper, but I felt like I was being constantly reminded of the year every time a movie, song, or actor was mentioned. It's probably just a personal preference, but it got tedious after a while. The Y2K scare is part of the story and I felt like that should have been enough to keep me centered in the time frame.

I listened to the audio version of the book. The narrator did a great job and I think made me enjoy it that much more. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Rowell come up with next! I definitely recommend Attachments.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

And the Winner is....


You have won a copy of Aleron by Kane! Please check your e-mail. Thanks to everyone who left a comment. We have more giveaways coming next week!!

Throwback Thursday - The Last Honest Woman

Author: Nora Roberts
First published in 1988 by Silhouette (HQN)

When journalist Dylan Crosby starts digging up the past for the book he's writing about her infamous late husband, Abigail O'Hurley Rockwell is determined that she will do everything possible to keep the family's secrets under lock and key.

The Last Honest Woman is the first in Nora Robert's "O'Hurley Born" series. I know it was recently re-issued in an anthology with the second in the series, Dance the the Piper (which I have not read yet). This early work by Ms. Roberts is a pretty quick read. It's a cute story. I liked Abigail a lot. She is a strong woman who is determined to make a life for her and her sons, since her dead husband left her nothing when he died. Dylan is a journalist who wants to write about her famous husband, Charlie. He goes into the project with a lot of preconceived ideas about Abigail. He gets the surprise of his life when he meets her. I enjoyed their relationship. I loved Abigail's parents and sisters. They really added to the story and give you a good sense of where Abigail came from. I think fans will like this early work.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stolen vs. Girl, Stolen

I've had both of these YA books on my TBR list for awhile so I decided to read them back to back to see how they compared.

Both involve the abduction of 16 year old girls.  In both books the girls are white, upper class, low-risk, fairly well adjusted teenagers.  Both were good books and fairly suited to the target audience although I'd say Stolen was more mature than Girl, Stolen.  In both books the girls are strong and attempt to get away from their captors, but in the end also develop sympathy toward their kidnapper, however my reaction to each kidnapper was a little bit different.

The biggest difference is that Cheyenne of Girl, Stolen is blind and Gemma of Stolen is not.  That adds an interesting dynamic to the story, how to identify her captors and get away.  Cheyenne remains in roughly the same area she is kidnapped from, but Gemma who is from London is kidnapped from a Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian desert.  She is taken very far from home.  This, however, is what made Stolen my favorite of the two books.  The descriptions of Australia, the land, the plants, the animals are what set  this book apart and made it much more interesting.  The dynamic that developed between Gemma and Ty was really frustrating and I was almost rooting for Ty in the end.  It was like I had Stockholm Syndrome too.

I've only done a tiny compare and contrast, but it'd probably make a fairly decent English paper for any teenagers out there casting about for a topic.  I'm sure there are a few more books out there to throw in.  I enjoyed both of these books, they were quick interesting reads that I'd recommend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Peach Keeper

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. It is a pretty quick read. I liked the themes of friendship that the author explored, such as childhood vs. adult friendships and can they really make the transition? What makes a true friend and when is it OK to let a friendship go? The author also explores how much of our childhood self we carry over into our adult life and how it shapes who we are as adults. As for the characters themselves, I was most impressed by Paxton's character. I think she goes through the most change in the book and I was rooting for her in the end. I also enjoyed the friendship that develops between Willa and Paxton.

This book offers two romances. I'm not sure I really bought into the relationship between Willa and Collin. In the end, I wasn't sure why they were together. Their relationship was quite boring and I couldn't really see how either character changed enough to want to be together. The relationship between Paxton and Sebastian was much more intense, although the question of "is he or isn't he" was dragged out a bit longer than it needed to be. (I won't give you the answer, you have to read it to find out). I liked their friendship and think their relationship was the stronger of the two.

I felt like the description of the book was a bit deceiving as there is no real mystery in the book. It's pretty easy to figure out who Tucker Devlin is; even though it takes the main characters a while to get there. I would recommend the book. I think it would be a good beach read this summer.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Virtual Book Tour - Aleron Review & Giveaway!!

Author: Kane
Publisher: Alpha Prose and Passionate Writer Publishing

Aleron must cope with a timeless existence, seeing those he loves suffer the fate of mortality, while he remains cursed with eternal life. What if your immortal origin as well as others of your kind were hidden from you by the one you loved most; the one who gave you into a life of darkness and a lust for the sweetest nectar? These dilemmas and more face Aleron, but he must first learn to live, to survive, and most of all, to feed.

Seduced by the alluring vampire Mynea, Aleron learns what it truly means to be immortal as he adapts to his new life and new insatiable lust. She is teaching him to give her what her maker never has. She desires a new king and a new coven. Hearts, minds, and vampire souls intertwine as long kept secrets crawl out from the grave, refusing to remain buried beneath earth and lies. A blood kiss between them reveals a darker and even deadlier soul that has learned of Aleron’s blasphemous existence. Vlad is the beginning, the father of them all. Mynea must not let her young prince learn of her ancient king. Can a vampire truly love and trust another of his kind when their very lives depend on skillful deceit?

Walking a thin line between life and death, Aleron is certain of one thing, if love is, then blood is.

Aleron is the debut novel by Kane. The book reads like a history novel. You definitely get a sense of the time and region in which the book takes place. It is the story of Aleron and his journey as he adapts to being turned into a vampire. Throughout his journey, he shares his innermost thoughts with the reader. We see his struggle to leave his mortal life and family behind. He becomes a powerful vampire, but retains his conscience. In the beginning, he only feeds from and kills the lowest of society; enacting his own form of justice. He struggles with the loss of his creator and finds a new home within the coven he creates.

I did find Aleron pretty interesting in regards to the history of vampires, but I thought it was a bit tedious at times. It dragged in places and I kept waiting for something to happen. The real action doesn't happen until the last quarter of the book and then it ends pretty abruptly in a cliffhanger. I understand this is the first in a series of five books, so I suspect the that the author is using this first one to set the background. I do look forward to seeing what happens to Alreon and his coven in the next book. I hope there is more intereaction and less history about the vampires.

Now for the Giveaway!!!

For one lucky reader, I have a print copy of Aleron to giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment with a valid e-mail address. The winner will be chosen randomly by me and notified by e-mail. The contest will close run until may 18.

Good Luck!!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe', no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Adult

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

A Discovery of Witches is the debut novel by Deborah Harkness.
First, let me say that this book is long. It comes in at 579 pages and the audiobook (which I listened to) is about 24 hours of listening time. But, it was well worth the time. It is very a descriptive piece of writing, but really that really enhanced the book and I think would have taken away from the story had the author tried to use less words. Jennifer Ikeda, the narrator, did a wonderful job with her narration and character voices.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this book. I can say now that I am so glad I gave it a shot. I loved this book. I was afraid it was going to be another "Davinci Code" type book, but what I got instead was a beautiful love story filled with history, intrigue and lots of emotion. A Discovery of Witches is in some ways a Romeo and Juliet story. Diana and Matthew are two creatures who find love despite the laws that say a witch and vampire can't love each other. As a result, they find themselves in a war, fighting for their lives and for those around them. Diana and Matthew are 2 characters that I won't soon forget. I loved how their relationship slowly gained momentum over time and was actually based on more than lust.
Matthew's courtship of Diana was very touching. In addition to their relationship with each other, I enjoyed their interactions with their friends and family. The secondary characters in this book really enhanced the story.

Ms. Harkness has created a wonderful, unique world in which vampires, witches and demons exist, but humans are, for the most part, ignorant of them. I liked that she changed the mythology on vampires and demons in her world. They don't have to avoid the sun, they don't have to live in a mostly rainy region, and their fangs only come out when the have to feed. Demons are born as demons, they aren't possessed. They are very smart and not necessarily evil. It was a nice change of pace.

I would definitely recommend this book. A
ccording to the author's website, this is the first in a trilogy. I hope the next book comes out soon, because the ending made me want more. Can we say, "cliffhanger"? There is so much packed into this book, that I won't try to sum it up. I'll let you discover it as I did; by letting the story unfold and enjoying the journey.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Texas Lucky!

Author: Sandra Brown
First published in 1990 by Fanfare

Lucky Tyler attracted trouble and women like a lightning rod. But the night he stepped in to rescue a mysterious redhead in a seedy bar, he got more than he bargained for!
The lady excited him, challenged him, drove him wild with desire then vanished without a trace. Lucky was desperate to find her, to brand her with his heat and when the police were called in to investigate a suspicious fire at Tyler Drilling, his family business, he needed her for an alibi!

Torn between anguish and ecstasy, Devon Haines tried to refuse Lucky's pleas for help, but the reckless blue-eyed devil wouldn't take no as an answer from her... not when his touch could make her burn, could make her his.

Framed by old enemies, Lucky knew his only hope to clear himself rested on solving the crime, but Devon feared when his innocence was proved, she would lose the handsome cowboy who possessed her heart and soul. Would the tragic vow that made their love forbidden cost her forever in his arms?

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


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In the Woods

by:  Tana French
published by:  Viking Adult
publish date:  May 2007

A 12-year-old girl is found murdered at an archaeological site at the center of a controversial highway construction project. Katy Devlin was a popular girl who had recently been accepted to the Royal Ballet School; her father is an outspoken opponent of the new roadway. But what haunts Detective Rob Ryan about this case is its location: the quiet town of Knocknaree, Ireland -- in the very woods where he used to play as a child.

Twenty years ago, a young Rob and his two best friends went into the woods, chasing each other, playing in a castle of ruins. But they didn't return to their homes at sunset. A search party was dispatched to canvas the woods, finding only a catatonic Rob clawing at a tree, his clothing ripped, his shoes filled with blood.

Detective Ryan has always guarded this secret of his past, but the recent murder forces him to reveal it to his new partner, drawing them closer together in the search for the perpetrator. Is there a connection between Rob's childhood trauma and Katy Devlin's murder? And is Detective Ryan prepared to confront the secrets that lie deep in those woods? 

I first listened to the audiobook of Faithful Place by Tana French several months ago and absolutely adored it.  When I saw the audiobook of In the Woods was available for download from my library I jumped on it.  I'll say that Faithful Place was far superior in my opinion, but In the Woods wasn't terrible by any means.  I was glad that I had listened to Faithful Place first because the ending of In the Woods frustrated me so much that I might not have gone on to read anything else by Tana French.

The book interwove the current murder of Katy Devlin and the twenty year old mystery of the disappearance of 2 children from the same woods.  Along with the two cases and Detective Ryan's involvement in both, his relationship with his partner becomes quite complicated.   The book was filled with really interesting characters starting with Detective Ryan and his partner.  I found their relationship to be very complex and I felt really sympathetic towards Cassie. 

While I was frustrated with the ending, the rest of the book was really well written.  I found myself really invested in the book.  Otherwise, I don't think I would have cared about the ending.  I was always sitting in my car trying to listen to a few more minutes to find out what was going to happen next.  The audiobook reader did a good job (although, the Faithful Place reader had an Irish accent!). 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chasing Fire

Author: Nora Roberts
Publisher: Putnam

There's little as thrilling as firefighting-at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend. She's been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home-even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering.

Fortunately, this year's rookie crop is one of the strongest ever-and Gulliver Curry's one of the best. He's also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kids' arcade.

Everything is thrown off balance when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year's tragedy. Rowan knows she can't complicate things with Gull-any distractions in the air or on the ground could mean the end-but if she doesn't find someone she can lean on, she may not make it through the summer. . . .

Nora does it again. Chasing Fire has all of the elements I love about her books. Great chemistry between the lead characters, interesting secondary characters, and a good mystery to round it out. Coming in at 472 pages, there is a lot packed into this book. You can tell that Ms. Roberts did a lot of research about the Fire Jumpers. After reading Chasing Fire, I have a whole new respect for the men and women who fight forest fires. You have to be very gutsy to do that job! The fire scenes were exciting and kept me on my toes. As for the mystery, I had an idea of who it might be causing all of the problems, but I wasn't really 100% sure until the reveal.

Rowan and Gulliver are very well fleshed out characters. Both are strong people and compliment each other well. I really believed their relationship and fall into love. There is another secondary romance between Rowan's father, Lucas, and his jump student, Ella, that is so sweet and endearing it made my heart melt. Along with the romantic relationships, I enjoyed the camaraderie between the firefighters.

I should note that I listened to the audio version and the narrator did a great job. I definitely recommend this latest by Ms. Roberts. You are in for a wild ride!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Tessa's Pride (Novella)

Author: Olivia Brynn
Publisher: Carina Press

Two years after leaving home to make his own fortune, Joshua Bradley has finally returned to the Bradley Equine Ranch—and to Tessa McCade, the sexy ranch manager with whom he shared a single steamy tryst.

Tessa now owns the ranch like she’s always dreamed—but it’s in trouble. Dozens of horses have been lost and she’s on the brink of bankruptcy. To save his family’s business, Josh offers to buy it from her…and share the ranch house with her once again.

Tessa chafes at needing Josh’s help, but she’s never forgotten the taste of pleasure Josh gave her so long ago. Soon, neither of them can resist the desire mounting between them, and unleash a passion that is even more powerful than Tessa’s pride…

I love novellas because they are perfect for those times when you want something quick that doesn't require a lot of time and effort. I did enjoy Tessa's Pride. While I didn't like Tessa much (I thought she was a bit wimpy in the beginning) I did like Josh's character. The plot was interesting,and there was just enough of a back story for both Josh and Tessa to make me happy. So many times novellas leave me wanting more. Ms. Brynn did a good job with the love scenes as they were tastefully done. I definitely recommend this one!


* note: I read an complimentary copy of Tessa' Pride supplied courtesy of Carina Press. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. 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.*

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dead Lift: An Emily Locke Mystery (#2)

Author: Rachel Brady
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Single mom Emily Locke is building a new life with her daughter. Hoping to spend more time at home, she’s put her career on hold to work part-time for her private investigator friend, Richard Cole. It’s a nice balance between work and family until Emily finds out she’s been working for the attorney that defended her husband’s killer. The discovery nearly destroys her friendship with Richard, but Emily resists abandoning his client, the socialite Claire Gaston, who awaits trial for the murder of a local plastic surgeon. The threat of losing her children to a self-serving ex-husband terrifies Claire more than the specter of a life behind bars. Sympathetic to a mother’s fears and unconvinced of Claire’s guilt, Emily resolves to stick with the case despite her growing concerns about Richard and the dubious attorney who hired him. A mysterious note leads her into a daring undercover ruse at a high brow ladies health club. Impervious to fashion trends, disinterested in beauty treatments, Emily fakes conformity with Houston’s elite debutantes and trophy wives in a surreal fitness subculture where things, and people, are seldom what they seem. At this gym, “killer workout” has a whole new meaning.

Dead Lift is the second is the Emily Locke series by Rachel Brady. I didn't like this one as much as the first one, but it was still enjoyable. The mystery is pretty standard, but there is not real huge reveal at in the end. It wasn't too hard to figure out. I like Emily's character. I really felt for her while she tried to navigate being a mom to a daughter who doesn't know her. I can't imagine how I would react to that. The author does a decent job of navigating the subject. I was hoping for more of a romance between Emily and her boyfriend Vince. I didn't really feel the bond between them and the relationship is kind of bland.

If you haven't' read the first one, Final Approach, I would highly recommend that you do so. There is a lot of back story that is not really gone over in this book, so readers may be a little lost as to how the main character has come to be in her current situation. I also feel like the reader gets to know the characters better in the first one as apposed to this one. I wouldn't call Dead lift a stand alone novel. Both are quick enjoyable mysteries.. Give them a shot.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Trying Patience

Author: Carla Neggers
First Published in 1992 by Harlequin

Nature writer Patience Madrid didn't want to be in New York city. The stuffed moose head in her mountain cabin was a better conversationalist than most New York cabdrivers! Besides, she liked being a hermit. But her sister insisted she apartment-sit. Now Patience knew why—she'd been set up with a sexy roommate.

Jake Farr needed a place to crash. He hadn't bargained on having a female Davy Crockett as company. Chic women in lacy lingerie were his preference. Patience wore long underwear! Jake soon discovered that making love to this natural woman was like a breath of fresh air—and it made this city slicker dizzy. But would giving up his Jacuzzi for an outhouse in the woods try his patience?

Trying Patience is a classic story of "opposites attract". I really enjoyed the characters in this tale. Patience is a strong woman who knows what she wants. Jake doesn't quite know how to handle her. Will either of them have to give up the world they feel comfortable in for love? I won't give away the end, but the HEA is satisfying. I think this is one of Ms. Neggers better early works. Quite different from the romantic suspense that she writes now. It's a quick and easy read. I got my copy from the library, as I think it might be out of print. If you can find it, give it a shot. You might like it!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

With a Twist (Novelette)

Author: Heather Peters
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing

Forty year old Ava Denotti needs a hefty dose of self-confidence. Can she get it from the twenty-nine year old former fiance of the woman that ran off with her husband?

Tattooed, Bad boy Shane Sullivan is determined to make up for the time he wasted with the wrong woman. He's finally given the opportunity to pursue an attraction that's always been forbidden. Sexy Ava Denotti is all woman, and he wants her- in every position possible, and he wants her bad.

The two kicked to the curb ex's prove the end of one relationship can often be the beginning of something so much better. And falling in love can be a sweet revenge.

With a Twist is a cute story about an older woman who is seduced by and falls in love with a younger man. I think what appealed to me about this was that I could relate with Ava. She has just turned 40 and isn't a petite, firm, athletic woman like in most romance novels. She has her body flaws and Shane doesn't care a bit. I enjoyed the story, I only wish it was a bit longer. It would have been nice to have more of a back story on both characters. Ms. Peters also wrote Oz which I reviewed a while back. I have to say that her writing has much improved since that one! I would recommend With a Twist if you are looking for a quick erotica novelette.


* note: I received a complimentary copy of With a Twist supplied courtesy of the Red Sage Publishing. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. 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.*

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


published by:  Doubleday
publish date:  June 7th, 2011

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late. When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united.

First off there are some cool things going on with this book.  Check out the Facebook page for Robopocalypse, there's a video contest with great prizes.  There's a count down page for the book release.  Also, Steven Spielberg has already signed on to direct the movie which is slated to come out in 2013, so if you're interested there's information about that on IMDB.

There are a lot of books out there about machines coming to life and killing all the humans, it's not totally new.  I think what makes this one unique is the way it's told.   It's told through a series of historical accounts of the war that breaks out between the robots and humans.  In this way it was somewhat similar to The Passage, which was another one my recent favorites. 

For me, it took a little while for this book to get going, but once it did it was awesome.  It was full of action and adventure and unlikely heroes.  Parts were really sad and some parts were horrific and a lot of it will totally creep you out.  I think this was one of the first books that really portrayed the full spectrum to which computers/robots have taken over our lives.  It's kind of scary to think that we're trying to let that technology think for itself. 

I think this movie is going to be a big one in a couple of years, so check out the book before it comes out.   Just look at that cover!  Doesn't that make you want to read it??

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blood and Steel (Novellette)

Author:Angela Knight
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing

Elyn Castel spent 50 years as the slave of a vampire sociopath. Now, thanks to cyborg bodyguard Jarl “Blade” Bladin, Kruz is dead. But Blade is after Elyn now, and she has to do everything she can to get away from Blade. But that’s easier said than done…

Blood and Steel is a new novellette by Angela Knight. Having never read anything else by her, I can't really compare this short story to any of her longer works. It was a very fast read since it is a novella, but I felt like I came into the middle of a movie and had to take a few minutes to orient myself before I could figure out what was going on. I really think this tale would have worked better as a longer story with more background on both characters. It had great potential, but for me it fell short. I didn't buy the relationship between Elyn and Blade, especially given Elyn's history that is really only eluded to here. Maybe if there had been more back story, I might have liked it more. The loves scenes were pretty good, but not enough to make me really like it.

I would recommend it if you are in the mood for something quick with pretty well done love scenes, pick it up.


* note: I read a complimentary copy of Blood and Steel supplied courtesy of the publisher. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. 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.*